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L.A. man accused of smuggling king cobras in potato chip cans

by admin   |   Posted on Wednesday, 26 July 2017 06:04 PM

A Los Angeles man was arrested on Tuesday after federal prosecutors said he arranged to smuggle into the United States three live, highly venomous king cobra snakes hidden in potato chip canisters.

The man identified as Rodrigo Franco was charged with illegally importing merchandise into the country.

The parcel was said to have come from Hong Kong and was intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents on March 2 containing the 2-foot-long snakes concealed inside the canisters.

Three Albino-Chinese soft-shelled turtles were also found in the package, the prosecutors said.

He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted, although federal sentencing guidelines typically call for less time behind bars. – UNTV News & Rescue

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US’ assurance of aid is nothing new, expert says

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, 4 March 2019 05:00 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte meets United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City. | Photo credits: MPC POOL

The United States has always assured the Philippines of aid amid sea dispute with China, according to defense expert and Institute for Policy, Strategy, and Development Studies member, Jose Antonio Custodio.

Custodio said there is nothing new with this statement because even previous American officials have said it before.

“Kung ano iyong sinabi ni [Mike] Pompeo, it’s what exactly mentioned also by earlier American officials, Thomas Hubbard to be exact,” he said.

(Whatever Pompeo said, it’s what exactly mentioned also by earlier American officials, Thomas Hubbard to be exact.)

He also said that it would be better for the Philippines to strengthen their own capabilities in defending its territory.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte said it might be difficult for the United States to provide assistance to the country if there will be an attack in the West Philippine Sea.

“Sabi ko, okay man sinabi ni Mattis sa akin: ‘We guarantee you na nandiyan kami sa likod.’ Pero ang problema nito, iyong i-invoke niya iyong Defense US Treaty which was entered into by us, by our — mga ninuno natin. Ang attack sa America or ang attack sa atin pareho. But sa America, magdaan pa ng Congress. Any declaration of war will pass Congress,” Duterte said during his speech in Zamboanga City last Sunday.

(I said, what Mattis said was okay: ‘We guarantee, we have your back’. But the problem is, he invoked the Defense US Treaty which was entered into us by our ancestors. The attack on America or attack against us is the same but in America, it will go through Congress. Any declaration of war will pass Congress.)

Malacañang had previously said that the seven-decade-old treaty need amendments.

“There may be some kinks in the treaty that need to be clarified. It’s much better perhaps that it’s clear-cut in the treaty itself so I think there’s still a need to review despite the policy statement,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said during a press briefing.

However, for Custodio, there is no need to amend the treaty because “the treaty itself is good enough message that if China attacks us, then they will have to face the US.”

The Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in Washington on August 30, 1951 and it aims to further strengthen the collective defense of the Philippine and the US.

Based on the treaty it desires “for the preservation of peace and security pending the development of a more comprehensive system of regional security in the Pacific area.” —Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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Trump returns to White House after summit collapse clouds future of U.S.-North Korea nuclear diplomacy

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, 1 March 2019 12:45 PM

President Trump returns to White House on Thursday (February 28) following his second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam. | Reuters

(REUTERS) — U.S. President Donald Trump returned to Washington D.C. Thursday (February 28) from Hanoi, Vietnam after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed over sanctions, and the two sides gave conflicting accounts of what happened, raising questions about the future of their denuclearisation negotiations.

Trump said two days of talks in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi had made good progress in building relations and on the main issue of denuclearisation, but it was important not to rush into a bad deal. He said he had walked away because of unacceptable North Korean demands.

“It was all about the sanctions,” Trump told a news conference after the talks were cut short. “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that.”

However, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told a news conference past midnight and hours after Trump left Hanoi that North Korea had sought only a partial lifting of sanctions “related to people’s livelihoods and unrelated to military sanctions”.

He said it had offered a realistic proposal involving the dismantling of all of its main nuclear site at Yongbyon, including plutonium and uranium facilities, by engineers from both countries.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told the same briefing she had the impression that Kim “might lose his willingness to pursue a deal” after the U.S. side rejected a partial lifting of sanctions in return for destruction of Yongbyon, “something we had never offered before”.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, asked about North Korea’s statements, said the president was aware of the comments and the White House had nothing to add to what Trump said at the Hanoi news conference.

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Violent, colorful drug lord ‘El Chapo’ convicted in U.S. court

by admin   |   Posted on Wednesday, 13 February 2019 02:16 PM

Sketch of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in court on February 12, 2019 | Jane Rosenberg sketches via Reuters

The world’s most infamous cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who rose from poverty in rural Mexico to amass billions of dollars, was found guilty in a U.S. court on Tuesday (February 12) of smuggling tons of drugs to the United States over a violent, colorful, decades-long career.

Jurors in federal court in Brooklyn convicted Guzman, 61, head of the Sinaloa Cartel, on all 10 counts brought by U.S. prosecutors.

Richard Donoghue, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said he expected Guzman to receive life without parole when sentenced on June 25. “It is a sentence from which there is no escape and no return,” Donoghue told reporters.

More than 250,000 homicides have been registered in Mexico since the government launched an aggressive war on cartels in 2006, during which Guzman and his exploits became almost legendary. About 150,000 of those deaths were tied to organized crime.

Guzman staged two dramatic escapes from Mexican high-security prisons and cultivated a Robin Hood image among the poor in his home state of Sinaloa.

Guzman sat and showed no emotion while the verdict was read. Once the jury left the room, he and his wife Emma Coronel, put their hands to their hearts and gave each other the thumbs up sign. His wife shed tears.

The 11-week trial, with testimony from more than 50 witnesses, offered an unprecedented look at the inner workings of the Sinaloa Cartel, named for the state in northwestern Mexico where Guzman was born in a poor mountain village. The U.S. government said Guzman trafficked tons of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine into the United States over more than two decades, consolidating his power in Mexico through murders and wars with rival cartels.

Guzman’s lawyers say he was set up as a “fall guy” by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, a powerful drug lord from Sinaloa who remains at large.

Jeffrey Lichtman, a lawyer for Guzman, told reporters after the verdict that the defense faced an uphill fight, given the amount of evidence the government presented, and the widespread perception that Guzman was already guilty.

“Of course we’re going to appeal.”

Guzman, whose nickname means “Shorty,” was extradited to the United States for trial in 2017 after he was arrested in Mexico the year before.

Though other high-ranking cartel figures had been extradited previously, Guzman was the first to go to trial instead of pleading guilty. — Reuters

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