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When debate moderator Kristen Welker posed her questions to President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, she ended by saying “You have two minutes uninterrupted.” ⁠ ⁠ The introduction of a mute to the candidates’ microphones put an emphasis on the word “uninterrupted.” ⁠ ⁠ It was added to Thursday’s debate by the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates and agreed to by the candidates to prevent a replay of the interruptive first debate in September. ⁠ ⁠ It was the first major change to the presidential debates since the introduction of the town hall debate format in 1992. ⁠ ⁠ What else can be done? ⁠ ⁠ One idea is to conduct a case study, “a kind of dream format” that involves teamwork. ⁠ ⁠ “You just sort of lay out of situations typical of what a president might face,” explains Alan Schroeder, journalism professor at Northeastern University. ⁠ ⁠ “I mean, you wouldn't use a real country by name, but you could come up with a scenario here and make them react in real time and see how that goes. Or maybe where you bring in an adviser to work with the candidates so that you see how they collaborate,” he added. ⁠ ⁠ “The debate would start with: Here's the issue or the situation. You have 30 minutes or whatever it is to meet with your consultants and advisers and then we want you to come back with a position,” suggests John Koch, director of debate at Vanderbilt University. ⁠ ⁠ Koch said a case study debate helps voters “because what we really want out of a president is somebody who can, in a crisis or when an issue presents itself, meet with their consultants or advisers, make a decision and then be able to defend it.” ⁠ ⁠ “We know a president doesn't operate typically in isolation," says Schroeder. “So, it might be kind of interesting to see, how do they do in a group setting where they have to improvise.” ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more.⁠ -⁠ #US #president #debate #VOAElections2020 #voanews

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📷: Pro-democracy protesters gather in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, October 25. Some protesters flashed the three-finger salute, a reference to The Hunger Games books and movies, as an expression of resistance to the government. 👉 Thousands of pro-democracy protesters gathered in Thailand's capital again on Sunday, seeking to keep up pressure on the government a day ahead of a special session of Parliament called to try to ease political tensions. The rally took place at the busy Rajprasong intersection, in the heart of Bangkok's shopping district. Few protesters turned out in the first hour of the rally, but their numbers later swelled to several thousand, who listened to rude denunciations of the government in chants, speeches and even songs. The rally was called Saturday night after Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha ignored the protesters’ deadline to step down. The protesters’ core demands also include a more democratic constitution and reforms to the monarchy. Public criticism of the monarchy is unprecedented is a country where the royal institution has been considered sacrosanct. The demonstrators charge that Prayuth, who led a coup in 2014 as the army chief, was returned to power unfairly in last year’s general election because laws had been changed to favor a pro-military party. The protesters also say that the constitution, written and enacted under military rule, is undemocratic. Prayuth’s government last week called the Parliamentary session, expected to last two days, to seek to defuse weeks of almost daily protests. “The only way to a lasting solution for all sides that is fair for those on the streets as well as for the many millions who choose not to go on the streets is to discuss and resolve these differences through the parliamentary process,” he said last week. Prayuth also lifted a state of emergency that he had imposed a week earlier that made the protest rallies illegal. (AP) 📷: AP - #Thailand #protests#voanews

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Armed men attacked a school in Cameroon’s southwestern town of Kumba on Saturday, killing at least four children and wounding at least 15 others. ⁠ ⁠ No one claimed responsibility, but the government blamed separatists who had ordered that schools in the area be closed. ⁠ ⁠ Patrick Ebale, 17, said he was still recovering from the shock of the incident, in which gunmen attacked the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy. ⁠ ⁠ Ebale said students in the school ran in all directions as the gunmen fired indiscriminately into the air. ⁠ ⁠ "There was total confusion around and I had to get into a gutter and hide under a tunnel so as to prevent myself from getting a bullet," he said. "We come from a community where everyone knows each other, and the people attacking us are the same people we associate with. So going to school has not been an easy task." ⁠ ⁠ Chamberlin Ntouou Ndong, the most senior government official in the Meme administrative unit where Kumba is located, said four children were killed on the spot. He said seven of the wounded had been rushed to hospitals and were in critical condition. ⁠ ⁠ Ndong said separatists fighting for the creation of an English-speaking state they call Ambazonia were behind the attack and killings. ⁠ ⁠ "Let me seize this opportunity not only to condemn what has happened but to tell them that we are going to do our best," he said. " ... Let me also seize this opportunity to talk to all the parents. I cannot understand that during the day, the Amba boys are attacking innocent children and the surrounding populations are there witnessing without doing anything." ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more.⁠ -⁠ #Cameroon #voanews

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U.S. President Donald Trump held three large rallies in the U.S. states of North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin on Saturday while his challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, focused on the battleground state of Pennsylvania, where he held two drive-in campaign events. ⁠ ⁠ Trump, the Republican incumbent, attacked Democrats and the media for continuing to focus on the coronavirus, accusing them of deflecting what he termed scandals involving Biden and his son Hunter. ⁠ ⁠ At his first event in Lumberton, North Carolina, he spoke about testing for COVID-19, a day after the United States registered a single-day record number of cases. ⁠ ⁠ "In some ways it’s good. In many ways it’s foolish," Trump said of increased testing. “Cases are up. If we tested half, cases would be half,” he said. ⁠ ⁠ Trump made the remark at a packed rally in defiance of pandemic social distancing guidelines in Lumberton. ⁠ ⁠ At the event in Ohio, the president said the coronavirus “is going away” but the media only talks about “cases, cases, cases” and not a drop in COVID-19 deaths. ⁠ ⁠ However, hospitalizations for the virus are increasing in many states. ⁠ ⁠ More than 8.5 million people, including the president, have been infected with COVID-19 in the United States, and about 225,000 of those have died of the disease for which there is no cure. ⁠ ⁠ At Biden’s second event of the day, rock musician Jon Bon Jovi played three songs before the nominee addressed the drive-in rally in a high school parking lot in Dallas, Pennsylvania, where honking of car horns substituted for applause. ⁠ ⁠ Biden told his supporters that “yesterday was the worst day we had” with the coronavirus and Trump “is doing nothing.” ⁠ ⁠ The event took place in the pivotal county of Luzerne, which voted for the ticket of Barack Obama and Biden in 2012 but helped to deliver Pennsylvania to Trump four years ago. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more.⁠ -⁠ #US #Trump #Biden #VOAElections2020 #voanews

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📷: Nagorno-Karabakh natives Hovhannes Hovsepyan and Mariam Sargsyan take part in a wedding ceremony at the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in the town of Shushi (Shusha) in the course of a military conflict over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Saturday, October 24. 👉Heavy fighting continues over the Nagorno-Karabakh region as Armenia and Azerbaijan accuse each other of shelling residential areas. Nagorno-Karabakh authorities said Azerbaijani rockets hit the town of Martakert and several villages in the Martuni region overnight. Nagorno-Karabakh officials say 927 of their troops have been killed, and more than 30 civilians have died. Azerbaijan has not disclosed its military losses but has said 63 civilians have been killed and 292 wounded. While the fighting continued in the breakaway mountain enclave, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan to “end the violence and protect civilians” after nearly a month of intense fighting. In a statement issued Friday after Pompeo met separately with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan in Washington the state department said, “The secretary also stressed the importance of the sides entering substantive negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to resolve the conflict based on the Helsinki Final Act principles of the non-use or threat of force, territorial integrity, and the equal rights and self-determination of peoples.” #voanews #azerbaijan #armenia #NagornoKarabakh

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U.S. officials in Turkey have warned Americans in the country of possible terror attacks in Istanbul and other areas within the country. ⁠ ⁠ In a security alert issued Friday, the mission said it received “credible reports of potential terrorist attacks and kidnappings against U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in Istanbul, including against the U.S. Consulate General, as well as potentially other locations in Turkey.” ⁠ ⁠ The mission warned U.S. citizens to exercise extra caution in large office buildings, shopping malls and in other places where Americans and other foreigners may gather. ⁠ ⁠ Visa and other services for Americans provided at the mission’s facilities in Turkey have been suspended, the mission said. ⁠ ⁠ The U.S. State Department said Saturday the alert was issued “as a result of ongoing assessments of security conditions” in the country but did not disclose specifics about what prompted the alert. ⁠ ⁠ 👉Tap link in bio to find out more. ⁠ - ⁠ #us #turkey #istanbul #statedepartment #voanews

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Authorities in Afghanistan say a suicide bomber who blew himself up outside a private Kabul education facility has killed at least 18 people and more than 57 others. ⁠ ⁠ Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said a man with explosives strapped to his body tried to storm the packed facility late Saturday but was intercepted by security guards and instead set off his explosives outside. Arian expected the casualty toll to increase. ⁠ ⁠ Islamic State terror group said its local IS Khorasan Province (ISKP) branch plotted the attack. ⁠ ⁠ ISKP has routinely carried out bombings at Shi’ite gatherings and places of worship in Kabul and elsewhere in Afghanistan. ⁠ ⁠ The Taliban insurgent group denied its involvement in the violence. ⁠ ⁠ Saturday’s attack came after a roadside bomb hit a minivan in the central-eastern Afghan province of Ghazni earlier in the day. The ensuing blast killed at least nine passengers and injured several others. Women were among the victims, a provincial government spokesman told VOA. ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ #voanews #afghanistan #kabul

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U.S. President Donald Trump cast his ballot for the November 3 presidential election in his adopted home state of Florida Saturday, while his Democratic challenger Joe Biden spends the day focusing on the key swing state of Pennsylvania. ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ Trump, who switched his official residence from New York to Florida last year, voted early in the day in West Palm Beach after spending the night at his nearby Mar-a-Lago resort. ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ “It was a very secure vote. Everything was perfect,” Trump told reporters as he left the Palm Beach county library, which serves as a polling location. “It’s an honor to be voting.” ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ Asked who he voted for, the president said, “I voted for a guy named Trump.” ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ The president is on his way to Lumberton, North Carolina, for a campaign rally. He will also hold rallies in Circleville, Ohio, and Waukesha, Wisconsin. ⁠ ⁠ Former Vice President Biden, meanwhile, holds drive-in events in Bucks County, a suburban Philadelphia county that Hillary Clinton captured by a slim margin in 2016, and in nearby Luzerne County. Former President Barack Obama won Luzerne County twice before voters there cast ballots overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016. ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ Biden’s campaign also seeks voter support Saturday in the key state of Florida, with Obama holding a drive-in rally in North Miami on behalf of his former vice president. ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ Although the presidential election is less than two weeks away, more than 52 million people have already voted. Another 100 million or so are expected to cast ballots before a winner is declared. ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ ⁠ #voanews #VOAElections2020

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U.S. Supreme Court justices have a job for life once they’re nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. But a majority of Americans would like to see that change, according to a court reform report prepared by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and Pennsylvania State University. ⁠ ⁠ The recent confirmation battle over Judge Amy Coney Barrett has reignited talk of reforming the high court. President Donald Trump’s picked Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court, with lawmakers due to vote on her nomination just days before the November 3 presidential election. ⁠ ⁠ Some liberal Democrats have floated the idea of expanding the court. The survey, taken in July before Ginsburg’s death, finds that fewer than one-third of Americans favor expanding the U.S. Supreme Court, but a majority — 60% — supports setting term limits. ⁠ ⁠ In a 2017 letter to Congress, 21 constitutional scholars from universities such as Harvard, Duke, Columbia and the University of Michigan called for limiting the terms of Supreme Court justices to 18 years. Once their term ends, the justices could continue to serve on a lower court, if they chose, or fill in on the Supreme Court in the event of a death or unexpected vacancy. ⁠ ⁠ Fix the Court, a self-described nonpartisan group that advocates for court reform, favors the plan, which would allow each president to nominate a justice in the first and third years of his or her term. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ #voanews #us #supremecourt⁠

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As the United States saw its highest number of new coronavirus cases reported in a single day, former Vice President Joe Biden announced that if he defeats President Donald Trump in next month’s election, he will push for a nationwide mask mandate. ⁠ ⁠ “I’ll go to every governor and urge them to mandate masks in their state. And if any refuse, I’ll go to the mayors and county executives to get local masking requirements in place nationwide,” Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, 11 days before the vote. ⁠ ⁠ “As president, I’ll mandate mask-wearing in all federal buildings and on interstate transportation because masks save lives,” he said. ⁠ ⁠ More than 80,000 new COVID-19 infections were reported Friday by Johns Hopkins University, topping the single-day record of 77,362 set July 16. ⁠ ⁠ All but about a half dozen of the 50 U.S. states have shown increased coronavirus cases this week compared to last week. At least 14 states have reported new highs in hospitalized coronavirus patients in the past seven days. ⁠ ⁠ Trump criticized Biden on Friday in Florida for emphasizing the virus, for which there is yet no vaccine or cure. ⁠ ⁠ “All he talks about is COVID COVID, COVID because they want to scare people, and we've done so well with it,” Trump said in the senior citizens’ community of The Villages. ⁠ ⁠ “We're rounding the turn. We're rounding the corner. We're rounding the corner beautifully,” he said. ⁠ ⁠ COVID-19 has killed more than 224,000 people in the United States and infected nearly 8.5 million. ⁠ ⁠ Trump on Friday, without giving specifics, vowed “we will eradicate the pandemic and defeat this scourge from China once and for all.” ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more.⁠ ⁠ #voanews #VOAElections2020

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On Monday, the Thai parliament will open a special session to declare a week-long state of emergency in the Bangkok area, following continued protests against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. ⁠ ⁠ Police say they are prepared to handle flare-ups during the session from protesters demanding Prayuth’s resignation and reform of the monarchy. Prayuth has described the special session as a step toward finding a “middle-of-the-road path.” ⁠ ⁠ Unlike past anti-government protests in Thailand that saw two political interests battling each other to assume power, the current movement is led by students pushing for systemic changes. Their movement has evolved with a group of loosely aligned leaders who organize online. ⁠ ⁠ One of the leaders is Tattep “Ford” Ruangprapaikitseree, whose father drives for Grab, southeast Asia’s Uber, and whose mother died in 2014. Tattep, 23, became interested in politics when pro-establishment protesters mounted a massive street campaign in 2013-14 to oust then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, a sister of the self-exiled former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a military coup in 2006. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ #voanews #thailand #protest⁠ ⁠

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The United States has more guns than people. Few issues are more divisive than gun violence and the right to bear arms. Yet there may be more common ground than initially appears. In a five-part series, VOA's Deepak Dobhal profiles gun owners, people affected by gun violence, and a scholar who sees the contradictions and, perhaps, a way forward. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ ⁠ #voanews #america #guns

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Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari acknowledged Friday that “many lives have been lost” in weeks of unrest in the country but failed to denounce the police killing of peaceful protesters demanding an end to police brutality. ⁠ ⁠ Buhari made the comment in a meeting with former heads of state on how to address some of the country’s most intense violence in years. ⁠ ⁠ "In the mayhem that ensued, many lives had been lost and there are a number of public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalized… The mayhem has not stopped,” he said. “Through all the disturbances, security agencies observed extreme restraint.” ⁠ ⁠ The government “will not fold its arms and allow miscreants and criminals to continue to perpetrate these acts of hooliganism," he said. ⁠ ⁠ Buhari did not, however, clarify how many people were killed, but after the meeting he said in a written statement that 51 civilians, 11 police officers and seven soldiers were killed during the violent confrontations. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ ⁠ #voanews #nigeria #protests

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Heavy fighting continues in the Nagorno-Karabakh region as Armenia and Azerbaijan accuse each other of shelling residential areas. ⁠ ⁠ Nagorno-Karabakh authorities said Azerbaijani rockets hit the town of Martakert and several villages in the Martuni region overnight. ⁠ ⁠ Nagorno-Karabakh officials say 927 of their troops have been killed, and more than 30 civilians have died. ⁠ ⁠ Azerbaijan has not disclosed its military losses but has said 63 civilians have been killed and 292 wounded. ⁠ ⁠ While the fighting continued in the breakaway mountain enclave, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan to “end the violence and protect civilians” after nearly a month of intense fighting. ⁠ ⁠ On Friday, Pompeo met separately with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan in Washington at the State Department. ⁠ ⁠ “The secretary also stressed the importance of the sides entering substantive negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to resolve the conflict based on the Helsinki Final Act principles of the non-use or threat of force, territorial integrity, and the equal rights and self-determination of peoples,” said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus in a statement. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ #voanews #azerbaijan #armenia #NagornoKarabakh⁠

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U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday Sudan and Israel have agreed to normalize relations, touting the announcement as a foreign policy achievement ahead of the November 3 U.S. presidential election. ⁠ ⁠ “The state of Israel and the republic of Sudan have agreed to make peace,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “This will be the third country where we're doing this, and we have many, many more coming.” ⁠ ⁠ Sudan is the third Arab country in recent months to establish ties with Israel, after Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates signed the Abraham Accords in September. ⁠ ⁠ The White House released a statement saying that “in the coming weeks, the two countries will begin negotiations on cooperation agreements in agriculture, economy, trade, aviation, migration issues, and other areas of mutual benefit.” ⁠ ⁠ During the announcement, Trump was joined on the phone by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Sudanese Chairman of the Sovereignty Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. ⁠ ⁠ Netanyahu hailed the announcement, calling it “another dramatic breakthrough for peace.” ⁠ ⁠ While Trump said Friday Palestinians would eventually join in recognizing Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ office released a statement condemning “normalization of ties with the state of the Israeli occupation, which occupies the land of Palestine.” ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ #voanews #isreal #sudan #us⁠

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As Europe tries to curtail a second wave of the coronavirus, many residents across the continent are facing more restrictions in their daily lives. ⁠ ⁠ Parts of Germany, Spain, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Slovakia and other countries are imposing curfews and limits on social interaction as case numbers spike. ⁠ ⁠ Countries scrambled to look for ways to slow the spread but also to avoid the blanket lockdowns from earlier this year that have taken a massive economic toll and have little public support. ⁠ ⁠ The second wave has some leaders sounding the alarm. One French official said the virus was spreading faster now than it did during the first wave. ⁠ ⁠ “The virus is circulating more quickly than in the spring,” said epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet, who sits on the scientific council advising the French government. ⁠ ⁠ 👉Tap link in bio to find out more. ⁠ - ⁠ #europe #coronavirus #covid19 #pandemic #voanews

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Losses are mounting for the U.S. airline industry as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the economy and hope dims for an immediate government aid package. ⁠ ⁠ Karl Moore, associate professor at Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, says, “We're looking at flights being down in the area of 90% less in March and April than they were the year before. So, it's a time of enormous crisis. And there are hundreds of thousands of people who work in the airline industry.” ⁠ ⁠ For now, combined third-quarter losses for American, United, Delta, Southwest and Alaska Air have exceeded $11.5 billion. The industry’s downturn dwarfs previous crises such as SARS and the September 11 terrorist attacks of 2001, Moore says. ⁠ ⁠ Earlier this year, U.S. airline companies received billions from Congress through the CARES Act in the form of cash and loans that helped keep them afloat. The hope was that the virus would have subsided by now. It hasn’t. ⁠ ⁠ “What we've seen is domestic travel in the U.S. has gone up some, but international travel is down horrifically, and even domestic travel is not anywhere near what it was last year. So, we have the ongoing crisis. We have maybe a second wave — certainly a lot more people getting sick than we had hoped at this time of year. So, it's a thing where the industry's troubles have not yet gone beyond six or seven months and it will go on for some months and perhaps a couple of years to come,” says Moore. ⁠ ⁠ Nearly 5 million air transport jobs globally are at risk, according to estimates by the Air Transport Action Group. ⁠ ⁠ 👉Tap link in bio to find out more. ⁠ - ⁠ #us #airlines #aid #voanews

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The rhetoric would not have been out of place in the Spanish parliament in the early 1930s when monarchists and nationalists assailed a Popular Front coalition government consisting of Communists, Socialists and Catalan separatists in the run-up to Spain's civil war. ⁠ ⁠ Launching a no-confidence debate midweek on the Socialist-led minority government of Pedro Sánchez, Santiago Abascal, leader of the country's ultra-nationalist Vox party, attacked what he described as the "totalitarian agenda" of "a socialist-communist popular front." ⁠ ⁠ The echo of the past was purposeful in a debate that was meant to be focused on the government's management of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Spain's left-leaning El Pais newspaper. The newspaper dubbed the speech an "unacceptable regression back to a time of obscurantism, intolerance and closed societies." ⁠ ⁠ Sánchez survived the no-confidence vote, thanks to Spain's center-right parties deciding not to back Vox in its bid to unseat the minority government. In the wake of his parliamentary win, Sánchez appealed Friday to Spaniards to pull together to overcome the daunting challenges the country faces, with the coronavirus being the most pressing. ⁠ ⁠ "The situation is serious," he said. ⁠ ⁠ The country's official tally of coronavirus cases is now more than one million, and the International Monetary Fund is predicting Spain's economy will contract by around 13 percent this year, plunging it into its worst recession since the civil war of the 1930s. ⁠ ⁠ 👉Tap link in bio to find out more. ⁠ - ⁠ #spain #sanchez #coronavirus #covid19 #voanews

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An international agency fighting illicit financing has urged Pakistan to deliver on its remaining commitments by February 2021 to curb money laundering and funding sources to terrorist groups. ⁠ ⁠ The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) met Friday at its headquarters in Paris and reviewed Islamabad’s progress under an internationally agreed upon action plan. ⁠ ⁠ “The plenary recognized that Pakistan has made progress. The government has now completed 21 of 27 items of its action plan,” Marcus Pleyer, the FATF president, told a post-meeting online news conference. “Pakistan remains on our increased monitoring list, the so-called gray list.” ⁠ ⁠ The gray list comprises nations that have weak mechanisms to counter the financing of terrorism but agree to work with FATF to address their deficiencies. ⁠ ⁠ Pakistan was placed on the watch list in 2018, making foreign firms more cautious about investing in the South Asian nation, which is dealing with a struggling economy and a balance-of-payment crisis. ⁠ ⁠ 👉Tap link in bio to find out more. ⁠ - ⁠ #pakistan #finance #graylist #voanews

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With days to go before the Nov. 3 election, Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are campaigning intensely in the closely contested “battleground” or “swing” states. ⁠ ⁠ These states are important in the U.S. presidential election, where the winner is not decided by the popular vote. Instead, each state has a set number of electoral votes, which are awarded to one candidate or the other depending on the popular vote outcome in that state. In all but Maine and Nebraska, the candidate who gets the most popular votes in a state wins all of that state's electoral votes. ⁠ ⁠ This “winner takes all” electoral system drives candidates to campaign more heavily in competitive states where victory could mean a clearer mathematical path to the White House. ⁠ ⁠ Closely contested states that could “swing” toward either party, such as Pennsylvania, receive more attention from candidates than other states, such as California, where one party is almost certain to receive a majority of votes. ⁠ ⁠ 👉Tap link in bio to find out more. ⁠ - ⁠ #us #election #swingstates #VOAElections2020 #voanews

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Major roads in Lagos, Nigeria, were blocked Friday by groups of people armed with knives and sticks, many of whom were angered by the president’s speech that appealed for calm but failed to denounce the police killing of peaceful protesters demanding an end to police brutality. ⁠ ⁠ In his first public comments Thursday on the unrest gripping the West African country, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari urged youth involved in the protests to end demonstrations and begin a dialogue with the government. ⁠ ⁠ However, Buhari did not mention the police shooting of peaceful protesters at Lekki toll plaza earlier this week that resulted in the deaths of at least 12 protesters. Nigeria’s military has denied responsibility for that shooting. ⁠ ⁠ On Friday, the president’s office acknowledged that “many lives have been lost” in the unrest but still did not disclose the death toll. The office said Buhari made the comment in a meeting with former heads of state on how to address some of the country’s most intense violence in years. ⁠ ⁠ Also on Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Nigerian authorities must “not abuse force when dealing with demonstrations” and that he received assurances from Buhari. ⁠ ⁠ “I heard from the president his strong commitment to do everything possible to avoid these kinds of incidents, and I hope it will be the case in the future,” Guterres said. ⁠ ⁠ On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the police brutality in Lagos and called for an investigation. ⁠ ⁠ 👉Tap link in bio to find out more. ⁠ - ⁠ #nigeria #lagos #buhari #protests #voanews

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The Taliban has killed at least 23 Afghan soldiers in fresh attacks, as a stalemate persists in U.S.-brokered peace talks under way in Qatar. ⁠ ⁠ Officials said Friday insurgents overnight staged a major assault on an Afghan National Army (ANA) base in Khashrod district in southwestern Nimroz province. ⁠ ⁠ District chief Jalil Watandost told VOA the Taliban destroyed the base and took four ANA personnel hostage. He said the Afghan air force carried out several retaliatory airstrikes in the area against insurgent positions. Watandost did not share further details. ⁠ ⁠ Separately, insurgents raided security outposts in Afghanistan's northern Kunduz province, killing at least seven security forces and injuring several others. A provincial police spokesman told VOA the Taliban also suffered heavy casualties in the ensuing clashes, but he did not elaborate. ⁠ ⁠ Afghan security forces have sustained casualties in recent weeks in battles with the Taliban. ⁠ ⁠ 👉Tap link in bio to find out more. ⁠ - ⁠ #afghanistan #taliban #qatar #attack #voanews

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Vietnam's top leaders have resolved to become at least a middle-income country over the next five years, an about-face from abject poverty in the 1980s, by attracting more foreign investment in manufacturing. ⁠ ⁠ The Communist Party's Central Committee wrapped up a plenary session October 8 held to chart macroeconomic goals, and a deputy planning minister said separately that Vietnamese people should earn around $5,000 per year on average by 2025, up from $2,750 now. ⁠ ⁠ Vietnam would reach that milestone — middle income or higher in World Bank terms — by extending 10-year-old economic reforms that now attract foreign investors to the country that's seen as a manufacturing peer to world factory powerhouse China. ⁠ ⁠ Their investment creates jobs and raises incomes among Vietnam's 97 million people. Vietnam is now lower middle-income. ⁠ ⁠ The government is likely to stimulate new wealth by improving infrastructure and offering incentives to investors for production of high-value electronics. Prized investors today include Intel and Samsung Electronics. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ ⁠ #voanews #vietman

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What the FBI and national intelligence officials described as fake “Proud Boys” emails targeting voters in Florida and several other states came in waves on Tuesday. ⁠ ⁠ Several University of Florida students reported receiving them beginning in the morning, according to local media reports. ⁠ ⁠ Bennett Ragan, a recent University of Florida graduate, said in an interview with VOA that the email hit his spam box twice, the first at 3 p.m. and the second at 5 p.m. ⁠ ⁠ Ragan, the campaign manager for a candidate for the Florida state legislature from the Gainesville area, shared a copy of the email with VOA. ⁠ ⁠ The email came from — a domain previously owned by the Proud Boys, a far-right group that backs President Donald Trump’s reelection but has denied any involved with the controversial message. ⁠ ⁠ On the social media platform Parler, Enrique Tarrio, the Proud Boys leader, denied his group was behind the threatening operation. Tarrio did not answer a call from VOA. ⁠ ⁠ Under the subject line “Vote for Trump or else!” the email sender claimed to know Ragan was a registered Democrat and pressed him to switch party affiliation and vote for Trump. ⁠ ⁠ “You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you,” the email read. “Change your party affiliation to Republican to let us know you received our message and will comply. We will know which candidate you voted for. I would take this seriously if I were you … good luck." ⁠ ⁠ Another person on the staff of Ragan’s boss, Florida State House candidate Kayser Enneking, received the same email, Ragan said, as did at least a dozen friends and acquaintances in Florida. ⁠ ⁠ At first, Ragan said, he and others didn’t make much of it. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ #voanews #VOAElections2020⁠

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Some members of the Uighur community abroad say China is now officially announcing the indictments or deaths of family members who vanished years ago in internment camps in the Xinjiang region. ⁠ ⁠ VOA recently talked to five of those diaspora Uighurs who said they were either directly contacted by Chinese officials or learned through foreign missions, the U.N. working groups, or Chinese government press conferences that their loved ones were either jailed on dubious charges or died of illnesses at the so-called reeducation camps. ⁠ ⁠ China has repeatedly ignored calls from independent rights groups to investigate the alleged abuses, calling criticism by other countries an interference in its domestic affairs. ⁠ ⁠ Sean Roberts, a professor of international affairs at George Washington University, said China's response to the U.N. inquiry is a signal that the country has become emboldened to use the international system selectively. ⁠ ⁠ "I would not be surprised to see additional responses to international inquiries of this type while the state continues to deny that it is violating the human rights of Uighurs, especially as China takes an increasingly prominent role in the U.N. Human Rights Council," Roberts told VOA. ⁠ ⁠ Last week, China was elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council a week after 39 countries, including the United States, condemned Beijing for human rights abuses in Xinjiang. ⁠ ⁠ "We are gravely concerned about the existence of a large network of 'political re-education' camps, where credible reports indicate that over a million people have been arbitrarily detained," German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen said on behalf of the 39 countries at the U.N committee. ⁠ ⁠ China's spokesperson, Hua Chunying, called the reports a failed attempt to smear China. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ #voanews #uighur #china ⁠

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The Trump administration has issued more than 400 executive actions that dramatically reshaped America's immigration system. Some of those executive actions are coming under scrutiny ahead of the November 3 presidential election. ⁠ ⁠ Family separation ⁠ ⁠ Reports that the U.S. government lost track of the parents of 545 migrant children separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under a now-defunct Trump administration policy of "zero tolerance" for illegal border crossers have raised questions. ⁠ ⁠ Immigrant advocates said they do not know where the children are now or why the parents sent back to their countries of origin cannot be found. ⁠ ⁠ "[The children] are no longer in [Department of Homeland Security] custody, no longer in [Health and Human Services] custody, no longer in the government's custody," said Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union's immigrant rights project. "They were sponsored out. And that could mean [the children are with] a relative who — maybe — they were lucky enough to know. It could be a very distant relative they didn't know. But it could also mean a stranger in a foster family [in the United States]. And now it's been three years." ⁠ ⁠ A statement from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said federal authorities have "yet to identify a single family that wants their child reunited in their country of origin." ⁠ ⁠ Gelernt said, if found, the parents of the children face a horrible choice "of having to either be separated permanently or bring their child back to danger [in the home countries] rather than bringing the parent back to the U.S." ⁠ ⁠ A federal judge last year ordered the U.S. government to reunite children with parents separated under the 2017 pilot program that coincided with the Trump administration's initial efforts to limit asylum-seeker entry into the United States along the southern border. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ #voanews #us #border #immigration⁠

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in Washington Friday with the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia in a bid to help end nearly a month of intense fighting in the breakaway mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. ⁠ ⁠ Pompeo invited Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan to meet with him separately at the State Department and said earlier this week he is anxious to hear what they are seeing on the ground. ⁠ ⁠ The meeting in Washington was arranged after two failed Russian attempts to broker a cease-fire in the worst outbreak of fighting over the region in more than a quarter-century. ⁠ ⁠ Pompeo has joined other global leaders in pushing for an end to the fighting over the disputed territory. But Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Wednesday he sees no possibility of a diplomatic solution at this stage of the conflict. ⁠ ⁠ For his part, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has said Armenian forces must withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh to end the fighting, which Russian President Vladimir said may have killed about 5,000 people since the violence erupted. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ #voanews #azerbaijan #armenia #us⁠

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United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it was very unfortunate that the 20 major industrialized nations did not come together in March, as he suggested then, to establish a coordinated response to suppress COVID-19 worldwide. ⁠ ⁠ In an interview with the Associated Press, Guterres said he hopes that as the G-20 summit is coming next month, the international community understand “they need to be much more coordinated in fighting the virus.” ⁠ ⁠ Scores of researchers around the world are racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19, which has killed more than 1.1 million people worldwide and sickened more than 41 million. ⁠ ⁠ Meanwhile, the number of countries with more than 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases has risen to seven, with France and Spain the latest nations to reach the mark. ⁠ ⁠ On Thursday, France extended curfews to about 65% of its population and Belgium's foreign minister was hospitalized with COVID-19 and treated in the intensive care unit, as a second wave of the pandemic surged across Europe. ⁠ ⁠ However, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, the United States remains the country with highest number of infections, more than 8.4 million total cases, followed by India, with 7.76 million; Brazil, with 5.32 million; Russia, with 1.45 million; and Argentina, which has 1,053,650. France is in sixth place with 1,041,991 cases, followed by Spain with 1,026,281. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ #voanews #coronavirus #covid19⁠

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Israel’s defense system intercepted one of two missiles fired from the Gaza Strip late Thursday, the country’s military said. ⁠ ⁠ It did not give any information about what happened with the second missile, or whether there were any damages or casualties. ⁠ ⁠ Israel, however, holds Hamas responsible for all attacks coming from Gaza. ⁠ ⁠ The Israeli military said earlier this week militants in the Gaza Strip had dug a deep tunnel under the security fence crossing to Israel, which was detected by underground sensors. ⁠ ⁠ Several hours after the announcement, Israeli missile defenses intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza. ⁠ ⁠ The Israeli army also said late Tuesday that fighter jets and attack helicopters had struck an underground infrastructure belonging to Hamas militant group. ⁠ ⁠ There have been no reports of casualties in either attack. ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ #voanews #israel #missiles #GazaStrip ⁠

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📷: A health worker takes a nasal swab sample at a COVID-19 testing center in Hyderabad, India, Friday, October 23. 👉 India has reported below 60,000 new coronavirus cases for a fifth day as the promise of a free COVID-19 vaccine turned into a key state election issue. The Health Ministry says 54,366 new cases have taken the overall tally past 7.7 million on Friday. It also reported 690 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising total fatalities to 117,306. India recorded a daily average of more than 61,000 cases last week. The ministry also said India’s active caseload was below 700,000.(AP) #voanews #india #coronavirus #covid19

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Russia and Iran are ramping up attacks on U.S. government networks and computer systems while also amplifying their disinformation campaigns, hoping to rattle the confidence of American voters with less than two weeks until the Nov. 3 presidential election. ⁠ ⁠ The warning Thursday from U.S. intelligence and election security officials came less than 24 hours after the director of national intelligence blamed Iran for launching the first sensational attack on the upcoming election, accusing Tehran of being behind thousands of spoofed emails designed to intimidate voters. ⁠ ⁠ Thursday’s advisories from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency suggested that the emails, as well as the ability of Russia and Iran to access voter registration information, were just the start of a larger campaign to undermine the U.S. elections. ⁠ ⁠ According to the FBI and CISA, the attacks from Russia began in September, targeting dozens of state and local government networks involved in activities ranging from aviation to education. ⁠ ⁠ The Russian cyber actor known as Beserk Bear "successfully compromised network infrastructure, and as of October 1, 2020, exfiltrated data from at least two victim servers," the advisories said. ⁠ ⁠ The attackers also managed to obtain credentials that could allow them to move around in the networks, seeking out critical information that they could exploit at a later date, potentially to disrupt the upcoming presidential election. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ ⁠ #voanews #VOAElections2020

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📷: A woman is carried by police officers after security guards broke up a small protest near the Chinese embassy opposing alleged plans to boost Beijing's military presence in the country, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, October 23. 👉 Cambodian security guards broke up a small protest on Friday near the Chinese embassy opposing alleged plans to boost Beijing’s military presence in the country, as police detained some demonstrators for questioning. After brief scuffles, city security guards carried three protesters to a nearby police pickup truck, according to live streaming by local media and witnesses, reported by Reuters. The Cambodian government has repeatedly denied reports that China had reached a secret deal to let it place forces at the Ream Naval Base, saying that hosting foreign forces would be against Cambodia’s constitution. Phnom Penh police spokesman San Sok Seyha said those detained had been taken in for questioning since the rally had not been given a permit. Friday’s protest was part of a wider rally organized by the dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to mark the 29th anniversary of the Paris Peace Agreement ending Cambodia’s civil war, said CNRP’s former vice president, Mu Sochua. Cambodia, which is among Asia’s poorest nations, has been an important ally to China in recent years and has been accused of giving Beijing influence in return for economic support. Cambodia has insisted its foreign and security policy is independent.(REUTERS) #voanews #cambodia #protest

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is urging youths protesting police brutality to end their demonstrations and begin a dialogue with the government. ⁠ ⁠ In Buhari's address to the nation Thursday, his first public comments on the unrest gripping Nigeria, he urged protesters to not be used by subversive elements seeking to create chaos with the aim of truncating the country's democracy. However, Buhari did not mention the shooting by security forces of peaceful protesters at Lekki toll plaza earlier this week. At least 12 protesters were shot dead by Nigerian Security Forces. ⁠ ⁠ In a series of tweets late Wednesday, Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo expressed his condolences and promised justice for those killed. ⁠ ⁠ The United States on Thursday condemned police brutality in Lagos. ⁠ ⁠ “We welcome an immediate investigation into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces. Those involved should be held to account in accordance with Nigerian law,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ ⁠ #voanews #nigeria #protests

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Healthy volunteers will be deliberately infected with the coronavirus to try to speed up the development of a vaccine, under plans announced by the British government this week. ⁠ ⁠ The trial will involve healthy volunteers ages 18 to 30. ⁠ ⁠ Most coronavirus vaccine trials involve giving volunteers the potential vaccine or a placebo and then waiting until enough of them have been exposed to the virus through their everyday lives. That can take months or years. ⁠ ⁠ Britain announced this week it plans to begin the so-called "human challenge" trials in May 2021 to speed up the development of vaccines. ⁠ ⁠ Several young people have already volunteered, among them Danica Marcos, 22, a recent university graduate from London. ⁠ ⁠ "So many people [are] struggling right now. I want this pandemic to be over," Marcos told The Associated Press. "Every day that goes on, more cases are going on, more people are dying. And if this vaccine trial could mean that this period of trauma for the whole world will be over sooner, I want to help. I want to be a part of that.” ⁠ ⁠ 👉Tap link in bio to find out more. ⁠ - ⁠ #uk #coronavirus #covid19 #vaccine #pandemic #voanews

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Moderna Therapeutics, one of many companies conducting COVID-19 vaccine trials, said Thursday that it had completed the enrollment of about 30,000 participants for a third phase. The biotechnology firm said the participants included more than 11,000 who are people of color. ⁠ ⁠ The figure includes more than 6,000 Hispanic participants and 3,000 African Americans. Moderna said these two groups represented 37% of the study population, which reflects the diversity of the U.S. at large. ⁠ ⁠ Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel thanked participants and said assembling the enrollment for Phase 3 of its COVE study is an “important milestone for the clinical development of mRNA-1273, our vaccine candidate against COVID-19.” ⁠ ⁠ Other participants include Americans at high risk medically older than 65 and a younger population with chronic health problems, such as diabetes, severe obesity and cardiac issues. These high-risk groups represent 42% of the total participants in the company’s Phase 3 COVE study. ⁠ ⁠ The randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 3 trial is studying mRNA-1273 at the 100-microgram-dose level in all 30,000 participants. ⁠ ⁠ So far, more than 25,650 participants have received their second vaccinations. Moderna has not yet applied to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization. ⁠ ⁠ 👉Tap link in bio to find out more. ⁠ - ⁠ #moderna #us #coronavirus #covid19 #pandemic #voanews

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Warming relations between the United States and Brazil received a boost this week with an update to an existing bilateral trade agreement, along with the commitment of billions of U.S. dollars to boost Brazilian industries. ⁠ ⁠ While Washington seeks to underscore collective security by deepening engagement with the largest country in South America, it is unclear to what extent this approach resonates in Brazil. The fact that elections will be held in less than two weeks in the United States only complicates the matter, analysts say. ⁠ ⁠ “Some might say [the newly concluded Protocol on Trade Rules and Transparency] is not as glamorous as a tariff-cutting agenda, market access of this or that product,” but the success of the negotiations underscores both governments’ commitment, Brazil’s top diplomat in Washington said in an interview with VOA. ⁠ ⁠ “Notwithstanding restrictions of travel, difficulties having to do with negotiating over the internet, over Zoom, we met those goals” which were set out in March by presidents Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, said Ambassador Nestor Forster, Jr. ⁠ ⁠ He said the newly signed protocol, which covers “trade facilitation, good regulatory practices, and anti-corruption measures,” is designed to bring concrete results by cutting red tape to ensure that business processes are more transparent and more inclusive. ⁠ ⁠ 👉Tap link in bio to find out more. ⁠ - ⁠ #us #brazil #trump #POTUS #bolsonaro #voanews

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Since his election in 2016, U.S. President Donald Trump has withdrawn from the Iran nuclear agreement signed in 2015 by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and imposed tough sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy. How might the relationship between Washington and Tehran change after the U.S. election on November 3? ⁠ ⁠ When 2020 began, the United States and Iran were on the verge of war. The U.S. targeted killing of revered Iranian General Qassem Soleimani January 3 — whom Washington accused of masterminding numerous attacks in the region — sparked fury in Tehran. ⁠ ⁠ It retaliated with missile strikes on U.S. bases in Iraq. No U.S. service personnel were killed, and conflict was averted, but Trump kept up the pressure. ⁠ ⁠ He urged other signatories to follow America’s lead, using the abbreviation for the nuclear agreement’s formal title, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. ⁠ ⁠ Trump described the nuclear deal as a flawed agreement because it allowed Iran to continue with its ballistic missile program and support for proxy militant groups in the region. ⁠ ⁠ In the years since his withdrawal from the JCPOA, Trump has imposed a so-called maximum pressure campaign on Iran, involving multiple sanctions aimed at cutting access to international finance, blocking oil exports and crippling its economy. The Trump administration says Iran cannot be trusted and the sanctions are the best way to rein in its behavior. ⁠ ⁠ Trump’s rival in the presidential campaign, Joe Biden, has said he would seek to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal but would impose targeted sanctions over human rights abuses, terrorism and Iran’s ballistic missile program. ⁠ ⁠ Meanwhile, Iran is set to hold presidential elections early next year amid concerns that hardliners in the regime could win power. Analysts say that leaves a short window to reset relations with Tehran’s current leaders if a new U.S. administration chose to do so. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more.⁠ -⁠ #iran #trump #foreignpolicy #voanews⁠

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📷: People wade through waterlogged streets during the heavy rain in Chennai, India, Thursday, October 22. 👉 Floods brought by heavy rains and overflowing rivers across large swathes of western and southern India have killed at least 60 people since Wednesday, October 14 and damaged rice, cotton, and other crops worth billions of rupees, officials said. More than 9.6 million people across south Asia have been affected by severe floods this year, with hundreds of thousands struggling to get food and medicine. About 550 people have died in India, Bangladesh and Nepal, while millions have been displaced from their homes since the flooding began in June. (REUTERS/AP) #voanews #india #rain #weather

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A settlement has been reached over charges leveled against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. related to the global financial institution’s conspiracy to violate foreign bribery laws in the United States. ⁠ ⁠ The firm will pay $2.9 billion in the plea deal, the largest penalty of its kind in U.S. history, for its role in Malaysia’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund corruption scandal, known as 1MDB. ⁠ ⁠ In total, Goldman Sachs will pay more than $5 billion globally. ⁠ ⁠ The Asian subsidiary of Goldman Sachs pleaded guilty after admitting Thursday the company “knowingly and willingly” conspired to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Representatives of the firm admitted violating U.S. anti-bribery laws by engaging in bribery that resulted in the looting of billions of dollars from a fund designed to increase economic development in the country. ⁠ ⁠ In a news release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Korner of IRS Criminal Investigation’s Los Angeles field office, said "1MDB was established to drive strategic initiatives for the long-term economic development of Malaysia. Goldman Sachs admitted today that one billion dollars of the money earmarked to help the people of Malaysia was actually diverted and used to pay bribes to Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials to obtain their business.” ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ #voanews #goldmansachs ⁠

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The foreign ministers of the warring nations of Azerbaijan and Armenia will separately meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington Friday as the Trump administration joins international efforts, previously led by Russia, to tamp down a conflict that has killed hundreds of combatants and civilians since roaring bloodily back to life in September. ⁠ ⁠ The U.S. has called on both countries to cease fighting and return to the negotiating table over Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is governed by ethnic Armenians with the backing of Yerevan. ⁠ ⁠ Friday’s meetings mark a significant step in U.S. diplomatic involvement in international diplomatic endeavors to secure a sustainable cease-fire. A pair of cease-fires Russia brokered earlier this month have come to naught, leaving the Kremlin floundering to get the former Soviet republics to stop fighting. ⁠ ⁠ Azeri and ethnic Armenian forces have been intensifying their skirmishes on the eve of the talks in Washington. ⁠ ⁠ The mountainous enclave has not seen such heavy clashes since the early 1990s, when as many as 30,000 people lost their lives before a cease-fire, largely orchestrated by Moscow, with the backing of the U.S. and France, left the dispute frozen. Subsequent negotiations to conclude a lasting political settlement have stalled for years, to the mounting frustration mainly of Azerbaijan. ⁠ ⁠ Russia has largely maintained a balancing act with its two troublesome southern neighbors. Moscow has a formal mutual defense pact with Armenia and operates an air base in the country, but the Kremlin has close ties also with Baku. It has supplied both Armenia and Azerbaijan with arms, an even-handed approach aimed at keeping both Baku and Yerevan within Russia’s sphere of influence. The so-called frozen conflict served Russia’s purposes, say analysts. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more.⁠ -⁠ #nagornokarabakh #statedepartment #pompeo #voanews⁠

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CORONAVIRUS ⁠ ⁠ India heads into its monthlong Hindu festival season with some good news – a government-appointed committee of experts says that the COVID-19 pandemic is past its peak and will have run its course by February as daily infections tumble by more than one-third in the world’s second-worst-hit country. ⁠ ⁠ Health experts warn, though, that much of the gain could unravel in a country where large community gatherings and socializing are the hallmarks of festive celebrations, where consumers indulge in a spending spree at this time of the year, and where messages about social distancing and masks are being ignored by many. ⁠ ⁠ In a Tuesday address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointed to Western countries as he appealed to people not to lower their guard during the festive season. ⁠ ⁠ "Recently, we saw many photos and videos where it is clearly seen that people have stopped taking precautions and are not careful anymore. This isn't right,” Modi told the country of 1.3 billion that has counted more than 7.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases. The country has also counted more than 116,000 deaths according to data from Johns Hopkins University. ⁠ ⁠ “Keep in mind, be it America or countries in Europe, cases declined but suddenly increased again, that too alarmingly,” he said. ⁠ ⁠ While Modi’s message is usually heeded carefully in the country, there are fears that people weary of months of restrictions might find it hard to resist socializing during the festivals.⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more.⁠ -⁠ #India #COVID19 #coronavirus #voanews

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CORONAVIRUS ⁠ ⁠ Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he has canceled a deal to buy a Chinese-developed vaccine against the coronavirus, a day after his health minister announced Brazil would purchase millions of doses of CoronaVac. ⁠ ⁠ Bolsonaro said Wednesday that the intentions of Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, one of his leading opponents, were distorted, saying he canceled the deal before Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello signed it. ⁠ ⁠ Pazuello said in a statement that there was “no commitment” to buy the vaccine, only a "non-binding memorandum of understanding between the health ministry and the Butantan Institute” to test and produce the vaccine. ⁠ ⁠ Bolsonaro, who said he would not let Brazilians be guinea pigs for the Sinovac drug, is promoting the purchase of another vaccine developed by Oxford University in Britain. ⁠ ⁠ Brazil is helping to test both of vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials. ⁠ ⁠ Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports, a Brazilian health regulator says the clinical trials of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca PLC will continue although a volunteer died. ⁠ ⁠ Both Oxford University and AstraZeneca reportedly found no safety issues that warranted the trial being stopped. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more.⁠ -⁠ #Brazil #COVID19 #coronavirus #voanews

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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga ended his week of regional diplomatic visits Thursday with a meeting with the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Tokyo. ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ Suga exchanged a COVID-19-friendly fist-bump with Admiral Phil Davidson, as the two extended greetings with reporters before their talks began. Each expressed their gratitude for the partnership and cooperation in maintaining peace and security in the region. ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is the largest, in terms of geography covered, of the six U.S. military commands around the globe. The command integrates all branches of the U.S. military to maintain security, and it protects U.S. interests in the region while coordinating with allies. ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ The meeting follows bilateral talks the new Japanese prime minister held earlier this week with his counterparts in Vietnam and Indonesia. The central theme of those meetings was cooperation in regional defense as a hedge against China’s ambitions in the region. Suga made agreements with both nations to export defense technology and equipment. ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ It was the first overseas diplomatic trip for Suga since becoming prime minister last month. He took the position after former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stepped down for health reasons. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ #voanews #japan #us #tokyo

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Local officials in northeastern Afghanistan say 12 people were killed, 11 of them children, in an airstrike that hit a religious school. ⁠ ⁠ The airstrike Wednesday in Takhar province came after three days of heavy fighting between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters that left more than two dozen security personnel dead. It wasn’t immediately clear who carried out the airstrike. ⁠ ⁠ Officials say 14 others were wounded in the attack. ⁠ ⁠ Continuous fighting between the U.S.-backed Afghan government and the Taliban has complicated intra-Afghan peace talks that began last month in Qatar. ⁠ ⁠ The United States is seeking an agreement that would allow it to bring an end to its 19-year military involvement in Afghanistan, the longest war in U.S. history. ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ ⁠ #voanews #afghanistan

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The United States condemned police brutality in Lagos Thursday, two days after at least 12 protesters were shot dead by Nigerian Security Forces. ⁠ ⁠ “We welcome an immediate investigation into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces. Those involved should be held to account in accordance with Nigerian law,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. ⁠ ⁠ Late Wednesday, Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo expressed his condolences and promises justice for those killed at the Lekki toll plaza. ⁠ ⁠ Osinbajo's comments, in a series of tweets Wednesday night, were the first public comments from the country's leaders referring to Tuesday’s shooting in Lagos state. ⁠ ⁠ President Muhammadu Buhari — who has said little about the protests engulfing his country — did not mention the Lekki shootings in a statement Wednesday but issued a call for calm and vowed police reforms. ⁠ ⁠ Amnesty International on Wednesday reported that a total of 38 people died Tuesday. Amnesty also said at least 56 people have been killed over the past two weeks in protests directed at the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS, which the international rights group accused of torture and murder. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ #voanews #nigeria #protests⁠

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President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in their final presidential debate of the 2020 presidential campaign at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, Thursday, October 22. Much has changed between the first debate and Thursday’s event, which unfolds on a university debate stage in Nashville. A second planned debate scheduled for last week was called off after Trump contracted the coronavirus and was hospitalized for three nights. That led the commission to unilaterally say the two candidates would debate virtually, but Trump refused and the encounter was called off. More importantly, millions of Americans have made up their minds about the election, with more than 43 million people having cast early ballots by mail or in person. Many have said that during the unchecked coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. they wanted to avoid coming face to face with other voters in the expected long lines at polling stations on Election Day. Many Democratic voters favoring Biden said they wanted to be among the first to vote to oust Trump, to make him the third U.S. president in the last four decades to lose a bid for re-election after a single term. Republican voters have often told pollsters and news reporters they intend to vote on Election Day in person, as has been the norm for decades in U.S. national elections. Thursday’s debate could be the last, best chance for Trump, a real estate entrepreneur and reality television show host-turned-politician, to cut into Biden’s persistent lead in national and statewide polls. Biden, with nearly a half century on the American political scene as a U.S. senator and second in command to former President Barack Obama, holds a 9- or 10-percentage point lead over Trump in national polls, but a lead of about half that in battleground states that will likely decide the overall outcome. 📷:Reuters - #VOAElections2020 #presidentialdebate #voanews

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Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has lifted a state of emergency he imposed one week ago but which failed to bring an end to months of protests seeking his ouster and reforms of the country’s constitutional monarchy. ⁠ ⁠ The government announced the end of the emergency decree in a written statement Thursday, saying the situation had eased to the point where “government officials and state agencies can enforce the regular laws.” ⁠ ⁠ Prayuth issued the state of emergency last week after tens of thousands of protesters marched on his office at Government House in Bangkok and vowed not to leave until he agreed to step down. ⁠ ⁠ Despite the ban on public gatherings of more than four people issued in the decree, mass demonstrations continued in the Thai capital, prompting Prayuth to announce on national television Wednesday that he was planning to lift the state of emergency. ⁠ ⁠ However, the protesters have promised to resume the demonstrations if he did not resign by Saturday. ⁠ ⁠ Prayuth is a former army general who seized power in a 2014 coup that ousted the elected civilian government. He won election to the post last year, but protesters say the vote was rigged in his favor because of laws drafted by the military. ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more. ⁠ #voanews #thailand #protests

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the State Department is not changing its Taiwan policy amid calls to depart from a long-standing strategic ambiguity in the Taiwan Strait. ⁠ ⁠ The top U.S. diplomat’s remarks come as some American experts and Taiwan’s envoy to the U.S., Bi-khim Hsiao, call for more clarity on America’s commitment to Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, making explicit that the U.S. would respond to any Chinese use of force against Taiwan. ⁠ ⁠ In response to a question posed by VOA during a press conference, Pompeo said the U.S. policy toward Taiwan “hasn’t changed” and that Washington hopes “the Chinese Communist Party will choose to honor its commitments” to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. ⁠ ⁠ "The United States does not seek any sort of military confrontation in Asia,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told VOA on Wednesday, urging China to refrain from aggressive behaviors and honor the freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region. ⁠ ⁠ "We have seen this pattern of coercion and intimidation in the Chinese Communist Party's foreign policy and, by the way, in which their military conducts themselves,” Ortagus said. ⁠ ⁠ Taiwan and China have been separately ruled since a civil war in the 1940s, when Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists lost to Mao Zedong’s Communists and rebased on the island. China still claims sovereignty over Taiwan and has not ruled out the use of force, if needed, to unite the two sides. ⁠ ⁠ The U.S. said its long-held “One China” policy is "distinct" from Beijing’s “One China” principle, under which the CCP asserts sovereignty over Taiwan. The U.S. never accepted or endorsed CCP’s sovereignty claim over Taiwan. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more.⁠ -⁠ #Pompeo #US #Taiwan #China#voanews

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CORONAVIRUS⁠ ⁠ The COVID-19 vaccines are coming. ⁠ ⁠ The question is, who gets them first? And who is next in line? ⁠ ⁠ Two companies say that by late November, they expect to have initial results from clinical trials showing whether their vaccines are safe and effective. Several others are not far behind. ⁠ ⁠ But there won't be enough for everyone at first. Hard decisions have to be made about who gets it and who doesn't. So, public health experts are laying out guidelines that aim to do the most good with a limited resource. ⁠ ⁠ Two expert panels have made recommendations already — the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and Johns Hopkins University. ⁠ ⁠ But things get complicated quickly. ⁠ ⁠ "When you see these kinds of simple frameworks, they're very important. But the devil's in the details here," said William Moss, executive director of the Johns Hopkins University International Vaccine Access Center. ⁠ ⁠ First in line, experts agree, should be health care workers directly dealing with COVID-19 patients. They're at high risk of infection and they are also critical to keeping society running.⁠ ⁠ The other group that experts agree should be top priority are patients with health problems that put them at high risk for serious illness and death from COVID-19. That includes people with heart, lung or kidney disease, as well as diabetes and obesity. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more.⁠ -⁠ #COVID19 #coronavirus #voanews

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The number of nations with more than 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen to seven. ⁠ ⁠ Spain and France are the latest nations to reach the unfortunate mark, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. The United States tops the list with more than 8.3 million total cases, followed by India (7.6 million), Brazil (nearly 5.3 million), Russia (1.4 million) and Argentina, which has 1,037,325. Spain is in sixth place with 1,005,325 cases, followed by France with 1,000,369. ⁠ ⁠ Spain and France are also the first nations in Western Europe to record more than 1 million COVID-19 infections. ⁠ ⁠ Scores of researchers around the world are racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19, which has killed more than 1.1 million people around the globe and sickened more than 41.3 million. ⁠ ⁠ Brazil’s health authority Anvisa said Wednesday that a volunteer in a late-stage clinical trial of a vaccine developed by British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca had died but gave no further details about the circumstances. ⁠ ⁠ The volunteer was one of the 8,000 who either received the actual vaccine or a false drug known as a placebo. Because the testing has not been suspended, sources say the volunteer was likely a part of the control group that received the placebo. ⁠ ⁠ The AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in cooperation with Britain’s University of Oxford, is being tested in large-scale Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials in several nations, including the United States, Britain, South Africa and India. The drug maker temporarily put the trial on hold last month after a volunteer in Britain was diagnosed with a form of spinal inflammation after receiving a second dose of the vaccine. ⁠ ⁠ The trial has since resumed in Britain, Brazil, India and South Africa but remains on hold in the United States. ⁠ ⁠ 👉 Tap the link in our bio to read more.⁠ -⁠ #COVID19 #coronavirus #voanews

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