80 percent of Taiwanese disapprove of China's pressure

4china1.jpg.jpg

TAIPEI,(CNA).- A recent survey found about 80 percent of the public disapproved of the recent moves by China to squeeze Taiwan's international space, a consensus the pollster said was supported by people irrespective of gender, age, education level, party affiliation, ethnicity, and area of residence in Taiwan.

The survey, conducted by Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation, gauged people's opinion on recent developments in relations across the Taiwan Strait, among other issues, by asking how they felt about China enticing Burkina Faso to cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan and demanding international airlines list Taiwan as a part of China.

According to the result, 79.1 percent of the respondents disapproved of these actions by China, with 50.2 percent expressing strong disapproval, and 11.9 percent saying the actions were appropriate. The remaining 9 percent did not give their opinion.

On the next question asking respondents whether they have confidence in President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) administration in terms of safeguarding Taiwan's international participation, 60.3 percent said they had no such confidence against 32.7 percent who answered positively. About 7 percent did not give their opinion.

The result showed that 68 percent of respondents in the 25-54 age group and 69 percent of respondents with a college degree or higher said they were not confident in the way the Tsai administration has handled the pressures China has been ramping up on Taiwan.

You Ying-lung (游盈隆), chairman of the polling institute, said that the results signaled a "crisis of confidence" among young and highly educated people in the Tsai administration's ability to handle diplomatic issues.

The administration needs to come up with better strategies rather than just put the blame on China or it will continue to be mired in the crisis of confidence, You said.

The survey, conducted from June 12-13, collected 1,073 valid responses. It has a confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of 2.99 percentage points.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)

http://focustaiwan.tw/news/aipl/201806170004.aspx

Tags: Taiwán

mars18618.jpg

WASHINGTON, (VOANEWS).- Astronomers and stargazers will get a chance to get up close and personal with Mars over the next six weeks, as the Earth passes between the Red Planet and the sun.

Mars will make its closest swing toward Earth, bringing it closer and appearing brighter, than it has in the past 15 years.

In 2003, Mars came within 56.1 million kilometers of Earth, the closest it had come in 60,000 years, according to the Weather Channel.

This year the two planets won't get quite as cozy. The Weather Channel said Mars will appear the brightest to Earth stargazers on July 31, when the two planets are just 57.6 million kilometers apart.

How large Mars appears in the sky to people on Earth depends on where the two neighboring planets are in their elliptical journey. While it takes Earth 365 days to orbit the sun, it takes Mars almost twice as long, or 687 days.

In 2016, the planets were at the opposite ends of their orbits, with 75.6 million kilometers between them, making Mars appear very small.

The next time Mars comes this close to Earth will be in March 2035.

https://www.voanews.com/a/for-6-weeks-mars-will-appear-larger-brighter-to-earth-stargazers/4443249.html

Tags: Mars NASA

Amid Family Separation Furor, US House Plans Immigration Votes

trump.jpg

WASHINGTON, (VOANEWS).- As the House of Representatives prepares for expected votes on major reforms to U.S. immigration law this week, the Trump administration defends the separation of some undocumented immigrant children from their parents,

Once a rare practice, federal agents now routinely separate families seeking asylum or attempting to enter the United States illegally. Roughly 2,000 minors had been separated from their families over a six-week period ending in May, administration officials said last week.

Video released by the U.S. government shows what appears to be humane conditions at a shelter site for children. But furor over the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy for unauthorized border arrivals is growing.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said Monday that seeking to deter parents by inflicting abuse on children is "unconscionable."

"Mr. President, people do not lose their human rights by virtue of crossing a border without a visa," Zeid said. "I deplore the adoption by many countries of policies intended to make themselves as inhospitable as possible by increasing the suffering of many already vulnerable people."

Defend policy

Trump continues to view America's immigration debate through the lens of public safety, often pointing to foreign-born members of a vicious Central American gang as he seeks stricter policies.

The president has also repeatedly blamed Democrats for the separations, falsely claiming they are responsible for the situation. Trump's administration put in place the policy to arrest all migrants who illegally cross the U.S. border, including those seeking asylum, and because children cannot be sent to the same detention facilities as their parents, they are separated.

"The Democrats should get together with their Republican counterparts and work something out on Border Security & Safety," Trump tweeted late Sunday. "Don't wait until after the election because you are going to lose!"

Trump's Republican party holds a majority in both houses of Congress.

He is scheduled to meet with House Republicans on Tuesday to discuss two competing Republican immigration reform bills.

Both bills would provide legal status to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, make sweeping changes to legal immigration, and boost U.S. border security. It is unclear if either will attract enough votes to pass.

"We said from the beginning we want the House to debate immigration reform in a serious, meaningful way. And it looks like that is happening for the first time in nearly a decade," Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo said.

Trump's advisers, both past and present, also continue to defend the separation policy.

"Nobody likes'' breaking up families and "seeing babies ripped from their mothers' arms,'' said Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the president. But she, too, placed the blame on the Democrats.

Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, also defended the policy saying, "We ran on a policy, very simply, stop mass illegal immigration and limit legal immigration, get our sovereignty back, and to help our workers, OK? And so he went to a zero-tolerance policy.''

Immigration experts and many legal scholars, however, said the administration is interpreting U.S. immigration law as no other administration has. Democrats have condemned both the policy and Trump's rationale for pursuing it.

"In the world, there is a recognition that people can seek asylum, except, apparently not in the United States," House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said.

Texas protest

Over the weekend, several protests were held across the country as lawmakers, religious leaders and American citizens decried the family separation policy.

Democratic Texas state Congressman Beto O'Rourke led hundreds of people on a march Sunday in Tornillo, Texas, where the government is holding some of the children. The purpose of the march, he said, was to "help this country to make the right decision, and part of that is knowing what's going on in the first place."

O'Rourke, who is seeking to unseat Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, was joined by U.S. Congressman Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts, also a Democrat.

Evangelical leader Franklin Graham, a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump, also spoke out against the policy.

"It's disgraceful, and it's terrible to see families ripped apart and I don't support that one bit," he said on the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Miami (Florida) Archbishop Thomas Wenski said, “The policy is designed to frighten the parents by taking away their kids, traumatizing the kids. And they [federal agents] think that will serve as a deterrent for people exercising a basic human right, which is to ask for asylum.”

First lady Melania Trump released a statement that appeared to oppose her husband's policy.

"Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform," her office Sunday said. "She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."

Former first lady Laura Bush wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that the policy is cruel and immoral."

"Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso," she said. "These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese interment camps of World War 2, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history."

Also Sunday, officials say at least five people died after an SUV fleeing Border Patrol agents crashed in southern Texas.

Texas public safety officials said many people in the vehicle might have been living in the U.S. without legal permission. The driver and at least one other person, believed to be U.S. citizens, are in custody, the state officials said.

VOA's Michael Bowman contributed to this report.

https://www.voanews.com/a/amid-family-separation-furor-us-house-plans-immigration-votes/4442848.html

Tags: The United Sates, President Donald Trump

ofac-treasury-623x400.jpg

ZETA.- Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned 14 entities pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which targets serious human rights abuse and corruption, for being affiliated with designated Israeli businessman and billionaire Dan Gertler.

As previously noted in the December 2017 action, Gertler is an international businessman and billionaire who has amassed his fortune through hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Gertler has used his close friendship with DRC President Joseph Kabila to act as a middleman for mining asset sales in the DRC, requiring some multinational companies to go through Gertler to do business with the Congolese state.

Gertler and his company Fleurette Properties have used offshore companies to facilitate such deals. As a result, between 2010 and 2012 alone, the DRC reportedly lost over $1.36 billion in revenues from the underpricing of mining assets that were sold to offshore companies linked to Gertler. In late December, the President included Gertler in the Annex to E.O. 13818, while OFAC simultaneously designated 19 companies and one associate for their ties to him. With today’s action, the number of sanctioned entities and individuals in Gertler’s network now totals 34.

“Treasury is sanctioning companies that have enabled Dan Gertler to access the international financial system and profit from corruption and misconduct. We are using our tools to change the behavior of those engaged in the looting of natural resources and the humanitarian consequences that follow,” said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “A financial toll will be imposed on individuals and companies that exploit innocent people and vulnerable jurisdictions for their own personal gain.”

GLOBAL MAGNITSKY
Building upon the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, in E.O. 13818 the President found that the prevalence of human rights abuse and corruption had reached such scope and gravity to threaten the stability of international political and economic systems. The United States seeks to impose tangible and significant consequences on those who commit serious human rights abuse and corruption, which undermine the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure, and functioning societies; have devastating impacts on individuals; weaken democratic institutions; degrade the rule of law; perpetuate violent conflicts; facilitate the activities of dangerous persons; and undermine economic markets. To that end, as of today, 73 individuals and entities have had their assets blocked under E.O. 13818. The United States will continue to take appropriate actions, including designating persons for sanctions, to respond to serious human rights abuse and corruption around the globe.

GERTLER AFFILIATED ENTITIES
The 14 Gertler-affiliated entities OFAC designated today are: Moku Mines D’or SA, Moku Goldmines AG, Fleurette Energy I B.V., Fleurette Africa Resources I B.V., African Trans International Holdings B.V., Fleurette African Transport B.V., Oriental Iron Company SPRL, Iron Mountain Enterprises Limited, Sanzetta Investments Limited, Almerina Properties Limited, Interlog DRC, Kitoko Food Farm, Karibu Africa Services SA, and Ventora Development Sasu.


This list of 14 companies owned or controlled by Gertler or his companies, and those previously designated, should not be viewed as exhaustive. The regulated community remains responsible for compliance with OFAC’s 50 percent rule.


For more information on the connection between corrupt senior foreign political figures and their enabling of human rights abuses, descriptions of a number of typologies used by them to access the U.S. financial system and obscure and further their illicit activity, and red flags that may assist financial institutions in identifying the methods used by corrupt senior foreign political figures, see FinCEN Advisory FIN-2018-A003, Advisory on Human Rights Abuses Enabled by Corrupt Senior Foreign Political Figures and their Financial Facilitators.

As a result of today’s action, any property, or interest in property, of those designated by OFAC within U.S. jurisdiction is blocked. Additionally, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with blocked persons, including entities 50 percent or more owned by designated persons.
Identifying information on the individuals and entities designated today.

Trump, Kim Exchange Summit Commitments

TOPSHOT-SINGAPORE-US-NKOREA-DIPLOMACY-SUMMIT1111.jpg

SINGAPORE, (STEVE HERMAN-VOANEWS).- In an agreement signed Tuesday in Singapore, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” while U.S. President Donald Trump “committed to provide security guarantees” to North Korea.

The document also calls for the two countries to jointly work on efforts to build a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, to establish new U.S.-North Korea relations and to recover the remains of prisoners of war and military members missing in action. The two sides also promised to hold follow-up negotiations.

“We’re going to denuke North Korea,” Trump told VOA contributor Greta Van Susteren.

He also said neither side issued ultimatums and that the agreement Tuesday was the result of months of negotiations.

“You know that could have ended in a war, that could have ended with many millions of people — you know North Korea very well, Seoul has 28 million people, that could have ended with millions of people dead but we ended with a deal,” he said.

Trump also told VOA that U.S. troops stationed in South Korea will remain in place, but announced one concession long-sought by North Korea.

"We are going to get out of the war games that cost so much money," he said.

Trump said at later news conference that existing U.S. sanctions will remain in place until North Korean nuclear weapons "are no longer a factor."

As for verification, Trump said he and Kim discussed the issue and that monitoring denuclearization efforts would be achieved “by having a lot of people there.” He also predicted Kim would begin work right away to “live up to” the agreement.

Asked if the talks included specifics on the size of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, Trump said “what they have is substantial.”

On human rights, Trump said Tuesday’s meetings only very briefly touched on the topic, but that the two sides would discuss it more in the future. When asked about thousands of people imprisoned in labor camps, Trump said he thinks he has helped them because things in North Korea will change.

“I think they are one of the great winners today,” he said.

He cited American college student Otto Warmbier, who was arrested by North Korean authorities in 2016 and died a year ago after being repatriated to the United States with severe brain damage.

“Otto did not die in vain, he had a lot to do with us being here today,” Trump said.

'Special bond'

The U.S. president repeatedly struck a positive tone about Kim, thanking the North Korean leader for taking what he called a bold step and saying he “has the chance to seize an incredible future for his people.”

He also thanked the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea for their efforts in making Tuesday’s summit happen.

Hours earlier as he sat alongside Kim at the signing ceremony, Trump said the two leaders “have developed a special bond” and that after several hours of talks Tuesday and the signing of the agreement he thinks the U.S. relationship with North Korea “will be very different than in the past.”

Both Trump and Kim expressed gratitude toward each other for the meetings.Trump said he would “absolutely” invite Kim to visit the White House and is open to visiting Pyongyang as well.

“Today we had a historic meeting and decided to leave the past behind,” Kim said, speaking through a translator.”The world will see a major change.”

Kim at one point told Trump that many people around the world would see their meeting as a kind of fantasy, as if it the event was a “science fiction movie.”

​Historic meeting

They first met Tuesday for about 40 minutes alone, except for their translators, before bringing in delegations from their respective sides for a working lunch. They walked outside together after the lunch, stopping briefly to look at the U.S. president's special limousine.

"We had a really fantastic meeting, a lot of progress, very positive," Trump said.

The U.S. side included Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. The North Korean participants included former military intelligence chief Kim Yong Chol, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ri Yong Ho, and Ri Su Yong, vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party.

Tuesday marked the first ever meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. Dozens of cameras snapped photos as the two men first came together in front of a background of U.S. and North Korean flags.

The language in Tuesday’s agreement was not as strong as the CVID standard Pompeo set out. But the secretary of state still seemed positive about the outcome.

“It’s a great day,” Pompeo told VOA.

About 5,000 journalists are in Singapore for the occasion, but only a handful of American and North Korean reporters and photographers were permitted at the venue when the two leaders greet each other.

Reporter Bill Gallo contributed to this report.

https://www.voanews.com/a/us-north-korea-sign-agreement/4434921.html

Tags: Donald Trump Kim Jong Un North Korea The United States Singapore