Terrorist Attack on Turkish Embassy
A suicide bombing in Ankara, Turkey killed a Turkish security guard and injured a television journalist last Friday, Feb. 1.
A radical leftist terror group, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party, better known as the DHKP-C, claimed responsibility for the attack.
“E. Alisan Sanli has become a martyr after accomplishing the action on the American Embassy in Ankara,” the terror group said in a statement on its website.
Sanli had been arrested in 1997 when he attacked an Instanbul Security Department and the Sisli Harbiye soldier’s club with a flame flower. He escaped to an unknown foreign country after his release.
The Ankara Governor’s Office stated six kg of TNT explosives were used in the bombing.
According to the Anadolu news agency, three people have been detained for questioning by authorities
Israel launches airstrike on Syria
Israeli fighter jets struck a Syrian convoy, Wednesday, Jan. 30, suspected of moving surface-to-air missiles of Russian manufacturing.
The weapons were headed for a Syria-Iran backed militant group, Hezbollah, in Lebanon and could have been used to attack Israel, according to a senior U.S. official. The United States has already designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
Russia is an ally of Syria. In a statement Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, “If the information is confirmed, we are dealing with unprovoked attacks on targets situated on the territory of a sovereign state that grossly violates the U.N. Charter and is unacceptable whatever motives are to justify it.”
U.S. Prepared to Hold Talks with Iran
Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday, Feb. 2, that the U.S. is prepared to hold talks with Iran regarding its nuclear aspirations.
“That offer stands but it must be real and tangible and there has to be an agenda that they’re prepared to speak to,” said Biden
Iran defiantly announced plans to increase its uranium enrichment last month ahead of new talks to be held soon between all five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.
Biden said “there is still time, there is still space for diplomacy backed by pressure to succeed,” at an international security conference. “The ball is in the government of Iran’s court.”
U.S. Army Suicide Rates At All Time High
The U.S. Army reported that there were 325 confirmed or potential suicides in 2012 among active-duty military personnel.
“Our highest on record,” said Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, deputy chief of staff, manpower and personnel for the army. The total exceeds the number of total U.S. Army deaths (219) and total military deaths (313) in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Also in 2012, 182 potential suicides of active-duty personnel were reported, 130 of which have been confirmed and 52 of which remain under investigation. One hundred and forty-three potential not-on-active-duty suicides were also reported. Ninety-six of these coming from the U.S. Army National Guard and 47 from the U.S. Army Reserve, 117 of which have been confirmed and 26 remain under investigation.
The total for 2011 was 283 confirmed active-duty suicides and 118 confirmed not-on-active-duty suicides. The toll comes despite the U.S. Military’s efforts to provide extensive support and counseling programs to soldiers in their time of need.
Obama proposal allows religious groups to opt-out of contraceptive use
The Obama administration proposed new guidelines on Friday, Feb. 1, that would allow religious organizations opposing the use of contraception to opt out of a federal mandate that would require them to provide their employees with insurance coverage for birth control.
The new proposal would give women at non-profit, religious-based organizations that do opt out of this coverage, the ability to receive contraception through separate government health policies at no charge.
The policy compromise is consistent with Barack Obama’s announcement last year on the contraception mandate. It also continues his administration’s attempts to resolve the continuing issue of how non-profit organizations can decline to provide contraception coverage to their employees on their own personal religious grounds without facing any federal penalty.
Mexico City explosion kills 33
An explosion blasted the offices of Mexico’s state oil company Thursday, Jan. 31 killing at least 33 people and injuring more than 100. Dozens of people were trapped in the building after the explosion. It was unclear how many of them had been pulled to safety, or whether anyone remained stuck inside late Thursday.
More than five hours after the blast, rescuers had pulled at least one survivor from the rubble. Crews searched for people who could be trapped in the Pemex office complex, which includes one of the city’s tallest skyscrapers.
Wall Street Journal, New York Times under foreign attack
The New York Times reported Wednesday, Jan. 30 that it had been the target of four months of cyber assaults, which started during an investigation by the newspaper into the attacks, which originated in from China. The Wall Street Journal also reported that its computer systems also had been infiltrated by Chinese hackers.
Chinese officials have denied that Beijing has supported any cyber-attacks, stressing that hacking is illegal in the country. Accusations that Chinese hackers infiltrated the computers of two leading U.S. newspapers add to a growing number of cyber-attacks on Western companies.
According to a recent report, one in every three observed computer attacks in the third quarter of 2012 originated from China. Cyber security experts say the alleged attack on The New York Times appeared to be similar to previously reported attacks that were linked to China.
“To do a spear-phishing attack of this kind is a well-established move in attacks against Google and various U.S. defense contractors from China,” said Thomas Parenty, a former employee of the U.S. National Security Agency who now advises foreign firms in China on computer security.
BP pleads guilty in Deepwater Horizon spill, pays $4 Billion penalty
A federal judge in New Orleans approved a $4 billion plea agreement for criminal fines and penalties by BP for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, making it the largest criminal penalty paid by anyone in U.S. history.
Two of BP’s high-ranking supervisors that worked on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig at the time of the explosion were indicted on 23 criminal counts, including manslaughter, for allegedly ignoring warning signs of a possible blowout on the rig.
Luke Keller, a vice president of BP America, Inc., apologized again in court Tuesday for his company’s role in the accident. The Deepwater Horizon oil rig caught fire April 20, 2010, resulting in the deaths of 11 workers.
Horse Meat Found In Burger King Patties
Hamburger patties from Burger King restaurants in Ireland, were found to contain positive DNA from both horses and pigs. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland said Jan. 29 that 10 out of 27 hamburger products it analyzed in a study were found to contain horse DNA, and 23 of them tested positive for pig DNA.
The horse burgers, on sale at several different Burger King’s in Ireland, came from two meat processing plants in Ireland and one in Great Britain.
“In Ireland, it is not in our culture to eat horsemeat and therefore, we do not expect to find it in a burger,” said Alan Reilly, the chief executive of the Irish food authority. “Likewise, for some religious groups or people who abstain from eating pig meat, the presence of traces of pig DNA is unacceptable.”
6.9 Earthquake Strikes Japan
An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.9 struck near the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido on Saturday Jan. 2, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). There were no early reports of casualties or damage nor was there a tsunami warning following the quake.
The Japanese Meteorological Agency reported the magnitude of the quake at 6.4 on the Richter scale. Japanese media said police had received no reports of damage shortly after the quake.
A nuclear power plant in northern Japan reported no problems after the quake. The epicenter of the quake was 38 miles south east from the town of Obihiro. The island is about 500 miles north of Tokyo and has a population of nearly 5.5 million.
By Derek Page and Charles Ordoqui
News Editor and Assistant