Saturday, February 8, 2014

International titbits

Kishida,Kerry confirm collaboration on East Asia

Kishida, Kerry confirm collaboration on East Asia

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and US Secretary of State John Kerry have confirmed that their countries will work closely together in maintaining stability in East Asia.

The officials met in Washington on Friday. Kishida had requested the visit.

Kishida and Kerry discussed concerns about a possible military provocation by North Korea and China’s newly declared air defense identification zone in the East China Sea.

The 2 officials confirmed closer security cooperation between Japan and the US to maintain stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Kerry stressed the importance of collaboration among Japan, the US, and South Korea in responding to North Korea.

Kishida said Japan will make tenacious efforts to build cooperative ties with the South.

Kishida told reporters after the meeting that he was assured that the Japan-US alliance is solid. He added that he and Kerry confirmed the direction of an enhanced bilateral alliance.

China slams Aquina over South china sea dispute

China slams Aquino over South China Sea dispute

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman has denounced Philippine President Benigno Aquino for his remarks over a territorial dispute between the 2 countries.

Spokesman Hong Lei on Friday referred to Aquino’s interview with the New York Times published on Tuesday.

Aquino argued that China is trying to have his country abandon part of its sovereignty. He compared China’s claims over a group of islands in the South China Sea to invasions by Nazi Germany. He called for international support to contain China.

Hong criticized the president for comparing the territorial dispute between China and the Philippines to World War Two, and called the comparison senseless.

Hong also responded to growing speculation that China will establish an air defense identification zone over the South China Sea. The country created such a zone over the East China Sea last year.

The spokesman said no country has the right to say anything about China’s actions, including establishing the zone.

Sochi Winter Olympic Games open

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games have officially begun in Sochi, Russia.
At the opening ceremony, athletes from 87 countries and territories marched into the stadium in the order of the Russian alphabet. Following tradition, the first nation was Greece.

First sexual abuse case ever filed against Catholic Church in Poland

A 25-year-old man identified only as Marcin K has filed suit against the Polish Roman Catholic Church, alleging that the church is at least partly responsible for the sexual abuse the man suffered at the hands of a clergyman who is now serving a two-year prison sentence. It is the first time in Poland that a victim sued not only his attacker but also the church as an institution. Higher-ups in the Polish church apologized to all victims of abuse last year but refused to offer financial compensation. The UN has called on the Vatican to “immediately remove” all clergy suspected of child abuse but, in this case, the church has said it is not liable because the priest in question acted “independently” within his parish. Marcin K is seeking 47,500 euros ($64,500) in damages as well as an apology printed in the national press. The Helsinki Foundation human rights group is helping the plaintiff in his case.

10 LGBT activists detained on Moscow’s Red Square

Police in the Russian capital have detained 10 LGBT activists after they tried to stage an unsanctioned rally at Moscow’s Red Square, Novaya Gazeta reports. The protest was timed to coincide with the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Games at 20:14 MSK on Friday. The activists attempted to unfold rainbow flags and sing the Russian national anthem. Two of the activists are Swedish nationals.

29 police officers injured, 33 arrested in Kosovo student riots

Some 29 police officers have been injured and more than 30 protesters arrested as students clashed with police in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, on Friday. Students were demanding that the rector of University of Pristina State resign amid accusations of forgery and corruption. Rector Ibrahim Gashi rejected their demands. Protests turned violent when the students began throwing rocks and red paint at the police, who responded by dousing the students with teargas, according to a police spokeswoman who spoke to media.

International Criminal Court opens Central African Republic investigation

The international war crimes prosecutor is launching a preliminary investigation into crimes committed across the Central African Republic, according to an ICC prosecutor statement on Friday. “The plight of civilians in CAR since September 2012 has gone from bad to worse,” said prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in a statement. He added that some victims of crimes including murders and rape seemed to have bee religiously motivated, according to media. The preliminary examination could lead to a fuill on investigation – the first since 2007, if enough evidence is found.

5.1 quake strikes of Fukushima coast

An earthquake measuring 5.1 has struck 34 kilometers off the coast of Namie city in Fukushima prefecture, according to the United States Geological Survey.The quake occurred at 2:18 am local time on Saturday at a depth of 63 kilometers. Fukushima prefecture was the site of a disastrous earthquake and Tsunami in 2011 which led to a nuclear disaster, causing widescale damage and thousands of deaths.No Tsunami warning has been issued in this instance.

Journalist expelled for criticizing Erdogan – Turkish paper

A Turkish newspaper has reported the expulsion of one of its journalists from the country after criticizing Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Twitter. The move comes a day after the country passed strict laws governing internet controls, allowing websites to be blocked without a court ruling first being sought. Mahir Zeynalov, 27, from Azerbaijan, was herded onto a plane in Istanbul by police after writing a tweet that allegedly constituted a “blunt assault on Erdogan’s honor and reputation and his personal rights,” according to Erdogan’s lawyers.

Leningrad blockade survivors accept apology from Dozhd TV over poll

Deputy editor of the TV channel “Rain” Tikhon Dzyadko and host Julia Taratuta met with survivors of the Leningrad blockade on Friday to apologize for a recent poll asking whether the city should have surrendered to the city to the Nazis in order to save hundreds of thousands of lives. The veterans association accepted the apology, saying they did not believe the television station should be shut down. Following the poll, nearly two dozen cable and satellite providers dropped the station, which the channel said would result in its effective closure.

Moscow concerned about US widening sanction lists ahead of Iran talks

The Russian Foreign Ministry has said it is concerned about a US move to widen “sanction lists” against Iran ahead of the beginning of nuclear talks with Tehran. The new “black lists” were compiled just before the talks intended to develop a comprehensive agreement on the final settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue, the ministry said on Friday, as cited by RIA Novosti. Such activities could hinder the negotiating process, the Russian diplomats warned.

Italian marines won’t face death penalty in India over fishermen killing

India acceded to Italy’s request, saying on Friday it won’t invoke an anti-piracy law carrying the death penalty in the trial of two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen. The government decided against invoking the law against the marines, who are awaiting trial in India, AP reported, citing a Home Ministry official. The Italians were on anti-pirate duty aboard a cargo ship in 2012, when they fired at the fishermen on an Indian boat. The marines said they mistook the fishermen for pirates.

Syria army retakes most of Aleppo prison from rebels – report

Syrian troops retook most of Aleppo’s prison on Friday, which had been lost to the rebels a day earlier, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The fighting has killed at least 46 people over two days, including 20 soldiers, 21 rebels and five prisoners, AFP reported. The fate of hundreds of prisoners reportedly freed after Islamist and jihadist fighters overran the facility was unclear. Clashes in part of the jail and on its perimeter resumed between government forces and fighters of Ahrar Al-Sham Brigade and Al-Qaeda affiliate, the Al-Nusra front.

Taliban negotiator pulls out of Pakistan talks until agenda includes sharia law

Peace talks between Pakistan’s government and the Taliban suffered a fresh blow on Friday as a negotiator for the militants said he would take no further part until the agenda included the imposition of Islamic sharia law. Maulana Abdul Aziz, the chief cleric at Islamabad’s radical Red Mosque, said Pakistan’s constitution should be replaced by the Koran and the hadith, or sayings of the Prophet Mohammad, AFP reported. The move came a day after teams representing the government and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) held a preliminary round of talks in Islamabad.

CNN removes ‘ugliest monuments’ story after outrage in Belarus, Russia

CNN said it has withdrawn the story “The world’s ugliest monuments” because it “was not of the standard we would expect of a CNN report.” The administration of the Brest Hero-Fortress complex in Belarus earlier described as “blasphemy” the listing the monument in the “humorous rating.” The story caused upset in Russia and Belarus, the network said. CNN apologized, saying that “the monument carries deep and significant symbolism in honoring the soldiers who gave their lives defending their nation” during the WWII.

Cameron warns Scotland breakaway would imperil UK stability

Prime Minister David Cameron said on Friday that Britain’s stability and foreign direct investment would be at risk if Scotland votes to leave the UK in a referendum later this year, Reuters reported. “We are quite simply stronger as a bigger entity as an open economy of 63 million people with the oldest and most successful single market in the world,” Cameron said. He was speaking in London in a speech urging Scotland to remain part of the UK. “Last year, we were the top destination for foreign direct investment in Europe,” he said. “That is a stamp of approval on our stability.”

Evacuation of civilians in Homs has begun – state TV

The evacuation of civilians from a besieged area of the city of Homs had begun under a humanitarian deal agreed this week, Syrian state television said on Friday. The report could not immediately be confirmed independently, Reuters said. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday that a three-day ceasefire has been agreed in negotiations between the local governor and a regional UN humanitarian coordinator in Syria to allow for the evacuation of civilians from Homs and supplies of humanitarian aid for those who choose to remain. The Russian embassy in Damascus “played an energetic role” in the talks, the ministry said.

200 civilians to leave besieged part of Syria’s Homs

About 200 people are expected to leave a besieged area of the Syrian city of Homs on Friday, governor Talal al-Barazi said. This would be the first stage of a humanitarian deal to evacuate civilians and allow aid to be delivered, media reported. Activists say 2,500 are trapped inside the area, struggling with hunger.

Storm cuts electricity to 55,000 homes in north France

A storm cut electricity to some 55,000 homes in north and northwest France, according to power distributor ERDF. Around 8 am on Friday, some 25,000 homes were without power, notably in the Pays de la Loire and Normandy regions, Reuters reported. In Picardie and in the Ile-de-France region around Paris, thousands of homes were also cut off from the grid. Power will be restored by Friday evening, weather permitting, the company said.Media agencies

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