The man accused of killing a woman who got into his car thinking it was her Uber ride had activated the child locks in his backseat so the doors could only be opened from the outside, police in South Carolina say.

Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook also said investigators found the victim’s blood in Nathaniel David Rowland’s vehicle. Rowland, 24, was arrested and charged in the death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student from Robbinsville, New Jersey.

Investigators would not say what they think Rowland did to Josephson from the time she got into his black Chevrolet Impala in Columbia’s Five Points entertainment district around 1:30 a.m. Friday until her body was dumped in woods off a dirt road in Clarendon County about 65 miles (105 kilometers) away.

Josephson had numerous wounds to her head, neck, face, upper body, leg and foot, according to arrest warrants released Sunday by the State Law Enforcement Division. The documents didn’t say what was used to attack her.

Josephson’s blood was found in the trunk and inside Rowland’s car along with her cellphone, bleach, window cleaner and cleaning wipes, Holbrook said.

“This was a bad scene,” the police chief said at a news conference late Saturday.

Hunters found Josephson’s body Friday afternoon just hours after it was dumped, despite being left in an area that was “very difficult to get to unless you knew how to get there,” Holbrook said.

Rowland has recently lived in the area, he said.

The night after Josephson was kidnapped, a Columbia police officer noticed a black Chevrolet Impala about two blocks from the Five Points bars where Josephson was kidnapped. The driver ran, but was arrested after a short chase, Holbrook said.

Rowland is charged with kidnapping and murder, Holbrook said. He was being held in the Richland County jail. It wasn’t known if he had a lawyer.

Rowland decided not to appear at a hearing in jail Sunday. The judge allowed Josephson’s mother to speak, The State newspaper reported.

Marci Josephson said her daughter was planning to go to law school after graduating in May and described her as “bubbly, loving, kind and full of life.”

“Unlike him, Samantha had love within her heart and purpose in her life,” Marci Josephson said.

Safety advocates urged college students to match the vehicle color and model, the license tag number, and the photo of their ride-share drivers before getting in a vehicle and make the driver say their names to them before they introduce themselves.

“She simply, mistakenly, got into the car thinking it was an Uber ride,” Holbrook said.

The crime shook Columbia, the state capital where the University of South Carolina is one of the main economic engines.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and his wife, Peggy, asked on a message on Twitter for prayers for Josephson’s family.

“Peggy and I are devastated and crushed over the Josephson family losing their beautiful daughter Samantha. She was one of the brightest young stars,” McMaster wrote.


У Дніпрі поліція відкрила кримінальне провадження через порушення на виборах проти голови забороненої організації «Союз радянських офіцерів» Віктора Марченка. Інформацію про це Радіо Свобода підтвердили джерела, не уповноважені офіційно коментувати справу.

Провадження відкрите за статтею 159 Кримінального кодексу України (порушення таємниці голосування).

31 березня Віктор Марченко, голосуючи на виборчій дільниці, сфотографував свій бюлетень із позначкою за одного з кандидатів в президенти України (Юрія Бойка) і виклав фото на своїй сторінці у Facebook. Зараз цей допис уже недоступний для перегляду.

Читайте також: Усі екзит-поли: хто може перемогти на президентських виборах-2019

Керівник «Національного корпусу» в регіоні Денис Котенко оприлюднив скрін-шот допису Віктора Марченка. Він поінформував, що Марченко дає пояснення в поліції.

У лютому стало відомо, що в Дніпрі голова забороненої організації «Союз радянських офіцерів» Віктор Марченко був призначений ЦВК головою ОВК №24 за квотою кандидата в президенти Сергія Капліна. Рішення викликало обурення активістів.

На своїй сторінці у Фейсбуці Віктор Марченко тоді зазначив, що головою ОВК від кандидата Капліна був призначений випадково. А сам Сергій Каплін подякував журналістам й активістам за пильність і заявив про відкликання Віктора Марченка. 

15 червня 2017 року в Дніпрі суд заборонив організацію «Союз радянських офіцерів». Позивачем у цій справі виступало міське управління юстиції. Відповідачем – громадська організація «Союз радянських офіцерів», яку обвинувачували в закликах до повалення влади та проросійській пропаганді.


За попередніми даними Громадянської мережі «Опора», у Львівській області проголосували менше ніж 70% виборів. Найбільше проголосували за кандидата в президенти Петра Порошенка (26%), 21,2% віддали свої голоси за Володимира Зеленського, свідчать результати екзит-полів.

«Львівщина завжди була показовою щодо високої явки виборців, аніж інші регіони. Зараз буде 65-70%, це не є мало, але нижчий показник для Львівської області. Я розчарований, що виборці не хочуть демонструвати свою громадську позицію, бо це обов’язок кожного громадянина», – каже представник «Опори» Тарас Радь.

«Опора» зафіксувала під час голосування поодинокі порушення, які стосувались переважно умов голосування чи організації роботи виборчої дільниці загалом.

Не було виявлено грубих порушень і правоохоронцями. Надійшло 71 повідомлення про можливі порушення виборчого законодавства, з них частково підтвердились 25, які стосувалися незаконної агітації «за» та «проти» певних кандидатів на посаду президента України, фотографування виборчих бюлетенів, перебування на виборчій дільниці у стані алкогольного сп’яніння, конфліктів на дільницях і псування бюлетенів. Зараз триває перевірка цих фактів.

За оцінками експертів, день голосування відбувався у Львівській області спокійно.

За даними національного екзит-полу, Володимир Зеленський отримав 30,4%, Петро Порошенко – 17,8%, Юлія Тимошенко – 14,2%, Юрій Бойко – 9,8%, Анатолій Гриценко – 7,1%.

В Україні 31 березня відбулося голосування на чергових виборах президента країни. За попередніми даними, явка перевищила 65%.​

Центральна виборча комісія має оголосити остаточні результати виборів до 10 квітня. Другий тур відбудеться 21 квітня.


On a Sunday morning, a crane lowered a rusty remnant of the Holocaust onto tracks outside Manhattan’s Museum of Jewish Heritage — a vintage German train car like those used to transport men, women and children to Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps.

The windowless boxcar is among 700 Holocaust artifacts, most never before seen in the United States, which are being prepared for one of the largest exhibits ever on Auschwitz — a once ordinary Polish town called Oswiecim that the Nazis occupied and transformed into a human monstrosity.

The New York exhibit opens May 8, the day in 1945 when Germany surrendered and the camps were liberated.

German-made freight wagons like the one in the exhibit were used to deport people from their homes all around Europe. About 1 million Jews and nearly 100,000 others were gassed, shot, hanged or starved in Auschwitz out of a total of 6 million who perished in the Holocaust.

That fate awaited them after a long ride on the kind of train car that’s the centerpiece of the New York exhibit.

“There were 80 people squeezed into one wooden car, with no facilities, just a pail to urinate,” remembers Ray Kaner, a 92-year-old woman who still works as a Manhattan dental office manager. “You couldn’t lie down, so you had to sleep sitting, and it smelled.”

She and her sister had been forced to board the train in August 1944 in occupied Poland, after their parents died in the Lodz ghetto where Jews were held captive.

The Germans promised the sisters a better new life.

“We believed them, and we schlepped everything we could carry,” she said. “We still had great hope.”

Once in Auschwitz, “they took away whatever we carried,” and prisoners were beaten, stripped naked and heads shaved bald.

Titled “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away,” the upcoming exhibit will transport visitors into the grisly faceoff between perpetrators and victims.

On display will be concrete posts from an Auschwitz fence covered in barbed and electrified wires; a gas mask used by the SS; a desk belonging to Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoss; and a dagger and helmet used by Heinrich Himmler, the chief architect of Hitler’s “final solution.”

The collection of prisoners’ personal items includes a comb improvised from scrap metal; a trumpet one survivor used to save his life by entertaining his captors; and tickets for passage on the St. Louis, a ship of refugees whom the United States refused to accept, sending them back to Europe where some were killed by the Nazis.

The materials are on loan from about 20 institutions worldwide, plus private collections, curated by Robert Jan van Pelt, a leading Auschwitz authority, and other experts in conjunction with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland and Musealia, a Spanish company that organizes traveling shows.

The New York one will run through Jan. 3.

The eight-decade-old box car brought to New York on a cargo ship came from a German auction, in terrible condition. Van Pelt’s team bought it and restored it.

“The dark, smelly car represents that moment of transition from the world of the living that people understood and trusted to the radically alien world of the camps where the doors opened and families were separated forever,” said van Pelt, whose relatives in Amsterdam lived down the street from Anne Frank’s family.

“The Nazis wanted to wipe out every last Jew in the world,” and at the end of a train trip, “this is where the last goodbyes were said.”

The exhibit items all belonged to somebody — most now gone, either because they were murdered in camps or survived and have since died. Some people who inherited artifacts came forward with stories attached to them.

Thousands of survivors live in New York City, among the last who can offer personal testimony.

And that’s why the exhibit is important, said real estate developer Bruce Ratner, the chairman of the museum’s board of trustees.

“While we had all hoped after the Holocaust that the international community would come together to stop genocide, mass murder and ethnic cleansing, these crimes continue and there are more refugees today than at any time since the Second World War,” said Ratner. “So my hope for this exhibit is that it motivates all of us to make the connections between the world of the past and the world of the present, and to take a firm stand against hate.”


Методологія проведення екзит-полу є прозорою і його результати збіжуться з даними Центральної виборчої комісії. Так прокоментувала критику результатів екзит-полу з боку кандидатів у президенти виконавча директорка Київського міжнародного інституту соціології Наталя Харченко.

«Кожна виборча кампанія є об’єктом критики різних штабів. Наша методологія прозора, фінансування також прозоре  і результати, я сподіваюся, співпадають з даними ЦВК. Це дуже цікаві і несподівані вибори. Ми бачимо вперше, що кандидат, який набирає більше голосів – Зеленський, отримав підтримку майже в усіх регіонах, окрім західного. В трьох регіонах він є лідером, в західному регіоні трохи поступається Порошенку. Це є перші вибори, коли так єдино підтримує Україна кандидата», – зазначила Харченко.

Лідерка «Батьківщини» Юлія Тимошенко заявила, що не погоджується з результатами національного екзит-полу. Її команда провела власний екзит-пол, за результатами якого, вона займає друге місце, наголосила вона.

За даними національного екзит-полу станом на 18:00, Володимир Зеленський отримав 30,4%, Петро Порошенко – 17,8%, Юлія Тимошенко – 14,2%, Юрій Бойко – 9,8%, Анатолій Гриценко – 7,1%.

Національний екзит-пол-2019 проводили спільно Фонд «Демократичні ініціативи» імені Ілька Кучеріва, Київський міжнародний інститут соціології та Український центр економічних і політичних досліджень імені Олександра Разумкова. Вони опитали 17 956 респондентів на 400 виборчих дільницях.

В Україні 31 березня відбулося голосування на чергових виборах президента країни. У бюлетені для голосування були прізвища 39 кандидатів. Станом на 20:00 явка становила 63,43%.​

Центральна виборча комісія має оголосити остаточні результати виборів до 10 квітня. Другий тур відбудеться 21 квітня.

 

 


Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a possible Democratic challenger to President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, denied Sunday that he “acted inappropriately” in the face of allegations from a Nevada lawmaker that he unexpectedly  touched her shoulders and kissed her hair at a 2014 political rally.

Lucy Flores, a former Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in the western state of Nevada, recalled the incident on CNN, saying that “very unexpectedly and out of nowhere, I feel Joe Biden put his hands on my shoulders, get up very close to me from behind, lean in, smell my hair and then plant a slow kiss on the top of my head.”

She called the moment “shocking,” adding, “You don’t expect that kind of intimacy from someone so powerful and someone who you just have no relationship (with) whatsoever to touch you and to feel you and to be so close to you in that way.”

Biden said: “In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”

Political surveys show the 76-year-old Biden leading a long list of Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to oust Trump from the White House, but he has not yet formally declared his candidacy even as he has made frequent speeches at campaign-style rallies in recent weeks.

He has twice unsuccessfully sought the party’s presidential nomination, before serving for eight years as vice president under former President Barack Obama, ending in early 2017.

In the lead-up to his presumed candidacy, Biden has faced new questions about his public hands-on attention to women in public settings over the years and notably his 1991 treatment of Anita Hill when Biden, as a U.S. senator, chaired the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

Hill is a college law professor who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment when they worked together at a U.S. government agency, but the all-male panel headed by Biden largely dismissed her allegations, with Thomas winning narrow confirmation to the country’s highest court, where he still sits.

Biden in recent days has said he regretted that he “couldn’t come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved,” even though he led the committee.

Biden is not believed to have apologized personally to Hill in the nearly three decades since the hearing. But as he seemingly moves toward another presidential candidacy in an era of new accountability for men in powerful positions of their treatment of women in years past, Biden is facing new calls for further explanation of his role in the Thomas confirmation hearings.


U.S. donors and Cuban builders have completed one of the longest-running joint projects between the two countries at a low point in bilateral relations.

Officials from the Boston-based Finca Vigia Foundation and Cuba’s National Cultural Heritage Council cut the ribbon Saturday evening on a state-of-the-art, $1.2 million conservation center on the grounds of Ernest Hemingway’s stately home on a hill overlooking Havana.

 

The center, which has been under construction since 2016, contains modern technology for cleaning and preserving a multitude of artifacts from the home where Hemingway lived in the 1940s and 1950s.

 

When he died in 1961, the author left approximately 5,000 photos, 10,000 letters and perhaps thousands of margin notes in roughly 9,000 books at the property.

 

“The laboratory we’re inaugurating today is the only one in Cuba with this capacity and it will allow us to contribute to safeguarding the legacy of Ernest Hemingway in Cuba,” said Grisell Fraga, director of the Ernest Hemingway Museum.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, spoke at the ceremony and called it a sign of the potential for U.S.-Cuban cooperation despite rising tensions between the Communist government and the Trump administration.

 

McGovern, who met with President Miguel Diaz-Canel and other Cuban officials during his visit, said that despite tensions over Venezuela, a Cuban ally, he still believed respectful dialogue was the most productive way of dealing with Cuba’s government.

 

The Trump administration has said it is trying to get rid of socialism in Latin America.

 

 


Виборчі дільниці на лінії розмежування на Донбасі охоронятимуть понад 260 поліцейських. Про це повідомили у міністерстві внутрішніх справ.

«У прифронтових районах Донеччини розташовано дві окружні виборчі комісії (село Зайцеве, місто Мар’їнка) та 130 виборчих дільниць, із яких 25 спеціальних дільниць для голосування військовослужбовців. Для їх цілодобової охорони та забезпечення публічної безпеки в день виборів задіяні максимальні сили поліції. Вони несуть службу в рамках операції Об’єднаних сил», – мовиться у повідомленні.

У МВС нагадали, що на території Луганської області 27 виборчих дільниць розташовані на лінії розмежування в Попаснянському районі, 27 – в Станично-Луганському та 13 – в Новоайдарському районах.

Вибори президента України відбудуться завтра, 31 березня. Виборчі дільниці відчиняться о 8:00.


A federal judge in Alaska has overturned U.S. President Donald Trump’s attempt to open vast areas of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans to oil and gas leasing. 

 

The decision issued late Friday by U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason leaves intact President Barack Obama’s policies putting the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea, part of the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea and a large swath of the Atlantic Ocean off the U.S. East Coast off-limits to oil leasing. 

 

Trump’s attempt to undo Obama’s protections was unlawful and a violation of the federal Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Gleason ruled. Presidents have the power under that law to withdraw areas from the national oil and gas leasing program, as Obama did, but only Congress has the power to add areas to the leasing program, she said. 

 

The Obama-imposed leasing prohibitions will remain in effect unless and until revoked by Congress, Gleason said in her ruling. 

 

Trump’s move to put offshore Arctic and Atlantic areas back into play for oil development came in a 2017 executive order that was part of his energy dominance agenda. The order was among a series of actions that jettisoned Obama administration environmental and climate-change initiatives. 

 

Expanded program

The Trump administration has proposed a vastly expanded offshore oil leasing program to start this year. The five-year Trump leasing program would offer two lease sales a year in Arctic waters and at least two lease sales a year in the Atlantic. The Trump plan also calls for several lease sales in remote marine areas off Alaska, like the southern Bering Sea, that are considered to hold negligible potential for oil. 

 

Obama had pulled much of the Arctic off the auction block following a troubled offshore Arctic exploration program pursued by Royal Dutch Shell. Shell spent at least $7 billion trying to explore the Chukchi and part of the Beaufort. The company wrecked one of its drill ships in a grounding and completed only one well to depth. It abandoned the program in 2015 and relinquished its leases.  

Gleason, in a separate case, delivered another decision Friday that blocked the Trump administration’s effort to overturn an Obama-era environmental decision. 

 

Gleason struck down a land trade intended to clear the way for a road to be built though sensitive wetlands in Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The Obama administration, after a four-year environmental impact statement process, determined that the land trade and road would cause too much harm to the refuge to be justified.

Trump’s then-interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, broke the law when he summarily reversed the Obama policy without addressing the facts found in the previous administration’s study of the issue, Gleason ruled.


Генеральна прокуратура України направила до Німеччини запит на екстрадицію екс-голови правління ПрАТ «ХК «Енергомережа» та колишнього народного депутата Дмитра Крючкова – про роль якого в одній з найбільших енергетичних афер останніх років журналісти програми «Схеми: корупція в деталях» (спільний проект Радіо Свобода та телеканалу «UA:Перший») розповіли у фільмі-розслідуванні.

«Орган досудового розслідування запросив видачу К. (Дмитра Крючкова – ред.), найближчим часом сподіваємося на позитивні новини. Але на все свій час, не буду забігати наперед», – заявив заступник генерального прокурора Євген Єнін у відповідь на питання агентства «Інтерфакс», чи є у ГПУ наміри наполягати на екстрадиції Крючкова і чи немає до нього питань  в українських правоохоронних органів у зв’язку з оприлюдненою в ЗМІ інформацією про виведення коштів через його компанію «Енергомережа».

«Схеми» розповіли про те, що Дмитро Крючков разом із соратником президента Ігорем Кононенко, бізнесменами Григорієм та Ігорем Суркісами, а також іншими високопосадовцями ймовірно причетний до схем з виведення сотень мільйонів гривень з декількох українських обленерго. Організація однієї з наймасштабніших афер у сфері енергетики останніх років обговорюється на записах телефонних розмов бізнесмена Дмитра Крючкова, які отримала редакція «Схем». Події охоплюють період весни-літа 2015 року, коли остаточно формується вертикаль влади після революційних подій – а різні напрямки закріплюються за конкретними кураторами та виконавцями.

Для верифікації телефонних розмов, «Схеми» передали зразки американським спеціалістам із Національного центру медіа-експертиз – освітньо-наукового центру Університету Колорадо в Денвері (США, створеного за підтримки Міністерства юстиції Сполучених Штатів Америки). Експертиза всіх надісланих голосів дала позитивний результат. Отримані високі показники вірогідності подібності голосів за шкалою, передбаченою цією методологією.

Дмитро Крючков – колишній народний депутат. Із 2006-го півтора року був у фракції «Блоку Юлії Тимошенко» – працював у комітеті з питань паливно-енергетичного комплексу. У 2014-му – став керівником приватної компанії «Енергомережа». І вже за рік вона взяла під контроль роботу кількох обленерго.

У 2016 році Крючков був оголошений у розшук, а у квітні 2018-го – затриманий у Німеччині за запитом українських правоохоронців.

Правоохоронці підозрюють Дмитра Крючкова в розкраданні коштів «Запоріжжяобленерго», понад 60 відсотків акцій якого належать державі. Детектив НАБУ Роман Войтюк називає суму заподіяних збитків, яка фігурує в провадженнях: «На даний час Національним бюро розслідуються кримінальні правопорушення, з яких вбачається, що Крючковим, а також іншими особами заподіяно збитків на загальну суму понад 1,4 мільярда гривень».

За словами детектива, бюро також вивчає причетність до схеми Ігоря Кононенка та братів Суркісів, останніх раніше вже викликали на допит. У записах, оприлюднених журналістами, співрозмовники, у тому числі, обговорюють і цю оборудку.

Після виходу розслідування «Схем» депутат Ігор Кононенко заявив, що готує позов на Радіо Свобода до закордонного суду.

У свою чергу, журналісти проекту Радіо Свобода «Схеми» зазначають, що не бояться суду, бо ретельно перевірили наведені у своєму розслідуванні факти. Також редакція повідомляє, що на запит Національного антикорупційного бюро вже передала детективам записи розмов Дмитра Крючкова з Ігорем Кононенком та братами Суркісами – і вони вже долучені до матеріалів офіційного розслідування.


Національна антикорупційне бюро України долучить до офіційного розслідування про корупцію в сфері енергетики записи розмов, які передали «Схеми» – на них депутат Ігор Кононенко, екс-голови правління ПрАТ «ХК «Енергомережа» і колишній депутат Дмитро Крючков і бізнесмени Суркіси обговорюють схеми з виведення сотень мільйонів гривень з декількох українських обленерго. Ці аудіозаписи на прохання «Схем» були верифіковані американськими спеціалістами, які співпрацюють з урядом США, та оприлюднені у фільмі-розслідуванні.

«Аудіозаписи та інші матеріали, оприлюднені в розслідуванні «Схем» про корупцію в енергетиці, будуть долучені до кримінального провадження, яке розслідують детективи НАБУ», – повідомили в Бюро і додали, що записи стали матеріалами провадження щодо зловживань із боку посадовців низки обленерго, в результаті яких інтересам держави завдано збитків на понад 1,2 млрд. грн. 

Раніше «Схеми» розповіли, що депутат Ігор Кононенко, екс-голова правління ПрАТ «ХК «Енергомережа» і колишній депутат Дмитро Крючков і бізнесмени Суркіси ймовірно причетні до схем з виведення сотень мільйонів гривень з декількох обленерго, контрольний пакет акцій в яких належить державі. Організація однієї з наймасштабніших афер у сфері енергетики останніх років обговорюється на записах телефонних розмов бізнесмена Дмитра Крючкова, які отримала редакція «Схем». 

Ці записи були верифіковані за допомогою західної експертизи, проведеної на прохання журналістів «Схем» спеціалістами Національного центру медіа-експертиз Університету Колорадо в Денвері, який співпрацює з урядом США.

Журналісти проаналізували телефоні розмови, співставивши з відкритими даними, документами та реальними подіями, які стосуються періоду весни-літа 2015 року. Під час спілкування фігуранти обговорюють у тому числі незаконні способи отримання та збереження контролю над обласними енергопостачальними компаніями «Запоріжжяобленерго», «Черкасиобленерго» та «Харківобленерго», контрольні пакети акцій в яких належать державі в особі Фонду державного майна України. Також багато розмов стосуються розподілу між учасниками схеми значних сум готівкою.

НАБУ проводить офіційне розслідування про розкрадання коштів «Запоріжжяобленерго», у рамках якого вже повідомила про підозру бізнесмену Дмитру Крючкову. За словами детектива, бюро також вивчає причетність до схеми Ігоря Кононенка та братів Суркісів, останніх раніше вже викликали на допит. У записах, оприлюднених журналістами, співрозмовники, у тому числі, обговорюють і цю оборудку.

Після виходу розслідування «Схем» депутат Ігор Кононенко заявив, що готує позов на Радіо Свобода до закордонного суду.

У свою чергу, журналісти проекту Радіо Свобода «Схеми» зазначають, що не бояться суду, бо ретельно перевірили наведені у своєму розслідуванні факти.

 


For techies and phone geeks, Digital Cambodia 2019 was the place to be.

More than a dozen high school students clustered at the booth for Cellcard, Cambodia’s leading mobile operator. Under the booth’s 5G sign, they played video games on their phones.

Hak Kimheng, a ninth grade student in Phnom Penh, said his mom bought him a Samsung smartphone a few months ago, when he moved to the capital city from nearby Kandal province to live with his uncle while attending school. Like moms everywhere, she thought the smartphone would help her stay in touch with her son.

But smartphones being smartphones and kids being kids, Hak Kimheng, 16, has used it to set up an account on Facebook, Cambodia’s favorite social media platform. He’s also downloaded Khmer Academy, a tutoring app filled with math, physics and chemistry lessons.

And for one hour a day, Hak Kimheng watches soccer on the YouTube app he downloaded. While it’s better than nothing, the internet connection is “slow … and the video image is not clear,” he said.  “I want it to be faster. … It’ll be good to have 5G.”

Not far from the Cellcard booth, Cambodian government officials, ASEAN telecom and IT ministers, businesspeople, telecom and tech company representatives gathered for the opening ceremonies of Digital Cambodia 2019. The event, which ran from March 15 to March 17, attracted more than 100 speakers from throughout Southeast Asia, high level officials, businesspeople, researchers and telecom company representatives.

The discussions focused on 5G, which, with speeds as much as 100 times faster than 4G, will mean better soccer viewing for Hak Kimheng and faster connections for all users. But 5G will also be central to a world of smart cities filled with smart homes and offices replete with devices connected to the “internet of things” humming along amid torrents of personal, business and official data.

‘A milestone year’

David Li, CEO of Cambodian operations for the Chinese company, Huawei, which is facing challenges over security from the U.S., spoke first, promising to “help Cambodia obtain better digital technology to improve social productivity and national economy.”

Government ministers, one from finance and economy and one from posts and telecommunication, listened as Li continued, pointing out that Huawei Technologies Cambodia launched in 1999. “We have been operating 2G, 3G, 4G, and now we’re heading toward 5G,” he said.

“Currently we are the only industry vendor that can provide the intertwined 5G system. I believe this year 2019 will be a milestone year for 5G in Cambodia,” Li said.

While this next generation of mobile networks will take years to roll out, the U.S. and China are in a race over whose technology will set the standards for 5G networks, something which will have immediate commercial value and carry longer term strategic implications for developing the dominant platform for 6G.

Citing concern that Huawei is, like all Chinese companies, linked to the Beijing government, the U.S. has been urging allies not to let Huawei build their 5G networks. But in countries like Thailand, which is Cambodia’s neighbor and a U.S. ally, Huawei is building and testing a 5G network because authorities said its low cost trumped U.S. pressure.

Huawei has long maintained it doesn’t provide back doors for the Chinese government, pointing out the lack of evidence to support the allegations, according to Bloomberg.

William Carter, deputy director of the Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said earlier this month that any country doing business with Huawei on 5G will have to deal with the risk of Chinese influence.

“And the question will be to what extent is that concern enough to overcome the price advantage and the service advantages and the integrated financing advantages doing business with Huawei,” he said.

Rich market

As more private businesses and government services move toward cashless payment and online data access, Cambodia is emerging as a rich market for 5G telecoms. Approximately 13.6 million people, or 82 percent of Cambodians, use the internet, and about 7 million use Facebook, the number of mobile subscriptions is around 19.5 million by January 2019, or 120 percent penetration, according to the Ministry of Posts.

Sok Puthyvuth, secretary of state at the posts and telecommunication told VOA Khmer that Cambodia is eager for 5G, urging private companies, including mobile operators and internet companies, “to make 5G available across the country.”

Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata, one of Cambodia’s mobile telecommunications operators, told VOA Khmer only that the company is preparing for a 5G rollout, because users’ data consumption is overwhelming the 4.5G network. “We see an immediate need to come out with the next evolution of technology … at some point this year.”

Cellcard CEO Ian Watson, said the company is targeting a commercial launch of 5G services in the second quarter of 2019.

Tram IvTek, Cambodia’s minister of Posts and Telecommunications said at the opening ceremony of Digital Cambodia that the government “is strongly committed to connecting the country and to ensure the benefits of ICT (information and communications technology) reach the remotest corners as well as the most vulnerable communities” by 2020.

Aun Pornmoniroth, minister of economy and finance in a March 12 workshop on Cambodia’s digital economy, suggested it will take “five to 10 years or more to set up a complete digital economy and turn Cambodia’s economy into a technological leader.”

Meas Po, undersecretary of state at Ministry of Post, said the government has yet to decide which company it will partner with for building the 5G infrastructure but it has not ruled out Huawei or other Chinese companies. “In our country, we have our protective system, in other countries, they have theirs. We don’t allow anyone to just freely hack our data.”

Protecting privacy

Smart Axiata’s Hundt said his company wanted to a partner that would “guarantee to us that the equipment is solid and sound [and] our users’ data is safeguarded and the network is fully secured from cyber-security perspectives.”

Nguon Somaly, who earned a master’s degree in law and technology at Tallinn University of Technology in Estonia, has written extensively on data privacy in Cambodia. She contends Cambodian social media users don’t have the data privacy concerns of users in the U.S. and Europe.

“Cambodian youths don’t really care about privacy [on social media], but people in [the] EU are concerned about their data privacy,” said Somaly, referring to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which restricts how personal data is collected and handled.

“That is money and it can be analyzed and generate income,” Somaly said. “China is not a free country and privacy is not their priority. Their priority is to generate business opportunities and income.”

Xu Ning, a reporter with VOA’s Mandarin Service, contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.

 

 


Death row inmates Patrick Murphy and Domineque Ray each turned to courts recently with a similar plea: Halt my execution if the state won’t let a spiritual adviser of my faith accompany me into the execution chamber.

Both cases wound up at the Supreme Court. And while the justices overrode a lower court and allowed Ray’s execution to go forward in Alabama in February, they gave Murphy, a Texas inmate, a temporary reprieve Thursday night.

What the justices wrote suggests the opposite results came down to one thing: timing. Ray, a Muslim, didn’t ask to be joined by his spiritual adviser soon enough, while Murphy, a Buddhist, did.

​Issue raised too late

Spencer Hahn, one of Ray’s attorneys, said in a telephone interview Friday that he hoped his client had helped bring attention to the fact some inmates are treated differently when it comes to religious advisers in the execution chamber.

“I’d like to think Mr. Ray’s death was not in vain,” he said.

Hahn said the Supreme Court’s action in Murphy’s case sends a message to other corrections departments: “The Supreme Court doesn’t want to see people mistreated like this in their final moments.”

Ray, 42, was sentenced to death for the 1995 rape and murder of 15-year-old Tiffany Harville. His attorneys argued that Alabama’s execution procedure violated the Constitution by favoring Christian inmates over Muslims. A Christian chaplain employed by the prison is typically present in the execution chamber during a lethal injection, but the state would not let Ray’s imam in the chamber, arguing only prison employees are allowed for security reasons.

A federal appeals court halted Ray’s execution, but the Supreme Court reversed that decision and let it take place Feb. 7. The court’s five conservative justices said Ray waited until just 10 days before his execution to raise the issue. The court’s four liberal justices dissented. Justice Elena Kagan wrote that Ray’s request to have his imam by his side was denied Jan. 23 and he sued five days later. Ray’s imam watched the execution from an adjoining witness room.

Murphy’s plea was similar. The 57-year-old, who was among a group of inmates who escaped from a Texas prison in 2000 and then committed numerous robberies, including one where a police officer was fatally shot, became a Buddhist while in prison. He asked that his spiritual adviser, a Buddhist priest, accompany him into the execution chamber. Texas officials said no.

They argued that only chaplains who had been extensively vetted by the prison system were allowed in the chamber. While Christian and Muslim chaplains were available, no Buddhist priest was.

Religious rights

Murphy’s lawyers argued that violated their client’s rights. Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Neil Gorsuch would have allowed Murphy’s execution to proceed. But a majority of the Supreme Court said the state can’t carry out Murphy’s execution at this time unless it permits Murphy’s spiritual adviser or another Buddhist reverend the state chooses to accompany him in the execution chamber.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jeremy Desel said Thursday that the state would review the ruling to determine how to respond.

Speaking just for himself, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote “that Murphy made his request to the State in a sufficiently timely manner, one month before the scheduled execution.” No other justice wrote separately.

Kavanaugh said the state has two options going forward: allow all inmates to have a religious adviser of their religion in the execution room, or allow religious advisers only in the viewing room, not the execution room.

Timing or something more

Robert Dunham, the head of the Death Penalty Information Center, said it’s possible something besides timing was considered by the justices.

“The more centrist conservatives on the court may have been stung by the overwhelming criticism they received from people across the political and religious and ideological spectrum” following Ray’s execution, he said.

It was not clear how many other inmates might find themselves in a similar situation. Only eight states, including Texas and Alabama, carried out executions last year.

But law professor James A. Sonne, whose Stanford clinic has studied the issue of chaplains’ presence at executions, said most of the 30 states with the death penalty allow a chaplain of the inmate’s choice to be present at the execution, though that doesn’t necessarily mean in the death chamber. He called Thursday’s ruling a “sea change.”


The United States is calling on China to stop what it calls its growing oppression of people of faith, noting the detention of a million ethnic Uighur Muslims. VOA’s Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine has the story from the State Department.


Twenty years ago, Yang Li left northeast China in the prime of her life and crossed the Pacific Ocean borne by her own American dream.

She became an American citizen, founded a spa and massage business in Florida, participated in community activities, attended events where American politicians appeared, and posted on social media photos of herself with U.S. President Donald Trump.

That photo opportunity ignited a media firestorm around Yang amid accusations that she sold Chinese businessmen access to American politicians, actions that may have violated the U.S. campaign finance laws.

Robert Kraft’s arrest

Yang’s name surfaced in the U.S. media March 8. That was days after police in Florida arrested Robert Kraft, the owner of American football’s New England Patriots, on Feb. 22, on allegations that he was soliciting prostitution at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida. Kraft has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Yang told NBC News on March 20 that she sold the spa seven years ago.

At the time Kraft was arrested, Yang ran a public relations business that provided opportunities for Chinese businessmen to have access to Trump at his Florida hotel and golf course. Yang’s company, GY US Investments LLC, also helped U.S. firms “expand their brand image in the modern Chinese marketplace.” Although the GY US website is down, the business remains open, according to public records in Palm Beach County.

The Miami Herald reported a trail of campaign donations to Trump funneled by Yang through family, her work, and business associates.

Yang told NBC News she does not know Trump despite the selfie she posted after a Super Bowl football championship party Feb. 3 at Trump’s West Palm Beach golf club.

“I love Americans,” Yang told NBC, adding that she immigrated in 1999 and is now a U.S. citizen. “I love our president. I don’t do anything wrong.”

Suggestions of espionage

But media speculation about her ties to the Chinese government has dogged Yang since the days after Kraft’s arrest, as have suggestions that she may be a spy.

The result is that Democratic leadership in both houses of Congress have asked the FBI to launch criminal and anti-espionage investigations into Yang’s businesses and activities.

Yang, 45, has in turn used the media to say the American institutions she has long cherished are unfairly targeting her. She has scoffed at the spy charges and said she had never been involved with prostitution and did not violate any laws when she brought guests to Trump events.

“I’m a Republican,” she told NBC. “I am Chinese. That’s why the Democrats are investigating me.”

Yang took the English name Cindy, an homage to the American supermodel turned businesswoman, Cindy Crawford.

“I like her,” Yang told NBC News.

Entering the political fray

Yang has worked as a journalist, ran a media company and an art promotion agency, sold medical supplies, and worked in the spa/massage industry long before entering the American political fray.

Through Yang’s lawyer, Voice of America has requested the opportunity to interview Yang. Although no decision has been reached, the invitation remains open.

Yang was active in Chinese political and social circles in South Florida.

Yang served as president of the Florida branch of the Chinese Cheongsam Association, which celebrates the traditional form-fitting Chinese dress, also known as a qipao. On the website of her consulting company, Yang said she was vice president of the Miami branch of the Chinese Association for Science and Technology, USA. The association was established in 2016.

According to Chinese media reports, Yang participated in the local chapter of the Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China (CPPRC), which was founded in 2016. The organization is believed to have close ties to Beijing.

Yang also set up a non-governmental organization, the Women’s Charity Foundation, in 2015.

Suddenly a public figure

Outside southern Florida, Yang wasn’t a public figure until she became national news.

Cliff Zhonggang Li, executive director of the National Committee of Asian American Republicans (Asian GOP) has worked with Yang. 

“Yang Li has tried a lot of business,” he told VOA. “She’s a very energetic and capable person, and I think she’s always on the lookout for new opportunities.”

Li Zhonggang first met Yang at a May 2015 cheongsam association event she had organized. In the midst of founding the Asian GOP, Li Zhonggang pegged Yang as a people person with organizational skills.

“I thought it would be very good if her energy could help us to promote Chinese-American political participation,” Li Zhonggang said.

Yang helped mobilize more than 200 Chinese-Americans to attend a June 15 rally where Jeb Bush announced his candidacy for president. Asian GOP supporters occupied VIP seats as the group made its debut.

Volunteering as fundraiser

At other Republican Party events, Yang met Karyn Turk, who was Mrs. Florida 2016, a conservative commentator and a radio host.

“I found her to be a very friendly person, who did not have English as the first language,” Turk told VOA. “So she was kind of hard to communicate with, but she always seemed to be very friendly with a smile on her face.”

Li Zhonggang said that after the Bush rally, Yang volunteered to be a fundraiser for the Asian GOP and act as an outreach director for its Florida chapter.

Now Karyn Turk, and her husband, Evan Turk, are respectively Yang’s spokesperson and lawyer, helping Yang deal with what Karyn Turk calls “another media hype.” Li Zhonggang believes that a media “witch hunt” targeting Trump ensnared an innocent Yang.

The Turks and others who know Yang told VOA she has become caught in a web of negative exposure and false speculation. American political insiders say it’s not difficult to make contact with Trump, or other politicians, and that people who are politically active or who make donations, often have opportunities to meet high-ranking officials.

However, Li Zhonggang, of the Asian GOP, said some Chinese-Americans use photo ops with political figures to improve their visibility in the community as a way of making money for themselves.

Amid the publicity, Li Zhonggang’s organization has severed ties with Yang. He said that this is not because Yang did anything wrong, but because his organization was overwhelmed by the media “bombardment.”

​Investigation sought

Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, asked FBI Director Christopher Wray last week to launch a criminal and counterintelligence investigation into Yang.

In a letter, House Democrats such as Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote: “Ms. Yang’s activities may only be those of an unscrupulous actor allegedly selling access to politicians for profit, her activities also could permit adversary governments or their agents access to these same politicians to acquire potential material for blackmail or other even more nefarious purposes.”

The FBI has not commented.

Yang’s attorney, Evan Turk, said his client’s reputation had been damaged and she is another Trump supporter who’s become a media casualty.

Yang said that after the exposure, she couldn’t eat or sleep well and lost 15 pounds because, she told NBC News, “I’m so scared.”