British Foreign Secretary Honors Falklands Soldiers

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson laid a wreath to honor Argentine soldiers killed while fighting the British in the 1982 Falkland Islands conflict.

Johnson, who is in Buenos Aires for a Group of 20 meeting, visited the Monument of the Fallen Soldiers on Sunday along with Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie.

Argentina, which has claimed the South Atlantic islands since Britain established its rule in the 19th century, invaded them in 1982, sparking a two-month war that ended with Argentina’s defeat and withdrawal from the archipelago.

Johnson is only the second senior British official to pay tribute to the 255 British and 649 Argentine soldiers who died during the 74-day conflict.

Prince Charles visited so at the same monument during a visit in 1999.

Britain and Argentina are both keen to strengthen ties and recently held talks over fishing rights around the islands, 500 kilometers off Argentina’s southern coast.

The two nations don’t even agree on a name for the islands, with Britain referring to them as the Falklands and the Argentines calling them Malvinas.


Turkey’s Erdogan Seeks Votes in Bosnia After Ban on Campaigning Elsewhere

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took a swipe at European countries that refused to let him campaign on their territory on Sunday as he called at a rally in Bosnia for expatriate Turks to vote for him and his ruling AK Party in elections next month.

The presidential and parliamentary polls on June 24 will see Turkey switch to a powerful, executive presidential system that was narrowly approved in a referendum last year.

“As European Turks you have always supported us by a wide margin. Now we need your support again in the elections on June 24,” Erdogan told a rally in a Sarejevo sports hall, where supporters waved Turkish and Bosnian flags.

Ahead of the 2017 referendum, ministers traveled to countries with big Turkish communities — including Germany and the Netherlands — to urge support for the change, but were stopped from campaigning by authorities citing security fears. Erdogan nevertheless said last month he was expecting to hold a campaign rally in a European city.

“At a time when renowned European countries claiming to be the cradle of civilization failed, Bosnia and Herzegovina showed by allowing us to gather here that it is a real democracy not a so-called one,” he told a crowd of around 15,000.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who heads a right-wing coalition opposed to Turkey joining the European Union, said last month Erdogan would be barred from “trying to exploit” Europe’s Turkish communities.

Germany, home to about 3 million people of Turkish origin, says it will not allow foreign politicians to campaign on its territory ahead of elections.

Earlier in the day, Erdogan pledged a multibillion-euro investment in a motorway connecting Belgrade and Sarajevo. Thousands of Turks came from Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, and from across the Balkans for the rally.

“Turkey is our mother nation,” said Coskun Celiloglu, a Macedonian student of Turkish descent. “We came to Sarajevo just for one day to support our savior Erdogan.”

The most popular — and divisive — politician in recent Turkish history, Erdogan has ruled for 15 years, overseeing a period of rapid economic growth. But a widespread crackdown against his opponents has led rights groups and Western allies of the NATO member to voice concerns about Turkey’s record on civil rights and Erdogan’s growing authoritarianism.

On Saturday, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu agency reported there had been tip-offs about a potential assassination attempt against Erdogan while he visits the Balkans.

Asked about the report, Erdogan said: “This news reached me and indeed that is why I am here … Such threats and operations cannot deter us from this path.”

Iran: EU Not Doing Enough to Support Nuclear Deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Sunday that Europe’s political support to save the 2015 international nuclear accord after the U.S. withdrawal was not sufficient if too many European companies end their investments in Iran.

“The cascade of decisions by EU companies to end their activities in Iran makes things much more complicated,” Zarif said after meeting with European Union energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete.

Iranian state broadcaster IRIB quoted Zarif as saying, “With the exit of the United States from the nuclear deal, the expectations of the Iranian public towards the European Union have increased… and the EU’s political support for the nuclear agreement is not sufficient.”

With the threat of reimposed U.S. sanctions against European companies doing business in Iran, several foreign firms have already pulled out of the country.

French oil major Total said it is abandoning its $4.8 billion investment in Iran unless it gets a sanctions waiver from the U.S., while another energy company, Engie, said it plans to stop its engineering work in Iran before November, when U.S. says it will reimpose sanctions.  

“The European Union must take concrete supplementary steps to increase its investments in Iran,” Zarif said. “The commitments of the EU to apply the nuclear deal are not compatible with the announcement of probable withdrawal by major European companies.”

EU leaders have pledged to try to keep Iran’s oil trade flowing, but conceded it would not be easy.

Arias Canete said, “We have to preserve this agreement so we don’t have to negotiate a new agreement. Our message is very clear. This is a nuclear agreement that works.”

If the nuclear deal falls apart in the aftermath of President Donald Trump withdrawing the U.S., Iran has threatened to resume industrial uranium enrichment “without limit.”

Tehran’s economy was hobbled by the sanctions imposed before the international agreement was reached to restrain Iran’s nuclear development, in exchange for ending the sanctions. Even as Trump withdrew the U.S., the remaining five signatories –Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — have all said they intend to stay in the pact with Tehran.

The U.S. has said it wants to reimpose sanctions to force Iran to negotiate a new deal with tighter curbs to prevent its development of nuclear weaponry, end its ballistic missile tests and rein in its military advances in the Middle East.


Facebook’s Zuckerberg, EU Lawyers Locked in Negotiations

Facebook and European Union officials were locked in high-stakes negotiations Sunday over whether founder Mark Zuckerberg will appear Tuesday before EU lawmakers to discuss the site’s impact on the privacy rights of hundreds of millions of Europeans, as well as Facebook’s impact on elections on both sides of the Atlantic and the spreading of fake news.

Being debated is whether the meeting would be held after EU Parliament President Antonio Tajanibe agreed to have it live-streamed on the internet and not held behind closed-doors, as previously agreed.

The leaders of all eight political blocs in the parliament have insisted the format be changed.

Lawmakers say it would be deeply damaging for Zuckerberg, if he pulls out simply because they want him to hold what they say is the equivalent of a “Facebook Live.”

Claude Moraes, chairman of the EU parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs panel, warned Zuckerberg will have to go into greater detail than he did in his testimony before U.S. Senate and Congressional panels last month on the “issues of algorithmic targeting, and political manipulation” and on Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook shared with the British firm the data of millions of Americans and Europeans, which was subsequently used for election campaigning purposes. Facebook did not return calls from VOA asking about whether Zuckerberg’s meeting with EU lawmakers would still go ahead.

“EU governments are absolutely aware that every election now is tainted. We want to get to the heart of this,” said Moraes. EU lawmakers say Zuckerberg’s appearance is all the more important as he has declined to appear before national European parliaments, including Britain’s House of Commons.

Terrorist connections

Zuckerberg is likely also to be pressed on why Facebook is still being used by extremists to connect with each other and to recruit. Much of the focus in recent weeks on Facebook has been about general issues over its management of users’ data, but analysts are warning the social-media site is enabling a deadly form of social networking and isn’t doing enough to disrupt it.

“Facebook’s data management practices have potentially served the networking purposes of terrorists,” said the Counter Extremism Project, nonprofit research group, in a statement.

“CEP’s findings regularly debunk Facebook’s claims of content moderation. This week, a video made by the pro-ISIS al-Taqwa media group was found that includes news footage from attacks in the West and calls for further violence, encouraging the viewer to attack civilians and ‘kill them by any means or method,” according to CEP

CEP researchers say Facebook’s “suggested friends” feature helps extremists connect to each other and is “enabling a deadly form of social networking.” “Worldwide, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, there has been a spike of militant activity on social media channels … Encrypted messaging apps like Facebook-owned WhatsApp are well known mechanisms used by terrorists to communicate, plot and plan attacks, a practice that is tragically continuing,” CEP says.

New rules

Aside from the EU parliament, Zuckerberg has agreed to be interviewed onstage Thursday at a major tech conference in Paris, and is scheduled to have lunch with French president Emmanuel Macron during the week.

His visit comes as the British government is threatening social-media companies with a tax to pay for efforts to counter online crime. According to Britain’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper, British ministers have instructed officials to carry out research into a new “social media levy” on internet companies.

Culture Minister Matt Hancock indicated Sunday the British government is beginning to move away from allowing the internet companies to regulate themselves and is ready to impose requirements on them, which if approved by parliament will make Britain the “safest place in the world” to be online.

A new code of practice aimed at confronting social-media bullying and to clear the internet of intimidating or humiliating online content could be included in the legislation, say officials. Other measures being considered include rules that have to be followed by traditional broadcasters that prevent certain ads being targeted at children. Hancock said work with social-media companies to protect users had made progress, but the performance of the industry overall has been mixed, he added.

Hancock said, “Digital technology is overwhelmingly a force for good across the world and we must always champion innovation and change for the better.”


Company in Cuba Plane Crash Had Received Safety Complaints

The Mexican charter company whose 39-year-old plane crashed in Havana had been the subject of two serious complaints about its crews’ performance over the last decade, according to authorities in Guyana and a retired pilot for Cuba’s national airline.

Mexico’s government said late Saturday that its National Civil Aviation Authority will carry out an operational audit of Damojh airlines to see if its “current operating conditions continue meeting regulations” and to help collect information for the investigation into Friday’s crash in Cuba that left 110 dead.

The plane that crashed, a Boeing 737, was barred from Guyanese airspace last year after authorities discovered that its crew had been allowing dangerous overloading of luggage on flights to Cuba, Guyanese Civil Aviation Director Capt. Egbert Field told The Associated Press on Saturday.

The plane and crew were being rented from Mexico City-based Damojh by EasySky, a Honduras-based low-cost airline. Cuba’s national carrier, Cubana de Aviacion, was also renting the plane and crew in a similar arrangement known as a “wet lease” before the aircraft veered on takeoff to the eastern Cuban city of Holguin and crashed into a field just after noon Friday, according to Mexican aviation authorities.

A Damojh employee in Mexico City declined to comment, saying the company would be communicating only through written statements. Mexican authorities said Damojh had permits needed to lease its aircraft and had passed a November 2017 verification of its maintenance program. They announced a new audit late Saturday.

Cuban Transportation Minister Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez told reporters Saturday afternoon that Cubana had been renting the plane for less than a month under an arrangement in which the Mexican company was entirely responsible for maintenance of the aircraft. Armando Daniel Lopez, president of Cuba’s Institute of Civil Aviation, told the AP that Cuban authorities had not received any complaints about the plane in that month. He declined to comment further.

Yzquierdo said it was routine for Cuba to rent planes under a variety of arrangements because of what he described as the country’s inability to purchase its own aircraft due to the U.S. trade embargo on the island. Cuba has been able to buy planes produced in other countries, including France and Ukraine, but has pulled many from service due to maintenance problems and other issues.

“It’s normal for us to rent planes,” he said. “Why? Because it’s convenient and because of the problem of the blockade that we have. Sometimes we can’t buy the planes that we need, and we need to rent them.”

He said that with Damojh, “the formula here is that they take care of the maintenance of the aircraft. That’s their responsibility.”

He said Cuba didn’t have pilots certified to fly the Boeing, so it had hired the Mexican crew with the expectation that they were fully trained and certified by the proper authorities.

Yzquierdo also said the jet’s “black box” voice recorder had been recovered and that Cuban officials had granted a U.S. request for investigators from Boeing to travel to the island.

Eyewitness and private salon owner Rocio Martinez said she heard a strange noise and looked up to see the plane with a turbine on fire.

“It had an engine on fire, in flames, it was falling toward the ground,” Martinez said, adding that the plane veered into the field where it crashed, avoiding potential fatalities in a nearby residential area.

Field told AP that the Boeing 737 with tail number XA-UHZ had been flying four routes a week between Georgetown, Guyana, and Havana starting in October 2016. Cubans do not need visas to travel to Guyana, and the route was popular with Cubans working as “mules” to bring suitcases crammed with goods back home to the island, where virtually all consumer products are scarce and more expensive than in most other countries.

After Easy Sky canceled a series of flights in spring 2017, leaving hundreds of Cubans stranded at Guyana’s main airport, authorities began inspecting the plane and discovered that crews were loading excessive amounts of baggage, leading to concerns the aircraft could be dangerously overburdened and unbalanced. In one instance, Guyanese authorities discovered suitcases stored in the plane’s toilet.

“This is the same plane and tail number,” Guyanese Infrastructure Minister David Patterson said. He and other Guyanese authorities said they did not immediately know if the crew suspended last May was the same one that died in Friday’s crash. Damojh operates three Boeing 737s, two 737-300s and the 737-201 that crashed Friday, according to Mexican officials.

Ovidio Martinez Lopez, a pilot for Cubana for over 40 years until he retired six years ago, wrote in a post on Facebook that a plane rented from the Mexican company by Cubana briefly dropped off radar while over the city of Santa Clara in 2010 or 2011, triggering an immediate response by Cuban aviation security officials. As a result, Cuban officials suspended a captain and co-pilot for “serious technical knowledge issues,” and Cuba’s Aviation Security authority issued a formal recommendation that Cubana stop renting planes and crews from Damojh, Martinez wrote.

“They are many flight attendants and security personnel who refused to fly with this airline,” Martinez wrote. “On this occasion, the recommendation was overlooked and they rented from them again.”

Contacted by AP in Havana, Martinez confirmed his Facebook account but declined to comment further.

Mexican officials said the Boeing 737-201 was built in 1979.

Mexican aviation authorities said a team of experts would fly to Cuba on Saturday to take part in the investigation.

Human Rights Defenders Killed in Guatemala

The U.N. human rights office reports the recent killing of several human rights defenders in Guatemala shows an alarming deterioration in the rule of law as threats increase against those working on behalf of indigenous and minority rights.

During the past 12 days, three human rights defenders working with indigenous and peasants rights organizations in Guatemala were killed. The activists were trying to secure land rights for indigenous people under an agreement worked out with the Government.

U.N. Human Rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says human rights defenders in the country are operating within a climate of fear, harassment and intimidation.

“We call on the authorities to promptly investigate these murders and other attacks and threats against human rights defenders, and to ensure that those found responsible are held accountable. We also urge the State to adopt all necessary measures to ensure a safe, enabling environment for human rights defenders to be able to carry out their work free from threats and attacks,” she said.

Shamdasani says the Government must do more to strengthen the rule of law.She says the rights to freedom of expression and judicial independence are under threat. She says this hinders efforts to fight impunity and corruption, which threaten all levels of civil society.

She says human rights monitors report with growing concern on what they see as an escalation of smear campaigns against independent journalists and media, judicial officials, civil organizations and others working to end corruption and impunity.

American Inventors You’ve Never Heard Of

Edison did it. Eastman did it. And so did Steve Jobs.

They invented products that changed our lives.

But for every well-known inventor there are many other, less recognizable individuals whose innovative products have greatly impacted our world.

Fifteen of those trailblazing men and women — both past and present — were recently honored for their unique contributions in a special ceremony at the National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum, which is nestled in a corner of the vast atrium of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office building in Alexandria, Virginia.

Augmented reality

Stan Honey was honored for inventing a graphics systems that makes it easier for television viewers around the world to see key moments during live sporting events… such as sailing, car racing and American football.

“What we do is we superimpose graphic elements like yellow lines into the real world, correctly positioned so that they can reveal something that’s important to a game that is otherwise hard to see,” he said.

The graphics make those yellow lines look like they’re actually on the field, Honey explained, but “they’re keyed underneath the athletes… so it looks like it’s on the grass, but in fact if you were in the stadium of course, it’s not actually there!”

In sports like football, Honey pointed out, the graphics are used “for the ‘first down’ line.” In baseball, to show “where the balls go through the strike zone or miss the strike zone,” and in sailing they’re used “to show who’s ahead, who’s behind, where the laylines are, what the wind direction is.”  

“Any sport that has something that’s really important and hard to see can benefit from graphics that are inserted into the real world,” he added.

WATCH: Julie Taboh’s video report

Lasting beauty

“Curiosity and exploration are the essential starting points of innovation,” says inductee Sumita Mitra. She credits her life-long love of learning to her parents and teachers; “They taught me how to learn… and if you know how to learn, you can learn anything.”

Mitra put her learning skills to full use when she discovered that using nanoparticles can strengthen dental composites while helping teeth maintain their natural look. She was looking for “beauty that lasts,” she said, and decided “nanoparticle technology would be the right ticket to create something to meet these objectives.”

Rini Paiva, who oversees the selection committee at the National Inventors Hall of Fame, noted that more than 600 million restorations take place every year using Mitra’s technology.

Gallery of icons

The annual selection process is very competitive, say Paiva, “because there are a lot of terrific inventors out there and our job is really to look for the ones who have had the most impact on our world.”

Each year, as a select group of inventors are inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, they’re presented with hexagonal-shaped plaques inscribed with their name, invention and patent number. Those simple but symbolic awards become part of a permanent collection that now stands at more than 560.

Five of the 2018 inductees were recognized for their contributions posthumously, their awards accepted by their respective representatives.

Temperature controls

Mary Engle Pennington, who died at the age of 80 in 1952, was a pioneer in the safe preservation, handling, storage and transportation of perishable foods, which impacted the health and well-being of generations of Americans. She was recognized for her numerous accomplishments, including her discovery of a way to refrigerate train cars, allowing perishable foods to be safely moved from one place to another.

In 1895, Warren Johnson introduced the first multi-zone automatic temperature control system commercially feasible for widespread application. The Johnson System of Temperature Regulation was used in commercial buildings, offices, and schools, and also installed in the U.S. Capitol Building, the Smithsonian, the New York Stock Exchange, West Point Military Academy, and the home of Andrew Carnegie. In 2008, it was designated an ASME Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.

Johnson’s innovations and the company he co-founded, Johnson Controls, helped launch the multi-billion-dollar building controls industry.

The real deal

Established in 1973 in partnership with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, the National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum provides numerous displays and interactive exhibits on patents and the patent process, and the inductees and their patented inventions.  

There’s a model of Thomas Edison’s light bulb, George Eastman’s hand-held cameras, and replicas of Ford Mustangs from 1965 and 2015 — split down the middle to show how the iconic car has changed over 50 years.

Visitors can also learn about trademarks, (think NIKE’s Swoosh logo), how to detect the real from the fake, (counterfeit designer handbags and accessories were hard to tell apart from the genuine article), and match characters, colors, and even sounds, to their respective brands.

Future inventors

Rini Paiva notes that while the museum is dedicated to honoring the greatest innovative minds from the past and present, it is also committed to its educational intiatives through its partnership with 1,300 schools and districts nationwide.

“Our museum does share the stories of the inductees in the National Inventors Hall of Fame, but beyond that it really shows people what we can do through our education programs, really in encouraging young people to pursue STEM fields, and also in the power of intellectual property.”

Education merges with the symbolic presence of some of the world’s most innovative minds whose examples of American ingenuity serve to inform and inspire others who may follow in their paths.

Amid Protests, Venezuela’s Maduro Poised to Win 2nd Term

Voter turnout in Venezuela for the country’s presidential election was sparse by mid-morning on Sunday, as incumbent Nicolas Maduro was widely expected to win a second-six year term.

Sunday’s election is being boycotted by the opposition as the “coronation” of a dictator and condemned by much of the international community.

Venezuelans expats protesting what the see as an unfree election in their homeland were joined by Nicaraguans and Bolivians, among others, in the U.S. capital Washington, D.C., Sunday.

Maduro, 55, a former bus driver, is expected to win despite a deepening crisis that has made food scarce and inflation soar as oil production plummets in one of the world’s once top producers.

Former state governor Henri Falcon is Maduro’s main challenger, but his chances are hurt by the presence of a second anti-Maduro candidate in the race, evangelical pastor Javier Bertucci.

A Maduro victory could trigger more sanctions, including oil sanctions from the U.S. government, and more censure from the European Union and Latin America.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Venezuela’s “so-called elections today are not legitimate.”  “The United States stands with democratic nations around the world in support of the Venezuelan people and their sovereign right to elect their representatives through free and fair elections,” she said on Twitter.


The self-described son of Hugo Chavez, Maduro said Saturday that he is battling a U.S. “imperialist” plot to crush socialism and take over the OPEC nation’s oil wealth.

On Friday, the Trump administration added a key Maduro ally to a growing list of top officials targeted by financial sanctions, accusing socialist party boss Diosdado Cabello of drug trafficking and embezzlement.

Maduro’s opponents say the leftist leader has destroyed Venezuela’s once-wealthy economy and ruthlessly crushed dissent. Polls also show Venezuelans overwhelmingly blame Maduro for their mounting troubles.

More than 1 million Venezuelans have left their country in recent years for a better life abroad, while those staying behind wait in line for hours to buy subsidized food and withdraw cash that is almost impossible to find.

Markle Picks Simple, Sleek Dress by Givenchy Designer

Meghan Markle picked a sleek sculpted dress by the British designer of couture house Givenchy for her wedding to Prince Harry on Saturday, worn with a five-meter long veil and a sparkling diamond tiara lent by Queen Elizabeth.

The pure white long-sleeved gown with a boat neck had been eagerly anticipated by royal fans around the world, with speculation over which designer would be chosen starting soon after the couple announced their engagement in November.

As the bride stepped out of her classic Rolls-Royce, Kensington Palace announced that Clare Waight Keller, who became the first female artistic director at famed French house Givenchy last year, had secured the coveted role of making the dress.

Focus on neckline

The 47-year-old, previously at Pringle of Scotland and Chloe, met Markle earlier this year and the two worked together on the design, which “epitomizes a timeless minimal elegance,” Kensington Palace said.

“The focus of the dress is the graphic open bateau neckline that gracefully frames the shoulders and emphasizes the slender sculpted waist,” the palace said in a statement.

“The lines of the dress extend towards the back where the train flows in soft round folds cushioned by an underskirt in triple silk organza. The slim three-quarter sleeves add a note of refined modernity.”

The double bonded gown made of cady silk with a sweeping train was simple in style, which won praise from fashionistas.


Edward Enninful, the editor of British Vogue, called the dress “beautiful” while bridal designer Raishma said the gown was “an example of couture design at its most classic and timeless.”

On social media, fans mainly showered the bride, who wore her hair up, with compliments, some even posting an image of Cinderella. Outside the wedding venue in Windsor, well-wishers were divided over its simplicity.

“It was simple and elegant,” 23-year-old Emily Devaney from New Zealand said. “It’s probably hard to dress for a royal wedding — you probably don’t have much you can go with but I thought she looked beautiful.”

Nursing student Linda O’Dwyer said it was “very modern and classy” and she preferred it to the lace-embroidered gown Kate Middleton wore at her 2011 wedding to Prince William.

“It was like (Megan) didn’t want it to be too over the top with lots of embroidery. It really suited her style,” she said.

However spectator Jennifer Hill, 69, described it as “very plain.” “I’m not surprised but slightly disappointed,” she said. “I thought it might be a little more flamboyant but it was very simplistic. I prefer her hair down.”

​Commonwealth tribute

The well-kept secret over who would design the dress had kept royal fans and fashionistas guessing for months. Among those cited as contenders were labels Ralph & Russo and Burberry as well as designer Stella McCartney.

Waight Keller, whose name has now been catapulted into the global spotlight, described the chance to work on the historic occasion as “an honor.”

“We wanted to create a timeless piece that would emphasize the iconic codes of Givenchy throughout its history, as well as convey modernity through sleek lines and sharp cuts,” she was quoted by British Vogue as saying on the magazine’s website.

Meghan’s long veil, made of silk tulle, was decorated with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers in silk threads and organza, the palace said, and paid tribute to the 53 countries of the Commonwealth.

“Ms. Waight Keller designed a veil representing the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country united in one spectacular floral composition,” the palace said.

Prince Harry last month was appointed a Commonwealth youth ambassador.

Queen Elizabeth lent the 36-year-old bride a historic tiara for the occasion. Made in 1932 for Queen Mary, the sparkling diamond and platinum bandeau has a center brooch dating from 1893.

Meghan, now to be called the Duchess of Sussex, also wore Cartier earrings and bracelet, and silk duchess satin shoes.