Category Archives: World

Chinese agency downgrades US credit rating

Chinese agency downgrades US credit rating

17 October 2013

AFP – A Chinese ratings agency downgraded its US sovereign credit rating Thursday despite Washington’s resolution of the debt ceiling deadlock, warning that fundamentals for a potential default remained “unchanged”.

Dagong lowered its ratings for US local and foreign currency credit from A to A-, maintaining a negative outlook, the agency said in a statement.

The announcement came after the US Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed a bill that extends the nation’s borrowing authority and ends a two-week government shutdown.

“The fundamental situation that the debt growth rate significantly outpaces that of fiscal income and gross domestic product remains unchanged,” Dagong said in the statement, adding Washington’s solvency was vulnerable as old debts were still repaid through raising new debts.

“Hence the government is still approaching the verge of default crisis, a situation that cannot be substantially alleviated in the foreseeable future,” it said.

 

Read more at France 24

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Christians Under Siege in Middle East While Politicians, Church Leaders Silent

Christians Under Siege in Middle East While Politicians, Church Leaders Silent

by Mary Chastain   28 Sep 2013

On Thursday, Breitbart News reported on recent attacks on Christians in the Middle East and wondered why it took an attack on an Anglican church for Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to finally condemn the violence. Pope Francis has consistently spoken about and condemned the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East, but where are the politicians and, more importantly, the American churches?

Attacks last weekend brought this important story to the front page. Two suicide bombers blew up an Anglican church last Sunday in Pakistan and killed over 85 worshipers. On September 21, 10 to 15 members of the radical Islam terrorist group al-Shabaab stormed an Israeli-owned mall and targeted non-Muslims, killing at least 61 civilians; the death toll is expected to increase once all the bodies are recovered inside.

The fact is this has been going on for decades. Christianity was born in the Middle East and it is literally dying out in the region at the hands of radical jihadists. As Paul Marshall said in his FOX News op-ed, the Taliban and other radical groups only care about religion. Gender, race, ethnicity, and age do not matter. This could lead to the extinction of Christians in the Middle East.

 

Read more at Breitbart

Rocket trajectory links Syrian military to attack

Rocket trajectory links Syrian military to attack

Sep 18, 9:08 PM EDT | By ZEINA KARAM and EDITH M. LEDERER | Associated Press
BEIRUT     (AP) — The trajectory of the rockets that delivered the nerve agent sarin in last month’s deadly attack is among the key evidence linking elite Syrian troops based in the mountains overlooking Damascus to the strike that killed hundreds of people, diplomats and human rights officials said Wednesday.That evidence, however, was dismissed by Syrian President Bashar Assad, who denied that his regime carried out the Aug. 21 attack outside Damascus.

In an interview with Fox News Channel broadcast Wednesday, Assad blamed terrorist groups for using chemical weapons and said Russia has evidence supporting his position.

“We have evidence that the terrorist group has used sarin gas,” Assad said, adding that the evidence had been turned over to Russia.

 

Read more at Associated Press

Kerry, Hague discuss Syria (0:59) (video)

Kerry, Hague discuss Syria (0:59) (video)

Reuters | Sept. 9

US Secretary of State John Kerry holds a news conference with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague on the situation in Syria. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). 

( Transcript )

US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to reporters Monday in London during a news conference with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague on the situation in Syria.  Kerry and Hague both talked about the bond that exists between the two nations, regardless of the British parliament’s decision not to support U.S. led military action in Syria.  Kerry said he understands public trepidation about evidence that the U.S. says clearly implicates al-Assad’s regime in the use of chemical weapons.

SOUNDBITE (English) US SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY SAYING:  “There’s an instant reaction by a lot of people to say, whoa, here we go again, this is going to be Iraq, this is going to be Afghanistan, and I can understand that. I am very sympathtic to that feeling. If I weren’t in the administration if i didn’t have access to what I have, I’m sure I’d have the exact same reaction, I’d probably be very questioning of public people. That’s why I’m standing up here today, that’s why I went to the European community, that’s why I’ll be briefing congress together with other members of the administration, that’s why the president will talk to the American people, because our responsibility is to share what we know, and to lead, and to try to bring people to a point where they can agree with us hopefully.”

Kerry will fly back to Washington DC after the news conference to brief members of the House and Senate later on Monday.

 

Read more at Reuters

Iran Plots Revenge, U.S. Says

Iran Plots Revenge, U.S. Says

Officials Say Intercepted Message to Militants Orders Reprisals in Iraq if Syria Hit

By JULIAN E. BARNES and ADAM ENTOUS

WASHINGTON—The U.S. has intercepted an order from Iran to militants in Iraq to  attack the U.S. Embassy and other American interests in Baghdad in the event of a strike on Syria, officials said, amid an expanding array of reprisal threats across the region.

Military officials have been trying to predict the range of possible responses from Syria, Iran and their allies. U.S. officials said they are on alert for Iran’s fleet of small, fast boats in the Persian Gulf, where American warships are positioned. U.S. officials also fear Hezbollah could attack the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

While the U.S. has moved military resources in the region for a possible strike, it has other assets in the area that would be ready to respond to any reprisals by Syria, Iran or its allies.

 

Read more at WSJ

Audit of Syria refugees finds organized crime and child soldiers

Audit of Syria refugees finds organized crime and child soldiers

By Tom Miles | GENEVA | Mon Aug 5, 2013 2:27pm EDT

(Reuters) – Many Syrians who have escaped their country are now desperate to escape from U.N.-run refugee camps, where women are not safe and teenage boys are recruited as soldiers to fight in the conflict, according to an internal U.N. report.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR is trying to cope with a massive humanitarian crisis, as 1.9 million Syrians have sought refuge abroad, mainly in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

The report, an self-evaluation of UNHCR’s work in Syria entitled “From slow boil to breaking point”, admits the United Nations could have done much better and “a far more substantial and coherent strategy is needed”.

Organized crime networks are operating in the biggest refugee camp, Za’atari in Jordan, which is home to 130,000, it said. The camp is “lawless is many ways”, with resources that are “constantly stolen or vandalized”.

Preparations for a new camp needed to learn the lessons from Za’atari, including to “ensure the safety of women and girls”.

Refugees can live outside the camp if they are “sponsored” by a Jordanian citizen, but many refugees are paying up to $500 to middlemen to get out, the report said.

 

Read more at Reuters

Nuclear Doomsday is Coming Today. You’ll Want to See This.

Nuclear Doomsday is Coming Today. You’ll Want to See This.

By Elaine M. Grossman, Global Security Newswire | July 18, 2013 |  4:02 p.m.

WASHINGTON — It’s Thursday, July 18, and nuclear Armageddon is upon us. Or at least you might be excused for thinking so when you glimpse on your colleague’s computer monitor a compelling simulation of a mushroom cloud rising over your home town.

That’s the 2.0 version of NUKEMAP — now in three dimensions! — expected for launch by late Thursday, the brainchild of a guy named Alex Wellerstein.

A historian with the American Institute of Physics, Wellerstein has had 3 million visitors to the original two-dimensional edition of his website, who have virtually detonated a whopping 17.4 million nuclear warheads over their choice of locations virtually anywhere around the world.

Launched in February 2012, the initial or “classic” version of NUKEMAP featured your choice of 18 preselected cities — from Beijing or Berlin to Tehran or Tokyo — and 23 preset atomic-warhead explosive capacities, or “yields,” numbering in kilotons, or even more stratospheric megatons. A pick of North Korean, Indian, Pakistani, Russian and U.S. bombs was on offer, along with others.

 

Read more at National Journal

At least 30 [defenseless people] killed in school attack in northeast Nigeria

At least 30 [defenseless people] killed in school attack in northeast Nigeria

By ADAMU ADAMU and MICHELLE FAUL | Associated Press | Jul 6, 4:24 PM EDT

POTISKUM, Nigeria     (AP) — Islamic militants attacked a boarding school before dawn Saturday, dousing a dormitory in fuel and lighting it ablaze as students slept, survivors said. At least 30 people were killed in the deadliest attack yet on schools in Nigeria’s embattled northeast.

Authorities blamed the violence on Boko Haram, a radical group whose name means “Western education is sacrilege.” The militants have been behind a series of recent attacks on schools in the region, including one in which gunmen opened fire on children taking exams in a classroom.

“We were sleeping when we heard gunshots. When I woke up, someone was pointing a gun at me,” Musa Hassan, 15, told The Associated Press of the assault on Government Secondary School in Mamudo village in Yobe state.

He put his arm up in defense, and sustained a gunshot that blew off all four fingers on his right hand, the one he uses to write. His life was spared when the militants moved on after shooting him.

 

Read more at Associated Press

Law requires Obama administration to cut off Egyptian aid

Law requires Obama administration to cut off Egyptian aid

The Daily Caller | July 5, 2013

The $1.5 billion in U.S. foreign aid slated for  Egypt next year is in jeopardy after the Egyptian army deposed democratically  elected President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday.

Section 508 of the decades-old Foreign  Assistance Act stipulates that “none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made  available pursuant to this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly  any assistance to any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed  by a military coup or decree.”

A clause in the 2011 omnibus bill strengthens the provision, excluding from  American aid any nation experiencing a “coup d’etat or decree in which the  military plays a decisive role.”

Read more at The Daily Caller

Snowden applies for asylum in Russia: immigration source

Snowden applies for asylum in Russia: immigration source

MOSCOW | Mon Jul 1, 2013 12:36pm EDT

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden has applied for political asylum in Russia, a Russian immigration source close to the matter said on Monday.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a Wikileaks activist who is traveling with Snowden handed his application to a Russian consulate in the transit area at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport late on Sunday.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly, Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel, Editing by Steve Gutterman)

Read more at Reuters