EU, UK Fail to Resolve Border Row as Brexit Deadline Looms

Britain and its European Union partners failed on Thursday to secure a breakthrough in Brexit talks, largely because of seemingly intractable divisions over the best way to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland and how to deal with future trade.

With Britain’s departure from the EU on March 29, 2019, looming, there are growing concerns that a deal on the post-Brexit relationship may not be cobbled together in time to ensure a smooth and orderly British exit.

All leaders, including British Prime Minister Theresa May, are desperate to solve the biggest Brexit riddle — how to keep goods moving freely between Northern Ireland in the U.K. and EU member state Ireland.

Despite reports of a friendly spirit at a summit in Salzburg, Austria, the fundamental differences remained. EU Council President Donald Tusk said parts of May’s Brexit plan — dubbed Chequers after a key Brexit meeting at the premier’s country residence of the same name — simply “will not work.”

But just minutes after he spoke, May insisted that her Brexit plan was the “only serious and credible” proposal on the table.

Like many leaders, including May, Tusk said “we need to compromise on both sides.” He wants to see a major breakthrough by the time the leaders meet again in Brussels on Oct. 18-19.Tusk said a special Brexit summit could be held in mid-November if things progress as hoped — but only as a “punch line” if most of the deal had already been agreed.

If Britain is to leave with a deal in six months, May and the Europeans must find solutions in coming weeks so parliaments have enough time to ratify the agreement.

They’ve spent two days in Salzburg trying to do just that, but with things at a standstill, each side tried to ramp up pressure on the other. Each is urging the other to compromise, while EU leaders issue constant warnings to Britain about the Brexit clock ticking.

“Time is running short,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told reporters. “We want to avoid a `No Deal Brexit,’ but we are preparing for that. We are hiring extra staff and officials, bringing in IT systems. We are ready for that eventuality, should it occur.”

Tusk said that key parts of the British proposals to leave would undermine the union of the 27 remaining members.

May wants to keep the U.K. inside the bloc’s single market for goods, but not services. The EU has insisted that the single market cannot be cherry-picked like that.

“Europe isn’t an a la carte menu,” French President Emmanuel Macron said.

The French said May’s proposals “are not acceptable as they stand, particularly in the economic realm” because they “don’t respect the integrity of the single market.”

Tusk agreed May’s Chequers proposals “will not work, not least because it risks undermining the single market” of seamless movement of goods, services, capital and persons.

The biggest single obstacle to a deal is the need to maintain an open border between the U.K.’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. For Ireland, it’s important not to undermine the hard-won peace after decades of sectarian tensions in neighboring Northern Ireland.

May said Britain and the EU agreed on the need for a legally binding backstop to guarantee there would be no hard Irish border. But Britain rejects the EU’s proposal, which would keep Northern Ireland inside the bloc’s customs union while the rest of the U.K. leaves.

May said the backstop “cannot divide the United Kingdom into two customs territories.” She said Britain “will be bringing forward our own proposals shortly” about how to break the impasse.

Dealing with the EU is only part of May’s problem. Her Chequers plan also faces opposition from pro-Brexit members of her own Conservative Party, who say it would keep Britain tethered to the bloc, unable to strike new trade deals around the world.

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis, who quit the government in July, said Thursday that the Chequers plan was “devoid of democracy” and “worse than no deal.”

Macron, meanwhile, expressed contempt for pro-Brexit British politicians who told the public there would be “simple solutions” to leaving.

He said Brexit “demonstrated that those who explain that one can get by easily without Europe — that it will all go well, that it is easy and brings in a lot of money — are liars.”

Any Brexit deal will include a withdrawal agreement and transition period to smooth Britain’s exit from the bloc.

Currently that’s expected to last until the end of 2020 — but without a deal Britain would crash out of the EU on Brexit day, a development that in theory could see flights parked and trade between the two sides grind to a halt.

It all suggests a fractious summit in Brussels next month.

“We are today at the moment of truth,” Macron warned.

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Making, Drinking Arak a Source of National Pride in Lebanon

Every part of Lebanon’s national drink, arak, is infused with tradition — from distilling the aniseed-tinged liquor to the ritual of mixing it at the table, when the transparent liquid suddenly turns milky white as water is added.

Arak is a staple of big Sunday meals. With a sweet taste and high alcohol content, around 40 percent, it’s best consumed with food — lots of it. That makes it perfect for Lebanon’s traditional meze, spreads of never-ending small dishes that family and friends linger over for hours.

Aficionados say arak is vital to digesting the homemade raw meat dishes that are central to a meze. The real impact comes at the end of the meal, when you stand up after all that eating and the alcohol from glass after glass really hits.

But the tradition is facing competition in Lebanon as young generations opt for liquors like vodka or whiskey that are easier to mix and drink — without a meal.

Arak is comparable to Greece’s ouzo or Turkey’s raki, which are also grape-based drinks with the licorice-like flavor of anise. Lebanese say arak is smoother. Many families make it at home, each boasting their particular flavor and kick. Restaurants often serve both commercially produced versions and homemade varieties, known as “Arak Baladeh.” Regulars usually opt for the homemade.

With so much home production, it is hard to tell how much arak is made. Lebanon’s Blom Bank estimated in 2016 that around 2 billion bottles a year are produced in the country, with nearly a quarter of it exported, mostly for Lebanese expats yearning for their local drink.  

At a recent festival in Taanayel, a town east of Beirut, several commercial companies and smaller boutique houses showcased their araks in a celebration aimed at promoting the drink to the young.

Christiane Issa, whose family owns one of Lebanon’s largest arak producers, Domaine des Tourelles, said the drink is a natural digestif. It was a nod to Lebanon’s growing market for holistic and natural products.

“The most important thing about arak is that our grandfathers used herbs to treat illness, not medicine. They believed in herbs, so they chose to make arak with green anise because it has anethole, a compound that aids digestion,” said Issa, the company’s administrative manager.

Some Beirut bars have introduced an infused version of arak, adding a twig of basil or rosemary, to attract young drinkers. Issa suggests watermelon.

Passions run strong over every detail of arak tradition.

It is to be drunk from small glasses — bigger than a shot glass but smaller than an Old Fashioned glass — arranged on a tray at the top of a table laden with meze. A new glass is used with each new serving. Some prefer to drink it in a tall glass.

It is often mixed in a traditional glass pitcher, round with a short beak-like spout. That makes it easy to drink straight from the pitcher when the party really gets going.

Drinkers staunchly debate the best way to mix.

Some prefer half water, half arak — a strong, sweet mix, usually not for the newbies. More common is one-third arak to two-thirds water, to prolong the drinking and the gathering.

The ice cubes are another discussion. For some, the glass is filled with ice cubes first before pouring the drink. Those truly religious about the drink insist that ice must come last.

No one can clearly explain the difference, but theories abound. Some say arak is further weakened if the ice is already sitting in the glass. Others say, don’t question tradition.

The making of arak is a family affair, with secrets passed from one generation to another.

Central to the process is a triple distillation using a still called a “karakeh” in Arabic.

The harvest is in September and October. The grapes are crushed and left to ferment for three weeks. The mix is then put in the lower part of the karakeh, where it is heated until it evaporates and cooled in the top part by a stream of cold water.

At this stage, it is pure alcohol. Anise and water may be added in the second or third distillation. The mix is what makes each house’s taste unique.

Homemade arak usually goes straight into gallon containers after distillation, ready for drinking. In commercial production, the arak sits in clay jugs for a year, making it smoother, Issa said.

“Wine ages but arak rests,” Issa said.

Issa’s father introduced a new technique, letting it sit in the clay jugs for five years before going to market. Her family bought Domaine des Tourelles 18 years ago and now it produces 350,000 bottles a year of Arak Brun, named after the Frenchman who founded it in 1868.

At the Taanayel festival, visitors sipped on the sweet drink with their meals.

Michel Sabat was marketing his new Arak al-Naim, or “Arak of Paradise.”

He said with so many producers, arak can only get better.

“There is a lot of competition here in Lebanon, so those who produce arak have to make sure it is very good quality.”


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Суд поновив Амосову на посаді ректора НМУ імені Богомольця, в МОЗ готують апеляцію

Печерський районний суд поновив Катерину Амосову на посаді ректорки Національного медичного університету імені Богомольця. Таке рішення ухвалив суддя Віталій Писанець, частково задовольнивши позов Амосової проти Міністерства охорони здоров’я.

Крім того, суд зобов’язав МОЗ відшкодувати Амосовій моральну шкоду в обсязі однієї тисячі гривень.

Світлини рішення опублікували на сторінці НМУ в соцмережах.

В Міністерстві охорони здоров’я рішення вже назвали «сумнівним», зазначивши, що поки що не отримали його завіреної копії. Також, зазначає прес-служба відомства, для поновлення Амосової на посаді необхідний відповідний наказ МОЗ. Але замість нього в міністерстві готують апеляцію на рішення суду.

7 вересня МОЗ визнало виконувачем обов’язків ректора НМУ імені Богомольця Олександра Науменка.

Міністерство звільнило Катерину Амосову з посади ректора НМУ 30 березня. У відомстві заявляли, що міністерська комісія оцінила її роботу в 2017 році як незадовільну.

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МОЗ: в Дніпровській психлікарні незаконно утримують пацієнтів і порушують їхні права

У Міністерстві охорони здоров’я стверджують, що умови, в яких перебувають пацієнти в Дніпровській психіатричній лікарні з суворим наглядом, принижують гідність пацієнтів.

Крім того, за повідомленням прес-служби МОЗ, в лікарні утримували шістьох іноземних громадян, і лише в одному випадку про це на виконання закону повідомили консула відповідної країни в Україні.

«Також у лікарні досі перебувають 4 пацієнти, щодо яких суд прийняв рішення про переведення ще у червні, липні та серпні. МОЗ України робить необхідні кроки, щоби оперативно виправити цю ситуацію», – заявили в прес-службі.

Серед інших порушень виявили, що у двері вбиралень вмонтоване вікно для спостереження, а на ніч у палатах залишали увімкненим світло.

Реорганізація в Дніпровській психіатричній лікарні почалася 17 вересня. Як повідомляло Міністерство охорони здоров’я, пацієнтів з цього закладу переведуть у інші, розташовані ближче до місця їхнього проживання. За даними МОЗ, заяви про переведення написали 267 пацієнтів з 655.

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Ніч на 21 вересня буде «ніччю кажанів» – Мінекології

У ніч на 21 вересня відзначається одна з найнезвичайніших природоохоронних дат – Ніч кажанів, повідомляє Міністерство екології й природних ресурсів.

За його даними, з 1997 року країни, які є сторонами Угоди про збереження кажанів у Європі, долучаються до загальноєвропейської акції інформування людей про те, наскільки важливо берегти кажанів.

Так, українські екологи кажуть: усі кажани – безпечні для людей. Винятком є лише кажани-вампіри з великими і гострими зубами, які харчуються кров’ю дрібних гризунів, птахів, а зрідка – домашньої худоби. Але вони водяться в Латинській Америці. «Що стосується кажанів, що мешкають в Україні та Європі, їх боятися не варто. Всі вони – комахоїдні тварини. Більше того, кажани навіть корисні, оскільки знищують багатьох шкідливих комах», – пояснюють екологи.

За даними Мінекології, нині багато видів кажанів перебувають на межі зникнення через вирубування дуплистих дерев, застосування різних отрутохімікатів і переслідування з боку людини – через «елементарне незнання» і забобони.

У 1991 році почала діяти Угода EUROBATs про збереження кажанів у Європі. Україна ратифікувала її 19 травня 1999 року.

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Держкіно оголосило дату прем’єри історичного екшена «Захар Беркут»

Історичний екшн «Захар Беркут» режисера Ахтема Сеітаблаєва вийде в широкий український прокат 10 жовтня 2019 року, повідомила 19 вересня прес-служба Держкіно.

«Вітаю об’єднання зусиль провідних учасників медіаринку, які працюватимуть разом заради успіху прокату «Захара Беркута». Для креативних індустрій вже давно є хибною теза про те, що попит народжує пропозицію. Завжди пропозиція народжує попит, бо люди не можуть хотіти того, про що вони не знають. Їм треба розповідати про українські фільми: успішний прокат картини не в останню чергу залежить від правильно вибудованої промокампанії. Сподіваюсь, що осучаснена екранізація одного з найвідоміших творів української літератури матиме значний успіх у глядача», – сказав голова Держкіно Пилип Іллєнко.

Зйомки «Захара Беркута» пройшли на Закарпатті і в Київській області влітку цього року.

Раніше повідомлялося, що до знімальної команди історичного екшена «Захар Беркут», що створюється компаніями Kinorob і Cinema Day за підтримки Державного агентства України з питань кіно, приєдналися голлівудські колеги. Разом із режисером Ахтемом Сеітаблаєвим як співрежисер над стрічкою працює Джон Вінн.

Продюсерами проекту з американської сторони виступають Джефф Райс, Юрій Карновський і Раджа Коллінз. За всю творчу і змістову частину «Захара Беркута» відповідає українська команда, голлівудські партнери забезпечують комунікацію з міжнародним акторським складом і допомагають з просуванням фільму на північноамериканському ринку.

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Report: Extreme Poverty Declining Worldwide 

The world is making progress in its efforts to lift people out of extreme poverty, but the global aspiration of eliminating such poverty by 2030 is unattainable, a new report found.

A World Bank report released Wednesday says the number of people living on less than $1.90 per day fell to a record low of 736 million, or 10 percent of the world’s population, in 2015, the latest year for which data is available.

The figure was less than the 11 percent recorded in 2013, showing slow but steady progress.

“Over the last 25 years, more than a billion people have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty, and the global poverty rate is now lower than it has ever been in recorded history. This is one of the greatest human achievements of our time,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said.

“But if we are going to end poverty by 2030, we need much more investment, particularly in building human capital, to help promote the inclusive growth it will take to reach the remaining poor,” he warned. “For their sake, we cannot fail.”

Poverty levels dropped across the world, except in the Middle East and North Africa, where civil wars spiked the extreme poverty rate from 9.5 million people in 2013 to 18.6 million in 2015.

The highest concentration of extreme poverty remained in sub-Saharan Africa, with 41.1 percent, down from 42.5 percent. South Asia showed the greatest progress with poverty levels dropping to 12.4 percent from 16.2 percent two years earlier.

The World Bank’s preliminary forecast is that extreme poverty has declined to 8.6 percent in 2018.

About half the nations now have extreme poverty rates of less than 3 percent, which is the target set for 2030. But the report said that goal is unlikely to be met.

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Russia to Study Israeli Data Related to Downed Plane

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted Israel’s offer to share detailed information on the Israeli airstrike in Syria that triggered fire by Syrian forces which downed a Russian reconnaissance plane, the Kremlin said Wednesday.

Syrian forces mistook the Russian Il-20 for Israeli aircraft, killing all 15 people aboard Monday night. Russia’s Defense Ministry blamed the plane’s loss on Israel, but Putin sought to defuse tensions, pointing at “a chain of tragic accidental circumstances.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Putin on Tuesday to express sorrow over the death of the plane’s crew and blamed Syria. Syrian President Bashar Assad sent Putin a telegram Wednesday offering his condolences and putting the blame on Israeli “aggression,” the official SANA news agency said.

Israel’s air force chief is scheduled to arrive in Moscow on Thursday to provide details. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday that Russian experts will carefully study the data that the air force chief will deliver.

The Israeli military said its fighter jets were targeting a Syrian military facility involved in providing weapons for Iran’s proxy Hezbollah militia and insisted it warned Russia of the coming raid in accordance with de-confliction agreements. It said the Syrian army fired the missiles that hit the Russian plane when the Israeli jets had already returned to Israeli airspace.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the Israeli warning came less than a minute before the strike, leaving the Russian aircraft in the line of fire. It accused the Israeli military of deliberately using the Russian plane as a cover to dodge Syrian defenses and threatened to retaliate.

While Putin took a cautious stance on the incident, he warned that Russia will respond by “taking additional steps to protect our servicemen and assets in Syria.”

Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said Wednesday that those will include deploying automated protection systems at Russia’s air and naval bases in Syria.

Business daily Kommersant reported that Russia also may respond to the downing of its plane by becoming more reluctant to engage Iran and its proxy Hezbollah militia, to help assuage Israeli worries.

Moscow has played a delicate diplomatic game of maintaining friendly ties with both Israel and Iran. In July, Moscow struck a deal with Tehran to keep its fighters 85 kilometers (53 miles) from the Golan Heights to accommodate Israeli security concerns.

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Pussy Riot Links Member’s ‘Poisoning’ to African Murder Probe

Russian punk group Pussy Riot on Wednesday linked the suspected poisoning of member Pyotr Verzilov with his attempt to investigate the deaths of three Russian journalists in Africa.

The journalists were shot dead on July 30 in the Central African Republic (CAR) while probing a shadowy Russian mercenary group for a project founded by Kremlin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Verzilov’s estranged wife, told the independent channel TV Dozhd that he received a report on the killings a day before falling ill last week.

“We think that (Verzilov’s involvement in the inquiry) is one of the possible scenarios because Petya could be of interest to Russian secret services or state structures including in the Central African Republic,” she said, using a shorter version of his name.

Verzilov, who has both Canadian and Russian citizenship, was admitted to a Moscow clinic on Sept. 11 following a court hearing, with symptoms including vison loss and disorientation.

He was flown to Germany on Saturday by the Cinema for Peace Foundation NGO. Doctors say he is now out of danger.

Tolokonnikova has already commented that Verzilov’s illness was probably the result of an “assassination attempt.”

Verzilov, who works for the Mediazona news site that focuses on courts and prisons, was making a film with one of those killed in Africa, acclaimed documentary director Alexander Rastorguyev.

Tolokonnikova told Dozhd that Verzilov’s cell phone showed he had received a report on Sept. 10 from a CAR contact who was investigating the journalists’ deaths.

Tolokonnikova said Verzilov had told her he expected “sensational information.”

Only Verzilov knew the password to access the report, and he was still “in a quite unstable condition,” she said.

A doctor treating Verzilov at Berlin’s Charite hospital said Tuesday it was “highly plausible that it was a case of poisoning.”

Tolokonnikova told Dozhd that she and other people close to Verzilov thought he might also have been poisoned for taking part in a pitch invasion at the World Cup final in Moscow to protest against police abuses.

That action “possibly upset many” people, she said.

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