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G7 Officials Make Progress But No Final Deal On Money For Ukraine From Frozen Russian Assets

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Frankfurt, Germany – Finance officials from the Group of Seven rich democracies said they were close to agreeing on a US request to extract more funds for Ukraine from Russian assets frozen in their nations. However, the ministers left it up to national leaders to reach a final agreement before a summit in June.

“We are making progress in our discussions on potential avenues to bring forward the extraordinary profits stemming from immobilized Russian sovereign assets to the benefit of Ukraine,” the draft statement read, without providing more information.

Despite the progress made during the meeting in Stresa, on the shores of Lake Maggiore in northern Italy, the G7 state leaders, including US President Joe Biden, will make the ultimate decision on how the assets will be used next month at their annual summit in Fasano, southern Italy.

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G7 | Ecco Climate Image

G7 Officials Make Progress But No Final Deal On Money For Ukraine From Frozen Russian Assets

Host Finance Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti stated that “progress has been made so far,” but that “legal and technical issues must be resolved.”

“It is not an easy task, but we are working on it,” he told a news conference after the meeting.

On Saturday, Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko attended the final meeting of finance ministers and central bank heads.

The United States Congress has passed legislation allowing the Biden administration to seize the approximately $5 billion in Russian assets located in the United States, but European countries have a strong voice in the matter because the majority of the $260 billion in Russian central bank assets frozen following the Feb. 24, 2022, invasion are held in their countries.

Citing legal issues, European officials have declined to confiscate the money and send it over to Ukraine as compensation for the damage caused by Russia

Instead, they intend to use the accumulated interest on the assets, which amounts to only around $3 billion per year – roughly one month’s financial needs for the Ukrainian government.

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G7 | Sky News Image

G7 Officials Make Progress But No Final Deal On Money For Ukraine From Frozen Russian Assets

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wants to borrow against the frozen assets’ future interest income. That means Ukraine might receive up to $50 billion instantly.

However, European members have expressed concerns about the legal complexities of the proposal and that Russia may retaliate against the reduced number of Western companies and individuals with holdings in Russia or against the Euroclear securities depository in Belgium, where the majority of the funds are held.

Russia has issued a directive from President Vladimir Putin authorizing the confiscation of assets of US corporations and individuals as compensation for any Russian assets seized in the United States

The ministers also discussed addressing China’s massive, state-backed manufacturing of green energy technology, which the US regards as a danger to the world economy. The United States has levied significant additional tariffs on electric vehicles, electronics, solar equipment, and medical goods imported from China. A 100% tariff on Chinese-made EVs is included to protect the US economy against low-cost imports.

G7 Officials Make Progress But No Final Deal On Money For Ukraine From Frozen Russian Assets

The United States has argued that Chinese overcapacity affects not only the United States but also other G7 and poor countries. That’s because China’s sale of low-cost goods endangers the survival of competitive enterprises worldwide.

The G7 is an informal forum that meets annually to discuss economic and security issues. The member countries are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Representatives from the European Union also participate, but the EU does not serve as one of the rotating chairs.

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Former Trump Executive Allen Weisselberg Released From Jail After Serving Perjury Sentence

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NEW YORK — Allen Weisselberg, a retired Trump Organization executive, was freed from New York City’s Rikers Island jail on Friday after serving a term for lying under oath, his lawyer and corrections authorities said.

The former chief financial officer of Donald Trump’s real estate company has been reunited with his family, according to his lawyer, Seth Rosenberg, who wrote in an email without further details.

The city’s Department of Correction declined to disclose any information regarding Weisselberg’s release other than to certify that it is included in its online inmate database.

Former Trump Executive Allen Weisselberg Released From Jail After Serving Perjury Sentence

In March, Weisselberg pleaded guilty to deception during his testimony in the fraud case filed by New York’s attorney general against the former president.

Weisselberg admits to lying about how Trump’s Manhattan penthouse came to be overvalued on his financial records.

In exchange for pleading guilty to two charges of lying, prosecutors agreed not to charge him with any other offenses related to his long-term job with the Trump Organization.

“Allen Weisselberg accepted responsibility for his actions and now looks forward to the end of this life-changing experience, returning to his family, and retiring,” his attorney, Seth Rosenberg, said after he was sentenced in April.

Former Trump Executive Allen Weisselberg Released From Jail After Serving Perjury Sentence

It was Weisselberg’s second time in prison. Last year, the 76-year-old spent 100 days in jail for evading taxes on $1.7 million in company perks, which included a rent-free Manhattan apartment and luxury cars.

Weisselberg, who worked for the family for nearly 50 years, testified twice during unsuccessful trials for Trump. He stressed that his boss had done nothing wrong.

SOURCE | AP

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Too Soon For Comedy? After Attempted Assassination Of Trump, US Politics Feel Anything But Funny

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Political jokes: is it too soon?

Many quarters responded with a loud yes at midweek, days after an assassination attempt on Republican former President Donald Trump shook the nation over decades of political violence in the United States.

Several late-night shows that rely on political humor instantly modified their plans, with Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” canceling its Monday show and intending to broadcast from the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee this week. Its host, Jon Stewart, and his guests gave sad monologues.

By Tuesday, the comic rock duo Tenacious D, comprised of Jack Black and Kyle Gass, had canceled the remainder of their global tour “and all future creative plans” after Gass proclaimed onstage his birthday wish: “Don’t miss next time.” Gass apologized.

Too Soon For Comedy? After Attempted Assassination Of Trump, US Politics Feel Anything But Funny

Democratic President Joe Biden, no stranger to criticizing Trump, contacted his wounded competitor, paused his political advertisements and messaging, and urged the country to “cool” the rhetoric.

So, if comedy is tragedy plus time, when is joking acceptable again? And who gives a thumbs up, given that the shooter who targeted Trump also killed former fire chief Corey Comperatore while protecting his family?

The attempted assassination on Saturday, or any of the bloodshed that has afflicted the United States since its inception, is not funny. Trump was smacked in the ear while speaking to rallygoers in Pennsylvania. A Trump supporter and the gunman were dead, while two onlookers were injured. The attack sparked severe concerns about security shortcomings. It was the most recent example of political violence in America, where attacks on politicians date back to at least 1798 when two legislators from opposite parties brawled in the United States House.

Other examples abound in history texts, but the list from this century is particularly striking. Former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords, D, was shot in the head in 2011. Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the current House majority leader, was shot and badly injured in 2017. On January 6, 2021, a mob of Trump supporters invaded the US Capitol, preventing Congress from certifying Biden’s election. Paul Pelosi was bludgeoned at his home in 2022 by a guy looking for his wife, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In addition to that, unwavering fears about Biden’s fitness for office following his catastrophic debate performance, Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts, and American politics in 2024 appear anything but hilarious.

However, political comedy is as old as politics and administration.

It softens the impact of democratic decisions and is a powerful tool for politicians aiming to alleviate or increase concerns about themselves or their opponents. And in recent years, Trump has been the focus of more jokes than anyone else. According to a 2020 study by George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs, late-night hosts made 97% of their jokes about Trump.

“It’s never too soon, unless it’s not funny,” Alonzo Bodden, a 31-year-old stand-up comedian, said in a phone interview Wednesday. He is not a Trump supporter but stated that comedians “will always make it funny no matter what happens.” That is what we do. “It is how we communicate.”

“In this case, Donald Trump is such a character and the fact that he wasn’t killed, the jokes started immediately,” said Bodden. “And I don’t believe he minds. He’s one of those persons who is always happy to be mentioned.”

Humor humanizes large figures.
Perhaps most effectively, political humor can make arrogant leaders appear more human or at least self-conscious.

Consider “covfefe,” Trump’s strange middle-of-the-night tweet in 2017 that went viral, prompting Jimmy Kimmel to despair that he’ll never write something funnier. “Make the Pie Higher,” a poem by late Washington Post cartoonist Richard Thompson, was composed solely of President George W. Bush’s botched words and was published for his inauguration in 2001.

“It is a very complicated economic point I was making there,” Bush said with a smirk at the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner a few months later. “Believe me, what this country needs is taller pie.”

Before the debate, Biden attempted to use humor to bring the age issue to the forefront, but it became evident that the concern was more about his cognitive ability. “I know I’m 198 years old,” Biden declared, to wild laughter and clapping.

 

Too Soon For Comedy? After Attempted Assassination Of Trump, US Politics Feel Anything But Funny

Humor is such an effective campaign tactic that candidates flock to guest appearances on late-night shows, which have risen in political prominence. However, following the assassination, a pause settled over everything, as indicated by Stewart’s serious address on Monday.

“None of us knows what’s going to happen next other than there will be another tragedy in this country, self-inflicted by us to us, and then we’ll have this feeling again,” Stewart told the crowd.

“The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert recalled his astonishment at the attack, joy that Trump had survived, and “grief for my great country.”

“Though I could just as easily start the show moaning on the floor,” he laughed, “because how many times do we need to learn the lesson that violence has no role in our politics?”

As is customary for social media, it was acting more freely. “I think it’s ironic that Trump almost died from a gun today because he was too far right-leaning,” comedian Drew Lynch remarked on YouTube. “Alright. That’s all I have. I believe my neighbors might be listening.”

SOURCE | AP

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To Counter China, NATO And Its Asian Partners Are Moving Closer Under US Leadership

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Washington — In the third year of the war in Ukraine, NATO plans to strengthen ties with its four Indo-Pacific partners, who, while not members of the military alliance, are gaining prominence as Russia and China forge closer ties to counter the United States and the two Koreas’ support for opposing sides in Europe.

For the third consecutive year, the leaders of New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea will attend the NATO summit, which begins Tuesday in Washington, D.C., while Australia will send its deputy prime minister. China will watch the meeting intently, concerned about the alliance’s expanding interest beyond Europe and the Western Hemisphere.

“Partners in Europe increasingly see challenges halfway around the world in Asia as relevant to them, just as partners in Asia see challenges halfway around the world in Europe,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Brookings Institution last week.

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NATO | Reuters Image

To Counter China, NATO And Its Asian Partners Are Moving Closer Under US Leadership

America’s top diplomat stated that the US has been striving to tear down barriers between European alliances, Asian coalitions, and other global allies. “That’s part of the new landscape, the new geometry that we’ve put in place.”

As competition between the United States and China heats up, countries with similar security concerns are forging relations. Washington is attempting to limit Beijing’s ambition to challenge the US-led world order, which the Chinese government dismisses as a Cold War mindset aimed at restraining China’s inevitable growth.

On Monday, Beijing reacted strongly to unsubstantiated rumors that NATO and its four Indo-Pacific partners are preparing to release a document outlining their partnership and capabilities to respond to cyberattacks and disinformation.

Lin Jian, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, accused NATO of “breaching its boundary, expanding its mandate, going beyond its defense zone, and stoking confrontation.”

The conflict in Ukraine, which has put the West against Russia and its allies, has strengthened the case for greater collaboration among the United States, Europe, and its Asian allies. “Ukraine of today may become East Asia of tomorrow,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told the United States Congress in April.

The United States and South Korea accused Pyongyang of supplying Russia with ammunition, while Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to North Korea last month and signed an agreement with leader Kim Jong Un calling for mutual military assistance.

South Korea and Japan, meanwhile, are deploying military equipment and humanitarian help to Ukraine. The US also claims China is sending Russia with machine tools, microelectronics, and other technology that will allow it to manufacture weapons for use against Ukraine.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will travel to Washington with “a strong message regarding the military cooperation between Russia and North Korea and discuss ways to enhance cooperation among NATO allies and Indo-Pacific partners,” his principal deputy national security adviser, Kim Tae-hyo, told reporters Friday.

New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon stated that discussions will “focus on our collective efforts to support the rules-based system.”

According to Mirna Galic, senior policy analyst on China and East Asia at the US Institute of Peace, the cooperation allows NATO to coordinate with the four partners on topics of shared concern rather than becoming a direct player in the Indo-Pacific. For example, she said in an analysis that they can share intelligence and agree on actions like sanctions and aid delivery, but they do not intervene in military crises outside their borders.

According to Luis Simon, director of Vrije Universiteit Brussel’s Centre for Security Diplomacy and Strategy, the NATO summit will allow the United States and its European and Indo-Pacific partners to counter China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.

“The fact that the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific alliances are structured around a clear anchor — U.S. military power — makes them more cohesive and gives them a strategic edge as compared to the sort of interlocking partnerships that bind China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea,” Simon wrote in a commentary last week on War On the Rocks, a defense and foreign affairs website.

Zhu Feng, dean of the School of International Studies at Nanjing University in eastern China, expressed concern over NATO’s eastward swing. Beijing has asked that NATO refrain from interfering in Indo-Pacific security concerns and reconsider China as a strategic adversary.

“NATO should consider China as a positive force for the regional peace and stability and for global security,” Zhu indicated. “We also hope the Ukraine war can end as soon as possible … and we have rejected a return to the triangular relation with Russia and North Korea.”

“In today’s volatile and fragile world, Europe, the U.S. and China should strengthen global and regional cooperation,” according to Zhu.

NATO and China had little confrontation until 2019 when tensions between Beijing and Washington rose. The NATO summit in London mentioned China as a “challenge” that “we need to address together as an alliance.” Two years later, NATO upgraded China to a “systemic challenge” and stated that Beijing was “cooperating militarily with Russia.”

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NATO | NPR Image

To Counter China, NATO And Its Asian Partners Are Moving Closer Under US Leadership

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, leaders from Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand attended the inaugural NATO summit, where they highlighted China’s geopolitical problems. Beijing accused NATO of “collaborating with the US government for an all-out suppression of China.”

Beijing is concerned that Washington is creating a NATO-style alliance in the Indo-Pacific.

Chinese Senior Col. Cao Yanzhong, a scholar at China’s Institute of War Studies, asked US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last month if the US attempted to build an Asian version of NATO through partnerships and alliances. They include a grouping of the United States, Britain, and Australia; another with Australia, India, and Japan; and one with Japan and South Korea.

“What implications do you think the strengthening of the U.S. alliance system in the Asia-Pacific will have on this region’s security and stability?” Cao asked during the Shangri-la Dialogue security meeting in Singapore.

Austin responded that the United States merely collaborates with “like-minded countries with similar values and a common vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Beijing reached its own decision.

“The real intent of the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy is to integrate all small circles into a big circle as the Asian version of NATO in order to maintain hegemony as led by the United States,” Chinese Lt. Gen. Jing Jianfeng stated at the meeting.

SOURCE | AP 

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