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

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, May 29th, 2017

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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 California wildfire leaves coastal city Santa Barbara empty with tourists

by UNTV   |   Posted on Thursday, December 14th, 2017

Santa Barbara is located near the foot of the mountains and locals are often left with no other choice but to immediately retreat when a wildfire erupts.

In the north of Santa Barbara where the wildfire broke out on Dec 4, mountains stretch over 1,200 meters with no place for setting up any separation zone — making it rather difficult for anyone to stay in the vicinity.

Despite the ongoing winter holidays and upcoming celebrations, no one has been seen either along the west coast of the county — known for one of its popular beach resorts.

Hundred and ninety-two roads passing through Santa Barbara have been completely closed down. As of Tuesday morning, only 20 percent of the raging fire was brought under control, according to the local fire department.

But the wall of flames of the Thomas fire on Tuesday afternoon was about 200 yards away from and inching closer to expensive mansions in Montecito, one of the richest communities in the United States.

“It has burned down to some beautiful homes. We are asking residents to have defensible space, have a plan. When we ask you to evacuate it is for your own safety. We have already had one fatality very early on in the fire and we don’t want to lose any more people. I am happy to report that we haven’t had any more civilian injuries or deaths,” said California fire department spokesman Captain Steve Concialdi.

The Thomas fire, which broke out on Dec. 4 near the community of Ojai, has since spread 27 miles to become the fifth largest blaze in state history. It has blackened more than 366 square miles in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, an area larger than New York City.

“It’s pretty devastating. I mean, I’ve lived here for 25 years, been through quite a few fires, and this one I think has surpassed all those other experiences in terms of the devastation and the impact it’s had on the area. And there air, it’s just been phenomenal,” said Frank Palmieri, a bookkeeper from the city.

There’s bad stuff in the air. And, you don’t know what it’s doing to your body, so [I’m] wearing a mask now. But it feels awful, headaches, I get a little nauseous,” said Jamey Geston, a student at Santa Barbara City College.

Officials said that while the conflagration charred another 2,500 acres overnight, a break in the hot, dry Santa Ana winds on Tuesday sapped its forward momentum and allowed crews to prevent further damage to homes.

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PNP chief cautions OFWs against fake news on PH war on drugs

by UNTV   |   Posted on Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

IMAGE_UNTV_NEWS_120617_DELA ROSA IN NEW YORK

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa believes the problems in illegal drugs in the country should stop, hopefully under the current administration. Otherwise, the Philippines will remain under the grip of such social menace.

In his official business trip to the United States, the PNP chief has advised Filipino community to be wary against fake news circulating on social media about the government’s war on drugs.

“Kawawa ang Pilipinas talaga. Alam ko kayo dito, hindi kayo mapapalagay habang nandito kayo, mga mahal niyo sa buhay nandoon sa Pilipinas. Kaya sana magtulungan tayo. Huwag kayong masyadong magpadala sa mga fake news na nakakarating dito, mga paninira,” said the chief.

(The Philippines is really pitiful. I know that you are uneasy living here while your loved ones are back in the Philippines. That’s why we should help each other. Do not get carried away by damaging fake news that reaches you.)

Dela Rosa assured the Filipino community in the US that the PNP will be more cautious in its operations now that it is reinstated as a support group to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in executing anti-illegal drugs operations.

This has prompted the PNP to call for support in order to acquire the needed body cameras for their operations.

Meanwhile, the PNP chief guarantees the police’s support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in its pursuit of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Dela Rosa warned organizations supportive of the NPA which is now officially declared a terrorist group by the Philippine government.

“Well, pagbasehan natin ‘yung Constitution at tsaka ‘yung Revised Penal Code. Kung meron silang nagawa dun na labag dun then, they are punishable by their crimes. At kami naman sa pulis palagi kaming actively supporting the Armed Forces of the Philippines when it comes to internal security operations. So pagtutulong-tulungan namin yan sa AFP yung laban natin na against sa NPA,” said Dela Rosa

(Well, let’s base it on the Constitution and the Revised Penal Code. If they have committed violations of these, then they are punishable by their crimes. We at the PNP are actively supporting the Armed Forces of the Philippines when it comes to internal security operations. So we will be working together with AFP against the NPA.) — Victor Cosare | UNTV News & Rescue

 

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U.S. warns North Korean leadership will be ‘utterly destroyed’ in case of war

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, November 30th, 2017

United States ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss a North Korean missile launch at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

SEOUL/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United States warned North Korea’s leadership it would be “utterly destroyed” if war were to break out, after Pyongyang test fired its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile, putting the U.S. mainland within range.

The Trump administration has repeatedly said all options were on the table in dealing with North Korea’s ballistic and nuclear weapons program, including military ones, but that it still prefers a diplomatic option.

Still, speaking at an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting, U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley warned:

“We have never sought war with North Korea, and still today we do not seek it. If war does come, it will be because of continued acts of aggression like we witnessed yesterday … And if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed.”

Haley said the United States has asked China to cut off oil supply to North Korea, a drastic step that Beijing – the North’s neighbor and sole major trading partner – has so far refrained from doing. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping talked on the phone earlier on Wednesday.

“Just spoke to President Xi Jinping of China concerning the provocative actions of North Korea. Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Previous U.S. administrations have failed to stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons and a sophisticated missile program. Trump has also struggled to contain Pyongyang since he came to office in January.

Urging China to use its leverage on Pyongyang and promising more sanctions against North Korea are two strategies that have borne little fruit so far.

In a speech in Missouri about taxes, Trump, who has traded insults with the North in the past, referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with a derisive nickname. “Little Rocket Man. He is a sick puppy,” Trump said.

FAR INTO SPACE

North Korea, which conducted its sixth and largest nuclear bomb test in September, has tested dozens of ballistic missiles under Kim’s leadership in defiance of international sanctions.

Pyongyang has said its weapons programs are a necessary defense against U.S. plans to invade. The United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, denies any such intention.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia called on North Korea on Wednesday to stop its weapons tests and for the United States and South Korea not to hold military drills in December as it would “inflame an already explosive situation.”

North Korea said the new missile soared to an altitude of about 4,475 km (2,780 miles) – more than 10 times the height of the International Space Station – and flew 950 km (590 miles) during its 53-minute flight.

It flew higher and longer than any North Korean missile before, landing in the sea near Japan.

Photos released by North Korean state media appeared to show a missile being positioned on the launch site by a mobile vehicle, designed to allow the missile to be fired from a wider number of areas to prevent it being intercepted before launch.

Kim is shown laughing and smiling with officials both next to the missile as it is readied, and in a control booth. The launch itself shows the missile lifting off amid smoke and fire, with Kim watching from a field in the distance.

U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded from satellite and other data that the test missile was fired from a fixed position, not a mobile launcher, three U.S. officials said.

Two of the officials said the test appears to demonstrate a more powerful North Korean solid-fuel propulsion system, especially in its second stage rocket.

The photos also revealed a larger diameter missile, which could allow it to carry a larger warhead and use a more powerful engine, said David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a U.S.-based nonprofit science advocacy group.

MORE SANCTIONS LIKELY

Pyongyang claimed it had “finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force”.

Three U.S. intelligence analysts said they were trying to assess whether the remarks meant Kim might now be open to a longer halt in testing in order to reopen negotiations that might help prevent, or at least defer, the imposition of additional sanctions.

The officials also noted, however, that North Korea has not proved it has an accurate guidance system for an intercontinental ballistic missile or a re-entry vehicle capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and surviving a return from space through Earth’s atmosphere, meaning further tests would be needed.

An international meeting in Canada in January is designed to produce “better ideas” to ease tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests, Canadian officials said on Wednesday, although North Korea itself will not be invited.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday the United States has “a long list of additional potential sanctions, some of which involve potential financial institutions, and the Treasury Department will be announcing those when they’re ready to roll those out.”

The new Hwasong-15, named after the planet Mars, was a more advanced version of an ICBM tested twice in July, North Korea said. It was designed to carry a “super-large heavy warhead”.

In just three months, South Korea hosts the Winter Olympics at a resort just 80 km (50 miles) from the heavily fortified border with North Korea.

(For a graphic on Nuclear North Korea click tmsnrt.rs/2n0gd92)

Reporting by Christine Kim and Soyoung Kim in Seoul, Linda Sieg, William Mallard, Timothy Kelly in Tokyo, Mark Hosenball, John Walcott, Steve Holland, Susan Heavey and Tim Ahmann, Makini Brice in Washington, Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Michael Martina in Beijing; Writing by Yara Bayoumy, Lincoln Feast and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Alistair Bell, Grant McCool and Michael Perry

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