New Year Celebrations around the World

New Zealand, Australia, and surrounding Pacific Islands were among the first places to ring in 2018 with fireworks displays, parties, and other festivities. Nearly 1.5 million people gathered to watch a rainbow fireworks display above Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge and opera house.

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Multiple Officers Shot, One Fatally, in Colorado

Five sheriff’s deputies and two civilians were shot as police responded to a domestic disturbance call Sunday in the Midwestern U.S. state of Colorado.

The Douglas County sheriff’s office said that one of the five deputies had been killed, and the suspect was shot and no longer a threat.

“Suspect shot & believed to be dead & no longer a threat,” the sheriff’s department wrote on Twitter.

 

 

Earlier in the morning, the sheriff’s office issued a “code red” in the surrounding area, advising residents nearby to stay indoors and avoid windows.

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Mistrust Remains Two Years After Poisoned Water Crisis

Two years after a state of emergency was declared in Flint, Michigan because of lead-poisoned water, residents have been assured their water is now safe. But residents are wary even though these assurances come from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. VOA’s Anush Avetisyan visited Flint and spoke to residents who face a battle for clean water every day.

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Library of Congress Will No Longer Collect Every Tweet Created

The U.S. Library of Congress says it will no longer collect every single tweet published on Twitter as it has been doing for the past 12 years. 

The library said this week that it can no longer collect everything across the entire social media platform because of recent changes Twitter has made, including allowing longer tweets, photos and videos. 

It said in a blog post this week that its first objective with collecting and archiving tweets was “to document the emergence of online social media for future generations.” The library says it has fulfilled that objective and no longer needs to be a “comprehensive” collector of tweets. 

The Library of Congress said it will still collect and archive tweets in the future, but will do so on a more selective basis. It said going forward “the tweets collected and archived will be thematic and event-based, including events such as elections, or themes of ongoing national interest, e.g. public policy.”

The library said it generally does not collect media comprehensively, but said it made an exception for public tweets when the social media platform was first developed. 

The library said it will keep its previous archive of tweets from 2006-2017 to help people understand the rise of social media and to offer insight into the public mood during that time. “Throughout its history, the Library has seized opportunities to collect snapshots of unique moments in human history and preserve them for future generations,” it said.

“The Twitter Archive may prove to be one of this generation’s most significant legacies to future generations. Future generations will learn much about this rich period in our history, the information flows, and social and political forces that help define the current generation,” it said.

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Pence Carving out a Role as Presidential Envoy

U.S. vice presidents historically have had widely varying influence in the White House, depending on their relationship with the president. As Donald Trump’s administration prepares for its second year, VOA’s Mike O’Sullivan reports on how Vice President Mike Pence’s role continues to broaden.

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Report: Australian Diplomat’s Tip a Factor in FBI’s Russia Probe

An Australian diplomat’s tip appears to have helped persuade the FBI to investigate Russian meddling in the U.S. election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos told the diplomat, Alexander Downer, during a meeting in London in May 2016 that Russia had thousands of emails that would embarrass Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, the report said. Downer, a former foreign minister, is Australia’s top diplomat in Britain.

Australia passed the information on to the FBI after the Democratic emails were leaked, according to the Times, which cited four current and former U.S. and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.

“The hacking and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the FBI to open an investigation in July 2016,” the newspaper said.

White House lawyer Ty Cobb declined to comment, saying in a statement that the administration was continuing to cooperate with the investigation now led by special counsel Robert Mueller “to help complete their inquiry expeditiously.”

Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty of lying to the FBI and is a cooperating witness. Court documents unsealed two months ago show he met in April 2016 with Joseph Mifsud, a professor in London who told him about Russia’s cache of emails. This was before the Democratic National Committee became aware of the scope of the intrusion into its email systems by hackers later linked to the Russian government.

The Times said Papadopoulos shared this information with Downer, but it was unclear whether he also shared it with anyone in the Trump campaign.

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Daughter of Black Lives Matter Figure Garner Dies at 27

The daughter of key Black Lives Matter figure Eric Garner died Saturday after a weeklong hospital stay following a heart attack.

“She was a warrior to the end. She stood up for justice for her father,” the Reverend Al Sharpton said in announcing the death of Erica Garner, 27, at a New York hospital.

Garner’s official Twitter account, run by her family and friends since she became ill, asked that she be remembered as a mother, daughter, sister and aunt with a heart “bigger than the world.”

In 2014, her father, Eric Garner, who was black, was stopped on Staten Island for selling untaxed cigarettes and died after a white police officer subdued him with a chokehold. A grand jury declined to indict the officer; the city agreed to pay a $6 million civil settlement.

Garner’s last words, “I can’t breathe,” became a slogan for activists.

Erica Garner became a voice for police accountability after his death, criticizing Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio over policing matters. In 2016, she campaigned on behalf of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who ran for the Democratic Party’s nomination, for president.

Garner’s mother, Esaw Snipes, told The New York Times previously that Garner, who gave birth four months ago, had learned during the pregnancy that she had heart problems.

Snipes said Garner had a heart attack after an asthma episode and was placed in a medically induced coma.

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Turkey Rages After Coup ‘Plotter’ Is Granted Asylum in Greece

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Saturday slammed a decision in Greece to grant asylum to a Turkish helicopter co-pilot, who fled the country after last year’s failed coup, as “politically motivated” and warned of a negative impact on bilateral relations.

The co-pilot — who flew seven other Turkish military officers to Greece — was granted asylum after Greek authorities ruled that his human rights would be at risk, despite repeated requests for his extradition by Ankara.

The decision “again reveals that Greece is a country that protects and embraces plotters,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that the ruling was “politically motivated.”

“Greece has not shown the support and cooperation we expect from an ally in the fight against terrorism,” the statement added.

The ruling is an embarrassment to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who asked for the officers to be extradited during a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in December, as part of the first official visit to Athens by a Turkish president in 65 years.

Late Saturday evening, Tsipras tried to contain any fallout from the asylum ruling by calling for the decision to be annulled.

“The Greek government filed on Saturday a request for annulment of the asylum decision taken the day before by the asylum authority,” the office of the Greek prime minister said.

Co-pilot’s denial

The co-pilot, who landed in the Greek city of Alexandroupoli hours after the putsch was defeated on July 15, 2016, had denied being part of the coup attempt.

Despite Turkey’s assertions, the asylum judges said there was no evidence to suggest the co-pilot had participated in a plot to unseat Erdogan.

According a judicial source, the ruling took into account reports from human rights groups and the Council of Europe that warned Turkey has regularly committed human rights abuses against coup suspects.

A ruling on the seven other military officers is expected to be made in the coming weeks.

In January, the Greek Supreme Court blocked the extradition of the officers, saying that they would not have a fair trial in Turkey.

More than 140,000 people, including judges, lawyers, journalists and academics, have been sacked or suspended in Turkey since the failed coup, while 55,000 people have been arrested over suspected links to U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkey claims Gulen ordered the attempted coup, something he denies.

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