Category Archives: News

worldwide news

Ukraine, Rebels say Pullback in the East Completed

The Ukrainian military and Russia-backed separatist rebels have completed a pullback of troops and weapons from an area in eastern Ukraine embroiled in a conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people, officials said Monday.The disengagement near Petrivske that began Saturday followed a recent similar withdrawal in another section of the frontline, where separatists and Ukrainian forces have been fighting since 2014. Ukraine’s military said Ukrainian forces completed the pullback in Petrivske at midday Monday.The disengagement of forces in eastern Ukraine was seen as a key step to pave the way for a summit of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany on ending the conflict.Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed plans for holding the summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a phone call Monday, according to the Kremlin.Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said the summit could be held before the year’s end but wouldn’t comment on a possible date.”The summit should produce new positive results,” Ushakov said at a briefing. “It’s necessary to take the first steps toward the implementation of the agreement reached in Minsk.”Germany and France sponsored a 2015 agreement signed in the Belarusian capital Minsk that envisaged broad autonomy for the separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and an amnesty for the rebels — provisions that were never implemented because they were resented by many in Ukraine. 

Mexico Makes Arrests in Massacre of American Women, Children, Official Says

Mexico has made an unspecified number of arrests over last week’s massacre of three women and six children of dual U.S-Mexican nationality in the north of the country, Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said on Monday.”There have been arrests, but it’s not up to us to give information,” Durazo told reporters in Mexico City.The women and children from families of U.S. Mormon origin who settled in Mexico decades ago were killed last Monday on a remote dirt road in the state of Sonora by suspected drug cartel gunmen, sparking outrage and condemnation in the United States.Durazo said that prosecutors in Sonora, as well as at the federal level, were in charge of the investigation.However, a spokeswoman for the state government of Sonora said: “We don’t have that information.”Mexico’s government has said it believes the victims were caught in the midst of a territorial dispute between an arm of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel and the rival Juarez Cartel.On Sunday, Mexico’s government said it had asked the FBI to participate in the investigation into the killings.

Twitter Wants Public’s Feedback on Deepfake Policy Plans

Social media platform Twitter on Monday unveiled its plan for handling deepfake videos and other manipulated media, and called for feedback from the public.In the run-up to the U.S. presidential election in November 2020, social platforms have been under pressure to tackle the threat of manipulated media, including deepfakes, which use artificial intelligence to create realistic videos in which a person appears to say or do something they did not.Twitter’s new proposal, laid out in a blog post, said it might place a notice next to tweets sharing “synthetic or manipulated media,” warn people before they like or share such tweets, or add a link to a news story showing why various sources think the media is synthetic or manipulated.The company also said it might remove tweets with such media if they were misleading and could threaten physical safety or lead to other serious harm.It proposed defining synthetic and manipulated media as any photo, audio or video that has been “significantly altered or fabricated in a way that intends to mislead people or changes its original meaning.” This would include either deepfakes or more manually doctored “shallowfakes.”Twitter last year banned deepfakes in the context of intimate media: its policy prohibits images or videos that digitally manipulate an individual’s face onto another person’s nude body.Pelosi, Zuckerberg videosWhile there has not been a well-crafted deepfake video with major political consequences in the United States, the potential for manipulated video to cause turmoil was demonstrated in May by a clip of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, manually slowed down to make her speech seem slurred.FILE – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives for a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 23, 2019.After the Pelosi video, Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg was portrayed in a spoof video on Instagram in which he appears to say “whoever controls the data, controls the future.” Facebook, which owns Instagram, did not to take down the video.In July, U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff wrote to the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet’s Google asking for the companies’ plans to handle the threat of deepfake images and videos ahead of the 2020 elections.Twitter has opened up its new proposal for public input through a survey and tweets with the hashtag #TwitterPolicyFeedback until Nov. 27.Last month, Amazon’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) said it would join Facebook and Microsoft Corp in their “Deepfake Detection Challenge,” a contest to spur research into the area.
 

Twitter Takes Steps to Keep UK Election ‘Healthy And Safe’

Twitter said it would make it easier to report misleading information about the voting process in Britain’s Dec. 12 election, less than a month after its global ban on political advertising comes into force.The microblogging site is a vital tool for candidates, political parties and journalists to break news and fuel debate, but it has also been used to spread fake news, such as manipulated video clips, and to abuse and threaten individuals. It said last month it would stop all political advertising, making the British election one of the first major tests for the new policy.It said on Monday it was also taking additional steps to make sure the British election was “healthy, open and safe”. It is launching a tool for people to report deliberately misleading information about the voting process, for example how to vote or register to vote, or false information about the date
or time for the election.”We’ve established a cross-functional UK elections team that will proactively protect the integrity of the election-related conversation, support partner escalations, and identify potential threats from malicious actors,” it said in a blog post.Users taking part in the election debate will be able to use a customized election emoji that is a visual play on the word “Vote” activated by the use of hashtags including #GE19, it
said.Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said last month that the platform would ban political advertising.He said the company could not credibly say it was working hard to stop people from spreading misleading information and then allow somebody to pay to target and force people to see their political ad in which they could say “whatever they want”.That move increased the pressure on Facebook which is continuing to allow political ads, even if they contain false or misleading claims. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said the social media company did not want to stifle political debate. Twitter will publish details of the ban on Nov. 15 and enforce it from Nov. 22.It is also increasing investment in systems that can detect abuse before it is flagged by users, with half of abusive tweets now identified by technology.

Treasury Secretary: Brazil Reform Process Can Withstand Lula Release, Regional Tensions

The recent release from prison of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and upsurge in political instability across Latin America will not hinder Brazil’s economic reform process, a senior Economy Ministry official said Monday.”I think, in fact, eventually you’ll have more debate about reform, which is good,” Treasury Secretary Mansueto Almeida told Reuters in Brasilia. “When you make changes to society based on proper debate, it’s good, because those changes are done with conviction.” FILE – Brazil’s Secretary of the Treasury Mansueto Almeida is seen during an event in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Aug. 8, 2019.Regarding Lula’s release last Friday after the Supreme Court overturned a previous ruling keeping people convicted of crimes in jail if they lose their first appeal, Almeida said Brazil should not be concerned about who the “political actors” are.”At the end of the day, I don’t think we need to be afraidof having a ‘politician A,’ ‘politician B,’ ‘politician C’ (released from jail),” Almeida said. “You have to put the debate to Congress and see how it evolves. If you convince the people and lawmakers, you make the changes. If not, you don’t. That’s democracy.”On Saturday, Lula gave a speech in which he strongly criticized Economy Minister Paulo Guedes and his economic views, while President Jair Bolsonaro and members of his cabinet took swipes back at the leftist former president.After approving a landmark pension reform bill that will save the public purse some 800 billion reais ($193 billion) over the next decade, Brazil’s Congress is set to debate other government proposals like tax reform and “administrative” reform.
 

Reborn Railroad is History Come Alive

At the dawn of the 20th century, a railway was born. It connected Austria and Germany with a major port in the Adriatic Sea. The railway carried critical World War I supplies, but it fell out of favor by the 1940s. VOA’s Arash Arabasadi takes us on a coal-powered ride on a train that tourism may just save.

Bolivia’s Morales Urges Opposition to ‘Pacify the Country’

Updated 2:40 p.m., Nov. 11, 2019Bolivia’s Evo Morales called on the opposition to keep the peace Monday as a deepening political crisis over his disputed reelection last month has led to his resignation.Morales resigned over the weekend after protests followed October elections, which granted him a fourth term; however, there were accusations of “irregularities.”According to the Bolivian constitution, the vice president is next in line to take power when the president steps down. The head of the country’s Senate is third in line, but both of them, as well as a number of other top ministers, resigned shortly after Morales, leaving a power vacuum in the South American country awaiting rescheduled elections.Opposition leader Jeanine Anez said Sunday she would assume the interim presidency of Bolivia, but Congress must first be convened to vote her into power.Morales sent a string of tweets lashing out at his opponents Monday, saying they had a “responsibility to pacify the country and guarantee the political stability and peaceful coexistence of our people.”Mesa y Camacho, discriminadores y conspiradores, pasarán a la historia como racistas y golpistas. Que asuman su responsabilidad de pacificar al país y garanticen la estabilidad política y convivencia pacífica de nuestro pueblo. El mundo y bolivianos patriotas repudian el golpe— Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo) November 11, 2019Morales called his key opponents, Carlos Mesa and Luis Fernando Camacho, “discriminators and conspirators,” and also wrote that “violent groups” had attacked his home.A State Department official said the United States is monitoring the “unfolding events” in Bolivia, adding, “It is crucial that the constitutionally delineated civilian leadership maintain control during the transition.”Mexico has described the ouster of Morales as a military coup, and said Monday that it would offer Morales political asylum. Some of his ministers and senior officials who stepped down over the weekend are currently seeking refuge in the Mexican ambassador’s residence.Latin America’s longest-serving leader went into the election needing a 10 percentage-point lead to avoid a runoff and secure his fourth term in office in the October elections.Partial results released after the election had predicted Morales would face a December runoff election against his main rival, former President Carlos Mesa.Less than 24 hours later, the electoral commission released new numbers that showed with 95% of votes counted, Morales was just a 0.7 percentage point short of the 10 percentage-point mark.The announcement prompted opposition complaints of fraud, and triggered violent protests in several cities.

Bilateral Tensions High Ahead of Erdogan Trump Meeting

This week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits Washington to meet President Donald Trump. The meeting is seen as an opportunity to reset relations that have been strained over numerous policy differences. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul.

Haiti Anti-Government Protests Lose Momentum

Only a few hundred people responded to the opposition’s call Sunday to protest in the streets of Haiti’s capital to continue pressuring President Jovenel Moise to step down.On previous Sundays, tens of thousands have filled Port-au-Prince streets from morning to sundown.  Much lower turnout for today’s anti-government protest in Port au Prince, #Haiti. The opposition blamed armed attacks against protesters, bribes of money and food and fear. But they vow to keep pressing the president to resign. pic.twitter.com/2uVAI8mCpd— Sandra Lemaire (@SandraDVOA) November 11, 2019Have the protests lost momentum? VOA Creole put the question to opposition leaders marching on Sunday.Sen. Ricard Pierre said he thinks bribes and fear were partly to blame for the small crowd. “A significant number of Bel Air residents have died — an area that heavily supports the efforts of the Alternative (opposition group). We have people hiding out in the poor neighborhoods because the government has threatened to kill them,” the senator told VOA Creole. “There have been efforts to distribute weapons to residents of the slums. They’ve been offered money, offered food. But despite the massacres endured by the poor people, there are some of them in the streets today fighting (for a better life).”VOA could not confirm the senator’s allegations.Downtown, evangelical pastor Prophete Mackenson Dorilas, who, perched atop a carnival-style truck had been surrounded by thousands of followers during October protests, was seen marching in the street with only a handful of protesters. He blamed fear and the absence of his truck for the low turnout.”The first truck we were offered, I turned down because it wasn’t what I requested. So, they said they would bring me another truck, and I’m still waiting. Some members of my church had intended to join the protest, but they heard the police was targeting protesters, so they ran away,” Dorilas told VOA Creole, adding that the people also need motivation.”The churchgoers don’t like to see me walking on the street. They like to see me up high,” he said.Also marching with about a dozen protesters was former Haitian Army Col. Himmler Rebu, who described his participation as the right thing to do.
“There are two efforts happening simultaneously. There are those (members of the opposition) who are in offices working on plans and strategy, and there are those who are accompanying the people marching in the streets. So today, that’s my job, ” he said.Up northEarly Sunday, tires were seen burning in the middle of a main road in the northern city of Cape Haitian. There were also roadblocks made of tree branches, rocks, metal and debris.Cape Haitian, #Haiti tires are burning as residents get ready for another day of anti-government protests. 📹Yvan Martin Jasmin @VOAKreyolpic.twitter.com/rrN9ZKnL95— Sandra Lemaire (@SandraDVOA) November 10, 2019″These roadblocks are here because President Jovenel still refuses to resign. We will keep blocking the streets, and we will keep protesting until the president leaves,” a protester told VOA Creole.Opposition summitBack in the capital, members of the opposition spent the weekend meeting at the Marriott Hotel to discuss the transition process that would be activated if Moise were to resign.”We are in agreement on four aspects of the transition: governance, control, steps forward and duration,” announced opposition Sen. Youri Latortue, who heads the Haitian Senate’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Committee. No further details were given.Senator Youri Latortue signs an agreement with leaders from the opposition, to choose an interim president in place of President Jovenel Moise.On the subject of who would replace Moise, the group decided that the choice would be made by a five-member committee comprised of a representative of each opposition group. The transitional president would be chosen among the Supreme Court judges. The committee would also choose a prime minister.”This is a historic event,” prominent businessman Gregory Brandt, who represented the private sector at the meeting, told VOA Creole. “The country has been suffering through a complicated situation for two months now. We aren’t selling merchandise, we aren’t receiving merchandise. Port-au-Prince is beginning to face a scarcity of basic goods. We’re facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, so we must sit down in all seriousness to discuss how we can resolve this crisis.”US aidLast week, Rob Thayer, director of USAID’s “Food for Peace” program, told VOA Creole the agency has earmarked 3,500 metric tons of emergency food aid for Haiti, which will be distributed to those in need.In addition to the food aid, the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has been docked off Haiti’s shores since Nov. 6 for a seven-day medical and humanitarian mission. According to the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, the ship’s staff has seen more patients per day in Haiti than on any other stop of their five-nation tour.What a week-end! We’re proud of the Comfort crew & their HAITIAN partners’ effort as they are seeing more patients at the clinic per day than they have on any other stop of the 5 months #EnduringPromise mission. – #AmbSisonpic.twitter.com/Jed9vSyGtg— U.S. Embassy Haiti (@USEmbassyHaiti) November 9, 2019U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed concern about the situation in Haiti last week on Twitter.The #USNSComfort has arrived to provide much-needed medical services in Haiti. We call on all of Haiti’s leaders to come together to solve the ongoing political & economic gridlock through dialogue & institutions. We stand with all Haitians who peacefully call for accountability. pic.twitter.com/C2GTw3kgzS— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 7, 2019″The #USNSComfort has arrived to provide much needed medical services in Haiti. We call on all of Haiti’s leaders to come together to solve the ongoing political & economic gridlock through dialogue & institutions. We stand with all Haitians who peacefully call for accountability,” Pompeo tweeted.President MoiseMeanwhile, Moise has been busy naming new cabinet ministers, meeting with members of the diplomatic corps, and giving interviews to the foreign press. He has also increased his visibility on the streets, in the national press and on social media.”Since my first day in office, I have always preached the same thing — togetherness, unity — because the country is tired,” Moise said during a Nov. 7 speech. “Our (nation’s) motto is Unity is Power. But unfortunately, this system (of government), the system that uses people, gives us a different motto which is, Divide and Conquer. Whenever a person wants to enrich himself, he pits us against each other. And when we’ve taken the bait and died in battle, who benefits? Not us.”FILE – Haitian President Jovenel Moise sits at the Presidential Palace during an interview, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Oct. 22, 2019.Early Sunday morning, before the anti-government protest began, Moise visited police stations in Carrefour and Petionville, his press secretary announced. According to a press statement received by VOA Creole early Monday morning, Moise sought to see the working conditions for the policemen and asked for a detailed report on the current status of affairs that will be used to “better address the needs of the agents of the PNH (National Police of Haiti).”Yvan Jasmin Martin in Cape Haitian, Renan Toussaint and Yves Manuel in Port-au-Prince and Ronald Cesar in Washington contributed to this report