Archives
  • iStock/Thinkstock(RIYADH) -- Eleven Saudi princes were arrested by authorities after they held a protest over utility bills, according to Saudi media.
    Read more...
  • Drew Angerer/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley offered fierce criticism of Iran at the Security Council Friday afternoon, blasting the regime for ignoring its own people and instead spreading “conflict and instability far and wide.”“The Iranian regime is now on notice. The world will be watching what you do,” Haley said.The strong words come as Iran continues to blame the U.S. for fomenting the protests amid the Trump administration's tougher line on the country — from President Donald Trump's refusal to certify Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal to a couple waves of sanctions on Iranian officials over Iran's ballistic missile program and human rights abuses.Less than a year ago Trump's then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn also put Iran “on notice” for “Tehran’s malign actions—including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms,” he said on February 1, 2017.With Iran's representative to the U.N. body positioned mere feet away, Haley dismissed the regime's “dishonest attempt to call the protesters puppets of foreign powers” and emphasized that the protests are a “spontaneous expression of fundamental human rights,” with Iranians “acting of their own will on their own behalf for their own future.”The Iranian government accused the CIA of orchestrating the protests, according to state-run media, with intelligence support from Israel and financial backing from Saudi Arabia, Iran's two greatest regional enemies.Protests have rocked the Middle Eastern country for over eight days now, hitting 79 cities or towns in total, according to Haley. They are the largest protests since the disputed presidential election in 2009 — a revolt against a stagnant economy, money spent abroad, and a corrupt government, according to protesters.The Iranian government has responded with a firm hand, arresting hundreds. Multiple deaths have been reported as state-run media have instead showcased a wave of pro-government protests and repeatedly played nationalistic songs.In particular, Haley said the U.S. calls on Iran’s government to stop censoring social media outlets and to restore Internet access –- and on the international community to “do more” than issue statements of support, saying, “We cannot allow” the ongoing crackdown on protesters “to happen.”The Trump administration announced new sanctions against four Iranian entities Thursday for their involvement in the ballistic missile program — but tried to tie the announcement to the protests as well.“These sanctions target key entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, which the Iranian regime prioritizes over the economic well-being of the Iranian people,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement with the announcement. “As the Iranian people suffer, their government and the IRGC fund foreign militants, terrorist groups, and human rights abuses.”It's unclear if the U.S. is preparing for any actual actions against the Iranian government for their crackdown on the protests, either at the U.N. or unilaterally. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that more sanctions “will be coming” in an interview with CNN.Haley was one of the only representatives to issue such a full-throated statement of condemnation of the regime. While allies like the United Kingdom and France censured the government as well, they also went out of their way to note Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal — and called on “all parties” to uphold their commitments to it.That was a warning as much for the U.S. as Iran.America’s antagonists on the Security Council had harsh words for why the session was even called, arguing the issue is not one of international security, but ra
    Read more...
  • U.S. Air Force(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Air Forces Europe has released previously unseen video of two intercepts of Russian fighters that occurred last fall over the Baltic.The videos were released as part of an effort to highlight the U.S. military’s participation in the NATO Air Policing mission in the Baltics.The U.S. is among the NATO member countries that routinely rotate aircraft and personnel to the Baltic countries on short deployments.Their mission is to be ready to intercept Russian aircraft that fly into the airspace around the Baltic Sea without filing a flight plan, don’t communicate civilian air traffic controllers or don’t turn on the transponders that identify them as belonging to the Russian military.“Such aircraft create unsafe environments including air-to-air mishaps or these actions may indicate hostile acts such as hijackings,” says a factsheet about the mission posted on a NATO website. “Air Policing responses seek to ensure the safety of the airspace and its users.”For the last four months the 493rd Fighter Squadron has been in Lithuania leading the NATO policing mission and conducted about 30 intercepts of Russian aircraft.The videos shows two intercepts of Russian fighters on November 23 and December 13 that occurred in the international airspace above the Baltic Sea. In each case two F-15's intercepted two RussianA U.S. Air Forces Europe press release says both intercepts were initiated "because the Russian aircraft did not broadcast the appropriate codes required by air traffic control and had no flight plan on file."Lt. Col. Cody Blake, the commander of the 493rd squadron says the intercepts “don't happen on a day to day basis but it is a routine thing." adding "they're always conducted in a safe and professional manner." Blake said the intercepts ensure the sovereignty of the airspace of Baltic countries.U.S. military and defense officials regularly state that the majority of air encounters with Russian aircraft are safe and professional, however it is the “unsafe and unprofessional” encounters that make the news.In those cases it’s less about how close the aircraft come to each other than the flight behavior demonstrated by Russian pilots towards American aircraft.The Air Force’s video release also includes behind the scenes footage shot in 2014 that shows quickly putting on their gear on short notice to scramble for an intercept.
    Read more...
  • Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump ignited a new war of the words Tuesday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the size of his purported "nuclear button."Trump tweeted, "North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the 'Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.' Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"The president's tweet came after the rogue leader said in a New Year's address, "the button for nuclear weapons is on my table," and that he could use it to launch an attack on the entire United States.
    Read more...
  • Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images(TORONTO) -- Former Taliban hostage Joshua Boyle was charged Monday in Canada with 15 criminal offenses including multiple allegations of assault since he arrived home with his American wife and three children in October following five years of captivity in Pakistan.Boyle, 34, appeared in a hearing in Ottawa's criminal court on New Year's Day, court records show. He was denied immediate release and his next hearing will be Wednesday, according to a family member.Boyle’s American wife, Caitlan Coleman Boyle, said in a statement, "I can’t speak about the specific charges, but I can say that ultimately it is the strain and trauma he was forced to endure for so many years and the effects that that had on his mental state that is most culpable for this.“Obviously, he is responsible for his own actions,” she wrote in the statement, “but it is with compassion and forgiveness that I say I hope help and healing can be found for him. As to the rest of us, myself and the children, we are healthy and holding up as well as we can.”The 15 charges filed Monday by the Ottawa Police Service include multiple allegations of assault, including physical and sexual assault of a woman, physical assault of a child and unlawful confinement, between October and December and misleading police over the weekend "to divert suspicion from himself."The Canadian court issued an order prohibiting the publication of information that identifies the alleged victims in Canada. As a general policy, ABC News does not name victims in cases of alleged sexual assault.Joshua Boyle's defense lawyer, Eric Granger, in a statement to ABC News said his client "is presumed innocent.""He's never been in trouble before. No evidence has been provided yet, which is typical at this early stage. We look forward to receiving the evidence and defending him against these charges," Granger added.The longtime Canadian anti-war activist raised in Perth-Andover and his wife of Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, disappeared hiking through eastern Afghanistan in 2012 and were held by the Taliban's Haqqani Network for five years until their sudden release in October, just as American commandos were staging a rescue operation. The circumstances of their release remain unclear.Caitlan Coleman Boyle, who was six months pregnant at the time of their capture more than five years ago, would give birth to three children in captivity. In an interview with ABC News in November, she said she and her family endured brutal treatment at the hands of their captors, including what the couple alleged was a "forced abortion" and rape by their Haqqani guards.The newly freed family arrived in Toronto on Oct. 13. The initially stayed with Joshua Boyle's parents in Smiths Falls, Ontario, but they soon moved into a hotel in Ottawa. Recently the Boyles moved into a rented apartment and told ABC News they were eager to make it a home.Joshua Boyle was known in Canada for his activism even before becoming a hostage of the Haqqani Network. He was previously married to one of Canada's most outspoken pro-jihadi women, Zaynab Khadr, whose two brothers were imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, but were later released.U.S. intelligence officials long expressed doubts to ABC News about Joshua Boyle's motives in traveling to Afghanistan in 2012. Joshua Boyle told ABC News last month that those doubts were unfounded and referred to his Haqqani captors as "criminal miscreants."American officials put aside their skepticism of Joshua Boyle in offering the family assistance in leaving Pakistan and since they settled in Ottawa, including offers of psychological counseling to adjust from captivity, they have told ABC News.
    Read more...