Friday, May 31, 2019

Venezuela: Guaido says Norway talks to continue

Guaido said talks hosted by Norway between his delegation and that of President Nicolas Maduro would continue despite Wednesday’s discussions ending “without agreement.”
“We thank the Norwegian government for its desire to contribute to a solution to the chaos our country is suffering. We’re prepared to continue alongside them,” Guaido said in a statement.
Maduro also expressed support for dialogue on Wednesday, saying in televised remarks that: “I believe in dialogue. Our path is dialogue, respect for the constitution, peace, democracy.”
Delegations representing the Venezuelan rivals met face-to-face in Oslo for the first time this week in a process begun two weeks ago under Norwegian auspices to find a solution to the South American country’s economic and political crises.
Venezuela has been ravaged by five years of recession marked by shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicines.
It was plunged deeper into political turmoil in January when National Assembly speaker Guaido declared himself acting president in a direct challenge to Maduro’s authority.
He was quickly backed by more than 50 countries in his bid to oust the socialist leader that the National Assembly has branded illegitimate over his controversial re-election last year in polls the opposition claims were fraudulent.
Despite agreeing to talks, Guaido insisted in his statement that the opposition’s aims have not changed.
“We’ve ratified our plan: the end of the usurpation, a transitional government and free elections, as a route to solve the tragedy our Venezuela is suffering today,” said Guaido.
He also insisted that the Oslo talks “don’t stop the opposition’s efforts in every constitutional area” to force Maduro from power.

Naira Marley granted N2m bail

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday granted bail in the sum of two million naira and two sureties to a musician, Azeez Fashola (a.k.a Naira Marley), facing cyber crime charges.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on May 20, brought the musician before Justice Nicholas Oweibo on an 11-count charge bordering on conspiracy, possession of counterfeit credit cards and fraud.
Also mentioned in the charge is one Yad Isril, who is said to be at large.
The musician, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The court had ordered his remand in prison, and adjourned hearing on his bail application.
On Thursday, his lawyer, Mr Olalekan Ojo (SAN), prayedthe court to grant the musician bail on liberal terms.
Ojo argued that as a celebrity, the defendant would not jump bail.
Citing relevant statutory authorities as well as decision of the Supreme Court, Ojo urged the court to grant bail to the musician in its discretion as allowed by the law.
He noted that the law provided for a prison term of not more than seven years for the offence, adding that the law  provided that the  defendant would be entitled to bail.
However, EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed the application for bail, claiming that the defendant was a “flight risk”.
He said that there was upsurge in the rate of cyber crime  popularly termed “yahoo yahoo” in Nigeria, arguing that the menace had left the country in a devastating condition and dented its image.
He also submitted that as a celebrity, the conduct of the defendant had a multiplier effect on the youth looking up to him as model.
Oyedepo prayed the court  to deny the musician bail.
The judge ruled that the reasons adduced by prosecution were not strong enough to warrant denial of bail to the defendant.
He ordered  that one of the sureties must be a civil servant of grade level 10 and above or an owner of a landed property within the court’s jurisdiction.
He adjourned the case until Oct. 22,  for trial.
According to the EFCC, the defendant committed the offences on different dates including Nov. 26, 2018, Dec. 11, 2018, and May 10.
The commission alleged that the musician conspired with other persons to use different Access cards to defraud some people.
The EFCC said that the defendant used Access Card number 5264711020433662 issued to another person to obtain fraudulent financial gains.
It added that the defendant possessed counterfeit credit cards with the intent to defraud and steal.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the alleged offences contravene Sections 1 23 (1) (b), 27 (1), 33, 33(9) Cyber Crime (Prohibition, Prevention) Act, 2015.
Cyber crime attracts up to seven years imprisonment.

Trump is ‘God’s Choice for U.S. – Cleric

Amid the debates about impeaching the current US president over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, Pastor Robert Henderson, head of a ministry, has claimed that he interceded for Donald Trump before the courts of heaven.
In an interview with televangelist Jim Bakker, known not only for his preaching but for having a criminal record, Pastor Robert Henderson has predicted that those trying to remove Donald Trump from office will fail.
Henderson, promoting his book “Prayers and Declarations that Open the Courts of Heaven” on “The Jim Bakker Show”, insisted that people, opposing the incumbent president are fighting God as Trump is the Almighty’s pick.
“He’s God’s choice. They can try all day long to remove him, they will not remove him. God said, ‘I set him as the president,’ and they can fight, and they can curse, and they can do all that they want; the problem is that they’re fighting against God”, Henderson insisted.
According to the pastor, he had a dream about then-candidate Trump in March 2016. Trump is said to have asked Henderson to appeal for him in the courts of heaven to help his campaign and ensure his victory.
The preacher, who runs Robert Henderson Ministries, exchanging prayers for donations, claimed that he agreed and they appeared in what he described as “the council of the Lord”.
He insisted that God had instructed him to make a decree out of the Bible verse James 1:11: “All flesh is as grass, and flower is as the glory of the grass.”
“I want you to decree that Hillary Clinton’s campaign is as grass and that she is as the flower of the grass, and the burning, searing, exposing heat of God will come and bring exposure, and she will wither away and Donald Trump will be the president of the US”, the pastor recalled God’s alleged instructions from his dream.
His revelations emerged online just a day before Special Counsel Robert Mueller made his first public statement after a 22-month-long investigation, dubbed the Russian probe.
Mueller reiterated his position that his team didn’t determine whether Trump had obstructed justice or not, refusing once again to either exonerate him or accuse him of a crime.
He also confirmed that there were “systematic efforts” to interfere in the US presidential election in 2016, but cited the report’s findings, saying that the investigation hadn’t found any evidence of a “broader conspiracy” involving Trump.

Putin, Abe to meet on sidelines of G20 summit in June

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet on June 29 on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday after talks with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono.
“We compared notes on issues of developing our relations in all spheres in the framework of preparing for another meeting between Putin and Abe which is scheduled for June 29 on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka,” Lavrov said.
He noted that the foreign and defense ministers of Russia and Japan discussed at their talks on Thursday settlement of conflicts and developing foreign policy cooperation.
The G20 summit will be held in Japan’s Osaka on June 28-29.
Tokyo believes that regular meetings between the Japanese and Russian foreign ministers have a positive role in relation to efforts to make a peace treaty, Japanese top diplomat noted. 
“Regular meetings between the Japanese and Russian foreign ministers are a great driving force on the way to a peace treaty,” he said. According to Kono, the parties discussed the peace treaty issue, including aspects the two countries view differently.
The Japanese foreign minister also said that in accordance with a bilateral agreement, the parties would refrain from disclosing the details of the peace treaty talks.

Hungary: 7 dead, 19 missing in boat mishap

have died and another 19 are missing after a tour boat sank on the Danube River in Budapest, according to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Thirty-four people were on board the vessel when it collided with another large tourist boat in the Hungarian capital and capsized Wednesday at around 10 p.m. local time, according to CNN affiliate ATV.
The boats collided in the center of the city, near Hungary’s riverside Parliament Building and the Elisabeth Bridge.
Of the 33 South Koreans on board, seven have been rescued, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. People were rescued from the river more than a mile downstream, near Petofi Bridge, ATV reported.
Thirty of the tourists on board were traveling with South Korean tour company Very Good Tour, the company’s chief operating officer Lee Sang-moo said at a press conference.
Lee said the group included nine families, mostly people in their 40s and 50s, although at least one child was on board.
Very Good Tour is planning to send a team of staff to Hungary Thursday.
Panorama Deck “ensures all the necessary technical maintenance is carried out every year,” he said.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has ordered a rapid response team to be dispatched to help the rescue effort in Budapest, a presidential spokesperson in Seoul said Thursday.
South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will head up a central disaster and safety countermeasures headquarters, which will aim to ensure smooth dialogue with the victims, families and the tour boat collision.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

US to send 1,500 troops to Middle East for 'protection' against Iran

Both President Trump and the Pentagon stressed that they were not seeking to engage in a military conflict with Iran. Trump has been trying to pressure Tehran into negotiating a new nuclear deal.
US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he would send some 1,500 soldiers to the Middle East as "protection" amidst a rise in tensions with Iran. At the same time, he downplayed the suggestion of a military conflict.
"We want to have protection in the Middle East," he said. "We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective.
"Right now, I don't think Iran wants to fight. And I certainly don't think they want to fight with us," Trump said, adding, "but they cannot have nuclear weapons."
Earlier this month, the US moved bombers, Patriot missiles and a carrier strike group to its Middle East bases.
The Pentagon said the troop movement was in response to several incidents it believes were caused by the Iranian government. This includes a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone, four oil tankers that were sabotaged with explosives in the Gulf and a drone attack on a Saudi oil installation.
"We view this as a campaign," said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, director of the Pentagon's Joint Staff.
"We think that through a combination of a very measured deployment of assets as well as public messaging, we are again trying to underscore that we are not seeking hostilities with Iran."
A Russian lawmaker on Friday warned that Moscow might raise the topic of the US deployment at the next meeting of the UN Security Council.

France :Bomb blast in Lyon leaves several injured

A package blast on a pedestrian street in the heart of France’s city of Lyon wounded several people Friday, officials said, just two days ahead of the country’s hotly contested European Parliament elections.
President Emmanuel Macron called the blast an “attack” during a live Facebook interview, adding that no deaths had been reported “for the time being”.
The area where the explosion occurred, on a narrow strip of land between the Saone and Rhone rivers in the historic centre of the southeast city, was evacuated and cordoned off by police, according to AFP journalists at the scene.
A police source told AFP the package contained “screws or bolts” and had been placed in front of a bakery near a busy corner of two popular streets.
A man apparently in his early 30s who was spotted near the scene shortly before the attack was being sought by police, a source close to the inquiry said.
Police said eight people were wounded but none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening.
– ‘Windows were blown out’ –
Macron, in his Facebook interview, said: “It’s not for me to give a toll but it appears there are no fatalities. There have been injuries, so obviously I’m thinking of these injured and their families.”
“An eight-year-old girl was wounded…. We’re fairly relieved because apparently there were no serious injuries but on the other hand, we are certain it was an explosive device,” said Denis Broliquier, mayor of the city’s Second Arrondissement.
He said the suspect sought by police had been seen on video surveillance cameras.
“There was an explosion and I thought it was a car crash,” said Eva, a 17-year-old student who was about 15 metres (50 feet) from the site of the blast.
“There were bits of electric wire near me, and batteries and bits of cardboard and plastic. The windows were blown out,” he said.
A terrorism probe has been opened by the Paris prosecutor’s office, which has jurisdiction over all terror cases in the country.
France has been on high alert following a wave of deadly jihadist terror attacks since 2015 which have killed more than 250 people.
“It’s an area in the very centre of Lyon, a major street,” the city’s deputy mayor in charge of security, Jean-Yves Secheresse, told BFM television.
“These areas are highly secured, the police are continually present,” as were patrols by soldiers deployed in a long-running anti-terror operation, he said.
Lyon is the third-biggest city in France. The population of the city plus its extensive suburbs is 2.3 million.
The most recent package bomb in France dates back to December 2007, when an explosion in front of a law office in Paris killed one person and injured another. Police never found who carried out that attack.

Venezuelan prison clashes leave 29 inmates dead

At least 29 inmates have died after clashes broke out at a prison inside a Venezuelan police station, authorities have said.
Oscar Valero, public security chief for Portuguesa state, said at least 19 police officers were wounded.
He said the violence broke out when police special forces (FAES) tried to stop a "massive" break-out.
The jail, in Acarigua, is designed to hold 250 people but currently has around 540, rights groups said.
Mr Valero told reporters that police officers had faced "a hail of gunfire" and that inmates detonated grenades in Friday's incident.
A prisoners' rights group, Una Ventana a la Libertad, said the clashes broke out when officers tried to rescue visitors who had been taken hostage by inmates on Thursday.
"This morning (authorities) sent the FAES and there was a clash," director Carlos Nieto told AFP news agency.
"The detainees had weapons, they shot at the police. Apparently they also detonated two grenades."
However, Humberto Prado from the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory rights group said the clashes broke out when authorities entered the block to carry out searches and remove female visitors.
He told Reuters news agency: "How is it that there was a confrontation between prisoners and police but there are only dead prisoners? And if the prisoners had weapons, how did those weapons get in?"
Venezuela has seen a number of violent prison clashes in recent years. In March 2018, 68 inmates died in a fire at a police jail.
In August 2017, at least 37 people were killed when a riot broke out in a prison in southern Venezuela.

Trump to approve $8bn weapons sale to Saudi Arabia

US President Donald Trump is clearing the sale of billions of dollars' worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, citing Iranian threats to its arch rival.
Mr Trump invoked a rarely used aspect of federal law to push through the $8bn (£6bn) deal, which would ordinarily need to be approved by Congress.
He did so by declaring that ongoing tensions with Iran amounted to a national emergency.
The move has angered those who fear the weapons may be used against civilians.
Some Democrats have also accused the president of bypassing Congress because the sale of weapons, including precision-guided munitions and other forms of bombs, would have been strongly opposed on Capitol Hill.
Weapons will also reportedly be sold to the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified Congress of the administration's decision to make the sale. In a letter, widely reported in US media, he said that "Iranian malign activity" required the "immediate sale" of weapons.
"[Iran's] activity poses a fundamental threat to the stability of the Middle East and to American security at home and abroad," he wrote.
He said the transfers "must occur as quickly as possible in order to deter further Iranian adventurism in the Gulf and throughout the Middle East".
But the move quickly garnered opposition. Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, accused Mr Trump of "granting favours to authoritarian countries".

"[He] has failed once again to prioritise our long term national security interests or stand up for human rights," he said in a statement.
Republican Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Senator Jim Risch, said he had been informed by the Trump administration that it planned to confirm "a number of arms sales".
"I am reviewing and analysing the legal justification for this action," he said.
News of the Trump administration's decision came shortly after it announced it would bolster the US military presence in the Middle East. An additional 1,500 troops, as well as fighter jets and drones, will be deployed to the region in the near future.
Patrick Shanahan, the acting Defence Secretary, says the move was intended to counter "ongoing threats posed by Iranian forces, including the IRGC [Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps] and its proxies".

Why are there tensions with Iran?

Tensions between the US and Iran began rising this month when Washington ended exemptions from sanctions for countries still buying from Iran. The decision was intended to bring Iran's oil exports to zero, denying the government its main source of revenue.
Mr Trump reinstated the sanctions last year after abandoning the landmark nuclear deal that Iran has signed with six nations - the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.

There has also been a spike in tensions in the Gulf more widely.
Four oil tankers were damaged in what the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said were sabotage attacks while drone attacks on two oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia by Yemen's Houthi rebels - who are supported by Iran - forced the temporary closure of a pipeline.
Iran denied it was behind the incidents but Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, director of the US Joint Staff, has accused the IRGC of being directly responsible.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Saudi Arabia studying plans to criminalize racism, religious hatred

Saudi Arabia has announced it is studying new draft legislation to criminalize racial discrimination and religious hatred, according to a speech delivered at the UN.
The Kingdom said that intolerance based on ideology and race has emerged as a major threat to global peace and security. Dr. Abdullah bin Fakhri al-Ansari, an adviser to the Saudi Interior Ministry, noted this during a speech on Tuesday at the 28th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, held at the UN Center in Vienna.
He said that relevant Saudi authorities were currently considering a new draft law criminalizing racism and hatred, as well as prohibiting the formation of organizations that racially discriminate. The draft law would also prohibit attacks on places of worship, insulting religions, and abuse of religious sanctities.
Al-Ansari also called on the UN and all regional and international organizations to strengthen international efforts to combat crimes against religions and condemn and prevent intolerance and discrimination. He said that Saudi Arabia also urged others to continue issuing laws to restrict sermons preaching hatred against other religions.

Indian Troops Kill al-Qaida-Linked Kashmir Militant

Government forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed a top militant commander linked to al-Qaida in the disputed region, officials said Friday.
Zakir Musa was killed Thursday evening in a gunfight after police and soldiers launched a counterinsurgency operation in the southern Tral area, said Col. Rajesh Kalia, an Indian army spokesman.
Musa refused to surrender and fired grenades at the troops after they zeroed in on his hideout in a civilian home, police said.
His killing triggered violent anti-India protests in many places. No one was immediately reported injured.
Authorities cut off internet on mobile phones in a common tactic to make organizing anti-India protests difficult and discourage dissemination of protest videos. They also imposed a curfew across much of the Kashmir Valley, including in the main city of Srinagar, in anticipation of more protests and clashes, and ordered schools and colleges to remain closed.
In mid-2017, an al-Qaida linked propaganda network said Musa joined an affiliate militant group, Ansar Ghawzat-ul-Hind, as its head. He had left Kashmir’s largest indigenous rebel group, Hizbul Mujahideen, and was believed to be joined by less than a dozen others.
Media sensation
He instantly became a media sensation, particularly with New Delhi-based television news channels using him to showcase that Kashmiri struggle for self-rule was part of a global militant agenda. Previously, no global jihadi groups have openly operated in Kashmir, a territory divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both entirely.
All Kashmir rebel groups rejected Musa and his al-Qaida affiliate, some even calling him inimical to their cause.
Separatist leaders, who challenge India’s sovereignty over Kashmir, have repeatedly rejected the presence of outside groups, including al-Qaida, and have accused India of portraying the Kashmiri struggle as extremist.
Musa was a close aide of Burhan Wani, a charismatic Kashmiri rebel leader whose killing in 2016 triggered open defiance against Indian rule.
Wani’s death and the resulting public fury brought the armed rebellion into the mainstream in Kashmir and revived a militant movement that had withered in recent years to about 100 fighters in scattered rebel outfits.
Officials say since Wani’s killing, hundreds of young men have joined rebel ranks, some of them after stealing weapons from soldiers and police. Wani’s death also cemented a shift in public behavior, with people displaying anger at Indian rule openly and violently when troops raid villages to hunt rebels.
Rebel groups have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the armed uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population, with most people supporting the rebel cause that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.

First Same-Sex Couples Marry in Taiwan

Same-sex couples tied the knot in emotional scenes in Taiwan on Friday, the first legal marriages in Asia hailed by activists as a social revolution for the region.
Taiwan’s parliament passed a bill last week that endorsed same-sex marriage.
More than 160 same-sex couples married Friday, according to government data, after years of heated debate over marriage equality that has divided the self-ruled and democratic island.
Twenty couples queued to tie the knot at a marriage registration office in downtown Taipei, where rainbow flags were on display alongside stacks of government-issued, rainbow-themed registration forms.
“I feel very lucky that I can say this out loud to everyone: I am gay and I am getting married,” said Shane Lin, a 31-year-old baker who with his partner were the first couple to register in the Taipei office.
“I am extremely proud of my country Taiwan,” said a tearful Lin.
The euphoria and emotion among the island’s gay community was on display as newly-wed couples walked down a rainbow-colored carpet in a nearby park, watched by families and friends as well as diplomats and reporters.
Chi Chia-wei, an activist who brought a case to Taiwan’s constitutional court that led to a landmark court ruling on same-sex marriage in 2017, congratulated the couples.
“This is the right that we deserved from a long time ago,” he said, draped in a giant rainbow flag that symbolizes the colors of the international gay movement.
“As a beacon in Asia, I hope Taiwan’s democracy and human rights could have a ripple effect on other countries in Asia,” he added.
Supporters also celebrated on social media, sharing posts with the rainbow colors of the gay rights movement.
Friday’s celebration followed a years-long tussle over marriage equality that culminated in the 2017 declaration by the constitutional court giving same-sex couples the right to marry, and setting a deadline of May 24 for legislation.
Marriage equality was backed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but the measure could complicate President Tsai Ing-wen’s bid for a second term in elections next year.
Conservative groups that oppose same-sex marriage said the legislation disrespected the people’s will.
Same-sex marriage is not recognized by Hong Kong and neighboring China, which regards Taiwan as a wayward province to be returned to the fold by force, if necessary.
It marks another milestone in Taiwan’s development as one of the region’s more liberal societies, in contrast with China’s strongly autocratic government.
Across the strait, many Chinese congratulated Taiwan’s newlywed same-sex couples on platforms such as Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.
“For once I thought the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan would impact on the Chinese government, making them heed our appeals,” one Weibo user said. “But then I found the shock actually makes the government more scared, stepping up their crackdown on us.”

Seven Climbers Die in a Week on Mount Everest

Three more climbers have died on Mount Everest, expedition organizers and officials said Friday, taking the toll from a deadly week on the overcrowded world's highest peak to seven.
"Two more Indian climbers have died on Everest yesterday," Mira Acharya, spokeswoman for Nepal's Tourism Department, told AFP, while expedition organizers confirmed the third fatality.
Kalpana Das, 52, reached the summit but died Thursday afternoon while descending, as a huge number of climbers queued near the top of Mount Everest.
Another Indian climber, 27-year-old Nihal Bagwan, also died on his way back from the summit.
"He was stuck in the traffic for more than 12 hours and was exhausted. Sherpa guides carried him down to Camp 4 but he breathed his last there," said Keshav Paudel of Peak Promotion.
An Austrian climber died on the northern Tibet side of the mountain, his expedition organizer said.
The 65-year-old died close to the summit on his descent.
Wednesday saw an Indian and American climber die on the mountain. Last week, an Indian climber died and an Irish mountaineer is presumed dead after he slipped and fell close to the summit.
Climbing is big business
Mountaineering in Nepal has become a lucrative business since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay made the first ascent of Everest in 1953.
The Himalayan nation has issued a record 381 permits costing $11,000 each for this year's spring climbing season, triggering bottlenecks en route to the summit after poor weather cut down the number of climbing days.
Most Everest hopefuls are escorted by a Nepali guide, meaning more than 750 climbers were expected to tread the same path to the top in the current season.
At least 140 others have been granted permits to scale Everest from the northern flank in Tibet, according to expedition operators. This could take the total past last year's record of 807 people reaching the summit.
Peak season
Many Himalayan mountains, including Everest, are at peak climbing season, with the window of good weather between late April and the end of May.
At seven other climbers have died on other 8,000-meter Himalayan peaks this season, while two are missing.

Facebook disables billions of accounts

Facebook said it recently disabled billions of bogus accounts set up by “bad actors” and that five percent of active accounts are likely fakes.
An estimate of how many of the online social networks accounts are fake and actions taken against the creation of more during the first three months of this year was disclosed in Facebook’s latest report, published on Thursday, on enforcement activity.
Facebook disabled 2.19 billion accounts in the first quarter of this year, nearly double the number of accounts nixed in the prior three-month period, according to vice president of integrity Guy Rosen.
“The amount of accounts we took action on increased due to automated attacks by bad actors who attempt to create large volumes of accounts at one time,” Rosen said.
Facebook apparently disabled the accounts as automated imposters were trying to establish them. The leading social network, meanwhile, estimated that five percent of its 2.4 billion monthly active users were fake accounts yet to be uncovered.
The California-based company also said it has made progress in battling hate speech, automatically detecting 65 percent of the content removed instead of needing to wait for users to report it.
Facebook took down four million posts considered hate speech in the first quarter of this year and continues to invest in technology to better detect such material in various languages and regions, according to Rosen.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

N/Korea writes UN over ship seizure by ‘Gangster’ U.S.

North Korea has asked United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to deal with the “illegal” seizure of its cargo ship by the United States, state media said on Saturday.
“This act of dispossession has clearly indicated that the United States is indeed a gangster country that does not care at all about international laws,” the North Korean ambassador to the United Nations said in a letter sent to Guterres dated Friday, according to North Korea’s KCNA news agency.
Pyongyang’s protest to the United Nations over the seizure comes amid mounting tensions since a second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, aimed at bringing about the denuclearization of the North, broke down in Hanoi in February.
The letter also called for “urgent measures” by Guterres and claimed that Washington infringed the North’s sovereignty and violated U.N. charters.
With the denuclearisation talks stalled, North Korea went ahead with more weapons tests this month. The tests were seen as a protest by Kim after Trump rejected his calls for sanctions relief at the Hanoi summit.
North Korea has said the ship seizure violated the spirit of the summit and demanded the return of the vessel without delay.
The U.S. Justice Department said the North Korean cargo ship, known as the “Wise Honest”, was seized and impounded to American Samoa. The vessel was accused of illicit coal shipments in violation of sanctions and was first detained by Indonesia in April 2018.

Venezuela loses $130bn to U.S. sanctions – Envoy

The Venezuelan Ambassador to Nigeria, David Velasquez, said on Thursday that his country lost about 130 billion dollars between 2015 and 2018 as result of the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S.
Velasquez said this in Abuja at a news conference on the world campaign on the support of Venezuela tagged #Trump Unblock Venezuela.
The envoy said that $5.5 billion of his country’s financial assets were frozen by international banks which created additional burden for Venezuela.
He said that the U.S. unilateral coercive measure called sanctions formed a systematic and conscious strategy of massive violation of the human rights of the Venezuelan people.
The envoy said that the UN has described the measure as crimes against humanity.
He explained that between December 2014 and April 2019, the government of U.S enacted a law and seven executive decrees to punish and penalise the Venezuelan economy.
He said that the punishment included blocking and confiscating of financial assets, prohibiting the negotiation of PetrĂ³leos de Venezuela (PDVSA)’s debt, increase in country risk and financial costs and prohibiting operations with gold.
Others he said are confiscating assets of Citgo Petroleum Corporation (CITGO) and assets of PDVSA, sanctions on oil trade, sanctions against the Central Bank of Venezuela and fines and administrative penalties for trade.
According to him, the effects and impact of the economic blockade on the economy and the Venezuelan people is hurting most vulnerable.
He said most of the assets confiscated were resources to buy food and medicine, raw material equipment for the industry in Venezuela.
According to him, as at April 30 funds withheld, frozen of confiscated by international banks amounted to 5.47billion dollars.
“In October 2017 the Swiss Bank, UBS, blocked the payment of resources intended for the purchase of vaccines. This caused delay of four months in the vaccination programmes, severely affecting the Venezuelan population.
“In 2017, the international bank blocked the payment of $9 million intended for the acquisition of supplies for dialysis; this action affected the treatment of 15,000 hemodialysis patients.
“Between 2017 and 2018 Bank of Europe and U.S prevented financial operation of the government of Venezuela to the tune of $300 million intended for the purchase of food,” he said.
The ambassador said the U.S. attack was not only against Venezuela alone but against the international community and also crimes against humanity.
The envoy who said that the Latin American people were equally under attack by the U.S. expressed confidence that Venezuela would defeat the U.S. action.

AFAN urges herdsmen to stay off farmlands

Mr Romanus Ezeh, Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Enugu chapter, has called on herdsmen to feed their cows with grass and not on farmers crops.
Ezeh, who made this call in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu on Friday, said it was not a thing of joy for farmer to see herdmen destroy their crops.
“We understand that they are trying to take care of their means of livelihood, but it should not be at the detriment of farmers labour.
“Last year, they are one of the major challenges we had and you cannot stop them as they do invade the farmlands at night or early morning.
“At this hours, all the farmers have gone home and in the morning, the farmers have not come to the farm.
“Enugu State government is doing well in curtailing destruction of farmlands by this herders, but we want them to do more,” he said.
Ezeh noted that the herdsmen menace scared many farmers away and has made some to abandon their farms.
The AFAN chairman noted that farming is a lucrative occupation that can create lots of employment when well structured and sponsored.
“In developed worlds, government do buy off the produce from the farmers after each farming season.
“By doing this, the government can easily safeguard the products for consumption and not leaving it to the famers to do,” he said.
Ezeh said that when government buy the produce, the farmers would have money for next season farming and save them the cost of storage.
He disclosed that army worms harmed crops last farming season, adding that the farmers association would seek solution to it this season.
“It can be controlled with the modern chemicals in the market and in the agro dealers office,” he said.
The chairman said that the association has liaison officers who direct farmers on how to apply pesticide in their farms.
“These are Agricultural Extension Officers who help farmers and in line with the state ministry of agriculture to educate the farmers as well,” Eze said.

Talkative Uncle Just Left

My aunt's husband who came unannounced yesterday just left, yayyyyyyy, I feel like popping champagne. Thank God! I'm breathing a s...