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Trump cancels Denmark visit because Greenland isn’t for sale
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE | 12:06 EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two days after he said buying Greenland wasn’t a top priority, President Donald Trump canceled an upcoming trip to Denmark, which owns the mostly frozen island, after its prime minister dismissed the idea.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had called Trump’s musing about buying the Danish territory “an absurd discussion” after the former real estate mogul-turned-president began to talk up the idea.
Trump said Sunday that he was interested in such a deal for strategic purposes, but said a purchase was not a priority at this time. “It’s not No. 1 on the burner,” he told reporters.
Trump even joked about his proposal as it came in for ridicule, tweeting a doctored photo of a glistening Trump skyscraper looming over a small village in the Arctic territory.
“I promise not to do this to Greenland,” he joked Monday.
But on Tuesday, Trump abruptly canceled the visit, also by tweet.
Just a few hours earlier, the U.S. ambassador to Denmark tweeted that it was “ready for the POTUS @realDonaldTrump visit!” using an acronym for “President of the United States” along with Trump’s Twitter handle.
Quote: : “Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time.”
He added: “The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”
White House spokesman Judd Deere said later that the visit to Denmark has been canceled.
The White House announced in late July that Trump had accepted an invitation to visit Denmark’s Queen Margrethe and participate in a series of meetings, including with Frederiksen and business leaders.
The trip, set to begin at the end of August, includes a stop in Poland to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II.
Trump is expected to go ahead with the Warsaw visit.
Asked about Greenland on Sunday as he prepared to return to Washington after a vacation week at his central New Jersey home, Trump said “strategically … it would be nice” to own the island.
He also suggested he might not visit Denmark at all, saying he didn’t think the previously announced trip had been “absolutely set in stone yet.”
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.
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Reported illness among vapers reaches 150 possible cases
By MIKE STOBBE | Wed, August 21, 2019 06:39 EDT
NEW YORK (AP) — The number of breathing illnesses reported among people who vape is growing. Health officials are now looking into more than 150 possible cases in 16 states.
Officials on Wednesday said the Food and Drug Administration has joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and states investigating reports from the last two months.
All the illnesses were in teens or adults who had used an electronic cigarette or some other kind of vaping device. Doctors say the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the lungs apparently reacting to a caustic substance. So far infectious diseases have been ruled out.
No single vaping product or compound has been linked to all of the cases, and officials said it’s not clear if there’s a common cause.
No deaths have been reported.
EarthLink – News
Greenland fallout: Trump scolds Denmark over rejection
By JAN M. OLSEN and LAURIE KELLMAN | Wed, August 21, 2019 06:30 EDT
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Escalating an international spat , President Donald Trump said Wednesday he scrapped his trip to Denmark because the prime minister made a “nasty” statement when she rejected his idea to buy Greenland as an absurdity.
“You don’t talk to the United States that way, at least under me,” Trump told reporters in Washington. “I thought it was not a nice statement, the way she blew me off.”
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called the whole thing “an absurd discussion” and said she was “disappointed and surprised” that Trump had canceled his visit.
Trump said Frederiksen’s comment labeling his idea as absurd “was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to say was say, ‘No, we wouldn’t be interested.'”
Greenland is a semi-autonomous territory of the U.S. ally, and Frederiksen said the U.S. remains one of Denmark’s close allies.
The political brouhaha over the world’s largest island comes from its strategic location in the Arctic. Global warming is making Greenland more accessible to potential oil and mineral resources. Russia, China, the U.S., Canada and other countries are racing to stake as strong a claim as they can to Arctic lands, hoping they will yield future riches.
Trump was scheduled to visit Denmark on Sept. 2-3 as part of a European tour. But early Wednesday, he tweeted his decision to indefinitely postpone the trip. The move stunned Danes and blindsided the Danish royal palace. Spokeswoman Lene Balleby told The Associated Press that it came as “a surprise” to the royal household, which had formally invited Trump.
The U.S. State Department said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke Wednesday with his Danish counterpart and “expressed appreciation for Denmark’s cooperation as one of the United States’ allies and Denmark’s contributions to address shared global security priorities.”
Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said Pompeo and Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeppe Kofod “also discussed strengthening cooperation with the Kingdom of Denmark – including Greenland – in the Arctic.”
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time.”
The vast island of Greenland sits between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, has a population of 56,000 and has 80% of its land mass covered by a 1.7 million-square-kilometer (660,000 square-mile) ice sheet.
For all of Greenland’s appeal, scientists consider it the canary in the coal mine for climate change and say its massive ice sheet has seen one of its biggest melts on record this summer, contributing to a global rise in sea levels.
Frederiksen said she is standing behind the government of Greenland.
“A discussion about a potential sale of Greenland has been put forward. It has been rejected by Greenland Premier Kim Kielsen and I fully stand behind that rejection,” she told reporters in Copenhagen.
Frederiksen, who took office two months ago in a minority Social Democratic government, went on to say that diplomatic relations between Copenhagen and Washington “are not in any crisis in my opinion” despite Trump’s canceled plans.
“The invitation for a stronger strategic cooperation with the Americans in the Arctic is still open,” Frederiksen said, adding “the United States is one of our closest allies.”
Others in Denmark were not as gracious.
Martin Lidegaard, a former Danish foreign minister, told broadcaster TV2 that it was “a diplomatic farce” and Trump’s behavior was “grotesque.”
Trump’s cancellation was “deeply insulting to the people of Greenland and Denmark,” former Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt wrote on Twitter.
Claus Oxfeldt, chairman of Denmark’s main police union, told Danish media that authorities had been busy planning the third visit by a sitting U.S. president to the Scandinavian NATO member. “It has created great frustrations to have spent so much time preparing for a visit that is canceled,” Oxfeldt was Quote: d as saying.
Ordinary Danes shook their heads at the news, with many calling Trump immature.
“He thinks he can just buy Greenland. He acts like an elephant in a china shop,” said Pernille Iversen, a 41-year-old shopkeeper in Copenhagen.
“This is an insult to (Queen) Margrethe, to Denmark,” said Steen Gade, a 55-year-old road worker.
In Greenland, Johannes Kyed, an employee with a mine company, told Denmark’s TV2 channel that wanting to buy a country and its people is a relic of the past.
“This is not the way the world works today,” Kyed said.
The U.S. ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands, was apparently not informed of Trump’s decision ahead of time.
Shortly before Trump canceled the trip on Twitter, she sent a tweet saying “Denmark is ready for POTUS,” using an acronym for “President of the United States” along with Trump’s Twitter handle and a photo from Copenhagen’s City Hall square, where a Dane had paid for two pro-Trump ads on giant electronic screens.
Trump said Sunday he was interested in buying Greenland for strategic purposes, but said a purchase was not a priority for his government at this time. Both Frederiksen and Greenland leader Kielsen responded that Greenland is not for sale.
“The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct,” Trump said in the tweet Wednesday. “I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”
Trump is still expected to visit nearby Poland beginning Aug. 31.
Retreating ice could uncover potential oil and mineral resources in Greenland which, if successfully tapped, could dramatically change the island’s fortunes. However, no oil has yet been found in Greenlandic waters and the thickness of the ice means exploration is only possible in coastal regions.
Even then, conditions are far from ideal, due to Greenland’s long winters with frozen ports, 24-hour darkness and temperatures that regularly drop below minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 Fahrenheit) in the island’s northern regions.
American leaders have tried to buy Greenland before. In 1946, the U.S. proposed paying Denmark $100 million to buy Greenland after flirting with the idea of swapping land in Alaska for strategic parts of the Arctic island.
Under a 1951 deal, Denmark allowed the U.S. to build bases and radar stations on Greenland.
The U.S. Air Force currently maintains one base in northern Greenland, Thule Air Force Base, 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) south of the North Pole. Former military airfields in Narsarsuaq, Kulusuk and Kangerlussuaq have become civilian airports.
The Thule base, constructed in 1952, was originally designed as a refueling base for long-range bombing missions. Since 1961, it has been a ballistic missile early warning and space surveillance site.
Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.
Find AP stories on Greenland at www.apnews.com/Greenland
EarthLink – News
‘Codfather’ settlement means magnate will never fish again
By PATRICK WHITTLE | Mon, August 19, 2019 07:54 EDT
A fishing magnate known as the Codfather will never be allowed to return to U.S. fisheries, the federal government said Monday in announcing it has settled its civil case against a man whose arrest for shirking quotas and smuggling profits overseas shocked the East Coast industry.
The settlement with Carlos Rafael and his fishing captains will clear the way for his assets to be divested, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. Those assets have been embroiled in litigation.
Rafael was based out of New Bedford, Massachusetts, and was sentenced to nearly four years in prison in 2017. He was owner of the one of the largest commercial fishing operations in the country.
NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Chris Oliver said Monday the settlement “accomplishes NOAA’s chief objective of permanently removing Mr. Rafael from participation in federal fisheries.” It will also help return Rafael’s assets to productive use when they are sold, he said.
“Mr. Rafael’s forced divestiture and permanent ban from commercial fishing is a fitting end to this case, on top of the criminal sentence he is already serving,” Oliver said.
Rafael’s attorney, John Markey of New Bedford, said settling was “the smart thing” for his client, who he described as a lifer in the fishing industry who will miss the business.
“He was always willing to work. I think it’s going to be hard for him, when he gets out, not to be a part of that industry and that story,” Markey said.
NOAA’s settlement with Rafael also states he is required to pay a civil penalty of just over $3 million and relinquish a seafood dealer permit. He has until the end of 2020 to sell fishing permits and vessels he owns and controls, and the transactions must be approved by NOAA.
Seventeen of Rafael’s former fishing vessel captains also face penalties under the settlement. One condition is that they must serve suspensions during which they can’t board federally permitted vessels while the vessels are at sea, or even offloading. Those suspensions vary from 20 to 200 days based on the captain’s violations.
Rafael eventually pleaded guilty to false labeling and other charges after federal authorities charged he was operating an elaborate fish fraud. They said his vessels claimed to catch haddock or pollock when they had actually brought species to shore that are subject to stricter quotas. He then smuggled proceeds to Portugal.
Rafael’s scheme, and his combative attitude, have made him the subject of television specials, including an episode of the CNBC series “American Greed” that Quote: s him boasting about controlling the market in New Bedford, one of the most important U.S. fishing ports.
The episode was called “Something’s Fishy: The Codfather,” a nickname for Rafael often used by media.
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said Monday the settlement “enables the Port of New Bedford to turn the page on the Carlos Rafael saga.”
EarthLink – News
Venezuela crisis pushes women into ‘forced motherhood’
By CHRISTINE ARMARIO | 11:47 EDT
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Dr. Saturnina Clemente pulls up to the small clinic in the impoverished Caucaguita neighborhood armed with one of Venezuela’s most sought-after commodities: Hormonal implants to prevent pregnancy.
In a country where contraceptives are in short supply, word in the shantytown on the outskirts of Venezuela’s capital spreads quickly. The lucky get on a list run by community leaders. The less fortunate hope there will be extras.
The veteran doctor has 104 implants and there won’t be enough for everyone. As a physician at the nation’s largest pediatric hospital, Clemente knows first-hand that the consequences for those who don’t get one are high.
“It’s a sense of impotency, of frustration,” she says. “You see that it’s not enough, that the demand is much higher.”
As Venezuela’s crisis deepens, women are bearing the brunt of the nation’s upheaval. Despite promises by the socialist government to provide every woman access to family planning, recent surveys and interviews with health professionals indicate access to contraceptives remains incomprehensive.
International organizations like the U.N. Population Fund have begun stepping in by importing tens of thousands of contraceptives this year, but their work is still limited. It’s an ordeal with increasingly international ramifications, as a growing number of pregnant women flee to countries like Colombia seeking care they cannot get in Venezuela.
“Women are getting pregnant and don’t have options,” said Luisa Kislinger, a women’s rights activist. “They’re forced into motherhood.”
Nicol Ramírez is 15 and already a mother. Her name is on Clemente’s list, but to get an implant she needs to show a negative pregnancy test. The young mom and her older sister frantically call their mother. They need 40,000 bolivars, the equivalent of about $3, in order to do the simple test at a nearby laboratory.
“The situation in this country isn’t one for having children,” Ramírez says, balancing her baby daughter on one hip. “I’m still a girl myself.”
During the late Hugo Chávez’s presidency, Venezuela’s government expanded services aimed at helping poor mothers by providing monthly cash transfers. Chavez lavished praise on women and hailed the so-called “revolutionary mothers” who would help promote his vision.
The 1999 constitution he advanced guarantees “full family planning services” to women among a host of other benefits.
“The socialist revolution should be feminist,” he declared.
Despite those initiatives, Chávez’s government made only modest advances, at best, in improving contraceptive access. Government data shows that teenage pregnancies continued to steadily increase during his time in power.
“There was a major advance with the constitution, with getting all these new rights and state obligations,” said Rachel Elfenbein, the author of an upcoming book on social programs created under Chávez for women. “But when it came to implementation, if and where it happened, it was patchy.”
President Nicolás Maduro has struggled to advance his predecessor’s agenda amidst a crippling economic contraction worse than the U.S. Great Depression. Few if any women still get cash transfers except for occasional “bonuses” equivalent to a dollar or two. Maternal death rates rose over 65% between 2015 and 2016.
“Under Maduro we’ve seen an unprecedented setback,” Kislinger said.
Health professionals believe Venezuela could cut its high maternal mortality rate by a third doing one thing: Providing contraceptives.
The extent of Venezuela’s birth control shortage and the impact on women is difficult to quantify in part because the government has not released information on key indicators like teenage pregnancy since 2012. According to those now dated figures, just over 23% of all births in Venezuela were to women under the age of 20.
Some independent health organizations and women’s rights groups contend the rate could now be as high as 28%. A study of four hospitals last year found that over a quarter of all births recorded were to teenage mothers.
The most recent U.N. world population report estimates Venezuela’s teen pregnancy rate is about 85.3 per 1,000 adolescents ages 15-19. That figure would mark a slight decline, though is still over double the global rate. By comparison, Colombia’s rate is 66.7 per 1,000 teens ages 15-19.
“We don’t know what the reality is in 2019,” said Nelmary Díaz, a program director the Civil Association for Family Planning, an organization that runs several clinics and has operated since 1986. “That worries us.”
After years of denying the existence of a humanitarian crisis, Maduro has recently begun allowing international aid. While a large part of the emergency assistance has gone toward food and medicine, a small portion is going toward reproductive health.
The U.N. Population Fund has imported 45,000 hormonal implants so far with the government’s authorization. An estimated 17,000 have been distributed thus far at hospitals and clinics like the one in Caucaguita where women line up before dawn.
“I don’t want to have more kids,” said Yailyn Salas, 20, the mother of a 9-month-old son in the line. “I want to close the shop.”
Among the millions of Venezuelans who have chosen to flee are thousands of pregnant women. In Colombia, over 26,000 Venezuelan women have given birth since August 2015. That surge is straining Colombia’s already fragile health care system and testing the nation’s mostly welcoming approach toward Venezuelan migrants.
In recent months, the mayor of one large Colombian city likened Venezuelans to “a poor baby factory” while a popular newspaper columnist implored migrants to “stop giving birth.”
“If you don’t stop reproducing like you are, it’s going to be even harder to see you as an opportunity for growth instead of a problem,” journalist Claudia Palacios wrote.
Ramírez found out she was pregnant at 14 with her boyfriend of one year. Condoms and birth control pills were either impossible to find or too expensive. When she told her boyfriend the news, Ramírez said he responded coldly. He was 23 and already a father. He told her that he couldn’t handle another responsibility.
She hasn’t heard from him since.
Adolescent moms under 15 are twice as likely to die during pregnancy. Though Ramírez had access to prenatal care, doctors nonetheless had to perform an emergency C-section after the baby’s heartbeat became irregular.
“She was born practically dead,” Ramírez said, her soft voice turning somber.
Ramírez’s ordeal to find birth control isn’t unusual. An independent survey of 151 pharmacies consulted over a five-month period last year found some contraceptives like the patch could not be found at all in Venezuela, while others including birth control pills are experiencing near-total shortages.
Even with this year’s increased access to aid, experts say Venezuela will need far more to address the needs of the estimated 9 million women in the country at risk of pregnancy.
“It’s a very small impact,” said Jorge Díaz Polanco, a sociologist with the independent Venezuelan Observatory of Health.
Clemente’s brigade was able to get ahold of a handful of the U.N.-provided implants that prevent ovulation and last four years. On two recent days, her team set up shop at a clinic where posters in support of socialist leaders filled the walls. They quickly got to work, injecting each woman with an anesthetic and then sticking a small metal tube into their upper arm so the implant could be pushed through.
By 11:30 a.m. the contraceptives were gone.
“The implants have run out!” an organizer dressed in a faded Stone Temple Pilots T-shirt shouted.
Nearly 40 women were still in line. Some sighed. Others were visibly angry.
“I feel deceived,” said Salas, who missed the cutoff.
She said a nearby health organization was selling birth control implants at a subsidized cost of around 90,000 bolivars, or $6.50. But that was just slightly less than what her husband makes an in an entire week.
“If I get one, I don’t eat,” she said.
Ramírez and her sister were among the lucky few to get the last of the implants after they showed Clemente’s team their negative test. Their mom had managed to get them the money.
Three other women that day would learn they were pregnant.
Ramírez cringed as a nurse injected her with the anesthetic before placing the implant. Just as the procedure finished, the lights in the building went out — the second blackout in the neighborhood that week.
Ramírez left the darkened clinic with her baby in her arm, relieved to know she wouldn’t become a mom again soon.
“I’m not ready to have a child,” she said as her baby began to cry. “I’m a girl who is 15.”
Follow Christine Armario on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cearmario