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Archive for Americas

Newsline: Case Against Venezuela Embassy Protectors Ends in Mistrial in Washington

The case against activists who were arrested last April while they were staging a weeks-long protest at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C., ended in a mistrial after a hung jury. (https://www.democracynow.org/2020/2/17/headlines/case_against_venezuela_embassy_protectors_ends_in_mistrial) The four activists were staying at the embassy at the behest of the Venezuelan government to prevent its takeover by U.S.-backed supporters of opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Margaret Flowers, one of the embassy protectors, after the mistrial was declared, said: “We’re very happy with this verdict. Of course, we would have been happier with an acquittal. But, for today, we remain innocent, as we are. And we appreciate the tremendous amount of support that we’ve received from people here coming to the trial, as well as people around the world sending us messages of solidarity. La lucha continua.”

Newsline: Former UN ambassador’s daughter charged with murder in the US

The daughter of a former US ambassador to the United Nations has been charged with murder in the death of a Maryland man. Sophia Negroponte, 27, was arrested Thursday night and charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Yousuf Rasmussen, 24, according to Montgomery County police. (https://nypost.com/2020/02/15/former-un-ambassadors-daughter-charged-with-murder/) Officers said they responded to a report of a stabbing at a Rockville City home and found Rasmussen “suffering from what appeared to be a cutting wound.” He was pronounced deceased at the scene, police said. Police said Rasmussen and Negroponte were acquaintances and had been involved “in a disagreement.” Negroponte is the adopted daughter of John Negroponte, who served as the UN ambassador under President George W. Bush as well as the ambassador to Iraq. He was the Bush Administration’s director of national intelligence and the deputy secretary of state under both Bush and President Barack Obama. Sophia is one of five children the couple adopted in Honduras, where John Negroponte served as the US ambassador in the 1980s.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy in Tokyo Says Charter Plane to Evacuate Citizens from Diamond Princess

The United States will send a charter plane to evacuate U.S. citizens from the coronavirus-stricken cruise ship Diamond Princess, quarantined off Japan, the U.S. embassy in Tokyo said Saturday. (https://www.nippon.com/en/news/yjj2020021500414/) The plane will arrive in Japan on Sunday night, the embassy said. It will likely depart Tokyo International Airport at Haneda in the early hours of Monday, according to sources with expertise on Japan-U.S. affairs. In the German city of Munich, visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed close cooperation on the matter. Motegi said Tokyo will cooperate with any other countries that want to evacuate their citizens from the ship early, if they arrange flights or other means of transportation. The U.S.-chartered plane is set to take the evacuees from the Diamond Princess to a U.S. Air Force base in California. They will undergo further quarantine of 14 days.

Newsline: US allows its diplomats in Hong Kong to leave

The US may become the first country to pull its diplomats and expatriates out of Hong Kong after reports that staff at its consulate general can choose to return home if they feel the coronavirus in the city may affect them. The consulate stressed in a reply to media inquiries that the measure was merely a “precautionary one” and that those who left for home, mostly non-essential personnel, did so of their own volition and that most services at the consulate would remain normal. (https://www.asiatimes.com/2020/02/article/us-allows-its-diplomats-in-hong-kong-to-leave/) It is understood that Consul General Hanscom Smith and other senior consuls and attachés are not packing to leave. The consulate added that the State Department also offered options for employees dispatched to the city to leave or remain during the 2003 SARS outbreak. Those who wished to return to the US would have their flights paid for and would work from there. Some chose to leave because of “practical reasons” like school closures in the city, according to the South China Morning Post and other local papers.

Newsline: Syrian to be tried for plotting attack on U.S. embassy in Lebanon

A Syrian man held on suspicion of plotting an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon was referred to trial on Thursday along with 20 other people, the Lebanese state news agency NNA said. NNA said a Lebanese military judge had issued an indictment against the man on charges of belonging to the Islamic State militant group and planning the operation on its behalf. It said the man was suspected of having prepared explosives and of seeking to buy a drone for the attack. The agency gave no further details and did not spell out the allegations against the 20 others. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-lebanon-security-usa/syrian-to-be-tried-for-plotting-attack-on-u-s-embassy-in-lebanon-agency-idUSKBN2071RK) A Lebanese security source said the man was arrested last month in Lebanon and is expected to face a military trial along with the other 20 suspects, who were accused of helping to plot the operation.

Newsline: Trump nominates new ambassador to Canada to fill post vacant since August

President Donald Trump has nominated a North Carolina Republican, physician and former diplomat as the next U.S. ambassador to Canada. The White House says Aldona Z. Wos, who is currently the vice-chair of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, has been named to the post, which has been vacant since August. (https://ckpgtoday.ca/2020/02/11/trump-nominates-new-ambassador-to-canada-to-fill-post-vacant-since-august/) That’s when then-ambassador Kelly Craft departed Ottawa to become the U.S. envoy to the United Nations. Wos has a long resume that includes working as a physician specializing in internal medicine and pulmonary care as well as being the U.S. ambassador to Estonia.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy in China Suspends Regular Visa Services Amid Virus

The U.S. will temporarily suspend regular visa services in mainland China from Monday as the coronavirus epidemic leaves it with “limited staffing.” (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-09/u-s-embassy-in-china-suspends-regular-visa-services-amid-virus) The U.S. embassy in Beijing and consulates in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang may not be able to respond to requests on regular visa services but may make available some emergency appointments, according to a statement on its website.