May 24, 2018

North Korean official calls Mike Pence a "political dummy,” threatens to cancel summit

A top North Korean official called Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy" and threatened to call off the upcoming summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The big picture: Tensions between North Korea and the United States have risen following Korean officials announcing the country refuses to meet the United States’ demand of denuclearization. In an interview with Fox News earlier this week, Pence reiterated the administration’s stance on denuclearization for North Korea. 

The details: The statement, issued through official state media on behalf of Choe Son Hui, vice minister of foreign affairs for North Korea, follows the nation's recent change in tone with the United States and South Korea. The country cancelled talks with South Korea last week over joint U.S. and South Korean military drills and has refused to denuclearize before.

President Trump and the administration have remained adamant that denuclearization must be part of any deal with North Korea in some capacity despite the country's refusal to do so. The U.S. has maintained that they will keep military pressure on North Korea until denuclearization is achieved.

What happens next: With the highly anticipated meeting approaching in just a few weeks, the administration will have to decide whether it will back off its denuclearization demand or take a more aggressive approach with North Korea.

Go deeper: North Korea is giving the United States two options: Back off denuclearization or go with "the Libya model."

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Coronavirus spreads to more countries, and U.S. ups its case count

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. Meanwhile, Italy reported its first virus-related death on Friday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,251 people and infected almost 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

Wells Fargo agrees to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges

Clients use an ATM at a Wells Fargo Bank in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo: Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Wells Fargo agreed to a pay a combined $3 billion to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday for opening millions of fake customer accounts between 2002 and 2016, the SEC said in a press release.

The big picture: The fine "is among the largest corporate penalties reached during the Trump administration," the Washington Post reports.