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Trump Administration Moves to Upgrade Diplomatic Ties With Sudan

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WASHINGTON — The United States said on Wednesday that it would begin exchanging ambassadors with Sudan after a 23-year gap, a sign the countries intend to strengthen diplomatic ties.

The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the Trump administration’s vote of confidence in a new Sudanese civilian-led government installed in August after a sweeping revolution ended military rule.

Mr. Pompeo said the move could help transform Sudan’s political and economic systems, bolstering changes demanded by protesters who filled the streets of the country’s major cities over the summer and withstood harsh crackdowns — including killings — by security forces.

Since taking office this summer, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok “has demonstrated a commitment to peace negotiations with armed opposition groups, established a commission of inquiry to investigate violence against protesters and committed to holding democratic elections,” Mr. Pompeo said in a written statement.

Mr. Hamdok, an experienced administrator and British-trained economist, is visiting Washington this week, where he is, among other things, asking the administration to drop Sudan from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The potential removal of Sudan from the list would continue to be a consideration, a State Department official said, and the move to install ambassadors suggests the department may comply, which would leave only three countries on the list. The others, Iran, Syria and North Korea, have no diplomatic ties with the United States. The terrorism designation means that restrictions remain on foreign aid and military sales.

Mr. Pompeo was in Lisbon on Wednesday to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, so David Hale, the third-ranking State Department official, spoke with Mr. Hamdok instead. Among the topics of discussion were a political road map for South Sudan, which broke away from Sudan in 2011, and efforts to establish “peace between the government and Sudan’s armed opposition groups,” the State Department said in a summary of the meeting.

In 2017, the United States lifted a number of sanctions against Sudan, including general restrictions on trade. Penalties related to the conflict in Darfur are the only financial sanctions that remain, said the State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity so as not to override the department’s official statements about the visit.

Mr. Hamdok also met with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill. The committee said in a statement afterward that in discussing the terrorism designation, lawmakers “raised lingering concerns about the need for financial transparency within the security sector and about remaining elements of the old regime who may still support international terrorism.”

Before being delisted, lawmakers said, Sudan “must reach a settlement with the families of the victims” of several attacks carried out by Al Qaeda operating in the country. Those include the American Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the bombing of the destroyer Cole in 2000.

In an interview on Tuesday with NPR, Mr. Hamdok said Sudan’s designation hampered its potential for economic growth and ability to pay off debt. He pointed to a shortage of commodities and double-digit inflation.

“So I think we would like to see decent companies from all over the world, but particularly from the U.S., to come and invest in our country, that will create jobs,” he said. “And all this can only happen if we are delisted from this list.”

Mr. Hamdok also defended the makeup of the governing transitional coalition, which includes military and paramilitary leaders, established in a power-sharing agreement in August. Mr. Hamdok said an independent investigative committee was looking into human rights atrocities committed recently against protesters.

The revolution toppled Sudan’s ruler of 30 years, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, leading to his imprisonment. Mr. Bashir is awaiting trial on corruption charges. The transitional government is grappling with questions of justice and the punishment of former officials who took part in atrocities over the decades.

In the interview, Mr. Hamdok said that his government was committed to eliminating “dehumanizing” laws, stressing that it recently repealed so-called morality laws that imposed restrictions on women’s clothing and freedom of movement.

“The sky is the limit,” he said, “for our ambition in observing the human rights of our people.”



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Gamblers, Wastrels and Lumberjacks: An Old Cemetery Gives Up Its Secret History

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Two years later, Taft was a rough-and-tumble place where written accounts say many disputes were settled by fistfights, knives and gunfire. One of the town’s reported 500 prostitutes was said to have a parrot trained to proposition men.

Other than a handful of magazine articles, a book and hundreds of old photos, there is little documentation of the town’s history. Carole Johnson, now a Forest Service supervisor whose ranger district encompasses the site of the rediscovered cemetery, remembers a woman who spoke to her high school history class in Superior, Mont., in about 1969.

The speaker recalled that the Northern Pacific passenger train she was riding as a child with her mother was stopped by a snow slide in Taft in 1908 or 1909. She remembered seeing “arms and legs of corpses sticking out of snowbanks” piled high outside a saloon.

“She told us they were killed in a bar fight or whatever, and because of the deep snow in Taft, they were just pitched out the door into the snow drifts to be buried in the spring,” Ms. Johnson said. “Now we know where they buried them.”

The inhabitants of the cemetery are said to include a Montenegrin — known by his fellow countrymen in Taft as “The King” — who was fatally shot in 1907 by an irate railroad foreman. The foreman himself was buried there after he was murdered in revenge, according to an account in the only known book about Taft, “Doctors, Dynamite and Dogs,” published in 1956. The author of the personal memoir, Edith May LaMoreaux Schussler, was the widow of an orthopedic surgeon who worked at the Taft hospital before it was sold for $25 and torn down in 1909.

The town’s last remaining building, the Taft Hotel and Saloon, which was rebuilt after the 1910 fire, was razed to make way for Interstate 90 in the early 1960s. Nobody talked then about the nearby cemetery.

In the years after the legendary fire, the mountainous landscape was redesigned by nature — taken over by towering coniferous trees and thick vegetation.



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Staring Down Impeachment Vote, Freshman Democrat Seeks Legislative Victories

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RHINEBECK, N.Y. — On a recent Friday, as impeachment investigators were releasing new evidence of President Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine and John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, was refusing through his lawyer to tell Congress what he knew about “many relevant meetings and conversations” in the matter, Representative Antonio Delgado’s mind was elsewhere.

Driving through his Hudson Valley district under a light snow, Mr. Delgado, a first-term Democrat, was preoccupied with legislation he was pursuing, toxic chemical cleanup provisions he was fighting to include in a must-pass defense bill, the farmers he was scheduled to meet and his push to hold 33 town hall-style meetings by the end of December.

Before the sun set at 4:45 p.m., Mr. Delgado would trek 175 miles across the district, scarfing down a breakfast of fluffy pancakes with his wife and twin sons early in the morning so he could attend a school assembly, then making last-minute edits to a speech in the car in between events. It barely left time to brush up on the latest news in the impeachment inquiry consuming Washington.

With five legislative days remaining before Congress leaves for its holiday break, the House is charging toward a party-line vote on impeachment articles against Mr. Trump that will make him only the third president to be impeached. The vote is a politically risky one for freshman lawmakers like Mr. Delgado who won by narrow margins in districts that supported Mr. Trump in 2016, and one that the president and his political allies have argued will cost them their seats.

Ms. Pelosi knows, as many moderate Democrats do, that the important question is not necessarily how they explain a vote to charge the president with high crimes and misdemeanors, but whether they can show that they are delivering on an agenda of legislative work that affects voters’ everyday lives.

Mr. Delgado has not completely shied away from impeachment. When news broke of Mr. Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president that is at the heart of the charges, he announced that Congress should begin drafting impeachment articles, going further than most of his moderate colleagues, who tentatively endorsed investigating the allegations. The House Republican campaign arm, eager to tie Mr. Delgado to the liberal wing of the party, called it a “political death sentence” and has repeatedly accused him of “pandering to his socialist base.”

Through it all, Mr. Delgado has tried to strike a balance, cultivating relationships with Republicans — with his wife, he was one of only a few House Democrats to show up this week at the White House Congressional Ball, even as the Judiciary Committee was debating the articles of impeachment — while offering unsparing criticism of the president’s conduct.

“There’s an abuse of power,” Mr. Delgado said after the Ukraine allegations surfaced, speaking to voters in the town of Clinton. “And the abuse of power, too, layers over that crime in a way that I think really creates a level of urgency.”

But Mr. Delgado would prefer to talk about other things: his work on three committees, the enactment of his bill to ease financial burdens for farmers, and a grueling schedule traveling to all corners of his 8,000 square-mile district.

“It matters a lot to go back home and say I introduced a bill,” Mr. Delgado, a lawyer, Rhodes Scholar and Harvard Law graduate, said in an interview. “Even if it’s not law, they know that their congressman is working on an issue they flagged.”

“Do you know how powerful that is?” he added. “That democracy is still humming ahead a little bit?”

A black congressman in a district in which voters are more than 80 percent white, Mr. Delgado is an unmistakable presence. At 6 feet 4 inches, Mr. Delgado — a former basketball player and Upstate New York hall of fame inductee — is rarely introduced without some quip about his height. And he is the only African-American who holds one of the 14 districts that flipped from voting for President Barack Obama to backing Mr. Trump in 2016. His victory came after a campaign in which Republicans used decades-old lyrics from his brief tenure as a rap artist to suggest he was misogynistic and anti-American, a line of attack widely denounced as racist.

But since January, Mr. Delgado, who was born just outside the district and moved back to the area after the 2016 election, has also amplified his engagement in one of the most rural counties represented by a Democrat. He has held nearly three dozen town hall-style meetings — three in each of the 11 counties in his district — and made a point of introducing bipartisan legislation with a number of his Republican colleagues. Sometimes, he includes his twins in his trips through the county — including a visit to a local bookstore on a recent Saturday, where he posed with a Muhammad Ali biography and his sons’ book selections. (Mr. Delgado, who considers Mr. Ali a personal hero, frequently wears a wristband that reads, “Find greatness within.”)

His first television ad — believed to be the first from a House Democrat in the 2020 campaign — focused on his litany of events and legislation introduced, even as Republicans sought to tie him to calls for impeachment and more liberal members of the caucus.

“He’s been good to work with,” said Jake Ashby, a local Republican assemblyman who recently participated in a veterans’ event with Mr. Delgado. Pointing toward some of the bills Mr. Delgado has championed, he added, “He’s been able to get them through, and that’s been encouraging to see.”

At one October gathering, Asejah Lazerson, from Pleasant Valley, N.Y., came to see Mr. Delgado after she wrote a letter about her challenges finding employment and taking care of her children. Mr. Delgado had followed up with a 30-minute phone call.

“It feels like my voice isn’t being heard, and there’s so much gridlock in Washington, all this bitter fighting and nothing is getting done,” Ms. Lazerson, who is black, said in an interview. “For him to call me and let me know that he heard my letter, and read my letter, and it touched him — it was very reassuring.”

“Every time I tell my story, I don’t know if anybody cares,” she added, after wiping away tears. Her son ended up writing a report on Mr. Delgado for school.

At a Veterans Day breakfast last month, Walter O’Neil, a Marine veteran, shook Mr. Delgado’s hand and cheerfully informed his congressman, “I didn’t vote for you.”

“That’s all right,” Mr. Delgado replied with a smile. “I’m still serving you.” (In a brief interview afterward, Mr. O’Neil conceded that Mr. Delgado “is doing a good job.”)

But moments later, a couple rushed to Mr. Delgado’s side, professing to be his biggest fans and asking for a picture.

“It was like meeting a rock star,” said Barbara Holms, 64, who came to the event with her husband, Michael, who served with the Navy during the Vietnam War. “He doesn’t lip sync. He shows up.”



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North Korea Links 2nd ‘Crucial’ Test to Nuclear Weapons Program

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SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said on Saturday that it had conducted “another crucial test” at a missile-engine and satellite-launching site, its second such test in a week as the country attempts to press the United States into further talks and new concessions. It declared that both tests would feed into its military’s nuclear program.

The test was successfully conducted on Friday night at the “Sohae Satellite Launching Ground,” a spokesman of the North’s Academy of Defense Science said. That was a reference to facilities in Tongchang-ri, near the North’s northwestern border with China, where it also said it had conducted a “a very important test” last Saturday.

South Korean officials have said that the earlier test was of an engine that could power either a satellite-carrying rocket or a ballistic missile. On Saturday, the North Korean spokesman offered no details on the latest test. But he said the successful results of both would “be applied to further bolstering up the reliable strategic nuclear deterrent” of North Korea, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

“Our defense scientists were greatly honored to receive warm congratulations” from the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party, the North Korean spokesman said.

In a separate statement on Saturday, Pak Jong-chon, the chief of the general staff of the North Korean People’s Army, said the data from the latest tests at Tongchang-ri would help develop “another strategic weapon” to deter the United States.

“We should be ready to cope with political and military provocations of the hostile forces, and be familiar with both dialogue and confrontation,” Mr. Pak said in his statement, which was carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. He said the United States and other forces would “spend the year-end in peace only when they hold off any words and deeds rattling us.”

Mr. Pak’s comments suggested that the tests could have been for an engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile, said Cheong Seong-chang, the vice president of research planning at the Sejong Institute in South Korea. The statement also signaled that, as diplomacy stalled, the voice of North Korea’s hard-line military was on the rise, Mr. Cheong said.

The North Korean announcement came a day before Stephen E. Biegun, Washington’s top envoy on North Korea, was scheduled to begin a five-day trip to Seoul and Tokyo to discuss how to deal with a Dec. 31 deadline that the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, had set for Washington to return to the negotiating table with more concessions, including the easing of international sanctions.

In recent weeks, North Korea has repeatedly indicated that it would abandon diplomacy and could even resume provocative tests of weapons unless Washington met its year-end deadline. Mr. Kim is widely expected to use a meeting of his Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, scheduled for this month, and his annual New Year’s Day speech to reveal his new policy options.

The resumption of activities at Tongchang-ri, where a satellite was last launched in February 2016, has worried officials in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo because the site houses facilities to test rocket engines and launch satellite-delivery vehicles.

Although North Korea insists that its space program is peaceful, Washington and its allies said that the program was a front for efforts to build and test technologies for intercontinental ballistic missiles. A series of resolutions by the United Nations Security Council ban North Korea from testing ballistic missile technology.

In March 2017, North Korea successfully tested a high-thrust engine at Tongchang-ri that it used in intercontinental ballistic missiles, such as the Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15, later that year. Analysts fear that North Korea might now be preparing to launch another long-range rocket carrying a satellite or even to flight-test a long-range missile.

The country conducted its last ICBM test from Pyongsong, north of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital city, in November 2017. Afterward, Mr. Kim declared a halt on all nuclear and ICBM tests and embarked on diplomacy with President Trump.

Mr. Kim met with Mr. Trump in Singapore in June 2018 and agreed to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” in return for “new” relations and security guarantees from Washington. After the Singapore meeting, Mr. Trump boasted that Mr. Kim had promised to dismantle the Tongchang-ri facilities as one of the first steps toward denuclearization.

North Korea started to dismantled the missile-engine test facility that summer, but then rebuilt it, after Mr. Kim’s subsequent meetings with Mr. Trump and negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington failed to resolve differences over how to implement the broadly worded Singapore deal.

North Korea has also resumed the test of mostly short-range ballistic missiles and rockets this year. Mr. Tump has largely dismissed such tests as involving weapons that do not directly threaten the United States.

If North Korea returned to launching satellites or testing ICBMs, it could seriously dent Mr. Trump’s foreign-policy credentials. Mr. Trump has repeatedly cited Mr. Kim’s self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests as one of his major achievements.



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