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'Anatomy Of A Fall' Wins Top Prize at Cannes Film Festival

Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 17:44
Justine Triet's "Anatomy of a Fall" won the Palme d'Or at the 76th Cannes Film Festival in a ceremony Saturday that bestowed the festival's prestigious top prize on an engrossing, rigorously plotted French courtroom drama that puts a marriage on trial. "Anatomy of a Fall," which stars Sandra Hüller as a writer trying to prove her innocence in her husband's death, is only the third film directed by a woman to win the Palme d'Or. One of the two previous winners, Julia Ducournau, was on this year's jury. Cannes' Grand Prix, its second prize, went to Jonathan Glazer's "The Zone of Interest," a chilling Martin Amis adaptation about a German family living next door to Auschwitz. Hüller also stars in that film. The awards were decided by a jury presided over by two-time Palme winner Ruben Östlund, the Swedish director who won the prize last year for "Triangle of Sadness." The ceremony preceded the festival's closing night film, the Pixar animation "Elemental." Remarkably, the award for "Anatomy of a Fall" gives the indie distributor Neon its fourth straight Palme winners. Neon, which acquired the film after its premiere in Cannes, also backed "Triangle of Sadness,"Ducournau's "Titane" and Bong Joon Ho's "Parasite," which it steered to a best picture win at the Academy Awards. Triet was presented the Palme by Jane Fonda, who recalled coming to Cannes in 1963 when, she said, there were no female filmmakers competing "and it never even occurred to us that there was something wrong with that." This year, a record seven out of the 21 films in competition at Cannes were directed by women. After a rousing standing ovation, Triet, the 44-year-old French filmmaker, spoke passionately about the protests that have roiled France this year over reforms to pension plans and the retirement age. "The protests were denied and repressed in a shocking way," said Triet, who linked that governmental influence to that in cinema. "The merchandizing of culture, defended by a liberal government, is breaking the French cultural exception." The jury prize went to Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki's "Fallen Leaves," a deadpan love story about a romance that blooms in a loveless workaday world where dispatches from the war in Ukraine regularly play on the radio. Best actor went to veteran Japanese star Koji Yakusho, who plays a reflective, middle-aged Tokyo man who cleans toilets in Wim Wenders' "Perfect Days," a gentle, quotidian character study. The Turkish actor Merve Dizdar took best actress for the Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "About Dry Grasses." Ceylan's expansive tale is set in snowy eastern Anatolia about a teacher, Samet (Deniz Celiloğlu), accused of misconduct by a young female student. Dizdar plays a friend both attracted and repelled by Samet. "I understand what it's like to be a woman in this area of the country," said Dizdar. "I would like to dedicate this prize to all the women who are fighting to exist and overcome difficulties in this world and to retrain hope." Vietnamese-French director Tràn Anh Hùng took best director for "Pot-au-Feu," a lush, foodie love story starring Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimel and set in a 19th century French gourmet château. Best screenplay was won by Yuji Sakamoto for "Monster." Sakamoto penned Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda's nuanced drama, with shifting perspectives, about two boys struggling for acceptance in their school at home. "Monster" also won the Queer Palm, an honor bestowed by journalists for the festival's strongest LGBTQ-themed film. Quentin Tarantino, who won Cannes' top award for "Pulp Fiction," attended the ceremony to present a tribute to filmmaker Roger Corman. Tarantino praised Corman for filling him and countless moviegoers with "unadulterated cinema pleasure." "My cinema is uninhibited, full of excess and fun," said Corman, the independent film maverick. "I feel like this what Cannes is about." The festival's Un Certain Regard section handed out its awards Friday, giving the top prize to Molly Manning Walker's debut feature, "How to Have Sex." Saturday's ceremony drew to close a Cannes edition that hasn't lacked spectacle, stars or controversy. The biggest wattage premieres came out of competition. Martin Scorsese debuted his Osage murders epic "Killers of the Flower Moon," a sprawling vision of American exploitation with Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone. "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny," Harrison Ford's Indy farewell, launched with a tribute to Ford. Wes Anderson premiered "Asteroid City." The festival opened on a note of controversy. "Jeanne du Barry," a period drama co-starring Johnny Depp as Louis XV, played as the opening night film. The premiere marked Depp's highest profile appearance since the conclusion of his explosive trial last year with ex-wife Amber Heard.

Truce Reduces Fighting in Sudan, but Little Relief for Humanitarian Crisis

Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 17:38
Khartoum was calmer on Saturday as a seven-day cease-fire appeared to reduce fighting between two rival military factions although it has not yet provided the promised humanitarian relief to millions trapped in the Sudanese capital. A truce signed on Monday by the two fighting parties - Sudan's army and a paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) - aimed to secure safe passage for humanitarian aid and lead to wider talks sponsored by the United States and Saudi Arabia.   In addition, Sudan's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) said Saturday it is willing to discuss the possibility of extending a cease-fire agreement with the Sudanese army that is due to expire on Monday. The RSF "declares its full readiness to continue talks during the last two days of the truce under the auspices of the Saudi-American mediation to discuss the possibility of renewing the ceasefire agreement and humanitarian arrangements," it said in a statement. The warring factions signed a seven-day truce last Monday to secure safe passage for humanitarian aid and lead to wider talks sponsored by the United States and Saudi Arabia. The conflict, which erupted on April 15, has killed at least 730 civilians and caused 1.3 million Sudanese to leave their homes, fleeting either abroad or to safer parts of the country. On Saturday, witnesses said that Khartoum was calmer, although sporadic clashes were reported overnight and in the afternoon in the city's southern districts and Omdurman across the Nile. In a statement on Saturday, the RSF accused the army of violating the cease-fire and destroying the country's mint in an air strike. The army had accused the RSF on Friday of targeting the mint. The army said meanwhile that its call on Friday for army reservists was a partial mobilization and constitutional measure, adding that it expected large numbers to respond to the call. Those who remain in Khartoum are struggling with failures of services such as electricity, water and phone networks. Looters have ransacked homes, mostly in well-off neighborhoods. Food supplies are dwindling. On Saturday, Sudanese police said they were expanding deployment and also called in able retired officers to help. "Our neighborhood has become a war zone. Services have collapsed and chaos has spread in Khartoum," said 52-year-old Ahmed Salih, a resident of the city. "No one is bothered to help the Sudanese people, neither the government nor internationally. We are humans, where is the humanity?" he added. The UN and aid agencies say that despite the truce they have struggled to get the bureaucratic approvals and security guarantees to transport aid and staff in safer parts of the country to Khartoum and other hot zones. Warehouses have been looted. The U.N. World Food Program on Saturday tweeted it had begun providing food aid to people in Khartoum, but added that "safety, security, and access are critical so we can increase our support to 500,000 people." Rape reports Fighting also flared in the city of Al Fashir, capital of North Darfur state which had remained calm in recent weeks after a separate local truce there. Heavy artillery could be heard near the central market and eastern districts, forcing many residents to seek refuge elsewhere in the city, said local human rights monitor Mohamed Suleiman. Several people were injured, he said, but Reuters could not confirm the number. Outside of Khartoum, the worst hit city is El Geneina, on the border with Chad, which has seen an onslaught of militia attacks that have destroyed its infrastructure and killed hundreds. The governmental Combating Violence Against Women and Children Unit said late on Friday it had received reports of 25 cases of rape of women and girls in Darfur and 24 reports of rape in Khartoum since the conflict erupted. It said that victims had described 43 of the men as wearing RSF uniforms and either riding vehicles with RSF licenses or located in RSF-controlled areas. "The unit expresses its grave concern over reports of gang rape, kidnapping ... and reports of women and girls facing sexual assault as they go out to seek food," it said. The RSF has denied reports that its soldiers are engaged in sexual assaults or looting. Reuters could not independently verify the unit's allegations.

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Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 17:00
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Death at US-Mexico Border, Shelter Rules Top Week's Immigration News

Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 16:56
Editor's note: Here is a look at immigration-related news around the U.S. this week. Questions? Tips? Comments? Email the VOA immigration team: ImmigrationUnit@voanews.com. 8-Year-Old Girl Sought Medical Help 3 Times on Day She Died, US Immigration Officials Say An 8-year-old girl who died last week in Border Patrol custody was seen at least three times by medical personnel on the day of her death — complaining of vomiting, a stomachache and later suffering what appeared to be a seizure — before she was taken to a hospital, U.S. immigration officials said Sunday. The Associated Press reports. Citing Migrant Influx, New York Mayor Asks Court to Suspend Long-Standing 'Right to Shelter' New York's mayor asked a judge on Tuesday to let the city suspend its long-standing "right to shelter" obligation, saying officials are no longer able to house every homeless person because of the arrival of tens of thousands of international migrants. The Associated Press reports. Day in Photos: Police evict migrants, mostly from Venezuela, from a camp that was located in front of the migration detention center where migrants died during a fire in March, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, May 22, 2023. Immigration around the world UN Moves Sudanese Refugees in Chad Away from Border The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, is moving tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees in Chad away from the Sudan border and into new camps. The UNHCR's visiting deputy says concerns about security and access to aid are increasing, along with the number of refugees. Henry Wilkins reports from the Gaga refugee site in Chad. UN: Sudan Conflict Displaces Over 1.3 Million The fighting between Sudan's military and a powerful paramilitary force has displaced more than 1.3 million people, the U.N. migration agency said Wednesday. The International Organization for Migration said the clashes have forced more than 1 million people to leave their homes for safer areas inside Sudan. Some 320,000 others have fled to the neighboring countries of Egypt, South Sudan, Chad, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic and Libya. The Associated Press reports. HRW Calls for Halt to Rohingya Repatriation from Bangladesh to Myanmar As Bangladesh and Myanmar gear up to repatriate about 1,100 Rohingya refugees in a pilot project, rights group Human Rights Watch says conditions in Myanmar’s state of Rakhine are still not favorable for sustainable repatriation of Rohingya refugees. Produced by Shaikh Azizur Rahman. Humanitarian Group Blasts Greece Over Treatment of Asylum-Seekers on Island A prominent humanitarian group on Thursdayblasted Greece for its treatment of asylum-seekers on the island of Lesbos, repeating allegations of illegal deportations back to Turkey and claiming authorities are using hunger as a weapon against some migrants. The Associated Press reports. Greece Probes Video Purportedly Showing Migrants Forcibly Abandoned at Sea Greek authorities have been caught on film apparently forcing asylum-seekers into a life raft and abandoning them at sea. Human rights groups have long accused Athens of such practices. Greece denies carrying out so-called pushbacks and says it has launched an investigation into the video. Henry Ridgwell reports from London. News Brief —The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced an agencywide policy on body worn cameras. In the next 180 days, the DHS agencies and offices “will draft and issue, or update their own body worn camera policies that meet or exceed the requirements set forth in the departmentwide policy.”

5 Months Without a Deal, Israel's Judicial Protests Endure

Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 16:41
Amid a sea of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Israeli flags at an antigovernment protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday, a plain white poster protruded with a handwritten message in black: "Democracy without compromise." For five months now, tens of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets every week to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposed judicial overhaul that would give politicians greater sway over selecting judges.   It would also limit the power of the Supreme Court to strike down legislation. The protesters can claim some success in that the plan has not been approved as quickly as Netanyahu hoped, but his government remains committed to pushing through the changes. Under pressure at home and abroad, Netanyahu agreed to delay the overhaul to try to negotiate with the opposition a middle ground, but after shifting focus to passing a state budget last week, the highly contested plan is again at the forefront. Netanyahu and his far-right and religious allies say the reforms aim to redress decades of overreach by the judiciary and to balance out branches of government. Critics see a threat to independence of the courts by the prime minister, who is on trial on graft charges, which he denies. Top economists and national security veterans have warned of fallout, saying an independent court system is crucial to Israel's economic strength and defenses against attempts to isolate it internationally. Israel's president, whose role is largely ceremonial, has been mediating between the coalition and opposition. So far nothing has emerged. "I praise the president for his initiative and the temporary calm he managed to create, but factually, there hasn't been progress," said Gadi Eisenkot, an opposition lawmaker and former military chief. Eisenkot, in an interview with Israel's Channel 12, called for the proposed legislation to be frozen for a year.   The demonstrations peaked in late March when Netanyahu sacked his defense minister after he broke ranks and called for the plan to be halted. Israelis spilled into the streets in an unprecedented spontaneous nationwide protest late into the night. Netanyahu later reversed his decision.   Before the sun set Saturday, ending the Jewish Sabbath, crowds once again gathered in Tel Aviv and other cities across Israel. With no official crowd sizes, it was hard to estimate whether the protest had less wind in its sails. Mira Marcus-Kalish, a university researcher, said she no longer keeps track of how many protests she attended. "I don’t even count anymore," she said.   "Somebody has to understand that we have our children, and we have to leave a reliable country for them for the future. We don’t have any other option."

Former US Diplomat Henry Kissinger Celebrates 100th Birthday, Still Active in Global Affairs

Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 16:37
Former diplomat and presidential adviser Henry Kissinger marks his 100th birthday on Saturday, outlasting many of his political contemporaries who guided the United States through one of its most tumultuous periods including the presidency of Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War. Born in Germany on May 27, 1923, Kissinger remains known for his key role in American foreign policy of the 1960s and 1970s, including eventual attempts to pull the U.S. out of Vietnam, but not before he became inextricably linked to many of the conflict's most disputed actions. David Kissinger, writing in The Washington Post on Thursday, said his father’s centenary “might have an air of inevitability for anyone familiar with his force of character and love of historical symbolism. Not only has he outlived most of his peers, eminent detractors and students, but he has also remained indefatigably active throughout his 90s.” The elder Kissinger will celebrate this week with visits to New York, London and his hometown of Fürth, Germany, David Kissinger wrote. In recent years Kissinger has continued to hold sway over Washington's power brokers as an elder statesman. He has provided advice to Republican and Democratic presidents, including the White House during the Trump administration, while maintaining an international consulting business through which he delivers speeches in the German accent he has not lost since fleeing the Nazi regime with his family when he was a teenager. As recently as this month, Kissinger opined that the war in Ukraine is reaching a turning point with China entering negotiations. He told CBS News that he expects negotiations to come to a head “by the end of the year.” He has called for peace through negotiation to end the conflict. Kissinger also coauthored a book about artificial intelligence in 2021 called "The Age of AI: And Our Human Future." He has warned that governments should prepare for the potential risks associated with the technology. During eight years as a national security adviser and secretary of state, Kissinger was involved in major foreign policy events including the first example of “shuttle diplomacy” seeking Middle East peace, secret negotiations with China to defrost relations between the burgeoning superpowers and the instigation of the Paris peace talks seeking an end to the Vietnam conflict and the U.S. military's presence there. Kissinger, along with Nixon, also bore the brunt of criticism from American allies when North Vietnamese communist forces took Saigon in 1975 as the remaining U.S. personnel fled what is now known as Ho Chi Minh City. Kissinger additionally was accused of orchestrating the expansion of the conflict into Laos and Cambodia, enabling the rise of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime that killed an estimated 2 million Cambodians. Among his endorsements, Kissinger was recognized as a central driver in the period of detente, a diplomatic effort between the U.S. and the Soviet Union beginning in 1967 through 1979 to reduce Cold War tensions with trade and arms negotiations that included the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks treaties. Kissinger remained one of Nixon’s most trusted advisers through his administration from 1969 to 1974, his power only growing through the Watergate affair that brought down the 37th president. Gerald Ford, who as vice president ascended to the Oval Office following his predecessor's resignation, awarded Kissinger the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, saying Kissinger “wielded America’s great power with wisdom and compassion in the service of peace.” Others have accused Kissinger of more concern with power than harmony during his tenure in Washington, enacting realpolitik policies favoring American interests while assisting or emboldening repressive regimes in Pakistan, Chile and Indonesia.

Tehran: Zelenskyy Using Iran to Gain West's Support

Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 16:33
Iran struck back at Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday, saying his accusation the Islamic republic is arming Russia was an attempt to gain the West's military and financial support. The United States and the European Union have sanctioned Iran over its drone program, alleging it had supplied Moscow with unmanned aerial vehicles during Russia's invasion of Ukraine — a charge Tehran denies. On Wednesday, during his daily speech, Zelenskyy said Tehran's "support for evil cannot be denied" and appealed directly to Iranians, asking: "Why do you want to be accomplices in Russian terror?" In response, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said Zelenskyy's "repetition of false claims" against the Islamic republic was "in harmony with the propaganda and media war of the anti-Iranian axis." "It is done with the aim of attracting as much military and financial aid from Western countries as possible," Kanani said. Ukraine, he added, had "specific political goals and motives behind such accusations" and was "avoiding expert negotiations with the Iranian side to investigate the claims." Russia has reportedly used 1,160 Iranian-made Shahed kamikaze drones in attacks against Ukraine. "Even though we have learnt to shoot down most of your kamikaze drones... there are still hits," Zelenskyy said Wednesday. "When an Iranian drone kills a pregnant Ukrainian girl and her husband in their home, why do you, mothers and fathers in Iran, need this?" he added. "When your Shahed hits a dormitory with our students, people die, a fire starts, rescuers arrive, and in a few minutes a second Shahed hits." Russia invaded its neighbor in February 2022, sparking the biggest conflict on European soil since World War II.

Sudanese Army Chief Seeks UN Envoy's Dismissal, Says He Stoked Conflict

Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 16:21
Sudan's army chief, General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, has accused U.N. special envoy Volker Perthes of stoking a brutal conflict with paramilitaries, the latest in a series of apparent moves to bolster his war effort. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was shocked by Burhan's letter, which requested "the nomination of a replacement" to Perthes and accused him of committing "fraud and disinformation" in facilitating a political process that broke down into six weeks of devastating urban warfare. Guterres said he was "proud of the work done by Volker Perthes and reaffirms his full confidence in his Special Representative." Burhan and his former deputy, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, were meant to meet for negotiations facilitated by the U.N. on April 15, the day they turned Khartoum into a war zone. The meeting aimed to restore a transition to civilian rule disrupted since 2021 when Burhan and Dagalo together seized power in a coup before falling out. As their feud worsened, the international community tried to get them to reach a deal on integration of Dagalo's RSF into the regular army. Since late last year Perthes and the U.N. mission in Sudan, which he heads, have been the target of several protests by thousands of military and Islamist supporters who accused Perthes of foreign intervention and demanded his dismissal. Similar protests have taken place in the eastern city of Port Sudan since the war started. Perthes had maintained his optimism and said the war took him "by surprise." In the letter, Burhan said Perthes presented a misleading picture of consensus in his reports to the U.N., and "without these signs of encouragement, the rebel leader Dagalo would not have launched his military operations." It has not been possible to verify who fired the first shots. The fighting across Sudan has killed more than 1,800 people, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project. The United Nations says more than a million people have been displaced within Sudan, in addition to 319,000 who have fled to neighboring countries, raising concerns for regional stability. A one-week cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia expires Monday night.   Burhan last week officially sacked Dagalo as his deputy in the ruling Sovereign Council, replacing him with former rebel leader Malik Agar. But even after reports of Burhan's letter emerged, Agar said he had spoken to Perthes about "ways to resolve the crisis and end the war." Perthes is in New York, where last Monday he briefed the Security Council on Sudan. He responded to those who "accuse the U.N." by saying those responsible are "the two generals at war." Perthes "may not be allowed back into Sudan," according to Sudanese analyst Kholood Khair, founder of Khartoum-based think tank Confluence Advisory. "His visa will be a litmus test to gauge the resurgence of the Islamists," she wrote on Twitter. Pro-democracy voices have long accused Burhan of being a Trojan horse for Islamists from the regime of strongman Omar al-Bashir, whom the military ousted in 2019 after mass protests. Several high-ranking officials from the Bashir era have found roles in Burhan's administration since the coup. During the fighting Burhan's backing has grown clearer, including "a web of crony-capitalist corporations, from banks and telecom companies owned by Islamists and intelligence officers to companies owned by the military itself," according to Sudan expert Alex de Waal. Dagalo himself has called Burhan an "Islamist" and a "coup plotter" intent on reviving "the vestiges of the old regime." Dagalo, whose RSF are descendants of the notorious Janjaweed militia unleashed by Bashir in Darfur, has links to gold mines, and de Waal has said he has thrived in an environment "where money and guns determine everything."

McCarthy: Negotiators 'Closer to an Agreement' on US Debt Crisis, but No Deal Yet

Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 16:10
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Saturday that Republican negotiators were “closer to an agreement” that would resolve the looming debt crisis, but they had not reached a deal with President Joe Biden. He said there was no firm timeline for a final compromise that would raise the nation’s borrowing limit and avoid a catastrophic default while also making spending cuts that House Republicans are demanding. House negotiators left the Capitol after 2 a.m. and returned hours later. “We’ll get it when it gets right," McCarthy, R-Calif., said as he arrived on Capitol Hill. McCarthy’s comments echoed the latest assessment from Biden, who said Friday evening that bargainers were “very close.” Their optimism came as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Congress that the United States could default on its debt obligations by June 5 — four days later than previously estimated — if lawmakers do not act in time to raise the federal debt ceiling. The extended “X-date” gives the two sides a bit of extra time as they scramble for a deal. The president, spending part of the weekend at Camp David, continued to talk with his negotiating team multiple times a day, signing off on offers and counteroffers. Biden was upbeat as he departed the White House on Friday evening, saying: “It’s very close, and I’m optimistic.” Both sides have suggested one of the main holdups is a GOP effort to expand existing work requirements for recipients of food stamps and other federal aid programs, a longtime Republican goal that Democrats have strenuously opposed. The White House said the Republican proposals were “cruel and senseless.” They also are hearing from other lawmakers, particularly Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. McCarthy, who dashed out before the lunch hour and arrived back at the Capitol with a big box of takeout, declined to elaborate on those discussions. One of his negotiators, Louisiana Rep. Garret Graves, said there was “not a chance” that Republicans might relent on the work requirements issue. Americans and the world were uneasily watching the negotiating brinkmanship that could throw the U.S. economy into chaos and sap world confidence in the nation’s leadership, Failure to lift the borrowing limit, now $31 trillion, to pay the nation’s incurred bills, would send shockwaves through the U.S. and global economy. Yellen said failure to act by the new date would “cause severe hardship to American families, harm our global leadership position and raise questions about our ability to defend our national security interests.” Anxious retirees and others were already making contingency plans for missed checks, with the next Social Security payments due next week. Biden and McCarthy have seemed to be narrowing on a two-year budget-cutting deal that would also extend the debt limit into 2025 past the next presidential election. The contours of the deal have been taking shape to cut spending for 2024 and impose a 1% cap on spending growth for 2025. The Republican proposal on work requirements would save $11 billion over 10 years by raising the maximum age for existing standards that require" able-bodied adults who do not live with dependents to work or attend training programs. Current law applies those standards to recipients under the age of 50. The GOP plan would raise the age to include adults 55 and under. It would lower the number of exemptions that states can grant to some recipients subject to those requirements. Biden has said the work requirements for Medicaid would be a nonstarter. He initially seemed potentially open to negotiating minor changes on food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, but his position has appeared to harden. Any deal would need to be a political compromise in a divided Congress. Many of the hard-right Trump-aligned Republicans in Congress have long been skeptical of the Treasury’s projections, and they are pressing McCarthy to hold out. Lawmakers are not expected to return to work from the Memorial Day weekend before Tuesday, at the earliest, and McCarthy has promised lawmakers he will abide by the rule to post any bill for 72 hours before voting. The Democratic-held Senate has stayed out of the negotiations, leaving the talks to Biden and McCarthy. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has pledged to move quickly to send a compromise package to Biden’s desk. Weeks of talks have failed to produce a deal in part because the Biden administration resisted for months on negotiating with McCarthy, arguing that the country’s full faith and credit should not be used as leverage to extract other partisan priorities. But House Republicans united behind a plan to cut spending, narrowly passing legislation in late April that would raise the debt ceiling in exchange for the spending reductions.

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Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 16:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

Hong Kong Blasts Rights Group Over Missing Uyghur Man Allegation

Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 15:54
Hong Kong on Saturday "strongly condemned" rights group Amnesty International for alleging that a Uyghur man had gone missing after he arrived at the city's airport. The group said in a statement Friday that Abuduwaili Abudureheman, born in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang, traveled from South Korea to Hong Kong on May 10 to visit a friend and had not been heard from since. His final communication was a brief text to his friend while waiting at the airport saying, "Chinese police are asking me questions," according to the message shown to AFP by Amnesty. In a statement late Saturday, the Hong Kong government said Amnesty's claims were "groundless and unfounded" and "slandered the human rights situation" in the city. "The records of the HKSAR Government show that the person has not entered or been refused entry by Hong Kong," a spokesperson said, demanding an apology from the group. Amnesty told AFP in response that the group "will remain concerned for (Abuduwaili's) safety" and that his friend is still unable to contact him. The friend, who requested anonymity for safety concerns, told AFP on Saturday that Abuduwaili flew to Hong Kong for a visit, despite the friend's skepticism. "He miscalculated... he did not understand the grave consequences," the friend said. The text message attributed to Abuduwaili — which AFP has not been able to independently verify — was written in simplified Chinese and told his waiting friend to leave without him. "I'm being checked, Chinese police are asking me questions, and it may take time for me to get out," the message read. The friend said Abuduwaili had a track record of being "held back for questioning" when traveling to China and so did not think much of it. A day after receiving the message and hearing nothing, the friend contacted Hong Kong's immigration authorities but could not get much additional information, the friend said. According to Amnesty, Abuduwaili was on a Cathay Pacific flight from Seoul to Hong Kong that was scheduled to land at 11 p.m. (1500 GMT) May 10, according to Amnesty. Airline Cathay Pacific did not respond to questions on whether he was on board. Deeply worrying Abuduwaili, who completed a doctorate degree at Seoul's Kookmin University last year, was on a Chinese government "watch list" because of his history of overseas travel, the rights group said earlier. Beijing stands accused of detaining over 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang under security measures Washington and some lawmakers in other Western countries have labelled a "genocide." China denies the allegations, saying its actions are aimed at combating terrorism. Chinese authorities are increasingly pressuring Uyghurs outside its borders and have, in some cases, forced their repatriation, according to Amnesty. Alkan Akad, Amnesty International's China researcher, said in the Friday statement that the "unknown fate of Abuduwaili Abudureheman is deeply worrying." "That Abuduwaili appears to have been detained on arrival and interrogated raises questions about the potential complicity of the Hong Kong government in human rights violations being committed against Uyghurs by the Chinese government," he added. Since Beijing imposed its national security law on Hong Kong in 2020, Chinese law enforcement agents have been given more leeway in operating within the city — once considered off-limits due to the city's semi-autonomous status.

Waters Rejects Berlin Incitement Accusations over Concert Outfit

Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 15:05
Police in Berlin said Friday that they have opened an investigation of Roger Waters on suspicion of incitement over a costume the Pink Floyd co-founder wore when he performed in the German capital last week. Images on social media showed Waters firing an imitation machine gun while dressed in a long black coat with a red armband. Police confirmed that an investigation was opened over suspicions that the context of the costume could constitute a glorification, justification or approval of Nazi rule and therefore a disturbance of the public peace. Once the police investigation is concluded, the case will be handed to Berlin prosecutors, who would decide whether to pursue any charges. Waters rejected the accusations in a statement early Saturday on Facebook and Instagram, saying that "the elements of my performance that have been questioned are quite clearly a statement in opposition to fascism, injustice, and bigotry in all its forms." He claimed that "attempts to portray those elements as something else are disingenuous and politically motivated." Waters has drawn ire for his support of the BDS movement, which calls for boycotts and sanctions against Israel. He has rejected accusations of antisemitism. Authorities in Frankfurt tried to prevent a concert there scheduled for Sunday, but Waters challenged that move successfully in a local court. In Munich, the city council said it had explored possibilities of banning a concert but concluded that it wasn't legally possible to cancel a contract with the organizer. His appearance there last Sunday was accompanied by a protest attended by the local Jewish community's leader. Last year, the Polish city of Krakow canceled gigs by Waters because of his sympathetic stance toward Russia in its war against Ukraine.

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Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 15:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

US-Led Indo-Pacific Talks Produce Deal on Supply Chain Early Warnings

Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 14:50
Trade ministers of 14 countries in the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework talks "substantially completed" negotiations on an agreement to make supply chains more resilient and secure, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Saturday. The "first of its kind" agreement calls for countries to form a council to coordinate supply chain activities and a "Crisis Response Network" to give early warnings to IPEF countries of potential supply disruptions, Raimondo told a news conference following a ministerial meeting in Detroit. The deal provides an emergency communications channel for IPEF countries to seek support during supply chain disruptions, coordinate more closely during a crisis and recover more quickly. Raimondo cited shortages of semiconductors during the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down American auto production, idling thousands of workers. "I can tell you I would have loved to have had that Crisis Response Network during COVID. It absolutely would have helped us secure American jobs and keep supply chains moving," she said. The supply chains agreement, led by Commerce, marks the first tangible outcome of a year's worth of IPEF discussions. But it is just one the four "pillars" of the IPEF talks. The other pillars — trade, climate transition, and labor and inclusiveness — are more complex and expected to take longer to negotiate. The supply chains agreement also includes a new labor rights advisory board aimed at raising labor standards in supply chains, consisting of government, worker, and employer representatives, the Commerce Department said.

Ukraine Readies for Counteroffensive, Says Kyiv Official

Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 14:41
Drone attacks targeted oil pipeline installations inside Russia Saturday, including a station serving the vast Druzhba oil pipeline that sends Western Siberian crude to Europe, according to Russian media. Kyiv has not commented on the attacks and Reuters could not verify the reports. Russia's Wagner mercenaries are "regrouping to another three locations" after partially withdrawing from Bakhmut, according to Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov in an interview released Saturday. Ukraine is prepared to launch its long-expected counteroffensive against Russian forces, according to Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy  Danilov.  In an interview with the BBC Saturday, Danilov said the counteroffensive is coming very soon, though he refused to give a date for the beginning of the launch. “It would be weird if I were to name dates of the start of that,” he said. “… We have a very responsible task before our country.” Danilov confirmed in the interview that the Wagner Group is withdrawing its forces from the war-ravaged Ukrainian city of Bakhmut but he acknowledged that Russia's Wagner mercenaries are "regrouping to another three locations" after what he called their partial withdrawal from Bakhmut.   Danilov acknowledged that Ukrainian forces control only a “small part of the city” but underscored that "Bakhmut has played a big role in this war," despite the heavy toll on Ukrainian defenders. The British Defense Ministry also confirmed in its daily intelligence update on Ukraine posted on Twitter that “Wagner Group forces have likely started to withdraw from some of their positions around the Donetsk city of Bakhmut.” Wagner and the Russian Defense Ministry claimed victory over Bakhmut on May 20, about 10 months after the heavy battle for the city started. US senator talks F-16s U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham expressed confidence that the Ukrainian counteroffensive coming in the next days or weeks will wield results during a press conference Friday in Kyiv. “I'm here to tell you that the last chapter of the battle of Bakhmut is yet to be written. I'm here to tell you that the Russian military is about to have holy hell unleashed upon them,” he said. Graham also stated that Republicans and Democrats are united in their goal to help Ukraine, and he noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin must not be allowed to win. “History tells us aggression unchecked leads to more aggression.” The senator also hailed the Ukrainian people for their strength and courage. “I am in awe of you. I admire you. You represent the best in humanity. You will win,” he said. Graham said there are no magic weapons to winning a war, but he acknowledged that “the F-16s will matter.” He called on the Biden administration “to do more” and expressed his conviction that “there will be bipartisan support to providing more weapons that can turn the tide of battle in the upcoming counteroffensive.” Responding to VOA about whether the U.S. will support Ukraine’s bid to join NATO, Graham said that Ukraine will eventually become part of the alliance and a member of the EU but for now, the priority, he said, is for Ukraine to “evict the invader,” from Ukrainian territories. “I told President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy nobody is signed up for an invasion of Russia. The weapons we're providing are to evict Russia from Ukraine.” Ukraine’s drone attacks Drone attacks struck oil pipeline installations deep inside Russia on Saturday, including a station serving the Druzhba pipeline, one of the world's largest oil pipelines that sends Western Siberian crude to Europe. Russian media reported the attacks were launched by Ukraine and said that shelling from Ukraine killed at least two people and injured others.   Ukrainian drone attacks inside Russia have been growing in intensity in recent weeks, and The New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence believes Ukraine was behind a drone attack on the Kremlin earlier this month. Ukrainian officials have not publicly acknowledged launching attacks against targets inside Russia. The Ukrainian defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday. In Russia’s Tver region, which lies just northwest of Moscow, two drones attacked a station that serves the Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline, one of the world's largest oil pipelines, the Russian Kommersant newspaper said. The Tver local council said a drone had crashed near the village of Erokhino, about 500 kilometers from the border with Ukraine.     The messaging app Telegram channel Baza, which has sources among Russia's security services, said the drones attacked a station serving the Druzhba pipeline.   In Russia's Belgorod region, Ukrainian shelling killed at least one person and injured three, including a 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the region said.   Ukrainian shelling killed a construction worker in Russia’s Kursk region near the border with Ukraine, the local governor said. At its daily briefing about the Ukraine war, Russia's defense ministry said it had destroyed 12 Ukrainian drones in the past 24 hours and intercepted two long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles that were supplied to Ukraine by Britain. Reuters could not immediately verify battlefield accounts from either side. VOAs Eastern Europe Bureau Chief Myroslava Gongadze contributed to this report. Some information for this story was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 14:00
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France Confirms Bird Flu Vaccination After Favorable Tests

Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 13:27
France confirmed its aim to launch a vaccination program against bird flu in the autumn after results from a series of tests on the vaccination of ducks showed "satisfactory effectiveness," the farm ministry said.  A severe strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, has ravaged poultry production around the world, leading to the culling of over 200 million birds in the past 18 months.  France has been the worst hit country in the European Union and is facing a strong resurgence of outbreaks since early this month in the southwestern part of the country, mainly among ducks.  It had already launched a pre-order of 80 million vaccines last month, which needed to be confirmed based on final tests carried out by French health safety agency ANSES.  "These favorable results provided sufficient guarantees to launch a vaccination campaign as early as autumn 2023," the farm ministry wrote on its website.  Governments, often shy to use vaccination due to the trade restrictions it can entail, have increasingly considered adopting them to stem the spread of the virus and avoid interhuman transmission.  The results of the tests demonstrated a good control of virus transmission in vaccinated mule ducks, a differentiation between infected and vaccinated animals, known as the DIVA principle, and a reduction in virus excretion by vaccinated birds, the test conclusions said.  France has mandated two companies, France's Ceva Animal Health and Germany's Boehringher Ingelheim, to develop bird flu vaccines for ducks.  Several other EU countries have been carrying out tests, including the Netherlands on laying hens and Italy on turkeys.  First results in the Netherlands showed the vaccines tested were efficient. 

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Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 13:00
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Czech Leaders See Democratic Solidarity as Way Forward

Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 12:43
Values-based diplomacy lies at the heart of the Czech Republic’s support for Ukraine and Taiwan alike, the country’s Chamber of Deputies president emphasized this week during a visit to Washington. Newly elected Czech President Petr Pavel sounded a similar note at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit earlier this month as he laid out how Prague views the threat posed by Moscow and Beijing.  Marketa Pekarova Adamova was 5 years old when the Velvet Revolution swept the communists out of power in winter 1989. Stories of how people suffered under communism shaped her worldview, she told VOA during her visit to Washington as leader of the Czech Chamber of Deputies, which is comparable to the U.S. House of Representatives.  “For example, my mother couldn’t study what she wished to study,” due to the government’s severe control of everyday life, she recalled. “This is why we know, even in my generation, what communism is about.”  The fact that dissidents such as Vaclav Havel were forced to spend years in prison also “had a huge impact on me,” she added.    The 38-year-old led a parliamentary delegation to engage with U.S. officials in Washington and the states of Maryland and Georgia this week to bolster bilateral ties and common approaches to global issues including Ukraine and Taiwan.  While in Washington, Adamova told a news briefing that undergirding her country’s strong support for Ukraine and Taiwan is the value her government and people attach to democracy, freedom and human rights.  "Our current government’s diplomacy is focused on these values” personified by Havel, the dissident playwright who became the first elected president of her country, she said.  Adamova said her trip to Taiwan earlier this year was guided by this spirit. While they dealt with cyberattacks “on our mobile phones and other equipment,” she said they faced much less pressure than did Czech Senate Leader Milos Vystrcil and the delegation he led to visit Taiwan in 2020.  Back then, she explained, her Senate colleague had to endure pressure from Beijing and from critics within the Czech government, most notably then-President Milos Zeman, who cultivated economic and political ties with both Beijing and Moscow.  Vystrcil was “very brave and a great example to follow,” she said. Unlike his experience, she and her delegation had the full support of the Czech government that came to power following the October 2021 election.  Speaking at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit held May 15-16 in the Danish capital, Petr Pavel, who succeeded Milos Zeman as president of the Czech Republic after winning a nationwide election in March, gave his full support to the values-based diplomacy in which Adamova – and Vystrcil before her – believe.  In a keynote speech, “Defending Global Values,” Pavel assessed the challenge to peace and democracy posed by Moscow and Beijing. He cast the battle in Ukraine as a conflict not only about territory and of regional impact, but as one that tests the strength of democratic aspirations — as well as democratic solidarity — in the face of aggression by a state armed with power and the desire to subjugate another people and society.  Pavel, along with other senior Czech officials, is a strong proponent of supporting both Ukraine and Taiwan.   In the long run, China poses a greater danger to world peace and rules-based order than Russia, which is being weakened by the current conflict in Ukraine, he argued.  China has emerged “much bigger and much stronger than Russia,” he warned, and the more power wielded by a nondemocratic and aggressive government, the more danger it poses to peace and democracy worldwide, especially Taiwan.  While Beijing is often said to have learned from the conflict in Ukraine that Western democracies were quick to form an alliance and issue punishing sanctions against the aggressor, Pavel cautioned that is not the only lesson Beijing has learned.  “China has learned that under pressure, we’re able to be united quite quickly,” he said. “But they also learned that we also had difficulties providing direct support from the very beginning,” he pointed out. “Just look at how long it took for major European countries to provide major support to Ukraine with heavy equipment.  “So, they learned that we need time, and we prefer not to sacrifice too much,” the Czech president noted.  “It is learning from the whole situation, first with regard to [a potential conflict with] Taiwan, as well as with regard to global competition,” he said.  “If we want to preserve a world order where the rules – and not the biggest stick – matter, we should stick together, work together, be more flexible in cooperation with all willing countries.” 

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Voice of America’s immigration news - May 27, 2023 - 12:00
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