Seven British MPs Quit Labor Party Over Brexit, Anti-Semitism

Seven British lawmakers have quit the main opposition Labor Party over the leadership’s approach to Brexit and anti-Semitism allegations in the ranks.  

The seven moderate members of parliament say they will form an independent group. Their defection is the biggest split in the Labor Party since four senior members quit in 1981 to form the Social Democratic Party.  

The group told reporters in London’s County Hall Monday that the Labor Party has changed since leader Jeremy Corbyn came to power in 2015 and said the party no longer tolerates center-left views.

 “The bottom line is this — politics is broken. It doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s change it,” said Chuka Umunna, one of the lawmakers.  

Chris Leslie, another defector, said: “Marxism is now masquerading as the Labor Party. It has the Labor brand, but it is a machine that has taken over.”  

In a direct challenge to Corbyn, the seven centrist parliament members say they are courting other lawmakers to join their group.  

One of the group’s chief complaints is that the Labor Party has been complicit in facilitating Brexit. Corbyn has come under fire by some party members for not doing enough to oppose Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans for leaving the EU and for not pushing hard enough for a second referendum.  

The Labor Party has been divided by the Brexit vote, with many traditional voters, particularly in northern England, having chosen to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum, while a majority of Labor MPs had supported staying in.

 Brexit has also divided the country’s Conservative Party into pro-Brexit and pro-EU wings. Britain’s departure from the EU — the terms of which are still up in the air — is set for March 29.

The seven lawmakers also accused Corbyn Monday of failing to tackle anti-Semitism in the party, a charge that has previously been leveled at the Labor leader.

A longtime supporter of Palestinian rights and a critic of the Israeli government, Corbyn denies the allegations, saying he is stamping out anti-Semitism in the party.

Luciana Berger, one of the seven MPs who defected, said Labor has become “institutionally anti-Semitic.” Berger, who is Jewish, said in leaving the Labor Party, “I am leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation.”

Corbyn said he was “disappointed that these MPs have felt unable to continue to work together for the Labor policies that inspired millions at the last election and saw us increase our vote by the largest share since 1945.”

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Ukraine Pitches for More EU Aid for Southeast as Elections Near

Ukraine’s foreign minister asked the European Union on Monday for hundreds of millions of euros in loans and aid for infrastructure and businesses in its troubled east and south, regions he said Russia was trying to “suffocate.”

EU foreign ministers were discussing increasing support for Ukraine, which holds a presidential election next month in tough conditions. Russia annexed its Crimea peninsula in 2014 and backs armed separatists in its eastern industrial Donbas region.

The EU is also moving to put more Russians under sanctions over Moscow’s standoff with Kiev in the Azov Sea, to the southeast of Ukraine.

“We need targeted… support for the Ukrainian south, to work with us on infrastructure… Further Russian attempts to destabilize Ukraine’s south would be very detrimental for European security,” Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin told reporters in Brussels.

“[There is] an attempt to suffocate the whole Ukrainian Donbas… We need infrastructure, it’s about roads and railways. And to support people… help them to launch new small and medium businesses because we need to fundamentally reshuffle the whole economic model there,” he added.

President Petro Poroshenko, elected amid high hopes for change in Ukraine after street protests ousted his pro-Russian predecessor in 2014, is in an uphill battle for re-election after his popularity plunged over graft and sliding living standards.

Klimkin accused Russia of turning the Donbas region – which remains outside the control of the Kiev government – into a “big [money] laundering machine”. He also said Kiev could “under no circumstances” allow Russians to be part of an OSCE election monitoring mission.

The EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, who chaired Monday’s ministerial meeting, stressed the bloc’s “unwavering support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty” but also urged Kiev to press on with economic and political reforms.

Despite Western pressure, Moscow has vowed never to return Crimea to Ukraine. A peace plan for eastern Ukraine, sponsored by Germany and France, has helped put an end to heavy fighting there but has since largely stalled.

Relations between the EU and Russia plunged to fresh lows last year over the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain. But the EU is divided over how hard to punish Moscow – or how far to support Kiev – as some would prefer to prioritize business ties with Russia.

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Для водіїв в Україні спростили процедуру передачі номерних знаків

Перезакріпити індивідуальні номерні знаки на автомобілях в Україні стало легше, повідомляє сервісний центр МВС на сторінці у Facebook.

«Власник ІНЗ може перезакріпити його за іншим належним йому транспортним засобом або передати його власникові іншого транспортного засобу, подавши до будь-якого територіального сервісного центру МВС пакет необхідних документів», – йдеться в повідомленні.

За даними відомства, раніше перезакріплення здійснювали на підставі довідки, яку можна було отримати винятково в головному сервісному центрі МВС.

Індивідуальний номерний знак можна замовити в будь-якому територіальному сервісному центрі МВС незалежно від місця реєстрації. У грудні минулого року запрацювала онлайн-послуга перевірки можливості замовлення певного ІНЗ в «електронному кабінеті водія». 

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Дайвери затопили у кар’єрі бюст Леніна

У Новомиколаївському кар’єрі поблизу Дніпра на глибину 34 метри дайвери опустили бюст Володимира Леніна. Як розповів Радіо Свобода один з ініціаторів проекту, інструктор з дайвінгу Андрій Воробйов, таким чином дайвери поповнили підводний парк скульптур, який понад 10 років створюють у водоймі.

«Він (бюст – ред.) зроблений з епоксидної смоли, яка не руйнується під впливом вологи. Там стоїть ім’я автора і дата – 1983 рік. Його хотіли розбити й зламати, він пошкоджений практично з усіх сторін. Це неполітична акція, це суто дайверський експонат. Ми за здоровий спосіб життя, а дайвінг – це його частина», – сказав Андрій Воробйов.

За словами Воробйова, бюст, як припускають, колись стояв в одному з палаців спорту Дніпра. Перед затопленням дайвери домалювали бюсту вуса і бороду та одягли жовту косинку. 

Новомиколаївський кар’єр під Дніпром – колишній гранітний кар’єр, затоплений водою після завершення виробок. Тепер там діє парків підводних скульптур, наразі єдиний такий в Україні.

 

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У Львові на честь Героїв Небесної сотні провели акцію «Ангели пам’яті»

У понеділок сотні паперових ангелів розвісили на деревах у центрі Львова на честь Героїв Небесної сотні учні місцевих коледжів і шкіл. Як передає кореспондент Радіо Свобода, виготовлені школярами фігури ангелів з паперу прикрасили дерева на проспекті Шевченка. До акції під назвою «Ангели пам’яті» долучились також рідні загиблих майданівців.

«Така акція це найменше, що ми можемо зробити для героїв. Звісно, якщо ми не будемо розповідати про те, що відбулося, якщо не будемо розповідати про ангелів Небесної сотні, як же ж ми будемо виховувати наше майбутнє покоління? Кожна дитина, яка робила ангелика, вивчала, а яким же був кожен Герой Майдану. Наймолодшому було 17, найстаршому – 76. Діти вчаться і вони втілюватимуть ті мрії, які мали наші герої», – прокоментувала одна з учасниць акції, дружина загиблого майданівця Наталія Дигдалович.

Акція «Ангели пам’яті» проходить вдруге в українських містах на честь розстріляних Героїв Небесної сотні.

Протягом року у Львові вшановували Героїв Небесної сотні у дні їхніх народжень. Цей захід об’єднав рідних загиблих майданівців, їхніх друзів, учнів шкіл, де навчались герої.

За даними Генпрокуратури, всього під час Євромайдану постраждали 2,5 тисячі людей, 104 із них загинули – більшість у лютому 2014 року. Згодом загиблих учасників акцій протесту почали називати Небесною сотнею. 

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‘Digital Gangsters’: UK Wants Tougher Rules for Facebook

British lawmakers issued a scathing report Monday that calls for tougher rules on Facebook to keep it from acting like “digital gangsters” and intentionally violating data privacy and competition laws.

The report on fake news and disinformation on social media sites followed an 18-month investigation by Parliament’s influential media committee. The committee recommended that social media sites should have to follow a mandatory code of ethics overseen by an independent regulator to better control harmful or illegal content.

 

The report called out Facebook in particular, saying that the site’s structure seems to be designed to “conceal knowledge of and responsibility for specific decisions.”

 

“It is evident that Facebook intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws,” the report states. It also accuses CEO Mark Zuckerberg of showing contempt for the U.K. Parliament by declining numerous invitations to appear before the committee.

“Companies like Facebook should not be allowed to behave like ‘digital gangsters’ in the online world, considering themselves to be ahead of and beyond the law,” the report added.

 

U.K. parliamentary committee reports are intended to influence government policy, but are not binding. The committee said it hopes its conclusions will be considered when the government reviews its competition powers in April.

 

And while the U.K. is part of the 28-country European Union, it is due to leave the bloc in late March, so it is unclear whether any regulatory decisions it takes could influence those of the EU.

 

Facebook said it shared “the committee’s concerns about false news and election integrity” and was open to “meaningful regulation.”

 

“While we still have more to do, we are not the same company we were a year ago,” said Facebook’s U.K. public policy manager, Karim Palant.

 

“We have tripled the size of the team working to detect and protect users from bad content to 30,000 people and invested heavily in machine learning, artificial intelligence and computer vision technology to help prevent this type of abuse.”

 

Facebook and other internet companies have been facing increased scrutiny over how they handle user data and have come under fire for not doing enough to stop misuse of their platforms by groups trying to sway elections.

 

The report echoes and expands upon an interim report with similar findings issued by the committee in July . And in December , a trove of documents released by the committee offered evidence that the social network had used its enormous trove of user data as a competitive weapon, often in ways designed to keep its users in the dark.

Facebook faced its biggest privacy scandal last year when Cambridge Analytica, a now-defunct British political data-mining firm that worked for the 2016 Donald Trump campaign, accessed the private information of up to 87 million users.

 

 

 

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Barred from Venezuela, European Lawmakers Call for Action

Conservative European lawmakers who were barred from entering Venezuela this weekend are urging the European Union’s top diplomat to suspend contacts with Nicolas Maduro’s government.

 

Esteban Gonzalez Pons, the head of the European Popular Party parliamentary group, is also calling for European sanctions against Venezuela’s foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, who had ordered that the lawmakers should be barred on the grounds that they were conspiring against the government.

The five visitors were invited by the opposition-led congress led by Juan Guaido, whom the European Parliament and a majority of the EU’s members recognize as Venezuela’s interim leader.

Speaking to reporters in Madrid on Monday after returning from Caracas, Gonzalez Pons said that the EU’s foreign affairs commissioner, Federica Mogherini, should cancel the International Group of Contact that seeks talks in Venezuela.

 

He also called for the bloc’s members to oust Maduro’s ambassadors, and he vowed to return to Venezuela on Saturday.

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Sex Abuse Survivors to Meet with Vatican Summit Organizers

Organizers of Pope Francis’ summit on preventing clergy sex abuse will meet this week with a dozen survivor-activists who have come to Rome to protest the Catholic Church’s response to date and demand an end to decades of cover-up by church leaders.

These survivors will not be addressing the summit of church leaders itself. Rather, they will meet Wednesday with the four-member organizing committee to convey their complaints. The larger summit of 180 presidents of bishops conferences from around the world begins Thursday.

Chilean survivor Juan Carlos Cruz, who is coordinating the survivor meeting, told The Associated Press he hopes for a “constructive and open dialogue” and for summit committee members to convey the survivors’ demand that bishops stop pleading ignorance about abuse. 

“This has to stop,” Cruz said. “Raping a child or a vulnerable person and abusing them has been wrong since the 1st century, the Middle Ages and now.”

Francis called the summit in September after he himself discredited Cruz and other Chilean victims of a notorious predator priest. Francis was subsequently implicated in the cover-up of Theodore McCarrick, the onetime powerful American cardinal who just last week was defrocked for sexually abusing minors as well as adults.

Francis appointed a four-member organizing committee headed by the Vatican’s top sex crimes investigator, Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, Mumbai Cardinal Osvald Gracias and the Rev. Hans Zollner, a member of Francis’ sex abuse advisory commission.

They had urged participants to meet with victims before they came to Rome, to both familiarize themselves with victims’ pain and trauma and debunk the widely held idea that clergy sex abuse only happens in some parts of the world, Cupich told AP last week. Survivors will be represented at the summit itself via some video testimony, he said. 

Cruz said the key message for the bishops to take away from the summit is that they must enforce true “zero tolerance” or face the consequences.

“There are enforceable laws in the church to punish not only those who commit the abuse but those who cover it up,” he told AP. “No matter what rank they have in the church, they should pay.” 

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Puck, Goal, Sticks And A Snorkel: Underwater Hockey Stages A Comeback

The sport of hockey – where players use hockey sticks to knock a puck into a goal – is now not just limited to being played on ice or on the field. It can be played underwater too by players equipped with snorkels and fins. Underwater hockey, which first appeared in the U.S. in the 1950s – is making a comeback with a splash! Maxim Moskalkov has the story.

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Carnival Season Looks to Cheer Up Gloomy Winter Days

This past weekend marked the start of the carnival season which will culminate with Mardi Gras on March 5. People around the world will attend costume parties, watch parades and enjoy abundant meals before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Christian tradition dictates observance of about six weeks of moderation and prayer in preparation for Easter, which falls on Sunday, April 21, this year. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports.

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