Philippines' Duterte mulls leaving international court

Published: Thursday, November 17, 2016 @ 4:23 AM
Updated: Thursday, November 17, 2016 @ 4:21 AM


            FILE - In this Oct. 26, 2016, file photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech at the Philippine Economic Forum in Tokyo. Duterte, who has lashed out at U.S. President Barack Obama for criticizing his deadly crackdown on drugs, said his ties with the United States are likely to improve under Donald Trump, but that he is also excited to meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin at an upcoming Asia-Pacific summit. Duterte made upbeat remarks about both the president-elect and Putin at a news conference late Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 in Manila. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he might follow Russia's example and withdraw from the International Criminal Court, where his critics say he could be charged over the thousands killed in his war on drugs.

In a statement before flying to Peru to attend the annual summit of Asia-Pacific leaders, Duterte also said the United Nations has been unsuccessful in stopping wars. He said if China and Russia decide to create a new world order, he would be the first to join them and leave the U.N., which he said is dominated by the U.S.

"You know, if China and Russia would decide to create a new order, I would be the first to join," he said, adding that he would quit the U.N.

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said the U.N. is aware of reports that Duterte is considering withdrawing his country from the ICC but that the world body has not yet received any formal communication from the Philippines. He urged them and other nations to reconsider.

Duterte also criticized the global agreement to fight climate change, saying there are no penalties for violators and it is not clear which industrialized countries will contribute money to support developing countries' efforts against global warming. He said that was the reason why President-elect Donald Trump does not want the U.S. to spend on fighting climate change.

During his campaign, Trump said he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris pact on climate change.

The foul-mouthed Duterte said that like Russia, he might withdraw from the ICC "because we the small ones are the only ones being beaten up," but nothing has been done for the thousands of children and women dying in bombings in Syria and Iraq.

Duterte is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the sidelines of the summit in Lima. He requested for the bilateral meeting because he wants to meet and be friends with Putin, whom he said was his idol.

Human rights advocates have criticized Duterte's anti-drug campaign that has left more than 4,000 suspected addicts and pushers dead since July. They said the killings can be a basis to charge him for crimes against humanity before the Netherlands-based court.

Duterte said he has intentionally used foul language — including calling Obama a "son of a bitch" — because Obama has trivialized the Philippines' drug problem when there are already around 4 million Filipinos addicted to drugs. The country has a population of more than 103 million.

Popular fitness model killed in freak whipped cream accident

Published: Thursday, June 22, 2017 @ 9:00 AM

A popular French fitness model was killed in a freak accident involving a whipped cream dispenser, her family says.

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Fox News reports that Rebecca Burger, who has more than 150,000 followers on Instagram, was killed when a defective whipped cream dispenser exploded and hit her in the chest.

She was 33 years old.

La pratique du culturisme de manière sérieuse et passionnée implique un mode de vie sain mais aussi un mode de vie axé sur le contrôle. Le contrôle de l'alimentation, de l'entrainement, du repos, de la vie en générale. Les journées sont rythmées par le travail, les entrainements, les repas, l'organisation et tout ce qui s'en suit. Pour ma part je me lève tous les jours à 5h30-6h00 et me couche le plus souvent à 21h. Des sorties en semaine ? Non Des party le weekend ? Encore moins, cela impliquerait alors de se coucher aux aurores pour finalement se lever trop tard et pour moi, se serait une journée de gâchée. Attention, je ne jette pas la pierre à ce qu'ils le font mais cela ne rentre juste pas mes principes et encore moins dans mon mode de vie. Tout ce que je fais dans mes journées, les heures de travail, d'entrainement, de réalisation de projets sont dépensées de façon à ce qu'au final, cela m'apporte quelque chose de concret et m'aide à atteindre quotidiennement mes objectifs. Peut-être que ce rythme de vie peut choquer ou provoquer l'incompréhension de pas mal de gens, mais c'est ma vie, celle dans laquelle je me sens vivante, heureuse et épanouie.

A post shared by Rebecca Burger (@rebeccablikes) on

Burger did receive medical attention but died of cardiac arrest, according to reports.

Now her family is warning others not to buy the defective dispensers, claiming thousands of faulty devices are still being sold, according to Fox News.

Read more here.

C'est avec une grande tristesse que nous annonçons le décès de Rebecca le dimanche 18 juin 2017 suite à un accident...

Posted by Rebecca Burger on Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dramatic video shows aid worker, Texas Aggie rescuing child from ISIS gunfire

Published: Thursday, June 22, 2017 @ 11:47 AM

In this May 5, 2017 file photo, destroyed buildings from fighting between Iraqi forces and the Islamic State group are seen in western Mosul. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen, File)
Bram Janssen/AP

Among the many things that are required of a freshman in Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets — from buzzed hair, to shined shoes to elaborate rituals for nearly every situation — is to memorize a simple Bible verse, John 15:13.

“Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

These are not hollow words in Aggieland. It happened famously in Corregidor; tragically in Fallujah; in the trenches of World War I and mountains of Afghanistan.

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Texas A&M graduate David Eubank knew this when he saw a girl of about 5 amid the remains of her family, slain in the ruins of the streets of Mosul, Iraq.

The girl was alive. There was a wall between her and deadly ISIS snipers.

For one little Iraqi girl, Eubank was prepared to stretch the definition of greater love. 

“I thought, ‘If I die doing this, my wife and kids would understand,’” he later told the Los Angeles Times.

His dramatic rescue was caught on video and can be seen on Youtube. (Warning: The video contains graphic content that may be disturbing to some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.)

Eubank’s heroism is hardly out of character. He was a Texas toddler when he knew he wanted to be a soldier and a third-generation Aggie. After completing A&M’s Corps of Cadets, the class of ‘83 graduate served 10 years in the U.S. Army. He was a Ranger and, ultimately, a Special Forces commander.

If that seems like enough service for most, Eubank was just getting started. The son of missionaries, in 1997, he founded the Free Burma Rangers to help those displaced by the civil war in Burma. He moved his wife and kids across the world to help provide food, medical care and Christian outreach to those in need.

Nearly 20 years later, the Free Burma Rangers shifted their focus to Iraq, Syria and the victims of Islamic State terrorists.

That brings us back to Mosul, where this month’s dramatic rescue happened.

Nabih Bulos, reporting for the Los Angeles Times, described how it unfolded:

As clouds from the smoke canisters swirl about, he prepares to dash from behind the tank to save the girl. He’s wearing a helmet and a bullet-proof vest over a black T-shirt.

He runs out as his colleagues, armed with machine guns, give covering fire. He scoops up the girl with his right arm, stumbling as he runs back. He’s gone and back in 12 seconds. The girl’s hair is in pigtails, secured with what appear to be pink ribbons.

It wasn’t quite a Hollywood moment. Another toddler seen alive disappeared in the chaos. A wounded man didn’t make it. As for Eubank? He’s not playing the part of action hero. Instead, he works to keep the humility of a Christian aid worker.

“I believe God sent me here, and I don’t think about security,” he told the Times. “... but I always ask myself if I’m doing it out of pride.”

Read the Los Angeles Times interview with Eubank about his rescue and work in Iraq.

Read a Texas Aggie magazine story from 2012 on the Free Burma Rangers.

Tour company used by Otto Warmbier no longer taking Americans to North Korea

Published: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 @ 11:50 AM

The company that organized the trip that took U.S. student Otto Warmbier to North Korea announced Monday that they would no longer take Americans to the Hermit Kingdom after the 22-year-old died, days after he was released back to his home country.

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“The devastating loss of Otto Warmbier's life has led us to reconsider our position on accepting American tourists,” the China-based Young Pioneer Tours company wrote on its Facebook page. “There had not been any previous detainment in North Korea that has ended with such tragic finality and we have been struggling to process the result.”

Warmbier died Monday in Ohio, where he had been hospitalized since his June 13 release.

Our deepest sympathies are with Otto Warmbier and those who loved him. We had held onto hope that he might recover, and...

Posted by Young Pioneer Tours on Monday, June 19, 2017

He had been detained in North Korea since January 2016, when he was arrested in Pyongyang for attempting to steal a propaganda poster from a hotel. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and hard labor, according to NPR News.

He was medically evacuated last week and returned to the U.S. in a coma. North Korean officials said he became comatose after he was given a sleeping pill following a botulism diagnosis. Doctors with the University of Cincinnati Health system said last week that they found no evidence that Warmbier had suffered from botulism, but that his condition appeared to stem from a cardiopulmonary arrest.

>> Related: Doctors say Otto Warmbier has 'extensive loss of brain tissue' on return from N. Korea

“The way his detention was handled was appalling, and a tragedy like this must never be repeated,” officials with Young Pioneer Tours said Monday. “The assessment of risk for Americans visiting North Korea has become too high.”

Other high-profile tour operators who take travelers to North Korea also said this week that they are “reviewing” their policies regarding traveling Americans in the wake of Warmbier’s death, The Associated Press reported. Tour operators told the wire service that Americans account for about a fifth of all non-Chinese tourism to North Korea.

Researchers: Hackers develop highly customizable cyberweapon aimed at electric grids

Published: Monday, June 12, 2017 @ 5:21 PM



Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Hackers, believed to be affiliated with Russia, have developed a highly customizable cyberweapon capable of taking down electric grids, according to researchers in a pair of countries and multiple reports.

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Researchers say the malware, dubbed CrashOverride or Industroyer, is the first ever designed to attack electric grids, specifically. It has no capabilities geared toward espionage, U.S.-based security firm Dragos Inc. said in a report issued Monday.

CrashOverride in its current form can be easily re-purposed for use in Europe and parts of the Middle East and Asia, according to Dragos. It has already been used once before – in December, when it was used to briefly shut down one-fifth of the electric grid in Kiev, Ukraine, according to The Washington Post. It’s not clear who was behind that attack, although Ukrainian officials blamed Russia, Reuters reported. Officials in Moscow have denied any involvement. 

“With a small amount of tailoring … (CrashOverride) would also be effective in the North American grid,” according to Dragos.

Both Dragos and Slovakian anti-virus firm ESET have issued alerts to governments and infrastructure operators in an effort to prepare them for the possible threat CrashOverride poses, according to Reuters.

"The malware is really easy to re-purpose and use against other targets. That is definitely alarming," ESET malware researcher Robert Lipovsky told Reuters. "This could cause wide-scale damage to infrastructure systems that are vital."

Dragos founder Robert M. Lee told the wire service that while CrashOverride can cause portions of a nation’s electric grid to go down for several days, it is not currently powerful enough to bring down the entirety of a country’s grid.

Still, Sergio Caltagirone, director of threat intelligence for Dragos, described the cyberweapon as “a game charger” in an interview with The Post.

“It’s the culmination of over a decade of theory and attack scenarios,” Caltagirone said.

CrashOverride is just the second malware discovered that was created with the intent to disrupt physical systems, Wired reported. The first known malware created with such a purpose was the 2010 Stuxnet virus, used by the U.S. and Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear program.

“The potential impact here is huge,” Lipovsky told Wired. “If this is not a wakeup call, I don’t know what could be.”