Tuesday, May 15, 2012

North Korea Stops Jamming GPS Signals

North Korea appears to have stopped a 16-day campaign to jam GPS signals in the South. "No GPS jamming signals have been detected since Monday," a high-ranking government source here said. "But we're closely monitoring activities in the North."

The signals, which started on April 28, originated from the border city of Kaesong in the North. "We cannot rule out that the jamming will start again, and we are also making preparations in case the North resorts to other provocations," the source said.

South Korean officials believe a meeting on Monday between President Lee Myung-bak and Chinese President Hu Jintao may have prompted the North to halt the jamming signals. Lee and Hu discussed the matter and agreed to exchange information on Pyongyang's activities. Source

Obama issues veto threat against House defense bill

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama threatened on Tuesday to veto a defense policy bill in the House of Representatives that would authorize higher Pentagon spending and tie his hands on national security issues from nuclear arms reductions to handling war detainees.

In a move that set the White House on a collision course with lawmakers in the Republican-led House, the administration warned that the National Defense Authorization Act being debated by the House this week hampers the Pentagon's new defense strategy and infringes on the president's powers as commander.

"If the cumulative effects of the bill impede the ability of the administration to execute the new defense strategy and to properly direct scarce resources, the president's senior advisers would recommend ... that he veto the bill," the White House said in a statement of administration policy.

It was the second time in less than a week that the administration has expressed displeasure over provisions of the measure, which would add nearly $4 billion to Obama's defense-spending request and undo many of the cuts the Pentagon proposed in an effort to meet cost-reduction targets set by Congress.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned at a news conference last Thursday that the House was courting gridlock by trying to increase defense spending to about $554 billion while slashing social programs for the poor and needy in an effort to prevent a new round of defense cuts. Read More

John Travolta 'vindicated' in sex suit

Los Angeles (CNN) -- The withdrawal of one of two massage therapists from a sex battery lawsuit against John Travolta "completely vindicated" the actor, Travolta's lawyer said Tuesday.

The lawyer representing the therapists filed papers Tuesday dropping the client identified as John Doe #1 because he had misstated the date of the alleged incident at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

"We fully expect that my client will similarly be vindicated with respect to Doe #2, as well as with respect to any other person who makes meritless claims against John Travolta," attorney Martin Singer said.

The remaining plaintiff claims Travolta groped him during a massage at an Atlanta hotel last January.

"I can guarantee that John Doe #2 has a truckload of witnesses to back up what he's saying," plaintiff's attorney Okorie Okarocha told CNN Tuesday. Read More

Chen tells U.S. lawmakers of reprisals

Washington (CNN) -- A Chinese human rights activist who ignited an international incident when he escaped house arrest last month told U.S. lawmakers Tuesday that his relatives continue to suffer government reprisals.

"My elder brother was taken away by these thugs without any reasoning and then they came back and started beating up my nephew and they used stakes and violently beat him up," Chen Guangcheng told the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a telephone call from his hospital room in Beijing.

Chen added that his relatives' homes had been broken into and they had been beaten by government thugs.

Chen said his nephew Chen Kegui tried to defend himself and now faces a "totally trumped-up" charge of homicide.

"After my nephew was beaten up, he actually was waiting to surrender himself and the police come back again and violently beat up my sister-in-law," Chen said. Read More

Gunmen raid, destroy villages in Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) -- Machete-wielding gunmen raided several remote villages in northeast Nigeria, killing at least 12 people and wounding 48, the Red Cross said.

The incident took place Sunday, with more than 100 attackers taking part in the overnight raids about 3 a.m., the Red Cross said.

The attacks took place in Adamawa state near the border with Cameroon. Four villages, including Suwa and Bukutto, were razed, according to witnesses, the organization said.

The attacks are believed to be related to a feud between local cattle herders and farmers. At least 2,000 people have fled the area in hopes of avoiding the violence.

There is an immediate need for food, shelter, and other necessities for those displaced by the violence, the Red Cross said. Source

Strauss-Kahn countersues maid for at least $1 million

New York (CNN) -- Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, is filing a countersuit for at least $1 million against the Manhattan maid who accused him of sexual assault.

In court papers filed Monday, he called the accusation "malicious" after it resulted in his imprisonment at New York's Riker's Island, his subsequent house arrest, as well as the loss of his employment at the IMF "and other professional opportunities."

Once considered a leading candidate for the French presidency, Strauss-Kahn resigned as managing director of the IMF soon after his arrest by New York police in May 2011, when he was charged with criminally assaulting Nafissatou Diallo. Read More

Theresa May 'destroying police' warns federation

The home secretary is "on the precipice of destroying" a police service admired throughout the world, she will be warned by rank-and-file officers.

Theresa May is due to face the Police Federation conference in Bournemouth.

It comes as forces in England and Wales are experiencing budget cuts of 20% and in line for some of the most radical reforms for 30 years.

But she is expected to tell officers the government is standing firm and that cuts and reforms are essential.

BBC home affairs correspondent Matt Prodger says that her speech last year was met with silent disdain. Read More

President Barack Obama has $1 million account with JP Morgan, personal wealth of up to $10 million

The presidentï¾’s financial disclosures for 2011, released by the White House, showed he has $500,000 to $1 million in a JPMorgan Chase private client asset management checking account.

The disclosure came as controversy deepened over the bank's $2 billion dollar losses. The US Justice Department has opened an FBI probe into the trading loss, and embattled chief executive Jamie Dimon faced criticism at the company's annual shareholders meeting in Tampa, Florida.

Mr Obama said this week that JPMorgan was "one of the best managed banks there is" despite the loss.

The White House said "neither the president nor the vice president have any conflicts of interest." Read More

US nuclear expert: Iran official linked to past program

(Reuters) - Communications from the 1990s suggest Iran's current foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, had knowledge of a program to procure goods for an alleged clandestine nuclear program when he was head of a university, a U.S. nuclear expert said on Tuesday.

David Albright, founder of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), said among 1,600 telexes and other material he has obtained and is studying was a letter signed by Salehi as head of Sharif University in 1991.

The letter served as an end-user guarantee to a European supplier of materials that could have a dual purpose for use in a nuclear program. Tehran-based Sharif University, however, was acting essentially as a front for Iran's military procurement network, Albright said.

"Salehi knew about or was involved in efforts to create an alleged parallel military nuclear program that is of great interest to the IAEA now," Albright told Reuters, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog.

"And the intention of that program was probably to make nuclear weapons, including producing highly enriched uranium," Albright said. Read More

NATO invites Pakistani president to Chicago summit amid signs Islamabad to reopen supply lines

ISLAMABAD — NATO on Tuesday invited Pakistan’s president to the upcoming Chicago summit on Afghanistan, the strongest sign yet that Islamabad is ready to reopen its western border to U.S. and NATO military supplies heading to the war in the neighboring country.

President Asif Ali Zardari was expected to accept the invitation, a Pakistani official in Washington said.

Pakistan blocked the routes in November after American airstrikes killed 24 of its troops on the Afghan border. The attack sent ties between Washington and Islamabad to new lows, threatening regional cooperation needed for negotiating an end to the Afghan war.

The developments signal something of a rapprochement between the two countries, but tensions are likely to bedevil what has long been a brittle relationship, scarred by mistrust on both sides. Many in Washington believe Pakistan is supporting the Taliban, making the Afghanistan war unwinnable. Read More

Police break up Brisbane tent embassy protest

Hundreds of police have broken up an Aboriginal tent embassy in Brisbane, escorting and sometimes dragging away about 80 protesters from their makeshift camp in Musgrave Park.

Police say about 30 protesters were arrested, with the rest choosing to leave peacefully after officers moved in before dawn today.

For the latest on the protest follow ABC News Online's .

The embassy has been in the South Brisbane park since March but the Brisbane City Council wants the protesters to move to make way for the annual Greek festival held at the site.

All the protesters have been forced out of the park and many are now on the surrounding streets and at a nearby Indigenous community centre. There is still a heavy police presence in the area. Read More

5.2 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH OF TONGA - 16th May 2012

A magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck South of Tonga at a depth of 27.3 km (17 miles), the quake hit at 01:28:21 UTC Wednesday 16th May 2012
The epicenter was 375 km (233 miles) SSW of NUKU`ALOFA, Tonga
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

6.0 Magnitude Earthquake NEW BRITAIN REGION, PAPUA NEW GUINEA - 16th May 2012

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake has struck the New Britain Region, Papua New Guinea at a depth of 154 km (95.7 miles), the quake hit at 00:59:34 UTC Wednesday 16th May 2012
The epicenter was 48 km (29 miles) West of Kimbe, New Britain, Papua New Guinea
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Greece on brink of collapse



As leaders in Athens accepted the need for a new general election to end a national stalemate, the International Monetary Fund said Europe’s leaders should prepare for the possibility of a Greek departure from the single currency.

Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, warned she was “technically prepared for anything” and said the utmost effort must be made to ensure any Greek exit was orderly. The effect was likely to be “quite messy” with risks to growth, trade and financial markets. “It is something that would be extremely expensive and would pose great risks but it is part of options that we must technically consider,” she said.

Raising tensions still further, Germany warned Greek voters that the wrong result in next month’s election will force their country out of the single currency.

Greece’s president warned, perhaps most alarmingly, that its banks risk running out of money, posing a “threat to our national existence”.

The escalating turmoil sharpened fears in financial markets, with European shares and the euro itself falling again. On the stock markets, the Eurostoxx 600 fell 0.7 per cent to a year-low; Germany’s Dax dropped 0.8 per cent and Spain’s Ibex was down 1.6 per cent. In London the FTSE100 slid 0.5 per cent. Following this month’s inconclusive election, Greek parties yesterday failed again to agree a new government. A new election, most likely to be held in mid-June, could see more gains for parties that want to reject the austerity measures that are a condition of international efforts to bail out the debt-crippled state. more

Shahin Najafi an Iranian rapper faces death threats, bounty over song

An Iranian rapper is facing death threats and has a $100,000 bounty on his head for a song that some say insults an Islamic Shiite imam.

Shahin Najafi, who sings in Farsi and lives in Germany, told the German website Qantara that the song "Naghi" is not about a religious figure but about the state of society in Iran.

"The story with 'Naghi' was just a pretext," Najafi said in an interview with Qantara, which the German Foreign Office funds to promote dialogue with the Islamic world.

"For me it is more of an excuse to talk about completely different things. I criticize Iranian society in the song. It seems as though people are just concentrating on the word 'imam,' " Najafi is quoted as saying. Read More