Oct 252018
Targeted by pipe bomb, CNN denounces White House's rhetoric

CNN’s president on Wednesday denounced the White House for its “total and complete lack of understanding” of the consequences of attacks against the media after the cable news network’s New York office and several prominent Democrats were sent pipe bombs. Feelings were raw over a perceived reluctance by the administration to mention that CNN was sent one of the crude devices, which also went to Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama and others. A fundraising email attacking CNN sent out as the story unfolded deepened that perception. Trump’s campaign later apologised for the email. “The president, and especially the White House press secretary, should understand their words matter,” said Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide. “Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.” CNN has been a frequent target of Trump’s “fake news” barbs, and a “CNN sucks” chant broke out at a Monday campaign rally. Amid that backdrop, some at CNN were angered by an initial tweet by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders that condemned “the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton and other public officials,” but omitted any reference to CNN. An hour later she sent another tweet that said the White House’s condemnation “certainly includes threats made to CNN as well as current and former public servants”. The president, who has labeled reporters “enemy of the people,” condemned the threat of political violence at a campaign rally in Wisconsin on Wednesday evening, and called on the media to end [Read More…]

Oct 242018
Rohingya genocide still taking place in Myanmar: UN investigator

Genocide is still taking place against Rohingya Muslims remaining in Myanmar and the government is increasingly demonstrating it has no interest in establishing a fully functioning democracy, UN investigators said on Wednesday. Marzuki Darusman, chair of the UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar, said thousands of Rohingya are still fleeing to Bangladesh, and the estimated 250,000 to 400,000 who have remained following last year’s brutal military campaign in the Buddhist-majority country “continue to suffer the most severe” restrictions and repression. “It is an ongoing genocide that is taking place at the moment,” he told a news conference on Wednesday. Yanghee Lee, the UN special investigator on human rights in Myanmar, said she and many others in the international community hoped the situation under Aung San Suu Kyi “would be vastly different from the past but it is really not that much different from the past.” She added later that she thinks Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former political prisoner who now leads Myanmar’s civilian government, “is in total denial” about accusations that the military in Buddhist-majority Myanmar raped, murdered and tortured Rohingya and burned their villages, sending about 700,000 fleeing to Bangladesh since August last year. “The government is increasingly demonstrating that it has no interest and capacity in establishing a fully functioning democracy where all its people equally enjoy all their rights and freedoms,” Lee said. “It is not upholding justice and rule of law” which Suu Kyi “repeatedly says is the standard to which all in [Read More…]

Oct 242018
Explosive devices sent to Obama, Clintons; CNN evacuated

The US Secret Service has intercepted a bomb that was addressed to Hillary Clinton and also discovered a possible explosive that was sent to former President Barack Obama. Also on Wednesday, a police bomb squad was sent to CNN’s offices in New York City and the newsroom was evacuated because of a suspicious package. A US official told The Associated Press that investigators believe the explosive that was discovered near the Clintons’ home in Chappaqua, New York, is linked to one found Monday at the compound of liberal billionaire George Soros. The official wasn’t authorised to publicly discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said one of the packages had the return address of Rep Deborah Wasserman Schultz, an ironic reference to the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. The package addressed to Obama was intercepted Wednesday by Secret Service agents in Washington. Neither Clinton nor Obama received the packages, and neither was at risk of receiving them because of screening procedures, the Secret Service said in a statement. The White House condemned “the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures.” “These terrorising acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that that referred to the senders as “these cowards.” Hillary Clinton was attending campaign events for Democrats in Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday and was not at [Read More…]

Oct 242018
Turkey keeps pressure on as Saudi prince to address forum

Turkey’s president kept up pressure on Saudi Arabia on Wednesday as the kingdom’s powerful crown prince was to address an international investment summit in Riyadh, his first such comments since the killing earlier this month of The Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s anticipated remarks alongside other Arab leaders at the Future Investment Initiative summit in Riyadh come as the event, which was created by the royal, has been overshadowed by Khashoggi’s slaying and the international outrage over it. International business leaders, officials and others have pulled out of the summit, and the event’s first day saw several speakers acknowledge the killing of the Saudi writer whose columns criticised the prince’s campaign of arrests and governance. Turkish officials say Khashoggi was killed on Oct 2 by a 15-man Saudi hit squad that included a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage on overseas trips. Saudi Arabia has suggested, without offering evidence, that the team went rogue. However, no major decision in the kingdom is made without the approval of the ruling Al Saud family. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan kept up his pressure on Wednesday. “We are determined not to allow the murder to be covered up and for those responsible from the person who gave the order to those who executed it not to escape justice,” he said in the capital, Ankara. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, continued to criticise the kingdom over Khashoggi’s killing. “The cover-up was horrible. The execution was horrible,” [Read More…]

Oct 172018
Fighting in Srinagar leaves 3 combatants, civilian dead

Anti-India protests and clashes erupted in the main city in India-held Kashmir (IHK) on Wednesday after a gunbattle between armed men and government forces killed at least two suspected Kashmiri fighters, a civilian and a counterinsurgency police official, residents and police said. At least a dozen journalists covering the fighting were beaten by counterinsurgency policemen well after the fighting ended, media groups and reporters said. The gunbattle began early on Wednesday after troops cordoned off a neighborhood in Srinagar on a tip that some armed fighters were in a civilian home, police said. The exchange of gunfire lasted for about half an hour, police said, leaving two armed fighters, a son of the house owner and a police official dead. Indian policemen stands outside the house where a gunbattle took place on Wednesday. ─ AP Asif Nabi, another son of the house owner, said the shooting began shortly after Indian troops knocked on their door and took away his brother. Police said the man was killed in the fighting as he tried to escape along with the armed fighter, alleging he had provided logistic support to them. The house owner suffered cardiac arrest during the raid and was hospitalised, residents and police said. At least three soldiers were also injured in the fighting. No further information was immediately available. Residents said they heard loud explosions during the fighting and accused the troops of blasting at least two houses with explosives. As news of the fighting spread, anti-India protests and clashes [Read More…]

Oct 172018
18 dead, 40 wounded in explosion at Russia's Crimean college

An explosive device rigged with metal fragments has killed 18 people at a college in Crimea, said Russia’s top investigative agency on Wednesday. The Russian Investigative Committee’s spokeswoman, Svetlana Petrenko, said the device went off on Wednesday in the canteen of a vocational college in the Black Sea city of Kerch. She said most of the victims were students and more than 40 people were injured as a result of the explosion. Russian news media, however, reported that at least some of the victims died in an attack by an unidentified gunman or gunmen. Russian officials wouldn’t confirm those reports. Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters that officials are looking into a possible terrorist attack. He did not elaborate. The National Anti-Terrorism Committee said in a statement that the blast at the college was caused by an explosive device. The committee’s spokesman Andrei Przhezdomsky said sappers are inspecting the building for other explosive devices. The Tass news agency reported that most of the victims were students, quoting local ombudswoman Lyudmila Lubina. Emergency officials had earlier said that the blast was caused by a gas canister explosion. The head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, and Russia’s Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova headed to the area to coordinate assistance to those injured. Russia has annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, a move that triggered Western sanctions.

Oct 172018
Pompeo lands in Turkey as probe into Khashoggi case heats up

A pro-government Turkish newspaper on Wednesday published a gruesome recounting of the alleged slaying of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, just as America’s top diplomat arrived in the country for talks over The Washington Post columnist’s disappearance. The report by Yeni Safak adds to the ever-increasing pressure on Saudi Arabia to explain what happened to Khashoggi, who vanished Oct 2 while visiting the consulate to pick up paperwork he needed to get married. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told journalists before leaving Riyadh on Wednesday that Saudi leaders, including King Salman and his son, the 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, “made no exceptions on who they would hold accountable.” “They made a commitment to hold anyone connected to any wrongdoing that may be found accountable for that, whether they are a senior officer or official,” Pompeo said. However, no major decision is made outside of the ultraconservative kingdom’s ruling Al Saud family. Khashoggi had fled the country last year amid the rise of Prince Mohammed, whom he wrote critically about in the Post. The Yeni Safak report cited what it described as an audio recording of Khashoggi’s slaying, which it said showed the writer was tortured. The newspaper said Saudi Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi could be heard on the tape, telling those allegedly torturing Khashoggi: “Do this outside; you’re going to get me in trouble.” The newspaper alleged that one of the Saudis torturing Khashoggi replied: “Shut up if you want to live [Read More…]

Oct 122018
Turkey has proof Saudi journalist Khashoggi was killed, says Washington Post

Turkey’s government has told US officials it has audio and video proof that missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the Washington Post reported on Friday. The newspaper, for which Khashoggi is a columnist, cited anonymous officials as saying the recordings show a Saudi security team detained the writer when he went to the consulate on October 2 to pick up a document for his upcoming wedding. The Associated Press was not immediately able to confirm the report, and Turkish officials would not comment. Saudi officials enter Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on Friday, Oct 12. ─ AP Meanwhile, a delegation from Saudi Arabia arrived in Turkey on Friday as part of an investigation into the writer’s disappearance, Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu said. Saudi Arabia has called the allegation it abducted or harmed Khashoggi “baseless.” However, it has offered no evidence to support its claim he left the consulate and vanished despite his fiance waiting outside. Read: ‘This has not been business as usual in my country’: excerpts from Saudi journalist Khashoggi’s writings Anadolu Agency said the delegation would hold talks with Turkish officials over the weekend. It did not provide further details. On Thursday, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey and Saudi Arabia would form a “joint working group” to look into Khashoggi’s disappearance. The 59-year-old journalist, who was considered close to the Saudi royal family, had became a critic of the current government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin [Read More…]

Oct 052018
Interpol president reported missing after trip to China

A French judicial official says the president of Interpol has been reported missing after traveling to China. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for an ongoing investigation, said Meng Hongwei’s wife reported him missing on Friday. The official said the Interpol chief left France, where the international police organization is based, and arrived in China at the end of September. She said there had been no news of him since. The 64-year-old Meng Hongwei was elected president of Interpol in November 2016. His term is due to run until 2020. A vice minister of public security in China, he previously served as vice chairman of the national narcotics control commission and director of the National Counter-Terrorism Office for China.

Oct 032018
Saudi king wouldn't last 2 weeks without US support, says Trump

United States (US) President Donald Trump says Saudi Arabia’s king “might not be there for two weeks” without US military support, further increasing his pressure on one of America’s closest Mideast allies over rising oil prices. As crude oil prices reach a four-year high, Trump repeatedly has demanded OPEC and Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, push prices down. Read more: Shireen Mazari calls out Trump’s ignorance on US role in destabilising ME However, analysts are warning prices could go up to $100 a barrel as the world’s production is already stretched and Trump’s sanctions on Iran’s oil industry take effect in early November. Criticising America’s longstanding military relationships with allies has been a hallmark of Trump’s presidential campaign and his time in office. Trump returned to that theme Tuesday night in Southaven, Mississippi, mentioning both Japan and South Korea. However, Trump’s comments on Saudi Arabia implied the kingdom’s Al Saud monarchy, which oversees the holiest sites in Islam, would collapse without American military support. “We protect Saudi Arabia, would you say they’re rich?” Trump asked the cheering crowd. “And I love the king, King Salman, but I said, ‘King we’re protecting you. You might not be there for two weeks without us. You have to pay for your military, you have to pay.’” Trump didn’t elaborate on when he made the comments to Saud Arabia’s 82-year-old monarch. Trump and King Salman last shared a reported telephone call on Saturday, in which they discussed “efforts to maintain supplies to [Read More…]