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Even With Trade Deal, US Tariffs on China Could Remain

U.S. tariffs on China are likely to remain in place for a while even if a trade deal is reached, President Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday.

“The deal is coming along nicely,” the president said about the ongoing trade talks with Beijing, noting U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will be heading to China within days to continue discussions.

“We’re taking in billions and billions of dollars right now in tariff money and for a period of time that will stay,” said Trump.

The president’s remark indicate that even if a trade deal is reached with Beijing, tariffs imposed by Washington could stay in place unless U.S. officials are convinced the Chinese are adhering to the terms of any agreement.

“They’ve had a lot of problems living by certain deals, the president noted on the White House South Lawn just before boarding the Marine One helicopter.

Tit-for-tat tariffs imposed last year ignited fears of a trans-Pacific trade war.

The United States and China, the world’s two largest economies annually trade more than a half-trillion dollars’ worth of goods. Chinese products sold in the United States far outweigh the value of those sent to China and that deficit alone represents about 80 percent of America’s overall in goods.  

A pillar of the Trump presidency has been reducing that huge gap by negotiating bilateral trade deals and rebuilding the U.S. manufacturing base.     

Trump is traveling Wednesday to an area in Ohio where General Motors is planning to shutter a car assembly plant, affecting about 1,500 jobs and undercutting the president’s manufacturing revival message.

Trump on Twitter has called for GM to keep the plant open.

Some trade analysts say Trump’s metals tariffs on Canada and Mexico, however, have hurt U.S. manufacturing, including making auto plants in this company (which also are owned by foreign manufacturers) less competitive.

​Ohio, which Trump won in the 2016 election by eight percentage points, will again be a key battleground state in next year’s presidential election.

Polls in the Buckeye State, where the president relies on a strong base of working-class voters, show Trump’s approval rating slipping since he took office

 At one of Wednesday’s stops in Ohio, Trump is visiting a plant that makes tanks for the U.S. Army.

The General Dynamics facility nearly closed six years after Army officials told Congress they did not need additional M-1 Abrams tanks.

Among those accompanying Trump on trip to Ohio are Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Secretary of the Army Mark Esper.


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Turkey’s Erdogan: ‘No Difference’ Between New Zealand Killer, IS Terrorists

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says last Friday’s massacre at two New Zealand mosques should in no way be linked to Christianity and that the gunman is no different from Islamic State terrorists.

“I categorically reject any attempt to associate last week’s terrorist attacks with the teachings, morals or maxims of Christianity,” the Muslim politician wrote in an opinion piece published Wednesday by The Washington Post. “If anything, what happened in New Zealand was the toxic product of ignorance and hate.”

Authorities say Brenton Tarrant, an Australian white supremacist suspected of killing 50 people in the mosques in the city of Christchurch, seemed keenly interested in Islam and its historical wars with Christianity.

They say that months before the attack, he traveled to multiple European sites of battles with the Ottoman Empire, which preceded modern day Turkey. The names of several Christian-Muslim battles in eastern Europe between the 14th and 20th centuries were displayed on his rifle magazines, according to authorities. And in his online manifesto, Tarrant vilified immigrants to Western countries and clamored for revenge against Muslims.

Erdogan accused the 28-year-old Tarrant, who visited Turkey twice in 2016, of trying to “legitimize his twisted views by distorting world history and the Christian faith.” Erdogan added, “He sought to plant seeds of hate among fellow humans.”

The Turkish president said Tarrant and IS shared a common objective: the conquest of the Turkish city of Istanbul. IS, he wrote, called for the “reconquest” of Istanbul — much like the Christchurch attacker, who pledged in his manifesto to make the city “rightfully christian owned once more.”

“In this regard, we must establish that there is absolutely no difference between the murderer who killed innocent people in New Zealand and those who have carried out terrorist acts in Turkey, France, Indonesia and elsewhere,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan said he and other Muslim leaders vowed to counter “any attempt by terrorists to hijack our religion” following IS attacks but “Islamophobia and xenophobia, among other practices incompatible with liberal values, were met with silence in Europe and other parts of the Western world. We cannot afford to allow this again.”

Erdogan said Western countries now have “certain responsibilities” after the Christchurch massacre, calling on them to “reject the normalization of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia, which has been on the rise in recent years.”

He applauded New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for urging Western leaders to “embrace Muslims living in their respective countries.”

Erdogan has been campaigning ahead of local elections March 31 and made the mosque killings a central part of his campaign. A grainy video of the gunman attacking the mosques has been repeatedly played at his campaign meetings.

The New Zealand government has called on Ankara to stop airing the video and to turn down the rhetoric, which Wellington warns could provoke attacks on New Zealand citizens.

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Thais Braced for Vote, Marking ‘Return to Democracy’

Thailand’s military chief, Prayut Chan-o-cha, is applying all resources to ensure his prime minister position remains unchallenged Sunday, when the first poll since 2011 is held here.

Prayut says if he wins, voters would be returning his junta-led country to a “democracy.”

Prayut’s biggest threat remains the exiled Shinawatra family and whether he can develop enough cross-party support to give his leadership the impression of legitimacy.

Few doubt General Prayut will return as prime minister. A friendly constitution that grants the military unprecedented say in forming a civilian government will bolster that prospect alongside opposition parties that have been stymied by five years of harsh military rule.

As the U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations recently noted, “The kingdom looks unlikely to resolve its political tensions, no matter the result of the vote.

“Instead, Thailand seems destined for continued political instability, although that instability could come in different forms, depending on the results of the election.”

About 52 million Thais will cast ballots for the 500-seat House of Representatives. Three-hundred-and-50 members will be elected directly and 150 seats will be awarded based on a party’s popularity. Members in the 250-seat Senate will be appointed entirely by the armed forces.

That gives Prayut and his Phalang Pracharat party the advantage. The next prime minister will be elected in a joint sitting of both houses, thus he needs as few as 126 seats to secure power, while other political parties need at least 376 seats.

Titipol Phakdeewanich, dean of the Faculty of Political Science at Ubon Ratchathani University, said it was unlikely any of the opposition parties could earn enough votes to elect their own prime minister.

“It will be very difficult because the constitution has already helped Prayut to remain in power by giving power to the senators to vote for prime minister after the election. So who decides?

“Not just the house of parliament but the senators will also have some say in this election of prime minister,” he said.

Almost 80 parties will field more than 2,700 candidates. The Phalang Pracharat Party also has the option of forging a coalition with the Ruam Palang Prachachat Thai Party and the People’s Reform Party.

Prayut’s biggest challenge will stem from the Shinawatra-backed Pheu Thai Party, popular in the rural heartland, and Future Forward Party, led by young entrepreneur Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, who is hoping to win the youth vote.

Titipol, however, said that is not guaranteed.

“When we talk about the seven-, eight million new voters, they would actually mean a lot to the future of democracy if they vote. But that doesn’t mean all their votes would actually go to the Future Forward Party; some of them grew up with families when Pheu Thai was in power,” he said.

Promised elections have been persistently delayed since Prayut ousted Yingluck Shinawatra in a 2014 coup, after months of political turmoil and a constitutional court ruling that removed her for abuse of power.

Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin, was pushed from leadership by the military eight years earlier.

Both live in exile amid allegations of corruption. Despite that, parties aligned with the family have won every Thai election since 2001.

Analysts said Pheu Thai and its allies can only be expected to win up to 160 seats, gaining a further 70 through alliances. That’s not enough to form a government.

The Democrat Party, however, remains in the mix and its leader and former prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, says he will not support Prayut’s return. For the anti-military parties – including Pheu Thai, the Democrats and Future Forward – to defeat Prayut, they must win a combined majority.

Observers say that is unlikely and that it would be almost impossible to find common ground to form a grand coalition, noting Thaksin and the Democrats are natural enemies and Future Forward is offering an alternative from the color-coded – red shirt, yellow shirt – politics of the past.

They say Abhisit could emerge with a face-saving minor victory if Prayut falters and needs his votes. Reform-minded Democrats might then decide compromise and a deal are the better options.

Historian Chris Baker, co-author of A History of Thailand, said opinion polls showed that more than half the people polled had not decided on whom they would vote for and drew comparisons to recent elections in the United States, France and the Brexit process in Britain.

“The key to understanding this election is that the voting is going to be more emotional than rational. Why should that not be, after all we’ve seen (U.S. President Donald) Trump and Brexit and (French President Emmanual) Macron. They’re essentially very emotional results of elections, so why should that not happen here?” he questioned.

The lead-up to this poll was controversial.

The National Election Commission cleared Prayut of being a “state official,” which would have barred him from competing. It also cleared Future Forward’s Thanathorn of allegations he posted misleading information online.

The Shinawatra-friendly Thai Raksa Chart Party was not so lucky. It was dissolved and its executive board members banned from political activity for 10 years after they attempted to nominate Princess Ubolratana Mahidol as a prime ministerial candidate.

Since 1932, Thailand has been riddled by at least 13 military interventions.


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Київ 27 березня вимагатиме визначити дату передачі росіян в обмін на політв’язнів Кремля – Геращенко

Українська сторона вимагатиме на засіданні Тристоронньої контактної групи 27 березня визначити дату передачі Росії 25 її засуджених в Україні громадян в обмін на українських політв’язнів Кремля, повідомила перший віце-спікер Верховної Ради, представник України в гуманітарній підгрупі ТКГ Ірина Геращенко.

«Ми пропонуємо зробити звільнення в березні. Це наше 16-те за останні 16 місяців звернення до Росії з вимогою забрати своїх – віддати наших», – повідомила Геращенко.

За її словами, у списку на передачу 25 росіян, яких Київ готовий передати.

«Ті, хто офіційно звернувся до Путіна з проханням забрати їх на «родіну». Прізвище Вишинського ніколи не згадувалося в Мінську ні росіянами, ні їх маріонетками з ОРДЛО. Також він сам не передав заяв з проханням про можливу передачу його РФ в обмін на українців», – сказала Геращенко.

Головний редактор «РИА Новости Украина» Кирило Вишинський на засіданні у його справі сьогодні заявив, що не подавав прохання до російського президента про те, щоб взяти участь в обміні. На засідання у справі Вишинського сьогодні прибула до Києва уповноважена з прав людини в Російській Федерації Тетяна Москалькова.

За даними Міністерства закордонних справ України, Росія незаконно утримує понад 70 українців. До цього числа не входять 24 українські моряки, захоплені Росією біля Керченської протоки наприкінці листопада 2018 року.

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Суд у Києві частково задовольнив клопотання захисту Вишинського, Москалькова задоволена

Касаційний кримінальний суд Верховного суду України 20 березня частково задовольнив клопотання сторони захисту головного редактора «РИА Новости Украина» Кирила Вишинського, передавши справу на розгляд до Великої палати цього ж суду. Дата розгляду клопотання ще не призначена.

Захист Вишинського також просив суд під час засідання за скаргою на його арешт дозволити журналісту перебувати поруч з адвокатами, а не в скляному боксі. Захисники аргументували своє клопотання тим, що вирок Вишинському ще не оголошений, а захист хоче з ним поспілкуватися. Сторона обвинувачення не заперечувала, суд задовольнив клопотання сторони захисту.

Російський омбудсмен Тетяна Москалькова, яка 20 березня відвідала засідання в справі Вишинського, відзначила, що «задоволена підсумком засідання», інформує її офіційний сайт.

Передачу справи на розгляд Великої палати суду Москалькова назвала «позитивним» рішення, яке, на її думку, «дозволить розглянути більш об’єктивно і всебічно справу, можливо, навіть породити прецедент і внесення змін до законодавства щодо багатьох інших людей, що потрапили в таке ж становище».

5 березня Вишинському був вручений обвинувальний акт і реєстр матеріалів досудового розслідування. Підготовче засідання у справі призначене на 26 березня в Подільському суді Києва. Вишинський перебуватиме в Лук’янівському СІЗО в Києві, куди його етапували з Херсона.

Вишинського затримали в Києві 15 травня 2018 року за підозрою в державній зраді і веденні підривної інформаційної діяльності проти України.

За даними СБУ, Вишинський за завданням Москви готував інформаційні матеріали в Криму для виправдання анексії Росією українського півострова, пізніше в Києві – для підтримки угруповань «ДНР» і «ЛНР». Щомісяця, за даними слідства, він отримував на цю діяльність 53 тисячі євро, ці гроші, як заявили в СБУ, надходили з Росії через Сербію.

Вишинський усі звинувачення відкидає. Суд в Херсоні 8 лютого продовжив його арешт до 8 квітня.

2 липня 2018 року перший віце-спікер Верховної Ради України Ірина Геращенко повідомила, що Україна готова розглянути внесення Вишинського в списки на обмін.

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Комітет Верховної Ради розглядає питання розкрадання в «оборонці» (трансляція)

У середу в будівлі парламенту відбувається засідання Комітету з питань запобігання і протидії корупції. Комітет розглядає питання розкрадання в оборонному секторі. Серед учасників засідання є керівник Спеціалізованої антикорупційної прокуратури Назар Холодницький. 

Радіо Свобода веде трансляцію засідання.

Комісія вже провела два засідання щодо фактів ймовірного розкрадання в оборонній сфері після оприлюднення кількох частин журналістського розслідування проекту Bihus.Info.

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Turkish President Stokes Anti-Western Rhetoric Over New Zealand Killings

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded Tuesday that New Zealand reinstate the death penalty and apply it in the case of the gunman who killed 50 people in two Christchurch mosques. The demand is the latest escalation in rhetoric by Erdogan in the face of Wellington’s call for moderation.

“You heinously killed 50 of our siblings. You will pay for this. If New Zealand doesn’t make you,” Erdogan told supporters during a campaign rally ahead of local elections. Erdogan also said, “The necessary action needs to be taken” by the New Zealand parliament.

Erdogan has made the mosque killings a central part of his local election campaign. A grainy video of the gunman attacking the mosques has been repeatedly played at his campaign meetings.

Lisel Hintz, an assistant professor of international relations at the Johns Hopkins University, says the broadcast of the video plays into Erdogan’s hands.

“Showing footage of the Christchurch massacre, recorded by the shooter himself, is intended to incite fears of Islamophobia and bolster Erdogan’s image as protector of Muslims in a world hostile to them,” she said. Other analysts say many Erdogan supporters are drawn from nationalist and Islamist backgrounds.

The New Zealand government has called on Ankara to stop airing the video and to turn down the rhetoric, which Wellington warns could provoke attacks on New Zealand citizens. Wellington also points out that the suspect is an Australian citizen.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters said Tuesday he is traveling to Turkey “to set the record straight.”

Erdogan again used the video of the mosque attacks, however, at two televised campaign rallies attended by thousands of people.

‘Anti-Western sentiments’

The Turkish president is seeking to build support for his religious conservative AKP ahead of local elections March 31. Analysts suggest that with the economy in recession, soaring unemployment, and double-digit inflation, Erdogan wants to change the political narrative.

“This anti-Western rhetoric pays off every time — it’s a fundamental part of Turkish politics,” said political scientist Cengiz Aktar. “He is using it this time in the forthcoming elections to galvanize his supporters who are fundamentally anti-Western.”

Hintz offered a similar assessment.

“Erdogan’s close ties with media groups and influence over an estimated 90 percent of news production allowed him to shield many Turks from the country’s debt and lira crises, but long lines and rotting vegetables make Turkey’s economic turmoil starkly apparent,” Hintz said. “Absent a narrative of growth, Erdogan resorts to stoking anti-Western sentiments in the hopes that nationalist emotions rather than pocketbook concerns will prevail at the polls.”

During a televised meeting Monday, Erdogan accused the Western media and European leaders of an “insidious” silence over the mosque attacks, accusing the European Union of being an “enemy of Islam.”

“Erdogan still plays the foreign conspiracy angle at his election rallies,” said analyst Atilla Yesilada of Global Source Partners. Ankara has for decades been seeking to join the EU, blaming the delay on prejudice on the grounds that Turkey is a Muslim country. Brussels maintains the delay is due to Ankara’s failure to comply with membership requirements, in particular over human rights.

‘Reviving the battlefield memories’

Erdogan’s escalating rhetoric threatens to cast a shadow over commemorations marking the Gallipoli Campaign during World War I. The ill-fated British-led invasion of the then-Ottoman empire sought to create a bridgehead opening the way to capture Istanbul. The campaign ended in defeat with large numbers of Australians and New Zealanders, along with Turks, killed. The March remembrance ceremonies at the battle sites traditionally draw large numbers of Australians and New Zealanders.

At a Gallipoli memorial Monday, Erdogan highlighted a manifesto posted online by the gunman, in which the suspect called for Turks to be driven out of Istanbul.

“You will not turn Istanbul into Constantinople,” Erdogan said, referring to the city’s name under its Christian Byzantine rulers before Muslim Ottomans conquered it in 1453.

“Your grandparents came here … and they returned in caskets,” he said. “Have no doubt we will send you back like your grandfathers,” he added.

The Gallipoli commemorations are traditionally a symbol of goodwill among Turkey, New Zealand and Australia, with the World War I campaign widely seen as a defining moment in the formation of all three countries.

“Erdogan has managed to overturn this peaceful rhetoric of never again [a conflict],” Aktar said. “He is reviving the battlefield memories, for more antagonism against the Western world.”

Social media pushback

On social media, there is a strong pushback against the Turkish president’s rhetoric. Many Turks posted a well-known quote of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, speaking after the Gallipoli Campaign.

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives. … You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies [a reference to enemy soldiers] and the Mehmets [Turkish soldiers] to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.”

Ataturk was at the forefront of leading the defense of Gallipoli, a success that propelled him to found the secular republic.

Analysts say Erdogan likely is calculating that the current controversy can only serve as a useful distraction from the country’s economic woes.

“Whatever the potential electoral benefit, we are seeing across the globe that the societal cost of drawing on fear and hatred continues to take its polarizing toll long after polls close,” Hintz said.

The reopening of the traditional deep political divide between Erdogan supporters and critics usually consolidates the president’s voting base, which opinion polls indicate is starting to weaken over dissatisfaction from rising prices and unemployment.

VOA’s Ezel Sahinkaya contributed to this report.

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Безпілотник бойовиків збитий на Донбасі – штаб ООС

Безпілотник підтримуваних Росією бойовиків збитий на Донбасі, повідомив штаб української воєнної Операції об’єднаних сил.

«На донецькому напрямку ворог намагався застосовувати саморобний ударний БПЛА для нанесення втрат воїнам Об’єднаних сил. Дрону противника були поставлені завади засобами радіоелектронної боротьби та в подальшому вогнем зі стрілецької зброї його було пошкоджено», – заявили в штабі.

На засіданні Тристоронньої контактної групи в режимі відеоконференції 7 березня Україна домовилася про оголошення нового режиму тиші на Донбасі з 00:00 8 березня.

Перед цим Тристороння контактна група щодо врегулювання ситуації на Донбасі оголошувала про чергове «безстрокове і стале» припинення вогню, починаючи з півночі 29 грудня 2018 року, з нагоди новорічних і різдвяних свят. Воно було порушене майже відразу після заявленого початку і відтоді, як і всі попередні перемир’я, порушується постійно.

Збройний конфлікт на Донбасі триває від 2014 року після російської окупації Криму. Україна і Захід звинувачують Росію у збройній підтримці бойовиків. Кремль відкидає ці звинувачення і заявляє, що на Донбасі можуть перебувати хіба що російські «добровольці». За даними ООН, станом на кінець грудня 2018 року, за час конфлікту загинули близько 13 тисяч людей, майже 30 тисяч – поранені.