Egypt Independent: World-Main news en US says China's island-building erodes security; Beijing angered <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" /><div>US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Saturday that China&#39;s island-building in the South China Sea was undermining security in the Asia-Pacific, drawing a scathing response from the foreign ministry in Beijing.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Carter, speaking to top defense officials from the Asia-Pacific at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, acknowledged that several countries had created outposts in the region&#39;s disputed islands, but he said the scope of China&#39;s activity created uncertainty about its future plans.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;China has reclaimed over 2,000 acres, more than all other claimants combined ... and China did so in only the last 18 months,&quot; Carter told the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum. &quot;It is unclear how much farther China will go.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He said the United States was &quot;deeply concerned&quot; about the scale of China&#39;s land reclamation and the prospect of further militarization of the islands, saying it would boost &quot;the risk of miscalculation or conflict.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A Chinese delegate at the forum initially gave a measured response, in which he said Carter&#39;s comments were not as hostile as those made at the Shangri-La Dialogue in previous years, but the foreign ministry reacted strongly.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The United States disregards history, legal principles and the facts,&quot; spokeswoman Hua Chunying said. &quot;China&#39;s sovereignty and relevant rights were established a long time ago in the South China Sea.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>China&#39;s island-building is &quot;legal, reasonable, conforms to the situation and neither impacts nor targets any country.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Despite the rhetoric, Carter said there was no military solution to the South China Sea disputes. &quot;Right now is the time for renewed diplomacy, focused on a finding a lasting solution that protects the rights and interests of all,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>China took a measured tone after bilateral meetings with Japan and Vietnam on Friday, two of the states it is embroiled with in maritime sovereignty disputes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Competing claims</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines have overlapping claims in the resource-rich South China Sea. Japan and China both claim islands that lie between them in the East China Sea.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But earlier this week, Beijing was assertive about the disputes. In a policy document issued by the State Council, the country&#39;s cabinet, China vowed to increase its &quot;open seas protection&quot;, switching from air defense to both offence and defense, and criticized neighbors who took &quot;provocative actions&quot; on its reefs and islands.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Carter&#39;s remarks in Singapore came a day after the Pentagon confirmed reports that China had put mobile artillery at one of its reclaimed islands in the South China Sea.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The US defense chief insisted US forces would continue to &quot;fly, sail and operate&quot; in the region to ensure the freedom of navigation and overflight permitted by law.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;America, alongside its allies and partners ... will not be deterred from exercising these rights...,&quot; Carter said. &quot;Turning an underwater rock into an airfield simply does not afford the rights of sovereignty or permit restrictions on international air or maritime transit.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Japan&#39;s defense minister said China and other parties in the dispute had to behave responsibly.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;If we leave any unlawful situation unattended, order will soon turn to disorder, and peace and stability will collapse,&quot; Gen Nakatani told the forum. &quot;I hope and expect all the countries, including China, to behave as a responsible power,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Malaysia&#39;s defense minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, urged all parties in the South China Sea dispute to exercise restraint or face potentially dangerous consequences.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;This has the potential to escalate into one of the deadliest conflicts of our time, if not history,&quot; he said. &quot;Inflamed rhetoric does not do any nation any good&quot;.</div> Sat, 30 May 2015 13:53:00 +0000 Reuters 2451212 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/05/30/501010/china_05-30-15.jpg Actor Dustin Diamond not guilty of felony in stabbing case <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>A Wisconsin jury late on Friday found actor Dustin Diamond, who played the nerdy Screech in the early &#39;90s sitcom &quot;Saved by the Bell,&quot; not guilty of a felony charge stemming from the stabbing of a man during a Christmas bar fight, court records show.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>After several hours of deliberation, jurors found Diamond, 38, not guilty of recklessly endangering public safety, but guilty on two misdemeanor counts of carrying a concealed weapon and disorderly conduct over the December 25 incident, Ozaukee County Circuit Court records showed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The criminal complaint alleges that Diamond&#39;s fiancée, Amanda Schutz, 27, pushed a woman who was harassing her and Diamond on Christmas night at the Grand Avenue Saloon in Port Washington, Wisconsin, north of Milwaukee.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In a fight that ensued, Diamond stabbed a man with a switchblade, causing a wound that was not life-threatening, according to the complaint and to the police.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Schutz was also found guilty on a charge of disorderly conduct on Friday, according to court records.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>An attorney for the couple could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday night.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Diamond, who lives in Port Washington, played socially awkward but brainy student Samuel &quot;Screech&quot; Powers, memorable for his dark and wiry hair, in &quot;Saved by the Bell,&quot; which ran from 1989 to 1993.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Since then, he has had a number of smaller television roles and has made appearances on reality programs and game shows.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The couple is scheduled to be sentenced on June 25, according to court records.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Sat, 30 May 2015 13:09:00 +0000 Reuters 2451203 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/05/30/501184/actor_dustin_diamond.jpg Nigeria military repels Boko Haram attack in northeast <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Nigeria&#39;s military on Saturday repelled a Boko Haram attack on the key northeast city of Maiduguri that saw rocket-propelled grenades fired into homes, witnesses and security sources said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Islamists&#39; assault on the Borno state capital came a day after President Muhammadu Buhari&#39;s inauguration, with the new leader vowing to re-enforce Maiduguri with a new command and control center to better coordinate the counter-insurgency effort.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Shortly after midnight (2300 GMT Friday), residents in the Dala suburb south of the city woke to the sound of RPGs being fired in succession, said resident Modu Karumi, in an account supported by several others.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Witnesses said hundreds of Islamist gunmen were trying to advance on the city, which is now home to hundreds of thousands of people displaced by unrest in other parts of Borno state.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>An AFP reporter who lives in the area said he heard what sounded like armored personnel carriers deploying to the southern edge of Maiduguri to face the rebel advance.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dala resident Alhaji Bukar said he saw at least one RPG fall into a private home, but details on casualties were not immediately clear.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Locals reported other residential homes being hit.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Three senior security sources in Maiduguri who were not authorized to speak publicly said the attack had been repelled.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;All is under control. There is no cause for alarm,&quot; one of those sources told AFP.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The sound of RPGs and gunfire has also eased, residents and an AFP reporter said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Experts doubt that Boko Haram currently has the capacity to seize Maiduguri, but a major attack inside the city would likely be disastrous for civilians.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Islamist rebels have been flushed out of several Borno state towns they controlled in an offensive launched in February by Nigeria with backing from neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But there are signs of the militants regrouping, particularly in the remote parts of eastern Borno near the Cameroon border.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Buhari in his inaugural address on Friday vowed to intensify the fight against Boko Haram, notably by shifting operational command from the capital Abuja to Maiduguri.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>His predecessor Goodluck Jonathan&#39;s performance against the militants was heavily criticized, with the conflict killing more than 15,000 people since 2009 and forcing another 1.5 million from their homes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Buhari, a former army general, insists the uprising can be defeated and has placed the Boko Haram effort at the top of his administration&#39;s agenda.</div> Sat, 30 May 2015 09:52:00 +0000 AFP 2451186 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/05/30/501010/nigeria_05-30-15.jpg Silk Road website creator gets life term for drug plot <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>The accused mastermind behind the Silk Road underground website was sentenced on Friday to life in prison for orchestrating a scheme that enabled more than US$200 million (&pound;130.8 million) of anonymous online drug sales using the digital currency bitcoin.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ross Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced by US District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan after a federal jury in February found him guilty of charges including distributing drugs through the Internet and conspiring to commit computer hacking and money laundering.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;What you did was unprecedented,&quot; Forrest said. &quot;And in breaking that ground as the first person, you sit here as the defendant having to pay the consequences for that.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ulbricht stood silently as Forrest announced the sentence, which also included an order to forfeit $183.9 million.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Outside of court, Joshua Dratel, his lawyer, promised an appeal, calling the sentence &quot;unreasonable, unjust and unfair.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A sniffling Ulbricht, who had admitted to creating Silk Road but denied wrongdoing at trial, told the judge before being sentenced that, contrary to what the prosecutors argued, he did not build Silk Road out of greed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I wanted to empower people to make choices in their lives and have privacy and anonymity,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Serrin Turner, a prosecutor, said Ulbricht was like any drug other kingpin, having fantasized about becoming a billionaire through his criminal enterprise and taking extreme steps, including soliciting murders, to protect it.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;This was not some disinterested do-gooder,&quot; he added.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Silk Road operated for more than two years, allowing users to anonymously buy drugs and other illicit goods and generating over $214 million in sales in the process, prosecutors said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>They said Ulbricht ran Silk Road under the alias Dread Pirate Roberts, a reference to a character in the 1987 movie &quot;The Princess Bride.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The website relied on the Tor network, which lets users communicate anonymously, and accepted bitcoin as payment, which prosecutors said allowed users to conceal their identities and locations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Prosecutors said Ulbricht, who grew up in Austin, Texas, took extreme steps to protect Silk Road, soliciting the murders of several people who posed a threat. No evidence exists the murders were carried out.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The online black market was shutdown in October 2013, when authorities seized the website and arrested Ulbricht at a San Francisco library.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Prosecutors say Silk Road became a blueprint for other so-called &quot;dark market&quot; websites that allow illegal drug sales, a phenomenon law enforcement agencies continue to battle.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Ulbricht went from hiding his cybercrime identity to becoming the face of cybercrime and as today&rsquo;s sentence proves, no one is above the law,&quot; Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>At trial, Dratel said his client had indeed created what he intended to be a &quot;freewheeling, free market site&quot; where all but a few harmful items could be sold.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dratel said Ulbricht handed off the website to others after it became too stressful, and was lured back toward its end to become the &quot;fall guy&quot; for its true operators.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ahead of sentencing, prosecutors urged Forrest to take into account how at least six people died from overdoses on drugs linked to Silk Road. The parents of two of them spoke at the hearing.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>One was a man who identified himself only as Richard, whose son, named Bryan B. in court papers, overdosed in Boston in 2013 using heroin authorities said was bought on Silk Road.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;He did not consider the impact on society of the expansion of the market for deadly drugs,&quot; the father told Forrest.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ulbricht, who appeared in court in blue jail clothing, apologized to the families, saying he never wanted to harm anyone. He said he had ruined his life.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I wish I could go back to convince myself to take a different path,&quot; he said. &quot;But I can&#39;t do that.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The case is US v. Ulbricht, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-06919.</div> Sat, 30 May 2015 09:48:00 +0000 Reuters 2451185 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/05/30/501010/silkroad_05-30-15.jpg