Newscast Media HOUSTON—Today, President Barack Obama is announcing his intentions to improve relations with Cuba, and the possibility of lifting sanctions from the island nation.
The White House has acknowledged that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish its enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba.
CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media HOUSTON—The stage has been set. The die have been rolled. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will gamble on winning the presidency in 2016 amidst a crowded Republican field. Should he run and win, he will be the third Bush to become president in our generation.
The Democrats are nervous about the new development because their candidate, Hillary Clinton will bring the baggage of her tenure in the State Department and past political history, including convincing struggling Americans that corporations and business do not create jobs, a statement that baffled even her fellow liberals.
CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE>>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The White House says President Barack Obama is
expected to sign legislation implementing new sanctions on Russia over its activities in
Ukraine by the end of the week. Press Secretary Josh Earnest made the
announcement on December 16 in Washington.
Congress passed the bill on December 13, authorizing new sanctions against Russia’s
defense and energy industries, including the arms exporter Rosoboroneksport, and
investors in its high-tech oil projects.
It also authorizes—but does not technically require—$350 million of defense articles
for Ukraine’s military, including antitank and antiarmor weapons, ammunition, and
surveillance drones. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The House of Representatives approved a $1.1 trillion spending package late on December 11, avoiding an impending government shutdown due to the nature of the bill.
Republicans opposed the bill because it did not block spending based on recent Obama executive actions, while Democrats opposed it because, it was a little too soft on banks and fat cat campaign donors.
The measure passed 219-206 after Obama convinced some House Democrats it was better to pass the bill than face a government showdown.
The bill will fund federal agencies until September 2015, and also sets aside funds for Ebola containment and treatment.
Click here to read or download the trillion-dollar spending bill.
The U.S Senate will be next to vote on the bill before it reaches Obama’s desk for him to put ink on the bottom line.
by Stoyan Zaymov
Newscast Media RICHMOND—An ex-gay group has erected a billboard in Richmond,
Virginia, claiming that a study on twins shows that “nobody is born gay.” The ad has
sparked controversy among some local residents.
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays, which provides a voice “for ex-gays and help
for families of children with same-sex attraction,” put up the billboard earlier this week
in downtown Richmond on Interstate 95.
The group acknowledged on its blog that some people have complained about the
billboard and have criticized the Lamar Advertising company for putting up the ads.
“We find it interesting that the attacks against the billboard and ex-gay community
have nothing to do with the facts,” PFOX stated in a message.
It noted that research on identical twins has shown that homosexuality cannot be
The group linked to a study from earlier this year by Dr. Neil Whitehead, a scientific
researcher who worked for the New Zealand government for over 24 years.
A number of news sources, including CBS6 and ABC8 News, reported that residents
have complained about the message of the billboard, and disagreed with its
Jamie Machut, vice president of Lamar of Richmond, said that the ads are scheduled
to stay up until early January.
“We support the First Amendment right of advertisers. Please keep in mind that the
advertisement is a message from PFOX and not Lamar Advertising Company,” Machut
said in a statement.
“We support the First Amendment right of advertisers and believe that it is in the best
interest of our company and the communities we serve to accept advertising copy
openly. We do not accept or reject copy based upon agreement or disagreement with
the views presented. We are firmly committed to our policy.”
The ex-gay group has spoken out on social issues before, and in April 2013 offered
Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman to join its organization, after Portman announced
his decision to embrace same-sex marriage because of his gay son.
Newscast Media HOUSTON—After the much-anticipated report was released by the
United States Senate, several countries, led by China were quick to accuse the US of
hypocrisy as the human rights police. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) also
released a response to the report within hours of it being declassified.
Chinese state-owned media outlet Xinhua said, “Ironically, the report, which included
a list of the ten major interrogation techniques used by the CIA, was released on the
eve of Dec. 10, Human Rights Day—the day the world honors the United Nations’ (UN)
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).” CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia’s chief of General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, said on
December 10 that the United States had provided financial and technical assistance
to the Islamic State (IS) militant group in Syria in the past.
Speaking at a meeting of foreign military attaches Gerasimov set out Russia’s position
on a variety of issues relating to international security, including the situation in Syria
Gerasimov painted a picture of the rise of the Islamic State group against a backdrop
of what he said was Western interference in the region. He blamed the United States
and “leading Western countries” for causing “disastrous consequences” in a number of
countries, including Libya and Syria, by involving themselves in what he called “the
overthrow of the legitimate authorities” in those states. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
IS, ISIL, Islamic State
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—While more than 130 countries have recognized
Palestine as a sovereign state, the United States says the issue of recognizing
Palestine as an independent state is conceivable “only” through “direct” talks with
“The U.S. position is clear, that we support Palestinian statehood but believe it can
only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties that resolve the
final status issues,” said deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf on
The U.S. reaffirmed its “crystal clear” stance on Palestine as a sovereign state after
French lawmakers on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of a motion to recognize
Palestine as an independent state. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media NEW YORK—The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, George Venizelos, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), William J. Bratton, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), and Thomas O’Donnell, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Department of Health and Human Services, announced today the unsealing of an indictment charging ten defendants with operating a massive health care fraud scheme.
The defendants, who had settled in New York from the former Soviet Union, recruited financially disadvantaged and homeless people insured by Medicare and/or Medicaid (the “Phony Patients”) to undergo unnecessary medical tests, typically performed by unlicensed personnel, at the clinics in exchange for cash, and then billed the insurers for administering those unnecessary tests. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media LOS ANGELES—Comedian Chris Rock writes an essay about racist
attitudes in Hollywood and the entertainment industry, including the challenges he
and other Blacks have had to overcome.
I was probably 19 when I first came to Hollywood. Eddie Murphy brought me out to
do Beverly Hills Cop II and he had a deal at Paramount, so I remember going through
the gates of the Paramount lot. He’s in a Rolls-Royce, and he’s not just a star, he’s
the biggest star in the world. Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer’s office was in the
same building as Eddie’s office, and they would come to work every day with
matching cars. Some days it would be the Porsches, and the next day it would be
Ferraris. I was like the kid in A Bronx Tale. CONTINUE TO FULL ESSAY>>
Newscast Media BRUSSELS—U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Washington and
Tehran are not coordinating their fight against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq but
that any Iranian military action against the IS would be “positive.”
Kerry made the comments in Brussels on December 3 after the Pentagon said there
were “indications that [Iran] did indeed” carry out air strikes against IS positions in
Kerry, who refused to confirm if Iran had carried out air strikes in Iraq, said the Iraqis
were responsible for all ground and air military operations and “what they choose to
do is up to them.”
Kerry continued that their were no plans “at this time” to coordinate military activity
A senior Iranian official denied that Iran had conducted air strikes against IS in Iraq.
The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic relations since Iranian activists
stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and took dozens of Americans hostage.
Source: Radio Free Europe
by Matthew Rusling
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—A battle over immigration reform is brewing in
Washington after President Barack Obama’s announcement last month that he would
act alone and issue an executive order to prevent the deportation of millions of illegal
The announcement has sparked much controversy, as critics lambasted the president
for what they call circumventing Congress and taking matters into his own hands to
reform the broken immigration system. A number of opponents call Obama’s action
illegal. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media GENEVA—The United Nations Committee Against Torture issued a
report in the past 24 hours castigating the United States’ record on a wide range of
issues, including lack of accountability for torture, immigration detention, and abusive
criminal justice practices such as solitary confinement and excessive use of force by
The “Concluding Observations” from the committee come after this month’s hearings
reviewing U.S. compliance with a major human rights treaty, the Convention Against
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which the
U.S. ratified in 1994. It was this first such review since 2006.
CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE>>
Newscast Media HOUSTON—Oil prices have slumped recently as the world’s biggest oil
producers refuse to cut output. The drop is undermining the US shale oil industry’s
profits, soon after it made the US the world’s number one oil producer.
In the Ardmore basin in the US state of Oklahoma, BNK Petroleum operations are
running at full tilt. Shale oil and gas producer BNK’s Q3 sales were 230 percent up on
the same time in 2013. The company is doing well out of the shale oil boom which has
made the US the global leader in oil output.
Drilling for shale oil, what is termed ”unconventional extraction” or ”hydraulic
fracturing” in industry parlance and dubbed ”fracking” by the media, is a complex, and
many say environmentally destructive method of extracting oil from hard to access
deposits. It involves drilling down to the required depth, then drilling horizontally to
the oil, before pumping high pressure water and chemicals into the shale formations
to squeeze it out. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media VIENNA—Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says the Iranian nation will
never bow to sanctions and pressure and will keep its nuclear facilities under any
“Today, the opposite negotiating sides have reached the conclusion that pressure
and sanctions on Iran will not bear fruit,” Rouhani said in a live television interview on
Monday after Iran and the six countries agreed to extend the nuclear talks for seven
He added that Iran would never give up its nuclear rights, saying that the country’s
nuclear facilities would certainly remain operational stressing that Iran would never
stop its centrifuges. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Sixteen North Carolina judges have either resigned or
retired after gay marriage became legal in the state last month when a judge ruled
that an amendment to the state’s constitution banning same-sex marriage was
In October, U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn of Asheville struck down the ban and
ruled the amendment unconstitutional in response to a Charlotte-based lawsuit.
Reports from the administrative office of the courts note that “between the ruling on
Oct. 10 and the end of the month, 16 magistrates left their jobs, but the state
wouldn’t release why they left,” Time Warner Cable News-Charlotte reports.
The cable network added that it’s “been able to determine that at least 10 of the 16
magistrates who left last month, did so because they will not perform same-sex
marriages.” CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—House Republicans have finally filed a lawsuit against
the Obama administration over the “unconstitutional and unlawful actions” Obama
took in getting the Affordable Care Act law also known as Obamacare passed.
Even though Obama is not a Defendant in the suit, it was filed against the Health and
Humans Services (HHS) and the Department of Treasury.
The House is challenging the president’s unilateral decision to twice waive the health
care law’s employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it without
going through Congress. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Moscow has warned Washington a potential policy shift
from supplying Kiev with “non-lethal aid” to “defensive lethal weapons”, mulled as US
Vice President visits Ukraine, would be a direct violation of all international
A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that reports of possible deliveries of
American “defensive weapons” to Ukraine would be viewed by Russia as a “very
“We heard repeated confirmations from the [US] administration, that it only supplies
non-lethal aid to Ukraine. If there is a change of this policy, then we are talking
about a serious destabilizing factor which could seriously affect the balance of power
in the region,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich cautioned
according to Russia Today.
His remarks follow US deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken Wednesday’s
statement at a hearing before the Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs, in which he
said that Biden may offer the provision of “lethal defensive weapons” as he visits
Ukraine. Lethal assistance “remains on the table. It’s something that we’re looking at,”
“We paid attention not only to such statements, but also to the trip of
representatives of Ukrainian volunteer battalions to Washington, who tried to muster
support of the US administration,” Lukashevich said.
The Ministry made it clear that such a move by Washington would violate a number of
“This is a very serious signal for several reasons. First of all, this is a direct violation
of agreements, including the ones achieved in partnership with the United States. I
mean the Geneva Declaration from 17 April,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko requested lethal aid from the US during a visit to
Washington in September.
American Vice President Joe Biden who has arrived in Kiev late Thursday has not yet
made any official announcement, but Reuters’ sources point to the possibility that US
might increase a “non-lethal” aid package to Kiev instead of opting to supply arms.
Source: Al Manar TV News
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called Russia’s actions in Ukraine “dangerous and irresponsible” and said the tensions provoked by Moscow have probably done more to unify NATO than anything else in years.
“It has brought the world together in a way where they are isolating themselves by their actions,” Hagel said of Russia, as he took questions from Marines during a visit to North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune on Tuesday.
One service member asked the defense secretary if he envisioned the United States becoming more involved in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Russia’s actions toward Ukraine, as well as stepped-up Russian military air flights over European airspace and plans for similar flights over the Gulf of Mexico, are “very dangerous,” Hagel said.
“The violations of sovereignty and international law that the Russians have perpetuated continue to require responses,” the defense secretary said. The United States is working with NATO “in shifting our entire rotational rapid deployment focus,” he added.
U.S. European Command chief Air Force General Philip M. Breedlove , who is also NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, has said Russian military equipment continues to flow across the border into Ukraine, something Russia denies.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—A US plane flew over Russian airspace, taking photos of military equipment, as a part of a surveillance mission conducted by the American army, according to a recent report.
Stars and Stripes reported that a US observation plane has been flying over Russian skies during the past several days.
The mission was done under the Open Skies Treaty that allows a limited number of observation flights, the report added. Russia, the United States and a number of other countries have signed the treaty.
“Most of the world has no idea this treaty even exists,” the daily quoted Navy Commander Chris Nelson, who is overseeing the mission this week, as saying.
“Whenever I mention that Russians fly aircraft over the US taking pictures, it blows people’s minds,” he added.
The surveillance mission comes amid escalating tensions between Washington and Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.
President Barack Obama accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin, however, denies the accusation.
The Obama administration and the European Union have so far imposed sanctions on Moscow over the issue.
Source: Press TV