Blog Archives

U.S. soldier kills Afghan civilians in Kandahar Province

A U.S. serviceman has opened fire on Afghan civilians in Kandahar Province. Entering their homes in the middle of the night to carry out the attacks.

U-2 Spy Plane Still Flying High


One of the oldest planes the United States Air Force still flies is used to carry out some of America’s most sensitive and critical missions. Whether it’s aiding NATO troops in Afghanistan, providing surveillance over North Korea or examining Japan’s hurricane ravaged coast, the high altitude U-2 keeps flying despite initial plans to retire it by the end of this year. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman, at Osan Air Base in South Korea, got a rare look at what is considered the world’s most difficult aircraft to fly.

106 U.S. Coal Plant Retirements Since 2010

near . Warm water from the plant is a favorite...

The genius of the free market is that it provides consumers with more for less. That principle is turned on its head in the Obama era, as Americans face the prospect of getting less for more when it comes to powering their homes and workplaces. In a poor economy, that’s bad news for folks who’ve already tightened their belts to the final hole.

Cheers went up last week from the self-proclaimed green lobby, including the Sierra Cluband Greenpeace, as they reached a milestone in their quest to drive up the cost of America’s fossil fuels. On Feb. 29, two utility companies announced the shuttering of nine coal power plants in the East and Midwest. That sent the number of plants slated for deactivation since 2010 beyond the century mark to 106.

GenOn Energy said it would shutter seven coal plants and one oil-fired plant in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois with a total generating capacity of 3,140 megawatts. Midwest Generation followed suit with an advisory that it would close two coal plants serving Chicago.

The shutdowns represent a victory for President Obama, who in a 2008 interview as a candidate signaled his intention to run the coal industry into the ground: “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s emitted.”


Pentagon Confirms: US Troops in South Yemeni City of Aden

The old town of Aden, Yemen, situated in the c...

Pentagon officials today confirmed that a “security team” of US forces came under attack from Ansar al-Sharia loyalists in the southern Yemeni city of Aden, but denied any injuries as a result of the attack. Ansar al-Sharia claimed one “CIA officer” killed in the exchange.

The difference in versions from the two sides actually misses the much more serious revelation of the report, that US ground troops are operating inside Yemen at all. There has certainly been no announcement to that effect, and indeed, several times the Obama Administration has “ruled out” sending ground troops to Yemen.

With pro-democracy protesters rallying against the US-backed dictator of Yemen virtually throughout 2011, Ansar al-Sharia seized the province of Abyan, and has made inroads in Aden, the former capital city of South Yemen. The US has repeatedly launched drone strikes against Ansar al-Sharia, claiming they are an “al-Qaeda front.

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N. Korean official to visit security conference in U.S.



SEOUL, South Korea — In another sign of warming relations, a senior North Korean nuclear negotiator will attend a security conference in the United States, a person with knowledge of talks between Washington and Pyongyang told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Word of Ri Yong Ho’s visit to the forum at Syracuse University follows a breakthrough agreement that will provide much-needed U.S. food aid to North Korea in exchange for a rollback of its nuclear programs.

The agreement, announced Wednesday, sets in motion a plan laid out by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il before his death in December to improve relations with the U.S. and to get back to six-nation disarmament-for-aid negotiations.

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Foreign NGO workers leave Egypt after travel ban lift

English: View from Cairo Tower

Seventeen foreign democracy activists, including Americans, at the centre of a row between Egypt and the US, have left Cairo after a travel ban was lifted.

They flew out on a US military plane which was reportedly heading to Cyprus.

The activists – who worked at non-governmental organisations – were on trial for allegedly receiving illegal foreign funding and stirring up unrest.

The case – which is continuing – caused a major rift, risking $1.3bn (£813m) in US aid to Egypt.

The foreign defendants are American, Palestinian, Norwegian, Serbian and German. They could still be tried and convicted in absentia.

In all, 43 activists were accused, including a number of Egyptian nationals who still face legal proceedings.


Nato soldiers shot dead in Afghanistan amid Koran anger


Nato says two of its troops have been shot dead on a base in Afghanistan, the latest of several attacks after the burning of the Koran by US soldiers.

Nato said a man in Afghan army uniform and another in civilian clothes opened fire in southern Kandahar province. The dead are believed to be US soldiers.

Some local officials say there was only one attacker, a teacher at the base.

Hours earlier Nato’s top general in Afghanistan said the recent violence was a “setback” that would be overcome.

Nato says shots were fired indiscriminately, claiming two of its soldiers’ lives. It has yet to give their nationalities, but US and Afghan officials say the dead were Americans.

Nato believes one of the killers was an Afghan soldier. If so, this would be the third time in a week that a member of the Afghan security forces has killed Nato troops.

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North Korea agrees to halt nuclear activities, missile launches

한국어: 평양 중심부에 있는 주체 사상탑. English: The Tower of ...

By Andrew Quinn

WASHINGTON — The United States said on Wednesday that North Korea had agreed to a moratorium on nuclear tests and long-range missile launches and to allow nuclear inspectors to visit its Yongbyon nuclear complex to verify a halt to all nuclear activities including uranium enrichment.

The U.S. announcement paves the way for the possible resumption of six-party disarmament negotiations with Pyongyang and follows talks between U.S. and North Korean diplomats in Beijing last week.“To improve the atmosphere for dialogue and demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization, the DPRK has agreed to implement a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear tests, and nuclear activities at Yongbyon, including uranium enrichment activities,” the State Department said in a statement.

“The DPRK has also agreed to the return of IAEA inspectors to verify and monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment activities at Yongbyon and confirm the disablement of the 5-MW reactor and associated facilities,” it said.

The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) is North Korea’s official name.

The State Department said that in return the United States was ready to finalize details of a proposed food aid package of 240,000 metric tons of nutritional assistance, and that more aid could be agreed based on continued need.

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Judges in Egypt’s NGO trial pull out

English: View from Cairo Tower

Lead judge says court felt “uneasiness” as Washington exerts pressure on Cairo over case involving 16 US citizens.

All three judges in Egypt’s trial of 43 NGO workers have pulled out of the case, according to a court official.

The defendants, including 16 US citizens, are charged with using illegal foreign funds to foment unrest that has roiled Egypt over the past year.

The non-governmental organisations flatly deny the charges, and US officials have hinted foreign aid to Egypt could be in jeopardy because of the case.

Mohammed Shoukry, the lead judge in the case, said on Tuesday that “the court felt uneasiness” in handling the case, according to a court official. He did not elaborate.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said new judges would be assigned to the case.

The trial has so far only made it as far as its opening session, and would need to be restarted with a new panel of judges.
Combined with indications that the two countries are trying to find an acceptable resolution to the crisis, there is speculation that the case could be dropped.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, told two senate panels on Tuesday that the US and Egypt, which has long been

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New evidence suggests Stone Age hunters from Europe discovered America

First paperback edition of Back to the Stone Age

New archaeological evidence suggests that America was first discovered by Stone Age people from Europe – 10,000 years before the Siberian-originating ancestors of the American Indians set foot in the New World.

A remarkable series of several dozen European-style stone tools, dating back between 19,000 and 26,000 years, have been discovered at six locations along the US east coast. Three of the sites are on the Delmarva Peninsular in Maryland, discovered by archaeologist Dr Darrin Lowery of the University of Delaware. One is in Pennsylvania and another in Virginia. A sixth was discovered by scallop-dredging fishermen on the seabed 60 miles from the Virginian coast on what, in prehistoric times, would have been dry land.

The new discoveries are among the most important archaeological breakthroughs for several decades – and are set to add substantially to our understanding of humanity’s spread around the globe.

The similarity between other later east coast US and European Stone Age stone tool technologies has been noted before. But all the US European-style tools, unearthed before the discovery or dating of the recently found or dated US east coast sites, were from around 15,000 years ago – long after Stone Age Europeans (the Solutrean cultures of France and Iberia) had ceased making such artefacts. Most archaeologists had therefore rejected any possibility of a connection. But the newly-discovered and recently-dated early Maryland and other US east coast Stone Age tools are from between 26,000 and 19,000 years ago – and are therefore contemporary with the virtually identical western European material.

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Afghan protesters hurl grenades at US base

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Demonstrators hurled grenades at a U.S. base in northern Afghanistan, and a gun battle left two Afghans dead and seven NATO troops injured Sunday in the escalating crisis over the burning of Muslim holy books at an American airfield.

More than 30 people have been killed, including four U.S. troops, in six days of unrest. Still, the top U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan said the violence would not change Washington’s course .

“Tensions are running very high here, and I think we need to let things calm down, return to a more normal atmosphere, and then get on with business,” Ambassador Ryan Crocker told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“This is not the time to decide that we’re done here,” he said. “We have got to redouble our efforts. We’ve got to create a situation in which al-Qaida is not coming back.”

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Egypt’s trial of democracy activists adjourned until April

An Egyptian court adjourned the trial of dozens of democracy activists including 16 Americans on Sunday at the opening session of a case that has threatened ties between Cairo and Washington and $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid.

Forty-three foreign and Egyptian non-profit workers – including the son of the U.S. transportation secretary – are accused of receiving illegal funds from abroad and carrying out political activities unrelated to their civil society work.

Judge Mahmud Mohamed Shukry adjourned the trial until April 26 at the end of the session in the rowdy chamber, where television reporters crowded around him and an interior ministry official threatened to expel journalists.

His decision could give more time for a diplomatic solution to the case, lawyers said.

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Vladimir Putin fires off nuclear threat over West’s ‘regime change’ plans for Iran

Vladimir Putin

RUSSIAN Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accuses the West of seeking “regime change” in Iran and warns Washington that Russia intends to keep its nuclear weapons to keep US power in check.

“Under the guise of trying to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction… they are attempting something else entirely and setting different goals – regime change,” news agencies quoted Mr Putin as saying.

“We have such suspicions,” said Putin. “And we are trying to take a stand that differs from the one they are trying to force on us… concerning the ways that the Iranian nuclear problem might develop.”

Russia has longstanding commercial and military ties with Iran and has condemned unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union over its suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons.

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Iran military official: Only burning White House can make up for burning Koran

President Barack Obama speaks at Cairo Univers...

Commander of Iran’s Basij force tell Fars news agency that Muslims worldwide should reject Obama’s apology following the burning of the holy Muslim text in a U.S. base in Afghanistan.

The Muslim world should not accept an apology issued by U.S. President Barack Obama over the burning of Korans in an American base in Afghanistan, a top Iranian military commander said on Saturday, adding that nothing short of “burning the White House can relieve the wound of us.”

According to White House spokesperson Jay Carney, while the apology was “wholly appropriate given the sensitivities” about treatment of the Koran, he said Obama’s primary concern was “the safety of American men and women in Afghanistan, of our military and civilian personnel there.”

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Egypt presses ahead with NGO trial of Americans

English: View from Cairo Tower

The North Cairo Criminal Court Sunday starts the trial of 43 pro-democracy activists, including around 20 American citizens, from mostly US civil society groups on the alleged charges of working illegally in Egypt, judicial sources said Saturday.

The sources said that the 43 accused persons, including Egyptians, Americans, Germans, Palestinians, Norwegians and Serbs, were to appear at the court to face the charges of working in the country without proper legal registration, receiving illicit foreign funding, interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs and carrying out political activities unrelated to their civil society work.

The suspects denied these charges, which could lead to prison sentences of five years, they said.

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Report: U.S. May Intervene in Syria

A report Saturday said that the United States was planning to intervene militarily in Syria, with or without United Nations authorization.

By David Lev

A report Saturday said that the United States was planning to intervene militarily in Syria, with or without United Nations authorization, if the killing in the country continued. A senior American official quoted in the London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper said that the action would be based on the UN intervention in Kosovo several years ago: Establishment of a beachhead and carving out an area that was off-limits to forces controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, where refugees could come to flee Assad’s troops, and which could be used as aforward base to reduce Assad’s hold on the country, and eventually remove him.

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Karzai Wants Americans Tried for Quran Incident; Will Obama Defend Troops?

Afghan President Hamid Karzai meets with Secre...

Thanks to Barack Obama’s failure to lead, events surrounding the burning of religious materials at Bargam Airfield–materials that included Qurans in which detainees were writing “extremist messages or inscriptions”–are perilously spiraling out of control. And now, Afghanistan President Karzai is calling for the American troops who took part in the burning to stand trial.

Karzai’s doing this because he can. And the reason he can is because all Obama has displayed up to this point is weakness.

Think about it: although U.S. military personnel have come forward to say the materials were only burned was because of the messages and inscriptions detainees had written within them, Obama has apologized twice to Karzai. One apology was what you’d call a regular apology, and the second one was what Obama spokesman Jay Carney called a “severe apology.”

What’s next? Will we offer to behead ourselves so Taliban and Al Qaeda members don’t have to go through all the hassle of catching us and tying us up?



Clinton threatens sanctions on Somali peace spoilers

Hillary Clinton 1

By Arshad Mohammed and William Maclean

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday threatened sanctions on anyone blocking reforms intended to end Somalia’s “hopeless, bloody conflict” and counter militant and pirate groups seen as a growing menace to world security.

Addressing a conference aimed at energizing attempts to end more than 20 years of anarchy, Clinton also demanded greater efforts to cut funding for al Shabaab militants fighting Somalia’s weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

But in response to a reporter’s question she cautioned against Western air strikes on al Shabaab-held zones, adding she had no reason to believe anyone was contemplating them, and Britain’s International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell told the BBC the UK had no plans “for anything like that.”

Al Shabaab is the most powerful of an array of militias spawned by the conflict in Somalia, where armed groups have a history of wrecking attempted political settlements and perpetuating war, instability and famine.

“The position of the United States is straightforward: attempts to obstruct progress and maintain the broken status quo will not be tolerated,” Clinton told the one-day gathering in London of about 40 African, Arab and Western leaders and government ministers.

“We will encourage the international community to impose further sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on people inside and outside the TFG who seek to undermine Somalia’s peace and security or to delay or even prevent the political transition.”

A conference communiqué said participants agreed to “act against spoilers to the peace process, and we would consider proposals” before a followup conference in Istanbul in June.

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‘Friends of Syria’ consider ultimatum to Assad

English: President Bashar al-Assad of Syria . ...

The United States, Europe and Arab nations are preparing to demand that Syrian President Bashar Assad agree within days to a ceasefire and allow humanitarian aid into areas hardest hit by his regime’s brutal crackdown on opponents.

U.S., European and Arab officials were meeting in London on Thursday to craft details of an ultimatum to Assad that diplomats said could demand compliance within 72 hours or result in additional as-yet-unspecified punitive measures, likely to include toughened sanctions. The ultimatum is to be presented at a major international conference on Syria set for Friday in Tunisia.

American officials accompanying U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Tunis meeting of the “Friends of Syria” said the goal is to make it clear to Assad that his regime has a moral obligation to end the shelling of civilian areas and allow assistance into the country. The message will be that the burden is on Assad to respond to the demands of the international community, they said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the ongoing discussions over how the ultimatum will be presented at the Tunis conference. Several nations have proposed creating protected corridors through which humanitarian relief can flow but it was not clear if a consensus could be reached on the matter, as such a step would almost certainly require a military component.

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U.S. and North Korean Officials Meet for Talks in China


BEIJING — The first official talks between the United States and North Korea since the coming to power of the youthful new North Korean leader were “serious and substantial,” the senior American negotiator said Thursday, and would extend into a second day.

The talks, designated by the Obama administration as exploratory, were seen as a way to test whether the new leader, Kim Jong-un, a man in his late 20s, was prepared to meet conditions that would allow for a resumption of long established six-nation negotiations that aim to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.

The American negotiator, Glyn T. Davies, met the veteran North Korean nuclear official, Kim Kye-gwan, at a morning and an afternoon session held at the American and North Korean embassies in Beijing. The two men met for dinner Thursday night, and would return to formal talks Friday, Mr. Davies said.

Issues ranging from nuclear matters to nutritional assistance were covered in the talks Thursday, Mr. Davies said. He indicated little progress had been made so far.

The United States, along with South Korea, Japan, Russia and China, has called on North Korea to suspend its nuclear activities as a condition for resuming the six-nation talks. Mr. Davies was believed to be probing the North Korean negotiator on that question in Thursday’s meetings.