Newscast Media KIEV—Moscow believes that Kiev should take the first steps to
de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said
“We have no doubt that the first steps should be taken by Kiev’s authorities. This is
absolutely undeniable,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov added that the coup-imposed Kiev authorities should acknowledge their
responsibility in a February 21 reconciliation deal and last week’s international
agreement reached in Geneva.
On February 21, Ukrainian authorities and opposition leaders signed an agreement
backed by the European Union on settling the crisis, including the establishment of a
national unity government within 10 days.
The next day, Ukraine underwent a regime change resembling a military coup. The
country’s parliament ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, changed the constitution
and scheduled an early presidential election for May 25.
Moscow has repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of these actions and has called on
the sides to abide by the February 21 agreement. Eastern and southeastern cities of
Ukraine refused to accept the legitimacy of Kiev authorities and have been staging
protests since March.
In a bid to de-escalate the ongoing conflict, top diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, the
United States and the European Union approved a statement on April 17 calling on
the sides in Ukraine to refrain from violence, extremism and provocations, disarm
militants and launch a national dialogue on constitutional reform.
In violation of the Geneva deal, a group of unknown gunmen, allegedly members of
the Right Sector far-right group, killed at least three people in an attack on a
checkpoint near Slaviansk this weekend. The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the
attack as “provocation” that pointed to Kiev’s reluctance to disarm nationalists and
Newscast Media KHARTOUM—Thousands of people have fled renewed fighting in
Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, adding to hundreds of thousands
uprooted by conflict in the Darfur region this year, the UN said Thursday.
Clashes between government forces and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation
Movement-North (SPLM-N)in South Kordofan’s Rashad district displaced about 6,700
civilians, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its
It cited data from Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission.
“Many displaced people have sought shelter in Rashad town,” OCHA said.
The UN has also received reports that an estimated 4,300 people fled their homes in
Blue Nile state because of combat between SPLM-N and government forces, OCHA
said. Almost three years of fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile had already
displaced or severely affected more than one million people.
Like the 11-year-old insurgency in western Sudan’s Darfur region, the Kordofan-Blue
Nile war has been fuelled by complaints among non-Arab groups of neglect and
discrimination by the Arab-dominated regime.
Khartoum and the SPLM-N on Tuesday began their latest round of African
Union-mediated talks aimed at reaching a peace deal.
The UN says a rising number of people in Sudan, 6.1 million, need humanitarian aid but
the percentage of funding obtained to help them has fallen in each of the past three
More than 300,000 people have been uprooted by fighting in parts of Darfur since
February, OCHA said. The region has experienced its worst violence in a decade this
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia will be forced to respond correspondingly to any
actions undermining the interests of Russian citizens, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov said Wednesday.
“If we are attacked, we would certainly respond,” Lavrov said in an English-language
interview with the RT news channel.
“If our interests, our legitimate interests, the interests of Russians have been
attacked directly, like they were in South Ossetia for example, I don’t see any other
way but to respond in full accordance with international law. Russian citizens being
attacked is an attack against the Russian Federation,” the foreign minister said,
adding that Russia is not engaged in any military activity that does not fall under
international law. CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE>>
Newscast Media MOSCOW—The Russian government recently announced it would ban
import and commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the Russian
Federation. New evidence suggests that the health and safety dangers of the GMO
assault on our food quality involve the paired agrichemicals that are used in almost all
GMO seeds today, namely Monsanto Roundup and other glysophate-based weed
In December 2013, Professor Irina Ermakova, vice president of Russia’s National
Association for Genetic Safety, together with a group of Russian scientists, called on
the government to impose a 10-year ban or moratorium in order that the influence of
GMOs and their chemical herbicides can be thoroughly studied for their influence on
human health. Ermakova some years before conducted GMO rat-feeding tests that
showed alarming results, including extreme mortality rates. CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLES>>
Newscast Media ROME—Less than a week before former Pope John Paul II is to be
declared a saint, critics want answers about an abuse scandal involving an order of
priests he had championed for years. The Vatican has refuted the claims.
The Vatican dismissed critics’ concerns over Pope John Paul’s legacy on Tuesday, just
days ahead of a highly-anticipated ceremony that will see the beloved pontiff
declared saint. The case in question surrounds Legion of Christ founder Marcial
Maciel, who was found to have sexually abused both seminarians and children. The
order had received strong support from the late pope and his closest advisors, which
prompted critics to question whether John Paul II had covered up the scandal during
his time at the head of the Catholic Church from 1978 until his death in 2005.
“There is no personal implication of the Holy Father (John Paul II) in this affair,”
Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi told reporters, citing evidence collected
while John Paul was being considered for sainthood.
Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the Polish priest who has spearheaded John Paul II’s
fast-track to sainthood, also rejected the accusations.
“There is no sign of personal involvement of the Holy Father in this case,” Oder said
The process of canonizing saints includes a lengthy investigation into all aspects of a
candidate’s life before declaring the individual saint. Not only must investigators
gather concrete evidence linking miracles to the person in question, but they must
also conclude that he or she lived a holy life in line with Church teachings. This is
done by conducting a thorough analysis of his or her writings, recorded statements
and known actions.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The Securities and Exchange Commission today
announced that it has filed charges against the Massachusetts-based operators of a
large pyramid scheme that mainly targeted Dominican and Brazilian immigrants in the
U.S. The charges were filed under seal, in connection with the Commission’s request
for an immediate asset freeze.
That asset freeze, which the U.S. District Court in Boston ordered, secured millions of
dollars of funds and prevented the potential dissipation of investor assets. After the
SEC staff implemented the asset freeze, at the SEC’s request the court lifted the seal
today, permitting public announcement of the SEC’s charges. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Secretary of State John Kerry—Photo by Joseph Earnest
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Noting that diplomacy requires willing partners,
Secretary of State John Kerry said the four-nation talks in Geneva April 17 reached
an accord to end the spiraling tensions and escalating violence in Ukraine.
“We worked hard and we worked in good faith in order to try to narrow what are real
differences — some of them significant — and to find a way forward for the people of
Ukraine that helps them in achieving their aspiration to live in a stable, peaceful and
unified democracy,” Kerry told journalists at a press conference with European Union
High Representative Catherine Ashton.
Kerry met for seven hours with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia, Russian
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the EU’s Ashton before announcing the four-party
agreement. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The United States says it is taking steps to release a
$450 million installment of frozen Iranian funds in response to Tehran meeting its
commitment under the interim deal reached with world powers in November.
State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf said April 17 the move comes after a
report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that says Iran is living up to
its part of the interim nuclear deal.
“Based on this confirmation and consistent with commitments that the United States
made under the Joint Plan of Action, the Department of Treasury took the necessary
steps pursuant to the JPOA to facilitate the release of a $450 million installment of
Iran’s frozen funds,” Harf told reporters.
Under the agreement, Iran halted some of its nuclear activities in exchange for a
limited easing of some international sanctions.
Newscast Media MOSCOW—President Vladimir Putin has called claims Russia is behind
eastern Ukraine’s unrest “nonsense.” He has accused the government in Kyiv of
raising tensions in the region, while expressing hope for crisis talks.
During the beginning of a televised call with the nation on Thursday, Putin said
Ukraine’s decision to send armed forces to the country’s restive east rather than
establishing a dialogue was a “grave crime.” He also dismissed Western accusations
that Russian special forces were present in the region, saying the people there have
risen up against a government that has ignored their rights and legitimate demands.
“It’s all nonsense, there are no special units, special forces or instructors there,” the
Russian president said. He added the protests in eastern Ukraine, which have driven
separatist sentiment in recent weeks and resulted in gunmen seizing government
offices and police stations in at least 10 cities, involve only locals.
Ukraine’s new government, which took over following the fall of former president
Viktor Yanukovych earlier this year, is dragging the country towards an “abyss,” Putin
said, slamming the decision to launch a military operation against separatists who
have seized buildings.
“This is one more serious crime by the current Kyiv authorities,” Putin said.
Putin urged that diplomacy was the way to reach a solution to the crisis, saying he
“very much hopes” Russia will not have to send its military to eastern Ukraine.
“Only through dialogue, through democratic procedures and not with the use of armed
forces, tanks and planes, can order be imposed in the country,” he said. “It is very
important today to think about how to get out of this situation and offer people a
genuine dialogue and not just one for show.”
Newscast Media KIEV—NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the
alliance is strengthening its military presence on its eastern borders in response to
the crisis in Ukraine.
Speaking after a meeting in Brussels of the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s main
political decision-making body, Rasmussen said the alliance will be making new military
deployments by sea, air, and land “within days.”
He said there will be “more planes in the air, more ships on the water, more readiness
on the land.”
Rasmussen didn’t reveal operational details or numbers about the new deployments.
But he said there will be more “air policing” in the Baltic region, and that allied ships
will be deployed in the Baltic Sea, eastern Mediterranean, and elsewhere if required. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia’s stand on Ukraine is sound and consistent but
runs into the ‘concrete wall’ of Western censorship, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s
press secretary Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday.
“Those explanations do not pass, not because they are ungrounded, on the contrary,
Russia’s position is consistent and sound, but they do not pass because they run into
the coarse concrete wall of censorship,” Peskov said.
Moscow has described the uprising in Kiev as an illegitimate fascist coup and a
military seizure of power, which resulted in it taking steps to protect ethnic Russians
in Ukraine, including the reunification of Crimea.
The move was heavily criticized by the US and EU, who imposed targeted sanctions
against several Russian officials and suspended cooperation in certain areas.
On Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen once again urged
Russia to pull back its troops from the border with Ukraine. In earlier statements,
Rasmussen suggested pro-federalization rallies that have been sweeping across
eastern Ukraine were staged by pro-Russian separatists.
Peskov also slammed the West for its reluctance to listen to Russia’s confirmation
that it has no troops in Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded on Monday, saying that Russia was
not meddling with Ukraine’s internal affairs.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Today, as part of an effort to to create new
opportunities for all hard-working Americans to get ahead, the President and Vice
President are announcing new federal investments using existing funds to support
Programs like apprenticeships, that will expand partnerships with industry, businesses,
unions, community colleges, and training organizations to train workers in the skills
Employers, unions, and foundations are joining these efforts with new commitments to
support job-driven training. These steps are part of President Obama’s commitment to
make 2014 a year of action, acting with Congress when possible but also using his
pen and his phone – calling on businesses, philanthropy, non-profits, states, and local
communities to act. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media HOMS, Syria—The Syrian Army continued operations against the
armed terrorist groups in many areas across the country on Tuesday, killing huge
numbers of terrorists and destroying their hideouts, assembly points and weaponry.
In Homs, army units in cooperation with the national defense forces, achieved
significant progress in the old city of Homs and advanced towards the neighborhoods
of Jouret al-Shayah, al-Hamidieyh, Bab Hood and Wadi al-Sayeh, according to
source, SANA news agency reported.
A military source told SANA that a number of terrorists were killed in those areas,
with several of their dens destroyed. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—United Nations child rights experts today hailed a new
treaty that allows children to complain directly to the world body about alleged
violations of their rights.
The treaty, known as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child on a Communications Procedure, entered into force today – three months after
Costa Rica became the 10th country to deposit its instrument of ratification.
“Today marks the beginning of a new era for children’s rights,” said Kirsten Sandberg,
Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child; Marta Santos Pais, the
Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Violence against Children; Leila
Zerrougui, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed
Conflict; and Najat Maalla M’jid, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child
prostitution and child pornography. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast WASHINGTON—Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen
Sebelius appeared in a television interview for the first time since her resignation, and
described the Obama administration’s calculation that the law’s online sign-up system
would be ready by Oct. 1 as “just flat out wrong.”
“Clearly, the estimate that it was ready to go Oct. 1 was just flat out wrong,”
Sebelius told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, of the launch of HealthCare.gov.
She announced her resignation last week, following which President Barack Obama
nominated Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the Office and Management and
Budget, as her replacement.
“Well, I think there’s no question – and I’ve said this many times – that the launch of
the website was terribly flawed and terribly difficult,” Sebelius said.
“If I had a magic wand and could go back to mid-September and ask different
questions based on what I know now. … I thought I was getting the best information
from the best experts, but clearly that didn’t go well. … Could we have used more
time and testing? You bet.”
She added that Obama’s Dec. 1 deadline for the website’s repair was also a nail-biting
experience. “Having failed once at the front of October, the first of December became
a critical juncture. That was a pretty scary date.”
Sebelius said she made the decision to quit after the 2012 presidential election but
chose instead to stay through the sign-up period. The outgoing secretary added that
the president did not ask her to stay through the end of his term. “I thought it was
fair to either commit till January of 2017 or leave with enough time that he would get
a strong, competent leader.”
She also talked about the most difficult time of her tenure. “Well, I would say that
the eight weeks where the site was not functioning well for the vast majority of
people was a pretty dismal time,” she said. “And I was, frankly, hoping and watching
and measuring the benchmarks. But, having failed once at the front of October, the
first of December became a critical juncture.”
A week before she resigned, sign-ups for insurance coverage ended with 7.1 million
enrollments, more than initially expected. However, the health care website had
stalled for about six hours on the deadline day for the first year of enrollment on
March 31. And it is not known how many have paid their premiums and how many of
the previously uninsured have signed up.
Sebelius defended Obamacare, saying it gives millions of Americans access to health
care. “People have competitive choices and real information for the first time ever in
this insurance market,” she said.
As budget director, Sebelius’ replacement knows about the health care law and also
the president’s concerns about the problems the Affordable Care Act has posed, a
senior U.S. official told Reuters. She would have a direct line to the president in her
new position, the source added.
Obama needs to deal with increasing criticism over the health care law before the
mid-term elections, and he apparently believes a new face of Obamacare will help.
While Republicans are likely to remain at the helm of the House of Representatives,
Obama cannot afford to let the GOP win control also of the Senate.
Newscast ABUJA—An explosion that shattered a bus station in Nigeria’s capital this
morning, killing 71 people and injuring 124, has been blamed on Boko Haram the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that President Goodluck Jonathan visited
the scene in Abuja and blamed the Islamic extremist group which operates in the
northeast of Nigeria and which has been threatening to attack Nigeria’s capital. One
official said he believed the bomb was buried in the earth while the emergency
management agency said the explosives were apparently hidden in a vehicle.
The blast destroyed 16 luxury buses and 24 minibuses and cars, said police
spokesman Frank Mba, who gave the death toll.
Newscast WASHINGTON—The Group of 20 leading economic powers has said that it is
closely monitoring the situation in crisis-stricken Ukraine. At the same time, it has
called on the US to ratify reforms to the International Monetary Fund.
The final communique released following a meeting of G20 finance ministers and
central bankers in Washington on Friday, said the International Monetary Fund and
World Bank were best-placed to assist the new authorities in Ukraine.
“We are monitoring the economic situation in Ukraine, mindful of any risk to economic
and financial stability, and welcome the IMF’s recent engagement with Ukraine as the
authorities work to undertake meaningful reforms,” the statement said. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast LAS VEGAS—An angry woman threw a shoe at Hillary Clinton while she was
in Las Vegas giving a speech. Not expecting a shoe to grow wings, a surprised Clinton
asked, “What was that, a bat? Is that a bat? Is that someone throwing something at
Hillary later made fun of the incident and said, “Is that part of Cirque du Soleil?”
The lady who threw the red shoe was then whisked out by security, and the show
had to go on. Watch shoe-throwing video by KTNV-TV:
There is no telling, why the woman threw the shoe, but Clinton handled herself well
throughout the brief ordeal. The speaking engagement was at the Mandalay Bay.
Newscast Media ANKARA— The Turkish government is upset and has condemned the
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations for adopting a resolution calling the
massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman troops in World War One a genocide.
For the first time in nearly a quarter century, a U.S. Senate committee has adopted
an Armenian Genocide Resolution, calling upon the Senate to commemorate this crime
and encouraging the President to ensure that America’s foreign policy reflects and
reinforces the lessons, documented in the U.S. record, of the still-unpunished
genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>