News Tue, 20 Feb 2018 09:58:26 +0000 en-gb Russia, China warn against US missile system deployment in South Korea Russia and China have warned against a possible deployment of an advanced US missile system in the volatile Korean Peninsula allegedly to counter potential threats from Pyongyang.

According to Press TV, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a Friday joint press conference with his visiting Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that North Korea’s missile tests should not become a pretext for the US to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea.

“We are going to expose the absolutely invalid nature of such plans, which undermine global [military] parity and strategic stability,” Lavrov said.

“We believe it to be essential not to shelter behind the excuse that this [deployment] is taking place because of the North Korean reckless ventures,” he noted, adding that such plans exceed “all imaginable” threats from Pyongyang.

The Chinese foreign minister, for his turn, emphasized that the two sides share a strongly negative attitude toward the planned deployment.

“We stand firmly against the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system to South Korea under the pretext of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula,” Wang said. “We believe this to be directly damaging to Russian and Chinese strategic security.”


US/Canada Sat, 12 Mar 2016 06:57:37 +0000
Ex-Oklahoma senator sentenced to 37 months for fraud Former Oklahoma Senator Rick Brinkley of Owasso has been sentenced to 37 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion.

According to Press TV, 54-year-old Brinkley, a former Vice Chairman of the Oklahoma Senate's Finance Committee, admitted Friday he had stolen $1.8 million from a nonprofit agency where he worked for 16 years.

In 2015, the Better Business Bureau accused Brinkley of setting up fake corporations in order to pay his bills and support a gambling habit.

Brinkley worked as president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Tulsa from 1999 to 2011 and continued his job there as chief operating officer until last year, when the BBB sued him for defrauding the agency.

According to investigators, Brinkley created fraudulent invoices for services not rendered and then submitted them to the BBB claiming they were legitimate expenses.

During his tenure at the BBB, he also paid his personal expenses using the agency's money.

On Friday, the former Republican state senator pleaded guilty in US District Court to five counts of mail fraud in addition to one count of subscribing to a false tax return.


US/Canada Sat, 12 Mar 2016 06:48:07 +0000
US military turned into family business Nearly 80 percent of new US military recruits have had a close relative in uniform, indicating that coming from a military family is a very important factor for enlisting, a new Pentagon report shows.

New data released by the US Defense Department shows that more than 25 percent of new American troops have at least one parent who has served in the military, Time reported on Friday.

According to a Pentagon report detailing recruits between 2012 and 2013, 86 percent of new Air Force airmen had a close relative (parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle or cousin) in uniform. The rate for the Navy was 82 percent, followed by the Army with 79 and Marines with 77%.

The Pentagon refers to relatives as “influencers” who are able to steer young people towards the military, and in particular, the very position they themselves had served.

For example, 59 percent of the Army recruits said they had a relative who had served there. This was the case for 37 percent of the Marine recruits, while the figure for the Air Force and the Navy was 46 percent and 51 percent respectively.

The subject was discussed earlier this week during a Senate Armed Services Committee, when Senator Angus King slammed the trend and questioned the US military’s reliance on relatives of those who have served.


US/Canada Sat, 12 Mar 2016 06:36:20 +0000
Kerry calls for end to conflicts in Syria and Yemen US Secretary of State John Kerry has called for efforts to end the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, a senior US State Department official says.

According to Press TV, Kerry arrived in Saudi Arabia on Friday and met top Saudi Arabian officials, including Saudi King Salman as well as the kingdom's crown prince, deputy crown prince and foreign minister at a military base outside Hafr al-Batin.

"Secretary Kerry emphasized that now is the time to keep moving forward toward ending the conflicts in Syria and Yemen," the US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

Saudi Arabia has been under criticism for sponsoring terrorist groups in Syria and attacking Yemen, martyring many innocent people and destroying numerous residential areas and other infrastructures there.

In Syria, foreign-backed militancy, which began in March 2011, has resulted in the death of over 470,000, according to the Syrian Center for Policy Research.

The US has been leading a campaign of airstrikes in the Arab country, claiming the attacks target ISIL positions.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia announced that it was ready to send Special Forces to Syria if the US-led coalition decides to send ground troops.

On Sunday, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal said Riyadh believed that the US-led airstrikes alone could not defeat the Takfiri group in the war-torn country.

The kingdom has sent Turkey a number of warplanes which took part in a joint military exercise there, claiming that the move was in line with the so-called fight against ISIL Takfiri terrorists in Syria.


US/Canada Sat, 12 Mar 2016 06:30:17 +0000
US asks UN Security Council to meet over Iran’s missiles US Envoy to the UN Samantha Power says Washington has asked the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to discuss in a meeting Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests, which she describes as a threat to Zionist regime.

According to Press TV, on Tuesday, Iran fired Qiam ballistic missile from silo-based launchers in different locations across the country and on Wednesday, it successfully test-fired two more ballistic missiles of the Qadr family.

In a statement on Friday, Power said that the US is "deeply concerned" about the tests, describing them as "provocative and destabilizing."

She said the missiles pose a direct threat to Israel, adding "we will raise these dangerous launches directly at council consultations, which we have called for, on Monday."

Tehran, however, has always rejected the claims made by the US, maintaining that its missile capabilities are solely for defense purposes and they do not pose any threat against other nations.

Power said that "these launches underscore the need to work with partners around the world to slow and degrade Iran's missile program."

US State Department Spokesman John Kirby and White House Spokesman Josh Earnest have both said that Iran’s missile tests would not constitute a breach of the recent nuclear deal between Tehran and the 5+1 group, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached on July 14, 2015 and implemented in January.


US/Canada Sat, 12 Mar 2016 06:21:48 +0000
Violence erupts as Trump fans clash with protesters in Chicago US Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has canceled his event in Chicago, Illinois due to security concerns, as his supporters came to blows with a group of protesters censuring his candidacy.

According to Press TV, the clashes erupted Friday when Trump campaign managers asked thousands of his supporters at the University of Illinois to leave the arena due to security concerns.

"Mr. Trump just arrived in Chicago and after meeting with law enforcement has determined that for the safety of all of the tens of thousands of people that have gathered in and around the arena, tonight's rally will be postponed to another date," the Trump campaign said in a statement. "Thank you very much for your attendance and please go in peace."

Thousands of angry rally-goers gathered inside and outside the arena and then confronted several hundred anti-Trump protesters, blaming them for the cancellation.

Several fistfights were reported between the two groups before a large contingent of Chicago police officers moved in to restore order.

Supporters of Trump, who were still inside, chanted, "We want Trump" after the event was canceled, while protesters responded by shouting, "We stumped Trump."

Some protesters were being detained and forcefully carried out, according to CNN, which also estimated there were between 8,500 to 10,000 people in the Chicago arena when tensions erupted into chaos.


US/Canada Sat, 12 Mar 2016 06:15:08 +0000
US to send troops to Iraq’s frontlines US military commanders in Iraq are devising plans to move American troops closer to frontlines as Iraqi forces gear up to retake the northern city of Mosul from Daesh (ISIL) terrorists, Pentagon officials say.

It would be a significant change of role for US soldiers, who have been deployed back to Iraq on a “train-and-advise” mission, according to The Hill.

US forces are currently working with Iraqi security forces at the division-level or above and President Barack Obama has pledged that they will be kept out of direct combat.

However, the new plans would put small US teams of about 15 troops alongside Iraqi brigades as they establish headquarters in preparation for what is expected to be a fierce battle for Mosul.

Mosul, the capital of Nineveh, has been the main seat of ISIL since the Takfiri group began its terror activities in Iraq in June 2014.

Iraqi commanders say the offensive would require between eight to 12 brigades — which means approximately 180 US soldiers could take part, ordering airstrikes, and providing intelligence, logistics, tactics, and fire support.

One Pentagon official told The Hill that recommendations on how to speed up the campaign have been submitted to the staffs of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford.


World Sat, 12 Mar 2016 06:08:34 +0000
Row over UK tabloid claim that 'Queen backs Brexit' The editor-in-chief of a British tabloid has defended his newspaper’s report that Queen Elizabeth II favored the UK’s exit from the European Union and described how she expressed euro-skeptic views.

Under the headline "Queen Backs Brexit", the Sun quoted anonymous sources as saying the monarch during a lunch in 2011 told the then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg that the EU was heading in the wrong direction.

The story which said that the queen "left no room for doubt about her passionate feelings over Europe," has infuriated the Buckingham Palace.

The palace has now complained to the press watchdog, Independent Press Standards Organization over the tabloid’s reporting. In a letter, the palace said the story had breached a prohibition in the Editors' Code of Practice against "inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images."

According to the Sun’s report, the queen made her opinions to Clegg and it stands by the story which is based on “two impeccable sources”. But the Liberal Democrat leader has denied the claim. Clegg said the notion that the queen expressed a strongly anti-Brussels view is ‘nonsense’.

Under the British norm, the queen is prohibited from taking sides in political debates and rarely makes her personal views public.

The report has caused a row as British politicians remained busy debating Britain's EU membership ahead of a June 23 referendum on whether to remain in the 28-nation bloc.


Europe Sat, 12 Mar 2016 06:02:19 +0000
Police clash with protesters in Istanbul Police in Turkey fired tear gas to disperse a demonstration held Friday in remembrance of a teenager whose death two years ago gave rise to anti-government protests across the country.

According to Press TV, clashes were reported from the city of Istanbul where angry protesters throw rocks and petrol bombs at security forces.

The demonstration came on the second death anniversary of Berkin Elvan, who died at an Istanbul hospital in 2014 at the age of 15. The teenager is honored by the Turks as the symbol of heavy-handed tactics used by police to reign in massive demonstrations at the time against the then Prime Minister and current President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Friday protest was held in Okmeydani, the Istanbul district where Elvan came from. Hundreds of people also gathered with Elvan's family at the cemetery where he was buried to demand the truth behind his death.

Elvan was hospitalized after being hit by a tear gas canister fired by police during a protest against Erdogan in June 2013. His death, which came after 269 days in a coma, prompted hundreds of thousands to take to the streets in various cities to protest against Erdogan.


West Asia Sat, 12 Mar 2016 05:53:34 +0000
Erdogan threatens top court over freed journalists Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned the Constitutional Court that future rulings similar to the one that led to the release of two opposition journalists could open a debate over the court’s existence and legitimacy.

According to Press TV, the Constitutional Court rejected charges against Can Dündar, the Editor-in-Chief of the center-left Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, and the paper’s Ankara representative Erdem Gül late last month and allowed their release after three months in jail.

"I hope the constitutional court would not again attempt such ways which will open its existence and legitimacy up for debate," Erdogan told a rally in the southwestern city of Burdur on Friday.

"This institution, with the involvement of its president and some members, did not refrain from taking a decision that is against the country and its people, on a subject that is a concrete example of one of the biggest attacks against Turkey recently," he said during the televised speech.

The president also said that he would not shy away from expressing his objections and would personally confront anyone who breaches “boundaries.”

Dündar and Gül were arrested late November 2015 on charges of revealing state secrets, treason, terrorist propaganda, and espionage.


West Asia Sat, 12 Mar 2016 05:42:54 +0000