Thai Protesters Demand Drastic Changes in Political System

Protesters in Thailand are pressing on with their demands for the dissolution of parliament, new elections and changing the constitution.Leaders said Friday they would step up pressure on the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha if it failed to act on changes.”(Our demands) are clear enough for the government to hear and follow,” said protest leader Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree. “To set up a committee to have hearings is like an act. It’s like a show with no meaning. Is it to buy time? They think that we will disappear. They believe that we will fade away. So, they set up this committee to buy time. But the fact is we want real change. We want to send our demands to those with powers to make decisions, not to some rubber stamp committee.”Meeting in front of Bangkok’s iconic Democracy Monument, eight leaders of the Free People Movement, formerly known as Free Youth, announced plans for a big rally on August 16.Protesters held signs reading: “Constitution needed to be amended. Democracy must come from the people” and “We don’t hate our nation. We hate dictatorship. No coup.”Prayuth said early this week he will consider protester’s demands, but protest leader Tattep suggested the premier’s statement was just a delaying tactic, as the prime minister is unlikely to agree to dissolve parliament or call new elections.After more than five years of relative calm since a military coup in 2014, anti-government protests have erupted again, mostly on school and university campuses in the capital Bangkok and other Thai cities.Protesters, majority of them young people, are highly dissatisfied with the current administration.A former army chief, Prayuth first took power in 2014, then held a tight grip on it through the 2019 elections, widely seen as manipulated in his favor. 

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Mexico Megachurch Leader Remains Jailed

Bail for the leader of a Mexican megachurch nearly doubled to $90 million after prosecutors expanded charges against him, including child rape, and possession of child pornography.The new bail ruling by a Los Angeles judge ensures Naason Joaquin Garcia, of the Guadalajara-based La Luz del Mundo church (Light of the World church) will remain in custody until his trial.Garcia, who says he has a million followers worldwide, was initially jailed on sex crimes charges last year with a $50 million bail.The attorney general’s office of California filed dozens of new felony charges, including rape, against Garcia and two co-defendants last week 

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Once Again, Lebanon Picks Up the Pieces

Lebanon’s Chernobyl.  That is how some are describing the mammoth blast that shook the capital city Beirut  and left thousands injured. At least 300,000 people lost their homes and a number of hospitals also bore the brunt.  Among the signs of international support was a visit by French President Emmanual Macron, who got a firsthand look at the worst-affected neighborhood. Anchal Vohra reports from Beirut.

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Trump Orders US Ban on WeChat, TikTok in 45 Days

U.S. President Donald Trump issued executive orders on Thursday banning any U.S. transactions with ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns video-sharing app TikTok, and Tencent, owner of the WeChat app, starting in 45 days.The orders come as the Trump administration said this week it was stepping up efforts to purge “untrusted” Chinese apps from U.S. digital networks and called the Chinese-owned short-video app TikTok and messenger app WeChat “significant threats.”The TikTok app may be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party, and the United States “must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security,” Trump said in one order.In the other, Trump said WeChat “automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users. This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.”The order would effectively ban WeChat in the United States in 45 days by barring “to the extent permitted under applicable law, any transaction that is related to WeChat by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with Tencent Holdings Ltd.”Trump said this week he would support the sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations to Microsoft Corp if the U.S. government got a “substantial portion” of the sales price but warned he will ban the service in the United States on September 15.Tencent and ByteDance declined to comment.    

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New York State Sues NRA, Accuses It of Corruption, Seeks to Dissolve Group

The New York State attorney general sued the National Rifle Association on Thursday, seeking to dissolve the powerful gun rights advocacy organization and charging its leadership with illegally diverting funds for their own gain.Attorney General Letitia James said the NRA’s leaders used members’ contributions and donations as “their own piggy bank” and misspent $64 million over three years for their personal use. She also said they awarded contracts to the financial gain of close associates and family and appeared to dole out lucrative “no-show” contracts to former employees to buy their silence and continued loyalty.She cited a shift in the organization’s finances, from a nearly $28 million surplus in 2015 to a $36 million deficit in 2018.New York state Attorney General Letitia James takes a question after announcing that the state is suing the National Rifle Association, during a press conference, Aug. 6, 2020, in New York.In response, the NRA sued James, saying she had violated the group’s right to free speech. Its lawsuit also seeks to block her investigation.James contended in the lawsuit that four defendants — Wayne LaPierre, the NRA executive vice president and CEO; Wilson “Woody” Phillips, former treasurer and chief financial officer; Joshua Powell, former chief of staff and director of operations; and John Frazier, general counsel — “instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement and negligent oversight at the NRA that was illegal, oppressive and fraudulent.”“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” said James, a Democrat. The organization, she said, “is fraught with fraud and abuse,” which is why her office is seeking to dissolve it, “because no organization is above the law.”NRA President Carolyn Meadows labeled James a “political opportunist” who was pursuing a “rank vendetta” with an attack on its members’ Second Amendment rights.“Our members won’t be intimidated or bullied in their defense of political and constitutional freedom,” the NRA president tweeted.(1/3) NRA PRESIDENT RESPONDS TO NY AG:
This was a baseless, premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend. You could have set your watch by it: the investigation was going to reach its crescendo as…
— NRA (@NRA) FILE – In this April 26, 2019, photo, President Donald Trump speaks at the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.Speaking to reporters as he left the White House on Thursday, Trump called the lawsuit a “very terrible thing” and suggested that the NRA move to Texas to “lead a very good and beautiful life.”Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, Trump’s sons, are NRA members.Though its headquarters are in Virginia, the NRA was chartered as a nonprofit in New York in 1871 and continues to be incorporated in the state.Meanwhile, the Washington, D.C., attorney general has simultaneously sued the NRA Foundation, a charitable arm of the organization designed to provide programs for firearm safety, marksmanship and hunting safety, accusing it of diverting funds to the NRA to help pay for lavish spending by top executives.

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US Firm Secures Oil Deal with US-Backed Forces in Syria

A U.S. company has reportedly reached a deal with Kurdish-led authorities in northeast Syria to develop and export crude oil in areas under their control in the war-torn country.A senior official at the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration in Northeast Syria said the deal was approved by the U.S. government.“As per the deal, a refinery will be built in northeast Syria with a cost of $150 million,” the Kurdish official told VOA on the condition of anonymity.“The company will explore [for] oil in three locations in northeast Syria, including Rumeilan, Tel Hamees and Tel Brak,” the official added.Delta Crescent Energy LLC is reportedly involved in the deal. VOA could not reach the company for comment.‘Modernizing’ oil fieldsDetails about the agreement first emerged last week from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a congressional hearing.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Aug. 5, 2020.Pompeo, who was questioned about it by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, said the U.S. government backs the deal, noting that it will modernize the oil fields in northeast Syria.“The deal took a little longer … than we had hoped, and now we’re in implementation,” Pompeo said.Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a major U.S. partner in the fight against Islamic State, controls much of the oil-rich region.Following a partial U.S. troop withdrawal from northeast Syria in October 2019, President Donald Trump said he was keeping some forces there “to secure the oil.”The U.S. has imposed several sanctions targeting companies that deliver or finance fuel shipments of Syrian oil for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.But the American company involved in the northeast Syria deal has reportedly received an exemption from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to operate in Syria.Risky for the KurdsJoshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said “it is good to see the U.S. actually invest in improving the region if, in fact, this is what the contract means.”Landis, however, believes the deal has “no legal underpinning and no regional support, not from Turkey, Damascus, Iraq or Russia.”He added, “The Kurds are too weak to sustain their control without U.S. military support, which will not be offered indefinitely. When the U.S. pulls out of Syria, as I suspect it will do in the coming years, it will abandon the collaborative elite that it is now assembling in Northeast Syria,” Landis told VOA. “This will come at a tremendous cost to those being asked to trust and depend on the United States today,” he said.US soldiers stand at an oil field in the countryside of al-Qahtaniyah town in Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh province near the Turkish border, on Aug. 4, 2020.ObjectionsThe Syrian government, which does not recognize the SDF-led entity in the northeast, condemned the deal, describing it as stealing Syria’s oil.“Syria considers this agreement null and void and has no legal effect. And it warns again that such despicable acts express the approach of those client militias which have accepted to be a cheap puppet in the hands of the U.S. occupation,” Syria’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday.Turkey, which views Syrian Kurdish fighters as terrorists, also criticized the deal.“We deeply regret the U.S. support to this step, disregarding international law, violating territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of Syria, as well as being considered within the scope of financing terrorism,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday.Iran, a staunch supporter of the Syrian government, described the deal as “a violation of Syrian sovereignty.”“This is yet another step by [the US] to plunder Syria’s natural resources,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a statement Tuesday.Stabilization effortsAhed al-Hendi, a Syrian affairs analyst based in Washington, said the oil deal will improve the lives of Syrians living in the northeast and that the U.S. decision to invest in Syria’s oil is part of its post-IS stabilization efforts.“Syria’s heavy crude oil is expensive to produce, and it’s not much to begin with,” he told VOA, “so apparently the U.S. is not after the oil revenue in northeast Syria.”Most oil fields in Syria have been largely nonoperational since 2011 because of the ongoing war. Before the conflict, Syria produced around 380,000 barrels of crude oil per day.A US armoured vehicle drives past an oil field in the countryside of al-Qahtaniyah town in Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh province near the Turkish border, on Aug. 4, 2020.In the SDF-held region, about 30,000 barrels are now being produced per day, according to local sources. The oil is mostly refined in primitive ways that cause environmental pollution and health concerns for the local population.“Having American companies involved in the oil sector will certainly help in building modern refineries that are suitable for the Syrian oil,” Hendi said, noting that “much-needed oil derivatives will then be available at acceptable prices.”Hendi added that improving the oil sector in Syria would be “a major factor for stability before a political transition takes place in the country.”VOA’s Zana Omer contributed to this story from Qamishli, Syria. 

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RFE/RL Journalists Assaulted at Ruling Party Rally in Bulgaria

Two RFE/RL journalists were assaulted at a rally for Bulgaria’s ruling GERB party in Sofia, where Prime Minister Boyko Borisov was speaking. RFE/RL has called for an investigation and for Bulgarian authorities to condemn the incident.

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Twitter Announces Labels for State-Controlled Media

Twitter announced its decision Thursday to label the accounts of state-controlled media outlets.  
 
The new label will apply exclusively to “outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution,” according to a Twitter blog post.  
 
So far, the labels are confirmed to apply to accounts for China Daily, Russia Today, and Sputnik, as well as several other media outlets. According to the company’s post, they “are starting with a limited and clearly-defined group of countries before expanding to a wider range of countries in the future.”  
 
Twitter also has plans to label the accounts of some government leaders, including ambassadors and foreign ministers.  
 
These decisions arrive partially as a response to public criticism for the way social media outlets have dealt with foreign interference and disinformation. Much of this criticism stems from the Russian disinformation campaign prior to the 2016 U.S. election, much of which took place on Twitter.  
 
These announcements could face potential backlash, possibly from U.S. President Donald Trump, who tweets daily on the site.  
 
The company has had issues with the Trump campaign in the past. Twitter locked the president’s campaign account Wednesday for breaking its COVID-19 disinformation rules after the account tweeted a video of the president saying children are “almost immune” to COVID-19.  
 
Some Republicans also have maintained that Twitter and other social media outlets specifically censor conservative views in an effort to suppress their positions on various issues. 
 

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Protests Swell in Russia’s Far East 

Over the past month, protests have roiled Russia’s Far East, where locals have come out against the arrest of a popular local governor. As Charles Maynes reports from Moscow, public anger is increasingly directed at President Vladimir Putin.VIDEOGRAPHER: Ricardo Marquina
PRODUCER: Barry Unger

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‘See You in Court’: ACLU Files Nearly 400 Cases Versus Trump

The day after Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union posted a message to him on its website: “See you in court.”
As president, Trump hasn’t personally squared off against the ACLU from the witness stand, but the broader warning has been borne out. As of this week, the ACLU has filed nearly 400 lawsuits and other legal actions against the Trump administration, some meeting with setbacks but many resulting in important victories.
Among other successes for the ACLU, it prevailed in a U.S. Supreme Court case blocking the administration from placing a citizenship question on the 2020 census. It also spearheaded legal efforts that curtailed the policy of separating many migrant children from their parents.
“The assault on civil liberties and civil rights is greater under this administration than any other in modern history,” said the ACLU’s president, Anthony Romero. “It’s meant we’ve been living with a three-alarm fire in every part of our house.”
Since the day Trump took office, the ACLU — according to a breakdown it provided to The Associated Press — has filed 237 lawsuits against the administration and about 160 other legal actions, including Freedom of Information Act requests, ethics complaints and administrative complaints.
Of the lawsuits, 174 have dealt with immigrant rights, targeting the family separation policy, detention and deportation practices and the administration’s repeated attempts to make it harder to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The other lawsuits address an array of issues high on the ACLU’s agenda: voting rights, LGBT rights, racial justice and others. In one long-running case, the ACLU succeeded in blocking the administration’s policy of barring young immigrant women in government custody from getting abortions.
“Donald Trump has provided a full employment program for ACLU lawyers on all of our issues,” Romero said.
By comparison, the ACLU says it filed 13 lawsuits and other legal actions against President George W. Bush’s administration in his first term, mostly alleging encroachments on civil liberties related to counter-terrorism policies.
Many of the ACLU’s recent lawsuits remain unresolved. Of those that have been decided, Romero said, the ACLU has won far more often than it has lost, though a precise breakdown was unavailable.
Among the setbacks, ACLU national legal director David Cole said, one of the most disappointing involved Trump’s efforts to ban foreign nationals from several predominantly Muslim countries. Lawsuits by the ACLU and its allies successfully blocked implementation of the first two versions of the ban, but the Supreme Court allowed a third version to go into effect in 2018.
By a similar 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court also allowed the implementation of the Trump administration policy barring transgender people from enlisting in the military. Lower courts had supported efforts by the ACLU and other groups to scrap the ban.
Another LGBT rights case recently ended in a major victory for the ACLU and its allies when the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in June that gays, lesbians and transgender people were protected from employment discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. One of the ACLU’s clients, Aimee Stephens, was fired from her job at a Michigan funeral home because she was transgender; she died just a few weeks before the high court ruled in her favor.
There’s no question the ACLU has caught the attention of Trump and his administration.
The Republican president, at an “Evangelicals for Trump” rally in January, derided the ACLU as a “group of beauties” who had filed a lawsuit accusing public schools in Smith County, Tennessee, of improperly promoting Christian religious beliefs.
“We will not allow faithful Americans to be bullied by the hard left,” Trump said.
In a May 2018 speech, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions assailed the ACLU for a lawsuit that led to a drop in stop-and-frisk arrests by Chicago police.
“If you want crime to go up, let the ACLU run the police department,” Sessions said.
Recently, the ACLU has drawn criticism from a longtime supporter, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. He worries that the organization is aligning too closely with the Democratic Party and is now less willing than in the past to support unpopular causes, such as the free-speech rights of far-right activists.
In an email, Turley questioned the wisdom of the “torrent of lawsuits” against the Trump administration.
“The result was less of a sniper strategy and more of a saturated bombing strategy,” he wrote.
Even as it spars with the administration, the ACLU notes that Trump’s presidency has been beneficial in some respects — fueling huge increases in donations and membership.
Romero says the ACLU national office and its state affiliates received about $175 million in donations in the three months after Trump’s election. It says it has increased its headquarters staff from 386 to 605 and now has 122 attorneys, up from 84 in November 2016.
Membership has soared from about 400,000 to more than 1.8 million. Romero says many of the newcomers have been asking how they can help as volunteers in bolstering voting rights, immigrants’ rights and other causes.
Demonstrating its increased interest in electoral politics, the ACLU had directed $28 million of its national funds to its affiliates in battleground states such as Florida, Arizona and Texas. Since 2016, Romero said, the ACLU of Texas has been able to double its budget to $8.5 million and its staff to 65 employees.

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8 COVID Patients Die in India Hospital Fire

Eight COVID-19 patients died in India when a fire engulfed the critical care unit of a hospital in Ahmedabad city in the western Gujarat state early Thursday.The victims included five men and three women.About 35 other patients in the hospital were shifted to other facilities.Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was “saddened by the tragic hospital fire” and said that all possible assistance is being given to those affected.Gujarat, Modi’s home state, is among the worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.Preliminary investigations revealed that the fire, which broke out around 3:30 a.m. in the private hospital, was caused by an electrical short circuit. It spread to the intensive care ward within minutes, municipal commissioner Mukesh Kumar told the Press Trust of India.Poor safety standards are often a cause of fires in India.Firemen who fought the blaze will have to undergo quarantine, fire officials said. 

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WHO Deploys Dozens of Experts to South Africa to Help Slow Coronavirus Spread

A team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) is in South Africa to help the country get control of its rapid rise in coronavirus cases.The WHO said in a statement that 43 experts in specialties including, epidemiology, health education, and surveillance, prevention and control will support the COVID-19 response team.The WHO’s surge team will first observe the work of South Africa’s health department before lending special support to the hardest-hit jurisdictions, including Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Kwazulu Natal, and Mpumalanga.The rise in the spread of the virus has pushed South Africa to nearly 530,000 cases, the fifth highest in the world.South Africa has confirmed more than 9,200 deaths from the coronavirus.In a separate development, Health Minister Dr. Zwelini Mkhize said, cases in Gauteng, Western Cape, and Eastern Cape have slowed but it’s too early to determine if the cases have peaked.

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Colombia President Alvaro Uribe in Self Isolation with COVID-19

Colombian media outlets say that former President Alvaro Uribe is self-quarantining with the coronavirus Thursday. The local media reported Wednesday that Uribe was infected with the virus, a day after the Supreme Court ordered that he be placed on house arrest. The court is investigating if Uribe was involved in a plot to bribe witnesses in a case involving former members of paramilitary death squads. Uribe, one of the most influential politicians in Colombia, is said to be in good health with no symptoms of the virus at his ranch in Córdoba. Bogotá’s El Tiempo newspaper says Uribe is expressing concern for his wife’s well-being, with their sons Jerónimo and Tomás also infected with the coronavirus. The status of the couple’s sons is unclear.   Colombia has confirmed more than 345,700 cases of the coronavirus and more than 11,000 deaths. 

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NBA Team Owners Commit $300 Million to Black Empowerment

NBA team owners will contribute $300 million over the next decade to establish a charitable foundation dedicated to economic empowerment in the Black community, the league announced Wednesday.The NBA Foundation, launched in partnership with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), will see all 30 club owners contribute a collective $30 million annually for 10 years in initial funding to support racial equality and social justice.”The creation of this foundation is an important step in developing more opportunities for the Black community,” NBPA president Chris Paul said. “I’m proud of our league and our players for their commitment to this long-term fight for equality and justice, and I know we will continue to find ways to keep pushing for meaningful institutional change.”The move follows worldwide protests after the death George Floyd last May while in police custody.NBA players are wearing messages of support for cultural issues on jerseys as they finish their season while “Black Lives Matter” is written upon all courts where games are played.The foundation mission will be to drive economic empowerment for Black communities through employment and career advancement, boosting access and backing for high school, college-aged and career-ready Black men and women.It will also assist national and local organizations that provide skills training, mentorship, coaching and personal development in NBA communities across the United States and Canada.Part of the foundation’s mission regarding employment will be on obtaining a first job, securing employment after high school or college and career advancement once employed.”All NBA team governors recognize our unique position to effect change and we are committed to supporting and empowering young Black men and women in each of our team markets as well as communities across the US and Canada,” said NBA board of governors chairman Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of the ownership group for the reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors.Four NBA club owners, three players and executives from the NBPA and a member of the league office will serve on the foundation board of directors.”We’re dedicated to using the collective resources of the 30 teams, the players and the league to drive meaningful economic opportunities for Black Americans,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.”We believe that through focused programs in our team markets and nationally, together with clear and specific performance measures, we can advance our shared goals of creating substantial economic mobility within the Black community.” 

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US Lawmakers Ask 6 Top Universities to Hand Over Records of Foreign Donations

Three members of the U.S. Congress are asking six of the nation’s top universities to hand over records of donations they have accepted from certain foreign nations, including China and Russia, citing concerns that these multimillion-dollar donations present a growing national security threat.Letters aimed at helping the members to “further understand the effects of adversarial foreign direct investments in the U.S. higher education system” were sent to the presidents of Harvard, New York University, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago and University of Delaware. The U.S. Department of Education building building is seen in Washington, on July 22, 2019.The letters say the federal Department of Education (DOE) “has uncovered over $6.5 billion of previously unreported foreign donations to U.S. Institutes of Higher Education,” and note that Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 requires colleges to disclose to DOE all contracts with and gifts from foreign sources of more than $250,000.The letters were signed by the most senior Republican members of three House of Representatives committees — James Comer (Oversight and Reform), Jim Jordan (Judiciary) and Virginia Foxx (Education and Labor).The letters ask for the documents to be provided no later than Aug. 10. However, as members of the minority party in the House, the congressmen cannot compel the universities to comply.According to the letters, Harvard University has declared 31 gifts or contracts totaling $101 million from China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia since 2015. During the same period, the University of Pennsylvania allegedly collected $62 million, New York University $40 million, while Yale and the universities of Chicago and Delaware each were said to have received less than $30 million.DOE investigationIn May, Department of Education General Counsel Reed Rubinstein told lawmakers in a memo that lawyers from several top-tier universities were being overly aggressive in labeling documents “confidential” and were refusing to hand over emails detailing their business relationships with China, Russia and countries in the Middle East.“The evidence suggests massive investments of foreign money have bred dependency and distorted the decision-making, mission and values of too many institutions,” Rubinstein wrote in the memo.FILE – Students walk on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, Nov. 12, 2015.In February, an Education Department investigation found that two of America’s top universities, Harvard and Yale, failed to report a total of at least $375 million in foreign gifts and contracts. At the same time, the department started to probe whether other universities, including Texas A&M, Cornell, MIT, Rutgers and the University of Maryland, had failed to report gifts and contracts with foreign nations.Foreign influence at U.S. universities was already an issue. Earlier this year, Dr. Charles Lieber, a top chemistry professor at Harvard, was indicted for lying about his involvement with the Chinese government’s Thousand Talents Plan.The University of Pennsylvania has also been criticized for its failure to explain a $3 million donation from a Hong Kong shell company owned by a Shanghai businesswoman with close ties to Chinese government officials.Yu Ping, a Chinese law expert, told VOA there should be no valid reason for UPenn not to report the donation. “If you didn’t file a report, then there’s a problem. That means the donation probably involves some suspected programs,” he said.Influence by CCPThe U.S. administration has become increasingly concerned with foreign governments’ influence buying and espionage operations at American universities, and the chief concern seems to be China.In their letter to the university chiefs, the three congressmen said their greatest concern is that “some recipients alter their decision-making based on the donation received.”Xia Ming, a professor of political science at the City University of New York, told VOA that Chinese officials need the branding from top-tier schools on their resumes, and Western universities are dependent on the donations and tuitions from foreign nationals, making these campuses vulnerable to foreign influence.He cited a recent report by Harvard as an example.The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard published a report July 9 saying that Chinese citizen satisfaction with government has increased virtually across the board since 2003, when the study began. In the latest survey conducted in 2016, “95.5% of respondents were either ‘relatively satisfied’ or ‘highly satisfied’ with Beijing,” said The Harvard Gazette, the official news outlet of Harvard University. The report noted that the satisfaction rates with local governments were lower. “Many Harvard researchers are visiting scholars from China. They bring China’s propaganda into Western campuses and publish reports together with their American counterparts in the name of top-tier American universities,” Xia told VOA. 

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Professor Predicts Biden Will Beat Trump in November Vote

A history professor who has correctly predicted the outcome of every U.S. presidential election since 1984 says Democrat Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.Appearing in a FILE – Allan Lichtman of American University in Washington, D.C., is pictured at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, May 24, 2011.Six for TrumpTrump has the advantage in six keys. They include the president’s incumbency, no serious Republican primary challengers, no major foreign military failures, and what Lichtman says is Biden’s lack of charisma.Although Lichtman is predicting a close election, a CNN roundup of the latest polls showed Biden winning by a landslide. A Fox News poll found the election a bit closer, but with Biden winning.But no matter whether a voter is a Republican or a Democrat, Lichtman said, citizen participation is essential.”It’s up to you, the voter, to decide the future of our democracy,” he said. “So, get out and vote. Vote in person. Vote by mail.”Lichtman has correctly called every presidential election since Republican Ronald Reagan defeated Democrat Walter Mondale in 1984.He forecast Al Gore, a Democrat, beating Republican George W. Bush in 2000 and stands by his prediction. Gore barely won the popular vote, but the Supreme Court ruled in Bush’s favor after a long dispute over inconclusive ballots cast in Florida.
 

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