TRUMP THREATENS MILITARY ACTION IN VENEZUELA OVER CHANGES TO CONSTITUTION: President Donald Trump threatened to take “military action” against Venezuela Friday, a comment that is sure to roil the divided South American nation and alarm its neighbors. Trump made the statement during a press conference on the growing concerns of military action in North Korea, immediately raising the specter of United States intervening in two conflicts simultaneously, including one in our own hemisphere. “Venezuela is a mess,” Trump said, adding. “This is our neighbor. We’re all over the world and we have troops all over the world that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering. And they’re dying.”
CHINESE PRESIDENT XI TRIES TO BE PEACEMAKER IN US/NORTH KOREA WAR OF WORDS: Chinese President Xi Jinping made a plea for cool-headedness over escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea in a phone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday, urging both sides to avoid words or actions that could worsen the situation. State-run China Central Television quoted Xi as telling Trump the "relevant parties must maintain restraint and avoid words and deeds that would exacerbate the tension on the Korean Peninsula." But restraint was not the word of the day on Friday as Trump sent out a cascade of unscripted statements, including what appeared to be another red line — the mere utterance of threats — that would trigger a U.S. attack against North Korea and "big, big trouble" for Kim.
KENYAN ELECTION ERUPTS IN VIOLENCE AMIDST RUMORS OF COMPUTER HACKING: Kenyan police shot and killed two people during riots by opposition supporters after President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner in elections overshadowed by fraud allegations, authorities said Saturday, while a father said his 9-year-old daughter was killed by a stray bullet in the capital. The two police shootings occurred on the outskirts of Kisumu, a city where opposition leader Raila Odinga has strong support, according to Leonard Katana, a regional police commander. Another five people were injured by gunfire in Kisumu, Katana said. In a victory speech, Kenyatta said he was extending a "hand of friendship" to the opposition, which alleged that the election commission's database had been hacked and results were manipulated against Odinga.
MCCAIN PUSHES FOR ANOTHER "SURGE" IN AFGHANISTAN, AS 16 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE INVASION APPROACHES: In a rebuke of President Donald Trump, Republican Sen. John McCain declared Thursday that “America is adrift in Afghanistan” as he promoted a war strategy that would expand the U.S. counterterrorism effort and provide greater support to Afghan security forces. “Nearly seven months into President Trump’s administration, we’ve had no strategy at all as conditions on the ground have steadily worsened,” said McCain, a leading voice in Congress on national security matters. “The thousands of Americans putting their lives on the line in Afghanistan deserve better from their commander in chief.” McCain said bluntly, “We are losing in Afghanistan and time is of the essence if we intend to turn the tide.” The Arizona lawmaker said he’ll seek a vote on his “strategy for success” in Afghanistan when the Senate returns in September and takes up the annual defense policy bill.
POOR PERFORMANCE BY PRIVATE CONTRACTORS FORCES TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF RALEIGH LICENSE PLATE OFFICE: The division said in a news release Friday that it closed the office on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh because of operational and performance problems. The DMV said audits showed the office was not following proper procedures which resulted in accounting errors and other problems. The DMV closed the office and canceled the operator’s contract. That office had been open since last year. DMV officials said they will perform a final audit and remove state-owned equipment. The office will reopen Monday staffed by DMV employees.