US-Brokers Nile Dam Deal Still Deadlocked

The latest round of talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in Washington has stretched into its fourth day as the parties struggle to reach a comprehensive agreement on the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD), a massive hydropower dam project on Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River.
 
The White House released a statement saying President Donald Trump spoke with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Friday, and he “expressed optimism that an agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was near and would benefit all parties involved.”
 
The tripartite meeting hosted by the U.S. Treasury is the parties’ last-ditch attempt to resolve the question of the operation of the dam, particularly the filling of its reservoir, an issue that has triggered concerns of a “water war” between Egypt and Ethiopia.
 
The meeting was scheduled for January 28-29 but has continued until January 31 without an agreement on the numbers for filling of the reservoir.
 
Ethiopia and Egypt have been negotiating for years, but several technical sticking points remain, including the duration and rate at which Ethiopia will draw water out of the Nile and the quantity of water that will be retained. Cairo fears Ethiopia’s plans to rapidly fill the reservoir could threaten Egypt’s source of fresh water.      
  “
The technical details of how, when, and where the water will flow are a life-and-death matter for each party,” said Bronwyn Bruton, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center. Bruton added that the situation is complicated by “international organizations and mediating third party countries, which all come with their own interests and agendas.”
 
With the Trump administration’s urging, last November the parties agreed to hold four technical governmental meetings at the level of water ministers with the World Bank and the United States attending as observers. They agreed to a deadline of January 15, 2020, for reaching an accord. When they failed to reach an agreement, the parties agreed to another round of talks this week.
 
The main issue has been a lack of consensus, said Mirette Mabrouk, director of the Egypt Program at the Middle East Institute. “Ethiopia’s priority has been to complete the dam and Egypt’s priority has been to ensure that its near sole source of water is not decimated,” Mabrouk said.
 
A flexible treaty
 
In previous statements, the ministers have recognized that flexibility in trans-boundary water management is essential considering the constantly changing levels of the Nile.
 
They have agreed that guidelines for the filling and operation of the GERD “may be adjusted by the three countries, in accordance with the hydrological conditions in the given year.”
 
However, competing hydrological and political interests have hindered negotiations.
 
The director of the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina, Aaron Salzberg said that parties are striving for an agreement that is “easily codified in terms of numbers” –how fast you can fill, how much water is released.”   At the same time, he says, the agreement must establish a joint decision-making process that allows flexibility in responding to changing conditions, but not one that may be “too open to interpretation and set the stage for conflict down the line.”
 
This is not something that should be forced, Salzberg added.   “The parties themselves must drive the process. This is an agreement that will need to last multiple lifetimes,” he said.
 
 

Sileshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s Minister for Water and Energy, speaks to the media after the end of the fourth and final round of talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on Ethiopia’s construction of a controversial dam on the Nile River.

Mediation?
 
On their first Washington meeting on November 6, the foreign ministers agreed that if a deal is not reached by January 15, 2020, Article 10 of the 2015 Declaration of Principles will be invoked.
 
Article 10 of the declaration, signed in Khartoum, addresses the peaceful settlement of disputes. It states that “if the parties involved do not succeed in solving the dispute through talks or negotiations, they can ask for mediation or refer the matter to their heads of states or prime ministers.”
 
Egypt has long-sought external mediation, while Ethiopia wants to keep the negotiations on a tripartite level. But earlier this month Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed said he has asked South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene. Ramaphosa has accepted the task.
 
Under the 1959 Nile Waters Agreement between Egypt and Sudan, signed before Egypt began constructing the Aswan High Dam, Egypt can take up to 55.5 billion cubic meters of water from the Nile each year, and Sudan can take up to 18.5 billion. Ethiopia was not part of that agreement.   
 
US involvement
 
U.S. involvement in the dam issue came about after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi last year requested that President Trump help mediate the conflict. A senior Trump administration official confirmed that the president had offered “the good offices of Mnuchin” to lead the effort and the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has played the role of host and observer in negotiations since last November.
 
Trump appears to have sustained his interest on the negotiations and has even gone so far as inviting the ministers to impromptu meetings at the Oval Office on November 6 and January 14.

Just had a meeting with top representatives from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to help solve their long running dispute on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, one of the largest in the world, currently being built. The meeting went well and discussions will continue during the day! pic.twitter.com/MsWuEBgZxK

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2019

 
After the last meeting, the White House released a statement that Trump emphasized to the foreign and water resources ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan that the United States “wants to see all of these countries thrive and expressed hope that each country will take this opportunity to work together so that future generations may succeed and benefit from critical water resources.”
 
The U.S. Treasury has not released a statement on the latest round of negotiations and it is unclear what the next steps would be for the parties.

 

 

2 Held After Individuals Breach Security Checkpoints at Trump’s Florida Resort

Two people are being held in custody after a black vehicle breached two security checkpoints at U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, according to media reports on Friday hours ahead of the
president’s planned trip there.

The vehicle was heading to the property’s main entrance, NBC News said, citing the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s office.

Florida Highway Patrol officers were pursuing the vehicle before it went past the two checkpoints, according to NBC
affiliate WTVJ TV in Miramar, Florida. Trump was scheduled to leave Washington for his resort later
on Friday afternoon.

 

The Delegate Game: Math, Timing and how to Win a Nomination

Winning a party’s presidential nomination is like the children’s board game Chutes and Ladders spiced up with momentum, math and money.

In the delegate game, it costs millions to win a nomination and the stakes are huge, but the strategy is the same: Get to the finish line aided by ladders that give you a shortcut to victory while avoiding slipping down slides that put victory farther out of reach.

The race for the Democratic nomination starts out like a sporting event and finishes more like an accountant’s ledger.

Here are the game’s basic instructions:

THE DELEGATES

The only way to win the nomination is to gather a majority of delegates to the party’s national convention this summer. For the Democrats, this year’s only true contested primary, there will be 3,979 pledged delegates voting on the first ballot. There are also 770 superdelegates, though new rules will probably keep them from voting on the first ballot. More on superdelegates later.

The Democratic National Committee says the magic number to win the nomination on the first ballot is 1991 delegates.

These delegates will be pledged to the candidates who win them in primaries or caucuses. There is no rule that requires these delegates to vote for their candidate. However, they sign a pledge to reflect the will of the voters, and the campaigns can approve or reject them, so their loyalty has never been an issue, at least in the past.

About two-thirds of the pledged delegates will be awarded based on election results in individual congressional districts. The rest will be awarded based on statewide results. Every state awards delegates proportionally. Democrats banned winner-take-all primaries years ago.

But there’s a complication.

THE THRESHOLD

This is the biggest pitfall, especially for marginal candidates. At the same time, it boosts top-tier hopefuls.

Winning delegates isn’t simple math. For Democrats, delegates get awarded proportionally to the share of the vote. But the catch is the minimum threshold.

A candidate needs to receive at least 15% of the vote just to get a delegate, and there’s no rounding up. A candidate with 14.99% gets zero delegates.

The threshold applies on both the district and state levels.

The minimum threshold eliminates candidates who can’t win in November, according to the Brookings Institution’s Elaine Kamarck, a longtime member of the Democratic National Committee who wrote the book “Primary Politics.”

The threshold gives an extra boost to candidates who make the cut. Once the initial votes are tallied, all the votes for candidates who didn’t make the cut are removed, and the percentages are recalculated.

For example, if Candidate A wins 20 votes out of 100 cast, Candidate A gets 20% of the vote. However, if 30 votes went to candidates who didn’t meet the threshold, those 30 votes are removed, and now Candidate A has 29% of the remaining votes.

That’s enough math for now. Let’s turn to the calendar.

TIMING

The race starts on the first Monday in February with the Iowa caucuses and then moves to the New Hampshire primary, the Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina primary. These are February’s early four.

February isn’t really about delegates. Those four states award less than 4% of the delegates to the convention but are crucial because this is when momentum matters more than math.

Those first four contests are “more of a campaign for publicity, looking like a winner,” said University of Arizona political scientist Barbara Norrander. “The dynamic changes with Super Tuesday.”

March 3 — Super Tuesday — is the monster date on the primary calendar with 34% of pledged delegates at stake in 14 states, American Samoa and a group of expats called Democrats Abroad. Nearly half of Super Tuesday delegates come from south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Michael Bloomberg is skipping the February contests, spending big and jumping right to Super Tuesday’s delegate bonanza. Rudy Giuliani tried a similar tactic, with less money, in the 2008 Republican primary. He failed, as have others.

“After Super Tuesday, the only thing that matters is delegates,” said Josh Darr, a Louisiana State University political scientist.

Then the votes come in a big crunch. Voters award an additional 1,100 delegates on March 10 and March 17. By the end of St. Patrick’s Day, more than 61% of the delegates will have been won.

By that time, a clear front-runner will have probably emerged, and it will be difficult for anyone else to catch up. Remember, Democrats award delegates proportionally, so a front-runner with a lead of 100 or 200 delegates would have to completely flop in the late primaries for anyone else to catch.

This is how Barack Obama held off Hillary Clinton in 2008. Clinton won some big states late in the primary calendar, but she gained only a handful of delegates because she had to split them with Obama.

At this stage of the process, the big question will be whether the front-runner is winning a majority of the delegates — enough to clinch the nomination and avoid a contested convention.

St. Patrick’s Day also is the first date in which President Donald Trump can accumulate enough delegates to clinch the Republican nomination.

SUPERDELEGATES

One of the biggest changes this year is that superdelegates — senators, members of Congress, governors, party officials — are staying on the sidelines, at least at first. Bernie Sanders pushed through this change after losing the nomination to Clinton in 2016. Sanders and other advocates saw superdelegates as undemocratic, even though they never changed the outcome of the primaries.

“We haven’t really seen a nomination contest where the Democratic Party voters prefer one candidate, and the superdelegates tip it to someone else,” University of Denver political scientist Seth Masket said.

Under the new rules, superdelegates won’t be able to vote on the first ballot unless the leader has such a big lead in the delegate count that their votes cannot change the outcome.

However, if no candidate wins a majority of the delegates on the first ballot — something that hasn’t happened since the 1950s — the superdelegates would play a huge role in deciding the nominee.

З’явилось відео підпалу автівки журналістки Радіо Свобода у Львові – «Схеми»

На якому невідомий чоловік підкладає до лобового скла машини журналістки пакети, підпалює їх і тікає

Як пропагандистка “страни” Крюкова за свою брехню відповідала

Як пропагандистка “страни” Крюкова за свою брехню відповідала/

Про те, як я з проросійською пропагандисткою Крюковою розмовляв та як вона не змогла відповісти на питання щодо своєї ж брехні.

Блог про українську політику та актуальні події в нашій країні
 

 
 
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або на email: pravdaua@email.cz
 
 
Найкращі пропозиції товарів і послуг в Мережі Купуй!
 

Зачем престарелому чекисту должность верховного правителя

Зачем престарелому чекисту должность верховного правителя
 

 
 
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Эрдоган недоволен Россией. Москва кинула турок

Эрдоган недоволен Россией. Москва кинула турок.

Президент Турции Реджеп Эрдоган столкнулся с суровой действительностью партнерства с Креплем. Турецкий лидер обвинил Москву в невыполнении соглашений
 

 
 
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НАБУ вручило підозри «аграрним баронам» з розслідування «Схем» за розкрадання держземлі

Детективи Національного антикорупційного бюро України повідомили п’ятьом посадовцям Національної академії аграрних наук України про підозру в причетності до незаконного відчуження 15 гектарів особливо цінних земель НААН. Про земельні махінації, в результаті яких державна земля Національної академії аграрних наук переходила у приватну власність керівництва академії та членів їхніх родин, раніше йшлося в розслідуванні програми «Схеми: корупція в деталях» (спільний проєкт Радіо Свобода та телеканалу «UA:Перший») «Аграрні барони».

«За даними слідства, впродовж 2013-2014 років посадовці НААН ініціювали ухвалення низки рішень, внаслідок яких понад 15 га державних земель незаконно перейшли у приватну власність. Йдеться про 138 ділянок у передмісті Києва (село Гатне), які мали статус особливо цінної землі й повинні були використовуватися виключно з дослідницькою метою», – йдеться в повідомленні НАБУ.

У повідомленні бюро вказані лише посади. За даними «Схем», йдеться про таких осіб:

президент НААН (на час вчинення злочину – віце-президент) – Ярослав Гадзало;
директор Інституту садівництва НААН (на час вчинення злочину – перший віце-президент НААН) – Ігор Гриник;
перший проректор Національного університету біоресурсів і природокористування України (на час вчинення злочину – віце-президент НААН) – Ігор Ібатуллін;
віце-президент, головний вчений секретар НААН (на час вчинення злочину — академік-секретар відділення НААН) – Анатолій Заришняк;
директор Національного наукового центру «Інститут виноградарства і виноробства» ім. В.Є. Таїрова НААН – В’ячеслав Власов.

«Роль п’яти осіб, яким повідомлено про підозру, у корупційній схемі полягала у тому, що вони як члени президії НААН проголосували за виділення земельних ділянок з числа особливо цінних земель, а згодом оформили окремі ділянки на себе, близьких родичів та пов’язаних осіб. Зазначені факти є одним із епізодів кримінального провадження щодо розкрадання земель НААН», – повідомляють у НАБУ.

Як встановили раніше журналісти «Схем», родичі президента академії Ярослава Гадзала є власниками кількох земельних ділянок під Києвом, котрі раніше були у користуванні підпорядкованих аграрній академії установ – зокрема, на ділянці, якої стосується розслідування НАБУ.

Крім цього журналісти виявили не відображене в декларації місце проживання Гадзала – це квартира у будинку у Печерському районі Києва. Журналісти неодноразово фіксували, як службова автівка привозить ввечері і відвозить зранку президента академії.

У очільника Інституту садівництва, що входить у структуру аграрної академії наук, Ігоря Гриника та його родичів, «Схеми» теж виявили низку земельних ділянок. Вони також придбали дві ділянки на майже півтора гектара землі, які були виділені для ведення особистого селянського господарства. У 2017 році тогочасні власники цих ділянок – син Ігоря Гриника та дружина брата посадовця – змінюють цільове призначення – на будівництво та обслуговування багатоквартирних будинків. Зараз право на забудову ділянки вже надане одній з будівельних компаній, яка працює в регіоні.

«Схеми» встановили факти отримання колись підпорядкованих установам НААН земель і щодо родичів віцепрезидента та головного вченого секретаря академії аграрних наук Анатолія Заришняка. 

У березні 2019 року НАБУ вже повідомило підозру у цій справі ще семи особам, серед яких, за даними «Схем», була також і фігурантка розслідування «Аграрні барони», віце-президентка Національної академії аграрних наук України Ануш Балян.

Таким чином загальна кількість осіб, притягнутих до відповідальності за розкрадання особливо цінних земель НААН сягнула 14. У НАБУ повідомили, що стосовно дев’яти з них розслідування закінчено, справа скерована до ВАКС.

Справу щодо виведення з державної власності близько 100 гектарів землі академії на Київщин в НАБУ розслідують з 2017 року. Йдеться про масиви землі біля Чабанів та Гатного, зокрема, там, де отримали ділянки родичі керівництва академії.

Також «Схеми» розповідали, що діяльність академії аграрних наук вивчають не тільки правоохоронці, але й контролюючі органи. Прихована оренда, втрати мільйонів гривень – те, що помітили аудитори під час проведення ревізії 2016 року. Проблеми виявила перевірка Державної аудиторської служби і у 2018 році.

Під час підготовки розслідування про виділення в приватні руки державних земель, якими розпоряджається НААН, на знімальну групу «Схем» напали.

Загалом Національна академія аграрних наук України, у складі якої близько двох сотень дослідних станцій, наукових центрів, інститутів та господарств, розпоряджається майже півмільйоном гектарів землі (35 тисяч з яких наразі – на тимчасово непідконтрольній українській владі території).

Кінофестиваль під егідою УПЦ (МП) у Дніпрі офіційно скасували

Активісти повідомили, що подали заяви до СБУ і поліції зі скаргами на фестиваль, який вони вважають проросійським

Family, Friends Mourn Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Activist 

Surrounded by the millions of monarch butterflies that Mexican environmental activist Homero Gomez Gonzalez fought to protect until his mysterious death, relatives and friends paid tribute to him Thursday.

Gomez Gonzalez’s sudden disappearance two weeks ago had sparked an outcry in Mexico, an increasingly violent country where activists are routinely threatened, harmed or killed as a result of their work.

Gomez Gonzalez, who worked passionately to protect a Mexican forest where monarch butterflies spend the winter, suffered head trauma as well as drowning, authorities announced Thursday night, potentially adding weight to the fears that he was murdered.

Rebeca Valencia Gonzalez holds a picture of her husband, environmental activist Homero Gomez Gonzalez, in their home in Ocampo, Michoacan state, Mexico, Jan. 30, 2020.

Even before the announcement, relatives of Gomez Gonzalez speculated his death wasn’t accidental.

“Something strange is happening, because they’re finishing off all the activists, the people who are doing something for society,” the dead man’s brother, Amado Gomez, said Thursday at the funeral.

Gomez Gonzalez’s body was discovered Wednesday in a holding pond near the mountain forest reserve that he had long protected. Michoacan state prosecutors said that an initial review indicated a drowning and found no signs of trauma, but their latest statement said more detailed autopsy results produced evidence of a head injury.

Authorities gave no other information on the injury and did not say how it might have been inflicted. They said an investigation continued.

Grinding poverty and gang violence fuel twin threats to the butterfly reserve — illegal logging and encroaching plantations of avocados. The latter is the only legal crop that provides a decent income in this region.

Gomez Gonzalez had spent a decade working as an activist, though he became best known for posting mesmerizing videos of the black and orange insects on social media, urging Mexicans to treasure the El Rosario reserve, a world heritage site.

Mourners pray around the coffin of environmental activist Homero Gomez Gonzalez at his wake in Ocampo, Michoacan state, Mexico, Jan. 30, 2020. The cause of the anti-logging activist’s death is under investigation.

His brother said Gomez Gonzalez, an engineer, was so compelled to do something after the number of butterflies dropped dramatically that he eventually gave up his job to work on projects aimed at protecting them.

“This was his passion,” his brother said. “He loved promoting the butterflies, filming them, researching them.”

He also worked to persuade about 260 fellow communal land owners that they should replant trees on land cleared for corn plots. By local accounts, he managed to reforest about 150 hectares (370 acres) of previously cleared land.

Like other places in the world, increasingly scarce water also plays a role in the conflict. Gomez Gonzalez and other communal land owners had asked the nearby town of Angangueo for payments in return for water they receive from clear mountain streams that survive only because the forests are protected.

“A lot of the communal landowners fear that with his death, the forests are finished,” Amado Gomez said.

“I would like to ask the authorities to do their job and do more to protect activists like my brother, because lately in Mexico a lot of activists have died,” he said. “With his death, not only my family lost a loved one; but the whole world, and the monarch butterfly and the forests lost, too.”

Workers prepare a grave in the cemetery where environmental activist Homero Gomez Gonzalez was to be buried in Ocampo, Michoacan state, Mexico, Jan. 30, 2020.

London-based Global Witness counted 15 killings of environmental activists in Mexico in 2017 and 14 in 2018. In an October 2019 report, Amnesty International said that 12 had been killed in the first nine months of that year.

Millions of monarchs come to the forests of Michoacan and other nearby areas after making the 3,400-mile (5,500-kilometer) migration from the United States and Canada. 
They need healthy tree cover to protect them from rain and cold weather.

Reuters contributed to this report.
 

Witness Vote Looms Over Trump Impeachment Trial

The U.S. senators weighing the removal of President Donald Trump from office completed a final day of questioning Thursday. The Senate impeachment trial now enters an uncertain phase as Republicans appear to have enough votes to block Democrats’ request to hear testimony from key administration officials. As VOA’s congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson reports, the final vote in the impeachment trial could quickly follow.
 

Trump Impeachment Trial Heads Toward Critical Vote

Friday will be a crucial day in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

The trial in the Republican-majority U.S. Senate could end Friday with Trump’s expected acquittal on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Or four Republicans could join 47 Democrats and independents in voting to allow witnesses to testify, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton, extending the trial for at least another week and maybe longer.

WATCH: Witness Vote Looms Over Trump Impeachment Trial

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But if the vote to hear witnesses ends in a 50-50 tie, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, the presiding judge, could cast a deciding vote. But that would be unprecedented in an impeachment trial, so no one is sure what will happen.

The lead House impeachment manager, Democrat Adam Schiff, proposed hearing witnesses behind closed doors for no more than a week, saying that would let senators return to regular business.

Republicans have indicated they do not want any witnesses subpoenaed, believing that would drag out the trial and that more evidence could hurt their case.

Senators Susan Collins of Maine talks to reporters before attending the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Jan. 28, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Will Senate call witnesses?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell conceded earlier this week that he may not have the votes to prevent witnesses from being called. Several moderate Republicans have said they may be interested in hearing what Bolton has to say.

One of them, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, said Thursday evening she would vote to allow witnesses. But Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, in a statement released shortly after Collins’ announcement, that there was “no need for more evidence.” 

In a yet-to-be-published book, Bolton said Trump told him he was withholding $391 million in military aid to Ukraine until President Volodymyr Zelenskiy publicly announced an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential political rival of Trump’s in the 2020 presidential election.

Democrats said reaching out to a foreign power to interfere in an election is an impeachable offense.

White House deputy counsel Patrick Philbin answers a question during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 30 2020.

Trump’s defense

Trump’s lawyers say the president had the right to hold up the aid over concern for corruption in Ukraine and a demand that Europe do more to help Ukraine fight Russian-backed separatists.

Trump’s defense team and the impeachment managers Thursday spent their second day answering questions from the senators, which were read by Roberts.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., talks to reporters before attending the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Jan. 28, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Roberts refused to ask a question handed in by Kentucky Republican Rand Paul because it reportedly would have identified the whistleblower, whose concern about Trump’s July phone call in which he asked Zelenskiy for a favor led to the president’s impeachment. Paul denied the question would have outed the whistleblower.

Trump’s attorneys continued to argue that nothing the president did concerning Ukraine is impeachable.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone said Democrats are trying to get rid of a president they don’t like, saying it is up to voters to decide whom they want.

When Patrick Philbin, a Trump attorney, said the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was only “a source of information” and not carrying out foreign policy in Ukraine, Schiff called that statement “breathtaking.”

Schiff said the attorneys blew up their whole case by seeming to admit that Giuliani was in Ukraine on a personal political errand for Trump.

Witnesses during the impeachment hearing testified that Giuliani was in Ukraine to pressure officials to investigate Biden for corruption even when no evidence against the former vice president ever surfaced.

AP Exclusive: Law Firm Dumps Maduro Official Amid Outcry

A U.S. law firm that was hired for $12.5 million by a top official in Nicolas Maduro’s government has decided to dump the controversial Venezuelan client amid a major outcry by critics who accused it of carrying water for a socialist “dictator,” The Associated Press has learned.

The AP reported Monday that Foley & Lardner had agreed to represent Maduro’s Inspector General Reinaldo Munoz. Filings with the Justice Department showed Foley & Lardner, which has offices in Washington, in turn paid $2 million to hire influential lobbyist Robert Stryk to help its client ease U.S. sanctions on Maduro’s government and engage the Trump administration in direct talks.

Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott immediately decried the move, saying in a letter to the firm that he would urge his Senate colleagues to follow his lead and boycott the firm until it cut ties with the “dangerous dictator.”

Three people familiar with the matter said Thursday that Foley was withdrawing from the case. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

Foley’s communications director, Dan Farrell, declined to comment.

“I hope the last few days will serve as a lesson to any other lobbying firms, consultants or organizations that if you support Maduro and his gang of thugs I won’t stay quiet,” Scott said in an emailed statement to AP.

A senior Venezuelan government official said the reversal wouldn’t discourage the Maduro government from seeking honest dialogue with the Trump administration. The official spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The outreach by Maduro’s government came as criticism has also been directed at U.S. support for opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom the U.S. and about 60 other nations recognize as Venezuela’s rightful president.

A year into the U.S.-backed campaign to oust Maduro, the embattled leader has successfully beaten back a coup attempt, mass protests and punishing U.S. sanctions that have cut off his government’s access to Western banks.

Randy Brinson, a conservative activist from Alabama who has teamed up recently with an evangelical Venezuelan pastor to deliver humanitarian aid to the country, said regular Venezuelans would suffer the consequences of possible dialogue with Maduro being stymied.

“It is unfortunate that the outreach has become so politicized,” said Brinson.

Brinson said he met with Munoz on two occasions recently and considers him an “invaluable” ally in the humanitarian relief effort brokered between the Maduro government and pastor Javier Bertucci, a former presidential candidate.

Stryk, a winemaker and former Republican aide who unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Yountville, California, is one of the top lobbyists in Trump’s Washington.

A former unpaid Trump campaign adviser on the West Coast, his firm, Sonoran Policy Group, had no reported lobbying from 2013 to 2016 but has billed more than $10.5 million to foreign clients since the start of 2017.

Like Venezuela, many of the clients have bruised reputations in Washington or are under U.S. sanctions, such as the governments of Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior, which signed a $5.4 million contract in May 2017.

Munoz’s contract with Foley, for a flat fee of $12.5 million, extended until May 10. Stryk’s share of the deal, as a consultant, was $2 million.

Foley said in its filing that it received slightly more than $3 million in initial payments on behalf of Munoz from what appear to be two Hong Kong-registered companies. Its work was also to include discussions with officials at the U.S. Treasury Department and other U.S. agencies regarding sanctions against the Maduro government.

 

 

Irish Border Residents Watch for Brexit Fallout

The border was drawn in 1921, splitting communities and sometimes property, as the British government sought to create a home for the majority Protestant population of Northern Ireland at a time when the largely Catholic Republic of Ireland won its independence.

Today, that 310-mile (500-kilometer) frontier is largely invisible. The only way motorists know they have crossed into Northern Ireland is from the speed limit signs, which use miles per hour measurements, rather than the metric system used in the south. Keen observers might notice a slight change in the pavement as well.

As Brexit takes effect Friday, residents on both sides of the border are concerned about protecting the relative peace and prosperity after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. That accord helped end three decades of sectarian violence between paramilitary groups that wanted to reunify Ireland and those who insisted the six counties of Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK.

FILE – Lisa Partridge, 28, who grew up with the Protestant Loyal Orange Institution, is reflected in a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II at the Orange Hall, in Portadown, Northern Ireland, Dec. 19, 2019.

Lisa Partridge, a 28-year-old tour operator raised in a British military family, remembers how it was “completely normal to check under the family car for a bomb every morning before you went to school.”

“Nobody would want to go back to that life,” she said.

Central to the deal was the fact that both the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland were EU members, which allowed authorities to tear down hated border posts that had slowed the passage of people and goods as police and soldiers tried to halt the flow of arms and militants. With the end of onerous border controls, trade flowed freely between north and south spurring economic development in both communities.

The British and Irish governments have promised to preserve those gains, but people on both sides of the border are concerned that Brexit may re-ignite tensions.

“Who’s to know what way it’s going to go?” said Gary Ferguson, 27, as he milked the cows on his father’s farm. “It’ll make us or break us.”

Signs of the conflict, known here as “The Troubles,” are still evident, even if rust and moss have softened their hard edges.

In the village of Belcoo in Northern Ireland, an old railway bridge blown up by the British army sits partially submerged in the river that separates Northern Ireland from the town of Blacklion in the Irish Republic. An old customs post splits the small village of Pettigo between north and south. In Belfast, “peace walls” still seek to prevent violence by separating Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods.

FILE – An old railway bridge blown up by the British Army in the 1970s is partially submerged in the Belcoo River that separates Northern Ireland from the town of Blacklion, Republic of Ireland, Dec. 23, 2019.

To ensure there would be no hard border between north and south, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed to different rules for trade between Northern Ireland and the EU than those that apply to the rest of the UK.

Unionists see this as weakening the ties between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K., raising concerns that the reunification of Ireland is now more likely.

In Portadown, the Protestant Orange Order still holds weekly protests to assert its British identity.

“This is Britain. (It) says so on the map,” said David Reid, 33, walking in Belfast with his 1-year-old son in the shadow of a peace wall that separates his Protestant community from a Catholic one. “Me personally, it just doesn’t feel like it. It feels like you’re down in Ireland.”

On the other side of the border in Castlefinn, in Ireland’s County Donegal, Tom Murray runs three pharmacies and says his primary goal is to protect the economic gains of the last two decades.

FILE – Pharmacist Tom Murray, 46, stocks shelves at his pharmacy in Castlefinn, Ireland, just over the border from Northern Ireland, Dec. 23, 2019.

“I think Ireland should always be a united country and should be free of the shackles of Britain,” said Murray, 46. “But at the same time, we have to accept that there’s 1 million people living a mile away who identify as British. I think we have to protect their identity, their culture, their Britishness every bit as much as we have to protect my Irishness. Otherwise it just won’t work.”

Gerry Storey, 83, of the Holy Family Boxing Club in Belfast has been working to bridge the divide by bringing Protestant and Catholic youths together in the boxing ring.

“When you come in here, you don’t talk politics. You don’t swear. And there’s no football jerseys,” Storey said. “In here everybody is treated fairly and squarely. And it doesn’t care who or what you are.”

Ferguson, a fifth-generation Protestant dairy farmer in Stewartstown, Northern Ireland, agrees: “Irish, British, it doesn’t matter.”

“As long as the farming stays OK, that’s all,” he said. “And no wars start.”
 

Pompeo Interview Dispute with NPR Sends Conflicting Message on Press Freedom

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s contentious interview with an American news broadcaster, and apparent retaliation afterwards, once again raises concerns that attacks on the media by President Donald Trump’s administration undermine the critical role of a free press in a democracy.  Administration critics say these attacks also reinforce anti-press policies by autocratic governments abroad.  VOA’s Brian Padden reports on the controversial dispute and its aftermath.

Торік майже півтори сотні неповнолітніх в Україні стали жертвами зґвалтування – ОГП

У 2019 році правоохоронці зареєстрували 148 зґвалтувань, в яких потерпілими стали неповнолітні, повідомила пресслужба Офісу генпрокурора.

«Протягом 2019 року зареєстровано понад 550 кримінальних правопорушень проти статевої свободи та недоторканності дітей. Кількість потерпілих неповнолітніх лише від зґвалтувань сягнула 148 осіб, що більш ніж вдвічі у порівнянні з 2018 роком», – йдеться в повідомленні.

За даними ОГП, цьогоріч зареєстрували 24 злочини сексуального характеру.

«З початку року в складі Офісу генерального прокурора було створено відділ протидії насильству щодо дітей, що ввійшов в управління захисту прав дітей та протидії насильству», – додали у відомстві.

Наприкінці минулого року уповноважений президента з прав дитини Микола Кулеба, посилаючись на дані досліджень, повідомляв, що кожна п’ята дитина в Україні потерпає від сексуального насильства.

11 січня 2019 року набули чинності зміни до законодавства щодо домашнього та сексуального насильства. Відповідно до нововведень, домашнє насильство карається громадськими роботами на строк від 150 до 240 годин, або арештом на строк до шести місяців, або обмеженням волі на строк до п’яти років, або позбавленням волі на строк до двох років. Окрім того, з’являється можливість обмежити перебування кривдників і постраждалих на одній території.

За перше півріччя 2019 року (із січня по червень) понад 23 тисячі людей звернулися на національні «гарячі» лінії «Ла Страда – Україна» щодо домашнього насильства.

Після 4 лютого аеропорт «Бориспіль» місяць не прийматиме рейси з Китаю

Після здійснення ще трьох рейсів із Китаю міжнародний аеропорт «Бориспіль» призупинить на місяць пряме авіасполучення з цією країною, повідомив заступник гендиректора з інженерно-технічного забезпечення аеропорту Олег Струк.

«Ми отримали повідомлення від авіакомпаній про призупинку прямих рейсів з Китаєм. Ми ще очікуємо три рейси авіакомпаній МАУ і SkyUp 31 січня, 2 та 4 лютого. Після цього прямих рейсів до Китаю протягом місяця, що базуються у «Борисполі» не буде», – заявив Струк.

За його словами, наразі в аеропорту застосовують певні процедури для запобігання поширенню нового коронавірусу: першими на борт літаків з Китаю піднімається працівник карантинної служби і після огляду дає дозвіл для роботи інших служб летовища.

«Станом на сьогодні на карантин не було поставлено жодного літака, але ми готові для цього, є карантинні стоянки, куди за потреби будуть відбуксировувати літаки», – повідомив представник аеропорту.

Раніше у Міністерстві охорони здоров’я заявляли, що Україна припинить пряме авіасполучення з Китаєм із 3 лютого.

Напередодні МОЗ повідомило, що збирається телефонувати громадянам, які повернулися з Китаю. Із 30 січня також обіцяли «посилену роботу з пасажирами», які прилетіли з Китаю. На сьогодні жодного офіційно підтвердженого випадку інфікування коронавірусом в Україні не зафіксовано.

Останніми днями авіаперевізники у світі скорочують або скасовують рейси до Китаю через поширення нового коронавірусу. Кількість померлих в цій країні від інфекції сягнула 170-ти.

Виявлений нещодавно вірус належить до великої групи коронавірусів. У деяких випадках перебіг хвороби – легкий, в деяких – із симптомами застуди і грипу, зокрема з високою температурою і кашлем, у більш складних випадках спостерігається задишка. Це може перерости в пневмонію, яка може бути смертельною.

 

З 2014 року в Україну не пустили понад 5 тисяч росіян – СБУ

«675 – стільком громадянам Російської Федерації було заборонено в’їзд в Україну в 2019 році», – уточнили у відомстві