Wednesday, 25 September 2013 19:59

Quake fatalities likely to rise

Pakistan---Awaran-BalochistThe death toll from a massive earthquake in Pakistan continues to rise.

The magnitude 7.7 quake was centred in the southwest of the country, in the Awaran district of Baluchistan province.  People in places as far afield as New Delhi and Dubai reported feeling the shock.

So far, around 208 fatalities have been confirmed in Awaran, and that figure is expected to rise as emergency services battle to reach victims. Pakistan's military has rushed to reach the worst-hit areas where the earthquake toppled many mud-built homes.

400 people have been injured, many of them taken to Karachi for treatment.

- Newstalk ZB

Published in International
Wednesday, 18 September 2013 15:37

Archbishop offers Mass for shooting victims

Religion---Eucharist-priesChurch leaders in the United States are offering prayers for the victims of Monday's mass shooting, and their bereaved families.

Aaron Alexis was confirmed as the sole gunman responsible for 12 deaths and multiple casualties at Washington's naval yard. He himself died in the ensuing gun battle with police.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who heads the Archdiocese for the Military Services, celebrated Mass at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center and lifted up all those affected by the tragedy. He also issued a brief message of condolence to the grieving families and friends of the victims.

Archbishop Broglio said he was personally struck by the killings, as they occurred at a place he frequents in his pastoral service to military personnel.

"I am shocked and deeply saddened by the terrible loss of life [this morning] at the Navy Yard. I have often visited and celebrated the Eucharist there."

He has beseeched Americans to restore a respect for life to the nation's consciousness, because, "When the uniqueness of the human person created in the image and likeness of God is universally recognized, the possibility of a mass shooting is more remote."

- RBG News

Published in Faith

Judges gavelA former US Army psychiatrist has receieved the death penalty for his lethal attack on American troops almost four years ago.

Major Nidal Hasan was convicted last week of the November 2009 shooting rampage at the Texas army base of Fort Hood, which killed 13 soldiers and wounded 32 others. His sentencing on August 28 took the military panel less than two hours to come to a unanimous decision.

A United States Department of Defense (DoD) statement announced that the court-martial of 'U.S. vs Maj. Nidal M. Hasan' concluded overnight with the military jury sentencing the defendant to die by lethal injection. The 42-year-old man is also to forfeit all pay and allowances, and willl be dismissed from service.

Nidal Hasan elected not to provide a closing argument. The Virginia-born Muslim had tried to admit his guilt, explaining he opened fire to protect Taliban insurgents from troops about to deploy to Afghanistan. However, military law bans guilty pleas from defendants in death penalty cases.

Lead prosecutor Colonel Michael Mulligan provided the closing argument on sentencing, saying Hasan "should not be punished for his religion, he should be punished for his hate." Col. Mulligan reasoned that the defendant owed a debt to society payable with his life.Nidal-Hasan---court-sketch

A press conference following the sentencing allowed for statements to be read on behalf of four families affected by the 2009 tragedy. The statements generally expressed relief that their legal ordeal had come to an end and that justice would be served. However, some were concerned at the defendant's belief that he would die a martyr, and at the media attention given to Hasan's extremist views.

The post-trial process will now begin, and the matter will initially be brought before the convening authority, the III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, for his review.

Given that the death sentence was imposed, the military justice system requires this case to be automatically appealed to the US Army Criminal Court of Appeals, and then to the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. This extended appeals process means it could be some time before Maj. Hasan is finally executed - perhaps decades, as suggested in a BBC article.

While the appeal process is underway, Hasan will be incarcerated in the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

- RBG News

Published in International
Monday, 29 July 2013 18:37

Shine TV headlines - 29 July 2013

ShineTV headlinesAllan Lee presents today's news, including the matter of more transparency for NZ intelligence agencies' operations; further questions about Sir Owen Glenn's charity; charges over last week's massive train accident in Spain; and a "remarkable" America's Cup experience aboard Team NZ's yacht for Hollywood heavyweight, Tom Cruise.

From the RBG News Centre for Shine TV.

Published in National

Korea---DMZ-USDF30 Kiwi veterans of the Korean War have returned to the country they once served in.

South Korea is holding special commemorations this week to mark 60 years since the armistice with North Korea was signed. The armistice agreement on 27 July, 1953, created the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a long and narrow border between the two nations.

The South Korean republic is also taking the opportunity to honour all the countries, including New Zealand and the United States, which took part in the war with the communist North - now called the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). The US continues to have a contingent in South Korea and President Barack Obama has declared 27 July as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day for the US.

For many of the Kiwi veterans in the official anniversary delegation, this is the first time they have set foot in the Korean peninsula since the three-year war ended with the loss of 45 comrades. The group visited the DMZ yesterday, and Veterans Affairs Minister Michael Woodhouse says many of them were amazed to see how tense it still is on the border between South Korea and the DPRK.  The former soldiers, aged between 73 and 88 years old, will take part in a number of events over the next few days, including a ceremony at Kapyong (one of NZ's most significant battles), Seoul, and at the NZDF base in Busan on Sunday.

Mr Woodhouse said the ceremonies honour those who sacrificed their lives, as well as the survivors - "We also remember the Korean people who died, and those who faced rebuilding a country devastated by the effects of war."

The Korean War armistice has never been followed by a peace treaty, and the two Koreas are technically still at war, according to a US defence force Press Service article.  A UN Command duty officer based near the DMZ believes that makes the 60-year anniversary even more significant.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Daniel McShane says the commemorations prove that the sending nations "are still dedicated to upholding the agreements that we made 60 years ago to preclude hostilities and maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula."

- Newstalk ZB/ press rls/ RBG News

Published in International



railway-trackIt's estimated up to 50 people are dead following a train derailment in Spain.

The train, carrying 238 passengers, had left Madrid bound for the northwestern town of Ferrol. CNN's Al Goodman says the derailment occurred as the train was heading into the station of Santiago de Compostela, a UNESCO world heritage site in the Galicia region. Witnesses say carriages overturned several times on a bend and came to a halt in a jumbled heap.

CNN journalist, Ivette Cabrera, happened to be driving past the site of the crash soon after the accident and stopped because of traffic build-up. She described witnesses' shock at the chaos, with carriages piled up on top of each other and sections of the train on fire.

More than 100 people have been injured, many of them seriously. Rescue workers are still battling to free passengers trapped inside the carriages.

David Valenzuela reports this is one of the largest tragedies to hit the area in years, and summer festivities have immediately been cancelled as a result.  The accident occured on the eve of a popular Christian festival honouring St James, one of Jesus' 12 apostles.

- Newstalk ZB/ RBG News

Published in International
Thursday, 18 July 2013 11:36

Journalists under threat

Journalist-camera-reporter dangerWorld leaders are being exhorted to ensure greater protection of journalists.

A meeting at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has been told that action is needed over the growing numbers of assassinated reporters. The head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) - the UN agency tasked with defending press freedom - reminded Council members of the important role that journalism plays.

"I urge all parties to respect the need of journalists to perform their professional duties safely. Society as a whole depends on free and independent media to make informed choices," said Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.

Industry representatives also presented their case at the Security Council open debate in New York, held to discuss civilian protection, especially that of reporters, in armed conflict. The four veterans who addressed the 15 Council ambassadors were Kathleen Carroll (AP), Richard Engel (NBC News), Ghaith Abdul-Ahad ("Guardian"), and prize-winning correspondent Mustafa Haji Abdinur (AFP).

The last is a self-taught reporter working in Somalia, who described himself as a dead man walking because of the risks he takes to cover events in his conflict-ridden country where the justice system is in tatters.

Mustafa Abdinur_UNphoto-Eskinder_Debebe

                                     UN photo/ Eskinder Debebe

"I'm here simply because I'm lucky; because the gunmen who have killed so many of my friends have not yet found me. Still, it's not a matter of if, but when."

- Mustafa Haji Abdinur (AFP, Somalia).

Mr Abdinur is one of many reporters seeking justice for their peers who are being imprisoned or murdered in record numbers. The past 20 years have seen almost 1000 journalists killed, more than half of those in the last decade; and the New York-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) estimates that 28 journalists have been murdered this year alone - like Egyptian press photographer Ahmed Assem el-Senousy, who was covering the military ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.

The UN Deputy Secretary-General joined reporters, UNESCO and the CPJ in urging the Security Council to stand up against all acts to suppress media freedom, and to ensure crimes against reporters are investigated swiftly. In a statement to the UNSC debate, Jan Eliasson said that the majority of victims are local media staff often reporting on corruption and other illegal activities.

Mr. Eliasson said that whenever a journalist anywhere is silenced, "there is one less voice to speak on behalf of the victims of conflict, crime and human rights abuses…one less observer of efforts to uphold rights and ensure human dignity."

In 2006 the Council adopted a resolution on the protection of journalists in armed conflict; and last year, UN chief executives approved a Plan that seeks a free and safe environment for media professionals as a prerequisite for freedom of expression and democracy.

- Newstalk ZB/ RBG News

Published in International
Monday, 08 July 2013 17:36

Shine TV Headlines - 08 July 2013

ShineTV headlinesAllan Lee has today's Headlines including a shoot-out on Auckland's Northern Motorway; a plane crash at San Francisco Airport; the Sky City convention centre deal; Christchurch Mayoralty hopefuls and Prince Williams plan of attack when his new baby arrives.

From the RBG News Centre for Shine TV.

Published in National
Saturday, 06 July 2013 16:13

Search for Nina called off


Yacht-choppy2-squareThe search for a missing American schooner has been formally suspended.

The Nina went missing en route from New Zealand to Australia at the end of last month. After 12 days of searching, there has been no sign of the vessel or its crew.

The New Zealand Rescue Co-ordination Centre assures that aerial and sea searches were exhaustive.  Operations Manager John Seward says because of the thorough efforts it is unlikely anything more can be done at this stage.

The Nina, built in 1928, left Opua on 29 May with seven people on board - three American men aged 17, 28, and 58; three American women aged 18, 60, and 73; and a British man aged 35.

The yacht was last heard from on 4 June when it was off New Zealand's northernmost tip, Cape Reinga.

- Newstalk ZB

Published in National
Friday, 05 July 2013 18:08

Shine TV Headlines - 05 July 2013

ShineTV headlines

Davina William has today’s headlines, including the sentencing of Pike River Coal over the fatal 2010 mine explosion; a Ministry of Health warning about tattoo parlour hygiene and blood poisoning; and a new president for Egypt.

From the RBG News Centre for Shine TV.

Published in National
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