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Showing posts from December, 2016

White House Condemns 'Horrific' Istanbul Attack, Offers Assistance to Turkey

US President Barack Obama has been briefed on the terrorist attack at Istanbul's Reina nightclub and has offered US assistance to Turkey as it deals with the blow.
"This afternoon the president was briefed by his national security team on the attack in Istanbul," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement, AP reported.  
"The president expressed condolences for the innocent lives lost, directed his team to offer appropriate assistance to the Turkish authorities, as necessary, and keep him updated as warranted." 
White House National Security Council Ned Price also issued a statement in which he condemned the "savagery" of the attack and reaffirmed America's support for their NATO ally, Turkey.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Mogherini Expresses Condolences Over Istanbul Attack

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini expressed on Sunday condolences over the deadly terror attack in Istanbul.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini expressed on Sunday condolences over the deadly terror attack in Istanbul and noted that the work on preventing such tragedies would be continued.
​The nightclub Reina in the Besiktas district was reportedly attacked by a man in a Santa Claus costume, who was speaking Arabic. 
The attacker is said to have opened fire from a Kalashnikov assault rifle.
According to the Vasip Sahin, governor of the Istanbul province, at least 35 people were killed and 40 injured as a result of the attack. 
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also expressed on Sunday condolences over the deadly terror attack in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

Attacker With Long-Range Weapon Killed 35 at Reina Nightclub: Governor

One attacker with a long-range weapon was responsible for the carnage at Istanbul's Reina nightclub, the city governor has said.
"A terrorist with a long-range weapon… brutally and savagely carried out this incident by firing bullets on innocent people who were there solely to celebrate the New Year and have fun," Vasip Sahin told reporters, according to the BBC.  
Initial reports said there were two or more attackers involved in the act of terrorism that has killed 35 and injured at least 40. 
Witnesses say the gunman or gunmen were speaking Arabic. Sahin said the gunman killed a police officer and a civilian outside the club before firing on the crowd inside at around 1:45 a.m. 
There may have been as many as 800 people inside, local media are reporting. 
Revelers even jumped into the Bosphorus to escape the hail of bullets, according to social media reports.
​Turkish police have now cordoned off the club, local media report. 
According to Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper, sec…

President Aliyev: Settlement of Karabakh Conflict Main Priority for Azerbaijan

Ilham Aliyev said settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the key priority for Azerbaijan’s foreign policy.
Settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the key priority for Azerbaijan’s foreign policy, country’s President Ilham Aliyev said in a New Year speech. 
“Settlement of the Azerbaijan-Armenian, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the main priority of our foreign policy. 
I can say that during the [2016] year our political and diplomatic positions were even more strengthened. 
The conflict must be settled in line with Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. 
There is no other way,” Aliyev said on Saturday. 
He also pointed out that the status quo in the conflict was unacceptable for Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan's Armenian-dominated breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh proclaimed its independence in 1991. 
After the military conflict ended in 1994, Azerbaijan lost control over the region. 
Violence erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh on April 2, 2016 and led to multiple casualties. 
The parties to th…

No US Aircraft Carriers Now Deployed; None Expected in Middle East for Months

For a rare couple of months, there will be no US Navy aircraft carrier in the Middle East.
But it's not only the Middle East whose waters are calmer: For the next week, there will be no American aircraft carriers deployed at sea anywhere else in the world, Fox reports.
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its naval entourage, which had been deployed in the Middle East for the past seven months, returned to the Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia December 30.
Its replacement, the USS George H.W. Bush, is still held up in the shipyard, and is unlikely to depart for its next mission before the end of January, according to Defense News. 
The gap could last as long as two months. 
There was a similar carrier gap in the Middle East last fall, but a French carrier stepped in to fill it. 
According to Fox, this is the first time there has not been a US aircraft carrier in the Middle East since 2007, and the first time since World War II that there has not been a single US carrier deployed anywhere in th…

Ban Ki-Moon Welcomes Security Council’s Resolution on Syria

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the Security Council’s resolution on Syria, the United Nations website reported.

“The Secretary-General welcomes the Security Council’s unanimous adoption today of resolution 2336 (2016) and efforts by Russia and Turkey to reduce violence and save civilian lives in Syria through the establishment of a ceasefire,” the UN statement said on Saturday.

Ban noted that the adopted resolution called for implementation of previous resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council. 
He also called for ensuring access for humanitarian organizations across Syria. 
“The Secretary-General hopes that these developments will lead to productive talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, and contribute to intra-Syrian negotiations to be convened by the United Nations in Geneva on 8 February 2017 and pursuant to resolution 2254,” the statement added. 
On Saturday, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted the resolution supporting Russian-Turkish brokered ceasefire in Syria …

China Launches New Global Media Platform

China Central Television (CCTV), the country’s largest TV network, will launch a new global media platform New Year’s Day to tell the world more about the country, the network announced.

"The relationship between China and the rest of the world is undergoing historic changes. 
China needs to know better about the world and the world needs to know better about China," Chinese President Xi Jinping wrote in congratulations to the new China Global Television Network, Asia Times reports.
"Tell China's story well, spread China's voice well, let the world know a three-dimensional, colorful China and showcase China's role as a builder of world peace," Xi urged the new network in a statement released by Xinhua.
As Western media funding is being slashed, China and other nations are expanding their soft power operations, notably English-language media outlets. 
Meanwhile, Xi has clamped down on media within the country, shutting down original news reporting on internet…

Hollande to Visit Iraq on Monday to Meet With French Servicemen

Hollande said on Saturday in a New Year address to French people that he was going to visit Iraq on January 2.

French President Francois Hollande said on Saturday in a New Year address to French people that he was going to visit Iraq on January 2, in order to meet with French servicemen deployed there.

“We have not put an end to the scourge of terrorism. 
It is necessary to continue the struggle on our territory as well as abroad, where we are taking part in military operations – in Mali, Syria and Iraq, where I will go the day after tomorrow in order to welcome our servicemen,” Hollande said. 
France is a member of a US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (Daesh) terrorist group, which took responsibility for last year’s Paris attacks and which is outlawed in many countries including Russia, in Syria and Iraq since 2014.

Syria gets airborne hospital as early New Year’s present from Russia

As Russia’s Emergencies Ministry wraps up its medical mission in Aleppo, it is leaving behind its leftover medical equipment and medicine stockpiles as a gift from Russia to Syria. 
Syria now has a hospital outfitted to be airlifted to wherever needed.
The ministry dispatched the hospital and medical personnel to Syria in November as the fight for the eastern part of Aleppo turned in favor of the government forces. 
Over the month, it has treated over 1,500 patients, most of whom were women and children.
The hospital includes 16 medical and technical pods, as well as 22 connectors and gateway modules, which can be airlifted to a location in need of medical assistance and deployed in the required configuration. 
The facility can serve up to 200 patients a day and has 60 beds for inpatients.
The mobile hospital has three surgery sections and an intensive care unit, as well as bays for regular patient diagnostics and treatment, plus living quarters for the medical staff.
The paperwork transferr…

Several people seriously injured as car plows into crowd in Finland

Up to seven people were injured when a car plowed into a crowd in the eastern part Helsinki, Finland’s capital. 
Police say that nothing indicates the incident was intentional, however.
No one was killed in the collision, but at least three people were taken to hospitals in critical condition, Finnish media report, citing police sources. 
At the same time, Helsinki’s rescue services department said that two women and one man were seriously injured, while another man received light injuries, Finnish M TV Channel reports.
The mishap reportedly occurred when a car driving at high speed veered onto the sidewalk, hitting parked vehicles and pedestrians. 
An eyewitness told Finnish Ilta Sanomat media outlet that the driver was apparently speeding and lost control of the car, sending it careening into the crowd.
Police don’t believe the incident to be a deliberate attack. 
“There is nothing at the moment to suggest that this act was intentional,” Henri Helminen, a spokesman of the Helsinki Police D…

1,000s of sea creatures wash up in Canada, no-one knows why

Canadian officials are struggling to determine why thousands of sea creatures have turned up dead on some beaches along the Bay of Fundy near Digby, Nova Scotia. 
So far, tests have found nothing out of the ordinary in the sea.
“We have ruled out the usual suspects,” said Kent Smedbol, manager of population ecology for Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), after scientists went out and examined the bay on Thursday. 
Oxygen levels, salinity, temperature, and water samples all came out normal, while the seabed showed no signs of a massive die-out.
“It is a little bit perplexing and now we’re broadening out our analysis again, looking at things that might be less likely,” Smedbol said, as cited by CBC News.
Thousands of creatures, including herring, crabs, lobsters, and starfish, have washed up on shore since November. 
Whatever was causing the phenomenon seems to have ended now, as fresh dead animals are no longer appearing.
“The good news for me is that it doesn’t seem like the e…

UN Security Council approves Russian-drafted resolution on Syria ceasefire

The UN Security Council has unanimously passed a resolution drafted by Russia that endorses a nationwide Syrian ceasefire, which was earlier brokered by Moscow and Ankara.
Security Council members welcomed the agreements reached through the mediation of Russia and Turkey, and stressed the importance of its “full and immediate implementation.”
The Security Council also expressed its support for the “efforts taken by Russia and Turkey and aimed at stopping violence in Syria and launching a political process.” 
Council members stressed that they see the Astana meeting as an important step in the process toward the reconciliation of the Syrian conflict.
The UN body also reaffirmed its commitment to the “sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic” and reiterated that the only way to resolve the Syrian crisis is to begin a complex inter-Syrian political process.
Western countries expressed cautious optimism about the agreements brokered by Moscow and A…

Democrats’ year-end moves seem like revenge on Trump for winning – Russian FM spokeswoman

The new punitive measures imposed on Russia by the outgoing US administration seem to be an attempt to take revenge on Republican Donald Trump for winning the presidency, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has noted.
“The outgoing administration isn’t giving up on its attempts to worsen bilateral relations, not understanding that they can’t get any worse,” Zakharova said in an interview with RIA-Novosti.
“Honestly, there is a feeling that the Democratic team is just trying to take revenge on Trump for his victory, making plainly absurd decisions a month before his inauguration,” she said.
The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman cited the Obama administration’s plans to supply MANPADS to Syrian militants, which Washington still see as a tool to remove Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, as an example of such “absurd decisions.”
Earlier in December, Congress added a provision to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that will allow the US to send shoulder-fired anti-air…

News that shaped 2016: Trump, Brexit, Russia’s Olympic ban & more

The outgoing year has been full of occasions that literally shocked the world: 2016 repeatedly made us all gaze in shock and awe at events that one could hardly imagine before.

Zika virus outbreak
Zika has been known about for almost seven decades, so when the World Health Organization declared it a "public health emergency of international concern" in February, the most alarming aspect was just how little was known about the disease, which was spreading “explosively” through the world.
For decades, it had been regarded as a rare tropical disease present in some countries in Africa and southeast Asia. 
But the fever traveled to Brazil sometime in 2013, where it gradually spread, before public health officials began noticing that many patients suffering from headaches, a fever and a rash tested negative for other common diseases such as dengue fever.
But the worst has begun already in 2015, when an abnormally high number of babies born suffering from microcephaly began to emerge.