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U.S. might ban laptops on all flights into and out of the country

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, 29 May 2017 09:00 PM

FILE PHOTO – A TSA worker loads suitcases at the checked luggage security screening station at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, U.S. on September 7, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn/File Photo

The United States might ban laptops from aircraft cabins on all flights into and out of the country as part of a ramped-up effort to protect against potential security threats, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said on Sunday.

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Kelly said the United States planned to “raise the bar” on airline security, including tightening screening of carry-on items.

“That’s the thing that they are obsessed with, the terrorists, the idea of knocking down an airplane in flight, particularly if it’s a U.S. carrier, particularly if it’s full of U.S. people.”

In March, the government imposed restrictions on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins on flights from 10 airports, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Turkey.

Kelly said the move would be part of a broader airline security effort to combat what he called “a real sophisticated threat.” He said no decision had been made as to the timing of any ban.

“We are still following the intelligence,” he said, “and are in the process of defining this, but we’re going to raise the bar generally speaking for aviation much higher than it is now.”

Airlines are concerned that a broad ban on laptops may erode customer demand. But none wants an incident aboard one of its airplanes.

“Whatever comes out, we’ll have to comply with,” Oscar Munoz, chief executive officer of United Airlines (UAL.N), told the company’s annual meeting last week.

Airlines were blindsided in January when President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning entry for 90 days to citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, sending airlines scrambling to determine who could board and who could not. The order was later blocked in the courts.

In the case of laptops, the administration is keeping the industry in the loop. Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) said in a statement it “continues to be in close contact with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” while Munoz applauded the administration for giving the company a “heads up.”

“We’ve had constant updates on the subject,” he said. “We know more than most. And again, if there’s a credible threat out there, we need to make sure we take the appropriate measures.”

MORE SCRUTINY OF CARRY-ONS

Among the enhanced security measures will likely be tighter screening of carry-on items to allow Transport Security Administration agents to discern problematic items in tightly stuffed bags.

Kelly said that in order to avoid paying fees for checking bags, people were stuffing them to the point where it was difficult to see through the clutter.

“The more stuff is in there, the less the TSA professionals that are looking at what’s in those bags through the monitors can tell what’s in them.”

The TSA has begun testing certain new procedures at a limited number of airports, requiring people to remove additional items from carry-on bags for separate screenings.

Asked whether the government would expand such measures nationwide, Kelly said: “We might, and likely will.” — By Toni Clarke | WASHINGTON

(Reporting by Toni Clarke in Washington; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington, David French in New York and Alana Wise in Chicago; Editing by David Gregorio and Peter Cooney)

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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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Venezuelan doctors demand government allow aid into country

by admin   |   Posted on Monday, 11 February 2019 10:36 AM

Venezuelan doctors demonstrating on the Colombian side of the border near where the humanitarian aid is being stored to demand Venezuela allow it into the country | Reuters

A group of Venezuelan doctors demonstrated on the Colombian side of the border on Sunday (February 10) as they demanded President Nicolas Maduro’s government allow humanitarian aid into their country.

Amid a hyperinflationary economic collapse that has caused malnutrition and the exodus of millions of people, humanitarian aid has become a flashpoint in an intensifying political crisis.

Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido said last week a global coalition that includes the United States was sending food and medicine to collection points in Colombia, Brazil and an undisclosed Caribbean island before delivering the aid into Venezuela.

But Maduro denies there is even a crisis, saying it is part of a U.S.-directed plot to undermine and overthrow his government and has said his government will not let the aid in.

Venezuela’s opposition has so far only publicly announced the arrival of aid in the Colombian border town of Cucuta, where it is now being stockpiled as Venezuelan authorities have made it clear they will not allow it to enter the country.

Doctors at the demonstration said the food and medicine from the aid could be immediately used to befit their patients. — Reuters

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