• Liberia 2017: NEC releases dates

    20/Jun/2016 // 325 Viewers

     

    PARIS, JUNE 20, 2016: (DGW) Ahead of 2017 general elections, the National Elections Commission has released timetable for the 2017 Liberian presidential and legislative elections.

    The diamond-rich West African state says the election dates are subject to review and change according to the country's electoral body, the National Elections  Commission.

    "But as for October 10'', according to NEC,  ''it will remain unchanged because that is provided for by the Constitution as the official date for the elections."

     


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  • Israel to bring in 20,000 Chinese construction workers

    20/Sep/2015 // 282 Viewers

    © AFP | A worker stands on a beam on a construction site in Beijing on September 9, 2015
    JERUSALEM (AFP) - 
    Israel plans to bring in 20,000 Chinese construction workers to help build new apartments as part of efforts to lower housing costs, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

    Netanyahu announced the plan at the start of a cabinet meeting, his office said. The finance ministry later said the cabinet had approved it.

    Israeli attorney general Yehuda Weinstein has opposed the move because the two countries lack a formal agreement related to such cooperation.

    The lack of an agreement can lead to immigrant workers paying middlemen hundreds or even thousands of dollars to obtain permits.

    Chinese workers are currently brought into Israel under private contracts between Israeli and Chinese companies. The two countries have engaged in negotiations on working conditions, but have not yet reached an accord.

    A statement from the finance ministry said that due to the urgency of the matter, the workers would be brought without a bilateral agreement, while creating mechanisms to ensure their rights were protected and prevent them from paying middlemen for permits.

    Netanyahu said that it was important to move forward despite "side costs," with the cost of living a major issue in Israel.

    "In my view, this is a necessary and important step to lower housing prices," Netanyahu said.

    Israel's construction sector employs 216,000 workers, including 37,000 Palestinians and 6,000 foreigners, with some 3,700 Chinese.

    The finance ministry said the lack of skilled Israeli and Palestinian construction workers, as well as the instability in employing Palestinians -- whose permits can be revoked due to the security situation -- have created a shortage of workers.

    The Chinese's pace of work in building high-risers was 50 percent higher than that of Israelis, Palestinians and others, the finance ministry said.

    China told Israel in June it will not allow migrant builders to work on settlements in the occupied West Bank.

    Construction in settlements, where some 400,000 Israelis live, accounts for about three percent of the total.

    ? 2015 AFP


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  • Two key opposition leaders executed in Bangladesh

    21/Nov/2015 // 140 Viewers

    Bangladeshi Minister of Justice has confirmed the execution of two opposition leaders today for war crimes committed back in 1971 during the independence war with Pakistan.

    Speaking to reporters in Dhaka the Minister of Justice, Anisul Huq said the senior opposition leaders namely Salahudeen Ku' ader and Mohammad Mujaheed last-minute reprieve could not save them from the gallows.

    The duo of Mohammad Mujaheed and Salahudeen were eventually hanged at 18:45 GMT


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  • Asia-Pacific summit season to wrap up

    21/Nov/2015 // 181 Viewers

    © AFP | Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (R) shakes hands with US President Barack Obama (C) prior to the ASEAN Summit Leaders dinner at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on November 21, 2015

    KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - 

    Asia-Pacific leaders on Sunday wrap up a week of diplomacy on trade and security issues that has been jolted by revulsion over the recent jihadist attacks.

    Heads of government from 18 countries including the United States, China, India, Japan and Southeast Asia hold an annual summit hosted this year by Malaysia.

    At the summit President Barack Obama and other leaders on Saturday expressed the rising international alarm over the deadly attacks in Paris, Mali and Lebanon, calling for global cooperation to fight extremism.

    "The perpetrators of these cowardly and barbaric acts do not represent any race, religion or creed," Prime Minister Najib Razak of Muslim-majority Malaysia told the summit.

    "They are terrorists."

    The Kuala Lumpur diplomatic-political meetings follow a trade-related forum in Manila earlier in the week that included many of the same leaders and similar expressions of concern over terrorism.

    Obama is on something of a victory lap for his newly signed 12-country Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact, which Washington is pushing signatories in the region to ratify so it can eventually be implemented.

    China's push to expand tiny atolls in the South China Sea into full islands capable of supporting a sustained military presence has also hung over the meetings.

    Obama met Saturday with his ASEAN counterparts, and a joint statement emerged that stressed the need to maintain freedom of navigation and over-flight in the South China Sea.

    Washington has warned that traffic through the South China Sea, a key conduit for world trade, could be threatened by China's moves.

    It recently sent US naval vessels to the region to stress the right to free passage, a move that angered Beijing.

    Earlier in Manila, Obama called on China to cease the island-building, while announcing hundreds of millions of dollars of new aid to regional allies worried by China's territorial assertiveness.

    China insists on sovereignty over virtually all the strategic and resource-endowed South China Sea, which also is claimed in part by a handful of other countries.

    Southeast Asian foreign ministers who met Friday in Kuala Lumpur issued a joint statement saying they were "seriously concerned" over the land reclamation.

    In Kuala Lumpur, Southeast Asia leaders will declare the establishment on Sunday of an "ASEAN Economic Community" (AEC), inspired by Europe.

    The move takes ASEAN a step closer to an envisioned single Southeast Asian market with free flow of goods, capital and skilled labour across borders.

    But the AEC's realisation remains a distant goal -- if it is ever fully achieved -- due to significant non-tariff and other barriers and large development gaps across the diverse region, and the declaration is largely symbolic

    Source: AFP


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  • Three Nigerian men wanted for duping Vietnamese women

    21/Oct/2015 // 215 Viewers

    A picture of Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lan and a Nigerian man who cheated Vietnamese women through a series of online romance scams. — Photo cand.com.vn

     

    HA NOI (VNS) — The HCM City police are hunting for three Nigerian men who allegedly cheated a number of Vietnamese women of over VND1.6 billion (US$72,000) through a series of online romance scams.

    Chikelu Tobechukwu Samson, 33, Nkwocha Peter Emeka, 45, and Nmoruka Samuel Obumneme, 39, claimed to be in love with Vietnamese women they made friends with on the Internet.

    They promised to send the women valuable gifts and asked them to pay a sum of money for shipment, tax and other kinds of fees to their accomplices who impersonated as bank officers or shipment officials.

    The three suspects used to live in HCM City's District 7.

    At least 21 women have been swindled of more than VND1.6 billion ($72,000).

    Investigations revealed that the group had worked with Le Dung Tuyen, 28, Tran Thuyen Ly, and Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lan to create bank accounts for the victims to transfer their money.

    Ly and Tuyen have been arrested. Police are hunting for the woman. — VNS


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  • Strike delays hit Australian airports

    21/Sep/2015 // 113 Viewers

     AFP/File | The Australian Border Force has warned passengers travelling in and out of the country over the coming week may experience delays at international airports due to industrial action
    SYDNEY (AFP) - 
    Travellers using Australia's international airports faced delays on Monday and were warned of more to come as immigration and border force workers went on strike over pay and conditions.

    Morning peak-hour travel was held up with long queues forming in Sydney, which along with airports in Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Darwin, Coolangatta and Cairns experienced two-hour stoppages when staff walked out.

    "These workers are angry, they're under pressure, they face major cuts to their take-home pay and workplace rights and government simply hasn't listened," said Nadine Flood, secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) representing workers.

    The strikes affecting those departing and arriving on international flights are set to continue until September 30.

    "Border Force workers feel they have no choice but to act, so they are prepared to strike every day, twice a day over peak periods, over 10 days," Flood said.

    The union claims the government wants to reduce rights, conditions and allowances, cutting current annual pay for many staff by Aus$8,000 (US$5,735) and have called on new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to resolve the 18-month dispute.

    The Australian Border Force said passengers travelling in and out of the country over the coming week may experience delays at international airports due to the industrial action.

    "Arrangements are in place to protect Australia's borders and minimise the impact on our operations, but if you are going overseas, we advise you to arrive at the airport early," it said in a statement.

    Managers stepped in during the strike at Sydney Airport on Monday, but there were still delays.

    "We've been about an hour and a half to get through; it's a bit chaotic in there to say the least," one traveller told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

    ? 2015 AFP


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  • South Korea and U.S. Begin Drills Despite North Korea’s Threat of Nuclear Strikes

    22/Aug/2016 // 162 Viewers

     

    (SEOUL) — South Korea and the United States began annual military drills Monday despite North Korea’s threat of nuclear strikes in response to the exercises that it calls an invasion rehearsal.

    Such fiery rhetoric by Pyongyang is not unusual. But the latest warning comes at a time of more tension following the defection of a senior North Korean diplomat and a U.S. plan to place a high-tech defense missile system in South Korea.

    The North’s military said in a statement Monday that it will turn Seoul and Washington into “a heap of ashes through a Korean-style pre-emptive nuclear strike” if they show any signs of aggression toward the North’s territory.

    The North’s “first-strike” units are ready to mount retaliatory attacks on South Korean and U.S. forces involved in the drills, according to the statement, carried by Pyongyang’s state media.

    South Korea’s Unification Ministry expressed “strong” regret over the North’s warning, saying the drills with the U.S. are defensive in nature. Seoul and Washington have repeatedly said they have no intentions of invading Pyongyang.

    The Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills that began Monday for a 12-day run are largely computer-simulated war games. The training involves 25,000 American troops and 50,000 South Korean soldiers, according to the U.S. and South Korean militaries.

    The drills come just days after Seoul announced that Thae Yong Ho, No. 2 at the North’s embassy in London, had recently defected to South Korea because he was disillusioned with the North’s leadership. Pyongyang’s state media called him “human scum” and a criminal who had been ordered home for a series of alleged criminal acts, including sexually assaulting a minor.

    South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye said Monday that there were signs of “serious cracks” in the North’s ruling elite class after defections of key figures she didn’t identity. Park told a security meeting that Pyongyang could carry out cyberattacks or other provocations on South Korea to divert public attention away from such domestic problems.

    Many analysts said Thae’s defection was an embarrassment to the North Korean government of leader Kim Jong Un, but would not weaken the unity of the country’s elite class.

    North Korea has already boosted its war rhetoric because of the planned deployment of the U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea, which Washington and Seoul says is needed because of the increasing North Korean threats.

    About 28,500 U.S. troops are in South Korea to help deter potential aggression from North Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended with armistice, not a peace treaty. - YAHOO NEWS


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  • Tension as US reveals readiness to attack, destroy North Korea

    22/Dec/2016 // 521 Viewers

     

    On Wenesday, the U.S. warned North Korea that any use of nuclear weapons against South Korea would “be met with effective and overwhelming response”.
    The warning was contained in a statement issued jointly on Wednesday by the Governments of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the U.S. after the inaugural meeting of the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG) in Washington, D.C.

    The joint statement said the EDSCG, established by the U.S.-ROK (Republic of Korea)Foreign and Defense Ministers’ (2+2) Meeting on Oct. 19, 2016, was led by vice ministerial-level officials from the ROK and the U.S.

    “Officials from both sides held comprehensive and in-depth discussions on strategic and policy issues regarding extended deterrence against North Korea, including how to better leverage the full breadth of national power – using diplomacy, information, military, and economic elements.

    “The United States reiterated its ironclad and unwavering commitment to draw on the full range of its military capabilities, including the nuclear umbrella, conventional strike, and missile defence, to provide extended deterrence for the ROK.

    “The United States reaffirmed the longstanding U.S. policy that any attack on the United States or its allies will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons will be met with an effective and overwhelming response.

    “In particular, the United States emphasised that it remains steadfast in meeting these enduring commitments and providing immediate support to the ROK.

    “In response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats, the officials reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to regularly deploy U.S. strategic assets for the defence of the ROK, as well as to enhance such measures and identify new or additional steps to strengthen deterrence.”

    The officials also highlighted that the U.S., in 2016, demonstrated its commitment and resolve to the South Korea by exercising extended deterrence through measures to enhance missile defense capabilities and through clear demonstrations of the U.S. nuclear triad.

    “This includes multiple B-52 strategic bomber flights as well as visits by South Korean officials to observe a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launch on Feb. 25 and board a nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine (SSBN) during its port visit to Guam on Nov. 1.”

    The joint statement emphasised the importance of the EDSCG as a high-level consultative mechanism and with a common understanding that such various measures to strengthen their combined defense were necessary to maintain effective deterrence of North Korea.

    The two sides expressed their intent to continue alliance discussions through the EDSCG on how to best tailor their response to the evolving North Korea’s nuclear threat.


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  • Australian FM's Putin emoji sparks debate on Russia relations

    22/Oct/2015 // 339 Viewers

    AFP/File | Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop used a red-faced emoji to depict Russia's Vladimir Putin in what was dubbed the world's first political emoji interview with website Buzzfeed SYDNEY (AFP) - 

    The Australian foreign minister's use of a red-faced emoji to depict Russia's Vladimir Putin sparked debate among lawmakers in Canberra Thursday, demanding to know what the icon means for relations between the nations.

    The image was used to describe the Russian leader when Foreign Minster Julie Bishop, who regularly tweets the icons, conducted what was dubbed as the world's first political emoji interview with website Buzzfeed in February.

    The ideogram -- a fuming red face with angry eyes and a downturned mouth -- prompted a brief back-and-forth in parliamentary hearings about Australian-Russian relations.

    "I'm trying to understand what is the public message from Australia's foreign spokesperson about our relationship -- which is obviously, shall we say, a difficult one -- with Russia, which is being expressed via emoji," said opposition Labor senator Penny Wong during the hearing.

    "It may be that the foreign minister is saying she is angry with him. It may be that she thinks he is a red-faced angry man. I don't know."

    Attorney-General George Brandis replied that the red face "could be a reference to ideology", alluding to Russia's communist past.

    "Nobody suggests, and I don't understand you to be suggesting, that the communication concerned was a formal diplomatic demarche of any kind," he said.

    "It's plainly not an expression of our relationship with Russia."

    Bishop later told reporters that Putin, as a "hard man", would have liked the emoji.

    "In the case of President Putin, he self-describes as a hard man," she said, the Australian Associated Press reported.

    "Having met President Putin I think he'd be delighted with the... emoji that I used to describe him."

    Australia's diplomatic relations with Russia have been tense since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in July last year, killing 298 people, including 38 Australian citizens and residents.

    Several countries, including Australia, accuse pro-Russian separatist rebels of downing the aircraft with a Buk surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia. Moscow denies involvement and blames the Ukrainian military.


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  • North Korea's Kim hails 'successful' submarine missile test

    24/Apr/2016 // 195 Viewers

     

    Seoul (AFP) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un hailed a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test as an "eye-opening success", state media said Sunday, declaring Pyongyang has the ability to strike Seoul and the US whenever it pleases.

    Saturday's missile launch came amid growing concern that Pyongyang is preparing a fifth nuclear test.

    But it was followed just hours later by a North Korean offer to impose a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing if the United States suspends annual military exercises with South Korea.

    The US and Britain denounced the SLBM test as a violation of UN Security Council resolutions and called on the North to refrain from further moves that could destabilise the region.

    South Korea's defence ministry said the missile, fired from a submarine in the Sea of Japan, flew around 30 kilometres (18 miles).

    The North's state-run KCNA news agency said the test, personally monitored by Kim, confirmed the reliability of the country's underwater launching system.

    It also cited the young leader as saying Pyongyang was now capable of "hitting the heads of the South Korean puppet forces and the US imperialists anytime as it pleases."

    Still images broadcast on state television showed Kim on the deck of the submarine before watching the test through binoculars from shore and meeting the crew and scientists afterwards.

    "This eye-opening success constitutes one more precious gift the defence scientists and technicians are presenting to the great leaders and the party," the KCNA quoted Kim as saying.

    - Nuclear test offer -

    Pictures showed the missile, with "The North Star" emblazoned on it, soar out of the water and fly into the sky, leaving a massive plume of smoke above the sea surface.

    State TV also showed what it claimed were underwater images of the missile being ejected from the submarine, using key "cold launch" technology.

    North Korea has been pushing to acquire an SLBM capability that would take its nuclear strike threat to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and the potential to retaliate in the event of a nuclear attack.

    The isolated country has conducted a number of what it says were successful SLBM tests, but experts had previously question the claims, suggesting Pyongyang had gone little further than a "pop-up" test from a submerged platform.

    The latest launch comes as the North gears up for a rare and much-hyped ruling party congress early next month -- the first in 36 years -- at which Kim is expected to take credit for pushing the country's nuclear and missile weapons programme to new heights.

    Many analysts and senior Seoul officials have suggested the regime may carry out a fifth nuclear test as a display of defiance and strength ahead of the May party congress.

    In an interview with the Associated Press in New York, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-Yong said Pyongyang would be willing to halt further tests if Washington announced an end to annual joint military exercises with Seoul.

    The annual drills always raise tensions on the Korean peninsula, with the North condemning them as provocative rehearsals for invasion.

    The North made exactly the same offer in January last year, when it was flatly rejected by the United States as an "inappropriate" effort to link nuclear testing with regular military exercises.

    North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January, followed by a rocket launch a month later that was widely seen as a disguised ballistic missile test.

    The UN Security Council responded by slapping its strongest sanctions to date on Pyongyang.


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