Category: Світ

Comic Con Draws Fans From Around the Globe

Comic-Con, which bills itself as one of the world’s largest comic book conventions of its kind, kicks off this week in San Diego. The four-day event has grown to become an entertainment destination that features not only comics, but also film, television and video games. The sold-out event draws thousands of fans from around the world. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee reports on the sights and sounds of a cultural event that has global influence.

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Pompeo to VOA: US Won’t Allow Russian Questioning of Former US Ambassador

The U.S. has no intention of allowing Russia to question Michael McFaul, Washington’s former ambassador to Moscow and a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told VOA on Thursday.

“It’s not going to happen,” the top U.S. diplomat said in an interview at the State Department.

Pompeo said Putin “made a proposal about a number of things during the course of the conversation” he had Monday at his Helsinki summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

“There were suggestions, comments, thoughts by President Putin with respect to that inquiry,” Pompeo told VOA. “President Trump was very clear – we’re not gonna force Americans to go to Russia to be interrogated by the Russians.”

The Russian leader proposed to let U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators fly to Moscow to interview 12 military intelligence officials indicted in connection with hacking into computers of Democrats working to defeat Trump in the 2016 election in exchange for Russian interviews of McFaul; an American-born British businessman, Bill Browder, who worked to get legislation passed in the U.S. and elsewhere to sanction Russia for human rights violations, and other Americans.

Browder was convicted in absentia for tax fraud in Russia and Putin claimed, without any evidence, that Browder laundered $400 million out of Russia and gave it to Trump’s 2016 opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton. No such political donation occurred.

McFaul, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Moscow from 2012 to 2014 during the administration of former President Barack Obama, said on Twitter, “I hope the White House corrects the record and denounces in categorical terms this ridiculous request from Putin. Not doing so creates moral equivalency between a legitimacy U.S. indictment of Russian intelligence officers and a crazy, completely fabricated story invented by Putin.”

On Wednesday, there was a high-level disconnect within the Trump administration over a possible Russian interview with McFaul.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called the unspecified Russian crimes against the Americans “absurd,” suggesting that no questioning would be permitted. But White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the idea of each country’s investigators questioning people it wanted to in the United States and Russia was being weighed.

“The president’s going to meet with his team, and we’ll let you know when we have an announcement on that,” Sanders said, adding that no one had made any commitment to accept Putin’s offer.

By Thursday, Sanders said, “It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it. Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.”

Russia and the U.S. do not have an extradition treaty and the 12 accused intelligence officials are not expected to be turned over to the U.S. for trial.

The reason for the confusion about questioning officials from the two countries came because Trump said Putin had made “an incredible offer” to him.

During Thursday’s interview with VOA, Secretary of State Pompeo sought to clarify the U.S. stance on the issue, repeating such questioning would not be permitted.

“There’s been a lot of noise about that, I don’t know why,” Pompeo said. “Just the American people should rest assured.”

Ken Bredemeier contributed to this report

 

 

 

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Pompeo to VOA: US Won’t Allow Russian Questioning of Former US Ambassador

The U.S. has no intention of allowing Russia to question Michael McFaul, Washington’s former ambassador to Moscow and a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told VOA on Thursday.

“It’s not going to happen,” the top U.S. diplomat said in an interview at the State Department.

Pompeo said Putin “made a proposal about a number of things during the course of the conversation” he had Monday at his Helsinki summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

“There were suggestions, comments, thoughts by President Putin with respect to that inquiry,” Pompeo told VOA. “President Trump was very clear – we’re not gonna force Americans to go to Russia to be interrogated by the Russians.”

The Russian leader proposed to let U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators fly to Moscow to interview 12 military intelligence officials indicted in connection with hacking into computers of Democrats working to defeat Trump in the 2016 election in exchange for Russian interviews of McFaul; an American-born British businessman, Bill Browder, who worked to get legislation passed in the U.S. and elsewhere to sanction Russia for human rights violations, and other Americans.

Browder was convicted in absentia for tax fraud in Russia and Putin claimed, without any evidence, that Browder laundered $400 million out of Russia and gave it to Trump’s 2016 opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton. No such political donation occurred.

McFaul, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Moscow from 2012 to 2014 during the administration of former President Barack Obama, said on Twitter, “I hope the White House corrects the record and denounces in categorical terms this ridiculous request from Putin. Not doing so creates moral equivalency between a legitimacy U.S. indictment of Russian intelligence officers and a crazy, completely fabricated story invented by Putin.”

On Wednesday, there was a high-level disconnect within the Trump administration over a possible Russian interview with McFaul.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called the unspecified Russian crimes against the Americans “absurd,” suggesting that no questioning would be permitted. But White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the idea of each country’s investigators questioning people it wanted to in the United States and Russia was being weighed.

“The president’s going to meet with his team, and we’ll let you know when we have an announcement on that,” Sanders said, adding that no one had made any commitment to accept Putin’s offer.

By Thursday, Sanders said, “It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it. Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.”

Russia and the U.S. do not have an extradition treaty and the 12 accused intelligence officials are not expected to be turned over to the U.S. for trial.

The reason for the confusion about questioning officials from the two countries came because Trump said Putin had made “an incredible offer” to him.

During Thursday’s interview with VOA, Secretary of State Pompeo sought to clarify the U.S. stance on the issue, repeating such questioning would not be permitted.

“There’s been a lot of noise about that, I don’t know why,” Pompeo said. “Just the American people should rest assured.”

Ken Bredemeier contributed to this report

 

 

 

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Commerce Secretary: ‘Too Early’ to Say if US Will Impose Auto Tariffs

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday it was “too early” to say if the United States would impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported cars and parts, a suggestion that has been met with harsh criticism from the industry.

The department opened an investigation in May into whether imported autos and parts pose a national security risk and was holding a hearing on the probe Thursday, taking testimony from auto trade groups, foreign governments and others.

Ross’ remarks came at the start of the public hearing, which he said was aimed at determining “whether government action is required to assure the viability of U.S. domestic production.”

A group representing major automakers told Commerce on Thursday that imposing tariffs of 25 percent on imported cars and parts would raise the price of U.S. vehicles by $83 billion annually and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Automakers say there is “no evidence” that auto imports pose a national security risk, and that the tariffs could actually harm U.S. economic security.

They are also facing higher prices after tariffs were imposed on aluminum and steel.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, whose members include General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp, warned on the impact of the tariffs.

“Higher auto tariffs will harm American families and workers, along with the economy” and “would raise the price of an imported car nearly $6,000 and the price of a U.S.-built car $2,000,” said Jennifer Thomas, a vice president for the group.

She noted that the U.S. exports more than $100 billion of autos and parts annually to other countries, while “there is a long list of products that are largely no longer made in the U.S., including TVs, laptops, cellphones, baseballs, and commercial ships.”

No automaker or parts company has endorsed the tariffs, and they have pointed to near-record sales in recent years.

Warnings

Jennifer Kelly, the United Auto Workers union research director, noted that U.S. auto production has fallen from 12.8 million vehicles in 2000 to 11.2 million in 2017 as the sector has shed about 400,000 jobs over that period, with many jobs moving to Mexico or other low-wage countries.

“We caution that any rash actions could have unforeseen consequences, including mass layoffs for American workers, but that does not mean we should do nothing,” she said, suggesting “targeted measures.”

Many firms that sell vintage vehicles also warned that the tariffs could devastate the industry because many older cars need parts that are only made outside the United States. Polaris Industries Inc warned that off-road vehicles could also be inadvertently covered by the tariffs.

A study released by a U.S. auto dealer group warned that the tariffs could cut U.S. auto sales by 2 million vehicles annually and cost more than 117,000 auto dealer jobs, or about 10 percent of the workforce.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested he would move quickly to impose tariffs, even before the government launched its probe.

‘Tremendous retribution’

“We said if we don’t negotiate something fair, then we have tremendous retribution, which we don’t want to use, but we have tremendous powers,” Trump said Wednesday. “We have to — including cars. Cars is the big one. And you know what we’re talking about with respect to cars and tariffs on cars.”

The European Union, Japan, Canada and Mexico, along with many automotive trade groups, are among 45 witnesses scheduled to testify during the daylong hearing.

The Commerce Department said earlier this week it aimed to complete the investigation “within a couple months.”

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Commerce Secretary: ‘Too Early’ to Say if US Will Impose Auto Tariffs

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday it was “too early” to say if the United States would impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported cars and parts, a suggestion that has been met with harsh criticism from the industry.

The department opened an investigation in May into whether imported autos and parts pose a national security risk and was holding a hearing on the probe Thursday, taking testimony from auto trade groups, foreign governments and others.

Ross’ remarks came at the start of the public hearing, which he said was aimed at determining “whether government action is required to assure the viability of U.S. domestic production.”

A group representing major automakers told Commerce on Thursday that imposing tariffs of 25 percent on imported cars and parts would raise the price of U.S. vehicles by $83 billion annually and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Automakers say there is “no evidence” that auto imports pose a national security risk, and that the tariffs could actually harm U.S. economic security.

They are also facing higher prices after tariffs were imposed on aluminum and steel.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, whose members include General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp, warned on the impact of the tariffs.

“Higher auto tariffs will harm American families and workers, along with the economy” and “would raise the price of an imported car nearly $6,000 and the price of a U.S.-built car $2,000,” said Jennifer Thomas, a vice president for the group.

She noted that the U.S. exports more than $100 billion of autos and parts annually to other countries, while “there is a long list of products that are largely no longer made in the U.S., including TVs, laptops, cellphones, baseballs, and commercial ships.”

No automaker or parts company has endorsed the tariffs, and they have pointed to near-record sales in recent years.

Warnings

Jennifer Kelly, the United Auto Workers union research director, noted that U.S. auto production has fallen from 12.8 million vehicles in 2000 to 11.2 million in 2017 as the sector has shed about 400,000 jobs over that period, with many jobs moving to Mexico or other low-wage countries.

“We caution that any rash actions could have unforeseen consequences, including mass layoffs for American workers, but that does not mean we should do nothing,” she said, suggesting “targeted measures.”

Many firms that sell vintage vehicles also warned that the tariffs could devastate the industry because many older cars need parts that are only made outside the United States. Polaris Industries Inc warned that off-road vehicles could also be inadvertently covered by the tariffs.

A study released by a U.S. auto dealer group warned that the tariffs could cut U.S. auto sales by 2 million vehicles annually and cost more than 117,000 auto dealer jobs, or about 10 percent of the workforce.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested he would move quickly to impose tariffs, even before the government launched its probe.

‘Tremendous retribution’

“We said if we don’t negotiate something fair, then we have tremendous retribution, which we don’t want to use, but we have tremendous powers,” Trump said Wednesday. “We have to — including cars. Cars is the big one. And you know what we’re talking about with respect to cars and tariffs on cars.”

The European Union, Japan, Canada and Mexico, along with many automotive trade groups, are among 45 witnesses scheduled to testify during the daylong hearing.

The Commerce Department said earlier this week it aimed to complete the investigation “within a couple months.”

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Trump ‘Not Thrilled’ With Fed’s Decision to Hike Interest Rates

U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that he was not pleased about the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to increase interest rates.

“I’m not thrilled,” Trump said in a CNBC interview that aired Friday. His remarks followed two interest rate hikes this year and Fed suggestions of two more increases before the end of the year.

“Because we go up and every time you go up, they want to raise rates again. I don’t really — I am not happy about it,” he said. “But at the same time, I’m letting them do what they feel is best.”

Presidents rarely intervene in developments involving the Fed, which sets the benchmark interest rate. Higher interest rates make it more expensive to borrow money, which slows economic activity. The rate hikes are intended to keep inflation from damaging the economy. Earlier, during a severe recession, the Fed slashed interest rates nearly to zero in a bid to boost economic growth.

Trump expressed frustration in the interview that the central bank’s actions could disrupt U.S. economic expansion.

Trump sought to give the economy a boost when he signed into law a major tax cut late last year. The law cut the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and lowered taxes on individual incomes as well.

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Trump ‘Not Thrilled’ With Fed’s Decision to Hike Interest Rates

U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that he was not pleased about the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to increase interest rates.

“I’m not thrilled,” Trump said in a CNBC interview that aired Friday. His remarks followed two interest rate hikes this year and Fed suggestions of two more increases before the end of the year.

“Because we go up and every time you go up, they want to raise rates again. I don’t really — I am not happy about it,” he said. “But at the same time, I’m letting them do what they feel is best.”

Presidents rarely intervene in developments involving the Fed, which sets the benchmark interest rate. Higher interest rates make it more expensive to borrow money, which slows economic activity. The rate hikes are intended to keep inflation from damaging the economy. Earlier, during a severe recession, the Fed slashed interest rates nearly to zero in a bid to boost economic growth.

Trump expressed frustration in the interview that the central bank’s actions could disrupt U.S. economic expansion.

Trump sought to give the economy a boost when he signed into law a major tax cut late last year. The law cut the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and lowered taxes on individual incomes as well.

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US Senate Bill Threatens to Penalize Nicaraguans Responsible for Violence

A bipartisan group of 10 U.S. senators introduced a bill Wednesday threatening sanctions against officials responsible for the violence in Nicaragua. 

The bill targets those behind the deaths of anti-government protesters, human rights violations and corruption. It also calls for early elections and a negotiated settlement.

“What started as legitimate peaceful protests has turned into a months-long massacre as Nicaragua’s citizens face state-sponsored violence from police and paramilitaries,” New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Wednesday. 

“We can’t stay silent as [President] Daniel Ortega and [Vice President and first lady] Rosario Murillo target their own people, as evidenced by the images of students being shot while seeking refuge inside of a church.”

Nine other senators, Democrats and Republicans, echoed Menendez’s statement.

Meanwhile, the Organization of American States adopted a resolution Wednesday condemning the human rights abuses carried out by the Ortega government.

The resolution passed 21-3 with seven abstentions. It also calls for dialogue and early elections.

Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada called the motion “illegal, illegitimate and unfair.”

“We have working institutions … a constitution. That’s why it is not right that this permanent council become a sort of court that no one has authorized … to pass judgment on Nicaragua,” he said.

Moncada, like Ortega, calls the protesters terrorists and coup plotters.

Anti-government protests in Nicaragua erupted in April when Ortega announced changes to the pension system. He soon gave up those plans, but police and pro-government paramilitaries have continued a violent crackdown on demonstrators.

The government says more than 200 people have been killed. Human rights groups say the death toll is much higher.

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