Prosecutors had raided the house of the head of the company that operated the sunken Sewol ferry, which had lost 100 lives and still has 200 passengers missing from the original 476. According to local Yonhap News Agency in South Korea, Yoo Byung-un’s house had been raided. Yoo is the owner of the Chonghaejin Marine Co. Ltd. which operated the ferry.
According to history, Yoo Byung-un had been jailed for fraud in the early 1990s. Prosecutors had also exposed several misdemeanours of the company, including its difficult share structure.
The maritime disaster that involved hundreds of students on a field trip was indicated as the biggest maritime disaster in South Korea for over 21 years.
Local media highlighted that the Sewol ferry captain Lee Joon-seok had delayed evacuating the passengers of the ship and that they all fled before all passengers could escape the sinking vessel. However, stories from both survivors and crew members made it evident that some crew members remained, and gave their life, to shepherd passengers into safety boats and rescue.
Divers are now moving the bodies of the dead into a cabin in Jin Island where the ferry had been docked. Meanwhile, Lee and two other crew members were arrested and are accused of negligence and abandonment of duty.
Considered as a traitor to the United States, Naval Intelligence Analyst based in Washington Jonathan Pollard appalled the entire country as he was discovered passing security information regarding the country to Israel. While he was the last thing on the minds of US officials, his freedom may spell hope for the Israel-Palestine peace talks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had discussed with US Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the release of Pollard, who had been imprisoned in the Israeli US Embassy in 1985.
However, the now 59-year old veteran’s freedom is still pending as US President Barack Obama had not yet given a final word yet regarding his release. According to White House Spokesperson Jay Carney, “a lot of things are still happening in that arena.”
Pollard won sympathy from the Israelis because he helped Israel from the United States during the cold war. Israel is a close ally of the United States. However, he is still viewed as an unrepentant traitor and the damages of his actions were more serious. Aside from Israel, he had also sold information about the United States to China.
Meanwhile, Kerry continues to glue together the peace talks between Israel and Palestine despite a small setback involving Israel withholding the last batch of Palestine prisoners until Palestine agrees to extend talks, and Palestine wanting the release of the last batch of prisoners until they guarantee peace talks.
The Israel government estimate at least 30 rockets that landed and exploded in Sderot, Israel. While no casualties were found, the Palestinian militant group the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.
According to military intelligence, at least 60 rockets were contained in the barrage.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had declared Israeli forces to respond. According to Netanyahu, if the peace is broken between Gaza and Israel, Gaza will face a strong barrage of missiles from Israel as well.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said that Israel should invade the Gaza Strip to contain the Palestinian militants in the area.
According to Bloomberg, the Islamic Jihad group is backed by Iran. According to the group, their attack was a retaliation against the deaths of three of its members during an Israeli air raid on Tuesday. He said that more men are preparing to fire rockets against Israel.
Israel had also responded fire with 29 air strikes and artillery fire.
According to Gaza Medical and Security officials, no one was harmed in the Israelian attack as well.
Palestine had called for Israel to stop its fierce response against Gaza, saying that it will only escalate dangers and kill unarmed citizens.
A Chinese department had ordered the deletion of websites in the Great Firewall of China to delete all mention of its low Press Freedom Index Position as reported by the Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF). China is currently at the low position of fifth bottom, which is near the ranking of bottom number North Korea.
The Chinese “Ministry of Truth” department had ordered today the deletion of such information from national circulation. The directive coming from the State Council Information Office on Tuesday, reads in direct translation “All websites are kindly asked to delete the article ‘180 Countries Ranked in 2013 Press Freedom Index; China at 175th’ and other related content.”
Because of this, the RSF has put China down two more places because of its actions today, above only North Korea, Turkmenistan, Syria and Somalia. The RSF said that “The daily “directives” to the traditional media from the Department of Propaganda, the constant online censorship, the growing number of arbitrary arrests and the detention of the largest number of journalists and netizens in the world (including 2010 Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo) have made China a model of censorship and repression.”
Other journalists fear that the model imposed by China is now spreading to different parts of Asia, with most Asian countries well-below the PFI.
Every Israeli had mourned the passing of former Israeli Leader Ariel Sharon, who is greatly remembered for securing the interests of his country and protecting its sovereignty. As the world expresses its condolences and goodbyes, political experts said that Israel will need to confront the legacy left by Sharon, which had created Israel numerous enemies from where it stands.
Sharon was once a reputable military strategist turned politician and he earned the respect of many world leaders because of his endeavours in protecting his country. His narrow objective of conquering Palestine may have strengthened Israel’s army but, according to Palestinian officials, Sharon had left in its wake a violent legacy that will reflect in Israel.
The former leader passed in his deathbed after a multiple organ failure during his 8 year coma last Saturday.
According to political experts, history remembers Sharon as the leader who championed driving away the Arabs during the settlement movement. This incident is the greatest obstacle for a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. Sharon has also become controversial when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, which bore Hezbollah, which never resolved any issue.
Observers said that his history is what stands between total reversal or a condemned continued legacy for Israel. Israel will need to confront its history to face its new challenges,
The rift between Ukraine and the European Union increases as the European Union had halted a landmark trade deal and a political pact with Ukraine. Thousands of protesters in the country took to Kiev to urge the Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich to improve their ties with Brussels instead.
Thousands of protesters attended the rally done at Independence Square in Kiev on December 15, 2013. President Yanukovich will leave for talks in the Kremlin in a few days, which many protesters fear would collapse its relationship with the European Union.
The government also angered the protesters by having the EU because, according to EU Enlargement Chief Stefan Fuele, Yanukovich’s words and actions were “growing further and further apart” despite the crisis the country is going through.
Observers estimated that there were more than 200,000 people at the Independence Square on Sunday night.
Fuele’s statement declares the EU’s increasing irritation with Ukraine’s demands for financial aid and its forced participation in a bidding war with Russia. According to political analysts, Yanukovich’s visit to the Kremlin will only make matters worse.
Ukrainian opposition fears that a Mocow-led customs union, which may eventually include Ukraine if it does not stop, may be Russia’s attempts in trying to recreate the Soviet Union.
Economists said that payment protection insurance refunds actually help the economy as local markets see most activity in the last few months. The refunds were a windfall and economists see it as having an effect better than quantitative easing.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) also mentioned a 13.4% increase in the number of car owners in the United Kingdom. They said that 27,000 more car registrations were noted in the previous six months of 2013, supporting their theory that PPI had held back consumer spending.
Many consumers were spending their refunds using the money as downpayment for new vehicles, furniture and appliances. Some used the money to repair utility lines and other home improvement projects. Some people re-invested their money in the market for circulation and growth.
PPI is an insurance product that costs around £3000-3500 and is supposed to protect your repayments for your financing if you get sick or become unemployed. However, bank representatives even mis sold the insurance to ineligible consumers. If you think you were mis sold PPI, you could call on a claims management company to ensure you get your complete refunds.
However, the total PPI compensation package had now reached £17 billion in total as Lloyds, RBS and HSBC added further to their PPI redress packages. Experts estimate that the refund bill could reach more than £20 billion by the end of the year.
Pakistan remains firm on its stance that the United States should finally end its drone program in the country and the neighbour Yemen because of indiscriminate attacks on civilians. Amnesty International, an international human rights group, support’s Pakistan’s stance as some of the drone attacks may constitute to war crimes.
Amnesty International, together with the Human Rights Watch, another international human rights organization, reports that two drone attacks in northwest Pakistan last year had killed an elderly grandmother picking vegetables.
According to Letta Tayler, who works for the Human Rights Watch, the US may be taking all precautions in ensuring the safety of civilians and all unarmed personnel in drone strikes, but it had also killed several civilians and the drones have also eliminated questionable military targets.
Amnesty International called for the United States to ensure more transparency because it was difficult to test the US claims that the attacks truthfully conform to international law.
According to the US, the drones are effective tools in the US’ fight against the al-Qaeda and other militants linked to the Taliban. However, many observers have noted that many innocent civilians have also died during the strikes.
The Human Rights Watch pointed out that US’ battle with the al-Qaeda does not meet the intensity required under the laws of war through the use of drones.
A 7.7 magnitude earthquake that struck Baluchistan in Pakistan had killed an estimated 208 people in the poor district and left many mud-houses toppled. The number of people injured were over 382. Rescue teams and the Pakistan military are working together to recover the bodies of the dead and the injured. Currently, the teams are focusing on bringing the injured to safety in hospitals.
The injured from the earthquake will be sent to Karachi through helicopters and other neighbouring districts for treatment. The rescue operations have continued throughout the night and will push on until the day according to Awaran Senior Official Abdul Rasheed Baluch.
The Pakistan military had sent medical teams and 300 soldiers aided by helicopters and military vehicle to transport the injured.
The 7.7 magnitude earthquake had reached past Pakistan and into India in Dubai. People in Dubai also ran outside the streets due to the strong tremors. The Tuesday earthquake had created an island close to the coastline of Gwadar in Pakistan. The 100×200 feet island surfaced after the earthquake happened.
From Pakistani media, thousands of houses and rubbles were destroyed. Footages of caved-in roofs and people rummaging through the rubble and mud were shown on national television. The Pakistani government had declared a state of emergency for Awaran.
According to the United States and France, wider support to punish the Syrian regime with a limited military strike continues to increase to date. The European Union had expressed support, but said that the military strike can only happen if it goes through proper UN processes. The EU said that they condemned the Syrian Regime’s “cynical use of chemical weapons” during the August 21 attack.
The attack claimed more than 1,400 civilian lives including children.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the number of countries supporting the strike had increased to double digits. After his meeting with EU foreign ministers in Lithuania, the ministers issued a call to action against the Syrian Regime.
The US Obama Administration had pushed for a global campaign for support for the US-led military strike. US President Barack Obama warned about the dangers of inaction and said that countries should “stand up for the kind of world they want to live in.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said that the suspected chemical attack was a “war crime and a crime against humanity” regardless of which side made the attack in Syria. The EU also called on the United Nations to fulfil its responsibilities in ensuring the security of the entire world.
Still, a wide international opposition against the military strike exists. Pope Francis had led a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin also declared that Russia will defend Syria in case of a military strike.