Home' Greymouth Star : January 22nd 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Thursday, January 22, 2015
Cuban and United States delegations take part in negotiations to restore diplomatic ties between the two countries, in Havana.
The United States and Cuba have
opened two days of historic talks in
Havana aimed at ending decades
of Cold War-era animosity and re-
establishing diplomatic relations.
The meetings in Havana follow
the historic decision by US
President Barack Obama and
Cuban leader Raul Castro in
December to seek normal ties.
US deputy assistant secretary of
state Alex Lee and Cuban foreign
ministry official Josefina Vidal sat
down overnight for the first day of
closed-door talks in the capital’s
Convention Centre, which focused
on migration issues.
Their opening remarks were not
The reopening of mutual
embassies, closed after relations
broke in 1961, will be at the centre
of tomorrow ’s talks, which will
be led on the US side by Roberta
Jacobson, the US assistant secretary
of state for Western Hemisphere
Jacobson will be the highest-
ranking American official to visit
the communist island since 1980
when she lands later today.
On the eve of the talks, Obama
urged the Congress to end the
decades-long embargo against
Cuba, which the Castro regime has
blamed for the country’s economic
“In Cuba, we are ending a policy
that was long past its expiration
date,” Obama said in his annual
State of the Union speech yesterday.
“ When what you have done
doesn’t work for 50 years. It’s time
to try something new.”
A Cuban foreign ministry official
sought to play down expectations
of major breakthroughs this week.
“ We can’t expect that everything
will be resolved in one meeting,”
the official said, according to State
“The normalisation of relations is
a much longer and complex process
in which we must discuss issues of
interests for both sides.” — AFP
Cuba, US launch historic talks
Pope Francis has
families as a “gift
days after he said
Catholics did not
need to “ breed like
In an apparent
comments he made
on his way back from the Philippines,
the Argentinian pontiff overnight argued
that an unfair economic system is the
primary cause of poverty, rather than
“The meetings with families and
young people in Manila were stand-
out moments during the visit to the
Philippines,” Pope Francis told a crowd
of around 7000 gathered in St Peter’s
Square for his weekly audience.
“ Healthy families are essential to
the life of society. It provides us with
consolation and hope to see so many
large families who welcome children as
a gift from God,” he said. “ These families
know that each child is a blessing. ”
Pope Francis surprised reporters on the
papal plane on Sunday by recounting
an anecdote about how he had once
asked a mother who had seven children
by Caesarean section and was pregnant
with her eighth if she wanted to “ leave
behind seven young orphans”.
“She said, ‘I trust in God’. But God gave
us the means to be responsible,” Pope
Francis said. “Some think — and excuse
the term — that to be good Catholics,
they must be like rabbits.”
Following the Church’s teachings
did not mean “Christians should have
children one after the other”, he added.
Catholic teaching prohibits the use of
artificial contraception but allows the
use of the so-called rhythm method,
where couples plan sex on days when the
woman is less likely to conceive.
contraception was formalised by former
Pope Paul VI in 1968, as the birth control
pill was beginning to be widely used.
On Sunday, the current pontiff
described his predecessor as a “prophet ”
who had been rightly concerned about
ideas advocating restrictions on the
poor having children. At the same
time, the Pope appeared to approvingly
cite population experts who say three
children per family is an ideal number.
It is an unlikely friendship that ties
the fates of war correspondent Kenji
Goto and troubled loner Haruna
Yukawa, the two Japanese hostages
for which Islamic State militants
demanded a $200 million ransom
Yukawa was captured in August
outside Aleppo. Goto, who had
returned to Syria in late October
to try to help his friend, had been
missing since then.
For Yukawa, who dreamed of
becoming a military contractor,
travelling to Syria had been part
of an effort to turn his life around
after going bankrupt, losing his wife
to cancer and attempting suicide,
according to associates and his own
A unit at Japan’s Ministry of
Foreign Affairs had been seeking
information on him since August,
people involved in that effort said.
Goto’s disappearance had not been
reported until yesterday’s video
apparently showing him and Yukawa
kneeling in orange t-shirts next to
a masked Islamic State militant
wielding a knife.
Yukawa first met Goto in Syria
in April and asked him to take him
to Iraq. He wanted to know how to
operate in a conflict zone. They went
together in June.
“ He was hapless and didn’t know
what he was doing. He needed
someone with experience to help
him,” Goto said.
Yukawa then returned to Syria in
July on his own. Goto, 47, returned
to Japan. Yukawa’s subsequent
abduction haunted Goto, who felt he
had to do something to help the man,
a few years his junior.
“ I need to go there at least once and
see my fixers and ask them what the
current situation is. I need to talk
to them face to face. I think that ’s
necessary,” Goto said in August,
referring to locals who work freelance
for foreign correspondents, setting
up meetings and helping with the
Goto began working as a full-time
war correspondent in 1996 and had
established a reputation as a careful
and reliable operator for Japanese
broadcasters, including NHK.
“He understood what he had to do
and he was cautious,” Naomi Toyoda,
who reported with him from Jordan
in the 1990s, said.
Goto, who converted to Christianity
in 1997, also spoke of his faith in the
context of his job.
“I have seen horrible places and
have risked my life, but I know
that somehow God will always save
me,” he said in a May article for
the Japanese publication Christian
But he told the same publication
that he never risked anything
dangerous, citing a passage in the
Bible, “Do not put the Lord your
God to the test. ”
In October, Goto’s wife had a baby,
the couple’s second child. He has
an older daughter from a previous
marriage, people who know the
About the same time, he made
plans to leave for Syria and uploaded
several short video clips to his
Twitter feed, one showing him with
media credentials issued by anti-
government rebels in Aleppo.
On October 22, he e-mailed an
acquaintance, a high school teacher,
to say he planned to be back in Japan
at the end of the month.
Friends say he travelled from Tokyo
to Istanbul and travelled from there
to Syria, sending a message on
October 25 that he had crossed the
border and was safe.
“ Whatever happens, this is my
responsibility,” Goto said on a video
recorded shortly before he set out
for Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic
That was the last time he was seen
before the IS video this week.
Japanese reporter’s bid to save friend led to IS abduction
A masked man holding a knife speaks as he stands in between two
kneeling men in this still image taken from an on-line video released by
the militant Islamic State group.
Warning alarms in Air Asia flight
QZ8501 were “screaming” as the pilots
desperately tried to stabilise the plane
just before it plunged into the Java Sea
last month, a crash investigator said.
The noise of several alarms — including
one that indicated the plane was stalling
can be heard going off in recordings
from the black box in the Airbus A320-
200’s cockpit, the investigator said,
“The warning alarms, we can say, were
screaming, while in the background they
(the pilot and co-pilot) were busy trying
to recover,” the investigator said, adding
the warnings were going off “for some
The investigator, from Indonesia’s
Committee, added the pilots’ voices were
drowned out by the sound of the alarms.
The revelation came a day after
Indonesian Transport Minister Ignasius
Jonan said that the plane had climbed
abnormally fast before stalling and
plunging into the sea, as it flew on
December 28 in stormy weather from
Indonesia’s Surabaya to Singapore with
162 people on board.
“In the final minutes, the plane climbed
at a speed which was beyond normal,”
the minister told reporters.
Analysts said the Air Asia plane’s rapid
ascent had echoes of the crash of an Air
France airliner into the Atlantic in 2009,
with the loss of 228 lives.
Air France flight 447 vanished on the
way from Rio to Paris at night during a
storm. The Airbus A330’s speed sensors
were found to have malfunctioned, and
the plane climbed too steeply, causing it
The investigation into AF447 found
that both technical and human error
were to blame.
As with the Air Asia disaster, the
accident happened in an area around the
equator where north and south winds
meet, and thunderstorms are common.
“The similarities are pretty striking,”
Daniel Tsang, founder of Hong Kong-
based consultancy Aspire Aviation, said.
So far, just 53 bodies have been
recovered following the Air Asia crash.
Divers have been struggling for a week
against rough seas and strong currents to
reach the plane’s main body, which was
spotted on the seabed and is thought
to contain the bulk of the remaining
passengers and crew.
The two black boxes — the cockpit
voice recorder and the flight data
recorder — were recovered last week
after a lengthy search, and investigators
are examining them.
Investigators have listened to the data
from the cockpit voice recorder, and are
also looking at a wealth of information
from the flight data recorder, which
monitors every major part of the plane.
They are focusing on the possibility of
human or aircraft error, after ruling out
terrorism following an analysis of the
cockpit voice recorder.
Committee head Tatang Kurniadi said
the preliminary report into the crash
would be completed next week, a month
after the accident. He said the full report
would not be released publicly but the
media would be told some of its contents.
There was a huge international hunt
for the crashed plane, involving ships
from several countries including the
United States and China.
All but seven of those on board the
flight were Indonesian. The foreign
nationals were from South Korea,
Singapore, Malaysia, Britain and France.
Notorious Sydney extremist
Mohamed Elomar has boasted of the
conversion of a young Yazidi boy in
his latest Islamic State propaganda
A Twitter account linked to Elomar
in media reports features a post
with an image of the pre schooler
apparently from the minority Kurdish
sect holding a gun and a dummy.
“ Meet Amjed was a Yehzidi but I
think his (sic) starting to get the idea
that Isis is a way of life,” the Twitter
The boast is followed by an Arabic
phrase in honour of the Islamic State,
saying the group is here to stay.
Earlier in January a picture of
another boy with a gun was posted
with the message: “Abu Omar al
australi young cub of the Islamic
Elomar has also previously posted
pictures of himself holding the severed
heads of Syrian government soldiers.
He has been added to Australia’s
terror list and warrants have been
issued for his arrest should he return
It is not the first time children
have been used in Islamic State
Australian Khaled Sharouf shot to
notoriety in August when he posted
an image on-line of his seven-year-old
son holding the severed head of a slain
Both Elomar and Sharouf left
Australia late in 2013.
Elomar’s latest dispatch also
follows a recent report by Amnesty
International into the capture of
Yazidi men, women and children by
the Islamic State.
According to four women and girls
who escaped their captors in northern
Iraq, they had been held in the homes
of two Australian fighters.
The report, titled Escape from Hell:
Torture and Sexual Slavery in Islamic
State Captivity in Iraq, detailed the
widespread abuse inflicted on the
Yazidi minority, notably its women
“ Four women and girls said they
had been held in the homes of two
Australian fighters of Lebanese
origin, one of whom was living with
his Australian wife (also of Lebanese
origin) and children,” the report
stated. — AAP
IS ‘recruits’ preschooler
Lutz Bachmann as he appeared on the front page of Bild newspaper.
Anti-Muslim leader quits
The leader of the fast-growing
German anti-Muslim movement
Pegida resigned overnight after a photo
of him posing as Hitler, and reports
that he called refugees “scumbags”,
prompted prosecutors to investigate
him for inciting hatred.
Lutz Bachmann, a 41-year-old
convicted burglar, had appeared on
the front page of top-selling daily
newspaper Bild yesterday sporting a
Hitler moustache and haircut.
Bild and another paper said he had
called asylum-seekers “animals” and
The news came just as supporters of
Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against
the Islamisation of the West), which
is based in Dresden, staged a march in
another east German city, Leipzig.
However, the so-called Legida rally
attracted only around 15,000 people —
far fewer than the originally estimated
40,000 — and they were outnumbered
by more than 20,000 people who joined
several counter-demonstrations, officials
Pegida has forced itself on to the
political agenda with its anti-immigrant
slogans that have attracted tens of
thousands to regular rallies in Dresden.
Bachmann, who denies he is a racist,
had heard he was facing a criminal
investigation for incitement to racial
hatred. State prosecutors in Dresden
said preliminary proceedings had been
launched following the Bild report.
Kathrin Oertel, another Pegida
co-founder, said Bachmann’s resignation
had nothing to do with the Hitler
photo, but was linked to his comments
on refugees posted on the internet.
“ Yes, I can confirm that Lutz
Bachmann has offered his resignation
and it was accepted,” Oertel said.
She added: “Pegida will go on.”
Bild quoted Bachmann as saying the
Hitler photo had been taken as a joke,
prompted by a recent satirical book
about the Nazi dictator called “Er ist
wieder da” (“Look Who’s Back”).
The Dresdner Morgenpost newspaper
also quoted what it said were Facebook
messages from Bachmann saying
asylum seekers acted like “scumbags” at
the welfare office and that extra security
was needed “to protect employees from
Social Democrat leader and Deputy
Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said the
real face of Pegida had been exposed:
“Anyone who puts on a Hitler disguise
is either an idiot or a Nazi.” — Reuters
Migrants lift German population
Germany ’s population rose to
81.1 million people in 2014, the
fourth annual increase in a row,
boosted by the highest level of
net migration in more than two
decades, the Federal Statistics
Office said overnight.
Union’s most populous country
and also its largest economy, had
a population of 80.8 million at
the end of 2013.
As in much of Europe,
Germany ’s population is ageing
fast, with as many as 215,000
more deaths than births last year,
but that was more than offset
by an influx of about 470,000
The number of migrants was
the highest since 1992 when
immigration peaked following
the collapse of communism in
eastern Europe and war in the
A large influx of immigrants
and asylum seekers — many from
Syria — over the last few years
has alarmed many Germans and
become a potent political issue,
increasing support for a new
right-wing political party, the
Alternative for Germany (AfD).
It has also fuelled grassroots
anti-immigrant movements such
as Pegida (Patriotic Europeans
Against the Islamisation of the
West), which holds regular rallies
in the eastern city of Dresden
and wants to expand.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s
government is due to publish a
report showing that more than
three quarters of migrants to
Germany in 2013 came from
Europe, with the biggest number
from Poland. — Reuters
Former British prime
minister Tony Blair has
rejected claims that the
invasion of Iraq fuelled
the current wave of Islamic
Blair blamed a “closed-
minded” view of the world
for the extremist threat and
insisted it was right to oust
He was challenged about his decision
to take the United Kingdom to war as
he appeared on a panel at the World
Economic Forum in Davos overnight.
A member of the audience at the Swiss
ski resort told Blair: “I think you have a
great responsibility for the conflicts we
Blair responded by saying that Hussein
“ wasn’t exactly a force for stability, peace
and prosperity for his country” and
was responsible for killing hundreds of
thousands of people.
“So, look, we can debate this but what
interests me is that there is always a reason
you are suggesting the
extremism all comes from
that decision,” Blair said.
“ But then we see the
extremism in France that,
by the way, was opposed
to Iraq, and then it’s the
“Then you have what
happens in Belgium —
what is the reason for
that? Then you see what
is happening in Nigeria, or Central
African Republic or Mali, and then
you see, when Gaddafi was removed in
Libya we also now have huge instability
He said there was no inter vention in
Syria, where “we have got probably the
“So my view is you can debate the
political decisions, but at some point we
have got to understand this extremism
has grown up over a long period of time,
over decades, its roots are deep within a
per version of the religion of Islam. ”
United States Vice-
President Joe Biden said
overnight he felt safe at
his home in Delaware
despite an incident over
the weekend in which
shots were fired nearby
from a passing vehicle.
“ I feel completely safe,”
Biden said on NBC’s
Today programme. “ I’m
not worried about it, and
I think the security of my
home is fine. ”
Biden and his wife, Jill,
were in Delaware but not
inside the Wilmington-
area home at the time.
The shots were fired from
a public road outside a
The incident came as the
US Secret Ser vice, which
is charged with protecting
the president and vice
with a series of recent
Links Archive January 21st 2015 January 23rd 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page