Daily: 08/09/2022

US Mourns Loss of Britain’s Longest-Serving Monarch

The United States mourned the death of Britain’s longest-serving monarch Thursday, as presidents and politicians acknowledged the singular life and achievements of Queen Elizabeth II.

“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a monarch. She defined an era. In a world of constant change, she was a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for generations of Britons,” President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden said in a statement Thursday.

Buckingham Palace announced Thursday afternoon that the 96-year-old monarch had passed away peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. She was succeeded by her eldest son, Charles, now king.

Former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, also remembered the queen in a statement Thursday.

“Like so many, Michelle and I are grateful to have witnessed Her Majesty’s dedicated leadership, and we are awed by her legacy of tireless, dignified public service,” they said.

During the queen’s 70-year reign, she worked with 14 U.S. presidents, starting with Harry S. Truman. She was welcomed in the United States on official visits multiple times, including a visit in 1976 to celebrate the U.S. bicentennial; in 1991. when she addressed a joint session of Congress; and in 2007, when she visited Virginia to mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. It was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas.

“Queen Elizabeth offered a master class in grace and strength, power and poise. Her extraordinary life and leadership will continue to inspire young women and girls in public service, now and for generations to come,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

“Personally, it was an honor to be on the floor of the House during her historic address to the Congress in 1991 and to welcome her as speaker on her important visit to the United States in 2007, which deepened the special relationship between our nations,” Pelosi added.

Resolution planned

The House of Representatives will pass a bereavement resolution honoring the queen next Tuesday. Pelosi ordered that flags over the U.S. Capitol be flown at half-staff for the monarch’s passing.

“For 70 long years, from the aftermath of World War II well into the 21st century, across 15 different prime ministers, through great triumphs and great challenges, the queen’s steady leadership safeguarded the land she loved. Despite spending nearly three-quarters of a century as one of the most famous and admired individuals on the planet, the queen made sure her reign was never really about herself,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.

“The queen embodied the essence of British leadership for over seven decades and leaves a proud legacy of service to her people and of steadfast friendship and respect for the United States,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez said in a statement Thursday.

Many members of Congress had personally met the queen and remembered her fondly in statements on Thursday.

“I remember well her visit to San Francisco in 1983 when I was mayor,” said Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. “I spent time with the queen at the Davies Symphony Hall and found her to be gracious and kind, a wonderful representative of her nation. Queen Elizabeth will be fondly remembered and missed by many, and my thoughts are with her family and the people of the U.K.”

The queen’s work on a global scale was also applauded in New York at the United Nations.

“Queen Elizabeth II was widely admired for her grace, dignity and dedication around the world. She was a reassuring presence throughout decades of sweeping change, including the decolonization of Africa and Asia and the evolution of the Commonwealth,” Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, said in a statement.

“Queen Elizabeth II was a good friend of the United Nations, and visited our New York Headquarters twice, more than fifty years apart. She was deeply committed to many charitable and environmental causes and spoke movingly to delegates at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow.”

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Правозахисники: сумарний термін ув’язнення кримських політв’язнів збільшився до 1147 років

«93 жертви політично мотивованих переслідувань було засуджено до реальних термінів ув’язнення окупаційною владою»

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VOA Interviews Leaders of US Investigation Into Russian War Crimes in Ukraine

VOA Ukraine service reporter Oleksiy Kovalenko interviews Eli Rosenbaum and Christian Levesque, two US Justice Department investigators leading a team looking into Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

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Від 1 вересня звільнено понад тисячу квадратних кілометрів території України – президент

«У межах оборонних операцій, що тривають, наші герої звільнили вже десятки населених пунктів»

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Грузія щодня відмовляє у в’їзді десяткам росіян – ЗМІ

Повідомляється, що для причини відмови росіянам не має значення ані професія, ані факт проживання в Грузії, ані наявність контракту на оренду житла

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Сейм Латвії відокремив Латвійську православну церкву від Московського патріархату

Президент Латвії Егілс Левітіс: «Відмова від будь-якого зв’язку з патріархом Московським є важливим питанням для наших православних, всього латвійського суспільства та національної безпеки»

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Відбиті атаки військ РФ та понад 12 ударів авіації по російських військових цілях – Генштаб про ситуацію на фронті

«Підрозділи Сил оборони утримують займані позиції та не допускають просування ворога»

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Блінкен та Зеленський провели зустріч у Києві

Візит держсекретаря США Ентоні Блінкена до України 8 вересня не був анонсований жодною із сторін

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Ukrainians Raise Funds to Donate Satellite to Army

Ukrainians of different ages, walks of life and income levels have come together to donate money to provide the Ukrainian army with weapons and equipment that even included a satellite. For VOA, Anna Chernikova reports from Kyiv.

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Palace Concerned About Queen Elizabeth’s Health

Buckingham Palace has issued a statement expressing concern for the health of 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth after a medical evaluation Thursday.

The statement said doctors for the British monarch have recommended she remain under medical supervision. It said she “remains comfortable” at her Balmoral castle in Scotland, her summer home.

The queen cancelled a meeting Wednesday with the Privy Council, a group of her closest, most trusted advisers. The BBC reported Thursday that Prince Charles and other members of the royal family are traveling to Balmoral to be with the Queen.

From her Twitter account, Prime Minister Liz Truss said the “whole country” is “deeply concerned” by the news. She added, “My thoughts – and the thoughts of people across our United Kingdom – are with Her Majesty the Queen and her family at this time.”

The Queen formally appointed Truss as prime minister at Balmoral on Tuesday, instead of traveling to London for the event. During her 70-year reign the Queen has typically met with her new prime minister at Buckingham Palace.

Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press.

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США і ООН вимагають доступу до російських «фільтраційних таборів»

Російські війська примусово вивезли до Росії 900 тисяч до 1,6 мільйона українців, заявила представниця Сполучених Штатів у ООН

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До нового пакету допомоги Пентагону увійшли 105-міліметрові гаубиці та високоточні ракети – Остін

Вашингтон бачить «очевидний успіх» України на полі бою проти російських військ, додав міністр оборони США

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Білорусь почала не анонсовані завчасно військові навчання біля кордонів із Польщею

Маневри триватимуть на військових полігонах у Бресті, поблизу західного кордону з Польщею

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США виділять Україні новий пакет допомоги на 675 мільйонів доларів – Єрмак

Про це голова ОП заявив із посиланням на Міністерство оборони США

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Zelenskyy Says Ukraine Recaptured Some Towns in Kharkiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised what he called “good news” from the Kharkiv region, saying Ukrainian forces had recaptured some towns from Russian troops.

Zelenskyy singled out several Ukrainian units in his latest video address, praising “their bravery and heroism displayed during the execution of combat mission.”

He also said Ukrainian artillery had carried out successful strikes against Russian forces in southern Ukraine.

U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl told an event hosted by Defense News on Wednesday that Ukrainian forces are “making slow but meaningful progress.”

“I certainly think things are going better on the Ukrainian side right now in the south than is true on the Russian side,” Kahl said.

Britain’s defense ministry said Thursday that in Kherson Oblast, in southern Ukraine, Ukrainian forces probably destroyed a military pontoon bridge in the town of Darivka that Russian forces had used after a nearby bridge was damaged.

The ministry said by targeting crossing points, Ukraine’s military is slowing Russia’s ability to deploy troops and carry out resupply efforts from the east.

“The Darivka crossing is one of the main routes between the northern and southern sectors of Russia’s military presence along the Dnipro River. Ukraine’s systematic precision targeting of vulnerable crossing points likely continues to impose pressure on Russian forces as they attempt to contain Ukrainian attacks,” the ministry said.

Ukraine on Wednesday urged residents living in Russian-occupied areas near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to flee for their own safety.

“I appeal to the residents of the districts adjacent to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant … evacuate! Find a way to get to [Ukrainian] controlled territory,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on the Telegram messaging service.

In a separate post on Telegram, the exiled Ukrainian mayor of Enerhodar, the main town serving the plant, said it was under fire from Russian forces and the town had no electrical supply.

Both Moscow and Kyiv have for weeks accused each other of shelling the nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, risking a nuclear disaster akin to that at Ukraine’s Chernobyl plant in 1986.

On Tuesday, Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the continued attacks on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant are “unacceptable,” and he urged that a demilitarized area be created in and around the facility. Grossi and a team of IAEA inspectors visited the site last week.

“We are playing with fire, and something very, very catastrophic could take place,” Grossi warned during a video briefing to the U.N. Security Council. “This is why in our report we are proposing the establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone limited to the perimeter and the plant itself.”

But neither Moscow nor Kyiv immediately committed to the Grossi proposal, saying they needed to know more details.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters. 

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Iranian Diplomats Set to Leave Albania After Expulsion Order

Iranian embassy staff in the Albanian capital worked through the night after they were given 24 hours to leave the country over a major cyberattack that the Albanian government blames on Iran.

It is the first known case of a country cutting diplomatic relations over a cyberattack.

Movement inside the Iranian embassy in Tirana continued nonstop from Wednesday into Thursday. An empty barrel was seen taken into the compound and later a fire was started in it, apparently burning documents. A diplomatic car went in and out, while an Albanian police officer communicated with the embassy before two officers entered and left after a few minutes.

The staff have until noon (1000 GMT) Thursday to leave Albania.

On July 15, a cyberattack temporarily shut down numerous Albanian government digital services and websites. Prime Minister Edi Rama said Wednesday that there was “undeniable evidence” that the Iranian government was behind the attack.

The United States supported the move by Albania, a NATO member, and vowed unspecified retaliation against Iran for what it called “a troubling precedent for cyberspace.”

Iran condemned the diplomats’ expulsion, calling the action ill-considered and short-sighted, according to Iranian state TV.

In a statement, the Iranian Foreign Ministry denied Tehran was behind any cyberattack on Albanian government websites, adding that it’s Iran which is a target of such attacks on its critical infrastructure.

Ties between Iran and Albania have been tense since 2014 when Albania sheltered some 3,000 members of the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK, who had left Iraq.

In July, MEK had planned to hold the Free Iran World Summit in Manez, west of Tirana, with U.S. lawmakers among the invitees. The meeting was canceled “for security reasons and due to terrorist threats and conspiracies.”

In two separate instances in 2020 and 2018, Tirana expelled four Iranian diplomats for “threatening national security.”

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US Moves to Keep Advanced Semiconductor Technology Out of China

Companies that accept U.S. funding under a plan to build up America’s computer chip-making capacity will be barred from establishing advanced fabrication facilities in China for 10 years, the administration of President Joe Biden announced this week.

The Commerce Department rolled out its plan to distribute $50 billion provided by the CHIPS Act, which Biden signed into law last month. In an appearance at the White House on Tuesday, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the rules include specific language on transferring technology to China.

“Companies who receive CHIP funds can’t build leading-edge or advanced technology facilities in China for a period of 10 years,” she said. “Companies who receive the money can only expand their mature node factories in China to serve the Chinese market.”

Mature node factories refer to semiconductor fabrication facilities that only produce older technology that is already widely available.

Raimondo reminded her audience of the semiconductor supply shortage during the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, “We saw the impact of the chip shortage on American families when car prices drove a third of inflation because of lack of chips, factory workers were furloughed, household appliances were often unavailable, all because of a lack of semiconductors.”

“With this funding, we’re going to make sure that the United States is never again in a position where our national security interests are compromised or key industries are immobilized due to our inability to produce essential semiconductors here at home,” she said.

Low US capacity

The CHIPS Act is a response not just to the computer chip shortage that snarled global supply chains during the pandemic but also to the perceived national security threat that a lack of domestic semiconductor manufacturing presents.

According to the Commerce Department, the U.S. consumes 25% of the world’s most advanced computer chips but does not produce any of them. As for less advanced chips, the U.S. consumes 30% but manufactures only 13%.

Because advanced chips are used not only in consumer goods but in weapons systems and other technology important to national security, the federal government worries that global adversaries could choke off supply in the event of a conflict.

For example, a large percentage of the chips the U.S. imports come from Taiwan, which has come under increasingly serious threat from China, whose government claims the island nation as part of its country.

‘Unusual’ policy

James A. Lewis, senior vice president and director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), told VOA that the 10-year time limit is “an unusual” policy for the U.S., and it probably represents an effort to find middle ground between technology companies and China hawks in the federal government.

“I can’t think of any other case where we’ve put a time limit like that. … It’s not how we usually do things internationally,” he said.

The Commerce Department, Lewis said, found itself between technology companies reluctant to be completely cut off from one of the world’s largest markets on one side, and Congress and the White House on the other. Lawmakers and President Biden are both eager to prevent China from producing cutting-edge semiconductors.

Technology restrictions not new

Although a decade-long ban on the manufacture of advanced semiconductor technology in China may be stricter than expected, U.S. companies are used to facing restrictions on the export of critical technology.

“U.S. companies will follow U.S. law. They will continue to sell chips to Chinese buyers in accordance with existing law,” Doug Barry, a vice president with the U.S.-China Business Council, told VOA in an email exchange. “They have long been required to apply for export licenses to sell certain kinds of chips and have halted sales to specific China entities when U.S. law required them to do so.”

Barry said that his organization’s members “support the policies of a strong indigenous semiconductor industry and robust national security.”

He added: “The key for preserving U.S. competitiveness in important technologies is to narrow the scope of export and investment controls, and to consult regularly with the business community to avoid unintended policy consequences.”

Chinese embassy responds

In a reply to a query from VOA, the Chinese embassy in Washington emailed a response to the measure from spokesperson Liu Pengyu.

“The Chinese side opposes the relevant Act’s intervention in and restriction on economic, trade and investment cooperation of the global business community,” Liu said. “The Act which includes terms limiting relevant companies’ normal investment and trade in China and normal China-U.S/ sci-tech cooperation. It would distort the global semiconductor supply chains and disrupt international trade. China is firmly against that.”

In conclusion, Liu said, “The U.S. politicizes, instrumentalizes and weaponizes tech and trade issues, and engages in tech blockade and decoupling in an attempt to monopolize the world’s advanced technologies, perpetuate its hegemony in the sci-tech sector, and damage the closely-knit global industrial and supply chains. Such moves would hurt others without benefiting oneself.”

A bifurcated future

Lewis, of CSIS, said the 10-year ban strengthens the possibility that China will simply go its own way, investing in the capacity to produce its own technology, perhaps to standards that would not be compatible with Western technology.

Were it to do so, it might find willing customers in countries such as Russia and Iran, which find themselves on the receiving end of U.S.-backed sanctions. China might also begin to compete with the U.S. in other markets.

“If nothing changes, by 2030 we’ll see a bifurcated system,” Lewis said. “It’s a new kind of competition. There’ll be Chinese stuff made on Chinese standards that they’ll want to sell to the global market. And there will be Western stuff made on Western standards that they’ll want to sell to the global market.” 

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Дві третини експорту зерна з України пішли на ринки Азії, Африки й Близького Сходу – Кулеба

Щойно відбулися перші відвантаження з українських портів, ціни на пшеницю знизилися щонайменше на 5%, зазначив голова МЗС

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Apple Offers Adventure Watch, Satellite SOS iPhone — and Steady Prices

Apple on Wednesday avoided price hikes of its best-selling iPhones during its biggest product launch of the year, focusing on safety upgrades rather than flashy new technical specs, with the exception of a new adventure-focused watch. 

The iPhone maker leaned into safety technologies, like the ability to detect a car accident and summon a rescue from a remote mountaintop, to add allure to its devices. Apple positioned itself as the brand to allow users to pursue excitement and adventure — with a safety net. 

Such intangible features “are the things that make you not just want the products for yourself, but also for loved ones,” said Ben Bajarin, head of consumer technologies at Creative Strategies. “Ultimately, the increased emphasis on safety — safety as a service — is super interesting as a value proposition.” 

The iPhone lineup that generates half of Apple’s sales got tweaks to cameras and battery life, though only the iPhone Pro lineup got an upgrade to a completely new processor chip.  

Prices of the high-end iPhone 14s are the same as last year’s iPhone 13 models. But Apple dropped its cheapest option, the iPhone Mini, meaning its lowest-priced model now costs $100 more than last year.  

The iPhone 14 will start at $799 and the iPhone 14 Plus at $899 and be available for preorder starting Friday. The iPhone Pro will cost $999 and the iPhone Pro Max $1,099 and be available September 16.  

“They decided to essentially maintain pricing despite inflationary pressure,” said D.A. Davidson analyst Tom Forte. 

Nintendo and T-Mobile have also said they will hold off on price increases.  

Satellite SOS feature

Apple said its satellite SOS feature will work with emergency responders. It also said that users will be able to use its FindMy app to share their location via satellite when they have no other connectivity. 

The service will be free for two years with the iPhone 14. Apple did not say what would happen after that period.  

Shares in Globalstar jumped 20% on Wednesday after the satellite services firm announced it would be the satellite operator for Apple’s emergency SOS service.  

The Cupertino, California-based company also showed a trio of new Apple Watches, including a new Watch Ultra model aimed at extreme sports and diving and designed to challenge sports watch specialists such as Garmin and Polar.  

On the watch front, the $799 Ultra has a bigger battery to last through events like triathlons and better waterproofing and temperature resistance to operate in outdoor environments, as well as better GPS tracking for sports. 

All of the watches, which include a Series 8 priced the same as last year and an updated, cheaper SE model, and new iPhones will have the ability to detect when a user has been in a serious car crash and call emergency services. 

Ovulation detection

The new Series 8 watch has a temperature sensor that will retroactively detect ovulation. The company emphasized the privacy approach of its cycle tracking. Privacy and reproductive health data have become a focus for tech companies in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended a constitutional right to abortion in the United States. 

But while accessories like the Apple Watch have driven incremental sales from Apple’s existing user base, the iPhone remains the bedrock of its business with 52.4% of sales in its most recent fiscal year, and investors continue to wonder what, if anything, will be the company’s next major product category. 

Analysts expect that category to be a mixed reality headset that could come to market as soon as next year, but Apple gave no hints at those potential products on Wednesday.

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UN Concerned by Russia’s ‘Filtration’ of Ukrainian Civilians

A senior U.N. human rights official said Wednesday that her office has verified that Russian soldiers and affiliated groups subject Ukrainian civilians to an invasive process called “filtration,” and called for access to those being detained by Russia.

“In cases that our office has documented, during ‘filtration,’ Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups have subjected persons to body searches, sometimes involving forced nudity, and detailed interrogations about the personal background, family ties, political views and allegiances of the individual concerned,” Ilze Brands Kehris, assistant secretary-general for human rights, told the U.N. Security Council.

“They examined personal belongings, including mobile devices, and gathered personal identity data, pictures and fingerprints,” she added.

Brands Kehris also said the U.N. human rights office has documented cases where Ukrainian civilians perceived as having ties with their country’s armed forces or state institutions, or having pro-Ukrainian or anti-Russian views, were arbitrarily detained, tortured or disappeared. Some were transferred to penal colonies, she said.

Ukraine and several Western states have also raised concerns about children being forcibly transferred to either Russia or territory it occupies.

“We are concerned that the Russian authorities have adopted a simplified procedure to grant Russian citizenship to children without parental care, and that these children would be eligible for adoption by Russian families,” the U.N. assistant secretary-general said.

‘Outrageous’

Ukraine’s envoy said Russia has forcibly taken nearly 2.5 million Ukrainians, including thousands of children, to Russia from the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine.

“Our people are being transferred to isolated and depressed regions of Siberia and the Far East,” Deputy Ambassador Khrystyna Hayovyshyn told council members. “The scale of this crime is outrageous.”

She said only about 16,000 deported citizens have returned to Ukraine. Most lack the money, transportation and travel documents to get home.

Russia’s envoy dismissed the accusations as part of a Ukrainian and Western disinformation campaign.

“They are living freely and voluntarily in Russia. Nobody is preventing them moving or preventing them leaving the country,” Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said. “Do you seriously think that such a large number of people could be forced to move and forced to keep silent?”

The United States and Albania requested Wednesday’s meeting. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield asked why Russia is carrying out these filtration activities.

“The reason is simple: to prepare for an attempted annexation,” the American envoy said. “The goal is to change sentiments by force. To provide a fraudulent veneer of legitimacy for the Russian occupation and eventual, purported annexation of even more Ukrainian territory.”

She said all persons subjected to Russian filtration need access to U.N. and humanitarian agencies so their well-being can be verified.

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