Month: July 2019

N. Korea, China on Agenda as Pompeo Heads To Thailand, Australia, Micronesia

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is headed to Southeast Asia, Australia and Micronesia, and is not ruling out working-level talks with North Korean officials on the sidelines of ASEAN regional meetings in Thailand this week.  Tensions with China are also likely to be a major theme.  VOA’s Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine has more from the State Department.

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Teens From Around the Globe Compete at Google

Teenagers from around the world were on Google’s campus this week to compete in a science competition. Their projects brought novel approaches to address health, disability and environmental issues. Michelle Quinn visited their booths to find out more.

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A Blockchain Remedy for Handwritten Prescriptions

Doctors’ scrawls and scribbles are notoriously hard to read. Electronic prescriptions remedy the problem but around the world and especially in developing countries, the technology isn’t always accessible. One possible solution? Blockchain, the same technology underpinning cryptocurrency transactions. Tina Trinh reports.

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Tanzania Plans to Install Cable Cars on Mount Kilimanjaro

Tanzania is planning to build a car cable service on Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest peak and a world heritage site.  The country wants to boost tourist numbers but a quarter million porters and mountain guides worry the quick ride up the mountain is a threat to their livelihoods. Charles Kombe reports from Kilimanjaro.

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Ethiopia Plants Trees to Curb Climate Change Effects

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his guest, director of the World Food Program David Beasley, planted tree seedlings on Tuesday in a salute to Ethiopia’s Green Legacy Initiative, which seeks to combat climate change through mass tree planting. Volunteers in the Horn of Africa state planted 350 million trees in the past week in an effort to curb climate change effects.

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Boris Johnson Tries to Reassure on Brexit As Pound Slumps

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Wales on Tuesday as part of a national tour intended to reassure Britons that his hard-Brexit push won’t hurt the economy and rip apart the U.K.

Currency markets were far from reassured, however, as the pound slid to a new 28-month low. And Johnson faced a tough reception from farmers _ a group central to the Welsh economy who fear economic havoc if Britain leaves the European Union without a divorce deal. They say millions of sheep might have to be slaughtered if tariffs are slapped on lamb exports to the EU.

“The bottom line is we’re exporting 40% of our sheep production, we are the second-largest producer of sheep meat in the world, so if we are priced … we’re tariffed out of the EU market, where does that 40% go?” said Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union.

The government argues that leaving the 28-nation bloc and its rules-bound Common Agricultural Policy will be “a historic opportunity to introduce new schemes to support farming” and will open up new markets for U.K. agricultural exports.

The government’s Wales Secretary Alun Cairns said “90% of global growth will come from outside of the EU.” However, trade with the EU accounts for almost half of all British exports, and any new trade deals are years away.

The trip follows a visit Monday to Scotland, where Johnson was booed by protesters and warned by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that his vow to take Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31, with or without a deal, was “dangerous.”

Britain’s 2016 vote to leave the EU divided the country and also strained the bonds among the four nations that make up the U.K.: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A majority of voters in England and Wales backed leaving in the referendum, while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain. That has emboldened Scotland’s nationalist government to demand a vote on independence, arguing that Scotland should not be forced out of the EU against its will.
In Parliament last week, Scottish National Party lawmaker Ian Blackford mockingly welcomed Johnson as “the last prime minister of the United Kingdom.”

Johnson also plans a visit to Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. to share a land border with the EU. The status of that currently invisible frontier with the Republic of Ireland has become the main stumbling block to a Brexit deal.

The pound has fallen sharply in recent days as businesses warn that no amount of preparation can eliminate the economic damage if Britain crashes out of the 28-nation trading bloc without agreement on the terms. The currency fell early Tuesday to $1.2120, its lowest value since March 2017.

Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at City Index, said sterling had lost 4.3% of its value since the beginning of July.

“Investors’ main concern remains a hard no-deal Brexit which has the potential to pull the economy into chaos,” she said. “Boris Johnson’s new cabinet did little to alleviate those fears, taking a hard-line with Europe on forthcoming negotiations.”

Johnson became prime minister last week after winning a Conservative Party leadership contest by promising the strongly pro-Brexit party membership that the U.K. will leave the EU on the scheduled date of Oct. 31, with or without a divorce deal.
 
The EU struck a withdrawal agreement with Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, but it was rejected three times by Britain’s Parliament. Johnson is insisting the bloc make major changes to May’s spurned deal, including scrapping an insurance policy for the Irish border that has been rejected by U.K. lawmakers.

The EU insists it won’t reopen the 585-page withdrawal agreement it spent two years negotiating with May’s government.

Johnson’s government has been accused of sending mixed messages on Brexit that have unsettled markets.

Michael Gove, who heads a new Brexit delivery committee in Cabinet, has said the government is “operating on the assumption” that the U.K. will leave without a deal.

But Johnson who just weeks ago put the odds of leaving without a divorce agreement at a million to one said Monday he was “very confident” of getting a new deal.
 
There are currently no new negotiations planned between Britain and the bloc.

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Trump to Visit Poland for World War II Anniversary Sept 1

An aide to Poland’s president says that President Donald Trump will visit Warsaw from Aug. 31 through Sept. 2 to take part in observances marking the 80th anniversary of World War II.

It would be Trump’s second visit to Poland since July 2017. Poland is among Washington’s closest partners in Europe, with cooperation focusing on defense and energy security.
 
The head of President Andrzej Duda’s office, Krzysztof Szczerski, said Tuesday that Trump would arrive in Warsaw on the evening of Aug. 31.
 
The next day Trump will take part in ceremonies in Warsaw marking 80 years since Nazi German troops invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939 starting the war.
 
He would depart on Sept. 2.
 
Trump has hosted Duda twice at the White House.

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Sheriff: 1 Dead, 1 Shot at Walmart in Mississippi

A sheriff says one person is dead and a suspect was shot at a Walmart in the northern Mississippi city of Southaven.

DeSoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco told WHBQ-TV that one person was killed and the suspect was shot.
 
The shooting prompted a sizeable law enforcement response, with officers setting up a perimeter and entering the Walmart Supercenter.
 
A woman answering the phone at the Southaven Police Department Tuesday morning said “we have ongoing emergencies” and no one was available to provide information.

 

 

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Dubai Ruler, Princess in London Court Over Welfare of Kids

A dispute between the ruler of Dubai and his estranged wife over the welfare of their two young children will play out over the next two days in a London courtroom amid reports the princess has fled the Gulf emirate.

The case beginning Tuesday in Britain’s High Court pits Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum against Princess Haya, daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan.

The princess is believed to be in Britain, where she owns a gated mansion.

The clash between Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya is the latest sign of trouble in Dubai’s ruling family. Last year, a daughter of Sheikh Mohammed tried to flee Dubai after appearing in a 40-minute video saying she had been imprisoned.

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Manchester Bomber’s Brother to Go on Trial in November

Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi’s brother will go on trial in November following his extradition from Libya for a 2017 attack that killed 22 people, a court ruled on Tuesday.

Hashem Abedi, 22, is accused of buying bomb-making chemicals and making detonator tubes for use in the device, as well as helping to buy a car in which to store components.

He will go on trial at London’s Old Bailey central criminal court from November 5, judge Nigel Sweeney ruled.

Salman Abedi detonated his device outside an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017, killing young fans and their parents.

His younger brother Hashem Abedi left for Libya before the attack.

He was arrested in Libya days after the bombing but was only extradited back to Britain earlier this month.

Libya has been mired in chaos since the ouster and killing of dictator Moammar Ghadafi in a NATO-backed uprising 2011.

The Abedi family, originally from Libya, had fled to Britain during the dictatorship, but the brothers returned to the country along with their father when the uprising began.

 

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