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Former US National Security Adviser McFarlane Dies at 84

Former White House national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane, a top aide to President Ronald Reagan who pleaded guilty to charges for his role in an illegal arms-for-hostages deal known as the Iran-Contra affair, has died. He was 84. 

McFarlane, who lived in Washington, died Thursday from complications of a previous illness at a hospital in Michigan, where he was visiting family, according to a family statement. 

“As his family we wish to share our deep sadness at the loss of our beloved husband, father and grandfather, and note his profound impact on our lives,” the family said in the statement. “Though recognized as a strategic political thinker, we remember him for his warmth, his wisdom, his deep belief in God, and his commitment to serving others.” 

McFarlane, a former Marine lieutenant colonel and Vietnam combat veteran, resigned his White House post in December 1985. He was later pressed into service by the administration as part of a secret — and illegal — plan to sell arms to Iran in exchange for the freedom of Western hostages in the Middle East and to pass along the proceeds to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua for their fight against the Marxist Sandinista government. 

Led secret delegation

He played a major role in the affair, leading the secret delegation to Tehran, then as now a U.S. adversary, to open contact with so-called moderate Iranians who were thought to hold influence with kidnappers of American hostages. He brought with him a cake and a Bible signed by Reagan. 

The scheme began to unfold after a cargo plane carrying a CIA-arranged shipment of arms was shot down in October 1986 by the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, setting off what eventually became one of the biggest modern political scandals. 

McFarlane was rushed to a Washington-area hospital in February 1987 after taking an overdose of Valium the day before he was scheduled to testify before a presidential commission investigating the affair. 

He pleaded guilty in March 1988 to four misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress. His lawyer said he was being unfairly singled out because he, unlike other key figures in the affair, testified willingly before investigative panels. He also admitted his role. 

“I did indeed withhold information from the Congress,” he told reporters at the time. “I believe strongly that, throughout, my actions were motivated by what I believed to be in the foreign policy interest of the United States.” 

President George H.W. Bush pardoned him and five other figures from the scandal. 

McFarlane, a career Marine known as “Bud” to his friends, had risen to lieutenant colonel and to positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations. He served as national security special assistant to Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford during their presidencies. 

During the Carter administration, he was on the Republican staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He returned to the executive branch with Reagan’s election, serving as a State Department counselor until moving to the White House as national security adviser William Clark’s deputy in January 1982. He was appointed to the top national security post in 1983. 

McFarlane, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, was the son of a former Democratic congressman from Texas, William Doddridge McFarlane, who served from 1932 to 1938. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, two daughters and a son. 

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Українські війська звільнили 1 015 населених пунктів від початку вторгнення – Зеленський

За словами президента України, за минулу добу звільнили шість населених пунктів

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Russia Takes Losses in Failed River Crossing, Officials Say 

Russian forces suffered heavy losses in a Ukrainian attack that destroyed a pontoon bridge they were using to try to cross a river in the east, Ukrainian and British officials said in another sign of Moscow’s struggle to salvage a war gone awry. 

Ukraine’s airborne command released photos and video of what it said was a damaged Russian pontoon bridge over the Siversky Donets River and several destroyed or damaged Russian military vehicles nearby. The command said its troops “drowned the Russian occupiers.” 

Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russia lost “significant armored maneuver elements” of at least one battalion tactical group in the attack earlier this week. A Russian battalion tactical group consists of about 1,000 troops. 

“Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a highly risky maneuver and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine,” the ministry said in its daily intelligence update. 

The battle for the Donbas has turned into a village-by-village, back-and-forth slog with no major breakthroughs on either side and little ground gained. 

Fierce fighting has been taking place on the Siversky Donets River near the city of Severodonetsk, said Oleh Zhdanov, an independent Ukrainian military analyst. The Ukrainian military has launched counterattacks but has failed to halt Russia’s advance, he said. 

“The fate of a large portion of the Ukrainian army is being decided — there are about 40,000 Ukrainian soldiers,” he said. 

Firing on residential areas

The Ukrainian military chief for the Luhansk region of the Donbas said Friday that Russian forces opened fire 31 times on residential areas the day before, destroying dozens of homes, notably in Hirske and Popasnianska villages, and a bridge in Rubizhne. 

In the south, Ukrainian officials claimed another success in the Black Sea, saying their forces took out a Russian logistics ship that was trying to deliver an anti-aircraft system. There was no confirmation from Russia, and no casualties were reported. 

In the ruined southern port of Mariupol, Ukrainian fighters holed up in a steel plant faced continued Russian attacks on the last stronghold of resistance in the city. Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of Ukraine’s Azov Regiment, said his troops will hold out “as long as they can” despite shortages of ammunition, food, water and medicine. 

Justin Crump, a former British tank commander who is now a security consultant, said Moscow’s losses have forced it to downsize its objectives in Ukraine. He said the Russians have had to use hastily patched-together units that haven’t trained together. 

“This is not going to be quick. So we’re settled in for a summer of fighting at least. I think the Russian side is very clear that this is going to take a long time,” he said. 

For its part, Ukraine is asking for more arms to fend off the invasion, and the European Union’s foreign affairs chief announced plans to give Kyiv an additional 500 million euros ($520 million) to buy heavy weapons.  

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov welcomed the heavy weapons making their way to the front lines but admitted there is no quick end to the war in sight.  

“We are entering a new, long-term phase of the war,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “Extremely difficult weeks await us. How many there will be? No one can say for sure.” 

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За добу в ООН підтвердили загибель 32 цивільних внаслідок російської агресії в Україні

Управління Верховного комісара ООН з прав людини задокументувало 3 573 смертей та 3 816 поранень мирних мешканців

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У сепаратистській Південній Осетії призначили «референдум» щодо вступу до Росії

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US Announces New Plans on Maritime Cooperation with ASEAN, Eyeing China

The United States has announced new plans to expand maritime cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as ASEAN leaders gather in Washington for a special summit seen as a show of solidarity in regard to China. 

ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam claim parts of the South China Sea — a waterway claimed almost entirely by Beijing, which has landfilled and militarized islets over the past decade. 

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is rolling out $60 million in new regional maritime initiatives that include the transfer of ships to Southeast Asian countries to increase the coastal nations’ capacity to enforce maritime law and counter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.  

“We need to step up our game in Southeast Asia,” a senior administration official told reporters. “We need to work more closely with ASEAN.” 

At a meeting Friday with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. is working with the Southeast Asian bloc to “advance a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.” 

Marsudi said her country holds to the principle of “respecting territorial sovereignty” and hopes the strategic partnership between Indonesia and the U.S. can “contribute to the peace, stability and prosperity” in the region. 

A senior State Department official told VOA that the South China Sea is high on the agenda during the U.S.-ASEAN special summit. 

“South China Sea is an issue of great concern,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jung Pak in an interview this week.  “We’ve seen increasingly aggressive and coercive actions by PRC against claimant countries. And, you know, we continue to work with all of our allies and partners in the region and beyond to make sure that the South China Sea is free and open.” 

PRC refers to the People’s Republic of China. 

Later Friday, Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to host a working lunch with the leaders of ASEAN countries to discuss maritime security and other areas. Harris denounced China’s “unlawful claims” on the South China Sea during a speech in Singapore last August.  She said China’s actions “undermine the rules-based order and threaten the sovereignty of nations.” 

The Biden administration is preparing to roll out a comprehensive Indo-Pacific Economic Framework which would be its first major trade and economic initiative in the region since the Trump administration withdrew from negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

The White House announced Thursday new initiatives of over $150 million that include investments in infrastructure, health security and education in ASEAN. 

 

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Вперше після початку війни РФ в Україні глава Пентагону розмовляв з Шойгу

Міністр оборони Ллойд Остін закликав до негайного припинення вогню в Україні

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Оборона України під Сєвєродонецьком не прорвана – голова районної адміністрації

За словами голови Сєвєродонецької районної адміністрації, спостерігається, що натиск з кожним днем зростає

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5 поранених, пожежі, пошкодження 10 багатоповерхівок – мер Миколаєва про нічні обстріли

У різних районах міста через потрапляння боєприпасів та уламків виникали пожежі.

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The Next New Thing: Companies Are Building the ‘Metaverse’ but What Is It?

The “metaverse” has been touted as the next digital shift, 3-dimensional online spaces where people will shop, work, play games, and go to concerts. VOA’s Michelle Quinn is looking at what the Metaverse is or might be. VOA footage and video editing by Matt Dibble.

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EU Says Talks With Iran ‘Positive Enough’ to Reopen Nuclear Negotiations

The EU’s foreign policy chief said on Friday that he believed there had been enough progress during consultations between his envoy and Iranian officials in Tehran this week to relaunch nuclear negotiations after two months of deadlock. 

Talks to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers have been on hold since March, chiefly over Tehran’s insistence that Washington remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the U.S. list of designated terrorist organizations. 

Speaking as talks coordinator Enrique Mora arrived back in Europe, Josep Borrell said Iran’s response had been “positive enough” after Mora had delivered a message that things could not continue as they were. 

“These things cannot be resolved overnight,” Borrell told reporters at a G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in northern Germany. “Let’s say the negotiations were blocked and they have been de-blocked,” with the prospect of “reaching a final agreement.” 

The broad outline of the deal that aims to revive the accord which restrains Iran’s nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions was essentially agreed in March. 

However, it has since been thrown into disarray after last-minute Russian demands and the dispute over the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization list. 

Western officials are largely losing hope that it can be resurrected, sources familiar with the matter have said, forcing them to weigh how to limit Iran’s atomic program even as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has divided the big powers. 

“It has gone better than expected — the negotiations were stalled, and now they have been reopened,” Borrell said. 

A senior EU official sounded a more cautious tone. 

“We still have difficult obstacles on the way for an agreement,” he told reporters, adding that at least Iran and the U.S. remained engaged. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Mora’s trip had been “an opportunity to focus on initiatives to resolve the remaining issues.” 

“A good and reliable agreement is within reach if the United States makes a political decision and adheres to its commitments,” he said. 

A French diplomatic source said on Thursday he saw little chance of the United States agreeing to remove Iran’s elite security force from its list of foreign terrorist organizations any time soon. 

Mora has been in Tehran this week in what has been described as the last chance to salvage the 2015 accord, which then U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018. Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia are also parties to the accord. 

Detained at airport

In a bizarre incident, Mora and his team were held at Frankfurt airport for several hours on return from the Iranian capital on Friday. 

“We were kept separated. Refusal to give any explanation for what seems a violation of the Vienna Convention,” he said on Twitter. 

A German Interior Ministry spokesperson said German police would make a statement on the incident, telling reporters: “There can be many reasons that have to do with the flight, the travel route, and not necessarily with the person.” 

Iran’s official IRNA news agency alleged, without evidence, that Israel was behind the incident. 

“What has happened in Frankfurt has to do with opposition to the progress in the nuclear talks. … The Zionist lobby has influence in the German security apparatus,” it said. 

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Detention of WNBA’s Griner in Moscow Extended for 1 Month

The lawyer for WNBA star Brittney Griner said Friday her pre-trial detention in Russia has been extended by one month.

Griner’s lawyer Alexander Boikov told The Associated Press he believed the relatively short extension of the detention indicated the case would come to trial soon.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was detained at the Moscow airport after vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The Biden administration says Griner, 31, is being wrongfully detained. The WNBA and U.S. officials have worked toward her release, without visible progress.

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Musk Says $44-billion Twitter Deal Temporarily On Hold

Elon Musk said on Friday his $44-billion deal for Twitter Inc was temporarily on hold, citing pending details on spam and fake accounts.

“Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users,” Musk said in a tweet.

Shares of the social media company fell 20% in premarket trading. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company had earlier this month estimated that false or spam accounts represented fewer than 5% of its monetizable daily active users during the first quarter.

It also said it faced several risks until the deal with Musk is closed, including whether advertisers would continue to spend on Twitter.

Musk, the world’s richest man and the chief executive of Tesla Inc, had said that one of his priorities would be to remove “spam bots” from the platform.

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US Senator Delays $40 Billion Aid Package to Ukraine

U.S. Senator Rand Paul Thursday blocked a vote on a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine, slowing U.S. efforts to quickly deliver more help to Ukraine as it battles a Russian invasion.

“We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the U.S. economy,” Paul said.

A unanimous Senate vote would have expedited the delivery of aid to Ukraine.

Paul’s move, however, has delayed the vote for another week, when the Senate is expected to pass the bill.

Ukraine says negotiations are underway for the release of 38 incapacitated soldiers from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol in exchange for Russian prisoners.

In a post on Facebook, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereschuk described the talks as “very difficult.”

She said comments by “some politicians, journalists and public figures,” about the talks have hurt the negotiation process and requested that people refrain “from making public comments on what you don’t know.” Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin Thursday expressed their approval for joining NATO, a move that would complete a major policy shift for the country in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance,” they said in a joint statement. “Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.”

The leaders said they came to their decision after allowing time for Finland’s parliament and the public to consider the matter, and to consult with NATO and neighboring Sweden. Officials in Sweden are expected to consider their own possible NATO application in the coming days.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday if Finland does apply for membership, “they would be warmly welcomed into NATO and the accession process would be smooth and swift.”

“Finland is one of NATO’s closest partners, a mature democracy, a member of the European Union, and an important contributor to Euro-Atlantic security,” Stoltenberg said.

Russia has warned against NATO expansion, and said Finland and Sweden joining would bring “serious military and political consequences.”

“The expansion of NATO and the approach of the alliance to our borders does not make the world and our continent more stable and secure,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted that he praised Finland’s decision in a phone call with Niinisto.

The fight for Ukraine played out beyond the battlefields Wednesday, with Kyiv shutting one Russian natural gas pipeline that supplies European homes and industry, while a Moscow-installed official in southern Ukraine said the Kremlin should annex the city of Kherson after Russian troops took control.

Ukraine’s natural gas pipeline operator said it was stopping Russian shipments through a hub in eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists because of interference from enemy forces, including the apparent siphoning of gas.

About one-third of Russian gas headed to Western Europe passes through Ukraine, although one analyst said the immediate effect might be limited, since much of it can be redirected through another pipeline. Russia’s giant state-owned Gazprom said gas flowing to Europe through Ukraine was down 25% from the day before.

The European Union, as part of its announced effort to punish Russia for its 11-week invasion of Ukraine, is looking to end its considerable reliance on Russian energy to heat homes and fuel industries.

It has, however, encountered some opposition from within its 27-member bloc, especially from Hungary, which says its economy would sustain a major hit if its supply of Russian energy were cut off.

Meanwhile, Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Kherson regional administration installed by Moscow, told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency, “The city of Kherson is Russia.”

He asked that Putin declare Kherson a “proper region” of Russia, much as Moscow did in 2014 in seizing Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula and declaring Luhansk and Donetsk as independent entities shortly before invading Ukraine on February 24.

Peskov said that it would be “up to the residents of the Kherson region” to make such a request, and to make sure there is an “absolutely clear” legal basis for the action.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak derided the notion of its annexation, tweeting: “The invaders may ask to join even Mars or Jupiter. The Ukrainian army will liberate Kherson, no matter what games with words they play.”

Kherson is a Black Sea port with a population of about 300,000 and provides access to fresh water for neighboring Crimea. Russian forces captured it early in the war.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Press and Reuters.

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Україну очікують «надзвичайно складні тижні» – Резніков

Для цього потрібні будуть єдність, згуртованість, воля і терпіння, каже міністр

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Зеленський: готовий говорити з Путіним, але без його посередників і ультиматумів

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ГУР: Зміїний має стратегічне значення, Україна боротиметься за нього, «скільки буде потрібно»

«Острів Зміїний – це територія України, і ми її будемо деокуповувати й боротися за неї стільки, скільки нам буде потрібно»

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Death Toll in Slovenia Factory Blast Rises to 6

A worker hurt in an explosion at a chemical factory in Slovenia has died from his injuries, bringing the total number of people killed in the accident to six, local media reported on Friday.

The blast occurred Thursday when a cistern exploded at a resin factory belonging to chemicals company Melamin in the municipality of Kocevje, some 60 kilometers south of Ljubljana.

“Unfortunately our fears have been confirmed,” Melamin general manager Srecko Stefanic told reporters.

The strength of the explosion “did not leave them any chance of survival,” he said.

Initially, five people were reported to have been killed and six others injured, including two who were hospitalized with serious burns.

One of the two has since died in hospital and the other is still in critical condition, public radio reported. AFP was not able to confirm the information.

The tragedy was “caused by a human error,” Stefanic said, declining to give more information until the investigation has been completed.

Local authorities initially asked residents staying within a radius of 500 meters around the plant not to leave their homes and to close their windows as a precaution in case of toxic fumes.

The precautionary measure was lifted later Thursday after officials confirmed there had been no negative impact on the environment.

Photos showed columns of black smoke billowing from the factory, which supplies resins for paper, construction, wood, rubber and the lacquer industry.

Nearly 200 people work at the factory of the company, founded in 1954, according to its website.

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Europe Aims to Reverse Dependence on China for Electric Battery Mineral

An obscure mountain in the remote far west of Spain could prove to be a game changer in the race to end the West’s dependence on China for a mineral that is key to the world’s future mobility.

Valdeflores, just outside Caceres, a city of about 100,000 inhabitants in Extremadura, a region well off the tourist track, has been designated as the possible site for a lithium mine.

If the plan is approved, it is estimated the site will provide enough of the mineral used in rechargeable batteries to power 400,000 Tesla Model 3 cars every year.

Most important, there will be a processing plant next to the mine to turn the raw mineral into battery-grade lithium – the first in Europe.

Battery-grade lithium is one the minerals that will drive the next generation of electric cars as global economies seek to move away from conventional fuel-powered engines.

Growing demand for electric vehicles has spurred small-scale mining companies seeking lithium, cobalt and rare earths to develop mines and build refining capacity in Europe to reduce their reliance on China.

Picking up the pace

Efforts by the United States and Europe to build a secure and independent supply for the key minerals in electric vehicles, wind turbines and aircraft engines have sped up since the pandemic led to an economic slowdown and shortages.

As companies seek to reduce their carbon footprint, processing metals into goods that do not have to travel far is an environmental goal.

Currently, the majority of lithium mined in Argentina, Australia or Chile is sent to China to be processed into battery-grade lithium so it can be used in cars or for other products. Then it is sent back to the West to be used in car batteries, running up a sizable carbon footprint.

“There is a global race in Europe and the U.S. to change dependence on China for the processing of lithium, one of the key elements to make car batteries,” Caspar Rawles, of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a price reporting agency in mineral supplies, told VOA in an interview.

China currently controls 59% of processing plants and the United States 4%. According to Benchmark data, Europe has no major plants.

Extremadura New Energies, the company that hopes to start the Caceres mine and processing plant in a $633 million project, wants to change the reliance on China.

Opponents

The company, however, faces determined opposition from conservationists and city authorities in Caceres. A judge is expected to make a decision on the project later this year.

“More than having lithium, [the important thing] is to have the capacity to treat it so it can be used in a battery. We don’t have that at the moment in Europe,” Ramon Jimenez, the CEO of Extremadura New Energies, told VOA in a Zoom interview.

“We don’t want the lithium to travel to China to be processed and then coming back because we are creating a lot of CO2 that we are releasing to the atmosphere. This creates a big carbon footprint and is not good for the environment.”

China currently has 60%-70% of the lithium market. By 2030, Europe will reach 15% and the U.S. will have a 12% share, Jimenez estimated.

Jimenez said that after listening to conservationists’ fears about the impact of the project, the company had changed its plans.

He said the mine would be underground and be powered using green hydrogen so it would be more sustainable.

Alejandro Palomo, of Salvemos La Montana (meaning Save the Mountain), the conservation group opposed to the mine, said that despite the change of plans, the mine would harm the underground water supply from the mountain on which the city of Caceres depends.

“It will also affect the air quality because of the chemicals which the processing plant uses. The mining may affect the historical center of the city, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986,” he told VOA in a telephone interview.

He said “all the city” was against the plan for the mine, which would only bring 100 jobs, most of them in specialized fields.

Some information for this report came from Reuters.

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Meatpackers Convinced Trump Officials to Keep Plants Running During COVID Crisis, Report Says

Top U.S. meatpacking companies drafted the executive order issued by President Donald Trump in 2020 to keep meat plants running and convinced his administration to encourage workers to stay on the job at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report released Thursday by a U.S. House panel.

The report by the House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis details the meat industry’s influence on Trump’s White House as it tried to keep production rolling even as employees fell ill.

More than 59,000 meatpacking workers at plants owned by the nation’s top five meatpackers contracted COVID-19 in the first year of the pandemic and at least 269 died, according to the first report by the panel, released in October.

“The shameful conduct of corporate executives pursuing profit at any cost during a crisis and government officials eager to do their bidding regardless of resulting harm to the public must never be repeated,” committee chair Representative James Clyburn said.

The North American Meat Institute, the leading meat industry trade group, said the report “distorts the truth” and “uses 20/20 hindsight and cherry picks data to support a narrative that is completely unrepresentative of the early days of an unprecedented national emergency.”

The report, based on thousands of documents and interviews with workers, union officials and experts, found that in April 2020, meatpacking companies led by Tyson Foods and Smithfield Foods drafted an executive order invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA) to keep meat plants open.

The DPA, which was enacted in 1950, gives the president emergency powers to control the domestic economy.

The companies sent the draft to Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials and corresponded extensively with the White House, USDA, and other administration officials before the order was finalized and signed on April 28, the report found.

Industry executives argued at the time that domestic meat supply was threatened by worker absenteeism.

Those concerns were “baseless,” the House report said. USDA data showed meatpackers had 622 million pounds of frozen pork in March 2020 and that top meatpackers’ pork exports grew as much as 370% in the first year of the pandemic.

Jim Monroe, Smithfield vice president of corporate affairs, said the company is proud of its pandemic response.

“Did we make every effort to share with government officials our perspective on the pandemic and how it was impacting the food production system? Absolutely,” he said.

Gary Mickelson, a Tyson spokesperson, said the company’s top priority is worker health and safety and that it has collaborated with federal, state and local officials in its pandemic response in the interest of protecting workers.

In April 2020, meat industry executives also lobbied the USDA to encourage workers to report to plants as absenteeism rose, resulting in a public statement to that effect from former Vice President Mike Pence, the report found.

The industry worked closely with political appointee Mindy Brashears, the USDA undersecretary of food safety, and corresponded with her via her personal email and cell phone, a potential violation of the Federal Records Act, the report found.

The former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, also told the House committee that he added softening language, like “if feasible,” to CDC guidance for managing COVID-19 spread in meat plants because he was “persuaded by industry concerns” about the potential impact of the guidance.