Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia is taking additional steps to ensure security at its
naval facilities on the Crimean Peninsula amid the growing political unrest in Ukraine,
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday.
“We are carefully monitoring the situation in Ukraine and around the Black Sea Fleet,”
Shoigu told reporters in Moscow.
“We are taking measures to ensure security of the fleet’s facilities, infrastructure and
arsenals,” he said without specifying such measures.
A Russian military source said earlier on Wednesday that security check points at
several Black Sea Fleet facilities had been strengthened with armored vehicles.
Shoigu’s statement follows reports of scuffles that broke out Wednesday in the
southern Ukrainian city of Simferopol as large crowds of opponents of the newly
installed national authorities faced off against representatives of the Crimean Tatar
community outside the local parliament.
Until Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1954 transferred Crimea to what was then the
Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, the territory was officially a part of Russia.
The Black Sea Fleet maintains its main base in the port of Sevastopol and several
auxiliary naval installations around the peninsula.
During the tenure of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, which began in early 2010
and ended with his ouster on Saturday, the country renewed Russia’s lease on the
naval facilities in Crimea until 2042.
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia expressed deep concern over news circulated in
media about Saudi Arabia’s intention to buy anti-aircraft missiles for “the Syrian armed
“Reports published on mass media, based on Gulfnews.com website, on the intention
of Saudi Arabia to buy Pakistani-made anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tanks to supply
them to the armed Syrian opposition, positioned in Jordan, stir big concerns,” Russian
Foreign Ministry said In a statement.
The Ministry added that this bargain would change the balance of power in favor of
“the fighters” during “the Spring’s attack on Damascus by the armed militias from the
southern front”, according to its description, adding that if these weapons find their
way into the extremists’ hands, who are existing in Syria in Large numbers, they can
be used outside this Middle East country.
It pointed out that the news of using Jordanian lands to pass the weapons to “armed
militias” and train terrorists in camps before opening the southern front against the
Syrian regular army, also stir concerns.
The statement referred to an article published on the Middle East newspaper saying
that the coalition’s representative in Washington Najeb Ghadban had said ” the
fighters were trained by CIA experts in camps on the Jordanian territories.”
It concluded by affirming that the crisis in Syria wouldn’t be solved through force,
calling on those who support the armed opposition to reconsider their stance and give
the Syrians a chance to stop violence in the country through Geneva conference.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The White House says President Barack Obama has
ordered the Pentagon to prepare plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by
the end of this year.
A White House statement said Obama ordered the move because Afghanistan’s
President Hamid Karzai has indicated he is unlikely to sign a Bilateral Security
Agreement that would allow the United States to keep troops in Afghanistan after
The statement added that should the Afghan government sign the accord, the United
States remained ready to keep a “limited” force in Afghanistan after 2014 to focus on
training Afghan forces and conducting antiterrorism missions.
The statement said Obama had spoken with Karzai on February 25 by telephone.
Karzai, who is due to leave office after Afghanistan’s April elections, has sought
several concessions from Washington over the security pact.
In other news, Afghan officials say at least eight people are dead and dozens of
others are injured following a suicide bomb attack in the southern province of
Oruzgan. Officials said the explosion took place on February 25 in the provincial
capital, Tirin Kot.
Reports say civilians were among the victims. It wasn’t immediately clear who was
responsible for the blast.
Elsewhere, officials said three people were killed and three others injured in a bomb
blast in the Marjah district of the southern province of Helmand. It was not
immediately apparent who was behind the attack.
Source: Radio Free Europe
Newscast Media TOKYO—Once the world’s biggest Bitcoin exchange, Tokyo-based Mt.
Gox has appeared to have essentially vanished into thin air, with its website content
not accessible. Reports about a debilitating theft are running wild.
The disappearance of the Mt. Gox website content on Tuesday marked another
setback for efforts to gain legitimacy for the Bitcoin virtual currency. The URL of the
exchange was returning a blank page, following Sunday’s resignation of CEO Mark
Karpeles from the Board of the Bitcoin Foundation.
A report spread online and believed to be an internal Mt. Gox document said more
than 740,000 bitcoins were missing from the exchange. It said the theft went
unnoticed for several years and turned on disguised withdrawals.
A theft of that magnitude would equate to losses of $350 million (255 million euros) at
current Bitcoin prices, the report suggested.
Tokyo investors in the frontier electronic currency said the problem was with Mt. Gox,
not with the revolutionary Bitcoin currency itself. Six leading Bitcoin exchanges,
including Coinbase, Kraken and Bitstamp distanced themselves from Mt. Gox.
“This tragic violation of the trust of users was the result of one company’s actions
and does not reflect the resilience or value of Bitcoin and the digital currency
industry,” they said in a joint statement.
“As with any new industry, there are certain bad actors that need to be weeded out,
and that’s what we’re seeing today,” they added.
Mark Karpeles told Reuters news agency the bitcoin exchange was “at a turning
On Tuesday afternoon, the website said laconically: “In the event of recent news
reports and the potential repercussions on MtGox’s operations and the market, a
decision was taken to close all transactions for the time being in order to protect the
site and our users. We will be closely monitoring the situation and will react
accordingly.” No further content was accessible.
Source: Radio Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Monday that
“substantial doubts” existed over the legitimacy of the new acting government in
Medvedev attacked the swift recognition of the new authorities in Kiev by a number
of Western governments, describing the regime as the unconstitutional outcome of an
“Strictly speaking, there is nobody to speak with over there. The legitimacy of a
whole range of organs of power working there raises substantial doubts,” Medvedev
“Some of our foreign partners think otherwise. I don’t know what constitution they
have read, but it is something of an aberration of consciousness when you describe
as legitimate something that is the result of an armed uprising.”
President Vladimir Putin has yet to make any public pronouncements on the change of
government in Ukraine.
Medvedev said that Russia would adhere to all existing agreements with Ukraine,
including those on energy.
“We do not co-operate with a specific set of people, or specific personalities, these
are interstate relations. We are neighbors, we are nearby states and we cannot get
away from one another,” he said.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday that Ukraine’s new authorities aim to
employ “dictatorial and sometimes terrorist methods” to suppress opposition in disloyal
“[The new leaders] aim to use dictatorial and sometimes terrorist methods to
suppress disloyal citizens in various regions of Ukraine,” the Russian Foreign Ministry
said in a statement.
“Calls are being made to introduce an almost complete ban on the Russian language,
abolish parties and organizations, close disloyal media and drop
restrictions on the propaganda of neo-Nazi ideology,” the ministry said.
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlined on
Monday his priorities for a 2015 defense budget cut, including plans to reduce the
size of the U.S. army to its pre-World War II levels.
“We are repositioning to focus on the strategic challenges and opportunities that will
define our future: new technologies, new centers of power and a world that is
growing more volatile, more unpredictable and in some instances more threatening to
the United States,” Hagel said at a Pentagon press conference.
The Pentagon chief unveiled his budget-cut proposals as the Obama administration is
preparing to pull out most U.S. troops from Afghanistan following an almost 13-year
“As we end our combat mission in Afghanistan, this will be the first budget to fully
reflect the transition DOD (the Department of Defense) is making after 13 years of
war, the longest conflict in our nation’s history,” said Hagel.
Among the proposals, Hagel announced his plans to further reduce the size of U.S.
Army to between 440,000 to 450,000 active- duty soldiers. This would mark the U.S.
Army’s smallest force since World War II. The active-duty troop level has already
been slated to go down to 490,000 by 2015 from a peak of 570,000 after Sept. 11
Hagel’s proposals also include to retire the U.S. Air Force’s entire A-10 fleet and to
seek another round of base realignment and closure.
Hagel said the recommendations favor “a smaller and more capable force, putting a
premium on rapidly deployable, self-sustaining platforms that can defeat more
technologically advanced adversaries.”
“They’re also well-suited to the strategy’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, to
sustaining security commitments in the Middle East and Europe, and our engagement
in other regions,” he added.
Museveni signing the anti-gay bill
Newscast Media ENTEBBE—Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has proved to
Africans that he is indeed as good as his word by fulfilling his promise to sign the
anti-gay bill on Monday February 24. The bill is now law.
With almost 99 percent support from his countrymen, all exhibiting a unified front as
they stood in support of their president, Museveni signed the bill at State House
Entebbe today at about 1:50 PM East African Standard Time, saying it was imperative
to do so because the West is promoting homosexuality in Africa.
“Since nurture is the main cause of homosexuality, then society can do something
about it to discourage the trends. That is why I have agreed to sign the Bill,”
Museveni said. He also said that the topic of homosexuality was provoked by
“arrogant Western groups” who recruit school children into the behavior.
Museveni also expressed how he was baffled that a man could be attracted to
another man, yet the female body is very beautiful, and there is no shortage of
“Even now I have not fully understood that you can fail to get attracted to these
beautiful women and get attracted to a man, you get attracted to a man? That is a
very serious matter,” Museveni said.
Immediately after signing the bill, witnesses on the ground said, “We were blessed
with heavy rain in Kampala,” while another one from the East said, “True, even in Jinja
we have been blessed with rain this afternoon, that is a sign of victory.”
The nation has a robust agricultural sector, and rain is viewed in Africa as a blessing
from God to the local farmers.
Museveni also said that the threats of cutting aid will not have an impact on his
country, and that he will not act like Esau of the bible who sold his birthright blessing
in exchange for food.
As such, Museveni has earned himself the esteem of being called a bonafide
Pan-Africanist and joins the ranks of other Pan-Africans like Sankara, Lumumba,
Nkurumah, Nyerere, Jomo Kenyatta, Sekou Toure, Kenya’s Kimathi and a long list of
those who fought against outside forces attempting to usurp the sovereignty of African nations.
This act alone, should enable Museveni achieve a clean sweep in the 2016 elections.
Newscast Media DAMASCUS—Syrian government forces have captured two
southwestern areas on the edge of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the latest of
the Syrian army’s victories against foreign-backed militants.
A Syrian military official said the army regained control of Rasm al-Hour and Rasm
al-Sad areas, south of the town of Quneitra.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory For Human Rights, which supports the
foreign-backed opposition, confirmed that the government forces were on the
offensive in the region.
It said that the Syrian air force was also taking part in the operation.
“The Syrian army has been reinforcing its positions in Quneitra as part of
efforts to clear the area of foreign-backed militants.”
On Tuesday, Syrian troops regained full control of the village of Sheikh Najjar and the
strategic Ghali Hill near the northwestern city of Aleppo.
A large number of militants, including some foreign nationals, were killed in the
offensive, and a large quantity of weapons, including many heavy machineguns,
rocket launchers and explosive devices were seized.
This came shortly after Syrian army units launched a counter-offensive against
foreign-backed militants operating in the central Hama Province, taking full control of
the Alawite village of Maan.
Source: Press TV
Museveni and Obama
Newscast Media KAMPALA—Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and US President
Barack Obama are sparring over the anti-homosexuality bill that was passed in
Uganda last December.
After a meeting with his National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, and reports
from scientists confirming there is no gene responsible for homosexuality, Museveni
promised to sign the bill to fight the forces that are trying to impose homosexuality
Barack Obama thereafter released a statement indicating his support for
homosexuality in Uganda, saying homosexuals “should have the opportunity to reach
their fullest potential, no matter who they are or whom they love.”
CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Venezuela's Nicholas Maduro
Newscast Media CARACAS—Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has accused U.S.
President Barack Obama of promoting ongoing protests in the country, and of backing
members of the opposition alleged to be behind violence.
In a communique, the Latin American leader demanded that the U.S. explain its
motives in “financing, promoting and defending members of the opposition that
promote violence against our country.”
Maduro went on to denounce declarations made by Obama regarding the situation in
Venezuela, saying that they presented a “gross interference in internal affairs.”
CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media BEIJING—China on Friday urged the United States to immediately
cancel the planned meeting between President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama to
avoid damaging China-U.S. ties.
“We urge the United States to take China’s concerns seriously and not facilitate or
offer occasion for the Dalai Lama to conduct anti-China secessionist moves,” Foreign
Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a press release.
Her comments came in response to the scheduled informal Obama-Dalai Lama meeting
on Friday in the White House Map Room, a historically important room but of less
significance than the Oval Office.
“China is greatly concerned about the meeting, and has lodged solemn
representations to the U.S. side,” Hua said.
The Tibetan issue is a domestic affair for China, she said, arguing that no foreign
country bears the right to interfere.
The Dalai Lama is a political figure in exile who is undertaking anti-China separatist
activities in the name of religion, said the spokeswoman.
“The arranged meeting between the U.S. leader and the Dalai Lama is an unjustified
interference with China’s domestic affairs and a serious violation of the principles of
international relations, and will cause great damage to China-U.S. relations,” she said.
Addressing a routine press briefing, Hua said the Chinese people are best qualified to
speak on the human rights situation in Tibet.
She said that Tibet has scored brilliant achievements in its economic and social
development since its peaceful liberation. The former serfs and slaves have since
become masters of their own country and society.
“These are facts that won’t be denied by anyone without political bias,” she added.
China firmly opposes any foreign leader meeting with the Dalai Lama, she said, adding
that any country that insists on damaging China’s interests will eventually harm its
China has long opposed foreign dignitaries meeting with the Dalai Lama,who fled to
India and created the self-declared “Tibetan government in exile” in 1959 after a
failed armed rebellion.
Obama has met with the Dalai Lama twice before, in February 2010 and July 2011.
Newscast Media LONDON—An international group of researchers, led by the University
of Sheffield, is aiming to build a system that will automatically verify online rumors as
they spread around the globe, since rumors often have far-reaching consequences.
The lie detector will be the first of its kind to automatically analyze, in real time,
whether a piece of information is true or false. This will allow journalists,
governments, emergency services, health agencies and the private sector to respond
more effectively to claims on social media.
The EU-funded project aims to classify online rumors into four types:
speculation – such as whether interest rates might rise; controversy – as over the
MMR vaccine; misinformation, where something untrue is spread unwittingly; and
disinformation, where it’s done with malicious intent. CONTINUE TO STORY>>
Newscast Media TEL AVIV—African asylum seekers in Israel, are being re-routed to
Uganda for political asylum, according to Israeli news outlet Haaretz. According to
Haaretz, a senior government official said that over the past month, dozens of asylum
seekers have agreed to leave Israel for Uganda, and some have already left.
In June of 2013, the state of Israel told the High Court of Justice that it had reached
an arrangement with a third country that would agree to accept asylum seekers from
Africa, but would not reveal the name of the country. Senior officials confirmed that
the country was Uganda; however, the state would not discuss the agreement and
the Ugandan government denied the existence of such an agreement.
MK Michal Rozin (Meretz), chairwoman of the Knesset Foreign Workers Committee,
said: “How can it be that six months ago the interior minister announced with great
fanfare, ‘Look, we have an agreement with a third country and now we can move
thousands there,’ and now suddenly we hear testimony about the voluntary move of
asylum seekers to Uganda without an agreement.”
Rozin, who said the secrecy made it look like an agreement that the government did
not want to show the public, asked Sa’ar for clarifications, but he has not yet
Research by the Population and Immigration Authority reveals, as of September 2013
there were 53,646 asylum seekers from Africa in Israel, among them 35,987 Eritreans,
13,249 Sudanese and 4,400 people from other countries.
According to the cabinet decision, all asylum seekers from Africa who leave the
country by the end of the month via the “voluntary departure” procedure will receive
a $3,500 grant for deporting themselves out of good faith.
Haaretz reports that Many of those leaving by this procedure are apparently
detainees at the Saharonim detention center or have been required to stay at Holot.
Newscast Media KIEV—At least seven people were killed in clashes in central Kiev on
Thursday morning, bringing the death toll of the three-day violence to 35, said the
Ukrainian Health Ministry.
“On Thursday, a total of 60 people sought medical assistance from the ambulance
crews, five of whom were hospitalized in serious condition,” the press service of the
ministry said on its website.
The ministry did not specify the number of deaths on each side of the conflict.
Meanwhile, local media, citing data from the opposition medic camp, put the death toll
on Thursday at 13 demonstrators, saying that most people died from bullet wounds.
The renewed clashes between the anti-government protesters and police officers
erupted in Kiev earlier in the day despite efforts between President Viktor Yanukovych
and the opposition leaders to stop violence and end the standoff.
On Wednesday, Yanukovych and opposition leaders had announced a truce in central
Kiev to prevent further bloodshed after the outburst of violence earlier on
Protests began in November in the country when the government backtracked on a
trade deal with the European Union and tilted toward Russia instead.
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Iran’s alleged infiltration of a U.S. Navy computer network
was far more extensive than previously thought, according to officials, and the officer
who led the response will likely face questions about it from senators weighing his
nomination as the next head of the embattled National Security Agency, the Wall
Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
It took the Navy about four months to finally purge the hackers from its biggest
unclassified computer network, according to current and former officials.
Some lawmakers are concerned about how long it took. When Vice Adm. Michael
Rogers, President Barack Obama’s choice for the new NSA director, faces his
confirmation hearing, some senators are expected to ask whether there is a long-term
plan to address security gaps exposed by the attack, congressional aides said. The
hearing hasn’t been scheduled yet, but could be next month.
CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia will form a new strategic military command by the
end of 2014 to protect its interests in the Arctic, a high-ranking military source told
RIA Novosti Monday.
“The new command will comprise the Northern Fleet, Arctic warfare brigades, air force
and air defense units as well as additional administrative structures,” the source in
Russia’s General Staff said.
The military structure, dubbed the Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command, will be
responsible for protecting Russia’s Arctic shipping and fishing, oil and gas fields on the
Arctic shelf, and the country’s national borders in the north, the source said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the military in December to boost its
presence in the Arctic and complete the development of military infrastructure in the
region in 2014.
The military has already begun deployment of aerospace defense units in the Arctic
and construction of an early warning missile radar in Russia’s extreme north, according
to the commander of the Aerospace Defense Forces, Maj. Gen. Alexander Golovko.
The Defense Ministry has also announced plans to reopen airfields and ports on the
New Siberian Islands and the Franz Josef Land archipelago, as well as at least seven
airstrips on the continental part of the Arctic Circle that were mothballed in 1993.
Arctic territories are believed to hold vast untapped reserves of oil and gas. They
have increasingly been at the center of disputes between the United States, Russia,
Canada, Norway and Denmark as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice
and make energy reserves more accessible.
Russia has made claims to several Arctic shelf areas and plans to defend its bid at the
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media BEIJING—A U.S. list that called several Chinese online and physical
marketplaces “notorious” lacks evidence and is “irresponsible and biased,” China’s
Ministry of Commerce said Tuesday.
The Notorious Market List 2013 issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
(USTR) earlier this month named three Chinese websites and five physical
marketplaces as “notorious” for alleged copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting.
“The results are merely based on very vague sources like ‘rights holders’ or ‘reportedly’
when accusing Chinese marketplaces,” said the ministry’s spokesman, Shen Danyang,
at a press conference.
Although the USTR office said the Notorious Markets List does not purport to reflect
findings of legal violations, Shen said the U.S. agency should be responsible for its
“We urge the U.S. office to conduct an overall, objective and fair review of Chinese
firms’ efforts and progress in intellectual property rights protection,” Shen said.
USTR has identified notorious markets since 2006 and published the first list as an
Out-of-Cycle Review in 2011.
Kuaibo.com, Xunlei.com, Aiseesoft.com, Garment Wholesale Center, Buynow PC Malls,
Luohu Commercial Center, Silk Market and Zengcheng International Jeans Market were
on the 2013 list.
Newscast Media CARACAS—The leader of Venezuela’s opposition, Leopoldo Lopez, has
handed himself over to police on charges of fomenting violence. The main critic of
President Maduro has been at the forefront of recent anti-government protests.
Speaking before a rally in Caracas on Tuesday, Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo
Lopez told supporters he didn’t fear serving jail time. The 42-year-old politician was
wanted on charges of inciting violence connected with recent mass demonstrations
against President Nicolas Maduro’s government.
“We’ve got nothing to hide,” Lopez told the crowd, before crossing the picket lines
and handing himself over to security forces.
Subway stations were reportedly closed around the city as pro- and anti-government
protesters held counterdemonstrations on Tuesday.
The Harvard-educated political figure has been accused by President Maduro of
leading a “fascist” plot to overthrow the government.
Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez said on Sunday that an arrest warrant had been
issued against Lopez for murder and terrorism connected with the violence that has
surrounded anti-government protests during the past week. Police searched Lopez’
parents’ home the previous day as part of a manhunt to locate the opposition leader.
Violence broke out at demonstrations in Venezuela’s capital city last week after
protesters and security forces clashed. At least four people have been killed in the
Critics of President Maduro have been holding mass demonstrations to force his
resignation. They blame him for supporting economic policies that have driven inflation
above 50 percent, led to a shortage of hard currency and of consumer goods. The
left-wing leader rose to power last year after long-time President Hugo Chavez
On Monday, the Venezuelan president ordered the expulsion of three US consular
officials, whom he had accused of being linked to students involved in
anti-government protests. They are suspected of using visa outreach as a cover up
for infiltrating the country’s university system.
Source: Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media GENEVA—An Ethiopian Airlines flight hijacked by its co-pilot was
forced to land at Geneva Airport early Monday, before the hijacker turned himself in,
according to Geneva cantonal police.
The 31-year-old Ethiopian man took control of the plane by locking himself in the
cockpit when the pilot left to use the toilet. He then tried to seek asylum in
Switzerland, according to airport officials.
Police spokesperson Eric Grandjean told Xinhua that the co-pilot claimed he was not
safe in his country, adding that the investigation was under way and the arrested
hijacker would be prosecuted. All passengers and crew onboard are safe.
The Boeing 767-300 flight took off from Addis Abba and was bound for Milan via
Rome. It landed at Geneva International Airport at around 6:02 am (0500 GMT) in the
morning, police said.
Xavier Wohlschlag, Chief Operating Officer of Geneva airport, told Xinhua that the
aircraft is being checked by the police, and the passengers would be able to get their
personal belongings and luggage back once the plane was known to be safe.
The airport has now resumed operations and most of the passengers will be able to
head to Italy later today, said the police.
A similar incident occurred at Geneva airport in 1985, when an Air Afrique plane was
hijacked by a Lebanese gunman and one passenger was killed.
Newscast Media MOSCOW—The United States’ top diplomat accused Russia on
Monday of hindering a peaceful solution to the conflict in Syria by supplying its
government with arms and aid.
“Russia needs to be a part of the solution and not be contributing so many more
weapons and so much more aid that they’re in fact enabling [President Bashar] Assad
to double down, which is creating an enormous problem,” US Secretary of State John
Kerry said at a news conference in Indonesia, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Russia has proven to be the Syrian government’s main international ally since internal
conflict broke out there almost three years ago.
Moscow has used its veto right in the UN Security Council to block several resolutions
aimed at putting sanctions on Assad’s government, which Western countries accuse
of using chemical weapons against Syrian civilians.
Russia maintains it is only supplying arms and military equipment to the war-torn
Middle Eastern country under contracts signed before the civil war erupted.
Kerry made the comments two days after international peace talks on Syria brokered
by Russia and the United States ended in Geneva without any agreements.
Russia had taken responsibility for bringing the Syrian government to the talks, while
the US, which supports the opposition, brought rebel representatives to the table.
Source: Ria Novosti