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Deterrence at US-Mexico Border, Immigrant Becomes Colorado Mayor

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.


Biden Administration Relies on Deterrence to Manage Immigration at US-Mexico Border

The Biden administration is using new rules to manage the flow of migrants by discouraging them from coming to the U.S.-Mexico border, delaying them once they arrive or removing them if they don’t follow the guidelines. Immigration reporter Aline Barros has the story.


Nigerian-Born Political Newcomer Becomes Colorado City Mayor

After a history-making victory, Nigerian immigrant Yemi Mobolade was sworn in on June 6 as the mayor of Colorado Springs, the second-largest city in the western U.S. state of Colorado. Mobolade moved to the U.S. 27 years ago as a student and became a U.S. citizen in 2017. He started a family, opened two restaurants and a church, and then won election in this traditionally conservative city as its first elected Black leader. Haruna Shehu reports from Colorado.


California Attorney General Blames Florida for Migrant Charter Flight

Florida appears to have arranged for a group of South American migrants to be transported from Texas to California and dropped off in Sacramento, California’s attorney general said, noting that he’s looking into whether any crimes may have been committed. The Associated Press reports.

Vietnamese Families Calling Remote Alaskan Islands Home

Off the coast of Alaska, an outpost of about 4,000 people spills over two of the Aleutian Islands, Unalaska and Amaknak. A few Vietnamese families have braved the harsh conditions to build lives and businesses. VOA’s Dong Hai has the story, narrated by Titi Tran.


VOA Day in Photo:

A wooden boat carrying migrants waits to be rescued by a Spanish coast guard vessel, near Bahia Feliz Beach, in the island of Gran Canaria, Spain.


Immigration around the world

Visa Program for Afghans Gains Momentum; Many Applicants Trapped Under Taliban

Nearly two years after the United States evacuated approximately 124,000 people from Afghanistan, tens of thousands of Afghans who worked for the U.S. government remain inside the country, fearing Taliban persecution. VOA’s Akmal Dawi reports.


Malawi Revokes Dubious Citizenship of Refugees Wanted Abroad

Malawi’s government has started revoking the citizenship of refugees and asylum-seekers who they say obtained their status fraudulently. Officials say the campaign is aimed at flushing out criminals from other countries, including Rwandan genocide suspects. But critics say the program is too broad and will ensnare legitimate refugees. Story by Lameck Masina.


Rights Groups Urge Malawi to Stop Forced Refugee Relocations

An international rights group is asking the Malawi government to stop the forced relocation of 8,000 refugees living outside a congested camp. Human Rights Watch says it is concerned by reports that children are among those caught up in the sweeps and forcibly taken to a prison in the capital, Lilongwe. The rights group says the forcible relocation violates international conventions for refugees which Malawi ratified. Story by Lameck Masina.


Caught Between Two Wars: Sudan’s Ethiopian Refugees

Tigrayans who fled Ethiopia’s civil war to neighboring Sudan say they are not receiving enough aid because of the outbreak of violence there, but that they are afraid to return to Ethiopia because of alleged ethnic cleansing. Others, resorting to desperate measures, are falling victim to human traffickers promising to help them find passage to Europe. Henry Wilkins reports from N’Djamena, Chad.


Food Rations for Each Rohingya Refugee Drops to $8 Per Month

Rights activists and refugees have expressed concerns over the United Nations food agency’s decision to cut food aid for the second time in three months for more than 1 million Rohingya from Myanmar who are living in shanty colonies in Bangladesh. Story by Shaikh Azizur Rahman.


Taliban Move to Address Pakistan’s Cross-Border Terror Complaints

Taliban authorities in Afghanistan announced their plan Sunday to move thousands of Pakistani refugees away from border provinces amid sustained allegations the displaced population is the source of growing terrorism in neighboring Pakistan. Ayaz Gul reports for VOA from Islamabad, Pakistan.


News Brief

—The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new process that will enable Afghan nationals to renew their parole and continue to live and work in the United States.

«Наша вода небезпечна»: влада Херсонщини заборонила купатися та ловити рибу

Місцева влада каже, що в неділю, 11 червня, в Херсоні та області очікуються грози, місцями град, шквали вітру 15-29 м/с

На Херсонщині в річці Інгулець перевищений допустимий рівень шкідливих речовин – екологи

Згідно з результатами лабораторних досліджень, наявне перевищення концентрації азоту амонійного, заліза загального та завислих речовин

‘Unabomber’ Theodore ‘Ted’ Kaczynski Has Died in Prison

Theodore “Ted” Kaczynski, known as the Unabomber, has died in federal prison, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons told The Associated Press Saturday. 

Kaczynski was found dead around 8 a.m. at a federal prison in North Carolina. A cause of death was not immediately known. 

He had been moved to the federal prison medical facility in North Carolina after spending two decades in a federal Supermax prison in Colorado for a series of bombings that targeted scientists. 

Kaczynski was serving life without the possibility of parole following his 1996 arrest at the primitive cabin, where he was living in western Montana. He pleaded guilty to setting 16 explosions that killed three people and injured 23 others in various parts of the United States between 1978 and 1995. 

Під Нікополем просіла ділянка із залізничним полотном, рух потягів призупинили

«Вплив підірваної росіянами дамби прослідковується набагато далі Херсонської області»

Верховна Рада збільшила тривалість відпусток для військових

Відпустка може бути надана частинами тричі на рік за умови одночасної відсутності не більше 30% загальної чисельності військовослужбовців

Трюдо щодо руйнування Каховської ГЕС: «пряма відповідальність Росії»

«Війна Росії в Україні катастрофічно вплинула на інфраструктуру, зруйнувала сім’ї, забрала життя людей і спричинила економічний, продовольчий та енергетичний брак по всьому світу»

Прем’єр Канади Трюдо прибув до Києва – МЗС

Подробиці візиту наразі невідомі, заздалегідь про нього не інформували

Ugandan Baseball Player Debuts in America

In the heart of Maryland, the Frederick Keys baseball team introduced its newest player last week, one unlike any other the team has seen in its 35-year history.

Dennis Kasumba, 18-year-old catcher. From Uganda.

Kasuma recently turned what seemed like an impossible dream into a reality, making the leap from the rough fields of his home country to the manicured grass of American professional baseball stadiums. For those following his journey, he stands as a symbol of resilience.

Just three days after flying to the U.S., Kasumba took his first official steps onto an American baseball diamond on June 1 with the Keys. Batting in the ninth inning, he struck out on three pitches, but was able to make contact on the first pitch, fouling it off.

The young player who once honed his skills on muddy streets using old tires and oil drums in Uganda, now finds himself playing high-quality amateur league baseball, one step below the professional minor leagues.

“My first game was very, very good because I faced a pitcher who threw 95 [miles per hour – about 153 kph], yeah. And I hit it,” Kasumba told VOA. “I need to hit because I am here to hit, to show my skill, I am ready to hit. I want to show I can hit. I want to show them I can throw.”

Kasumba’s story extends beyond his on-field skills. His journey from Uganda to the U.S. has captured the imagination of thousands on social media who have marveled at his intense workouts. In one, he practices his catching drills with a tire strapped to his back.

One of these admirers was Joshua Williams, an American attorney and baseball enthusiast who helped make Kasumba’s dream a reality.

“It all just started because I saw a video of him hitting off of a tire, hitting a baseball off of the tire with a Coke bottle,” Williams said. “So, I reached out to him on Facebook, started talking to him. We talked about his dreams and aspirations.”

It took Kasumba almost two years to get a contract with an American team and several attempts at the U.S. Embassy in Uganda to secure a travel visa.

Williams and some friends intensified their efforts after his third visa request was denied.

“We started making our application a lot stronger. Several immigration attorneys at my firm jumped in and they were like, ‘Let’s figure this out,’” Williams told VOA. “And so, we just kind of put our heads together. So, he was denied on Friday. And on Tuesday we got a call from the embassy, and they said, ‘Be there Thursday at 2 o’clock.’”

Kasumba is not the first Ugandan to try his hand at baseball. Last year, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed two Ugandans, Umar Male and Ben Serunkuma, to contracts. Both have played some games in the low minor leagues.

In his debut, Kasumba showed that he too may have a future in baseball, and also underscored his desire to learn.

“When I saw my pitchers throwing in 88, 95, 98. I thought, ‘Can I hit these guys? They are faster.’ But when I got to my first batting, in my heart I said, ‘I can hit, because I believe in myself,’” he said.

For Frederick Keys Manager Rene Rivera, Kasumba is already giving the team a jolt.

“This guy has so much energy, he brings so much to the other guys, you know, he’s hardworking,” Rivera said. “We all saw some of his videos on Instagram, the passion he puts behind him so he can be good. And I think that the players already see that, they come and work.”

Kasumba, who grew up an orphan in Wakiso, Uganda, is determined to make the most of the opportunity.

“There are a lot of kids, uh, people calling my name, my jersey number: Kasumba! Kasumba! Kasumba! This is my first time, to have someone asking me for a signature, photos,” he said. “I was so surprised. It makes me feel very, very good. I think I am blessed.”

The months ahead will bring challenges and opportunities alike for Kasumba. And to face these head-on, the young man has a few people he can count on, starting with his manager.

“We helped him come over here. And now he’s here,” Rivera told VOA. “So, I think that my job is to be his role model, to show him what I know and what I know from many years playing baseball, help him get to the next. I think that’s my main goal right now.”

Catching is baseball’s most complicated and physically arduous position, but Rivera can teach Kasumba a lot – he spent 13 years as a catcher in the major leagues.

As Kasumba steps onto the field, bat in hand, he believes he’s not just playing for the Frederick Keys — he’s playing for his country, his thousands of online supporters around the world and every dreamer who’s ever dared to dream big.

US-Kosovo Diplomatic Spat Casts Shadow on Bilateral Relations

The United States and Kosovo are continuing to engage in an unusual public spat, after the staunch U.S. ally’s prime minister, Albin Kurti, resisted calls to take steps that the West says are necessary to de-escalate ethnic tensions in the country’s north.

Tensions flared last week as ethnic Albanian mayors entered municipal buildings with the backing of police, despite having won with only 3.5 percent of the vote in local elections that ethnic Serbs boycotted.

U.S. Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar and EU Special Envoy Miroslav Lajcak visited Kosovo and Serbia this week, where they asked the leaders of the two countries to de-escalate, hold quick new elections in northern Kosovo and resume their dialogue.

It’s unclear if they will be able to persuade the two sides. Escobar has called Kurti inflexible and uncooperative, and Kurti complained that Washington and Brussels are biased in favor of Serbia.

What’s at stake is a deal between Kosovo and Serbia aimed at normalizing relations, but so far no concrete steps have been taken.

On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Christopher Hill was blunt in an interview with VOA’s Serbian Service, saying Washington has a problem with Kurti. “He’s not willing to comply, and I think we have some very fundamental issues with him on whether we can count on him as a partner,” he said.

Kurti fired back, complaining in an interview with The Associated Press of bias against his country from the United States and the European Union and tolerance of what he calls Serbia’s authoritarian regime. “Behaving well with an autocrat doesn’t make him behave better. On the contrary,” he told AP.

Hill confirmed a view that many who have followed the Western Balkans and U.S. engagement with Kosovo share these days. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a deep division, really … what we have going right now between Pristina and Washington,” he said.

US approach debated

While analysts agree that the situation is dangerous, they have different opinions on the United States’ open criticism of Kurti.

Luke Coffey, a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute, said the biggest concern for him has been the way the Biden administration has handled the situation, calling Escobar’s approach “almost reckless.”

“I understand this desire to put pressure on both sides by the U.S. government, but it seems like right now the pressure is disproportionately on Kosovo. … And I think this is unhealthy,” he told VOA Albanian in an interview.

But Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the criticism is justified. “He [Kurti] has taken actions of late that I deem to be needlessly provocative, including … using armed guards to seat ethnic Albanian mayors that were elected with less than 4 percent of the vote. These are not helpful maneuvers,” he told VOA Albanian.

Kupchan said the United States and the EU still need to maintain an even-handed approach, considering that “Serbia has been a difficult player on these issues from the very beginning, that Serbia likely advised Serbs in the north not to participate in the recent elections.”

“So, whereas I do think that the criticism of Kurti is justified, the pressure needs to stay on both Pristina and Belgrade if we’re going to see progress toward normalization and implementation of the agreements, including some form of Serb self-management in Kosovo,” he said.

The U.S. and the EU have asked Serbia to withdraw troops that it sent to the border with Kosovo and to urge protesters to be calm.

But observers notice that there has not been a calling out of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, like there has been with Kurti.

Coffey said the West is trying to appease Serbia, and Vucic is trying to have it both ways.

“He wants to pretend like he is going to get closer to the West and be a productive member of the Euro-Atlantic community, but all the while he is very cozy with Moscow, very cozy with the Kremlin. And Serbia, under his leadership, remains Russia’s main foothold in the Balkans,” he said, adding that this undermines U.S. interests in the region.

When visiting Pristina, special envoy Escobar made sure to distinguish in his remarks between sharp disagreements with the Kosovo government and the overall relationship with the country as a whole. Kupchan said the unique relationship between Kosovo and the United States has not changed.

“By making public statements of this sort, I think the United States is, as I said, trying to create a situation in which there is political public pressure on Kurti to take a different line, and in which I think the United States is also sending a message to Serbs, to Serbia, to the Serbian government, that it is an even-handed player,” he said.

Many disputes

The tensions over local elections are just the latest in a long list of disagreements between Kosovo and Serbia over what each country needs to do to make progress toward normalizing ties, a process spearheaded by the EU with strong support from the U.S.

Kupchan said Western leaders’ frustration stems from the fact that they thought normalization was within reach, and the parties don’t seem to be taking advantage of the opportunity.

“This is, in my mind, the best opportunity that we’ve seen really in a very long time, perhaps even since the initial independence of Kosovo in 2008,” he said.

The issue of self-management of Serbs in northern Kosovo is essentially the Achilles’ heel in this process.

Visiting the region, Escobar repeated that Kosovo needs to establish an Association of Serb Municipalities if it wants to move closer to Euro-Atlantic institutions. Kosovo officials have resisted, talking about more autonomy for Serbs but stopping short of committing to a concrete plan.

“That seems to be the key sticking point here. It is also, in my mind, the key that would lead to a breakthrough in which the Serb majority that lives north of the river would feel that they have a voice in the institutions, the governance of Kosovo, and that they may then be more comfortable integrating into the country,” Kupchan said.

He added that the question is not whether Kosovo has a right to be frustrated, considering that “Belgrade has been sustaining parallel structures and has been manipulating the population inside Kosovo.”

In his view, the main question facing Kosovo is, “What is the best course for the government to take to get to a satisfactory, stable, durable peace in which Serbia forms a normal relationship with Kosovo, and ultimately all the countries of the world, including Serbia, recognize Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state?”

Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence that it declared in 2008, and that came almost a decade after U.S.-led NATO forces intervened to stop ethnic cleansing by the Serbian regime at the time.

Keida Kostreci reported from Washington. Jovana Djurovic reported from Belgrade. Ivana Konstantinovic contributed. Some information came from The Associated Press.

Canadian Wildfire Smoke Engulfs US Cities

A thick haze from Canadian wildfire smoke covered cities in the northeastern U.S. this week. U.S. East Coast residents are unaccustomed to such pollution. VOA Senior Washington Correspondent Carolyn Presutti explains what’s different and shows us the strange look of the New York City skyline.

US Ambassador to UN ‘Gravely Concerned’ About Russia-Iran Military Cooperation

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Friday she is “gravely concerned by the growing military cooperation” between Russia and Iran because it enables “Russia’s prosecution of its brutal war against Ukraine.”

Thomas-Greenfield said in a statement, the recent release of information by the United States documenting how Iran has provided Russia with hundreds of one-way, attack unmanned aerial vehicles and UAV production equipment, has enabled Russia to use the UAVs “in recent weeks to strike Kyiv, destroy Ukranian infrastructure, and kill and terrorize Ukrainians civilians.”

She said Russia and Iran’s actions violate U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, “which prohibits all countries – including permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – from transferring these types of weapons from Iran.”

Many countries, including Ukraine and the United States, have reported these violations to the Security Council and have also provided supporting material and analysis, according to Thomas-Greenfield.

“There is an urgent need for the secretary-general to respond to calls from the international community to investigate these violations,” she said. “Doing so could save lives.”

White House Warns Private Entities: Products Could Be Used in Iran Drones 

The White House has warned private entities, especially technology companies, about the risks of their products ending up in Iranian hands. Russia has been using drones in its war against Ukraine, attacking cities and destroying infrastructure, and — according to the White House — is working with Iran to produce them from inside Russia.

VOA Persian’s White House correspondent Farhad Pouladi on Friday spoke with John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, about this and other issues the administration is tackling regarding the Islamic Republic.

VOA: On Iran and Russia cooperation on drones, what advice does the administration have by issuing this new advisory?

NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS JOHN KIRBY: Well, we want to make sure that private entities, certainly technology companies, understand the risks of their products potentially ending up in Iranian hands to be used for the manufacture of Iranian drones in this case that can be used to kill innocent Ukrainian people. So, the purpose of the advisory was really to make sure that the business community understands our concerns and is taking a look at its own procedures and procedures.

VOA: In the past two weeks, Iran unveiled a hypersonic missile called Fattah and a 2 kilometer-range missile called Kheibar. With the arms embargo under UNSC Resolution 2231 coming to an end in October, and considering Russia’s veto power, what is the U.S. hoping to do?

KIRBY: Well, I can’t get ahead of the U.N. process here. But you’re right. This activity by Iran, particularly with ballistic missiles, is a violation of 2231. Again, I won’t get ahead of the process here and where it’s going. Clear violations, we’re going to continue to work with our allies and partners at the U.N. and outside the U.N. to make sure that we’re putting enough pressure on Iran so that they stop this destabilizing activity. Their ballistic missile program continues to improve. It presents a clear threat to the region, certainly to our friends in the region. And now some of these capabilities, not ballistic missiles necessarily but in terms of UAVs, [unmanned aerial vehicles] now, this capability, this technology is being used inside Ukraine to kill innocent Ukrainians. And now we know that Iran is working with Russia on the potential construction of a manufacturing facility, or the conversion of one, to be used inside Russia to actually produce, organically, there inside Russia, Iranian-designed UAVs, so all the more reason to continue to put pressure on the regime.

VOA: So, Europeans swap their prisoners with Iran. What is the holdup for the Americans in Iran? You mentioned it behind the podium that a blue passport is a blue passport. So what is the holdup for them?

KIRBY: I would tell you that we never lose sight of our obligations, our sacred obligation to get home wrongfully detained Americans overseas, including in Iran. I don’t have anything with specific cases to talk to you today. I can just tell you that we never stopped working on this. We’re always going to try to find a way to bring these Americans home in a way that comports with our obligation to them but also with our national security. And we’re doing that right now.

VOA: The IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] Board of Governors and the U.S. “urged Iran to fully cooperate with the agency.” And if it fails, the board should be prepared to hold Iran to account at the appropriate time. Isn’t that just a slap on the wrist from the U.S.?

KIRBY: We have done an awful lot inside the United States, just unilaterally let alone multilaterally with other countries, to hold the regime accountable for their destabilizing activities, for their constant pursuit of nuclear weapons capabilities, for their support to Russia inside Ukraine, for their attacks on maritime shipping. I could go on, and on, and on. And we’re not going to take any tools off the table to continue to hold them accountable going forward. So I think in Tehran, again, I won’t speak for the regime, but I’d be hard pressed to look at the pressure they’re under and for them to believe that the United States is simply slapping them on the wrist. Now, yes, we want them to comply with the requirements of the IAEA as they should, as they must, but we’re not going to take any options off the table in terms of our ability to continue to put pressure on them so that they do comply, so that … we can get to a place where they don’t have a nuclear weapons capability.

VOA: Going to the sanctions issue as part of Iran’s nuclear deal, specifically on Iranian blocked assets, that can be used only for humanitarian relief and humanitarian commodities. Any changes to that, especially when it comes to news reports that Iran’s Central Bank chief was here?

KIRBY: I mean, I don’t have — I don’t have anything on those press reports. Look, we have sanctions in place that are going to stay in place to hold the regime accountable for their activities in the region, for the way they’re treating their own people, and certainly for the manner in which they’re supporting Ukraine — I’m sorry, Russia — in their fight inside Ukraine and killing innocent Ukrainian people.

Republicans Rally Around Trump After Indictment 

Within hours of former President Donald Trump’s announcement on Thursday evening that he had been indicted by federal prosecutors for allegedly mishandling classified information, senior Republicans in Washington and beyond had rallied behind him, using social media to denounce the charges as a misuse of authority by the administration of President Joe Biden.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, currently the most powerful Republican in Washington, denounced the indictment in a tweet late Thursday. McCarthy called it “unconscionable” for the Biden administration to indict the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 and the person most likely to challenge Biden in his reelection bid.

Even some of the Republicans who are challenging the former president for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 spoke out against the indictment. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis dismissed the charges as a “weaponization” of the government, a word echoed by many of the former president’s supporters.

Republican leaders continued to express support Friday afternoon, after the indictment was unsealed, revealing that the former president is facing 37 felony counts. Trump is facing 31 counts of willful retention of national security documents, one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, four counts related to concealing documents, and one count of making false statements and representations.

The indictment, among other things, cites a recording in prosecutors’ possession in which Trump describes a document he took from the White House related to confidential military planning. In the recording, he acknowledges that it is classified, and says that while he could have declassified it while president, he never did.


Trump claims innocence

Trump and his attorneys have repeatedly proclaimed his innocence. In an interview with CNN late Thursday, Trump’s then-attorney, Jim Trusty, called the charges “ludicrous” and said that Trump intends to mount a strong defense. He repeated the former president’s insistence that the charges are politically motivated.

Trusty also repeated a common complaint by Trump and his supporters, who point out that President Joe Biden, too, kept classified documents after his term as vice president ended in 2017. Biden, however, immediately returned the documents when they were discovered by an attorney working in his home in January of this year. Trump, by contrast, repeatedly denied possessing classified information until the FBI executed a search warrant on his Florida home last August and found dozens of secret documents.

On Friday, Trusty and another attorney who had been representing the former president announced that they had resigned and were no longer representing Trump.

The charges against Trump were filed by special counsel Jack Smith, a politically independent former head of the Department of Justice’s public integrity unit and a former war crimes prosecutor in The Hague.

As a special counsel, Smith operates outside the direct supervision of the Department of Justice, an arrangement put in place because of the political sensitivity of an investigation involving a former president and current presidential candidate. In addition to the documents case, Smith is also overseeing an investigation of Trump’s effort to overturn his election loss to Biden in 2020, which led to the storming of the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters on January 6, 2021.

Retaliation promised

McCarthy on Thursday tweeted, “Today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America. It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades.”

He added, “I, and every American who believes in the rule of law, stand with President Trump against this grave injustice. House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable.”

How Republicans will seek to hold someone accountable for the indictment is unclear. Democrats immediately warned McCarthy against using Congress to interfere in the federal justice system.

Some of Trump’s most ardent supporters in Congress likewise assailed the decision to charge him.

Florida Representative Matt Gaetz wrote on Twitter, “This phony Boxes Hoax indictment against President Trump reflects the most severe election interference on the part of the federal government that we have EVER seen!”

Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene attacked law enforcement agencies on Twitter for participating in the investigation of the former president. “It’s shameful. Pathetic really. Ultimately the biggest hypocrisy in modern day history. A complete and total failure to the American people. A stain on our nation that the FBI and DOJ are so corrupt and they don’t even hide it anymore.”

Campaign trail

Several of the Republicans challenging Trump for the GOP nomination in 2024 had been cautiously increasing their criticism of the former president, concerned about alienating his significant base of supporters within the party.

However, on Thursday, many of Trump’s rivals were quick to take his side against the federal government.

“The weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society,” wrote DeSantis, currently Trump’s leading opponent. “We have for years witnessed an uneven application of the law depending upon political affiliation. Why so zealous in pursuing Trump yet so passive about Hillary or Hunter?”

De Santis was referring to HIllary Clinton, the former Democratic presidential nominee who was investigated, but never charged, with mishandling classified information, and Hunter Biden, the president’s son, who is currently under federal investigation.

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the U.N., said Friday, “This is not how justice should be pursued in our country.” She added, “The American people are exhausted by the prosecutorial overreach, double standards, and vendetta politics.”

In an interview on Fox News, Senator Tim Scott, also a candidate for the Republican nomination for president, called the charges against Trump an “injustice” and said, “What we’ve seen over the last several years is the weaponization of the Department of Justice against a former president.”

Candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, a businessman running for the Republican presidential nomination, recorded a video in which he denounced the prosecution of Trump and said that, if elected, he would pardon the former president.

Some break ranks

Some Republicans were more willing to consider the validity of the charges.

“Let’s see what the facts are when any possible indictment is released,” former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tweeted before the indictment was unsealed. “As I have said before, no one is above the law, no matter how much they wish they were. We will have more to say when the facts are revealed.” As of Friday evening, he had not released any further comments.

Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson released a statement calling on the former president to withdraw from the race for the Republican nomination.

“Donald Trump’s actions — from his willful disregard for the Constitution to his disrespect for the rule of law — should not define our nation or the Republican Party,” Hutchinson said. “This is a sad day for our country. While Donald Trump is entitled to the presumption of innocence, the ongoing criminal proceedings will be a major distraction. This reaffirms the need for Donald Trump to respect the office and end his campaign.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence appeared to try to have it both ways. In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Pence said that he was “deeply troubled” by the decision to charge the former president, but quickly followed up with, “But let me be very clear: No one is above the law.”

Понад 30 країн підтримали в суді ООН позов України проти Росії щодо геноциду

До позову України на етапі попередніх заперечень сторін долучилися, серед інших, 26 держав-членів Євросоюзу (окрім Угорщини)

Зеленський: «скіфське золото» буде в Криму, коли там буде український прапор

Верховний суд Нідерландів 9 червня залишив чинним рішення судів нижчих інстанцій про повернення «скіфського золота» в Україну

UN Sending Home Peacekeepers Implicated in Sexual Abuse

The United Nations said Friday that it is sending home a unit of 60 Tanzanian peacekeepers from the Central African Republic, after a preliminary investigation found credible evidence that 11 of them allegedly sexually exploited and abused at least four victims.  

“The unit has been relocated to another base while investigations continue, and its members have been confined to the barracks, in order to protect victims and the integrity of the investigation,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. “The unit will be repatriated once their presence is no longer required by the investigation.” 

Dujarric said the victims are being provided with care and support by the mission’s humanitarian partners. He added that Tanzanian authorities have been notified and are deploying their own investigators to the Central African Republic. 

“In reaffirming their commitment to zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, the Tanzanian authorities noted the seriousness of the allegations and have committed to taking the necessary action to address these matters,” Dujarric said. 

VOA has asked Tanzania’s U.N. ambassador for comment. 

According to the Department of Peacekeeping’s website, Tanzania has about 1,586 uniformed personnel in the C.A.R. as part of the more than 17,000-strong mission, known by its acronym, MINUSCA. 

The U.N. has the authority to repatriate international peacekeepers when there is credible evidence that members of a military or police unit have engaged in widespread or systemic sexual exploitation or abuse. 

Dujarric said the Tanzanian peacekeepers were deployed at a temporary operating base in the western part of the Central African Republic. 

The country has been locked in a cycle of political instability, violence and human rights abuses since the 1990s. Intense sectarian fighting in 2013 led to the U.N. authorizing the stabilization mission to the country the following year. 

Since it was established, MINUSCA has had repeated problems with international peacekeepers engaging in sexual exploitation and abuse, including the abuse of children. 

“The United Nations remains committed to robustly implementing the secretary-general’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse,” Dujarric told reporters.

Російські окупанти на Херсонщині вимагають гроші в волонтерів за евакуацію – ДСНС

Наразі рятувальники «загалом контролюють» ситуацію в регіоні після руйнування Каховської ГЕС, а також «готові надавати людям допомогу та роблять це»

Венеційська комісія рекомендувала Україні відкласти імплементацію «закону про олігархів» – Малюська

«Ключове рішення, яке ухвалила Венеційська комісія: рекомендувати Україні відкласти імплементацію закону про олігархів з огляду на війну»

Пентагон оголосив про новий пакет допомоги Україні на 2,1 млрд доларів

До нього входять критичні важливі засоби протиповітряної оборони і боєприпаси, йдеться у повідомленні Пентагону

Reflection: Historic Trump Indictment Opens New Chapter in US Politics

Donald Trump made history on Thursday. The 78-year-old former president and front-runner in next year’s Republican presidential primaries announced he has been indicted on federal criminal charges. None of his predecessors, since the United States declared independence in 1776, has ever faced such legal peril.  

While politics is a zero-sum game in many countries, including some democracies where rival leaders will use the levers of powers to neutralize their predecessors, that has not traditionally been the case in America. 

When he was president, Trump’s critics accused him of lurching towards authoritarianism and trying to use his political office to stay in power after he lost his bid for reelection.

Of course Trump, in his trademark approach to politics, is now alleging just such an abuse of office, accusing the Democratic administration of Joe Biden of weaponizing the Federal Bureau of Investigation and its parent agency, the Department of Justice, in “warfare for the law.” 

Trump, who like all defendants is presumed innocent pending the outcome of a trial, has been claiming the system is rigged against him since the first votes were cast in the Iowa caucuses in 2016. Back then he blamed rival candidate Ted Cruz and demanded, without success, that “a new election should take place or Cruz results (be) nullified.” 

Even when he won the general election later that year, he claimed fraud. Trump won the Electoral College vote (based on a majority of votes in each individual state) but lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton. 

“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” Trump stated without any evidence. 

During his four years in office, in which he was impeached twice by the House but not convicted in the Senate, Trump repeatedly stated he was the target of witch hunts and that he never did anything wrong. There was the “perfect phone call” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in which he repeatedly pressed for the foreign leader to investigate Biden in a suggested quid pro quo. That led to the first impeachment. 

Then there was the ignominious day at the U.S. Capitol when Trump supporters stormed the symbol of American democracy after their president incited them to “fight like hell” or “you’re not going to have a country anymore. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Trump returned to the White House while the crowd headed into the Capitol. He then tweeted that his vice president, Mike Pence (now a Republican primary opponent) “didn’t have the courage” to thwart the ceremonial counting of ballots to declare Biden the victor of the 2020 election. 

That led to Trump’s second impeachment in the waning days of his presidency. 

A signature line of his political rallies was: “We will never give in, we will never give up, and we will never, ever back down.” 

During his presidency, Trump sometimes did back away from his more outlandish proposals, appointments and rhetoric, usually under intense pressure from Cabinet secretaries, key aides and family members. Trump always seemed to regret it, however, telling his lawyers and his advisers that he trusted his instincts more than their expert advice. That usually put him into greater jeopardy. 

Eventually he had a falling out with nearly everyone in his inner circle. Some of those whom he cast out would occasionally return to the fold. Top White House officials observed Trump seemed to have no true friends; all relationships were transactional and loyalty to the boss (who had never worked for anyone except his own father) was the ultimate desirable trait. 

Legal observers have little doubt Trump will fight these federal charges every step of the way and is unlikely to plea bargain, as that would be tantamount to admitting guilt to something, not a Trump trait. 

Within hours of announcing the indictment, Trump sent out fundraising letters imploring supporters: “Please make a contribution to peacefully stand with me today and prove that YOU will NEVER surrender our country to the radical Left.” The note concluded with suggested contributions between $24 and $250. 

Political observers do not expect the indictment to hurt Trump much with his core supporters, about a third of Republican Party voters. But overall, before news of the fresh charges, six in 10 Americans told pollsters Trump should not be president again.

The current expectation is that with perhaps a dozen other Republicans vying for the nomination by the time the first 2024 votes are cast at the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, the former president will remain the front-runner and be the most likely to capture his party’s nomination for a third consecutive time – although this time while battling serious criminal charges of violating the Espionage Act, making false statements and conspiring to obstruct justice. 

Only once has an American president, out of office, returned to the White House. That was Grover Cleveland after defeating the incumbent president, Benjamin Harrison, in 1892.

Only once, in 1920, has a relevant political party nominated a convicted felon. That was Eugene V. Debs, who had run unsuccessfully for president four times previously and was a household name of the era.

Debs had been convicted of violating the Espionage and Sedition acts but was chosen by the Socialist Party again in 1920. He was allowed by authorities to issue one written statement weekly from the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. He captured more than three percent of the vote in the general election. He remained a popular figure after President Warren Harding pardoned him the following year. 

If Trump loses the 2024 election for a second time, would Biden (the presumptive Democratic Party nominee again), even consider pardoning his vanquished rival if the Republican is convicted of one or more felonies?

Many in America never forgave Gerald Ford for pardoning his fellow Republican Richard Nixon, who resigned rather than face certain impeachment for the Watergate scandal. And Ford paid the price in an election loss to Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Biden talks often of healing and bridging the deepest political divide since the Civil War. A devout Catholic of Irish ancestry, he takes solace in the words of popes who call for forgiveness and in the lines of his favorite poet.

Perhaps in Seamus Heaney’s line there lies a hint:  

History says, Don’t hope  

On the side of the grave.  

But then, once in a lifetime  

The longed-for tidal wave  

Of justice can rise up  

And hope and history rhyme.  


So hope for a great sea-change  

On the far side of revenge.  

Believe that a further shore  

Is reachable from here.  

Believe in miracles.  

And cures and healing wells.  

Editor’s note: VOA’s chief national correspondent Steve Herman, was VOA’s White House bureau chief during the Trump administration and extensively interacted with the 45th president.

Russia Receiving Hundreds of Iranian Drones, Plans to Produce Them: White House

Moscow has not only received hundreds of Iranian drones but is working with Iran to produce them from inside Russia, according to the White House — a sign of the deepening military partnership between the two countries.

“We have information that Russia is receiving materials from Iran needed to build a UAV manufacturing plant inside Russia,” said National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby in a statement sent to VOA Thursday. “This plant could be fully operational early next year.”

The White House released satellite imagery of the planned location of the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) manufacturing plant in Russia’s Alabuga Special Economic Zone.

Kirby said that currently, drones are built in Iran, shipped across the Caspian Sea from Amirabad, Iran to Makhachkala, Russia, and then used operationally by Russian forces against Ukraine.

On Friday, the Biden Administration is releasing a new advisory to help businesses and other governments “better understand the risks posed by Iran’s UAV program and the illicit practices Iran uses to procure components for it.”

“This will help governments and businesses put in place measures to ensure they are not inadvertently contributing to Iran’s UAV program,” Kirby added.

Russia has increasingly deployed drones to bombard Ukrainian cities and targets in recent weeks. They are “a difficult target because Ukraine has limited air defense resources,” Ukrainian Air Force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat told VOA Friday.

“Iranian drones are hard to detect; they are slow,” he said. “The Shaheds fly very low, use the river delta and forest, and drop from the radars.”

Ihnat noted that Moscow sends the drones to all parts of Ukrainian territory from different directions. “Ukraine Air defense today is focused on the protection of big towns, infrastructure objects, and critical infrastructure,” he said.

JCPOA sunset

This latest revelation is part of the administration’s periodic release of intelligence findings about Russia’s war in Ukraine, with the goal of further isolating Moscow and its supporters.

The timing coincides with sunset clauses in the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which imposed international restrictions on Iranian weapons.

Many of the JCPOA’s sunset clauses were already made obsolete after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions, which led Iran to breach its obligations and enrich uranium to higher levels beginning in July 2019.

Still, since the JCPOA was never officially nullified by its other signatories — Iran, the European Union, Russia and China — from a legal standpoint the sunset clauses matter.

In October 2023, the JCPOA bans on Iran’s import and export of missile-related technology will formally end, including on missiles and drones with a range of 300 kilometers (186 miles) or more.

In other words, in a few months it will be officially legal to trade Iranian missiles and drones.

The U.S. and partners want to alert businesses around the world about the Iran-Russia cooperation on drones and the drones’ devastating impact in the war in Ukraine, said Alex Vatanka, director of the Iran Program at the Middle East Institute. The goal is to interrupt the production of the drones, which depend on components available on world markets.

“The U.S. clearly wants to put businesses on notice in a preemptive move and to highlight the reputational risks,” he told VOA.

While the administration may try to disrupt the drones’ production chain, Vatanka is skeptical that Western political pressure will compel Iranian leaders to rethink their military cooperation with Moscow.

“Tehran has basically decided to put its money on Russia,” he said. “The calculation is as simple as it is cynical: By supporting Russia today in Ukraine, Iran can hope that Moscow will back Iran in its conflict with the U.S.”

Two-way support

As it purchases Iranian drones, mainly the Shahed-136, Russia has provided Iran with “unprecedented defense cooperation, including on missiles, electronics, and air defense,” Kirby said, adding that Tehran is seeking to purchase billions of dollars of additional Russian military equipment, including attack helicopters, radars, and YAK-130 combat trainer aircraft.

Earlier this year, Iran announced that it had finalized a deal to buy Russian Su-35 fighter jets.

“This is a full-scale defense partnership that is harmful to Ukraine, to Iran’s neighbors, and to the international community,” Kirby said, adding that the administration is working with allies and partners to hold Moscow and Tehran accountable, including through existing and additional sanctions and export restrictions.

Collaboration between Tehran and Moscow is likely to continue, said Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow and director of research in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution.

He said the U.S. should be mindful of Moscow garnering support from other partners, namely Beijing.

“We should be careful not to so demonize China,” he told VOA. “In regard to the Ukraine conflict in particular as well as current geopolitics more generally, that we also drive Beijing and Moscow closer together under the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

The Shahed drones, often called suicide or kamikaze drones, have an operational range of around 2,000 kilometers. Packed with explosives, they can be directed at targets and detonate upon impact like a missile.

They can also be launched in a swarm where several of them are launched at the same time in formation.

On Friday, the Russian military mistakenly identified one of its own drones as Ukrainian and took it down.

Myroslava Gongadze contributed to this report.

Розважальні заходи на Київщині мають закінчуватися не пізніше ніж о 21:00 – рішення ОВА

За словами голови Київської ОВА, перевірки щодо дотримання норм у регіоні будуть проводити регулярно із залученням працівників поліції