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Lawmaker: US Senate, Staff Targeted by State-Backed Hackers

Foreign government hackers continue to target the personal email accounts of U.S. senators and their aides – and the Senate’s security office has refused to defend them, a lawmaker says.

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said in a Wednesday letter to Senate leaders that his office discovered that “at least one major technology company” has warned an unspecified number of senators and aides that their personal email accounts were “targeted by foreign government hackers.” Similar methods were employed by Russian military agents who leaked the contents of private email inboxes to influence the 2016 elections.

Wyden did not specify the timing of the notifications, but a Senate staffer said they occurred “in the last few weeks or months.” The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

But the senator said the Office of the Sergeant at Arms , which oversees Senate security, informed legislators and staffers that it has no authority to help secure personal, rather than official, accounts. 

“This must change,” Wyden wrote in the letter. “The November election grows ever closer, Russia continues its attacks on our democracy, and the Senate simply does not have the luxury of further delays.” A spokeswoman for the security office said it would have no comment.

Wyden has proposed legislation that would allow the security office to offer digital protection for personal accounts and devices, the same way it does with official ones. His letter did not provide additional details of the attempts to pry into the lawmakers’ digital lives, including whether lawmakers of both parties are still being targeted.

Google and Microsoft, which offer popular private email accounts, declined to comment.

The Wyden letter cites previous Associated Press reporting on the Russian hacking group known as Fancy Bear and how it targeted the personal accounts of congressional aides between 2015 and 2016. The group’s prolific cyberspying targeted the Gmail accounts of current and former Senate staffers, including Robert Zarate, now national security adviser to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Jason Thielman, chief of staff to Montana Sen. Steve Daines, the AP found.

The same group also spent the second half of 2017 laying digital traps intended to look like portals where Senate officials enter their work email credentials, the Tokyo-based cybersecurity firm TrendMicro has reported.

Microsoft seized some of those traps, and in September 2017 apparently thwarted an attempt to steal login credentials of a policy aide to Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill , the Daily Beast discovered in July. Last month, Microsoft made news again when it seized several internet domains linked to Fancy Bear , including two apparently aimed at conservative think tanks in Washington.

Such incidents “only scratch the surface” of advanced cyberthreats faced by U.S. officials in the administration and Congress, according to Thomas Rid, a cybersecurity expert at Johns Hopkins University. Rid made the statement in a letter to Wyden last week .

“The personal accounts of senators and their staff are high-value, low-hanging targets,” Rid wrote. “No rules, no regulations, no funding streams, no mandatory training, no systematic security support is available to secure these resources.” 

Attempts to breach such accounts were a major feature of the yearlong AP investigation into Fancy Bear that identified hundreds of senior officials and politicians – including former secretaries of state, top generals and intelligence chiefs – whose Gmail accounts were targeted. 

The Kremlin is by no means the only source of worry, said Matt Tait, a University of Texas cybersecurity fellow and former British intelligence official. 

“There are lots of countries that are interested in what legislators are thinking, what they’re doing, how to influence them, and it’s not just for purposes of dumping their information online,” Tait said.

In an April 12 letter released by Wyden’s office, Adm. Michael Rogers – then director of the National Security Agency – acknowledged that personal accounts of senior government officials “remain prime targets for exploitation” and said that officials at the NSA and Department for Homeland Security were discussing ways to better protect them. The NSA and DHS declined to offer further details.

Guarding personal accounts is a complex, many-layered challenge.

Rid believes tech companies have a sudden responsibility to nudge high-profile political targets into better digital hygiene. He said he did not believe much as been done, although Facebook announced a pilot program Monday to help political campaigns protect their accounts, including monitoring for potential hacking threats for those that sign up.

Boosting protection in the Senate could begin with the distribution of small chip-based security devices such as the YubiKey, which are already used in many secure corporate and government environments, Tait said. Such keys supplement passwords to authenticate legitimate users, potentially frustrating distant hackers.

Cybersecurity experts also recommend them for high-value cyber-espionage targets including human rights workers and journalists. 

“In an ideal world, the Sergeant at Arms could just have a pile of YubiKeys,” said Tait. “When legislators or staff come in they can (get) a quick cybersecurity briefing and pick up a couple of these for their personal accounts and their official accounts.” 

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State Department Meeting With Congress on Refugee Cap

The U.S. State Department says it is scheduling meetings with members of Congress, after the country’s top diplomat this week proposed a record-low cap on refugees coming to the United States in the next year.

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday told reporters the “proposed” cap would be 30,000 refugees for Fiscal Year 2019, lawmakers and refugee advocates swiftly criticized the announcement.

What Pompeo did not explain — and it took the State Department a day to clarify in a news conference with the agency’s chief spokesperson Heather Nauert — is that Pompeo’s announcement was a proposal included in an annual report submitted to Congress, not the final number.

A State Department spokesperson told VOA on Wednesday that the agency sent the report, with the proposed refugee ceiling, to Congress on Sept. 17, the same day as Pompeo’s announcement.

“We are working to schedule an in person consultation with Members and a briefing for their staffs as soon as possible,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement to VOA.

The report is created by the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of the president.

Every year, the president sets the so-called “ceiling” on refugees — the maximum number that will be allowed in over the 12-month period starting Oct. 1 — by a “presidential determination.” Part of the process is a consultation with Congress before the figure can be finalized.

The president has until the end of the month to make the presidential determination on the refugee ceiling. The full report is expected to be made public in the coming days, the State Department spokesperson added.

If the president sticks to the 30,000-refugee cap for FY2019, it will be the lowest ceiling on record since the U.S. refugee program began in the early 1980s.

The decision will come after a series of Trump administration decisions that have whittled down the program, citing unproven national security concerns.

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Trump Rips Attorney General Over Russia Probe, Other Issues

U.S. President Donald Trump launched an array of attacks Wednesday on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, disparaging Sessions’ performance as the country’s top law enforcement official.

“I’m disappointed in the attorney general for many reasons,” Trump told reporters at the White House. His remark came hours after a television interview with HillTV aired in which Trump declared, “I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad.”

Trump for more than a year has railed against Sessions, the first senator to declare his support for then-candidate Trump in 2016. Trump continues to vent his anger at Sessions for removing himself from oversight of the long-running investigation of Russia links to Trump’s campaign and whether, as president, Trump obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe.

Sessions has said that he was required by Justice Department dictates to recuse himself from overseeing the probe because he staunchly backed Trump’s campaign and also had two contacts in 2016, when he was a senator from Alabama, with Russia’s then-ambassador to Washington. Oversight of the Russia probe then fell to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who in turn, over Trump’s objections, appointed Robert Mueller, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as special counsel to head the investigation.

Mueller has now won several convictions of top Trump aides and continues to investigate Trump’s campaign and his actions as president.

In the television interview, Trump attacked Sessions on a range of issues. The Justice Department, which Sessions heads, declined to comment. But Sessions, after another Trump attack on him last month, pushed back, saying, “While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

‘We’ll see how it goes’

Even though Sessions has proved to be a hardline foe of illegal immigration into the U.S., Trump said, “I’m not happy at the border, I’m not happy with numerous things, not just” Sessions’s removal of himself from oversight of the Russia investigation.

Trump suggested he did not foresee what would happen when he named Sessions as attorney general.

“I’m so sad over Jeff Sessions because he came to me. He was the first senator that endorsed me. And he wanted to be attorney general, and I didn’t see it,” he said.

“And then he went through the nominating process and he did very poorly,” Trump recalled. “I mean, he was mixed up and confused, and people that worked with him for, you know, a long time in the Senate were not nice to him, but he was giving very confusing answers. Answers that should have been easily answered. And that was a rough time for him.”

Despite his frequent complaints about Sessions, Trump has refrained from firing him, warned by Republican lawmakers that Trump would have great difficulty winning Senate confirmation for any replacement who did not pledge to allow Mueller to complete the Russia probe, an investigation that Trump derides on almost a daily basis.

Some Republican lawmakers have said they might be open to Trump replacing Sessions after the November 6 national congressional elections.

One Republican lawmaker who talks frequently with Trump, Senator Lindsey Graham, said recently, “The president’s entitled to having an attorney general he has faith in, somebody that is qualified for the job, and I think there will come a time sooner rather than later where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice. Clearly, Attorney General Sessions doesn’t have the confidence of the president.”

Trump recently said Sessions was safe in his job until after the elections.

In the television interview, he said, “We’ll see what happens. A lot of people have asked me to [fire him]. And I guess I study history, and I say I just want to leave things alone, but it was very unfair what he did.”

“And my worst enemies, I mean, people that, you know, are on the other side of me in a lot of ways, including politically, have said that was a very unfair thing he did,” Trump said.

“We’ll see how it goes with Jeff,” Trump concluded. “I’m very disappointed in Jeff. Very disappointed.”


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У Львові розпочався 25-й Форум видавців

У Львові 19 вересня розпочався 25-й ювілейний Форум видавців, який триватиме упродовж п’яти днів.

За інформацією організаторів, відбудуться близько 900 літературних, освітніх, мистецьких подій. У рамках форуму відбувається книжковий ярмарок, у якому беруть участь 260 видавництв, які привезли 250 тонн книжок, літературний фестиваль, бібліотечний форум, фестиваль дитячого читання, Ніч поезії.

Найкращу книгу Форуму обиратимуть з поміж понад 500 книжок. Цього року тема Форуму «Ринок свободи», повідомляє кореспондент Радіо Свобода.

«Читаючи, ми звільняємось, можемо ставати будь-ким. У час постправди, «фейкових» новин складається враження, що різні цінності, серед них свобода, є предметом торгівлі. Зрозуміло, що є люди, які хочуть купити чиюсь свободу. Але є люди, які готові заплатити велику ціну за власну свободу. Ми маємо про це пам’ятати», – каже президент Форуму видавців Олександра Коваль.

У рамках Форуму видавців щодня відбуваються акції на підтримку Олега Сенцова, який 129-й день голодує в ув’язненні в Росії.

Почесними гостями 25-го Форуму видавців є американський історик Енн Епплбом, професор зі США Марта Богачевська-Хом’як, поет Ігор Померанцев. Приїхали письменники і перекладачі з 25 країн світу, а також велика група українських літераторів.

Сьогодні Форум видавців відвідає президент України Петро Порошенко, який його відкриє у Львівській опері.

Форум видавців у Львові вперше проведений у 1994 році і став найбільшою книжковою подією в Україні.

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Влада Києва попередила про штрафи за спалювання сміття і листя

Влада Києва застерігає від спалювання сміття і листя і попереджає про штрафи. Як повідомляє столичне управління екології та природних ресурсів, розмір штрафу – від 340 до 1360 гривень.

Згідно з повідомленням, при згорянні однієї тонни рослинних залишків у повітря вивільняється близько дев’яти кілограмів мікрочастинок диму.

Разом із димом у повітря вивільняються пестициди і радіонукліди, накопичені рослинами протягом року. Нерідко разом із листям горить сміття, що спричиняє ще потужніше забруднення атмосферного повітря, наголошують в управлінні.

«Закликаємо киян і відповідні служби запобігати спалюванню листя не лише в парках і скверах, а й на прибудинкових територіях, адже у тліючому без доступу кисню листі виділяється бензопірен, що може викликати у людини ракові захворювання», – сказав керівник Управління екології і природних ресурсів Андрій Мальований.

Крім того, спалювання рослинних залишків становить суттєву загрозу природі: з листям згорають корисні комахи, руйнується ґрунтовий покрив, відбувається збіднення ґрунту, знищується насіння і коріння трав’янистих рослин, пошкоджуються нижні частини дерев і кущів і верхні частини їх коріння; у 2-4 рази зростає промерзання ґрунту.

Спалювання листя у Києві заборонене Правилами благоустрою міста.



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Trump: ‘Hard for Me to Imagine’ Kavanaugh Assaulted Teen in 1982

U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that “it’s very hard for me to imagine” that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a teenage girl 36 years ago when both were in high school, an alleged attack the woman says left her fearful for her life.

Trump said he hopes Kavanaugh’s accuser, California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, testifies at a hearing next Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering Kavanaugh’s nomination for a life-time seat on the country’s highest court.

“I really want to see her, to see what she has to say,” Trump said of Ford, now 51. The U.S. leader said it “would be unfortunate” if she does not appear.

Ford’s lawyers late Tuesday called for an FBI probe of her claims before she testifies, but Trump and Republicans that control the Senate panel say an FBI investigation is unnecessary. Kavanaugh, who says he will appear at the Senate panel’s hearing, has adamantly denied knowledge of the purported 1982 party at a suburban Washington home and said he has never attacked any woman.

Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House as he headed to North Carolina to view vast flood damage from Hurricane Florence, praised the 53-year-old Kavanaugh as “an extraordinary man.” But Trump said “it’s really up to the Senate” to decide how to proceed with the confirmation process.

Meanwhile, Anita Hill, the law professor at the center of lurid 1991 confirmation hearings involving Clarence Thomas as a U.S. Supreme Court justice, supported Ford’s call for an FBI investigation of her claims.

Hill told ABC’s “Good Morning America” show, “The American public really is expecting something more. They want to know that the Senate takes this seriously.”

Hill, now a law professor at Brandeis University, said Republican leaders are in an unnecessary rush to confirm Kavanaugh.

“Either they don’t take this seriously,” she said, “or … they just want to get it over. I’m not sure which is in play. Maybe they’re not concerned, or maybe they don’t know how to handle this kind of situation.”

The specter of Hill’s allegations 27 years ago that Thomas often sexually harassed her when they both worked for a federal government agency hangs heavy over the current Kavanaugh confirmation proceedings.

 Hill’s accusations were largely dismissed then by the all-male Senate committee, but many American women sympathized with her claims against Thomas, saying they resonated with their own experiences in the workplace. Thomas was confirmed on a narrow Senate vote and remains a conservative stalwart on the court to this day.

The chairman of the Senate panel, Republican Senator Charles Grassley, said, “The invitation for Monday still stands” for both Ford and Kavanaugh to testify.

“Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events,” Grassley said. “Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay.”

Republican lawmakers are trying to win Senate confirmation for Kavanaugh ahead of the court’s start of a new term on October 1, or if not by then, ahead of the November 6 nationwide congressional elections, to show Republican voters they have made good on campaign promises to place conservative judges like Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

Ford’s lawyers told Grassley in a letter late Tuesday that some of the senators on the committee “appear to have made up their minds” and believe Kavanaugh.

“A full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a nonpartisan manner and that the committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions,” the letter said.

Death threats

The lawyers also said Ford has become the subject of death threats and harassment, and expressed fears that the committee planned to have her “relive this traumatic and harrowing incident” while testifying at the same table as Kavanaugh and in front of national television cameras.

“Nobody should be subject to threats and intimidation, and Dr. Ford is no exception,” Grassley said in a statement later Tuesday.

The Republican senator said there were no plans to have Ford and Kavanaugh appear at the same time, and that the committee had offered her the opportunity to appear before a private hearing.

Ford alleged in a Washington Post interview that Kavanaugh groped her at the house party when she was 15 and he was 17. 

She said Kavanaugh, “stumbling drunk,” threw her down on a bed, grinding his body against hers and trying to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she was wearing over it. Ford said when she tried to scream, he put his hand over her mouth.

She said she feared Kavanaugh might inadvertently kill her before she managed to flee.

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Woman Accusing Judge Kavanaugh of Sexual Assault Wants FBI Probe

Lawyers for the woman who is accusing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault more than 30 years ago says she wants the FBI to investigate her allegation before she testifies publicly.

Kavanaugh denies the charge and will apparently tell his side of the story before the Senate Judiciary Committee next Monday. 

His accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, has also been invited to testify. 

But Ford’s lawyers say in a letter to Committee Chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley, that some of the senators on the committee “appear to have made up their minds” and believe Kavanaugh.

“A full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a nonpartisan manner and that the committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions,” the letter states.

President Donald Trump gave Kavanaugh a ringing new endorsement Tuesday, saying he felt “so badly” that Kavanaugh is facing scrutiny over allegations that he assaulted a teenage girl when both were in high school.

“This is not a man that deserves this,” Trump said. “I feel terrible for his family.”

The president assailed California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein for not disclosing the allegations when she first learned of them in July. He accused Democrats of being “lousy politicians, but good obstructionists” in their efforts to derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation to a lifetime appointment on the country’s highest court.

Ford, a California psychology professor, told The Washington Post Kavanaugh groped her at a suburban Washington house party when she was 15 and he was 17. 

She said Kavanaugh, “stumbling drunk,” threw her down on a bed, grinding his body against hers and trying to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she was wearing over it. Ford said when she tried to scream, he put his hand over her mouth.

She said she feared Kavanaugh might inadvertently kill her before she managed to flee.

Some Democratic lawmakers have also called for an FBI investigation. The agency conducted background checks six times over the years on Kavanaugh.

But Trump said ahead of his news conference, “I don’t think the FBI should be involved because they don’t want to be involved.” He said senators hearing Ford’s accusations, if she testifies, “will open it up and they will do a very good job” considering Ford’s allegations and Kavanaugh’s denial.

Grassley said the panel plans to call only two witnesses, Ford and Kavanaugh, and not another man, Mark Judge, whom Ford says was in the same bedroom during the alleged attack.

Grassley’s omission of Judge, who has denied an attack occurred, and other possible witnesses, drew the ire of Feinstein, the top Democrat on the judiciary panel that is considering Kavanaugh’s nomination and held four days of testimony earlier this month, including hours of questioning of Kavanaugh. 

“It’s impossible to take this process seriously,” Feinstein said.

“What about other witnesses like Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge?” Feinstein said. “What about individuals who were previously told about this incident? What about experts who can speak to the effects of this kind of trauma on a victim? This is another attempt by Republicans to rush this nomination and not fully vet Judge Kavanaugh.”

The Senate’s No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, raised doubts about Ford’s account of the alleged three-decade-old incident, saying, “The problem is Dr. Ford can’t remember when it was, where it was, or how it came to be.” 

Republicans, some of whom see the allegations as a stalling tactic by Democrats to thwart Kavanaugh’s confirmation, have been pushing to confirm him before November’s midterm elections, when they could lose their 51-49 majority control of the Senate.

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Will Strong Economy Sway Voters at the Polls?

Throughout West Acres, North Dakota’s largest shopping mall in Fargo, help wanted signs fill storefront windows.

“It’s a very competitive market,” said Brad Ruhro, owner of Legacy Toys, a family-owned chain of toys stores with a location at West Acres. Ruhro said that as a toy store owner, it’s easy for him to tell when the economy is perking up.

“We’re seeing a continual uptick in customers,” he said. “When the economy’s not so great, they’re buying the necessities — food, supplies that they need to survive. When the economy’s doing better, they’re able to spend more on entertainment and fun.”

​Economic growth

North Dakota has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the country’s economic growth. Unemployment in the state is a mere 2.6 percent — tied with Iowa for the second lowest in the country, after Hawaii with 2.1 percent. North Dakota residents have received the highest average tax cut of any state in the nation — 10.8 percent or $2,170 a year. A Gallup poll released in early 2018 showed that North Dakota residents tied for first with Wyoming residents for economic confidence scores throughout 2017. 

But the realities of economic challenges can complicate voter decisions at the ballot box. 

Shopping at West Acres Mall with his wife and daughter for what he described as “just the basics,” Michael Norby said he didn’t vote for a Democrat or a Republican in the 2016 election.

A college student and a full-time warehouse worker at the local Pepsi factory, Norby said he is the kind of voter who makes decisions on candidates based on how he thinks they can benefit him on income taxes and minimum wage.

“I don’t feel it’s going up fast enough for people to go out and spend, spend, spend,” he said of the economy.

Norby did not vote for Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in 2012 but said he is considering her this time around.

Heitkamp and her opponent, Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer, are locked in one of the tightest Senate races in the country. Trump carried North Dakota by 36 percentage points over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 and has endorsed Cramer over Heitkamp. 

Brad Ross, a laid-off truck driver, felt differently about the economy than Norby, even though he is paying his bills by taking temporary cleaning and office jobs.

Ross didn’t vote in the 2016 presidential election, but he likes the way Trump is handling the economy so much that he said he would vote for him now.

“I think he’s taken some pretty good strides in straightening things out, like bringing our jobs back here where they belong,” he said. Despite his admiration for Trump, Ross said that he will vote to re-elect Heitkamp to the Senate because she is “tough.”

Republican message

Throughout the country, congressional Republicans like Cramer are attempting to succeed at the polls on Trump’s promise to build a strong economy, pursue an America-first approach to jobs, and spur economic growth with the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act.

Record stock market surges and a four-year high growth rate of 4.2 percent reinforce the president’s case that the U.S. economy is surging.

“We’re the optimists in this country,” Cramer told a group of campaign volunteers marching in a parade in this tiny North Dakota town late last month. “We’re the people that see America as a land of opportunity,” he said. “Not the land of doom and gloom.”

Yet that’s a message Democrats are attempting to counter in a bid to win control of the House of Representatives and maybe even the Senate in the looming midterm elections.They argue that the economic growth fueled by the tax cuts has largely favored corporations and wealthier Americans, while providing lower- and middle-class voters with little in additional take-home pay or savings. Moreover, the Republicans’ message of economic prosperity is getting lost in the controversy over Trump’s immigration and trade policies, his legal woes and media reports of chaos in the White House.

Heitkamp told VOA that positive, large-scale economic numbers should be celebrated.

“But if you get down into the weeds and look at county by county, state by state, the numbers can be quite different,” she said.

Larger-scale economic gains can be difficult for many voters to feel in their daily lives as they look for ways to stretch their paychecks to cover rising living costs.

Inflation-adjusted wages remain flat or slightly lower than a year ago, according to some analyses. That leaves diminished purchasing power to pay the rent or mortgage, put food on the table, and cover rising health care costs. 

Voters heading to the polls this November will have to decide which party’s take on the economy best describes the state of their pocketbook. 

Concern about tariffs

In rural North Dakota, where the economy is dependent on farming, Trump’s tariffs on economic competitors could play a large role in voters’ decisions. 

Earlier this year, China imposed retaliatory tariffs on a range of American farm products as part of an escalating trade war begun by Trump in an attempt to gain U.S. access to Chinese markets and change unfavorable Chinese intellectual property laws. 

The soybean harvest in North Dakota falls just a few weeks before the Nov. 6 elections. If Trump’s negotiations with trading partners don’t come through in time and prevent North Dakota farmers from shipping their crops to their usual trading partner, China, votes could shift away from Republicans.

“This whole tariff situation. It’s a very scary situation right now,” said Mary Lee Nielson, owner of the Quilted Ceiling, a craft store in Valley City, North Dakota. “I can see where a lot of farmers don’t want to spend their money.”

Nielson said the store has had steady business in the 14 years she has owned it with her husband. She says farm families from all over North Dakota visit her store in Valley City, a town of about 6,500 people.

Nielson, a mother of three, also co-owns a farm. She said her family would take a double hit unless there is a resolution to Trump’s showdown with trading partners that include China and Canada.

“Back off on tariffs,” Nielson said of what she wants to see next from Trump. “Don’t hold farmers hostage over something that’s not a farming problem.”

Nielson said Heitkamp’s support for farming communities had earned her vote in the upcoming election.

“We have an economy in this country where the urban depends on the rural economy,” Heitkamp told Nielson and other Valley City farmers and small-business owners at an economic roundtable.

Cramer told VOA he hears farmers’ concerns about tariffs and has reminded them the president is negotiating better deals.

“What I tell them is, good news is coming,” Cramer said. “We push the administration on a regular basis. The president himself said to me, ‘If you push for a fast solution, it’ll be good, but it won’t be as good as it could be.’ ”

Tax cut impact

Concerns about tariffs are just one part of the bigger economic picture, Cramer said, adding the need to fill 30,000 job openings in the state is “stark” while pointing to the popularity of the 2017 tax cuts bill with voters.

“The $1 trillion tax cut that was passed was huge in this area,” Stan Stein, a Cramer supporter and former North Dakota state Republican chairman, said. “I think it was probably $1,500 to $2,000 in everyone’s pocket in North Dakota on average.”

The bill also has a ripple effect, said Kevin Black, president of Creedence Energy, a family-owned chemical, gas and oil company.

“More people eager to invest in this industry and our area and as a result we see a multiplier force across the economy,” Black said. 

But nationwide, only 16 percent of voters said they strongly support the tax plan, according to a June 2018 Economist/YouGov poll. That could be due in part to the small impact on paychecks, Brookings Institution economic analyst Vanessa Williamson said.

“At the very bottom level, this tax cut will not have changed your income much at all,” Williamson said. “Even at the middle level, maybe making $60,000 a year, you’re maybe seeing an extra $20 a week and it just declines from there. So for most Americans it would be very difficult to see.”

Back in Kindred, voter Brady Mitchell watched Cramer march in the parade but wasn’t swayed by his economic arguments. Mitchell voted for Heitkamp last time around and said he was still deciding how to vote this time.

“It all goes to day care or mortgage or out the window anyway,” he said of his family’s economic situation. “So no, I haven’t seen enough of a difference.”

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Will Strong Economy Sway Voters in November Midterms?

President Donald Trump says the U.S. economy is the “envy of the world.” And with the unemployment rate at an 18-year low, Republicans are counting on the improving U.S. economy to make their case with voters in crucial midterm elections in November. VOA’s congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson traveled to North Dakota to see if the president’s economic policies and congressional Republicans’ tax cuts will make a difference with voters.

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НАЗК: від імені агентства суб’єктам декларування телефонували невідомі

Національне агентство України з питань запобігання корупції заявляє, що суб’єктам декларування телефонували від імені працівників апарату НАЗК невідомі.

«Дзвінки здійснювалися з метою начебто уточнення інформації, що вказана в їхніх деклараціях, або щодо проведення Національним агентством перевірок декларацій суб’єктів», – зазначили в НАЗК.

У відомстві наголосили, що спілкування посадових осіб агентства з суб’єктами декларування відбувається «винятково в межах повноважень, будь-які відомості запитуються в офіційній письмовій формі у суб’єкта декларування або відповідного органу».

Крім того, у НАЗК зазначили, що спілкування з суб’єктами декларування здійснюється винятково за допомогою офіційних телефонів або електронних адрес.

Національне агентство з питань запобігання корупції, яке фактично створене у 2016 році, серед іншого, здійснює перевірку декларацій, проводить моніторинг способу життя чиновників, посадових осіб, держслужбовців, суддів, прокурорів.

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