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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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U.S., South Korea and Japan discuss military drills, North Korea denuclearization

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, June 14th, 2018

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a bilateral meeting with South Korea’s President Jae-in at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji/Pool

SEOUL, South Korea – The top diplomats from United States, South Korea, and Japan promised on Thursday (June 14) to work together to ensure North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons programme after U.S President Donald Trump’s summit with the North’s leader Kim Jong Un.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono met in Seoul two days after Trump and Kim signed a statement agreeing to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Pompeo insisted that Pyongyang was committed to giving up its nuclear arsenal but said it would “be a process, not an easy one,” while Kono said he expects arrangements to be made for a summit between Japan and North Korea to resolve long-standing issues.- Reuters

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Trump, Trudeau, and Pena Nieto celebrate 2026 World Cup bid win with tweets

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, June 14th, 2018

The United States, Mexico and Canada will jointly host the 2026 World Cup, overwhelmingly winning a vote by soccer’s world governing body on Wednesday (June 13), even though U.S. President Donald Trump has frayed relations with his neighbors and others during his 18 months in office.

Trump, who has called for a wall to be built on the U.S. southern border and paid for by Mexico as part of a tougher immigration policy, just days ago personally criticized Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over a trade dispute.

U.S. Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro suggested to reporters on a conference call after Wednesday’s vote at FIFA’s Congress in Moscow that bringing the three countries together was more of a challenge than any Trump effect in overcoming the challenge from the competing bid from Morocco.

The North Americans pledged their tournament would generate an $11 billion profit for FIFA – greater than any previous World Cup finals – a financial shot in the arm for world soccer’s governing body, which has been rocked by a corruption and bribery scandal ensnaring top officials.

Morocco, which has now failed in five bids to host the World Cup, said their tournament would make $5 billion.

Trump praised the outcome on Twitter as the result of “a great deal of hard work.” Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto tweeted “We did it!” and Trudeau also took to Twitter to say: “Congratulations to everyone who worked hard on this bid – it’s going to be a great tournament!”

Under Trump, relations between the United States, Canada, and Mexico have plumbed new lows thanks to disputes in the renegotiation of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, a $1.1 trillion trade pact that ties the three countries’ economies together and which Trump has said should be scrapped.

Although it will be the first World Cup to be hosted by three countries, most matches will be played in the United States. As part of the bid, Trump pledged that those traveling to the United States for the tournament would not be subject to stringent visa restrictions.

Even if Trump were to be elected for a second four-year term in 2020 he would not be president when the World Cup kicks off in 2026. — Reuters

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China tells U.S. ‘now is the time’ if it wants peace with N. Korea

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2018

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hold a joint news conference after their meeting at the State Department in Washington, U.S., May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

A senior Chinese official told the United States on Wednesday (May 23) if it wants peace with North Korea now is the time for a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“I told our U.S. colleagues that if you want to solve the problem, now is the time. If you want peace, now is the time. If you want to make history, now is the time,” Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi told a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

In an unrelated incident, news an American citizen working at the U.S. consulate in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou has reported suffering from “abnormal” sounds and pressure leading to a mild brain injury, the U.S. embassy said.

The embassy, which issued a health alert to Americans living in China, said it could not link the case to health issues suffered by U.S. government staff in Cuba dating back to late 2016.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was concerned about the “serious medical incident” and raised it with China’s visiting State Councillor Wang Yi.

“We notified China of what took place as best we know it and they have responded in a way that is exactly the right response,” Pompeo told a news conference with Wang. “We’re working together to resolve (this) … I hope we can figure it out.”

The unnamed American citizen assigned to the consulate in Guangzhou had reported a variety of “physical symptoms” dating from late 2017 to April this year, the U.S. embassy in Beijing said in an email.

The worker was sent to the United States for further evaluation. “The clinical findings of this evaluation matched mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI),” the embassy said.

The U.S. government in October expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from the United States for what it said was Cuba’s failure to protect staff at the U.S. embassy in Havana from mysterious health incidents at one point thought to possibly have been acoustic “attacks”. — Reuters

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