Washington: A US judge has ordered release of a man who has spent 43 years in solitary confinement for a crime he denied committing.
US District Judge James J. Brady on Monday ruled that Albert Woodfox, 68, should be released from prison and should not face a third trial due to “exceptional circumstances”, including his age and poor health and the court’s “lack of confidence in the state to provide a fair third trial”, CNN reported.
Woodfox is the last imprisoned member of the “Angola 3”, a group of prisoners who were accused in the 1972 killing of guard Brent Miller at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.
Woodfox, who was originally imprisoned on an armed robbery conviction, has said that he had tried to point out injustices at the prison and was targeted and wrongfully accused because of his activism.
Robert King, another one of the “Angola 3”, was freed after his conviction in the killing of a fellow inmate was overturned in 2001.
The second member of the group, Herman Wallace was released in 2013 after a judge vacated his murder conviction and sentence. He was suffering from terminal liver cancer and died just days later after his release.
A federal appeals court overturned Woodfox’s conviction last year.
However, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office is seeking an emergency stay to block the judge’s decision, and said “make sure this murderer stays in prison and remains fully accountable for his actions”.
Amnesty International praised the decision as a big step toward justice. (IANS)
Washington, October 20, 2017 : North Korea is likely just months away from being capable of striking the United States with a nuclear missile, according to two top U.S. officials.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo told a forum in Washington on Thursday he is “deeply worried” about the advancing threat from North Korea and the possibility it could spark a nuclear arms race across East Asia.
“We ought to behave as if we are on the cusp of them achieving that objective,” Pompeo said when asked about Pyongyang’s pursuit of missile technology that could launch a warhead to targets in the U.S.
“They are so far along in that it’s now a matter of thinking about how do you stop the final step?” he added.
McMaster: We’re running out of time
U.S. National Security Adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster said later on Thursday that Washington was racing to resolve the situation, short of using military force.
“We’re not out of time but we’re running out of time,” McMaster said, speaking at the same event. “Accept and deter is unacceptable.”
The comments by Pompeo and McMaster come as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have been steadily rising following Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test last month, it’s sixth overall, and repeated tests of what intelligence officials have assessed to be both intermediate and long range ballistic missiles.
But despite warning that North Korea is just months away from being able to target the U.S., the CIA’s Pompeo cautioned there are still questions about just how “robust” the North Korea nuclear threat has become, and whether Pyongyang will be able to deliver multiple nuclear warheads to nuclear targets.
“There’s always a risk. Intelligence is imperfect,” Pompeo said, adding there is evidence Pyongyang may be getting help from Iran, citing “deep conventional weapons ties as between the two countries.”
He also warned that each North Korean test makes an arms race ever more likely.
“You watch as North Korea grows ever closer to having its capability perfected, you can imagine others in the region also thinking that they well may need that capability,” he said.
Putin suggests force won’t work against North Korea
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned against the use of force to eliminate the North Korean nuclear threat, suggesting it would not work.
“Talks about a preventative, disarming strike — and we hear both hints and open threats — this is very dangerous,” Putin said during a speaking engagement in Sochi.
“Who knows what and where is hidden in North Korea? And whether all of it can be destroyed with one strike, I doubt it,” he said. “I’m almost sure it is impossible.”
North Korean officials have also repeatedly warned the U.S. against any provocations.
Pyongyang’s deputy envoy to the United Nations, Kim In Ryong, warned Monday that war could break out at any moment.
Other North Korean officials have accused the U.S. of making preparations for war, citing the presence of the USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, conducting exercises to the east of the Korean Peninsula.
Washington, September 24, 2017: The US flew bombers near North Korea’s coast on Saturday, an action the Defense Department said was meant to send a clear message to Pyongyang about the country’s military options.
“This mission is a demonstration of US resolve and a clear message that (President Donald Trump) has many military options to defeat any threat,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement, Efe news reported.
“North Korea’s weapons program is a grave threat to the Asia-Pacific region and the entire international community. We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the US homeland and our allies,” the statement added.
White said US Air Force B-1B bombers from the US island territory of Guam and US Air Force F-15C Eagle fighter escorts from Okinawa, Japan “flew in international airspace over waters east of North Korea.”
“This is the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any US fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century, underscoring the seriousness with which we take (North Korea’s) reckless behavior,” White said.
The Pentagon’s announcement came before North Korea addressed the United Nations’ General Assembly on Saturday and after the US imposed new sanctions on Pyongyang this week.
Those new sanctions bar ships and aircraft from visiting the US within 180 days of having gone to North Korea.
The ban also applies to vessels that have done a ship-to-ship transfer with a vessel that has visited North Korea within 180 days.
Trump ordered the sanctions via a decree whose aim is to “maximize pressure on North Korea to demonstrate to its leadership that the best and only path is to return to denuclearization.”
A new nuclear test by Pyongyang earlier this month and Trump’s belligerent rhetoric have caused tensions on the Korean peninsula to soar over the last year.
Seismic activity Saturday in North Korea, meanwhile, sparked fears that Pyongyang may have conducted yet another nuclear test, but experts said the small earthquake was probably due to natural causes.
North Korea has refused to back down in the face of international pressure and on Saturday said it was nearing completion of its nuclear goals but that its program was intended merely as a deterrent.
“We do not have any intention at all to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against the countries that do not join in the US military actions against (the Asian nation),” North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told the UN General Assembly on Saturday.
Ri on Friday said North Korea may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean, making those remarks after Trump inflamed tensions in his debut speech before the UN.
Trump ominously warned Pyongyang on Tuesday that the US would obliterate the Asian country if necessary.
“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said in his UN speech. (IANS)
New York, September 21, 2017: The US will provide a humanitarian aid package worth $32 million to the Rohingya Muslim minority who have fled violence in Myanmar and crossed into neighbouring Bangladesh, the State Department announced.
The funding “reflects the US commitment to help address the unprecedented magnitude of suffering and urgent humanitarian needs of the Rohingya people,” said the State Department’s Acting Assistant Secretary Simon Henshaw on Wednesday at the ongoing UN General Assembly here.
He added that the US hoped its contribution would encourage other countries to provide more funding as well, reports CNN.
The aid package comes a day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with Myanmar de facto leader of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi and “welcomed the Myanmar government’s commitment to end the violence in Rakhine state and to allow those displaced by the violence to return home,” according to the State Department.
Tillerson “urged the Myanmar government and military to facilitate humanitarian aid for displaced people in the affected areas, and to address deeply troubling allegations of human rights abuses and violations”.
The State Department also said the aid “will help provide emergency shelter, food security, nutritional assistance, health assistance, psychosocial support, water, sanitation and hygiene, livelihoods, social inclusion, non-food items, disaster and crisis risk reduction, restoring family links, and protection to the over 400,000 displaced persons”.
Henshaw said Wednesday’s announcement brought the total US aid to Myanmar refugees, including Rohingya, to nearly $95 million in fiscal year 2017.
Some 415,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since the ongoing violence broke out on August 25 when Rohingya rebels attacked police checkposts in Rakhine resulting in the deaths os 12 security personnel, CNN reported.
Speaking at the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence called on the world body “to take strong and swift action to bring this crisis” of violence against the Rohingya people in Myanmar to an end.
“The United States renews our call on Burma’s security forces to end their violence immediately and support diplomatic efforts for a long-term solution.
“President (Donald) Trump and I also call on this security council and the United Nations to take strong and swift action to bring this crisis to an end.”
Pence also spoke about how the violence in Myanmar is a perfect example of the kind of problem the UN should help solve. (IANS)