Daily: 30/03/2018

«Схеми» відкидають закиди з боку ВМС України щодо «перекручування відомостей» у розслідуванні

«Чому з 2014 року американський презент досі стоїть в порту Балтимора, а не служить українським Військово-морським силам в акваторії Чорного моря?»

your ad here

Американський штат оголосив березень місяцем пам’яті Голодомору в Україні – посольство

Американський штат Массачусетс визнав геноцидом Голодомор 1932-1933 років на теренах України, повідомило українське посольство в США 29 березня.

У прокламації, яку оприлюднило дипломатичне представництво України, йдеться: «Я, Чарльз Бейкер, губернатор штату Массачусетс, проголошую березень 2018 року місяцем пам’яті геноциду в Україні».

У посольстві зазначили, що Массачусетс став дев’ятим американським штатом, який визнав Голодомор геноцидом. Раніше це зробили у Вашингтоні, Вісконсині, Іллінойсі, Мічигані, Нью-Джерсі, Нью-Йорку, Орегоні та Пенсильванії.

У листопаді 2006 року Верховна Рада України визнала Голодомор 1932–1933 років геноцидом українського народу. Наразі Голодомор визнали геноцидом 24 країни світу, а ще в низці країн – органи влади їхніх окремих територіальних одиниць.

Україна з посиланням на дані науково-демографічної експертизи стверджує, що загальна кількість людських втрат від Голодомору 1932–33 років становить майже 4 мільйони осіб, а втрати українців у частині ненароджених становлять понад 6 мільйонів.

your ad here

Turkey Slams France’s Offer of Mediation Over Syrian Kurd Militia

Paris’s offer to mediate between Ankara and the YPG Syrian Kurdish militia has provoked outrage from the Turkish government.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said the move amounted to supporting terrorism, and could make France “a target of Turkey.”  President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described Paris’s move, as a “show of hostility against Turkey.”

French President Emmanuel Macron made the mediation offer after meeting a delegation of the Syrian Defense Force (SDF), which included prominent members of the YPG militia and its political wing, PYD. Ankara accuses the YPG of being affiliated to the PKK which is waging an insurgency inside Turkey. Friday the PKK was blamed for an attack on Turkish security forces that killed at least 5.

“We do not need a mediator. Since when has Turkey been sitting at a table with terrorist organizations? Where did you get this from? You can sit at the table with terrorist organizations. But Turkey fights against terrorist organizations in places like Afrin [in Syria],” said Erdogan Friday at a meeting of his supporters.

 

“France no longer has the right to complain about the actions of any terror organization on its soil after meeting with the representatives of the PYD and its armed wing, the People Protection Units (YPG),” Erdogan added.

In a statement, the French presidency said along with mediation, it was prepared to support the creation of a stabilization region to facilitate the SDF fight against Islamic State. The statement “paid tribute to the sacrifices and the determining role” of the SDF in fighting against the jihadist group. Ankara accuses the SDF of being a front for the YPG Kurdish militia.

Symbolic victory for YPG

Ankara’s fury appears to be exacerbated by claims by those attending the Paris meeting that France was ready to deploy forces to northern Syria as part of efforts to protect Kurdish forces. Paris has not confirmed those claims. France, like the United States, has provided arms to the SDF, including members of the YPG, as well as deploying special forces in the fight against Islamic State, much to Ankara’s anger.

But analysts suggest even if claims of a French military deployment prove unfounded, the symbolism of President Macron for the first time hosting members of the YPG at the Elysse Palace, is a significant victory for the militia.

“Well, it legitimizes people that Turkey calls terrorists,” points out political columnist Semih Idiz, of the al-Monitor website.  “And we may expect these same people now to appear in other European countries, Germany, Austria and other places. This has potential to add new higher-level tensions between Turkish European relations.”

Ankara’s strong pushback against Paris could also be a sign that Europe could be considering taking a more assertive stance towards Turkey.

“If you look at the way the European Union has closed ranks against Russia, we could end up with a similar situation with Turkey.  A block could be developing against Turkey centered on not so much the YPG but the Kurdish issue,” warns columnist Idiz.

European leaders, including Macron are facing growing domestic disapproval of what critics claim is the abandoning of Kurdish fighters, who had successfully fought Islamic State.

Ankara pushing ahead

Erdogan Friday announced preparations were underway for a new offensive in Syria against the Kurdish militia, promising to sweep across northern Syria to the Iraqi border. The next declared target of Turkish-led forces is the Syrian town of Manbij, where U.S. forces are deployed with the YPG.

Analysts suggests Erdogan will likely be emboldened by U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement Thursday he would pull U.S. forces from Syria. The U.S. State Department, however, said there was no change in Syrian policy, while the Pentagon reaffirmed support for the SDF in its fight against the Islamic State.

But Ankara’s strong pushback against Paris is indicative of what observers claim is Erdogan’s belief that none of its Western allies are ready to confront it over its Syrian intervention.

“This is what President Erdogan’s brinkmanship is based on, having had his way in Afrin, he is feeling rather bullish about this and he is going to press on,” warns columnist Idiz.

“We are heading for some confrontation, especially over Manbij. But it is true there seems to be very little that Europe and the West generally can do. Erdogan is set to continue on his path because he believes he can get what he wants.”

 

your ad here

До 10 зросла кількість загиблих у протестах у Смузі Гази палестинців

Десятеро палестинців загинули, сотні постраждали внаслідок сутичок з ізраїльськими солдатами на кордоні Смуги Гази, такі оновлені дані повідомило ввечері 30 березня палестинське Міністерство охорони здоров’я.

Палестинці в Смузі Гази 30 березня розпочали шеститижневий протест поблизу кордону з Ізраїлем.

За словами організаторів акції, вони хочуть привернути увагу до долі палестинців, які не можуть повернутися до своїх домівок на території Ізраїлю. За кілометр від кордону з Ізраїлем протестувальники розбили намети.

Ізраїльські війська перебувають у стані підвищеної готовності вздовж кордону, побоюючись спроб масового порушення кордону.

Протест скликало палестинське угруповання «Хамас», яке керує Смугою Гази.

У Міністерстві закордонних справ Ізраїлю заявили, що протест є навмисною спробою спровокувати конфронтацію. Міністерство поклало відповідальність за будь-які можливі сутички на «Хамас».

Міністр оборони Ізраїлю Авігдор Ліберман розмістив у Twitter повідомлення арабською мовою. Він написав, що «Хамас» «грається з людськими життями», і закликав палестинців не піддаватися на провокації.

«Хамас» звинуватив владу Ізраїлю в спробах залякати палестинців.

За даними ООН, приблизно 1,3 мільйона із двох мільйонів жителів Гази є біженцями або нащадками біженців, які не можуть повернутися на територію, яка зараз є Ізраїлем.

your ad here

Павлоградський суд викликав на засідання бойовика «Гіві», якого вважають загиблим

Павлоградський міськрайонний суд Дніпропетровської області викликає на засідання обвинуваченого у справі про теракт Михайла Толстих (командира угруповання бойовиків «Сомалі» на прізвисько «Гіві»). 30 березня суд опублікував відповідне повідомлення в офіційній газеті «Урядовий кур’єр».

За повідомленням суду, після публікації в пресі обвинувачений вважається повідомленим про час і місце суду. У разі неявки суд розгляне справу без нього, йдеться у повідомленні.

Як підтвердили в суді, справу має розглянути колегія із трьох суддів на чолі з головою суду Наталією Самоткан. Михайла Толстих обвинувачують у скоєнні терористичного акту. Судове засідання призначене на 9:00 5 квітня.

Радіо Свобода підготувало інформаційний запит до суду з приводу виклику Толстих на засідання.

Правозахисниця, директорка програми USAID «Права людини в дії» Української Гельсінської спілки з прав людини Надія Волкова повідомила Радіо Свобода, що справа проти «Гіві» перебуває в Павлоградському суді з грудня 2016 року. Вона зазначила, що причин для закриття провадження немає, поки факт смерті обвинуваченого не встановлений офіційно.

«Підставою для закриття кримінального провадження є смерть людини. Якщо суд не виніс постанови, що людина є померлою, то вона вважається живою. Але йде інформація, у тому числі від СБУ про те, що «Гіві» вважається загиблою особою. Та СБУ не може це 100-відсотково підтвердити, адже це сталось на непідконтрольній Україні території. Тому суд не може закрити провадження. Наскільки я розумію, відбуватиметься заочне засудження, так само, як і в «справі Плотницького», – сказала Волкова.

За словами правозахисниці, щоб підтвердити смерть «Гіві, Україна мала б звернутися з офіційним запитом до Слідчого комітету Росії. Надія Волкова також вважає, що судовий процес проти «Гіві» наразі треба тимчасово припинити.

«Мені здається, було б доречним призупинити цей судовий процес. Зараз не встановлено, хто є відповідальним за ці (неконтрольовані Україною – ред.) території. Росія не визнає себе стороною конфлікту. Навіть якщо зараз суд винесе вирок, то які наслідки?» – додала Надія Волкова.

8 лютого 2017 року в угрупованні «ДНР» заявили про загибель у результаті вибуху Михайла Толстих, ватажка бойовиків на прізвисько «Гіві». У Міноборони України тоді підтвердили смерть.

your ad here

Голова Миколаївської ОДА Савченко відсторонений – АП

Голова Миколаївської облдержадміністрації Олексій Савченко відсторонений від роботи, повідомив Радіо Свобода керівник головного департаменту інформаційної політики Адміністрації президента Андрій Жигулін.

«Зараз голова Миколаївської ОДА відсторонений. Якщо слідство доведе його провину, він буде звільнений», – сказав Жигулін.

30 березня Савченко розповів, що подав президентові заяву про складання повноважень на період розслідування справи про самогубство колишнього льотчика, екс-директора комунального підприємства «Миколаївський міжнародний аеропорт» Владислава Волошина.

29 березня Миколаївська обласна рада перенесла розгляд питання про оголошення недовіри голові облдержадміністрації Олексію Савченку. Депутати вирішили у перші два тижні квітня на позачерговій сесії заслухати звіт голови ОДА, а після цього ухвалювати рішення про оголошення недовіри, повідомляли місцеві ЗМІ.

Начальник Головного управління національної поліції в Миколаївській області Юрій Мороз попросив 29 березня керівництво поліції змінити підслідність справи загиблого героя-льотчика Владислава Волошина. Він вважає, що для об’єктивного та неупередженого розгляду справи провадження могли б розслідувати Головне слідче управління Національної поліції або інші територіальні підрозділи.

Про те, що 29-річний Волошин скоїв самогубство в своїй квартирі в Миколаєві, стало відомо 18 березня. Волошин раніше був пілотом у Збройних силах України, брав участь в українській воєнній операції на Донбасі.

your ad here

South Sudan Dispute With Mobile Firm Disrupts Service

Hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese remained without mobile phone service Friday, as network operator Vivacell continued a standoff with the government over a licensing dispute.

The government cut the network’s signal to its roughly 900,000 subscribers just after midnight Tuesday, alleging that Vivacell owed tens of millions of dollars in licensing fees.

The government’s information minister, Michael Makuei, told VOA earlier this week that Vivacell previously had been exempted from taxes and licensing fees. “We want them to pay a sum of up to $66 million for their license, and up to now they are dragging their feet,” he said.

The licensing fee dispute underscores the mounting financial pressures facing the government in a country ravaged by civil war since late 2013.

Ruling party holds Vivacell stake

Pagan Amum – the former secretary general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the country’s ruling party – said Vivacell already pays for a valid license it has held for years. “There is no way Vivacell can be required to pay for another license,” he told VOA’s “South Sudan in Focus” radio program on Thursday.

Amum said that, as secretary general, he had helped negotiate the original deal with Lebanon’s Fattouch Investment Group – Vivacell’s majority owner – giving the SPLM party a minority share in the telecom firm. 

Vivacell has operated in South Sudan since 2008 under a license issued to the SPLM, Amum said. He added that, since 2012, the ruling SPLM has received $100,000 a month from Vivacell for licensing fees.

Vivacell officials went to Makuei’s office earlier this week in an attempt to negotiate, but he refused a meeting, the firm’s managing director, Jesus Antonio Ortiz Olivo, told Reuters on Wednesday. 

Makuei, in media interviews this week, has expressed a desire “to reorganize the telecommunications sector.” 

Low cellphone penetration rate

Mobile phone subscription rates have been falling in South Sudan, and telecom-sector operators “are placing themselves in survival mode and are hoping for a political settlement and a return to some degree of social stability,” the telecommunications research site BuddeComm reported in February.

BuddeCom said South Sudan has one of Africa’s lowest rates of cellphone penetration, at 21 percent, noting that recovery could bring “potentially many years of strong growth” to the sector.

South Sudan’s regulatory Communications Authority estimates the country’s entire telecom market – also served by South Africa’s MTN and Kuwait’s Zain – has fewer than 3 million subscribers, according to Reuters.

Complications for customers, clients

On Wednesday in the capital city, Juba, long lines formed at mobile phone stores where people waited to buy new subscriber identification module (SIM) cards from Vivacell competitors.

Vivacell subscriber Ever Fanusto said the sudden shutdown cut her off from friends and relatives, including those living overseas.

“I used to call my elder brother who is in America and now we have been disconnected with him,” Fanusto said. She added that it would be a challenge to retrieve her contacts’ information and load it onto a new SIM card.

In a notice published Wednesday, Vivacell informed its subscribers that the company was working with national authorities to resolve the matter and that it hoped to resume business soon in South Sudan. Otherwise, the company said it would set up “a clear mechanism” for reimbursing dealers, retailers and agents for their SIM card stocks.

your ad here

State Dept: US Visa Applicants to be Asked for Social Media History

The U.S. government plans to collect social media history from nearly everyone who seeks entry into the United States, State Department proposals showed on Friday as part of President Donald Trump’s policy of “extreme vetting.”

Most immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants – about 14.7 million people – will be asked to list on a federal application form all of the social media identities that they have used in the past five years – information that will be used

to vet and identify them, according to the proposals.

The State Department will publish the proposals in a notice in the Federal Register on Friday seeking approval from the Office of Management and Budget. The public has 60 days to comment on the requests.

The proposals support President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge in 2016 to crack down on illegal immigration for security reasons and his call for “extreme vetting” of foreigners entering the United States.

The department said it intends not to routinely ask most diplomatic and official visa applicants for the social media information.

If approved, applicants also will be required to submit five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses and their international travel history. They will be asked if they have been deported or removed from any country and whether family members have been involved in terrorist activities, the

department said.

Courts have struck down the first two versions of Trump’s travel ban and the current one is narrower in scope than its predecessors. The Supreme Court will consider its legality this spring and a decision is expected in June.

 

your ad here

A Century After WWI, Munitions Still Make Their Way Onto Beaches

A century after World War I ended, discarded munitions from that and other wars continue to make their way onto beaches around the country.

Items ranging from tiny fuses to full-scale mines are displaced by beach replenishment projects, sucked from the ocean floor and pumped ashore, or by strong storms that uncover them.

The most recent discovery came earlier this month when seven WWI rifle grenades were found on the beach in Mantoloking, New Jersey, which is undergoing a beach replenishment project to undo damage from Superstorm Sandy more than five years ago.

Many of the items were simply dumped overboard at the end of World Wars I and II; others remain from military drills or target practice. They’ve been discovered in at least 16 states from New Jersey to Hawaii.

“Surprisingly or not, this stuff continues to turn up,” said Niall Slowey, an oceanography professor at Texas A&M University, who has studied the phenomenon extensively. “They disposed of millions of tons of this stuff.”

No one knows how many pieces of munitions remain offshore, partly because the military’s own records as to how much was disposed of aren’t great. A Defense Department report to Congress in 2009 said more than half of sea disposals of munitions was done in the Atlantic Ocean; the Pacific got another 35 percent, and lesser amounts were dumped off Hawaii, Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. The material was dumped as near as 5 miles from shore, in water as shallow as 50 feet.

Slowey and a colleague released a 2012 study estimating there are millions of pounds of undersea bombs in the Gulf of Mexico alone.

Disposal of unneeded munitions at sea was commonly accepted practice until 1970.

“They thought it was beyond harm’s reach,” Slowey said. “People could not envision that there would be any interaction with material that deep on the ocean floor. But there is a lot more on the sea floor than anyone could have envisioned.”

New Jersey has been home to some well-publicized discoveries, including more than 1,100 pieces of munitions pumped ashore during beach replenishment work on a mile and a half of sand in Surf City and Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island in 2007. The items, mostly fuses, prompted temporary bans on the use of metal detectors and the digging of holes in the sand more than a foot deep. It also created a cottage industry in T-shirts with slogans like “Our beaches will blow you away!” and “I got bombed on L.B.I.!”

Similar material surfaced on the Jersey shore towns of Loch Arbour, Allenhurst and Deal in 2016 as part of another post-Sandy beach restoration project.

In May 2008, a bomb squad from the Massachusetts State Police detonated several pieces of unexploded ordnance left over from World War II on Chappaquiddick, including practice bombs.

In June 2013, a beachgoer discovered a partially buried German mine in the surf about 10 feet from shore in Bay Head, New Jersey, on the same day that the Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland did a controlled explosion of a World War II bomb that had washed ashore.

In July 2015, a photoflash bomb, designed to illuminate the night sky over WWII battlefields, was discovered on a beach near Tampa, Florida, where authorities blew it up on the sand.

Military and civilian experts say they don’t know of anyone in the United States being injured by munitions found on a beach, but agree the potential for injury is real.

“The problem is you just don’t know,” said Master Sgt. Brad Kline, an explosives disposal expert at New Jersey’s Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. “There could be explosive residue left behind. It’s definitely not worth the risk” of handling it. Military personnel use explosives to blow up munitions that are discovered on the beach and brought to the base.

In Europe, there have been injuries and deaths from unexploded munitions, including the 2005 deaths of three Dutch fishermen whose nets brought a WWII bomb to the surface, and other fishermen burned by chemical weapons they unwittingly dredged up.

your ad here

Росія оголосила про вислання дипломатів 23 країн

Міністерство закордонних справ Росії оголосило про «дзеркальні заходи» щодо 23 держав, які вислали російських дипломатів у відповідь на отруєння у Великій Британії колишнього російського розвідника Сергія Скрипаля і його дочки Юлії.

Представники дипмісій Албанії, Німеччини, Данії, Ірландії, Іспанії, Італії, Канади, Латвії, Литви, Македонії, Молдови, Нідерландів, Норвегії, Польщі, Румунії, України, Фінляндії, Франції, Хорватії, Чехії, Швеції та Естонії повинні залишити Росію до 7 квітня.

Читайте також: Клімкін назвав «нонсенсом» реакцію Росії на висилку дипломатів

30 березня керівників дипмісій викликали до російського МЗС. «Їм вручили ноти протесту і заявили, що у відповідь на необґрунтовані вимоги зазначених держав про висилку російських дипломатичних співробітників… російська сторона оголошує «persona non grata» відповідну кількість співробітників дипустанов цих країн в Російській Федерації», – йдеться в заяві.

У МЗС Росії додали, що схожі заходи можуть ухвалити і щодо дипломатів із Бельгії, Угорщини, Грузії і Чорногорії, які «в останній момент» долучилися до вислання російських диппрацівників.

Раніше російська влада вже оголосила про висилання 60 американських дипломатів і закриття генерального консульства США в Санкт-Петербурзі у відповідь на дії Вашингтона. Від Великої Британії Кремль зажадав вирівняти чисельність співробітників британських дипмісій в Росії і російських у Лондоні.

Щонайменше 28 країн вирішили вислати загалом понад 150 російських дипломатів у відповідь на отруєння 4 березня нервово-паралітичною речовиною колишнього російського подвійного агента Сергія Скрипаля і його дочки у британському Солсбері. Лондон і його союзники звинуватили Москву в отруєнні, але Кремль неодноразово заперечував причетність Росії.​

США вислали 60, Велика Британія – 23, Україна – 13 російських дипломатів. Решта країн, що висловили таким чином солідарність із Лондоном, обмежилися висилкою від одного до чотирьох дипломатів.

Сергія Скрипаля і його дочку Юлію отруїли нервово-паралітичною речовиною в британському Солсбері. Лондон звинуватив Москву в замаху на Скрипаля і вислав 23 російських дипломатів. Росія у відповідь вислала 23 співробітників британської дипмісії з закрила Британську раду.

Москва усі звинувачення у справі Скрипаля на свою адресу відкидає.

your ad here

Kremlin Criticizes Decision to Take RT TV off Air in Washington

The Kremlin said on Friday it was studying a move by cable and digital TV providers in the United States to take Russia’s RT TV channel off the air in Washington, saying the move looked like it was illegal and discriminatory.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters lawyers were closely studying the grounds for the decision, but said that at first glance it looked illegal and discriminatory.

your ad here

Amid Flood of Chinese Products, India Wants Fairness

Sampad Yadav, who sells electrical goods in a shop in the business hub of Gurugram on the outskirts of New Delhi, says Chinese goods such as LED lamps are popular with customers. “When people make a price comparison, and want to move towards the cheapest goods, those are usually Chinese products.”

 

As in many other countries, Chinese products such as lamps, electronics, smartphones and engineering goods from the manufacturing giant have flooded Indian markets.

 

However India has long fretted that areas in which it is strong such as generic drugs and Information Technology services, which make up some of its main exports to Western markets, remain shut out of China. That has made it difficult to bridge a ballooning trade deficit of about $50 billion between the two countries.

 

But there is optimism this could change following a meeting this week between the commerce ministers of the two countries in New Delhi.

 

“The Chinese side have agreed to work on the issue, prepare a road map to bring the trade to balanced level over a period of time,” Indian Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said after discussions with his Chinese counterpart, Zhong Shan.

 

Trade experts hope the growing tensions on trade issues between the United States and China will prompt Beijing to open up its markets more to Indian exports. “I think China is definitely under pressure now, looking into the kind of initiation which has happened against China,” says Ajay Sahai, who heads the Federation of Indian Exports Organization.

 

The meeting between the Indian and Chinese commerce ministers this week came amid efforts to deescalate tensions between the Asian neighbors following a period of rocky ties and a tense 70-day face-off between their troops in the Himalayas last year.

Despite a long-lingering boundary dispute and an often-fraught diplomatic relationship, trade ties between the Asian giants have gained significant momentum and China is now India’s largest trading partner. Bilateral trade in 2017 topped $80 billion rising by more than 20 percent over the previous yea.

 

But worryingly for New Delhi, the trade deficit remains high despite a marginal growth in Indian exports – they add up to about $16 billion versus Chinese imports into India of about $68 billion.

 

Market access a key issue

India exports mainly raw materials like iron ore, copper and cotton yarn to China. “In whatever value added exports where we are competitive, unfortunately the market is not open for us,” says Sahai.

 

However China has promised to give greater market access to Indian goods, particularly pharmaceuticals and agricultural goods such as rice, as well as service exports, according to the Indian commerce minister. “They have decided to work in a way that will address security issues from their side as well as introduce Indian companies to those who can buy these products in China,” says Prabhu.

 

New Delhi, which is trying to ramp up domestic manufacturing, is also urging China to manufacture more goods exported to India within the country.

Whether the promised actions translate into concrete outcomes remains to be seen. But exporters are hopeful. Sahai points out that China has invited Indian traders to what is being billed as the country’s first importers fair to be held in Shanghai later this year – it is being showcased as a measure to further open up China’s market.

 

The positive tenor of talks between the two countries comes days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on Chinese imports valued at $60 billion.

 

New Delhi could also face U.S. ire on trade issues – although its exports to the United States are comparatively small, it has a high trade deficit in its favor and Washington has often complained of protectionist barriers in India. In February, Trump called out India for imposing higher duties on Harley-Davidson motorcycles than the U.S. does on Indian motorbikes.

 

Amid growing fears that global trade faces uncertain times, analysts have called on countries like India to focus on increasing trade within the region.   

 

India and China also said they will strengthen cooperation in the World Trade Organization and other multilateral and regional frameworks to maintain their common interests.

your ad here

Vietnam Stands to See Modest Wins if China, U.S. Start Trade War

A wider Sino-U.S. trade dispute would help export-reliant Vietnam compete against Chinese companies but put the country at risk of any global fallout, analysts say.

The numerous exporters in Vietnam that ship manufactured goods to the United States would save money compared with Chinese peers if not subject to American tariffs, said Dustin Daugherty, senior associate with business consultancy Dezan Shira & Associates in Ho Chi Minh City.

The U.S. government said this month it would develop a list of tariffs on up to $60 billion in Chinese imports. China has threatened to impose its own in response.

“Let’s say (the United States) went the more traditional route, tensions kept escalating and more tariffs are slapped on Chinese products,” Daugherty said. “In that case Vietnam’s export sector definitely benefits. We’re already seeing the U.S. being very warm to Vietnam and U.S. businesses keen on doing business with Vietnam.”

But Chinese firms hit by tariffs might flood Vietnam with raw materials for local manufacturing, while overall world market volatility caused by a Sino-U.S. trade dispute could hamper the country’s trade, said Carl Thayer, emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

​A tariff-free Vietnam scenario

Vietnamese exporters would save money compared to their Chinese peers if the U.S. government placed tariffs on Chinese firms alone without touching their cross-border supply chains, Daugherty said.

The government of U.S. President Donald Trump calls China unfair in its trade practices, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative says on its website. China enjoys a $375 billion trade surplus with the United States.

Vietnam counts the United States as its top single-country export destination and it shipped $46.484 billion worth of goods to that market last year.

Vietnamese officials have carved out an investment environment since the 1980s that hinges on low costs for manufacturers. American-invested factories such as a Ford Motor plant and an Intel chip factory are among those active in Vietnam today.

Foreign investment contributed to exports worth $155.24 billion in 2017, financial services firm SSI Research in Hanoi says. Vietnam’s economy grew about 7 percent in the first quarter this year, it says.

Attractive investment

Vietnam would be a more attractive investment compared with China under higher U.S. tariffs, analysts say.

Some new investors might be formerly China-based firms hoping to flee the tariffs, said Song Seng Wun, an economist in the private banking unit of CIMB in Singapore.

China itself might offer Vietnam, along with other countries, preferential trade policies or infrastructure help to shore up trade ties, some believe. Stronger trade relations outside the United States would help China offset any tariff damage, Daugherty said.

This week China’s commerce minister pledged to relax trade rules affecting India.

​Specter of a broader trade war

U.S. import tariffs that hit China’s extensive cross-border supply chain would hurt Vietnam as a place that finishes Chinese goods for final export, Thayer said. It’s unclear whether Washington would tax Chinese firms alone or their wider supply networks.

Chinese firms already co-invest with Vietnamese partners, Song said, and supply chains for goods such as consumer electronics can net multiple countries, not just China.

More co-investment might follow if Vietnam can offer shelter from tariffs. But Sino-Vietnamese political tension over a maritime dispute risks giving Vietnamese firms a bad name at home if they work too extensively with Chinese partners.

“I would say there will be all kinds of repercussions and implications just because of the very integrated supply chain in the world these days,” Song said. “Take an Apple phone as an example. Parts from here and there are assembled in China.”

Steel, aluminum tariffs

U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs that took effect last week cover much of the world including China and Vietnam. Vietnam exported 380,000 tons of steel, worth $303 million, to the United States in 2017, domestic news website VnExpress International says.

Chinese firms hit by the range of tariffs being mulled now in Washington might boost sales to Vietnam, Thayer said. Chinese sellers of raw materials for Vietnamese exports could dump goods into Vietnam to keep up their own balance sheets as U.S. tariffs hurt them, he added.

Chinese sellers often have an economy of scale that lets them sell for less in Vietnam than local vendors do. Vietnam counts China as its top trading partner.

An escalation of Sino-U.S. trade tensions could also chill global markets or trade as a whole, some analysts fear. That fallout could slow global growth, he said.

“Disruption to trade shouldn’t affect Vietnam overall, but it’s the way the entire globe is reacting to this that I think could affect Vietnam,” he said. “Vietnam is overall heavily committed to global integration with a number of partners, so disruption along that way would have an effect.”

your ad here

UK Lawmakers Publish Evidence from Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower

A committee of British lawmakers published written evidence on Thursday provided by a whistleblower who says information about 50 million Facebook users ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica said the documents did not support whistleblower Christopher Wylie’s testimony to the committee this week.

Wylie, who formerly worked for Cambridge Analytica (CA), alleges the data was used to help to build profiles on American voters and raise support for Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Wylie also alleges that CA was linked to Canadian firm AggregateIQ (AIQ), which he says was involved in the development of the software used to target voters. AggregateIQ, he says, received payment from a pro-Brexit campaign group before the 2016 referendum when Britain voted to quit the European Union.

This was co-ordinated with the lead “Vote Leave” group in a breach of British electoral funding rules, Wylie alleged.  Vote Leave denies any wrongdoing.

Wylie appeared before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the British parliament on Tuesday. The committee said Wylie provided it with documents including a services agreement between AIQ and SCL Elections, an affiliate of Cambridge Analytica, dated September 2014.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the documents made public by the committee.

“None of these documents support the false allegations made in Tuesday’s hearing,” Cambridge Analytica said in a statement, adding that Wylie had left the company in July 2014 and would have no direct knowledge of its work or practices since then.

“It is wrong to suggest that Cambridge Analytica’s earlier relationship with Aggregate IQ implies that we were involved with their work for Vote Leave. Cambridge Analytica did no work in any capacity in the 2016 EU referendum.”

AIQ did not respond to a Reuters request for comment after Tuesday’s committee hearing, but in an earlier statement said it had never entered into a contract with Cambridge Analytica and had never been part of the firm.

The parliamentary committee’s chairman has said it was “astonishing” that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg decided not to answer lawmakers’ questions, given the claims that Wylie had made about how data was used.

your ad here

Ads Pulled from Ingraham Show After She Mocked Parkland Survivor

At least three companies said Thursday they were pulling advertisements from a Fox News show hosted by conservative pundit Laura Ingraham, heeding a call from a teenage survivor of the Florida school massacre whom Ingraham mocked on Twitter.

Parkland student David Hogg, 17, tweeted a list of a dozen companies that advertise on The Ingraham Angle and urged his supporters to demand that they cancel their ads.

Hogg is a survivor of the Feb. 14 mass shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Parkland suburb of Fort Lauderdale. Since then, he and other classmates have become the faces of a new youth-led movement calling for tighter restrictions on firearms.

Hogg took aim at Ingraham’s advertisers after she taunted him Wednesday on Twitter, accusing him of whining about being rejected by four colleges to which he had applied.

On Thursday, Ingraham tweeted an apology “in the spirit of Holy Week,” saying she was sorry for any hurt or upset she had caused Hogg or any of the “brave victims” of Parkland.

“For the record, I believe my show was the first to feature David … immediately after that horrific shooting and even noted how ‘poised’ he was given the tragedy,” Ingraham tweeted, adding that Hogg was welcome back for another interview.

But her apology did not stop at least three companies from parting ways with her show. U.S. celebrity chef Rachael Ray’s pet food line Nutrish, travel website TripAdvisor and online home furnishings seller Wayfair Inc all said they were canceling their advertisements.

Wayfair

Wayfair said it supports open dialogue and debate, but “the decision of an adult to personally criticize a high school student who has lost his classmates in an unspeakable tragedy is not consistent with our values,” it said in a statement.

Nutrish

Replying to Hogg’s boycott call, Nutrish tweeted: “We are in the process of removing our ads from Laura Ingraham’s program.”

A representative for the pet food line did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

TripAdvisor

CNBC cited a TripAdvisor spokesman as saying the company does not condone “inappropriate comments” made by Ingraham that in its view “cross the line of decency.”

TripAdvisor representatives did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Ingraham’s show runs on Fox News, part of Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.

your ad here

In Cuba, Vietnam Communist Party Chief Advocates Economic Reforms

The head of Vietnam’s Communist Party advocated for the importance of market-oriented economic reforms on a two-day visit to old ally Cuba, which is struggling to liberalize its poorly Soviet-style command economy.

Vietnam and Cuba are among the last Communist-run countries in the world but Hanoi set about opening up its centralized economy in the 1980s, two decades before Havana started to do so in earnest under President Raul Castro.

Castro leaves office on April 19 after two consecutive five-year mandates without having been able to unleash in Cuba the same kind of rapid economic growth as that experienced by Vietnam. He remains head of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) until 2021.

“The market economy of its own cannot destroy socialism,” Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong said in a lecture at Havana University.

“But to build socialism with success, it is necessary to develop a market economy in an adequate and correct way.”

Hanoi had managed to lift around 30 million Vietnamese out of poverty over 20 years, Trong said.

The PCC this week admitted a slowdown in its market reforms it attributed to the complexity of the process, low engagement of the bureaucracy and mistakes in oversight.

The number of self-employed workers in the Caribbean island nation of 11.2 million residents has more than tripled to around 580,000 workers since the start of the reforms.

But the government last year froze the issuance of licenses for certain activities amid fears of rising inequality and a loss of state control. It has also backtracked on some reforms in recent years, particularly in the agricultural sector.

Trong said it was clear Cuba, like Vietnam, wanted to avoid shock therapy.

“With the clear vision of the PCC … [Cuba] will surely reach great achievements and successfully reach a prosperous and sustainable socialism,” Trong said.

Cubans complain their economy suffers two types of blockades, the internal one, namely stifling state controls, and the external one: the U.S. trade embargo.

Vietnam also suffered U.S. sanctions, but Washington lifted them more than two decades ago. Analysts say it is unlikely it will do the same for Cuba any time soon.

U.S. President Donald Trump has shifted back to hostile Cold War rhetoric and partially rolled back the detente forged with Havana by his predecessor Barack Obama.

your ad here

Pentagon Remains Silent on Transgender Policy

Nearly a week after President Donald Trump issued an order banning some transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, the Pentagon is refusing to provide clarity, citing ongoing legal challenges.

Last Friday, the White House released a memo from Trump to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, stating the administration concurred with a policy for transgender service members privately recommended by Mattis in late February.

The memo said Mattis and Nielsen “have concluded that the accession or retention of individuals with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria — those who may require substantial medical treatment, including through medical drugs or surgery — presents considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality.”

“Gender dysphoria” (formerly known as gender identity disorder) is defined by strong, persistent feelings of identification with the opposite gender and discomfort with one’s own assigned sex that results in significant distress or impairment.

The memo also granted the secretaries the authority to implement policies as they saw fit.

But since then, the Department of Defense has been silent, refusing to answer questions from reporters seeking clarity on a new policy that could affect nearly 9,000 transgender service members.

The pattern continued Thursday when Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White told reporters, “We will continue to comply with four court orders assessing transgender applicants for military service and retaining current transgender service members.”

White said she is prevented from discussing any aspect of the new policy because of ongoing litigation challenging Trump’s order to ban transgender forces.

The Pentagon said there are 8,980 service members who identify as transgender, but only 937 active-duty service members were diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

your ad here

Did Missteps Help French Attacker Slip Past Security Net?

He did jail time for petty crime and was under surveillance as a potential extremist, yet Radouane Lakdim slipped through the French security net.

Lakdim — who killed four people in a shooting-and-hostage rampage in southern France last week — is a prime example of the challenges security officials face and the missteps they can make as homegrown extremists multiply.

Even before France buried his victims Thursday, angry voices asked what went wrong.

The questions are coming from victims’ families, opposition leaders and even from Morocco’s counterterrorism chief — whose country has helped France investigate dual-national extremists in the past but was never told that the French-Moroccan Lakdim was a risk.

Did a summons to meet with intelligence officials play a role in Lakdim’s decision to spring into action? Was there a slip-up in surveillance? 

Experts say French intelligence services are drowning in data and lacking enough analysts to interpret.

More than 20,000 names are on two lists of radicalized or potentially radicalized people in France. It takes 20 officers to survey a single person daily, experts say.

Lakdim was one of more than 15 people in France under surveillance as potentially dangerous since 2012 but went on to commit attacks and kill. With soldiers in the streets, a new, tougher terrorism law and new efforts to prevent radicalization, France appears to be covering all bases. But attacks keep coming.

Lakdim took his sister to school on March 23, then killed in the name of the Islamic State group in a three-stage attack in the medieval city of Carcassonne, where he lived, and in the nearby town Trebes. The 25-year-old was shot dead later that day when police stormed a supermarket to free his hostages.

List of offenses

By the time he died, Lakdim had been convicted twice on drug and weapons possession charges; was suspected of belonging to a local Salafist movement; had a radicalized girlfriend who had converted to Islam and is now charged in the case; owned a saber, a handgun and knives; had done a month of prison time; and was to go before a court on April 23 for possessing a knife and driving without a permit.

The profile mimics those of many small-time delinquents. But questions arise because Lakdim was on two watch lists, starting in 2014, and was closely monitored since late 2015, according to anti-terrorism prosecutor Francois Molins. The surveillance failed to provide “warning signs of an intention to act” or indications he planned to travel to Syria or Iraq, Molins said.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb on Wednesday confirmed reports that French security services were poised to reduce the surveillance on Lakdim. Yet Collomb maintained there were no “dysfunctions” in tracking him.

“This poses once again the question of the efficacy of the surveillance,” said Yves Trotignon, a former intelligence official.

In 2016, one of two men who slashed a priest’s throat during Mass in a small Normandy town wore an electronic bracelet after serving prison time. The man who killed a police couple in their home outside Paris a month earlier was under surveillance. A man who tried to crash his car loaded with gas canisters and weapons into gendarmes on Paris’ Champs-Elysees last year was under surveillance, yet had a gun permit.

French authorities stress their successes. While 11 deadly attacks have been carried out since the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and a kosher grocery were attacked in January 2015, 51 attacks have been thwarted and 17 more have failed, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told lawmakers Tuesday.

A 100 percent success rate in counterterrorism is impossible, and the threat will last for years, authorities warn.

Trotignon compares a terror attack to an industrial accident because “there is never a single cause,” but an accumulation of missteps.

Little problems, like a defective joint in refinery piping, get patched. “Then one day all the little problems happen at the same time. … An attack is like that.”

What’s the stimulus?

Investigators look for attack triggers.

The newspaper Le Monde reported that Lakdim had recently received a written summons from French intelligence headquarters for an “administrative meeting” — a flag that he was under watch.

At the time of the failed Champs-Elysees ramming attack, Le Monde reported that the driver, Adam Djaziri, had received his third demand for an “administrative meeting” shortly before the attack, which killed no one but himself.

Across the Mediterranean, the chief of Morocco’s counterterrorism agency questioned why France didn’t communicate with him.

Abdelhak Khiame told The Associated Press that as of Tuesday — four days after Lakdim’s deadly attack — he had heard nothing from Paris, despite a policy of information sharing.

“His country of birth should have been notified that its national is wanted by French security,” said Khiame, director of Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations. Moroccans make up a large subset of Islamic State group fighters, and dual Moroccan-European citizens have taken part in past IS attacks in Europe.

Alain Bauer, a leading criminologist, maintains the attacks by Lakdim could have been thwarted. Analysis is the key, he and other experts said, along with on-the-ground tailing.

“Like almost all others that … succeeded, it could have been avoided,” said Bauer, who has written a book on French intelligence. “We rely on ‘Inspector Google’ to decide how to fight YouTube radicals. It doesn’t work … these tools cannot replace human intelligence.”

your ad here

Utility Plans to Close Nuclear Plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania

FirstEnergy Corp. said it will shut down three nuclear plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania within the next three years, making it the latest U.S. utility to announce closings as the nuclear industry struggles to compete with electricity plants that burn plentiful and inexpensive natural gas.

The company announced the closings Wednesday and a day later appealed to the U.S. Department of Energy for help, asking that it be allowed to get more money for electricity produced by its nuclear and coal-fired plants. It said in its request that the closings of its nuclear plants could threaten the reliability of the electric grid across the East Coast.

FirstEnergy said Wednesday that it would be willing to work with both Ohio and Pennsylvania to find a way to keep the plants open, but lawmakers remain unwilling to offer a financial rescue and it appears the plants are nearing a shutdown.

The natural gas boom and increasing use of renewable energy have combined in recent years to squeeze the nation’s aging nuclear reactors, which are expensive to operate and maintain.

New York and Illinois have responded by giving out billion-dollar bailouts that will be paid by ratepayers to stop unprofitable nuclear plants from closing prematurely.

But similar proposals have met with resistance in Connecticut and New Jersey, as well as in Ohio and Pennsylvania, because such subsidies would cause utility bills to increase.

Some proponents of nuclear power say the plants are needed to maintain a diverse lineup of energy sources, arguing that while natural gas is cheap now, that might not always be the case. They also say the nuclear plants are vital to the rural towns where they’re located, providing millions of dollars in tax money for schools and local governments. 

In Ohio, where FirstEnergy is based, state lawmakers said earlier this year that there would be no more hearings on a proposal to increase electric bills to give the company’s plants an extra $180 million a year.

FirstEnergy said it plans to close its Davis-Besse nuclear plant near Toledo in 2020, and that a year later it will shut down the Perry plant near Cleveland and its Beaver Valley operation in Pennsylvania.

“Though the plants have taken aggressive measures to cut costs, the market challenges facing these units are beyond their control,” said Don Moul, president of FirstEnergy Solutions, a subsidiary that runs the nuclear plants.

The three plants, built in the 1970s, employ a combined 2,300 people who would be affected by the closings.

PJM Interconnection, which operates the electric grid covering 65 million people from Illinois east to Washington, is likely to review the impact the potential closings would have on it.

The Davis-Besse plant has had its share of operational problems since it opened four decades ago.

It was the site of the worst corrosion ever found at a U.S. reactor when inspectors discovered an acid leak that closed the plant for extensive repairs from 2002 to 2004.

your ad here