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US Reportedly Gives Tacit OK to Taiwan’s Fighter Jet Shopping List

A senior U.S. State Department official said arms sales to Taiwan are “a matter of a policy in the United States that Taiwan’s defensive needs are merited,” adding “China has been busy changing the status quo” that has maintained long-standing peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, including threats to use force against Taiwan.

Thursday, Bloomberg News, quoting unnamed sources, reported that the Trump administration has given tacit approval to Taiwan’s request to buy more than 60 F-16 fighter jets. Taiwan had submitted a formal request earlier this month. The United States is Taiwan’s largest military equipment supplier.

“As a matter of policy, the Department does not comment or confirm proposed defense sales or transfers until formally notified to Congress,” a State Department spokesperson told VOA.

China, which claims democratically self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory, usually condemns such sales.

China changing status quo

In a phone briefing, Patrick Murphy, the State Department’s principal deputy assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told VOA that arms sales to Taiwan “are allowed under the framework” of Washington’s “One China Policy,” which is based on three U.S.-China joint communications and the Taiwan Relations Act enacted in 1979 to govern relations between the United States and Taiwan.

“Our primary desire is to see a strong commitment to the status quo” that “has brought about peace, stability and prosperity,” Murphy said.

He added China is changing the status quo by threatening “the use of violence directed at Taiwan, aggressively trying to “reduce the number of diplomatic partners that Taiwan enjoys around the world,” and “cropping Taiwan out of the international space and international organizations where Taiwan has made important contributions to public health, civil aviation and many more.”

In 2018, China persuaded the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso and El Salvador to forge relations with Beijing, which leaves 17 countries that still recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation.

Tour of Pacific allies

On Thursday, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen embarked on a diplomatic tour to allies in the Pacific that will end with a stopover in Hawaii on March 27.

China urged the United States to block Tsai’s transit through Hawaii on her way home.

“We have consistently and resolutely opposed the United States or other countries which have diplomatic relations with China arranging this kind of transit,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Thursday.

In 2011, the Obama administration rejected a similar Taiwanese request for F-16 fighter jets over concern about antagonizing China.

The Trump administration, however, has taken a more assertive approach toward China. Vice President Mike Pence, in remarks on China policy last year at the Hudson Institute, accused the Chinese Communist Party of “rewarding or coercing American businesses, movie studios, universities, think tanks, scholars, journalists, and local, state and federal officials.”

“Worst of all, China has initiated an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections,” Pence added.

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Interference in Elections? The View From Moscow

As U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller prepares to file a report of his findings in the investigation into Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 presidential election, pressure over how to handle his conclusions is building in the U.S. The Kremlin strongly denies meddling and says it is a victim of the U.S. political infighting. But what do Russian citizens know of Mueller’s work and the accusations? VOA’s Igor Tsikhanenka discussed the topic with experts in Moscow.

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Miami Open: Цуренко дізналася ім’я суперниці у другому колі

Визначилась суперниця другої ракетки України Лесі Цуренко у другому колі турніру Miami Open серії WTA Premier Mandatory.

Нею стала 112 ракетка світу, представниця Японії Місакі Доі, яка в першому раунді обіграла китаянку Ван Сіньюй.

Сьогодні вночі свій матч другого кола проведе Даяна Ястремська. Її суперниця – австралійка Ешлі Барті.

Перша ракетка України Еліна Світоліна у другому раунді зустрінеться з переможницею матчу між Ван Яфань (Китай) і Христиною Младеновіч (Франція).

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Waiting for Mueller Report, and What Happens Next

America is waiting for special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. But anyone looking for a grand narrative on President Donald Trump, Russian election interference and all the details uncovered over the past 22 months could end up disappointed. 

 

The timing of Mueller’s endgame is unclear. Attorney General William Barr, who oversees the investigation, has said he wants to release as much information as he can about the inquiry into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia’s efforts to sway the 2016 election. But during his confirmation hearing last month, Barr said he ultimately would decide what the public sees, and that any report would be in his words, not Mueller’s. 

 

Some key questions: 

 

What happens when the investigation ends?

Mueller will have to turn in a report of some kind when he’s done. It could be a pretty bare-bones product. 

 

Justice Department regulations require only that Mueller give the attorney general a confidential report that explains the decisions to pursue or decline prosecutions. That could be as simple as a bullet point list or as fulsome as a report running hundreds of pages. 

 

Mueller has given no guidance on what it will be or when it will come, but signs a conclusion is coming soon have mounted in recent months.  

Matthew Whitaker, who was acting attorney general before Barr was confirmed, said in January that the investigation was nearly done. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, has been preparing to leave his post soon. The number of prosecutors working for Mueller has dwindled, and his team, which had sought an interview with the president, has not had meaningful dialogue with Trump’s lawyers in months.

Mueller also hasn’t filed any new cases in two months. 

 

What does Barr say he’ll do?

Barr said he envisioned two reports, and only one for congressional and public consumption. 

 

Barr has said he takes seriously the “shall be confidential” part of the regulations governing Mueller’s report. He has noted that department protocol says internal memos explaining charging decisions should not be released. 

 

During his confirmation hearing, Barr said he would draft, after Mueller turned in his report, a second one for the chairman and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees. But here again, the regulations provide little guidance for what such a report would say. 

 

The attorney general is required only to say the investigation has concluded and describe or explain any times when he or Rosenstein decided an action Mueller proposed “was so inappropriate or unwarranted” that it should not be pursued. 

 

Barr indicated that he expected to use his report to share the results of Mueller’s investigation with the public, which the regulations allow him to do. But he hedged on specifics and said his plans could change after speaking with Mueller and Rosenstein. 

​What will Trump do?

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has said the president’s legal team wants to review any report before it’s released. Giuliani also raised the prospect that Trump’s lawyers could try to invoke executive privilege to prevent the disclosure of any confidential conversation the president has had with his aides. 

 

It’s not clear whether the president’s lawyers will get an advance look at Mueller’s conclusions. Mueller, after all, reports to the Justice Department, not the White House. 

 

Barr himself seemed to dismiss that idea. When Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked Barr whether Trump and his lawyers would be able to put their own spin on the report before its release, Barr replied: “That will not happen.” 

 

Will there be a final news conference?

It seems unlikely, especially if prosecutors plan to discuss people they never charged.  

Then-FBI Director James Comey broke from Justice Department protocol in extraordinary fashion with his July 2016 news conference announcing the FBI would not recommend criminal charges against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server. Barr has made clear his disapproval of Comey’s public move. 

 

“If you’re not going to indict someone, you don’t stand up there and unload negative information about the person,” Barr said. 

 

There have been times when the department has elaborated on decisions not to pursue criminal charges. Also, there is some precedent for special counsels appointed by the Justice Department to hold news conferences. 

 

Patrick Fitzgerald, the special counsel who investigated the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame and who was granted even broader authority than Mueller, held a 2005 news conference when he charged I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. But even then, Fitzgerald drew a clear line. 

 

One of the obligations of the prosecutors and the grand juries is to keep the information obtained in the investigation secret, not to share it with the public,'' Fitzgerald said then.And as frustrating as that may be for the public, that is important because, the way our system of justice works, if information is gathered about people and they’re not charged with a crime, we don’t hold up that information for the public to look at. We either charge them with a crime or we don’t.” 

​Can Congress subpoena Mueller and his report?

Sure. Powerful Democratic committee chairmen have said as much. 

 

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York has raised the prospect of subpoenaing the report and calling Mueller before Congress to ask him about his findings. So has Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Democrats also want all of Mueller’s underlying evidence, including interview transcripts and documents.

Schiff says he’s watching Barr’s moves carefully to see if he were to try to bury any part of this report.'' He says anything less than complete disclosure would leave Barr witha tarnished legacy.” 

 

Many Republicans have also argued that the full report should be released. And the House voted 420-0 this month for a resolution calling for any final report to be made public. Still, many allies of the president have stopped short of saying it should be subpoenaed.

Trump, as the leader of the executive branch, could direct the Justice Department to defy the subpoena, setting the stage for a court fight that would almost certainly go to the Supreme Court. 

Will Trump be able to see the report?

It is unclear whether Trump will ask to see the report and under what circumstances he or his attorneys might be able to view it, especially because the document is meant to be confidential for Justice Department leadership. 

 

Barr said at his confirmation hearing that he would not permit White House interference in the investigation. But he also has voiced an expansive view of executive power in which the president functions as the country’s chief law enforcement officer and has wide latitude in giving directives to the FBI and Justice Department. 

 

Democrats could seize on any disclosure to the president to argue that the report really isn’t confidential and should be immediately provided to them as well.

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White House Rejects Democrats’ Demands for Information on Trump-Putin Talks 

The White House has rejected a request by Democratic lawmakers to provide information about President Donald Trump’s communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to media reports on Thursday.

The White House sent its denial in a letter to Congress, according to reports by The Hill newspaper and CNN.

U.S. Representatives Adam Schiff, Eliot Engel and Elijah Cummings, the chairmen of the House of Representatives Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, respectively, had asked the White House and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in early March for documents and interviews about Trump’s conversations with Putin.

The lawmakers expressed concern about media reports that Trump seized notes on at least one meeting with the Russian leader and tried to destroy records about those talks.

In his response, White House counsel Pat Cipollone said a president’s communications with foreign leaders are confidential and protected by executive privilege.

“The president must be free to engage in discussions with foreign leaders without fear that those communications will be disclosed and used as fodder for partisan political purposes,” Cipollone wrote in the letter to the committee chairmen, according to The Hill.

The request for information about communications with Putin followed the powerful House Judiciary Committee’s demand for documents from a who’s who of Trump’s turbulent world, targeting 81 people, government agencies and other groups in an investigation of possible obstruction of justice or abuse of power.

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US House to Vote in April to Reinstate Net Neutrality Rules

The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives will vote in April on a bill to reinstate landmark net neutrality rules repealed by the Federal Communications Commission under President Donald Trump. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said in a letter to colleagues on Thursday, seen by Reuters, that lawmakers would vote on the “Save the Internet Act” during the week of April 8. 

The bill mirrors an effort last year to reverse the FCC’s December 2017 order that repealed rules approved in 2015 that barred providers from blocking or slowing internet content or offering paid “fast lanes.” 

The reversal of net neutrality rules was a win for internet providers like Comcast Corp., AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., but opposed by content and social media companies like Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc. 

and Alphabet Inc. 

The bill would repeal the order introduced by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, bar the FCC from reinstating it or a substantially similar order and reinstate the 2015 net neutrality order. 

Republicans oppose reinstating the 2015 rules that grant the FCC sweeping authority to oversee the conduct of internet providers. 

The Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, voted in May 2018 to reinstate the rules, but the House did not take up the issue before Congress adjourned last year. The White House opposes reinstating the net neutrality rules and it is not clear that proponents will be able to force a vote in the Senate. 

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Тимошенко неодноразово зустрічалась з Аваковим перед виборами – «Схеми»

​Так, 16 березня – в день акції «Нацкорпусу» і «Нацдружин» – «Схеми» зафіксували, як «Мерседес» і авто супроводу Тимошенко, заїхали на територію МВС без жодної перевірки

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З 14 квітня для українців починає діяти туристичний «безвіз» до Таїланду

З 14 квітня 2019 року громадяни України зможуть подорожувати до Королівства Таїланд з туристичною метою без віз, повідомив Департамент консульської служби МЗС України.

«Для поїздки потрібно мати закордонний паспорт (біометричний або небіометричний), строк безвізового перебування – до 30 днів. Для перебування на території Таїланду строком більш ніж 30 днів, незалежно від мети подорожі, необхідно отримати візу у відповідному дипломатичному представництві або консульській установі», – йдеться в повідомленні.

Запровадження безвізового режиму між Україною і Таїландом президент Петро Порошенко анонсував у листопаді минулого року.

У січні поточного року в МЗС заявляли, що Україна веде переговори про спрощення візового режиму або запровадження «безвізу» з 22 країнами світу.

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Кубок світу з біатлону: у спринтерській гонці найкраща з українок фінішувала 28-ю

На Кубку світу з біатлону 9-го етапу Кубка світу в Голменколлені (Норвегія) 21 березня відбулася спринтерська гонка у жінок.

Перемогу у ній здобула представниця Словаччини Анастасія Кузьміна.

Друге місце посіла німкеня Франциска Пройс, а замкнула трійку лідерів ще одна біатлоністка зі Словаччини – Пауліна Фіалкова.

Найкращою з українок стала Віта Семеренко. Вона відстрілялася чисто і фінішувала 28-ю.

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Рекордна кількість українок вийде на старт останнього етапу Кубка світу з біатлону

Одразу сім українських біатлоністок вийдуть на старт спринту, який у норвезькому Голменколлені 21 березня відкриває програму останнього, дев’ятого етапу Кубка світу.

Шестеро українок отримали право стартувати за здобутою ще в минулому сезоні квотою, а 20-річна Катерина Бех – як найкраща серед учасниць юніорського чемпіонату світу.

Першою серед українок вийде на дистанцію Валя Семеренко (у неї 15-й стартовий номер), після неї розпочнуть гонку Анастасія Меркушина (25-й номер), Яна Бондар (35-й), Віта Семеренко (38-й), Анна Кривонос (60-й), Надія Бєлкіна (66-й) та Катерина Бех (89-й). Всього ж у спринті заявлені 107 учасниць.

У програмі змагань у Голменколлені є також чоловічий спринт 22 березня, гонки переслідування 23 березня, мас-старти 24 березня.

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