Archive for April 2019

Plans for the first contact between North Korea and the United States after President Donald Trump took office were canceled after the U.S. State Department denied a visa for the top envoy from Pyongyang, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

The talks, between senior North Korean foreign ministry envoy Choe Son Hui and former U.S. officials, were scheduled to take place on March 1 and 2 in New York but were called off after Choe was denied a visa, the Journal said.

Malaysian police wish to question North Korean embassy staff


Malaysian police wish to question North Korean embassy staff


Death of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother sparks row between Malaysia, North Korea


Officials searching for North Korean suspects who fled after Kim Jong Nam’s alleged assassination


UN condemns North Korean missile launch


Donald Trump calls North Korea a ‘big, big problem’

It was not clear what led the State Department to deny the visa but North Korea’s test-firing of a ballistic missile on Feb. 12 and the murder of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half brother in Malaysia may have played a role, the report said.

South Korean and U.S. officials have said they believe North Korean agents assassinated Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half brother of Kim Jong-un, on Feb. 13.

A U.S. State Department official denied so-called track two discussions had been scheduled.

READ MORE: North Korea says nuclear-capable ballistic missile test was a success

“The U.S government had no plans to engage in track 2 talks in New York,” the official said, declining comment on individual visa cases.

A South Korean foreign ministry official declined to comment on the report of the canceled meeting in New York, saying the reported plan did not involve the U.S. or South Korean government.

The meeting in New York would have been the first time a senior North Korean envoy would visit the United States since 2011 and the first contact between U.S. and North Korean representatives since Trump took office.

In this photo taken Feb. 17, 2017, construction material is seen along Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, as work continues with the dismantling of the presidential inauguration reviewing stand.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Choe, director general for North American affairs at the North’s foreign ministry, has previously met former U.s. officials and academics, the last time in November in Geneva for informal discussions.

Trump said in a Reuters interview on Thursday that he was concerned about North Korea’s ballistic missile tests and “it’s a very dangerous situation”. Trump did not ruling out meeting Kim at some point in the future under certain circumstances but suggested it might be too late.

ChangSha Night Net

One Saskatchewan Huskies basketball team completed a sweep of its Canada West quarterfinal series on Friday while the other will have to play a third and deciding game.

After beating the Fraser Valley Cascades handily in the series opener the Huskies women faltered in Game 2, falling 74-62. The Dogs mustered just 24 first-half points a night after scoring 25 in the opening quarter alone.

ChangSha Night Net


  • Zak Rempel hoping for one more Saskatchewan Huskies playoff run

    Second-year guard Sabine Dukate led the Huskies with 21 points in a losing effort. Four UFV starters hit double digits on the scoresheet with Kayli Sartori’s 19 leading the way.

    The teams will meet again Saturday at 2 p.m. CT with the winner advancing to the Canada West Final Four.

    READ MORE: Saskatchewan Huskies basketball teams sweep playoff doubleheader

    The Huskies men will play in the Final Four after beating the Winnipeg Wesmen 88-77 one night after earning a nail-biting one-point victory.

    The Dogs raced out to a 31-8 lead after one quarter thanks to an impressive display of long-range shooting.

    Saskatchewan made seven of nine three-point attempts in the quarter and looked to be cruising to victory but the Wesmen never gave up, battling all the way back to within one point in the fourth quarter before the Huskies pulled away late.

    Fourth-year forward Shane Osayande recorded his second straight double-double with 21 points and 19 rebounds, both game highs, while fourth-year point guard Alex Unruh poured in 20 points.

    Saskatchewan will now travel to Calgary next week for the Final Four.

WASHINGTON – U.S. immigration authorities are barring entry to a 21-year-old Syrian cinematographer who worked on a harrowing film about his nation’s civil war, The White Helmets, that has been nominated for an Academy Award.

ChangSha Night Net

According to internal Trump administration correspondence seen by The Associated Press, the Department of Homeland Security has decided at the last minute to block Khaled Khateeb from travelling to Los Angeles for the Oscars.

READ MORE: Bashar al-Assad: Donald Trump’s travel ban is ‘not against the Syrian people’

Khateeb was scheduled to arrive Saturday in Los Angeles on a Turkish Airlines flight departing from Istanbul. But his plans have been upended after U.S. officials reported finding “derogatory information” regarding Khateeb.

Derogatory information is a broad category that can include anything from terror connections to passport irregularities. Asked for comment, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, Gillian Christensen, said, “A valid travel document is required for travel to the United States.”

WATCH: Leader of White Helmets says situation in Aleppo is ‘terrible’

“The White Helmets,” a 40-minute Netflix documentary, has been nominated for Best Documentary Short. If the film wins the Oscar, the award would go to director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara. Khateeb is one of three people credited for cinematography; Franklin Dow is the film’s director of photography.

The film focuses on the rescue workers who risk their lives to save Syrians affected by civil war. Many of the group’s members have been killed by Syrian President Bashar Assad‘s air forces. The group also was nominated for last year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

“The White Helmets” includes emblematic scenes of the deadly 6-year-old conflict: people digging through destroyed homes looking for survivors, at constant risk of “double tap” attacks that target first responders after they’ve arrived at the scene of a strike.

WATCH: Syrian ‘White Helmet’ cries after rescuing baby from rubble

Khateeb had been issued a visa to attend the ceremony with Hollywood’s biggest stars. But Turkish authorities detained him this week, according to the internal U.S. government correspondence, and he suddenly needed a passport waiver from the United States to enter the country.

The correspondence indicated he would not receive such a waiver. There was no explanation in the correspondence for why Turkey detained Khateeb.

Some homeowners in southeast Calgary were given quite the scare Friday night when a giant piece of ice came crashing through their roof.

Theresa Couch and her husband were watching TV in the living room of their home in the 100-block of Doverthorn Bay S.E. when they heard what they thought was an explosion.

“All of a sudden we heard this big bang and all this stuff falling,” Couch, who has lived in the house for 42 years, explained. “We thought something major fell out of the cupboard or something.”

ChangSha Night Net

The pair went into the kitchen but they found nothing out of the ordinary. Then they walked into the hallway to find a hole in their ceiling.

“We were pretty shook up, I’ll tell you that. I said to him, ‘Something must have fell from the sky. How could that happen?’”

The Calgary Fire Department was called to the home at around 7 p.m.

The initial call came in as an explosion, said Paul LeBlanc with the fire department.

“When I called (911) I said it was an explosion because that’s what it sounded like. It was that loud,” Couch said.

“We found a hole in the rear of the house that had gone through the roof, through the ceiling and into the basement,” LeBlanc explained.

Fire crews went inside the house and found a big chunk of ice in the basement.

“It was about a foot in diameter,” LeBlanc said. “With the assessment that we could do when our crews arrived here, and putting all of the pieces together, the only explanation that we have at this time is that it would be a piece of ice from a passing plane.

“This is the first time in my 36 years of working for the Calgary Fire Department that I’ve ever heard of this happening.

“It has happened in other parts of the world. I do believe this is the first time in Calgary.”

Luckily no one was injured by the falling piece of ice. LeBlanc said the homeowners were quite shaken.

“Other than being very scared at the time, the occupants are doing just fine.”

The fire department confirmed with airport officials that the house fell under a flight path on Friday night, LeBlanc said.

The fire department’s investigation has concluded.

The Transportation Safety Board is also investigating and said this is the second time in nine years that something like this has happened. The last time it happened was also in Calgary.

WATCH RAW VIDEO BELOW: Theresa Couch was sitting in her living room watching TV with her husband when she heard a loud bang. It turns out, a chunk of ice fell off a plane and crashed through the roof of her home, into the basement. She explains the ordeal. 

An emboldened Mexico hardened its opposition to President Donald Trump on Friday by saying it would retaliate if the United States imposed a border tax and that it can afford to lose financial aid that might be pulled to pay for a border wall.

Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said Mexico could respond to any tax the United States were to unilaterally impose on imports from its southern neighbor to finance the wall with levies on select goods, aimed at U.S. regions most dependent on exports south of the border.

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‘From time to time we’ll have differences:’ Tillerson on U.S./Mexico relationship


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Paul Ryan tours US border with Mexico on horseback


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Thousands protest Trump in Mexico City

“Without a doubt, we have that possibility, and what we cannot do is remain with our arms crossed,” Videgaray said in a radio interview. “The Mexican government would have to respond.”

The statements by Videgaray and Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, who minimized the potential impact of the rumored loss of U.S. security aid, toughened the defiant tone from Mexico since President Enrique Pena Nieto last month canceled a trip to meet Trump over the wall dispute.

Mexicans are angry at Trump’s calls for U.S. firms not to invest south of the border, insults to immigrants and threats to make Mexico finance the border wall. The peso currency has weakened on concerns he will hurt Latin America’s No. 2 economy.

ChangSha Night Net

READ MORE: Trump’s new immigration plan could send all illegals to Mexico, regardless of nationality

Pena Nieto had faced criticism he was too accommodating with Trump but got a much needed ratings boost after cancelling the summit. A plan to deport third-country nationals to Mexico fueled outrage this week.

Mexican officials were publicly blunt with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security John Kelly over Trump’s immigration and trade proposals in a visit to Mexico on Thursday.

Osorio Chong told local radio that Mexican officials’ rejection of Trump’s bid to send non-Mexican illegal migrants from the United States to Mexico was “very clear.”

In this Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017 file photo, a truck drives near the Mexico-US border fence, on the Mexican side, separating the towns of Anapra, Mexico and Sunland Park, New Mexico.

AP Photo/Christian Torres, File

“They asked us if (non-Mexican illegal immigrants) could be here while they are going through the legal process there. We said that there was…absolutely no way.”

Videgaray said the trade strategy would replicate a 2009 campaign of retaliatory tariffs that helped Mexico win a dispute with the United States. On Wednesday, the minister mentioned Iowa, Texas and Wisconsin as states that could be targeted in a conversation with lawmakers leaked to two newspapers.

“This is not our preference,” he said. “Mexico believes in free trade.”

No handouts please

A U.S. executive order on Jan. 25 that mandated the construction of a border wall also require government agencies to report the financial assistance they gave Mexico in the past five years, leading to speculation Trump wants to redirect the aid to pay for its construction.

Osorio Chong said on Friday that Mexico had no need for such financial aid from the United States, signaling that it would not come close to paying for the estimated $21.6 billion cost of the wall.

Like in other middle-income emerging economies, many in Mexico consider it humiliating to take aid from wealthy countries.

READ MORE: Donald Trump sends top aides to Mexico on fence-mending mission

A large part of U.S. aid to Mexico comes through the Plan Merida program, under which the U.S. Congress allocated $2.6 billion to security assistance between 2008 and 2016.

Of that, $1.6 billion had been disbursed by November 2016, according to the U.S. Congressional Research Service.

“When they realize what’s left of Merida, they will understand that it’s not even that significant,” Osorio Chong told local radio.

“We don’t object to them moving these resources… Mexico now has its own capabilities,” he said.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said on Friday it will accept proposals next month for the design of Trump’s wall, a first step in picking vendors.

Videgaray said a meeting of Tillerson, Kelly and Pena Nieto in Mexico City was a short courtesy visit.

He said in a more substantial meeting of the ministers, Kelly told him that deportations of undocumented immigrants from the United States would not be militarized, after Trump characterized the process as a “military operation.”