$1*/ mo hosting! Everything you need to succeed online with us!

China Sends Trade Envoy to US, Welcomes Trump ZTE Comments

China said Monday it is sending an envoy to the United States this week for talks aimed at cooling a trade dispute that threatens to upend markets from soybeans to steel, and welcomed comments by President Donald Trump hinting at a possible easing of sanctions on embattled Chinese telecoms firm ZTE.

The foreign ministry said Vice Premier Liu He will visit the U.S. from Tuesday to Saturday for consultations with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Ministry spokesman Lu Kang also said China appreciated tweets by Trump saying he would help ZTE Corp. get “back into business” because too many jobs in China are at stake after the U.S. government cut off access to ZTE’s American suppliers.

“We think highly of the U.S. statement regarding ZTE’s case. We are currently in close communication over details of the implementation,” Lu told reporters at a daily news briefing.

Referring to Liu’s visit, Lu said China was willing to work with the U.S. to “strive for positive and constructive outcomes from the next round of economic and trade discussions.”

Partially state-owned ZTE makes cellphones, network switching equipment and other telecommunications equipment. Last month, the U.S. Commerce Department banned it from buying U.S. technology or components for seven years after it misled regulators by failing to discipline employees involved in illegal exports and instead paid them bonuses.

Liu’s trip to Washington follows a visit by Mnuchin and other U.S. officials to Beijing earlier this month, where they conveyed a demand that China slash its trade surplus with the U.S. by $200 billion by the end of 2020.

An intensifying rivalry over advanced technology has also fueled demands by Washington that China give up policies that favor domestic companies. Beijing considers such programs as fundamental to its state-driven economic model and vital for its future growth.

America’s trade deficit with China amounted last year to $337 billion in goods and services.

The intensifying trade dispute has rattled financial markets for weeks. In March, the Trump administration slapped tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. China counterpunched with tariffs on a range of U.S. products, including bourbon and blue jeans.

An even higher-stakes fight looms over American allegations that China steals technology and forces U.S. companies to hand over trade secrets in exchange for access to the Chinese market. The United States is considering imposing tariffs on up to $150 billion of Chinese products, and Beijing has countered with proposed tariffs on $50 billion in American goods, including soybeans and small aircraft.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Melania Trump Steps Onto Public Stage Amid White House Scandals, Controversies

U.S. first lady Melania Trump stepped into the limelight this month as she launched her official platform to address major issues facing children today. Since becoming the first lady, Mrs. Trump has kept a relatively low profile amid the turmoil and controversies surrounding the Trump White House, but experts say Mrs. Trump, who enjoys a higher approval rating than her husband, may be ready to take on a more public role. VOA White House Correspondent Peggy Chang has more from the White House.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Sanders: Aide’s McCain Comment Shouldn’t Have Leaked

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told staffers Friday that an aide’s recent comment about Sen. John McCain was inappropriate but shouldn’t have been leaked to the media.

Sanders told communications’ staffers in a private meeting that it was inappropriate for aide Kelly Sadler to dismiss McCain’s opinion during a recent closed-door meeting because, Sadler said, “he’s dying anyway.”

Sanders said the leak was selfish and distracted from the president’s agenda and “everything we’re trying to accomplish for the American people,” according to a person familiar with the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting. She noted that it garnered attention following the president’s welcoming home of three Americans detained in North Korea and an upcoming summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

During the meeting, White House director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp defended Sadler, saying the private comments shouldn’t have been leaked to the media, the person said.

Sanders declined to condemn Sadler’s comments during a White House briefing on Friday, saying she wouldn’t “validate a leak out of an internal staff meeting.”

McCain, the 81-year-old Arizona GOP senator, was diagnosed in July with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. He left Washington in December and underwent surgery last month for an infection.

Sadler is a special assistant to the president. She has declined to respond to requests for comment on her McCain remark.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Trump: Congress Should Get Spending Bills Done Before Break

President Donald Trump is urging the Senate to get its work done on funding before the August break “or NOT GO HOME.”

The president tweeted Saturday that “Wall and Border Security should be included.” He also said that he was “waiting for approval of almost 300 nominations, worst in history.”

Trump blamed Democrats for “doing everything possible to obstruct.”

The president’s push for speedy action on spending measures and nominations followed a recent letter from a group of Senate Republicans pressing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to cancel the August recess later this year. That effort was led by Senator David Perdue of Georgia.

The Senate Republicans said that spending more time on their pending work was particularly critical with Congress facing what they called “historic obstruction” by Democrats.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Chinese Soybean Purchases Plant Seeds of Concern for US Farmers

As U.S. farmers head to their fields to plant this year’s crop, they face new challenges created by Chinese threats to impose tariffs on some of their products. It’s the latest salvo in an escalating trade dispute that has farmers warily watching fluctuating commodity prices as the United States Department of Agriculture projects net farm income in 2018 to reach a 12-year low. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more from Illinois.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Joy and Outrage as US Embassy Set to Open in Jerusalem

With the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, the region is bracing for both celebrations and unrest. Experts say President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv amounts to U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a decision that has drawn praise from Israelis and angered Palestinians. VOA’s Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from the State Department on Monday’s ceremony.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Ukraine Computer Involved in Tennessee Elections Attack

Investigators found evidence of a “malicious intrusion” into a Tennessee county’s elections website from a computer in Ukraine during a concerted cyberattack, which most likely caused the site to crash just as it was reporting vote totals in this month’s primary.

The firm, hired by Knox County to analyze the so-called denial-of-service cyberattack, said Friday that “a suspiciously large number of foreign countries” accessed the site as votes were being reported on May 1.

That intense activity was among the likely causes of the crash, according to the report by Sword & Shield Enterprise Security.

County officials said no voting data were affected, but the site was down for an hour after the polls closed, causing confusion before technicians fixed the problem. 

The vulnerability identified by Sword & Shield has been fixed and additional safeguards are now in place, said David Ball, the county’s deputy director of information technology.

The election results, to be officially certified this month, left Glenn Jacobs, also known as the pro wrestler Kane, ahead by 17 votes in the Republican primary for Knox County’s mayor.

Origin unknowable

Investigators said it’s impossible to prove just where the denial-of-service attack originated from, since the county can’t store all the “packet data” needed to identify the source.

“The effect was clearly a loss of service, but it is unclear, with the information provided, if the outage was an intended event or a side effect of the events,” the report said.

Ball said “the bottom line is that there was a proven malicious attack from a foreign source occurring simultaneously with an apparent deliberate DOS attack. Nothing was held back from Sword and Shield, and their assessment was well-aligned with our initial assessment on election night.”

Knox County uses Hart InterCivic’s eSlate electronic voting machines, which do not create a paper record of the votes. Ball said Hart’s equipment “is not networked in any way.”

Joyce McCants, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Knoxville, said Knox County has not reached out to the FBI in relation to the website crash.

Election security experts have raised concerns that foreign state actors could use such attacks to erode public confidence in the democratic process. Projects like Defend Digital Democracy at Harvard University have been urging elections officials across the country to prepare for exactly such scenarios.

Richard Moran, the county’s information and technology senior director, has said that while heavy traffic came from overseas servers, it doesn’t mean that the attacker was in a foreign country.

Dan Wallach, a computer science professor at Rice University, notes that the internet is a “messy place” with a lot of background traffic, and it would be difficult to find its origin because attackers are very good at hiding their location.

“What attackers will do is, they’ll break into other computers and then launch their attacks from there,” he said.

The report said the website received requests for access from about 100 countries, from all over the world.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Report: Top Nonproliferation Expert Resigns from State Department

A top U.S. State Department official resigned this week after President Donald Trump announced the United States is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, according to a report in the journal Foreign Policy.

The report says 38-year-old nuclear proliferation expert Richard Johnson resigned his position as acting assistant coordinator in the State Department’s Office of Iran Nuclear Implementation, which had been involved in talks with Britain, France, Germany and other nations to salvage the deal that rewarded Iran for giving up much of its nuclear activities in trade for relief from economic sanctions.

Trump announced Wednesday that the U.S. would no longer be part of that deal. Johnson’s farewell party was held that night, according to Foreign Policy.

Johnson did not make a statement to the journal for its report, but Foreign Policy reports that his farewell email to colleagues and staff praised the deal, calling it an “extraordinary achievement” and saying it has “clearly been successful in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

Johnson’s departure highlights the Trump administration’s loss of high-level career diplomats at the State Department and across the breadth of the federal government. The report notes that the office Johnson headed has gone from a full-time staff of seven to none since Trump’s inauguration.

That development was due in part to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s decision to close the department’s office in charge of coordinating sanctions and move some experts to administrative roles.

Several former government employees contacted for the story, including former U.S. Treasury official Brian O’Toole, told Foreign Policy that they are dismayed at Johnson’s departure. O’Toole called the nonproliferation expert “exactly the kind of person we want to keep in government.”

O’Toole added, “You can’t be powerful without good people in government.”

Contacted for comment on the story, the State Department said in a statement that it does not comment on matters involving individual employees. But it added: “As directed by the President, we will continue to work with nations around the world to create a new coalition to counter Iran’s nuclear and proliferation threats, as well as its support for terrorism, militancy, and asymmetric weapons like ballistic missiles.”

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Trump Says He Still Has Confidence in EPA Chief Pruitt

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said that embattled Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt still has his confidence.

Pruitt has been criticized for a series of potential ethics lapses, including flying first class, excessive spending on security, and the rental of a room in a Washington condominium owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist.

Asked during a meeting of automakers at the White House if he still has confidence in Pruitt, Trump responded: “Yes, I do.”

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Surprise Effort Revives Capitol Hill Immigration Debate

Young undocumented immigrants seeking permanent status in the United States received an unexpected boost Thursday on Capitol Hill as a small group of House Republicans mounted a last-minute effort to bring up an immigration vote in Congress.

The group of eight Republicans — some freed from political considerations by upcoming retirements and others facing tough re-elections races — defied their own party leadership, quickly persuading 10 more Republicans to sign on to a petition that would force debate on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

With all 193 Democrats expected to sign on, Republicans will have to persuade just seven more members of their own party to join the petition to trigger a vote on several immigration bills on the House floor.

But Republican leadership said the effort would be wasted if the end result is a presidential veto.

“I think it’s important for us to come up with a solution that the president can support,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Thursday. These types of petitions are rare and seen as a threat to leadership’s ability to direct legislative action.

“It’s better to use the legislative process,” Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters Wednesday.

But that argument appears to be losing sway with House members who see an opportunity for legislative action in a mid-term election year. The growing group of House Republicans are joining Democratic colleagues who have long criticized Ryan for not bringing immigration bills up for a vote.

“This is about making sure we’re not consolidating power in the White House,” said Representative Mia Love, a Republican from Utah and one of the first lawmakers to sign petition.

The immigration issue had all but died after an effort to pass a DACA fix collapsed in the U.S. Senate earlier this year.

The program has been the focus of fierce negotiations on Capitol Hill since last September, when President Donald Trump announced he was ending the 2012 Obama-era program and called for a legislative fix.

The DACA program has shielded from deportation about 800,000 undocumented people who were brought to the United States illegally as children, mainly from Mexico and Central America. The U.S. Supreme Court gave DACA recipients a reprieve this spring when it declined to hear an appeal of several lower court rulings to maintain the program.

“The pressure point went away after the Supreme Court didn’t act — and I was happy that it gave more time to DACA recipients, but it took the pressure off here,” Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican from Florida, told VOA.

 “This is a way to bring it back. So this is very unique opportunity,” he said.

The lawmakers are pressing for a vote on a range of Republican, Democratic and bipartisan solutions to the status of DACA recipients, in addition to addressing concerns about border security and visa programs.

If the petition succeeds, the earliest the House could enter into debate on the bills would be in mid-June.

Under the rules of the so-called “Queen of the Hill” process, the bill with the most votes would be sent to the Senate.

“We believe that there’s going to be opportunities for members of all the different caucuses on the left and the right to vote on the bills they think are important — but the important thing is to have a full debate here,” said Representative Jeff Denham, a Republican from California who is leading the effort.

Several states have filed lawsuits against the DACA program. Those cases are expected to work their way up to the U.S. Supreme Court this summer. 

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

    $.99* .COM Domain! You be you with us!     Web Hosting $3.95