Abe: New Unit Will Defend Japan From Space Tech Threats

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that Japan will form a space defense unit to protect itself from potential threats as rivals develop missiles and other technology and the new unit will work closely with its American counterpart recently launched by President Donald Trump.
The Space Domain Mission Unit will start in April as part of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force, Abe said in a policy speech marking the start of the year’s parliamentary session.
He said Japan must also defend itself from threats in cyberspace and from electromagnetic interference against Japanese satellites. Concerns are growing that China and Russia are seeking ways to interfere, disable or destroy satellites.
 
“We will drastically bolster capability and system in order to secure superiority” in those areas, Abe said.
The space unit will be added to an existing air base at Fuchu in the western suburbs of Tokyo, where about 20 people will be staffed ahead of a full launch in 2022. The role of the space unit is to conduct satellite-based navigation and communications for other troops in the field, rather than being on the ground.
Abe’s Cabinet in December approved 50.6 billion yen ($460 million) budget in space-related projects, pending parliamentary approval.
 
The unit will cooperate with the U.S. Space Command that Trump established in August, as well as Japan’s space exploration agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
Underscoring the need to step up cyber security, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. revealed Monday that it had suffered a cyber attack last June that may have compromised personal and corporate data involving thousands of its job applicants, employees and retirees. Mitsubishi said there was no breach of sensitive data in the company’s operations involving defense, space, transportation, electric power and other businesses sectors. It promised to enhance security measures and monitoring.
Abe has pushed for Japan’s Self-Defense Force to expand its international role and capability by bolstering cooperation and weapons compatibility with the U.S., as it increasingly works alongside American troops and as it grows concerned about the increasing capabilities of China and North Korea.

PM Abe says Japan will form a space defense unit to protect itself from potential threats as rivals develop missiles and other technology and the new unit will work closely with its American counterpart recently launched by President Trump.Abe, in marking Sunday’s 60th anniversary of the signing of Japan-U.S. security treaty, vowed to bolster Japan’s capability and cooperation with the U.S., including in the areas of space and cyber security.
He said he is determined to settle Japan’s “unfortunate past” with North Korea, as he hopes to “sum up” his country’s postwar legacies before his term expires next year.
He reiterated his intention to hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without the conditions he had demanded in the past — denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and resolving the decades-old issue of abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea.
Part of Abe’s plan while in office is to achieve his long-cherished goal of revising Japan’s U.S.-drafted constitution that prohibits use of force in settling international disputes. Despite Abe’s push, chances are fading for the revision due to a lack of public interest and the opposition’s focus on other controversial issues such as Japan’s recent dispatch of naval troops to Middle East and questionable public record-keeping at Abe’s annual cherry blossom-viewing parties.
In a sign of a thaw in Japan’s recently tense relations with South Korea, Abe said he planned to cooperate closely with South Korea in dealing with a harsh security environment in northeast Asia.
Abe, however, repeated his demand that South Korea resolve the issue of compensation for the former Korean laborers during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule. “I hope [South Korea] to keep its promise between the two countries and build future-oriented bilateral relations,” he said.   
 

 

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Ukraine Asks OSCE to Expand Its Monitoring Mission

Ukraine has asked the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to expand its monitoring mission in the country, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said Monday after a meeting with the organization’s chairman.
The OSCE’s special monitoring mission has been present in Ukraine since 2014, when fighting between Ukrainians and Russia-backed separatists broke out in the country’s eastern regions after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
The mission’s civilian monitors observe the situation in Ukraine in general and in the war-torn regions in particular, with a special task of facilitating dialogue between the sides of the conflict. Its mandate expires on March 31.

FILE – Members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine walk as they arrive for monitoring ahead of a proposed withdrawal of troops, in Petrіvske, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Oct. 9, 2019.Prystaiko said Kyiv asked the OSCE not only to extend the mission, but to “expand its possibilities and human resources” and support it financially.
OSCE chairman Edi Rama, in turn, called the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine “the most pressing challenge to security and stability in Europe today.”
The move comes amid Ukraine’s efforts to end the war that has killed more than 14,000 people and ravaged the country’s industrial heartland. In December, leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany sat down for talks, hoping to revive a 2015 peace deal. The negotiations didn’t produce a breakthrough, but were hailed by both Russia and Ukraine as progress.
 

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Davos Bolsters Security as Protesters March Toward Venue

Hundreds of disgruntled protesters against the elite World Economic Forum are marching through the Alpine snows toward its annual gathering in Davos, as officials on Monday detailed extra security measures like vehicle checks and webcam shutdowns with U.S. President Donald Trump and other notables set to arrive.
Zurich regional police said some 130 attendees who are “protected under international law” — including royalty, presidents and prime ministers — were expected to pass through toward the Davos gathering from Tuesday to Friday. All told, nearly 3,000 leaders from civil society, business, politics and elsewhere from 118 countries are expected as the Forum marks its 50th year.

FILE – A Swiss national flag waves in the wind during last year’s World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 25, 2019.Protesters with the “Strike-WEF” collective, who began marching toward Davos on Sunday, have taken issue with one security measure: An order from regional police that no more than 300 people can attend a planned protest near the town hall. Authorities insist the square is too small to hold more people. They call such limits anti-democratic.
 
“When they can have space for 3,000 people — the majority of who are the richest people on the planet  — but for only 300 among the 99% of the rest of us, it’s a joke,” said Payal Parekh, a spokeswoman for the collective. Members of the group and its supporters — some dressed in get-ups like Ronald McDonald outfits — were marching toward Davos but have been barred from the main roads to get there.
“There are ways to get to Davos,” she said. “We are creative and flexible.”
Rosalina Mueller, a spokeswoman for the Young Socialists that is helping organize the demonstration in Davos, applauded the idea of having leaders come together, but said they’d failed to help the world over the last half-century.
“They say they want to make the world better, but for 50 years they haven’t done anything,” she said. Forum organizers have pointed to scores of initiatives like planting trees, enlisting businesses in advocacy programs, and rallying thousands of promising youths to help their communities in scores of countries around the world.
 
The Swiss national authorities were restricting airspace and have authorized up to 5,000 troops to take part in enhanced security. Authorities and Forum organizers have set aside a budget of $9 million for extra security measures during the event.
Zurich authorities were boosting security checks of people and vehicles and advising Zurich airport visitors to use public transport for Trump’s expected arrival on Tuesday.
 
 

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‘Parasite’ Wins at SAG Awards, So Do Pitt and Aniston

“Parasite” has officially infected Hollywood’s award season. Bong Joon Ho’s Korean class satire became the first foreign language film to take top honors from the Screen Actors Guild on Sunday, setting itself up as a legitimate best picture contender to the front-runner “1917” at next month’s Academy Awards.   
The best ensemble win for “Parasite” came over the starry epics “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” and “The Irishman.” It was a surprise but only to a degree. “Parasite,” up for six Oscars including best picture, has emerged as perhaps the stiffest competition for Sam Mendes’ “1917,” which won at the highly predictive Producers Guild Awards on Saturday.  
But “Parasite” was the clear crowd favorite Sunday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, where even the cast’s appearance introducing the film drew a standing ovation. Yet until the SAG Awards, the many honors for “Parasite” have seldom included awards for its actors, none of whom were nominated for an Oscar.   
“Although the title is ‘Parasite,’ I think the story is about coexistence and how we can all live together,” said Song Kang Ho, one of the film’s stars, through a translator.   
Because actors make up the largest percentage of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, their picks are closely watched as an Academy Awards harbinger.

Jennifer Aniston accepts the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series for “The Morning Show” at the 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall, Jan. 19, 2020, in Los Angeles.But the last two years, the SAG ensemble winner has not gone on to win best picture: “Black Panther” last year and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” in 2018. And this year’s front-runner, “1917,” more acclaimed for its technical acumen, wasn’t nominated by the screen actors.   
If “Parasite” can pull off the upset at the Feb. 9 Oscars, it would be the first foreign language film to do so.
Before the win for “Parasite,” the SAG Awards were most notable as a reunion for Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. They each took home awards and celebrated the other’s win.   
Pitt is headed toward his first acting Academy Award for his supporting performance in “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” and he added to his front-runner status with a win from the actors’ guild. Along the way, his speeches have been  full of one-liners and he didn’t disappoint Sunday. Pitt, who said he was nursing a flu, looked down at his award and said, “I’ve got to add this to my Tinder profile.”
He added: “Let’s be honest, it was a difficult part. A guy who gets high, takes his shirt off and doesn’t get on with his wife. It was a big stretch.” The audience laughed and clapped, including — as the cameras captured — Aniston, his ex-wife.
Aniston later won an award of her own for best female actor in a drama series for the Apple TV Plus show “The Morning Show.” “What!” she said upon reaching the stage. Aniston finished her speech with a shout-out to her “Murder Mystery:” co-star Adam Sandler, whose performance in “Uncut Gems” has gone mostly unrewarded this season despite considerable acclaim. 
“Your performance is extraordinary and your magic is real. I love you, buddy,” said Aniston.  
Backstage, Pitt watched Aniston’s acceptance speech. After she got off stage, they warmly congratulated each other on their first individual SAG Awards. 
Along with Pitt, all the Oscar favorites kept their momentum, including wins for Renee Zellweger (“Judy”), Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker”) and Laura Dern (“Marriage Story”).  

Joaquin Phoenix reacts as he accepts the award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role for “Joker” at the 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.As expected, Phoenix took best performance by a leading male actor. After individually praising each fellow nominee, Phoenix concluded with a nod to his Joker predecessor. “I’m standing here on the shoulders of my favorite actor, Heath Ledger,” said Phoenix.  
Dern also further established herself as the best supporting actress favorite with a win from the actors guild. On her way to the stage, she hugged her father, Bruce Dern, part of the “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” ensemble.   
Phoebe Waller-Bridge continued her awards sweep for “Fleabag,” a winner at the Emmys and the Golden Globes. Waller-Bridge added a SAG win for best female actor in a comedy series and took a moment to reflect on the show’s parade of accolades.  
“This whole thing really has been a dream, and if I wake up tomorrow and discover it was just that, then thank you,” said Waller-Bridge. “It’s been the most beautiful dream.”   
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” also continued its streak, winning best comedy series ensemble for the second straight year, along with a win for Tony Shalhoub. But accepting the ensemble award, the show’s shocked Alex Borstein said she had voted for “Fleabag.”   
“Honestly this makes no sense,’ said Borstein. “‘Fleabag’ is brilliant.’”  
Robert De Niro was given the guild’s lifetime achievement award, an honor presented by Leonardo DiCaprio who, like De Niro, is a frequent leading man for Martin Scorsese. (The two co-star in Scorsese’s upcoming “Killers of the Flower Moon.”) A raucous standing ovation greeted the 76-year-old actor. 
De Niro, a fiery critic of Donald Trump, referenced the president in his remarks. 
“There’s right and there’s wrong. And there’s common sense and there’s abuse of power. As a citizen, I have as much right as anybody — an actor, an athlete, anybody else — to voice my opinion,” said De Niro. “And if I have a bigger voice because of my situation, I’m going to use it whenever I see a blatant abuse of power.”   
“Game of Thrones” closed out its eight-season run with wins for Peter Dinklage for best male actor in a drama series and for best stunt ensemble work. “The Crown” took best ensemble in a drama series. And both “Fosse/Verdon” stars — Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell — won for their performances in the miniseries.

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Chiefs, 49ers Earn Super Bowl Spots

The field for this year’s Super Bowl is set, with the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers earning the right to play for the National Football League championship on Feb. 2 in Miami.
The Chiefs defeated the Tennessee Titans 35-24 on Sunday to claim the American Football Conference crown and the team’s first trip to the Super Bowl since 1970.

Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrates a touchdown pass with Eric Fisher (72) and Mitchell Schwartz (71) during the second half of the NFL AFC Championship football game against the Tennessee Titans, Jan. 19, 2020, in Kansas City.The 49ers have had more recent success, last appearing in the Super Bowl in 2012.  They beat the Green Bay Packers 37-20 in the National Football Conference championship game Sunday.
Fans can likely expect a high-scoring Super Bowl.  During the regular season, the 49ers ranked second in the NFL in points scored, while the Chiefs were fifth.
San Francisco’s offense is more focused on running to advance the ball down the field. Kansas City prefers to pass the ball, with star quarterback Patrick Mahomes leading its offense.
The Super Bowl is enjoyed not only by football fans, but also many others who may not watch any other football game during the rest of the year. The television broadcast is annually one of the most watched shows in the United States with about 100 million people tuning in.
Interest goes beyond the game itself, with many people eager to enjoy the commercials shown during the broadcast. Companies spend $5 million for a 30-second spot to showcase new and special ad campaigns they create.

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Afghan Immigrants Find a Home in Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada is often called ‘Sin City.’ It’s known as a place where people behave in more self-indulgent or decadent ways, famously summed up in the saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” But some Afghan immigrants who lead quiet religious lives have a different view of this gambling mecca. VOA’s Samir Rassoly visited a few local Afghan businesses and filed this report from Las Vegas.

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