Category Archives: News

worldwide news

Trump Praises New, Berates Former CIA Director

Former CIA officer Gina Haspel has become the first woman to head the U.S. spy agency after a swearing-in ceremony Monday. Haspel has overcome the criticism by lawmakers of both parties for her involvement in the torture of terror suspects after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump praised her ability to overcome what he called “a lot of very negative politics” and said no one was more qualified the job. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Trump Praises New, Berates Former CIA Director

Former CIA officer Gina Haspel has become the first woman to head the U.S. spy agency after a swearing-in ceremony Monday. Haspel has overcome the criticism by lawmakers of both parties for her involvement in the torture of terror suspects after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump praised her ability to overcome what he called “a lot of very negative politics” and said no one was more qualified the job. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Commemorative Coin Struck for Trump-Kim Summit

A commemorative coin featuring U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has been struck by the White House Communications Agency ahead of their planned summit next month.

In a statement, deputy spokesman Raj Shah insisted that “the White House did not have any input into the design and manufacture of the coin.”

The coin depicts Trump and Kim, described as North Korea’s “Supreme Leader,” in profile facing each other in front of a background of U.S. and North Korean flags.

At the top of the front, the words “Peace Talks” are emblazoned, with the date “2018” beneath.

The back of the coin features a picture of the White House, Air Force One and the presidential seal.

Trump is scheduled to hold a landmark summit with the North Korean leader in Singapore on June 12, but Pyongyang has recently threatened to pull out over U.S. demands for “unilateral nuclear abandonment.”

The White House Communications Agency regularly issues commemorative or challenge coins to present to foreign guests, diplomats and members of the military.

A number of the coins are available for sale through the White House Gift Office.

“Since 2003, White House Communications Agency members have ordered a limited number of commercially designed and manufactured souvenir travel coins for purchase,” Shah explained.

“These coins are designed, manufactured and made by an American coin manufacturer. These souvenir coins are only ordered after a trip has been publicly announced.”

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Commemorative Coin Struck for Trump-Kim Summit

A commemorative coin featuring U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has been struck by the White House Communications Agency ahead of their planned summit next month.

In a statement, deputy spokesman Raj Shah insisted that “the White House did not have any input into the design and manufacture of the coin.”

The coin depicts Trump and Kim, described as North Korea’s “Supreme Leader,” in profile facing each other in front of a background of U.S. and North Korean flags.

At the top of the front, the words “Peace Talks” are emblazoned, with the date “2018” beneath.

The back of the coin features a picture of the White House, Air Force One and the presidential seal.

Trump is scheduled to hold a landmark summit with the North Korean leader in Singapore on June 12, but Pyongyang has recently threatened to pull out over U.S. demands for “unilateral nuclear abandonment.”

The White House Communications Agency regularly issues commemorative or challenge coins to present to foreign guests, diplomats and members of the military.

A number of the coins are available for sale through the White House Gift Office.

“Since 2003, White House Communications Agency members have ordered a limited number of commercially designed and manufactured souvenir travel coins for purchase,” Shah explained.

“These coins are designed, manufactured and made by an American coin manufacturer. These souvenir coins are only ordered after a trip has been publicly announced.”

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Robots Taking Over Grocery Warehouses

Grocery stores in the U.S. are locked in a fierce battle for customers who often demand the convenience of home deliveries. Automation is increasingly becoming part of the competitive equation. When U.S. mail-order retail giant Amazon shook up the supermarket industry with its purchase of Whole Foods, America’s second biggest food retailer, Kroger, responded by partnering with a British online supermarket known for its advanced warehouse technology. VOA’s George Putic reports.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Watchdog Report to Fault FBI for Clinton Probe Delay

An upcoming report from the Justice Department’s internal watchdog is expected to criticize senior FBI leaders for not moving quickly enough to review a trove of Hillary Clinton emails discovered late in the 2016 campaign, according to people familiar with the findings.

The FBI’s timing has been a sore point for Clinton supporters, who say then-director James Comey’s announcement of the new review less than two weeks before the Nov. 8, 2016, election contributed to her loss. The agency’s findings affirming its decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton were disclosed two days before the vote — too late, her supporters say, to undo the damage.

Some FBI officials knew in September 2016 of the emails on former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop but the bureau did not obtain a warrant to review them until the following month. Clinton allies say the candidate’s name could have been cleared much faster if the FBI acted on the emails as soon as they knew of their existence.

An inspector general report examining a broad range of FBI actions during the Clinton email investigation will criticize officials, including Comey, for not moving fast enough to examine the email trove and for a weekslong delay in getting a warrant, according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press.

A lawyer for Comey and spokespeople for the inspector general and the FBI all declined to comment Monday.

The report will likely revive scrutiny of the FBI’s handling of the Clinton case and the extent to which it helped shape the outcome of the presidential election. Its conclusions may cut against President Donald Trump’s repeated assertions that the FBI was working against him during the campaign and instead revive allegations that the bureau broke from protocol in ways that ultimately harmed Clinton.

The nonpolitical watchdog has been repeatedly pulled into the partisan arena amid demands to investigate FBI actions in the early stages of its probe of possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. 

On Sunday, the Justice Department asked the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, to expand his existing investigation to look into whether Trump associates were improperly monitored during the campaign for political reasons.

The report dealing with the Clinton emails arises from a wide-ranging investigation launched in January 2017. It has been examining actions including Comey’s decision to announce his recommendation against criminal charges at an FBI headquarters news conference and his decision months later to alert Congress that the probe had been reopened because of the discovery of email messages on Weiner’s laptop.

The report is also expected to criticize two FBI officials who exchanged derogatory text messages about Trump during the course of the Clinton investigation.

A draft of the report has been completed, and officials whose actions are scrutinized in it have been permitted with their lawyers to review it and respond to the findings. The final version is expected out next month.

A separate inspector general report from last month faulted former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for misleading investigators about his role in a 2016 news media disclosure about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. 

McCabe, who has denied wrongdoing, was fired because of those findings, and the inspector general has referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington for possible criminal prosecution.

Weiner is the former husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. His laptop was being analyzed by FBI investigators as part of a separate sexting investigation involving a teenage girl. Weiner, a former Democratic congressman from New York, is serving a 21-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to sending obscene material to a 15-year-old girl.

In his book released last month, “A Higher Loyalty,” Comey writes that he learned in early October — probably from McCabe — that Weiner’s laptop might hold a connection to the Clinton email investigation. He said he did not recall the conversation clearly and that it seemed like a “passing comment and the notion that Anthony Weiner’s computer might connect to … Hillary Clinton made no sense to me.”

Comey said it wasn’t until the morning of Oct. 27 when FBI officials asked his permission to seek a warrant for the Clinton emails, having determined that “hundreds of thousands of emails” from Clinton’s personal email domain existed on the computer and that there was no way Weiner would consent to a search of his entire laptop given the legal trouble he was in.

Some of the emails on the laptop had been forwarded by Abedin to Weiner to be printed out while others had been stored there after being backed up from personal electronic devices.

The FBI subsequently obtained a warrant, and though Comey said he was told there was no chance the email review would be done before the election, he announced on Nov. 6 that, “Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.”

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Watchdog Report to Fault FBI for Clinton Probe Delay

An upcoming report from the Justice Department’s internal watchdog is expected to criticize senior FBI leaders for not moving quickly enough to review a trove of Hillary Clinton emails discovered late in the 2016 campaign, according to people familiar with the findings.

The FBI’s timing has been a sore point for Clinton supporters, who say then-director James Comey’s announcement of the new review less than two weeks before the Nov. 8, 2016, election contributed to her loss. The agency’s findings affirming its decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton were disclosed two days before the vote — too late, her supporters say, to undo the damage.

Some FBI officials knew in September 2016 of the emails on former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop but the bureau did not obtain a warrant to review them until the following month. Clinton allies say the candidate’s name could have been cleared much faster if the FBI acted on the emails as soon as they knew of their existence.

An inspector general report examining a broad range of FBI actions during the Clinton email investigation will criticize officials, including Comey, for not moving fast enough to examine the email trove and for a weekslong delay in getting a warrant, according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press.

A lawyer for Comey and spokespeople for the inspector general and the FBI all declined to comment Monday.

The report will likely revive scrutiny of the FBI’s handling of the Clinton case and the extent to which it helped shape the outcome of the presidential election. Its conclusions may cut against President Donald Trump’s repeated assertions that the FBI was working against him during the campaign and instead revive allegations that the bureau broke from protocol in ways that ultimately harmed Clinton.

The nonpolitical watchdog has been repeatedly pulled into the partisan arena amid demands to investigate FBI actions in the early stages of its probe of possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. 

On Sunday, the Justice Department asked the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, to expand his existing investigation to look into whether Trump associates were improperly monitored during the campaign for political reasons.

The report dealing with the Clinton emails arises from a wide-ranging investigation launched in January 2017. It has been examining actions including Comey’s decision to announce his recommendation against criminal charges at an FBI headquarters news conference and his decision months later to alert Congress that the probe had been reopened because of the discovery of email messages on Weiner’s laptop.

The report is also expected to criticize two FBI officials who exchanged derogatory text messages about Trump during the course of the Clinton investigation.

A draft of the report has been completed, and officials whose actions are scrutinized in it have been permitted with their lawyers to review it and respond to the findings. The final version is expected out next month.

A separate inspector general report from last month faulted former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for misleading investigators about his role in a 2016 news media disclosure about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. 

McCabe, who has denied wrongdoing, was fired because of those findings, and the inspector general has referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington for possible criminal prosecution.

Weiner is the former husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. His laptop was being analyzed by FBI investigators as part of a separate sexting investigation involving a teenage girl. Weiner, a former Democratic congressman from New York, is serving a 21-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to sending obscene material to a 15-year-old girl.

In his book released last month, “A Higher Loyalty,” Comey writes that he learned in early October — probably from McCabe — that Weiner’s laptop might hold a connection to the Clinton email investigation. He said he did not recall the conversation clearly and that it seemed like a “passing comment and the notion that Anthony Weiner’s computer might connect to … Hillary Clinton made no sense to me.”

Comey said it wasn’t until the morning of Oct. 27 when FBI officials asked his permission to seek a warrant for the Clinton emails, having determined that “hundreds of thousands of emails” from Clinton’s personal email domain existed on the computer and that there was no way Weiner would consent to a search of his entire laptop given the legal trouble he was in.

Some of the emails on the laptop had been forwarded by Abedin to Weiner to be printed out while others had been stored there after being backed up from personal electronic devices.

The FBI subsequently obtained a warrant, and though Comey said he was told there was no chance the email review would be done before the election, he announced on Nov. 6 that, “Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.”

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

US, South Korea Presidents to Discuss Threat to Scrap Trump-Kim Summit

Amid increasing skepticism of the chances for success for a summit between the leaders of the United States and North Korea and doubts the meeting will take place as planned, President Donald Trump on Tuesday is to meet South Korea’s leader at the White House.

Moon Jae-in, during Tuesday’s scheduled two hours of talks, is to try to reassure Trump that next month’s encounter with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can lead to a historic breakthrough. 

“I suspect President Trump has some tough questions for President Moon that he’d prefer to ask privately, given the lack of clarity on what the North Koreans will agree to — and the latest chess move by the North Koreans to threaten to cancel the June 12 summit,” said Jean Lee, the Korea Center program director at the Wilson Center. 

Trump, according to officials in the U.S. and abroad, has been questioning his aides and foreign leaders about whether he should proceed with going to Singapore to meet Kim.

Some officials in Washington, speaking on condition of not being named, also blame South Korean officials for initially overselling to Trump the willingness of the North Korean leader to denuclearize. 

It is a view shared by some outsiders, as well. 

“Moon likely exaggerated this to tie Trump to a diplomatic track to prevent him from backsliding into last year’s war threats, which scared the daylights out of South Koreans,” said Robert Kelly, a political science professor at Pusan National University.

Lee, a former Pyongyang bureau chief for the Associated Press, sees Moon as desiring to “jump in again to play the role of mediator, and to show that Seoul and Washington are in close coordination at the highest level, at least outwardly. But it will be a difficult conversation, I suspect.”

Eager for U.S. involvement

In the view of some analysts, such as Institute for Corean-American Studies Fellow Tara O, Moon appears anxious to persuade Trump to go ahead with the Kim summit and to get the U.S. president to grant sanctions relief so planned joint South-North projects would be able to proceed. 

As a result of last month’s Panmunjom meeting between Moon and Kim, the two Koreas “provided a deadline for the signing of the peace treaty by this year, so Moon would also discuss that with Trump,” O, the author of a book “The Collapse of North Korea:  Challenges, Planning, and Geopolitics of Unification,” tells VOA.  

In her view, however, some in Washington may take a dim view of that, seeing the requests as premature “rewards for North Korea, which has not done anything to reduce the threat on the Korean Peninsula.”

O, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel who served on the Korean peninsula, contends “the North Koreans have skillfully played the situation by manufacturing an awkward moment between Moon and Trump just before their May 22 meeting. It’s all part of the classic North Korean strategy of divide and conquer.”

Another key geopolitical player is China, whom Trump recently surmised influenced the statements coming out of Pyongyang casting doubt on the Singapore summit.

The president, on Twitter on Monday morning, called on China to keep its border tight with North Korea amid sanctions until he is able to reach an agreement with Kim.

The North Koreans have threatened to pull out of the talks with Trump, blaming what they term are demands by the United States for “unilateral nuclear abandonment.” 

Since that threat, Trump and others in the White House have denied they are demanding a so-called “Libya model” for disarmament, while still insisting North Korea must give up its nuclear weapons for which it would be richly rewarded.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

US, South Korea Presidents to Discuss Threat to Scrap Trump-Kim Summit

Amid increasing skepticism of the chances for success for a summit between the leaders of the United States and North Korea and doubts the meeting will take place as planned, President Donald Trump on Tuesday is to meet South Korea’s leader at the White House.

Moon Jae-in, during Tuesday’s scheduled two hours of talks, is to try to reassure Trump that next month’s encounter with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can lead to a historic breakthrough. 

“I suspect President Trump has some tough questions for President Moon that he’d prefer to ask privately, given the lack of clarity on what the North Koreans will agree to — and the latest chess move by the North Koreans to threaten to cancel the June 12 summit,” said Jean Lee, the Korea Center program director at the Wilson Center. 

Trump, according to officials in the U.S. and abroad, has been questioning his aides and foreign leaders about whether he should proceed with going to Singapore to meet Kim.

Some officials in Washington, speaking on condition of not being named, also blame South Korean officials for initially overselling to Trump the willingness of the North Korean leader to denuclearize. 

It is a view shared by some outsiders, as well. 

“Moon likely exaggerated this to tie Trump to a diplomatic track to prevent him from backsliding into last year’s war threats, which scared the daylights out of South Koreans,” said Robert Kelly, a political science professor at Pusan National University.

Lee, a former Pyongyang bureau chief for the Associated Press, sees Moon as desiring to “jump in again to play the role of mediator, and to show that Seoul and Washington are in close coordination at the highest level, at least outwardly. But it will be a difficult conversation, I suspect.”

Eager for U.S. involvement

In the view of some analysts, such as Institute for Corean-American Studies Fellow Tara O, Moon appears anxious to persuade Trump to go ahead with the Kim summit and to get the U.S. president to grant sanctions relief so planned joint South-North projects would be able to proceed. 

As a result of last month’s Panmunjom meeting between Moon and Kim, the two Koreas “provided a deadline for the signing of the peace treaty by this year, so Moon would also discuss that with Trump,” O, the author of a book “The Collapse of North Korea:  Challenges, Planning, and Geopolitics of Unification,” tells VOA.  

In her view, however, some in Washington may take a dim view of that, seeing the requests as premature “rewards for North Korea, which has not done anything to reduce the threat on the Korean Peninsula.”

O, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel who served on the Korean peninsula, contends “the North Koreans have skillfully played the situation by manufacturing an awkward moment between Moon and Trump just before their May 22 meeting. It’s all part of the classic North Korean strategy of divide and conquer.”

Another key geopolitical player is China, whom Trump recently surmised influenced the statements coming out of Pyongyang casting doubt on the Singapore summit.

The president, on Twitter on Monday morning, called on China to keep its border tight with North Korea amid sanctions until he is able to reach an agreement with Kim.

The North Koreans have threatened to pull out of the talks with Trump, blaming what they term are demands by the United States for “unilateral nuclear abandonment.” 

Since that threat, Trump and others in the White House have denied they are demanding a so-called “Libya model” for disarmament, while still insisting North Korea must give up its nuclear weapons for which it would be richly rewarded.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Man Dies After Tesla Crashes into San Francisco-Area Pond

A man was killed when the Tesla automobile he was driving veered off a road, crashed through a fence and plunged into a pond, authorities said Monday.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Daniel Jacowitz said rescuers pulled the Tesla Model S from the pond early Monday and found the man’s body inside.

The driver was identified as Keith Leung, 34, of Danville, California, said Sgt. Ray Kelly, spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s office.

Kelly said it was too soon to know if the vehicle’s semi-autonomous Autopilot mode was engaged when the crash occurred or whether the driver may have been speeding or intoxicated.

Photographs of the car show that its backend was destroyed, its hood crumpled and windows shattered.

The crash occurred near the cities of San Ramon and Danville on Sunday evening, Jacowitz said. A property owner contacted authorities after hearing a noise and seeing damage to his fence and tire tracks.

The car was traveling at a speed “great enough to leave the roadway, hit a fence, keep going down an embankment and into a pond on the property,” Jacowitz said.

Federal transportation authorities have been investigating if the Tesla’s Autopilot mode has played a role in other recent crashes.

In March, the driver of a Tesla Model X was killed in California when his SUV hit a barrier while traveling at “freeway speed.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating that case, in which the Autopilot system was engaged.

Autopilot was also engaged in a crash earlier this month in Utah, according to data from the car.

Also this month, the NTSB opened a probe into an accident in which a Model S caught fire after crashing into a wall at a high speed in Florida. Two 18-year-olds were trapped in the vehicle and died in the flames. The agency has said it does not expect Autopilot to be a focus in that investigation.

Autopilot is the most well-known semi-autonomous system. It uses cameras and sensors on the front, sides and rear of the car to observe lane markings and to “see” other cars that are nearby. It’s simple to engage, requiring only two quick taps of a stalk. There are no limitations on where Autopilot can be used. Drivers can enable it on the freeway, side streets, or anywhere with distinct lane markings.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!