China is increasing military spending, particularly through “unprecedented” modernization of air force, the Pentagon said in a report. Beijing rebuked the document as “preposterous criticisms of China’s normal defense and military building.”Beijing’s military spending last year exceeded $145 billion, assessed the US Department of Defense on Thursday in its annual report to the Congress. The estimate is more than 20 percent higher than the official Chinese figure.“China has the fiscal strength and political will to support defense spending growth at comparable levels for the foreseeable future,”the report said. “Continued increases will support People’s Liberation Army (PLA) modernization efforts and facilitate China’s move toward a more professional force.”
About one week after the National Rifle Association called the “open carry” gun movement in Texas “downright scary,” the powerful gun organization has backtracked and issued an apology.Speaking on one of the group’s radio programs, Chris Cox of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action said his organization “unequivocally” supports open carry – the right of an individual to openly carry a firearm into public spaces – dismissing a statement to the contrary as the opinion of a particular staff member.“It’s a distraction,” Cox said, according to Talking Points Memo. “There was some confusion, we apologize, again, for any confusion that that post caused.”“It shouldn’t have happened,” he added. “I’ve had a discussion with the staffer who wrote that piece, and expressed his personal opinion. Our job is not to criticize the lawful behavior of fellow gun owners.”The controversial and surprising NRA statement appeared after pro-gun activists in Texas began protesting the policies of establishments – restaurants and other shops – that asked customers to stop bringing their firearms inside. Demonstrators appeared at coffee shops and fast food restaurants brandishing not only handguns, but also long guns and assault rifles.
Kiev has admitted showering the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk with dozens of missiles from the air, saying that its Air Force helicopters and jets “fired more than 150 missiles” in Monday’s military action.DEATH TOLL: 181 people killed, 293 injured in Kiev military opThe Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also confirmed on Tuesday that the deadly explosion at the city’s administrative building was indeed an airstrike. Kiev has so far denied the responsibility for the incident, saying its forces “do not target” civilian areas.The OSCE Ukrainian mission’s daily report stated that “on 2 June, shortly after 15:00 hrs, rockets hit the occupied regional administration building. Based on the SMM’s limited observation these strikes were the result of non-guided rockets shot from an aircraft.”
The father of one of the students killed in the University of California, Santa Barbara mass shooting last week furiously pleaded with US lawmakers to resist pressure from lobby groups and enact gun laws that could prevent similar incidents in the future.Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher Michaels-Martinez was one of Friday’s six victims of a shooting and stabbing rampage, delivered an impassioned speech Tuesday evening at a candlelight vigil in which he led the crowd in a chant of “not one more.” He made it clear that he, like other parents, put blame on lawmakers and the National Rifle Association for actively obstructing laws that would stop mentally ill Americans from being able to legally obtain a firearm.“Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA,” Martinez said. “They talk about gun rights, but what about Chris’ rights to live? When will this insanity stop?”
A school and a kindergarten have been shelled in Slavyansk as the city becomes increasingly unsafe in the intensified Kiev military campaign. At least 9 civilians were injured in Wednesday’s shelling incidents, including a child.Ukrainian mortar shells have for weeks been raining down on the checkpoints and positions of the Slavyansk self-defense, but much of the shelling occurred outside the city. Italian journalist Andrea Rocchelli and his Russian interpreter, veteran human rights activist Andrey Mironov, were almost “torn to pieces” in one such shelling. However, this week the battleground apparently moved right into civilian quarters of Slavyansk, as shells started hitting residential blocks and nearby buildings, killing three people on Monday.
United States special operations forces are attempting to train and install small teams of elite counter-terror commandos in four African countries in a Pentagon program aimed at combating Al-Qaeda-affiliated factions, according to The New York Times.The Pentagon’s efforts center around building special forces in Libya, Niger, Mauritania, and Mali, where there is growing American concern over groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Yet the program has struggled to advance as the US military faces challenges in the region.The US Army’s Green Berets and Delta Force have been involved in the trainings, The Times reported.The US Department of Defense has spent almost $70 million to assist in training a counterterrorism battalion in Niger, as well as a similar team in Mauritania. The initiatives are in “formative stages,” a senior department official told The Times.The Pentagon has $16 million to spend on training and equipping two companies of Libyan troops and associated support elements.
Two members of a Japanese idol group AKB48, consisting of 140 girls, have been hospitalized after a saw-wielding man suddenly appeared from a crowd of fans and attacked them at a ‘handshake’ event in Iwate Prefecture on Sunday, Japanese media reported.The members of the pop group, Rina Kawaei 19, and Anna Iriyama 18, were brutally attacked at a fan event in Takizawa, the company behind Japan’s idol group, AKS, said in a statement on its website. The attacker, a 24 year old man, was waiting in line with hundreds of other fans, but suddenly he took out a 50-cm saw and started swinging it, Mainichi reported. The group’s staff member who was also injured, was protecting the girls and tried to stop the attacker.“I saw with my eyes, unblocked view, of my girls running out in panic, Kawaei on the floor screaming and crying, in blood. I might never forget this. Something is lost today, that bond between fans and these idols that you can meet, and it will never be the same again,” a fan wrote on her Instagram account @ energywen.