Archive for December, 2013

Congo put on alert by UN peace-keeping troops after attacks

UN troops

Newscast Media KINSHASA—The United Nations has placed its troops in the conflict-ridden Democratic Republic of Congo on alert following several coordinated attacks by armed assailants in the capital, Kinshasa, and two other cities.

“The UN mission in the country, MONUSCO, has taken measures to ensure the safety and security of its staff and placed troops in these locations on alert,” AFP quoted UN spokesman Martin Niersky as saying on Monday.

Congo’s government spokesman Lambert Mende said the army repulsed the attacks by the assailants on the state television station, the airport and the main military base in Kinshasa.

Mende also said that shooting had broken out in Lubumbashi, the country’s second-largest city located in south eastern Congo.

“These are terrorists, you can’t call them anything else,” he said. Clashes also erupted in the eastern town of Kindu. Mende said more than 70 attackers had been killed, 52 of them in Kinshasa, adding that three government soldiers also died in Monday’s fighting.

A UN staff member was also wounded during the exchange of fire at the Kinshasa airport. Defense Minister Alexandre Luba Ntambo told journalists the situation was now “totally under control” and an investigation was under way.

Meanwhile, it appears that the peace agreement that was signed earlier this month in Nairobi, Kenya is not being honored due to the continued attacks by the rebels. In a statement issued last week, the UN mission MONUSCO said its helicopters raided the Ugandan rebels ADF-NALU on Wednesday and regained control of the positions seized by rebels, who were linked to the killing of 40 or so civilians in the village of Kamango bordering Uganda, according to Xinhua news.

At least 10 rebels were killed and several peacekeepers injured in the fighting, according to the statement.

Source: Press TV


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - December 31, 2013 at 3:12 am

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US condemns back-to-back Volgograd terrorist attacks

Courtesy photo—Kirill Braga

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The United States on Monday condemned the
back-to-back terrorist attacks in Volgograd that killed dozens and offered to assist
Moscow with security preparations for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympic Games in

“The United States stands in solidarity with the Russian people against terrorism,”
White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement. “The US government
has offered our full support to the Russian government in security preparations for the
Sochi Olympic Games.”

A bomb explosion tore through a trolleybus in Volgograd on Monday morning, killing at
least 14 people and injuring 28 in the southern Russian city’s second terrorist attack
in less than 24 hours.

The initial statement was released by the State Department here.

Authorities believe both Monday’s attack and an explosion at the Volgograd-1 railway
station Sunday that killed 17 and injured more than 40 were carried out by suicide

“The United States condemns the terrorist attacks that struck the Russian city of
Volgograd and sends deepest condolences to the families of the victims with hopes
for the rapid healing of those wounded,” Hayden said in the statement.

Monday’s blast was the third such attack in Volgograd in just over two months and
came just weeks before the Sochi Games are set to kick off on February 7. Previously
known as Stalingrad, Volgograd is located about 430 miles (700 kilometers) from Sochi
Russian authorities have made efforts to boost security at the Black Sea resort that
is due to host the Winter Games, and Hayden said Monday that Washington would
“welcome the opportunity for closer cooperation for the safety of the athletes,
spectators and other participants” in Sochi.

Source: Ria Novosti


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - December 30, 2013 at 11:36 pm

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Egypt: Al Jazeera journalists arrested for spreading rumors and false news

Al Jazeera

Newscast Media CAIRO, Egypt—Al Jazeera said Egyptian security forces arrested
three of its journalists after the interior ministry accused the Qatar-based television
channel of broadcasting illegally from a hotel suite together with a member of the
Muslim Brotherhood.

Al Jazeera’s offices in Cairo have been closed since July 3 when they were raided by
security forces hours after the army ousted the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsy from
the presidency.

“State security received information that a member of the (Brotherhood) used two
suites in a Cairo hotel to hold meetings with other members of the organization and
turned the suites into a press center,” the Interior Ministry said.

“(They) made live broadcasts of news that harms homeland security, spreading
rumors and false news to Qatar’s Al Jazeera channel without permits.”

A member of the Brotherhood and an Australian journalist who works for Al Jazeera
were arrested and equipment was seized, including broadcast transmitters, the
Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Al Jazeera itself said three of its journalists had been arrested, a correspondent, a
producer and a cameraman.

“Correspondent Peter Greste, producers Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed as well
as cameraman Mohamed Fawzy are being held in custody after arrested by security
forces on Sunday evening,” the network said in a statement, according to a news
report by Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabia.

Qatar was a strong financial backer of the Brotherhood’s rule. Its relationship with
Cairo has deteriorated in recent months as it vehemently opposes the army’s
overthrow of Morsy and the crackdown on his movement that has followed.

Since Mursi’s ouster, Egypt has faced some of its worst violence in decades, which
the government has blamed on Islamic militants. It declared the Brotherhood a
terrorist group last week and has arrested thousands of its members, including Morsy.

Source: Egypt Independent


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 8:35 pm

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Houston-Texas also known as Stack City – Enjoy the tour

Houston by night —Photo by Joseph Earnest

Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas—As we enter the holiday season, Team Newscast
Media would like to wish all our readers a Happy Christmas and a prosperous new
year. There is a lot of to be thankful for the past year and what lies ahead.

We will leave you with a play-by-play tour of Houston and its incredible
freeways. Houston is referred to as “stack city” with more stack interchanges
(overpasses) than any other city in the world. It is also the best freeway system
worldwide that are built over 100 feet in the air. Sit back and take a video tour of


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - December 24, 2013 at 6:12 am

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U.S. urges South Sudan to resolve civil conflict through talks

South Sudan

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth met with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit in Juba as part of the Obama administration’s efforts to halt the country’s violence between rival ethnic and political factions.

Speaking to reporters December 23 in a conference call from Juba, Booth said Kiir committed to begin talks with former Vice President Riek Machar without preconditions, and allowed Booth to meet with 11 senior members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) who have been detained on charges of planning a coup against Kiir’s government.

“I can report that they are secure and well taken care of. These individuals communicated to me their desire and their readiness to play a constructive role in ending the crisis through peaceful political dialogue and national reconciliation. I’ll be following up to see how the government may utilize this constructive position,” Booth said.

The ambassador said the Obama administration also welcomes the political engagement of the East African regional organization IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) in South Sudan and he urged the group to “move swiftly in engaging the government and opposition forces with a view to beginning talks and ending hostilities and their underlying political causes.”

“The United States emphasizes the urgency of the situation and stands ready to support these efforts as necessary,” Booth said.

A senior Obama administration official told reporters via teleconference that the United Nations will be requesting increased assistance for its peacekeeping forces in South Sudan. According to a U.N. spokesman in Juba, U.N. compounds in South Sudan are sheltering more than 40,000 civilians from the violence.

The official also said a statement by Machar indicating he is ready for dialogue could make talks with Kiir possible, but acknowledged there are “a lot of details” to work out ahead of any discussions.

The crisis in the country warrants a “high level of U.S. engagement,” the official said.

“We have a longstanding interest in seeing South Sudan succeed, and we will work to try to ensure that they step back from the precipice … and find a way to stop the violence, begin the political discussion that’s needed to find a way” that South Sudan’s different ethnicities and political factions “can live together,” the official said.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - December 23, 2013 at 11:55 pm

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Huckabee admits he is interested in a 2016 presidential run

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. —Photo by Joseph Earnest

by Anugrah Kumar

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who earlier said
he was praying about running for president in 2016, admitted Sunday that he is
interested in another bid. He also defended “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson,
who was suspended from the show for his remarks against homosexuality.

“It would be, frankly, dishonest to say no,” the 2008 Republican presidential candidate
told “Fox News Sunday” after being asked if he was considering another run.
Huckabee, a Fox News commentator, said there is a “50-50″ chance he will run,
adding his final decision would still come from the heart and that the GOP already has
“a strong stable of candidates” for 2016.

“It would be a decision of the heart,” he said.

Huckabee was also asked about A&E Networks’ indefinite suspension of Robertson for
sharing his views on homosexuality in the January issue of GQ.

“I think it has come to a point in our culture where political correctness has made it
so if you want to take a point of view that is traditional, that holds to steadfast, old
fashioned, biblical Christian values… then somehow you’re supposed to just shut up
and keep that to yourself,” Huckabee said.

“There’s a new level of bullying on the part of these militant activist groups, who if
anyone says something that holds to the same position that Barack Obama held in
2008 when he… made it very clear that he opposed same-sex marriage and he said he
did so because he was a Christian and because of his biblical views,” he added.

Earlier this month, Huckabee met with a group of pastors and political leaders from the
early voting states of Iowa and South Carolina, according to ABC.
Speaking to CBN on “The Brody File” show about two weeks ago, Huckabee said top
evangelical and financial figures who did not back him in 2008 now want him to make
another bid.

“I’m not even close to being ready to saying yeah I’m going to run but I think that
there’s an openness now,” Huckabee told CBN. “A lot of it has to do with the fact that
I’ve had some incredible encouragement from people that I wasn’t expecting to get it
from. I think even from people who didn’t support me before…. These are people who
look me square in the eye and say it with conviction.”


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 11:15 pm

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PR exec fired for tweet: Going to Africa, hope I don’t get AIDS

Newscast Media CAPE TOWN—A female public relations executive tried to spread a
false narrative by sending out a tweet that has caused her to lose her job. With less
than 300 followers, Justin Sacco who was a PR executive with and, sent out a tweet that some even considered to be racist, inaccurate
and insensitive. The tweet also implied that only Blacks get infected with AIDS and


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 9:05 pm

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China denies it is behind cyber espionage occurring in the U.S.


Newscast Media BRUSSELS—A Chinese diplomat slammed a U.S. congressman’s
remarks on Chinese cyber espionage, saying they were “ridiculous” and a diversion of
attention from the controversial U.S. spy program.

“Remarks of this kind are ridiculous,” said the spokesperson for the Chinese Mission to
the European Union. “The PRISM issue has drawn worldwide attention. Its impact is
worthy of rethinking.”

“We hope that relevant parties could take it seriously and address their own problems
properly rather than attempt to divert the concerns of the international community by
making unprofessional and irresponsible accusations,” the spokesperson said.

Last week, U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers told members of the European Parliament in
Brussels that if the EU continued the muddling of debate on the U.S. snooping on
European citizens and institutions, it may help China spy on European and American

Rogers also claimed that Chinese cyber espionage has already cost the U.S. economy
400 billion U.S. dollars. The spokesperson noted that China’s position on the cyber security
issue is clear-cut.

“We oppose hacking and cyber attack of whatever form. We call upon the
international community to actively conduct dialogue and cooperation in the spirit of
mutual respect and mutual trust, and formulate international cyberspace code of
conduct under the UN framework,” the spokesperson said.

“The communication channels related to cyber security between China and the U.S.,
as well as China and the EU remain unimpeded. We look forward to seeing relevant
parties join us and make constructive efforts in tackling cyber security challenges,”
the spokesperson added.

Source: Xinhua


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 5:23 pm

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Barack Obama resolves to veto any new Iran sanctions

Barack Obama

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The White House has vowed that President Barack
Obama will veto any legislation imposing new U.S. sanctions on Iran. The threat was
issued December 19 after 26 senators – or more than one-quarter of the Senate –
introduced new Iranian sanctions legislation.

The measure, backed by 13 Republicans and 13 Democrats would impose sanctions if
the Islamic republic violates the interim nuclear agreement with world powers reached
in November, or if no final long-term deal is reached to curb Iranian nuclear activities.

Entitled the “Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act,” the proposed law would seek to further
restrict Iranian oil exports and target Iranian mining, engineering, and construction


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - December 21, 2013 at 12:36 am

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Deutsche Bank settles $1.9 billion suit over faulty mortgages

Deutsche Bank

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Deutsche Bank (XETRA: DBKGn.DE / NYSE: DB)
announced today that it has reached an agreement to resolve its residential
mortgage-backed securities litigation with the Federal Housing Finance Agency
(FHFA) as conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As part of the agreement,
Deutsche Bank will pay $1.9 billion.

The FHFA made claims against 17 financial institutions in relation to residential
mortgage-backed securities, including Deutsche Bank.

The settlement agreement does not release Deutsche Bank from any claims relating
to LIBOR manipulation and does not include claims made against Deutsche Bank in two
other PLS lawsuits presently the subject of ongoing litigation: FHFA v. SC Americas,
Inc., et. al., and FHFA v. Countrywide Financial Corp., et. al. The other parties to
those lawsuits were not part of the negotiations with Deutsche Bank.

*Click here to read or download the entire $1.9 billion settlement.

Jürgen Fitschen and Anshu Jain, Co-Chief Executive Officers of Deutsche Bank, said:
“Today’s agreement marks another step in our efforts to resolve the Bank’s legacy
issues, and we intend to make further progress in this regard throughout 2014.”

They added: “We have exited the mortgage businesses that gave rise to these claims
and have further improved our controls.”


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - December 20, 2013 at 10:26 pm

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Russia’s Lavrov: West understands that Assad is lesser evil

Sergei Lavrov

Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday that
Western politicians have started to admit that allowing Syrian President Bashar Assad
to stay in power is a lesser evil than an Islamist regime.

“Some of our Western colleagues have started voicing the idea – not only in private
conversations, but also publicly – that the rule of President Assad is a lesser threat
to Syria, taking into account the growing influence of jihadists and terrorists who
capture vast territories, impose sharia law, exterminate minorities and burn people
alive only because their religion is different,” Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with
RIA Novosti.

He said it would be “incorrect” to say the rule of Assad was rendered illegitimate by
the ongoing civil war, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives, according to the
United Nations.

“If he had no popular support, the war would have been over a long time ago, the
current leadership would have been wiped out, and no one knows what else would
have happened there. According to estimates made by experts from various states, a
significant number of people, up to a half of the population, see Assad as the
guarantor of their interests and their security,” Lavrov said.

Speaking about Assad’s future, Russia’s top diplomat said the Syrian president “has no
plans to leave his country. He will stay with his people and perform his duties.”
“Indeed, he [Assad] said that he does not rule out participating in next year’s
presidential election, as envisaged by Syrian law,” Lavrov said. “He will make the
decision later, depending on whether he feels he has popular support.”

Source: Ria Novosti


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 8:55 pm

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Ex-gay activist cured of homosexuality then marries woman

Photo by Truth Wins Out

by Jessica Martinez

Newscast Media SAN FRANCISCO—An ex-prominent gay activist and former editor of
a San Francisco-based, youth-focused homosexual magazine penned an open letter
about his recent heterosexual marriage addressed to “angry homosexuals” who have
criticized him for leaving his past and finding God.

Michael Glatze stepped down as co-founder of XY Magazine in 2007 where he walked
out by leaving a note on his computer that read, “Homosexuality is death, and I
choose life.” His transformation from gay to straight began after he started to
question his lifestyle following a health scare and with no one to turn to, Glatze
decided to seek help in God. Now, he lives life as a straight man and recently married
a woman, Rebekah, who critics are referring to as his “prop.” CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - December 19, 2013 at 9:55 pm

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Seattle gunman receives rude awakening from bus passengers

Newscast Media SEATTLE—A gunman who boarded a Seattle bus brandished a gun in
front of bus passengers, but their reaction to him was a lesson he won’t soon forget.

In a video captured by CCTV, the man is seen wearing a ski mask and approaching a
passenger who was minding his own business. The gunman then plucks a gun from
his underwear and points it between the passenger’s eyebrows.

Undeterred by the weapon, the passenger pounces on the gunman in a fraction of a
second, and throws him around like a basketball in the hands of the Harlem
Globetrotters. Other passengers bum-rush and pounce on him like an overweight
prisoner at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

The gunman appeared to be asking for help after realizing one particular passenger
who was continuously clobbering him was as strong as a weak giant. Watch:

Police later came and apprehended the gunman who after other passengers who were
inside the bus called 911.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 5:24 pm

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US Senate passes Paul Ryan’s Blueprint For America budget

House Budget Committee chairman Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI)—Photo by Joseph Earnest

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The United States Senate on Wednesday approved a
budget measure authored by Paul Ryan which was designed to avert another
government shutdown by 64-36 votes. The same measure was signed in the House of
Representatives last week, and will now be sent to Barack Obama for his signature.

“It is our hope that Republicans, in the House in particular, will see the wisdom in
getting things done that the American people would like to see done — getting things
done that, like the budget agreement, help the economy grow, help the middle class,”
White House spokesperson Jay Carney said.

The plans sets the discretionary spending for the years 2014-2015 at 520.5 billion
dollars for defense and 491.8 billion dollars for non-defense spending.

The deal’s negotiators, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Senate
Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., said they are hopeful this final
act of bipartisanship will usher in a new era of cooperation in a divided Washington.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 12:18 am

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India asked by the US to protect American diplomatic personnel

US visa

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The United States on Tuesday urged India to accord
due protection to American diplomats as the South Asian nation was responding
angrily to the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York.

“We have conveyed at high levels to the government of India our expectations that
India will continue to fulfill all of its obligations under the Vienna Convention,” State
Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters at a regular press briefing.

She said Washington will continue to work with India to ensure that all of American
diplomatic personnel and facilities “are being afforded full rights and protections.”


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - December 18, 2013 at 1:47 am

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Ethnic violence feared as fighting continues in South Sudan

Central African Republic

Newscast Media JUBA—Fighting has continued in the South Sudan capital of Juba, with civilians among a rising death toll. Fears are high the violence may escalate in the wake of Sunday’s reported coup attempt. The government has said 10 key figures have been arrested, while former vice president Riek Machar – accused by President Salva Kiir of leading the attempt – is on the run.

“They are still looking for more … who are suspected of being behind the coup,” Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told the news agency AFP.

Gunfire and explosions were heard throughout Juba on Tuesday, and the city remains on lockdown and under curfew as its streets remain subject to fighting. Senior Ministry of Health official Makur Maker said at least 26 people, mostly soldiers but some civilians, have been killed. Minister of Information Michael Makuei Lueth told AFP the death toll in fact stood at 73.

Over 10,000 civilians – reported to be as high as 16,000 by some agencies – have taken refuge in United Nations compounds in Juba. In a phone conversation with Kiir on Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the South Sudan president “to exercise real leadership at this critical moment, and to instill discipline in the ranks of the [Sudanese military] to stop this fighting among them.”

The United States has responded by ordering its non-essential officials to leave the young nation, and urged others there to depart immediately. Kiir had sacked long-time political rival Machar in July. He appeared on local television on Monday saying forces loyal to Machar had attacked an army base in an attempt to seize power.

The men hail from rival ethnic groups and had fought on different sides during Sudan’s civil war. Machar has said he will challenge for the leadership at the next elections in 2015, saying South Sudan could not survive “one man’s rule,” and it “cannot tolerate dictatorship.”

Most of the fighting is reported to be between the soldiers hailing from the Dinka tribe loyal to Kiir, and those of the Nuer tribe backing Machar.

Source: Deutsche Welle


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 12:27 am

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Pope Francis spends 77th birthday with homeless men as guests

Pope Francis

Newscast Media VATICAN, CITY—While some people derive pleasure from ridiculing
and making fun of homeless people, Pope Francis demonstrated the compassionate
aspect of humanity by having four homeless men as his guests on his birthday. The
occasion was celebrated with Mass in the Santa Marta guesthouse. The homeless
men and the pope’s closest collaborators together with staff from the guesthouse, all
greeted him with a birthday song afterwards.

Those present at his morning Mass included Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Secretary
of State and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals. After the
mass, all those present wished the Pope a happy birthday and sang greetings to him
before joining him for breakfast in the Vatican guesthouse.

Today’s reading was centered on the genealogy of Jesus and the Pope used this in
his homily to reflect on God’s enduring presence in our lives throughout history. He
said “God wished to live out his life alongside us” and “took his surname from each of

“God,” the Pope continued, “has always walked alongside his people,” beginning with
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He did not want to come to redeem us without coming to
live among us and share our lives. The Pope said this long list of God’s people included
“saints and sinners.” The latter included “high level sinners who committed serious sins
and who didn’t listen” to God’s plans for them.

Pope Francis said in addition to accompanying us in our lives our God follows us and in
this way, he displays His humility, His patience and His love for us. He concluded his
homily with “a Christmas wish” for all of us “to allow God to write our lives for us.”

Source: Vatican Radio


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - December 17, 2013 at 11:25 pm

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Kim Jong-Un demands absolute loyalty from ruling elites

Kim Jong Un

Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas—The West is still reeling from the news that Kim
Jong-Un executed his uncle Jang Song Thaek over the weekend under unexpected
circumstances. The ruling elites got a clear message from Kim that he would not
tolerate disloyalty from within the ranks and that traitors would be dealt with
severely, including his blood relatives.

The debacle involves an alleged plot by Kim’s uncle Jang, to overthrow the
government and seize power. The jury is still out as to whether Jang acted on his
own volition or if there were some outside entities that would benefit from regime
change, that encouraged the failed plot. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 9:41 pm

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North Korea warned by US about provocation after executions

Kim Jung-Un

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The United States has warned North Korea against
any “provocative acts” following the execution of leader Kim Jong-Un’s uncle.
Washington also sought to step up talks with its Asian allies, voicing concern over
regional stability after Jang Song-Thaek—seen as Kim’s political regent and the
country’s unofficial number two, was executed on Thursday following a special military

“Certainly, it’s something we’re concerned about, and we would urge the North
Koreans not to take provocative acts, not to do so going forward, because it’s not in
the interest of regional stability,” US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said
on Friday.

The comments came after South Korea’s defense chief Kim Kwan-Jin pledged to
increase military vigilance against any potential provocations, saying the stunning
purge indicated Kim Jong-Un’s firm resolve to tighten his grip on power.

“We will heighten readiness against North Korea as (Jang’s execution) can lead to
provocations against the South,” he said in the parliamentary defense meeting on
Friday. “This case can be seen as part of the reign of terror by Kim Jong-Un as he is
seeking to consolidate his power with an iron fist.”

Source: Al Manar TV News


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - December 16, 2013 at 11:13 pm

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Concern grows overseas about Russia’s missile deployment

Russian missile

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The United States, Poland and three Baltic states have all voiced concern at reported missile deployment by Russia in its exclave of Kaliningrad. Washington urged Moscow not to increase political tensions in the region. Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia on Monday expressed alarm at reports that Russia planned to deploy, or already has deployed, Iskander-M missiles close to their borders.

The Estonian and Lilthuanian defense ministers both called the news “alarming,” describing it as “cause for concern.”

Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks said on Monday that such a move would change the “balance of powers in our region” and “threatens several Baltic cities.”

The United States also expressed its concern, with State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf saying “we’ve urged Russia to take no steps to destabilize the region.”

Washington said it had received no official word from Moscow about the deployment. On Saturday, the German mass-circulation Bild newspaper reported that secret satellite imagery showed Iskander-M missiles stationed near the Polish border.

This was followed by a report in the pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia on Monday saying that Moscow had deployed Iskander missiles with a range of hundreds of kilometers in its territory of Kaliningrad, which is located between Poland and Lithuania, both NATO member states.

According to the unnamed Defense Ministry official quoted as a source, the missiles have been there “for some time.”

Russia said in 2011 it might put Iskanders in Kaliningrad as part of a response to an anti-missile shield the US is building in Europe with help from NATO nations. There have been media reports since of plans to deploy the missiles, but no confirmation it had happened.

The advanced version of the Iskander missile has a range of 500 kilometers (310 miles). It is nuclear-capable, and could also potentially be used to destroy ground-based radar and interceptors of the new NATO shield. Washington and NATO have long argued that the missile shield is not aimed at Moscow, but is intended to protect the West from potential threats from so-called “rogue states.”

Source: Radio Deutsche Welle


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 10:32 pm

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