Nov 052017
Netflix cuts ties with Kevin Spacey after sexual misconduct allegations

Netflix Inc severed ties on Friday with Kevin Spacey, one of its biggest stars and the lead in its popular drama House of Cards, after a number of allegations of sexual misconduct against the Oscar-winning actor. The streaming company suspended production earlier this week of the upcoming sixth and final season of the political intrigue drama, in which Spacey plays US president Frank Underwood. Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey comes out as gay after being accused of child molestation “Netflix will not be involved with any further production of House of Cards that includes Kevin Spacey,” the company said in a statement late on Friday. PHOTO: THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER Spacey’s publicist cut ties with him on Thursday and it was not known who currently represents him. His departure may not mean the end of the show, however. “While we continue the ongoing investigation into the serious allegations concerning Kevin Spacey’s behavior on the set of House of Cards, he has been suspended, effective immediately,” Media Rights Capital, the company that produces the show, said in a statement. “MRC, in partnership with Netflix, will continue to evaluate a creative path forward for the program during the hiatus,” it said. PHOTO: VOGUE The Netflix statement also said the company will work with MRC to determine the show’s future. Spacey, who has had a successful career in film, television and theater, is one of several big names in the entertainment business to be accused of sexual misconduct by people coming forward in the wake [Read More…]

Nov 042017

KABUL: A US service member was killed in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, the military said, without giving details of his identity or the circumstances of his death, which occurred as American forces have stepped up operations against the Taliban. A statement from US Forces Afghanistan Command in Kabul said the service member had died of wounds sustained during operations in Logar, the eastern province where another service member was killed last week after a helicopter crash. “Despite this tragic event, we remain steadfast in our commitment to the Afghan people and to support them in our mutual fight against terrorism,” Gen John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan said in the statement. The latest death comes after President Donald Trump ordered a boost in the number of US troops assisting Afghan forces against the Taliban as part of a new strategy to try to break the stalemate with the insurgents. Although, most US troops are not in combat, the new strategy will give them greater authority to engage the Taliban and will involve some acting as advisers at brigade and battalion level, bringing them much closer to the front line. Up to Aug 23, 10 US service members had been killed in Afghanistan this year, according to figures published last week by the congressional watchdog SIGAR, more than double the number killed in the same periods in 2015 and 2016. Separately, the US military said it was investigating reports of civilian casualties caused during a combined operation in the northern [Read More…]

Nov 042017

HONOLULU, HAWAII: US President Donald Trump headed to Japan on the first stop of his five-nation tour of Asia on Saturday, looking to present a united front with the Japanese against North Korea as tensions run high over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests. Trump, who is on a 12-day trip, is to speak to US and Japanese forces at Yokota air base shortly after arriving in Japan on Sunday and looked to stress the importance of the alliance to regional security. Ballistic missile tests by North Korea and its sixth-largest nuclear test, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, have exacerbated the most critical international challenge of Trump’s presidency. Trump to top US diplomat: Don’t bother talking to North Korea Aerial drills conducted over South Korea by two US strategic bombers have raised tensions in recent days. In a display of golf diplomacy, Trump is to play a round of golf with Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. The two leaders also played together in Florida earlier this year. Trump will also have a state call with the Imperial Family at Akasaka Palace during his visit. Abe and Trump will meet families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea. Joined by his wife Melania on part of the trip, Trump’s tour of Asia is the longest by an American president since George HW Bush in 1992. North Korea says Trump has ‘declared war’ Besides Japan, he will visit South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. Trump departed Hawaii for Japan aboard Air [Read More…]

Nov 032017

Venezuela on Thursday announced plans to restructure its burgeoning foreign debt, a move that may lead to a default by the cash-strapped OPEC nation whose collapsing socialist economy has left its population struggling to find food and medicine. President Nicolas Maduro vowed to make a $1.1 billion payment on a bond maturing on Thursday, but also created a commission to study “restructuring of all future payments” in order to meet the needs of citizens. Venezuela has few avenues to do that though because of sanctions by the United States that bar American banks from participating in or even negotiating such deals. Thus, Maduro’s most readily available recourse to ease payments is unilaterally halting them. “I am naming a special presidential commission led by Vice President Tareck El Aissami to begin refinancing and restructuring all of Venezuela’s external debt and (begin) the fight against the financial persecution of our country,” Maduro said in a televised speech. Venezuela and state-owned companies have $49 billion in bonds governed by New York Law and promissory notes, according to New York-based Torino Capital. The government and state oil company PDVSA owe some $1.6 billion in debt service and delayed interest payments by the end of the year, plus another $9 billion in bond servicing in 2018. CIA director admits involvement in Venezuela The next hard payment deadline for PDVSA is an $81 million bond payment that was due on October 12 but on which the company delayed payment under a 30-day grace period. Failing to [Read More…]

Nov 012017

WASHINGTON DC: The CIA has released hundreds of thousands of new documents, images, and computer files recovered during the May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad. The newly-available material provides invaluable insights into the terrorist organization that struck America on September 11, 2001. A computer recovered in the 2011 US special forces operation that killed Osama bin Laden contains a video collection that includes kids’ cartoons, several Hollywood movies and three documentaries about himself. The list of the videos was included in the release on Wednesday by the US Central Intelligence Agency of nearly 470,000 files found on the computer seized in the May 2, 2011, US raid on the al Qaeda founder’s hideout in Abbottabad. With five-year delay, CIA ‘live-tweets’ bin Laden raid It is the fourth tranche of materials taken from the walled compound where bin Laden and his family lived to be made public by the US government since May 2015. Materials that still have not been released are being withheld because they could harm national security, are blank, corrupted or duplicate files, are pornographic or are protected by copyright, said a CIA statement. The copyright-protected materials include more than two dozen videos and two other documentaries about the al Qaeda leader, the CIA said. Former CIA station chief in Pakistan suspected of being poisoned after bin Laden raid “Today’s release of recovered al-Qaeda letters, videos, audio files and other materials provides the opportunity for the American people to gain further insights into the plans [Read More…]

Oct 312017

NEW YORK: New York City police were investigating reports of gunfire and a vehicle striking people in lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon, and one person has been taken into custody, police officials said. Police were unable to confirm if there were any injuries, but local media reported at least five, including possible fatalities. The incident took place near the West Side Highway and Chambers Street, police said. An eyewitness told ABC Channel 7 that he saw a white pick-up truck drive south down the bike path alongside the West Side Highway at full speed and hit several people. The witness, a man identified by the name “Eugene,” said bodies were lying outside Stuyvesant High School, one of the city’s elite public schools. He also reported hearing about nine or 10 shots, but was not sure where they came from. The West Side Highway runs on the western edge of Manhattan, alongside the Hudson River. The post Police investigate reported vehicle strike, shooting in Manhattan appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Oct 312017

MUMBAI: Two Indian men were convicted on Tuesday of raping their 10-year-old niece in a case that hit global headlines when the girl was denied an abortion by India’s top court and had to give birth, local media reported. The girl was 30 weeks pregnant in July when a court in the northwestern city of Chandigarh turned down her abortion plea as she was too far advanced. 10-year-old India rape victim gives birth to baby girl Indian law does not allow terminations after 20 weeks unless the mother’s life is in danger. The girl did not know she was pregnant and was unaware she delivered a baby girl in August as her parents told her she was undergoing stomach surgery to remove a stone. The baby was put up for adoption. A court in India on Tuesday found two of the girl’s uncles, both brothers, guilty of rape with sentencing set for later this week, according to the Hindustan Times. Woman raped by the side of a road in India as people film her instead of helping The girl, whose identity has been kept secret, initially told police and child welfare activists that she had been raped several times over recent months by the first uncle, who is aged in his 40s. But after DNA tests did not link him to the baby, police began searching for more suspects and a second uncle was arrested. An increasing number of such cases have come to the courts in recent years with as [Read More…]

Oct 252017

ANKARA: A prominent Turkish nationalist politician and former minister announced on Wednesday she was forming a new party which could pose a significant challenge to President Tayyip Erdogan in elections due within two years. Former interior minister Meral Aksener, who unsuccessfully opposed Erdogan’s drive for greater presidential powers in a referendum last April, said Turkey needed change after nearly 15 years of rule by his AK Party. Her Iyi Parti (Good Party) is seen by many in Turkey as potentially one of the strongest challengers to Erdogan in presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 2019, but it starts out with only a fraction of the AK Party’s support. Ex-Turkish economy minister among nine charged in US over Iran sanctions Just five members of the 550-seat parliament have joined the new party, although pollsters say it could win over supporters of several parties including the conservative and Islamic-rooted AK Party as well as secular or nationalist groups. “Turkey and its people are tired, the state is worn down, and public order is unravelling. There is no way other than the changing of the political atmosphere,” Aksener said at a ceremony in Ankara to mark the launch of her party. “We are that way out, you are that way out. That road is the 80 million strong Turkish nation” she said, standing in front of the logo of her party – a yellow sun shining in a blue sky. “Our people are clearly saying they want … a new government.” Aksener was expelled [Read More…]

Oct 242017

WASHINGTON DC: The United States is taking steps and considering a range of further actions over Myanmar’s treatment of its Rohingya Muslim minority, including targeted sanctions under its Global Magnitsky law, the State Department said on Monday. “We express our gravest concern with recent events in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and the violent, traumatic abuses Rohingya and other communities have endured,” it said in a statement. It added: “It is imperative that any individuals or entities responsible for atrocities, including non-state actors and vigilantes, be held accountable.” Machetes vs machine guns: Rohingya salvation army outgunned in Myanmar Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar in large numbers since late August when Rohingya insurgent attacks sparked a ferocious military response, with the fleeing people accusing security forces of arson, killings and rape. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday the United States held Myanmar’s military leadership responsible for its crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority. Tillerson stopped short of saying whether the United States would take any action against Myanmar’s military leaders over an offensive that has driven more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims out of the country, mostly to neighboring Bangladesh. Nations pledge $340 million to Rohingya response The State Department made the announcement ahead of US President Donald Trump’s maiden visit to the region early next month when he will attend a summit of ASEAN countries, including Myanmar, in Manila. It marked the strongest US response so far to the months-long Rohingya crisis but came short of applying the most drastic tools at Washington’s [Read More…]

Oct 152017
California ‘horror’ fires kill at least 40, deadliest in state history

Fast-moving fires spread by shifting winds forced thousands more Californians to evacuate their homes on Saturday as the death toll from the deadliest blaze recorded in the state’s history rose to at least 40, with hundreds of people still missing. More than 10,000 firefighters supported by air tankers and helicopters overhead were battling 16 major wildfires, some encompassing several …