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Voice of America

Voice of America is an international news and broadcast organization serving Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Russia, the Middle East and Balkan countries
  • US Senator Convening Meetings to Warn Business, Academia of China Threat
    U.S. Senator Mark Warner said on Sunday that he has been organizing meetings between U.S. intelligence officials and the country's business and academic communities to urge caution in their relationships with China. "I have been convening meetings between the intelligence community and outside stakeholders in business and academia to ensure they have the full threat picture and hopefully, make different decisions about Chinese partnerships," Warner said in a statement. Accusing China of undermining U.S. security, Warner, a Democrat, said the meetings were aimed at increasing awareness about tactics used by China against the United States. In a series of classified briefings with U.S. companies, the country's intelligence heads have warned about potential risks of doing business with China, the Financial Times reported earlier on Sunday. The briefings to educational institutions, venture capitalists and technology firms have been given by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, along with officials from the FBI and the National Counter-Intelligence and Security Center, the FT reported, citing officials who attended the briefings. The development comes as the United States and China have been engaged in trade tensions for months over issues including technology, cyber security, tariffs, industrial subsidies and intellectual property rights. On Thursday, the United States added Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to a trade blacklist, immediately enacting restrictions that will make it extremely difficult for the company to do business with U.S. counterparts. The move came amid concerns from the U.S. that Huawei's smartphones and network equipment could be used by China to spy on Americans, allegations the company has repeatedly denied. The decision was slammed by China, which said it will take steps to protect its companies.
  • The Man Behind the Morehouse College Surprise
    Robert Smith shocked the students at the historically black, all-male Morehouse College Sunday when he announced during his commencement address that he would be paying off student debts of all 400 graduates. Here is a look at the man behind the gift, estimated to be worth $40 million. Early life Robert F. Smith was born and raised in a mostly African American, middle-class neighborhood in Denver, Colorado. Both his parents were teachers who had earned Ph.Ds. While attending East High School in Denver, Smith applied for an internship with Bell Labs. He was told the program was intended for college students, but Smith refused to take no for an answer. He called every week and finally was allowed into the program when another student failed to show. He attended Cornell University in New York, studying chemical engineering. He got a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia University. Career Before attending graduate school, Smith worked at Kraft General Foods as a chemical engineer, where he earned two U.S. and two European patents. After graduating from Columbia, he worked at Goldman Sachs in San Francisco, advising tech companies, including Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Yahoo and Microsoft. He was the first person at Goldman Sachs to focus solely on technology mergers and acquisitions. In 2000, he founded Vista Equity Partners, a private equity and venture capital firm. According to Forbes, Vista is worth more than $46 billion, owns over 50 software companies and has 60,000 employees worldwide. It is believed to be one of the best-performing firms in the country. According to Forbes, Smith is worth $5 billion, making him the richest African American in the U.S. Personal life Smith is the first African American to be named chairman of the board at Carnegie Hall, America's most prestigious concert venue. He is also the chairman of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization, a nonprofit human rights advocacy group. He is one of the founding donors of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, committing $20 million to the museum before its opening. Smith also founded the Fund II Foundation, which provides grants for causes such as human rights, the environment, music education and "preserving the African American experience." In 2017, he signed The Giving Pledge, an effort spearheaded by billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates to enlist wealthy Americans in giving away half of their fortunes. Smith said he would invest half of his net worth during his lifetime to causes that support equality for black Americans and the environment. He is married to Hope Dworaczyk, an actress and former Playboy model. They have two children together, and Smith has three other children from a previous marriage.  
  • US Ambassador to China Visiting Tibet This Week
    U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad was scheduled to visit Tibet this week, a U.S. embassy spokesperson said, the first visit to the region by a U.S. ambassador since 2015, amid escalating trade tensions between Washington and Beijing. The visit follows passage of a law in December that requires the United States to deny visas to Chinese officials in charge of implementing policies that restrict access to Tibet for foreigners, legislation that was denounced by China. "This visit is a chance for the ambassador to engage with local leaders to raise longstanding concerns about restrictions on religious freedom and the preservation of Tibetan culture and language," the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. Branstad was traveling to Qinghai and neighboring Tibet from May 19 to May 25 on a trip that will include official meetings as well as visits to religious and cultural heritage sites, the spokesperson said. In December, China criticized the United States for passing the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, saying it was "resolutely opposed" to the U.S. legislation on what China considers an internal affair, and it risked causing "serious harm" to their relations. The U.S. government is required to begin denying visas by the end of this year. The visit comes as tensions have been running high between the two countries over trade. China struck a more aggressive tone in its trade war with the United States on Friday, suggesting a resumption of talks between the world's two largest economies would be meaningless unless Washington changed course. On Saturday, China's senior diplomat Wang Yi told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that recent U.S. words and actions had harmed the interests of China and its enterprises, and that Washington should show restraint. While the Trump administration has taken a tough stance towards China on trade and highlighted the security rivalry with Beijing, it has so far not acted on congressional calls for it to impose sanctions on China's former Communist Party chief in Tibet, Chen Quanguo, for the treatment of minority Muslims in the Xinjiang region, where he is currently party chief. A State Department report in March said Chen had replicated in Xinjiang policies similar to those credited with reducing opposition to Chinese rule in Tibet. Beijing sent troops into remote, mountainous Tibet in 1950 in what it officially terms a peaceful liberation and has ruled there with an iron fist ever since.