France Offers Conference on Sudan’s Debt if US Lifts Sanctions

France will host a conference with Sudan’s international creditors to help Khartoum address debt issues as soon as the United States removes the country from its state-sponsored terrorism list, French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday.In efforts to stabilize the country and to repair an economy battered by years of U.S. sanctions and government mismanagement during Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year rule, Sudanese transition government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is holding talks with Washington to see Sudan withdrawn from the list.”As soon as the Americans make their decision, we will be able to restructure the debt together,” Macron said at a joint press conference with Hamdok in Paris.”I have decided that France will host an international conference with private and public international creditors,” he added.Macron provided no timeframe.”The precise timing of the conference will depend on the timing upon which sanctions are to be lifted,” Macron said.On the sidelines of a United Nations General Assembly last week, Hamdok expressed hope Sudan would reach an agreement with the United States “very soon.”Sudan has been unable to tap the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for support because the United States still lists the country as a state sponsor of terrorism.A senior U.S. official said in August that Washington would test the commitment of Sudan’s new transitional government to human rights, freedom of speech and humanitarian access before it agrees to remove the country from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.Macron said France had also planned for Hamdok to have a meeting in Paris on Sunday with one of Darfur’s rebel leaders, Abdel Wahid el-Nur.
 

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Are Missing and Murdered Indigenous Men in US Being Ignored?

Hub Binion Williamson, 34, was last seen in April near Hardin, Montana, about 12 miles away from his home on the Crow Indian Reservation.  It was a trip he made almost daily, said his cousin Rachel Reddog. Along the way, she said he stopped at his aunt’s house for a drink of water.  After that, he vanished without a trace, leaving his family devastated.“It’s like having a huge splinter in your foot,” Reddog said. “Things just aren’t the same.”Crow Citizen Hub Binion was last seen walking home to the Crow Reservation from Hardin, Montana, April 9, 2019.Williamson is one of thousands of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) men and boys who are missing or murdered in the U.S. but capture little media attention in the shadow of the greater campaign seeking justice for missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW).Faulty reportingLissa Yellowbird-Chase, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, steps in where tribal police have failed to locate the missing.“I can tell you from what I’ve witnessed personally, that men are murdered and missing more than the women,” she said. “But not all their deaths are reported.”Medical examiners, she explained, trying to avoid the burdensome paperwork required in homicide cases, may note the cause of death as “overdose” or “alcohol-related” for both men and women.Williamson’s cousin Frankie Backbone, a member of the Crow Nation, cites the example of a another missing relative, his 14-year-old niece, Henny Scott, who disappeared in December 2018 and was later found dead.“She had a broken nose and bruises all over her body, but the county coroner said she died from ‘exposure,’” he said.Robert Garrett Steward, Jr., nicknamed “Baby Garrett,” a member of the Crow Nation in Montana, has been missing since October 4, 2013According to a 2008 Department of Health and Human Services Volunteer citizens planning a search and rescue operation after a 94-year-old elder went missing, Sept. 17, 2019.“Everybody is talking about MMIW, and that’s good. But our men and boys are missing and murdered in way higher in numbers,” Yatsayte said. “In the Navajo Nation alone, 57 persons are currently missing. Thirty-seven of them are men.”‘They’ll be back’So, why aren’t indigenous men getting more attention?Yellowbird-Chase and Yatsayte both point to gender stereotypes. Women are perceived as more vulnerable; men as more able to take care of themselves.  And because men commit most of the violence against women, families and law enforcement fail to recognize that men, too, are vulnerable.“I also think they focus more on the women because when that monthly check comes and she is not there to sign it — and the kids are having to be tended for by another family caregiver — well, then, they’re looking for the mother right away,” said Yellowbird-Chase.Yatsayte believes police ignore cases in which men go missing.“A lot of our indigenous brothers in the Navajo Nation have alcohol and drug problems,” she said. “You know, it’s kind of routine for them to take off for a couple days, go party with their friends in the border towns.”Knowing this, families may not report the missing for days, even weeks.“And when they finally do, the police say, ‘Oh, they’ll be back,’” Yatsayte said.Mona Sespe, a member of the Pala Band of Mission Indians in California, knows this firsthand. Ten years ago, her 60-year-old cousin Joseph Scott went missing.“I thought he was down in his trailer,” Sespe said. “He’d come up to eat, and I’d do his wash and stuff.  “He hadn’t come up for like a couple days, so I walked down there and called to him, knocked on the trailer door, and no answer.”Joseph Lawrence Scott disappeared from his home in Temecula, Cal., in 2009; he may have been spotted in Mexico in 2015.She called tribal police, who refused to break open the trailer door. Only after she complained to the tribal chairman did lawmakers act. The trailer was empty. Williamson has not been heard from since.  Reddog cites police apathy, not only in the case of her cousin Hub, but another cousin, Robert “Baby” Garrett, who went missing nearly six years ago.“Tribal police didn’t know my cousins personally, and it feels like we were almost laughed at for trying so hard to find them,” she said. This indifference has forced her family to organize their own search parties.“Law enforcement, they showed up once for the first search and rescue,” Reddog said. “They gave us some maps, and that was it.”  Police stretched thinMore than 200 police departments operate in Indian Country, ranging in size from a single officer to more than 200.  Complex jurisdictional rules mean that some crimes fall under state, local or federal jurisdiction, and some fall through the cracks.Most tribal police forces are limited in resources and manpower, and some are responsible for reservations the size of small U.S. states.This means police must pick and choose which cases deserve their attention:  When a 94-year-old citizen of the Navajo Nation disappeared from his front yard in Fort Defiance, Arizona, tribal police searched the desert with helicopters.Navajo Nation police used helicopters to search for a missing 94-year-old man, Sept. 17, 2019.“But if there’s no reason to believe that the person is in danger, if they don’t have a disability, they’re not a child, they’re not elderly, helicopters and search parties usually don’t happen,” said Yatsayte.Legislative remediesA number of bills have been introduced that would address these issues:Savanna’s Act would improve tribal access to national databases and require DOJ to develop national guidelines for handling missing and murdered Native Americans and report statistics annually to Congress. The Bridging Agency Data Gaps & Ensuring Safety (BADGES) for Native Communities Act would improve sharing of law enforcement agency data and boost officer recruitment and retention.The Not Invisible Act of 2019 would require the DOJ to allocate more resources toward missing and murdered Native Americans based on input from local, tribal and federal leaders.Congresswoman Deb Haaland, a Democrat from the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, has introduced amendments to the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA), which expired in February and is pending reauthorization, that would provide victim advocate services to urban Indians.In the interim, advocates are calling on the MMIW movement to change their acronym to MMIR — “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives.”

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North Korea Blames US for Stalled Denuclearization Talks

North Korea said Monday that tensions remain high with the United States and little has been achieved diplomatically, a year after the historic summit between the adversaries.“Relations between the DPRK and the U.S. have made little progress so far and the situation of the Korean Peninsula has not come out of the vicious cycle of increased tension,” North Korean U.N. Ambassador Kim Song told the final day of the U.N. General Assembly annual debate.“We expressed our willingness to sit with the U.S. for [a] comprehensive discussion of the issues we have deliberated so far,” Kim said of resuming bilateral talks.Kim blamed American “political and military provocations” for the stalled talks and urged Washington to find a new approach.Despite what U.S. President Donald Trump says is a positive personal relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un, his administration has maintained a policy of “maximum pressure” on North Korea, supporting tough international economic sanctions until Pyongyang makes progress toward complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.Talks between the U.S. and North Korea broke down after a second summit in February between Kim and Trump ended without a deal. Kim demanded a relaxation of sanctions in exchange for partial steps to dismantle his nuclear program. Trump wanted a more far-reaching deal.North Korea has conducted 10 rounds of short-range missile tests since early May. Trump has shrugged off the tests, saying he has no problem with short-range launches. Many within range of the short-range missiles do not share that assessment.During his speech last week to the U.N. General Assembly, President Trump only briefly touched on North Korea, saying it is a country “full of tremendous untapped potential, but that to realize that promise, North Korea must denuclearize.”His former national security advisor, John Bolton, said Monday that North Korea “has not made a strategic decision to give up its nuclear weapons,” and that “the strategic decision Kim Jong Un is operating through is that he will do whatever he can to keep a deliverable nuclear weapons capability and to develop and enhance it further.”Bolton, who was fired by Trump earlier in September due to policy differences, was speaking to an audience at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.On Monday, North Korea’s envoy put the weight of diplomacy on the United States.“It depends on the U.S., whether the DPRK-U.S. negotiation will become a window of opportunity or an occasion that will hasten the crisis,” the envoy said, using the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the country’s official name.He also criticized South Korea for what he said was “double-dealing behavior,” shaking hands in public but behind the scenes introducing new sophisticated weapons and holding joint military exercises with the United States.The envoy said intra-Korean relations would only improve when Seoul ends its “big power worship” and policy of dependence on foreign forces.The United States has maintained some 28,000 troops in South Korea since the end of the Korean War. 

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Another US Airstrike in Libya Targets IS Fighters

A U.S. airstrike in Libya has killed seven Islamic State fighters, according to U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).It is the fourth U.S. strike this month against the terror group in the southwestern Libyan town of Murzuq.One airstrike last week killed 17 IS militants, and another killed 11, according to AFRICOM. A strike on Sept. 19 killed eight IS militants.The strikes were carried out in coordination with the Libyan Government of National Accord to degrade IS’s “ability to effectively conduct operations against the Libyan people,” said Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, AFRICOM director of operations.U.S. officials say the deteriorating security situation in Libya has allowed militants affiliated with IS to expand their presence in ungoverned spaces of the desert in the country’s south.Troops affiliated with the Government of National Accord have been fighting forces led by strongman Khalifa Haftar, commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army. The fighting has left hundreds of people dead in Tripoli and in nearby cities and towns.In recent months, IS has claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks against Libyan civilians and military personnel.  But as IS has become more emboldened by the current political chaos in Libya, U.S. officials tell VOA they have also made themselves an easier target.Some reports say that between 500 and 750 IS fighters are currently active in Libya, but experts think the number is higher than what has been reported as foreign fighters continue to flee there from Syria.

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Treasury Targets Russians Suspected of Meddling in Midterms

The Treasury Department is targeting Russians suspected of trying to influence the 2018 U.S. midterm elections.
 
Treasury says, however, there is no indication that they were able to compromise election infrastructure in ways that would have blocked voters, changed vote counts or disrupted vote counting.
 
 Monday’s action targets for sanctions four entities, seven individuals, three aircraft and a yacht that are all associated with the Internet Research Agency and its Russian financier, Yevgeniy Prigozhin.
 
Treasury says the IRA used fictitious personas on social media and disseminated false information to attempt to influence the 2018 U.S. midterm elections and try to undermine faith in U.S. democratic institutions. 

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Trump Applauds Gen. Milley on Becoming Joint Chiefs Chairman

President Donald Trump has congratulated Gen. Mark Milley on becoming chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff.Trump is attending a rainy welcome ceremony for Milley at a military base in Arlington, Virginia. Trump says he’s always heard that rain on a big event brings luck and tells Milley, “Mark, I think you’re going to be the luckiest general in history.”
 
The role of the Joint Chiefs chairman is to advise the president, defense secretary and the National Security Council on military issues.
 
Trump also calls Milley his friend and adviser and says he “never had a doubt” about nominating Milley for the position.
 
Milley, formerly the Army chief of staff, succeeds Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford.
 
Trump chose Milley over a candidate favored by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.  

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US Rep. Chris Collins Expected to Plead Guilty in Insider Trading Case

U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, a Republican congressman from western New York, is expected to plead guilty in an insider trading case accusing him of leaking confidential information in an urgent phone call made from a White House picnic, according to court records filed Monday.A federal judge in Manhattan has scheduled a hearing for Collins to enter a guilty plea to unspecified charges in the case Tuesday afternoon. A similar hearing has been scheduled Thursday for the congressman’s son, Cameron Collins.Collins’ congressional office declined to comment on Monday. His attorney didn’t immediately respond to a message. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan also declined to comment.Collins, who was among the first members of Congress to support President Donald Trump’s run for the White House, had been scheduled to go to trial next year on charges of conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements to the FBI. Prosecutors accused him of sharing non-public information from a biopharmaceutical company with his son, allowing Cameron Collins and another man to avoid nearly $800,000 in stock losses.The case, filed in August of 2018, initially caused the 69-year-old Collins to drop a reelection bid, but he restarted his campaign a month later as Republican leaders were deliberating who would replace him on the ballot.At the time he said the “stakes are too high to allow the radical left to take control of this seat in Congress.”The charges turned Collins’ expected easy reelection in a strongly Republican district into a close race, but he managed to fend off Democratic challenger Nate McMurray by a thin margin.A conviction would likely lead to Collins’ resignation from Congress. The most serious charge carries a potential prison term of up to 20 years.The charges stem from Collins’ business ties with Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd., a biotechnology company headquartered in Sydney, Australia. He was the company’s largest shareholder, with nearly 17% of its shares, and sat on its board.According to the indictment, Collins was attending the Congressional Picnic at the White House on June 22, 2017, when he received an email from the company’s chief executive saying that a trial of a drug the company developed to treat multiple sclerosis was a clinical failure.Collins responded to the email saying: “Wow. Makes no sense. How are these results even possible???” the indictment said.It said he then called his son, Cameron Collins, and, after several missed calls, they spoke for more than six minutes.The next morning, according to the indictment, Cameron Collins began selling his shares, unloading enough over a two-day period to avoid $570,900 in losses before a public announcement of the drug trial results. After the announcement, the company’s stock price plunged 92%.Cameron Collins is accused of passing along the information to his fiancée’s father, so he could also dump his stock.

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After Deadly Fire, Greece to Move Migrants From Packed Camps

Signaling a shift in policy, Greece’s government said Monday it would accelerate efforts to move thousands of refugees and migrants from Aegean Sea islands to the mainland following a deadly fire at the country’s largest camp on the island of Lesbos.The decision was announced after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis chaired a four-hour cabinet meeting, a day after a fire at the Moria camp left one asylum-seeker dead and 17 injured.More than 12,000 people — more than four times the site’s capacity — are currently housed in the camp and just outside its perimeter following a spike in migrant arrivals over the summer.Police said the fire gutted eight container homes in the camp and triggered rioting by camp residents who were dispersed by riot police using stun grenades. No sign of arson was found at the site — contradicting earlier statements by authorities on the island who said the fires may have been started deliberately by camp dwellers.Government officials unveiled plans Monday to evenly distribute camps nationally in all 13 regional authorities, mostly on the mainland, replacing a three-year-old practice of containing new arrivals on Lesbos and four other eastern islands facing the Turkish coast.“This is a national crisis and it must be addressed with a spirit of responsibility,” said Eleftherios Oikonomou, a deputy public order minister. “The number of people on the islands will be reduced in an orderly way that is proportionate and involves the 13 regional authorities.”Other decisions include the creation of detention centers for migrants who do not have the right to apply for asylum, high-level contacts between the Greek and Turkish governments to restart deportations to Turkey, and continued military support for coast guard patrols in the eastern Aegean.The containment policy on the Greek islands was part of measures under a 2016 agreement between the European Union and Turkey to fight illegal immigration into Europe.But Mina Andreeva, a spokeswoman for the European Commission, said the EU executive supported the latest Greek measure and was ready to provide additional support. She described the fire on Lesbos as a “truly tragic event.”The interior ministers of France and Germany are due to visit Greece and Turkey this week with outgoing EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, a Greek.In Berlin, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government backed Greek efforts to increase the number of migrant deportations to Turkey.

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