Ракетний обстріл залізничного вокзалу в Краматорську здійснили з окупованої частини Донеччини – експертиза СБУ

В результаті обстрілу залізничного вокзалу в Краматорську 8 квітня загинула 61 людина, ще 121 особа отримала поранення – Дехтяренко

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North Korea, China Loom Large in Biden’s Visit in Seoul

U.S. President Joe Biden is in Seoul, South Korea, the first leg of his six-day trip to South Korea and Japan, meeting the newly inaugurated President Yoon Suk Yeol to highlight the U.S.-South Korea alliance and efforts to engage the region economically.

Upon landing at the U.S. Air Force’s Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, around 55 kilometers south of Seoul, Friday, Biden began immediately with a tour of the nearby Samsung Pyeongtaek Campus, the largest semiconductor plant in the world. The factory is a model for a $17 billion computer chip facility Samsung is building outside Austin, Texas.

In remarks following a tour of the plant showcasing the electronics company’s new 3-nanometer chips, Biden called the U.S-South Korea alliance “a lynchpin of peace, stability, and prosperity.” He and Yoon vowed to work together to strengthen supply chains of semiconductors and other critical components. There is currently a global shortage of chips – used in various electronic consumer goods and automobiles – aggravated by the pandemic.

Washington and Seoul are among each other’s largest trading and investment partners, with more than $62 billion of foreign direct investment by South Korean firms in the United States as of 2020.

The two leaders are meeting again Saturday, on a wider range of issues, including North Korea and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. The IPEF is the centerpiece of U.S. economic policy in the region since the Trump administration’s 2017 withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the free trade agreement the Obama administration launched in 2016.

While Seoul is unlikely to downgrade economic ties with Beijing, its support for the IPEF, the administration’s economic counteroffensive against China, is crucial.

“No one in Korea is talking about the economic isolation of China, that’s really not going to happen,” Ramon Pacheco Pardo, a Korea specialist at King’s College London told VOA. Yoon, though, will be “much more vocal in making clear that Korea is joining these frameworks that we all know are anti-China,” he said.

The IPEF, scheduled to be launched Monday in Tokyo, has been criticized for its lack of market access provisions, making it less attractive than existing regional free trade agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan pushed back against the criticism, saying IPEF will provide a “huge thrust and momentum” to U.S. economic initiatives in the Indo-Pacific.

“This is going to be the new model of economic arrangement that will set the terms and rules of the road for trade and technology and supply chains for the 21st century,” he told VOA.

North Korea weapons test

U.S. officials have warned that South Korea’s belligerent northern neighbor may conduct another nuclear or missile test while Biden is in the region.

Bong Young-shik, a lecturer at Seoul’s Yonsei University said North Korea may use a test to grab the “full attention” of Biden and Yoon, however it won’t be the only focus. Yoon, who took office a little more than a week ago has signaled a tougher stance on Pyongyang than his predecessor.

“With or without another provocation by North Korea, the North Korean issue will be really high on the list of priority agendas for both leaders,” he told VOA.

After confirming its first case of COVID-19 last week, North Korean state media Saturday reported about 220,000 new cases of an unidentified “fever” said 66 people had died.

Experts fear the number of cases is much higher and could be disastrous for a country suffering from food shortages and having poor medical infrastructure. Pyongyang has not inoculated its population and has turned down vaccine donation offers from the U.N. COVAX program. It is unlikely to change its stance, Bong said.

“By accepting external assistance, especially from South Korea and the United States, the principle of the infallibility of the supreme leadership will be greatly damaged,” he said.

A senior administration official told reporters in a phone briefing that the U.S. is in discussions with China to look for ways to help North Korea as they deal with the outbreak.

China military flex

In Asia, Biden will reaffirm U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and use the Ukraine crisis to signal that unilateral change to the status quo by force – whether in Taiwan or the disputed islands in the South China Sea – is unacceptable.

However, there is little likelihood that Beijing might opportunistically move against Taiwan while the U.S. is focused on the Russian invasion, said Robert Daly, director of the Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United State. The enormous economic pressures brought on by the zero-COVID policy has led to growing public skepticism about the Chinese leadership.

“Xi Jinping faces strong domestic headwinds, he can’t face another failure,” Daly told VOA.

Still Xi is flexing his military prowess. Ahead of Biden’s arrival in Seoul Thursday, China announced it is holding military exercises in the disputed South China Sea. Beijing has militarized at least three of several islands it artificially built in the strategic waters, an aggressive move that concerns the U.S. and its allies.

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US Senate Race too Close to Call; Recount Likely

Pennsylvania’s Republican primary for an open U.S. Senate seat is too close to Pennsylvania’s Republican primary for an open U.S. Senate seat is too close to call and is likely headed for a statewide recount to decide the winner of the contest between heart surgeon-turned-TV celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick.

A recount would mean that the outcome of the race might not be known until June 8, the deadline for counties to report their results to the state.

Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, led McCormick by 1,079 votes, or 0.08 percentage points, out of 1,340,248 ballots counted as of 5 p.m. Friday. The race is close enough to trigger Pennsylvania’s automatic recount law, with the separation between the candidates inside the law’s 0.5% margin. The Associated Press will not declare a winner in the race until the likely recount is complete.

Both campaigns have hired Washington-based lawyers to lead their recount efforts, and both have hired Philadelphia-based campaign strategists who helped lead the operation to observe vote-counting on Election Day for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2020.

The two campaigns had dozens of lawyers and volunteers fanned out around the presidential battleground state as election workers and election boards toiled through the remaining ballots.

The big field of Republican candidates and their super PACs reported spending more than $70 million during the primary campaign. The winner will face Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in November’s midterm elections in what Democrats see as their best opportunity to pick up a seat in the closely divided Senate.

Fetterman won the Democratic nomination while in the hospital recovering from a stroke four days before the election. The incumbent, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, is retiring after serving two terms.

Trump’s clout is again on the line, as he looked for a third straight win in Republican Senate primaries after “Hillbilly Elegy” author JD Vance prevailed in Ohio earlier this month and U.S. Rep. Ted Budd easily scored a victory in North Carolina on Tuesday.

Oz’s campaign manager declined to comment Friday evening. McCormick’s campaign said it has no plans to decline a recount.

As of yet, neither campaign has gone to court, and both candidates have expressed confidence in victory.

 

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У Маріуполі окупанти завершили розбирати руїни Драмтеатру і вивозити тіла загиблих – мерія

«Тепер ми ніколи не дізнаємось, скількі насправді було вбито цивільних маріупольців російською бомбою в Драматичному театрі»

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Stocks End Lower but Not Quite in Bear Market

Another volatile day on Wall Street ended with more losses for stocks Thursday, drawing the S&P 500 closer to its first bear market since the beginning of the pandemic. 

A bear market means that an individual stock or a stock index, like the S&P 500, has fallen at least 20% from a recent high point. 

The index, a benchmark for many funds, fell 0.6% Thursday after easing off a deeper stumble. The latest decline came a day after the S&P 500 had its biggest drop in nearly two years. It’s now down 18.7% from the record high it set early this year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.8% and the Nasdaq slipped 0.3%. 

The indexes remain in a deep slump as investors worry that the inflation that’s hurting people as they are shopping for groceries and filling their cars with fuel is also walloping profits at U.S. companies. 

“There’s just still a significant amount of uncertainty,” said Lindsey Bell, chief markets and money strategist at Ally Invest, “especially in regard to what the [Federal Reserve] is going to do, how that’s going to impact growth in the future, and additionally, where the heck is inflation going from here.”

The S&P 500 fell 22.89 points to 3,900.79. The Dow dropped 236.94 points to 31,253.13. The Nasdaq slid 29.66 points to 11,388.50. The three indexes are on pace to extend a string of at least six weekly losses. 

Gainers

Smaller-company stocks held up better than the broader market. The Russell 2000 rose 1.38 points, or 0.1%, to 1,776.22. 

Rising interest rates, high inflation, the war in Ukraine and a slowdown in China’s economy have caused investors to reconsider the prices they’re willing to pay for a wide range of stocks, from high-flying tech companies to traditional automakers.  

Wall Street is also worried about the Federal Reserve’s plan to fight the highest inflation in four decades. The Fed is raising interest rates aggressively, and investors are concerned that the central bank could cause a recession if it raises rates too high or too quickly. 

The 10-year Treasury pulled back to 2.85% from 2.88% late Wednesday, but it has been generally rising as investors prepare for a market with higher interest rates. That has also pushed up mortgage rates, which is contributing to a slowdown in home sales. 

The pile of concerns on Wall Street has made for very choppy trading and big swings between gains and losses within any given day. 

Technology stocks have been some of the most volatile holdings. The sector includes heavyweights like Apple that have lofty valuations, which tend to push the market more forcefully up or down. Technology stocks fell Thursday, accounting for a big share of the S&P 500’s drop. 

Household goods companies, grocery store operators and food producers fell broadly. General Mills fell 2.1% and Clorox fell 5.3%. 

Retailers and other companies that rely on direct consumer spending mostly rose. Amazon added 0.2% and Expedia climbed 5.3%.

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Київ вимагає від німецького телеканалу виправити мапу з «російським» Кримом

Як заявили в Представництві президента АРК, мапа може трактуватися як «визнання на міжнародному рівні незаконної окупації та спроби анексії» Криму

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Армія РФ намагається приховати кількість загиблих під час бомбардування драмтеатру в Маріуполі – міськрада

«Вчора та сьогодні тіла загиблих вивозили декілька разів вантажівками в бік Старого Криму. Територію розчистки охороняють і не дають доступу місцевим»

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New Zealand Hands Out Extra Cash to Fight ‘Inflation Storm’

New Zealand’s government said Thursday it will hand out an extra few hundred dollars to more than 2 million lower-income adults to help them navigate what it describes as “the peak of the global inflation storm.” 

The payments are part of a package of new measures announced in the government’s annual budget. Other plans include increasing health spending by a record amount, putting more money into reducing greenhouse gas emissions and boosting defense spending. 

A report by Treasury painted a rosy picture of the nation’s economy through next year but warned growth would slow markedly from 2024 due to rising interest rates, a reduction in the government’s pandemic spending, and supply issues made worse by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

A Treasury report forecast unemployment would hit a low of 3.1% this year before rising to 4.7% by 2026. It predicted inflation would fall from its current 30-year high of 6.9% to 2.2% over the next four years. 

The inflation payments of 350 New Zealand dollars ($220) over three months begin in August and are targeted at the half of all adults who earn less than 70,000 New Zealand dollars ($44,000) per year. The government also decided to extend other temporary measures aimed at combatting spiraling living costs, including a cut to gas taxes and half-price public transportation fares. 

“Our economy has come through the COVID-19 shock better than almost anywhere else in the world,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a statement. “But as the pandemic subsides, other challenges both long-term and more immediate have come to the fore.” 

Ardern has been isolating at her Wellington residence this week after catching the virus. Her office said she’d experienced moderate symptoms and was improving, and at this point still planned to travel to the U.S. next week for a trade trip and to give the commencement speech at Harvard University. 

The record 1.8 billion New Zealand dollars ($1.1 billion) boost to health spending next year comes as New Zealand overhauls its publicly funded system by getting rid of a patchwork of 20 district health authorities in favor of a single system. The extra money will help pay off the debts of the district authorities, rebuild three hospitals, and boost medicine spending. 

“This is going to make a massive difference to every New Zealander, in terms of the health care that they get,” said Finance Minister Grant Robertson. 

Treasury predicted the government’s books would return to the black by 2025 after it borrowed heavily during the pandemic. New Zealand’s net government debt is forecast to remain much lower than in most developed nations, peaking at 20% of GDP in 2024 before dropping to 15% two years later. 

Earlier this week, the government announced a new initiative to help pay for lower-income families to scrap their old gas guzzlers and replace them with cleaner hybrid or electric cars as part of a sweeping plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

The budget plan also included a boost of 660 million New Zealand dollars to defense spending over four years to cover the cost of depreciating assets. 

Conservative opposition leader Christopher Luxon said the governing liberal Labour Party had an addiction to spending and the budget plans would put the economy into reverse, with New Zealanders experiencing the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation. 

The budget plan was expected to be quickly approved by lawmakers since the Labour Party holds a majority of seats in the Parliament. 

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