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Dan
 Dan
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16/05/2019 6:21 pm  

Five Israelis killed in deadly attack on Jerusalem Synagogue

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Five Israelis were killed and eight more wounded in a frenzied assault by two Palestinian men on Jewish worshippers praying at a Jerusalem synagogue in the most lethal incident in the city in years.

The two assailants who launched their attack with meat cleavers and a gun during early morning prayers were then killed by police officers in the ensuing gun battle at the scene of the attack.

The deaths occurred as the two men burst into the Bnei Torah synagogue in Har Nof, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of West Jerusalem.

Three of the victims held dual US-Israeli citizenship.

Witnesses including worshippers, residents and a first-aider who entered the synagogue while the attack was continuing, described a chaotic and bloody scene as police and the attackers engaged in a shootout at the building’s entrance.

The attack is bound to ratchet up fears of sustained violence in the city, already on edge amid soaring tensions over a contested holy site.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a militant group, released a statement. The statement did not specify whether the group instructed the two assailants to carry out the attack. Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that runs the Gaza Strip, also praised the attack.

Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, vowed that Israel would “respond harshly” to the attack, describing it as a “cruel murder of Jews who came to pray and were killed by despicable murderers”.

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, said he spoke to Netanyahu after the assault and denounced it as an “act of pure terror and senseless brutality and violence”.

“Innocent people who had come to worship died in the sanctuary of a synagogue,” Kerry said, his voice quavering.

“They were hatcheted, hacked and murdered in that holy place in an act of pure terror and senseless brutality and murder. I call on Palestinians at every single level of leadership to condemn this in the most powerful terms. This violence has no place anywhere, particularly after the discussion that we just had the other day in Amman.”

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the attack, the first time he has done so since a recent spike in deadly violence against Israelis began. He also called for an end to Israeli “provocations” surrounding the sacred site.

Dan

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Richard
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06/07/2019 6:25 pm  

Obama and Blakesley release joint statement on Norwegian Escape disaster

Earlier today we received notification of an explosion onboard the Norwegian Escape in the vicinity of Bermuda while underway from Southampton to Miami. Our most recent communications with the vessel indicate that the crew remains in control and that the vessel has halted in order to commence evacuation procedures in line with established protocol. Based on proximity, the United States dispatched naval vessels to the region in support of rescue operations. The United States task force will be joined by the RAF Lyme Bay, which is currently underway from Bermuda.

The exact cause of this explosion has yet to be determined and will be the subject of a thorough investigation upon the ship reaching harbour. However, we are treating this as a matter of the utmost seriousness. There will be answers. In the meantime, we will be enhancing security and screening of passengers of vessels leaving British ports until we determine the cause of this explosion. Until such a report can be completed, our priority is absolutely the rescue of those onboard the Norwegian Escape and ensuring the security of our people. They, of course, remain in our prayers and they will soon be safely in the care of our men and women in service to our nation.

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Kandler
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31/07/2019 10:21 am  

100 dead in migrant boat capsize

The bodies of up to 100 migrants have been found at sea after a boat carrying refugees from Libya across the Mediterranean sea apparently capsized approximately halfway between Egypt and Crete.

The Italian Navy, which stations a number of destroyers and rescue vessels in the Mediterranean, intercepted a distress call from the unidentified ship at approximately 3am local time, but was unable to reach the stricken vessel in time.

Bodies, some of children as young as two or three years old, have begun to wash up on the coast of Turkey.

The disaster has shocked much of the world, with the United Nations today calling upon the European Union to take 'coordinated action' to step up its naval presence in the treacherous crossing area.

Over 9,000 migrants are estimated to have made the illegal crossing from Africa to Italy in the last month, the majority smuggled across the sea in antiquated and unsafe boats by criminal gangs of people traffickers who often demand exhorbitant payments in exchange for facilitating a highly risky crossing.

A Foreign Office spokesman said that the situation in the Mediterranean was being 'monitored closely,' and that 'the British Government continues to take steps, in partnership with our allies, to target the criminal gangs which put so many lives at risk and to intercept crossings when they occur.'

'We of course are devastated by the loss of life, which stands as a testament to the intense danger faced by migrants who attempt to make this deeply perilous journey.'

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Kandler
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01/08/2019 4:33 pm  

Japan protests after whaler boarded in East China Sea

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Japan has submitted formal protest at the United Nations after a Japanese-flagged fishing vessel, MV Nisshin Maru, was boarded by the Chinese military in the region of the disputed Senkaku islands.

At approximately 3am local time this morning, the Nisshin Maru was approached by a frigate of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy and ordered to adjust its bearing immediately, acceding to an escort back to a Chinese port. According to reporting by CNN, the vessel was warned that it was violating Chinese territorial waters and would be fired upon if it did not comply.

USS George Washington, which was patrolling the Chunxiao gas field approximately 250 miles north of the islands, radioed a warning to the Chinese not to impede or obstruct the Japanese vessel - but at shortly after 3.20, the Nisshin Maru was boarded by Chinese special forces and forced to sail westwards in the direction of mainland China.

The situation has been complicated by the alleged presence of the North Korean small patrol boat, which according to US intelligence sources was acting in support of the Chinese military. Military cooperation between China and North Korea is not a new phenomenon, but its latest manifestation will surely cause concern for the west as the latter country continues its programme of nuclear testing.

The President of the United States has issued a statement appealing for calm, whilst condemning China for what he called a 'reckless and rabid violation of maritime law.' He also announced that the Defence Secretary would 'consider' options for deploying a second carrier strike group to the region, augmenting the USS George Washington and its contingent of destroyers, whilst calling for the release of the Japanese sailors from Chinese custody.

USS George Washington participating in a photo exercise with other U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships at the culmination of ANNUALEX 2008.

USS George Washington alongside ships of the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force.

Japan this morning recalled its ambassador to China and called the incident 'an unparalleled act of coordinated aggression with serious consequences for the stability of the region.'

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Kandler
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14/08/2019 12:14 am  

East Asia states agree steps to counter ChinaIn a meeting in Tokyo attended by the Prime Minister, the foreign ministers of Australia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore and the defence secretary of the United States, the seven nations of the newly formed 'South Pacific / East Asia Security Forum' have agreed a number of steps to address concerns regarding malign Chinese and North Korean activities in the South Pacific and the wider east Asia region.

At a press conference hosted at the Japanese Kokubōshō, the representatives of Australia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States affirmed a rejection of Chinese territorial claims vis-a-vis the disputed Senkaku islands, and declared the inviolability of the principles of freedom of navigation in the east China sea. 

The seven nations have agreed to meet at a summit once annually, to discuss economic, diplomatic, technological and military means by which to continue to oppose Chinese expansion in the region, with next year's summit to be hosted in Wellington. The group also declared the legality of currently recognised exclusive economic zones in the region, dismissing Chinese claims to wide-ranging rights well beyond the Chinese coastline.

Cyber security was also on the agenda, with a new 'Integrated Cyber Warfare Mission' to share work on defensive cyber operations. SPEASF has issued a statement via its newly appointed secretariat indicating that the ultimate aim of such a programme is to establish a 'Cyber Great Wall' preventing increasingly sophisticated Chinese intrusions into secure networks.

On a rota basis, a permanent deployment of frigates, destroyers and aircraft carriers will be maintained in the east China sea, with a rapid reaction force to be established in order to swiftly respond to any transgressions of maritime law. Allied destroyers will conduct bi-monthly transits of the Taiwan Strait, though Taipei was not represented in the talks and is not being described as a partner in the arrangements.

Beijing reacted furiously to the announcements today, with President Xi Jinping describing the assembly of nations as 'an unparalleled threat to the sovereign rights of the Chinese people' and threatening 'swift reprisals to any unwarranted intrusion in our area of interest.'

President Jinping also responded in passing to the recent announcement made by the Conservative party in the UK that it would seek to establish a military presence in Taiwan, describing the proposal as 'insane' and 'the disease of Empire corrupting the world again.'

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