China Deports US Businesswoman It Convicted of Spying
Jethro Mullen and Serenitie Wang, CNN
China has deported an American businesswoman whom it convicted of spying a few days earlier. Sandy Phan-Gillis spent more than two years in Chinese custody after being detained in March 2015 during a business trip with officials from Houston. She arrived back home in the US late Friday, according to Shang Baojun, her lawyer in China. A court in the southern Chinese city of Nanning on Tuesday had sentenced her to three-and-a-half years in prison and ordered her deported. But it wasn’t immediately clear at the time how much longer Chinese authorities would keep her in detention before her deportation. Phan-Gillis pleaded guilty to espionage charges in the closed court hearing in Nanning, according to Shang.
Fugitive China Businessman Praises Xi Jinping in Newly Surfaced Tape
Russell Flannery, FORBES
Fugitive Chinese businessman Guo Wengui—also known as Miles Kwok—is heard praising China’s Communist Party leader Xi Jinping on an audio tape that surfaced this weekend. “I have absolute confidence in Secretary General Xi,” Guo is heard saying in the tape said to be recorded in New York on March 5 this year. Its authenticity couldn’t be immediately confirmed. The appearance of the recording involving one of China’s most wanted men comes as its government is seeking Guo’s return to the mainland to face corruption charges involving a senior intelligence official. Beijing, through Interpol, this month was said to have issued a call for Guo’s arrest. Xi has made the fight against corruption a cornerstone of his tenure.
Cuba Confirms at Least Eight Killed in Crash of Military Plane
RADIO FREE EUROPE
The Cuban government says a Cuban military plane has crashed in a western part of the island nation, and at least eight troops were killed. A statement released by the government said the Soviet-era An-26 took off early on April 29 from an airport near Havana and crashed not long after on a hillside about 40 miles away. The military said a special commission would investigate the crash. Reports said the weather was clear and sunny at the time. No information was released on how many passengers were on the plane, which is capable of carrying up to 40 people. A person briefed on the situation told the Associated Press that the plane belongs to Aerogaviota, an airline run by the Cuban military. It serves the government, state-run tourism companies, and the Cuban national oil company.
Former Guard Reveals What Life is Like at a North Korean Prison Camp
Matt Broomfield, THE INDEPENDENT
Thousands of inmates in North Korean prison camps face beatings, summary executions, starvation and rape, a former guard has revealed. Lim Hye-jin described watching interned political dissenters set on fire, beheaded and shot dead en masse in collective punishment following escape attempts. After being briefly imprisoned herself for illegal training, Ms. Lim reportedly defected from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) 15 years ago, and now lives in the southern capital, Seoul. She said, “We were manipulated not to feel any sympathy for prisoners. We were told they had committed terrible crimes. Now I know they were normal people so I feel very guilty. I feel so betrayed by leaders who lied to us. We were told not to see these people as humans. Now I feel traumatized.”
North Korea Crisis: Pope Urges International Mediation
Pope Francis has called for international mediation to ease rising tensions between the US and North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear activity. The pontiff suggested that Norway, for example, was “always ready to help.” He warned the crisis risked sparking a devastating war in which “a good part of humanity” would be destroyed. His comments came hours after North Korea test-fired another ballistic missile, which the US and South Korea say exploded shortly after take-off. The missile was fired from a site in South Pyeongan province, north of Pyongyang, South Korea said.
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, First Cuban-American in Congress, to Retire
Eric Bradner, CNN
Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican who was the first Cuban-American elected to Congress, is retiring after 38 years—handing Democrats a major opening to pick off a GOP-held seat. The 64-year-old Ros-Lehtinen announced her decision to retire Sunday in an interview with the Miami Herald‘s Patricia Mazzei. She has been a key moderate voice in the House, but said her decision has nothing to do with her differences with President Donald Trump. Though Ros-Lehtinen was re-elected by 10 points in the fall, she represents a largely Democratic district. Ros-Lehtinen said the Democratic leanings of the district, which was redrawn prior to the 2016 election, had nothing to do with her decision.
Venezuela’s Vegetable Brigades Help Familes With Escalating Food Costs
Reese Erlich, CBC NEWS
Dozens of people form a line to pass vegetables hand to hand as they unload four tons of food from a truck. First come the potatoes, then the avocados and finally the tomatoes. These and a dozen other vegetables are put into 20-kilogram bags for families to take home. This vegetable brigade is organized every few weeks by the Alpargata Solidaria collective in a poor barrio of Caracas. Members pool their money and buy in bulk directly from farmers. Venezuela faces a massive food crisis. Food is scarce and expensive for ordinary people, and its cost may rise as much as 1,000 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund estimates. This group is one of many such Caracas collectives that organized themselves and are supported by Maduro’s government.
Pope to Venezuela: Avoid More Violence, Respect Human Rights
Pope Francis has appealed to leaders of Venezuela’s government and society to avoid any more violence as he cited the mounting number of dead, injured and prisoners. Francis told faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sunday that, united in sorrow with the families of victims, he was making a heartfelt appeal to “the government and all the components of the Venezuelan society so that every further form of violence is avoided, human rights are respected and negotiated solutions are sought.” He said Venezuelans were worn out from the grave “humanitarian, social, political and economic crises” afflicting the country.