Senior US Refugee Official to Retire This Month

One of the top U.S. government officials working on refugee issues announced her impending retirement on Tuesday, and refugee advocates expressed concern about the fate of the country’s resettlement program which faces mounting pressure from the Trump administration.

Barbara Strack, a career official and chief of the Refugee Affairs Division at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, did not specify when she will leave her post, but USCIS spokesman R. Carter Langston said it would be in January.

“It’s something I’ve been planning towards for a long time, and it’s not driven by policy considerations,” Strack said. “I will deeply miss the colleagues and friendships that I’m leaving behind, and the important mission of refugee resettlement. It’s been a privilege to be part of this community for the last 12 years, working to make the U.S. refugee resettlement program robust and secure.”

Advocates expressed concern at the timing of Strack’s retirement, saying it could further hamper U.S. refugee admissions. It was unclear immediately who would replace her.

“USCIS is grateful to Barbara Strack for her 26 years of distinguished federal service,” Langston said.

The Refugee Affairs Division, which Strack oversees, includes dozens of officers charged with interviewing refugees abroad for resettlement in the United States.

The Trump administration has slashed the number of refugees allowed into the country and put in place new vetting and security requirements that have created an additional barrier.Last year, the administration said it planned to divert some refugee officers to instead interview asylum applicants already in the United States, in an effort to cut down on a burgeoning backlog of asylum cases.

Administration officials cited the asylum backlog as one reason it was necessary to cut this year’s refugee admissions cap to 45,000, the lowest level since the modern U.S. refugee program was established in 1980.

Advocates for resettlement and some U.S. officials have expressed alarm at what they see as a slowdown in trips abroad known as circuit rides, in which USCIS officers interview refugees.

“The number of circuit rides has gone down drastically with currently only a few planned,” said Hans Van de Weerd, chair of Refugee Council USA, a coalition of non-governmental groups working on refugee issues. “Many more will need to be scheduled soon to resettle 45,000 refugees and we don’t have any information about whether they will.”

Langston did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the concerns over circuit rides, or how many had been scheduled so far in the fiscal year. A U.S. official said on condition of anonymity in November that trips had been planned for Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Tanzania and Burundi for the first quarter of the fiscal year.

Opponents of refugee resettlement say it raises national security risks to the United States and is expensive. Advocates say refugees are vetted thoroughly and end up being a boon to their new communities.

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Spotify Hit With New Copyright Lawsuit in US

A music publisher is seeking at least $1.6 billion from Spotify for alleged copyright violations, the latest lawsuit to hit the fast-growing streaming company.

Wixen Music Publishing Inc., which holds rights to songs of major artists including Neil Young, the Doors, Tom Petty and Santana, charged in a lawsuit that Spotify failed to seek licenses for significant parts of its 30 million-song catalog.

“While Spotify has become a multibillion-dollar company, songwriters and their publishers, such as Wixen, have not been able to fairly and rightfully share in Spotify’s success, as Spotify has in many cases used their music without a license and without compensation,” said the lawsuit filed last week in a federal court in Los Angeles.

The lawsuit said that Spotify initially tried to work with record labels but, “in a race to be first to market, made insufficient efforts to collect the required musical composition information.”

Wixen, which is seeking a jury trial against the Swedish company, presented a list of 10,784 songs for which it questioned Spotify’s permission to stream.

The publisher said it was seeking the maximum allowed $150,000 in damages for copyright damages for each song, meaning an award of at least $1.6 billion, along with the fees of its lawyers.

Spotify did not immediately comment on the latest suit. In May, it reached an agreement to settle a pair of two similar lawsuits under which Spotify said it would set up a $43.45 million fund to compensate songwriters.

Wixen called the settlement, which still needs final approval from a judge, “grossly insufficient” and said that it would opt out of the deal insofar as possible.

Even if unsuccessful, lawsuits amount to a headache for Spotify as the company considers going public.

Spotify, which has been valued at anywhere from $8 billion to $16 billion, has maintained its dominance as streaming rapidly grows and transforms the recorded music market.

Spotify said in July that it had 60 million users worldwide who pay for subscriptions, with 80 million more using its free tier.

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US Sees Surge in Women Interested in Running for Office

Inside a classroom on the campus of a community college in Dallas, a group of about two dozen women took turns sharing their names, hometowns and what they hoped would be their future titles.

Congresswoman. County judge. State representative.

It was part of a training held by EMILY’s List, an organization dedicated to electing women at all levels of government who support abortion rights. One of the presentation’s PowerPoint slides flashed a mock advertisement on the projector screen: “Help Wanted: Progressive Women Candidates.”

A record number of women appear to be answering that call, fueled largely by frustration on the Democratic side over the election of President Donald Trump and energized by Democratic women winning races in Virginia in November. Experts say 2018 is on track to be a historic year, with more women saying they are running at this point than ever before.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List. “Every day, dozens more women come to our website, come to our Facebook page and say, ‘I am mad as hell. I want to do something about it. What should I do now?’ ”

In the four weeks after the 2016 election, 1,000 women came to the group’s website to learn about running for office. That number has now surpassed 26,000. By comparison, the group was in contact with 960 women for the previous election cycle.

Whether all that enthusiasm will result in full-fledged campaigns and translate to gains in the number of women elected to office remains to be seen.

One-fifth of federal lawmakers

Although women are more than half the American population, they account for just a fifth of all U.S. representatives and senators, and one in four state lawmakers. They serve as governors of only six states and mayors in roughly 20 percent of the nation’s most populous cities.

For Sarah Riggs Amico, the executive chairwoman of a major auto hauling company, last year’s Women’s March in Atlanta ignited her interest in running for office.

“It was something that really lifted me up and made me want to demand better from my government,” said Amico, who recently announced plans to run for lieutenant governor in Georgia.

Sol Flores has been walking in marches with her mother in Chicago since she was a little girl, but never thought she would run for office. Now 44, Flores said she was enraged by policies put forward by the Trump administration and decided to jump into a crowded Democratic primary for Illinois’ 4th Congressional District.

Flores said her network of friends has been crucial to helping her navigate the realities of being a first-time candidate and the challenges of gathering signatures for qualifying and fundraising.

“Women are really good at this, saying, ‘Let’s sit down and figure this out. You raised your hand, and let’s win. Let’s go to Washington, D.C.,’ ” said Flores, the executive director of a nonprofit helping homeless families and at-risk youth.

The last time the U.S. saw a surge in women running for office was 1992, in the wake of Anita Hill’s testimony before an all-male U.S. Senate committee weighing the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was called the “Year of the Woman” because women were elected to the U.S. House and Senate in record numbers.

The number of women in office has held steady in recent years, but experts say conditions are ripe for an increase in 2018 — especially if more politicians are forced to step down or retire amid the growing #MeToo movement that began with accusations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

Open seats

One U.S. senator and four congressmen have so far announced plans to retire or not seek re-election following allegations against them, presenting a prime opportunity for women to compete for their open seats. For example, seven women have expressed interest in an April special election for an Arizona congressional seat.

The increase in women candidates is largely being seen in U.S. House and governor’s races next year and driven primarily by Democrats, said Debbie Walsh, who leads the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. In addition to the 50 Democratic and 10 Republican congresswomen expected to run for re-election, there are 183 Democratic women and 14 Republican women running in primaries to challenge their current U.S. representatives.

These can be uphill races, but many of the women running say they were encouraged by what happened in Virginia in November, when 30 percent of the women who challenged their state representatives won.

Katie Hill is among those seeking to oust her local congressman, Republican Representative Steve Knight, in California’s 25th Congressional District, a key Democratic target this year.

As an advocate for the homeless, Hill recalled the joy she felt on the night of the 2016 election when voters in Los Angeles passed a $1.2 billion bond measure for housing and services for homeless people and those at risk of becoming homeless. But she said that was quickly tempered by the outcome of the presidential election.

“November made us all realize that our country is not where we need to be,” Hill said. “And that’s the point when people start to stand up and say, ‘If no one else is going to fix, I’m going to.’ ”

It’s not just Democrats. First-time Republican and Libertarian women candidates are also jumping into the mix.

Republicans launched an effort in 2012 that is focused on electing women. Under the “Right Women, Right Now” program, 390 new GOP women have been elected since then.

“Twenty-five percent of state legislators are women, and that’s clearly insufficient,” said Matt Walter, head of the Republican State Leadership Committee. “That’s a Democratic and Republican number, and something we really felt strongly was something we needed to change.”

‘Exactly what we need’

Tiffany Shedd, a lawyer for small businesses who lives on a farm in Eloy, Arizona, said she was talking with her husband one evening this year about the importance of having someone representing them in Congress who will fight for rural communities. She said he challenged her to run.

“I said, ‘I can’t run. What’s a person from a little town in Arizona doing running for Congress?’ ” Shedd said. “And then I thought, ‘Wow — that is exactly what we need.’ ”

She will be running in the Republican primary in the hopes of challenging Democratic Representative Tom O’Halleran in November.

On the state level, 36 governor’s races will be contested in 2018. The Center for American Women and Politics says 49 Democratic women, including two incumbents, and 28 Republican women have indicated they will run for those seats. There have never been more than nine women serving as governors at the same time.

Even if all the women who have reached out to groups such as EMILY’s List do not end up running next year, they are expected to play key roles in supporting those who do.

“This is the next decade of candidates,” Schriock said.

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Brazil Closes Out 2017 with Record Trade Surplus

Brazil’s road to economic recovery has passed another milestone with official data showing Tuesday that the country finished 2017 with a record trade surplus 40.5 percent higher than in the previous year.

The $67 billion surplus was in line with market projections and within the $65 billion to $70 billion range forecast by the government.

Brazil’s economy is projected to grow 2 percent this year, according to an annual report by the United Nations-backed Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) released last month.

That is unspectacular but solid — and far better than the 0.2 percent expected for 2017, or the two years of its worst-ever recession preceding that.

The government’s own projections are slightly more optimistic: 3 percent in 2018 and 1.1 percent in 2017.

Economy Minister Henrique Meirelles said last month that the improvement was owed to better “fiscal control, the approval of a freeze on public spending and reforms in general.”

The country’s key interest rate is now at a record low of 7 percent, half of what it was in late 2016. Inflation is now considered a minimal risk.

Brazil’s center-right president, Michel Temer, has spearheaded austerity cuts, looser labor laws and a big privatization program to boost the economy, Latin America’s largest.

But Temer remains unpopular with voters, clouding the political outlook ahead of presidential election this year.

The front-runners for the election are leftist former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and rightwing former army officer Jair Bolsonaro. Neither man is much welcomed by investors.

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US Coal Mining Deaths Surge in 2017 After Hitting Record Low

Coal mining deaths surged in the U.S. in 2017, one year after they hit a record low.

The nation’s coal mines recorded 15 deaths last year, including eight in West Virginia. Kentucky had two deaths, and there were one each in Alabama, Colorado, Montana, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. In 2016 there were eight U.S. coal mine deaths.

West Virginia has led the nation in coal mining deaths in six of the past eight years. That includes 2010, when 29 miners were killed in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in southern West Virginia.

In September, President Donald Trump appointed retired coal company executive David Zatezalo as the new chief of the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Most of the deaths this year occurred before his appointment. The Wheeling resident retired in 2014 as chairman of Rhino Resources.

Zatezalo was narrowly approved by the Senate in November. His appointment was opposed by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who said he was not convinced Zatezalo was suited to oversee the federal agency that implements and enforces mine safety laws and standards.

Last month the Trump administration brought up for review standards implemented by Barack Obama’s administration that lowered the allowable limits for miners’ exposure to coal dust. MSHA indicated it is reconsidering rules meant to protect underground miners from breathing coal and rock dust — the cause of black lung — and diesel exhaust, which can cause cancer.

Eight coal mining deaths this year involved hauling vehicles and two others involved machinery. None were attributed to an explosion of gas or dust, which was to blame for the Upper Big Branch disaster.

The number of coal mining fatalities was under 20 for the fourth straight year after reaching exactly 20 in 2011, 2012 and 2013. By comparison, in 1966, the mining industry counted 233 deaths. A century ago there were 2,226.

MSHA has attributed low numbers in previous years to far fewer coal mining jobs and tougher enforcement of mining safety rules. Zatezalo, who said in October that his first priority was preventing people from getting hurt, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment left with MSHA on Tuesday.

There have been 13 fatalities in 2017 in non-coal mines that produce gravel, sand, limestone and mineable metals. There also were 17 such deaths in 2015 and 30 in 2014.

Coal production

Appalachia has been especially hit hard by the closing of dozens of mines in recent years, but there was a turnaround in production in 2017.

According to the Energy Information Administration’s weekly estimates, U.S. coal production increased 8.9 percent in the 52 weeks ending Dec. 23, the latest available. Production in West Virginia increased 16 percent, including 25 percent in coal-rich southern West Virginia.

Wyoming, the top coal-producing state, saw a 10.7 percent increase and Pennsylvania had an 11.6 percent hike.

There were about 92,000 working miners in the United States in 2011, compared with about 52,000 in 2016, the lowest figure since the Energy Information Administration began collecting data in 1978. The 2017 numbers are not yet available.

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China’s WeChat Denies Storing User Chats

Tencent Holdings’ WeChat, China’s most popular messenger app, on Tuesday denied storing users’ chat histories, after a top businessman was quoted in media reports as saying he believed Tencent was monitoring everyone’s account.

“WeChat does not store any users’ chat history. That is only stored in users’ mobiles, computers and other terminals,” WeChat said in a post on the social media platform.

“WeChat will not use any content from user chats for big data analysis. Because of WeChat’s technical model that does not store or analyze user chats, the rumor that ‘we are watching your WeChat everyday’ is pure misunderstanding.”

Li Shufu, chairman of Geely Holdings, owner of the Volvo car brand, was quoted in Chinese media on Monday as saying Tencent Chairman Ma Huateng “must be watching all our WeChats every day”.

Like all Chinese social media platforms, WeChat is required to censor public posts deemed “illegal” by the Communist Party.

WeChat’s privacy policy says it may need to retain and disclose users’ information “in response to a request by a government authority, law enforcement agency or similar body”.

WeChat did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

According to a report by Amnesty International, Tencent ranked at the bottom of 11 tech firms running the world’s most popular messenger apps for how they use encryption to protect user privacy.

China’s cyber watchdog in September announced a new rule making chat group administrators and companies accountable for breaches of content rules.

In the same month it handed down maximum penalties to tech firms including Tencent, Baidu Inc and Weibo Corp for failing to properly censor online content, and asked them to increase content auditing measures.

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California Lawmakers to Confront Sexual Misconduct Scandal

California lawmakers will grapple for the first time as a group with a growing sexual misconduct scandal when they return to Sacramento on Wednesday. 

The 2018 legislative year will bring debates over legislation to boost protections for victims and people who report sexual misconduct, as well as both chambers’ continued efforts to improve their own policies for handling misconduct. 

On the very first day back, the Senate must confront how to handle one of its members, Sen. Tony Mendoza, who has refused calls to step aside amid an investigation into his alleged inappropriate behavior toward young women who worked for him.

“This is certainly not something we thought we’d be working on,” Democratic Sen. Connie Leyva of Chino said. “We’re finally going to be able to get it right and make sure any injustices in the past we can correct and that moving forward, everyone who works in the Capitol can feel like they can come forward.”

That’s not all that’s on lawmakers’ plates. Within a week of their return, Gov. Jerry Brown will submit his final budget proposal, kicking off six months of negotiating on how California should raise and spend money. Proposals that stalled last year on bail reform, single-payer health care and expanding renewable energy also will be back for debate. 

​Still, sexual misconduct will be a dominant theme. A letter circulated in mid-October by lobbyists, lawmakers, legislative staffers and other political consultants cited a pervasive culture of harassment in California’s Capitol. Women eventually came forward with specific allegations that prompted Democratic Assemblymen Raul Bocanegra and Matt Dababneh, both of Los Angeles, to resign.

Mendoza, meanwhile, denies allegations against him and says an investigation will clear his name. But Republican Sen. Andy Vidak said he’ll move to expel Mendoza when the Senate reconvenes, setting up a potentially fraught showdown on the Senate floor. 

Legislatively, Republican Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez will bring forward for the fifth time a bill that would give whistleblower protections to legislative employees who report ethical violations, including sexual misconduct. The Senate has killed her bill four times. 

Dozens of women have said they do not report misbehavior by lawmakers or legislative staff because they are afraid of losing their jobs or facing other professional repercussions. Several former Mendoza staffers have accused the Senate of firing them because they reported his overtures to a young woman who worked for him, something the Senate and Mendoza deny. 

Melendez, of Lake Elsinore, has been tweeting the names of every lawmaker who has agreed to co-sponsor the measure as a means of ramping up pressure on the Senate. The bill has historically passed the Assembly with bipartisan support. 

Leyva, meanwhile, will introduce a bill that would ban nondisclosure agreements in sexual harassment settlements, both in the public and private sectors, which can stop the parties from speaking publicly about what led to the settlement. 

“Eliminating these secret settlements, the no-disclosure agreements, then the accused, the person who is doing the harassing, they have nowhere to hide,” Leyva said. “They have to stop their behavior.”

Two other planned Assembly bills would extend the period in which people can report sexual harassment claims at the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing and impose stricter rules for employers – including the Legislature – to track sexual harassment complaints. Democratic Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes of San Bernardino is backing both pieces of legislation. 

Reyes sits on the Assembly subcommittee tasked with rewriting the Legislature’s sexual harassment policies. She was sharply critical during a hearing last month on the Assembly’s policy of not tracking sexual harassment complaints, only investigations. She wants to mandate better tracking by the Legislature and other employers. 

“The only way that were going to know if there’s a pattern is if we keep track of this,” Reyes said.

Regarding the state budget, another top concern for lawmakers, the governor must submit his blueprint by Jan. 10. Lawmakers must send a final spending proposal to Brown, who is term-limited out of office, by mid-June. 

The Assembly has already staked out budget priorities, including providing health care for people living in the state illegally and expanding a tax credit for the working poor. The Senate hasn’t outlined its ideas. 

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2017 Safest Year on Record for Commercial Passenger Air Travel

Airlines recorded zero accident deaths in commercial passenger jets last year, according to a Dutch consulting firm and an aviation safety group that tracks crashes, making 2017 the safest year on record for commercial air travel.

Dutch aviation consulting firm To70 and the Aviation Safety Network both reported Monday there were no commercial passenger jet fatalities in 2017. “2017 was the safest year for aviation ever,” said Adrian Young of To70.

To70 estimated that the fatal accident rate for large commercial passenger flights is 0.06 per million flights, or one fatal accident for every 16 million flights.

The Aviation Safety Network also reported there were no commercial passenger jet deaths in 2017, but 10 fatal airliner accidents resulting in 44 fatalities onboard and 35 persons on the ground, including cargo planes and commercial passenger turbo prop aircraft.

That figure includes 12 people killed on Dec. 31 when a Nature Air Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft crashed minutes after takeoff into a mountainous area off the beach town of Punta Islita, Costa Rica.

In comparison, there were 16 accidents and 303 deaths in 2016 among airliners.

The deadliest incident last year occurred in January when a Turkish cargo jet smashed into a village in Kyrgyzstan as it tried to land at a nearby airport in dense fog, killing 35 on the ground and all four onboard.

The Aviation Safety Network said 2017 was “the safest year ever, both by the number of fatal accidents as well as in terms of fatalities.”

Over the last two decades aviation deaths around the world have been steadily falling. As recently as 2005, there were 1,015 deaths aboard commercial passenger flights worldwide, the Aviation Safety Network said.

The United States last recorded a fatal airline passenger jet crash in February 2009, when Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed short of the runway in Clarence Center, New York, killing 49 onboard and one person on the ground.

In 2016, 412 people were killed in the United States in aviation accidents — nearly all in general aviation accidents and none on commercial passenger airlines.

The last fatal passenger jet airliner accident worldwide took place in November 2016 near Medellin, Colombia and the last commercial passenger aircraft crash to kill more than 100 people occurred in October 2015 in Egypt.

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Minister: UK May Use Taxes to Get Tech Giants to Do More to Fight Extremism

Britain may impose new taxes on tech giants like Google and Facebook unless they do more to combat online extremism by taking down material aimed at radicalizing people or helping them to prepare attacks, the

country’s security minister said.

Ben Wallace accused tech firms of being happy to sell people’s data but not to give it to the government which was being forced to spend vast sums on de-radicalization programs, surveillance and other counter-terrorism measures.

“If they continue to be less than co-operative, we should look at things like tax as a way of incentivizing them or compen­sating for their inaction,” Wallace told the Sunday Times newspaper in an interview.

His quotes did not give further details on tax plans. The newspaper said that any demand would take the form of a windfall tax similar to that imposed on privatized utilities by former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government in 1997.

Wallace accused the tech giants of putting private profit before public safety.

“We should stop pretending that because they sit on beanbags in T-shirts they are not ruthless profiteers,” he said. “They will ruthlessly sell our details to loans and soft-porn companies but not give it to our democratically elected

government.”

Facebook executive Simon Milner rejected the criticisms.

“Mr. Wallace is wrong to say that we put profit before safety, especially in the fight against terrorism,” he said in an emailed statement. “We’ve invested millions of pounds in people and technology to identify and remove terrorist content.”

YouTube, which is owned by Google, said it was doing more every day to tackle violent extremism.

“Over the course of 2017 we have made significant progress through investing in machine learning technology, recruiting more reviewers, building partnerships with experts and collaboration with other companies,” a YouTube spokeswoman said.

Deadly attacks

Britain suffered a series of attacks by Islamic extremists between March and June this year that killed a total of 36 people, excluding the attackers.

Two involved vehicles ramming people on bridges in London, followed by attackers stabbing people. The deadliest, a bombing at a concert in the northern city of Manchester, killed 22 people.

Following the second bridge attack, Prime Minister Theresa May proposed beefing up regulations on cyberspace, and weeks later interior minister Amber Rudd traveled to California to ask Silicon Valley to step up efforts against extremism.

“We are more vulnerable than at any point in the last 100 years,” said Wallace, citing extremist material on social media and encrypted messaging services like WhatsApp as tools that made life too easy for attackers.

“Because content is not being taken down as quickly as they could do, we’re having to de-radicalize people who have been radicalized. That’s costing millions. They can’t get away with that and we should look at all the options, including tax.”

Facebook said it removed 83 percent of uploaded copies of terrorist content within one hour of its being found on the social media network.

It also highlighted plans to double the number of people working in its safety and security teams to 20,000 by the end of 2018.

YouTube said that progress in machine learning meant that 83 percent of violent extremist content was removed without the need for users to flag it.

 

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President Trump Criticizes Pakistan for "Lies and Deceit"

U.S. President Donald Trump is again accusing Pakistan of sheltering terrorists whom American forces are fighting in neighboring Afghanistan.

In his first Twitter message of 2018, Trump wrote, “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help.  No more!”

Washington has long accused Islamabad, particularly its security institutions, of turning a blind eye or covertly helping the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network to stage cross-border attacks against Afghan and U.S.-led forces.

It is not immediately clear whether Trump is threatening to cut financial assistance to Pakistan.   

The United States suggested in August it would hold up $255 million in military assistance until Pakistan cracks down on extremists.

The U.S. Congress has authorized up to $700 million in a Coalition Support Fund to reimburse Pakistan for activities carried out in support of U.S. operations in Afghanistan.  

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif told the local Geo News television station, “We have already told the U.S. that we will not do more, so Trump’s “no more” does not hold any importance.”

The government late Monday summoned U.S. ambassador David Hale to the foreign ministry to protest and seek an explanation for Trump’s remarks, reported local media.

“I can confirm the Ambassador was asked to come to the Foreign Office tonight. He did and met with officials there. I don’t have any comment on the substance of the meeting, ” a U.S. embassy spokesman told VOA.

Meanwhile, an emergency meeting of the National Security Committee has also been convened for Wednesday where the country’s top civilian and military leadership will discuss the situation in the aftermath Trump’s statement.

Islamabad denies allegations it is harboring Afghan insurgents and instead complains anti-state militants are using the neighboring country for terrorist attacks against Pakistan.

Trump unveiled his new South Asia policy last August, in which Pakistan was blamed for providing “safe haven” to terrorists.

American officials have also warned that if Islamabad does not take actions against terrorist havens on Pakistan soil, Washington will do so unilaterally.

The Pakistan military last week warned Washington against any unilateral military action on its soil, saying U.S. allegations of terrorist sanctuaries in the country are “unfounded” and “no more valid” because “indiscriminate” security operations have targeted all terrorist groups.

“We have paid a huge price both in blood and treasure.  We have done enough and we cannot do anymore for anyone,” said the chief military spokesman, Major-General Asif Ghafoor.

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