Death Toll in Cambodia Building Collapse at 26

At least 26 construction workers are confirmed dead after a building under construction in the Cambodian coastal city of Sihanoukville collapsed.  Another 24 were injured.

Rescue workers continued on Monday to search the rubble of the collapsed building for survivors.

The workers were sleeping on the second floor of the seven-story building early Saturday morning.  Survivors said at least 50 to 60 workers used the building as their housing.

The project was to be a condominium and was owned by a Chinese investor.  Police have detained four people for questioning about the collapse, all said to be Chinese.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who visited the site late Sunday, announced on his Facebook that he was establishing a special committee to exert control of Chinese building projects in the town.

He also said in his Facebook message that he asked provincial Governor Yun Min to resign and he agreed to do so.

The Chinese embassy in Cambodia expressed its condolences and said it was mobilizing Chinese assistance for the rescue effort.  

Sihanoukville has seen a boom in Chinese funded construction in recent years, mostly casinos, residential buildings and hotels.

 

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

Biden: Congress Should Immediately Make ‘Dreamers’ Citizens

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, unveiling his immigration policy outline ahead of the first 2020 debates , is calling for Congress to grant citizenship immediately to more than 800,000 U.S. residents who were brought to the country illegally as children.
 
The former vice president and Democratic polling leader unveiled some of his immigration priorities on Monday in a newspaper op-ed that blisters President Donald Trump for an “assault on the dignity” of the Latino community through policies and rhetoric designed to “scare voters” in 2020.
 
“Trump repeatedly invokes racist invective to describe anyone south of the Rio Grande,” Biden writes, noting “horrifying scenes … of kids being kept in cages” and other “actions that subvert our American values and our ability to lead on the global stage.”
 
Biden, who launched his 2020 campaign in April, calls for streamlining the asylum system for migrants and spending more on electronic security at U.S. borders rather than Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. And he blasts Trump’s latest threats of mass deportation and his decision to cut aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, three Central American nations that are sources of the increasing wave of migrants to the U.S. border.
 
Trump, a Republican, maintains that his immigration policies are necessary to keep the country safe. He also has made clear that his 2020 reelection strategy is focused squarely on his base, which since his 2015 campaign launch has embraced his hard-line nationalism and economic protectionism.
 
 Biden’s op-ed is published in the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, with Biden using the English and Spanish versions to praise the diversity of the surrounding city where 20 Democratic candidates will take the debate stage in two heats Wednesday and Thursday.
 
Biden has not yet offered detailed immigration policy proposals beyond the outline.
 
Nonetheless, the op-ed is part of a series of policy pronouncements of varying levels of detail as Biden tries to maintain his lead in national and early state polls of Democratic primary voters. Separately, he’s offered education and climate action proposals, and his campaign has said health care and criminal justice plans are upcoming.
 
In his Miami newspaper piece, Biden further pledges an overhaul of U.S. foreign policy in the Americas, echoing fellow Democrats who’ve panned Trump’s approach to Mexico, Central America and South America.
 
“The Administration’s Latin America policy is at best a Cold War-era retread, and at worst an ineffective mess,” Biden writes, citing Trump’s tariff threats in Mexico, his refusal to grant temporary legal status to political refugees from Venezuela and U.S. ambivalence to rising instability in Central America.
 
The answer, Biden argued, is U.S. engagement and aid that expands “economic opportunity … so that people feel safe to stay in their home countries,” and he argued that as President Barack Obama’s top lieutenant he “led a major, bipartisan effort to address the root causes that push people to flee” those nations.
 
Other than the so-called “Dreamers” brought to the U.S. as children, Biden’s outline does not directly address the more than 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. As vice president, Biden backed a comprehensive immigration overhaul that would have established a path to citizenship for most of those residents. That effort cleared the Senate but died in what was then a Republican-led House.
 
The immigrants brought to the U.S. as children are commonly referred to as “Dreamers” because of never-passed proposals in Congress called the DREAM Act, which would have allowed them to remain in the country if they met certain criteria. Opponents say the act would reward people for breaking the law, encourage illegal immigration and hurt American workers.
 
Immigration has not been a top priority among Democratic presidential candidates thus far, other than sweeping condemnations of Trump’s values and priorities. The two Texans in the race — former Cabinet secretary Julian Castro and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke — have placed the most emphasis on the matter.
 
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has joined them in releasing a detailed immigration plan . All three call for a citizenship pathway for immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Castro has gone the farthest, proposing that border crossings be decriminalized altogether, regardless of whether a migrant is seeking legal asylum under the existing process.

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

Oregon State Senators Go Into Hiding to Block Climate Bill

A group of Oregon state Republican senators have gone into hiding to stop the passage of a landmark climate change legislation. The western state’s House bill 2020 would set limits to carbon emissions with permits auctioned off to polluting industries. Republicans say the bill would hurt rural Oregonians. Democrats have a majority in both chambers of the state’s congress and the bill is likely to pass if it comes to the floor, which cannot happen unless there is a quorum of two-thirds of senators present. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports the state governor, a Democrat, has given authorization to state police to track them down.

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

Oregon State Senators Go Into Hiding to Block Climate Bill

A group of Oregon state Republican senators have gone into hiding to stop the passage of a landmark climate change legislation. The western state’s House bill 2020 would set limits to carbon emissions with permits auctioned off to polluting industries. Republicans say the bill would hurt rural Oregonians. Democrats have a majority in both chambers of the state’s congress and the bill is likely to pass if it comes to the floor, which cannot happen unless there is a quorum of two-thirds of senators present. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports the state governor, a Democrat, has given authorization to state police to track them down.

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

Retired US Admiral Joe Sestak Announces Democratic Run for White House

Another Democrat has entered the 2020 race for the White House.

Retired Navy admiral and former Pennsylvania congressman Joe Sestak announced his candidacy Sunday on his website.

He introduced himself to voters by telling them “I wore the cloth of the nation for over 31 years in peace and war, from the Vietnam and Cold War eras to Afghanistan and Iran and the emergence of China.”

He said he postponed announcing his candidacy to care for a daughter ill with brain cancer.

Sestak was also part of former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s national security team, holds a doctorate in government from Harvard, and unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate twice.

He embraces many positions popular with liberals, including abortion rights, gun control, and backs the nuclear deal with Iran.

Sestak is the 24th Democrat to officially announce a challenge to President Donald Trump in 2020, with Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren leading the polls so far.

 

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

Retired US Admiral Joe Sestak Announces Democratic Run for White House

Another Democrat has entered the 2020 race for the White House.

Retired Navy admiral and former Pennsylvania congressman Joe Sestak announced his candidacy Sunday on his website.

He introduced himself to voters by telling them “I wore the cloth of the nation for over 31 years in peace and war, from the Vietnam and Cold War eras to Afghanistan and Iran and the emergence of China.”

He said he postponed announcing his candidacy to care for a daughter ill with brain cancer.

Sestak was also part of former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s national security team, holds a doctorate in government from Harvard, and unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate twice.

He embraces many positions popular with liberals, including abortion rights, gun control, and backs the nuclear deal with Iran.

Sestak is the 24th Democrat to officially announce a challenge to President Donald Trump in 2020, with Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren leading the polls so far.

 

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

Kim Jong Un Praises ‘Excellent’ Letter From Trump

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has received a personal letter from U.S. President Donald Trump and is contemplating its contents, North Korean state media reported Sunday.

The official Korean Central News Agency posted a picture of a pensive Kim holding a letter, apparently with White House letterhead. The report quoted Kim as praising its “excellent content.”

“Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong Un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content,” KCNA reported.

The report did not say anything else about the content of the letter.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as he left Washington for a trip to the Mideast on Sunday, confirmed the letter was sent to Kim. The top U.S. diplomat said he is “hopeful that this will provide a good foundation for us to begin, and to continue these important discussions with the Koreans to denuclearize the peninsula.”

Exchanging letters, photos

Trump said earlier this month he received a “beautiful,” “very personal” and “very warm” letter from the North Korean leader.

Though nuclear talks between U.S. and North Korean officials are stalled, Kim and Trump have been exchanging letters and pictures for the past year, and both men say their relationship remains warm.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un meet during the second U.S.-North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi, Feb. 28, 2019.

Working-level talks broke down after a February summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, ended in no deal. Kim was unhappy with the pace of U.S. sanctions relief, while Trump was upset Kim would not commit to completely giving up his nuclear program.

Since then, North Korea has tested several short-range ballistic missiles and other weapons. Kim has said he will give Washington until the end of the year to become more flexible in the talks.

U.S. officials have shrugged off North Korea’s weapons tests and end-of-the-year ultimatum. Trump has said he is willing to hold a third summit with Kim if the conditions are right.

G-20 and beyond

Next week, Trump will visit South Korea following his meetings in Japan at the Group of 20 summit.

There has been speculation, though no evidence, that Trump could try to hold another high-profile summit at that time.

South Korean officials have also said they are working to hold a summit between the leaders of North and South Korea before Trump’s visit.

The letter comes a day after Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up a state visit to North Korea, where he promised to play an active role in the nuclear talks. 

“After months of an impasse in the negotiations and little contact between the U. S. and North Korea, it appears there is some diplomatic maneuvering underway,” said Bonnie Glaser, an Asia specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“[It is] unclear yet whether Xi’s visit to Pyongyang played a role, or whether other factors are at play,” she added.

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

Trump: ‘Not Looking for War’ With Iran

U.S. President Donald Trump says he is “not looking for war” with Iran and willing to negotiate with its leaders without preconditions, but that under no circumstances can the Islamic Republic be allowed to mass a nuclear weapons arsenal.

Trump told NBC’s Meet the Press show that if the U.S. went to war with Iran, “It’ll be obliteration like you’ve never seen before.”

“But,” he added, “I’m not looking to do that.”

The U.S. leader said, “Here it is. Look, you can’t have nuclear weapons. And if you want to talk about it, good. Otherwise, you can live in a shattered economy for a long time.”

Trump’s comments, taped Friday, were aired after he announced Saturday, without providing any details, that he plans to impose “major” new sanctions on Iran on Monday. He said the sanctions would be dropped as soon as the country becomes “a productive and prosperous nation again.”

Iran cannot have Nuclear Weapons! Under the terrible Obama plan, they would have been on their way to Nuclear in a short number of years, and existing verification is not acceptable. We are putting major additional Sanctions on Iran on Monday. I look forward to the day that…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2019

Two other key U.S. officials, national security adviser John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence, issued new warnings to Iran that Trump’s last-minute decision to not militarily retaliate for Tehran’s Thursday shoot-down of an unmanned U.S. drone near the Strait of Hormuz should not be viewed as a sign of “weakness.”

National security adviser John Bolton talks to reporters about Venezuela, outside the White House, May 1, 2019, in Washington.

“Neither Iran nor any other hostile actor should mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness,” Bolton said in Jerusalem ahead of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East,” Bolton said of Iran. “Our military is rebuilt new and ready to go.”

Pence told the CNN television network, “Iran must not take restraint for a lack of resolve. This is a president who hopes for the best for the Iranian people…but we will stand up to their provocations.”

Bolton said existing sanctions against Tehran already are having a sharp effect on the Tehran economy.

“Sanctions are biting,” he said. “Iran can never have nuclear weapons — not against the U.S.A. and not against the world.”

Trump spoke with reporters Saturday at the White House before leaving for the presidential retreat at Camp David outside Washington for a meeting with top administration officials, at one point saying as soon as Tehran agreed to renounce nuclear weapons, “I’m going to be their best friend.”

Trump’s tone was much softer on Saturday after a week of intense actions between the U.S. and Iran.

Concern about a potential armed confrontation between the U.S. and Iran has been growing since U.S. officials recently blamed Tehran for mine attacks on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, allegations Tehran denies, and Iran’s downing of the drone.

On Friday, Trump said that he had canceled late Thursday a retaliatory strike against several Iranian targets.

He tweeted that the United States was “cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it,” Trump tweeted, saying the action would have been disproportionate.

Pence said the U.S. was “not convinced” the downing of the drone “was authorized at the highest level” of the Iranian government. As Trump weighed how to respond last week, he said the shoot-down might have been launched on orders of a “loose and stupid” Iranian officer.

World powers have called for calm after the incidents.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday urged for a political resolution of the crisis. “That is what we are working on,” she told Reuters.

On Sunday, Britain’s Middle East minister, Andrew Murrison, will travel to Tehran for talks with Iranian officials.

Britain’s Foreign Office said Murrison would call for “urgent de-escalation in the region.” He will also discuss Iran’s threat to cease complying with the nuclear deal that the United States pulled out of last year.  

James Phillips, a senior researcher at the conservative Washington-based Heritage Foundation, said he believes the immediate risk of a U.S.-Iran conflict has passed.

“It’s probably over as far as the incident goes with the shoot down of the drone. But, I think if there are further provocations, the president will respond in a strong and effective manner,” he said.

Phillips also said he does not expect Tehran to accept U.S. calls for negotiations while Trump continues a “maximum pressure campaign” of sanctions on Iran. “I doubt that Tehran will be serious until it sees who wins the next presidential election,” he said.

The U.S. announced this week it was authorizing another 1,000 troops — including a Patriot missile battery and additional manned and unmanned reconnaissance aircraft to bolster defenses at U.S. positions in Iraq and Syria.

 

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

Trump: ‘Not Looking for War’ With Iran

U.S. President Donald Trump says he is “not looking for war” with Iran and willing to negotiate with its leaders without preconditions, but that under no circumstances can the Islamic Republic be allowed to mass a nuclear weapons arsenal.

Trump told NBC’s Meet the Press show that if the U.S. went to war with Iran, “It’ll be obliteration like you’ve never seen before.”

“But,” he added, “I’m not looking to do that.”

The U.S. leader said, “Here it is. Look, you can’t have nuclear weapons. And if you want to talk about it, good. Otherwise, you can live in a shattered economy for a long time.”

Trump’s comments, taped Friday, were aired after he announced Saturday, without providing any details, that he plans to impose “major” new sanctions on Iran on Monday. He said the sanctions would be dropped as soon as the country becomes “a productive and prosperous nation again.”

Iran cannot have Nuclear Weapons! Under the terrible Obama plan, they would have been on their way to Nuclear in a short number of years, and existing verification is not acceptable. We are putting major additional Sanctions on Iran on Monday. I look forward to the day that…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2019

Two other key U.S. officials, national security adviser John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence, issued new warnings to Iran that Trump’s last-minute decision to not militarily retaliate for Tehran’s Thursday shoot-down of an unmanned U.S. drone near the Strait of Hormuz should not be viewed as a sign of “weakness.”

National security adviser John Bolton talks to reporters about Venezuela, outside the White House, May 1, 2019, in Washington.

“Neither Iran nor any other hostile actor should mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness,” Bolton said in Jerusalem ahead of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East,” Bolton said of Iran. “Our military is rebuilt new and ready to go.”

Pence told the CNN television network, “Iran must not take restraint for a lack of resolve. This is a president who hopes for the best for the Iranian people…but we will stand up to their provocations.”

Bolton said existing sanctions against Tehran already are having a sharp effect on the Tehran economy.

“Sanctions are biting,” he said. “Iran can never have nuclear weapons — not against the U.S.A. and not against the world.”

Trump spoke with reporters Saturday at the White House before leaving for the presidential retreat at Camp David outside Washington for a meeting with top administration officials, at one point saying as soon as Tehran agreed to renounce nuclear weapons, “I’m going to be their best friend.”

Trump’s tone was much softer on Saturday after a week of intense actions between the U.S. and Iran.

Concern about a potential armed confrontation between the U.S. and Iran has been growing since U.S. officials recently blamed Tehran for mine attacks on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, allegations Tehran denies, and Iran’s downing of the drone.

On Friday, Trump said that he had canceled late Thursday a retaliatory strike against several Iranian targets.

He tweeted that the United States was “cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it,” Trump tweeted, saying the action would have been disproportionate.

Pence said the U.S. was “not convinced” the downing of the drone “was authorized at the highest level” of the Iranian government. As Trump weighed how to respond last week, he said the shoot-down might have been launched on orders of a “loose and stupid” Iranian officer.

World powers have called for calm after the incidents.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday urged for a political resolution of the crisis. “That is what we are working on,” she told Reuters.

On Sunday, Britain’s Middle East minister, Andrew Murrison, will travel to Tehran for talks with Iranian officials.

Britain’s Foreign Office said Murrison would call for “urgent de-escalation in the region.” He will also discuss Iran’s threat to cease complying with the nuclear deal that the United States pulled out of last year.  

James Phillips, a senior researcher at the conservative Washington-based Heritage Foundation, said he believes the immediate risk of a U.S.-Iran conflict has passed.

“It’s probably over as far as the incident goes with the shoot down of the drone. But, I think if there are further provocations, the president will respond in a strong and effective manner,” he said.

Phillips also said he does not expect Tehran to accept U.S. calls for negotiations while Trump continues a “maximum pressure campaign” of sanctions on Iran. “I doubt that Tehran will be serious until it sees who wins the next presidential election,” he said.

The U.S. announced this week it was authorizing another 1,000 troops — including a Patriot missile battery and additional manned and unmanned reconnaissance aircraft to bolster defenses at U.S. positions in Iraq and Syria.

 

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

Ruling Party Candidate Concedes Defeat in Istanbul Re-Vote

The ruling party candidate in the re-run of Istanbul’s mayoral election, Binali Yildirim, has conceded defeat to opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu.

Sunday’s vote was held because election authorities controversially annulled Imamoglu’s initial historic election victory in March on a technicality after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan disputed the defeat of his candidate.

Electoral authorities rejected Erdogan’s AKP Party’s claims of voting fraud, but ordered a revote on the grounds a number election officials were ineligible. The opposition condemned the decision and claimed the Sunday vote is now more than just about who runs the city.

In a sign of the importance of Sunday’s election, voting was brisk from the moment the Kadikoy district ballot station opened, in a city where people traditionally vote late.  Early heavy voting  was reported across the city.

“The election is very important for Turkey, this will change the face of Turkey,” said retiree Cengiz Demir, one of the first to vote in Kadikoy district. “We have to return to democratic settings. Maybe more than a majority have had enough of one man rule,” he added.

One man rule is a reference to President Erdogan who many of his opponents accuse of undermining democracy and turning Turkey into an authoritarian state.

“In the name of our Turkey, in the name of our Istanbul, we are going through a very important election,” Imamoglu said to hundreds of supporters after voting. “This is not only about the Istanbul metropolitan, municipal election but at the same time a day for the repair the damage of this unlawful process imposed on our nation for the sake of democracy in Turkey.”

Observers say Imamoglu’s strategy of avoiding polarizing politics and pledging inclusivity has been key to turning his CHP party’s fortunes around in the city.

“I have so many hopes for Turkey,” said Ayse, a teacher who only wanted to be identified by her first name, “Imamoglu is the only person who can make the change. Before I was so pessimistic.”

The importance of Sunday’s election has seen hundreds of thousands of people cut short their vacations to vote. The city’s airports and roads were full the night before the polls opened.

“This is so important,” said Deniz Tas speaking after voting, “I have traveled 12 hours on the road to vote and to right this injustice that has been done.”

Istanbul is Erdogan’s home city and has been his power-base for 25 years, since his rise to power started as the city’s mayor. The city accounts for a third of Turkey’s economy and nearly half the taxation, and the mayorship is widely seen as Turkey’s most important political prize after the presidency.

Underscoring the importance of the vote,  Erdogan has again put his political prestige on the line, campaigning heavily for Yildirm in the run-up to the election.  Erdogan too claims democracy is at stake, repeatedly accusing the opposition of voter manipulation. Observers say a second defeat for Erdogan could have significant consequences, damaging his reputation of electoral invincibility empowering opponents both in and outside his party.

In what was a bitter campaign Yildirim appeared conciliatory. “If we’ve ever made any wrongdoing to any rival or brother in Istanbul, I would like to ask for their forgiveness and blessing,” he said after casting his vote.

 Some AKP supporters expressed similar sentiments. “Re-vote happens in other countries, too, the voting can be repeated,” said a woman who didn’t want to be named.  “It is very normal that we have a repeat as well. The candidate who deserves it should win. The person with experience will win. Also, for us, Binali Yildirim has the experience to run Istanbul.”

 Both the leading candidates mobilizing thousands of lawyers and monitors to scrutinize the vote, claiming to defend democracy, Istanbul is bracing itself for a tense election.

 

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!
1 2 3 894