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Germany says Islamic terrorism still a threat despite death of bin Laden

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

BERLIN – Germany’s top security official said Friday that the terrorist threat to the country hasn’t decreased and the number of radicals continues to grow, even with the death of Osama bin Laden.

Security officials saw no reason to lower Germany’s threat level following the death of the al-Qaida leader, said Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, presenting the annual report by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency.

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“The Islamist terrorist threat is widely varied and has not concentrated on a single leader of al-Qaida for a long time,” he said.

“We have had a general threat situation in Germany and Europe that has not changed for two years, but there are no concrete dangers.”

The number of people in Germany linked to radical Islamic groups rose to 37,470 in Germany in 2010, up from 36,270 the year before, according to the report from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

Most of those – 31,370 – were connected to Turkish groups, nearly all of them in Milli Gorus, a group whose founder advocates creating an Islamic state in Turkey.

Most worrying was the increase in numbers in “Salafi” groups that espouse an ultraconservative interpretation of Islam and have been especially successful at recruiting young people, said Heinz Fromm, who heads the domestic intelligence agency.

He noted that a 21-year-old Kosovo-born ethnic Albanian Muslim charged with killing two U.S. airmen outside Frankfurt’s airport in March had allegedly been inspired by watching Salafi videos online.

“Not every Salafi is a terrorist but almost every terrorist that we are aware of has had contact with a Salafi,” Fromm said.

McQueen designer shows wild side after winning acclaim with royal wedding dress

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

MILAN – She may have shot to global fame as the designer of the much-admired royal wedding dress, but Sarah Burton hasn’t forgotten the bread-and-butter of the fashion business.

In her first major fashion show since being unveiled as the designer behind Kate Middleton’s nuptial gown, Burton showed her wilder side during the presentation Monday of Alexander McQueen’s menswear collection for next spring and summer.

The line paid tribute to the English rock star, not a small market niche.

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He’s larger-than-life, going for bold and even clashing patterns. But he also has an elegant side, with well-tailored suits in more subdued shades.

Plaid pants were paired with a checked baseball jacket, the patterns clashing but the black-and-white colour schemes in harmony. Horizontal striped sweater went along with pinstriped pants, as though they were always meant to.

And these were not the most attention-seeking rocker moments. Those went to roomy black or red zebra-striped pyjama pants, which could be paired with a red blouson with a sewn-in tie that could actually have been a bow. A long red-and-white striped jacket had something of the Mad Hatter. In fact, it was topped with a white hat graced by a single feather.

For the stage, there were golden thread pinstriped pants. For photo shoots, rockers could don a chest-baring deep V-neck sweater with silky trouser, or a floral tapestry jacket with matching peacock blue pants.

Burton may have been thinking ahead to next summer’s Olympic Games in London – on the mind of a few designers showing in Milan this week – when she added a few pieces in Union Jack red, white and blue, including a cardigan sweater worn over a blue mesh T-shirt.

Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Capt. Atom among DC heroes getting new series amid company’s relaunch

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

PHILADELPHIA – Wonder Woman, Firestorm, Captain Atom and Aquaman are among the DC Comics characters getting new series this year as the publisher relaunches all of its superhero titles in September.

The company is planning 52 separate new series as it retools its major characters and moves to sell digital copies of its comics on the same day that the printed ones are sold in stores.

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The first batch of series includes “Green Arrow,” written by JT Krul and drawn by Dan Jurgens; “Justice League International,” which Jurgens will write and Aaron Lopresti will draw; “Mister Terrific,” from writer Eric Wallace and artist Roger Robinson; “The Fury of Firestorm” by Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone with artist Yildiray Cinar; and “Captain Atom,” by Krul and artist Freddie Williams II.

DC’s chief creative officer, Geoff Johns, will write the new “Aquaman” series, reuniting with artist Ivan Reis. Both worked together on titles about Green Lantern and the epic story arc “Brightest Day.”

Brian Azzarello will write the new “Wonder Woman” with art by Cliff Chiang, and Tony Daniel will handle writing chores for “The Savage Hawkman” with art by Philip Tan.

Francis Manapul will share scripting and illustration duties with Brian Buccellato on the relaunch of “The Flash,” a character Manapul is familiar with having drawn the speedster’s recent 12-issue series. The new series marks Manapul’s debut as a writer.

The anthology title “DC Universe Presents,” with Deadman in the first issue, will focus on multi-issue story arcs featuring different heroes. The first issue starts with a story by Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang.

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Malaysia’s Petronas chief: Oil price too high, should fall to $75-$80 a barrel

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The chief of Malaysia’s national oil company Petronas said Monday that global oil prices are too high and should fall back to between $75 and $80 a barrel.

While demand has surged, Petronas Chief Executive Shamsul Azhar Abbas said there was no real evidence of an oil shortage and that current prices above $100 a barrel appeared largely linked to speculation in crude markets.

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“Given the current state of market fundamentals and the cost environment, I believe prices should remain within the range of $75 to $80 per barrel,” Shamsul told a two-day Asian oil and gas conference.

Oil prices soared from about $70 a barrel last summer to as high as $115 this spring, and currently are hovering above $100. They were driven up by turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, rising demand in developing countries and a weakening U.S. dollar.

The 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which accounts for about 40 per cent of the global crude supply, will discuss Wednesday whether to boost production to help lower prices.

Shamsul said a major long-term challenge would be to meet growing oil demand amid dwindling resources, and that companies would be relying on smaller fields and offshore fields to sustain production.

Meanwhile, Asia’s oil demand has been projected to increase by two-thirds within the next 20 years. At this rate, Asia will have consumed more than 250 billion barrels of oil by then – more than six times its current reserves of about 40 billion barrels, he said.

“There is truly no mistaking that Asia’s dependence on energy imports and investments into other resource-rice regions will grow,” he said.

Boeing says growing Asia, Mideast demand should offset stagnant Europe, US military spending

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

SINGAPORE – Boeing Co. is counting on growing demand in Asia and the Middle East for military aircraft to help offset possible spending cuts in Europe and the U.S., a top company executive said Friday.

Austerity measures to help lower government debt will likely reduce military spending in Europe and leave U.S. expenditures flat for the next several years, said Dennis Muilenberg, chief executive of Boeing’s defence, space and security unit.

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“It’s certainly a challenging environment,” Muilenberg told reporters in Singapore. “Our growth prospects are somewhat muted. We anticipate steady, moderate growth in our defence business.”

Boeing is hoping to boost defence sales outside the U.S. to about 25 per cent of its revenue by 2013, up from 17 per cent last year and 7 per cent in 2006. About half of Boeing’s $64 billion of revenue last year came from defence sales.

South Korea will likely request proposals on a contract for 60 fighter jets during the first quarter of next year, and Boeing plans to bid its F-15 model, Muilenberg said.

Boeing sells a variety of fighter jets, transport planes and attack helicopters to governments in the region including Japan, Singapore, South Korea and India.

“We see strength in all of those markets,” Muilenberg said. “We expect our growth to be driven by Asia and the Middle East.”

“Saudi Arabia is a very important customer for us,” he added. “The interest in the F-15 and the Apache (helicopters) is continuing to move forward robustly.”

Based in Chicago, Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and employs 159,000 people in 70 countries.

Israeli forces on high alert for possible border unrest on anniversary of 1967 Mideast war

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

Thousands of Israeli security forces mobilized for possible border unrest Sunday as Palestinians marked the anniversary of the Arab defeat in the 1967 Mideast war and Israel’s occupation of Arab land.

Borders with Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were quiet on Sunday morning. In Gaza, security forces from the ruling Hamas movement were keeping hundreds of protesters from approaching the border with Israel at two potential flashpoints.

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Over the weekend, Palestinians in Syria and Lebanon cancelled plans to march to their frontiers with Israel.

Israel wasn’t taking any chances after thousands of Arab protesters surged to Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank last month on another key anniversary, Israel’s 1948 creation. Hundreds breached a porous border fence at the time and entered a border village in the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967.

Fifteen people died in border clashes with Israeli and possibly Lebanese security forces.

Since that May 15 confrontation, Israel has fortified its northern frontier with trenches and land mines.

The military wouldn’t release troop deployment details Sunday. Soldiers stationed along the border fence said the northern Golan had been declared a closed military zone.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said thousands of officers were mobilized across the country in anticipation of possible disturbances, with an emphasis on the north and Jerusalem.

Israel also seized east Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, and Gaza from Egypt, in the six-day war in 1967. Palestinians want all three territories for their future state.

Malaysia’s Najib says Asia shouldn’t have to choose between US and China

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

SINGAPORE – Asian countries shouldn’t have to choose between being allies of the U.S. or China and must avoid another Cold War-style polarization in the region, Malaysia’s prime minister said Friday.

Asia should foster co-operation between the U.S., the world’s military superpower, and emerging power China in order to tackle regional security problems such as human trafficking, terrorism, drug smuggling and nuclear proliferation, Najib Razak said in Singapore at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security conference.

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“China is our partner and the U.S. is also our partner,” Najib said in a speech. “It’s not about taking sides.”

“We must replace the old bilateralism of the Cold War, not with a new bilateralism, but with a multilateralism that can rise to the task ahead.”

U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates met Friday in Singapore with his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Liang Guanglie, amid recent signs of warming relations between the two countries.

China’s army chief of staff met with top U.S. military officials last month in Washington, and China for the first time chose to send its defence minister to the Singapore conference, now in its 10th year.

Gates will deliver a speech Saturday while Liang will address the conference Sunday.

“We face a new set of asymmetric and non-traditional security challenges that cannot be resolved in isolation or through the old security structures of the past,” Najib said. “We must meet these challenges comprehensively and with no option off the table.”

Najib also called on Southeast Asian trade pact ASEAN to develop a new rapid response team that can provide assistance when humanitarian disasters strike the region.

:China dispatches patrol boat to Singapore amid spike in South China Sea tensionsRead it on Global News: Global News:China dispatches patrol boat to Singapore

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

 

BEIJING – China has dispatched one of its largest maritime patrol ships on a
first-ever visit to the Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore amid a spike in
tensions over disputed territory in the South China Sea.

The Haixun-31 left Wednesday and will stay in Singapore for two weeks of
exchanges on search and rescue, anti-piracy and port management operations,

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Chinese state media reported Thursday.

Similar ships have been accused of harassing foreign shipping in the South
China Sea, including U.S. Navy surveillance vessels.

China, Vietnam and the Philippines have traded diplomatic barbs recently over
claims to the resource-rich South China Sea and its island groups. Vietnam’s
navy conducted live-firing exercises Monday after accusing Chinese boats of
disrupting oil and gas exploration in its waters.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news conference
Friday that the U.S. understood the Chinese ship was making a “routine, planned
visit” to Singapore. She reiterated that the South China Sea disputes should be
resolved through negotiations.

The 3,000-ton, helicopter-equipped Haixun-31 is one of two vessels of that
size belonging to the Maritime Safety Administration, one of five nominally
civilian agencies tasked with overseeing China’s interests at sea. All of those
departments are undergoing major expansions as Beijing moves to assert its
territorial claims and economic interests in both the South China Sea and the
East China Sea, where it has territorial disputes with Japan and
Taiwan.

Flash mob attacks in Philadelphia leave 4 in hospital

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

PHILADELPHIA — Four people, including an off-duty police detective and his wife, were taken to a hospital after a “flash mob” attack by some among a crowd of juveniles in downtown Philadelphia, police said.

Police said a large crowd of juveniles were at 16th and Walnut streets, a popular spot for dining and shopping, at about 6 p.m. Saturday when some people began randomly assaulting people on the street.

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A 55-year-old off-duty police detective saw a 20-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman being assaulted and tried to arrest one of the offenders. He was punched from behind by several people, police said.

READ MORE: Six masked men enter Dartmouth home, assault homeowners

The detective’s 53-year-old wife splashed water on the offenders to try to stop them from attacking her husband, and she was punched in the face, police said. All of the offenders then fled.

One of the five people assaulted there declined medical treatment, but the other five were taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for treatment. The police detective had an orbital fracture to his right eye while the others had minor injuries.

Immediately afterward, there was another assault by several juveniles nearby, and two 16-year-old youths were arrested, police said. The victim had minor injuries and didn’t seek medical attention.

One man told WPVI-TV that he feared for his safety when the large group of teens appeared, and he saw other people running into nearby stores to escape.

“It’s crazy out here,” said Dwight Magood. “I don’t know if they were trying to protest or ‘flash mobbing.’ But it’s not the right way to do it, whatever it was.”

Chris Rock makes ‘SNL’ cameo to mock white liberals shocked by Donald Trump’s win

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

Chris Rock returned to Saturday Night Live to mock white liberals shocked by Donald Trump’s victory.

In the skit, he and host Dave Chappelle watch the election unfold with their friends, who started out confident in Democrat Hillary Clinton’s victory.

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When someone starts out claiming “this is going to be a historic night, we’re about to have our first woman president,” Chappelle is quick to point out: “Don’t forget, it’s a big country.”

READ MORE: Dave Chappelle wishes President-elect Donald Trump luck in ‘SNL’ monologue

The two of them sit back and watch as the liberals seem confused as they slowly realize Trump will become president.

“Oh my God, I think America is racist,” one person said.

Chappelle replied: “I remember my great-grandfather told me something like that. He was like a slave or something.”

Throughout the election the comedy show has brought levity to the contentious election season, and it ended with a stunning tribute from SNL regular Kate McKinnon.

WATCH: Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton performs Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah‘ 

Dressed as Hillary Clinton, she sang Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, less than a week after he passed away.

At the end of the song, she turned to the camera and said “I’m not giving up and neither should you.”

Chappelle hosted the show, and wished Trump well in the coming years, but reminded him that he should remember to give the “historically disenfranchised” a chance.

WATCH: Dave Chappelle wishes Trump luck, says he’s willing to give him a chance

*with a file from The Associated Press