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US, Allies Open to Talk Exercises, Missile Deployments with Russia, Official Says

The United States and allies are prepared to discuss with Russia the possibility of each side restricting military exercises and missile deployments in the region, a senior U.S. administration official said on Saturday. 

With crucial talks about Ukraine set to start on Monday in Geneva, the senior Biden administration official said the United States is not willing to discuss limits on U.S. troop deployments or the U.S. force posture in NATO countries in the region. 

President Joe Biden has warned Russia that it will face severe economic consequences if President Vladimir Putin were to launch an invasion of Ukraine. U.S. officials on Saturday provided more details on tough sanctions that could be imposed. 

One restriction, as described by a source familiar with the plan, could target critical Russian industrial sectors, including defense and civil aviation, and would invariably hit Russia’s high-tech ambitions, such as in artificial intelligence or quantum computing, or even consumer electronics. 

The Geneva talks, to be followed by other sessions next week in Brussels and Vienna, are aimed at averting a crisis. Putin has massed tens of thousands of troops along its border with Ukraine, generating fears of an invasion. 

It remained unclear whether the United States and its European allies can make progress in the talks with Moscow. Putin wants an end to NATO’s eastward expansion and security guarantees, demands the United States says are unacceptable. 

But the senior U.S. official, briefing reporters ahead of the talks, said some areas present opportunities for common ground. 

“Any discussion of those overlapping areas where we might be able to make progress would have to be reciprocal,” the official said. “Both sides would need to make essentially the same commitment.” 

Russia says it feels threatened by the prospect of the United States deploying offensive missile systems in Ukraine, even though Biden has assured Putin he has no intention of doing so. 

“So this is one area where we may be able to reach an understanding if Russia is willing to make a reciprocal commitment,” the official said. 

The United States is also willing to discuss restrictions by both sides on military exercises, the official said. 

“We are willing to explore the possibility of reciprocal restrictions on the size and scope of such exercises, including both strategic bombers close to each other’s territory and ground-based exercises as well,” the official said. 

The official said Washington is open to a broader discussion on missile deployment in the region. In 2019, former President Donald Trump withdrew from the 1987 U.S.-Russia Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, on accusations Moscow was violating the accord. 

A separate senior Biden administration official said penalties being explored in the case of a Russian invasion would not start low and be tightened over time. 

“Instead, we would adopt a ‘start high, stay high’ approach in which we, in coordination with our allies and partners, would immediately impose severe and overwhelming costs on Russia’s economy, including its financial system and sectors deemed critical to the Kremlin,” the official said. 

The United States has been discussing with allies and partners in Europe and Asia a range of trade restrictions under consideration, the source familiar with the planning said. 

No decisions have yet been taken, but restrictions under consideration could impact U.S. products exported to Russia and certain foreign-made products subject to U.S. jurisdiction. 

Russia could be added to the most restrictive group of countries for export control purposes, together with Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria. These actions could also restrict export of products made abroad if they contain more than a specified percentage of U.S. content. 

In addition, consideration is being given to exercising U.S. jurisdiction, through the Foreign Direct Product Rule used for Chinese telecom company Huawei, to exports to Russia of all microelectronics designed with U.S. software or technology or produced using U.S. equipment. (( https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/exclusive-us-could-hit-russia-smartphone-aircraft-part-imports-if-it-invades-2021-12-21/ ))

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Webb Space Telescope’s ‘Golden Eye’ Opens, Last Major Hurdle

NASA’s new space telescope opened its huge, gold-plated, flower-shaped mirror Saturday, the final step in the observatory’s dramatic unfurling.  

The last portion of the 6.5-meter (21-foot) mirror swung into place at flight controllers’ command, completing the unfolding of the James Webb Space Telescope.

“I’m emotional about it. What an amazing milestone. We see that beautiful pattern out there in the sky now,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, chief of NASA’s science missions.

More powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope, the $10 billion Webb will scan the cosmos for light streaming from the first stars and galaxies formed 13.7 billion years ago. To accomplish this, NASA had to outfit Webb with the largest and most sensitive mirror ever launched—its “golden eye,” as scientists call it.


Webb is so big that it had to be folded origami-style to fit in the rocket that soared from South America two weeks ago. The riskiest operation occurred earlier in the week, when the tennis court-size sunshield unfurled, providing subzero shade for the mirror and infrared detectors.  

Flight controllers in Baltimore began opening the primary mirror Friday, unfolding the left side like a drop-leaf table. The mood was even more upbeat Saturday, with peppy music filling the control room as the right side snapped into place. After applauding, the controllers immediately got back to work, latching everything down. They jumped to their feet and cheered when the operation was finally complete two hours later.

“We have a deployed telescope in orbit, a magnificent telescope the likes of which the world has never seen,” Zurbuchen said, congratulating the team. “So how does it feel to make history, everybody? You just did it.”

His counterpart at the European Space Agency, astronomer Antonella Nota, noted that after years of preparation, the team made everything look “so amazingly easy.”

“This is the moment we have been waiting for, for so long,” she said.

Webb’s main mirror is made of beryllium, a lightweight yet sturdy and cold-resistant metal. Each of its 18 segments is coated with an ultra-thin layer of gold, highly reflective of infrared light. The hexagonal, coffee-table-size segments must be adjusted in the days and weeks ahead so they can focus as one on stars, galaxies and alien worlds that might hold atmospheric signs of life.  

Webb should reach its destination 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) away in another two weeks; it’s already more than 667,000 miles (1 million kilometers) from Earth since its Christmas Day launch. If all continues to go well, science observations will begin this summer. Astronomers hope to peer back to within 100 million years of the universe-forming Big Bang, closer than Hubble has achieved.

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Biden, Obama Honor Late Senate Leader Harry Reid

Former President Barack Obama commemorated the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday as a man “who got things done,” as Democratic leaders gathered from around the country to recall Reid—often laughingly—as a man whose impatience for pleasantries was part of a drive to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.

The turnout at Reid’s Las Vegas memorial service testified to Reid’s impact on some of the most consequential legislation of the 21st century, despite coming from a childhood of poverty and deprivation in Nevada. President Joe Biden escorted Reid’s widow, Landra Reid, to her seat at the outset of services, before an honor guard bore a flag-draped casket to the well of a hushed auditorium.

Reid died December 28 at home in Henderson, Nevada, at 82 of complications from pancreatic cancer. 

“Let there be no doubt. Harry Reid will be considered one of the greatest Senate majority leaders in history,” Biden said, as leaders credited Reid’s work on strengthening health care and on Wall Street reform and economic recovery in the wake of the 2008 recession.

Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who described Reid to mourners as a “truly honest and original character,” spoke during an invitation-only memorial. Former President Barack Obama, who credits Reid for his rise to the White House, delivered the eulogy.

Obama said that when Reid helped pass the Affordable Care Act, “he didn’t do it to burnish his own legacy,” recalling how, as a boy, Reid’s family was so poor that Reid himself pulled out one of his father’s teeth.

“He did it for the people back home and families like his, who needed somebody looking out for them, when nobody else did. Harry got things done,” Obama said.

“The thing about Harry, he never gave up. He never gave up. He never gave up on anybody who cared about him,” said Biden, who served for two decades with Reid in the Senate and worked with him for eight years when Biden was vice president.

“If Harry said he was going to do something, he did it,” Biden added. “You could bank on it.” 

Reid’s son, Leif, was one of a series of speakers who recalled his father’s well-known habit of abruptly hanging up on telephone conversations without saying goodbye, sometimes leaving the other person—whether powerful politicians or close family—chatting away for several minutes before they realized he was no longer there. 

Leif Reid said it was “part of the narrative” of his father’s life, and tried to explain that the gesture was more about Reid preserving time for family. 

“When he hung up on you, maybe so quickly, it isn’t as much about him being brusque as it is about him being devoted to my mom,” Leif Reid said. 

“I probably got hung up on the most by Harry Reid, two or three times a day, for 12 years”—Pelosi told mourners. 

“Sometimes I even called him back and said Harry, ‘I was singing your praises,’” Pelosi said. To which Reid replied: “I don’t want to hear it,” she said, before she’d hear the phone click dead. 

Reid served for 34 years in Washington and led the Senate through a crippling recession and the Republican takeover of the House after the 2010 elections.

Harry Mason Reid hitchhiked 40 miles (64 kilometers) to high school and was an amateur boxer before he was elected to the Nevada state Assembly at age 28. He had graduated from Utah State University and worked nights as a U.S. Capitol police officer while attending George Washington University Law School in Washington. 

In 1970, at age 30, he was elected lieutenant governor with Democratic Gov. Mike O’Callaghan. Reid was elected to the House in 1982 and the Senate in 1986.

He built a political machine in Nevada that for years helped Democrats win key elections. When he retired in 2016 after an exercise accident at home left him blind in one eye, he picked former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to replace him.

Cortez Masto became the first woman from Nevada and the first Latina ever elected to the U.S. Senate. 

Those flying to Las Vegas will arrive at the newly renamed Harry Reid International Airport. It was previously named for Pat McCarran, a former Democratic U.S. senator from Nevada who once owned the airfield and whose legacy is clouded by racism and anti-Semitism.

Posted by Ukrap on

Чи отримає Україна переносні ракетні комплекси «Стінгер»? У Держдепі США відповіли на питання про «Стінгери»

Ракетний комплес «Стінгер» вважають таким, що переломив хід радянської військової операції в Афганістані 1979-1989 років на користь афганських моджахедів

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Влада Казахстану обмежує інтернет, в Алмати інтернет вимкнено повністю ‒ журналіст

Як каже казахстанський журналіст, на вулицях міст багато поліції та військових

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У Києві вшанували загиблих у авіакатастрофі в Ірані два роки тому – фотогалерея

У столичному парку «Вербовий гай» на Дніпровській набережній вшанували пам’ять загиблих два роки тому в Тегерані пасажирів та членів екіпажу рейсу PS752 авіакомпанії «Міжнародні авіалінії України» (МАУ).

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Russia Lays Out ‘Nonstarter’ Demands Ahead of Talks with US

Talks between U.S. and Russian diplomats will begin Monday in Geneva after a weekslong standoff over Russian troop deployments near its border with Ukraine. White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara has this preview.

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Токаєв: Казахстан скликає саміт ОДКБ

«Нікол Пашинян повідомив, що вірменська сторона як чинний голова ОДКБ опікуватиметься організацією цього заходу», – інформує сайт президента Росії

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Albanian Police Use Tear Gas as Protesters Storm Party Offices

Police fired tear gas and water cannons Saturday in Tirana as stone-throwing protesters stormed into the headquarters of Albania’s opposition Democratic Party in a deepening power struggle between party rivals.  

At least one police officer and one protester were injured, and dozens of protesters were arrested, police said. The protests were dispersed in the afternoon.  

The protesters were supporters of former president and prime minister Sali Berisha, who was thrown out of the party last year after Washington banned him from entering the United States over alleged corruption.

Berisha, who denies wrongdoing, has since mounted a leadership challenge against party leader Lulzim Basha. Last month, Berisha called a party assembly and announced himself as leader.

During Saturday’s unrest, Berisha supporters used hammers to smash open newly installed metal security doors at the offices and threw up ladders in a bid to reach the second floor.

Police said in a statement they were forced to intervene after “a group of lawmakers inside the Democratic Party requested police help because lives were in danger.”

Local media said people inside the building had sought to keep the protesters out by spraying fire extinguishers before police arrived.

“The battle will continue as we consider the party building as our home, and we will liberate our home,” said Berisha, speaking just after he was stopped from approaching the building again by police using paper spray against him and his supporters.

The EU office in Tirana called for calm and restraint: “There must be no room for violence in politics,” it said.

The U.S. ambassador in Albania, Yuri Kim, said Washington was deeply concerned about recent tension surrounding the Democratic Party.

“Those inciting violence or undermining the rule of law will be held accountable,” Kim said in a tweet.

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Відомий іранський поет-в‘язень помер від COVID-19

«Репортери без кордонів», коментуючи смерть поета в Ірані, звинуватили владу в неналежному догляді

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Біатлон: збірна України виграла «бронзу» в одиночній змішаній естафеті

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VOA Exclusive: Ukraine Accuses Iran of Premediated Terrorist Act in 2020 Plane Shootdown

Ukraine is sharpening its accusation that Iran played a sinister role in the 2020 shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger plane over Tehran as the world marks the second anniversary of the tragedy.

“What happened on January 8th, 2020, was a terrorist act committed against a civilian aircraft,” Oleksiy Danilov, Ukraine’s National Defense and Security Council secretary, said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with VOA Persian.

Danilov also expressed frustration with what he said was Iran’s refusal to cooperate in investigating and providing compensation for the downing of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752.

Iran has acknowledged firing missiles that struck the plane and killed all 176 people on board, but it called the incident an accident and blamed it on a misaligned air defense system and human error by the missile operators. The plane had taken off from Tehran minutes earlier, carrying mostly Iranians and Iranian Canadians who were flying to Kyiv en route to Canada.

The Iranian forces who shot down the Ukrainian plane had been on alert for a U.S. response to a missile strike that Iran launched on American troops in Iraq several hours earlier. Iran had attacked the U.S. troops, wounding dozens, in retaliation for a U.S. airstrike that killed top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad five days previously.

Danilov noted that before and after Iran’s pre-dawn missile strikes on Flight PS752, Iranian authorities had allowed other civilian jets to take off from Tehran airport. “We have the impression that they [the Iranians] had been waiting specifically for our plane. We can assume this,” he said.

Danilov said those who allegedly were waiting to strike the UIA jet were senior Iranian officials. “It must have been an order from senior management. No [air defense] operators can make such a decision on their own.”

The Ukrainian security official’s accusations regarding Iran’s role in the incident were tougher and more detailed than his previous ones.

‘Conscious attack’

In an April 2021 interview with Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper, Danilov said he believed the Iranian downing of Flight PS752 was “intentional” and a “conscious attack.”

Ukrainian news site Ukrinform later quoted Danilov as saying in May 2021 that Kyiv was “more and more inclined” to call the Iranian missile strikes a “terrorist act.” Danilov was responding to a Canadian judge’s ruling that month that the “missile attacks were intentional” and “the shooting down of the civilian aircraft constituted terrorist activity under applicable federal law.”

The Ontario court’s ruling came as part of a civil lawsuit brought by relatives of six Flight PS752 victims against Iranian officials, whom they blamed for the tragedy. In a further decision announced Monday, the court awarded the plaintiffs $84 million in damages “for loss of life caused by terrorism.”

Iran’s U.N. mission in New York did not respond to a VOA request for comment on Danilov’s latest statements that the downing of Flight PS752 was a premeditated, terrorist act. VOA made the request in a voicemail on the Iranian U.N. mission’s phone line and in messages sent to the mission by email and on Twitter.

In a separate email exchange with VOA on Friday, Ukraine’s former deputy prosecutor general, Gyunduz Mamedov, used even sharper language to describe Iran’s role in the shootdown.

Mamedov, who was involved in Ukraine’s ongoing criminal investigation of the incident while serving as deputy prosecutor general from 2019 to 2021, said the investigation remains in a pretrial stage in which the classification of the alleged crime is being determined.

“The pre-trial investigation is considering various categories of crime, including an act of terrorism,” Mamedov wrote. “It also is likely that the downing of an aircraft will be classified as a war crime.”

Ukraine has not disclosed evidence that Iran’s shooting down of Flight PS752 was part of a premeditated, intentional act.

‘Full reparations’

Canada, which lost 55 citizens and 30 permanent residents in the shootdown, has not publicly shared Ukraine’s assessments of a sinister Iranian role in the incident.

But Canada joined Ukraine and two other nations whose citizens were among the victims, Britain and Sweden, in issuing a statement Thursday vowing to “hold Iran accountable for the actions and omissions of its civil and military officials that led to the illegal downing of Flight PS752 by ensuring that Iran makes full reparations for its breaches of international law.”

The four nations, which joined together as an International Coordination and Response Group for the victims of Flight PS752, also said that after a first round of talks in July 2020, Iran rejected their January 5 deadline to resume negotiations on their collective demand for reparations. They said they would “now focus on subsequent actions … to resolve this matter in accordance with international law.”


Danilov told VOA that not only has Iran paid no compensation to the Ukrainian victims’ families, but its cooperation with Ukraine’s criminal investigation was nonexistent.

In a statement issued Friday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Tehran has sent letters to embassies of relevant governments declaring a readiness to pay the families of 30 foreign victims.

The Iranian statement said Tehran was ready for “bilateral” talks with the countries whose citizens were killed in the shootdown. But it accused some of those nations, without naming them, of committing “illegal actions” and “trying to exploit this painful incident and the plight of the survivors for their own political purposes.”

Britain, Canada, Sweden and Ukraine have insisted on multilateral negotiations.

Trial questioned

Iran’s Foreign Ministry also noted that the Iranian judiciary has held several court sessions since opening a trial in November of 10 military personnel charged in connection with the shootdown.

In his VOA interview, Danilov questioned the credibility of that trial. “We don’t know whether these people are really responsible, because the processes that took place in Iran were held behind closed doors and foreign representatives were not allowed inside to confirm that this was a transparent, democratic procedure,” he said.

In explaining his belief that the downing of the Ukrainian plane was intentional, Danilov told the Globe and Mail in his April 2021 interview that Iran might have used it as a pre-dawn distraction to calm an escalating confrontation with the more powerful U.S. military.

He also cited Iran’s use of a Russian-made missile system to strike the jetliner. Ukrainian military experts have said such a system is unlikely to mistakenly shoot down a passenger plane.

This story was a collaboration between VOA’s Persian and Ukrainian services and English News Center. Kateryna Lisunova of VOA Ukrainian and Arash Sigarchi of VOA Persian contributed.

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Djokovic Challenged Officials on Visa Cancellation, Court Filing Says

Novak Djokovic’s legal challenge to the Australian government’s decision to cancel his visa on arrival this week says a certified COVID-19 infection in December meant he qualified for a medical exemption to the county’s vaccination requirements.

A 35-page document lodged in the Federal Circuit and Family Court by his legal team Saturday outlines the Serbian’s case for challenging the visa cancellation which would prevent him from playing in the Australian Open. The challenge will be heard in court on Monday morning.

The tennis world No. 1 has been held in immigration detention in a hotel in Melbourne since Thursday morning after border officials rejected his claim for a medical exemption.

The filing shows Djokovic said he had received a letter from Tennis Australia’s Chief Medical Officer on Dec. 30 stating he had a medical exemption from vaccination on the basis that he had recently recovered from a COVID infection.

The documents show he had tested positive for COVID on Dec. 16, and by Dec. 30 had been free of symptoms or fever in the previous 72 hours.

The application said he had a valid visa to travel and also received an assessment from the Department of Home Affairs stating, “responses indicate(d) that (he met) the requirements for a quarantine-free arrival into Australia where permitted by the jurisdiction of your arrival,” with Victoria the nominated jurisdiction.

The legal documents state that early Thursday morning, after being informed at Melbourne Airport his visa would be rescinded, a confused Djokovic pleaded to be given time to be able to contact Tennis Australia and his agent.

But he said he was “pressured” by authorities to agree to an interview shortly after 6 a.m., despite accepting an earlier offer than he could rest until 8:30 a.m. and saying he “wanted some help and legal support and advice from representatives,” who were still sleeping at the early hour.


Challenged cancellation

The application says Djokovic challenged an official at the airport when told a recent COVID-19 infection was not considered a substitute for a vaccination in Australia.

“That’s not true, and I told him what the Independent State Government medical panel had said and I explained why. I then referred to the two medical panels and the Travel Declaration,” the legal filing quotes the Serbian as saying.

“I explained that I had been recently infected with COVID in December 2021 and, on this basis, I was entitled to a medical exemption in accordance with Australian Government rules and guidance.”

He said he had provided his medical evidence to Tennis Australia for its two-stage independent assessment process, had made his travel declarations correctly and satisfied all requirements to legally enter Australia on his approved visa.

Among the arguments lawyers for the Serbian superstar raised was a section from the Australian Immunization Register which states a person can apply for a temporary vaccine exemption due to a recent “acute major medical illness.”

Djokovic’s legal team said that, among a series of what it says are jurisdictional errors, a delegate for the minister for home affairs did not have “a skerrick of evidence,” using an Australian term for a tiny amount, to suggest the 20-time major champion’s recent infection did not constitute a contraindication.

Tennis Australia’s chief medical officer, Dr. Carolyn Broderick, was one of three medical practitioners on a panel that approved an exemption consistent with guidelines outlined by Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization, the filing says.

The document says the first decision was then assessed by a second independent medical panel set up by the Victorian state government, consistent with the process that has been outlined publicly by Tennis Australia. 




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Назарбаєв не виїжджав із Казахстану – речник

Назарбаєв, за словами його речника, закликає всіх згуртуватися навколо президента Казахстану «для подолання поточних викликів та забезпечення цілісності нашої країни»

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США мають запитання щодо запиту Казахстану про введення військ ОДКБ – Блінкен

Раніше цього тижня Казахстан звернувся по допомогу до членів Організації договору про колективну безпеку (ОДКБ), до складу якої входять Росія, Білорусь, Казахстан, Киргизстан, Таджикистан і Вірменія

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COVID-19: в Україні минулої доби виявили 3 195 нових підтверджених випадків

За весь час пандемії в Україні на COVID-19, за даними МОЗ, захворіли 3,7 мільйона людей

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Harry Reid Memorial in Vegas Drawing Nation’s Top Democrats

The life of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who rose from childhood poverty and deprivation in Nevada to become one of the nation’s most powerful elected officials, will be celebrated by two American presidents and other Democratic leaders on Saturday, a testament to his impact on some of the most consequential legislation of the 21st century.

President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are scheduled to speak Saturday during an invitation-only memorial for the longtime Senate leader who died Dec. 28 at home in Henderson, Nevada, at age 82 of complications from pancreatic cancer. Former President Barack Obama, who credits Reid for his rise to the White House, is scheduled to deliver the eulogy.

“The president believes that Harry Reid is one of the greatest leaders in Senate history,” Deputy White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday. “So he is traveling to pay his respects to a man who had a profound impact on this nation.”

Biden served with Reid in the Senate for two decades and worked with him for eight years when Biden was vice president.

Along with Obama, Elder M. Russell Ballard, a senior apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will speak at the 2,000-seat concert hall about Reid’s 60 years in the Mormon faith. Vice President Kamala Harris also will attend.

“These are not only some of the most consequential leaders of our time — they are also some of Harry’s best friends,” Reid’s wife of 62 years, Landra Reid, said in a statement announcing plans for the Smith Center for the Performing Arts event. “Harry loved every minute of his decades working with these leaders and the incredible things they accomplished together.”

Reid’s daughter and four sons also are scheduled to speak.

Obama, in a letter to Reid before his death, recalled their close relationship, their different backgrounds and Reid’s climb from an impoverished former gold mining town of Searchlight in the Mojave Desert to leadership in Congress.

“Not bad for a skinny, poor kid from Searchlight,” Obama wrote. “I wouldn’t have been president had it not been for your encouragement and support, and I wouldn’t have got most of what I got done without your skill and determination.”

Reid served for 34 years in Washington and led the Senate through a crippling recession and the Republican takeover of the House after the 2010 elections.


He muscled Obama’s signature health care act through the Senate; blocked plans for a national nuclear waste repository in the Nevada desert; authored a 1986 bill that created Great Basin National Park; and was credited with helping casino company MGM Mirage get financial backing to complete a multibillion-dollar project on the Strip during the Great Recession.

Harry Mason Reid hitchhiked 64 kilometers to high school and was an amateur boxer before he was elected to the Nevada state Assembly at age 28. He had graduated from Utah State University and worked nights as a U.S. Capitol police officer while attending George Washington University Law School in Washington.

In 1970, at age 30, he was elected state lieutenant governor with Democratic Gov. Mike O’Callaghan. Reid was elected to the House in 1982 and the Senate in 1986.

He built a political machine in Nevada that for years helped Democrats win key elections. When he retired in 2016 after an exercise accident at home left him blind in one eye, he picked former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to replace him.

Cortez Masto became the first woman from Nevada and the first Latina ever elected to the U.S. Senate.

“Most of all, you’ve been a good friend,” Obama told Reid in his letter. “As different as we are, I think we both saw something of ourselves in each other — a couple of outsiders who had defied the odds and knew how to take a punch and cared about the little guy.”


Singer-songwriter and environmentalist Carole King, and Brandon Flowers, lead singer of the Las Vegas-based rock band The Killers, are scheduled to perform during the memorial.

“The thought of having Carole King performing in Harry’s honor is a tribute truly beyond words,” Landra Reid said in her statement.

Flowers, a longtime friend, shares the Reids’ Latter-day Saints faith and has been a headliner at events including a Lake Tahoe Summit that Harry Reid founded in 1997 to draw attention to the ecology of the lake, and the National Clean Energy Summit that Reid helped launch in 2008 in Las Vegas.

Among other songs, Flowers was scheduled to sing the Nevada state anthem, Home Means Nevada.

Stephen J. Cloobeck, a close family friend and founder and former chief executive of a Las Vegas-based timeshare company, said he was sponsoring a gathering Friday for several hundred former Reid congressional staffers at the Bellagio resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

Those flying to Las Vegas will arrive at the newly renamed Harry Reid International Airport. It was formerly named for Pat McCarran, a former Democratic U.S. senator from Nevada who once owned the airfield and whose legacy is clouded by racism and antisemitism. 


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Women Truckers Stepping Up Amid US Supply Chain Woes 

“It’s still a unique thing to see a woman driver in the cab of a large truck, but it’s not as unique as it used to be,” Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, president and CEO of Garner Trucking Inc. told VOA. “The number of women operators is increasing, and when I see one driving a truck, I still give them a thumbs up and a smile because they’re changing our industry.” 

It’s a change experts say has been decades in the making and one accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, leading more American women to embark on a career traversing the nation’s highways driving the biggest vehicles on the road. 

Trucking outfits need all the bodies they can get at a time when the number of trailers loaded with goods far exceeds the number of drivers who can get them to their destinations. Surging consumer spending has outpaced the ability of the U.S. supply chain to transport all that Americans want to buy. 

For many companies, recruiting women truck drivers is helping fill the labor shortage. 

“Back in the middle of the twentieth century, people saw trucking as a ‘man’s job’ because of how physically demanding it was,” said Ellen Voie, president and CEO of Women in Trucking, a nonprofit that encourages the employment of women in the field. “Technological improvements like power steering, power brakes, the way you drop your trailer and so much more make it so you don’t have to be this big, burly man to do the job anymore. 

“And, in fact, women are proving they have specific talents that — in a lot of ways — make them especially suited for the job.” 


Rising number of women drivers 

Georgia-based driver Vanita Johnson has been on the road as a trucker for nearly a year. 

“I’m 50 years old and just started this new career, but I’ve been amazed by trucks since I was a little girl,” Johnson said. 

She has youthful memories of driving with her parents from their Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home to visit family in West Virginia, Maryland, and Ohio. While on the highways, she’d see truck after truck and wonder where they were headed. 

Voie says Americans have traditionally held truck drivers in high regard as part of their romanticism of the open road. 

“Truck drivers used to be called the ‘Knights of the Road,’” she said. “We saw them as not only literally carrying the American economy in their trucks, but also being out there to help us regular, four-wheel drivers if something went wrong. They were American knights and it was a noble profession.” 

That vision has been eroded in recent decades. Waves of experienced drivers have retired, and there’s been a lack of younger drivers entering the field to replace them. The American Trucking Association estimates the industry will need more than 1.2 million new drivers over the next decade, forcing companies to do a better job of enticing recruits. 

“Those of us in charge of trucking companies are having to find ways to better meet the needs of potential drivers,” Brumbaugh explained. “That means if a driver says they need to be home on weekends, we must find a way to make that happen. But it also means attracting this untapped potential group of women drivers—particularly those who are middle aged and older—for whom being out driving on the open road could be appealing.” 

The industry’s overtures appear to be working, if slowly. 

While only about 3% of truck drivers were women in 2007, the year Women in Trucking was founded, a recent survey by the group found the percentage had more than tripled. 

Discovering the open road 

It’s the pandemic that has brought many women, Vanita Johnson included, into the trucking industry. 

“I had been working in education for years, but always remembered my childhood dream of becoming a trucker,” she said. “When we were switching to virtual classrooms because of coronavirus, that wasn’t something I wanted to do. I left my job, tried to figure out what was next, and that’s when I decided to get my license.” 

Johnson said she was surprised to see that six of the 10 graduates in her truck driving class were women. 

“There are so many incredible women, including women much older than me, out on the road. Women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and race,” she said. “It’s a sisterhood out here.” 

Voie said she’s seeing many new drivers who, like Johnson, discover a love for their new career. 

“First off, it’s a job that pays well when so many other people are losing their jobs, and it’s a job that gives you independence when people are worried about COVID,” she said. “But it’s also a job that gives you the freedom to drive from coast to coast, that lets you visit family and friends along the way, and that lets you take in sunrises and sunsets most of us miss. Many of the women I speak with are rediscovering what has historically made the job so special.” 

A difficult job 

For all its positives, however, being a truck driver is anything but easy. 

Long hours and stretches of time far from home, sleeping in your truck and navigating America’s busy interstates are just some of the challenges drivers face. 

“It’s one of the most dangerous jobs there is,” said Kellylynn McLaughlin, who has been a truck driver for more than seven years and helps train new drivers. “You have to understand the equipment, and you also have to be constantly anticipating what’s happening out there while driving.” 

There are also issues of harassment women must worry about in an industry where men still far outnumber women. 

That harassment can encompass anything from dangerous and uncomfortable situations while training in close quarters with members of the opposite sex to enduring mocking and unwanted attention when pulling into a loading area during the day — or a truck stop at night. 

“The first three months of driving, I would organize my schedule so I didn’t have to pull into truck stops after dark,” McLaughlin remembered. “I’ve got long, blonde hair and there’s no mistaking I’m a woman when I’d pull in with my truck. It felt like I was driving through a gauntlet of guys waiting to see if I’d screw up. I’d rather start super early so I didn’t have to deal with that.” 

A rewarding job 

But McLaughlin said, as her skills improved, so did her confidence. 

“Now I feel like, ‘You know what? Let them look, because I’m damn good at this!’” she said, smiling. “I remember pulling into a loading dock and hearing someone yell up the dock that it’s a woman driver. All these guys came out on the platform to watch with their arms crossed, and I absolutely nailed it. My heart was beating out of my chest, but I was perfect and they recognized how good I was at my job.” 

Voie noted that research is increasingly showing there are advantages for companies employing more women drivers. 

“According to the American Transportation Research Institute, male commercial drivers are 20% more likely to be involved in a crash in every statistically significant area than their female counterparts,” Voie said. “The data shows women are safer and more risk averse, so even when they’re involved in an accident, it’s at a slower speed with less loss of life and less damage to equipment.” 

Voie said she’s heard many reports in the industry that women provide better customer service and take better care of their equipment. 

But Johnson said in her year on the job, though she’s dealt with difficult situations with male drivers, she doesn’t see the relationship between male and women drivers as adversarial. 

“For every guy out there that’s no good, there are a dozen who are wonderful and who want us to succeed because they see us as colleagues,” she said. “My experience on the road has been wonderful. I meet incredible people, see our beautiful country, and help people get the goods they need during a challenging time for America. I couldn’t be happier with my choice to become a trucker.” 

Posted by Worldkrap on

Civil Rights Lawyer, Professor Lani Guinier Dies at 71

Lani Guinier, a civil rights lawyer and scholar whose nomination by President Bill Clinton to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division was pulled after conservatives criticized her views on correcting racial discrimination, has died. She was 71.

Guinier died Friday, Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning said in a message to students and faculty. Her cousin, Sherrie Russell-Brown, said in an email that the cause was complications due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Guinier became the first woman of color appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard law school when she joined the faculty in 1998. Before that she was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s law school. She had previously headed the voting rights project at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the 1980s and served during President Jimmy Carter’s administration in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which she was later nominated to head.

“I have always wanted to be a civil rights lawyer. This lifelong ambition is based on a deep-seated commitment to democratic fair play — to playing by the rules as long as the rules are fair. When the rules seem unfair, I have worked to change them, not subvert them,” she wrote in her 1994 book, Tyranny of the Majority: Fundamental Fairness in Representative Democracy.

Clinton, who knew Guinier going back to when they both attended Yale’s law school, nominated her to the Justice Department post in 1993. But Guinier, who wrote as a law professor about ways to remedy racial discrimination, came under fire from conservative critics who called her views extreme and labeled her “quota queen.” Guinier said that label was untrue, that she didn’t favor quotas or even write about them, and that her views had been mischaracterized.

Clinton, in withdrawing her nomination, said he hadn’t read her academic writing before nominating her and would not have done so if he had.

In a press conference held at the Justice Department after her nomination was withdrawn, Guinier said, “Had I been allowed to testify in a public forum before the United States Senate, I believe that the Senate also would have agreed that I am the right person for this job, a job some people have said I have trained for all my life.”

Guinier said she was “greatly disappointed that I have been denied the opportunity to go forward, to be confirmed, and to work closely to move this country away from the polarization of the last 12 years, to lower the decibel level of the rhetoric that surrounds race and to build bridges among people of good will to enforce the civil rights laws on behalf of all Americans.”


She was more pointed in an address to an NAACP conference a month later.

“I endured the personal humiliation of being vilified as a madwoman with strange hair — you know what that means — a strange name and strange ideas, ideas like democracy, freedom and fairness that mean all people must be equally represented in our political process,” Guinier said. “But lest any of you feel sorry for me, according to press reports the president still loves me. He just won’t give me a job.”

On Twitter Friday, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund head Sherrilyn Ifill called Guinier “my mentor” and a “scholar of uncompromising brilliance.”

Manning, the Harvard law dean, said: “Her scholarship changed our understanding of democracy — of why and how the voices of the historically underrepresented must be heard and what it takes to have a meaningful right to vote. It also transformed our understanding of the educational system and what we must do to create opportunities for all members of our diverse society to learn, grow, and thrive in school and beyond.”

Penn Law Dean Emeritus Colin Diver, whose time as dean overlapped with Guinier’s time on the faculty, said she “pushed the envelope in many important and constructive ways: advocating for alternative voting methods, such as cumulative voting, questioning the implicit expectations of law school faculty that female students behave like ‘gentlemen,’ or proposing alternative methods for evaluating and selecting applicants to the Law School.”

Carol Lani Guinier was born April 19, 1950, in New York City. Her father, Ewart Guinier, became the first chairman of Harvard University’s Department of Afro-American Studies. Her mother, Eugenia “Genii” Paprin Guinier, became a civil rights activist. The couple — he was Black and she was white and Jewish — were married at a time when it was still illegal for interracial couples to marry in many states.

Lani Guinier, who graduated from Harvard’s Radcliffe College, is survived by her husband, Nolan Bowie, and son, Nikolas Bowie, also a Harvard law school professor.

“My mom deeply believed in democracy, yet she thought it can work only if power is shared, not monopolized. That insight informed everything she did, from treating generations of students as peers to challenging hierarchies wherever she found them. I miss her terribly,” her son wrote in an email.

Other survivors include a stepdaughter, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. 


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Djokovic Spends Holiday in Detention, Sends Thanks to Supporters

The top men’s tennis player in the world, Novak Djokovic, spent Orthodox Christmas in an immigration detention hotel in Australia on Friday as he sought to fend off deportation over the country’s COVID-19 rules and compete in the Australian Open.

Djokovic received calls from his native Serbia, including from his parents and the president, who hoped to boost his spirits on the holiday.

On Instagram, he posted: “Thank you to the people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated.”

The 34-year-old athlete and vaccine skeptic was barred from entering the country late Wednesday when federal border authorities at the Melbourne airport rejected his medical exemption to Australia’s strict COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

He has been confined to the detention hotel in Melbourne pending a court hearing on Monday, a week before the start of the tournament, where he is seeking to win his record-breaking 21st Grand Slam singles title.

During the day, Djokovic’s supporters, waving banners, gathered outside the Park Hotel, used to house refugees and asylum-seekers.

A priest from the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church in Melbourne asked to visit the nine-time Australian Open champion to celebrate Orthodox Christmas but was turned down by immigration officials because the hotel is under lockdown.

“Our Christmas is rich in many customs, and it is so important that a priest visits him,” the church’s dean, Milorad Locard, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “The whole thing around this event is appalling. That he has to spend Christmas in detention … it is unthinkable.”

The Australian Border Force said Friday that after further investigations into two other people connected to the Australian Open, one voluntarily left the country, and another was taken into detention pending deportation.

The Czech Embassy identified one of them as 38-year-old doubles player Renata Voráčová and said she won’t play in the tournament.


Australia’s COVID-19 rules say incoming travelers must have had two shots of an approved vaccine or must have an exemption with a genuine medical reason, such as an acute condition, to avoid quarantine. All players, staff, officials and fans need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the tournament venue.

Djokovic flew to Australia after obtaining a medical exemption backed by the country’s tennis federation and approved by the Victoria state government. The grounds for the exemption have not been disclosed. But the Australian government pronounced it invalid when he arrived.

The dispute has become a touchy topic in a city where residents spent 256 days in 2020-21 under severe restrictions on their movement. Djokovic’s exemption stirred allegations that the star athlete got special treatment.

While some players have sympathized with his situation, others have said getting vaccinated would have prevented any drama.

But amid the latest turn in the dispute, even some who have been critical of Djokovic in the past are now seemingly in his corner.

“Look, I definitely believe in taking action, I got vaccinated because of others and for my mum’s health, but how we are handling Novak’s situation is bad, really bad,” Nick Kyrgios, an Australian player and outspoken critic of some of Djokovic’s opinions on vaccinations, posted on Twitter. “This is one of our great champions but at the end of the day, he is human. Do better.”

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said earlier this week that 26 people connected with the tournament applied for medical exemptions and only a “handful” were granted. Three of those have since been challenged.