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Posted by Ukrap on

Боррель обговорив зі Шмигалем безпеку України та відносини Києва з ЄС

За словами Шмигаля, він повідомив, що домовився з Боррелем про проведення наступного засідання Ради асоціації Україна – ЄС

Posted by Worldkrap on

January 6 Riot Changes Conversation About Media Safety in US 

News crews attacked, equipment set on fire, ‘Murder the media’ scrawled on a Capitol door. Journalists as well as lawmakers were targeted during the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

So far, federal prosecutors have charged about 10 individuals with assaulting the media or destroying equipment during the attack last January.

Last month, a Californian man who had refused to accept the presidential election result was sentenced to three years in prison for sending threatening messages to CNN news anchors Brian Stelter and Don Lemon and their families.

And at least 17 journalists were assaulted while covering the January 6 riot, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a coalition that collects data on press freedom aggressions.

“We know that members of the media along with Congress were targeted during that time,” Kirstin McCudden, the Tracker’s managing editor, told VOA. “ ‘Murder the Media’ was scrawled on (a) Capitol door. Members of the news media were attacked. Camera equipment from the Associated Press and foreign press outlets was gathered up and set on fire.” 

The assaults represent trends building for years: a distrust of the media that can result in physical attacks as well as threats and harassment over social media, McCudden said. 

In 2021, 142 journalists were assaulted while reporting in the United States, according to the Tracker. That’s not as bad as 2020, when it documented over 600 violations against the media as Americans became divided over pandemic regulations, protests over racial injustice and a heated presidential campaign. 

Protesters and others started taking their anger out on the press in what McCudden said is “a shooting-the-messenger situation.”

Focus on safety 

Journalism hasn’t been seen as a dangerous job in the U.S. but that has changed, according to Angela Greiling Keane, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute.

“I think many of us, of my generation, went into journalism not thinking that it was a career where you might risk your safety,” said Greiling Keane, who is also a managing editor at the news website Politico. “But now journalists do face a lot of threats.” 

A decline in local news coverage over the past two decades has exacerbated that loss of trust, Greiling Keane and other media experts say.

“Now there are a lot fewer outlets and therefore a lot fewer people who are out there reporting on local communities, and that means there’s less access to information in those communities, but it also means that individuals are probably less likely to know a journalist,” she said.

The changing environment is affecting how some news organizations, including Politico, approach assignments.

“What we and other news organizations weigh is do we want a reporter to cover a protest. Is that a situation that might escalate? This is the kind of conversation that editors have now that they didn’t have a few years ago,” she said. 

Some news organizations are training journalists on how to work in conflict situations. 

“Journalists have long undergone combat training if they are going to head over and cover the war in Iraq or if they are going to a conflict area overseas,” Greiling Keane said. “What’s different is that some journalists are getting that sort of training now to just report their regular jobs in the United States.”

Colin Pereira of HP Risk Management doesn’t compare the working environment in the U.S. to that of a war zone. But, he said, one problem is “domestic journalists don’t understand that there’s a threat.”

“The sort of street craft that journalists who cover conflict know, domestic journalists sometimes don’t know,” Pereira said. His firm provides hostile environment training to journalists at more than a dozen news organizations, including Britain’s ITV, which had a crew at the Capitol on January 6. 

Newsroom editors and journalists need to do a risk assessment, Pereira said, including asking who the protesters are, whether they have been violent previously, and how police may react if a situation turns chaotic. 

Legal threats 

Covering events like the Capitol riot sometimes brings an unexpected additional threat to press freedom: having reporter records subpoenaed by government entities.

The First Amendment group Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) is advocating against the subpoena of Amy Harris, a freelance photojournalist who was in Washington on the day of the riots.

Harris was taking photos as part of a profile of Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, a leader of the Proud Boys extremist group. 

A special committee of the U.S. House of Representatives now wants Harris’ phone records as part of its investigation into how the events of January 6 unfolded.

It has also subpoenaed Tarrio, who when he arrived in Washington was arrested on charges related to a separate rally and ordered to leave the capital two days before January 6.

When it comes to press freedom, it’s a dangerous request, said Grayson Clary, the Stanton Foundation national security free press fellow with the RCFP.

“This kind of investigation can have a chilling effect on journalists’ relationships with their sources. People are not going to want to talk to reporters if they fear that the person may get (conscripted) into helping out law enforcement down the line,” he said. 

Such requests, while rare, can also put journalists at risk. 

“Harris is someone who spent a long time earning the trust of the Proud Boys who have been willing to speak to her. It puts her in jeopardy if they suddenly see her as somebody who is on the other side,” Clary said. 

President Joe Biden announced earlier this year an end to subpoenas for journalist records — a move welcomed by press freedom advocates.

But, said Katherine Jacobsen, the U.S. program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists, “This change in policy still needs to be codified and we are hoping that the administration will support a federal shield law that will help codify protections of journalists’ material.” 

Distrust in media has been growing for a long time, and former President Donald Trump “play(ed) into a lot of the anti-media sentiment,” Jacobsen said. 

“Now that he is out of office it would be easy to say that things will get better just because of the change in tone from the White House, but a lot of the problems that were present during his administration and existed before continue to this day,” she said. 

Jacobsen and others believe this includes a growth of misinformation online that encourages people to not trust traditional media institutions. 


Posted by Ukrap on

Малі: російські війська розгорнулися в Тімбукту після виведення французьких сил

Уряд Малі заперечує будь-яке залучення російських найманців, заявляючи, що «російські інструктори» перебувають у країні в рамках двосторонньої угоди

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Блінкен поспілкувався з головою МЗС Казахстану – Держдепартамент США

Держсекретар США закликав Тлеуберді до мирного врегулювання протистояння в Казахстані, а також згадав про підтримку України

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Повний текст ухвали про арешт майна Порошенка оприлюднять 14 січня – Офіс генпрокурора

Арешт стосуватиметься того майна, яким Петро Порошенко володіє відповідно до державних реєстрів та його декларацій

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Голова МЗС Великої Британії анонсувала свій візит до Києва

Ліз Трасс заявила, що відвідає Україну до кінця місяця, але не назвала точної дати

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Казахстан: влада та протестувальники повідомляють про загиблих учасників протистояння в Алмати

У департаменті поліції міста заявили, що десятки «учасників заворушень» у місті «ліквідовані», державне ТБ заявляє про 13 вбитих силовиків

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WHO Says New Coronavirus Variant in France Not a Threat – Yet

The World Health Organization says a new coronavirus variant recently detected in France is nothing to be concerned about right now.

Scientists at the IHU Mediterranee Infection Foundation in the city of Marseille say they discovered the new B.1.640.2 variant in December in 12 patients living near Marseille, with the first patient testing positive after traveling to the central African nation of Cameroon.

The researchers said they have identified 46 mutations in the new variant, which they labeled “IHU” after the institute, that could make it more resistant to vaccines and more infectious than the original coronavirus.  The French team revealed the findings of a study in the online health sciences outlet medRxiv, which publishes studies that have not been peer-reviewed or published in an academic journal.

Abdi Mahmud, a COVID-19 incident manager with the World Health Organization, told reporters in Geneva earlier this week that, while the IHU variant is “on our radar,” it remains confined in Marseille and has not been labeled a “variant of concern” by the U.N. health agency.

Meanwhile, an international team of health care advocates and experts is calling for 22 billion doses of mRNA vaccine to be administered around the world this year to stop the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant.  The team is urging the production of an additional 15 billion doses of mRNA vaccine, more than double the projected 7 billion doses.

The report says mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna have demonstrated the best protection against several variants by providing cross-immunity through so-called T-cells, an arm of the human immune system that kills virus-infected cells and keeps them from replicating and spreading.

The report was a collaboration among scientists at Harvard Medical School, Columbia University, New York University and the University of Saskatchewan and the advocacy groups PrEP4All and Partners in Health.

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Pope Francis: Don’t Be Afraid to Have Children

Pope Francis has called on childless couples to adopt children and is urging institutions to make the process easier. He also condemned the practice of adopting pets instead of children, calling it a “form of selfishness.”

In his first general audience of the New Year, Pope Francis stressed the importance of parenthood, especially when so many children have been orphaned in the world.

He said every time a person takes on the responsibility of someone else’s life, the person is exercising a form of parenthood. The pope called on people not to fear choosing the path of adoption, saying it is among the highest forms of love and parenthood.

How many children in the world, Pope Francis said, are waiting for someone to look after them and how many couples would like to become parents but are unable for biological reasons. Adoption, he said, is a beautiful and generous act.

The pope said having a child is always a risk, whether that child is biologically one’s own or adopted. Rejecting parenthood, he said, is an even greater risk.

He said the problem is not only the number of orphans, but the fact many people do not want to have children, a situation he described as a “demographic winter.”

The pope said many couples have no children because they do not want them or they choose to have only one but then have two dogs, two cats. Yes, the pope said, dogs and cats take the place of children. This may make people laugh, he said, but it is the reality.

Pope Francis said people who choose to have pets instead of children are manifesting a form of selfishness.

In a statement, Massimo Comparotto, the president of Italy’s International Organization for the Protection of Animals, OIPA, was critical of the pope’s comments. He said, “It is evident that for Francis, animal life is less important than human life. But those who feel that life is sacred love life beyond species.”

The pope urged institutions to make it simpler for couples to adopt children and provide more assistance to families that do so.

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Jill Biden to Survey Kentucky Storm Damage

U.S. first lady Jill Biden is traveling Thursday to the state of Kentucky to survey damage from deadly storms that hit last month and to speak with officials about recovery efforts.

Joining Biden on the trip to the city of Bowling Green is Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Erik Hooks.

Severe storms in December brought tornadoes, other damaging winds and flooding to parts Kentucky, leaving 77 people dead and widespread damage. Another round of tornadoes Jan. 1 hit some of the same areas.

Biden is due to meet with Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and his wife, Britainy.

The White House said Biden would highlight cooperation between federal and local agencies. President Joe Biden issued a disaster declaration for Kentucky last month to speed federal aid.

Beshear announced in an address late Wednesday proposed legislation that would send $150 million to communities hit by the storms, as well as $50 million to fund recovery efforts for schools.

“We will rebuild,” Beshear said. “Every structure and every life.” 

Posted by Ukrap on

У Казахстані не працюють кілька міжнародних аеропортів

Posted by Ukrap on

Число випадків COVID-19 у світі вперше перевищило 2 мільйони за добу – ВООЗ

У світі на першому місці за кількістю виявлених випадків COVID-19 від початку пандемії перебувають США. Там зареєстровано майже 56 мільйонів інфікованих

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Російські військові «розпочали виконання поставлених завдань» у Казахстані – ОДКБ

Як повідомили в ОДКБ, до складу миротворчих сил увійшли підрозділи Збройних сил Росії, Білорусі, Вірменії, Таджикистану та Киргизстану

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US Sanctions Bosnian Serb Leader for Secessionist Efforts

The United States on Wednesday announced sanctions on Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik and current and former officials, adding pressure against their secessionist efforts threatening Bosnia-Herzegovina’s fragile union.

In its statement, the U.S. Treasury Department accused Dodik of corruption and threatening Bosnia-Herzegovina’s stability and territorial integrity.

“Milorad Dodik’s destabilizing corrupt activities and attempts to dismantle the Dayton Peace Accords, motivated by his own self-interest, threaten the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the entire region,” said Brian Nelson, undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, who was quoted in the statement.

The department also imposed sanctions on Banja Luka-based media outlet Alternativna Television (ATV), which it accused Dodik of acquiring to push his political agenda.

According to Reuters, ATV criticized the sanctions as an attack on media freedom and democracy itself. Its management also denied allegations it was connected to Dodik.

“We are surprised with such a decision and regard as extremely trivial that a great state should take individual insinuations about ties between our media house and politicians as credible sources,” ATV said in a statement to Reuters.

Following the sanctions, Dodik’s and ATV’s U.S. assets were frozen, and Americans are barred from dealing with them.

Two leaders barred

In addition to these sanctions, the U.S. State Department also banned two Bosnia-Herzegovina leaders from entering the U.S.: Milan Tegeltija, a former president of the high judicial council, and Mirsad Kukic, a lawmaker and president of the Movement for Democratic Action.

On Twitter, Tegeltija called the sanctions a “result of the politics which contains a brutal political pressure.” Because the sanctions are not the result of court proceedings, he does not need to defend himself, he said.

Dodik, who serves as the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite interethnic presidency, is a known secessionist and has become increasingly outspoken and active concerning his political goals.

He wants to reverse postwar reforms and return to the 1995 constitution.

Dodik has also increasingly followed through on succession threats of the Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb entity created under the U.S.-brokered Dayton Accords that ended the former Yugoslav republic’s bloody war.

Referring to united Bosnia as a failure, Dodik acted to withdraw Bosnian Serb institutions, including the army, judiciary and tax system, from central authority last month.

Dodik has made it clear the U.S. sanctions will not stop him, telling a local media outlet that “if they think that they will discipline me like this, they are grossly mistaken.”

No stranger to sanctions, such as those imposed in the final days of former President Barack Obama’s presidency blocking his American holdings, Dodik has ignored U.S. pressure. After announcing his secessionist measures last month, he said he was not afraid of the sanctions that might result from his actions.

‘Nothing serious’

Following a September 30 telephone call with U.S. envoy Gabriel Escobar, Dodik said, “It is absolutely inappropriate to threaten me with sanctions from his country. I’m already under sanctions and nothing serious has happened to me.”

The sanctions reflected the United States’ increased worry about the future of Bosnia’s peace accords, especially after Dodik’s recent attempts to unravel them. In addition to his secessionist measures, Dodik met last month with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who reportedly appeared to support his actions.

Christian Schmidt, the U.N. high representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina, said these sanctions were reasonable considering Dodik’s actions. Schmidt called them “a logical consequence of the destructive and dangerous attitude in reference to his failure to meet the basic requirements of responsible leadership.”

The Dayton Accords ended a brutal war in which 100,000 people died and 2 million were driven from their homes. In the war’s aftermath, Bosnian Serb forces were accused of genocide.

The peace accords divided the country into two halves: one for the Bosnian Serbs and one for a Muslim federation.

Presently, Bosnia has experienced its most serious political turmoil since the war’s end, reigniting fears that it could again split.

Following the announcement of the U.S. sanctions, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that further action was not out of the question, saying in a separate statement that “other leaders and entities linked to corrupt or destabilizing actors may also be subject to future actions by the U.S. government.”

Some information for this report came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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FBI Still Hunting Jan. 6 Suspects, Pipe Bomber a Year Later

The suspect was covered from head to toe, skulking through the dark streets of the nation’s capital before methodically placing two explosives outside the offices of the Republican and Democratic national committees.

Only 17 hours later — and just before the U.S. Capitol was stormed by a sea of pro-Trump rioters — were the pipe bombs discovered. It quickly became one of the highest-priority investigations for the FBI and the Justice Department.

But the trail grew cold almost immediately. A year later, federal investigators are no closer to learning the person’s identity. And a key question remains: Was there a connection between the pipe bombs and the riot at the Capitol?

The suspect is among hundreds of people still being sought by the FBI following last January’s deadly insurrection. So far, 250 people seen on video assaulting police at the Capitol still haven’t been fully identified and apprehended by the FBI, and another 100 are being sought for other crimes tied to the riot.

The investigation has been a massive undertaking for federal law enforcement officials. More than 700 people have been charged with federal crimes stemming from the Jan. 6 attack, and arrests are still being made regularly.

But for the FBI agents working on the cases, the job is far from over. Agents and investigative analysts have been poring over thousands of hours of surveillance video, going second by second in each video to try to capture clear images of people who attacked officers inside the Capitol.

“This investigation takes time because it is a lot of lot of work, a lot of painstaking work that they look at the video kind of frame by frame,” said Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s field office in Washington.

In one case, police body camera footage captures a man using a cane with electric prods on the end jabbing at officers and shocking them as they fight to hold back the riotous crowd trying to break through a barricaded line of officers at one of the doors of the Capitol. The crackling sound of the electricity can be heard as he prods his cane into one of the officers. The man, known only as “AFO114” — using shorthand for “assaulting a federal officer” — is still being sought.

“The assaults against the police officers are extremely serious,” D’Antuono said. More than 100 police officers were attacked by rioters on Jan. 6, some attacked by multiple people and some attacked multiple times, he said.

In another video, a man is seen repeatedly bashing a police officer over the head with a 1.8-meter metal pole as he tries to push his way into the Capitol. And a third shows a man spraying some kind of chemical from a can into the faces of other officers.

“There is still a lot of work to be done on this,” D’Antuono said. “There were a lot of people up there at the Capitol, a lot of people that either committed violence up there did other unlawful actions up there.”

In the search for the person who left the pipe bombs at the RNC and DNC offices, investigators have interviewed more than 900 people, collected 39,000 video files and examined more than 400 leads. They have dived into the components of the explosives and have been working to try to discern anything they can about the suspect, from analyzing the person’s gait to trying to collect information about purchases of the distinctive Nike sneakers the person wore.

But they are still no closer to finding the suspect’s identity and are hoping renewed attention on the video of the person may spark a tip to crack the case.

The explosive devices were placed outside the two buildings between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 5, 2021, but weren’t located by law enforcement until the next day. U.S. Capitol Police and agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were called to the Republican National Committee’s office around 12:45 p.m. on Jan. 6. About 30 minutes later, as the agents and bomb technicians were still investigating at the RNC, another call came in for a similar explosive device found at the Democratic National Committee headquarters nearby. The bombs were rendered safe, and no one was hurt.

Video released by the FBI shows a person in a gray hooded sweatshirt, a face mask and gloves appearing to place one of the explosives under a bench outside the DNC and separately shows the person walking in an alley near the RNC before the bomb was placed there. The person wore black and light gray Nike Air Max Speed Turf sneakers with a yellow logo.

“We’ve used and continue to use every investigative tool that we lawfully have to find this individual,” D’Antuono said. But, a year later, investigators still don’t know whether the suspect is a man or a woman. The person carried the bombs — made of threaded galvanized pipes, kitchen timers and homemade black powder — in a backpack.

“We’re still nose to the grindstone here and trying to find this individual, trying to bring the person to justice,” D’Antuono said. “But there is hopefully maybe somebody still out there that knows the person or sees the video again.”

It is unclear whether the bombs were related to planning for the insurrection or whether they were unrelated to the deadly riot. Both buildings are within a few blocks of the Capitol.

And the fact the suspect was covered from head to toe has made identifying the person extremely difficult for the FBI.

“In normal times, like if this wasn’t COVID,” D’Antuono said, “a person walking down the street in D.C. covered from head to toe with a mask on, glasses and gloves would have been a red flag.” 


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Taiwan to Set Up $200 Million Fund to Invest in Lithuania Amid Dispute With China

Taiwan said on Wednesday it would create a $200 million fund to invest in Lithuanian industries and boost bilateral trade as it tries to fend off diplomatic pressure on the Baltic state from China.

The Lithuanian government, meanwhile, ordered the state-owned railway company not to sign a contract with a China-owned Spanish bridge builder, citing “national security interests,” the prime minister’s spokesperson told the Baltic News Service.

Lithuania is under pressure from China, which claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, to reverse a decision last year to allow the island to open a de facto embassy in Vilnius under its own name.

Taiwanese representations in other countries, except the unrecognized Somaliland, are named after Taiwan’s capital, Taipei.

China has recalled its ambassador to Lithuania and downgraded diplomatic ties and is pressuring companies like German car parts giant Continental to stop using Lithuanian-made components. It has also blocked Lithuanian cargos from entering China.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken referred to China’s pressure on Vilnius in a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock after a meeting in Washington and vowed to work with Berlin and others against such “intimidation.”

Blinken said Germany and the United States agree on the importance of trans-Atlantic coordination on China “because it poses a significant challenge to our shared values, to the laws, rules and agreements that foster stability, prosperity and freedom worldwide.”

“We have immediate concern about the government of China’s attempts to bully Lithuania … China is pushing European and American companies to stop building products with components made in Lithuania, or risk losing access to the Chinese market, all because Lithuania chose to expand their cooperation with Taiwan.”

Lithuania’s export-based economy is home to hundreds of companies that make products such as furniture, lasers, food and clothing for multinationals that sell to China.

The head of Taiwan’s representative office in Lithuania, Eric Huang, said the strategic investment fund would be funded by Taiwan’s national development fund and backed by its central bank.

“We will establish the fund as soon as possible and we hope this year we will have some tangible results … I can imagine the first top priorities will be semiconductor, laser (and) biotechnology,” he told a news conference.

Taiwan has redirected 120 shipping containers from Lithuania blocked by China into its market and will take “as much as possible” more, Huang said.

Taiwan will also accelerate its approval process for Lithuanian dairy and grain exports into Taiwan and seek to link Lithuanian businesses into Taiwanese supply chains, he said.

Integrating Lithuania’s laser industry into manufacturing semiconductors in Taiwan was another possibility, Huang said.

Taiwanese Deputy Foreign Minister Tseng Hou-jen called the Chinese pressure on Lithuania “disproportionate.”

“The U.S. and EU refer to Taiwan as Taiwan in their official documents, and China keeps quiet,” he said. “China’s action seems to have targeted what it perceives as vulnerable country, for its political gains. But giving in is not the best way in dealing with bullies.” 

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US Returns More Migrants to Mexican Border City Under Rebooted Trump-Era Policy

The United States on Wednesday began returning migrants to the Mexican city of Tijuana in a restart of a Trump-era program that forces asylum-seekers to wait for U.S. court hearings in Mexico, Mexican authorities and the U.N. migration agency said.

The United States and Mexico last month agreed to relaunch the controversial scheme known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), in keeping with a U.S. federal court order.

U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has struggled to reverse many hardline immigration policies put in place by his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump.

Biden ended MPP soon after his inauguration in January as he sought to pursue what he called a more humane approach to immigration. But a federal judge ruled Biden’s move did not follow proper procedure, and in August ordered MPP reinstated.

The program first resumed in December at the international crossing connecting El Paso, Texas, to Ciudad Juarez. More than 200 people have been returned to Mexico so far under the relaunch of MPP, according to the U.N.’s International Organization of Migration (OIM).

Two migrants were returned to Tijuana, across from California, on Wednesday with future appointments in U.S. courts, an official with OIM told Reuters.

The migrant rights advocacy group Al Otro Lado told Reuters the two men were Colombian nationals.

Neither U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) nor Mexico’s immigration agency immediately responded to requests for comment.

The United Nations’ refugee agency and advocacy groups have criticized the restart of the Trump-era policy, warning migrants face the risk of kidnapping, rape and extortion in dangerous Mexican border towns.

Under the original 2019 program, some 70,000 migrants seeking asylum were forced to wait weeks and sometimes years in Mexico for a U.S. court date instead of being allowed to await their hearings in the United States. 

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US, Japan to Hold Virtual Talks on Security, Indo-Pacific Region

The United States and Japan are expected to hold virtual talks this week in which they will renew their vow to secure the Indo-Pacific region amid growing challenges from China and North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will meet with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi on Thursday for the virtual U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (“2+2”) meeting.

“During the meeting, the delegations will discuss ways the United States and Japan can strengthen our alliance to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region and to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, and other global challenges,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

The meeting comes the same day that Japanese and Australian leaders are expected to sign a new security agreement aimed at setting out for the first time a framework for the countries’ defense forces to work together.

When asked about the emerging security agreements among Japan, Australia, India and the United States — informally known as “the Quad” — China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday expressed wariness.

Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters during a regular briefing that Beijing believes state-to-state cooperation should improve “mutual understanding and trust among countries in the region” and safeguard regional peace and stability, rather than targeting or undermining the interest of any third party. 

Japan-US ties 

The first “2+2” meeting in 2022 between the United States and Japan comes shortly after Blinken’s in-person talks with Hayashi on the sidelines of the Group of Seven foreign ministerial meeting in December in Liverpool, England.

G-7 countries had called on North Korea for a “complete, verifiable and irreversible abandonment” of all unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.

Earlier on Wednesday, North Korea launched an apparent ballistic missile in Pyongyang’s first weapons test of the new year, according to reports by South Korea and Japan. 

The U.S. has said it continues to consult closely with South Korea and Japan and other partners to seek a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and diplomacy.

“We have no hostile intent towards the DPRK. We are prepared to meet without preconditions,” Price said Tuesday in response to questions from VOA. He was referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea. 

Meanwhile, U.S. and Japanese officials have voiced opposition to Chinese activities seen as attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo by force in the East and South China seas, while declaring the importance of “peace and stability” across the Taiwan Strait. 

As Japan is set to review its national security and defense posture in 2022, some experts say rising threats from China are driving the U.S. and Japan to strengthen military collaboration.

A few weeks ago, U.S. Marines and members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force launched their largest bilateral training exercise of the year, known as Resolute Dragon 2021. That exercise took place at multiple training locations across Japan from December 4 to 17. 

“There is no question that Japan is gearing up to do more in a Taiwan contingency,” Mike Green, the senior vice president for Asia at Center for Strategic and International Studies, told VOA on Wednesday. 

While Japan’s pacifist constitution imposes restrictions that prevent the island nation from getting involved in a potential military conflict outside its own territory, such as near the Taiwan Strait, Green said developments in recent years have pushed Japan to make a gradual shift. 

“That shifted first with the 1995-96 Taiwan Strait crisis, when China’s PLA (People’s Liberation Army) launched missiles and exercises in the vicinity of Japanese islands. That crisis propelled the first revision of bilateral defense guidelines to deal with contingencies in the region.” 

At that time, the U.S. dispatched two carrier battle groups to waters surrounding Taiwan as China conducted missile tests during the run-up to Taiwan’s first democratic presidential election. 

In 2015, Green added, then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe changed his interpretation of the constitution and passed legislation allowing “collective self-defense” with the U.S., which removed the major obstacle to doing more. 

Washington and Tokyo are discussing an early visit by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to the White House, which would be his first summit with U.S. President Joe Biden since becoming Japan’s leader in October.