У психіатричній лікарні з суворим наглядом у Дніпрі знайдені архівні матеріали, які свідчать про «каральну психіатрію» часів СРСР. Про це 31 липня під час візиту до Дніпра повідомила в. о. міністра охорони здоров’я Уляна Супрун.

За її словами, в архіві медичного закладу, зокрема, було виявлено матеріали щодо двох відомих дисидентів – Анатолія Лупиноса та Леоніда Плюща, щодо яких застосовувалась «каральна психіатрія». Знайдені їхні медичні картки і листи.

Як зазначила Уляна Супрун, документи опечатані, їх планують передати історикам.

У понеділок на своїй сторінці у Facebook Уляна Супрун додала, що з 1968 до 1991 рік дніпровська лікарня була знаряддям репресивних органів, психіатрія тут використовувалась як інструмент політичних переслідувань.

«В лікарню потрапляли люди з діагнозом «вялотекущая шизофрения». Ніде у світі, окрім Совєтського Союзу, такого діагнозу не існувало! За цим сфабрикованим діагнозом людей, таких як Анатолій Лупиніс або Леонід Плющ проти волі утримували в лікарні суворого нагляду. Психіатричне насильство застосовувалося для придушення вільної протилежної ідеї і філософії в СССР, і це робилося нишком, щоб ізолювати від суспільства дисидентів, налякати і позбавити надії однодумців дисидентів та придушити протистояння совєтській системі», – написала вона.

За її даними, до психлікарні у Дніпрі спрямовували «пацієнтів» з України, Молдови, Білорусі та Прибалтики.

«Фактично, до цього моменту все, що ми знаємо про каральну психіатрію, скоріше базується на уявленнях та спогадах колишніх пацієнтів. Але сьогодні комісія знайшла архів, який має пролити світло на те, яку категорію людей сюди відправляли – дисиденти, інакодумці, «критикани влади», які діагнози їм ставили? В яких умовах вони перебували? Яке отримували «лікування»? Всю цю інформацію містять медичні картки пацієнтів, які збереглися», – зазначила Супрун.

Як повідомила посадовець, архівним матеріалам мають присвоїти статус Національного архівного фонду України. 


Securing petrochemical plants and keeping chemicals out of the hands of terrorists were the topics of discussion at a recent Chemical Sector Security Summit in Houston, Texas. Security experts say the countries that are producing chemicals are shifting and that is one of many reasons developed and developing nations need to share best security practices. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee reports from Houston, a petrochemical hub in the United States.


Міністерство закордонних справ України направило Москві ноту через те, що російський дипломат керував автомобілем у нетверезому стані.

«Надіслали ноту Російській Федерації щодо керування авто у стані алкогольного сп’яніння російським дипломатом. Грубе порушення Віденської конвенції, законів України», – повідомила речниця МЗС України Мар’яна Беца у Twitter. 

Пізно ввечері 30 липня на Харківському шосе у Києві патрульні поліцейські зупинили автомобіль з дипломатичними номерами, за кермом якого перебував громадянин Російської Федерації із ознаками сп’яніння, яке не вдалося підтвердити у встановленому порядку.

В українському МВС повідомили, що поліцейські помітили запах алкоголю, почервоніння шкіри обличчя і тремтіння пальців рук у водія, втім не складали протокол про адміністративне порушення через відсутність відповідних повноважень – у чоловіка була дипломатична посвідка.

У російській дипустанові інцидент наразі не коментували.


Міністр фінансів України Олександр Данилюк відкидає обвинувачення у несплаті податків і заявляє, що про підозри прокуратури дізнався з преси.

«Дуже сподіваюся, що це не є політично вмотивованим і не є помстою за те, що було зроблено, щоб перекрити корупційні схеми, унеможливити розкрадання бюджету та неефективне використання державних коштів. Жодної підозри чи будь-яких інших офіційних документів від ГПУ або інших органів я не отримував та про своє нібито ухилення від сплати податків дізнався з преси», – написав Данилюк у Facebook, додавши, що від сьогодні перебуває у відпустці.

«Хочу окремо наголосити, що всі податки із зароблених мною коштів були сплачені», – заявив урядовець.

31 липня стало відомо, що Державна фіскальна служба України призначить позапланову документальну перевірку Данилюка щодо дотримання ним вимог податкового, валютного й іншого законодавства за період від 1998 до 2016 року. Таке рішення раніше цього місяця ухвалив Печерський районний суд міста Києва за клопотанням прокуратури після депутатського звернення.

 


U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was expected to make a stop Sunday in the hometown of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher accused of organizing an armed standoff three years ago that forced federal agents to end a roundup of his cattle.

Zinke’s planned stop in Bunkerville, Nevada – about 80 miles (129 kilometers) northeast of Las Vegas – is part of his tour of national monuments being scrutinized by the Trump administration.

Trump announced the review of 27 monuments in May, saying the designations imposed by previous presidents amounted to a massive federal land grab. Monument designations protect federal land from energy development and other activities.

Zinke plans the stop in Bunkerville ahead of visits Monday to the nearby Gold Butte and Basin and Range national monuments, which cover a combined 1,500 square miles (3,885 sq. kilometers) – more than half the size of Delaware.

Gold Butte is the grazing area at the center of the cattle round-up and armed standoff in April 2014 involving Bundy and federal land management agents.

The monument is home to pioneer-era and Native American artifacts, and rare and threatened wildlife, including the Mojave desert tortoise and desert bighorn sheep.

A recent study by the Bureau of Land Management documented nearly 400 ancient rock art panels and more than 3,500 individual petroglyphs scattered throughout the Gold Butte area

President Obama designated the Gold Butte National Monument in 2016 under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

Bundy argues that the federal government has no jurisdiction in such vast rangelands of the West.

He and four of his sons are in jail awaiting federal trial on felony charges that they organized an armed insurrection to turn away Bureau of Land Management agents and contract cowboys and to release cattle collected from the Gold Butte range.

Federal officials say the bureau, an agency within the Interior Department, was trying to enforce court orders issued for Bundy’s yearslong failure to pay federal grazing fees.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Nevada Democrat, recently made a two-minute videotape and Rep. Jacky Rosen, a Democrat running for Republican Sen. Dean Heller’s seat in 2018, sent a letter to Zinke urging him to keep his hands off Nevada’s natural treasures.

In addition to preserving cultural history, native wildlife and scenic beauty, Gold Butte and Basin and Range generate more than $150 annually for Nevada’s economy, they said.

“Apparently the 2.7 public comments submitted in favor of keeping these monuments were not enough to help Mr. Zinke make up his mind,” Masto, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee overseeing the Interior Department, said about a public comment period that closed earlier this month.

Outdoor retailer Patagonia took out two full page ads in the state’s largest newspaper Sunday in support of the two Nevada national monuments.

On Friday, Zinke took a helicopter tour of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico and held a roundtable event with ranchers, county commissioners and university professors.

Last week, he removed Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients National Monument from the list under review. He previously dropped two others, one in Idaho and one in Washington state. A full report is due next month.

 


Republicans on Sunday urged President Donald Trump’s new chief of staff John Kelly to rein in the chaos within the White House on Monday but said the retired Marine Corps general will be challenged to assert control.

In his first six months in office, Trump has upended White House convention with a loose decision-making style and an open-door policy to his Oval Office for advisers, both internal and external. Infighting among his senior staff has become bitter and public.

“He’s going to have to reduce the drama, reduce both the sniping within and reduce the leaks, and bring some discipline to the relationships,” Karl Rove, a Republican strategist and former White House adviser to George W. Bush, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Trump announced Kelly would replace his embattled chief of staff Reince Priebus at the end of a particularly chaotic week that saw his first legislative effort – healthcare reform – fail in Congress.

“He (Trump) is in a lot of trouble. This week was the most tumultuous week we’ve seen in a tumultuous presidency,” Rove said.

On top of the healthcare debacle, Trump came under fire for banning transgender people from the military, and was pilloried for politicizing a speech he made to the Boy Scouts.

Adding fuel to the fire, his new communications director Anthony Scaramucci unleashed a string of profane criticism about Priebus and Trump strategist Steven Bannon to a New Yorker magazine reporter.

Republicans welcomed Trump’s decision to bring in Kelly, who starts on Monday.

“I think he will bring some order and discipline to the West Wing,” said Republican Senator Susan Collins and Trump critic on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The last week heightened concerns in Trump’s party that the distractions and West Wing dysfunction would derail other legislative priorities, including tax reform and debt ceiling negotiations.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said he thought Priebus had been effective “but was probably a little bit more laid back” in the way he ran the office.

“I think the president wants to go in a different direction, wants a little bit more discipline, a little more structure in there,” said Mulvaney, who reports to the chief of staff.

It is not yet clear whether all of Trump’s senior staff will answer to Kelly. Some members, including Scaramucci and senior counselor Kellyanne Conway, report directly to Trump, a structure which gives them more power.

“I will do whatever the president and our new chief of staff General Kelly ask me to do,” Conway told Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday.”

Kelly should be empowered to be the gatekeeper to the Oval Office, said Mike Huckabee, the former Republican governor of Arkansas, whose daughter Sarah Sanders is Trump’s spokeswoman.

“That’s what needs to happen, but that’s going to be up to the president,” Huckabee said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

“The president has a very different style, he’s very open, the door is open, he invites people to just come on it to a meeting,” Huckabee said.

To be effective, Kelly needs to find a way to work within Trump’s untraditional style, said Corey Lewandowski, who was a former campaign manager to Trump, and remains close to the president.

“The thing that General Kelly should do is not try to change Donald Trump,” Lewandowski said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Anybody who thinks they’re going to change Donald Trump doesn’t know Donald Trump,” Lewandowski said.

 


A proposed new law that would require carmakers to build alarms for back seats is being pushed by child advocates who say it will prevent kids from dying in hot cars.

The law also would streamline the criminal process against caregivers who cause the deaths – cases that can be inconsistent but often heavier-handed against mothers.

The latest deaths came in Arizona on triple-digit degree days over the weekend, with two baby boys found forgotten in vehicles in separate incidents.

More than two dozen child and road safety groups are backing the Senate bill introduced last week aimed at preventing those kinds of deaths by requiring cars to be equipped with technology that can alert drivers if a child is left in the back seat once the vehicle is turned off. It could be a motion sensor that can detect a baby left sitting in a rear-facing car seat and then alert the driver, in a similar way that reminders about tire pressure, open doors and seat belts now come standard in cars.

“The technology would help because if you’re in a vehicle, your child is in the back seat, and you ignore that alarm: Go jail. Do not pass go. You had a chance,” said Janette Fennell of the advocacy group Kids and Cars. “You talk to any of the judges, they’ll tell you, they’re beyond the hardest things they have to deal with.”

Police say 1-year-old Josiah Riggins was in the car for hours Saturday, discovered dead only after his father drove roundtrip, twice, between their suburban home and a Phoenix church to drop off the mother and a sibling.

Zane Endress, who was 7 months old, died Friday in Phoenix after being left in the car in the driveway at home, as his usual daycare drop-off routine was lost by his grandparents.

“A simple sensor could save the lives of dozens of children killed tragically in overheated cars each year, and our bill would ensure such technology is available in every car sold in the United States,” bill sponsor Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said in a statement. “It can take mere minutes on a hot day for a car to turn into a deathtrap for a small child.”

No charges have been filed against the caregivers in either Arizona case, as police say the death investigations are underway. Detectives will determine criminality based on the caregiver’s neglect, intent and mindset, while also being sensitive to the family’s deeply felt loss of a child, Phoenix police Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said.

“Those are the very difficult questions. Each case is different. I can’t tell you there’s a set answer for any case because there really isn’t,” Fortune said.

Kids and Cars, which has tracked more than 800 children who have died in this way since 1990, said criminal cases vary greatly, even when the circumstances are identical. Fennell said 90 percent of cases involve pure accidents, most likely a child forgotten by an adult.

In this month alone, a Tennessee couple was charged in the death of their 11-month-old daughter. A nearly 2-year-old boy was found dead in his father’s BMW in south Florida.

The nonprofit’s analysis shows charges are filed about half of the time, though very rarely are the parents found guilty objectively because it was proven that the child was left behind to be harmed. There is also a noted gender bias: Mothers are more often charged than fathers, and among the convicted, women caregivers receive longer prison sentences than men, the study found.

“I think society feels sort of like moms are in charge, and they’re supposed to do everything,” Fennell said. “It’s also a defense mechanism. If I make monsters out of these people, then it could never happen to me.”

 


Прем’єр-міністр України Володимир Гройсман заявляє, що Київ підготував звернення до міжнародних організацій і судових інстанцій щодо катувань підтримуваними Росією бойовиками на Донбасі звільнену напередодні з полону Людмилу Сурженко.

«13 липня бойовики так званої «ЛНР» на КПВВ у Станиці Луганській викрали Людмилу Сурженко, людину з інвалідністю з дитинства по слуху. Жінку військові злочинці відпустили тільки 29 липня. Людмилу бойовики «ЛНР» у полоні жорстоко катували плоскогубцями, пошкодили руку. Ці нелюди добивалися від жінки зізнання на камеру про те, що вона «працює на українські спецслужби», – зазначив Гройсман на своїй сторінці у Facebook 30 липня. 

У неділю стало відомо про звільнення з полону бойовиків ОРДЛО двох українських заручників – суддю Апеляційного суду Луганської області Віталія Руденка і Людмилу Сурженко.

Руденко і Сурженко були внесені до «мінських списків», зазначили у Службі безпеки.

За інформацією Києва, у полоні підтримуваних Росією бойовиків станом на початок липня перебувало 132 громадян України, сепаратисти вимагають в обмін 600 осіб.


У СБУ повідомляють про звільнення з полону підтримуваних Росією бойовиків на Донбасі двох українських заручників.

«29 липня за сприяння волонтерської групи «Патріот» та Служби безпеки України на контрольовану українською владою територію повернувся один із заручників так званої «ЛНР» – суддя Апеляційного суду Луганської області Віталій Руденко. Дев’ять місяців він незаконно утримувався та піддавався тортурам у МДБ «ЛНР», – мовиться у повідомленні СБУ, опублікованому 30 липня.

«Також до дому повернулась ще одна заручниця терористів Людмила Сурженко. Не зважаючи на те, Людмила є інвалідом дитинства, вона була звинувачена МДБ «ЛНР» у шпигунстві на користь українських військових та піддавалась катуванням», – зазначили у СБУ.

Руденко і Сурженко були внесені до «мінських списків», зазначили у Службі безпеки.

(Відео користувача YouTube Служба безпеки України)

За інформацією Києва, у полоні підтримуваних Росією бойовиків станом на початок липня перебувало 132 громадян України, сепаратисти вимагають в обмін 600 осіб.


Українська сторона повідомляє про поранення одного свого військового через обстріли з боку підтримуваних Росією бойовиків на Донбасі упродовж нинішньої доби.

«Сьогодні у зоні АТО спостерігається зменшення інтенсивності збройних провокацій з боку російсько-терористичних угруповань. З півночі і до 18 години противник двічі порушив перемир’я. 16 години бойовики зі стрілецької зброї відкрили вогонь по нашому опорному пункту в районі Мар’їнки, що на маріупольському напрямку. Внаслідок цього обстрілу один український військовий отримав кульове поранення. А на донецькому напрямку ворог з гранатомета бив по українських укріпленнях у Зайцевому», – мовиться у повідомленні штабу української воєнної операції на Донбасі, опублікованому у неділю ввечері.

Упродовж минулої доби на Донбасі, за інформацією штабу, один український військовий загинув, дев’ять бійців були поранені.

У підтримуваних Росією незаконних сепаратистських збройних угрупованнях «ДНР» і «ЛНР», визнаних в Україні терористичними, ще вранці заявляли про порушення режиму припинення вогню з боку українських військ – донецькі бойовики нарахували за суботу 54 такі порушення, луганські 4. Про свої втрати вони нічого не повідомили.

Про припинення вогню на лінії контакту, що є вимогою відразу кількох мінських домовленостей про врегулювання на окупованій частині сходу України, домовлялися вже багато разів – востаннє наразі від 24 червня на час жнив, до 31 серпня, що назвали «хлібним перемир’ям». Та обстріли тривають. Так само досі режим припинення вогню не втримувався жодного разу. При цьому сторони щоразу заперечують свою вину в порушеннях і звинувачують у провокаціях іншу сторону.


Apple, Inc. has confirmed that it is removing some applications providing virtual personal networks, or VPNs, from its China App Store, to comply with new Chinese regulations — a move critics say is capitulating to internet censorship.

Apple confirmed the move in an email to National Public Radio on Saturday, after several VPN providers announced that their apps had been removed from the China App Store.

Software made outside China can sometimes be used to get around China’s domestic internet firewalls that block content that the government finds objectionable. Critics call China’s “great firewall” one of the world’s most advanced censorship systems.

VPN apps pulled

“Earlier this year,” Apple said, “China’s MIIT [Ministry of Industry and Information Technology] announced that all developers offering VPNs must obtain a license from the government. We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations.”

App maker Express VPN said in a blog post that its app was removed from the China Apple Store, and it noted that “preliminary research indicates that all major VPN apps for iOS [Apple operating systems] have been removed.”

The statement continued, “We’re disappointed in this development, as it represents the most drastic measure the Chinese government has taken to block the use of VPNs to date, and we are troubled to see Apple aiding China’s censorship efforts.”

Another company, Star VPN, also announced it had been contacted by Apple with the same notice.

China successful

Golden Frog, a company that makes security software, told the New York Times that its app also had been taken down from the China App Store.

“We gladly filed an amicus brief in support of Apple and their backdoor encryption battle with the FBI, so we are extremely disappointed that Apple has bowed to pressure from China to remove VPN apps without citing any Chinese law or regulation that makes VPN illegal,” said Sunday Yokubaitis, president of the company.

The Times reports that this is the first time China has successfully used its influence with a major foreign technology platform such as Apple, to flex its muscle with software makers.

China is Apple’s largest market outside the United States.


President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday morning to criticize Republican senators following their failed vote to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

Trump said the Republican senators “look like fools.” He also suggested they alter rules that require 60 votes to break a filibuster, even though that would not have changed the results of the health care bill debate.

Senate Republicans failed to gather the 50 votes needed to pass the “skinny” repeal bill that would have ended several key parts Obamacare, including the requirement that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty.

The bill was written through the budget reconciliation process, which meant, among other things, that it required only 50 votes for passage instead of a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority. A 50-50 tie would have let Vice President Mike Pence, in his role as president of the Senate, cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the legislation. But even though Republicans control the Senate by a 52-48 margin, the bill failed to reach the 50-vote mark.

Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine voted with Democrats and independents in the 51-49 defeat of the Republican-led repeal effort early Friday morning.

Republican senators had wanted for seven years to do away with Obamacare, the signature domestic legislative achievement of former President Barack Obama.

Trump’s tweetstorm also included a reference to the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia worked to help Trump’s campaign and hurt his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton. But Trump continues to question that conclusion and recently claimed that in fact the opposite was true — that Moscow favored Clinton.

Trump’s tweet included a link to a Fox News story from earlier this week detailing the congressional testimony of a witness who said the company behind an anti-Trump dossier that played a large role in the Russia investigation was working on behalf of the Russian government.

Financier Bill Browder, whose investment firm was once the largest portfolio investor in Russia, testified Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee in its probe of the apparent Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. He told the senators that Fusion GPS, the company that produced the dossier full of unsubstantiated and lurid claims about Trump, also launched a “smear campaign” against him in an effort to fight sanctions against Russia.

“What I’m familiar with is Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson’s role working on behalf of the Russian government to overturn the Magnitsky Act,” Browder told members of Congress. “The steps they took there compromised their integrity.”

Glenn Simpson is the founder of Fusion GPS. He, too, had been summoned to testify publicly before Congress about his work on the dossier and his alleged ties to the Russian government, but he reached a deal with members to conduct an interview in private.

The Magnitsky Act is a U.S. law that imposed sanctions on Russian officials whom the U.S. held responsible for the 2009 death in jail of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who had been retained by Browder to investigate corruption.


Кримська правозахисна група подала черговий моніторинговий огляд про порушення прав людини в окупованому Росією українському Криму.

У документі зібрані випадки порушення прав людини за травень 2017 року, а також інформація про затримання і обшуки на півострові за цей час.

Правозахисники зібрали інформацію про політично мотивовані кримінальні переслідування, в тому числі про «справу 26 лютого», «справу Хізб ут-Тахрір», «справу українських диверсантів» і «справу Володимира Балуха».

До розділу «Свобода слова і вираження думки» потрапили справи кримського журналіста Миколи Семени, а також «справа Ільмі Умерова» і «справа Сулеймана Кадирова».

Україна вже не раз висловлювала стурбованість переслідуваннями громадян України в окупованому Росією Криму і зверталася до міжнародної спільноти з закликом застосували всі можливі різновиди правового і політичного тиску на Росію, щоб домогтися від неї припинення тоталітарних методів придушення прав людини і свободи слова, а також звільнення всіх утримуваних і у Криму, і в сусідній Росії українських політв’язнів і заручників.


What does a president who campaigned on an “America First” foreign policy do with the longest war in U.S. history? That is the dilemma for Donald Trump as the White House conducts a policy review of Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have fought for nearly 16 years.

With Trump skeptical of committing more troops to what some see as an unwinnable war, one idea has come to the forefront: using Western companies to extract Afghanistan’s vast, untapped mineral deposits.

How much is there? A 2010 U.S. study estimated more than $1 trillion worth of untapped mineral deposits, but Afghanistan’s violence, corruption and poor infrastructure would make mining extremely difficult.

That’s part of the reason why, although U.S. officials have discussed using Afghanistan’s mineral wealth to bolster the government and economy, the plan has not gone anywhere.

There are also concerns about whether such a move would feed into the Taliban narrative that the U.S. military is only in Afghanistan because it wants to plunder the country’s natural resources.

Still, Trump appears to be interested in using Afghanistan’s minerals as a selling point for continued U.S. military engagement.

A recent New York Times report said Trump had spoken about mineral deposits with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is also open to the idea.

White House officials declined to comment on the story, citing the ongoing policy review. But Afghan officials confirmed to VOA they were expecting a U.S. envoy for talks on mines.

Means of attracting investors

“We have received information about the U.S. delegation,” Abdul Qadeer Mutfi, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, told VOA’s Afghan service. “We are working on an orderly mechanism of attracting foreign investments.”

The idea is consistent with Trump’s long-standing practice of linking U.S. military intervention to the exploitation of natural resources.

Trump has lamented for years that the U.S. did not “keep the oil” when it invaded Iraq in 2003.

After Islamic State seized oil fields in Iraq and Syria, Trump felt his views were vindicated, and his “take the oil” mantra eventually became a standard part of his presidential campaign speeches.

The rhetoric continued during his early days in office. In a speech to CIA employees a day after becoming president, Trump spoke positively of the phrase “to the victor belong the spoils.”

It’s not clear how to reconcile those comments with Trump’s at times heated criticism of costly U.S. wars overseas, or his opposition at times to the U.S. conflict in Afghanistan.

More recently, Trump has been said to be skeptical of a proposal by U.S. military generals to boost the number of troops in Afghanistan in a bid to regain Taliban territory.

Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to Trump for national security issues, declined to comment on whether the president was looking into mineral extraction in Afghanistan.

When asked more broadly whether the Trump administration intended to make foreign policy decisions based at least in part on the exploitation of natural resources, Gorka said that was a “gross oversimplification.”

“Look, geopolitics are completely intertwined with geoeconomics,” Gorka told VOA. “The idea that you can disconnect economics from national security in the age of a globalized market … that is a very dangerous assertion to make.

“The president can speak for himself, but would you prefer to have groups like ISIS profiting from things like oil wells in Iraq? We’ve seen the cost of that, which led to slave markets, mass destruction and hundreds of thousands of people killed in Syria,” he said.

Challenges

If Trump did decide to prioritize the extraction of Afghanistan’s minerals, the plan would face a dizzying number of challenges, including ongoing violence, regional competition from countries like Russia and China, and government corruption.

While Afghanistan has cleaned up its governance in recent years, it still ranks among the 10 most corrupt countries in the world, according to an annual index by Transparency International.

Without substantial governance reforms, any decision to press ahead with mining in Afghanistan “will likely backfire, possibly creating even more infighting in the Afghan government,” according to Global Witness, a human rights group that has studied the issue.

The country also lacks the infrastructure needed to manage such massive projects, said Ahmad Shuja, a former Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch who now works at the American University of Afghanistan.

“There’s very limited national grid. So you’ll have to develop your own electricity, you’ll have to create your own roads, bring your own security teams. All of those are essential barriers to entry issues,” he said.

Ghani is aware of these obstacles, which is why he has paused many of the mining development projects and is reviewing the country’s mineral law that would govern them, Shuja said.

“But in the short term, I think this is a really smart pitch to President Trump,” he said. “It plays to his business sensibilities.”

If it’s done correctly, it could help the Afghan people, said Aimal Faizi, an aide to former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

“Generally, it is a good idea in the relations between the two countries,” Faizi said. But in a country like Afghanistan, “where the government does not have control of its land or air,” anything is possible, he said, “including looting.”

Other ideas

Trump himself has been fairly quiet on Afghanistan. He barely mentioned it during the campaign.

Since becoming president, one of his most substantive comments on Afghanistan came this month, during a luncheon with U.S. service members who had fought in the country.

“I want to find out why we’ve been there … how it’s going and what we should do in terms of additional ideas,” he said.

VOA’s Afghan service contributed to this report.


Weary Republicans in Washington may be ready to move on from health care, but conservatives across the United States are warning the GOP-led Congress not to abandon its pledge to repeal the Obama-era health law – or risk a political nightmare in next year’s elections.

 

The Senate’s failure this past week to pass repeal legislation has outraged the Republican base and triggered a new wave of fear. The stunning collapse has exposed a party so paralyzed by ideological division that it could not deliver on its top campaign pledge.

 

After devoting months to the debate and seven years to promising to kill the Affordable Care Act, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican-Kentucky, simply said: “It’s time to move on.”

 

But that’s simply not an option for a conservative base energized by its opposition to the health law. Local party leaders, activists and political operatives are predicting payback for Republicans lawmakers if they don’t revive the fight.

 

“This is an epic fail for Republicans,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans For Prosperity, the political arm of the conservative Koch Brothers’ network. “Their failure to keep their promise will hurt them. It will.”

 

To the American Conservative Union, the three Republican senators who blocked the stripped-down repeal bill that failed in the wee hours Friday are “sellouts.” A Trump-sanctioned super political action committee did not rule out running ads against uncooperative Republicans, which it did recently against Sen. Dean Heller, Republican-Nevada.

 

There are limited options for directly punishing the renegade senators – John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. None of the three is up for re-election next fall. McCain, whose dramatic “no” vote killed the bill, is serving his last term in office, has brain cancer and is hardly moved by electoral threats.

​Failing the ‘moral test’

Still, broad disillusionment among conservative voters could have an impact beyond just a few senators. Primary election challenges or a low turnout could mean trouble for all Republicans. Democrats need to flip 24 seats to take control of the House of Representatives, a shift that would dramatically re-shape the last two years of Trump’s first term.

 

“If you look at competitive districts, swing districts, or districts where Republicans could face primary challenges, this is something that will be a potent electoral issue,” Republican pollster Chris Wilson said of his party’s health care failure. “I don’t think this is something voters are going to forget.”

 

One such challenger has emerged. Conservative activist Shak Hill, a former Air Force pilot, plans to run against second-term GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock in a competitive northern Virginia district.

 

Hill told The Associated Press that Comstock, who voted against a GOP House health care repeal bill in May, “has failed the moral test of her time in Congress.”

 

The leaders of other groups, such as Women Vote Trump, have begun to court primary challengers to punish those members of Congress deemed insufficiently committed to President Donald Trump’s agenda.

 

“I expect that we will get involved in primaries,” said the group’s co-founder, Amy Kremer. “You cannot continue to elect the same people over and over again and expect different results.”

 

On Capitol Hill, some Republicans insist their health care overhaul could be saved in the short term. Yet party leaders – backed by outside groups – are signaling that they would probably move on to taxes. Republicans hoped the issue would bring some party unity, even as realists in Washington view the a tax overhaul – something that hasn’t happened in more than 30 years – as one of the most complex legislative projects possible.

‘You can’t have everything’

The Trump administration has become engulfed in internal drama over personnel and personalities. Trump on Friday ousted his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, replacing him with Home Security Secretary John Kelly. The president did not appear to share conservatives’ outrage about the Senate’s vote, but repeated his promises to remake the health system.

 

“You can’t have everything,” Trump said, adding: “We’ll get it done. We’re going to get it.”

 

Around the country, Republican voters continue to support efforts to repeal former President Barack Obama’s health law, even if there is little agreement on an alternative.

 

A CNN poll released last week found that 83 percent of Republicans favor some form of repeal, while only 11 percent of Republicans want the party to abandon the repeal effort. Among all adults, 52 percent of voters favor some sort of repeal, with 34 percent favored repeal only if replacement could be enacted at the same time.

 

“The political pressure on something like this is real,” said GOP strategist Mike Shields. “I don’t think this is over.”

 

Like others Republican operatives, Shields said the party’s ability to enact the rest of Trump’s agenda – taxes, infrastructure and the border wall – could help “mitigate how upset people will be” about health care.

“If this is part of a general trend,” he said of the GOP’s governing struggles, “I think that can be pretty disastrous for 2018.”

 

Being held to account

Republicans will be held responsible for any negative economic fallout from the current health system’s failure, said Paul Shumaker, a North Carolina Republican pollster and senior adviser to Sen. Richard Burr, Republican-North Carolina.

 

As early as October, voters are likely to see increased costs as insurance companies notify people about their new rates. By next October, it will be too late to unlink Republicans from the problem, Shumaker said.

 

For now at least, many Trump supporters blame the Republican Party’s problems on its leaders in Congress.

 

“They certainly didn’t have their house in order,” said Larry Wood of Waynesboro, Virginia, who voted for Trump only after supporting Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the 2016 GOP primary. The 69-year-old retired homebuilder says the failure falls at the feet of Congress.

 

Trump seems content to let the current system collapse.

 

“As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!” he said in a tweet.


Silicon Valley is the tech industry’s epicenter, but what is the epicenter of Silicon Valley?

It might just be Coupa Café in downtown Palo Alto, Calif.

For the tech community, this café is a meeting place of the who’s who of Silicon Valley, where the likes of the late Steve Jobs of Apple, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google co-founder Sergey Brin have all been spotted. Up-and-coming startup founders are able to buy their lattes with the digital currency Bitcoin before their pitch sessions with leading industry venture capitalists.

The café is so well known among techies that a cup with the Coupa logo was featured as a prop in the 2010 film The Social Network.

“I remember seeing Mark Zuckerberg sitting here and having meetings and people coming up,” said Eric Sokol, an associate professor of medicine at Stanford University.

While Silicon Valley is famous for companies such as Facebook, Twitter and other billion-dollar empires built in cyberspace, some folks in the valley still believe real-world human connections can make a difference.

Making connections

Just from frequenting the café, Sokol says, he became an adviser to a health care related startup and a new venture capitalist fund. Both came about when other patrons at the café overheard conversations he was having, he said.

That’s the kind of “crazy nest of connections” that can occur at Coupa, he said.

The Venezuelan-born Jean Paul Coupal founded the café with his mother and sister in 2004 with the hopes of bringing a bit of his homeland to Silicon Valley — Venezuelan coffee, crepes and Venezuelan arepas. The family puts its touch on all aspects of the business — Coupal’s sister and mother personally painted each of the eight cafés.

While the beautifully decorated walls and rich cuisine may be what initially attracted the tech community, the café’s tech focus has kept it in the vanguard of this café-saturated region.

In 2013, Coupa Cafe began accepting Bitcoins, a digital payment system, allowing customers to pay for their lattes and arepas with the currency.

“We want to be part of the technology,” Coupal said.

The pre-office

And there’s another perk: The café allows patrons to stay all day, which makes it attractive for entrepreneurs who are in the pre-office-space stage.

“A lot of the startups in the area come and they like to work at Coupa, coding all day,” Coupal said. “We’ve seen a lot of products that got developed at Coupa.”

With Stanford and other colleges nearby, the possibility of a life-changing chance encounter is not lost on local students interested in tech.

“I am currently teaching myself JavaScript here at Coupa right now,” said Katie Kennedy, a local community college student. “If someone happened to look over my shoulder and saw what I was doing, I would definitely not say no to any help.”

Now, there are eight Coupa Cafe locations. This one, the original on Ramona Street, is in a building from the 1930s.

“The food’s good, the coffee’s good,” Sokol said. “I wish I had stock, but I don’t in Coupa. And I don’t know, it just has the right atmosphere, the right mix of people. It’s got an energy about it, I guess.”

Cafe Coupa shows that being at the right place at the right time can change a café’s fate as much as a techie’s life.