dispute

NATO helicopters land at the Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan
NATO helicopters land at the Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan October 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

May 26, 2019

By Rupam Jain and Sabine Siebold

KABUL/BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany, a leading donor and member of the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, has been talking with the Taliban and the Afghan government in an effort to restart peace talks to end 18 years of conflict, officials said.

While the Taliban have been talking with U.S. officials since October about a withdrawal of international troops, they have so far refused formal talks with the Western-backed government, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.

Berlin’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Markus Potzel, has visited Kabul for talks with the Afghan government and met Taliban officials in Doha at least twice this month.

“The current chance for a process towards a more peaceful Afghanistan should not be missed. If the friends of Afghanistan – and Germany is one of them – together can help in this effort, then we should do it,” Potzel said.

“In the end only the Afghans themselves, including the Taliban, can decide upon the future of their country.”

The chief U.S. negotiator in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, in March said that a draft agreement had been reached on a withdrawal of U.S. forces in exchange for a commitment by the Taliban to cut ties with militant groups such as Al Qaeda.

But there has been no agreement yet on a ceasefire or a start to talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, both seen as key conditions for a settlement.

An Afghan delegation had been due to meet Taliban officials in the Qatari capital Doha last month to build the basis for possible negotiations, but the meeting was canceled at the last minute after a dispute over the number of participants.

“We realize that U.S.-Taliban talks will gain momentum only if the insurgent leaders start engaging with the Afghan representatives,” a senior German official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Sohail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said that Germany was one among several countries to have offered help to seek a peaceful resolutions. The European Union and Indonesia are among those to have offered help, another Taliban official said, declining to be named.

Discussions were held with Germany about an Afghan-Taliban meeting in Germany but no decision has been made, Shaheen told Reuters.

The moves come at a time when the Taliban controls or exercises influence over more than half of Afghanistan.

At least 3,804 civilians were killed in the war last year, according to a United Nations report, plus thousands of soldiers, police and Taliban militants.

The involvement of Germany, the second-largest donor and an influential member of the 39-member NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, follows concern among several U.S. allies at being excluded from the talks.

Germany, which last year spent 23 billion euros ($25.76 billion) in integrating hundreds of thousands of refugees from countries including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, also has pressing domestic reasons for promoting peace. Next year, parliament will have to approve the continued presence of 1,200 German troops in Afghanistan.

“Lawmakers will ask why they should extend the mandate again if there is no progress there whatsoever,” said Conrad Schetter, an Afghanistan at the Bonn International Center for Conversion, an independent think-tank.

($1 = 0.8927 euros)

(Additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi and Abdul Qadir Sediqi; Editing by David Goodman)

Source: OANN

Russian jet fighters fly over a bridge connecting the Russian mainland with the Crimean Peninsula with a cargo ship beneath it after three Ukrainian navy vessels were stopped by Russia from entering the Sea of Azov via the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea
Russian jet fighters fly over a bridge connecting the Russian mainland with the Crimean Peninsula with a cargo ship beneath it after three Ukrainian navy vessels were stopped by Russia from entering the Sea of Azov via the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea, Crimea November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Pavel Rebrov

May 25, 2019

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Moscow must release 24 sailors who were aboard three Ukrainian vessels it intercepted in November as they crossed a strait between Russian-annexed Crimea and southern Russia, an international maritime tribunal said on Saturday.

The Russian navy had captured the Ukrainian sailors and their vessels in the Kerch Strait, which links the Black and Azov seas, on Nov. 25, 2018 after opening fire on them.

The Hamburg-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) said Russia had to release the sailors and vessels immediately and both nations should refrain from taking any action which might aggravate the dispute.

“The Tribunal notes that any action affecting the immunity of warships is capable of causing serious harm to the dignity and sovereignty of a state and has the potential to undermine its national security,” ITLOS President Jin-Hyun Paik said.

Ukraine has already demanded the sailors’ release and the return of the impounded vessels, yet Moscow has not heeded the request or similar calls by the EU.

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Saturday it had not participated in the hearings, adding it intends to defend its point of view that the arbitration lacked the jurisdiction to consider the Kerch incident.

The ITLOS was established to settle maritime disputes by the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, of which both Ukraine and Russia are signatories. But it has no means of enforcing its decisions.

A bilateral treaty gives both Russia and Ukraine the right to use the Sea of Azov, which lies between them and is linked by the narrow Kerch Strait to the Black Sea. Yet tension has risen since Russia annexed Crimea, with both countries complaining about shipping delays and harassment.

Russia, which annexed Crimea in 2014 and built a road bridge linking it to southern Russia straddling the Kerch Strait, has vowed never to give Crimea back to Ukraine. It accuses Kiev of staging a provocation in the Kerch Strait and its sailors of crossing illegally into Russian waters.

Russia’s FSB security service said it had been forced to act in November because the ships – two small Ukrainian armored artillery vessels and a tug boat – had illegally entered its territorial waters.

“The Tribunal’s order is a clear signal to Russia that it cannot violate international law with impunity,” Ukraine Deputy Foreign Minister Olena Zerkal said on Facebook, adding she expected Russia to comply with the order quickly.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said if Russia releases the Ukrainian sailors and ships it could be the first signal from the Russian leadership of its readiness to end the conflict with Ukraine.

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt; Additional reporting by Natalia Zinets in Kiev and Polina Devitt in Moscow; Editing by David Holmes)

Source: OANN

Illustration photo of a China yuan note
A China yuan note is seen in this illustration photo May 31, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

May 25, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s banking and insurance regulator on Saturday said it did not expect a persistent decline in the yuan and warned speculative short sellers they would suffer “heavy losses” if they bet against the currency.

Xiao Yuanqi, the spokesman for the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), also said Beijing must look out for hot money moving in and out of the country, as well as large amounts of capital flowing into the frothy real estate market.

The yuan has lost more than 2.5% against the dollar since the festering China-U.S. trade dispute intensified earlier this month. It is now less than 0.1 yuan away from the 7-per-dollar level authorities have in the past indicated as a floor.

Xiao was speaking on behalf of Guo Shuqing, CBIRC’s chairman, at a finance forum in Beijing.

(Reporting by Cheng Leng and Ryan Woo; Writing by Yawen Chen; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

Illustration photo of a China yuan note
A China yuan note is seen in this illustration photo May 31, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

May 25, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s banking and insurance regulator on Saturday said it did not expect a persistent decline in the yuan and warned speculative short sellers they would suffer “heavy losses” if they bet against the currency.

Xiao Yuanqi, the spokesman for the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), also said Beijing must look out for hot money moving in and out of the country, as well as large amounts of capital flowing into the frothy real estate market.

The yuan has lost more than 2.5% against the dollar since the festering China-U.S. trade dispute intensified earlier this month. It is now less than 0.1 yuan away from the 7-per-dollar level authorities have in the past indicated as a floor.

Xiao was speaking on behalf of Guo Shuqing, CBIRC’s chairman, at a finance forum in Beijing.

(Reporting by Cheng Leng and Ryan Woo; Writing by Yawen Chen; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

Illustration photo of a China yuan note
A China yuan note is seen in this illustration photo May 31, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

May 25, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s banking and insurance regulator on Saturday said it did not expect a persistent decline in the yuan and warned speculative short sellers they would suffer “heavy losses” if they bet against the currency.

Xiao Yuanqi, the spokesman for the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), also said Beijing must look out for hot money moving in and out of the country, as well as large amounts of capital flowing into the frothy real estate market.

The yuan has lost more than 2.5% against the dollar since the festering China-U.S. trade dispute intensified earlier this month. It is now less than 0.1 yuan away from the 7-per-dollar level authorities have in the past indicated as a floor.

Xiao was speaking on behalf of Guo Shuqing, CBIRC’s chairman, at a finance forum in Beijing.

(Reporting by Cheng Leng and Ryan Woo; Writing by Yawen Chen; Editing by Sam Holmes)

Source: OANN

Soccer: U.S. Women's National Team World Cup Media Day
May 24, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Carli Lloyd , Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe take questions during the U.S. Women’s National Team World Cup media day at Twitter NYC. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

May 24, 2019

By Amy Tennery

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The 1999 U.S. women’s team may defy comparison in the eyes of many soccer fans but, 20 years after their famous World Cup triumph, the challenges they faced are all too familiar with pay and conditions still at the top of the agenda.

Soccer’s world governing body FIFA has boosted the prize money for this year’s women’s World Cup to $30 million but that figure is dwarfed by the roughly $448 million on offer at the men’s tournament in Russia last year.

“For the resources and for the ability that FIFA has to implement that change (more investment), they’re not doing nearly enough,” co-captain Megan Rapinoe said on Friday. “I hope that it’s just so much better (in 20 years) than it is now.”

The success of the 1999 team, playing in front of huge home crowds, turned players like Mia Hamm into household names and inspired a generation of girls and female athletes, even if the promise of widespread gender parity in sports remains elusive.

In March, the U.S. women’s squad sued U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination, saying the sport’s national organizing body paid them less than the men’s team despite their superior performance and provided them with sub-standard facilities.

Julie Foudy, a midfielder on the 1999 team, told Reuters earlier this week that she was “frustrated” there was still a need to pursue the dispute.

“It’s exhausting to keep fighting that fight and especially (for them) to do it right before a World Cup,” Foudy said.

All 23 members of this year’s squad spoke to the media ahead of Sunday’s friendly against Mexico, part of a farewell series of friendlies ahead of next month’s tournament in France where they will be defending the title they won in 2015.

“I think it’s pretty clear women in sport have not been treated with the same care and financing that men’s sports has,” said Rapinoe.

Despite the frustration over the progress made by the women’s game since the U.S. beat China 5-4 on penalties to win the 1999 World Cup, that triumph continues to resonate.

Co-captain Alex Morgan, who has drawn comparisons to Hamm, said the 1999 team were very influential in her development.

“The ’99ers had a huge impact on me and growing my passion to want to play, and being good friends with a lot of them now, I still draw a lot of inspiration from them,” she said.

The U.S. launch their title defense against Thailand on June 11 in Group F which also features Sweden and Chile.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Source: OANN

Soccer: U.S. Women's National Team World Cup Media Day
May 24, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Carli Lloyd , Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe take questions during the U.S. Women’s National Team World Cup media day at Twitter NYC. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

May 24, 2019

By Amy Tennery

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The 1999 U.S. women’s team may defy comparison in the eyes of many soccer fans but, 20 years after their famous World Cup triumph, the challenges they faced are all too familiar with pay and conditions still at the top of the agenda.

Soccer’s world governing body FIFA has boosted the prize money for this year’s women’s World Cup to $30 million but that figure is dwarfed by the roughly $448 million on offer at the men’s tournament in Russia last year.

“For the resources and for the ability that FIFA has to implement that change (more investment), they’re not doing nearly enough,” co-captain Megan Rapinoe said on Friday. “I hope that it’s just so much better (in 20 years) than it is now.”

The success of the 1999 team, playing in front of huge home crowds, turned players like Mia Hamm into household names and inspired a generation of girls and female athletes, even if the promise of widespread gender parity in sports remains elusive.

In March, the U.S. women’s squad sued U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination, saying the sport’s national organizing body paid them less than the men’s team despite their superior performance and provided them with sub-standard facilities.

Julie Foudy, a midfielder on the 1999 team, told Reuters earlier this week that she was “frustrated” there was still a need to pursue the dispute.

“It’s exhausting to keep fighting that fight and especially (for them) to do it right before a World Cup,” Foudy said.

All 23 members of this year’s squad spoke to the media ahead of Sunday’s friendly against Mexico, part of a farewell series of friendlies ahead of next month’s tournament in France where they will be defending the title they won in 2015.

“I think it’s pretty clear women in sport have not been treated with the same care and financing that men’s sports has,” said Rapinoe.

Despite the frustration over the progress made by the women’s game since the U.S. beat China 5-4 on penalties to win the 1999 World Cup, that triumph continues to resonate.

Co-captain Alex Morgan, who has drawn comparisons to Hamm, said the 1999 team were very influential in her development.

“The ’99ers had a huge impact on me and growing my passion to want to play, and being good friends with a lot of them now, I still draw a lot of inspiration from them,” she said.

The U.S. launch their title defense against Thailand on June 11 in Group F which also features Sweden and Chile.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Source: OANN

The Health and Human Services Department on Friday released a proposed regulation that in effect says “gender identity” is not protected under federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination in health care. It would reverse an Obama-era policy that the Trump administration already is not enforcing.

“The actions today are part and parcel of this administration’s efforts to erase LGBTQ people from federal regulations and to undermine nondiscrimination protections across the board,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a senior attorney on health care at Lambda Legal, a civil rights organization representing LGBT people.

The administration also has moved to restrict military service by transgender men and women , proposed allowing certain homeless shelters to take gender identity into account in offering someone a bed for the night and concluded in a 2017 Justice Department memo that federal civil rights law does not protect transgender people from discrimination at work. As one of her first policy moves, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos withdrew guidance that allowed students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity.

More than 1.5 million Americans identify as transgender , according to the Williams Institute, a think tank focusing on LGBT policy at the UCLA School of Law. A bigger number — 4.5% of the population— identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), according to Gallup.

Pushing back against critics, the HHS official overseeing the new regulation said transgender patients would continue to be protected by other federal laws that bar discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability.

“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Roger Severino, who heads the HHS Office for Civil Rights. “We intend to fully enforce federal laws that prohibit discrimination.”

Asked about the charge that the administration has opened the door to discrimination against transgender people seeking needed medical care of any type, Severino responded, “I don’t want to see that happen.”

In some places LGBT people are protected by state laws, said Lambda Legal attorney Gonzalez-Pagan, “but what do you say to people living in a state that doesn’t have state-explicit protections? Do they move their home?”

Behind the dispute over legal rights is a medically recognized condition called “gender dysphoria” — discomfort or distress caused by a discrepancy between the gender that a person identifies as and the gender at birth. Consequences can include severe depression. Treatment can range from sex-reassignment surgery and hormones to people changing their outward appearance by adopting a different hairstyle or clothing.

Many social conservatives disagree with the concept.

“Sex is not subjective, it is an objective biological reality,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement supporting the Trump administration’s move. The proposed rule will ensure that federal law “isn’t used as a vehicle to advance transgender or abortion politics,” he said.

Under the Obama-era federal rule, a hospital could be required to perform gender-transition procedures such as hysterectomies if the facility provided that kind of treatment for other medical conditions. The rule was meant to carry out the anti-discrimination section of the Affordable Care Act, which bars sex discrimination in health care but does not use the term “gender identity.”

The proposed new rule would also affect the notices that millions of patients get in multiple languages about their rights to translation services. Such notices often come with insurer “explanation of benefits” forms. The Trump administration says the notice requirement has become a needless burden on health care providers, requiring billions of paper notices to be mailed annually at an estimated five-year cost of $3.2 billion.

The American Civil Liberties Union served notice it expects to challenge the rule in court when it is final. Louise Melling, ACLU deputy legal director said the potential impact could go beyond LGBT people and also subject women to discrimination for having had an abortion.

That’s because the proposal would remove “termination of pregnancy” as grounds for making a legal claim of sex discrimination in health care, one of the protections created in the Obama years. Abortion opponents had argued that the Obama regulation could be construed to make a legal argument for federal funding of abortions.

UCLA legal scholar Jocelyn Samuels, who oversaw the drafting of the HHS transgender anti-discrimination rule under Obama, said that rule reflected established legal precedent that transgender people are protected by federal anti-discrimination laws.

“This administration has manifested its intent to roll back that well-considered understanding in every context,” she said.

Samuels questioned the timing of the Trump action, since the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear three cases this year looking at whether federal civil rights law bans job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The proposed rule change is unlikely to have immediate consequences beyond the realm of political and legal debate. It faces a 60-day comment period and another layer of review before it can be finalized.

HHS official Severino said the Trump administration is going back to the literal text of the ACA’s anti-discrimination law to correct an overly broad interpretation.

The Obama rule dates to a time when LGBT people were gaining political and social recognition. But a federal judge in Texas has said the rule went too far by concluding that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is a form of sex discrimination.

Severino said the proposed rule does not come with a new definition of a person’s sex. Earlier, a leaked internal document suggested the administration was debating whether to issue an immutable definition of sex, as based on a person’s genital organs at birth.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang answers questions about a major bus accident in North Korea, during a news conference in Beijing
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang answers questions about a major bus accident in North Korea, during a news conference in Beijing, China April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

May 24, 2019

By Michael Martina and Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Friday accused U.S. officials of lying to the public about their trade war, as rising tensions between the world’s two largest economies kept financial markets in a state of unease.

Talks to end the trade dispute collapsed earlier this month, with the two sides in a stalemate over U.S. demands that China change its policies to address a number of key U.S. grievances, including theft of intellectual property and subsidies for state enterprises.

Washington has slapped higher tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to retaliate, and effectively banned U.S. firms from doing business with Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world’s largest telecom network gear maker.

“Domestically in the United States there are more and more doubts about the trade war the U.S. side has provoked with China, the market turmoil caused by the technology war and blocked industrial cooperation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

U.S. officials “fabricate lies to try to mislead the American people, and now they are trying to incite ideological opposition,” he said, when asked about U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent criticism of Huawei.

In an interview with CNBC on Thursday, Pompeo said Huawei was connected to the Chinese government, dismissing Huawei chief executive Ren Zhengfei’s assertions that his company would never share user secrets.

“The company is deeply tied not only to China but to the Chinese Communist Party. And that connectivity, the existence of those connections puts American information that crosses those networks at risk,” Pompeo said.

Huawei has repeatedly denied it is controlled by the Chinese government, military or intelligence services.

Pompeo said he believed more American companies would cut ties with the tech giant, while the United States has been rallying its allies to persuade them not to use Huawei for their 5G networks.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that U.S. complaints against Huawei might be resolved within the framework of a U.S.-China trade deal, while at the same time calling the Chinese company “very dangerous.”

Lu said he did not know what Trump was talking about.

“Frankly, I’m actually not sure what the specific meaning of the U.S. leader, the U.S. side, saying this is,” he said.

World equity markets rebounded on Friday from heavy selling in the previous day’s session. The U.S. dollar was trading lower against a basket of currencies and prices of safe-haven U.S. government debt fell. [MKTS/GLOB]

NO TALKS SCHEDULED

With no further talks between Washington and Beijing scheduled, investors are nervously eyeing the prospect of an escalation in the tit-for-tat tariffs the two countries have slapped on each other’s products.

The seeds of the current impasse were sowed when Chinese officials sought major changes to the draft text of a deal that the Trump administration says had been largely agreed.

Trump, who has embraced protectionism as part of an “America First” agenda, has threatened to slap tariffs of up to 25% on an additional list of Chinese imports worth about $300 billion.

Meanwhile, China’s move to impose higher tariffs on a revised $60 billion list of U.S. goods is set to go into effect on June 1.

Financial markets fear the trade war could badly damage global supply lines and prompt a further slowdown of the world economy. Economists say the tariffs will curb growth in the United States and China, two of the more solid economies.

China can maintain healthy, sustainable economic growth even as it suffers some impact from the trade friction, a senior official from China’s state planner told state television on Friday.

“China’s healthy, steady and sustainable growth can be maintained in the medium- and long-term,” said Ning Jizhe, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission.

The Trump administration says it is monitoring any possible impact of tariffs on U.S. consumers. It also announced this week a new aid package of about $15 billion to help U.S. farmers, exceeding the up to $12 billion that was rolled out last year.

American farmers, a key Trump constituency, have been among the hardest hit in the trade war. Soybeans are the most valuable U.S. farm export, and shipments to China dropped to a 16-year low in 2018.

(Reporting by Michael Martina and Ben Blanchard; Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

Men work on a production line manufacturing robotic arms at a factory in Huzhou, Zhejiang
FILE PHOTO: Men work on a production line manufacturing robotic arms at a factory in Huzhou, Zhejiang province, China January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer .

May 24, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday China aimed to keep value-added taxes for the manufacturing industry at low levels and encourage companies to innovate, in comments coming at a time of a bitter trade dispute with the United States.

Despite a good start in the first quarter, rising external challenges may still destabilize the Chinese economy, the second largest in the world, Li said in a statement on a government website.

While addressing a tax symposium, Li said although cuts in taxes and fees would reduce fiscal revenue, they would boost companies’ investment and confidence, which would in turn create employment and maintain sustainable economic growth.

“Local governments have adequate conditions to overcome difficulties and strike a balance between tax breaks and fiscal balances,” Li said.

Earlier this year, Li said China would cut taxes and fees for companies by nearly 2 trillion yuan ($290 billion) this year to boost slowing economic growth.

On Friday he said China’s economy had been resilient so far and that ample policy tools were available for macroeconomic adjustments.

(Reporting by Min Zhang in Beijing and Lee Chyen Yee in Singapore; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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