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May 28, 2022 7:07 am

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“russia and the west” – Google News: WTA roundup: Record 7 Russians move to St. Petersburg quarters – Reuters


WTA roundup: Record 7 Russians move to St. Petersburg quarters  Reuters

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Russia News: “US – Russia relations” – Google News: 1600: U.S.-China tension adds to fear for Asian Americans – Newsday


1600: U.S.-China tension adds to fear for Asian Americans  Newsday

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Russia News: Voice of America – English: VOA Newscasts (2 Minute)


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Voice of America – English: VOA Newscasts (2 Minute)


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Russia News: Voice of America – English: Cost of Higher Ed ‘Bankrupting Students’


Cost of college tuition in the United States remains at an all-time high – even higher for international students. US politicians who are examining the future of higher education after COVID-19 say tackling the cost is essential to students and universities. Jesusemen Oni has more.

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Russia News: Voice of America – English: Top US, Chinese Diplomats Clash Publicly at First Talks of Biden Presidency


The United States and China leveled sharp rebukes Thursday of each other’s policies in the first high-level, in-person talks of the Biden administration, with deeply strained relations of the two global rivals on rare public display during the meeting’s opening session in Alaska.

The United States, which quickly accused China of grandstanding and violating the meeting’s protocol, had been looking for a change in behavior from China, which had earlier this year expressed hope for a reset to sour relations.

On the eve of the talks, Beijing had presaged what would be a contentious meeting, with its ambassador to Washington saying the United States was full of illusions if it thinks China will compromise.

Sparring in a highly unusual extended back-and-forth in front of cameras, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan opened their meeting with China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and State Councilor Wang Yi in Anchorage, fresh off Blinken’s visits to allies Japan and South Korea.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, right, speaks as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, looks on at the opening session of U.S.-China talks at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage, Alaska, March 18, 2021.

“We will … discuss our deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyberattacks on the United States, economic coercion of our allies,” Blinken said in blunt public remarks at the top of the first meeting.

“Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability,” he said.

Yang responded with a 15-minute speech in Chinese while the U.S. side awaited translation, lashing out about what he said was the United States’ struggling democracy and its poor treatment of minorities, and criticizing its foreign and trade policies.

“The United States uses its military force and financial hegemony to carry out long-arm jurisdiction and suppress other countries,” Yang said.

“It abuses so-called notions of national security to obstruct normal trade exchanges and incite some countries to attack China,” he added.

“Let me say here that in front of the Chinese side, the United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength,” Yang said. ” … The U.S. side was not even qualified to say such things even 20 years or 30 years back, because this is not the way to deal with the Chinese people.”

Protocol

Apparently taken aback by Yang’s remarks, Blinken held journalists in the room so he could respond.

Sullivan said the United States did not seek conflict with China but would stand up for its principles and friends. He touted this year’s Mars rover landing success and said the United States’ promise was in its ability constantly reinvent itself.

Yang Jiechi, center, director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, second left, speak with U.S. counterparts at the opening session of U.S.-China talks in Anchorage, Alaska, March 18, 2021.

What is typically a few minutes of opening remarks open to reporters for such high-level meetings lasted for more than an hour, and the two delegations tussled about when journalists would be ushered out of the room.

Following the exchange, a senior U.S. administration official said China had immediately violated agreed-to protocol, which was two minutes of opening remarks by each of the principals.

“The Chinese delegation … seems to have arrived intent on grandstanding, focused on public theatrics and dramatics over substance,” the official told reporters in Alaska.

The United States would continue with its meeting as planned, the official said, adding that “exaggerated diplomatic presentations often are aimed at a domestic audience.”

Before taking office, U.S. President Joe Biden had been attacked by Republicans who feared his administration would take too soft an approach with China. But in recent weeks, top Republicans have given the president a gentle nod for revitalizing relations with U.S. allies in order to confront China, a shift from former President Donald Trump’s go-it-alone “America First” strategy.

While much of Biden’s China policy is still being formulated, including how to handle the tariffs on Chinese goods implemented under Trump, his administration has so far placed a stronger emphasis on democratic values and allegations of human rights abuses by China.

‘Pretty tough’ conversations

The U.S. administration has said Blinken’s Asia tour before the meeting with Chinese officials, as well as U.S. outreach to Europe, India and other partners, shows how the United States has strengthened its hand to confront China since Biden took office in January.

But the two sides appear primed to agree on very little at the talks, which were expected to run into the evening in Anchorage and continue Friday.

Even the status of the meeting has become a sticking point, with China insisting it is a “strategic dialogue,” recalling bilateral mechanisms of years past. The U.S. side has explicitly rejected that, calling it a one-off session.

On the eve of the talks, the United States issued a flurry of actions directed at China, including a move to begin revoking Chinese telecom licenses, subpoenas to multiple Chinese information technology companies over national security concerns, and updated sanctions on China over a rollback of democracy in Hong Kong.

“We’re expecting much of these conversations will be pretty, pretty tough,” a senior U.S. administration official told reporters in Alaska before the meeting began.

Yang questioned Blinken on whether the sanctions were announced ahead of the meeting on purpose.

“Well, I think we thought too well of the United States. We thought that the U.S. side would follow the necessary diplomatic protocols,” he said.

FILE – A protester holds a sign calling for China to release Canadian detainees Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig outside a court hearing for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, March 6, 2019.

China, however, indicated this week that it was set to begin trials of two Canadians detained in December 2018 on spying charges soon after Canadian police detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of telecom equipment company Huawei Technologies, on a U.S. warrant.

Meng awaits the results of a case that could see her extradited to the United States, but China’s foreign ministry rejected assertions that the timing of the trials was linked to the Anchorage talks.

Washington has said it is willing to work with China when it is in the interests of the United States and has cited the fight against climate change and the coronavirus pandemic as examples. On Thursday, Blinken said Washington hoped to see China use its influence with North Korea to persuade it to give up its nuclear weapons.

Uyghurs’ demand

The largest group representing exiled Uyghurs has written to Blinken urging him to demand that Beijing close its internment camps in the Xinjiang region, where U.N. experts say that more than 1 million members of the ethnic group and other Muslim minorities have been held.

Blinken had pledged to raise the issue, his State Department having upheld a Trump administration determination that Beijing was perpetrating genocide in Xinjiang, something China vehemently denies.

Yang said China firmly opposed U.S. interference in its internal affairs. The United States should handle its own affairs and China its own, he said.

 

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Voice of America – English: US House Passes Dreamers, Farmworker Legalization


U.S. House lawmakers on Thursday passed two key elements of President Joe Biden’s ambitious immigration agenda. But as VOA’s congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson reports, the nation’s larger immigration debate remains unresolved.

Produced by: Katherine Gypson
 

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“Russia influence in Eastern Europe” – Google News: Beware the bear in the Pacific – The Strategist


Beware the bear in the Pacific  The Strategist

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Voice of America – English: Divided US House Approves Bill Helping Dreamer Immigrants


The U.S. House voted Thursday to open a gateway to citizenship for Dreamers and immigrants who have fled war or natural disasters abroad, giving Democrats a win in the year’s first vote on an issue that once again faces a steep uphill climb in the Senate.

On a near party-line 228-197 vote, lawmakers approved one bill offering legal status to around 2 million Dreamers, brought to the U.S. illegally as children, and hundreds of thousands of other migrants from a dozen troubled countries.

Passage seemed imminent for a second measure, creating similar protections for 1 million farm workers who have worked in the U.S. illegally. The government estimates they comprise half the nation’s agricultural laborers.

Both bills hit a wall of opposition from Republicans insistent that any immigration legislation bolster security at the Mexican border, which waves of migrants have tried breaching in recent weeks. The GOP has accused congressional Democrats of ignoring that problem, and President Joe Biden of fueling it, by erasing former President Donald Trump’s restrictive policies, even though that surge began while Trump was still in office.

The House bills’ prospects were gloomy in the evenly split Senate, where the 50 Democrats will need at least 10 GOP supporters to break Republican filibusters. The outlook was even grimmer for Biden’s more ambitious goal of legislation making citizenship possible for all 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally, easing visa restrictions, improving border security technology and spending billions in Central America to ease problems that prompt people to leave.

‘They’re so much of our country’

Congress has deadlocked over immigration for years, and it once again seemed headed toward becoming political ammunition. Republicans could use it to rally conservative voters in upcoming elections, while Democrats could add it to a stack of House-passed measures languishing in the Senate to build support for abolishing that chamber’s bill-killing filibusters.

Democrats said their bills were aimed not at border security but at addressing groups of immigrants who deserve to be helped.

“They’re so much of our country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of Dreamers, who like many immigrants have held front-line jobs during the pandemic. “These immigrant communities strengthen, enrich and ennoble our nation, and they must be allowed to stay.”

Neither House measure would directly affect those trying to cross the boundary from Mexico. Republicans criticized them anyway for lacking border security provisions and turned the debate into an opportunity to lambast Biden, who has ridden a wave of popularity since taking office and winning a massive COVID-19 relief package.

“It is a Biden border crisis, and it is spinning out of control,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

While the number of migrants caught trying to cross the border from Mexico has been rising since April, the 100,441 encountered last month was the highest figure since March 2019. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has said the number is tracking toward a 20-year high.

Democrats were making that problem worse, Republicans said, with bills they said entice smugglers to sneak more immigrants into the U.S. and provide amnesty to immigrants who break laws to enter and live in the country.

“We don’t know who these people are. We don’t know what their intentions are,” Republican Congressman Jody Hice of Georgia said of immigrant farmworkers who might seek legal status. He added, “It’s frightening. It’s irresponsible. It’s endangering American lives.”

Getting green cards

During earlier debate on the Dreamers bill, Democrats said Republicans were going too far.

“Sometimes, I stand in this chamber and I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone, listening to a number of my Republican colleagues espouse white supremacist ideology to denigrate our Dreamers,” said Democratic Congressman Mondaire Jones of New York.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Biden supports both bills as “critical milestones toward much-needed relief for the millions of individuals who call the United States home.”

The Dreamers bill would grant conditional legal status for 10 years to many immigrants up to age 18 who were brought to the U.S. illegally before this year. They would have to graduate from high school or have equivalent educational credentials, not have serious criminal records and meet other conditions.

To attain legal permanent residence, often called a green card, they would have to obtain a higher education degree, serve in the military or be employed for at least three years. Like all others with green cards, they could then apply for citizenship after five years.

The measure would also grant green cards to an estimated 400,000 immigrants with temporary protected status, which allows temporary residence to people who have fled violence or natural disasters in a dozen countries.

The other bill would let immigrant farm workers who have worked in the country illegally over the past two years — along their spouses and children — get certified agriculture worker status. That would let them remain in the U.S. for renewable 5½-year periods.

To earn green cards, they would have to pay a $1,000 fine and work for up to an additional eight years, depending on how long they have already held farm jobs.

The legislation would also cap wage increases, streamline the process for employers to get H-2A visas that let immigrants work legally on farm jobs, and phase in a mandatory system for electronically verifying that agriculture workers are in the U.S. legally.

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Voice of America – English: Emergency Sites for Migrant Children Raising Safety Concerns


The U.S. government has stopped taking immigrant teenagers to a converted camp for oilfield workers in West Texas because of questions about the safety of emergency sites quickly being opened to hold children crossing the southern border.

The Associated Press has learned that the converted camp has faced multiple issues in the four days since the Biden administration opened it amid a scramble to find space for immigrant children. More than 10% of the camp’s population has tested positive for COVID-19 and at least one child had to be hospitalized.

An official working at the Midland, Texas, site said most of the Red Cross volunteers staffing the site do not speak Spanish, even though the teenagers they care for are overwhelmingly from Central America. When the facility opened, there were not enough new clothes to give to teenagers who had been wearing the same shirts and pants for several days, the official said. There were also no case managers on site to begin processing the minors’ release to family members elsewhere in the U.S.

Bringing in teenagers while still setting up basic services “was kind of like building a plane as it’s taking off,” said the official, who declined to be named because of government restrictions.

No plans for more

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notified local officials in Midland late Wednesday night that it had no plans to bring more teenagers to the site, according to an email seen by The Associated Press. There were still 485 youths at the site as of Wednesday, 53 of whom had tested positive for COVID-19.

The government on Wednesday brought around 200 teenagers to another emergency site at the downtown Dallas convention center, which could hold up to 3,000 minors. HHS spokesman Mark Weber said taking more teenagers to Midland was on “pause for now.” HHS will also not open a facility for children at Moffett Federal Airfield near San Francisco, according to Democratic Representative Anna Eshoo.

Migrants who were caught trying to sneak into the United States and deported, eat near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge…

Migrants who were caught trying to sneak into the United States and were deported eat near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge point of entry into the U.S., March 18, 2021, in Reynosa, Mexico.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has been sharply criticized for its response to an increase in crossings of unaccompanied immigrant children. As roughly 4,500 children wait in Border Patrol facilities unequipped for long-term detention, with some sleeping on floors, HHS has rushed to open holding sites across the country and tried to expedite its processes for releasing children in custody. About 9,500 minors are in HHS custody.

In addition, the U.S. has seen a sharp increase in Central American families arriving at the border who are fleeing violence, poverty and the effects of a destructive hurricane. Biden has kept intact an emergency measure enacted by the Trump administration during the pandemic that allows the government to quickly expel them to Mexico, though families with young children are generally allowed to enter through South Texas.

The Biden administration is not expelling immigrant children unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Several hundred a day are crossing the border, going first to often-packed Border Patrol stations while they await placement in the HHS system.

Red Cross help

HHS has turned to the American Red Cross to care for teenagers in both Midland and Dallas, a departure from the standard practice of having paid, trained staff watch over youths. Red Cross volunteers sit outside portable trailers in Midland to monitor the teenagers staying inside. Staff from HHS and the U.S. Public Health Service are also at both sites.

Neither HHS nor the Red Cross would say whether the volunteers had to pass FBI fingerprint checks, which are more exhaustive than a commercial background check. Both agencies have declined repeated requests for interviews.

The waiver of those background checks at another HHS camp in Tornillo, Texas, in 2018 led to concerns that the government was endangering child welfare. HHS requires caregivers in its permanent facilities to pass an FBI fingerprint check, and the agency’s inspector general found in 2018 that waiving background checks and not having enough mental health clinicians resulted in “serious safety and health vulnerabilities.”

The official who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity said there was not sufficient mental health care at the Midland camp for minors who typically have fled their countries of origin and undergone a traumatic journey into the country.

Dany Vargas Rodriguez, 10, a migrant from Honduras, plays with a car he was gifted at a plaza near the McAllen-Hidalgo…

Dany Vargas Rodriguez, 10, of Honduras, plays with a toy car near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge entry point into the U.S. after he and his family were caught trying to sneak into the U.S. and deported, March 18, 2021, in Reynosa, Mexico.

In a statement earlier this week, HHS said it was rushing to get children out of Border Patrol custody and that emergency sites “will provide a safer and less overcrowded environment where children are cared for and processed as quickly as possible.”

The Red Cross says its volunteers in Midland and Dallas “have received intensive training in sheltering operations and COVID-19 safety,” and that they had all undergone background checks. The agency declined to say how many hours of training each volunteer had received.

Republican U.S. Representative August Pfluger, who represents Midland, was allowed to visit the site soon after it opened and saw the portable units that serve as rooms for each teenager.

“It’s a professional facility that was intended for workers,” he said.

But Pfluger and other Midland officials said the Biden administration was not answering their questions or giving them assurance that officials would keep the surrounding community safe. HHS opened the Midland site without notifying some top local officials, who said many of their questions were not being answered.

Quick opening

The email HHS sent to local officials this week details the haste with which government officials opened the site. It says officials identified the camp on Friday and signed a contract Saturday. The first group of teenagers arrived Sunday night.

Leecia Welch, an attorney for the National Center for Youth Law, interviewed children last week who were detained at the Border Patrol’s sprawling tent facility in Donna, Texas. Many of those children reported going days without a shower or being taken outside.

Welch noted that Biden “inherited a dismantled immigration system and the impact on children, in particular, is becoming increasingly dire.”

But, she added, “Building more and more holding centers without services or case management is just trading one set of problems for another.”

 

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