Posts tagged ‘United States’

March 3, 2014

Russian admiral issues ultimatum in Crimea

Russian admiral issues ultimatum in Crimea

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/03/03/ukraine-russia-putin-obama-kerry-hague-eu/5966173/

British Foreign Secretary calls Ukraine standoff the ‘biggest crisis in Europe of the 21st century’

SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine — A Russian admiral issued an ultimatum to Ukraine’s military in Crimea to surrender as Moscow said the crisis can be defused if the country agrees to take back its ousted pro-Moscow president.

The warning came as British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Monday called the standoff in Ukraine the “biggest crisis in Europe of the 21st century.”

In Washington, President Obama said Russia is “on the wrong side of history” by intervening in Ukraine. He said he is considering diplomatic and economic steps to isolate Moscow.

“Over time this will be a costly proposition for Russia, and now’s the time for them to consider whether they can serve their interests in a way that resorts to diplomacy as opposed to force,” Obama said from the Oval Office.

Vladimir Anikin, a Russian defense ministry spokesman in Moscow, dismissed reports of the ultimatum from Russian Black Sea Fleet Commander Aleksandr Vitko as nonsense but refused to elaborate.

Hague, who was speaking to BBC radio from Kiev, said that Russia is now in operational control of Ukraine’s Crimean region and Europe and the United States were discussing what actions to take to reverse the occupation. Military actions was not being contemplated, he said.

Four Russian navy ships in Sevastopol harbor were blocking the Ukrainian anti-submarine warship Ternopil and the command ship Slavutych from leaving the dock, waiting for their commanders’ responses, spokesman Maksim Prauta said.

Vitko, the Russian admiral, was quoted by Russia’s official Interfax news agency as calling on Ukraine forces in Crimea to surrender: “If they do not give up by 5 a.m. tomorrow, there will be a real storm of subdivisions and units of Ukraine’s military forces all over Crimea.”

Ukraine’s interim prime minister in Kiev remained defiant.

“No one will ever give Crimea to anybody,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk said at a press conference Monday reported by the Kyiv Post. “We realize that the Russian Federation has its interests but we address Russia: you have no right to protect your interests by violating ours.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was heading to Kiev in an expression of support for Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested the crisis can be defused if Ukraine’s parliament returned to a Feb. 21 agreement to let president Viktor Yanukovych stay in office until elections in December — an unlikely move, since even members of his own party in Parliament voted to oust Yanukovych.

“Instead of a promised national unity government, a ‘government of the victors’ has been created,” said Lavrov, who insisted Russia was in Crimea only to protect the lives of Russians.

Yanukovych fled to Russia after the agreement when it became clear that an opposition movement would not allow him to remain after he presided over the killing of scores of protesters in Kiev. The parliament voted to oust him and hold new elections sooner.

In East Ukraine outside of Crimea, fears grew that Moscow may move troops further into the country as it solidified its hold on Crimea. Kiev said Russian troops and unidentified defense forces sympathetic to Russia controlled all border crossings of Crimea, a key ferry and the two airports.

Gobal leaders issued a joint statement Monday on the increasingly fraught political situation in Ukraine and as geopolitical fears spread to the global investment community.

“We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and the President of the European Council and President of the European Commission, join together today to condemn the Russian Federation’s clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in contravention of Russia’s obligations under the U.N. Charter and its 1997 basing agreement with Ukraine,” the leaders said in the statement.

The USA and other nations have already suspended preparations for a G-8 summit due to be held in Sochi, Russia, in June.

In a bid to reverse a plunge in the ruble — Russia’s currency — the Bank of Russia hiked its key interest rate to 7% from 5.5% early Monday. Russia’s benchmark Micex index fell as much as 11% and markets across Asia declined sharply. Wall Street is on track to start the week with steep losses.

“Any attempt of Russia to grab Crimea will have no success at all. Give us some time,” Britain’s Hague said in a separate news conference in Kiev on Monday.

“For today, no military options (are) on the table,” he said, adding that what Ukraine urgently needed was economic and political support.

“Real support. Tangible support. And we do believe that our Western partners will provide this support,” he said.

Hague said “the world cannot just allow this to happen.” But he ruled out any military action.

MARKETS REACT: Russia raises rates as market fears accelerate

UKRAINE CRISIS: Kerry heads to Kiev as Ukraine crisis deepens

Earlier in the day Ukraine’s interim prime minister said that he thought that the danger had passed, saying he’d been assured by Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that Russia was not planning a full-scale invasion of Crimea.

“I think we have passed the peak of the crisis in the relations between Ukraine and Russia. My hope is that the words Russian Prime Minister Medvedev said to me that a decision to send troops has not been adopted are true,” Yatseniuk told a meeting of European business leaders in remarks reported by Ukraine’s official Interfax news agency.

Ukraine’s incoming naval commander has announced he has switched allegiance to Crimea’s pro-Russia administration. Viktoria Siumar, deputy secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council in Kiev said Rear Admiral Denis Berezovsky, who Sunday took an oath of allegiance to Crimea’s local administration, was fired and is under investigation for treason.

Ukrainian military officials say no Ukrainian servicemen have switched sides to the self-proclaimed Crimean government and laid down arms, Ukraine’s Interfax reported.

“Today we are facing absolutely massive amount of misinformation from Russian media that Ukrainian servicemen are laying down the arms,” Siumar said.

She said that naval officers in Sevastopol and elsewhere continue to obey orders from Kiev and are not following Berezovsky.

Contributing: Associated Press

January 5, 2014

One Year Anniversary of Lao Civil Society Leader Sombath Somphone’s Disappearance

One Year Anniversary of Lao Civil Society Leader Sombath Somphone’s Disappearance

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2013/12/218730.htm

Press Statement

John Kerry Secretary of State
Washington, DC
December 15, 2013

The United States remains deeply concerned over the fate of Sombath Somphone, one of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s most respected civil society figures, on the one-year anniversary of his abduction.

Sombath was abducted on the evening of December 15, 2012, from a Lao police checkpoint in Vientiane. This deplorable event was recorded on Lao Government surveillance cameras.

Our thoughts are with Sombath’s family, friends, and the countless others in the international community who have been inspired by Sombath’s exemplary leadership and devotion to his country.

We welcome the recent statement by Lao President Choummaly Sayasone that the Lao Government is very concerned about Sombath’s disappearance and would continue its investigation and take all measures necessary to resolve the case. We look forward to learning the results of a full, thorough, and transparent investigation.

The United States values its partnership with Laos on a wide range of issues – including unexploded ordnance removal, health, education, combating trafficking in persons, environment, justice reform, counternarcotics, trade, and the search for our missing in action – and we wish to work constructively with Laos to protect human rights and promote the rule of law.

Laos has taken steps in recent years to become a responsible partner in the community of nations. Sombath’s abduction threatens to undermine those efforts.

We call on the government to take all actions possible to ensure his safe return to his family.


PRN: 2013/1581

January 5, 2014

Kerry on Anniversary of Lao Civil Society Leader’s Disappearance

 

Kerry on Anniversary of Lao Civil Society Leader’s Disappearance

15 December 2013

 Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://translations.state.gov/st/english/texttrans/2013/12/20131215288964.html#axzz2pWxfWAnj

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesperson December 15, 2013 2013/1581

STATEMENT BY SECRETARY KERRY

One Year Anniversary of Lao Civil Society Leader Sombath Somphone’s Disappearance

The United States remains deeply concerned over the fate of Sombath Somphone, one of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s most respected civil society figures, on the one-year anniversary of his abduction.

Sombath was abducted on the evening of December 15, 2012, from a Lao police checkpoint in Vientiane. This deplorable event was recorded on Lao Government surveillance cameras.

Our thoughts are with Sombath’s family, friends, and the countless others in the international community who have been inspired by Sombath’s exemplary leadership and devotion to his country.

We welcome the recent statement by Lao President Choummaly Sayasone that the Lao Government is very concerned about Sombath’s disappearance and would continue its investigation and take all measures necessary to resolve the case. We look forward to learning the results of a full, thorough, and transparent investigation.

The United States values its partnership with Laos on a wide range of issues – including unexploded ordnance removal, health, education, combating trafficking in persons, environment, justice reform, counternarcotics, trade, and the search for our missing in action – and we wish to work constructively with Laos to protect human rights and promote the rule of law.

Laos has taken steps in recent years to become a responsible partner in the community of nations. Sombath’s abduction threatens to undermine those efforts.

We call on the government to take all actions possible to ensure his safe return to his family.

###

Read more: http://translations.state.gov/st/english/texttrans/2013/12/20131215288964.html#ixzz2pWxu5rlY

December 16, 2013

US ‘deeply concerned’ over Laos activist fate

Al Jazeera

US ‘deeply concerned’ over Laos activist fate

Sombath Somphone was abducted from police checkpoint a year ago, but Laos’s government is silent on the matter.

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2013/12/us-deeply-concerned-over-laos-activist-fate-201312165548315982.html

Last updated: 16 Dec 2013 06:56

The United States has said it is “deeply concerned” that the fate of one of Laos’ most prominent social activists is still unknown, one year after he was abducted from a police checkpoint in Vientiane.

The abduction of Sombath Somphone, 61, at a busy traffic junction in the Laotian capital on December 15 last year was recorded on government surveillance cameras.

Despite calls by foreign governments and rights groups for information on Sambath’s disappearance, the Laos communist-led government has maintained almost complete silence on the matter.

“Laos has taken steps in recent years to become a responsible partner in the community of nations. Sombath’s abduction threatens to undermine those efforts,” the US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement on Sunday.

“We call on the government to take all actions possible to ensure his safe return to his family.”

We [US] call on the government [of Laos] to take all actions possible to ensure his [Sombath Somphone’s] safe return to his family,

US State Department

US Ambassador Daniel Clune, who arrived in Vientiane in mid-September, told Al Jazeera that the diplomatic community raised the abduction case with Lao President Choummaly Sayasone following a donor meeting.

“The president said he was very concerned about the disappearance and the government would continue to investigate,” Clune told Al Jazeera from Vientiane. “We take the president at his word. We remain deeply concerned over Sombath’s fate.”

Sunday’s statement said that the US welcomed Choummaly’s “concern”, but that it looks “forward to learning the results of a full, thorough, and transparent investigation”.

The Laos government did not respond to Al Jazeera’s repeated requests for comment. It has previously denied being involved in the community leader’s disappearance.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on Monday, asking the Laos government to immediately disclose the fate of Sombath, calling the official investigation into the disappearance “inadequate”.

“One year since Sombath Somphone ‘disappeared’, the Lao government clearly hopes the world will just forget about what happened to one of its most prominent citizens,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“Foreign donors to the Lao government should make Sombath’s enforced disappearance a priority until he can return home.”

Sombath is the founder and former director of the Participatory Development Training Centre in Laos. He is widely respected in the field of education and development both in Laos and across Asia. As a result of his work, Sombath received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, one of Asia’s top honours, in 2005.

June 7, 2013

Q&A: Ins and outs of the government’s secret surveillance

Q&A: Ins and outs of the government’s secret surveillance

Here are some answers to the how, what and why of the government’s routine access of phone records.

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-secret-surveillance-legal-20130607,0,2617965.story

By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau, June 6, 2013, 4:53 p.m.

A woman uses her phone while walking past a Verizon store in New York. News leaked Wednesday that the U.S. government has been obtaining Verizon’s phone records for years through a secret court order. (Andrew Burton, Getty Images / June 6, 2013)

WASHINGTON — A newly published court order has confirmed what key members of Congress said they had known for years — that the government had routine access to the dialing records for hundreds of millions of phone calls in the United States. The report raised new questions about secret surveillance and unchecked government power.

Q: What information is being obtained?

A: The order called it “metadata” that consisted of telephone numbers and the times and duration of calls, but not the contents of the phones calls or the names and addresses of those who owned the phones.

Q: How does the government get access to this mass of data?

A: Through a court order and by relying on a provision in the USA Patriot Act. It says the government may obtain business records, phone records or other “tangible things” by going to a special court and “showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the tangible things sought are relevant to an authorized investigation.”

Q. Who decides on these requests?

A. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose judges operate in secret. They are appointed by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. It was Judge Roger Vinson from Florida who approved the order for Verizon phone records.

Q. Is it constitutional for the government to secretly obtain the phone records of ordinary Americans?

A. Probably. The 4th Amendment forbids “unreasonable searches” by the government, but the Supreme Court has drawn a sharp distinction between what is truly private and what is not. When people talk on the phone, that is a private conversation, the court said, and it is protected by the Constitution.

So before police can “wiretap” a phone call, they must persuade a judge to give them a search warrant. This requires showing they have “probable cause” to believe a crime is in progress. But in the 1970s, the court said business records, tax records and phone records are not truly private. These records circulate through offices and through the mail. Because such records are not protected under the 4th Amendment, a police official or FBI agent may obtain them by sending an order to a business saying they are needed for an investigation.

Q. Is there any legal limit on what records the government may secretly obtain?

A. That is not clear. Before this week, many had assumed the law limited the government to obtaining records that were only “relevant to an authorized investigation.” These words from the Patriot Act were read to mean officials were tracking certain people because they were suspected of involvement in terrorism.

But Vinson’s order made no mention of an actual investigation. He said Verizon must turn over “all call detail records,” including “local calls … wholly within the United States.” On Capitol Hill, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee said this was “nothing new” and had gone on since at least 2006.

Justice Department lawyers have not explained in public their interpretation of the law. Some outside experts say they must take the view that having access to the entire database of phone calls is “relevant” to investigating terrorism plots.

“This is all about searching for patterns of calls,” said Washington attorney Stewart Baker, a former general counsel for the National Security Agency. He said he had no actual knowledge of the current program, but he said having access to the phone records would allow the NSA to link calls to suspected terrorists, here or abroad.

Q. How has this broad surveillance program remained secret?

A. Because lawmakers in the Senate and House voted to keep it secret from the American people. The Senate defeated amendments in 2010 and 2011 that would have required the Justice Department to explain its view that the law permits the government to secretly obtain all phone records in this country. President Obama and the Supreme Court have helped maintain the secrecy.

Obama’s Justice Department has refused to release its legal explanations of the law. For its part, the high court has tossed out lawsuits from civil libertarians on the grounds that none of them could prove they were secretly wiretapped.

david.savage@latimes.com

Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times

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