На чемпіонаті світу з легкої атлетики, який триває у місті Доха (Катар), українці вибороли першу нагороду. Вісімнадцятирічна чемпіонка ІІІ Юнацьких Олімпійських ігор Ярослава Магучіх стала другою у стрибках в висоту, взявши 2,04 метра. Це не лише особистий рекорд українки, але й світовий рекорд серед спортсменів віком до 20 років.
«Золото» здобула Марія Ласіцкене, яка виступає під нейтральним прапором. Вона також подолала позначку 2,04 метри, але випередила Магучіх за кількістю спроб.
Ще одна українка Юлія Левченко стала четвертою. Її результат – два метри.
Цьогоріч Ярослава Магучіх стала чемпіонкою Європи серед спортсменів віком до 20 років, піднімалася на п’єдестал «Діамантової ліги», а також стала наймолодшою представницею стрибків у висоту, яка підкорила 2 метри.
В Українському гідрометеорологічному центрі повідомили, що вночі 1 жовтня у більшості областей України, а вдень місцями у східній частині очікуються дощі.
«Вітер переважно північно-західний, 7-12 м/с, вночі та вранці в Україні пориви 15-20 м/с. Температура вночі 9-14; вдень 13-18, на Закарпатті, Прикарпатті та в південній частині 19-24. 1 жовтня у Києві вночі дощ, вдень без опадів. Вітер переважно північно-західний, 7-12 м/с, вночі та вранці пориви 15-20 м/с. Температура вночі 12-14, вдень близько 15», – йдеться в повідомленні.
Синоптик Наталка Діденко на сторінці у Facebook зауважує, що жовтень в Україну «прийде теплим і лагідним».
«Дощів не передбачається, лише вздовж північного кордону є ймовірність невеликих опадів, а також на крайньому сході», – додала Діденко.
За даними Держслужби з надзвичайних ситуацій, 1 жовтня у більшості районів Дніпропетровської, Кіровоградської, Черкаської, Полтавської, східних областей та південної частини України утримається надзвичайний рівень пожежної небезпеки.
Thelda Williams was already in her 40s when she was first elected to the city council in Phoenix, Arizona, but that didn’t stop people from assuming she wasn’t up to the task. The Arizona Republican believes people underestimated her because she is a woman.
“Staff, in the very, very beginning, really treated me like, ‘Well, you probably don’t understand. This is probably too overwhelming. There are too many subjects,’” she recalls. “And, you know, you prove them wrong.”
Decades later, Williams remains on the city council, having served as interim mayor three times, most recently during a stint that ended in March. One of the arenas in which Williams still believes she isn’t treated equally is when it comes to how the media cover her.
“You know, I just don’t get the same respect. I mean, they talk about everything from what shoes I wear, to what color my hair is, to what my age is,” she says. “You don’t see that with the men. … What really irritates me is when it’s a woman who’s written the article.”
The undermining of women in politics is not new. Stereotypes and double standards continue to exist for female politicians, says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
“And it starts with things as basic and as simple as being scrutinized for their physical appearance, what they wear, how their hair looks, the way in which they speak,” Walsh says.
“During the 2016 presidential election, we heard comments that Hillary Clinton didn’t smile enough. We never heard that about Bernie Sanders, and heaven knows he is not somebody who grins. He’s pretty grumpy, and so is, for that matter, Donald Trump.”
Women are also criticized for being shrill when they speak forcefully. Media focus on details not related to the issues can hurt women electorally.
“If the media is not focusing on the content of what women are talking about, but much more on their presentation, their style, their appearance, it diminishes them as serious candidates,” Walsh says.
“And this becomes even more of a challenge for women who are running for office, because women are not assumed — in the same way that men are assumed to be — qualified and capable and able to hold these offices. So, they have to prove themselves in ways that male candidates do not.”
A record number of women are running for president in 2020, and how the press covers them could impact their political fortunes.
In Massachusetts in March, Northeastern University’s School of Journalism examined almost 1,400 articles about the 2020 presidential election and found that the female candidates were consistently described more negatively than their male counterparts.
The female candidate with the fewest positive words written about her, Kirsten Gillibrand, has already quit the race.
Walsh says female candidates have to navigate the presidential debates differently than men because a man who interrupts or asserts himself is not written up in quite the same way as a woman who does the same thing.
She’s also concerned about the recurring question of electability.
“There is this assumption that somehow after 2016, the Democrats need to ‘play it safe’ right now and not take a risk on a woman candidate, that they have to win,” she says. “I assume ‘traditional’ is white and male and probably over 60 years old.”
Williams isn’t holding out hope that media coverage will one day focus solely on the issues and not her appearance, delivery style or age.
“I mean, it doesn’t seem like they’re ever going to change,” she says. “I think they expect me to behave nicer, be a little gentler. The men can get away with saying just about anything — it can be swear words — whereas a woman, you can’t. We’re expected, I think, ‘You have to behave.’”
In her experience, there are very specific losses for society when women are not at the decision-making table.
“I think right off the bat, compassion. And not only for people — kids, seniors, families, animals. I think that’s all missing if it’s just left up to men,” Williams says. “Morals would be so much different if there were no women politicians. I think they bring much more detail and depth to almost every subject.”
Activist Erin Schrode, who ultimately lost her 2016 congressional bid in her California district, faced an onslaught of misogynistic attacks and physical threats from nontraditional media. The online campaign against her was orchestrated by a popular neo-Nazi website.
“Insinuating that I had, or would, perform sexual acts to advance my standing in the political world,” she says, recalling the online attacks against her. “That I wouldn’t have my job if I weren’t pretty. And on the flip side, that I was too hideous to even merit a vote.”
Despite the harassment she endured, Schrode agrees with Williams that more women are needed in public office and hasn’t ruled out a future run for herself.
“We need that perspective, that judgment, that level headedness, that experience the same way that we need all voices represented in Congress,” she says.
“Women are communicators. Women are fighters. Women are mothers. Women are forces to be reckoned with. And our place is wherever we want it to be, and that most certainly includes the halls of Congress.”
U.S. President Donald Trump is continuing to unleash attacks on Democrats who have initiated an impeachment inquiry of him over a whistleblower complaint.
In a series of Twitter posts Monday, Trump lashed out at his accusers and focused much of his ire at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff who last week parodied the president’s remarks of a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
“Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.
Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?
Trump also tweeted comments made by a conservative pastor that warned of the dangers of “civil war” if the president was impeached.
….If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.” Pastor Robert Jeffress, @FoxNews
The whistleblower alleges that Trump sought Zelenskiy’s help in digging up incriminating information about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter that would hurt Biden’s prospects of winning the Democratic presidential nomination and challenging Trump in the 2020 U.S. election. The White House last week released a rough transcript of the call.
While not present during Trump’s call to Zelenskiy, the whistleblower says that several officials “with direct knowledge of the call” provided a consistent account of what transpired, substantiating its authenticity.
Lawyers representing the whistleblower are stressing the need to protect the person’s identity, while the president has said he deserves to “meet my accuser.”
The legal team led by Andrew Bakaj issued a statement Sunday saying lawyers are continuing to work with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to finalize the logistics of having the whistleblower meet with lawmakers, but that no date has been set.
Another lawyer, Mark Zaid, denied a report that the whistleblower was under federal protection due to safety concerns.
The legal group published a copy of a letter it sent to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence saying their concerns for the whistleblower’s personal safety have increased during the past week, and that they “expect this situation to worsen.” They cited as evidence a statement from the president. The lawyers also said they were aware that people were offering substantial sums of money for information about the whistleblower’s identity.
“I want to know who’s the person who gave the Whistleblower, who’s the person that gave the Whistleblower the information, because that’s close to a spy. You know what what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? With spies and treason, right? We used to handle them a little differently than we do now,” Trump said Thursday.
In a separate letter to the top Democrats and Republicans on the Senate and House intelligence committees, the whistleblower’s lawyers called for lawmakers to “speak out in favor of whistleblower protection and reiterate that this is a protected system where retaliation is not permitted, whether direct or implied.”
Trump has been repeatedly posting on Twitter, reiterating his defense of the July phone call with Ukraine’s president that is at the center of the whistleblower complaint.
“Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called “Whistleblower,” represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way,” Trump said on Sunday. “In addition, I want to meet not only my accuser, who presented SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION, but also the person who illegally gave this information, which was largely incorrect, to the “Whistleblower.” What this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!”
According to a copy of the whistleblower complaint released last week, the person said they “received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”
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.
Українська майстриня петриківського розпису Галина Назаренко дає майстер-класи в Токіо у рамках міжнародного культурного фестивалю Global Festa JAPAN 2019.
Захід організувало посольство України в Японії за сприяння Мистецької асоціації «Японія-Україна», повідомляє кореспондент Радіо Свобода.
У майстер-класах з розпису Галини Назаренко вже взяли участь понад сто людей, серед яких були представники Японії, Аргентини, Китаю, Мадагаскару, США, Чилі, України. Під керівництвом художниці вони вчились малювати традиційні для петриківки мотиви – квіти, калину, півника.
Майстриня Галина Назаренко каже, що з радістю їхала до Японії, щоб презентувати українське народне мистецтво.
«При першому знайомстві з цією країною звернула увагу на її схожість з Україною, а саме на любов японців до природи. Адже наші пращури, як і японці, вірили в те, що все, що нас оточує, має душу. Така єдність людини з природою, її краса та сила і є одним із головних мотивів петриківського розпису», – каже Галина Назаренко.
За її словами, повчитись розпису завітали представники університетів Японії, діячі культури, жителі Токіо, члени української громади. Деякі відвідувачі приходили двічі.
Другий секретар посольства України в Японії Віолетта Удовік зазначає, що проведення таких заходів України є важливим для ознайомлення японських громадян з історією та традиціями України.
«Японці вже знають, що борщ – це українська страва, а один з найвідоміших японських борців сумо Кокі Тайхо мав українське походження. Проте, є ще дуже багато речей, які б ми їм хотіли розповісти про Україну, і немає кращої для цього мови, ніж мова культури та мистецтва», – зауважила Віолетта Удовік.
У рамках презентації петриківки в Японії Галина Назаренко також провели майстер-клас для дітей в українській недільній школі Токіо «Джерельце».
2 жовтня в Токіо художниця навчатиме азам розпису японських школярів початкової школи.
Галина Назаренко – одна із сучасних майстринь петриківського розпису, родом з Петриківки на Дніпропетровщині. У своєму доробку має кілька десятків виставок, зокрема близько 25 персональних, у багатьох країнах світу – Україні, Франції, Болгарії, США, Канаді, Грузії, Білорусі, Кувейті, Узбекистані, Китаї, Туркменистані, Іспанії, Греції, Нідерландах. Після виставок у Франції її прийняли до Асоціації сучасного мистецтва міста Морестель. Галину Назаренко вважають продовжувачкою традицій, закладених старшим поколінням майстрів – Тетяною Патою, Надією Білокінь, Ориною Пилипенко. Твори художниці зберігаються в колекціях в Україні, Італії, Німеччині, США, Канаді, Австралії. Створила понад дві тисячі робіт. …
Four years after battling life-threatening cancer in his liver and brain, and four months after falling and breaking his hip, requiring surgery and weeks of intense physical therapy, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter took the stage September 18, unassisted, here for the Annual Jimmy Carter Emory University Town Hall, which he’s participated in, uninterrupted, for 38 years.
Standing without assistance for more than 30 minutes, addressing topics ranging from current polarized U.S. politics to his favorite animal, Carter, a distinguished professor at Emory, showed no signs of fatigue or pain as he enthusiastically answered question after question from those who gathered in the cavernous campus gymnasium by the thousands to hear him speak.
“Before this I really didn’t know much about President Carter,” freshman Stephanie Teng said. “I feel so fortunate to be here. I know that many students won’t have this opportunity in their lifetime, and this is a uniquely Emory thing, and something I’ll remember the rest of my life.”
“I think it’s a problem when we overly lionize political figures, but I do have a great deal of respect for Jimmy Carter,” another freshman, Gian-Luigi Zaninelli, said.
“I’ve heard a great many conservatives being credibly critical of Jimmy Carter and basically view him as an ineffectual president,” he said. However, Zaninelli said that comes from Carter’s presidential term, from 1977 to 1981.
“Because of the good works he’s been doing over the course of the last 30 or more years, we have a high opinion of him as a human being,” Zaninelli said. “What is indisputable is that Jimmy Carter cares about other people and devotes himself to service, and when he did serve as a president, regardless of the success of his policies, he was doing so as a servant leader and not someone who was intending to enrich himself.”
“I would say I still adhere to the advice my school principal gave me, ‘You must accommodate to changing times – and these are really changing times – but cling to principles that never do change,’” Carter told VOA in an exclusive interview at the Atlanta-based Carter Center.
WATCH: VOA interview with President Carter
President Jimmy Carter Interview September 2019 video player.
“So I have faith in those principles, like telling the truth, and helping other people.”
Carter this year became the oldest living former president in U.S. history, surpassing George H.W. Bush for the record, and October 1 becomes the first former occupant of the White House to reach 95.
He reaches the milestone while continuing to engage with new and younger audiences born years after his presidency, and to work on the sorts of projects that have characterized his post-presidency life.
He is still involved in the Carter Center, which he leads with Rosalynn, his wife of 73 years, and which “wages peace, fights disease, and builds hope” around the world through programs including election monitoring, the elimination of river blindness, and the eradication of Guinea worm disease, among others, he told VOA.
“We still have in the neighborhood of 25 cases of Guinea worm, but we started out with three and a half million,” Carter said, with most of those cases in Africa.
During an August 2015 press conference here, when Carter told the world he was battling cancer that had spread to his brain, he said his one key hope was to witness the eradication of Guinea worm disease in his lifetime.
There have been setbacks in the Guinea worm fight, including new cases of transmission between dogs, which can pass the worm to humans through water sources, that could ultimately jeopardize his hopes.
“We think we’ve prevented maybe 80 million people from having Guinea worm who may have had it otherwise,” Carter said, “So we’ve made very good progress but we still have a little ways to go.”
While staff and volunteers around the world continue to work on the various peace and health initiatives that President and Mrs. Carter have championed since establishing the center in 1986, the former peanut farmer continues to participate in the annual weeklong Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project with Habitat for Humanity, a global nonprofit housing organization, building homes for those who need them most. This year’s event is in Nashville, Tennessee, occurring soon after Carter’s birthday.
While there are no further signs of cancer and Carter says he is in relatively good health, he concedes age may finally be catching up with him.
“I still feel just about as active as I ever was, but my overseas movements are restrained because of age and health. I used to travel to Africa three or four times a year, and always to China and so forth, so I’ve cut back on my foreign travel,” he said.
Nevertheless, Carter remains an admired figure.
“President Carter is a kind of secular saint in America today,” Joe Crespino, the Jimmy Carter professor of history and chair of the history department at Emory University, said. He said Carter has set a high standard for what is expected of U.S. presidents once they leave office.
“His longevity, his commitment to doing as much good as he can do on the time he had left on earth is really a remarkable model, not just for his fellow Americans but for people around the globe,” he said.
Liv first met Bill in 2016 when she was a college student and $5,000 in debt from student loans.
Making rent was next to impossible, she said, but Bill helped her manage her expenses and finances better. They saw each other a few times a week, and soon Bill was paying Liv’s tuition and rent. He sent her on exotic trips to Europe and Thailand. They moved in together.
“He taught me how to do my taxes. He taught me how to get my own car insurance. He helped me pay back student loans,” Liv said. “He just taught me so much and he didn’t have to do any of it.
“I actually grew real feelings for him.”
“Actually” because Liv was 24 and Bill was 70 when they connected on SeekingArrangement, an online sugar-dating site that promotes itself as offering “upfront and honest arrangements with someone who will cater to your needs.”
Typically, the arrangements are between young women (sugar babies) and older men (sugar daddies) with money. Sugar babies seek financial assistance in return for company. Most of the sources VOA Student Union interviewed said financial arrangements often, but not always, include sex in return.
“Join the more than 2.7 million students in the United States who have turned to SeekingArrangement and Sugar Daddies to avoid student debt and secure a better future,” according to their website. VOA Student Union made several attempts for comment from SeekingArrangement.
Liv said she was seeking financial support for student debt and other expenses, and Bill was happy to help.
“On that second date, he gave me $2,000…which paid for about four or five months of campus housing,” she said.
Bill loved to treat Liv, she said, and sent her on international vacations. When they had been dating for nine months, Bill sent Liv on a vacation to Thailand. While there, she got a call that Bill had cancer that had metastasized. After she flew home, she slept by his hospital bedside almost every night. A month later, he died.
Bill bequeathed Liv more than $60,000 in an investment fund.
“The money is definitely a big help for me. It helped me move out of the state, helped me get my own place, helped me get a new car,” she said.
Exchanging companionship for financial support is not novel, but the internet has allowed people to connect more easily. That, combined with record-high tuition debt for many students — $37,000 on average or $1.6 trillion combined nationwide — has some students looking for alternative methods of debt relief. Some, like Liv, become sugar babies.
She’s not alone. At Georgia State University in Atlanta — which registered the most sugar babies of all U.S. colleges, according to SeekingArrangement — more than 1,300 students signed up in 2018. Hundreds of students have signed up at schools in Florida, Alabama, New Jersey, California, Texas and Missouri.
Is it all about sex?
Some women, like Liv, are well compensated in a mutual relationship.
“Sometimes it’s not about sex,” Samantha, a college senior, explained. “Some men are just lonely. Some of them really are looking for someone to hang out with.”
But for others like Helene, the sugar daddies were domineering and violent.
“It’s very rare for sugar babies to find a man that is not looking for sex,” Helene said. When one partner pays for everything, many men feel they are entitled to dominate the relationship.
“I knew that the only way for me to make money was to either sell drugs or get a sugar daddy,” she said.
A 20-year-old international student in the United States, her visa does not allow her to work in the U.S. She says she doesn’t want to burden her family financially. Through SeekingArrangement, she met a 27-year-old man who at first seemed normal, but then became aggressive.
He asked Helene to do things outside their agreement. He told her he would send her $1,000 immediately to have sex with him.
“I was stupid and scared, so I did what I had to do,” Helene said.
When she asked for payment, he taunted her and refused. As she tried to leave, he “took his T-shirt off, wrapped it around my head and tangled it around my neck. … I really thought he was going to keep me hostage.”
Another man Helene met ignored sexual consent. After three months together, he became forceful and “stopped caring about what I thought was uncomfortable. … He would get rougher and more violent with me as if he liked it when I told him to stop.”
Sugar daddies often expect babies to adopt submissive roles in exchange for the money and gifts they receive.
“Some guys, they give you money and they think they have access to you 24/7, like you can never tell them no,” said Liv, who returned to sugaring after Bill died.
Helene said her experiences “kind of ruined my relationship to sex. … I didn’t like to be touched … or hugged from behind … because of what my sugar daddies did to me.”
Still, she is not ready to abandon sugaring, she said.
“It hasn’t changed my relationship to the sugar baby/sugar daddy world, because I need the money,” she said.
Men are sugar babies, too. Antonio found his first sugar daddy when he was 18.
“I tried to hang out where I knew men with money hung out, because I had no idea what I was doing,” he said. Like Liv and Helene, he needed money for college. His first sugar daddy paid Antonio’s tuition and gave him money for school books and shopping sprees.
Antonio said he misses the perks of sugar dating.
“I work two jobs now … I want to be able to afford the things I once had. I got accustomed to that lifestyle,” he added.
Samantha said she just wanted exciting experiences with a mature partner. “I don’t really have any real need for money. [It’s] not something that interests me.”
She said she preferred the no-strings-attached nature of sugar dating. “[I wanted] something that wouldn’t be too normal, something that would be more casual … something that wouldn’t get boring.”
Many people see sugar dating as a form of prostitution, or sex work, which is defined as a consensual sexual encounter between two or more adults in exchange for payment. The legal status of sex work is debated all over the world. In the United States, public opinion on sex work appears to favor its criminalization.
Sweta Patel, a criminal defense attorney in Washington, D.C., said that while there are similarities between sex work and sugar dating, the difference in a sugar relationship is sex and money may be one part of the relationship, but not all.
Patel makes another distinction between sugar babies and sex workers.
“The sugar-daddy model is two consenting adults, while often in sex work, that is not always the case,” she said.
Patel said undercover law enforcement monitors websites like SeekingArrangement for relationships that cross into sex work.
“I’m so naive, so I’ve never thought about that,” Helene said.
Because of sex-trafficking and recently passed legislation to control it, such as the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), many apps like SeekingArrangement closely monitor messaging. Last year, the popular online classified site Craigslist stopped offering personal ads because they were being used by sex traffickers.
Free to make choices
Ultimately, say some sugar babies, they are adults engaging in adult relationships on their own terms.
“So many so-called romantic relationships are based on how much money or status or how good looking someone is,” Liv said. “How is that more honest?”
“You give your girlfriends and wives money and pay their bills. The one difference here is the age,” she said. “On the other hand, I would say this lifestyle is not for everyone, and not for everyone to approve of or understand. But it works for us and that’s all that matters.”
Helene says the economics are the last word for her.
“Most people think that sugar babies are too lazy to work and make money or (are) gold-diggers, but that’s not always the case,” Helene said. “If I wasn’t in this situation that I’m in, I would never do this. I don’t like giving my body to strangers I don’t know, but if that’s the way for me to get an income, then that’s what I’ll do.”
A regional Chinese diplomat has rebuked the United States for being “ignorant” about his country’s ongoing key economic contributions and cooperation with Afghanistan.
Arrangements are being worked out to enhance the cooperation with Kabul even under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Yao Jing, the Chinese ambassador to neighboring Pakistan told VOA.
He hailed Saturday’s successful Afghan presidential election, saying China hopes they will boost peace-building efforts in a country wrecked by years of conflicts.
“We hope that with the election in Afghanistan, with the peace development moving forward in Afghanistan, Afghans will finally achieve a peaceful period, achieve the stability,” said the Chinese diplomat, who served in Kabul prior to his posting in Islamabad.
Earlier this month, U.S. officials and lawmakers during a congressional hearing in Washington sharply criticized China for its lack of economic assistance to Afghan rebuilding efforts.
“I think it’s fair to say that China has not contributed to the economic development of Afghanistan. We have not seen any substantial assistance from China,” Alice Wells, U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, told lawmakers.
Wells, however, acknowledged that Beijing has worked with Washington on a way forward on peace as have other countries, including Russia and immediate neighbors of Afghanistan.
“She is a little ignorant about what China’s cooperation with Afghanistan is,” ambassador Yao said when asked to comment on the remarks made by Wells.
He recounted that Beijing late last year established a trade corridor with Kabul, which Afghan officials say have enabled local traders to directly export thousands of tons of pine nuts to the Chinese market annually, bringing much-needed dollars. Yao said a cargo train was also started in 2016 from eastern China to Afghanistan’s landlocked northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
China is also working on infrastructure projects, including the road linking Kabul to the eastern city of Jalalabad and the road between the central Afghan city of Bamiyan and Mazar-e-Sharif. Chinese companies, Yao, said are also helping in establishing transmission lines and other infrastructure being developed under the CASA-1000 electricity transmission project linking Central Asia to energy-starved South Asia nations through Afghanistan.
Ambassador Yao noted that China and Afghanistan signed a memorandum of understanding on BRI cooperation, identifying several major projects of connectivity.
“But the only problem is that the security situation pose a little challenge. So, that is why China and Pakistan and all the regional countries, we are working so hard trying to support or facilitate peace in Afghanistan,” he said.
For her part, Ambassador Wells told U.S. lawmakers that China’s BRI is a “slogan” and “not any reality” in Afghanistan. “They have just tried to lockdown lucrative mining contracts but not following through with investment or real resources,” she noted.
Wells said that Washington continues to warn its partners, including the Afghan government about “falling prey to predatory loans or loans that are designed to benefit only the Chinese State.”
U.S. officials are generally critical of BRI for “known problems with corruption, debt distress, environmental damage, and a lack of transparency.” The projects aims to link China by sea and land through an infrastructure network with southeast and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
But Yao rejected those concerns and cited the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a pilot project of BRI, which has brought around $20 billion in Chinese investment to Pakistan within the past six years. It has helped Islamabad build roads and power plants, helping the country overcome its crippling electricity shortages, improve its transportation network and operationalize the strategic deep-sea Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea.
Clashes between two Turkish-backed rebel groups in the northwestern Syrian town of Afrin have left at least two fighters dead and about a dozen wounded, according to reports Sunday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor group that has researchers across Syria, reported that fierce fighting between the al-Majd Legion and al-Sham Legion in Afrin erupted Saturday night following a disagreement over property.
“Our sources have confirmed that the infighting erupted after a dispute over the ownership of a house just outside of Afrin,” Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory, told VOA.
Local news said the disputed house belonged to a Kurdish civilian that armed groups reportedly had seized months ago.
Armed confrontations among Syrian rebel factions have reportedly increased since Turkish military and allied Syrian rebels took control of Afrin after a two-month-long military campaign that ousted the Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG) from the region in March 2018, rights groups said.
“This is not the first time that such clashes take place over property and revenue-sharing among rebel groups,” the Syrian Observatory added.
Infighting among rebel groups has become a common issue in the region.
“There is almost one occurrence like this one on a daily basis,” said Mohammed Billo, a journalist from Afrin.
“Usually when fighting gets out of control, Turkish military interferes to stop it,” he told VOA.
Some rights groups have also voiced concerns about growing violations against civilians in recent months in Afrin.
“Local sources in Afrin reported at least 110 abuses that appear to amount to instances of arbitrary detention, torture and abductions of civilians by pro-Turkey armed groups,” Amnesty International said in a report released in May.
Since their ouster from Afrin in March 2018, Kurdish fighters affiliated with the YPG have occasionally carried out attacks against Turkish military and Syrian rebel forces in the Kurdish-majority region.
Last week, YPG fighters claimed responsibility for an attack on a Turkish military outpost in Afrin that killed two Turkish soldiers and wounded another.
Ankara views the YPG as part of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been engaged in a three-decade war with Turkish armed forces for greater Kurdish rights in Turkey. The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Turkey has repeatedly threatened to invade other YPG-held areas in northern Syria, despite a recent agreement with the United States to establish a safe zone along Syria’s border with Turkey.
The two countries have begun joint patrols along parts of the border, but Turkish officials continue their objection over Washington’s support for the YPG, which has been a key U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State terror group in Syria.