UN urges Burkina Faso army to relinquish power to civilians, threatens sanctions

Newscast Media OUAGADOUGOU—A United Nations envoy has urged a civilian
transition of power in Burkina Faso, threatening sanctions against the West African
country unless the army gives up power.

“We hope there will be a transition led by a civilian and in keeping with the
constitutional order,” the UN envoy for West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, said on
Sunday, adding, “If not, the consequences are pretty clear. We want to avoid having
to impose sanctions on Burkina Faso.”

The comments come a day after the military top brass named Lieutenant Colonel
Yacouba Isaac Zida, the deputy commander of the elite presidential guard, to lead
the country’s transition.

On Friday, President Blaise Compaoré was forced to resign following two days of mass
protests against his attempts to change the constitution to extend his rule for a fifth

Chambas was speaking on behalf of a tripartite group of mediators, including
representatives of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African
States, after they met with Zida and Burkina Faso’s top military brass.

The UN official further stated they “assured us that they had well
understood the message.”

Under Burkina Faso’s constitution, the speaker of parliament should serve as
transitional leader.

A group of opposition parties and civil society organizations issued a statement on
Saturday, warning Burkina Faso’s army against a seizure of power and called for a
mass protest rally in the capital Ouagadougou on Sunday.

Burkina Faso gained independence from France in 1960 and changed its name in
1984 to the current one, which means “the land of upright men.”

Source: Press TV


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - November 3, 2014 at 11:48 pm

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Islamic State mulls using Ebola virus as biological weapon

Newscast Media BARCELONA—The Spanish government said it is concerned that
terrorists could use the Ebola virus as a biological weapon against the West. A close
eye is being kept on online chat rooms, where such attacks are reportedly discussed
among terrorist groups.

Extremists connected to the ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) terrorist
group have been considering using Ebola as a weapon against the West, Spanish
State Secretary for Security Francisco Martinez said in an address to the parliament.

Martinez stated that this type of activity serves as further proof that the internet is
“an extension of the battlefield” for the ISIL, which uses cyberspace for “threatening
enemies through propaganda, preparing operations, exchanging information,
ideological training, recruiting new members and acquiring finance.”

There are “many examples” of online terrorist chat logs discussing the use of
biological warfare against the West, Spain’s RTVE public broadcasting corporation

The most recent talks took place in an “extremist chat room,” related to the ISIL, in
mid-September. “The use of Ebola as a poisonous weapon against the United States”
was the topic of the conversation, Martinez said.

Despite increasing evidence of biological attacks on the West, U.S. Homeland
Security Secretary Jeh Johnson denied allegations that ISIL plans to use biological
weapons. “We’ve seen no specific credible intelligence that [the ISIL] is attempting
to use any sort of disease or virus to attack our homeland,” Johnson said earlier in

Source: RT/Tehran Times



Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 11:00 pm

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FBI charges three Russians in kickback nuclear contract scheme

Newscast Media GREENBELT, Maryland—A criminal complaint was unsealed late
yesterday charging Vadim Mikerin, age 55, a Russian national residing in Chevy Chase,
Maryland, with conspiring to commit extortion in connection with a scheme to obtain
contracts from a Russian company without having to compete for the contracts.

A separate criminal complaint charges Daren Condrey and his wife Carol Condrey, both
age 49, of Glenwood, Maryland, and Boris Rubizhevsky, age 63, of Closter, New
Jersey, with conspiring to commit wire fraud in connection with the scheme.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - October 31, 2014 at 6:48 pm

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SEC charges Texas-based company with FCPA violations

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged
a global water management, construction, and drilling company headquartered in
Texas with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by making improper
payments to foreign officials in several African countries in order to obtain beneficial
treatment and reduce its tax liability.

After Layne Christensen Company self-reported its misconduct, an SEC investigation
determined that the company received approximately $3.9 million in unlawful benefits
during a five-year period as a result of bribes typically paid through its subsidiaries in
Africa and Australia. Some payments were funded through cash transfers from Layne’
s U.S. bank accounts. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - October 30, 2014 at 9:07 pm

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Jeb Bush refers to Obama’s Ebola response as incompetent

by Stoyan Zaimov

Newscast Media HOUSTON—Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has criticized President
Barack Obama’s “incompetent” response to Ebola virus cases in the U.S., arguing that
the government’s failure to provide clarity created fear among the public. During a
speech on Tuesday about the Ebola response, however, the president pointed out
that all seven Americans treated for the virus have survived.

“It looked very incompetent to begin with, and that fueled fears that may not be
justified,” Bush said during an appearance at Vanderbilt University, The Associated
Press reported. “And now you have states that are legitimately acting on their
concerns, creating a lot more confusion than is necessary.” CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 3:40 am

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Houston lesbian mayor withdraws subpoenas against pastors

Newscast Media HOUSTON—Houston Mayor Annise Parker has finally withdrawn the
subpoenas against the pastors, in which she demanded they submit their sermons to
her office for inspection. Parker and her fellow Democrats came under fire even from
fellow liberals because she was violating the pastors’ freedom of speech that is
protected by the First Amendment.

Newscast Media reported the original story here, in which the mayor wanted to
inspect the sermons for anti-gay content. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>


Houston Mayor Annise Parker in front of Hotel Za Za—Photo by Joseph Earnest

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - October 29, 2014 at 9:45 pm

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Gas prices across the US expected to continue dropping

by Daniel Distant

Newscast Media HOUSTON—Gas prices are dropping across the U.S. as the price of oil
decreases, according to reports. A national survey says that gas prices have dropped
18 cents in the last two weeks.

Gas prices have dropped to a new low of $3.08 per gallon, while mid grade gasoline
averages $3.31 and premium, higher-octane gas goes for $3.47. Diesel around the
U.S. costs an average of $3.67, industry analyst Trillby Lundberg told the Associated
Press Sunday.

Gas prices were 65 cents higher in just May, and 29 cents higher than what they
were a year ago. In lay man’s terms, that’s half a gallon more for every $20 at the

Some Americans may still feel higher pump prices though, as San Francisco has the
highest average price at $3.45 a gallon. Meanwhile those in places like Memphis,
Tennessee are benefitting from a low average of $2.73. In Ohio gas is hovering
around $3 a gallon but still dropping, according to AAA.

Slashed gas prices mainly have been caused by a sharp drop in the price of crude oil,
Lundberg explained. Crude oil was down 1 percent Friday, putting its price at $81.30
a barrel by close on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

An increase in U.S. oil refineries’ supplies to make gasoline and lack of very
destructive hurricanes this season have also contributed to lower gas prices, AAA
told AP.

Gas prices are expected to drop slightly more for the year and then remain low
throughout the rest of 2014.



Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - October 28, 2014 at 11:03 pm

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Russia may have hacked into US firm’s classified military data

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Skilled Russian hackers, apparently backed by the
Russian government, may have been hacking the servers of a US firm keeping
classified military data since 2007, cybersecurity company FireEye said Tuesday in a

“The activity that we profile in this paper appears to be the work of a skilled team of
developers and operators collecting intelligence on defense and geopolitical issues –
intelligence that would only be useful to a government,” the report says.

“We assess that APT28 [FireEye's codename for the group] is most likely sponsored
by the Russian government,” it added. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 10:00 pm

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US indicts two for conspiracy to sell illegal rhino hunts

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The owners of Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris
were charged October 23 with conspiring to sell illegal rhinoceros hunts in South
Africa, money laundering and secretly trafficking in rhino horns.

The indictment charges Dawie Groenewald, 46, and his brother, Janneman
Groenewald, 44, both South African nationals, and their company Valinor Trading CC
(d/b/a Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris) with conspiracy, Lacey Act violations, mail
fraud, money laundering and structuring bank deposits to avoid reporting

The Lacey Act, the United States’ oldest criminal statute addressing
illegal poaching and wildlife trafficking, makes it a crime to sell animal hunts
conducted in violation of state, federal, tribal or foreign law. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - October 27, 2014 at 9:58 pm

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Iran claims key role in recent Iraqi victory over Islamic State

Newscast Media TEHRAN—Over the weekend, the Iraqi government claimed a
significant victory for its troops and Shi’a militias near Baghdad: the recapture of
the key Islamic State-held town of Jurf Al-Sakhar.

Iraq’s new interior minister, Mohammed Salem Al-Ghabban, insisted that this victory,
which was apparently overseen by the commander of Iran’s Qods Force, Major
General Qassem Soleimani—was achieved without the assistance of the U.S.-led
coalition against IS. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 9:12 pm

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Iraqi officials: Islamic State now using chemical weapons

Newscast Media BAGHDAD—Iraqi officers say that “Islamic State” fighters have used
low-grade chemical weapons while fighting north of Baghdad. US Secretary of State
John Kerry issued a warning about the severity of these allegations.

“Islamic State” (IS) militants have begun using low-grade chemical weapons, several
Iraqi officials said on Friday. The anonymous officials told the AP that IS had dropped
bombs filled with chlorine gas while fighting near the towns of Duluiya and Balad,
around 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad.

“The IS fighters seized some quantities of chlorine after seizing control of some water
purification plants,” said one senior official. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - October 24, 2014 at 11:46 pm

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Barack Obama hugs Ebola-free patient Nina Pham

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The 26-year-old nurse from Dallas who contracted
Ebola and was cured made a stop at the White House where she was greeted with a
hug by the president.

The White House print pool was not allowed in to the Oval Office for President Barack
Obama’s visit with newly Ebola-free nurse Nina Pham. A stills-only pool was allowed.
Obama hugged Pham after the president said something to the effect of, “Let’s give a
hug for the cameras” – according to two photographers allowed into the Oval. Photos
show Pham with a radiant smile. Photographers say they didn’t see a kiss but said hug
was a full embrace. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 7:49 pm

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Arab media: Russia-Iran anti-ISIL operations room in Iraq

Newscast Media BAGHDAD—A report that Iran and Russia were to run a joint
operations room in Iraq to combat the Islamic State (IS) group is spreading across
Iran’s media.

The report originates in Lebanon’s “Al-Mustaqbal” newspaper, which cites unnamed
“Iraqi source” as saying that Russian and Iranian military experts were to work with
the Iraqi military to establish a joint anti-IS operations room.

The unnamed Iraqi sources went on to say that more than 60 Russian and other
experts were currently in Baghdad and staying at the Royal Tulip Al Rasheed Hotel in
Baghdad’s Green Zone. The experts specialize in the training of officers and Iraqi
pilots as well as the use of Russian military equipment, including the helicopters that
Moscow recently supplied to Baghdad. Earlier this month, Russian media reported that
Iraq had received a third consignment of Russian Mi-35M helicopters.

“Al-Mustaqbal” wrote that the Russian-Iranian axis would compete with their American
rivals to provide military and logistical assistance to the Iraqi government in its battle
against IS militants.

It is not possible to independently verify the “Al-Mustaqbal” report.
Russia’s official media has—unsurprisingly—not reported on any rumors of plans for a
joint operations room with Iran in Iraq.

However, Moscow is continuing to stress that it is providing both Iraq and Syria with
aid, including military assistance, to help them combat IS.

The TASS news agency published an interview with Nikolai Patrushev, the Secretary
of Russia’s Security Council, who visited Iran this week, and who insisted that “the
actions of any coalition on the territory of a sovereign state should be based on a UN

Patrushev said that Russia had “always supported and continues to support the
efforts of the Iraqi and Syrian authorities to combat militants from various extremist
groups. The assistance provided by us was also in the military field. We supply Iraq
and Syria with weapons that actually strengthen their ability to counter terrorists.”
On October 23, Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced that Moscow had provided
humanitarian assistance, including foodstuffs, blankets, mobile generators, and tents
to Iraqi Kurds in Irbil who are “suffering as a result of continued fighting with the
terror group IS in north western Iraq.”

Over the past week, Russia has also said that Iran is an important partner in the fight
against IS. Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin said on
October 21 that “the so-called coalition [the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition] refuses to
cooperate with Damascus and Tehran, who are logical allies in the fight against
terrorism in the region.”

Source: Radio Free Europe



Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - October 23, 2014 at 11:13 pm

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Recent polls shows Greg Abbott significantly ahead of Davis

Newscast Media AUSTIN—A poll conducted by Crosswind Media and Public Relations
shows Republican Greg Abbott leading Democrat Wendy Davis by 52.4 percent to 31
percent in the race for Texas governor, with 16.2 percent of voters undecided. The
live telephone survey of 500 likely voters was conducted Oct. 9-12. The margin of
error for the poll was 4.33 percent.

The same poll shows Republican Dan Patrick beating Democrat Leticia Van de Putte
by 42.8 percent to 23 percent in the lieutenant governor’s race, with 33 percent of
Texans undecided.

“Greg Abbott has a commanding lead and has successfully motivated the Republican
base,” said Crosswind President Thomas Graham. “Texas remains a red state, at least
among likely voters in non-presidential years, and Wendy Davis does not appear to
have made a dent in that strength.”

Meanwhile, Real Clear Politics shows Greg Abbott with 51 percent while Wendy
Davis is still trailing at 38 percent.



Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 9:53 pm

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Obama’s fundamental problem–the midterm elections

President Barack Obama giving a speech—Photo by Joseph Earnest

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The US economy is failing to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, says political scientist William Galston in an interview with Deutsche Welle. What are the implications for the midterm elections and beyond – and does anyone have the solution?

Galston believes that even though figures show a strengthening of the US economy, a large group does not feel it. It includes not only low-wage workers who might be affected by an increase in the minimum wage, but also by substantial portions of the middle class, who have seen no wage increases for a very long time.



Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - October 21, 2014 at 10:22 pm

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American hostage Jeffrey Fowle released by North Korea

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The United States has successfully negotiated the
release of an American who had been detained by the North Korean government since
May 2014.

The State Department confirmed on Tuesday that Jeffrey Fowle had been allowed to
depart the DPRK and is on his way home to re-join his family. The US government
welcomed the DPRK’s decision to release him.

“While this is a positive decision by the DPRK, we remain focused on the continued
detention of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller and again call on the DPRK to
immediately release them. The U.S. Government will continue to work actively on their

“We thank the Government of Sweden for the tireless efforts of the Embassy of
Sweden in Pyongyang, which acts as our Protecting Power in the DPRK,” Deputy
Department Spokesperson, Marie Harf said.

As a condition of his release, the DPRK authorities asked the United States
Government to transport Mr. Fowle out of the country. The Department of Defense
was able to provide transportation for Mr. Fowle in the time frame specified by the

Fowle had traveled to North Korea on a tourism expedition.



Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 8:28 pm

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Obama compares Russian policies with ISIL and Ebola

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—US President Barack Obama said Russian policy is one
of the three main reasons Americans should worry about, along with the Ebola virus
and the Islamic State terrorist group.

“But people are still anxious. And they’re anxious for three reasons: one,
internationally, we’re seeing a tumultuous time in the Middle East… The Ebola crisis…
The situation in Ukraine and Russia’s aggression – that has concerned people. So you
have this sense of uncertainty overseas,” Obama stated Monday.

Earlier, such statements by Obama were met with sharp criticism from Moscow.
For the first time, Barack Obama used the comparison of Russia with terrorists and
the Ebola virus in the September speech at the UN General Assembly.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called Obama’s speech “a set of cliches and propaganda
slogans.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that such estimates were
“beyond good and evil.”

Source: Ria Novosti



Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 7:06 pm

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World Health Organization declares Nigeria 100% Ebola free

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The World Health Organization (WHO) officially
declared Nigeria Ebola free on Monday, after no new cases were confirmed in the past
42 days.

WHO Country Representative in Nigeria Rui Dama Gaz made the announcement at an
ongoing event in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

“This is a spectacular success story that shows to the world that Ebola can be
contained,” the WHO official said, noting the war against the disease will only end in
the region when West Africa is also declared free.

Ebola was spread to Nigeria in July, by Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer who died
days after he arrived in Africa’s most populous country. Thereafter, Nigeria officially
recorded 19 cases which resulted in seven deaths and 12 recoveries.

The southwestern state of Lagos and the Nigerian oil hub Port Harcourt, capital of
southeast Rivers State, were most-hit by the outbreak in Nigeria.

Welcoming WHO’s declaration on Monday, Nigerian Minister of Health Onyebuchi
Chukwu attributed the success to good leadership and collaboration among respective

Noting within three months the African nation was able to completely contain the
Ebola virus, Chukwu specially lauded the strong collective efforts from the medical
officials who combated the virus and treated the patients.

While awaiting WHO’s clearance, Nigeria had received global commendations for its
robust and effective national response to the virus.

No new case of Ebola was reported in the country since Aug. 31.

Source: Xinhua



Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - October 20, 2014 at 11:33 pm

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US drops arms upon Kurds in Kobani–ISIL devasted by Kurds

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The U.S. military said late Sunday that it had
dropped weapons, ammunition, and medical supplies to Kurdish forces battling to hold
the Syrian border town of Kobani against the so-called ISIL terrorists.

The airdrops were the first of their kind and followed weeks of U.S. and coalition
airstrikes in and near Kobani. Earlier Sunday, U.S. Central Command (CentCom) said
that it had launched 11 airstrikes overnight in the area.

CentCom said U.S. C-130 cargo planes made multiple drops of arms and supplies
provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq. It said they were intended to enable continued
resistance to ISIL efforts to take full control of Kobani.

Meanwhile, on Monday, the Kurdish fighters in Ain al-Arab town (Kobani) dealt ISIL
fighters a devastating blow that brought all the ISIL propaganda about its strength
and bravery to an end.

The Syrian army has been able recently to score a series of military achievements
against the takfiri groups in different Syrian regions especially Aleppo. Sources
reported that the Syrian army controlled Al-Amusalamiyah village in northeast of
Aleppo in light of the withdrawal of a large number of militants following the killing of
dozens of them.

“The army units took control of Al-Jabaliyeh village, a cement factory and a strategic
government building in the Northern parts of the Aleppo Central Prison after striking
heavy blows on the positions of the militant groups there,” informed military sources

Source: Al Manar TV News



Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 10:31 pm

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US military’s Ebola response in Liberia making progress

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The U.S. military response to the outbreak of Ebola in
Liberia continues to progress, with facilities expected to be fully operational the week
of October 20, the Pentagon’s press secretary, Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby, said
October 16.

Speaking at the State Department press briefing, Kirby provided an update on
Operation United Assistance.

“Our forces on the ground in Liberia continue to make progress in setting up
infrastructure and facilities to support the international response,” he said.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - October 17, 2014 at 11:28 pm

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