9 Malaysians Trapped In North Korea On Way Home

Friday, March 31, 2017
The nine Malaysians trapped in Pyongyang have been allowed to leave North Korea, Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a statement today. 
He said the nine “took off from Pyongyang today at 7.45pm Malaysian time, and will land in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow around 5am”. He also announced that North Koreans in the country would now be allowed to leave Malaysia. 
The ban was imposed after North Korea prevented the Malaysians there to leave the country. In addition, following the completion of the autopsy on Kim Jong Nam and receipt of a letter from his family requesting the remains be returned to North Korea, the coroner approved the release of the body, he said. 
 “I would like to thank those in the Malaysian government involved in the negotiations, led by our ministry of foreign affairs. 
“I had a deep personal concern about this matter, and we worked intensively behind the scenes to achieve this successful outcome. 
“Many challenges were overcome to ensure the return of our fellow Malaysians. The safety and security of our citizens will always be my first priority. 
 “The government believes strongly in the principles of justice and sovereignty.” Najib said police investigations into the killing of Jong Nam would continue. 
Jong Nam was the estranged elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who was killed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2.

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Duterte To US: Why Didn't You Send Armada vs China Islands?

Thursday, March 30, 2017
 MANILA, Philippines  — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he has asked the U.S. ambassador why America did not deploy an armada of warships to pressure China to stop constructing man-made islands that are now at the heart of regional concerns in the disputed South China Sea.

Duterte said in a speech that U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim was unable to reply to the question when they met Monday in southern Davao city, where the president had a separate meeting with the Chinese ambassador. While criticizing the U.S., Duterte did not berate China's behavior in his speech.
Duterte said he told Kim that he was surprised by what he described as U.S. inaction when newspapers were publishing pictures of China's construction of runways and other structures on the newly built islands in the disputed waters.
"Had America really wanted to avoid trouble, early on ... why did you not send the armada of the 7th Fleet which is stationed there in the Pacific, you just make a U-turn and go there and tell them right on their face, stop it?" Duterte said he asked Kim, referring to the U.S. naval fleet based in Japan.
Kim, who arrived in Manila last year as American ambassador, replied that he was assigned elsewhere at the time and could not give an answer, Duterte said.
Duterte spoke in a visit to Oriental Mindoro province a day after concerns were raised over a report by a U.S. think tank that China has nearly completed construction work on three man-made islands that will allow it to deploy combat aircraft and surface-to-air missiles.
The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies analyzed recent satellite photos and concluded that runways, aircraft hangers, radar sites and hardened surface-to-air missile shelters have either been finished or are nearing completion.
One of the islands mentioned in the report, Philippine-claimed Mischief Reef, was seized by China in 1995, drawing protests from Manila then. Another island, Subi, is very close to a Philippine-occupied island in the Spratly chain, which is claimed in whole or in part by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.
Duterte repeated that he would not go to war with militarily superior China over the territorial conflict.
"The first thing that will be blasted away from this planet Earth will be Palawan," Duterte said, referring to the western Philippine island province facing the disputed waters. "All of the deposits of armaments of the Americans, including ours, are there."
When Duterte took office in June, he reached out to China to mend relations strained under his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, over the territorial dispute. While taking a friendly stance toward Beijing, he lashed out at the United States for criticizing his brutal campaign against illegal drugs.
Duterte thanked President Xi Jinping over the renewed friendship and return of normal trade relations, praising the Chinese leader as "very kind."
Duterte, however, said he will invoke an international arbitration ruling that declared China has no historic title to the disputed waters if Beijing drills for oil or gas in a shoal contested by China and the Philippines.
Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in Manila that China and the Philippines have agreed to hold a bilateral consultation on the South China Sea disputes and Beijing has offered to host an initial meeting in May.
"The purpose of this bilateral consultation mechanism is to have a platform where issues about the South China Sea can be discussed," Jose told reporters.

Source: AP
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US Embassy Jerusalem Move 'Assault' On Muslims?

Saturday, January 14, 2017
Jerusalem's Grand Mufti on Friday branded plans by President-elect Donald Trump to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem an "assault" on Muslims across the globe.
"The pledge to move the embassy is not just an assault against Palestinians but against Arabs and Muslims, who will not remain silent," Muhammad Hussein said in a sermon at Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City.
On Tuesday, Palestinian leaders called for Friday prayers at mosques across the Middle East this week to protest Trump's campaign pledge.
There have been warnings that the move would constitute recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital and could inflame tensions in the Middle East and possibly sink what remains of peace efforts.
"The transfer of the embassy violates international charters and norms which recognise Jerusalem as an occupied city," Hussein said in his sermon, avoiding mentioning Trump by name.
The Palestinians regard east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel proclaims the entire city as its capital.
The city's status is one of the thorniest issues of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.
Mohammad Shtayyeh, a senior Palestinian official and Fatah central committee member, said on Tuesday that the Palestinian leadership had been informed by diplomatic contacts that Trump could call for the move in his inauguration speech on January 20.
The Palestinians have added the issue to the agenda of a meeting of foreign ministers from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on January 19 in Malaysia, he added.

Source: AFP, Agensi
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5 Dead, 8 Injured In Mass Shooting At Florida's Fort Lauderdale Airport

Saturday, January 07, 2017
MIAMI, Florida, USA - Five people have been killed and eight have been wounded in a shooting Friday at the Fort Lauderdale airport, the Broward County Sheriff's Office said on Twitter.
The gunman, identified as Esteban Santiago, 26, is in custody and was a lone shooter, Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief told CNN on Friday.
"We have no evidence at this time that he was acting with anyone else. He is currently in custody and we're investigating," Sharief said. 
Investigators are looking into the suspect's motive, she said.
  • Parts of the airport were apparently evacuated. Aerial footage from CNN affiliates showed large groups of people standing outside on the tarmac.
  • As of 8:00 p.m. ET, the entire Fort Lauderdale Airport remains closed. There is no word as to when the airport will open for service again.
  • At about 2 p.m., reports of a second shooter sent travelers sprinting across the tarmac and ducking behind parked cars. After an extensive search, no second shooter was found.
  • The Broward Count Sheriff's Office has only confirmed one set of gunshots.
  • "The citizens of Florida will not tolerate senseless acts of evil. Whoever is responsible will held accountable to the fullest extent of the law," Florida Governor Rick Scott said in a press conference. The governor said that now was time to mourn the dead and pray for hospitalized victims, not talk about gun laws.
Gene Messina had just arrived in Fort Lauderdale on Delta Flight 2012 as people were being evacuated from the terminal.
"I got off the plane and I saw people running and screaming.
At first I was in shock but when I saw TSA agents running, I booked," Messina told CNN over Instagram.
In November 2016, nearly 2.5 million travelers passed through Fort Lauderdale's airport, according to a government report on the facility.
There are four terminals at the airport.

Source: ABC2news

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‘Santa attack’ In Istanbul Nightclub, Kills 35

Sunday, January 01, 2017
ISTANBUL, Turkey -  At least 35 people were killed and 40 wounded in a “terror” attack in Istanbul Sunday when gunmen reportedly dressed as Santa stormed an elite nightclub where partygoers were celebrating the New Year, the latest carnage to rock Turkey after a bloody 2016.
Two gunmen entered the venue dressed as Santa and spraying bullets at random inside the Reina nightclub, one of the city’s most exclusive party spots, Dogan news agency said. 
“Unfortunately, at least 35 of our citizens lost their lives. One was a police officer. 

  • Forty people are receiving treatment in hospitals,” Vasip Sahin told reporters at the scene of the nightclub on the Bosphorus in the city’s European side. 
    “What happened today is a terror attack,” he added. 
    Many party-goers threw themselves into the Bosphorus in panic after the attack and efforts were underway to rescue them from the waters, NTV television said. 
    Dogan news agency reported that some witnesses claimed the attackers were “speaking Arabic” while NTV broadcaster said special force police officers were still searching the nightclub.
TV images showed the scene cordoned off by police officers. According to Dogan, there were at least 700 revellers celebrating the start of 2017 at the club. 
Television pictures showed the New Year partygoers — including men in suits and women in cocktail dresses — emerging out of the nightclub in a state of shock.
The nightclub in the Ortakoy district of Istanbul is one of the most elite spots in the city, and getting inside past the bouncers who seek out only the best dressed is notoriously hard.

Source: AFP
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Russian Plane Explode And Crash With 92 People Aboard: No Survivors

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Russian plane headed to an air base in Syria with 92 people aboard, including members of a well-known military choir, crashed into the Black Sea on Sunday minutes after taking off from the resort city of Sochi, Russia's Defence Ministry said.
There were no survivors of the crashed Tu-154, which belonged to the Defence Ministry and was taking the Alexandrov Ensemble to a holiday concert at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia. Crews found at least one body and ships, helicopters and drones were searching the area for more.
  • A total of 84 passengers and eight crew members were on the plane when it disappeared from radars two minutes after taking off in good weather. Emergency crews found fragments about 1.5 kilometres from shore.
Viktor Ozerov, head of the defence affairs committee at the upper house of Russian parliament, said the crash could have been caused by a technical malfunction or a crew error, but he believes it was not terrorism because the plane was operated by the military.
"I totally exclude" the idea of an attack bringing down the plane, he said.

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Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov Shot Dead In Ankara

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Russia's ambassador to Turkey was shot dead in front of a crowd at a posh art gallery in the capital Ankara as the angry gunmen screamed "don't forget Aleppo".
Police later killed the assailant on Monday night, Turkish station NTV reported.
Andrey Karlov, 62, was several minutes into a speech at an embassy-sponsored photo exhibition when a man who stood directly behind him in a dark suit shot the diplomat in the back from close range multiple times.

  • Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova made the announcement of Karlov's death in a live televised statement.
  • The assailant was a 22-year-old off-duty police officer who worked in Turkey's capital, said Ankara's Mayor Melih Gokcek.
  • After the initial shot, the attacker approached Karlov as he lay on the ground and shot him at least one more time at close range, according to an AP photographer at the scene.
  • He also smashed several of the framed photos on exhibition, but later let the stunned guests out of the venue, according to local media.
Several media outlets reported a gunfight later ensued after Karlov was shot.
Local broadcaster NTV television said at least three people were wounded and were taken to the hospital.

Mayor Gokcek told reporters outside the exhibition centre the "heinous" attack was aimed at disrupting newly re-established relations between Turkey and Russia.

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone about Monday's attack.
"On behalf of my country and my people I once again extend my condolences to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the friendly Russian people," said Erdogan.  
Putin promised a response to the assassination. 

Source: Al Jazeera...More...
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Saddam Hussein Should Have Been Left To Run Iraq?

Sunday, December 18, 2016
Both President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump believe the United States never should have invaded Iraq in 2003.
The war in Iraq and its chaotic aftermath in many ways prefigure the present moment in the Middle East; it triggered a sectarian unraveling that now haunts both Iraq and Syria and looms large in the minds of an Obama administration wary of further intervention in the region's conflicts.In a new book coming out this month, John Nixon, a former CIA officer who interrogated Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein after he was captured by coalition forces in December 2003, details his encounter with the toppled despot and the varied discussions that followed.
 Early on, Hussein warned that the occupation of Iraq wouldn't be as much of a "cakewalk" as Washington's neoconservatives assumed at the time.

When I interrogated Saddam, he told me: “You are going to fail. You are going to find that it is not so easy to govern Iraq.” When I told him I was curious why he felt that way, he replied: “You are going to fail in Iraq because you do not know the language, the history, and you do not understand the Arab mind.”
Nixon now reckons Hussein had a point and that a ruthless strongman like him was necessary to "maintain Iraq's multi-ethnic state" and keep both Sunni extremism and the power of Shiite-led Iran, a Hussein foe, at bay.
"Saddam’s leadership style and penchant for brutality were among the many faults of his regime, but he could be ruthlessly decisive when he felt his power base was threatened, and it is far from certain that his regime would have been overthrown by a movement of popular discontent," he wrote. 

"Likewise, it is improbable that a group like ISIS would have been able to enjoy the kind of success under his repressive regime that they have had under the Shia-led Baghdad government." (ISIS is another name for the Islamic State.)
This may all be rather true. Trump himself insists that regime change should no longer be in Washington's interest and has embraced dictatorial leaders such as Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi.
"Although I found Saddam to be thoroughly unlikeable, I came away with a grudging respect for how he was able to maintain the Iraqi nation as a whole for as long as he did," wrote Nixon. 
"He told me once, 'Before me, there was only bickering and arguing. I ended all that and made people agree!'"
Many Arab commentators, though, reject the simplicity of the assumptions here — that if not ruled by tyrants, their nations would automatically turn into breeding grounds for militancy. 
That's a logic, after all, that serves the autocrats. Moreover, there's a direct connection between the heavy-handed policies of the region's autocrats and the conditions that spawn extremism and deepen sectarian animosities.
Pluralistic, multi-ethnic societies have been the norm, not the exception, for centuries.

Source: Washington Post, Agency
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Two Girls Blow Themselves Up In Nigeria Market, 17 Seriously Hurt

Monday, December 12, 2016
KANO, Nigeria - Two little girls, approximately seven or eight years old, blew themselves up in a northeastern Nigerian market on Sunday, killing themselves and wounding at least 17 others, witnesses said.
The girls "must have been seven or eight", a local militia member in Maiduguri told AFP.
Emergency services on-site in the town, the epicentre of the Boko Haram jihadist insurgency, said 17 people sustained "relatively serious" injuries. 
The attack was not immediately claimed by Boko Haram but bore all the hallmarks of the jihadists, who have regularly used women and young girls to carry out suicide attacks in their 7 year insurgent campaign in 
the troubled region.

Source: AFP
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