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China urges US to withdraw sanctions against its companies over N. Korea

Beijing has urged the US to drop the new batch of sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals, saying that the restrictions do not contribute to defusing the Korean standoff.

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Foreign Ministry headquarters in Beijing

Beijing has urged the US to drop the new batch of sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals, saying that the restrictions do not contribute to defusing the Korean standoff.

The sanctions were imposed by the US Treasury on Tuesday. They affect 16 mainly Chinese and Russian individuals and companies over alleged “support of the North Korean regime” and assisting Pyongyang in its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

“China opposes the imposition of unilateral sanctions outside the framework of the UN Security Council, especially the ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ imposed on Chinese entities or individuals by other countries in accordance with their domestic laws. Our position is clear and consistent,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular press briefing.

Beijing has always conducted a “comprehensive and earnest implementation” of the UNSC resolutions, the spokeswoman stated, adding that China would punish anyone caught violating the sanctions under Chinese law.

The unilateral US actions contribute neither to solving problems on the Korean Peninsula, nor to Sino-US trust, the spokeswoman said, adding that Beijing has urged Washington to drop the sanctions.

One of the Chinese companies hit by the new US sanctions, Dandong Rich Earth Trading Co., has firmly rejected the allegations of violating the UNSC resolutions. The US Treasury accused the company of purchasing vanadium ore from North Korea.

“We did not import vanadium ore from North Korea. We imported products based on vanadium and refined from coal impurities. This product was not under sanctions. That’s why we’ve been able to register respective import with the Chinese customs services,” Li Xiaoguang, a manager at the company, told RIA Novosti, dismissing the accusations that the company’s business helped Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

He said the company “would have never been able to import sanctioned materials from North Korea, since they would not have passed through the Chinese customs,” the company representative added.

Earlier, reacting to the same round of sanctions targeting a Russian company and four individuals, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov expressed disappointment and warned Washington of “retaliatory measures that are inevitable in this situation.”

“Against this deplorable backdrop, statements by US representatives about a desire to stabilize bilateral ties sound highly unconvincing,” Ryabkov said in a statement on Tuesday. “We have always advocated and will continue to advocate efforts to resolve our existing differences through dialogue. Over the past few years, Washington should have grasped the idea that we consider the language of sanctions to be unacceptable, and that such actions only hamper the resolution of real problems. So far, however, it appears that they have failed to comprehend these obvious truths.”

Senior Russian Senator Andrey Klimov said that the sanctions lack legitimacy.

“These sanctions are illegal in themselves, because the only thing recognized by international law is the sanctions of the UN Security Council,” Klimov told Interfax. “We must react in principle to this insane and confrontational policy. The toolbox is rich, let’s hope that we will act consistently, reasonably, professionally and effectively.”

America

‘Shame on you,’ student tells US President Donald Trump at Florida anti-gun rally

Hundreds rally in Fort Lauderdale for more restrictions on firearms

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Florida students

As the national news media descended on Parkland, students shared their horrific stories of survival after Wednesday’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and increasingly they are turning to another message: Something needs to change.

Many survivors of mass shootings have gone on to become staunch gun control advocates months and years later in Parkland, the timeline has seemingly accelerated. In the days after the shooting, students have been active on social media and cable news channels, saying now is the time to talk about changing gun laws.

Senior David Hogg has appeared on cable news multiple times since the shooting, urging lawmakers to act and calling the shooting “unacceptable.”

He and hundreds of others rallied at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale Saturday, calling for more legislation to regulate guns.

“Vote them out!” and protesters chanted repeatedly, referring to lawmakers who oppose restrictions on guns.

“People keep asking me, What about this (shooting) will be different?” junior Cameron Kasky said at the rally. “All of you are proof that this could be different.”

Wiping away tears, student Emma Gonzalez gave an impassioned speech, taking aim at President Donald Trump and other politicians who take money from the National Rifle Association.

“To every politician who is taking money from the NRA: Shame on you,” Gonzlez said.

Multiple speakers urged banning weapons like the A5-15 rifle that was used in the shooting.

“No one should own an AR-15, especially an 18-year-old,” said Stoneman Douglas teacher Melissa Falkowski, referring to gunman Nicholas Cruz.

On Saturday morning in Parkland, protesters lined the road to the school, which is still an active crime scene, with signs reading anti-gun messages like “broken system.”

“After every shooting, the NRA sends a memo saying ‘send your thoughts and prayers.’ This is the only country where this kind of thing happens,” Kasky told CNN. “This is the time to talk about guns.”

“But there’s much more that can be done, much more that needs to be done and much more that people like Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott are not doing,” he said. “It’s scary to think these are the people who are making our laws when our community just took 17 bullets to the heart. It feels like the only people who don’t care are the people making the laws.”

At a vigil for the victims, a crowd of more than 1,000 people, consisting largely of students, chanted “No more guns, no more guns.”

Students elsewhere have started joining the chorus from Parkland. On Friday, about 100 students from South Broward High School walked out of school to protest gun violence, carrying signs that said “Do Something” and “Protect our Kids, Not Your Guns.”

“We are angry! We are angry!” the students cried. “We want safety! We want safety!”

On Wednesday night, conservative commentator Tomi Lahren took to Twitter, saying it was too early to talk about gun control.

“Can the Left let the families grieve for even 24 hours before they push their anti-gun and anti-gunowner agenda? My goodness. This isn’t about a gun it’s about another lunatic,” she wrote.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Student Caryl Novell quickly responded.

“I was hiding in a closet for two hours. It was about guns. You weren’t there, you don’t know how it felt. Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings,” Novell said. “This IS about guns and this is about all the people who had their life abruptly ended because of guns.”

Her message to Lahren has been retweeted more than 300,000 times.

“We are children. You guys are, like, the adults. Take action, work together, come over your politics, and get something done,” Hogg said.

Source : Local10

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America

17 killed in Florida school shooting, ex-student held

19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz into custody in connection with the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

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Parkland high school shooting

At least 17 people were killed Wednesday in a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the Broward County Sheriff’s office said.

Authorities say they have taken 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz into custody in connection with the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday.

The school shooting suspect was arrested “without incident” an hour after allegedly leaving the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School grounds.

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Seventeen people were killed and more than 14 were injured in the Parkland, Florida school shooting.

Authorities believe the suspected shooter worked alone. More than 3,200 students attend ninth through 12th grade at the high school, which is staffed by approximately 130 teachers.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed in a evening news conference that Cruz is a former student of the high school who was expelled for disciplinary reasons, Fox News reports. Sen. Bill Nelson also told FOX that Cruz was wearing a gas mask during the shooting and may have been carrying smoke bombs.

In an interview Wednesday evening with CNN, Marjory Stoneman Douglas math teacher Jim Gard, who had Cruz as a student in 2016, was surprised to hear the news of his arrest. “He was a quiet kid in class, I never had any problems with Nick,” Gard said.

“Some of the girls in my class said that I guess he had some problems with some other girls, but that’s hearsay, and all that,” he added. “As far as my class goes, I remember an email or two from admin [expressing concern] but I can’t remember exactly what it said.”

However, Gard expanded on his account to the Miami Herald, telling the paper that he believed an email from the school administration circulated warning teachers that Cruz had made threats against other students. “We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” Gard said. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”

Superintendent Robert Runcie of the Broward County School District told reporters outside the school they had received no concerns about Cruz. “We received no warnings,” he said. “Potentially there could have been signs out there. But we didn’t have any warning or phone calls or threats that were made.”

A student named Nicholas Coke interviewed on the scene by WSVN-7 described Cruz as a “loner.” Coke also recalled a time in middle school when Cruz kicked out a glass window before getting caught, according to the Miami Herald.

“He had a lot of problems in middle school,” Coke said.

“He’s been a troubled kid,” an unidentified student who said he knew Cruz told local media. “And he’s always had a certain amount of issues going on. He shot guns because he felt it gave him, I guess, an exhilarating feeling.”

“He always had guns on him,” another unidentified student told WFOR-TV, who said Cruz was never shy about showing off his guns. “The crazy stuff that he did was not right for school, and he got kicked out of school multiple times for that kind of stuff.”

Another unidentified student described the suspect to CBS News. “The kid was crazy,” the student said. “I had engineering with him a couple years ago and he wasn’t allowed to come to school with a backpack and he would threaten students and break glass and get into fights so he got kicked out of school.”

“All he would talk about is guns, knives and hunting,” former classmate Joshua Charo, 16, told the Miami Herald. “I can’t say I was shocked. From past experiences, he seemed like the kind of kid who would do something like this.”

Helen Pasciolla, a retired neighbor who lives in the Cruz family’s former neighborhood in Parkland, told the New York Times that Cruz and his brother, Zachary, who are both adopted, had regular behavioral problems.

Authorities have begun looking into Cruz’s social media profile, findings which Broward Sheriff Scott Israel described to reporters as “very, very disturbing.”

Unverified images on social media accounts cited by multiple media sources appear to show a man holding firearms, wielding knives like a claw, and a collection of guns on a bed.

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US intelligence chiefs say Russia still meddling, threatening 2018 elections

In strong language, Coats said Russia President Vladimir Putin has been emboldened by Russia’s successful interference in the 2016 elections and is targeting the 2018 election cycle.

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Dan Coats

WASHINGTON — Russia and other adversaries will continue to engage in cyber warfare to “degrade our democratic values and weaken our alliances,” the nation’s top intelligence official said Tuesday.

“Frankly, the United States is under attack,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee, adding that every facet of society is being targeted with cyber intrusions.

In strong language, Coats said Russia President Vladimir Putin has been emboldened by Russia’s successful interference in the 2016 elections and is targeting the 2018 election cycle.

“There should be no doubt that (Putin) views the past effort as successful,” Coats said.

The national intelligence director’s comments come against the backdrop of continuing congressional and criminal investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether the Kremlin coordinated their activities with President Trump’s campaign.

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