Showing posts with label News in america. Show all posts
Showing posts with label News in america. Show all posts

6.5 magnitude earthquake hits southern Guatemala and El Salvador

12:19 PM
A strong 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck the territories of southern Guatemala and El Salvador Friday, US seismologists said, though officials said there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. The US Geological Survey said the quake struck just six kilometers from Pajapita, 

Guatemala at a depth 67.7 kilometers (42 miles) at 0013 GMT.
The Environmental Observatory in San Salvador said the quake was centered on the coast of Guatemala and Mexico, measuring its strength slightly lower at 6.3 on the Richter scale.

A second quake measuring 5.5 in magnitude occurred seven minutes later, according to the Observatory, with its epicenter in the Pacific waters of Guatemala.

"We have no reports of any damage," so far, Jorge Melendez, El Salvador's director of civil protection said on national radio.

The USGS said in its bulletin on the first quake that it was just 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of Suchiate, a municipality in the Mexican state of Chiapas, on the border with Guatemala.

Pakistan - Commander of Haqqani militant killed in US drone

10:59 PM
BBC -  A senior commander of the powerful Haqqani militant network has been killed in a US drone strike in north-west Pakistan, officials say.

anti-drone protests in Pakistan
Anti-drone protests in Pakistan
Sangeen Zadran, named on US and UN blacklists, was among five killed when missiles were fired at a house in North Waziristan, near the Afghan border.

The Haqqani group are known for carrying out attacks in Afghanistan.

The Taliban told the AP news agency he was still alive. But other reports said his funeral had taken place.

Officials told the BBC that the militant's funeral had been held in the regional capital of Miranshah and was attended by many.

He also held the position of "shadow governor " of the Afghan province of Paktika, and reports say the Taliban nominated his brother, Bilal Zadran, to replace him in that post.

Experts say the 45-year-old was viewed as a senior militant leader in both countries and that he is a big loss to the Haqqani group although not irreplaceable.

In 2011, the US state department added him to its list of specially designated global terrorists, claiming he orchestrated the kidnappings of Afghans and foreigners in the rugged and violent border area.

He has also been identified as the man who kidnapped a US soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, four years ago - the only known American soldier currently held by Afghan insurgents.

The US has blamed the Haqqani network for a series of high-profile attacks in the border regions in recent years.

'Extrajudicial killings'
Pakistan's foreign ministry condemned Friday's drone strike as a violation of its sovereignty.

This was the second strike in a week, and the attacks caused the loss of innocent civilian lives and continued to affect US-Pakistan relations, the ministry added.

There have been fewer strikes in recent years, but Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has demanded an end to all attacks.

The Haqqani network has been described by US military commanders as one of the most resilient militant groups operating in Afghanistan.

It is believed to be based in Pakistan along the volatile and porous border and regularly attacks US forces in Afghanistan from its mountain bases in Pakistan.

Mr Sharif has called for a joint strategy to stop US drone strikes.

The issue is hugely controversial in Pakistan, where parts of the government and military have often been accused of criticising the use of drones in public, but co-operating in private.

It is estimated that between 2004 and 2013, CIA drone attacks in Pakistan killed up to 3,460 people - although this figure will not include the very latest strikes.

About 890 of them were civilians and the vast majority of strikes were carried out by the Obama administration, research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism said.

Earlier this year, Mr Obama called the strikes part of a legitimate campaign against terrorism, but he also pledged more programme transparency and stricter targeting rules.

U.S warns citizens of al-Qaeda

10:47 AM
The U.S. State Department issued a worldwide travel alert warning citizens of potential terror attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia by al-Qaeda or its affiliates.
“Current information suggests that al-Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August,” the department said yesterday. The U.S. will close 21 embassies and consulates in those regions this weekend as a precaution.
The information includes communications among known terrorists intercepted by the National Security Agency in the past 10 days, according to two U.S. officials who asked not to be identified discussing classified intelligence matters. They declined to offer specifics on the exchanges, although they called the content credible and disturbing.

U.S warns citizens of al-Qaeda
The primary focus is on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a terrorist group based in Yemen and a remote part of Saudi Arabia, according to Representative Peter King and the two U.S. officials.
King, a New York Republican, yesterday called the threat intelligence “the most specific I’ve seen” since the attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001.
“It is coming out of Yemen, and it is al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” King said on CNN. “There is a plot, the attacks are planned, but it’s not certain as to where.”
Embassies Closed
Attacks are seen potentially occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula, according to the State Department warning, and “may involve public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure.”
The U.S. embassies and consulates scheduled to be closed this weekend are in the Mideast, North Africa and South Asia, including in Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Afghanistan, according to a list posted on the department’s website.
“The Department of State has instructed certain U.S. embassies and consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations on Sunday,” spokeswoman Marie Harf said Aug. 1.
The U.K. Foreign Office said yesterday on its Twitter Inc. feed that its embassy in Yemen will be closed Aug. 4-5, with some staff being temporarily withdrawn. It said embassies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Bahrain will be open tomorrow, though employees are advised to be extra-vigilant.
Warning Warranted
The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Representative C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger of Maryland, said the information coming in to security officials warranted a broad warning to citizens.
“We got intelligence, and not just the normal chitchat, that there could be an attack on Americans or our allies,” Ruppersberger told reporters at the U.S. Capitol. “Putting it out there, that also gives notice to the people that are planning it: We know something’s out there.”
Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “there is a significant threat stream, and we’re reacting to it.” In excerpts released from an interview to air on ABC’s “This Week” program this weekend, Dempsey said the threat is “more specific” than previous ones.
“The intent is to attack Western, not just U.S., interests,” he said.
U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for military operations in the Middle East, yesterday declined to comment on whether any troops have been moved or placed on higher alert in response to the latest terrorist threat warning.
Military Posture
“As a matter of policy, we do not discuss specific force protection measures or changes,” said Major Ian Phillips, a spokesman at command headquarters in Tampa, Florida.
Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL), US Airways Group Inc. and AMR Corp.’s American Airlines are monitoring the travel situation and haven’t issued waivers letting passengers rebook flights without paying fees, spokesmen said. United Airlines, a unit of United Continental Holdings Inc., declined to comment.
It’s always possible that the intelligence on the planned attacks is intentionally misleading in an attempt to divert attention and security from the location, timing or nature of an actual plot, cautioned one of the U.S. officials, who called the intelligence credible but not ironclad.
Intelligence officials and lawmakers didn’t specify whether information about the threats came to light through an informer or through electronic surveillance. The warning surfaced as President Barack Obama’s administration argues that National Security Agency surveillance programs are essential to fight terrorist threats. Top-secret documents disclosed by former contractor Edward Snowden showed the surveillance is much more extensive than previously known.
Kidnapping Strategy
Newly discovered 2011 papers suggest that for several years the Yemeni terrorist group has been considering taking hostages in an effort to stop attacks on it by unmanned U.S. aircraft.
Documents purportedly from al-Qaeda fighters in Mali and obtained by the Associated Press outline a strategy of kidnapping “in exchange for the drone strategy.”
Kidnappings would “bring back the pressure of the American public opinion in a more active way” against drone strikes, according to the papers, which the New York-based news service translated from Arabic. The document is focused on Yemen.
The State Department warning came days after al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri urged his followers in a speech posted on jihadist websites to attack U.S. sites as a response to American drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terror groups.
Drone Strikes
U.S. pilotless aircraft have carried out three attacks in the last five days in the remote area that spans eastern Yemen and Saudi Arabia and is the homeland of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed by American forces in Pakistan in 2011. The area is controlled by AQAP, and the strikes killed at least five suspected terrorists, said one U.S. official.
In all, the U.S. has conducted almost 50 such strikes in Yemen since the beginning of 2012, killing some of the group’s leaders, including its deputy emir, Said al-Shihri, whose death the group acknowledged in a video last month. The American-born cleric and propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a drone strike in Yemen in September 2011.
Both U.S. officials said the strikes have been carried out with the tacit approval of the Yemeni government, which AQAP wants to overthrow. Obama met at the White House this week with Yemen’s President Abdurabu Mansur Hadi, and both praised their nations’ cooperation in fighting terrorism.
The announcement that embassies will be closed this weekend also came after terrorist groups freed hundreds of prisoners in several countries.
Prison Escape
On July 22, more than 500 prisoners, including senior al-Qaeda figures, escaped from Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. On July 27, more than 1,000 detainees escaped from detention in Benghazi. A July 30 Taliban attack on a prison facility in northwest Pakistan freed more than 250 prisoners.
Harf also pointed reporters to a “Worldwide Caution” the department issued in February of this year warning Americans that “current information suggests that al-Qaeda, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions.”
That caution said that security threat levels remain high in Yemen and that Iraq is “dangerous and unpredictable.” It also said al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is active in Algeria, has attacked Westerners near the borders with Mali and Libya, and has claimed responsibility for kidnapping and killing of Westerners throughout the region.
Security Pledge
The State Department pledged to increase security at embassies and consulates after the attack on a U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, led to the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The Central Intelligence Agency said it had repeatedly warned the State Department of terrorist threats in Benghazi before the attack, according to e-mails released later by the White House.
The significance of Aug. 4 as a day to close embassies wasn’t spelled out by the State Department, leaving room for speculation about possibilities. Tomorrow is Obama’s birthday, and it’s also a holy day on the Muslim calendar because it falls in the final 10 days of Ramadan, the month of fasting.
This evening may be considered the holiest because this year it’s Laylat al Qadr, or the Night of Power, when Muslims believe their holy book the Koran was revealed to the prophet Mohammed.
While Muslims observe the evening with prayer, good works, and spiritual retreats, an extreme fringe could interpret it differently, said Mohammed Mattar, a senior research professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.
“Maybe they would be interpreting an act of terror as an act of Jihad,” or Holy War, Mattar said in a telephone interview.

US not a broker between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue

12:33 PM
US is not seeking to act as a broker between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue said an official as Secretary of State, John Kerry is expected to bring up the Kashmir issue during his talks with Pakistan.

India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue

"We are in no way seeking to broker any sort of conversation on Kashmir between India and Pakistan, though US is supportive of the moves that both the countries have made to normalise the relations," an official travelling with Kerry to Pakistan said yesterday.

He added that great strides on economic front in the last few years have really paved the way for better and more constructive talks on the political side.

"During his June trip to India, Kerry has urged both India and Pakistan to continue the process of facilitation, while asked Pakistan to do things like providing most favoured nation (MFN) status to India," he said.

He added that Sharif Government has already began the process of reaching out to India and with good cooperation from Indian side relations between both the countries will normalise.

Bradley Manning guilty in Wikileaks case

11:24 AM
US Army Private Bradley Manning was acquitted of aiding the enemy — the most serious charge he faced — but was convicted of espionage, theft and other charges on Tuesday, more than three years after he spilled secrets to WikiLeaks.

Bradley Manning guilty in Wikileaks case
Bradley Manning guilty in Wikileaks case
The judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, deliberated for about 16 hours over three days before reaching her decision in a case that drew worldwide attention as supporters hailed Manning as a whistleblower. The US government called him an anarchist computer hacker and attention-seeking traitor.

Manning stood at attention, flanked by his attorneys, as the judge read her verdicts. He appeared not to react, though his attorney, David Coombs, smiled faintly when he heard not guilty on aiding the enemy, which carried a potential life sentence.

When the judge was done, Coombs put his hand on Manning's back and whispered something to him, eliciting a slight smile on the soldier's face.

Manning was convicted on 19 of 21 charges and faces up to 128 years in prison. His sentencing hearing begins on Wednesday.

Coombs came outside the court to a round of applause and shouts of "thank you" from a few dozen Manning supporters.

"We won the battle, now we need to go win the war," Coombs said of the sentencing phase. "Today is a good day, but Bradley is by no means out of the fire."

Supporters thanked him for his work. One slipped him a private note. Others asked questions about verdicts that they didn't understand.

Manning's court-martial was unusual because he acknowledged giving the anti-secrecy website more than 700,000 battlefield reports and diplomatic cables, and video of a 2007 US helicopter attack that killed civilians in Iraq, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver. In the footage, airmen laughed and called targets "dead bastards."

Manning pleaded guilty earlier this year to lesser offenses that could have brought him 20 years behind bars, yet the government continued to pursue the original, more serious charges.

Manning said during a pre-trial hearing in February he leaked the material to expose the U.S military's "bloodlust" and disregard for human life, and what he considered American diplomatic deceit. He said he chose information he believed would not the harm the United States and he wanted to start a debate on military and foreign policy. He did not testify at his court-martial.

Coombs portrayed Manning as a "young, naive but good-intentioned" soldier who was in emotional turmoil, partly because he was a gay service member at a time when homosexuals were barred from serving openly in the US military.

He said Manning could have sold the information or given it directly to the enemy, but he gave them to WikiLeaks in an attempt to "spark reform" and provoke debate. A counterintelligence witness valued the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs at about $5.7 million.

Coombs said Manning had no way of knowing whether al-Qaida would access the secret-spilling website and a 2008 counterintelligence report showed the government itself didn't know much about the site.

The defense attorney also mocked the testimony of a former supervisor who said Manning told her the American flag meant nothing to him and she suspected before they deployed to Iraq that Manning was a spy. Coombs noted she had not written up a report on Manning's alleged disloyalty, though had written ones on him taking too many smoke breaks and drinking too much coffee.

The government said Manning had sophisticated security training and broke signed agreements to protect the secrets. He even had to give a presentation on operational security during his training after he got in trouble for posting a YouTube video about what he was learning.

The lead prosecutor, Maj. Ashden Fein, said Manning knew the material would be seen by al-Qaida, a key point prosecutor needed to prove to get an aiding the enemy conviction. Even Osama bin Laden had some of the digital files at his compound when he was killed.

Some of Manning's supporters attended nearly every day of two-month trial, many of them protesting outside the Fort Meade gates each day before the court-martial. They wore T-shirts with the word "truth" on them, blogged, tweeted and raised money for Manning's defense. One supporter was banned from the trial because the judge said he made online threats.

Hours before the verdict, about two dozen demonstrators gathered outside the gates of the military post, proclaiming their admiration for Manning.

"He wasn't trying to aid the enemy. He was trying to give people the information they need so they can hold their government accountable," said Barbara Bridges, of Baltimore.

The court-martial unfolded as another low-level intelligence worker, Edward Snowden, revealed US secrets about surveillance programs. Snowden, a civilian employee, told The Guardian his motives were similar to Manning's, but he said his leaks were more selective.

Manning's supporters believed a conviction for aiding the enemy would have a chilling effect on leakers who want to expose wrongdoing by giving information to websites and the media.

Before Snowden, Manning's case was the most high-profile espionage prosecution for the Obama administration, which has been criticized for its crackdown on leakers.

The WikiLeaks case is by far the most voluminous release of classified material in US history. Manning's supporters included Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, who in the early 1970s spilled a secret Defense Department history of US involvement in Vietnam.

The 7,000 pages of the Pentagon Papers showed that the US government repeatedly misled the public about the Vietnam War.

The material WikiLeaks began publishing in 2010 documented complaints of abuses against Iraqi detainees, a US tally of civilian deaths in Iraq, and America's weak support for the government of Tunisia — a disclosure that Manning supporters said helped trigger the Middle Eastern pro-democracy uprisings known as the Arab Spring.

The Obama administration said the release threatened to expose valuable military and diplomatic sources and strained America's relations with other governments.

Prosecutors said during the trial Manning relied on WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange for guidance on what secrets to "harvest" for the organization, starting within weeks of his arrival in Iraq in late 2009.

Federal authorities are looking into whether Assange can be prosecuted. He has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex-crimes allegations.

Source: timesofindia

Angelina Jolie highest paid actress in Holywood

11:34 AM
Los Angeles, Jul 30 (PTI) Angelina Jolie returns to the top of the Forbes' highest paid actress list after a three year break since her last big-budget movie "The Tourist".

Angelina Jolie highest paid actress in Holywood

Jolie, 38, who opted a double mastectomy early this year after finding out that she was a carrier of the BRCA1 gene, has estimated earnings of USD 33 million between June 2012 and June 2013, reported Forbes magazine.


Facebook hashtags don't work

8:27 PM
NEW YORK: This ain't Twitter, hashtags don't work here! 

Using hashtags in Facebook posts may be a fun strategy for companies trying to grab the attention of consumers, however, it doesn't appear to be paying off, a new study has claimed. 

Facebook hashtags don't work
Facebook hashtags don't work
The study by a social media analytics firm showed that although 20 per cent of Facebook posts among top brands now include hashtags, however, there is no evidence that such tactics is influencing their engagement. 

Hashtags provide users a way to group messages of similar content. 

Researchers show that posts using the newly introduced hashtags perform only as well as those without it, suggesting that users are not yet finding brand posts by their tags. 

The study showed that visual content is by far the primary driver for engagement on Facebook. 

Pictures posted by top brands average more than 9,400 engagements, which includes likes, comments and shares, per post, while videos average more than 2,500, 'BusinessNewsDaily' reported. 

Researchers said when it comes to text posts, brands must walk a fine line. 

Analysis of more than 500 status updates from the top brands shows that the longer a status update is, the less engagement it typically receives. 

However, if a status update is too short -- less than 50 characters -- it may not be long enough to capture viewers' attention or provide the necessary context to drive the number of likes, shares and comments a company would like. 

"For most brands, Facebook is no longer just a network; it has become the hub of their social marketing efforts and one of the most effective ways to engage with fans," said Adam Schoenfeld, CEO of the firm Simply Measured. 

Source : economictimes

MIAMI, Florida: Six people shot to death in a shootout

10:23 PM
MIAMI, Florida: Six people were shot to death in a shootout in an apartment building near the US city of Miami that ended early Saturday when police killed the suspect, police said. 

MIAMI, Florida: Six people shot to death in a shootout

Authorities said there was gunfire on several floors of the Hialeah building before the suspect decided to hunker down in an apartment, taking the couple inside hostage. 

His motive was not immediately known, police spokesman Sergeant Eddie Rodriguez said, adding "six innocent people died and also the suspect who initiated this situation." 

Rodriguez said the incident began at 6:30 pm Friday and ended at 2:30 am Saturday when a police SWAT team moved into the building and into the apartment where the suspect was holed up. 

"The pair of hostages did not know the suspect and tried for hours to negotiate with him to surrender," Rodriguez said, adding when the suspect continued to refuse, "police had to act." 

The two hostages, a man and a woman, were uninjured. But among the dead were an elderly couple identified by their daughter as Colombians Italo and Samira Pisciotti. Rodriguez said they were the building's landlords. 

Shamira Pisciotti said her parents had gone "to see a tenant who made a complaint, and it seems there was an altercation. 

"The person started shooting," she told Spanish-language news channel Univision. 

"I saw my mama. She died the moment she was shot," Pisciotti said, adding she heard 15 to 20 shots in total. 

Authorities are still working to identify the rest of the victims. 

The building in the mainly Cuban-populated city of Hialeah housed around 90 families. It is not yet confirmed whether the suspect lived there. 

Florida has the most permissive gun laws in the United States, and, according to a state report, in December 2012, the state had more than a million permits to carry concealed weapons.
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