У Празі відкрили фотовиставку про оборону промзони Авдіївки

У столиці Чехії відкрилася виставка «PROMKA» – фотопроект про події на промзоні містечка Авдіївки на Донеччині та його захисників. Це підбірка плівкових чорно-білих світлин, що передають атмосферу життєвих умов, в яких українським військовим щодня доводиться протистояти російській агресії. Автор – військовий фотограф і журналіст Олесь Кромпляс, який неодноразово був присутній у найгарячіших точках бойових дій на сході України.

«Головний месседж цієї виставки в тому, щоб показати в яких обставинах люди захищають не тільки Україну – але цілий східний кордон Європи. Тобто це люди, які відстоюють Європу, європейські цінності, всю нашу систему правової держави перед навалом беззаконня, тероризму, «совєтского союзу» та антидемократичних цінностей. Чехи мають про це знати, оскільки живуть під загрозою досить сильного впливу російської пропаганди», – прокоментував виставку автор робіт.

Як повідомляє кореспондент Радіо Свобода, фото-вернісаж пройшов у знаковому місці – на Вантажному залізничному вокзалі Жижков, що є відомою пам’яткою промислової зони Праги. Антураж локації мав нагадати відвідувачам атмосферу та настрій промислової зони Авдіївки. 

Організаторами виставки виступили українське посольство і Національний кіноархів Чехії.

«Автор є безпосереднім свідком того, що відбувається сьогодні в Україні. Він є унікальним джерелом інформації про цю війну. Ми дуже вдячні, що він приїхав до Чехії, щоб розказати та поширити правду», – сказав під час вітального відкриття посол України в Чехії Євген Перебийніс.

Фотопроект «PROMKA», що вже презентувався у багатьох європейських містах, зокрема у Женеві, Цюриху, Мюнхені й Варшаві, найближчим часом планує виставлятися у Португалії, Великій Британії і США.

IOM Head: People Smugglers Make $35 Billion a Year on Migrant Crisis

People smugglers make about $35 billion a year worldwide and they are driving the tragedy of migrants who die trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe, the head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) told Reuters on Wednesday.

Increasing numbers of desperate migrants fleeing from Africa and elsewhere due to conflicts and humanitarian crises are dying as they attempt to reach Europe via Libya, coaxed to do so by smugglers as they wait in detention centers.

The death toll of people crossing the Mediterranean has reached 1,700 so far this year before the summer when many more often make the journey, compared to 3,700 for all of 2015 and 5,000 last year, said IOM head William Lacy Swing.

“Now, let’s be careful because those are the people we know who died, how many other bodies are submerged in the Mediterranean or buried in the sands of the Sahara?” he said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference on migration.

“That’s the tragedy and this is why we are so concerned to try to caution migrants about smugglers. The smugglers are really the big problem. It’s about $35 billion a year [that people smugglers make] and we know they’re making lots of money across the Mediterranean.”

People smuggling now represents the third-largest business for international criminals, after gun and drug trafficking, he said.

Libya has become a major point of departure for migrants from Africa, where lawlessness is spreading six years after the fall of strongman Muammar Gaddafi and migrants say conditions at government-run migrant centers are terrible.

After visiting Libya in March, Lacy Swing said his organization is “all ready to go” and return international staff to Libya to work at migrant centers but has so far not been allowed to do so by the United Nations.

On Tuesday, the IOM and U.N. refugee agency UNCHR presented plans in Geneva on boosting operations in Libya. Lacy Swing said the IOM was ready to help the government with Libya’s own internally displaced people and work in migration centers.

He said Europe’s migrant crisis has been aggravated by what he called “unprecedented anti-migrant sentiment, fueled now by suspicions that some of those fleeing terrorism might be terrorists themselves.”

But he urged governments to try to address the root causes of migration — conflicts, water shortages and big disparities between rich and poor countries.

“In my lifetime I have never known a situation quite like today, because you have nine armed conflicts and humanitarian emergencies from West Africa to the Himalayas,” he said.

He said Europe needs to come up with a comprehensive plan on migration “but I don’t see it happening any time in the near future, but we’ll do everything we can to support them on it.”

Lacy Swing stressed that “migration is not an issue to be solved, it’s a human reality that has to be managed or governed.”

“We know that historically, migration has always been overwhelmingly positive.”

Court Rules Against Kremlin Critic, Orders Graft Allegation Video Deleted

A Russian court ruled on Wednesday against Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in a defamation lawsuit brought by one of Russia’s richest businessmen, ordering

the removal of a popular video from the internet which details the offending allegations.

Navalny, who says he plans to run in next year’s presidential election, has emerged as a major irritant for the Kremlin after thousands of people across Russia attended anti-graft protests he organized in March.

A former lawyer, he has revived some Russians’ interest in politics by publicizing what he says are outrageous cases of top government officials and Kremlin-connected businessmen abusing the system to amass huge wealth.

Most of his targets merely deny such allegations, but businessman Alisher Usmanov, part-owner of British soccer club Arsenal, filed a lawsuit against Navalny alleging he had been defamed in a video about Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Medvedev and Usmanov said corruption and other allegations leveled against them in the video were utterly false.

On Wednesday, a Moscow court agreed with Usmanov, saying the allegations had wrongly impugned his “honor and dignity.” The presiding judge ordered Navalny to delete all references to the allegations within 10 days and to publish a retraction within

three months.

Usmanov’s lawyer, Genrikh Padva, was cited by the TASS news agency as saying his client’s good name had been upheld.

“Our position – which is that there was no basis for the publication of these slanderous statements – was confirmed in court,” Padva said.

Navalny, who plans to appeal the ruling, said he would not delete the video and stood by the allegations. “The reality that we see around us somewhat contradicts the court’s decision,” said Navalny. “The investigation was based on facts.”

Opinion polls show Navalny would lose next year’s presidential election to the Kremlin candidate – widely expected to be incumbent Vladimir Putin – by a large margin.

The offending video has helped boost his campaign, garnering over 21 million online views, and Navalny successfully used it to get people to take to the streets in March to protest against official corruption.

On Wednesday, after his supporters began recirculating the contested video online, he said his court defeat underlined the need to step up the fight against corruption. He also predicted it would boost turnout at the next anti-government protest.

Czech Republic Enforces Smoking Ban After Years of Debate

The Czech Republic on Wednesday enforced a smoking ban in bars, restaurants and cafes, putting to an end to the country’s status as one of the last havens for tobacco smokers in Europe.

The ban, which applies to inside areas of bars and restaurants as well as public places like cinemas, theaters and sports venues, was approved by Parliament following years of heated debate and signed by President Milos Zeman, a chain smoker.

Unlike most of Europe, Czechs had remained tolerant of smoking up until now — and it was up to restaurant owners to decide whether to allow it in their establishments.

According to data from the European Union, 17 member states have comprehensive smoke-free laws in place. But some, including Austria, Portugal, Romania and Serbia, only have partial bans on indoor smoking in restaurants and bars.

Others, like Greece, have official bans but the rules are flouted — even by government ministers.

After the Czech ban, Slovakia appeared to be the only EU country left with no official ban in place inside bars.

The Czech Health Ministry said it estimated 18,000 Czechs die of smoking every year and another two thousand non-smokers die due to exposure to second-hand smoke.

From Wednesday, which is World No Tobacco Day, violating the ban would incur a fine of up to 5,000 koruna ($190).

Most Czechs approve the ban, but a group of lawmakers have challenged it at the Constitutional Court.

Jakub Storek, owner of the Cafe Liberal in Prague — a popular hangout among local smokers — said he opposed the ban.

“It’s hard to predict the impact at the moment,” he said. “But I guess it would be different clients coming here in the future.”

Stepan Ourecky said he would still come, but may have a smoke outside the cafe.

“Or perhaps, I will smoke less,” the 18-year-old student said.

Trump Admonishes Comedian Kathy Griffin for Posting Gruesome Mock Image of Him

U.S. President Donald Trump admonished comedian Kathy Griffin Wednesday for appearing in a brief video holding a reproduction of a severed, bloody head that resembled the president.

In an early morning tweet, Trump said the image is disturbing – particularly to his children.

After seeing negative online reaction, Griffin apologized Tuesday night — saying she “moved the line” and then “crossed it.”

Griffin had shared the image in a tweet that has since been deleted at Griffin’s request.

The photo was taken by Tyler Shields, whose own biography notes he has evolved from Hollywood’s “bad boy of photography.”

The criticism came from liberals and conservatives alike, including the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and daughter of 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Chelsea Clinton, who called the image “vile and wrong.”

The CNN news channel, which has featured Griffin as a co-host on its New Year’s Eve coverage, said the picture was “disgusting and offensive.”

The cable news network said in a statement it is “evaluating our New Year’s coverage.”

Українців, за попередніми даними, немає серед жертв вибуху в Кабулі – МЗС

У Міністерстві закордонних справ України перевіряють інформацію щодо можливої наявності українців серед жертв вибуху в Кабулі.

«За попередньою інформацією, українців немає серед жертв. Проте ця інформація потребує уточнення і зараз перевіряється», – заявив представник департаменту консульської служби МЗС України Василь Кирилич.

Крім того, у Twitter консульської служби вказано, що поки взагалі немає інформації про наявність іноземців серед жертв і потерпілих від вибуху.

За останніми даними, щонайменше 80 людей загинули і понад 350 були поранені в результаті потужного вибуху в центрі Кабула 31 травня. Серед жертв є багато жінок і дітей. Вибух біля президентського палацу та іноземних прогримів у годину-пік. Силовики повідомили, що вибухнула бомба, закладена в автомобілі.

Атака сталася у час так званого щорічного «весняного наступу» талібів.

«Терористи, навіть в священний місяць Рамадан, місяць добра, благословення і молитви, не припиняють вбивств наших невинних людей», – заявив президент Афганістану Ашраф Гані.

Відповідальності за атаку ніхто на себе не взяв.

How ‘Wonder Woman’ Built a World of Women, Onscreen and Off

In a world of only women, there are no phallic structures.

At least that’s how Patty Jenkins imagined the island home of the Amazons and their heroic princess Diana, who grows up to become Wonder Woman.

“Like columns? They didn’t make that much sense to me,” Jenkins said in a recent interview. “They felt like an imposition on landscape, which didn’t feel like something that women are jonesing to do.”

As the director of “Wonder Woman,” Jenkins is creating new worlds for women both onscreen and off. Not only did she help dream up the look of the Amazon island and hire scores of actresses to serve as its resident warriors, she’s the first woman to direct a major superhero movie, and her success could pave the way for others.

 

As a child, she was inspired by Wonder Woman, describing Lynda Carter’s portrayal on TV as “the embodiment of everything that I wanted to be as a woman.”

“When I was playing Wonder Woman, I was able to do incredible things and save the world,” the 45-year-old filmmaker said.

 

That’s the feeling she hopes to evoke with viewers of “Wonder Woman,” in theaters Friday. Gal Gadot plays the title character, who discovers her superpowers and fights for justice alongside humans after following a charming spy (Chris Pine) to London during World War I.

‘An important movie’

The Israeli-born Gadot didn’t grow up with Wonder Woman, but she was always on the lookout for powerful characters to play.

“Usually the women are the damsel in distress or the heartbroken woman or the sidekick, but in real life it’s not the case. In real life, we bring life. We have babies. We have careers. We are so many other things,” said Gadot, a 32-year-old married mother of two.

“Wonder Woman symbolizes the magnificence of a woman and how amazing women are. And I think that it’s an important movie not only for women and girls, but it’s also great for boys and men, Gadot said. “You can’t empower women if you don’t educate the men and you don’t teach the boys, so as much as it’s important for girls to be exposed and see this movie, it’s important for boys to have a strong female figure that they can look up to.”

A first for Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman was created in 1941, yet this is her first solo feature film. Jenkins wanted to bring her to the big screen for more than a decade, but studios doubted the appeal of the lasso-wielding super heroine.

“I don’t understand why somebody who has had zero big blockbuster representation for 75 years still has 15 little girls a minute coming to my door dressed as her every Halloween, like how does that not equal dollar signs?” Jenkins said.

 

Connie Nielsen, who plays Diana’s mother, Amazon queen Hippolyta, also didn’t grow up with Wonder Woman, but had myriad other models of powerful women as a child in Denmark.

“The Denmark I grew up in was a Denmark in which women were, in fact, fully liberated and the whole world had been opened up to us,” she said. “In the magazines in the early ‘80s, it was men who were photographed doing the vacuum cleaning in the ads for vacuum cleaners and women were no longer posing on the Ford Mustang.”

So Nielsen felt entitled to question why, on an island populated by only women, her character would wear high heels. She and Gadot, both statuesque, wear wedges in the film.

“I actually had that conversation several times, and Patty was adamant,” Nielsen said. “She really felt like you stand a different way (in heels), and you do.”

Amazons were best part

The costumes, including the wedges, had to be considered during the physical training, which included horseback riding, archery and swords(wo)manship. For Robin Wright, who was raised on the “Wonder Woman” TV show, training and shooting with the Amazons was the best part.

“I think it was a little daunting for the men because it was very unusual. I think there were like 120 Amazons,” said Wright, who plays the warrior Antiope, Diana’s aunt and teacher. “That’s a different energy on the set, and great for us. We just felt like a team of women that had each other’s backs.”

She called Jenkins “the biggest cheerleader of them all.”

With the film’s arrival this week, Jenkins is thinking about what “Wonder Woman” might mean for a new generation of aspiring superheroes — and filmmakers.

“I am a filmmaker who wants to make successful films, of course. I want my film to be celebrated,” she said. “But there’s a whole other person in me who’s sitting and watching what’s happening right now who so hopes, not for me, that this movie defies expectation. Because I want to see the signal that that will send to the world.”

 

Defeat Was a Motivator for Past Spelling Bee Champs

Three past winners of the Scripps National Spelling Bee say losing was the secret to their success.

Early defeats spurred an inner competitive streak that they used to eventually seize the title, said champions from 1985, 1999 and 2010. The 2017 national spelling bee winner will be crowned on Thursday.

“Those were tough losses but they also made me dig deeper and work harder,” said Balu Natarajan, 45, who flamed out on the national stage in 1983 and 1984. He won the next year at age 13 and is now a sports medicine doctor in Chicago.

Nupur Lala, 32, still remembers the word that tripped her up in 1998: commination, which ironically means the act of threatening divine vengeance. She took the title in 1999 at 14.

“It was one of the really healthy moments in my life. Any hubris that I had was eliminated at that point,” said Lala, headed for a 2018 medical school degree with a focus in neurology after conducting research at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Lesson about challenges

For 2010 winner Anamika Veeramani, losing in front of a worldwide audience on live television in 2009 was a seminal lesson in handling life’s challenges.

“In the spelling bee, you really learn how to deal with failure. And dealing with those things gracefully is really important to living a good life,” said Veeramani, 21.

She graduated last week with a biology degree after just three years at Yale University and is applying to medical school. She envisions treating patients as well as launching a broadcast career covering medical stories.

Defeat has fanned the competitive fires within, all three past winners said in separate interviews.

“The competition is not with other spellers but with yourself,” Lala told Reuters. “I don’t think that besting other people is quite as motivating for me.”

Natarajan, who is chief medical officer at Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care, the nation’s largest privately owned hospice provider, agreed he has been his own fiercest rival.

“Some people love to win. Some people want to keep pushing to be their best. I am the latter,” he said.

Natarajan won the title for correctly spelling milieu, Lala for logorrhea and Veeramani for stromuhr, after their opponents had stumbled.

Others’ errors

And how do the world’s best spellers handle errors in emails, classroom lessons or even romantic love letters? Do they point out corrections or suffer in silence?

“I don’t hesitate,” Natarajan said. “It drives me crazy.”

But Lala and Veeramani hold their tongues.

“I don’t want to be obnoxious. Nobody wants to be that kid,” Veeramani said.

This week, 291 whizzes ages 6 to 15 will descend on a resort in the Washington area to compete in the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee.

They have made the cut from more than 11 million contenders who faced off in spelling bees in all 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories from Puerto Rico to Guam, and several nations from Jamaica to Japan.

The victor on Thursday takes home a $40,000 cash prize. But second place also has its rewards: a $30,000 prize.

Natarajan, a married father of boys 8 and 11, said his elder child just missed competing in the national bee this year, coming in second in a countywide spelling competition. If losing really is the key to winning, that may be great news.

US Starts Providing Weapons to Syrian Kurds

The United States said Tuesday that it had begun distributing arms to Syrian Kurdish militia members battling to help retake Raqqa from Islamic State, moving ahead with a war plan that has angered NATO ally Turkey.

Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said the Kurdish fighters received small arms and vehicles from the U.S. military. He said he thought the arms were distributed earlier Tuesday.

Another U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the distribution of the arms had started in the past 24 hours, based on authority given by President Donald Trump earlier this month.

There was no immediate reaction from Turkey, which has warned the United States that its decision to arm Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State in Syria could end up hurting Washington.

Turkey views the YPG as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has fought an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984 and is considered a terrorist group by the United States, Turkey and Europe.

U.S. partner

The United States regards the YPG as a valuable partner in the fight against Islamic State militants in northern Syria.

Washington says that arming the Kurdish forces is necessary to recapturing Raqqa, Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria and a hub for planning attacks against the West.

U.S. officials have told Reuters that the United States was also looking to boost intelligence cooperation with Turkey to support its fight against the PKK.

It was unclear whether the effort would be enough to soothe Turkey, however.

Ankara worries that advances by the YPG in northern Syria could inflame the PKK insurgency on Turkish soil. It has also voiced concern that weapons given to the YPG would end up in the hands of the PKK.

Poland Extradites Austrian Accused of Killing Civilians in Ukraine

Poland has extradited an Austrian accused of killing unarmed civilians and captured troops in Ukraine.

Austrian authorities will identify the suspect only as Benjamin F.

He was arrested last month on a European warrant while trying to cross into Ukraine from eastern Poland.

He is suspected of committing the killings last year while fighting against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine has been struggling to put down a three-year-old uprising that has killed more than 10,000 people.

Efforts to secure a lasting cease-fire have failed.