Hawaii fortified over N. Korean threat
WASHINGTON, June 18 (UPI) -- Hawaii has been placed under heightened missile and other defense fortification to deter any North Korean attacks, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.
Gates told a Pentagon news conference Thursday the deployment includes mobile and ground-based interceptors, The New York Times reported. Additionally, seaborne radar in the waters off the island will seek information to track and attack any North Korean missile.
In addition to Gates' announcement, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned the military would "vigorously enforce" the latest United Nations Security Council resolution in response to North Korea's May 25 underground nuclear test, the report said.
The resolution pertains to actions to be taken against North Korean ships suspected of carrying illegal weapons and nuclear technology or materials.
"We're obviously watching the situation in the North with respect to missile launches very closely," Gates said.
He said the military was concerned about North Korea's ability to launch a missile "in the direction of Hawaii."
"I've directed the deployment again of THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missiles to Hawaii and the SBX (Sea Based X-Band) radar has deployed away from Hawaii to provide support," Gates said. "Without telegraphing what we will do, I would just say I think we are in a good position, should it become necessary, to protect American territory."
Japan's Kyodo news agency reported North Korea has threatened to conduct further missile tests in retaliation for the U.N. Security Council resolution imposing more sanctions on it.
The developments come amid reports the U.S. military is tracking a North Korean-flagged ship in the Pacific Ocean. The vessel is suspected of carrying banned carrying cargo banned under the U.N. resolution.
Honor election results, Khamenei says
TEHRAN, June 19 (UPI) -- Iran's supreme leader Friday appealed for calm and criticized those who questioned the results of the presidential vote, sparking massive protests.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke for the first time since the turmoil percolated from last Friday's presidential election in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the landslide winner over his nearest challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, prompting cries of vote fraud and huge daily protests.
"Today the Iranian nation needs calm," Khamenei told tens of thousands of Iranians who gathered in and around Tehran University to hear his prayer sermon, The Times of London reported.
"The people have chosen whom they wanted," Khamenei said in the sermon, attended by Ahmadinejad, that was broadcast live around the world.
Khamenei also called for an end to the protests that have rocked the Middle Eastern country since Saturday, The New York Times reported.
"Street challenge is not acceptable. ... This is challenging democracy after the elections," he said. "It would be wrong to think that turning out on the street would force officials to accept their demands."
He also urged dissenters to to seek a remedy through legal channels, saying the turnout -- officially 85 percent -- showed the ballot reflected the nation's will. Khamenei also endorsed Ahmadinejad's policies and said the margin of victory, reported by Ahmadinejad's tally at 11 million, was so great it could not have been falsified.
"The Islamic republic state would not cheat and would not betray the vote of the people," the supreme leader said.
Iranian media outlets reported eight people died during the protests that sometimes turned violent. On Thursday, tens of thousands of black-clad protesters clogged Tehran streets to honor those who had died or were injured.
Senators search for common ground on financial regulations
NEW YORK, June 19 (UPI) -- The Obama administration's 85-page regulatory reform proposal has run into a scatter shot of resistance from U.S. senators on Capital Hill.
In a focused public hearing Thursday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner faced members of the Senate Banking Committee, where Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., gave an initial endorsement that may prove prophetic.
"I believe that we can find common ground in a number of the areas contained in your proposal," Dodd said.
But Senators from both sides of the aisle expressed concern about giving the Federal Reserve more power.
Geithner said the new role for the Fed would be a "quite modest," building on authority it already wields.
Richard Shelby, R-Ala., countered that the Fed should concentrate on its task of monitoring inflation and economic growth, saying the Fed was "not designed to carry out the systemic risk-oversight mission the administration proposes to give it." And Dodd expressed his own concerns over the relying on the Fed, which is frequently blamed after recessions for missing early cues.
In the aftermath of the greatest financial meltdown since the Great Depression, Dodd said giving more power to the Fed, "is like a parent giving his son a bigger, faster car right after he crashed the family station wagon."
And it turns out Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is not thrilled with the entire package, either, The Washington Post reported Friday.
Bernanke is expected to argue the formation of a Consumer Financial Products Agency, a popular concept on Capital Hill, will take away some of the Fed's leverage in dealing with banks, the Post reported.
Several dead in Waziristan air strikes
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 19 (UPI) -- Missile strikes at suspected militant hideouts In Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal area killed several people, authorities said.
Geo TV, quoting sources, said two suspected unmanned U.S. drone planes fired five missiles at hideouts of a Taliban commander in Shah Alam and Raghzai near Wana, killing at least five people. The report said the hideouts were destroyed but there was no word on the fate of the commander, identified in the report as a former member of the Wana peace committee.
The BBC put the death toll at nine, quoting a local administration official in Wana near the border with Afghanistan who said he had seen nine bodies of men, all of them militants.
The area is a Taliban and al-Qaida stronghold, where the Pakistani military is planning a full-scale offensive.
The U.S. military does not comment on such strikes.
Separately, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan news agency quoted the military as saying its forces had killed 34 more terrorists and captured seven others in the Malakand region in the northwest, the scene of the current offensive.
The offensive, which began about two months ago, has displaced more than 2 million people, who are currently housed in shelters with poor facilities.
In the Malakand fighting, five soldiers were injured, the military said.
The news agency reported the military had set up a new camp for the refugees in Jalozai.
Child porn found in museum suspect home
WASHINGTON, June 19 (UPI) -- Investigators found child pornography on a computer used by the 88-year-old suspect in the Holocaust Memorial Museum slaying in Washington, the FBI says.
The suspect, James von Brunn, meanwhile remained in a Washington hospital, charged with murder in the June 10 fatal shooting of security guard Stephen Johns. Von Brunn, an alleged white supremacist, was shot in the face by other guards.
Court documents filed Wednesday said the pornography was found on a desktop computer during a search of von Brunn's Annapolis, Md., home. Further investigation was expected, CNN reported.
The FBI also reported finding ammunition for a .22 caliber rifle, believed used in the shooting.