™ Houston News and Breaking World News Mon, 18 Aug 2014 20:07:08 +0000 en hourly 1 Sergei Lavrov: No progess in Ukraine talks overs truce Mon, 18 Aug 2014 20:07:08 +0000 Joseph Earnest


Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday
that no progress had been made to agree on a ceasefire in Ukraine during crisis talks
over the weekend in Berlin.

Following the talks between the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and
France on Sunday, Lavrov told a Berlin news conference that the talks had failed to
produce “positive results in [...] establishing a ceasefire and (starting) a political

Lavrov accused Kiev’s new leaders of changing their demands over what it would take
to establish a truce between government troops and pro-federalization, who have
been fighting for more than four months in eastern Ukraine.

“Our Ukrainian counterparts, unfortunately, continue setting conditions – and rather
vague ones at that – including, as they say, the establishment of an impenetrable
border,” Lavrov said, adding that Russia wanted an “unconditional” ceasefire.

However, Lavrov said that “all questions” regarding a Russian humanitarian convoy to
Ukraine had been resolved with Kiev and the Red Cross.

The convoy has been parked at the border between Russia and Ukraine for days amid
objections from Kiev.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Sunday that the Berlin talks
had seen “frank words” being exchanged “on some issues,” but admitted the talks had
been “difficult.”

Steinmeier said the four foreign ministers would consult with their leaders before
possibly agreeing on how to proceed on Tuesday.

Source: Al Manar News


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Pentagon: New strikes on Islamic State in battle for Mosul Dam Mon, 18 Aug 2014 19:45:49 +0000 Joseph Earnest


Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The US has conducted fresh airstrikes on the “Islamic
State.” President Barack Obama says the assistance to Iraqi forces fighting to regain
control of the Mosul Dam area in line with objectives to protect US interests.

Fighter, bomber and drone aircraft carried out Monday’s strikes, the Pentagon
announced in a statement. Since August 8, the US military has conducted a total of
68 airstrikes in Iraq, according to the Pentagon. Of those, 35 have supported Iraqi
forces near the Mosul Dam.

“The failure of the Mosul Dam could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians
and threaten US personnel and facilities – including the US Embassy in Baghdad,”
Obama wrote to Congress on Sunday. The US president added that failing to take
the dam back from the “Islamic State” (IS) could worsen the humanitarian situation,
and “prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services.”

The US launched nine airstrikes Saturday and 14 Sunday to clear way for Kurdish
fighters (pictured). The attacks included the first reported use of land-based bombers
in the military campaign so far.

“Mosul Dam was liberated completely,” Ali Awni, an official from Iraq’s main Kurdish
party, told the news agency AFP Sunday. However, IS insists that it maintains

Lieutenant General Qassim al-Moussawi said Iraqi forces and Kurdish peshmerga
secured the dam Monday, but that part remained contested and fierce fighting
continued. In his televised statement, al-Moussawi added that security services had
dismantled at least 170 bombs around the dam but that many still remained and that
IS fighters had fled to areas near the south of the complex, hiding in homes.

Source: Deutsche Welle


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US warplanes strike ISIL targets to protect minorities in Iraq Fri, 08 Aug 2014 20:59:18 +0000 Joseph Earnest

Barack Obama

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—U.S. warplanes struck Iraq on Friday for the first time
since American troops pulled out in 2011, attacking terrorists advancing towards the
Kurdish region after President Barack Obama said Washington must act to prevent

The rebels had advanced to within a half hour’s drive of Arbil, capital of Iraq’s Kurdish
region and a hub for U.S. oil companies. A Pentagon spokesman said two F/A-18
aircraft dropped laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece used by Islamic State
fighters to shell Kurdish forces defending Arbil.

Obama authorized air strikes after tens of thousands of Christians fled for their lives
from Islamic State fighters who have crucified and beheaded captives.


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Bank of America offers largest settlement in history–$16 billion Fri, 08 Aug 2014 02:29:03 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media NEW YORK—When Attorney General Eric Holder took on the largest
banks in America over toxic mortgages and fraud, he was ready for hardball all the
way to the finish line. Bank of America was one of the banks on his radar and just
this morning was the latest to crack under pressure, making an offer only a mad man
could refuse.

According to the New York Times, after months of low-balling the Justice
Department, Bank of America finally caved in and and made its offer.

The Times reported the tentative deal — which people briefed on the matter said
would cost Bank of America more than $16 billion to settle investigations into its sale
of toxic mortgage securities — started to take shape last week after the Justice
Department rejected yet another settlement offer from the bank. Then, a wild card
was thrown in the mix. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>


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Britain: Russian food sanctions against West not justified Fri, 08 Aug 2014 00:07:32 +0000 Joseph Earnest

Union Jack

Newscast Media LONDON—There are no grounds for Russia to impose retaliatory
sanctions against Western countries, a British Foreign and Commonwealth Office
official told RIA Novosti.

“There are no grounds for Russia to impose these sanctions. We have been pushing
for a strong and determined international response to Russia’s unacceptable behavior
in Ukraine. We have been clear that we are prepared to play our part and that there
will be some costs, but this does not diminish our commitment. Instead of retaliating,
Russia should be using its influence with the violent Russian-backed separatists to
stop destabilizing Ukraine,” the official said.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin singed an order on economic
measures to protect the country’s security. The decree banned for a year imports of
agricultural and food products from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia.


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Christian towns in northern Iraq seized by Islamist rebels Thu, 07 Aug 2014 22:44:04 +0000 Joseph Earnest

Angel with cross

Newscast Media BAGHDAD—Militants from the Islamic State have seized Iraq’s largest
Christian town and surrounding areas in northern Iraq, prompting the exodus of tens
of thousands of people.

The capture of Qaraqosh by the Sunni-led extremists on August 7 followed the
overnight withdrawal of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, who had suffered a humiliating
defeat in the area over the weekend.

Before the Islamic State — then known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
(ISIL) — seized large swaths of western and northern Iraq in June and declared a
caliphate, Qaraqosh had a population of about 50,000 people, mostly Christians.

But thousands of displaced Iraqis also fled to Qaraqosh and other nearby towns that
were being defended by Kurdish fighters since the militants seized Mosul in June.
Militants also seized the mostly Christian towns of Tall Kayf, Bartella, and Karamlesh.

The other towns seized by the Islamic State on August 7 also had communities from
the Shabak Shi’ite minority. Reports say almost all of the residents and displaced
Iraqis have fled the towns.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on August 7 called for an emergency meeting
of the UN Security Council over the advances of Islamic militants in Iraq.

Earlier, Pope Francis called for world governments to take steps to protect Christians
driven from their villages in northern Iraq and provide them with humanitarian aid.

Meanwhile, Kurdish television reports that Mahmour and Gwar — two Kurdish
settlements less than 40 kilometers west of the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil — fell
to the militants on August 6.

The conquests put the jihadist fighters less than 20 kilometers from the border of
northern Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region.

A UN spokesman on August 7 said a total of 200,000 people had fled fighting in
northern Iraq in recent days, creating a “tragedy of immense proportions.”

The Islamic State also claimed it had seized Iraq’s largest dam, the Mosul Dam on the
Tigris River, but Kurdish forces said the dam was still under their control.
The latest militant advances come despite a counterattack on Mosul that was
launched by Kurdish fighters on August 6 in coordination with air strikes by Iraqi
government forces.

Iraqi officials say one air strike on August 6 targeted a building in Mosul that was
under the control of the Sunni militants, killing at least 60 people.
Medical workers said the building was a prison run by the Islamic State since it seized
Mosul in June.

Source: Radio Free Europe


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Who is the culprit behind the released US terrorist list? Thu, 07 Aug 2014 00:27:53 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media WASHINGTON—A website has disclosed the number of people
considered suspicious by the NSA’s terrorism investigators. But who leaked the lists?
It’s unlikely that it was Edward Snowden, the usual suspect.

The world’s most famous whistleblower is currently in Russia. He is not a Russian
citizen, and he doesn’t work for an intelligence agency that keeps its records in
Cyrillic script. Edward Snowden is a US citizen and has been granted political asylum
in Russia. The famed whistleblower’s location is important to bear in mind for those
trying to link him to the lists published on the investigative website “The


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Russian virologists visit Ebola hotspots in West Africa Wed, 06 Aug 2014 01:56:53 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media CONAKRY, Guinea—Russian virologists have visited two Guinean
hospitals in the stricken capital Conakry, in West Africa, Russia’s Heal Ministry
spokesman said Tuesday.

“Our experts are working together with their colleagues in the region. They visited
two local medical institutions to study methods of diagnosing and treating the Ebola
[virus] disease,” said Oleg Salagai from the Russian Ministry of Health.

The spokesman said the delegation of Russian virology experts included Prof. Viktor
Maleyev, a deputy director at the Central Scientific Research Institute of
Epidemiology; and prof. Sergei Schelkunov, a head of department at Ivanovsky
Virology Institute.

They reportedly arrived in the city last Saturday and paid a visit to the Clinique
Ambroise Pare and the Donka Hospital.

According to the health ministry, the new Ebola outbreak was first registered in
Guinea in February and then spilt over into Sierra Leone and Liberia. The World Health
Organization (WHO) has confirmed 1,440 cases and 826 deaths. It is also the
deadliest outbreak to date.

Source: Ria Novosti


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Central African Republic government resigns as part of peace deal Wed, 06 Aug 2014 01:09:51 +0000 Joseph Earnest

Central African Republic

Newscast Media BANGUL—The government of the Central African Republic has
stepped down. The resignation comes as part of a peace deal aimed at ending
months of sectarian violence in which thousands have died.

Central African Republic’s interim prime minister, Andre Nzapayeke and his Cabinet
stepped down on Tuesday as part of a peace agreement reached last month with
Christian and Muslim rebel factions, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza said.

A spokesman for Samba-Panza told state radio that the resignation was at her

Samba-Panza said that, following talks with both factions, she would make the
transitional government more inclusive. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>


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Heads of state gather in Belgium to mark start of WWI Tue, 05 Aug 2014 00:50:14 +0000 Joseph Earnest

World War

Newscast Media BRUSSELS—More than fifty heads of state and high representatives
of European countries got together in the south-eastern Belgian city of Liege Monday
to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War (WWI).

Members of the Belgian and British royal families, President of the European
Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, as well as other heads of state attended a
ceremony to mark 100 years since the Germans invaded Belgium.

The heads of state arrived in Liege in the morning where they were welcomed by King
Philippe of Belgium and went to the Cointe Allied Nations Memorial for a service
including wreath laying and a minute’s silence.

King Philippe, French President Francois Hollande, German President Joachim Gauck
and the Duke of Cambridge Prince William gave short speeches to pay tribute to the
victims during the war.

King Philippe said in his speech the commemoration is of vital importance for building
the future more effectively. He said the Europeans dream of a peaceful, united and
democratic Europe from generation to generation.

He added that people need to cherish what they have today and pass on the
message: real understanding and mutual planning will bring us a longtime peace.
In August 1914, The German Second Army crossed the frontier into neutral Belgium so
as to attack France from the north.

The Battle of Liege ran for days from August 4 to 16, 1914, and led to surprisingly
heavy losses for the German invasion force by the numerically heavily outnumbered

The four-year conflict from 1914 to 1918 known as the Great War left some 10 million
dead and 20 million injured on the battlefields. Millions more perished under
occupation through disease and hunger. Add

Source: Xinhua

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Russia expands list of banned US imports into country Mon, 04 Aug 2014 21:52:38 +0000 Joseph Earnest


Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian authorities have added several more U.S.
products to a list of items that Moscow has banned since the West imposed
sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support for pro-Russian
separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Russia’s agricultural watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, said on August 4 that its services
found aerobic mesophylls and facultative anaerobes in poultry shipped from
U.S.-based Sanderson Farms, Inc. and Tyson Foods, Inc.

Also on August 4, Rosselkhoznadzor said it increased control over imports of veal from
the U.S.-based Marcho Farms company, citing the detection of tetracycline in the

Russia’s consumer protection watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, said on August 4 that it is
preparing to suspend imports from the United States of “Kentucky Gentleman”

The group said its experts found signs of organic chemicals in the bourbon that can
cause health problems.

Source: Radio Free Europe


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Der Spiegel:Israel spied on John Kerry during peace talks Mon, 04 Aug 2014 19:23:27 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media BERLIN—Israel eavesdropped on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
during doomed peace talks with the Palestinians last year, German news weekly Der
Spiegel reported Sunday.

The article said the Israelis and at least one other secret service listened in on
Kerry’s conversations as he tried to mediate, in a development that Der Spiegel said
was likely to further strain ties between Israel and the United States.

Kerry regularly spoke by telephone with high-ranking officials throughout the Middle
East during the negotiations that finally collapsed earlier this year.

Spiegel, which cited “several sources among secret services,” said that he used not
only secure lines but also normal telephones with satellite connections which were
vulnerable to tapping.

“The government in Jerusalem used this information in the negotiations on a
diplomatic solution in the Middle East,” it said. Spiegel said Kerry’s office and the
Israeli government declined to comment on its report.

Kerry made reviving Middle East diplomacy a central priority at the start of his term
and coaxed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president
Mahmoud Abbas back to the negotiating table in July 2013.

But in April this year, Israel made a surprise announcement of plans for 700 new
settlements and refused to free a last batch of Palestinian prisoners after earlier
releases. Abbas in turn sought Palestinian membership in 15 UN conventions and the
peace drive eventually broke down.

Kerry has attempted to mediate during the current Israeli military offensive in Gaza
and flew to Israel last week.

But he has failed to bring about a lasting truce in the 26-day confrontation that has
claimed more than 1,750 lives.

Source: Tehran Times


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Liberia orders shutdown of all schools to contain Ebola Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:24:07 +0000 Joseph Earnest


Newscast Media MONROVIA—Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says
the country will close all schools in a bid to contain Ebola.

“All schools are ordered closed following further directives from the
Ministry of Education,” Sirleaf said in a televised interview on Wednesday.

“All non-essential staff—to be determined by the heads of ministries and agencies,
are to be placed on 30 days’ compulsory leave.”

Sirleaf also stated that Liberia would allocate $5 million as an “initial contribution” to
the regional fight against Ebola.

The president’s announcement follows her order on Monday to close most of the
country’s land borders.

Liberia, together with neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, is fighting a hard battle to
prevent the spread of the deadly disease.

According to the World Health Organization, at least 1,201 people have been infected
in these three countries since the start of the year.

Guinea is the worst-hit country with 319 deaths as of July 23. Liberia has reported
129 deaths, while 224 have lost their lives in Sierra Leone.

There is currently no known cure for Ebola, a form of hemorrhagic fever whose
symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding.

The virus spreads through direct contact with infected blood, feces or sweat. It can
also be spread through sexual contact or the unprotected handling of contaminated

Ebola was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976 in an outbreak
that killed 280 people.

It remains one of the world’s most virulent diseases, which kills between 25 to 90
percent of those who fall sick.

Source: Press TV


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US latest sanctions to have no impact on credit cards in Russia Thu, 31 Jul 2014 01:54:55 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media MOSCOW—Washington’s newest update to the list of sanctioned
Russian banks will not affect Visa or MasterCard operations in the country, the
companies’ representative offices in Russia told RIA Novosti Wednesday.

“These sanctions prevent blacklisted banks from accessing US capital markets and do
not affect our activities,” a MasterCard representative said.

Visa explained the US-imposed restrictions do not compel it to block operations at
any Russian banks. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>


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Russia warns US of tangible losses after additional sanctions Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:39:11 +0000 Joseph Earnest


Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia warned the US on Wednesday that economic
sanctions imposed by Washington against Moscow over the Ukrainian crisis will only
further worsen relations between the two countries.

“Washington will gain nothing from such decisions except for further complication of
Russian-American relations and the creation of an unfavorable atmosphere in
international affairs, where the cooperation between our countries often plays a key
role,” a statement released by the Russian foreign ministry stated.

“We have repeatedly spoken about the illegitimacy and groundlessness of the US
sanctions against Russia,” it said, commenting on a new package of sanctions
announced by Washington on Tuesday. CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE>>


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Foreigners asked to leave Libya immediately due to raging battle Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:37:56 +0000 Joseph Earnest


Newscast Media TRIPOLI—Several countries have advised their nationals in Libya to
leave the country immediately amid a raging battle in the capital Tripoli. On Sunday,
Cairo called on its citizens in Tripoli and Benghazi to seek “safer areas in Libya or head
to the Libya-Tunisia border.”

The violence also prompted Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands to follow

Previously, Belgium, Malta, Spain and Turkey did the same and called out their
nationals. The US also pulled out its diplomatic staff on Saturday.

Libya is witnessing one of its worst spasms of violence since the ouster of longtime
dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a popular uprising in 2011.

Clashes in the capital broke out between rival militias on July 13 over the control of
the main international airport.

The airport has been controlled by militias from the town of Zintan since the
overthrow of Gaddafi.

Rival groups have unleashed dozens of rocket attacks on the airport in a bid to bring
it under their control.

Two weeks of fighting in the capital has left 97 people dead and over 400 injured.
Another 38 people were also killed in the ongoing clashes between the army and
militant groups in Benghazi on Sunday.

Nearly three years after the fall of Gaddafi, Libya is still grappling with rising insecurity
as the country has been witnessing numerous clashes between government forces
and rival militant groups.

The former rebels refuse to lay down arms despite efforts by the central government
to impose law and order.

Thousands of angry Libyan demonstrators frequently take to the streets in different
cities to protest against the lack of security across the North African country.


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Pope meets Sudanese woman who refused to denounce faith Thu, 24 Jul 2014 22:14:42 +0000 Joseph Earnest

Meriam being blessed by Pope Francis

Newscast Media VATICAN CITY—Meriam Ibrahim, the woman who was sentenced to
death in Sudan for refusing to renounce her Christian faith, arrived Thursday in Italy
and met with Pope Francis in the Casa Santa Marta. During the meeting, she was
accompanied by her family: Husband Daniel Wani, Martin (a year and a half), and
Maya, born in prison two months ago.

Her family was accompanied by the Italian Deputy Foreign Minister, Lapo Pistelli, who
helped arrange her departure from Sudan and travelled with her to Italy.

The head of the Vatican Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, said the meeting
took place in a “very serene and affectionate” environment, and Pope Francis
thanked Meriam for her “courageous witness to perseverance in the Faith.”

Fr. Lombardi said Meriam thanked the Pope for his prayers, saying they provided great
support and encouragement.

The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had earlier welcomed Meriam and her family at
Rome’s Ciampino airport, calling it “a day of celebration.”

Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to death over charges of apostasy, since her father
was a Muslim. She married her husband, a Christian, in a church ceremony in 2011.

She was told if she accepted Islam she would be freed, but she told the court she
would never apostatize from her Christian faith. Her death sentence was overturned
in June, but she was then stopped at the airport and blocked from leaving the
country by Sudanese officials who questioned the validity of her travel documents.

Fr. Lombardi said Pope Francis met with Meriam’s family to show his closeness,
concern and prayers for all those who suffer for their faith, and especially for
Christians who suffer persecution or restrictions on their religious freedom.

Meriam and her family will settle in the United States.

Source: Vatican Radio


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Missionary charged with illicit sex with children at African orphanage Wed, 23 Jul 2014 22:18:55 +0000 Joseph Earnest

KTLA screen-capture of Matthew Durham in Kenya at orphanage

Newscast Media OKLAHOMA CITY—An Oklahoma man who worked as a missionary in
Africa has been charged by the FBI with traveling to Kenya to engage in illicit sexual
conduct with underage children, announced Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney
for the Western District of Oklahoma.

According to KTLA the suspect was volunteering at a Kenyan children’s home when
he allegedly raped and molested a number of young children.

Court records show, 19-year-old Matthew Durham confessed to raping several young
girls, forcing some boys to perform oral sex on him and even making other kids watch.


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Countries suspend flights to Tel Aviv out of fear of Hamas Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:41:29 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media BERLIN—Several international airlines including Germany’s Lufthansa
have announced that they are suspending flights to Tel Aviv for safety reasons. This
came after at least one militant rocket reportedly hit near the airport.

The Lufthansa Group announced Tuesday that it was canceling all flights to Tel Aviv
for the next 36 hours. This includes not just Lufthansa flights, but also those of the
group’s other airlines: Germanwings, Austrian Airlines and Swiss.

According to a statement, the decision had been made because of the “unsafe
situation” in the vicinity of Ben Gurion International Airport on the outskirts of Tel
Aviv. This came just hours after at least one rocket fired from the Gaza Strip by
militants hit in the vicinity of the airport. The Islamist group Hamas and its allies have
been firing rockets at Israel over the past two weeks, as the country continues an
offensive in the Palestinian territory.

Lufthansa normally operates between seven and 10 flights to Tel Aviv daily, from
Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Zurich and Vienna.

Lufthansa was just one of several international airlines to suspend flights to Tel Aviv
on Tuesday, after Air France announced it was doing so “until further notice.”
Dutch flag carrier KLM followed suit.

“We have canceled our flight to Tel Aviv as a precaution because we can’t secure
passengers’ safety,” KLM spokeswoman Joyce Veekman said. “We’ll review the
situation every day.”

Earlier, the US carriers Delta, US Airways and United Airlines had announced similar

This comes just days after a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet crashed into eastern
Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. This raised questions about whether airlines
should be operating over zones of armed conflict.

Source: Deutsche Welle


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Moscow: Ukrainian jet detected close to MH17 before crash Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:16:04 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media MOSCOW—The Russian military detected a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter
jet gaining height towards the MH17 Boeing on the day of the catastrophe. Kiev must
explain why the military jet was tracking the passenger airplane, the Russian Defense
Ministry said.

“A Ukraine Air Force military jet was detected gaining height, its distance from the
Malaysian Boeing was 3 to 5km,” said the head of the Main Operations Directorate of
the HQ of Russia’s military forces, Lieutenant-General Andrey Kartopolov speaking at a
media conference in Moscow on Monday. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>

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France redeploys troops into several of its former colonies Sat, 19 Jul 2014 21:41:07 +0000 Joseph Earnest

French troops

Newscast Media PARIS—French president has announced the redeployment of 3,000
French military forces in five of its former colonies across northwest Africa as a part
of what it referred to as an anti-terrorist operation.

President Francois Hollande stated on Saturday that the new operation code-named
“Barkhane” after a crescent-shaped dune in Sahara desert — will be out of Chad and
will help “secure” the region in the fight on what he referred to as regional terrorism.
Hollande further underlined the importance of engagement by African forces.

This is while Chadian President Idriss Deby asserted that it is not always France’s job
to ensure security in the region and that African nations must also take charge.
The two counterparts met in Chad following the French president’s visits to Niger and
Ivory Coast.

Operation Barkhane will reportedly involve Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and
Mali, where French troops intervened in 2013 under the pretext of routing radical
militants in the mineral-rich African country.

The development comes just days after Mali and France signed a new military
cooperation pact to jointly wage a battle against militants in the West African
country. The agreement on Wednesday was reached between French Defense
Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Malian counterpart Bah N’Daw in the Malian
capital Bamako.

In January 2013, France deployed its troops to its former colony under the pretext of
halting the advance of the Tuareg fighters in the African country’s north.

Source: Press TV


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Russia denies being behind downed Ukrainian aircraft Thu, 17 Jul 2014 21:15:27 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia’s Defense Ministry denied on Thursday it had shot
down a Ukrainian airplane and called the accusation by Kiev “absurd”, Russian state
news agency RIA reported.

“It is absurd, just like all the previous accusations from Kiev’s leadership against
Russia’s Defense Ministry,” a ministry spokesman was quoted as saying.

A Ukrainian SU-25 fighter plane was shot down. It was on military operations over the
east of Ukraine, where government forces are fighting to quell a pro-Russian
separatist rebellion.

The Ukrainian military accused Russia of shutting down the jet. It was the first time
Ukraine had directly accused Russia of using air power in the war. In a previous
attack on a military transporter, which it said was launched from Russia, Kiev was
unable to specify whether it came from land-based missiles or airborne.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said the plane was brought down on Wednesday night
near Amvrosiyivka, about 15 km (about 9 miles) from the border with Russia, by
rockets which hit it in the tail as it wheeled away from the border.

The pilot safely ejected, Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the National Defense and
Security Council, told journalists.

The downing of the SU-25 came against a background of increasingly strident
charges of direct Russian involvement in the three and a half month conflict in which
the pro-Western government in Kiev is fighting to put down a rebellion by separatists
who want a future in Russia.

Source: Al Manar TV News


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US: Russia building up troops along Ukrainian border again Wed, 16 Jul 2014 20:55:09 +0000 Joseph Earnest

Russian troops

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The US has accused Russia of again building up its
forces along the border with eastern Ukraine, where fighting continues. Kyiv says its
troops have battled separatists around three Ukrainian border towns.

The US Department of Defense on Wednesday said it had detected up to 12,000
Russian combat troops on Ukraine’s eastern border and accused Russia of continuing
to support separatists in eastern Ukraine.

In May, apparently in response to Western pressure, Russian reduced its border
forces – put by the US at 40,000 – down to about 1,000.

But, in Washington on Wednesday, US defense spokesman Army Colonel Steve
Warren estimated that 12,000 were present. He described the Russian units as
“battalion task groups” and “combat soldiers.”

“I can’t speak for what they intend to do. Certainly, it is intimidating,” Warren said.
Moscow has repeatedly denied sending advanced weapons being used by separatists
since they were evicted by Ukrainian forces from their stronghold of Slavyansk 10
days ago.

Ukraine’s Kyiv-based government on Wednesday said it had lost 11 servicemen in the
past 24 hours during fighting around three towns close to Ukraine’s border with

Ukrainian national security spokesman Andriy Lysenko identified them as the towns of
Amvrosyika, Marynivka and Izvarne. Troops had been backed by Ukrainian artillery and
aviation, he added.

Rebel leader Igor Strelkov said two of his fighters were killed during a rebel bid to cut
off government forces east of Donetsk.

Lysenko said Ukrainian warplanes had been cleared to resume flights over the east.
Two days ago, a government Antonov-26 transport plane was downed. Kyiv alleged
that it was fired from Russia.

Source: Deutsche Welle


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Kerry Cites Very Real Gaps in Iran Nuclear Talks Tue, 15 Jul 2014 21:16:26 +0000 Joseph Earnest Newscast Media VIENNA—U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says nuclear talks with
Iran have made good progress but there is “still work to do” to meet a July 20
deadline. Speaking after talks in Vienna between six world powers and Iranian
officials, Kerry said there have been “tough negotiations” and that “very real gaps”
remain in the positions of the two sides.

He said he still believes there is a path forward and that both sides are working in
good faith.

Kerry said he is returning to Washington to consult with President Barack Obama and
Congress about the prospects for a long-term deal with Iran.

Kerry said he has told Iranian officials that the 19,000 nuclear centrifuges the
country possesses are too many.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech last week that Iran
needs tens of thousands more centrifuges.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a separate news conference on
July 15, said that although he still hopes a deal would be possible by the July 20
deadline, he believed enough progress has been made to justify an extension.

Source: Radio Free Europe


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