• U.S., South Korea stage assault drill; North threatens to wipe out enemies

    12/Mar/2016 // 506 Viewers


    By Do-gyun Kim


    POHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - U.S. and South Korean troops staged a big amphibious landing exercise on Saturday, storming simulated North Korean beach defenses amid heightened tension and threats by the North to annihilate its enemies.

    The landing and assault drills on South Korea's east coast were part of eight weeks of joint exercises between the allies which the South has said are the largest ever. The North has denounced the exercises as "nuclear war moves" and threatened to respond with an all-out offensive.

    Tension on the Korean peninsula has been high since the North conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and followed that with a long-range rocket launch last month, triggering new U.N. sanctions.

    About 55 U.S. marine aircraft and 30 U.S. and South Korean ships, including the USS Bonhomme Richard and USS Boxer, which carry AV-8B Harrier attack jets and V-22 Osprey aircrafts, took part in the assault on beaches near Pohang city, the U.S. navy said.

    "They will penetrate notional enemy beach defenses, establish a beach head, and rapidly transition forces and sustainment ashore," the U.S. military based in South Korea said in a statement before the exercise.

    The North's military said it was prepared to counter the U.S. and South Korean forces "with an ultra-precision blitzkrieg strike of the Korean style".

    "The revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK holding tightly the arms to annihilate the enemies with towering hatred for them are waiting for the dignified Supreme Command to issue an order to launch a preemptive strike of justice," it said in comments carried by the state KCNA news agency.

    DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

    CNN reported on Saturday that North Korea has been searching for one of its submarines that has been missing for days off its east coast.

    The submarine may be adrift under the sea or have sunk, perhaps after a technical problem during an exercise, CNN quoted U.S. officials with intelligence of secret U.S. monitoring of the North's activities as saying.

    North Korea has said it is developing submarine-launched ballistic missiles although doubts about that were raised after Western experts said publicly released footage of tests appeared to be fake.

    On Thursday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watched as his forces fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea. This month the North conducted drills with what it said were newly developed large caliber rocket launchers.

    Kim has ordered the country to improve its nuclear attack capability by conducting more tests, in defiance of a U.N. Security Council resolution adopted last week in response to the isolated state's latest nuclear test.

    Kim also said his country had miniaturized nuclear warheads to mount on ballistic missiles, although the U.S. and South Korean governments have expressed doubts about that too.

    The South Korean and U.S. militaries have said they had notified the North of "the non-provocative nature" of the exercises involving about 17,000 American troops and more than 300,000 South Koreans.

    The United States has about 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea.

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  • Breaking News: Deadly bomb blast, dozens of casualties reported

    12/Nov/2016 // 2439 Viewers


    Reports coming in say , it is all tears, sorrow,  and blood as a heavy bomb exploded killing  dozens of people  on Saturday  and with many other people sustaining various degree of mortal injuries    in the restive southwestern province of Balochistan also in southern Pakistan, Al Jazeera has reported.

    Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from the capital Islamabad, said the blast occurred 30km outside Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, in Hub district.

    The bombing at the remote Shah Noorani shrine, 100km north of the port city of Karachi, took place while hundreds of people were inside, according to local television.

    The religious shrine attracts a lot of people at this time of the year from other parts of Pakistan.

    Emergency services were facing difficulties reaching the site because of its remote location.

    Dozens of wounded people were being moved to the nearby town of Hub and to Karachi, rescue official Hakeem Nasi told Geo TV.

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  • Soldier's WW II Letters to Wife Find Son 69 Years Later

    12/Oct/2016 // 455 Viewers


    When Chuck Kunellis opened his mailbox last week, he found a handwritten letter postmarked from Australia.

    Kunellis, 71, of Fair Oaks, was puzzled. He had visited Australia, but didn't remember meeting the letter writer, John Armstrong.

    But when Kunellis opened the letter, his puzzlement changed to astonishment. Armstrong, a stamp collector, had sent Kunellis a scanned image of an envelope that was addressed in his own father's distinctive handwriting.

    "Whoa!" Kunellis said, recalling his reaction in an interview with ABCNews.com.

    Armstrong explained in his letter that that he was in possession of two letters from Chris Kunellis, who had been serving in the Army in Italy during World War II.

    "He said that he had purchased a bundle of letters from a dealer and he came across this and thought it might be something that its recipient would like to have …," Kunellis said. The letters had been addressed to his mother, Phyllis.

    Armstrong provided Kunellis an email address.

    "I immediately emailed him back said 'Yes, I'm the right one. I would like very much to have those letters,' and within, like, three or four days I had them," Kunellis said.

    From his post in Italy, Chris Kunellis had written the letters to his wife in June and July 1944. The letters were postmarked, but never made it to her. Instead, they somehow found their way to an American stamp dealer, who sold them to Armstrong.

    Kunellis said he experienced "an element of shock" when he saw the letters.

    "I felt almost like a child again," he said.

    Kunellis' father, whom he never thought of as being a romantic, started the July letter with the tender opening, "My most beloved darling."

    Chris Kunellis went on to tell his wife that he'd received her airmail, and mentioned his sister and brother. The second letter was more of the same catching up with his family, Chuck Kunellis said.

    Chuck Kunellis was born on Dec. 10, 1941, three days after Japan attacked the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. His father was placed on alert just days later, and went off to war. Chris Kunellis wouldn't see his wife and son again until 1946.

    Chuck Kunellis' parents, who have both died, never mentioned the two letters. Since his father wrote frequently, a few undelivered letters may not have been missed, Kunellis explained.

    In an interview with ABC News affiliate KXTV in Sacramento, Armstrong explained that he sent the letters to Chuck Kunellis "because that's where they belong."

    Armstrong collects World War II postal memorabilia from Italy. He says lots of letters were not delivered during the war.

    "It was quite chaotic. The fact that any man got any mail was quite astonishing," he told KXTV.

    Armstrong is also building a postal exhibit focusing on the stories behind the stamps, and he's trying to find soldier's war records to tell whether they survived the war.

    "I've been a historian all my life. It's the stories that get to me," he said. "An envelope on my desk doesn't have a story until I start looking at it. If I can finish the story by sending it to the person who it relates to, that's great."

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  • China court rules against same-sex couple's marriage application

    13/Apr/2016 // 356 Viewers


    BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese court ruled against two men seeking to marry, it said Wednesday, as more sexual minorities push for equal rights in the country.
    Sun Wenlin, 27, sued a civil affairs bureau after it refused to grant him and his partner, Hu Mingliang, a marriage certificate.

    The Furong district court in Changsha, in the central province of Hunan, agreed in January to hear the case, a move many observers considered a landmark development in itself.

    But the court quickly dismissed the suit after hearing it on Wednesday.

    "According to our country's relevant marriage laws and regulations, marriage is only between a man and a woman," it said on an official social media account.

    The couple's lawyer said they would appeal against the verdict.

    "This is the first gay marriage case in China, and I believe there will be more gay people fighting for their rights in different ways," attorney Shi Fulong told AFP.

    China's judicial system is firmly under the control of the Communist Party, and so-called politically sensitive rulings are rarely decided based purely on legal matters.

    China only officially decriminalised homosexuality in 1997, and listed it as a mental illness for another four years.

    More recently tolerance has grown in larger Chinese cities, but conservative attitudes remain deeply ingrained and discrimination against gays and lesbians is common.

    The same-sex marriage case is just the latest in an increasingly vocal tide advocating for equal rights for China's sexual minorities.

    A tribunal in the southwestern city of Guiyang is hearing a transgender discrimination suit where a man, identified only as Chen, who was born female, claimed he was fired from his job at a health clinic.

    According to the Guiyang Evening News, a manager at the Ciming Medical Centre said: "Chen's appearance really didn't fit our standards."

    Chen is now claiming he was unfairly dismissed and is seeking 2,000 yuan ($309) in compensation at a labour tribunal. He has also demanded an apology.

    But the Changsha couple's lawyer remained upbeat about prospects for same-sex couples.

    "We lost, but I think it is just a matter of time for same-sex partners being allowed to get married," Shi said.

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  • BREAKING: USA drops the 'mother' of all bombs, hits ISIS with non-nuclear bomb ever used in war history

    13/Apr/2017 // 2785 Viewers


    U.S. forces in Afghanistan on Thursday struck an Islamic State tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan with "the mother of all bombs," the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat by the U.S. military, Pentagon officials said.

    The bomb, known officially as a GBU-43B, or massive ordnance air blast weapon, unleashes 11 tons of explosives. When it was developed in the early 2000s, the Pentagon did a formal review of legal justification for its combat use.

    The U.S. military headquarters in Kabul said in a statement that the bomb was dropped at 7:32 p.m. local time Thursday on a tunnel complex in Achin district of Nangarhar province, where the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State group has been operating. The target was close to the Pakistani border.

    The U.S. estimates 600 to 800 IS fighters are present in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. The U.S. has concentrated heavily on combatting them while also supporting Afghan forces battling the Taliban. Just last week a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier, Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood, Maryland, was killed in action in Nangarhar.

    In its 2003 review of the legality of using the bomb, the Pentagon concluded that it could not be called an indiscriminate killer under the Law of Armed Conflict.

    "Although the MOAB weapon leaves a large footprint, it is discriminate and requires a deliberate launching toward the target," the review said, using the acronym for the bomb.

    Adam Stump, a Pentagon spokesman, said the bomb was dropped from a U.S. MC-130 special operations transport. He said the bomb had been brought to Afghanistan "some time ago" for potential use.

    Army Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a written statement that the strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. forces conducting clearing operations in the Achin area "while maximizing the destruction" of IS fighters and facilities. He said IS has been using improvised explosive devices, bunkers and tunnels to strengthen its defenses.

    "This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K," he added, using the U.S. military's acronym for the IS affiliate.

    White House spokesman Sean Spicer said IS fighters had used the tunnels and caves in Achin to maneuver freely.

    "The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did," Spicer said. - YAHOO NEWS

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  • Breaking News: Tears as powerful earthquake strikes again

    13/Nov/2016 // 685 Viewers


    A powerful earthquake  measuring 7.4 magnitude reportedly struck causing large-scale destruction   just after midnight (11:02) on Sunday some 95 km about (59 miles from  Christchurch,  New Zealand’s South Island, BBC has just reported.

    Recall Christchurch is still recovering from the 2011 earthquake that killed 185 people and destroyed the city centre.

    New Zealand lies on the notorious Ring of Fire, the line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions that circles virtually the entire Pacific rim.

    There are no immediate reports of damage from the latest quake.
    ‘The Herald’ newspaper said the tremor was felt all the way to Wellington, where sirens sounded and people fled buildings into the streets, some of them crying.

    The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no tsunami threat, reports the BBC.


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  • North Korea says ready for war with the US as it marks anniversary

    13/Oct/2015 // 320 Viewers

    Long-range missiles roll down a street in Pyongyang as part of a military parade Oct. 10 to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party. © Kyodo
    PYONGYANG (Reuters) -- Isolated North Korea marked the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party on Saturday with a massive military parade overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, who said his country was ready to fight any war waged by the United States.
    Thousands of troops stood at attention under a blue autumn sky in Pyongyang's main Kim Il Sung Square, named after Kim Jong Un's grandfather and the founder of the nation, as Kim, appearing relaxed and confident, made his speech, leaning heavily on the lectern.
    The young leader was accompanied by senior Chinese Communist Party official Liu Yunshan, with whom he was seen speaking throughout the event and occasionally shared laughs, and flanked by senior North Korean party and military officials.
    "The party's revolutionary armament means we are ready to fight any kind of war waged by the U.S. imperialists," Kim said in a speech strikingly more forceful than previous public comments, praising the feats of past leaders and the ruling party.
    He made no direct mention of the country's nuclear programme, likely a conciliatory diplomatic gesture towards China, which hosted the now-defunct "six-party talks", also involving the United States, on giving economic incentives to Pyongyang in return for scrapping its atomic ambitions.
    On Wednesday, a high-level U.S. military official said Washington believed North Korea had the capability to launch a nuclear weapon against the U.S. mainland and stood ready to defend against any such attacks.
    Kim's speech was followed by troops marching in formation, first by a corps of soldiers dressed in the style of the revolutionary force that fought Japan during World War Two, and then a procession of military might rolling past the square.
    A battery of the North's intercontinental ballistic missiles was the highlight of the weapons display, although they are not known to have been successfully tested.
    Impoverished North Korea and rich, democratic South Korea remain technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty. The North, slapped with U.N. and U.S. sanctions for its nuclear weapons and rocket programmes, often threatens to destroy the South, and its major ally the United States, in a sea of flames.
    In a letter delivered by Liu, the most senior Chinese official to visit Pyongyang since leader Kim came to power following his father's death in 2011, Xi said China attached vital importance to its relationship with North Korea, China's official Xinhua news agency said.
    Reuters with DailyGlobeWatch

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  • BREAKING: Strong quakes hit Japan, nuclear plants safe, dozens injured: media

    14/Apr/2016 // 277 Viewers


    TOKYO (Reuters) - An earthquake of magnitude 6 hit southwestern Japan on Thursday, bringing down some buildings and injuring dozens of people, local media reported, but the nuclear regulator reported no problems at power plants.

    The initial quake struck 11 km (7 miles) east of the city of Kumamoto, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported. It said the magnitude was 6.2 but later revised it down. Japanese public broadcaster NHK said the quake registered 6.4.

    There was no tsunami warning, but Japan's chief government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said several buildings had collapsed. He gave no more details.

    "We intend to do the utmost to grasp the situation," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters. "I'm now planning to hear what we have gathered on the situation."

    The Kyodo news agency reported that around 40 people were being treated at a hospital in Kumamoto city, some of them seriously injured.

    A fire also broke out in Mashiki, a town of about 34,000 people near the epicenter of the quake. NHK showed footage of firefighters tackling a blaze at a building.

    Some 16,000 households in the area were without electricity and 38,000 homes had no gas supplies in Kumamoto, Japanese media reported.

    At around 1503 GMT, another tremor struck the region, according to the USGS. It was initially measured at magnitude 6.4, before being revised down to 5.9. Again, there was no tsunami warning.

    After the first tremor, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said there were no irregularities at three nuclear plants on the southernmost island of Kyushu and nearby Shikoku.

    Some high-speed trains were halted as a precaution.

    Japanese media showed watermelons falling from shelves at a supermarket in Kumamoto.

    A quake of magnitude 9 struck offshore north of Tokyo in March 2011, causing tsunami waves along the coast which killed nearly 20,000 people and triggered a meltdown at a nuclear power plant.

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  • 2 plane parts to be examined in Australia for links to MH370

    14/Mar/2016 // 397 Viewers


    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia's transport minister said Monday two plane pieces found in Mozambique will be sent to Australia to verify if they belong to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

    Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said a part found recently by an American in Mozambique is now in Malaysia for safekeeping.

    He said a Malaysian team is expected to return this week from South Africa with another part found by a family holidaying in Mozambique. The family took the piece with them when they returned home to South Africa.

    Liow said both pieces will be sent to Australia to be examined by an international investigation team. The plane vanished March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

    "We want to be transparent and accountable in our investigation as much as possible ... that is why we want (the parts) to be verified in Australia," Liow said. He said a Malaysian team will be sent to Mozambique to comb its beaches for more possible debris.

    He said French and Malaysian teams will work to verify another piece of plane debris recently recovered from Reunion Island.

    "At this juncture, it has not been confirmed whether any of the recovered debris came from MH370," he said, urging the public to avoid speculation.

    Liow said if the Flight 370 links were confirmed, the locations where the pieces were found would be consistent with ocean drift models done by Australia. Those models were used to determine the search area in the southern Indian Ocean.

    The search is expected to end by June. A wing part found in Reunion last July is the only part so far confirmed from Flight 370.

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  • Ahead of TRUMP's inauguration, US issues warning, set to confront China over aggressive behaviour in South China Sea

    15/Dec/2016 // 836 Viewers


    The United States will confront China if it continues to stoke tensions in the disputed South China Sea region, the head of the U.S. Pacific fleet said Wednesday. Admiral Harry Harris also reassured allies Washington would not allow the contested territory to be controlled unilaterally.

    In a speech at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Harris said China continues to behave in an “aggressive” manner in the South China Sea.

    “We will not allow a shared domain to be closed down unilaterally no matter how many bases are built on artificial features in the South China Sea,” Harris said. “We will cooperate when we can but we will be ready to confront when we must.”

    China has laid claims to almost all of South China Sea, through where about $5 trillion worth of maritime trade sails every year. It has also reportedly been building runways and ports on islands in the contested waters to assert its claim over the region. Beijing has consistently defended its actions, saying it does not intend to start a conflict and that its operations will add to the safety of the region.

    Following this, the U.S. carried out a series of freedom-of-navigation operations in the recent months, angering China which has blamed Washington of militarizing the disputed region.

    “The U.S. fought its first war following our independence to ensure freedom of navigation,” Harris said during Wednesday’s speech. “This is an enduring principle and one of the reasons our forces stand ready to fight tonight.”

    Harris also said the Pentagon will deploy F-22 Raptors as part of stepping up its presence in the South China Sea. The F-22 Raptors are considered the most sophisticated fighter jets currently in use by the U.S. military.

    “My point is that you can count on America now and into the future,” Harris said. “I say that confidently because it’s in our national interest to continue our engagement in this vital region as we support the rules-based international order.”

    Apart from China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also have claims over disputed territory in the region.

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