® Houston News and Breaking World News 2014-04-17T23:58:43Z WordPress Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[Kerry and foreign dignitaries reach diplomatic accord on Ukraine]]> 2014-04-17T23:58:43Z 2014-04-17T23:58:43Z

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


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[U.S. releasing $450 million of Iranian frozen funds]]> 2014-04-17T20:33:02Z 2014-04-17T20:33:02Z


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.

Source: Radio Free Europe


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[Putin: Talk of Russian interference in Ukraine is nonsense]]> 2014-04-17T19:11:45Z 2014-04-17T19:11:45Z


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.”

Source: Deutsche Welle


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[NATO beefs up presence on eastern border as crisis looms]]> 2014-04-16T21:08:51Z 2014-04-16T21:08:51Z

NATO troops

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.


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[Russia’s stand on Ukraine is sound and consistent–Moscow]]> 2014-04-16T18:31:29Z 2014-04-16T18:31:29Z

The Soviets

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.

Source: Ria Novosti


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[White House embarks on $600 million job-training program]]> 2014-04-16T17:05:15Z 2014-04-16T17:05:15Z

White House

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
job-driven training.

Programs like apprenticeships, that will expand partnerships with industry, businesses,
unions, community colleges, and training organizations to train workers in the skills
they need.

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>>

Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[Assad restores tranquility in Homs and Aleppo surroundings]]> 2014-04-15T18:30:31Z 2014-04-15T18:30:31Z

Syria civil war

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>>

Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[New treaty allows children to file complaints with UN for abuse of their rights]]> 2014-04-14T21:00:40Z 2014-04-14T21:00:40Z

United Nations

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>>


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[Kathleen Sebelius: Obamacare rollout was flat out wrong]]> 2014-04-14T20:04:02Z 2014-04-14T20:00:49Z

Kathleen Sebelius

by Anugrah Kumar

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
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.


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[Huge explosive kills over 70 people in Nigeria’s capital city]]> 2014-04-14T19:21:58Z 2014-04-14T19:21:58Z 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
terrorist group.

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.


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[G20 expresses concern about Ukraine fallout–urges reforms]]> 2014-04-12T02:40:21Z 2014-04-12T02:37:38Z

G20 Summit

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>>


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[Woman’s shoe grows wings at Hillary Clinton event in Vegas]]> 2014-04-11T23:10:19Z 2014-04-11T23:10:19Z 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.


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[Turkey condemns US Senate resolution on Armenian Genocide]]> 2014-04-11T21:54:43Z 2014-04-11T21:54:43Z


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).



Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[Adjustable camshaft screw defect prompts BMW recall]]> 2014-04-11T20:41:35Z 2014-04-11T20:41:35Z


Newscast Media MUNICH— German luxury car maker BMW has announced it’s
extending its recall of 6-cylinder vehicles with faulty screws in the adjustable
camshaft system. The company said the defect could potentially lead to engine

The BMW auto maker confirmed Friday it was recalling almost half a million cars to fix
a weak screw in six-cylinder engines.

The company said it had extended its repair action globally after the defect had
already been made public in the US and China where the bulk of the affected vehicles
had already been fixed.

BMW spoke of 20,000 cars affected in Canada, over 10,000 units in Germany and
6,600 vehicles in Japan, all of them built between September 2009 and November

There had been no accidents connected to the faulty screws and owners were told
they could continue to drive the cars before the fix, but were advised to contact
repair shops, if engine warning lights lit up.

The Munich-based car maker did not make a mention of what it though the recall
action would cost the company, not did it specify which supplier could be held
responsible for the faulty parts.

The number and scope of recalls globally acting car makers have been forced to
launch has increased dramatically in recent years.

General Motors is still under enormous pressure for having started a recall too late,
reportedly causing the death of many people. The world’s largest auto maker, Toyota,
has also had it good share of recalls in recent years, with 6.5 million units across the
globe needing an overhaul over technical defects.

Source: Deutsche Welle


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[Researchers develop solar technology for Internet access]]> 2014-04-11T00:57:14Z 2014-04-11T00:57:14Z


Newscast Media EDINBURGH—Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have
developed technology that enables solar panels to detect broadband signals and
makes internet access fueled by the power of the sun possible.

The technology allows data to be transmitted on the World Wide Web using daylight,
and, in addition, solar energy can be used to power such a device, as well as detect
and carry data, the University of Edinburgh said in a statement on Thursday.

This could enable self-sufficient wireless communications in remote areas, in
developing regions with no web infrastructure, or in emergency situations, the
statement said.

Prototypes of the system have reached transmission speed of about seven Mbps,
which is equivalent to maximum speeds in conventional wireless networks, it added.
The research builds on the Edinburgh team’s pioneering Li-Fi technology, which
enables data to be transmitted over the internet using LED light bulbs.

“Solar-powered li-fi could make internet access available in far-flung places, and
opens up all sorts of possibilities for widespread wireless communications,” Prof.
Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh was quoted as saying.

Source: Xinhua


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[Jamaica’s Asafa Powell banned for 18 months for doping]]> 2014-04-10T23:29:46Z 2014-04-10T23:28:22Z


Newscast Media HOUSTON—Former 100 meters world record holder Asafa Powell has
been banned for 18 months for failing a doping test last June. The suspension,
backdated to his failed test, will end on December 20.

The 31-year-old Jamaican sprinter Powell tested positive for oxilofrine – a substance
on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s blacklist sometimes found in food supplements –
on June 21, 2013. His 18-month ban, issued by the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission
Thursday, will be retroactive and date back to the failed test.

Powell missed last year’s world championships as a result of his positive test results.
He said in January that his Canadian physical trainer Chris Xuereb provided him with
nine supplements, including Epiphany D1. His legal team showed three laboratory
reports finding that oxilofrine was present in the product.

Xuereb denied the allegations from Powell’s camp, saying the athlete should take
responsibility for the failed tests.

Powell’s former training partner, Sherone Simpson, received an 18-month suspension
from the same panel for taking the same substance on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday,
Jamaican Olympic discus thrower Alison Randall was banned for two years for using
the prohibited diuretic hydrochlorothiazide.

Powell set a new world record in the 100 meters of 9.74 seconds in 2008, a
benchmark since bested by his countryman Usain Bolt.

Source: Deutsche Welle


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[Russia:Flight 370 was hijacked to Afghan region of Kandahar]]> 2014-04-10T16:50:12Z 2014-04-10T16:50:12Z


Newscast Media MOSCOW—A Russian newspaper said that Malaysia Airlines Flight
MH370 is in Kandahar Province, located in Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan,
but it offers anonymous, dubious sources.

The Moskovsky Komsomolets paper says “an anonymous source in the intelligence
agencies” in Russia said that the missing plane’s “pilots are not guilty.”

“Flight MH 370 Malaysia Airlines missing on March 8th with 239 passengers was
hijacked. Pilots are not guilty, the plane was hijacked by unknown terrorists. We
know that the name of the terrorist who gave instructions to pilots is ‘Hitch’. The
plane is in Afghanistan not far from Kandahar near the border with Pakistan,” claims
the newspaper–which has a circulation of about 1.1 million. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[Criticism by aid agency over South Sudan rejected by UN]]> 2014-04-09T22:54:20Z 2014-04-09T22:54:20Z

UN building

Newscast Media JUBA—The United Nations on Wednesday hit back at criticism of its
mission in South Sudan after a leading international aid agency accused it of
“shocking indifference” towards thousands of displaced people living in squalor.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) launched a stinging attack on UN
officials in the country, accusing them of leaving terrified civilians in a section of
camp acknowledged as a “death trap” because of its potential exposure to diseases.

“We are doing our best to decongest the site and encourage people to move
voluntarily to better sites with better sanitation,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric

“It is a huge logistical challenge to take care of these thousands of people.”

MSF said earlier some 21,000 people had been left in a flood-prone part of a UN
Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) base “exposed to waterborne diseases and
potential epidemics.”

Nick Birnback, spokesman for the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations,
rejected the MSF criticisms of UN officials in South Sudan.

“I strongly disagree with the assertions made by MSF against UNMISS and these
views are not necessarily shared by the rest of the humanitarian community,”

“There has been no change in the level of humanitarian assistance being provided,”
he said.

The UN was keenly aware of the risks of epidemics and overcrowding, he added.

“De-congestion of overpopulated sites and cleaning up of areas posing an epidemic
risk are essential and remain the basis of all efforts UNMISS is undertaking,” he said.

Around 1,500 civilians had moved voluntarily from the area of the Tomping base in
Juba posing the greatest of health risks.

MSF earlier argued that the UN was failing to do enough in South Sudan, which has
been in conflict since mid-December when troops loyal to President Salva Kiir clashed
with supporters of his former deputy Riek Machar.

Source: Al Manar


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[Black box signals of missing flight 370 detected by Navy team]]> 2014-04-09T01:44:03Z 2014-04-09T01:44:03Z

The Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—U.S. Navy personnel continue their support of the
search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Pentagon spokesman said April 7.
The United States has two P-8 Poseidon aircraft searching in the Indian Ocean, Army
Colonel Steve Warren said.

Navy aircraft supporting the search have flown 24 missions, with 220 hours of flight
time covering 336,000 square nautical miles, according to a U.S. 7th Fleet news

“Additionally, we have two pieces of highly sophisticated underwater detection
equipment [engaged in the search] — the towed pinger locator and the Bluefin-21
[sidescan sonar],” Warren said.

Both underwater devices are operating from the Australian Defense Vessel Ocean
Shield, the news release said.

The team operating the towed pinger locator detected signals April 6 that are
consistent with sounds that would come from a black box, the release said. The
signals were detected on at least three separate occasions for extended periods of
time and at several different depths. The locator also detected two signals at the
same frequency, but in different locations, which would be consistent with signals
transmitted by both a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder, the release

The team is working to reacquire the signal and plans to use the Bluefin-21 to create
a picture of any potential wreckage.

The search is a round-the-clock operation, and is currently focused on an area about
950 nautical miles northwest of Perth, Australia.

Determining the location and position of search assets is “a very collaborative effort
between Americans, the Australians, the Malaysians and others,” Warren said. But, he
added, “the Australians right now do have the lead.


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[WHO: Current Ebola outbreak in West Africa most challenging]]> 2014-04-09T00:08:18Z 2014-04-09T00:05:35Z


Newscast Media NEW YORK—The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is one of the
“most challenging” ones ever to strike since the disease emerged four decades ago,
says the World Health Organization (WHO).

“We have not had an Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa before,” Keiji
Fukuda, the WHO assistant director general, said on Tuesday, adding, “This
is one of the most challenging Ebola outbreaks we have ever faced.”

According to the WHO’s latest figures, there have been 157 suspected cases in
Guinea, 101 of them fatal.

“It’s absolutely critical to get out as much accurate information as possible to
communities and the countries affected, to reduce the rumors, so that people have
facts to work with,” Fukuda said.

“Ebola is clearly a severe disease. It’s an infection with a high fatality rate. But it’s
also an infection that can be controlled,” he noted.

The WHO did not announce any travel restrictions for Guinea, however, other
countries in the region are bracing for the epidemic, with Senegal closing its border
with the neighboring country.

“We have everything in place to take measures against Ebola. We have a well-oiled
system, which we are perfecting daily,” Senegalese Health Minister Eva Marie Coll
Seck said after visiting the port and airport in the capital Dakar.

Stephane Hugonnet, a WHO medical officer who returned from Guinea last weekend,
said, “There is a risk that other countries might be affected, therefore we absolutely
need to remain vigilant.”

There is currently no known cure for Ebola, whose symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting
and bleeding.

The virus spreads through direct contact with blood, feces and sweat. It can also be
spread through sexual contact or the unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.
Discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976, Ebola remains one of the
world’s most virulent diseases that kills between 25 to 90 percent of those who fall

The French Embassy in Liberia has released a travel advisory warning French citizens
against travel to the affected parts of Guinea or areas on the Liberian- Guinean

Source: Press TV


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[Russia and the U.S. continue pointing fingers at each other]]> 2014-04-08T05:18:32Z 2014-04-08T05:18:32Z


Newscast Media WASHINGTON—NATO should stop its belligerent rhetoric over the
crisis in Ukraine and return to normal cooperation with Russia, Russian Foreign Minister
Sergei Lavrov said in an article published by The Guardian.
Below is part of the text of the article, obtained from The Guardian:

“The profound, pervasive crisis in Ukraine is a matter of grave concern for
Russia. We understand perfectly well the position of a country which became
independent just over 20 years ago and still faces complex tasks to construct a
sovereign state. Among them is the search for a balance of interests among its
various regions, the peoples of which have different historical and cultural
roots, speak different languages and have different perspectives on their past,
present and their country’s future place in the world…”

Meanwhile, the US has deployed a warship to the Black Sea as tensions between
the countries Russia, the US and Ukraine continue to rise.

Now that Crimea is not part of Ukraine, Russian President Vladmir Putin is making sure
that criminal elements from the former regime are dealt with harshly. Putin called on
the Federal Security Service (FSB) to prevent radicals or individuals with a criminal
past from working in the Crimean government.

“I ask that you pay special attention to the formation of the FSB’s subdivisions in
Crimea and Sevastopol,” Putin said during a meeting with FSB officials.

“They have the task of not allowing individuals with a criminal past or those with
radical and extremist tendencies, as well as those attempting to disrupt the normal
development of Crimea and Sevastopol, into government agencies,” the Russian
president added.

Source: Ria Novosti


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[States are rejecting the controversial painkiller Zohydro]]> 2014-04-04T23:28:07Z 2014-04-04T23:28:07Z


Newscast Media BOSTON—Health regulators in Massachusetts have sent a letter to
doctors outlining their reason for banning the dispensing and prescription of the
controversial painkiller Zohydro.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the drugs, but concerns have been raised
about patients overdosing on the drug due to the narcotic it contains.

“Zohydro is a dangerously addictive pharmaceutical painkiller, approved by the FDA
recently over the objection of their scientific advisory council and is not available in
an abuse-deterrent form,” Gov. Patrick said. “Unless it is available in an
abuse-deterrent form, or better, until the secretary of [Health and Human
Services], or the Congress has acted on the requests to overturn the FDA, Zohydro
will not be available in Massachusetts,” Gov. Deval Patrick wrote as he issued the
The Associated Press also reported that Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin announced
an emergency order that would make it harder for doctors to prescribe Zohydro.


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[How the US created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest in Cuba]]> 2014-04-04T20:35:25Z 2014-04-04T20:35:25Z


Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The AP news agency has reported that the US tried
to undermine Cuba’s government with a social media website called ZunZuneo. Expert
William LeoGrande says that US credibility in the region has now been damaged.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) clandestinely developed
ZunZuneo, which was similar to Twitter, in order to incite flash mobs at sensitive
political moments in an effort to force democratic change in Havana.

At its height, ZunZuneo had 40,000 users in Cuba, who were unaware of the US
government’s involvement. Realizing that the US role would eventually be discovered,
those involved in the operation sought to find independent financing for ZunZuneo.
Unable to secure a private sector sponsor, they shut the social media site down in
2012 when government financing dried up.

According to The Guardian, White House press secretary denied any involvement of
the White House with the program.

“It was a development-assistance program,” Carney said, adding: “I am not aware of
individuals here in the White House who were involved.” He also said the program was
subject to congressional oversight.

Carney denied suggestions the program was “under the table” or had “roped in”
unsuspecting Cubans.

The president of Venezuela has already pointed to this incident as proof that the
unrest in his country is being fomented by the United States. This operation in Cuba
gives other governments the perfect excuse to blame internal problems on USAID and
the United States government.

Source: Deutsche Welle


Joseph Earnest <![CDATA[Russia: Moscow may deny NATO-Afghan transit in retaliation]]> 2014-04-04T19:36:39Z 2014-04-04T19:36:39Z


Newscast Media MOSCOW—Moscow has a right to deny NATO transit to and from
Afghanistan in response to the alliance’s decision to suspend cooperation with Russia,
a senior Russian legislator said Friday.

“If our cooperation comes to a halt, we’ll have the right to suspend (NATO’s) transit,
and the alliance will have to find other routes,” Viktor Ozerov, head of the Defense
and Security Committee of the Federation Council, or upper house of parliament, told
Interfax news agency.

As NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) withdrawal from
Afghanistan in the end of 2014 approaches, the alliance will have to find routes
bypassing the Russian territory, Ozerov said.

Russia will lose nothing from the halt of cooperation, he said, noting that NATO has
always been working for its egoistic purposes.

“No progress was made on the key issue—missile defense. NATO continued to expand
and set up bases ignoring Russia’s position,” Ozerov noted.
Nevertheless, he said he believes NATO will revise its decision “very soon” and return
to dialogue and partnership.

“We are destined to cooperate because we live in the same space. Military activity of
one side may directly influence security of the other side. We can’t help but view
military unions of East European and Baltic states and military activity on their
territories as a threat to our strategic security,” Ozerov said.

This is not the first time that NATO has suspended cooperation with Russia. In 2008,
the bloc suspended cooperation with Moscow after a brief Russia-Georgia armed
conflict. Cooperation was resumed in 2009 at NATO’s initiative.

Russia joined the Partnership for Peace program with NATO in the early 1990s. The
two sides agreed that no excessive military presence was allowed on the territory of
Eastern European countries.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow expected
NATO to explain how the bloc’s recent military build-up in Eastern Europe
corresponded with existing bilateral agreements.

Source: Xinhua