SEARCH

Thursday
Apr272017

Overnight explosion rocks Damascus; Syrian government blames Israel

iStock/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- An large overnight explosion on Thursday rocked Syria's capital, the country's state media and opposition activists said.

The explosion occurred at a military installation near the Damascus airport, according to both SANA state TV and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based monitoring organization with on the ground contacts in Syria.

State television blamed the explosion on Israel, saying it had attacked the location with several missiles from inside the occupied Golan Heights, which Israel controls.

In an interview with Israel's Army Radio, Israeli Minister of Intelligence Yisrael Katz stopped short of saying Israel was behind the attack, but said "the incident in Syria is absolutely in line with Israeli policy to act to prevent advanced weapons from Syria going to Hezbollah in Lebanon with the help of Iran."

"I don't want to go into the matter more or expand on it," he added, before saying that "the Prime Minister has said that every time that we receive intelligence of efforts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah -- we will act. This incident is exactly in line with that policy."

The blasts were reported at 4 a.m. local time. While damage was reported, there were no immediate casualty reports.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Apr272017

Trump plans to renegotiate NAFTA, but may scrap it if 'fair deal' not reached

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that the U.S. will not pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to a White House readout of calls Wednesday between the leaders.

"President Trump agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time and the leaders agreed to proceed swiftly, according to their required internal procedures to enable the renegotiation of the NAFTA deal to the benefit of all three countries," the readout says.

According to Trump, the two leaders called and asked him to consider renegotiating NAFTA, instead of terminating the trade deal.

"I agreed subject to the fact that if we do not reach a fair deal for all, we will then terminate NAFTA," Trump tweeted, adding "Relationships are good – deal very possible!"

Earlier Wednesday, an administration official told ABC News that the White House would not comment on rumors that a NAFTA executive order was in the works.

"I would say that NAFTA has obviously been a top priority for the President from day one and it's safe to say we've been working on addressing the issues with it since the beginning," the official said.

While campaigning for president, Trump slammed NAFTA as a "disaster" and the "worst trade deal in history."

As president, he has continued to speak out against the trade deal, last week calling it "very, very bad" for American companies and workers.

"We're going to make some very big changes or we're going to get rid of NAFTA once and for all," he said during a separate speech in Kenosha, Wisconsin, earlier this month. "It cannot continue like this, believe me."

The trade agreement was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and implemented in 1994. NAFTA expanded trade between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, eliminating tariffs on most goods traded among the three countries.

In Wednesday's readout, Trump said, "it is my privilege to bring NAFTA up to date through renegotiation. It is an honor to deal with both President Pena Nieto and Prime Minister Trudeau, and I believe that the end result will make all three countries stronger and better."

A summary from the office of Pena Nieto echoed the White House readout.

"The leaders agreed on the benefit of maintaining the North American Free Trade Agreement and work together with Canada to carry out a successful renegotiation for the benefit of the three countries," it said.

A readout released by Trudeau's office several hours before was more sparse, saying that Trudeau and Trump "continued their dialogue on Canada-U.S. trade relations, with the Prime Minister reinforcing the importance of stability and job growth in our trade relations."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Apr262017

2-year-old survives being run over by 2 cars in China

disqis/iStock/Thinkstock(SICHUAN PROVINCE, China) -- A 2-year-old toddler in China received just minor bruises after she was run over by two cars.

CCTV China surveillance video captured the terrifying moment when the tot dashed into street traffic in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

In the video, which was filmed Monday, the toddler can be seen observing traffic on the roadside for a few seconds before running across the road and being met by a white car, followed by another one close behind. After the two cars pass, the toddler appears to be lying face down on the ground before a woman, later identified as her grandmother, rushes over to scoop the girl up in her arms.

The toddler was immediately taken for medical attention. Doctors from No. 2 People's Hospital of Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture said that the toddler only had minor bruises on her head and no other injuries. She was released Tuesday.

"The surveillance video footage on site and our preliminary investigation show that when the toddler was running across the road, she was in the blind zone of the first car and the driver didn't see her. And the following car was moving too closely behind the first one and the driver failed to see the toddler [too]. So both cars ran over her," said Guo Wei, a police officer with Xichang Public Security Bureau.

The toddler's father says that his daughter is a little frightened by the whole ordeal.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Apr262017

French intelligence says Syria behind the deadly sarin gas attack

Stocktrek Images/iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- A sarin nerve gas attack on a town in northern Syria bears the “signature” of President Bashar al-Assad, French officials said Wednesday.

Forces loyal to Assad carried out the deadly April 4 attack, which could only have been ordered by the Syrian President and a few influential members of his inner circle, French intelligence assessed in a declassified report.

“The use of sarin is without question,” France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters as he presented the results of the French investigation. “The responsibility of the Syrian regime is also without question.”

Assad has denied carrying out the attack or any other chemical strikes on his people.

The sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s Idlib province killed more than 80 people, including dozens of children who died gasping for air. Many were still asleep when the airstrike hit the town in the early morning.

France’s assessment is based on analysis of samples taken from the attack carried out by French experts. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), as well as British and Turkish scientists also determined that sarin was used in the attack.

The Syrian government agreed to destroy its chemical weapons program in September 2013 after hundreds were killed in a sarin gas attack in East Ghouta outside of Damascus.

The French report said that the airstrike on Khan Sheikhoun showed similarities to a Syrian attack on Saraqib, also in Idlib, on April 29, 2013. This conclusion was based on analysis of an unexploded grenade which was used "with certainty" by Assad forces during the Saraqib attack, according to the report.

"The sarin present in the munitions used on 4 April was produced using the same manufacturing process as that used during the sarin attack perpetrated by the Syrian regime in Saraqib," the report read.

On the day of the Saraqib attack in 2013, a helicopter dropped three unidentified objects, emitting white smoke on neighborhoods to the west of the city, according to the report, which said that "only the Syrian armed forces had helicopters and could therefore be responsible for dropping these three objects."

The report also noted that al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria do not have the capability to carry out such an attack.

Russia, Syria's ally, previously blamed rebels for the attack saying that a Syrian strike hit a warehouse where they were storing chemical weapons. Kremlin spokesman Dimitrije Peskov told reporters Wednesday that "the only way to restore the truth about what happened in Idlib is an impartial international investigation."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Apr262017

What you need to know about missile defense system US is setting up in S. Korea

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The United States has begun moving parts of an anti-missile system into their deployment site in South Korea to help protect that nation from a possible North Korean missile attack.

The system has been long-planned but the overnight deployment was ahead of the expected schedule, surprising some South Koreans and sparking protests by hundreds of residents.

Parts of the anti-missile defense systems were moved to a former golf course in the southern area of the country, about 135 miles southeast of Seoul. The system will be operational by the end of the year, according to the South Korean defense ministry.

Here's what you need to know about the latest developments in the region:

What is the THAAD system?

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is designed to intercept incoming short- and medium-range missiles. The United States and South Korea announced in July 2016 that the system would be deployed to South Korea after a series of North Korean missile launches last year.

The first elements of the THAAD system arrived in the country last month, the day after North Korea fired four medium-range missiles into the Sea of Japan, some of them traveling as far as 600 miles. A U.S. defense official said the system's arrival in South Korea was coincidental and had been long-planned.

"The timely deployment of the THAAD system by U.S. Pacific Command and the secretary of defense gives my command great confidence in the support we will receive when we ask for reinforcement or advanced capabilities," Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, said when the elements arrived.

Wednesday's overnight deployment placed parts of the system that were already in the country into their permanent position on the golf course.

The deployment of the missile system has experienced many delays since last summer's agreement between the United States and South Korea. It was only last month that South Korea announced the missile system would be located on the golf course it had acquired.

The United States also maintains 28,500 troops in South Korea to help deter any North Korean aggression.

Chinese opposition to THAAD

The THAAD system's deployment has been opposed by China, which has claimed it could contain its own missile systems and security interests in the region. U.S. defense officials have countered that the system is strictly defensive in nature and intended solely for South Korea's protection.

At a briefing last month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, "China firmly opposes the deployment of THAAD. We will definitely be taking necessary measures to safeguard our own security interest. All consequences entailed from that will be borne by the U.S. and (South Korea). We once again strongly urge the relevant sides to stop the process of deployment and refrain from going further down that wrong path."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Apr262017

US Navy fires warning flare at Iranian vessel in Persian Gulf

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan B. Trejo/Released(WASHINGTON) -- A U.S. guided-missile destroyer fired a flare in the direction of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard ship this week during an encounter in the Persian Gulf, a Navy official has confirmed to ABC News.

The "guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) had an unprofessional interaction with an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessel while transiting the international waters of the Arabian Gulf, April 24," a spokesman for the Naval Forces Central Command said of the Monday encounter.

The Iranian ship came within 1,100 yards of the Mahan, closing the distance, despite the U.S. ship’s maneuvering to open the distance between the two vessels, the spokesman said.

The Mahan employed bridge-to-bridge radio in an effort to reach the Iranian ship, and issued warning messages prior to the firing of the flare, the spokesman said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Apr262017

US military begins installations of missile defenses in South Korea

iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- In a surprise move, the U.S. military transferred key parts of a controversial anti-missile defense system into operational position overnight on Wednesday, drawing angry reaction from local residents near the site in Seongju, South Korea.

The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense System, or THAAD, was originally scheduled to be installed after South Korea elects a new president on May 9, giving the next administration a chance to review the contentious missile defense system.

The site of the overnight maneuvers was located at a golf course in the country's south. The action comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea over the latter's nuclear and missile programs.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr252017

Ivanka Trump brushes off hissing in Germany: ‘Politics is politics’

ABC News(BERLIN) -- Ivanka Trump brushed off the hissing that some audience members directed at her during the Women 20 Summit in Germany Tuesday when she expressed pride in her father’s advocacy of women, and specifically his campaign proposal for paid family leave.

“Politics is politics, as I’m learning,” Ivanka Trump said, taking questions from reporters after the panel discussion where she was jeered.

She then further defended her father as a “champion for all Americans,” including women.

Asked whether she thought the moderator’s questioning of her was a little tough, Ivanka shrugged it off: “I’m used to it. It’s fine.”

When the jeers erupted during the panel, the moderator referenced the crowd’s reaction in following up with Ivanka by noting that many people are suspicious of President Trump’s stated support for women’s empowerment.

“I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media and that’s been perpetuated,” Ivanka said, prompting further heckling from some in the crowd at the panel on women’s entrepreneurship.

She went on to vouch for her father’s record in empowering women -- pointing to his business and her own upbringing -- as evidence of his belief in gender equality.

“As a daughter, I can speak on a very personal level knowing that he encouraged me and enabled me to thrive,” she said, noting that her father did not distinguish between how she and her brothers were treated at home.

Ivanka Trump participated in the panel along with other high-profile women, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who personally invited her to Germany for the summit, and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde.

Trump, 35, was also asked by the moderator whether she is representing her father, the U.S. people or her business.

“Certainly not the latter,” she said, going on to say the role as first daughter is still very new to her but that she’s looking for the best ways to empower women in the workplace.

She said she’ll bring the knowledge she gains at the summit back to her father.

She specifically pointed to equal pay and paid family leave as useful policies to help level the playing field for women, and noted that the United States is the only developed country without a paid family leave policy.

She also touted the cause of STEM education -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- for young women and girls.


ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr252017

What you need to know about rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula

iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL) -- All 100 U.S. senators will gather Wednesday for a White House briefing on the volatility in North Korea.

The meeting -- announced last week and requested by Senate leadership – comes amid the U.S. Navy’s bilateral military exercises with South Korea and Japan, and North Korea’s live-fire drills to celebrate the anniversary of its military's founding.

Here’s what you need to know about the situation:

U.S. Navy exercises


The destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyers is conducting bilateral maritime exercises with a South Korean destroyer in waters west of the Korean Peninsula Tuesday and Wednesday, while the destroyer USS Fitzgerald is partnering with a Japanese destroyer in waters west of Japan, according to the U.S. 7th Fleet.

"Both exercises demonstrate a shared commitment to security and stability in Northeast Asia as well as the U.S. Navy's inherent flexibility to combine with allied naval forces in response to a broad range of situations," the 7th Fleet said in a news release.

The Meyers is part of the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group, which will arrive off the Korean Peninsula at the end of the month.

Also arriving in the area is the USS Michigan, one of the Navy's Ohio-class nuclear-powered guided missile submarines.

The Michigan arrived in the South Korean port of Busan Tuesday. Its deployment is not part of the Vinson strike group, but its presence in the area is intended to send a message to North Korea, a U.S. Defense Department official told ABC News.

North Korean live-fire drills

The latest bilateral maritime exercises come as North Korea conducted large-scale, live-fire drills Tuesday numbering 300 to 400 pieces of artillery near the eastern port city of Wonsan, South Korea's military said.

The drill marked the 85th anniversary of the founding of North Korea's military in which people dance at an outdoor party in the capital city of Pyongyang. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un likely participated in the event, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

The United States has speculated that North Korea could carry out another nuclear or missile test timed to Tuesday’s celebration.

Earlier this month, North Korea conducted its fifth missile test this year. Though the missile exploded seconds after launch, the test occurred hours after the country rolled out intercontinental ballistic missiles and other military hardware at a huge parade to celebrate the birthday of the country's late founder, Kim Il Sung, grandfather of current leader Kim Jong Un.

Senators convene at White House for North Korea briefing

Wednesday's briefing on the situation in North Korea will be attended by every U.S. senator. While it's not uncommon for all 100 Senators to be briefed at the same time, the typical venue is the Senate floor, not the White House.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats are expected to conduct the briefing.

The meeting, in addition with an increased U.S. military presence in the Asia Pacific, is just part of an all-hands-on-deck approach to how the Trump administration will tackle North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

During a working lunch Wednesday with the ambassadors to the countries of the United Nations Security Council, Trump called North Korea "a real threat to the world."

“North Korea is a big world problem," Trump said, adding, "People have put blinders on for decades.”

He encouraged the U.N. Security Council to act on North Korea, saying the organization has "tremendous potential."

As Tuesday's military exercises with South Korea and Japan show, the United States is remaining in lock-step with its allies in the region.

The U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, Joseph Yun, on Tuesday agreed with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Tokyo that the three nations would "coordinate all actions" on North Korea.

"We agree among the three of us that we will coordinate all actions -- diplomatic, military, economic -- regarding North Korea," Yun told reporters. "We'll continue to work very closely among the three of us together as well as with our international partners."

They also agreed that China plays a key roles in pressuring North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile programs, something President Trump and his administration have continuously emphasized.

“We believe China -- we’ve talked about this before -- has unique leverage when it comes to North Korea, and frankly China’s influence on North Korea is outsized in the sense of if they fully implement, and we’ve seen them take additional steps in that regard, the sanctions, then they can apply the kind of pressure that will make Pyongyang take notice," State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner said in Monday's press briefing.

“This has been front and center of our discussions with the Chinese government," Toner added. "We believe we have made headway in convincing them of the urgency of this situation, and that they are going to take steps to address it.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr252017

Trump picks fight with Canada over dairy products and trade

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that the United States 'will not stand for' Canadian dairy trade policies that hurt American dairy farm exports, adding that the rules have "made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very difficult."

 

 

It's the third time in the last week that Trump has bashed America's northern neighbor and close ally for its rules on imported dairy products.

"In Canada, what they've done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace. It's a disgrace," Trump said in the Oval Office last week, as the President welcomed union leaders, steel workers and CEOs of steel companies for the signing of the memorandum ordering an investigation into steel dumping.

Trump made similar remarks in Wisconsin last Tuesday, calling the dairy trade relationship between the United States and Canada "very, very unfair."

"We're also going to stand up for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin," Trump told the crowd. "I've been reading about it and I've been talking about it for a long time and that demands, really, immediately, fair trade with all of our trading partners."

"That includes Canada, because, in Canada, some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers and others," Trump continued. "It's another typical one-sided deal against the United States and it's not going to be happening for long."

Several countries with high dairy product exports oppose Canada's current protectionist policies, which include high tariffs on imported milk and cheese products.

Trump based his 2016 presidential campaign on increasing the number of jobs in the United States by renegotiating trade pacts like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), both of which Canada has signed.

Halting business from moving overseas has been a key promise of Trump's early presidency.

The comments precede the upcoming renegotiation of NAFTA, expected this summer. The U.S. has been at odds with Canada over other imports, as well; one of the largest disputes has been about softwood lumber imports from Canada to the U.S. On Monday, Trump told media attending a reception that he would impose a 20 percent tariff on imports of the Canadian product.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross told reporters in today's White House briefing that even though Canada is a "good neighbor, that doesn't mean they don't have to play by the rules." He went on to say "there may be a small increase" in lumber prices because of the tariff.

Ross added that it's not a matter of "Trump messing with the Canadians," but rather, the White House believes "they violated legitimate practice."

The tariff would be "collected on a retroactive basis going back 90 days," Ross added.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.







ABC News Radio