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US diverts Navy strike force to Korean waters

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THE US Navy said Saturday it had sent a carrier-led strike group to the Korean peninsula in a show of force against North Korea’s “reckless” nuclear weapons program.

The move will raise tensions in the region and comes hard on the heels of a US missile strike on Syria that was widely interpreted as putting Pyongyang on warning over its refusal to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

US President Donald Trump is calling North Korea’s bluff on its nuclear and missile weapons program. Picture: AP/Alex  Brandon

US President Donald Trump is calling North Korea’s bluff on its nuclear and missile weapons program. Picture: AP/Alex  BrandonSource:AP

North Korea denounced Thursday’s strike as an act of “intolerable aggression” and one that justified “a million times over” the North’s push toward a credible nuclear deterrent.
“US Pacific Command ordered the Carl Vinson Strike Group north as a prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the Western Pacific,” said Commander Dave Benham, spokesman at US Pacific Command.
“The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilising program of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability,” he told AFP, in an unusually forceful statement.

Nuclear-armed North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan on April 5, just ahead of a highly-anticipated China-US summit. Picture: AP/Jung Yeon-Je

Nuclear-armed North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan on April 5, just ahead of a highly-anticipated China-US summit. Picture: AP/Jung Yeon-JeSource:AFP

Originally scheduled to make port calls in Australia, the strike group — which includes the Nimitz-class aircraft supercarrier USS Carl Vinson is now headed from Singapore to the Western Pacific Ocean.
Pyongyang is on a quest to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead, and has so far staged five nuclear tests, two of them last year.

The US has responded to North Korea’s recklness nuclear program by sending a strike carrier group to the Korean peninsula. Picture: AP/Lee Jin-man

The US has responded to North Korea’s recklness nuclear program by sending a strike carrier group to the Korean peninsula. Picture: AP/Lee Jin-manSource:AP

Expert satellite imagery analysis suggests it could well be preparing for a sixth, with US intelligence officials warning that Pyongyang could be less than two years away from developing a nuclear warhead that could reach the continental United States.
North Korea on Wednesday fired a medium-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan ahead of a US-China summit.

In February the North simultaneously fired four ballistic missiles off its east coast, three of which fell provocatively close to Japan, in what it said was a drill for an attack on US bases in the neighbouring Asian country.

North Korea boasts that is has developed long-range missiles that could reach Australia. Picture: KRT via AP

North Korea boasts that is has developed long-range missiles that could reach Australia. Picture: KRT via APSource:AP

Last August Pyongyang also successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile 500km towards Japan, far exceeding any previous sub-launched tests, in what the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un hailed as the “greatest success.”
A nuclear-capable SLBM system would take the North’s threat to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and a “second-strike” capability in the event of an attack on its army bases.

REMOVING AL-ASSAD A TOP US PRIORITY
Meantime, the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a priority for Donald Trump, says the US Ambassador to the UN.
Nikki Haley said the removal of al-Assad, removing Iranian influence in Syria and defeating the Islamic State terrorist group are the priorities for the US President.
“We don’t see a peaceful Syria with Assad in there,” Haley told CNN.
The comments represented a departure from what Haley said before the US hit a Syrian air base with 59 Tomahawk missiles on Thursday in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack by al-Assad’s forces on Syrian civilians.
Australia’s Prime Minsiter Malcolm Turnbull today also doubted if al-Assad can play any part of a peaceful solution to the six-year civil war.
“I have grave doubts as to whether he can have any continuing role in the settlement. The crimes he has committed against his own people are so enormous,” Mr Turnbull said from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
“His actions, his horrendous, criminal actions, gassing women and children, babies, that surely disqualifies him from a continuing role.”

Greater pressure is being placed on the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose family have ruled Syria since 1971.

Greater pressure is being placed on the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose family have ruled Syria since 1971.Source:AFP

“You pick and choose your battles and when we’re looking at this, it’s about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out,” Haley told reporters on March 30, just days before more than 85 Syrian civilians died from chemical weapons injuries.

New air strikes have targeted the town in Syria devastated by the chemical attack, with Russian planes believed to be responsible.

It wasn’t immediately clear who conducted the strikes on Khan Sheikhoun, which was hit on Friday and Saturday, though only Russian and Syrian regime aircraft have been bombing that rebel-held area.
At least four civilians were killed.

Defence Minister Marise Payne said today that the US was keeping Australia informed of developments and had not asked for additional resources, as she again urged Russia to work with the Assad regime to find a solution to the endless conflict.

“I will be meeting with senior members of the coalition again in the coming weeks and we will expect to discuss these activities further,’ she told ABC TV.

Senator Payne said Australia was already contributing significantly in advising and assisting personnel in Iraq.

“I know that is acknowledged by Iraq particularly, by the United States and other members of the coalition.”

The US is vowing to keep up the pressure on Syria after the intense night-time wave of missile strikes from US ships, despite the prospect of escalating Russian ill will that could further inflame one of the world’s most vexing conflicts.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday.

Standing firm, the Trump administration has signalled new sanctions would soon follow the missile attack, and the Pentagon was even probing whether Russia itself was involved in the chemical weapons assault that compelled President Trump to action. The attack against a Syrian air base was the first US assault against the government of al-Assad.

Mr Trump also tweeted an explanation as to why Syrian planes were already able to take off from the air base that was targeted in the US air strikes.

“The reason you don’t generally hit runways is that they are easy and inexpensive to quickly fix (fill in and top)!” he wrote, defending the US targets.

It comes as North Korea said the US missile strikes on Syria were an “intolerable act of aggression” that “proves a million times over” that strengthening its nuclear program was the right choice, state media reported Saturday.

The comments were Pyongyang’s first since Mr Trump ordered the strikes on an air base in the war-wracked country on Thursday.

“The US missile attack against Syria is a clear and intolerable act of aggression against a sovereign state and we strongly condemn it,” KCNA news agency quoted an unnamed spokesman for the North Korean foreign ministry as saying.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watching a military parade. Picture: AFP.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watching a military parade. Picture: AFP.Source:AFP

“The reality of today shows that we must stand against power with power and it proves a million times over that our decision to strengthen our nuclear deterrence has been the right choice.” Analysts had earlier said the strikes contained a clear message for Pyongyang that the US was not afraid to exercise the military option, and there had been speculation as to how the North would respond.

Mr Trump has recently threatened unilateral action against Pyongyang if Beijing fails to help curb its neighbour’s nuclear weapons program.

However, Pyongyang’s response suggested the reclusive state was determined to continue with its nuclear weapons program.

“Swaggering as a superpower, the US has been picking only on countries without nuclear weapons and the Trump administration is no exception,” the foreign ministry spokesman said, according to KCNA.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government said the US was “one step away” from war after Mr Trump’s strike on Syria. Picture: AP.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government said the US was “one step away” from war after Mr Trump’s strike on Syria. Picture: AP.Source:AP

A furious Russia also declared Mr Trump’s strike on Syria put the United States “one step away” from war as it directed a warship towards the two US destroyers that launched Thursday’s missile attack.

The US stood firm behind its retaliatory deployment of 59 Tomahawks on Shayrat Airbase, from where Syrian government forces launched a devastating chemical attack last Tuesday that horrified the world and killed at least 87.

Among those slaughtered were 27 children, and Mr Trump said footage of them struggling to breathe spurred his decision to launch the first military action of his presidency and the first US intervention into Syria’s bloody six year civil war.

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Picture: AP

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Picture: APSource:AP

While Mr Trump’s decisive strike has the support of nations including Saudi Arabia, Australia, Britain and France.

However, Syria and its closest allies Russia and Iran have expressed outrage at the escalation.

But the US doubled down, saying it was investigating whether Russia was involved in the chemical strike as it foreshadowed new economic sanctions against Syria, where fighting has killed more than 400,000 and displaced 11 million people.

“We are prepared to do more, but we hope that will not be necessary,” US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the strikes dealt “a significant blow” to relations between Moscow and Washington. Russia’s deputy ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, told the UN it was a “flagrant violation of international law and an act of aggression” whose “consequences for regional and international security could be extremely serious.”

 

President Donald Trump Delivers Statement on Syria Cruise Missile Strike mp4

And Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev claimed Mr Trump had been “one step away from military clashes with Russia”.

Mr Trump’s show of strength came during one of the most important meetings of his young presidency, as he hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife at the Florida golf resort dubbed the “winter White House”.

The first high stakes summit between the two superpowers was to discuss trade, security in the South China Sea and how to counter the nuclear threat of an increasingly aggressive North Korea.

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency reportedly shows Syrian Armed Forces' chief of staff, Ali Abdullah Ayyoub (C-L), visiting Shayrat airfield. Picture: AFP

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency reportedly shows Syrian Armed Forces’ chief of staff, Ali Abdullah Ayyoub (C-L), visiting Shayrat airfield. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Mr Trump said in a brief appearance before reporters that he and Mr Xi made “tremendous progress” in their first face-to-face talks and that he believe “lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away”.
The missile strike was one of several options considered by Mr Trump and his senior security advisers, who also canvassed targeting the palace of dictator Bashar al-Assad, according to Reuters.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said yesterday the air strikes were the result of a “72-hour evolution”, which marked a reversal of Mr Trump’s previous position, stated as recently as this week, that the US would not interfere in Syria.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter fires a Tomahawk missile at Syria. Picture: US Navy/Getty

The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter fires a Tomahawk missile at Syria. Picture: US Navy/GettySource:Supplied

Syrian media said the strikes on the air base in Homs province — just after 3.30am Friday local time — killed at least seven soldiers.

US officials said at least 20 jets were destroyed, as well as infrastructure.

Within hours, Russia reportedly sent its most advanced Black Sea frigate into the Eastern Mediterranean, towards the destroyers USS Ross and USS Porter.

The Admiral Grigorovich RFS-494 crossed through the Bosphorus Strait from the Black Sea, according to an unnamed US defence official who spoke to Fox News.

Russian news agency TASS said the ship had recently taken part in a joint exercise with Turkish ships and was bound for the Syrian port of Tartus on a routine voyage.

Source : news.com.au

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China to build dam on Brahmaputra river despite concerns raised by India, Bangladesh

China will implement the hydroelectric project downstream of the Yarlung Zangbo River (Brahmaputra River) in 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), said Yan Zhiyong, chairman of Powerchina which is tasked to build it.

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Beijing: In yet provocation amid the ongoing India-China standoff, Beijing is moving ahead with plans to build a hydropower project on Brahmaputra river in Tibet likely to have an impact on lower riparian India and Bangladesh.

The proposal for the same has been made in the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan and is slated to be implemented from next year.

“China will implement the hydroelectric project downstream of the Yarlung Zangbo river in 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and its long-term goals through 2035 made by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China,” said Yan Zhiyong, the chairman of Power Construction Corp of China (Powerchina), tasked with the construction of the project, according to government mouthpiece Global Times.

As expected, the Chinese leadership is viewing the project from a security lens as well.

“The project could serve to maintain water resources and domestic security,” added Yan while speaking about the project at a conference on Thursday.

“There is no parallel in history… it will be a historic opportunity for the Chinese hydropower industry,” Yan told the conference to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of the China Society for Hydropower Engineering.

The 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) and National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 were adopted by Plenum – a key policy body of the Communist Party of China (CPC)- last month.

The details of the project will be released after the formal approval of the same by China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) in early 2021.

Implications for India, Bangladesh

The proposal for building a dam on the Brahmaputra river, which originates in China, has sparked concern in lower riparian states India and Bangladesh. Beijing has downplayed such fears.

As a lower riparian state, India has rights to the waters of the trans-border rivers under international law. The Indian government has earlier expressed its concerns to Beijing and urged it to ensure that the interests of downstream states are not harmed by any activity in upstream areas.
Yan added that the hydropower exploitation of the Yarlung Zangbo River downstream is more than a hydropower project. It is also meaningful for the environment, national security, living standards, energy and international cooperation.

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Diego Maradona’s personal doctor under investigation

The medical psychiatrist and one other person who was in the house when Maradona passed could also be investigated.

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Leopoldo Luque, Diego Maradona’s personal doctor, is under investigation in Argentina over the football legend’s death.He has been named by prosecutors in San Isidro, in Buenos Aires, and the judge has ordered for the doctor’s house and clinic to be searched, with 30 police officers at each site.

There is a suspicion of medical negligence in the final days of Maradona’s life and, therefore, a potential culpable homicide.It has been claimed that Maradona didn’t have the medical permission to leave the clinic where he had surgery for a subdural hematoma earlier in November. But, he did leave on November 11 to return to his home in Tigre, Buenos Aires.

The medical psychiatrist and one other person who was in the house when Maradona passed could also be investigated.

This legal investigation could go on for some time as the prosecutors look to get to the bottom of what exactly happened in the final hours of Maradona’s life.

They’ll look to work out if he had permission to be at home, why there wasn’t a specialist doctor present 24/7, why there wasn’t an ambulance at the house, if he had the right medicine, if the general medical protocols were followed, why there wasn’t a defibrillator in the house and how the final hours were managed.

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Punjabi diaspora worried, shocked over ‘brutality’ against farmers

“Farmers are peacefully protesting over controversial bills that will impact their livelihoods. Water cannons and tear gas, are being used to silence them.”

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Farmers Beaten

Chandigarh, Nov 29: The planned protest against new farm laws and the ‘brutality’ of the security forces by lobbing teargas shells and using water cannons to stop the peaceful march of the farmers towards the national capital has left the diaspora largely from Canada worried and shocked.

They asked the Indian government to engage in an open dialogue with the farmers as their livelihoods are going to be impacted.

Expressing solidarity with the farmers, Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said the reports of peaceful protesters being brutalized were very troubling.

“Many of my constituents have family there and are worried about the safety of their loved ones. Healthy democracies allow peaceful protest. I urge those involved to uphold this fundamental right,” he tweeted on Sunday.

Joining the issue, Sonia Sidhu, MP for Brampton South, Canada, tweeted, “I received many messages from constituents concerned in Brampton South about the situation in India.

“My residents told me how worried they are about the protests of the Punjab farmers. I share their concerns and hope that the situation will be resolved peacefully.”

Joining her counterpart, Ruby Sahota, MP for Brampton (North), said the determination and resilience of the farmers is admirable.

“In a free and just society one should be able to advocate for their cause without the threat of force being used against them. The brutality being faced by the Indian farmers in these images is deplorable,” she said in a tweet.

Joining the cause, Chandigarh-born Rachna Singh, Parliament Secretary of British Columbia, said she was really saddened by the way Punjab farmers are being treated. “This is unacceptable.”

Describing the violence perpetrated by the Indian government against farmers peacefully protesting is appalling, Canada’s New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh tweeted: “I stand in solidarity with the farmers from Punjab and across India — and, I call on the Indian government to engage in peaceful dialogue rather than violence”

He thanked Jack Harris, MP for St. John’s East, for his advocacy.

“We are shocked to see the Indian government’s suppression of farmers protesting new laws which will endanger their livelihood. Instead of using water cannons and tear gas, the Indian government needs to engage in open dialogue with farmers,” said Harris.

“Peaceful protests are fundamental in any democracy, and I urge for the rights of the protestors to be respected,” said Navdeep Bains, MP for Mississauga-Malton.

“Shocking scenes from Delhi,” remarked MP from Britain, Preet Kaur Gill.

“Farmers are peacefully protesting over controversial bills that will impact their livelihoods. Water cannons and tear gas, are being used to silence them.”

Tracing his roots to a farmer family, Indo-Canadian politician Gurratan Singh said the images of police brutality were horrific.

“I come from a family of farmers. I feel the pain and struggle of farmers protesting laws that threaten their livelihoods. The state continues to meet peaceful protestors with violence and brutality,” he tweeted along with the video of his speech made by him in the Ontario Assembly.

“Farmers are the backbone of our society. They feed cities, and right now they are under attack in India. Folks in my riding are concerned about new laws that are passed by the Indian government that are going to hurt the farmers in Punjab, Haryana and others across India.

“That’s why I am asking all the members of this House to come together to stand with farmers against these unjust laws passed by the Indian government, so farmers in India can live with respect and dignity that they deserve,” Gurratan Singh said in his speech.

Standing with farmers in India, Leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party, Andrea Horwath, said: “Everyone deserves to be able to exercise their democratic rights without fear of state-sanctioned violence”.

Canadian MP Tim Uppal posted, “India’s farmers deserve to be heard and respected. This is horrific.”

The farmers are protesting against the farm laws as they feel that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporate entities.

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