Al Qaeda's powerful Syrian branch, the Nusra Front, announced on Thursday it was ending its relationship with the global jihadist network founded by Osama bin Laden, to remove a pretext used by world powers to attack Syrians. The announcement came as Russia and President Bashar al-Assad's government declared a "humanitarian operation" in the besieged rebel-held sector of Aleppo, opening "safe corridors" so people can flee Syria's most important opposition stronghold. Washington said that appeared to be an attempt to depopulate the city and make fighters surrender. The opposition called it a euphemism for forced displacement. In the first known video statement ever to show his face, the leader of the Nusra Front, Mohamad al-Golani, announced that the group would re-form under a new name, with "no ties with any foreign party". The move was being made "to remove the excuse used by the international community -- spearheaded by America and Russia -- to bombard and displace Muslims in the … [Read more...] about Syria’s Nusra Front says ending al Qaeda ties; U.S. fears for Aleppo
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North Korea said on Monday it had told the United States it will cut the only channel of communication between them, at the United Nations in New York, after Washington blacklisted leader Kim Jong Un last week for human rights abuses. All matters related to the United States, including the handling of U.S. citizens detained by Pyongyang, will be conducted under its "wartime law," its official KCNA news agency said. The move was the latest escalation of tension with the isolated nuclear-armed country, which earlier on Monday threatened a "physical response" after the United States and South Korea said they would deploy the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea. North Korea said last week it was planning its toughest response to what it deemed a U.S. "declaration of war" after Washington announced sanctions on Kim Jong Un. A U.S.-based North Korea monitoring project, 38 North, said on Monday that satellite images from July 7, a day after the sanctions announcement, showed a high … [Read more...] about North Korea says will treat U.S. detainees under ‘wartime law’
BEIRUT/WASHINGTON, Oct 12 - U.S. forces airdropped small arms ammunition and other supplies to Syrian Arab rebels, barely two weeks after Russia raised the stakes in the long-running civil war by intervening on the side of President Bashar al-Assad. One military official said the drop, by Air Force C-17 cargo planes in northern Syria on Sunday, was part of a revamped U.S. strategy announced last week to help rebels in Syria battling Islamic State militants. Last week, Washington shelved a programme to train and equip "moderate" rebels opposed to Assad who would join the fight against Islamic State. The only group on the ground to have success against Islamic State while cooperating with the U.S.-led coalition is a Kurdish militia, the YPG, which has carved out an autonomous zone in northern Syria and advanced deep into Islamic State's stronghold Raqqa province. On Monday, the YPG announced a new alliance with small groups of Arab fighters, which could help deflect criticism … [Read more...] about U.S. airdrops ammunition to Syria rebels
Hidden beneath tarpaulins in the backyard of a house in the central Philippine city of Danao, Lito puts the finishing touches on a replica .45-caliber Colt Officer's Model pistol. It will join the more than 600,000 illegal guns in circulation in a country where the homicide rate outstrips the U.S. The money he makes from guns supplements his income as a farmer and helped Lito, 52, send two children to college. Still, he thinks often of the suffering that may come from a craft he learned from an uncle and older brother. "I worry that the firearms I make may be ending up in the wrong hands," said Lito, a soft-spoken man dressed in loose jeans and slippers, who asked not to be identified in full given the nature of his work. "If there were other opportunities, I will stop making guns." Lito, who will sell the pistol that took him a month to make for 6,000 pesos ($133) -- about three-quarters of the monthly minimum wage -- is one of 6,000 illegal gunmakers the Danao government is … [Read more...] about Farmers copying guns make Philippines deadlier than U.S.
WASHINGTON/BEIJING - Dennis Rodman, in a television interview on Tuesday, appeared to blame Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae for his captivity in North Korea, the latest in a series of controversial comments by the former U.S. basketball star. During an expletive-ridden interview with CNN about his fourth trip to the Asian state, Rodman seemed to say that Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae, who has been held in North Korea since November 2012 and was convicted last May on charges of crimes against the state, was responsible for his own situation. "If you understand what Kenneth Bae did. ... Do you understand what he did in this country? Why is he held captive in this country?" Rodman said, declining to respond to questions to clarify what he meant. Rodman brought a team of fellow former National Basketball Association stars to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, to mark leader Kim Jong Un's birthday, which is believed to fall on Wednesday, though this has never been … [Read more...] about Rodman appears to blame U.S. missionary for North Korean captivity
BANGKOK - Anti-government protesters marched in Bangkok on Thursday in a bid to force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office but their numbers appeared far smaller than earlier in the month, when she called a snap election to try to defuse the crisis. Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban is demanding political and electoral reforms before any vote is held and wants these to be overseen by a "people's council" that his movement will help nominate rather than by Yingluck, who is caretaker prime minister until the election, set for Feb. 2. Thailand's National Security Council said only 6,500 people gathered at the busy Asoke intersection in central Bangkok at around mid-day, although office workers and others lined the route of the march to voice support. A separate group of about 1,000 student-led protesters marched to the U.S. embassy. The United States has annoyed the protesters by calling for the democratic process to be respected, effectively endorsing the holding of an … [Read more...] about Thai protesters march in bid to oust PM, take aim at U.S.
WASHINGTON - The National Security Agency gathers nearly 5 billion records a day on the location of mobile telephones worldwide, including those of some Americans, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, citing sources including documents obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The report said the NSA does not target Americans' location data intentionally, but acquires a substantial amount of information on the whereabouts of domestic cellular telephones "incidentally." One manager told the newspaper the NSA obtained "vast volumes" of location data by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones. U.S. intelligence officials contacted by Reuters declined to comment on the Post report. The article cited officials as saying the programs that collect and analyze location data are lawful and meant solely to develop intelligence on foreign targets. U.S. intelligence agencies' extensive collection of … [Read more...] about U.S. spy agency gathers data on cellphone locations globally: report
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in a move that puts the Obama administration at odds with the powerful American gun lobby, will sign the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty regulating the $70 billion international conventional arms business, diplomats said on Tuesday. United States Secretary of State John Kerry attends a meeting during the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York September 23, 2013. - Reuters A senior State Department official said President Barack Obama's administration would notify the U.S. Senate on Tuesday and Kerry would sign the treaty on Wednesday on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York. Obama gave a speech to the assembly on Tuesday that focused on Syria, Iran and other Middle East hot spots. The arms treaty, which requires ratification by the Senate and has been attacked by America's pro-gun National Rifle Association, would help Western countries press to curtail Russian arms sales to … [Read more...] about U.S. Secretary of State Kerry to sign Arms Trade Treaty: diplomats
The U.S. Senate dealt a fatal blow on Thursday to President George W. Bush's overhaul of immigration policy -- an emotional issue that has divided Americans in the run-up to next year's presidential election. Dashing the hopes of millions of immigrants seeking legal status and exposing a deep lack of support among Bush's own Republicans, the bill fell 14 votes short of the 60 needed in the 100-member Senate to advance toward a final vote. A crestfallen Bush conceded defeat and said he was moving on to other issues such as balancing the federal budget when it became clear the immigration legislation would not be revived during the final 18 months of his two-term presidency. "A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn't find common ground. It didn't work," said Bush, who has seen his approval ratings slump to about 30 percent amid anger over the Iraq war and a generally negative public mood. The bill tied tough border security and workplace enforcement measures to a plan to … [Read more...] about U.S. Senate kills Bush immigration reform bill
Massive container ships have been left floating in waters around the world after Hanjin went broke. Saigon Port has said it will allow boats belonging to the world’s ninth largest container shipping company Hanjin to dock without fear of being seized following news that the firm has gone bankrupt. Hanjin already has a considerable debt with the port. Saigon New Port (SNP) announced it is willing to allow 830 container carriers to dock without demanding payments for outstanding debt, according to the Ministry of Transport's newspaper. Enterprises in Ho Chi Minh City have been waiting anxiously for the shipments since the beginning of September when South Korea’s largest container carrier announced bankruptcy and filed for receivership. This left many of its container ships stranded at sea with the company unable to pay for docking fees. The Hanjin Chennai was scheduled to arrive in Ho Chi Minh City on September 2 but has been left floating at sea in the largest … [Read more...] about Vietnamese port offers amnesty to bankrupt S.Korean shipping giant