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N. Korea: Bolton Call for Denuclearization Sign ‘Dim-Sighted’

North Korea has criticized U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton’s “nonsense” call for Pyongyang to show that it’s serious about giving up its nuclear weapons, the second time it has criticized a leading U.S. official in less than a week.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said he is open to a third summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but Bolton told Bloomberg News on Wednesday there first needed to be “a real indication from North Korea that they’ve made the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons.”

“Bolton, national security adviser of the White House, in an interview with Bloomberg, showed above himself by saying such a nonsense,” North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told reporters when asked about his recent comments, the Korean Central News Agency said Saturday.

“Bolton’s remarks make me wonder whether they sprang out of incomprehension of the intentions of the top leaders of the DPRK and the U.S. or whether he was just trying to talk with a certain sense of humor for his part, with its own deviation,” she said, referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name. “All things considered, his word has no charm in it and he looks dim-sighted to me.”

The North Korean vice minister also warned that there would be no good if the United States continued “to throw away such remarks devoid of discretion and reason.”

North Korea said Thursday it no longer wanted to deal with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and that he should be replaced in talks by someone more mature, hours after it announced its first weapons test since nuclear talks broke down.

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ДСНС попередила про заморозки у суботу в окремих областях і небезпеку лавин у Карпатах

У більшості західних, Житомирській, Сумській, Дніпропетровській та східних областях 20 квітня можливі сильні заморозки у повітрі 0-3 градуси, повідомила Державна служба з надзвичайних ситуацій, посилаючись на дані Укргідрометцентру.

«По Києву вночі 20 квітня на поверхні ґрунту заморозки 0-2° (I рівень небезпечності, жовтий). По Київській області вночі 20 квітня на поверхні ґрунту заморозки 0-5° (I рівень небезпечності, жовтий)», – зазначається на сайті відомства.

Водночас, застерігають у ДСНС, у зв’язку з відлигою, 20-21 квітня у високогір’ї Івано-Франківської та східної частини Закарпатської областей зберігається значна сніголавинна небезпека (3 рiвень).

За прогнозом Українського гідрометцентру, попри заморозки, загалом по Україні вдень 20 квітня зберігатиметься суха прохолодна погода, повітря прогріється до 11-15 градусів тепла, а на заході – до 20 градусів тепла. 

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Українські позиції на Донбасі обстріляли 10 разів за минулу добу, втрат немає – штаб

Штаб української воєнної операції на Донбасі повідомляє про 10 зафіксованих випадків порушень режиму припинення вогню за минулу добу станом на 7 ранку.

За цією інформацією, обстрілів зазнали українські позиції поблизу Павлополя, Водяного, Пищевика, Лебединського, Верхньоторецького, Авдіївки, Опитного та Новоселівки-2 на Донеччині, а також поблизу Майорська та селища Золоте-4 на Луганщині. Інциденти біля Павлополя та Авдіївки, зокрема, зафіксовані вже протягом цієї доби.

Як повідомляє штаб, загиблих і поранених серед українських військових немає.

Угруповання «ЛНР» повідомляє про 5 обстрілів своїх позицій за добу, ранкових даних від представників угруповання «ДНР» наразі немає.

На Донбасі від 8 березня діє новий режим тиші, про який домовилися на засіданні Тристоронньої контактної групи в Мінську. Цього разу, як і раніше, перемир’я не дотримується і порушувалося відразу в перші години після проголошення.

Цими днями були перемовини у Мінську про ще одне перемир’я, приурочене до хритиянського Великодня. Консенсусу, однак, наразі не досягнуто. 

Вчора чинний голова ОБСЄ та міністр закордонних та європейських справ Словаччини Мірослав Лайчак висловив глибокий жаль, що Тристороння контактна група у Мінську та її робоча група з питань безпеки не змогли домовитися вчора про «Великоднє перемир’я» та закликав до продовження переговорів.

Раніше на підтримку запровадження великоднього перемир’я висловилисяпрезидент України Петро Порошенко і канцлерка Німеччини Анґела Меркель.

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.

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China to Show New Warships as Beijing Flexes Military Muscle on Navy Anniversary

China will show off new warships including nuclear submarines and destroyers at a parade next week marking 70 years since its navy’s founding, a senior commander said on Saturday, as Beijing flexes its increasingly well-equipped military muscle.

President Xi Jinping is overseeing a sweeping plan to refurbish the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) by developing everything from stealth jets to aircraft carriers as China ramps up its presence in the South China Sea and around self-ruled Taiwan.

The navy has been a key beneficiary of the modernization plan as China looks to project power far from the country’s shores and protect its trading routes and citizens overseas.

Last month, Beijing unveiled a target of 7.5 percent rise in defense spending for this year, a slower rate than last year but still outpacing China’s economic growth target.

Deputy naval commander Qiu Yanpeng told reporters in the eastern city of Qingdao that Tuesday’s naval parade – likely to be overseen by Xi himself, though China has not confirmed that – will feature 32 vessels and 39 aircraft. “The PLA Navy ship and aircraft to be revealed are the Liaoning aircraft carrier, new types of nuclear submarines, new types of destroyers, as well as fighter aircraft,” Qiu said, without giving details. “Some ships will be revealed for the first time.”

The Liaoning, the country’s first carrier, was bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China. It’s not clear if China’s second carrier, an as-yet unnamed ship developed and built purely in China, will also take part, but in the past few days state media has run stories praising recent sea trials.

Around a dozen foreign navies are also taking part. While Qiu did not give an exact number, China has announced the parade would include ships from Russia, Singapore, India, Thailand and Vietnam – which frequently complains of Chinese military activity in the disputed South China Sea.

China’s last naval battles were with the Vietnamese in the South China Sea, in 1974 and 1988, though these were relatively minor skirmishes. Chinese navy ships have also participated in international anti-piracy patrols off Somalia’s coast since late 2008.

Strong Navy ‘Essential’

Qiu reiterated China’s frequent stance that its armed forces

are not a threat to anyone and that no matter what happens it will never “pursue hegemony.”

“It is fair to say that the PLA Navy has not brought war or turbulence to any place,” Qiu said. 

But China has been scared by its past and needs good defenses at sea, h added.

“A strong navy is essential for building a strong maritime country,” Qiu said. “From 1840 to 1949, China was invaded by foreign powers from the sea more than 470 times, which caused untold suffering and deep wounds to the Chinese nation.”

China has frequently had to rebuff concerns about its military intentions, especially as military spending continues to scale new heights.

Beijing says it has nothing to hide, and has invited foreign media to cover next week’s naval parade and related activities, including a keynote speech by navy chief Shen Jinlong, who is close to Xi.

Zhang Junshe, a researcher at the PLA’s Naval Research Academy, told reporters after Qiu had spoken that inviting foreign navies to take part in the parade was a sign of China’s openness and self-confidence, noting China had also done this for the 60th anniversary in 2009.

“New nuclear submarines and new warships will be shown – this further goes to show that China’s navy is open and transparent,” said Zhang.

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How the Smallest Bears ‘Talk’ to Each Other

One of the key components of empathy is what scientists call facial mimicry. It seems complicated, but is as simple as smiling when someone smiles at you, and that conveys a lot of information. Scientists have always thought that animals who do it, humans included, are a small group, but maybe not. VOA’s Kevin Enochs reports.

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В Україні почався «день тиші»

Опівночі починається «день тиші» напередодні другого туру виборів президента України, коли заборонена агітація за будь-кого з кандидатів.

Згідно з частиною 2 статті 57 закону «Про вибори президента України», передвиборна агітація закінчується о 24-й годині останньої п’ятниці перед днем виборів.

Стаття 58 цього закону серед форм виборчої агітації визначає, зокрема, «оприлюднення в друкованих та аудіовізуальних (електронних) засобах масової інформації політичної реклами, виступів, інтерв’ю, нарисів, відеофільмів, аудіо- та відеокліпів, інших публікацій та повідомлень», а також «проведення концертів, вистав, спортивних змагань, демонстрації фільмів та телепередач чи інших публічних заходів за підтримки партії – суб’єкта виборчого процесу чи кандидата на пост президента України, а також оприлюднення інформації про таку підтримку».

Раніше сьогодні відбулися дебати між кандидатами Володимиром Зеленським та Петром Порошенком. 

Читайте більше: «Конкурс капітанів»: перші реакції соцмереж на дебати Порошенка й Зеленського

За офіційними результатами першого туру виборів президента України, за Володимира Зеленського проголосували 30,24% виборців, за чинного главу держави Петра Порошенка – 15,95% виборців. Другий тур відбудеться 21 квітня.

Проголосувати на дільницях можна буде з восьмої ранку до восьмої вечора. 

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China’s Political System Helps Advance Its Artificial Intelligence

Recent technological advances demonstrated by China have started an intense debate on whether it is set to take a lead in the field of artificial intelligence, or AI, which has extensive business and military applications.

U.S. concerns about China’s AI advances have also influenced, in part, the ongoing trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing. Both the United States and European Union are taking measures to stop information leaks that are reportedly helping Chinese companies at the expense of Western business.

But many analysts are saying that Chinese corporate and defense-related research in areas like AI and 5G wireless technologies can thrive on their own even if information from the Western world is shut off. China is already reportedly leading in several segments of businesses like autonomous vehicles, facial recognition and certain kinds of drones.

The U.S.-based Allen Institute of Artificial Intelligence recently captured attention when it reported that China is a close second after the United States when it comes to producing frequently-cited research papers on artificial intelligence. The U.S. contribution is 29%, and China accounts for 26% of such papers.

“The U.S. still is ahead in AI development capabilities, but the gap between the U.S. and China is closing rapidly because of the significant new AI investments in China,” Bart Selman, president-elect of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, a professional organization, told VOA.

Political advantage

Chinese President Xi Jinping has in recent months encouraged Communist leaders to “ensure that our country marches in the front ranks when it comes to theoretical research in this important area of AI, and occupies the high ground in critical and AI core technologies.” He also asked them to “ensure that critical and core AI technologies are firmly grasped in our own hands.”

Analysts said China’s political system and its government’s eagerness to support the technological advancement were key reasons it could build infrastructure such as cloud computing and a software engineering workforce, and become a big player in artificial intelligence.

Chinese companies enjoy special advantages in deploying new technology like facial recognition, which is often difficult in democratic countries like the U.S., said William Carter, deputy director and fellow in the Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“China does have strengths in terms of application development and deployment, and has the potential to take the lead in the deployment of some technologies like autonomous vehicles and facial recognition where ethical, social and policy hurdles may impede deployment in the U.S. and other parts of the world,” Carter said.

China’s capabilities in image and facial recognition are possibly the best in the world, partly because government controls have made it easier to generate data from a wide range of sources like banks, mobile phone companies and social media.

“These capabilities arise out of the use of deep learning on very large data sets. In general, China has the advantage of having more real world data to train AI systems on … than any other country,” Selman said.

Other areas where China has shown significant advances are natural language processing (in Chinese only) and drone (unmanned aerial vehicle) swarming.

“China also has unique capabilities that are not found in the U.S. or Europe. I’m thinking of electronic payment platforms [e.g. AliPay] and the super app WeChat that provide an advanced platform for the rapid introduction of further AI technologies,” Selman said.

U.S. role

Last February, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order asking government agencies to do more with AI.

“Continued American leadership in artificial intelligence is of paramount importance to maintaining the economic and national security of the United States,” Trump was quoted as saying in an official press release accompanying the order.

Critics have said that Trump’s order does not suggest enhanced government investment and plans for attracting fresh talent in AI research and development, which is essential for growth and industry competition.

Gregory Allen is an adjunct senior fellow with the research group Center for a New American Security. He was recently quoted as saying that the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is spending the most on research and development at $2 billion over five years. In contrast, the Chinese province of Shanghai, which is a city government, is planning to spend $15 billion on AI over 10 years.

“So literally, we have the U.S. federal government at present at risk of being outspent by a provincial government of China,” Allen said.

China’s AI capabilities have limits. They suffer from major weaknesses in areas like advanced semiconductors to support machine learning applications.

“At the end of the day, when it comes to most major AI fields, China is not the technological leader and is not the source of most foundational innovations,” Carter said. 

The U.S. still dominates in the overall market for self-driving car technology, machine translation, natural language understanding, and web search. China has gained a strong presence in a few segments of these businesses, largely because of its vast domestic market.

Despite the competition, collaboration and exchange of ideas occur between the two countries in the AI field, although this aspect is less discussed, Carter added.

“Politically, the dynamic is more competitive; economically and scientifically, it is more collaborative,” he said.

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Pompeo Dismisses N. Korea’s Rejection of Him as US Negotiator

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday rejected a North Korean demand that he be replaced as President Donald Trump’s top negotiator, as the United States and Japan vowed to continue to enforce tough sanctions on North Korea until it dismantles its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Pompeo’s refusal to step down and the joint U.S.-Japanese pledge made at a meeting of their foreign and defense ministers at the State Department threw more uncertainty over the possible resumption of stalled denuclearization talks. The talks have been at an impasse over sanctions since Trump’s second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended without any agreement in late February, and the North has warned it may not return to the table without immediate sanctions relief.

“Nothing changed, we’re continuing to work. I’m still in charge of the team,” Pompeo told reporters, insisting that he and his special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun would remain on the job.

“President Trump is obviously in charge of the overall effort, but it will be my team and special representative Biegun who will continue to lead the U.S. efforts to achieve what Chairman Kim committed to do,”he said. “He’s made that commitment to President Trump multiple times, he’s made it to me personally half a dozen times and I am convinced we still have a real opportunity to achieve that outcome and our diplomatic team will continue to remain in the lead.”

Pompeo’s comments — at a news conference with acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya — were his first response to the North Korean demand, which followed an announcement by Pyongyang on Thursday that it had tested a new tactical weapon.

The test, along with the North’s criticism of Pompeo for “talking nonsense” and misrepresenting Kim’s positions, signaled a hardening stance and cast doubt on a quick resumption of negotiations.

Pompeo, Shanahan, Kono and Iwaya all said that they would not bow to North Korea’s sanctions relief demands.

“We will continue to press North Korea to abandon all of its weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles and related programs and facilities,” Pompeo said, speaking on behalf of the group. “We will continue to enforce all sanctions against North Korea and encourage every country to do so.”

Kono said Friday’s meeting came at “a critical time to align the response to the North Korean situation,” noting that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will travel to the U.S. to meet Trump next week and that Trump will soon visit Japan.”

Japan and the United States will continue to cooperate on full implementation of all U.N. Security Council resolutions,” he said in reference to international sanctions the world body has imposed on the North.

The U.S. is refusing to ease major sanctions until North Korea completely and verifiably dismantles its nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles while the North wants significant sanctions to be lifted before the process is completed.

Japan has also advocated a tough approach to the North in contrast to South Korea, which has pushed for a step-by-step approach that would lift some international sanctions as incentives. Pompeo has said some minor relief, including the possible easing of travel restrictions, could be considered in the short- to medium-term but that the crippling sanctions the North most wants removed will not be lifted until it fulfills what he says have been Kim’s repeated pledges to Trump to completely denuclearize.

On Thursday, North Korea said it had test-fired a new type of “tactical guided weapon,” its first such test in nearly half a year, and demanded that Pompeo be excluded from future negotiations.

Although the test didn’t appear to be of a banned mid- or long-range ballistic missile that could scuttle chances of resuming the negotiations, it allowed North Korea to show its people it is pushing ahead with weapons development and reassuring hardline military officials worried that diplomacy with Washington is a sign of weakness.

North Korea’s foreign ministry accused Pompeo of playing down the significance of comments by Kim, who said last week that Washington has until the end of the year to offer mutually acceptable terms for an agreement to salvage the high-stakes nuclear diplomacy. In a statement, the director general of the American Affairs Department Kwon Jong Gun said that Pompeo was “talking nonsense” and misrepresenting Kim’s comments.

During a speech at Texas A&M University on Monday, Pompeo said Kim promised to denuclearize during his first summit with President Donald Trump and that U.S. officials were working with the North Koreans to “chart a path forward so we can get there.”

“He [Kim] said he wanted it done by the end of the year,” Pompeo said. “I’d love to see that done sooner.”

The North Korean statement said Pompeo was “misrepresenting the meaning of our requirement” for the negotiations to be finalized by the year’s end, and referred to his “talented skill of fabricating stories.”

It said Pompeo’s continued participation in the negotiations would ensure that the talks become “entangled” and called for a different counterpart who is “more careful and mature in communicating with us.”

In a speech before his rubber-stamp parliament last week, Kim said he is open to a third summit with Trump, but only if the United States changes its stance on sanctions enforcement and pressure by the end of the year.