IPBES Report Will Call for Sustainable Growth

A draft report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is under final review in Paris this week. The report was three years in the making and is expected to lay out a rescue plan for the world’s vanishing biodiversity. VOA’s Kevin Enochs reports.

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Space Station Power Shortage Delays SpaceX Supply Run

A major power shortage at the International Space Station has delayed this week’s SpaceX supply run. 

SpaceX was supposed to launch a shipment Wednesday. But an old power-switching unit malfunctioned at the space station Monday and knocked two power channels offline. The six remaining power channels are working normally, according to NASA.

NASA stressed Tuesday that the station and its six astronauts are safe. But because of the hobbled solar-power grid, the SpaceX launch is off until at least Friday. NASA wants to replace the failed unit to restore full power, before sending up the SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule.

The breakdown has left the station’s big robot arm outside with one functioning power channel instead of two. Two power sources are required — one as a backup — when the robot arm is used to capture visiting spacecraft like the Dragon.

Flight controllers will use the robot arm to replace the bad unit with a spare later this week, saving the astronauts from going out on a spacewalk.

There’s no rush for this delivery. Northrop Grumman launched supplies two weeks ago.

Solar wings collect and generate electricity for the entire space station. Any breakdown in this critical system can cut into power and affect operations.

SpaceX, meanwhile, is still investigating this month’s fiery loss of its new Dragon capsule designed for astronauts.

Six weeks after a successful test flight without a crew to the space station, the crew Dragon was engulfed in flames during a ground test. SpaceX was in the process of firing the capsule’s thrusters on a test stand. The April 20 accident — which occurred right before or during the firing of the launch-abort thrusters — sent thick smoke billowing into the sky.

SpaceX and NASA have offered few details. But the accident is sure to delay launching a crew Dragon with two NASA astronauts on board. SpaceX had been aiming for a summertime flight.

The company still needs to conduct a launch-abort test, before astronauts strap in. The Dragon that flew last month was supposed to be used for this test in June.

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Ghana Launches Malaria Vaccine for Children

Children in Ghana are starting to get a new vaccine designed to stop malaria. Ghana is the second African country to get the vaccine, which is expected to reduce cases of the mosquito-borne and sometimes fatal disease. But experts caution that other malaria-prevention measures are still necessary.

It took more than thirty years and almost one billion dollars to develop the malaria vaccine launched in Ghana today.  

The vaccine, known as RTS-S, reduces cases of the mosquito-spread disease in children by up to 40 percent.

Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi are participating in a pilot vaccination program, which began last week in Malawi. Over the next four years about one million babies are expected to be vaccinated with four doses of RTS-S.  

Cape Coast is a city in one of three regions Ghana is targeting due to high levels of malaria.

The vaccine is considered an additional tool in the fight against the disease, alongside bed nets and indoor insecticide spraying. The World Health Organization’s Richard Mihigo said the vaccine is needed because progress has stalled in recent years.

“This is really something we are considering in public health as a dream coming true, because so far when you look at the intervention that has been used to fight the disease, we believe that this new vaccine is going to add a significant boost to the fight against malaria,” he said.

The WHO says malaria infected 219 million people in 2017 and killed 435,000.

The disease remains one of the world’s leading killers, claiming the life of one child every two minutes. Most of these deaths are in Africa and more than a quarter million of them are children.

Ghanaian officials launched the vaccination program Tuesday with patients from the Ewim Polyclinic in Cape Coast. The clinic serves low-income Ghanaians, many of whom live in cramped conditions and prefer to sleep outside, where they are vulnerable to mosquito bites.

Since 2016 the clinic has seen over a thousand cases of malaria each year in children under five.

Nurse Agnes Morgue-Duncan is hopeful the vaccine will protect children and help eradicate malaria.

“Our communities are the main fisherfolks and there are a lot of people.  We have a densely populated area. So sometimes you will see one room and so many people in one room and sometimes they mostly sleep outside before getting inside, so automatically or definitely they will be bitten by the mosquito and infected,” said Morgue-Duncan.

The vaccine will be rolled out in Kenya in the coming weeks, and doctors will watch closely to see if malaria rates decline.

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Report: Climate Change Threatens Half of World Heritage Sites’ Glaciers

Nearly half of the glaciers in World Heritage sites will disappear by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, a report said Tuesday.

The new study from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) focused on the 46 World Heritage sites where glaciers are found, including Grosser Aletschgletscher in the Swiss Alps, Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier and Khumbu Glacier in the Himalayas.

Using a variety of data and advanced modelling, the authors “predict glacier extinction by 2100 under a high emission scenario in 21 of the 46 natural World Heritage sites where glaciers are currently found,” IUCN said in a statement.

That “high emission scenario” refers to the status quo, where the commitments made under the 2015 Paris climate pact are not met.

Sites likely to see the most severe ice-loss are Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina and Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, which straddles the Canada-US border.

The disappearance of small glaciers in the Pyrenees – Mont Perdu World Heritage site could happen before 2040, according to IUCN projections.

Even if nations deliver on the terms of the Paris agreement, eight of the 46 World Heritage sites analysed in the report will still be ice-free by the year 2100, IUCN added.

“Losing these iconic glaciers would be a tragedy and have major consequences for the availability of water resources, sea level rise and weather patterns,” Peter Shadie, director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme, said in the statement.

IUCN, widely-known for its “red list” of endangered species, has developed the first ever inventory of the 19,000 glaciers spread across 46 World Heritage sites.

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US Treasury Secretary Hopes for ‘Substantial Progress’ in China Talks

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he hopes to makes “substantial progress” in trade talks with China, as the world’s two largest economies try to reach a resolution to their trade war.

Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are leading a U.S. delegation meeting with Chinese officials this week in Beijing.

Next week, Chinese officials will travel to Washington for another round of talks.

Washington and Beijing have held several rounds of talks this year to resolve a trade war that began in 2018 when President Donald Trump imposed punitive tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports. He has been trying to compel Beijing to change its trade practices. China retaliated with tariff increases on $110 billion of U.S. exports.

 

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Tariffs Take Toll on Farm Equipment Manufacturers

Their iconic blue-colored planters and grain cars are recognizable on many farms across the United States. They are also easily spotted in large displays, some stacked one on top of the other, in front of Kinze’s manufacturing hub along Interstate 80, where, inside buildings sprawling across a campus situated among Iowa’s corn and soybeans fields, the company’s employees work with one key component. 

“Steel is the lifeblood of Kinze,” says Richard Dix, a company senior director. “We’re a factory that’s essentially a weld house. We cut, burn, form, shape, cut, paint steel.”

WATCH: Kane Farabaugh’s video report

Steel now costs more, the result of a 25 percent tariff on the material imported from most countries, including China.

“When there is a tariff on steel it cuts rights to the core of our fundamental product construction,” says Dix.

In March of 2018, President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on aluminum and steel, with the goal of boosting U.S. production and related employment. 

While there has been a modest benefit to the domestic steel industry, Dix says increased costs are negatively impacting smaller manufacturing companies like Kinze.

“We see the bills that come in from our suppliers are higher based on those tariffs,” Dix explains. “Not just in steel but also in a lot of the electronics, rubber commodities and other agricultural parts we buy from China as well. Those tariffs take their effect on our cost structure, on the profitability for the family, through our employees, and now to our dealers and on to our customers.”

Those customers are mostly U.S. farmers who use some of Kinze’s products to put soybean and corn seeds into the ground. Soybean exports in particular are now subject to retaliatory tariffs imposed by the Chinese, one of the biggest export markets for U.S. farmers, which has sunk commodity prices and contributed to another year of overall declining income for U.S. farmers. 

​That means many are less likely to purchase the products Kinze makes.

“The market is substantially down,” says Dix. “The farmers don’t have that level of security they need to go out into the dealerships and buy that equipment. We get a one-two punch. We pay more for the product that comes into us and therefore on to the customer, and then we have a reciprocal situation where we can’t export what was advantageous to us.”

These are some of the concerns Dix explained to Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst, who participated in a roundtable discussion at Kinze along with farmers and others in Iowa impacted by tariffs. It was part of a “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland” event hosted by Kinze, and organized by the group Americans for Free Trade along with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. 

Ernst says the personal stories she gathers from these meetings go a long way in helping President Donald Trump understand the impact on her constituents.

“He has a very different negotiating style,” she told VOA. “He wants to start with the worst possible scenario, and negotiate his way to a good and fair trade deal, but again sharing those stories is very important and yes it does have an impact. I think the president does listen.”

Ernst says she is encouraged by news from the Trump administration on developments in negotiations that lead her to believe the trade dispute with China, and the related tariffs, could end soon.

“When I last spoke to [U.S. Trade Representative] Robert Lighthizer, he had indicated that the deal with China is largely done, it’s just figuring out the enforcement mechanism, and that is what the United States and China are really bartering over right now.”

But Kinze’s Richard Dix says one year under tariffs has already taken a toll on the company’s operations.

“We’re not really that big, so we can say that this impact has been a seven-figure impact for us in the last year, and that’s a substantial amount of money.”

It’s an amount that Dix says, so far, hasn’t been passed on to Kinze’s customers, or the employees.

“We have not actually had any direct layoffs that are attributable to this tariff situation, but we’re all tightening our belts.”

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At Amboise, Leonardo’s Last Years Paint a Picture of Franco-Italian Harmony

Commemorations for Leonardo da Vinci’s 500th anniversary begin this week in Amboise, in the Loire Valley, with France and Italy setting aside recent tensions to honor the memory of the Renaissance genius in the town where he spent his final years.

In 1516, aged 64, Leonardo da Vinci left Italy to enter the service of King Francis I of France. Many of his masterpieces — St. John the Baptist, the Mona Lisa — followed him and were sold to the French monarch, forming a legacy now exhibited at the Louvre museum in Paris.

Amid diplomatic tensions between Rome and Paris, his legacy has become contentious, with Italy’s Culture undersecretary Lucia Borgonzoni in November telling Italian media she wanted to renegotiate the planned lending of his works to the Louvre for an anniversary exhibition, because “the French cannot have it all.”

It is unclear, for example, whether the iconic drawing of the “Vitruvian Man” will eventually leave Venice to join the Louvre for the display.

But on Thursday, in Amboise, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella will seek to ease strains between the two normally close allies that have grown more acute since mid-2018, mostly over migration policy.

They will gather at Leonardo’s tomb, a modest grave in a chapel of Amboise castle containing his presumed remains, and will pay a visit to his house nearby, the Clos Luce, where he died on May 2nd, 1519.

“It’s an extremely solemn gesture, showing that the two countries have this shared memory, this figure, a culture that binds our two countries,” the director of Amboise castle Jean-Louis Sureau told Reuters in an interview.

Da Vinci ‘s arrival in France was no accident, because King Francis I wanted him to join the Court to participate in its international influence and refinement, Sureau said.

“Leonardo da Vinci was unquestionably born in Italy, he’s Florentine, but beyond that, he led a career at the service of several powerful men. This career, and his life, end here, in France,” Sureau added.

During his three years in France, da Vinci focused on perfecting unfinished masterpieces, drawing and scientific writing, but also took part in organizing lavish parties for the King of France.

“This universal man, who, to be clear, was first and foremost Italian, can also be seen as the symbol of a European culture, built beyond traditional divisions,” Catherine Simon Marion, delegate general of the Clos Luce, said.

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Kudlow: Trump Administration Eyes More Aid to Farmers if Necessary

The Trump administration is ready to provide more federal aid to farmers if required, a White House adviser said on Monday, after rolling out up to $12 billion since last year to offset agricultural losses from the trade dispute with China.

“We have allocated $12 billion, some such, to farm assistance. And we stand ready to do more if necessary,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture had previously ruled out a new round of aid for 2019. As of March, more than $8 billion was paid out as part of last year’s program. On Monday, the department said it had extended the deadline to apply to May 17.

A constituency that helped carry Republican President Donald Trump to victory in 2016, U.S. farmers have been among the hardest hit from his trade policies that led to tariffs with key trading partners such as China, Canada and Mexico.

While farmers have largely remained supportive of Trump, many have called for an imminent end to the trade dispute, which propelled farm debt to the highest levels in decades and worsened the credit conditions for the rural economy.

Beijing imposed tariffs last year on imports of U.S. agricultural goods, including soybeans, grain sorghum and pork as retribution for U.S. levies. Soybean exports to China have plummeted over 90 percent and sales of U.S. soybeans elsewhere failed to make up for the loss.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer were scheduled to travel to Beijing on Monday for the latest negotiations in what could be the trade talks’ endgame.

Both sides have cited progress on issues including intellectual property and forced technology transfer to help end a conflict marked by tit-for-tat tariffs that have cost the world’s two largest economies billions of dollars, disrupted supply chains and rattled financial markets.

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Do ‘Mechanical Trees’ Offer the Cure for Climate Change?

A Dublin-based company plans to erect “mechanical trees” in the United States that will suck carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air, it said on Monday, in what may be prove to be biggest effort to remove the gas blamed for climate change from the atmosphere.

The company, Silicon Kingdom Holdings (SKH), will build 1,200 carbon-cleansing metal columns within a year with which it hopes to capture CO2 more cheaply than other methods, following a successful test in Arizona over a two-year period, it said.

That is enough to suck up nearly 8,000 cars worth of emissions per year of CO2.

“We have to figure out how to act to get to a climate that is safe,” said the technology’s inventor, Klaus Lackner, a professor at Arizona State University.

SKH’s pilot would be the world’s largest “direct air capture” operation to date, said Jennifer Wilcox, a professor of chemical engineering at the U.S.-based Worcester Polytechnic Institute, who is not involved in the project.

Carbon capture is gradually gaining momentum, with the United Nations saying in a report last year that the technology is likely needed to keep the rise in global temperatures below catastrophic levels.

SKH expects its two-year pilot, possibly in California, to capture about 36,500 metric tons of CO2 a year, it said – the equivalent of nearly 7,750 vehicles driven for a year. 

Full-scale farms would be 100 times bigger.

The company’s “mechanical trees”, as the firm has dubbed them because they are tall and slender and absorb CO2 just like trees, are fitted with filter-like components to absorb the CO2, a photo of a prototype showed.

The device uses wind to blow air through its system rather than an energy-intensive mechanism, it said.

While capturing CO2 from industrial facilities and power plants has a decades-long commercial history, “direct air capture”, which pulls the gas directly from the atmosphere is a burgeoning field with only a handful of players, said Wilcox.

Swiss firm Climeworks has so far led the market, alongside Canada-based Carbon Engineering and U.S.-based Global Thermostat, she said.

The companies compress the high-concentration CO2 they capture and then can sell it for use in industrial applications, including making drinks fizzy, creating fuel and extracting oil.

While the high price of direct air capture has long been viewed as an impediment to scaling up the technologies, SKH’s costs is less than $100 per metric ton for pure CO2, it said.

“The $100 a ton is important because I think that’s the point where things start to get economically interesting,” Lackner told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “You can buy liquid CO2 which is delivered by truck in order to fill fire extinguishers and myriad other things for prices between $100 and $200 a ton.”

SKH would not provide information about how much building the pilot would cost. It said it was “in discussions with a range of potential funders and strategic partners from the aviation, energy and food and beverage industries.”

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Somali American Becomes Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s 1st Hijab-Clad Model

Halima Aden is featured in the magazine’s 2019 swimsuit issue wearing swimwear that covers the entire body except the face, hands and feet.

“Young girls who wear a hijab should have women they look up to in any and every industry. We are now seeing politicians, business women, television reporters, and other successful hijabi women in visible roles and that is the message we need to be sending,” Aden told the BBC. “The response has been incredible and I’m so honored that Sports Illustrated has taken the step to showcase the beauty that modestly dressed women possess.”

Aden, who was born in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp, moved to the U.S. when she was 7. She said the photoshoot, which took place in Kenya, was an extremely emotional experience for her. 

“I keep thinking (back) to 6-year-old me who, in this same country, was in a refugee camp,” Aden told the Sports Illustrated. “So to grow up to live the American dream [and] to come back to Kenya and shoot for SI in the most beautiful parts of Kenya — I don’t think that’s a story that anybody could make up.”

Aden also made history last year, becoming the first hijab-clad woman featured on the cover of British Vogue. Last month she and two other Muslim models were first black hijab-wearing models to appear on the cover of Vogue Arabia. 

“Growing up in the states, I never really felt represented because I never could flip through a magazine and see a girl who was wearing a hijab,” Aden says in the video shared by the magazine on Twitter.

The Burkini was created by Australian designer Aheda Zanetti, who said it was made to provide Muslim women an ability to participate in the Australia’s beach lifestyle. 

Zanetti says burkinis have also found fans among non-Muslims, including “Jews, Hindus, Christians, Mormons, women with various body issues.”

But it has also garnered controversy. Several towns in France have banned the wearing of burkinis, especially in community pools. The officials justified the ban by pointing to laws that forbids swimming in street clothes. Bans have also been imposed in a town in Germany and resorts in Morocco. 

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Making Driverless Cars Safer For Pedestrians

One big concern about autonomous vehicles is that logical computers sometimes have trouble dealing with a messy world. To the point, a pedestrian was struck and killed by an autonomous vehicle in Arizona last year. But new algorithms are trying to solve that potentially deadly problem. VOA’s Kevin Enochs reports.

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Elle Fanning, ‘The Favourite’ Director Lanthimos Picked for Cannes Jury

U.S. actress Elle Fanning, French graphic novelist Enki Bilal and the Oscar-nominated director of “The Favourite,” Yorgos Lanthimos, will be among jury members at the Cannes Film Festival next month, organizers said on Monday.

The world’s biggest cinema showcase kicks off on the French Riviera on May 14th, with Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu presiding over the panel that decides on prizes, including the top Palme D’Or award.

Split between four men and four women, the jury for the festival’s 72nd edition will also include Pawel Pawlikowski, the Polish filmmaker and screenwriter named best director at Cannes last year for the impossible love story “Cold War.”

Maimouna N’Diaye, who has directed documentaries and acted in films such as Otar Iosseliani’s “Chasing Butterflies” will also sit on the panel, alongside two other female directors.

Kelly Reichardt of the United States, whose “Wendy and Lucy” starring Michelle Williams was a contender for Cannes’ Un Certain Regard award in 2008, directed 2016’s “Certain Women.”

Italy’s Alicia Rohrwacher won best screenplay at Cannes last year for her film “Happy as Lazzaro,” a satirical fable about a peasant family.

French filmmaker Robin Campillo, who took Cannes by storm in 2017 with “120 BPM – Beats Per Minute,” winning the Grand Prix for his movie about an AIDS activist, will complete the line-up.

Comic book creator Bilal, best known for his Nikopol trilogy of science fiction novels, has also directed feature films, including 2004’s “Immortal,” organizers said.

Fanning, who started working in movies as a child, has starred in several films in competition at Cannes in recent years, including “The Beguiled” by Sofia Coppola in 2017.

The May 14-25 festival will kick off with U.S. director Jim Jarmusch’s latest film, “The Dead Don’t Die.”

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Breaking from Tradition, Indigenous Women Lead Fight for Land Rights in Brazil

Brazil’s indigenous women have been overturning tradition to step into the spotlight and lead an international push to defend their tribal land rights, which are up against the greatest threat they have faced in years under right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazil’s 850,000 indigenous peoples live on reservations that make up 13 percent of the territory. Bolsonaro has said they live in poverty and he wants to assimilate them by allowing development of their vast lands, currently protected by law.

The tribal leaders are fighting back — in many cases, led by women. Traditionally, indigenous cultures excluded women from leadership roles that were played by male tribal chieftains.

But that is changing, said Joenia Wapichana, who last year became the first indigenous woman elected to Brazil’s Congress and has been seeking to block Bolsonaro’s attempts to dismantle the indigenous affairs agency Funai.

“Women have advanced a lot and today there are many taking up frontline positions in the defense of indigenous rights,” said Wapichana, 45, a lawyer who was also the first indigenous woman to argue a case before Brazil’s Supreme Court.

Brazil’s top indigenous leader is Sonia Guajajara, who warned at a forum at the United Nations last Tuesday that Bolsonaro’s plans to open up reservations to mining and agriculture could devastate the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, which scientists say is nature’s best defense against global warming.

The next day she was back in Brasilia leading a rally of 4,000 indigenous people representing Brazil’s 305 tribes, protesting Bolsonaro’s move to put reservation land decisions under the agriculture ministry that is headed by farming interests.

“Invasions of indigenous lands have increased since Bolsonaro took office January 1 and that is due to the hate and violence in his speeches against us,” Guajajara said in an interview last week.

Speaking at a news conference, Guajajara, 45, recalled how in 1998 Bolsonaro, then a congressman, said in a newspaper interview that it was a shame the Brazilian cavalry hadn’t been “as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians.”

Last year, Bolsonaro told reporters that anthropologists had kept native Brazilians “like animals in a zoo” and they should be allowed to benefit from agriculture and mining, charging royalties. Some indigenous people support his plan to allow commercial farming on reservations, although the majority back Guajajara.

With Bolsonaro set on weakening environmental and indigenous protections and a strong farm lobby holding sway in Congress, Wapichana said her tribe decided it was time to get involved in federal politics. They collectively decided to choose her as the candidate and funded her campaign, she said.

She said her goal was at least to preserve those rights currently guaranteed by law.

“It will be hard to advance with this government that is controlled by agribusiness and the farm lobby. What they wanted was to weaken Funai so it can no longer protect us,” she said.

Rather than waiting for someone else to represent them, indigenous women were taking a stand in a way they had not before and joining together across the Amazon, said Leila Salazar-Lopez, president of Amazon Watch, a U.S.-based non-profit that works to stop deforestation and advance indigenous rights in the Amazon Basin.

“It is amazing that the women are stepping up,” she said.

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Pompeo: US-China Trade Talks Will Not Be Impacted by End of Iran Oil Waivers

VOA Mandarin service reporter Lin Feng also contributed to this report.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Washington’s decision to end Iran oil waivers to China will not have a negative impact on the latest trade talks between the world’s two leading economies. 

 

“We have had lots of talks with China about this issue. I’m confident that the trade talks will continue and run their natural course,” Pompeo told an audience in Washington on Monday.

 

China is Iran’s largest oil buyer. 

 

Pompeo added the U.S. would ensure the global oil markets are adequately supplied.

 

Last Monday, the United States announced it was ending waivers on sanctions to countries that import Iranian oil, including China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey. Since the sanctions were reintroduced, Italy, Greece and Taiwan have halted their Iranian oil imports.

 

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing on Tuesday, for the latest round of negotiations. The two sides will discuss intellectual property, forced technology transfer, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, and other issues. 

 

Vice Premier Liu will then lead a Chinese delegation to Washington for additional talks on May 8.

Washington and Beijing have held several rounds this year to resolve a trade war that began in 2018 when President Donald Trump imposed punitive tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports. He has been trying to compel Beijing to change its trade practices.  China retaliated with tariff increases on $110 billion of U.S. exports.

Positive tone

 

The U.S. and China have struck a positive tone ahead of this week’s talks in Beijing, aimed at ending the trade war, as both countries work toward an agreement.

 

“We’re doing well on trade, we’re doing well with China,” President Trump told reporters last week.

 

In Beijing, Chinese officials said that “tangible progress” has been achieved.

 

“Both sides are also maintaining communication. We believe that both sides’ trade delegations can work together, meet each other halfway and work hard to reach a mutually beneficial agreement,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said last week.

 

As the United States and China appear close to reaching a negotiated settlement over trade disputes, a group of American business and retailers has called for a “full and immediate removal of all added tariffs” on Chinese goods in a deal, saying anything less would be a “loss for the American people.”

 

Business groups from “Americans for Free Trade” have asked the Trump administration to “fully eliminate tariffs” on Chinese goods, saying tariffs are taxes that American businesses and consumers pay.

 

“Americans have paid over $21 billion in taxes due to the imposition of new tariffs,” said a letter to President Trump April 22.

 

Some experts say the administration lacks confidence in China’s enforcement of a trade deal, and predict some punitive tariffs are likely to remain.

 

“I cannot imagine China accepting a deal where all the tariffs stay in place. I don’t see how [Chinese President] Xi Jinping can take that to his people. There has to be something for China. On the other hand, I guess I will be surprised if the U.S. removed all of the tariffs because clearly, the USTR team would like to keep at least some of them in place,” David Dollar, Brookings Institution’s senior fellow, told VOA Mandarin. 

 

“The smart thing would be to remove the tariffs on all of the parts and components, and perhaps on some consumer goods. It seems likely to get that compromise,” he added.

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US Reports Over 700 Measles Cases in 2019

The U.S. reported a total of 704 cases of measles so far in 2019 – the greatest number since 1994.

Seventy-eight new cases were reported last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Monday. Though no deaths have been reported, 66 people were hospitalized.

Thirteen specific outbreaks have been identified by the CDC, and of those six were associated with “underimmunized close-knit communities”, which accounted for 88% of all cases, according to Monday’s CDC report.

One such example is the outbreak in New York, which has been traced to Orthodox Jews who contracted the disease while traveling overseas. Cases have been reported in 22 states.

The CDC recommends vaccinations for everyone over a year old, except those who contracted measles as children and have since become immune.

The vaccine, which first became available in the 1960s, is considered safe and effective by most public health experts. Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The disease was considered eradicated from the United States in 2000.

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‘The Dominican Dream’ Film Helps Felipe Lopez Tell His Story

Felipe Lopez somehow forgot what all the attention was like.

That would have been impossible to imagine 25 years ago, back when he practically owned magazine covers and newspaper headlines. But he has been out of the spotlight for a while, at least until it came time to promote a film about him.

Then it all came flooding back.

“I forgot that we are the capital of media,” Lopez said with a laugh. “I’m going from 7 in the morning until like 7:30 at night for the past two days.

Imagine how it was when he was the biggest thing in New York basketball.

His story of a can’t-miss kid who turned out to be more of a miss than a hit is told in “The Dominican Dream,” which premiered over the weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival and debuts Tuesday night on ESPN.

Lopez was a heavily-hyped high school superstar from New York in the early-to-mid 1990s who stayed in the city to play at St. John’s, where he could never live up to the expectations that rivaled or surpassed anything Zion Williamson faced this year at Duke. He went on to a largely forgettable pro career, and he welcomed the opportunity to help people remember.

“People always wonder like, what happened to me? What happened to Felipe?” Lopez said in a phone interview. “A lot of people was able to get the story from the outside point of view, but not really get an in depth of everything and I think what the film is providing people is a little bit more of the in depth about not just my personal life, my triumphs and my lows, but also the story about perseverance and family.”

Lopez moved to New York from the Dominican Republic as a 14-year-old eighth grader, a basketball prodigy from a place where baseball is king. After just a couple years he was ranked above Allen Iverson as the top player in his high school class, led Rice High School to a city and state championship, and his press conference announcing he would stay home for college was must-see TV for his fans.

“I can’t think of anybody that got more publicity,” former St. John’s coach Lou Carnesecca says in the film. “He got eight pages in the Daily News. General Eisenhower, who won World War II, only got three.”

Those pages were filled with negative news in the ensuing years. It wasn’t until Lopez’s senior season in 1998 that he finally made the NCAA Tournament.

Perhaps he would have been better off leaving before then, as he was urged to do. Lopez would have been a high draft pick before his freshman season, when he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, or even after it, before the years of college allowed scouts to pick apart his game.

“But we had no clue about what the impact of that meant,” Lopez said about leaving early. “So that’s the reason why some decisions were made, just based on what I believed coming from the Dominican Republic, of staying on St. John’s and forsaking the opportunity to go to the NBA.”

He got there eventually as a late first-round pick in 1998 and played five seasons, averaging 5.8 points before his career was cut short by a knee injury.

His pro career was largely unsuccessful but his life certainly hasn’t been. Lopez is active in the community through his nonprofit foundation and NBA Cares, president of a community center basketball team in the Dominican Republic, and has returned to St. John’s at times in the two decades since he became his family’s first college graduate to talk to players about how to be a professional.

“I think my story transcends to other people because this is the reason why we come here and this is the reason why we struggle to learn the language, so we can become a success story,” Lopez said.

So how would he answer that question he sometimes gets, about what happened to Felipe Lopez?

“Nothing. I’m alive. I’m good. I’m working,” Lopez said. “I’m running a nonprofit and trying to become the bridge to a lot of young talent I look at like myself, looking for an opportunity to make a difference for their family, for themselves, their community.

“And I know that I’m providing those opportunities for some kids.”

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