Розділ: Нерухомість

January 28th, 2020 by Vbiz

The 2020 U.S. presidential campaign gets under way for real on Monday, Feb. 3, when voters in the Midwestern state of Iowa gather in schools, libraries and private homes to participate in the Iowa caucuses.Iowa does not always determine the eventual party nominees, but the caucus vote does play a key role in shaping the primary races and weeding out contenders with little support.Here are 10 things people should know about the Iowa caucuses.What are the Iowa caucuses?Once every four years, Iowa seizes the national political spotlight with its caucus vote. Party activists head out to local schools and other locations to express their preference for the various Democratic and Republican candidates running for president. The process can take hours, and the results are eventually used to award convention delegates to candidates who do well.How do the caucuses work?Upon arrival at the caucus site, Democrats taking part elect a local chairperson and form groups supporting the various candidates. After an initial round of voting, candidates who do not have at least 15% support among those at the caucus site are considered no longer viable. Their supporters are free to go to another candidate, and caucus-goers who support other candidates are free to try and persuade them. After this “realignment” process is complete, a final vote tally is taken and reported to the state party. The caucus results ultimately are used to allocate delegates to the national nominating convention in July committed to those candidates who draw the most support.Volunteers call potential caucus-goers at a campaign field office for Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, Jan. 13, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa.Do caucus winners always win their party’s nomination?Since 1972, the winner of the Iowa Democratic caucuses has gone on to win the party’s presidential nomination seven out of 10 times. Jimmy Carter got a big boost by finishing second to “uncommitted” in the 1976 caucus voting, and Barack Obama used his victory in 2008 to demonstrate he was a serious threat to favorite Hillary Clinton. But winning in Iowa does not guarantee success in the primary race. Past Democratic winners have included local favorite Sen. Tom Harkin in 1992, Congressman Dick Gephardt in 1988 and Ed Muskie in 1972, none of whom won the nomination. On the Republican side, Bob Dole in 1996 and George W. Bush in 2000 got a huge boost in momentum from winning the caucuses, and eventually went on to win the party nomination.Who are some of the recent winners, and how did they fare in later primaries?Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won the caucuses in 2016 over Donald Trump, while Democrat Hillary Clinton narrowly prevailed over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Sanders is one of the top Democratic contenders again this year. In 2012, former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum won a razor-thin victory over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, only to see Romney eventually claim the Republican nomination. Romney was defeated by Obama in the general election.Why doesn’t Iowa hold a presidential primary like most other states?Iowa is one of only a handful of states that still prefers to hold time-consuming caucus meetings to begin the process of selecting national convention delegates. Nevada, Kansas, North Dakota and Wyoming are the others. Iowa has traditionally preferred the caucus model since it became a state in 1846. But several states in recent years have moved away from caucus votes to primaries, where voters simply show up at a polling place and cast a ballot. Primary elections draw a wider cross section of voters compared to caucuses, which are usually attended by the more motivated and committed voters. Caucuses also last hours, compared to the more traditional act of voting at the polls or submitting an early vote by mail.Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld steps off stage after speaking at a the Faith, Politics and the Common Good Forum at Franklin Jr. High School, Jan. 9, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa.Are Republicans holding caucuses in Iowa, as well?They are, even though Trump is a heavy favorite. The Republican caucuses function more simply than the Democratic ones. Voters simply show up at their local caucus locations and cast a vote and leave.Iowa Democrats have announced changes to the caucuses this year. What are they?In the past, Democrats would only announce the total number of delegates each candidate has won at the end of voting. This year, after pressure from Sanders supporters to be more transparent, Democrats have decided to also announce the raw vote totals from the first round of voting in the various caucuses, and from the final round of voting after caucus-goers are permitted to realign behind other candidatesIowa caucuses buttonWho decided Iowa should go first?  Iowa began this tradition of holding the first caucuses for Democrats in 1972 and for Republicans in 1976. It has become a point of pride for Iowa to host the first caucuses and for New Hampshire to hold the first presidential primary. New Hampshire’s tradition goes back to 1916 and took on added significance beginning in 1952. Both states have a long-standing pact that they will remain the first contests to the exclusion of all other states, and for the most part, political leaders in both parties have supported them over the years.Who is going to win in Iowa this year?Recent state and national polls show Sanders is surging. He is hoping for a breakthrough in a top tier of candidates that includes former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. In addition, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is hoping for a strong showing to break into the top tier. But in the final run-up to the vote, Sanders, Warren, Klobuchar and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet have been limited in their ability to campaign in Iowa because as sitting U.S. senators, they are required to attend Trump’s impeachment trial. 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

January 28th, 2020 by Vbiz

The United States is refusing to rule out shrinking the size of its military presence in Africa despite warnings that without Washington’s help, critical counterterror efforts could fall apart.French Defense Minister Florence Parly delivered the latest plea for continued U.S. involvement in the counterterror fight Monday during talks with top U.S. military officials at the Pentagon.But following the meeting, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Washington had to take into account other urgent priorities.”We are focused on great power competition, first with China, then Russia,” Esper told reporters. “My aim is to adjust our [military] footprint in many places. No decisions have been made.”French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speak during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington, Jan. 27, 2020.France currently has about 4,500 troops in Africa, taking a lead role in countering terror groups linked to Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaida across the Sahel region.Earlier this month, in response to the death of 13 French soldiers during a combat mission in Mali late last year, France said it would send another 220 troops to the region.And France is not alone in sounding the alarm about the growth of terror groups on the Sahel.A increasing number of Western diplomats have warned that IS, in particular, is using the region to regroup following the loss of its self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq.The concern has run so deep, that during an anti-IS coalition meeting hosted this past November in Washington, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that partner nations were already looking to West Africa and the Sahel as “a preferred, initial area of focus” outside of Syria and Iraq.“We agreed at the working level that West FILE – French President Emmanuel Macron visits French troops in Africa’s Sahel region in Gao, northern Mali, May 19, 2017.”There is a lot of collaboration in terms of logistics but also in terms of intelligence,” Niagale Bagayoko, a lead researcher and chair of the African Security Sector Network, told VOA. “That is one of the reasons why the French are presently eager to see the Americans to stay involved in the continent, in particular.”French officials have also emphasized that while they understand Washington’s desire to rebalance its forces across the world to better confront adversaries like China and Russia, they are not asking for a lot.”It’s a classic case of burden sharing where a limited U.S. support leverages an immesnse effort carried out by France and Europe,” Parly said Monday.Yet despite French officials expressing hope that “good sense” would prevail and that Washington would maintain its support for the French-led counterterror operations, U.S. defense officials have increasingly signaled such help may not be forthcoming.”France has reached out to other European allies. I think it’s time for other European allies to assist, as well, in the region,” Esper told reporters Monday. “That could offset whatever changes we make as we consider next steps in Africa.”VOA’s Salem Solomon contributed to this report.
 

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January 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

Greece is pushing back against Turkish demands that it demilitarize 16 Aegean islands. The Turkish government maintains it is defending Turkey’s rights and remains committed to negotiation, but analysts warn Turkey’s increasingly “robust diplomacy” threatens to isolate Ankara and escalate regional tensions.  “Greece does not provoke, does not violate the sovereign rights of others, but it doesn’t like to see its own rights violated,” said Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos Saturday.FILE – In this June 26, 2019 file photo, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, center left, arrives to NATO headquarters in Brussels.Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Wednesday accused Greece of keeping troops on the islands in violation of the 1936 Treaty of Lausanne, which governs the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece.  The dispute dates to 1974 when Athens started to militarize the islands off the Turkish coast in response to Turkey’s invasion of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus after a pro-Greek coup.Akar’s focus on the dispute is widely seen as part of a broader policy. “Turkey is asking today for the islands’ demilitarization, when there [is] an incredible historical increase of Turkish jets violating Greek airspace,” said political scientist Cengiz Aktar of the University of Athens.”It’s a message Turkey is an aggressive force in the eastern Mediterranean, and Turkey gives the impression it wants a hot conflict with its neighbor, Greece.”Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his ruling party’s legislators, in Ankara, Jan. 14, 2020.Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan further ratcheted up tensions, announcing that Turkish research ships will be deployed in contested Cypriot waters to search for hydrocarbons.  The discovery of large natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean by Israel and Cyprus has unleashed a scramble by regional countries for the fossil fuel.  Ankara accuses Greece and other regional countries of seeking to shut it out of the believed bounty of vast energy reserves.”We won’t let anyone violate our rights in any way. This is not a threat,” said Akar Wednesday, adding, “It’s not a weakness to say that we want good relations with our neighbor.””The strategy that Turkey is following is it should protect its legitimate rights in the Mediterranean,” said former Turkish Ambassador Mithat Rende. “The strategy is to have an equitable solution to the matter. And Turkey has made it clear it’s ready to talk.”The policy of diplomacy, backed by strength, however, appears to be backfiring. Athens is looking to its European Union partners to push back against Ankara.Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, delivers a speech during a parliament session in Athens, Dec. 18, 2019.Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is due to meet Wednesday with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and then travel to Brussels for talks with European Council President Charles Michel in a bid to build support against Ankara.A regional gas forum of Greece, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian territories is fast developing into a more formal relationship based on security. Analysts suggest the move is a reaction to Turkey’s more assertive policy in the region.In January, Israeli media reported the country’s annual military intelligence report for the first time designated Erdogan as a “challenge.”  Underling Turkey’s regional isolation, Ankara does not have ambassadors in Tel Aviv or Cairo.Some experts, though, argue that Turkish foreign policy needs to be viewed through the prism of domestic politics.”Yes, all the regional countries are against Turkey, but it proves government rhetoric that Turkey is threatened, it’s under siege,” said Turkish political analyst Aydin Sezer.   “This consolidates Turkey and within the [ruling] AKP party itself,” he adds. “It delays divisions within the party. There are two new parties developing from the party. But such outside threats consolidate the party.”Ankara is also likely to be calculating that it will be able to contain any threat of financial sanctions by the EU, which are being threatened over Turkey’s stance toward Cyprus and Greece.  Turkey’s EU migration agreement ended a significant exodus into Europe. Brussels is wary of Erdogan’s threats to open Turkish borders to the more than 3 million refugees in Turkey.In the last year, the number of migrants entering Greece from Turkey has markedly increased despite the migration agreement causing concern among European politicians.  “That [migrants entering Greece] has unmistakably to do with the fact that Turkey is no longer consistently preventing landings,” Thorsten Frei, deputy parliamentary group leader of Germany’s ruling CDU/CSU, told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.FILE – German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Dec. 18, 2019.On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks in Istanbul with Erdogan in a bid to shore up Turkey’s commitment to the migrant deal.Given the EU’s limited ability to rein in Turkey, which has the largest navy and air force in the region, analysts predict further muscle-flexing.”When you enter a policy of confrontation, you can’t step back; you are trapped; otherwise, you look weak,” said Aktar.But the Turkish government could well be calculating, that whatever the outcome of its policy, it will be a win.”I don’t think there will be a military clash,” said Sezer. “But, it’s a risk. It’s a dangerous situation, the longer it goes on. But this would be an opportunity for the government because it will prove to the people all those countries in the region are real threats to Turkey,” he added.
 

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January 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

A divided Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Trump administration to put in place a policy connecting the use of public benefits with whether immigrants could become permanent residents.
The new policy can be used to deny green cards to immigrants over their use of public benefits including Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers, as well as other factors.
The justices’ order came by a 5-4 vote and reversed a ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York that had kept in a place a nationwide hold on the policy following lawsuits that have been filed against it.
The court’s four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, would have prevented the policy from taking effect.
Federal appeals courts in San Francisco and Richmond, Virginia, had previously overturned trial court rulings against the policy. An injunction in Illinois remains in effect, but applies only to that state.
The lawsuits will continue, but immigrants applying for permanent residency must now show they wouldn’t be public charges, or burdens to the country.
The new policy significantly expands what factors would be considered to make that determination, and if it is decided that immigrants could potentially become public charges at any point in the future, that legal residency could be denied.
Roughly 544,000 people apply for green cards annually. According to the government, 382,000 are in categories that would make them subject to the new review.
Immigrants make up a small portion of those getting public benefits, since many are ineligible to get them because of their immigration status. 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

January 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake struck Fars province in southern Iran on Monday, Iranian state TV reported.State TV did not report any information on possible damage or casualties from the quake, which hit near the town of Khane Zenian.Assessment teams have been dispatched to the quake site, which is not a very populous area, the head of rescue for Iran’s Red Crescent, Morteza Salimi, told state TV.Posts on social media said that the earthquake had been felt by residents of the provincial capital Shiraz, approximately 50 km (30 miles) away from the epicenter of the quake.
 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

January 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

France hopes “good sense” will prevail and the United States will not slash support for French military operations in West Africa, where groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State are expanding their foothold.Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made the appeal as Defense Minister Florence Parly was due to meet U.S. counterparts on Monday to discuss the crisis in the Sahel, a band of scrubland south of the Sahara.
The Pentagon announced plans last year to withdraw hundreds of military personnel from Africa as it redirects resources to address challenges from China and Russia after two decades focused on counter-terrorism operations. Those cuts could deepen following an ongoing global troop review spearheaded by Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
The possibility has alarmed France, which relies on U.S. intelligence and logistics for its 4,500-strong mission in the Sahel. The deaths of 13 French soldiers in a helicopter crash during a combat mission in Mali in November increased France’s determination to secure more support in the zone.
France believes it is time to increase, not ease, pressure on militants to prevent “Islamic State from rebuilding in the Sahel,” a senior French Defense Ministry official told Reuters.
Parly will put her case on Monday to Esper and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
“I hope they will be rational to keep this partnership … and that good sense will prevail,” le Drian told reporters.
The U.S. currently has 6,000 military personnel in Africa.
Although some experts say a repositioning of forces is overdue, many U.S. officials share French concerns about relieving pressure on militants in Africa.
“Any withdrawal or reduction would likely result in a surge in violent extremist attacks on the continent and beyond,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democrat Chris Coons wrote in a letter to Esper this month.
Former colonial power France intervened in 2013 to drive back militants who had seized northern Mali the previous year.
Fighters have since regrouped and spread. Over the past year, militants have stepped up attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.
Although groups in the Sahel are believed to have the intent to carry out attacks against the United States, they are not currently believed to have the capacity to do so, officials say.Scrambling drones
General Francois Lecointre, chief of staff of the French armed forces, told Reuters that the loss of U.S. intelligence from intercepted communications would be the “biggest setback.”
“I’m doing my utmost to prevent this from happening,” he said, adding that French drone-based spying systems would not be operational until year-end.
France said this month it would deploy 220 additional troops to the region, despite rising anti-French sentiment in some countries and criticism at home that its forces are bogged down.
Parly recently visited the Sahel with counterparts from Portugal, Sweden and Estonia to press European allies to do more, especially by contributing special forces to a new French-led unit due to be set up this year.
One of the main aims of the outfit, officials said, is to improve coordination between regional troops and French planes able to carry out air strikes.
So far, take-up has been limited with only Estonia committing 40 troops, while discussions continue with eight nations. Germany has refused to take part.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

January 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former military chief Benny Gantz, his challenger in early March elections, are set to have separate meetings Monday at the White House, where U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to share details of his long-awaited plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.A public unveiling of the plan is expected Tuesday during a joint news conference with Trump and Netanyahu.”During the past three years I held countless talks with President Trump – a huge friend of Israel – and with his team about these crucial interests, about our security, about our justice,” Netanyahu said Sunday.  “Tomorrow I am going to meet President Trump and on Tuesday, together with him, we will make history.”Gantz said he is looking forward to what he called a “very important visit.”Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White party, speaks at the President’s residence, in Jerusalem, Oct. 23, 2019.”The plan of the deal is to deal with Israel’s security, the regional strategies — stabilization hopefully down the road,” he said.But with Palestinians rejecting the Trump administration approach and what they see as a pro-Israel bias, the chances of success appear dim.The Palestinian foreign ministry said in a statement Sunday that no Palestinian would accept the plan.Trump has promoted it as the “deal of the century” while details remained secret amid three years of work.He angered the Palestinian side with several moves during his time in office, including going against decades of U.S. policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as moving the U.S. embassy there.The White House meetings come as Trump faces an impeachment trial, the Israeli parliament considers Netanyahu’s request for immunity from corruption charges, and both Israeli figures prepare for a March 2 election.

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January 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

John Altobelli, the longtime baseball coach at Orange Coast College, was killed along with his wife and daughter in the helicopter crash Sunday that also took the lives of retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and Bryant’s daughter, Gianna.The 56-year-old Altobelli died along with his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, who was about 13 and played on the same basketball team as Bryant’s daughter, said Altobelli’s younger brother, Tony Altobelli, the sports information director at the school. They were among the nine people aboard the helicopter when it crashed around 10 a.m. Sunday in Calabasas, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.John Altobelli spent 27 seasons as coach at the community college in Costa Mesa, California. The team won a state championship last year and Altobelli was named national coach of the year. He led the team to more than 700 victories and four state titles.Among the players he coached were future major leaguers Jeff McNeil, now with the New York Mets, and Donnie Murphy, who played for six big league teams from 2004-14. McNeil played for Altobelli in 2012 with the Brewster Whitecaps, a summer collegiate team in the Cape Cod League, ESPN reported.”One of my favorite coaches I have ever played for and one of the main reasons I got a chance to play professional baseball,” McNeil tweeted. “Both the baseball and basketball world lost a great one today.”   Orange Coast College announced the creation of a memorial fund for the Altobelli family.  “John meant so much to not only Orange Coast College, but to baseball,” athletic director Jason Kehler said in a statement. “He truly personified what it means to be a baseball coach. The passion that he put into the game, but more importantly his athletes, was second to none – he treated them like family.”The team was scheduled to start its season on Tuesday.”He treated every player like his own son,” Orange Coast first baseman Justin Brodt told the Orange County Register. “He wanted the best for everybody involved. That’s what made him such a successful coach and such a great guy.”

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January 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

As U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyers continue their case in his impeachment trial, a yet-to-be-published memoir by John Bolton could blow up one of their major defenses.The New York Times reports that the former national security adviser writes Trump personally told him that he is withholding $391 million in military aid to Ukraine until it announces an investigation into Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden for alleged corruption.The newspaper cites several people who have seen the Bolton manuscript as its source.House Democrats contend Trump froze the congressionally-mandated aid to Ukraine, along with a desired White House visit by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, on the promise of a probe of Biden and a debunked theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, which interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.FILE – U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a bilateral meeting with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on the sidelines of the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Sept. 25, 2019.While Trump’s legal team says the president had the authority to hold up aid to Ukraine, the freeze had nothing to do with any investigations. They say the president was concerned about corruption in Ukraine and wanted European nations to pitch in more to help Ukraine fight Russian-backed separatists.Trump’s lawyers say the fact that Ukraine eventually got the money it was promised and that there was no investigation of the Bidens proves there was no quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine.Democrats say Trump released the aid only because “he got caught” by asking Zelenskiy to do a “favor” by investigating the Bidens during a July telephone call.Bolton has said he is willing to appear as a witness if the Senate votes to allow witnesses and additional evidence. House Democratic impeachment managers say they want to hear from him.WATCH: Related video by VOA’s Arash Arabasadi:Sorry, but your player cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
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“The Senate trial must seek the full truth and Mr. Bolton has vital information to provide,” the managers said in a statement late Sunday. “There is no defensible reason to wait until his book is published when the information he has to offer is critical to the most important decision senators must now make – whether to convict the president of impeachable offenses.”FILE – Then-Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter are pictured at a college basketball game in Washington, Jan. 30, 2010.There has been no response to the Times report so far from the White House.Trump’s defense team will go into its second day of presenting its case to the 100 senators Monday.Trump claimed Sunday that his lawyers “absolutely shredded” Democrats’ case that he should be convicted of impeachment charges and removed from office after their first day of their defense.”The Impeachment Hoax is a massive election interference the likes of which has never been seen before,” he tweeted.Trump attacked the Democrats’ lead prosecutor in the case, Congressman Adam Schiff, as “a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!”Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff holds redacted documents as he speaks during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, in the Senate at the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 22, 2020.”This is a wrathful and vindictive president; I don’t think there’s any doubt about it,” Schiff said. “And if you think there is, look at the president’s tweets about me today, saying that I should ‘pay a price.’”White House counsel Pat Cipollone began his defense Saturday during two hours of arguments on the two impeachment charges Trump is facing — that Trump abused his presidency and obstructed congressional efforts to investigate his Ukraine-related actions.Cipollone said Trump’s legal team does not believe that Democrats from the House of Representatives prosecuting the case came “anywhere close to meeting their burden” that Trump committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” — the U.S. Constitution’s standard for impeachment and removal from office.In this image from video, White House counsel Pat Cipollone speaks during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the Senate, at the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 21, 2020.Now, Cipollone and other Trump defense attorneys have said they will expand on their defense, in part focusing on why they believe there was nothing wrong with Trump’s request last July to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Biden, his son Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian natural gas company and the Ukraine election meddling theory. No evidence has ever surfaced against the Bidens.Over three days last week, seven House Democrats laid out their case that Trump endangered U.S. national security to benefit himself politically by asking for the Biden investigations by Ukraine at the same time he was withholding $391 million in military aid that Kyiv wanted to help fight Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.”The evidence against the president is overwhelming,” Congresswoman Val Demings, one of the House impeachment managers, told ABC News’ This Week Sunday.Criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, part of Trump’s legal team, told  Fox News Sunday that he will argue that there is not a “legally constitutional” argument that Trump can be impeached. He claimed that the offenses he is accused of have “to be a crime,” a contention disputed by scholars supporting Trump’s impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate. 

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January 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

The U.S. State Department says it is aware of reports of rockets landing Sunday in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, and called on the Iraqi government to “fulfill its obligations to protect our diplomatic facilities.”A State Department spokesperson did not give any details on where the rockets hit or whether there were any casualties.Security sources told news agencies at least one rocket landed inside the U.S. embassy compound, wounding three people.Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi condemned the attack and said such actions risked turning his country into a war zone.  He reiterated Iraq’s commitment to protecting diplomatic missions in the country.The rocket attack is the latest in a string of similar incidents in recent months, which the United States blames on Iran-backed militias operating in Iraq.”Since September there have been over 14 attacks by Iran and Iranian-supported militias on U.S. personnel in Iraq,” the State Department spokesperson said.  “The security situation remains tense and Iranian-backed armed groups remain a threat.”Tensions between the United States and Iran spiked with a U.S. airstrike killing top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani outside Baghdad, and a retaliatory series of missile strikes by Iran against an Iraqi airbase used by U.S. forces.

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January 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

The third impeachment trial in American history enters a new phase this week.  Experts expect lawmakers in the Republican-majority Senate to vote on whether or not to allow witnesses and documents that so far have been blocked by the White House. As VOA’s Arash Arabasadi reports, senators from the two major parties seem on opposite ends of the issue.

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January 27th, 2020 by Vbiz

U.S. President Donald Trump has warned British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of “serious consequences” if he allows the Chinese telecom giant Huawei a role in building Britain’s 5G phone network, according to officials on both sides of the Atlantic.The warning follows months of lobbying of Downing Street by top U.S. officials who aim to persuade the British government to shut out the Chinese company on security grounds.Trump told Johnson Friday that giving Huawei, which has ties to Chinese intelligence agencies, the go-ahead will cause a major rift in transatlantic relations and jeopardize intelligence-sharing between Washington and London, according to U.S. officials. They say the decision, expected Tuesday, will also likely impact the prospects for a post-Brexit transatlantic trade deal eagerly sought by Britain to compensate for likely diminished trade with the European Union.U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Saturday dubbed the Huawei deal a threat to “critical” infrastructure. But he indicated that if Downing Street falls into line, the U.S. will “dedicate a lot of resources” to getting a trade deal negotiated and signed by the end of the year.
The Huawei decision is also being watched closely on Capitol Hill.In an unprecedented move, three Republican senators — Tom Cotton, John Cornyn and Marco Rubio — sent a letter to Britain’s National Security Council urging Huawei to be excluded from 5G development. “The company’s actions show a clear record of predatory and problematic behavior,” the senators said, adding it would “in the best interest of the United Kingdom, the US-UK special relationship, and the health and wellbeing of a well-functioning market for 5G technologies to exclude Huawei.”FILE – Signage is seen at the Huawei offices in Reading, Britain, May 2, 2019.US sees Trojan horseFor a year, the Trump administration has been urging Britain to ban the Chinese company from participating in the development of Britain’s fifth-generation wireless network. U.S. officials say there’s a significant risk that the Chinese telecoms giant will act as a Trojan horse for Beijing’s espionage agencies, planting ‘backdoors’ into any equipment supplied to Britain, enabling data to be swept up and intelligence gathered. The U.S. imposed its own trade restrictions on Huawei last year.Huawei vehemently denies that it could be used by Beijing for intelligence purposes, saying that U.S. allegations are “baseless speculation.” The Chinese government says Huawei is a private company and poses no security risk to the West.But Beijing has also made ill-disguised threats, suggesting a decision to ban Huawei could result in Britain being punished when it comes to Chinese trade and investment. Similar warnings have been issued to other Western countries, all of which have been urged by U.S. officials to shun Huawei on security grounds.U.S. lobbying has been especially fierce among members of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-sharing pact — the U.S.-led Anglophone intelligence arrangement linking Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Britain. Australia and New Zealand, although as yet not Canada, have banned Huawei from any role in developing their 5G networks. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to make a last effort to dissuade Johnson during a visit to London this week.In Germany, the Huawei issue has sparked a major division between Chancellor Angel Merkel, who fears Chinese retaliation if Huawei is excluded, and her coalition partners, the Social Democrats, who are opposed to offering Huawei any 5G role. Merkel’s ministries are also deeply split, with the trade and finance ministers backing Huawei’s involvement and foreign and intelligence officials highly skeptical that the risks are worth it.Both the White House and Downing Street have sought to play down talk of a transatlantic rift. In a bland statement Friday, the White House said Trump and Johnson “discussed important regional and bilateral issues, including working together to ensure the security of our telecommunications networks.”FILE – People attend a Huawei Mate20 smartphone series launch event in London, Britain, Oct. 16, 2018.’Next Chinese virus’A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The prime minister spoke to president Trump. They discussed a range of issues, including cooperation to ensure the security of our telecommunications networks.”But behind the scenes, the lobbying has been furious and the issue risks splitting the British cabinet, with several ministers determined to block Huawei, fearing the damage that could be done to Britain’s so-called special relationship with the U.S.The crescendo of the U.S. anti-Huawei campaign has been mirrored in London as it emerged last week that Johnson appeared set to give Huawei the green light, discounting U.S. alarm and prompting growing unease among his own Conservative lawmakers. Some have likened the political damage Huawei is causing to the coronavirus epidemic threatening to spread to the West, saying it is the “next Chinese virus.”If Johnson does give the go-ahead, it would confirm a ‘provisional’ decision made by his predecessor in Downing Street, Theresa May. Last year, she said Huawei should be allowed to build some so-called ‘non-core’ parts of Britain’s future 5G data network.U.S. intelligence officials and their counterparts at Britain’s GCHQ, the eavesdropping spy agency and the country’s largest intelligence service, say restricting Huawei to the non-core ‘edges’ of the new network would make little difference to the security risk.Johnson has come under pressure from British telecom providers and mobile phone companies, which have already been installing Huawei technology to start setting up the new network. They have warned that Huawei offers more advanced, better integrated and cheaper equipment than its commercial rivals, and banning the company would delay the rollout of 5G, costing the British economy billions of pounds. 

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January 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

Private American citizens living and working in Wuhan are being warned there will not be room for many of them on an evacuation flight being prepared for U.S. consular staff in the epicenter of the Coronavirus epidemic.”The Department of State is making arrangements to relocate its personnel stationed at the U.S. Consulate General in Wuhan to the United States,” the U.S. Embassy in Beijing wrote on Sunday, adding that the flight will travel directly from Wuhan to San Francisco.”This capacity is extremely limited and if there is insufficient ability to transport everyone who expresses interest, priority will be given to individuals at greater risk from coronavirus,” a statement said.An American citizen teaching at a university in Wuhan, who asked that her name not be used for fear of Chinese retribution, told VOA that neither the consulate nor the U.S. Embassy in Beijing has yet contacted most American citizens in the city.”Maybe they have reached out to a few privileged individuals, but on the whole, they are not reaching out to average American citizens. We have received almost no support and no help,” the woman told VOA’s Mandarin Service.An announcement on the U.S. Embassy’s website directs citizens to apply for a seat on the plane by contacting American Citizen Services with their passport information.”There are thousands of us Americans in Wuhan,” the American citizen said. “A 747 seats like 250 people, they’re not going to take everyone out. Even if every single person wanted to leave, they would not take all of us,” she said, referring to the Boeing 747 jet that will likely be chartered for the flight.The announcement comes amid travel restrictions around the wider region, but especially in the city of Wuhan. The streets have been largely quiet amid ambiguous regulations on which vehicles can and cannot be on the road, even in urban areas.Some Wuhan residents have reported that early in the outbreak, individuals were arrested and accused of spreading “rumors” about the disease on social media. The American teacher said that in addition to the restrictions on her travel, the disinformation and fear of authority in Wuhan have added to the stress produced by the outbreak.”This is the craziest experience I’ve ever lived through in my entire life. I wish it weren’t happening. It’s it’s a nightmare,” she said.The disease, which has killed 56 people and sickened almost 2,000 around the world, has spread to about 15 countries, including France, Canada and the United States, where a third confirmed case was reported in southern California late Saturday.The World Health Organization said Thursday the potentially deadly virus has not yet developed into a worldwide health emergency.

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January 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he hopes to “make history” during his upcoming trip to the White House for the expected unveiling of President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan.Addressing his Cabinet shortly before departing for Washington, Netanyahu described the current environment, characterized by close ties with Trump, as a once in a lifetime opportunity for Israel that “we must not miss.”
Trump’s plan is expected to be extremely favorable to Israel.
 “We are in the midst of very dramatic political events, but the peak is still ahead,” he said.
“For three years I have discussed with President Trump and his team our security and national needs — dozens of discussions and hundreds of hours. In all of these talks, I found a receptive ear in the White House for the essential needs of the state of Israel,” he said. “I am going to Washington with a great sense of purposes, great responsibility and great chance, and I am hopeful we can make history.”
The plan’s release has been repeatedly delayed, and it seems to have little chance of success. The Palestinians have already rejected it, accusing Trump of being unfairly biased toward Israel.
In a statement Sunday, the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry called for “a clear international declaration rejecting the deal of the century” that it said would endanger regional stability.
But the plan could give Netanyahu, who is in the middle of his third re-election campaign in under a year, a lift as he tries to remain in office while fighting criminal charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes.
Netanyahu has tried to divert attention away from his legal troubles and focus his campaign on his close ties with Trump. His opponent, Benny Gantz, has focused his campaign on Netanyahu’s criminal charges and expected trial.
Gantz announced on Saturday that he would also be going to Washington for a private meeting with Trump. He turned down a joint appearance with Netanyahu at the White House, fearing the prime minister would use it to upstage him.
Instead, Gantz will quickly return to Israel to proceed with his plans in parliament to block a request by Netanyahu to receive immunity from prosecution.

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January 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

Right-wing opposition leader Matteo Salvini is telling Italians who are voting in two regions to use their ballots to help his anti-migrant party return to national power.
Voting began Sunday morning in Emilia-Romagna, a northern region where the left-wing has held power for decades, and in Calabria, in the south, an area Salvini’s League party once disparaged as unproductive but where it now wants to expand a foothold .
Results, expected early Monday, of the voting for governor and regional legislatures could rock Italy’s squabbling central government in Rome.
Salvini is demanding an early election to end Premier Giuseppe Conte’s coalition government, whose junior partner is the center-left Democrats. If the Democratic Party’s incumbent governor in Emilia-Romagna loses to the League’s candidate on Sunday, the bickering among Conte’s coalition partners could worsen and jeopardize the nearly 5-month-old government’s survival.
The senior party in Conte’s government is the populist 5-Star Movement, which itself is so plagued by infighting and defections that its political leader resigned his post last week.
Salvini in a Facebook post urged Italians as they headed to vote Sunday to “liberate these splendid regions” from the Democrats and “Let’s free the entire country.”
Salvini, who in Conte’s previous government took a hard line against immigration, lost his role as deputy premier and interior minister last year and his right-wing party lost its place in government when he yanked his support from Conte in a failed bid for an early election that Salvini had hoped with make him premier.
Conte then formed a new government with the Democrats, who set aside their deep rivalries with the 5-Stars to replace the League in the national coalition.
Voters could be forgiven if they had the impression Salvini himself was running to be governor of Emilia-Romagna. The League leader campaigned practically daily in the region, especially in the countryside and small towns, considered ripe for a shift toward the right. With his “Italians first” mantra, Salvini dashed from rally to rally, sampling local agricultural products in the region, which is one of Italy’s wealthiest and most productive. He boasted of how, when he was interior minister, fewer migrants, trafficked by Libya-based smugglers, arrived in Italy aboard charity rescue boats.
Opinion polls during the campaign indicated the race for governorship was neck-to-neck.
The League’s candidate is Lucia Borgonzoni, a League politician who as undersecretary for culture in Conte’s first government distinguished herself mainly for complaining that the Louvre in Paris was getting too many loans of Leonardo da Vinci’s artworks for an exhibition to mark the 500th anniversary of the Italian Renaissance master’s death.
The Democrats’ candidate is Gov. Stefano Bonacconi, under whose leadership the region’s reputation for a well-run health care system and other local services was reinforced.
But Salvini is banking on voters in Emilia-Romagna viewing Sunday’s ballot as a referendum on Conte’s government and a chance to boost his League’s fortunes. The right-wing League has consistently scored as Italy’s most popular party nationwide in recent opinion polls.
Conte says the outcome of Sunday’s votes won’t affect his determination to continue governing until the next election for Parliament is due in 2023.
Until recent years, the League’s profile was as a northern-based political power, with its leaders depicting the underdeveloped south as a parasitic drain on taxpayers’ money.
But Salvini revamped the image of the League, which had long been called the Northern League, into a nationwide force with rhetoric that blames migrants for crime and the European Union for what he says is infringement on Italy’s sovereignty.
His chief ally, the Brothers of Italy, has its roots in neo-fascism and is growing quickly in popularity.  

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January 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

Burundi’s ruling party has chosen an army general to be its candidate in the presidential election set for May, signaling that the country’s president will now retire after serving three terms.Gen. Evariste Ndayishimiye was chosen Sunday during a national conference for the ruling CNDD-FDD party in the rural province of Gitega.The rise of Ndayishimiye means President Pierre Nkurunziza will now retire after presiding over a disputed third term that sparked violence and forced hundreds of thousands to flee the tiny central African country.
Ndayishimiye, a Nkurunziza ally, has been serving as the ruling party’s secretary-general.
Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader, took power in 2005 at the end of a deadly civil war. His influence could still linger after the election, since he could receive the title of “paramount leader” under draft legislation approved by the government last week.

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January 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

Hong Kong’s popular amusement parks Disneyland and Ocean Park are closed from Jan. 26 to help prevent the spread of a deadly coronavirus that broke out in the Chinese city Wuhan, state media CCTV reported on Sunday.Business is going on as usual at the hotels inside Hong Kong Disneyland, however, CCTV reported.The Shanghai government said on Friday that Shanghai Disneyland will be closed from Saturday.China is on a seven-day Lunar New Year holiday that started on Friday, a period when the amusement parks would be usually packed with tourists.China has confirmed 1,975 cases of patients infected with the new coronavirus as of Jan. 25, while the death toll from the virus has risen to 56.The virus originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei late last year and has spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as to the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Australia, France and Canada.

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January 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

The coronavirus transmission ability is getting stronger and infections could continue to rise, China’s National Health Commission said on Sunday, with more than 2,000 people globally infected and 56 in China killed by the disease.National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei, speaking at a press briefing, said authorities’ knowledge of the new virus was limited and they are unclear on the risks posed by mutations of the virus.Ma said the incubation period for the coronavirus can range from one to 14 days, and that the virus is infectious during incubation, which was not the case with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a coronavirus that originated in China and killed nearly 800 people globally in 2002 and 2003.Containment efforts, which have thus far included transportation and travel curbs and the cancellation of big events, will be intensified, Ma told a crowded news briefing on the second day of the Lunar New Year holiday.The virus, believed to have originated late last year in a seafood market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife, has spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Australia, France and Canada.On Sunday, China announced a nationwide ban on the sale of wildlife in markets, restaurants, and e-commerce platforms.

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January 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

The new virus accelerated its spread in China with 56 deaths so far in what the country’s leader called a grave situation, and the government stepped up efforts to restrict travel and public gatherings while rushing medical staff and supplies to the closed-off city at the center of the outbreak. The figures reported Sunday morning covered the previous 24 hours and marked an increase of 15 deaths and 688 cases for a total of 1,975 infections. The government also reported five cases in Hong Kong, two in Macao and three in Taiwan. Small numbers of cases have been found in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, the U.S., Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, France and Australia. People wear masks as they pray at Wong Tai Sin temple on the first day of the Lunar New Year in Hong Kong, Jan. 25, 2020, as a preventative measure following a coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan, China.Canada said it discovered its first case; the man is his 50s and recently flew from Wuhan to Guangzhou, China, and then on to Toronto. President Xi Jinping on Saturday called the spreading illness a grave situation in remarks reported by state broadcaster CCTV. He spoke at a meeting of Communist Party leaders convened on Lunar New Year — the country’s biggest holiday whose celebrations have been muted — and underlined the government’s urgent, expanding efforts to control the outbreak. Travel agencies have been told to halt all group tours, the state-owned English-language China Daily newspaper reported, citing the China Association of Travel Services. A couple wears masks to help stop the spread of a deadly virus as they walk at Jingshawn park, in Beijing, Jan. 25, 2020. China said it would close a section of the Great Wall and other famous Beijing landmarks to control the spread of the virus.Millions of people traveling during the holiday have fueled the spread of the outbreak nationwide and overseas after it began in the city of Wuhan in central China. The vast majority of the infections and all the deaths have been in mainland China, but fresh cases are popping up. Singapore reported its fourth case on Sunday, a 36-year-old man from Wuhan. The Health Ministry said he did not exhibit any symptoms on his flight. He developed a cough the next day, sought treatment on January 24 and was immediately isolated. South Korea confirmed its third case, according to Yonhap news agency. In the heart of the outbreak where 11 million residents are already on lockdown, Wuhan banned most vehicle use, including private cars, in downtown areas starting Sunday, state media reported. Only authorized vehicles will be permitted, the reports said. The city will assign 6,000 taxis to neighborhoods, under the management of resident committees, to help people get around if they need to, China Daily said. Hong Kong’s responseIn Hong Kong, leader Carrie Lam said her government would raise its response level to emergency, the highest one, and close primary and secondary schools for two more weeks on top of next week’s Lunar New Year holiday. They will reopen February 17. Lam said direct flights and trains from Wuhan would be blocked. In a sign of the growing strain on Wuhan’s health care system, the official Xinhua News Agency reported that the city planned to build a second makeshift hospital with about 1,000 beds. The city has said another hospital was expected to be completed February 3. The new virus comes from a large family of what are known as coronaviruses, some causing nothing worse than a cold. It causes cold- and flu-like symptoms, including cough and fever, and in more severe cases, shortness of breath. It can worsen to pneumonia, which can be fatal. Medical staff members wearing protective clothing to help stop the spread of a deadly virus arrive with a patient at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan, China, Jan. 25, 2020.China cut off trains, planes and other links to Wuhan on Wednesday, as well as public transportation within the city, and has steadily expanded a lockdown to 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million — greater than that of New York, London, Paris and Moscow combined. China’s biggest holiday, Lunar New Year, unfolded Saturday in the shadow of the virus. Authorities canceled a host of events and closed major tourist destinations and movie theaters. Temples, Disneyland closeTemples locked their doors, Beijing’s Forbidden City and Shanghai Disneyland closed, and people canceled restaurant reservations ahead of the holiday, normally a time of family reunions, sightseeing trips and other festivities in the country of 1.4 billion people. “We originally planned to go back to my wife’s hometown and bought train tickets to depart this afternoon,” said Li Mengbin, who was on a stroll near the closed Forbidden City. “We ended up canceling. But I’m still happy to celebrate the new year in Beijing, which I hadn’t for several years.” Temples and parks were decorated with red streamers, paper lanterns and booths, but some places started dismantling the decor. Pedestrians are seen wearing surgical masks in London’s China Town, Jan. 25, 2020. European airports from London to Moscow have stepped up checks on flights from the Chinese city at the heart of a new coronavirus outbreak.People in China wore medical masks to public places like grocery stores, where workers dispensed hand sanitizer to customers. Some parts of the country had checkpoints for temperature readings and made masks mandatory. French automaker PSA Group said it would evacuate its employees from Wuhan, quarantine them and then bring them to France. The Foreign Ministry said it was working on “eventual options” to evacuate French citizens from Wuhan “who want to leave.” It didn’t elaborate. The National Health Commission said it was bringing in medical teams to help handle the outbreak, a day after videos circulating online showed throngs of frantic people in masks lined up for examinations and complaints that family members had been turned away at hospitals that were at capacity. Military staffThe Chinese military dispatched 450 medical staff, some with experience in past outbreaks, including SARS and Ebola, who arrived in Wuhan late Friday to help treat many patients hospitalized with viral pneumonia, Xinhua reported. Xinhua also said medical supplies were being rushed to the city, including 14,000 protective suits, 110,000 pairs of gloves, and masks and goggles. The rapid increase in reported deaths and illnesses does not necessarily mean the crisis is getting worse but could reflect better monitoring and reporting of the virus. It is not clear how lethal the new coronavirus is or even whether it is as dangerous as the ordinary flu, which kills tens of thousands of people every year in the U.S. alone. 

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January 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

Two days of heavy rains caused flooding and landslides in southeast Brazil that have killed at least 30 people, authorities said Saturday. Civil Defense officials said 17 people were listed as missing and 2,600 were evacuated from their houses in Minas Gerais state, which had been buffeted by 48 hours of torrential rains. Deaths were reported in the capital of Belo Horizonte and in the state’s interior. On Friday, Belo Horizonte received the greatest quantity of rain ever registered in 24 hours in the city. A view of flooded houses caused by heavy rains in Sabara municipality, Minas Gerais state, Brazil, Jan. 24, 2020. The rains led to flooding and landslides that killed dozens, authorities said Jan. 25.State Governor Romeu Zema will fly over the affected areas on Sunday to evaluate damages. More rain is expected in Minas Gerais as well as other parts of Brazil, including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The announcement of the deaths came the same day as mourners elsewhere in Minas Gerais observed the first anniversary of a deadly mining dam collapse. 

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January 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

The first week of the U.S. Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump ended Saturday as the president’s attorney began their defense, arguing he had done nothing wrong in his dealings with Ukraine. Trump’s team has up to three days to argue before the 100 senators weighing whether Trump’s actions merit his removal from office. VOA’s congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson has more.

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January 26th, 2020 by Vbiz

A U.S. veterans group is “expecting” an apology from President Donald Trump for his comments that downplayed traumatic brain injuries, an official said. Speaking in Davos on Wednesday, Trump said he did not consider the brain injuries suffered by U.S. service members in Iran’s recent attack on a base in Iraq as serious. But the Veterans of Foreign Wars “expects an apology from the president to our service men and women for his misguided remarks,” William Schmitz, VFW national commander, said in a statement Friday. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday. Earlier on Friday the Pentagon said 34 service members had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury following missile strikes by Iran on a base in Iraq, a number higher than the military previously announced. The Veterans of Foreign Wars, a group with 1.6 million members, said traumatic brain injury (TBI) cannot be taken lightly. “TBI is known to cause depression, memory loss, severe headaches, dizziness and fatigue — all injuries that come with both short- and long-term effects,” the group said. 

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January 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

As Baghdad darkened Friday evening, teenage boys carrying shields made of barrels cut in half charged into a growing crowd. Riot police were moving forward across a bridge, pushing back protesters with gunfire and tear gas. Smoke from burning tires curled into the night. Written in white letters on the barrels was: “Attention, martyrs are advancing.” Young men charge into a struggle between protesters and riot police carrying homemade shields reading slogans like, “Attention, martyrs are advancing,” Jan. 24, 2020, in Baghdad. (Heather Murdock/VOA)By morning, two more young men were dead in Baghdad. In Basra, tents were burned at a sit-in camp, and protesters in Karbala prepared for another day of clashes. Amid the chaos that night, a single tweet tipped the scale. The once defiantly strong anti-government movement in Iraq weakened considerably. Prominent cleric Muqtada al-Sadr effectively withdrew his support for the demonstrations, and those of his followers attending packed up their tents and left the camps. Without Sadr’s support, protesters said, some of Iraq’s many militias and divisions of security forces will try to end the almost four-month-long sit-ins and rallies in Iraq that have threatened  the status quo. Tahrir Square is the epicenter of the protests in Baghdad, and currently it’s the only area protesters hold after they retreated Friday night. Jan. 23, 2020. (Heather Murdock/VOA)Baghdad protesters soon lost control of surrounding neighborhoods and retreated to Tahir Square, the epicenter of their demonstration. On Saturday, they were joined by other protesters, rallying again inside the square. It is estimated at least 600 people have been killed and 20,000 people have been wounded in the protests across Iraq since October. Demonstrators in Karbala continued to occupy the city’s main square on Saturday, but security forces are growing increasingly bold, they said, and clashes wounded several people on both Friday and Saturday. “This was a betrayal to the people who are simply asking for their rights,” said Ali Mikdam, who has been camping in Tahrir Square since October.  “But we won’t stop protesting. “If we have to, we will fight.” Young men in Karbala, Iraq, say they will stay in their protest camp, despite increasing danger, Jan. 25, 2020. (Heather Murdock/VOA)In a protest tent in Karbala on Saturday, a young man played a video of a teenage boy on his phone, saying it was taken last week and the boy was 14 years old. In the video, a hand gently slaps the boy’s face and his eyes flutter. His face droops and we hear a moan in the background. The boy is dead. “We couldn’t get to a hospital,” said another man as the tent grew crowded.  The young men were quick to share tales of recent clashes. A few blocks away, gunfire could be heard from a roadblock put up by protesters earlier in the day. Security forces were shooting, said Ali Hassan, 27, and they would soon move in with tear gas to clear the roadblock. Protesters burn tires at roadblocks ahead of clashes in Baghdad, Jan. 24, 2020. (Heather Murdock/VOA)Hassan tried to run a clothing store before the demonstrations began but ended up so poor he didn’t even have shoes and was run out of business. Now protesters are running out of money for food and the demonstrations are becoming more dangerous. “Tensions are rising between the government and the people,” Hassan said. “If we have to, we will fight.” From the beginning, protesters have called for new leadership, jobs, health care, security, and an end to widespread corruption and extreme poverty. Now they also want their dead to be recognized as martyrs, meaning patriots and heroes of Iraq. And while all the young men in the tent say they are prepared to stay and fight if need be, many add that even if they wanted to go, they don’t think they could do it safely. Ali Khafagi, 30, was a barber before he quit to work as a medic in the Karbala protest. Thousands of people have been arrested in connection with protests, and many are still in jail, said Khafagi. “Inside the demonstrations we are safe because it makes the government look bad if they arrest us here,” he explained.  “But if I leave, they may follow me home and take me.” 

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January 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

U.S. President Donald Trump’s legal team began presenting counterarguments Saturday in the Senate after House impeachment managers wrapped up three days of closing arguments in Trump’s historic Senate impeachment trial.White House Counsel Pat Cipollone began presenting Trump’s defense by declaring the Democratic House managers failed to achieve their objective.“We don’t believe that they have come anywhere close to meeting their burden for what they’re asking you to do,” Cipollone said.Cipollone also reiterated an often-repeated criticism of the Democratic-led impeachment proceedings that they would nullify Trump’s 2016 election win and reduce choices for voters before the upcoming November presidential election.“They’re here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history and we cannot allow that to happen,” Cipollone said. “It would violate our Constitution. It would violate our history. It would violate our obligations to the future. And, most importantly, it would violate the sacred trust that the American people have placed in you.”Saturday’s defense of Trump amounts to a preview of the arguments that will be laid out in further detail next week.During his presentation, White House deputy counsel Michael Purpura played a video clip of lead House manager Adam Schiff embellishing the conversation Trump had with Ukraine’s president on July 25 phone call that is central to the impeachment probe.“That’s fake. That’s not the real call, that’s not the evidence,” Purpura said in an attempt to discredit Schiff and other Democrats.Schiff acknowledged after the hearing, during which he recounted the phone call, that his comments were “in character with what the president was trying to communicate.”Sorry, but your player cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
Trump and his lawyers were invited to appear before the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment inquiry, but declined.U.S. Democratic lawmakers closed out their final arguments against the president Friday, arguing that if Trump is not removed from office he will continue to abuse power.“At the heart of Article Two, obstruction of Congress, is a simple troubling reality: President Trump tried to cheat, he got caught, and then he worked hard to cover it up,” said Hakeem Jeffries, one of seven House Democrats serving as managers of the trial.Jeffries said Trump administration officials were aware of the president’s alleged misconduct last year and called the situation in the White House a “toxic mess.”Schiff told lawmakers, “You cannot leave a man like that in office.” He argued that the president will not change and his actions will remain the same. “You know it’s not going to stop. It’s not going to stop unless the Congress does something about it.””He has shown neither remorse nor acknowledgment of wrongdoing,” said Schiff.  “Do you think if we do nothing, it’s going to stop now?”In his final argument, Schiff urged senators to “give America a fair trial,” saying, “she’s worth it.”Trump is only the third U.S. president to be impeached and tried before the Senate. Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 because of a post-Civil War dispute over states that seceded from the union.  Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 for lying to a grand jury over a sex scandal. Both Johnson and Clinton were acquitted and remained in office until the end of their terms. 

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January 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

Vietnam indicates in a recent defense white paper it will pursue stronger military ties abroad as China challenges its maritime sovereignty claims, and analysts expect that to mean more exercises with Western-leaning foreign powers and brisker purchases of foreign weapons.The Southeast Asian country will “promote defense cooperation” abroad to handle mutual security challenges, the Ministry of National Defense paper released in November says.As conditions are right, the English-language paper says, “Vietnam will consider developing necessary, appropriate defense and military relations with other countries … for mutual benefits and common interests of the region and international community.”ASEAN defense ministers and dialogue nations defenses ministers, Russia’s deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin, Singapore’s Ng Eng Hen, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi in Bangkok, Nov. 18, 2019.The document stresses more defense cooperation among 10 Southeast Asian nations and calls settling differences with China a “long-term, difficult and complex process involving multiple countries and parties.” The two Asian neighbors, which have centuries of border disputes, now contest sovereignty over tracts of the South China Sea.The paper should signal more procurement of advanced weapons from countries such as Russia and joining more multinational defense exercises, analysts believe. One such event was the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc’s first maritime exercises with China’s chief rival, the United States, in September.“If we read between the lines, we can see the Vietnamese hinting at the possibility that they may deepen cooperation with other powers, but how far they can go they don’t say specifically in the paper,” said Nguyen Thanh Trung, Center for International Studies director at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City.Vietnam and ChinaBrunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam contest all or parts of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea. They value the waterway, which stretches from Taiwan west to Singapore, for its fisheries and energy reserves.China has taken a military and technological lead during the past decade by using landfill to build out small islets under its control. Some now support hangars and airstrips.Chinese maritime activity angers Vietnam especially because China controls the Paracel Islands, a 130-islet archipelago claimed by both sides. The two sides faced off in deadly sea battles in the 1970s and 1980s, fanning Vietnamese resentment, already strong from a two-war land border dispute.A Chinese energy survey ship sparked a standoff with Vietnam last year as it patrolled near an oil and gas block on the Vietnamese continental shelf, also within China’s maritime claim.The white paper dovetails with a 2018 Communist Party Central Committee resolution calling for becoming what domestic media outlet VnExpress International calls “a powerful maritime nation.”More joint exercisesThe paper, the first since 2009, follows from Vietnam’s gradual accumulation of 28 partnerships with foreign countries, some with a military dimension. India and Vietnam signed a deal in 2018 to step up defense cooperation, and Vietnamese military personnel already train at Australian defense institutions.The paper’s wording implies that Vietnamese officials feel confident they can join any future U.S. military exercises with ASEAN, Nguyen said.  Vietnam will not engage one country to strike another, the white paper says, a pledge that precludes any treaty alliances, said Collin Koh, maritime security research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Foreign military bases are also considered unlikely.The white paper doesn’t rule out a tighter defense relationship with Washington, said Carl Thayer, emeritus professor with the University of New South Wales in Australia.“You might want to read it as a very nuanced way of ‘you push us too far, we’ll go closer to the U.S.’ but it’s not that explicit in there,” Thayer said, although when U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper visited Vietnam in November, he talked up what the U.S. Embassy called a “defense partnership.”U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper speaks at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam in Hanoi, Vietnam, Nov. 20, 2019.Arms salesForeign defense cooperation may augur more deals to buy arms from Russia, India and eventually the United States, analysts believe.In 2018 the country signed a deal to order more than $1 billion from its long-time submarine and aircraft supplier Russia. Two years earlier, India extended $500 million in credit for any military purchases. China, also a political rival of India, protested that idea.Trump administration officials have explored selling weapons to Vietnam. In 2018 the U.S. State Department indicated it wanted to Vietnam to buy more weapons from the United States despite price tags that the country might find hard to pay, military news outlet DefensenNews reported.   Four years ago Washington lifted an embargo on lethal arms sales to Vietnam, ending a remnant from U.S. Vietnam War.The white paper doesn’t mention specific defense expenditures, nor does it bore down into details of Vietnam’s disputes with China or name the fellow communist government as a target.“I think in a way this white paper is trying to strike a balance between the need to send a signal and yet at the same time trying not to appear too provocative toward certain parties,” Koh said.

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January 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

The U.N. refugee agency and partners are appealing for $658 million this year for 735,000 refugees and more than half-a-million Ethiopians hosting them.The U.N. refugee agency praises the many rights granted by the Ethiopian government to refugees during the last three years.  They include granting refugees the right to work and access social services, primary education, register births, and other essential benefits.But UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic says resources are needed to expand existing social services and finance a number of other basic needs.”The Ethiopia Refugee Response Plan… covers humanitarian activities by UNHCR and 57 other humanitarian partners,” said Mahecic.  “It seeks to address huge gaps in health, nutrition, education, and shelter, while also investing in sectors including sanitation, energy and livelihoods.”   Ethiopia has a long history of hosting refugees and asylum seekers.  Mahecic tells VOA the country currently is hosting nearly three-quarter-million refugees of 26 nationalities.  The majority, he says, is from South Sudan, followed by Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan.“There is no massive influx right now, but… the number of refugees is expected to grow substantially during the course of the year as the country continues to receive refugees with nearly, about 100,000 new arrivals that came in 2019,” said Mahecic.Mahecic notes Ethiopia also has a huge problem with internal displacement.  As part of the overall inter-agency humanitarian effort, he says the UNHCR and partners will assist more than 1.5 million Ethiopians who have been forced to flee their homes because of conflicts and climate shocks.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

January 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

U.S. President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike earlier this month that killed the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani. Trump said Soleimani was “plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel.” It was a move that lawmakers criticized as putting the U.S. at the brink of war. But some U.S. veterans of the Iraq War and their families share a different view.  VOA’s Elizabeth Lee has the details.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

January 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

CALIFORNIA CITY/ELIZABETHTOWN, KY — An Iranian lawmaker offered a $3 million reward to anyone who would kill U.S. President Donald Trump. This is just the latest in the conflict between the two countries, triggered by the U.S. president ordering an airstrike earlier this month that killed the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani. Trump said Soleimani was “plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel.”However, the move caused citizens from both countries to take to the streets and Democrats to criticize the president, saying Trump’s actions put the U.S. at the brink of war.“I think his decision to kill Soleimani was correct,” said David Haines, an U.S. Army veteran who was injured by a type of roadside bomb called an explosively formed penetrator, or EFP, a destructive bomb that even penetrates armored vehicles.He remembered being on reconnaissance when the EFP hit his vehicle.“I felt some burning in my hands, but then I didn’t realize what was going on until some of the other soldiers in the vehicle started screaming and I realized that I had fingers dangling off of my right hand and my left hand was actually locked back and I couldn’t move it,” he said.Haines said he was the lucky one. One soldier in the vehicle died in the explosion, three others lost at least one limb.WATCH: US Veteran, Father of Veteran: Death of Soleimani Makes World Safer Sorry, but your player cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
FILE – Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) march during the annual military parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, in the capital Tehran, Sept. 22, 2018.Soleimani and IraqU.S. officials said Soleimani was the head of Iran’s Quds Force that taught Iraqi militants how to make and use deadly roadside bombs against U.S. troops after the invasion of Iraq. Iran has denied the claim.Farr has no doubt in his mind of Iran and Soleimani’s connection to the death of American soldiers in Iraq.“I think the intelligence community, people at the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Department of Justice all worked for years and years and years gathering that intelligence that allowed the president to view that intelligence, make a decision,” Farr said.He and Haines are just two of a group of veterans and family members who sued Iran in 2016 in a U.S. federal court, alleging the deaths and injuries were connected to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Quds Force is a branch of the IRGC with Suleimani at the helm.“It’s the ultimate form of justice,” Farr said.The plaintiffs in the trial could get compensation from a Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arrives to meet with reporters following escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Iran, Jan. 9, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.Critics of Trump’s actionsNot everyone shares Farr and Haines’ views on Iran. There have been demonstrations in the U.S. against President Trump’s actions and policies toward Iran. Many of the Americans who oppose Trump’s actions said he has put America’s safety at risk by placing the country on the brink of war with Iran.Members of Congress including U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of acting recklessly without first informing Congress of his planned action against Soleimani.“We must avoid war. And the cavalier attitude of this administration — it’s stunning. And the president, for him to say, ‘Oh I inform you by reading my tweets,’ no, that’s not the relationship that our founders had in mind in the Constitution of the United States when they gave power to the White House to do one thing in terms of our national security and to the Congress to declare war and to allocate resources and the rest,” Pelosi said.The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed a resolution to stop Trump from further military action in Iran. The resolution is now awaiting action in the Republican-controlled Senate.In the midst of the political firestorm, Haines warns Americans to take a more global perspective.“I think Americans are looking at other Americans as bigger enemies than some of the people we have outside of our country, but Americans need to realize that there are people that hate us far more than our fellow Americans out there and Soleimani was one of those guys.”

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January 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

U.S. President Donald Trump became the first president ever to attend the annual March for Life rally, which is for the opponents of abortion. The event is held annually on or near the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. The president’s appearance before a friendly conservative crowd was especially notable because of what was taking place at the same time at the U.S. Capitol – his impeachment trial. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

January 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

The Trump administration announced Thursday new visa rules to stop what is known as “birth tourism.” The new guidelines state the U.S. can deny tourist visas to pregnant women if consular officers determine that the applicant is traveling to give birth in the United States, in order to secure the child U.S. citizenship. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari has more from Washington.

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January 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is accusing Libyan militia leader General Khalifa Haftar of violating a cease-fire agreement. Despite deploying Turkish forces to back the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), though, Erdogan seems to be increasingly looking to diplomacy rather than force. “He [Haftar] says he agreed to a cease-fire, but two days subsequent, he bombed the [Tripoli] airport. So how can we trust him?” Erdogan said Friday in Istanbul with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Haftar’s forces control most of Libya in their war against the U.N.-recognized GNA. Merkel on Sunday hosted an international summit in Berlin aimed at resolving the Libyan civil war. A 55-article road map to end the conflict was drawn up at the meeting, which Erdogan attended. Erdogan challenged Merkel at the news conference, however, to confirm whether Haftar had signed the Berlin agreement. A visibly uncomfortable Merkel confirmed he only orally agreed to it, noting that officials were still waiting for his signature. FILE – Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj leaves after an international conference on Libya at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 29, 2018.Support for SarrajDespite the Berlin agreement’s reaffirmation of the Libyan international arms embargo, the Turkish president said he would continue supporting the GNA’s prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj. “We sent them a [military] delegation and continue to do so. We won’t abandon Sarraj. We will give the support we can,” Erdogan said. “Our soldiers are there to assist in the training [of GNA forces]. We have a history of 500 years, and we have an invitation [from the GNA] that gives us our right,” he added. But Erdogan, several times during the news conference, said the forces were purely for training. Earlier this week, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Aktar also stressed the training purpose of the Libyan deployment. The Turkish force reportedly still only numbers in the dozens. The downplaying of the military deployment contrasts with Erdogan’s recent sharp rhetoric. Last week, the Turkish president, while announcing to Parliament soldiers’ deployment, said Ankara would not hesitate about “teaching a lesson” to Haftar if his forces continued attacking. Fears of wider warSuch language reportedly has set off alarm bells in the region over fears that Turkish forces in Libya could end up triggering a wider regional conflict with Haftar’s military backers, including Egypt. Given that Libya is 2,000 kilometers from Turkey, though, a military expert questioned whether Ankara was capable of sustaining a hot conflict. “The logistic challenge is enormous, and these challenges, as they look now, are insurmountable. It’s far away. It’s not like Syria is just across the border,” said former Turkish General Haldun Solmazturk, a veteran of cross-border military operations. “If fighting gets tough, casualties would be inevitable. Returning dead persons and wounded would also be a major challenge. Apart from the fuel, the ammunition, spare parts, there are thousands of items needed to be provided in such an environment,” added Solmazturk, who heads the 21st Century Turkey Institute, an Ankara-based research organization. FILE – Khalifa Haftar, the military commander who dominates eastern Libya, arrives at an international conference on Libya at the Elysee Palace in Paris, May 29, 2018.Turkish forces are already stretched, being deployed in Iraq and Syria, while analysts point out Haftar is in a strong military position. “At the moment the situation seems to be working on the side of Haftar. He has better weapons. He has jet fighters. He has superiority of the air and in the field,” said international relations professor Huseyin Bagci of Ankara’s Middle East Technical University. Further complicating Ankara’s situation is its international isolation over Libya’s military deployment. Erdogan’s shuttle diplomacy this month drew a blank, failing to win backing from Libya’s neighbors, Algeria and Tunisia. Erdogan also reportedly failed at the Berlin summit to secure backing for an international peacekeeping force, including the Turkish military, to be deployed to enforce a cease-fire in Libya. Military challenges for TurkeyAnalysts suggest Ankara’s isolation only compounds the military challenges it faces in Libya. “The Mediterranean, in terms of naval transportation, is controlled by not too friendly forces. And neighboring countries Tunisia, Algeria and Italy are less than willing to help or to provide any logistic bases or any other logistic support. They seem determined to stay out of this,” said Solmazturk. FILE – Turkish lawmakers vote on a bill that allows troop deployment to Libya, at the Parliament in Ankara, Jan. 2, 2020.”Libya threatens to be another Syria, where countless lives and many treasures will be wasted to defend a very ill-defined ‘national objective,’ ” warned analyst Atilla Yesilada of GlobalSource Partners, an economic and security research group based in New York. Erdogan appears increasingly to be looking to diplomacy in a bid to isolate Haftar. In a speech Thursday in the presence of Merkel, the Turkish president called for “pressure” to put on Haftar. Erdogan challenged the international community over its courting of Haftar, despite the general’s failure so far to sign on to a cease-fire. “It doesn’t make sense such support is continued,” he said at Friday’s news conference with Merkel, “if such a person is constantly so spoiled.” Migrant issueThe Turkish president also is seeking to play the migrant card against Europe, warning of “chaos” if Haftar remains unchecked. Some analysts are warning, however, that Ankara needs to face the reality that the region has little appetite for a Turkish role in Libya. “The region wants neither Turkey nor Russia seeking to extend its hegemony to Libya and the wider region. This is the reality,” said Bagci. But for now, Ankara is likely figuring on having a limited military presence in Libya while continuing to push for international deliberations on a resolution to Libya’s civil war and its future. 

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January 25th, 2020 by Vbiz

While Washington obsesses about tensions with Iran and the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, a pair of high-ranking administration officials has been crisscrossing Europe and the Western Balkans in pursuit of a solution to a dispute that most Americans have barely noticed. The high-level focus on the quarrel between Serbia and its former province of Kosovo has left some analysts struggling to explain how the issue fits into a Trump administration foreign policy driven by crises in North Korea and Iran and defined by the slogan “America First.”Trump himself has demonstrated a personal interest in the issue, tweeting approvingly on the eve of the impeachment trial’s opening about the establishment of direct flights between the two countries:Everyone said it couldn’t be done. But for the first time in a generation, there will be direct flights between Serbia and Kosovo. Another win. Thanks to FILE – U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell is pictured in Berlin, Germany, May 8, 2018.“The tariffs must be dropped. That is unacceptable, and I also bring the same request here, which is the de-recognition campaign must stop,” he said in Belgrade, after a meeting Friday with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. “What we’ll do is continue moving in this direction of concentrating on the economy, concentrating on growing jobs.” Neither the White House nor State Department responded to requests for comment on the thinking behind the high-level engagement. Ripe for resolutionAnalysts contacted by VOA see little strategic value for the United States in throwing so much diplomatic muscle at the issue. But they suggest the problem is ripe for a resolution and could provide the administration with an easy foreign policy success. “So far as I can tell, the administration is beating the bushes for a success somewhere in the world. There is no real strategic interest,” said Daniel Serwer of Johns Hopkins University in an email exchange with VOA’s Albanian service. Damon Wilson, a vice president at the Atlantic Council, a global affairs research group in Washington, offered VOA’s Serbian service a similar analysis, noting the frustrating lack of progress on some of the administration’s biggest foreign policy concerns, including Iran and North Korea. “You don’t get easy wins in the Western Balkans, either, and yet in the Western Balkans we are dealing with democratic states that want to be part of the strategic West, that have a shared vision of the future of the region as a prosperous part of Europe,” he said. “This gives us something to work with, and while it might look hard, it actually looks relatively easy when you compare it to Iran, North Korea, Venezuela.” FILE – People protest after Kosovo’s decision to raise tariffs on Serbian and Bosnian goods, in the village of Rudare near Mitrovica, Kosovo, Nov. 23, 2018.Wilson added that the issue gives the United States a chance to show that “we are going to be engaged, we are not leaving a vacuum in the Western Balkans, we’ve got a role to play, we want to play that role and we are going to do it.” James Hooper, a former U.S. diplomat and executive director of the Washington-based Balkan Action Council, said a breakthrough on the issue would allow Trump to show he is not distracted by the impeachment drama and give him an achievement to highlight as he seeks re-election in November. But Wilson warned against attaching too much significance to the initiative as an election boon, saying, “It’s not exactly a vote-getter out there in Iowa,” where Republicans and Democrats will cast the first votes to select their presidential candidates early next month. Chance for progressRegardless of the motive, Hooper sees an opportunity to make real progress on a dispute that has held back progress in both countries. “This is a real opportunity because Washington is paying attention and Grenell is a serious person and he has a lot of influence in the White House,” he said. Alon Ben-Meir, a professor at New York University, said both Kosovo and Serbia would be wise to take advantage of that opportunity. “They are neighbors. They have to deal with one another. There is interdispersement of population. Many Serbs live in Kosovo. It is time for them to recognize certain facts on the ground that they cannot change,” he said. So far, however, there is little indication they will do so. Serbia immediately rejected Grenell’s proposals while Pristina has yet to deliver a clear response. “I don’t accept to draw an equality mark between the tariffs and the revoking of the campaign against recognition,” said Vucic, the Serbian president.  “America and Pristina … want Kosovo’s independence recognized. We do not. So it is logical that we have differing positions.” Ivana Konstantinovic from VOA’s Serbian service contributed to this report. 

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