August 1, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Philip Alexiou reporting.
A show of support for the Baltic states.
US Vice President Mike Pence saying on Monday there is no larger threat to Baltic states than the "specter of aggression" by Russia as he pledged support for NATO allies Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
"President Trump sent me here to say: We are with you. We stand with the people and nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania -- and we always will."
Pence met in Tallinn with the presidents of all the Baltic states - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - and afterward summarized the US position on Russia's "destabilizing" activities.
"At this very moment, Russia continues to seek to redraw international borders by force, undermine democracies of sovereign nations and divide the free nations of Europe one against another."
The Baltic states all have asked for tangible demonstrations of US military support. Concerns about Russian expansionism have increased sharply in the Baltic region.
President Donald Trump today abruptly firing Anthony Scaramucci as his communications director just over a week after the New York financier started work in the key White House post. VOA's Martin Seacrest explains.
Trump ousted the 53-year-old Scaramucci at the request of new White House chief of staff John Kelly.
The White House officially announced that Scaramucci was leaving in order to give Kelly a "clean slate" to run day-to-day operations of the White House staff.
Scaramucci quickly made national headlines with a vulgar rant to a correspondent for The New Yorker.
White House press secretary [Susan] Sarah Sanders: "He does not have a role at this time with the Trump administration."
I'm Philip Alexiou. You're listening to VOA news.
The US said Monday that for the first time it'll sell coal to Ukraine, easing its reliance on Russia and Moscow-back separatists in eastern Ukraine to meet its energy needs.
The accord calls for Xcoal Energy & Resources in the eastern state of Pennsylvania to ship 700,000 tons of thermal coal by the end of the year to Ukraine's state-owned energy firm Centrenergo to help it heat homes and businesses in the coming winter months. The first shipment, at a cost of $113 a metric ton, is expected to leave the US port of Baltimore in August.
President Donald Trump today presenting the US military's most prestigious honor to former Army Medic Jim "Doc" McCloughan for his heroic actions during the battle of Nui Yon Hill back in May of 1969.
The 71-year-old Vietnam War vet was the first to be awarded the Medal of Honor by President Donald Trump and he is credited with saving 10 soldiers over the three-day battle.
"We pay tribute to a veteran who went above and beyond the call of duty to protect our comrades, our country, and our freedom."
McCloughan was wounded multiple times but refused to leave his battle brothers to get medical treatment.
The United States has slapped financial sanctions on the Venezuela president, Nicholás Maduro, after Sunday's election gave the South American country's ruling party almost unlimited powers.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin: "As a result of today's actions, all assets of Maduro subject to US jurisdiction are frozen, and US persons are prohibited from dealing with him."
And National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster says the US believes Sunday's election was a sham.
"The United States stands with the people of Venezuela in the face of this oppression. We will work with our partners to hold accountable all those responsible for the escalating violence and ongoing human rights violations."
And there could be more sanctions to follow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering the United States to cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by 755, heightening tensions between Washington and Moscow after the US Congress approved sanctions against Russia for its meddling in US elections.
Putin said the US is taking an "unprovoked step toward worsening US-Russia relations."
Vanessa O'Brien has become the first American woman to summit K2, the world's second highest mountain at 8,611 meters.
The 52-year-old former banker from New York led a 12-member team of international climbers and planted the US flag on top of K2 on July 28.
I'm Philip Alexiou. This is VOA news.
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