Kremlin blames US for ‘barbaric’ missile attack on Crimea

Kremlin blames US for ‘barbaric’ missile attack on Crimea
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (AFP)
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Updated 24 June 2024
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Kremlin blames US for ‘barbaric’ missile attack on Crimea

Kremlin blames US for ‘barbaric’ missile attack on Crimea

MOSCOW: The Kremlin blamed the United States on Monday for a Ukrainian attack on Crimea with ATACMS missiles that killed at least four people, including two children, and injured 151 more, and said there would be consequences.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the attack “absolutely barbaric” and said Moscow would react to the United States involvement in it.
Peskov suggested that reporters should ask the governments of Europe and the United States why their governments were involved in killing children. 


US says air drills with South Korea will ‘sharpen’ capacity

US says air drills with South Korea will ‘sharpen’ capacity
Updated 24 sec ago
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US says air drills with South Korea will ‘sharpen’ capacity

US says air drills with South Korea will ‘sharpen’ capacity
  • Seoul and Washington’s air forces started around three weeks of joint drills Tuesday in Suwon, south of Seoul
  • Joint US-South Korea drills typically infuriate Pyongyang, which views them as rehearsals for invasion
SEOUL: Ongoing air drills with South Korea will “sharpen” their joint combat capabilities, the US military said Thursday, as the nuclear-armed North ramps up threats and a balloon blitz against Seoul.
Seoul and Washington’s air forces started around three weeks of joint drills Tuesday in Suwon, south of Seoul, involving US F/A-18 and F-35B combat aircraft.
The drills “will further sharpen our combat capabilities,” US Marine Lt. Col. Jarrod Allen said in a statement.
Joint US-South Korea drills typically infuriate Pyongyang, which views them as rehearsals for invasion, and the North is particularly sensitive to fighter jet exercises as experts say its air force is the weakest link in its military.
Relations between the two Koreas are at one of their lowest points in years, with the North sending thousands of trash-carrying balloons southwards and Seoul’s military blasting K-pop and anti-regime messages from border loudspeakers.
On Wednesday, the North said it was “fully ready for all-out confrontation with the US,” responding to comments by former President Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee for the November election, touting his ties to Kim Jong Un.
Trump said “I think he misses me” and it’s “nice to get along with somebody that has a lot of nuclear weapons.”
While in office Trump met with Kim three times, beginning with a landmark summit in Singapore in June 2018, but the pair failed to make much progress on efforts to denuclearise the North.
A few months after Singapore, Trump famously told a rally of his supporters that the two men had fallen “in love.”
But their second summit in Hanoi collapsed in 2019, over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.
In a commentary released on Wednesday, North Korea said while it was true Trump tried to reflect the “special personal relations” between the heads of states, the former US president “did not bring about any substantial positive change.”
“Even if any administration takes office in the US, the political climate, which is confused by the infighting of the two parties, does not change and, accordingly, we do not care about this,” it added.

US files details of Boeing’s plea deal related to plane crashes. It’s in the hands of a judge now

US files details of Boeing’s plea deal related to plane crashes. It’s in the hands of a judge now
Updated 25 July 2024
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US files details of Boeing’s plea deal related to plane crashes. It’s in the hands of a judge now

US files details of Boeing’s plea deal related to plane crashes. It’s in the hands of a judge now
  • Deal calls for the appointment of an independent compliance monitor, three years of probation and a fine of at least $243.6 million
  • Boeing was accused of misleading the aviation regulator FAA about aspects of the Max before the agency certified the plane for flight
  • A lawyer for families of victims of the 737 Max crashes, who wanted Boeing to face trial, criticized the agreement

The US Justice Department submitted an agreement with Boeing on Wednesday in which the aerospace giant will plead guilty to a fraud charge for misleading US regulators who approved the 737 Max jetliner before two of the planes crashed, killing 346 people.
The detailed plea agreement was filed in federal district court in Texas. The American company and the Justice Department reached a deal on the guilty plea and the agreement’s broad terms earlier this month.
The final version states Boeing admitted that through its employees, it made an agreement “by dishonest means” to defraud a Federal Aviation Administration group that evaluated the 737 Max. Because of Boeing’s deception, the FAA had “incomplete and inaccurate information” about the plane’s flight-control software and how much training pilots would need for it, the plea agreement says.
US District Judge Reed O’Connor can accept the agreement and the sentence worked out between Boeing and prosecutors, or he could reject it, which likely would lead to new negotiations between the company and the Justice Department.
The deal calls for the appointment of an independent compliance monitor, three years of probation and a fine of at least $243.6 million. It also requires Boeing to invest at least $455 million “in its compliance, quality, and safety programs.”

A Boeing 737 Max aircraft during a display at the Farnborough International Airshowin Farnborough, Britain. (REUTERS/File Photo)

Boeing issued a statement saying the company “will continue to work transparently with our regulators as we take significant actions across Boeing to further strengthen” those programs.
Paul Cassell, a lawyer for families of victims of the 737 Max crashes who wanted Boeing to face trial, criticized the agreement.
“The plea has all the problems in it that the families feared it would have. We will file a strong objection to the preferential and sweetheart treatment Boeing is receiving,” he said.
Boeing was accused of misleading the FAA about aspects of the Max before the agency certified the plane for flight. Boeing did not tell airlines and pilots about the new software system, called MCAS, that could turn the plane’s nose down without input from pilots if a sensor detected that the plane might go into an aerodynamic stall.
Max planes crashed in 2018 in Indonesia and 2019 in Ethiopia after a faulty reading from the sensor pushed the nose down and pilots were unable to regain control. After the second crash, Max jets were grounded worldwide until the company redesigned MCAS to make it less powerful and to use signals from two sensors, not just one.
Boeing avoided prosecution in 2021 by reaching a $2.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department that included a previous $243.6 million fine. It appeared that the fraud charge would be permanently dismissed until January, when a panel covering an unused exit blew off a 737 Max during an Alaska Airlines flight. That led to new scrutiny of the company’s safety.
In May of this year, prosecutors said Boeing violated terms of the 2021 agreement by failing to make promised changes to detect and prevent violations of federal anti-fraud laws. Boeing agreed this month to plead guilty to the felony fraud charge instead of enduring a potentially lengthy public trial.

Families and friends who lost loved ones in the March 10, 2019, Boeing 737 Max crash in Ethiopia, hold a memorial protest in front of the Boeing headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, on March 10, 2023 to mark the four-year anniversary of the event. (AFP)

The role and authority of the monitor is viewed as a key provision of the new plea deal, according to experts in corporate governance and white-collar crime. Cassell has said that families of the crash victims should have the right to propose a monitor for the judge to appoint. The agreement calls for the government to select the monitor “with feedback from Boeing.”
In Wednesday’s filing, the Justice Department said that Boeing “took considerable steps” to improve its anti-fraud compliance program since 2021, but the changes “have not been fully implemented or tested to demonstrate that they would prevent and detect similar misconduct in the future.”
That’s where the independent monitor will come in, “to reduce the risk of misconduct,” the plea deal states.
Boeing, which is based in Arlington, Virginia, is a major Pentagon and NASA contractor, and a guilty plea is not expected to change that. Government agencies have leeway to hire companies even after a criminal conviction. The plea agreement does not address the topic.
Some of the passengers’ relatives plan to ask the judge to reject the plea deal. They want a full trial, a harsher penalty for Boeing, and many of them want current and former Boeing executives to be charged.
If the judge approves the deal, it would apply to the criminal charge stemming from the 737 Max crashes. It would not resolve other matters, potentially including litigation related to the Alaska Airlines blowout.
Boeing could appeal any order the court imposes to pay restitution to victims’ families — the agreement leaves restitution up to the judge. The company could also appeal if the judge indirectly increases the fine beyond $243.6 million by failing to give Boeing credit for an identical amount it paid as part of the 2021 settlement.
O’Connor will give lawyers for the families seven days to file legal motions opposing the plea deal. Boeing and the Justice Department will have 14 days to respond, and the families will get five days to reply to the filings by the company and the government.


Typhoon Gaemi weakens as it leaves Taiwan for China

Typhoon Gaemi weakens as it leaves Taiwan for China
Updated 25 July 2024
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Typhoon Gaemi weakens as it leaves Taiwan for China

Typhoon Gaemi weakens as it leaves Taiwan for China

TAIPEI: Typhoon Gaemi passed through Taiwan overnight and was headed toward eastern China on Thursday, leaving two dead as heavy rains and strong gusts continued to lash the island in its wake.

The day before, the storm had forced Taiwan to cancel some of its annual war games, shutter schools and offices, and evacuate thousands from high-risk, landslide-prone areas.

By Thursday morning, its sustained wind speeds had weakened to 154 kilometers (95 miles) per hour after “the center has moved out to sea” at around 4:20 am (2020 GMT), said Taiwan’s Central Weather Administration.

“Wind and rain continue posing a threat to various parts of Taiwan, (and the outlying islands of) Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu,” the administration said.

The nearby Philippines — which was not in Gaemi’s path — saw its seasonal monsoon rains exacerbated by the typhoon’s impacts, triggering floods that killed at least six, according to authorities Wednesday.

The storm is now tracking toward China’s Fujian province, while Taiwan is still experiencing persistent downpours and reports of flooding in the south.

Several cities, including Taipei, announced a second consecutive day off, with schools, government offices and the stock market closed.

More than 200 people were injured and two killed before Gaemi made landfall at around midnight. A motorist in the southern Kaohsiung city was crushed by a tree, while a woman in eastern Hualien died after part of a building fell on her car.

Taiwan is accustomed to frequent tropical storms from July to October, but experts say climate change has increased their intensity, leading to heavy rains, flash floods and strong gusts.

At its peak, Gaemi packed sustained wind speeds of 190 kilometers (118 miles) per hour as it was barrelling toward Taiwan, prompting forecasters to say it could be “the strongest” typhoon to make landfall in eight years.


Violence sends Mexican families fleeing into Guatemala

Violence sends Mexican families fleeing into Guatemala
Updated 25 July 2024
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Violence sends Mexican families fleeing into Guatemala

Violence sends Mexican families fleeing into Guatemala

GUATEMALA CITY: Dozens of Mexican families have fled across the border into Guatemala because of drug cartel violence, Guatemalan President Bernardo Arevalo said Wednesday.

The Central American nation’s defense ministry said that the army was tightening security along the countries’ shared border.

Guatemalan authorities were providing assistance “to people who are escaping this confrontation between (criminal) groups that is taking place on the Mexican side,” Arevalo said at a press conference.

The office of the country’s human rights ombudsman told AFP that around 280-300 displaced Mexicans were at a temporary shelter near the border.

Mexico’s southernmost state of Chiapas draws tourists with its lush jungle, Indigenous communities and ancient Mayan ruins, but it has also seen intensifying turf wars between gangs fighting for control of drug and people-smuggling routes.

In late June, a clash between drug cartels in Chiapas left 19 people dead, including several Guatemalans.

Earlier that month, violence displaced several thousand people in the southern state.

Spiraling criminal violence has seen more than 450,000 people murdered in Mexico since the government of then-president Felipe Calderon launched a military offensive against drug gangs in 2006.


Australia imposes sanctions on Israeli settlers, youth group over West Bank violence

Australia imposes sanctions on Israeli settlers, youth group over West Bank violence
Updated 25 July 2024
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Australia imposes sanctions on Israeli settlers, youth group over West Bank violence

Australia imposes sanctions on Israeli settlers, youth group over West Bank violence
  • Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the unnamed group was responsible for inciting and perpetrating violence against Palestinians
  • Australia considers Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories illegal and an obstacle to peace.

SYDNEY: Australia on Thursday imposed financial sanctions and travel bans on seven Israeli settlers and a youth group it said had been involved in violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.
The unnamed group was responsible for inciting and perpetrating violence against Palestinians, while the settlers had been involved in beatings, sexual assault and torture and in some cases death, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said.
“We call on Israel to hold perpetrators of settler violence to account and to cease its ongoing settlement activity, which only inflames tensions and further undermines stability and prospects for a two-state solution,” Wong said in a statement.

The move by the Australian government comes after allies Britain, the United States, Canada and Japan sanctioned some Israeli settlers in response to the violence in the West Bank.

Palestinian Mohamed al-Nawajaa, 78, talks with a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) charity coordinator, in Susya village, in the south of the occupied West Bank, July 17, 2024. (AFP)

Israel’s embassy in Australia said the country condemned violence acts against Palestinian communities.
“Israel is a state of law and will work to bring the extreme minority involved to justice,” a spokesperson said in an email.
Violent acts by some Israeli settlers in the West Bank have increased amid Israel’s war in Gaza, sparked by an attack on Israel by Palestinian militant group Hamas on Oct. 7.
Since the 1967 Middle East war, Israel has occupied the West Bank of the Jordan River which Palestinians want as the core of an independent state. It has built Jewish settlements there that most countries deem illegal but Israel disputes this and cites historical and Biblical ties to the land.
Australia considers Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories illegal and an obstacle to peace.