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Shkreli Ordered to Return $64M, Barred from Drug Industry 

Martin Shkreli must return $64.6 million in profits he and his former company reaped from jacking up the price and monopolizing the market for a lifesaving drug, a federal judge ruled Friday while also barring the provocative, imprisoned ex-CEO from the pharmaceutical industry for the rest of his life. 

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote’s ruling came several weeks after a seven-day bench trial in December that featured recordings of conversations that Cote said showed Shkreli continuing to exert control over the company, Vyera Pharmaceuticals LLC, from behind bars and discussing ways to thwart generic versions of its lucrative drug, Daraprim. 

“Shkreli was no side player in, or a ‘remote, unrelated’ beneficiary of Vyera’s scheme,” Cote wrote in a 135-page opinion. “He was the mastermind of its illegal conduct and the person principally responsible for it throughout the years.” 

The Federal Trade Commission and seven states brought the case in 2020 against the man known in the media as “Pharma Bro,” about two years after he was sentenced to prison in an unrelated securities fraud scheme. 

“‘Envy, greed, lust, and hate,’ don’t just ‘separate,’ but they obviously motivated Mr. Shkreli and his partner to illegally jack up the price of a life-saving drug as Americans’ lives hung in the balance,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said, peppering the written statement with references to the Wu-Tang Clan, whose one-of-a-kind album Shkreli had to fork over to satisfy court debt. 

“But Americans can rest easy because Martin Shkreli is a pharma bro no more.” 

Messages seeking comment were left with Shkreli’s lawyers. 

Shkreli was CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals — later Vyera — when it raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill after obtaining exclusive rights to the decades-old drug in 2015. It treats a rare parasitic disease that strikes pregnant women, cancer patients and AIDS patients. 

Shkreli defended the decision as capitalism at work and said insurance and other programs ensured that people who need Daraprim would ultimately get it. 

Shkreli eventually offered hospitals half off — still amounting to a 2,500% increase. But patients normally take most of the weekslong treatment after returning home, so they and their insurers still faced the $750-a-pill price. 

Shkreli resigned as Turing’s CEO in 2015, a day after he was arrested on securities fraud charges related to two failed hedge funds he ran before getting into the pharmaceutical industry. He was convicted of lying to investors and cheating them out of millions and is serving a seven-year sentence at a federal prison in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, and is scheduled to be released in November. 

The FTC and seven states — New York, California, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia — alleged in their case that Vyera hiked the price of Daraprim and illegally created “a web of anticompetitive restrictions” to prevent other companies from creating cheaper generic versions. Among other things, they alleged, Vyera blocked access to a key ingredient for the medication and to data the companies would want to evaluate the drug’s market potential. 

Vyera and its parent company, Phoenixus AG, settled last month, agreeing to provide up to $40 million in relief over 10 years to consumers and to make Daraprim available to any potential generic competitor at the cost of producing the drug. Former Vyera CEO Kevin Mulleady agreed to pay $250,000 if he violates the settlement, which barred him from working for a pharmaceutical company” for seven years. 

Shkreli proceeded to trial but opted not to attend the proceedings, instead submitting a written affidavit that served as his testimony. 

The trial record included evidence showing Shkreli kept in regular contact with company executives, even after he went to prison. A spreadsheet kept by one executive showed more than 1,500 contacts with Shkreli between December 2019 and July 2020. 

The record also included recordings of conversations Shkreli had from prison in which he discussed his control of Vyera, saying he had “no problem firing everybody,” boasting how he controlled the board, and comparing himself to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the pharmaceutical company to the social media behemoth. 

 

Posted by Ukrap on

Зеленський призначив Бешту послом у Литві

Петро Бешта наразі є генеральним директором Політичного директорату МЗС

Posted by Ukrap on

Росія: ФСБ заявляє про затримання 14 хакерів угруповання REvil, яких розшукують США

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Russia Takes Down Hacking Group at US Request, Intelligence Service Says

Russia has conducted a special operation against ransomware crime group REvil at the request of the United States and has detained and charged the group’s members, the FSB domestic intelligence service said Friday. 

The arrests were a rare apparent demonstration of collaboration between Russia and the United States, at a time of high tensions between the two over Ukraine. The announcement came even as Ukraine was responding to a massive cyberattack that shut down government websites, though there was no indication the incidents were related. 

A joint police and FSB operation searched 25 addresses, detaining 14 people, the FSB said, listing assets it had seized, including 426 million rubles, $600,000, 500,000 euros, computer equipment and 20 luxury cars. 

Russia informed the United States directly of the moves it had taken against the group, the FSB said on its website. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said it could not immediately comment. 

“The investigative measures were based on a request from the … United States,” the FSB said. ” … The organized criminal association has ceased to exist and the information infrastructure used for criminal purposes was neutralized.” 

The REN TV channel aired footage of agents raiding homes and arresting people, pinning them to the floor, and seizing large piles of dollars and Russian rubles. 

The group members have been charged and could face up to seven years in prison. 

A source familiar with the case told Interfax the group’s members with Russian citizenship would not be handed over to the United States. 

The United States said in November that it was offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the identification or location of anyone holding a key position in the REvil group. 

The United States has been hit by a string of high-profile hacks by ransom-seeking cybercriminals. A source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters in June that REvil was suspected of being the group behind a ransomware attack on the world’s biggest meatpacking company, JBS SA. 

Washington repeatedly has accused the Russian state in the past of malicious activity on the internet, which Moscow denies. 

Russia’s announcement came during a standoff between the United States and Russia. Moscow is demanding Western security guarantees, including that NATO will not expand further. It has also built up its troops near Ukraine.

Posted by Ukrap on

СБУ розслідує причетність «російських спецслужб» до кібератак на державні органи

У відомстві вбачають «окремі ознаки причетності до інциденту хакерських груп, пов’язаних зі спецслужбами РФ»

Posted by Worldkrap on

EU Condemns Cyberattack on Ukraine, NATO Pledges ‘Enhanced Cyber Cooperation’

European Union officials have condemned Friday’s cyberattack on Ukraine that shut down government and emergency services websites and pledged to use EU resources to assist the nation.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry reported Friday the websites of the country’s cabinet — seven ministries, including the treasury, the national emergency service and the state services, where Ukrainians’ electronic passports and vaccination certificates are stored — were temporarily unavailable Friday as a result of the hack.

The websites contained a message in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish, saying Ukrainians’ personal data has been leaked into the public domain. The message said, in part, “Be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future.”

Ukraine’s State Service of Communication and Information Protection told the Associated Press there was no evidence personal data has been leaked.

In a statement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg strongly condemned the attacks, saying the alliance’s cyber experts have been exchanging information with their Ukrainian counterparts on “the current malicious cyber activities.” He said NATO allied experts in the country also are supporting the Ukrainian authorities.

“In the coming days, NATO and Ukraine will sign an agreement on enhanced cyber cooperation, including Ukrainian access to NATO’s malware information sharing platform,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brest, France, EU Foreign Affairs chief Josep Borrell issued the “strongest condemnation” of the attack and said an emergency meeting of the EU political committee would be held to discuss how to react. He pledged to “mobilize all our resources to help Ukraine” increase its cyberattack-resistance capability.

When asked if he knew who was behind the attack, Borrell said they are still investigating, noting it is often difficult to trace cyberattacks, though he added “I don’t have any proof, but one can guess …”

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said Russia has a long history of such attacks. The incident also follows weeks of apparently failed diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions on the border with Russia and Ukraine where Moscow has amassed an estimated 100,000 troops and equipment, raising fears of an imminent invasion.

Russia insists the troops are there for its own protection, but is demanding NATO provide guarantees it will stop its eastward expansion, beginning with not allowing Ukraine to join the alliance, a move Moscow perceives as a threat. NATO has repeatedly rejected that request, saying Russia has no veto over NATO membership.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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Snarled Supply Chains in Spain Force Manufacturing Closer to Home

Decades of world dependence on Asian textile manufacturing, especially in China, have been disrupted by delays and rising freight costs because of the pandemic. This is forcing some companies in Spain to rethink their production setups, and that means bringing jobs home for the first time in decades. Alfonso Beato in Barcelona filed this report narrated by Jon Spier.

Posted by Ukrap on

Зеленський припускає тристоронню зустріч із Байденом та Путіним – Єрмак

«Я думаю, що це може бути одним із майданчиків для врегулювання війни на Донбасі», – припустив голова Офісу президента

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Суд призначив обрання запобіжного заходу Порошенку на ранок 17 січня – ДБР

Суд обиратиме Порошенку запобіжний захід у справі про постачання вугілля з тимчасово окупованих частин Донбасу

Posted by Ukrap on

Ми сподіваємося почути конкретні умови щодо членства в НАТО на саміті в Мадриді – Єрмак

«Україна показала своїми принципами і позиціями, що ми повністю готові та спроможні бути членом НАТО»

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Spider-Man Comic Page Sells for Record $3.36M Bidding

A single page of artwork from a 1984 Spider-Man comic book sold at auction Thursday for a record $3.36 million.

Mike Zeck’s artwork for page 25 from Marvel Comics’ Secret Wars No. 8 brings the first appearance of Spidey’s black suit. The symbiote suit would eventually lead to the emergence of the character Venom.

The record bidding, which started at $330,000 and soared past $3 million, came on the first day of Heritage Auctions’ four-day comic event in Dallas.

The previous record for an interior page of a U.S. comic book was $657,250 for art from a 1974 issue of The Incredible Hulk that featured a tease for the first appearance of Wolverine.

Also Thursday, one of the few surviving copies of Superman’s debut, Action Comics No. 1, sold for $3.18 million, putting it among the priciest books ever auctioned.

None of the sellers or buyers were identified.

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Masks Rules Get Tighter in Europe in Winter’s COVID-19 Wave

To mask or not to mask is a question Italy settled early in the COVID-19 outbreak with a vigorous “yes.” Now the onetime epicenter of the pandemic in Europe hopes even stricter mask rules will help it beat the latest infection surge.

Other countries are taking similar action as the more transmissible — yet, apparently, less virulent — omicron variant spreads through the continent.

With Italy’s hospital ICUs rapidly filling with mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, the government announced on Christmas Eve that FFP2 masks — which offer users more protection than cloth or surgical masks — must be worn on public transport, including planes, trains, ferries and subways.

That’s even though all passengers in Italy, as of this week, must be vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID-19. FFP2s also must now be worn at theaters, cinemas and sports events, indoors or out, and can’t be removed even for their wearers to eat or drink.

Italy re-introduced an outdoor mask mandate. It had never lifted its indoor mandate — even when infections sharply dropped in the summer.

On a chilly morning in Rome this week, Lillo D’Amico, 84, sported a wool cap and white FFP2 as he bought a newspaper at his neighborhood newsstand.

“(Masks) cost little money, they cost you a small sacrifice,” he said. “When you do the math, it costs far less than hospitalization.”

When he sees someone from the unmasked minority walking by, he keeps a distance. “They see (masks) as an affront to their freedom,” D’Amico said, shrugging.

Spain reinstated its outdoor mask rule on Christmas Eve. After the 14-day contagion rate soared to 2,722 new infections per 100,000 people by the end of last week — from 40 per 100,000 in mid-October — Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was asked whether the outdoor mask mandate was helping.

“Of course, it is. It’s not me saying it. It’s science itself saying it because (it’s) a virus that is contracted when one exhales,” Sanchez said.

Portugal brought masks back at the end of November, after having largely dropped the requirement when it hit its goal of vaccinating 86% of the population.

Greece has also restored its outdoor mask mandate, while requiring an FFP2 or double surgical mask on public transport and in indoor public spaces.

This week the Dutch government’s outbreak management team recommended a mask mandate for people over 13 in busy public indoor areas such as restaurants, museums and theaters, and for spectators at indoor sports events. Those places are currently closed under a lockdown until at least Friday.

 

In France, the outdoor mask mandate was partially re-instated in December in many cities, including Paris. The age for children to start wearing masks in public places was lowered to 6 from 11.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer announced last week that people must wear FFP2 masks outdoors if they can’t keep at least 2 meters apart.

In Italy, with more than 2 million people currently positive for the virus in a nation of 60 million and workplace absences curtailing train and bus runs, the government also sees masks as a way to let society more fully function.

People with booster shots or recent second vaccine doses can now avoid quarantine after coming into contact with an infected person if they wear a FFP2 mask for 10 days.

The government has ordered shops to make FFP masks available for 85 U.S. cents. In the pandemic’s first year, FFP2s cost up to $11.50 — whenever they could be found.

Italians wear them in a palette of colors. The father of a baby baptized this week by Pope Francis in the Sistine Chapel wore one in burgundy, with matching tie and jacket pocket square. But the pontiff, who has practically shunned a mask in public, was maskless.

 

On Monday, Vatican City State mandated FFP2s in all indoor places. The tiny, walled independent state across the Tiber from the heart of Rome also stipulated that Vatican employees can go to work without quarantining after coming into contact with someone testing positive if, in addition to being fully vaccinated or having received a booster shot, they wear FFP2s.

Francis did appear to be wearing a FFP2 when, startling shoppers in Rome on Tuesday evening, he emerged from a music store near the Pantheon before being driven back to the Vatican.

In Britain, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson has focused on vaccination, masks have never been required outdoors.

This month, though, the government said secondary school students should wear face coverings in class. But Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said that rule wouldn’t apply “for a day longer than necessary.”

When the British government lifted pandemic restrictions in July 2021, turning mask-wearing from a requirement to a suggestion, mask use fell markedly.

Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Bologna-based GIMBE foundation, which monitors health care in Italy, says Britain points to what can happen when measures like mask-wearing aren’t valued.

“The situation in the U.K, showed that use of vaccination alone wasn’t enough” to get ahead of the pandemic, even though Britain was one of the first countries to begin vaccination, he said in a video interview. 

 

Posted by Ukrap on

У 2021 році Росію залишили 1,5 тисячі активістів і журналістів – Фонд «Вільна Росія»

При цьому організація враховує лише «політичних» емігрантів. Членів їхніх сімей або тих, хто просто не захотів жити в Росії та вирішив поїхати, у статистиці немає

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На Софійській площі 17 січня розпочнеться демонтаж ялинки і святкових локацій – КМДА

Водночас новорічні локації на Контрактовій площі та біля Арки дружби народів працюватимуть до 23 січня

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Росія: двох соратників Навального внесли до «списку екстремістів»

До «списку екстремістів» потрапляють росіяни, засуджені чи звинувачені за статтями про злочини терористичного чи екстремістського характеру

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Dutch King Won’t Use Carriage Criticized for Colonial Image

The Dutch king ruled out Thursday using, for now at least, the royal family’s Golden Carriage, one side of which bears a painting that critics say glorifies the Netherlands’ colonial past, including its role in the global slave trade.

The announcement was an acknowledgement of the heated debate about the carriage as the Netherlands reckons with the grim sides of its history as a 17th-century colonial superpower, including Dutch merchants making vast fortunes from slaves.

“The Golden Carriage will only be able to drive again when the Netherlands is ready and that is not the case now,” King Willem-Alexander said in a video message.

One side of the vehicle is decorated with a painting called “Tribute from the Colonies” that shows Black and Asian people, one of them kneeling, offering goods to a seated young white woman who symbolizes the Netherlands.

The carriage is currently on display in an Amsterdam museum following a lengthy restoration. In the past it has been used to carry Dutch monarchs through the streets of The Hague to the state opening of Parliament each September.

“There is no point in condemning and disqualifying what has happened through the lens of our time,” the king said. “Simply banning historical objects and symbols is certainly not a solution either. Instead, a concerted effort is needed that goes deeper and takes longer. An effort that unites us instead of divides us.”

Anti-racism activist and co-founder of The Black Archives in Amsterdam, Mitchell Esajas, called the king’s statement “a good sign,” but also the “bare minimum” the monarch could have said.

“He says the past should not be looked at from the perspective and values of the present … and I think that’s a fallacy because also in the historical context slavery can be seen as a crime against humanity and a violent system,” he said. “I think that argument is often used as an excuse to kind of polish away the violent history of it.”

The Netherlands, along with many other nations, has been revisiting its colonial history in a process spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement that swept the world after the death of George Floyd, a Black man in the United States.

Last year, the country’s national museum, the Rijksmuseum, staged a major exhibition that took an unflinching look at the country’s role in the slave trade, and Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema apologized for the extensive involvement of the Dutch capital’s former governors in the trade.

Halsema said she wanted to “engrave the great injustice of colonial slavery into our city’s identity.” 

 

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North Korea Launches Another Missile After US Imposes New Sanctions

North Korea launched what appear to be two more ballistic missiles, South Korea reported Friday, Pyongyang’s third missile launch of the new year.

The launch came hours after North Korea’s foreign ministry warned of “stronger” measures in response to U.S. imposition of sanctions for its previous missile tests.

South Korea’s military, which closely monitors such launches, said the North fired what are presumed to be two short-range ballistic missiles from North Pyongan province Friday afternoon.

Earlier, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported that the test involved a single ballistic missile, which it said landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

The reason for the discrepancy between the Japanese and South Korean reports was unclear.

North Korea has already tested four missiles, during three separate launches, within the last 10 days — a pace reminiscent of 2017, when U.S.-North Korea relations were at a low point.

The previous two tests involved what North Korea claims are hypersonic missiles. Although defense analysts say North Korea may be overstating its capabilities in this area, such weapons are likely more difficult for U.S. missile defenses to detect and intercept.

It is not clear what missiles the North launched Friday. Typically, North Korea does not unveil its launches until state-run newspapers are published the following day.

Firmer US response

The United States this week issued a stronger than usual condemnation of the North Korean launches. It also imposed unilateral sanctions on five North Koreans it alleged were helping procure supplies for Pyongyang’s weapons program.

In an interview Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the North Korean tests “profoundly destabilizing” and meant in part to “get attention.”

“It’s done that in the past, it’ll probably continue to do that. But we are very focused with allies and partners in making sure that they and we are properly defended and that there are repercussions, consequences for these actions by North Korea,” Blinken told MSNBC, a U.S. cable news network.

North Korean response

Early Friday, before its latest launch, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry lashed out at Washington, accusing the United States of “intentionally escalating the situation” with unilateral sanctions.

“If the U.S. adopts such a confrontational stance, the DPRK will be forced to take stronger and certain reaction to it,” a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, according to state media, which used an abbreviation of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Under President Joe Biden, the United States has repeatedly offered to hold nuclear talks with North Korea “anywhere, anytime.” North Korea has ignored or rejected the offers, saying Washington must first provide more concessions and drop what it calls a “hostile policy.”

North Korea walked away from talks with the United States in 2019, after the two sides could not agree on a deal to relax U.S. sanctions in exchange for steps by North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

Bigger tests coming?

Duyeon Kim, adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, said it is obvious that North Korea is “angry and protesting” the U.S. sanctions.

“We should expect Pyongyang to protest through a show of force, which serves a dual purpose of perfecting its nuclear weapons technology through tests to achieve Kim Jong Un’s goals he set out last year,” Kim told VOA.

“Washington is right to, and should, penalize any provocation that violates U.N. Security Council resolutions and threatens the region,” she added in an email.

North Korea has several possible motivations for testing missiles, including shoring up domestic political support, ensuring the performance of new weapons, demonstrating deterrence, and provoking the United States and its allies.

However, since it resumed missile tests following the breakdown of talks in 2019, North Korea has refrained from any nuclear tests or long-range missile tests that would risk a firmer U.S. response.

Analysts have said North Korea may be unwilling to conduct more provocative tests ahead of the Winter Olympics, to be hosted next month by China, North Korea’s ally. 

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Panetta: US Should Tell North Korea Provocations Put Regime at Risk

The Biden administration should send a strong message to Pyongyang in response to North Korea’s recent missile tests, a former U.S. defense secretary said. 

Leon Panetta, secretary of defense and CIA director during the Obama administration, said the United States and its allies “must make clear that we’re not going to tolerate aggression” by the North Koreans, and “if they continue to take provocative actions, they are endangering themselves” and “putting their own regime at risk.”  

In an interview Wednesday with VOA’s Korean Service, Panetta said, “That, I think, needs to be the message that we continue to send” to the North Koreans – “that if they act this way, they are going to confront not only the United States but our allies.” 

North Korea test-fired what it claimed was a supersonic missile on Tuesday. The test followed its first test of the year conducted on January 5, which the regime claimed also was a supersonic missile.

Calling North Korea’s recent missile tests “very provocative,” Panetta said it would become “much more difficult to be able to defend against it” now that Pyongyang has raised the possibility of developing a hypersonic missile “that can go almost 10 times the speed of sound.”  

Status quo not possible 

“It’s very important that the administration not just assume (it) can take a status quo approach to North Korea,” Panetta said. “When you’re dealing with an adversary … your relations are either getting better or they’re getting worse.   

“Right now, it’s getting worse,” he said. 

In response to Panetta’s comments, the U.S. State Department told VOA’s Korean Service on Thursday that “the United States harbors no hostile intent” toward North Korea, and that it is “prepared to meet” with Pyongyang “without preconditions” for denuclearization talks.  

The spokesperson said Washington hopes Pyongyang will “respond positively” to its outreach as it continues “to consult closely with Republic of Korea, Japan, and other allies and partners about how to best engage” North Korea. 

In response to North Korea’s missile launches, the U.S. on Wednesday imposed sanctions targeting five North Koreans for procuring goods for the regime’s weapons programs. 

Panetta said, “The only way you get North Korea’s attention” for serious negotiations “is by taking steps that challenge North Koreans.” He suggested the U.S. and South Korea “reopen exercises of our military capabilities.” 

The U.S. had held off large-scale military exercises with South Korea since 2018 to accommodate denuclearization talks with the former Trump administration.  

Some analysts question whether a strong message from Washington would move Pyongyang toward talks.  

Ken Gause, director of the Adversary Analytics Program at CNA, said, “We have not offered any carrots” that “we can take away.” Gause continued, “North Korea has nothing to lose” and is “not going to pay any attention” to what the regime perceives as “empty threats” by the U.S. 

Harry Kazianis, senior director of Korean Studies at the Center for the National Interest, said North Korea is likely “to match any perceived provocation with an action of its own.”  

After the second test launch, North Korea warned on Friday, January 14 Pyongyang time, that it will take “stronger” action in response to the sanctions the U.S. imposed on the regime over its missile tests.

Consequences of failed policy 

Panetta said Pyongyang is likely to continue its nuclear and missile activities to raise tensions further. 

“It’s only a matter of time (until) they renew testing of an intercontinental missile and testing of their nuclear capabilities,” Panetta said. “The path we’re on right now, I don’t think this is a good path.”  

North Korea last tested a long-range missile and a nuclear weapon in 2017 while its leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump exchanged harsh rhetoric throughout the year. 

Trump’s “fire and fury” remarks unleashed at Kim that year drastically turned to showers of praise after the two held a historic summit in Singapore in June 2018. 

“President Trump was very naïve in the way he approached Kim Jong Un in thinking that somehow just through the strength of personality alone, they could arrive at a denuclearization agreement,” Panetta said.   

“I don’t think leaders ought to meet unless there is an effort by both countries to lay the groundwork for those discussions,” Panetta continued. 

Panetta thinks the Biden administration must deal with the consequences of Trump’s failed policy that focused on personal diplomacy with Kim. 

“The failure to achieve anything has led to the tension that we’re now facing,” he said. “Kim Jong Un is trying to figure out how does he get the attention of the world again,” he continued. “That’s why he’s conducting these tests.” 

China’s role 

Panetta suggested China could play a positive role in diplomatic efforts to persuade North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons despite Washington-Beijing rivalry.  

“The relationship has gotten a lot more tense between the United States and China, but I still think there’s a possibility that China might be able to serve as perhaps a go-between here to try to see if we can be successful at opening up discussions,” Panetta said. 

China, as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, approved sanctions on North Korea in 2016 and 2017 passed in response to its nuclear and missile tests.  

Jiha Ham of VOA’s Korean Service contributed to this report. 

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Former Guantanamo Detainee: ‘I’m Still in Guantanamo 2.0’

It has been 20 years since the first prisoners in the war on terror arrived at the U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. At least 800 people have been detained there over the last two decades, the vast majority of whom were never charged with a crime. VOA Pentagon Correspondent Carla Babb speaks with Mansoor Adayfi, a former detainee who has devoted his life to closing the prison.

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California Governor Denies Parole for RFK Assassin Sirhan Sirhan

California’s governor on Thursday rejected releasing Robert F. Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan from prison more than a half-century after the 1968 slaying left a deep wound during one of America’s darkest times. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has called RFK his political hero and embraced the historical significance of his decision, rejected a recommendation from a two-person panel of parole commissioners. Newsom said Sirhan, now 77, poses an unreasonable threat to public safety. 

“Mr. Sirhan’s assassination of Senator Kennedy is among the most notorious crimes in American history,” Newsom wrote in his decision. “After decades in prison, he has failed to address the deficiencies that led him to assassinate Senator Kennedy. Mr. Sirhan lacks the insight that would prevent him from making the same types of dangerous decisions he made in the past.” 

He said factors in his decision including Sirhan’s refusal to accept responsibility for his crime, his lack of insight and the accountability required to support his safe release, his failure to disclaim violence committed in his name, and his failure to mitigate his risk factors. 

Sirhan will be scheduled for a new parole hearing no later than February 2023. 

Sirhan will ask a judge to overturn Newsom’s denial, said his defense attorney, Angela Berry. 

“We fully expect that judicial review of the governor’s decision will show that the governor got it wrong,” she said.

State law holds that inmates are supposed to be paroled unless they pose a current unreasonable public safety risk, she said, adding that “not an iota of evidence exists to suggest Mr. Sirhan is still a danger to society.” 

Parole commissioners found Sirhan suitable for release “because of his impressive extensive record of rehabilitation over the last half-century,” she said. “Since the mid-1980’s Mr. Sirhan has consistently been found by prison psychologists and psychiatrists to not pose an unreasonable risk of danger to the public.” 

Kennedy, the U.S. senator from New York, was shot moments after he claimed victory in California’s pivotal Democratic presidential primary. Five others were wounded during the assassination at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. 

His brother, President John F. Kennedy, had been assassinated in 1963.

The parole panel’s recommendation in August to release Sirhan divided the Kennedy family, with two of RFK’s sons — Douglas Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — supporting his release. But six of Kennedy’s nine surviving children and Ethel Kennedy, RFK’s wife, urged Newsom to block his parole. 

The panel’s decision was based in part on several new California laws since he was denied parole in 2016 — the 15th time he’d lost his bid for release. 

Commissioners were required to consider that Sirhan committed his crime at a young age, when he was 24; that he now is elderly; and that the Christian Palestinian who immigrated from Jordan had suffered childhood trauma from the conflict in the Middle East.

In addition, Los Angeles County prosecutors didn’t object to his parole, following District Attorney George Gascón’s policy that prosecutors should not be involved in deciding whether prisoners are ready for release. 

Sirhan originally was sentenced to death, but that sentence was commuted to life when the California Supreme Court briefly outlawed capital punishment in 1972. 

He now has a heart condition and has survived prostate cancer, Valley fever and an attack by another prisoner in 2019, said Berry, his attorney. 

Munir Sirhan has said his older brother can live with him, if he is freed and not deported to Jordan. Sirhan Sirhan waived his right to fight deportation.