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Venezula: U.S. to use all economic, political tools to hold Maduro accountable.

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Source: Reuters

The United States will use all economic and political tools at its disposal to hold Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accountable for his country’s crisis and will make clear to Cuba and Russia they will pay a price for supporting him, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.

Pompeo made the comments in the Colombian border city of Cucuta, the final stop of a three-day trip to Chile, Paraguay and Peru, a clutch of fast-growing countries in a region where Washington’s concerns are focused on the Venezuelan crisis and China’s growing presence.

Maduro blames U.S. sanctions for the country’s economic problems and dismisses opposition leader Juan Guaido – who in January invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing the socialist leader’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate – as a U.S. puppet.

More than 3 million Venezuelans have fled hyperinflation, food and medicine shortages and political crisis

“The United States will continue to utilize every economic and political means at our disposal to help the Venezuelan people,” Pompeo said after visiting with migrants at a Cucuta shelter and touring border bridges and a warehouse storing humanitarian aid.

“Using sanctions, visa revocations and other means, we pledge to hold the regime and those propping it up accountable for their corruption and their repression of democracy.”

Cucuta receives a significant portion of Venezuelan migrants arriving in Colombia, many of whom come with only what they can carry.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at a warehouse where international humanitarian aid for Venezuela is being stored, near La Unidad cross-border bridge between Colombia and Venezuela in Cucuta, Colombia April 14, 2019. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

Although most Western nations, including the United States, have recognized Guaido as interim head of state, Russia, China and Cuba have stood by Maduro.

“You watch the political and diplomatic noose tighten around Maduro’s neck,” Pompeo told reporters accompanying him on the trip before taking off for the United States.

“Cubans must understand too that there will be cost associated with continued support of Nicolas Maduro,” he said. “And we’re going to have that same conversation with the Russians as well.”

Washington has imposed a raft of sanctions against Maduro’s government in an attempt to dislodge him from power, but he retains the backing of the country’s military. On Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department added four firms and nine ships to its blacklist, some of which it said carried oil to Cuba.

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said on Friday he would deliver a speech in Miami to Cuban exiles on Wednesday about actions the White House is taking on Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, countries he has called a “troika of tyranny.”

While no final decision has been made on punitive measures Bolton is expected to announce, the Trump administration has been considering a range of options, including new targeted sanctions and further tightening of business restrictions on the Communist-ruled island that had been eased by former President Barack Obama, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Critics have warned that heavy sanctions on Venezuela could hurt ordinary Venezuelans.

Pompeo urged Maduro to leave his post and Venezuela so the country can return to normalcy.

“I hope that you will care now, when you see the horror, when you see the tragedy, to change your ways and to leave your country,” Pompeo said.

During his trip, Pompeo echoed previous U.S. criticism of China’s growing presence in Latin America, warning of “predatory” lending practices and “malign or nefarious” actions.

China, whose booming economy over the past two decades has driven up demand for raw materials, is already the top trade partner for nations from tiny Uruguay to Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy and the world’s top soybean exporter.

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Northern Ireland: Police arrest two in connection with the murder of a journalist

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Source: Reuters

Two men have been arrested in connection with the killing of Northern Irish journalist Lyra McKee during a riot in Londonderry on Thursday, police said, as politicians in the divided British region united to condemn the attack.

McKee, an award-winning 29-year-old journalist who was writing a book on the disappearance of young people during decades of violence in Northern Ireland, was shot dead as she watched Irish nationalist youths attack police following a raid.

“Major Investigation Team detectives have arrested two men, aged 18 and 19 under the Terrorism Act, in connection with the murder,” the Police Service of Northern Ireland said in a statement.

Northern Ireland’s political parties, which are broadly split between Irish nationalists aspiring to unite the British region with Ireland and unionists who want it to remain British, united to condemn the attack.

In a joint statement, six parties said they were “united in rejecting those responsible for this heinous crime.”

Hundreds gathered in cities across Northern Ireland on Friday to hold vigils for McKee, who was also known as an activist for lesbian and gay rights.

Politicians around the world condemned the attack, with former U.S. President Bill Clinton saying he was “heartbroken.”

“We cannot let go of the last 21 years of hard-won peace and progress,” Clinton, a key player in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement peace accord, said on Twitter.

The 1998 deal largely ended three decades of violence in the region, in which over 3,600 died, but several smaller militant groups remain active and launch occasional attacks.

Police said they believed the shooting was likely carried out by the small New IRA group of “dissident” Irish nationalist militants opposed to the Good Friday deal. The group was blamed by police for planting a car bomb outside a courthouse in Londonderry in January.

Politicians in Northern Ireland have also warned that Britain’s plans to leave the European Union could also undermine the peace deal and that any return of restrictive infrastructure along the Irish-Northern Irish border would become targets for militants.

Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, said the peace accord had to be preserved.

“The tragic murder of Lyra McKee is a reminder of how fragile peace still is in Northern Ireland,” he said.“SENSELESS”

Police said Thursday’s rioting began after a raid aimed at preventing attacks during Easter weekend.

Saoradh, a political party with links to dissident militants, said in a statement on Friday that it understood McKee was killed accidentally by a “Republican volunteer.

McKee was watching with a crowd of bystanders as local youths attacked police with petrol bombs and set cars on fire, video footage showed. Police said McKee was hit when a gunman opened fire in the direction of police.

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday described the attack as “shocking and truly senseless.”

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Samsung gets reports of Galaxy Fold screen problems, raising specter of Note 7 fiasco

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Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said it has received “a few” reports of damage to the displays of samples of its upcoming foldable smartphone, raising the prospect of a less-then-smooth entry for the splashy $1,980 handset.

Source – Reuters

The Galaxy Fold, on sale from April 26 in the United States, resembles a conventional smartphone but opens like a book to reveal a second display the size of a small tablet at 7.3 inches (18.5 cm). The design, matched by Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s Mate X, was hailed as the future in a field that has seen few surprises since Apple Inc’s iPhone in 2007.

Yet ahead of the launch, journalists supplied with review samples reported malfunctions after only a day or two of use.

“We will thoroughly inspect these units … to determine the cause of the matter,” Samsung said in a statement.

The malfunctions raised the specter of Samsung’s doomed Galaxy Note 7 phone three years ago. Battery and design flaws in the Note 7 resulted in some units catching fire or exploding, forcing Samsung to recall and cancel sales of the model.

The recall wiped out nearly all profit of Samsung’s mobile division in the third quarter of 2016.

Reporting by Angela Moon in NEW YORK and Ju-min Park in SEOUL; Additional reporting by Heekyong Yang in SEOUL, Editing by Leslie Adler and Christopher Cushing

With the Fold, analysts said malfunctions from the first batch of a test model were of little surprise. Moreover, the handset’s in-folding design is likely to be less durable than Huawei’s out-folding approach, they said.

“In-folding is more difficult to make than out-folding, as it adds higher pressure to screens, which people have worried about,” said analyst Park Sung-soon at BNK Securities.

DO NOT REMOVE

Technology journalists took to Twitter on Wednesday to report instances of the screen either cracking or flickering.

Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman tweeted: “The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in. Hard to know if this is widespread or not.”

Gurman removed a plastic layer on the screen that was not meant to be removed and the phone malfunctioned afterwards, according to his tweets.

A wrapper around the device featured “ATTENTION” in uppercase and warned not remove the layer, showed a tweet from another sample recipient.

Samsung on Thursday said removing the protective layer might result in damage, and that it would clearly inform customers of the issue.

Dieter Bohn, executive editor of The Verge, said a “small bulge” appeared on the crease of the phone screen, which appeared to be something pressing from underneath the screen. Bohn said Samsung replaced his test phone but did not offer an explanation for the problem.

“It is very troubling,” Bohn told Reuters, adding that he did not remove the protective layer.

CNBC.com tech editor Steve Kovach tweeted a video of half of his phone’s screen flickering after using it for just a day.

HIGH DEMAND

Samsung has said it plans to make at least 1 million Fold handsets, versus the total 300 million phones it produces annually. It has closed Fold pre-orders due to “high demand”.

On Thursday, the firm told Reuters there was no change to its release schedule following the malfunction reports.

“I think as time goes on its yield rate will improve, and foldables that customers have in hand will be much better,” said analyst Lee Kyu-ha at NH Investment & Securities. “But I don’t know if Samsung can completely fix the problem about screens.”

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