US Observes Veterans Day

9 months ago

The United States observes its Veterans Day holiday Thursday honoring those who have served in the country‚Äôs military.¬† The holiday is marked with ceremonies and parades in areas across the country.¬† Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is due to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a historic monument dedicated to¬†honor¬†U.S.¬†service members whose¬†remains¬†are unidentified or are missing.¬†¬† This year marks the 100th anniversary of the tomb¬†that¬†is¬†located¬†at Arlington National Cemetery, outside of Washington.¬† The¬†holiday became a national observance in 1926.‚ÄĮAt that time, it was known as Armistice Day, commemorating Germany‚Äôs surrender of World War I on November‚ÄĮ11, 1918.¬† Congress changed the name to Veterans Day in 1954, and the day now honors any U.S. military veteran,¬†not just those who have fought in war. It is separate from the Memorial Day holiday in May, which honors those who died in military service.‚ÄĮ¬†¬† The United States has about 18 million veterans, according to U.S. census data.¬†

US Food Banks Struggle to Feed Hungry Amid Surging Prices

9 months ago

U.S. food banks already dealing with increased demand from families sidelined by the pandemic now face a new challenge ‚ÄĒ surging food prices and supply chain issues walloping the nation.¬†¬†¬† The higher costs and limited availability mean some families may get smaller servings or substitutions for staples such as peanut butter, which costs nearly double what it did a year ago. As holidays approach, some food banks worry they won‚Äôt have enough stuffing and cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and Christmas.¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄúWhat happens when food prices go up is food insecurity for those who are experiencing it just gets worse,‚ÄĚ said Katie Fitzgerald, chief operating officer of Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that coordinates the efforts of more than 200 food banks across the country.¬†¬†¬† Food banks that expanded to meet unprecedented demand brought on by the pandemic won‚Äôt be able to absorb forever food costs that are two to three times what they used to be, she said.¬† Supply chain disruptions, lower inventory and labor shortages have all contributed to increased costs for charities on which tens of millions of people in the U.S. rely on for nutrition. Donated food is more expensive to move because transportation costs are up, and bottlenecks at factories and ports make it difficult to get goods of all kinds.¬†¬†¬† If a food bank¬†has to¬†swap out for smaller sizes of canned tuna or make substitutions in order to stretch their dollars, Fitzgerald said, it‚Äôs like adding ‚Äúinsult to injury‚ÄĚ to a family reeling from uncertainty.¬†¬†¬† In the prohibitively expensive San Francisco Bay Area, the Alameda County Community Food Bank in Oakland is spending an extra $60,000 a month on food. Combined with increased demand, it is now shelling out $1 million a month to distribute 4.5 million pounds (2 million kilograms) of food, said Michael Altfest, the Oakland food bank‚Äôs director of community engagement.¬†¬†¬† Pre-pandemic, it was spending a quarter of the money for 2.5 million pounds (1.2 million kilograms) of food.¬† The cost of canned green beans and peaches is up nearly 9% for them, Altfest said; canned tuna and frozen tilapia up more than 6%; and a case of 5-pound frozen chickens for holiday tables is up 13%. The price for dry oatmeal has climbed 17%.¬† On Wednesdays, hundreds of people line up outside a church in east Oakland for its weekly food giveaway. Shiloh Mercy House feeds about 300 families on those days, far less than the 1,100 families it was nourishing at the height of the pandemic, said Jason Bautista, the charity‚Äôs event manager. But he‚Äôs still seeing new people every week.¬† ‚ÄúAnd a lot of people are just saying they can‚Äôt afford food,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI mean they have the money to buy certain things, but it‚Äôs just not stretching.‚Ä̬† Families can also use a community market Shiloh opened in May. Refrigerators contain cartons of milk and eggs while sacks of hamburger buns and crusty baguettes sit on shelves. Oakland resident Sonia Lujan-Perez, 45, picked up chicken, celery, onions bread and¬†and¬†potatoes ‚ÄĒ enough to supplement a Thanksgiving meal for herself, 3-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son. The state of California pays her to care for daughter Melanie, who has special needs, but it‚Äôs not enough with monthly rent at $2,200 and the cost of milk, citrus, spinach and chicken so high.¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄúThat is wonderful for me because I will save a lot of money,‚ÄĚ she said, adding that the holiday season is rough with Christmas toys for the children.¬† It‚Äôs unclear to what extent other concurrent government aid, including an expanded free school lunch program in California and an increase in benefits for people in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, will offset rising food prices. An analysis by the Urban Institute think tank in Washington, D.C. found that while most households are expected to receive sufficient maximum benefits for groceries, a gap still exists in 21 percent of U.S. rural and urban counties.¬† Bryan Nichols, vice president of sales for Transnational Foods Inc., which delivers to more than 100 food banks associated with Feeding America, said canned foods from Asia‚ÄĒ such as fruit cocktail, pears and mandarin oranges‚ÄĒ have been stuck overseas because of a lack of shipping container space.¬†¬†¬† Issues in supply seem to be improving and prices stabilizing, but he expects costs to stay high after so many people got out of the shipping business during the pandemic. ‚ÄúAn average container coming from Asia prior to COVID would cost about $4,000. Today, that same container is about $18,000,‚ÄĚ he said.¬† At the Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado in Colorado Springs, CEO Lynne Telford says the cost for a truckload of peanut butter ‚ÄĒ40,000 pounds (18,100¬†kilograms)_has soared 80% from June 2019 to $51,000 in August. Mac and cheese¬†is¬†up 19% from a year ago and the wholesale cost of ground beef has increased 5% in three months. They‚Äôre spending more money to buy food to make up for¬†waning¬†donations and there‚Äôs less to choose from.¬† The upcoming holidays worry her. For one thing, the donation cost to buy a frozen turkey has increased from $10 to $15 per bird.¬† ‚ÄúThe other thing is that we‚Äôre not getting enough holiday food, like stuffing and cranberry sauce.¬†So¬†we‚Äôre having to supplement with other kinds of food, which you know, makes us sad,‚ÄĚ said Telford, whose food bank fed more than 200,000 people last year, distributing 25 million pounds (11.3 million kilograms) of food.¬†¬†¬† Alameda County Community Food Bank says it is set for Thanksgiving, with cases of canned¬†cranberry¬†and boxes of mashed potatoes among items stacked in its expanded warehouse. Food resourcing director Wilken Louie ordered eight truckloads of frozen 5-pound chickens ‚ÄĒwhich translates into more than 60,000 birds‚ÄĒ to give away free, as well as half-turkeys available at cost.¬† For that, Martha Hasal is grateful.¬† ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs going to be an expensive Thanksgiving, turkey is not going to cost like the way it was,‚ÄĚ said Hasal as she loaded up on¬†on¬†cauliflower and onions on behalf of the Bay Area American Indian Council. ‚ÄúAnd they‚Äôre not giving out turkey.¬†So¬†thank God they‚Äôre giving out the chicken.‚Ä̬†

Harris, Macron to Meet Amid US Push to Ease Tensions with Longstanding Ally

9 months ago

French President Emmanuel Macron is set to host¬†U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris for talks Wednesday at Elysee Palace with an agenda that includes climate change, the economy, global¬†health¬†and supply chain issues.¬† A senior U.S. administration official told reporters Tuesday that the bilateral meeting is important because the U.S. relationship with France is a global one, and that France and other European allies are key to the future of the United States.¬† In addition to meeting with Macron, Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, are taking part in a wreath laying Wednesday at¬†Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial¬†outside of Paris¬†to mark the U.S. Veterans Day holiday and Armistice Day, which commemorates the end of World War¬†I.¬†The site honors American service members killed in¬†both world wars and¬†holds¬†the remains of¬†nearly 1,600¬†Americans.¬† Harris and Macron will¬†take part¬†in a further Armistice Day ceremony as it is¬†observed¬†on Thursday.¬† The U.S. vice president‚Äôs trip to France is the latest step in a push to improve soured relations with the country‚Äôs oldest ally.¬† Relations between the two countries plunged to a historic low in September when Australia scrapped a¬†$65 billion¬†deal to buy traditional submarines from France in favor of an agreement in which Australia will build nuclear subs with the help of the United States and Britain.¬†¬†¬†¬† U.S. President Joe Biden told Macron in Rome last month the United¬†States¬†had been ‚Äúclumsy‚ÄĚ in its handling of the matter.¬†¬†¬†¬† Harris will also represent the Biden administration Thursday at the Paris Peace Forum and at a summit Friday on Libya ahead of that country‚Äôs elections next month.¬†¬†¬†¬† Some information for this report came from the Associated Press,¬†the Agence France-Presse¬†and Reuters.

America's first Native American Cabinet secretary

by ShareAmerica, 9 months ago

November is Native American Heritage Month. Meet a history-making member of the Pueblo of Laguna who oversees a federal department.

ESG investing has a blind spot that puts the $35 trillion industry's sustainability promises in doubt: supply chains

9 months ago

Federal Reserve Warns of Turmoil in Chinese Real Estate Sector

9 months ago

The Federal Reserve is warning that spillover effects from a worsening debt crisis in the Chinese real estate sector could roil global financial markets and damage economic growth, including that of the United States.¬† The warning Monday came in the Financial Stability Report, issued twice a year by the U.S. central bank. Previous versions of the report have noted concerns about high levels of debt among Chinese companies.¬†¬†¬†¬† But the most recent report specifically mentions China Evergrande Group, a heavily indebted real estate conglomerate that late Tuesday appeared to have narrowly avoided what could have been a catastrophic default on bonds issued to international investors.¬† Evergrande has become the symbol of an ongoing effort by the Chinese government to force large companies to shed heavy debt burdens. The government has created new restrictions that make it difficult or impossible for companies like Evergrande to ‚Äúroll over‚ÄĚ their debts as they come due by simply taking out new loans. As a result, many are trying to sell off assets to pay down their debts.¬† Although construction on many of its dozens of projects across China has¬†been halted as laborers and suppliers go unpaid, Evergrande has put a brave face on its predicament. In a note to employees published on WeChat, management said, ‚ÄúAll employees of the group swear to ensure the construction of the project with the greatest determination and strength, and complete the delivery of the real estate with the highest quality and quantity.‚Ä̬† Risk of miscalculation¬† Forcing large Chinese firms to deleverage is, on the whole, considered a worthy goal. Many analysts believe that the excessive debt of Chinese businesses, much of which is carried on the books of Chinese banks, has¬†injected far too much risk into the Chinese economy.¬†¬†¬† However, experts consulted by the Fed said they were concerned that the Chinese government might miscalculate, cracking down too tightly and precipitating a crisis that Beijing cannot control.¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄúSeveral noted that the Chinese authorities appear willing to countenance more volatility than in the past as they pursue their deleveraging and regulatory goals, while worrying that officials could misjudge the scale of instability and contagion emanating from the campaign,‚ÄĚ the report said.¬† 'Tip of the iceberg' ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs tempting to use metaphors like ‚Äėtip of the iceberg‚Äô to describe what‚Äôs going on in China‚Äôs real estate sector,‚ÄĚ Doug Barry, spokesperson¬†for the U.S.-China Business Council, told VOA in an email exchange. ‚ÄúBut that we‚Äôre even tempted is itself disconcerting, given we‚Äôre talking about the world‚Äôs second largest economy¬†‚Ästone linked to most of the others including the United States‚Äô.‚Ä̬†¬†¬† Barry noted that many Chinese banks are considered ‚Äúzombies‚ÄĚ by most analysts¬†‚Ästmeaning that they are carrying so much bad debt on their books that they are essentially insolvent and are only being propped up by government support.¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄúTime now for China‚Äôs leaders to get their macroeconomic policy house in order, which is consistent with the mantra-like message of reforming and opening-up,‚ÄĚ Barry added. ‚ÄúHelp is available from many quarters including the US government and business community.¬† How to help should be on the Biden-Xi summit agenda. We all lose if the iceberg finds its mark.‚Ä̬† Global consequences According to the Fed report, if the crisis in China were to get out of control, the impact on the rest of the world could be serious.¬† ‚ÄúGiven the size of China‚Äôs economy and financial system as well as its extensive trade linkages with the rest of the world, financial stresses in China could strain global financial markets through a deterioration of risk sentiment, pose risks to global economic growth, and affect the United States,‚ÄĚ the report found.¬† A narrow escape¬† Evergrande has been in the news in recent months because it has been unable to make payments on bonds it has issued. On Wednesday, it was expected to make a late payment of $141.8 million on three different bonds, just as a 30-day grace period was due to expire and plunge the company into default.¬†¬†¬† Evergrande came up with the money by orchestrating what appeared to be a last-minute sale of a $144 million portion of its interests in¬†HengTen¬†Networks Group, a Hong Kong-based internet company, according to the¬†South China Morning Post.¬† The expected payments do not mean that Evergrande is out of trouble. The company still has more than $300 billion in outstanding debts, with regular payments coming due every few weeks into 2022.¬† Signs of spreading contagion¬† Evergrande‚Äôs share price has already plummeted, and the rates that investors are demanding on existing bonds have skyrocketed. If the effects were limited to Evergrande, that might be manageable. But there is increasing evidence that the ‚Äúcontagion‚ÄĚ infecting the company and other large real estate firms is spreading.¬† Investors are now selling off bonds issued by other Chinese real estate giants that are considered to be much less risky than Evergrande, such as Country Garden Holdings and Vanke Inc., the largest and second-largest real estate firms in the country, respectively.¬† Worse yet, there are signs that investors are getting jittery about companies well outside of the real estate sector. A Bloomberg index tracking investment-grade bonds issued by Chinese firms indicates that the impact is being felt across multiple sectors of the Chinese economy.¬†¬†¬† For example, Tencent Holdings, an entertainment conglomerate that owns¬†TikTok¬†and WeChat, among other popular services, saw a sharp decrease in its bond prices over the past two days.¬†¬† Restructuring expected¬† In general, investment analysts following the developments in China‚Äôs property market expect that Beijing will, at some point, step in to prevent a major crisis. But that may not happen in the immediate future.¬† In a research note published Monday, economists Ting Lu and Jing Wang of the investment bank Nomura International (Hong Kong) wrote, ‚ÄúWe expect most of Beijing‚Äôs property curbs will remain in place for a while, with the worst likely yet to come for both China‚Äôs property sector and macro-economy.‚Ä̬†¬†¬†¬† They added, ‚ÄúBeijing‚Äôs policy makers may opt to ramp up support to prevent worsening defaults in coming months.‚Ä̬† It is unclear exactly what a government-led restructuring of Evergrande would look like, but most experts believe it would involve investors in the company‚Äôs dollar-denominated bonds¬†facing a significant ‚Äúhaircut.‚ÄĚ That is, they would be forced to accept less than they are owed by the company in final payment of its obligations.¬†

Wikinews interviews RSL Australia for Remembrance Day 2021

9 months ago

COP26: Rich nations ‚Äėresisting paying for climate loss‚Äô

by Fiona Broom, 9 months ago

Developing countries say ‚Äėloss and damage‚Äô resulting from climate-related events is being sidelined at COP26.

Biden and Xi to Meet Virtually as APEC Leaders Chart Path Forward from Pandemic

9 months ago

U.S. President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, will have a rare virtual encounter this week as they gather online with other Pacific Rim leaders to chart a path to recovery out of the crisis brought on by the pandemic. New Zealand is hosting this year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which culminates in a leader's meeting on Saturday. Continued outbreaks of the coronavirus and related travel restrictions have confined the meeting to the virtual realm for a second straight year. As usual, the 21 APEC members will be seeking areas where members can cooperate on easing barriers to trade and economic growth instead of trying to settle longstanding feuds. The focus will be on "charting a path to recovery out of this once-in-a-century crisis," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, host of the leader's meeting, said in a statement.¬† In all, APEC members account for nearly 3 billion people and about 60% of the world's GDP. They span the Pacific rim, from Chile to Russia to Thailand to Australia. Officials say they've made significant progress during some 340 preliminary meetings.¬† APEC members have agreed to reduce or eliminate many tariffs and border holdups on vaccines, masks and other medical products important to fighting the coronavirus, said Vangelis Vitalis, chair of the Senior Officials' Meeting.¬† But big power frictions are the inevitable backdrop for the closed-door summit meetings of APEC, which as an economic forum includes both Hong Kong and Taiwan in addition to communist-ruled mainland China. Both Taiwan and China have put in applications to join a Pacific Rim trade group, the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, with Beijing saying it will block Taiwan's bid on the basis that the democratically governed island refuses to accept that it's part of China.¬† Stephen Hoadley, an associate professor of politics and international relations at the University of Auckland, said Biden will be looking to reverse the course set by predecessor Donald Trump, who spurned regional trade deals with his America First foreign policy approach. Since Biden has taken office, Washington has shifted back to a more internationalist approach to trade liberalization, supporting global and regional efforts such as the rules-making World Trade Organization.¬† However, Biden has kept most trade, technology and investment restrictions that Trump imposed on Chinese exports and companies in place while also moving to counter Beijing's sway in the region.¬† One such effort is a recent new defense agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S. that raised eyebrows because it did not include New Zealand or other U.S. allies. The development of nuclear submarines is a major part of the new defense arrangement, and New Zealand has a longstanding nuclear-free policy.¬† Hoadley said the China-U.S. rivalry can be seen even in the way they describe the region, with China calling it the Asia-Pacific and the U.S. having switched years ago to calling it the Indo-Pacific, to include the democratic counterweight of India ‚ÄĒ which is not an APEC member. Apart from the geopolitical tensions simmering at all times, the pandemic has added to uncertainty in a region that has long been viewed as an increasingly important engine of global growth. Many economies are still struggling to emerge from downturns that hit the region hard in 2020, stalling travel and many other activities. Prolonged outbreaks of COVID-19 infections, slow progress in vaccinations, and other disruptions both to manufacturing and shipping have added to uncertainty and dragged millions of the region's most vulnerable people back into poverty. "Unfortunately, too, there's been rising protectionism around the globe, and that has also made for an incredibly challenging environment for us to be operating in," Vitalis said during a media briefing.¬† He said there are areas of common ground, including improving environmental sustainability, and enhancing the untapped potential of Indigenous groups.¬† New Zealand's Trade Minister Damien O'Connor said Tuesday that APEC should send a powerful message to the world ahead of a World Trade Organization meeting.¬† "We are facing the biggest economic shock in 75 years. We know that trade will be a strong driver in our recovery. We absolutely cannot afford to turn our attention away from an institution that has underpinned APEC's work since its inception," O'Connor said.¬† Ahead of the main leader's meeting APEC will host a youth summit and its usual CEO summit featuring addresses by leaders and a keynote speech by human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. Ardern and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold a dialogue on how the pandemic has changed the world.¬† The pandemic APEC meetings lack the pomp and glamor of past in-person gatherings. No fancy shirts or gala balls. New Zealand made the decision last year to switch to a virtual summit. Malaysia also opted to host the 2020 APEC leader's meeting online due to the pandemic.¬† ¬†

Facebook Plans to Remove Thousands of Sensitive Ad-Targeting Options

9 months ago

Facebook Inc. said on Tuesday it plans to remove detailed ad-targeting options that refer to "sensitive" topics, such as ads based on interactions with content around race, health, religious practices, political beliefs or sexual orientation.  The company, which recently changed its name to Meta and which makes the vast majority of its revenue through digital advertising, has been under intense scrutiny over its ad-targeting abilities and rules in recent years.  In a blog post, Facebook gave examples of targeting categories that would no longer be allowed on its platforms, such as "Lung cancer awareness," "World Diabetes Day," "LGBT culture," "Jewish holidays" or political beliefs and social issues. It said the change would take place starting Jan. 19, 2022.  The company has been hit with criticisms around its micro-targeting capabilities, including over abuses such as advertisers discriminating against or targeting vulnerable groups. In 2019, it agreed to make changes to its ads platform as part of a settlement over housing discrimination issues.  "We've heard concerns from experts that targeting options like these could be used in ways that lead to negative experiences for people in underrepresented groups," Graham Mudd, the company's vice president of product marketing for ads, said in the post.  Its tailored ad abilities are used by wide-ranging advertisers, including political campaigns and social issue groups, as well as businesses.  "The decision to remove these Detailed Targeting options was not easy, and we know this change may negatively impact some businesses and organizations," Mudd said in the post, adding that some advertising partners were concerned they would not be able to use these ads to generate positive social change.  Advertisers on Facebook's platforms can still target audiences by location, use their own customer lists, reach custom audiences who have engaged with their content and send ads to people with similar characteristics to those users.  The move marks a key shift for the company's approach to social and political advertising, though it is not expected to have major financial implications. CEO Mark Zuckerberg estimated in 2019, for example, that politicians' ads would make up less than 0.5% of Facebook's 2020 revenue.  The issue of political advertising on social media platforms, including whether the content of politicians' ads should be fact-checked, provoked much debate among the public, lawmakers and companies around the U.S. presidential election.  Twitter in 2019 banned political ads altogether, but Facebook had previously said it would not limit how political advertisers reached potential voters.  Facebook, which now allows users to opt to see fewer ads related to topics like politics and alcohol, said on Tuesday it would early next year give people more controls over the ads they see, including ones about gambling and weight loss.   

Haiti Priest Recounts Abduction by Gang Holding Missionaries 

9 months ago

The Rev. Jean-Nicaisse Milien felt the cool barrel of a gun against his right ear.¬† The Haitian priest and nine other people had just been kidnapped while driving through the outskirts of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, in early April. It was around 7 a.m. and they were en route to celebrate the installation of a fellow pastor at a nearby parish when 15 to 20 gang members brandishing heavy weapons surrounded their car.¬† "Go here! Go here!" the gunmen commanded as they pulled over the car.¬† It was the 400 Mawozo gang, the same group that kidnapped 17 missionaries from a U.S. religious organization on October 16 as they drove to an orphanage. That group, which includes five children, the youngest 8-months-old, is still being held for ransom amid death threats.¬† Milien spoke to The Associated Press Tuesday, describing the ordeal he and his nine companions ‚ÄĒ two nuns, four fellow priests and three relatives ‚ÄĒ endured at the hands of their captors.¬† After seizing them on April 11, the gunmen blindfolded him and the others, Milien said, and drove until they reached a dilapidated house where they slept on a dirt floor for days.¬† "We did our necessities on the ground," he recalled. "It was really difficult."¬† Milien and the others were kept blindfolded for two days and fed only rice and bread, washed down with Coca-Cola. On the first day, gang members demanded the group hand over phone numbers of their relatives. The gunmen made calls demanding $1 million per head ‚ÄĒ the same ransom they made for the missionaries kidnapped last month.¬† On the fourth day, the gang released one person and moved Milien and the others to a smaller house. After two weeks, they released three more, but not Milien. He and the remaining five captives were moved to yet another abandoned house.¬† "That last week, it was very difficult," he recalled, saying they received no food and barely any water.¬† On their way to the third location, the gang leader told them: "Here, we don't have any food, any hospital, any house. We don't have anything, but we have a cemetery."¬† Milien took that as a death threat and doubled down. "I told them, 'Continue to pray,'" he said he told his fellow captives. "One day, we will be free."¬† Eventually Milien and the five others were released after an undisclosed ransom amount was paid.¬† Their freedom came via a knock on the door on the 20th day of their captivity. It was 11 p.m.¬† "Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Let's go!" Milien recalled a gang member yelling. The group, in its weakened state, walked several meters to a car that took them to their neighborhood. Milien spent almost a week in the hospital, receiving medication and vitamins as he tried to regain his strength.¬† Months later, Milien still receives psychological help. "It is not easy. Every time we remember something. Every time we think about something. ... It is a part of my life," he said.¬† His advice to the families of the 16 Americans, one Canadian and their Haitian driver, who remain captive, is to never lose hope as he prays for their release.¬† "I know the experience is not easy," he said. As he spoke, the rat-tat-tat of gunfire from a nearby community controlled by another gang rang out. "We have to do something. The government has to do something because we cannot remain in this situation," Milien said.¬†

Airmen Stay Ready During 'Rainier War' > U.S. Department of Defense > Story

by Press Operations, 9 months ago

Airmen and soldiers came together for a night mission during Rainier War 21B at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. 

Automotive Industry Innovations Can Help Combat Climate Crisis, Hicks Says > U.S. Department of Defense > Defense Department News

by Terri Moon Cronk, 9 months ago

Climate change continues to create extreme weather events, which increase the demands on the U.S. military while simultaneously affecting its capacity to respond, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks said.

Stephen Miller, Other Top Trump White House Aides Subpoenaed by January 6 Committee

9 months ago

The U.S. congressional committee probing the deadly January 6 assault on the Capitol said Tuesday it had issued subpoenas seeking documents and testimony from more associates of former President Donald Trump, including senior adviser Stephen Miller, former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and other White House aides.    U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the select committee, said in a statement that it wants to "learn every detail of what went on in the White House" on January 6 and the days immediately preceding the attack.  "We need to know precisely what role the former President and his aides played in efforts to stop the counting of the electoral votes and if they were in touch with anyone outside the White House attempting to overturn the outcome of the election," Thompson said.  A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The panel has now issued 35 subpoenas and has received testimony from more than 150 witnesses. It had announced Monday six more Trump associates, including top aides from the Republican's failed 2020 re-election campaign.  More than 670 people have been charged with taking part in the riot at the Capitol as Congress and Vice President Mike Pence were to certify Democrat Joe Biden's defeat of Trump. It was the worst attack on the seat of the U.S. government since the War of 1812, and the only time power in the United States has not been transferred peacefully.  Trump has filed suit to avoid turning over White House documents and urged former aides to reject panel subpoenas, claiming the right to withhold information because of executive privilege, a legal principle that protects many White House communications.  Legal experts have disputed his claim that the principle applies.  The House voted last month to hold longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt over his refusal to cooperate. 

Press Secretary Updates Media on Visit to Taiwan, Iranian-Backed Groups in Iraq > U.S. Department of Defense > Defense Department News

by Jim Garamone, 9 months ago

During an informal briefing with reporters, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby answered questions about a congressional visit to Taiwan, Afghan refugees and Iranian actions in Iraq.

Can the western US avoid a future of low or no snow?

by Harrison Tasoff-UC Santa Barbara, 9 months ago

If the planet continues to warm, low-to-no-snow winters will become a regular occurrence on certain mountains in the western US in 35 to 60 years.

Kirby Updates Media on Visit to Taiwan, Iranian-Backed Groups in Iraq > U.S. Department of Defense > Defense Department News

by Jim Garamone, 9 months ago

During an informal briefing with reporters, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby answered questions about a congressional visit to Taiwan, Afghan refugees and Iranian actions in Iraq.

Should Elon Musk try to solve the problem of world hunger with $6 billion? 5 questions answered

9 months ago

Investors who trust ESG funds for a positive impact have a crucial blind spot, and it puts the $35 trillion industry's promises in doubt

9 months ago

UN Says 16 Staff, Dependents Detained in Ethiopia

9 months ago

The United Nations said Tuesday that 22 of its Ethiopian national staff were detained by the federal government in Addis Ababa, following raids reportedly targeting ethnic Tigrayans. Six of the U.N. staffers have been released.¬† ‚ÄúWe are of course actively working with the government of Ethiopia to secure their immediate release,‚ÄĚ U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters of the 16 who remain in detention. ‚ÄúIt is imperative that they are released.‚Ä̬† He said no explanation was given for the detention of the staffers, who work for various U.N. agencies. He said ‚Äúsome of them have been detained over the last few days.‚ÄĚ U.N. security officers have visited those who remain in custody. On September 30, Ethiopia expelled seven U.N. humanitarian officials, saying they were meddling in the country‚Äôs affairs.¬†¬† The announcement of the detentions comes just a day after U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths concluded a four-day visit to the country to try to improve aid access to northern Ethiopia.¬†¬† He met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and made a one-day trip to Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray region.¬† Last Thursday marked the first anniversary of Prime Minister Abiy‚Äôs deployment of troops to Tigray in response to forces of the Tigray People‚Äôs Liberation Front (TPLF) seizing military bases.¬†¬† The ensuing conflict has killed thousands of people, displaced several million from their homes and left millions in need of aid and at least 400,000 residents of Tigray facing famine, according to the United Nations. The conflict threatens to spill into the capital as the TPLF and allied groups have threatened to march there.¬† A week ago, the Ethiopian government declared a six-month state of emergency and called on residents to defend their neighborhoods if rebels arrive in the capital.¬†¬†¬† That declaration allows the government to arrest without warrants anyone it claims is collaborating with rebels, Reuters reported. There have been reports of Tigrayans being arrested in Addis Ababa.¬† Asked if the detained staffers are Tigrayan, U.N. spokesman Dujarric said: ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a valid question, but for us, these are United Nations staff members. They are Ethiopians. They are U.N. staff members and we‚Äôd like to see them released, regardless of whatever ethnicity is listed on their identity cards.‚ÄĚ A joint investigation by the United Nations and the government-created Ethiopian Human Rights Commission found that all sides in the Tigray conflict have committed human rights violations, including torture of civilians, gang rapes and arrests based on ethnicity. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said some of those abuses may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.¬† Last week, the U.S. urged all Americans to depart Ethiopia and cautioned against travel there. It renewed its call for Americans to leave on Tuesday, saying the security situation ‚Äúremains very fluid.‚ÄĚ Some information in this report came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse. ¬† ¬†

November 9, 2021

9 months ago

A look at the best news photos from around the world.

Climate Change Threatens Livelihoods in Somalia

9 months ago

Climate change-related disasters, such as prolonged drought, floods and locust infestations, have displaced thousands of Somali farmers from their land, threatening food security in the Horn of the African nation. Somalia contributes less than 0.003% of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere -- but the impact of global warming is evident in the well-being of the country‚Äôs herders and farmers.¬† Fatuma Ibrahim Aden, a mother of eight, is among thousands of farmers currently living in a displaced persons camp in Mogadishu, after her family's livestock succumbed to the escalating drought in Qoryoley in the lower Shabelle region. She says prolonged drought and lack of water that killed their livestock forced her extended family to the city four months ago. She added that they have not experienced such recurring famine in recent years. Ibrahim Dagane Ali, a Somali agriculture and resilience specialist, says there is need for new strategies to mitigate the impact of such events on the lives of the farmers. "Without getting assistance of climate investment and installation of climate smart technologies, it will be difficult. Plus, other issues of environmental conservation, regenerative agriculture, use of renewable energy, all these elements. But above all, we need to educate our people, and to do that it is the sole responsibility of the government to stand up and address this," Ali said. The Somali government has called upon richer nations emitting most of the greenhouse gases to act swiftly as the COP26 climate conference continues in Glasgow. ‚ÄúSomalia and other poor countries are paying with their lives and livelihoods for a problem of not our making," said Somalia's Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Gulaid. "It is therefore our loud call to the countries emitting the most to start acting on the issue, especially so now that we know what the problem is, and we know actions needed.‚ÄĚ The world‚Äôs richest countries once pledged to deliver $100 billion per year to help developing nations cope with climate change ‚ÄĒ a pledge that has never been met.¬†

How to lessen seasonal affective disorder symptoms

by Michigan State, 9 months ago

As the days get shorter and we're exposed to less daylight, an expert explains light's role in seasonal affective disorder and how to lessen its symptoms.

Taiwan Says China Is Using ‚ÄėGray Zone‚Äô Warfare to Degrade Island‚Äôs Defenses

9 months ago

Taiwan‚Äôs Defense Ministry said Tuesday that China is practicing ‚Äúgray zone‚ÄĚ warfare against it with the aim of degrading and exhausting the island‚Äôs ability to defend itself. In a report updated every two years, the ministry called the threat from China ‚Äúgrave.‚ÄĚ The report says China is using cyberwarfare, propaganda and international isolation to eventually force reunification without a direct military confrontation. The report adds Beijing is also using more traditional means. The report said China carried out 554 intrusions by flying warplanes into the island‚Äôs southwestern theater of air defense identification zone between September of last year and the end of August. In October alone there were 148 intrusions, Taiwan said. "Its intimidating behavior does not only consume our combat power and shake our faith and morale but also attempts to alter or challenge the status quo in the Taiwan Strait to ultimately achieve its goal of 'seizing Taiwan without a fight'," the ministry said. In addition to citing air intrusions, the report said China‚Äôs People‚Äôs Liberation Army is able to isolate Taiwan. "At present, the PLA is capable of performing local joint blockade against our critical harbors, airports and outbound flight routes, to cut off our air and sea lines of communication and impact the flow of our military supplies and logistic resources," the ministry said. China‚Äôs PLA is in the middle of a massive modernization, which it aims to complete by 2035. Taiwan is also working to bolster its capabilities by producing its own weapons and increasing purchases of armaments from the United States. China and Taiwan separated in 1949 after the Chinese Civil War. China maintains that Taiwan is part of China and that it should be reunited with the mainland, even by force. Some information in this report comes from Reuters and The Associated Press.

Are Britain’s Top Universities for Sale?

9 months ago

Some of Britain‚Äôs prestigious colleges ‚ÄĒ including the ancient universities of Cambridge and Oxford ‚ÄĒ are being accused of losing their moral compass by accepting donations from what critics say are dubious sources. The University of Oxford, London School of Economics and University College, London, have prompted a firestorm of criticism for accepting millions of pounds from the charitable trust of the late motor-racing tycoon Max Mosley, whose fortune was largely inherited from his father Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists during the 1930s and 1940s. Oxford was given $8 million from a charitable trust set up by Max Mosley, who died this year, and two of the university‚Äôs colleges, St Peter‚Äôs and Lady Margaret Hall, are also beneficiaries sharing another $8.5 million. A question of morality¬† The acceptance of the gifts has drawn the ire of historian Lawrence Goldman, a former vice-master of St Peter‚Äôs, who said he was shocked by the Mosley donations and accused university authorities of ‚Äúvast hypocrisy.‚ÄĚ He contrasts Oxford‚Äôs readiness to accept the Mosley cash with its push to ‚Äúdecolonize the curriculum.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúBut they go ahead and take money from a fund established by proven and known fascists. Its moral compass is just not working anymore. There has been a total moral failure,‚ÄĚ he said. In a letter to the master of St Peter‚Äôs and the college‚Äôs governing body Goldman warned that taking the money from the ‚Äúmost infamous fascist dynasty in the English-speaking world‚ÄĚ will be a ‚Äúdisaster‚ÄĚ for the college‚Äôs reputation. Oswald Mosley, scion of prosperous aristocratic landowners, led the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s and after the Second World War set up the Union Movement. His supporters were known as ‚Äúblackshirts‚ÄĚ for their Nazi-style uniforms and violent attacks on Jews in east London. In 1936, he married his second wife, Diana Mitford, at the home of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, with Adolf Hitler attending as guest of honor. Max Mosley was involved in his father‚Äôs Union Movement in the post-war years and, according to his critics, never renounced his political activities. Four British Nobel laureates called Tuesday on Oxford to reconsider endowing a biophysics professorship in the name of Max Mosley‚Äôs son, Alexander, who graduated from Oxford and died from a drug overdose in 2009, saying it would dishonor‚ÄĚ our science by linking it to the Mosley family and inevitably to British fascism.‚ÄĚ The University of Oxford said in a statement that the Mosley donation, like all donations, passed a ‚Äúrobust, independent process taking legal, ethical and reputational issues into consideration.‚ÄĚ China But both Oxford and Cambridge, as well as some other top British universities, are also prompting mounting alarm over foreign-sourced donations they‚Äôre accepting and actively pursuing, especially from China. ¬† ¬† Unlike the Mosley gifts, the acceptance of millions from companies and billionaires linked to the country‚Äôs communist government is raising both political and national security concerns. Earlier this year Oxford agreed to re-name its prestigious Wykeham Chair of Physics as the Tencent-Wykeham Professorship in return for a $950,000 donation from Chinese software giant Tencent. This year, too, Cambridge‚Äôs Department of Engineering accepted what was described as a ‚Äúgenerous gift‚ÄĚ from Tencent to go towards research into quantum computing.¬† Tencent, the world's largest video game vendor, was launched with seed money from China‚Äôs Ministry of State Security, according to US officials. Tencent has denied the allegation, and also disputes Western accusations that its highly popular WeChat messenger app is an important cog in China‚Äôs surveillance state with data from the app analyzed, tracked and shared with Chinese authorities. Half of the $15 million to retrofit an old telephone exchange as a low-energy building in Cambridge to house the university‚Äôs new Institute for Sustainability Leadership has been provided by Lei Zhang, a Chinese billionaire and owner of a Shanghai-based renewable energy company. Zhang is a member of China‚Äôs National People‚Äôs Congress. Earlier this year, Britain‚Äôs former universities minister Jo Johnson, a brother of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, warned of the ‚Äúpoorly understood‚ÄĚ risks of increasingly close collaboration between British universities and China.¬† Johnson, who led a study on education and research partnerships between Britain‚Äôs higher education sector and China, raised security concerns, saying collaboration had increased dramatically in sensitive areas for national security and economic competition ‚ÄĒ such as automation, telecommunications, and materials science.¬† The study Johnson headed was undertaken by King‚Äôs College, London, and Harvard University. It concluded: ‚ÄúThe UK‚Äôs dependence on a neo-totalitarian technology power for the financial health and research output of its universities is now regarded as a particular point of vulnerability.‚ÄĚ

US Claims Legal Right for Vaccination Mandate on Large Businesses

9 months ago

The Biden administration is contending it has the legal authority to mandate that large U.S. employers force their 84 million workers get vaccinated against the coronavirus by January 4, or else wear face masks in the workplace and submit to weekly testing. A U.S. appellate court last week temporarily blocked President Joe Biden‚Äôs mandate, pending further court action, with a nationwide stay of his directive he says is aimed at curbing the ongoing pandemic that has killed more than 750,000 people in the U.S. The death toll is more than in any other country. Numerous Republican state governors have voiced their opposition to the Democratic president‚Äôs order. The governors and some employers filed suit to block it, claiming the vaccination and masking mandate exceeds the government‚Äôs authority. But in a 28-page filing Monday at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department contended that keeping the mandate from being imposed ‚Äúwould likely cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day, in addition to large numbers of hospitalizations, other serious health effects, and tremendous costs. That is a confluence of harms of the highest order.‚ÄĚ The government‚Äôs Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), under Biden‚Äôs directive, issued the mandate last week, forcing companies with at least 100 employees to require unvaccinated workers to wear masks indoors starting December 5 and to get vaccinated by a month later or to undergo weekly testing at work. The White House said Monday that legal challenges to White House orders are commonplace and urged employers not to wait for a final legal decision before requiring their workers to get vaccinated, as several prominent companies have already done. The coalition of opponents has argued that the mandate is an unlawful overreach that exceeds OSHA‚Äôs authority. The opponents contend that Congress intended for the agency to protect workers from dangerous workplace substances like asbestos ‚ÄĒ ‚Äúnot a public health agency with wide-ranging authority to address communicable diseases through regulation.‚ÄĚ On Sunday, Ron Klain, Biden‚Äôs White House chief of staff, told NBC‚Äôs ‚ÄúMeet the Press‚ÄĚ show, ‚ÄúI'm quite confident that when this finally gets fully adjudicated, not just a temporary order, the validity of this requirement will be upheld.‚ÄĚ Klain characterized the Biden vaccination order as ‚Äúcommon sense‚ÄĚ to help end the pandemic in the United States. He said if OSHA ‚Äúcan tell people to wear a hard hat on the job, to be careful on chemicals, it can ‚Ķ put in place these simple measures to keep our workers safe.‚ÄĚ The U.S. Supreme Court last month approved a vaccination mandate covering health care workers in the northeastern state of Maine but has yet to consider a broad national mandate such as Biden‚Äôs order affecting private businesses or his order requiring 4 million federal employees and contractors working for the federal government to get vaccinated by November 22. Numerous Republican state governors opposed to the Democratic president‚Äôs national mandate, along with some government employee unions and individual workers, have filed lawsuits in an effort to block Biden‚Äôs orders, all claiming they are an overreach of his authority. In filing a lawsuit against the Biden order affecting workers at private businesses, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the vaccine mandate ‚Äúa breathtaking abuse of federal power‚ÄĚ that is ‚Äúflatly unconstitutional.‚ÄĚ He contended that the mandate goes beyond OSHA‚Äôs ‚Äúlimited power and specific responsibilities.‚ÄĚ On Saturday, the conservative-dominated Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked the Biden mandate for private businesses, saying there were "grave statutory and constitutional" issues concerning the rule. White House aide Cedric Richmond defended the use of the OSHA authority to mandate the vaccinations, telling the ‚ÄúFox News Sunday‚ÄĚ show, ‚ÄúOSHA‚Äôs job is to protect workers. If it means doing something tough, that‚Äôs what this president does.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúWe think we‚Äôre on solid ground,‚ÄĚ Richmond said. It appears that hundreds of thousands of federal workers have been vaccinated ahead of the deadline in two weeks, but opposition to the shots has emerged at some agencies, especially those related to law enforcement and intelligence. Other lawsuits filed by workers unions and individuals that contest Biden‚Äôs mandate remain to be adjudicated. There is no testing option available for government employees as there would be for workers in the private sector. The number of new coronavirus cases has been diminishing for several weeks in the U.S., but even so about 70,000 additional cases are being recorded every day. More than 194 million people in the U.S. out of its population of 333 million have been fully vaccinated. But millions of adults have for various reasons refused inoculations, curbing Biden‚Äôs effort to fully control the pandemic.

Patriot Joined U.S. Army After Fleeing Nazi Germany > U.S. Department of Defense > Story

by David Vergun, 9 months ago

After fleeing Germany in 1938, Frank Cohn enlisted in the U.S. Army and fought the Nazis in Europe. He went on to serve in the Korean and Vietnam wars as well.

Former US Senator Max Cleland Dies at 79

9 months ago

Max Cleland, who lost three limbs to a Vietnam War hand grenade blast yet went on to serve as a U.S. senator from Georgia, died on Tuesday. He was 79. Cleland died at his home in Atlanta from congestive heart failure, his personal assistant Linda Dean told The Associated Press.¬† Cleland, a Democrat, served one term in the U.S. Senate, losing a 2002 re-election bid to Republican Saxby Chambliss. He also served as administrator of the U.S. Veterans Administration, as Georgia Secretary of State and as a Georgia state senator. Cleland was a U.S. Army captain in Vietnam when he lost an arm and two legs while picking up a fallen grenade in 1968. For years, Cleland blamed himself for dropping the grenade, but he learned in 1999 that another soldier had dropped it. Cleland's loss in the Senate generated enduring controversy after the Chambliss campaign aired a commercial that displayed images of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and questioned Cleland's commitment to defense and Homeland Security. Sen. John McClain was among those who condemned the move by his fellow Republican. Cleland also led the United States Veterans Administration, appointed in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter and holding the post until 1981. Cleland served in the Georgia Senate from 1971-1975 and was Georgia's Secretary of State from 1983 until 1996. "Max Cleland was one of the most remarkable persons I have ever met in my life,‚ÄĚ Former Georgia governor and fellow Democrat Roy Barnes said. "His sacrifice and service will long be remembered as best of what it is to be a Georgian and an American. I will miss his laughter and good cheer; his optimism in the face of tragedy and his courage to persevere.'' A native of Lithonia, Cleland suffered grievous injuries on April 8, 1968, near Khe Sanh, as he reached for the grenade he thought had fallen from his belt when he jumped from a helicopter.¬† "When my eyes cleared, I looked at my right hand. It was gone. Nothing but a splintered white bone protruded from my shredded elbow,'' Cleland wrote in his 1980 memoir, "Strong at the Broken Places.''¬† After fellow soldiers made a frantic effort to stop his bleeding and he was helicoptered back to a field hospital, Cleland wrote that he begged a doctor to save one of his legs, but there wasn't enough left.¬† "What poured salt into my wounds was the possible knowledge that it could have been my grenade,'' he said in a 1999 interview. But later that year, former Marine Cpl. David Lloyd, who said he was one of the first to reach Cleland after the explosion, came forward to say he treated another soldier at the scene who was sobbing uncontrollably and saying, "It was my grenade, it was my grenade.'' Before Vietnam, Cleland had been an accomplished college swimmer and basketball player, standing 6-foot-2 and beginning to develop an interest in politics. Returning home a triple-amputee, Cleland recalled being depressed and worried about his future, yet still interested in running for office. "I sat in my mother and daddy's living room and took stock in my life,'' Cleland said in a 2002 interview. "No job. No hope of a job. No offer of a job. No girlfriend. No apartment. No car. And I said, `This is a great time to run for the state Senate.''' Nevertheless, he won a state Senate seat, becoming part of a cadre of young senators that included Barnes, the future governor. After a failed 1974 campaign for lieutenant governor and his stint heading the VA, Cleland was elected as Georgia's Secretary of State in 1982. A dozen years later, he opted to seek the seat of retiring Sen. Sam Nunn, but served only one term. Polls showed he had been leading in his re-election effort before the devastating Chambliss ad.¬† "Accusing me of being soft on homeland defense and Osama bin Laden is the most vicious exploitation of a national tragedy and attempt at character assassination I have ever witnessed," Cleland said at the time.¬† Sen. Jon Ossoff, the first Democrat to hold the seat since Cleland's defeat, called him "a hero, a patriot, a public servant, and a friend.''¬† Cleland later served as a director of the Export-Import Bank, and he was appointed by President Barack Obama to be secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission. In his memoir, Cleland said that through crises and defeats, "I have learned that it is possible to become strong at the broken places.''

Video Appears to Show Cameroon Separatists’ Campaign of Kidnappings, Torture

9 months ago

Cameroon military officials say separatists have abducted and tortured several hundred civilians they accuse of violating a lockdown the fighters have imposed in the English-speaking western regions every Monday. The claim has prompted renewed condemnation of human rights abuses by separatists. Voices of Cameroonians crying for help and begging for their lives to be spared can be heard in an audio clip from a video circulating on social media platforms, such as Facebook and WhatsApp, as armed men appear to order 17 people out of a bus. The armed men brandish AK-47 rifles and threaten to kill anyone who disobeys their orders. Among the 17 people are four women carrying babies. English-speaking separatists on social media say they took and shared the video. Cameroon military confirms it was taken by separatists in the South West region. The armed men then force all the occupants of the bus to lie down before beating them with sticks and machetes for more than 10 minutes. In the video, a man presenting himself as a fighter says his group is punishing civilians who do not respect the Monday lockdown imposed by separatists in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions. Cameroon military officials say the attack was carried out by fighters on people traveling between Buea and Kumba, both commercial cities in the English-speaking South West region. Military officials say similar attacks and abductions by fighters were reported in several other English-speaking towns, including Mamfe, Ekona and Tiko. Officials also said an improvised explosive device planted by the fighters killed a taxi driver in Buea. Last week, separatists said on social media they killed four people who collaborated with government troops to kill a man known as Cross and Die, one of the fighters' self -proclaimed generals. Military officials confirmed troops had killed Cross and Die.  One separatist armed group, known as the Ambazonia Defence Forces, ADF, also on social media, said it carried out many attacks and abductions on hundreds of civilians in several towns for disrespecting the Monday lockdown ordered by separatists. Didimus Epie, a 37-year-old cocoa seller, says he was abducted in Ekona. He says his abductors accused him of disobeying orders by separatists that no one should be seen in public places on Mondays. "The environment is so hostile, and we are just praying that one day the situation should get better, but for now it is very bad. On a daily basis when we go about our duties, we expose ourselves to grave danger," he said. Epie said he paid a $500 ransom to secure his release from a separatist camp in a bush. Bernard Okalia Bilai, governor of the South West region, says civilians should not respect calls by separatists to keep their businesses sealed on Mondays.  "I expect everyone to support [the military] by denouncing any form of disturbances or disorder that they notice in their community. People should not hesitate to contact their local administrative authorities, forces of law and order (military) or any other dignitary in their community to denounce any strange persons, so we must continue to remain vigilant," he said. Bilai said the military has been instructed to protect civilians and their businesses from fighters who want economic activity grounded on Mondays. Separatists have imposed a lockdown of economic activity in the English-speaking region on Mondays since 2017 as a sign they control the territory. Violence erupted in 2017 in Cameroon's English-speaking regions, when teachers and lawyers protested alleged discrimination at the hands of the French-speaking majority. The military reacted with a crackdown and separatist groups took up weapons, claiming that they were acting to protect civilians. 

US Vice President in France to Ease Tensions with Longstanding Ally

9 months ago

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris¬†began a four-day visit to France Tuesday¬†aimed at improving¬†soured¬†relations¬†with America‚Äôs oldest ally. Relations¬†between the two countries plunged to a historic low in September when Australia scrapped a¬†$65 billion¬†deal to buy¬†traditional¬†submarines from France in favor¬†of an agreement in which Australia will build nuclear subs with the help of¬†the United States and Britain. Harris will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron¬†after U.S. President Joe Biden told Macron¬†in Rome¬†last month¬†the U.S. had been ‚Äúclumsy‚ÄĚ in its handling of the matter. Harris¬†will first¬†visit¬†the¬†renowned¬†Institut¬†Pasteur¬†to¬†underscore¬†what U.S. officials said were¬†longstanding scientific exchanges between the U.S.¬†and France. She will meet with French and American scientists working¬†to combat COVID-19 globally.¬†Her late mother, a scientist, conducted breast cancer research¬†in the 1980s¬†with¬†the institute‚Äôs¬†scientists. Minutes after her arrival in Paris, Harris said,¬†‚ÄúIt is good to be in France‚ÄĚ and added ‚ÄúI‚Äôm looking forward to many,¬†many days of productive discussion to strengthen our relationship.‚ÄĚ On Thursday, she‚Äôll visit the Suresnes American¬†Cemetery¬†for an¬†Armistice Day¬†ceremony¬†marking the end of World War¬†I. Harris will also¬†represent the Biden administration¬†Thursday¬†at the Paris Peace Forum and at a summit¬†Friday¬†on Libya ahead of that country‚Äôs elections next month. Some information in this report also came from¬†Agence¬†France-Presse,¬†The¬†Associated¬†Press and¬†Reuters.¬† ¬†


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