Monthly Archives : December 2019

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Оператор ГТС України підписав останню угоду про транзит російського газу до Європи

31
Dec,2019

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ТОВ «Оператор ГТС України» підписало останню міжоператорську угоду, що була необхідна для забезпечення транзиту російського газу до Європи газотранспортною системою України за новим контрактом, що почне діяти 1 січня.

Як повідомила компанія, цю угоду підписали у Брюсселі зі словацьким оператором ГТС Eustream. Цей технічний договір про взаємодію (interconnection agreement) укладений за європейськими правилами, мовиться в повідомленні.

Попереднього дня, 30 грудня, таку угоду ОГТСУ підписав і з російським газовим монополістом «Газпром», який є водночас і оператором російської ГТС.

«Таким чином, новий український оператор ГТС підписав угоди зі всіма суміжними операторами, а саме – Польщі, Угорщини, Румунії, Молдови, Словаччини і Росії. Наразі створено всі необхідні технічні і правові підстави для успішного старту роботи незалежного Оператора ГТС України і для безперервного продовження транзиту газу через українську ГТС із Росії до європейських країн із 1 січня 2020 року», – повідомила компанія.

30 грудня Національна акціонерна компанія «Нафтогаз України» і російський газовий монополіст «Газпром» підписали контракт на транзит російського газу до Європи з використанням української газотранспортної системи за правилами Європейського союзу на п’ятирічний термін із можливістю продовження. Термін нині чинного контракту збігає вранці 1 січня 2020 року.

Як повідомив на брифінгу в Києві 31 грудня голова «Нафтогазу України» Андрій Коболєв, транзит російського природного газу територією України в 2020 році може сягнути 75 мільярдів кубометрів.

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Коболєв: транзит газу територією України наступного року може становити 75 мільярдів кубів

31
Dec,2019

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Транзит природного газу територією України в 2020 році може сягнути 75 мільярдів кубометрів, повідомив голова «Нафтогаз України» Андрій Коболєв на брифінгу 31 грудня в Києві.

«Я очікую, що наступного року «Північний потік-2» ввести в експлуатацію не вдасться. За інформацією, яку я маю, РФ наразі не має судна, яке може добудувати «Північний потік-2». Якщо це припущення правильне, то в такому випадку я б очікував, що обсяг транзиту українською територією може сягнути 75 мільярдів кубометрів. Чому так? Чинний поточний транзит – це приблизно 90, ми точно втратимо «Турецький потік», це мінус 15, залишається 75», – сказав він, коментуючи новий транзитний контракт між Україною і Росією.

30 грудня національна акціонерна компанія «Нафтогаз України» і російський газовий монополіст «Газпром» підписали контракт на транзит російського газу до Європи з використанням української газотранспортної системи на п’ятирічний термін із можливістю продовження. Термін нині чинного контракту збігає вранці 1 січня 2020 року.

Підписання контракту привітали в ЄС і канцлер Німеччини Анґела Меркель, яка активно підтримує проєкт «Газпрому» «Північний потік-2», водночас весь час заявляла і про необхідність зберегти транзит російського газу через ГТС України.

Тим часом будівництво російського газопроводу, що мав постачати газ до Європи в обхід України і вже збудований приблизно на 90 відсотків, зупинилося через санкції США, дата його можливого поновлення наразі не ясна.

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UN Chief: Young People Inspire Hope for Future of the Planet

31
Dec,2019

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In his New Year’s message, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres presented a gloomy assessment of the past year and pinned his hopes for a better future in the year to come upon the world’s young people.Guterres said he looks forward to 2020 and the decade to come with a mix of dread and hope.  While welcoming in the New Year, he suggested the uncertainty and insecurity of what lies ahead is cause for reflection and concern.  He said he considered persistent inequality and rising hatred, a warring world and a warming planet as ever present threats to stability and peace.  He said climate change is not only a long-term problem but a clear and present danger.  He said the world cannot afford to see the present generation fiddling around while the planet burns.  “But there is also hope. This year, my New Year’s message is to the greatest source of that hope: the world’s young people.  From climate action to gender equality to social justice and human rights, your generation is on the frontlines and in the headlines.  I am inspired by your passion and determination. You are rightly demanding a role in shaping the future and I am with you. The United Nations stands with you — and belongs to you,” Guterres said.In September, the United Nations presented its top environmental award to a global student movement known as Fridays for Future. The movement, inspired by Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, is demanding action to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are leading to climate change.Guterres, who views global warming as a grave threat to life on Earth, champions the young activists who are agitating to forestall such a catastrophic outcome. He said the world needs young people to keep speaking out and to keep thinking big. He urged young people to keep pushing boundaries, to keep up the pressure.He ended with “I wish you peace and happiness in 2020. Thank you.” 

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World Welcomes 2020

31
Dec,2019

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People across the world are gathering for traditional celebrations to welcome the year 2020.Revelers in New Zealand and other Pacific islands were among the first to celebrate the new year with fireworks displays.Events elsewhere in the world are being overshadowed by other concerns, including in Australia where the fireworks show in Sydney is going forward as other communities in the country cancel theirs due to fears of making a wildfire crisis worse.In Hong Kong, the usual fireworks show was canceled due to what officials said were security concerns in the city that has seen months of pro-democracy protests.Planet Fitness, in partnership with Time Square Alliance, tested the “air worthiness” of the confetti prior to Times Square’s New Year’s Eve 2020 celebration in New York City, Dec. 29, 2019 in New York.Events are scheduled to take place as the new year rolls around in major cities from Berlin to Dubai and London to New York.

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Uber, Postmates Sue to Challenge California’s New Labor Law

31
Dec,2019

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Ride-share company Uber and on-demand meal delivery service Postmates sued Monday to block a broad new California law aimed at giving wage and benefit protections to people who work as independent contractors.The lawsuit filed in U.S. court in Los Angeles argues that the law set to take effect Wednesday violates federal and state constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.Uber said it will try to link the lawsuit to another legal challenge filed in mid-December by associations representing freelance writers and photographers.The California Trucking Association filed the first challenge to the law in November on behalf of independent truckers.The law creates the nation’s strictest test by which workers must be considered employees and it could set a precedent for other states.The latest challenge includes two independent workers who wrote about their concerns with the new law.”This has thrown my life and the lives of more than a hundred(equals)thousand drivers into uncertainty,” ride-share driver Lydia Olson’s wrote in a Facebook post cited by Uber.Postmates driver Miguel Perez called on-demand work “a blessing” in a letter distributed by Uber. He said he used to drive a truck for 14 hours at a time, often overnight.”Sometimes, when I was behind the wheel, with an endless shift stretching out ahead of me like the open road, I daydreamed about a different kind of job — a job where I could choose when, where and how much I worked and still make enough money to feed my family,” he wrote.The lawsuit contends that the law exempts some industries but includes ride-share and delivery companies without a rational basis for distinguishing between them. It alleges that the law also infringes on workers’ rights to choose how they make a living and could void their existing contracts.Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego countered that she wrote the law to extend employee rights to more than a million California workers who lack benefits, including a minimum wage, mileage reimbursements, paid sick leave, medical coverage and disability pay for on-the-job injuries.She noted that Uber had previously sought an exemption when lawmakers were crafting the law, then said it would defend its existing labor model from legal challenges. It joined Lyft and DoorDash in a vow to each spend $30 million to overturn the law at the ballot box in 2020 if they don’t win concessions from lawmakers next year.”The one clear thing we know about Uber is they will do anything to try to exempt themselves from state regulations that make us all safer and their driver employees self-sufficient,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “In the meantime, Uber chief executives will continue to become billionaires while too many of their drivers are forced to sleep in their cars.’’The new law was a response to a legal ruling last year by the California Supreme Court regarding workers at the delivery company Dynamex.

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Huawei Sales Up 18% but US Pressure Means Tough Times Ahead

31
Dec,2019

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China’s Huawei Technologies said Tuesday that its sales rose a lower-than-projected 18% in 2019 and predicted tough times ahead as the U.S. moves to restrict its business.The flash sales estimate came in an annual New Year’s message to employees. Chairman Eric Xu warned that mediocre managers would face demotion as the telecom giant and leader in 5G mobile technology focuses on survival.”It’s going to be a difficult year for us,” he wrote, calling on the company’s more than 190,000 employees “to work hard and go the extra mile to bring their capabilities to a new level.”No one is predicting Huawei’s demise. The unlisted company, a major maker of both mobile transmission equipment and handsets, estimated 2019 sales would rise to more than 850 billion yuan ($120 billion).”These figures are lower than our initial projections, yet business remains solid and we stand strong in the face of adversity,” Xu said in the letter, which was released to the AP and other media.Huawei, based in the tech hub of Shenzhen in southern China, typically releases its official and audited annual financial results in March.The U.S. government says Huawei technology poses a security risk and has urged other countries not to buy its 5G mobile network equipment. It has also put Huawei on its entity list, blocking U.S. technology sales to the company. Huawei denies the allegation.Calling difficulty the prelude to greater success, Xu said America’s “strategic and long-term” campaign against Huawei is an opportunity to build up some muscle and build capabilities to navigate future challenges.”Despite concerted efforts by the U.S. government to keep us down, we’ve made it out the other side and continue to create value for our customers,” he wrote.The five-page letter exhorts employees to hone their skills and rid themselves of complacency. Saying that survival is the company’s top priority, Xu warns that mediocre managers “who have lost their enterprising spirit” will be removed faster than before.

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Pompeo to Visit Ukraine This Week

31
Dec,2019

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leaves this week for Ukraine — the country at the center of President Donald Trump’s impeachment.Pompeo will be in Kyiv on Friday, the first stop of a five-nation European and Central Asian tour that will also take him to Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Cyprus.Pompeo will be the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Ukraine and hold talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.The two senior State Department officials who briefed reporters Monday on Pompeo’s trip dodged all questions surrounding the impeachment, sparked by Trump’s July 25 telephone call with Zelenskiy when Trump asked the Ukrainian leader for a “favor” and to investigate 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s job with a Ukrainian gas company.Trump is also accused of holding up military aid to Ukraine until Zelenskiy publicly committed to the probe.FILE – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks in Kyiv, Dec. 4, 2019.No evidence against the Bidens has surfaced, and Trump’s belief that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Democrats is based on a debunked conspiracy theory spread by Russia.One of the officials called Pompeo’s visit to Ukraine this week “much more than symbolic.””The secretary’s visit to Ukraine highlights our unshakable commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the official said. “Crimea is part of Ukraine, and the United States will never recognize Russia’s attempt to annex it. This important visit also reinforces our support to Ukraine as it counters Russian aggression and disinformation, and advances reform efforts to stamp out corruption.”The official said the United States has given Ukraine about $3 billion since 2014 earmarked for law reforms and battling corruption.Ambassador William Taylor The two officials also avoided answering why Ambassador William Taylor will be leaving Kyiv before Pompeo’s arrival Friday.Taylor was appointed acting ambassador to replace Marie Yovanovitch, who was abruptly fired in May allegedly because of her objections to Trump’s push for an investigation into the Bidens.FILE – Top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine William Taylor testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 13, 2019.Taylor’s appointment was supposed to have lasted until mid-January. It is unclear why he is leaving early.Both Taylor and Yovanovitch appeared as witnesses in the Democratic-led House impeachment hearings.Another witness — U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland — said Pompeo was “in the loop” about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine for an investigation. Democrats also say Pompeo tolerated the so-called shadow foreign policy carried out in Ukraine by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.Pompeo has only said the State Department will “continue to comply with all the legal requirements” in the impeachment process.The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump in mid-December on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It is still unclear when he will be put on trial in the Senate.Other stopsDuring his European trip, Pompeo will meet with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for talks on normalizing relations between the U.S. and Belarus. Lukashenko has long been considered an authoritarian ruler, but the State Department said Belarus is continuing to make progress in human rights and democratization.Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are two nations the State Department said have also made improvements in human rights, and are close economic and security partners with the U.S.Pompeo’s final stop will be in Cyprus, where the U.S. backs United Nations efforts to reunify the island split between a Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot north since 1974.
 

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Germany’s Merkel Urges Climate Action in New Year Message

31
Dec,2019

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Chancellor Angela Merkel is telling Germans in her New Year message that “everything humanly possible” must be done to tackle climate change.Merkel said that there is good reason to be confident about the 2020s in her annual televised message, the text of which was released ahead of its broadcast Tuesday. But she pointed to challenges such as the effect of digitization on people’s jobs and, above all, climate change.”The warming of our Earth is real. It is threatening. It and the crises arising from global warming were caused by humans,” she said. “So we must do everything humanly possible to deal with this challenge for humanity. That is still possible.”Merkel said that was the principle behind a recently agreed German package of measures aimed at addressing climate change, which include a carbon dioxide pricing system for the transport and heating sectors and lowering value-added tax on long-distance rail tickets.She acknowledged criticism both from people who are worried about being overburdened by the measures and from those who think they don’t go far enough, but said they provide the “necessary framework.””It’s true that, at 65, I am at an age where I personally won’t experience all the consequences of climate change that would arise if politicians didn’t act,” she said.”It is our children and grandchildren who will have to live with the consequences of what we do or don’t do today,” Merkel added. “So I am putting all my energy into Germany making its contribution — ecologically, economically, socially — to getting a grip on climate change.”That is also a priority of the European Union’s new executive Commission, headed by Ursula von der Leyen — a former German defense minister. Germany will hold the EU’s rotating presidency in the second half of 2020.”Europe must raise its voice more strongly in the world,” Merkel said, pledging to work for that during the EU presidency. She pointed to planned meetings with Chinese and African leaders.Merkel, Germany’s leader since 2005, has said that her current fourth term as chancellor will be her last.Protection against hatredUnlike last year’s, this New Year message contained no reference to infighting in the often-tense coalition government of her center-right Christian Democratic  Union and the center-left Social Democrats. It remains uncertain whether the coalition will last until the end of the parliamentary term in 2021.Merkel did, however, stress the need for authorities to protect local government officials and “all people in our country against hatred, hostility and violence, against racism and anti-Semitism.”This year saw the killing of a regional government official from Merkel’s party, Walter Luebcke, who had vocally supported Merkel’s welcoming stance toward refugees in 2015. The suspect is a far-right extremist.And in October, a man tried to force his way into a synagogue in Halle on Judaism’s holiest day, later killing two passers-by before being arrested. The suspect posted an anti-Semitic screed before the attack.
 

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CIA Devised Way to Restrict Missiles Given to Allies, Researcher Says 

30
Dec,2019

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The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has devised technology to restrict the use of anti-aircraft missiles after they leave American hands, a researcher said, a move that experts say could persuade the United States that it would be safe to disseminate powerful weapons more frequently.The new technology is intended for use with shoulder-fired missiles called Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems (MANPADS), Dutch researcher Jos Wetzels told a cybersecurity conference in Leipzig, Germany on Saturday. Wetzels said the system was laid out in a batch of CIA documents published by WikiLeaks in 2017 but that the files were mislabeled and attracted little public attention until now.Wetzels said the CIA had come up with a “smart arms control solution” that would restrict the use of missiles “to a particular time and a particular place.” The technique, referred to as “geofencing,” blocks the use of a device outside a specific geographic area.Weapons that are disabled when they leave the battlefield could be an attractive feature. Supplied to U.S. allies, the highly portable missiles can help win wars, but they have often been lost, sold, or passed to extremists.For example, Stinger MANPADS supplied by the United States are credited with helping mujahedeen rebels drive Soviet forces out of Afghanistan in a conflict that spanned the 1980s and 1990s. But U.S. officials have since spent billions of dollars to clear the missiles from the country — and from other conflict zones around the worldWetzels said it was unclear whether the CIA’s design ever left the drawing board or where it was meant to have been deployed, but he noted that the apparent period of development in the documents’ metadata — 2014 to 2015 — roughly coincided with media reports about the deployment of MANPADS to rebels in Syria. Geofencing might have been seen as a way of ensuring the missiles were used on the Syrian battlefield and nowhere else, he said.The CIA declined to comment.Outside experts who reviewed Wetzels’ analysis said they found it plausible.N.R. Jenzen-Jones, who directs the British-based ARES intelligence consultancy, said geofencing has long been discussed as a safeguard to allow powerful weapons “into the hands of friendly forces operating in high-risk environments.”Wetzels said geofencing was no panacea, running through a list of security vulnerabilities that could be used by insurgents to bypass the restrictions.”It’s not a watertight solution,” he said.

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«Нафтогаз» анонсує пресконференцію Гончарука за підсумками газових переговорів

30
Dec,2019

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Національна акціонерна компанія «Нафтогаз України» анонсує пресконференцію прем’єр-міністра України Олексія Гончарука за підсумками переговорів про транзит російського газу територією України. Про це йдеться у трансляції Газового інформаційного центру, яка триває на сторінці «Нафтогазу» у фейсбуці.

 

Раніше керівник «Оператора газотранспортної системи» Сергій Макогон повідомив у фейсбуці, що Україна вранці 30 грудня завершила чотириденний переговорний марафон із російським «Газпромом» у Відні.

Водночас у «Нафтогазі України» повідомили, що угода ще не укладена. «Ми ще в процесі укладання. Сподіваємось, що ця угода скоро буде фіналізована», – йдеться у твітері «Нафтогазу» ввечері 30 грудня.

 

«Нафтогаз» нагадує, що 10-річний транзитний контракт між Нафтогазом та Газпромом закінчується 1 січня о 9:00. «В цих умовах надзвичайно важливо уникнути розповсюдження неперевіреної та суперечливої інформації», – вказує українська компанія.

20 грудня представники України, Росії, Євросоюзу, а також компанії «Оператор газотранспортної системи України», «Нафтогазу» та російського «Газпрому» попередньо домовилися зберегти транзит, натомість українська енергетична компанія відмовилася від інших позовів проти російського монополіста.

 

Серед найважливіших домовленостей сторін:

«Газпром» погодився до 29 грудня виплатити «Нафтогазу» 2,9 мільярда доларів, як це передбачає рішення Стокгольмського арбітражу від лютого 2018 року;
сторони відкликають всі позови, за якими наразі немає ухвалених рішень, в тому числі – позов «Нафтогазу» до російської енергетичної корпорації на 12,2 мільярда доларів та на 1,33 мільярда кубічних метрів газу;
з активів та майна «Газпрому» знімають арешти, сторони відмовляються від претензій в майбутньому щодо претензій у зв’язку з контрактами на постачання та транзит газу від 19 січня 2009 року;
після виконання цих умов – «Газпром» та «Нафтогаз» укладають договір про транзит газу через Україну​.

27 грудня уряд схвалив підписання мирової угоди з «Газпромом».

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Spain: Socialists Pin Future Government on Catalan’s Release

30
Dec,2019

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Spain’s state attorney called Monday for an imprisoned Catalan politician to be allowed to be sworn in as a member of the European Union parliament, a step that could ease the way for a center-left governing alliance to take office in the country.The European Union’s top court ruled this month that Oriol Junqueras, who served as Catalonia’s vice president until 2017, had the right to parliamentary immunity when he was elected to the bloc’s parliament in May, when he was already on trial.In response to the ruling, the Spanish state attorney’s office on Monday said that Junqueras should be allowed to leave prison to take his seat. But it said that a request should be made immediately for the European Parliament to drop the separatist politician’s immunity, so that he would serve the 13-year prison term for his role in a secession bid two years ago.The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision in coming days.FILE – Spain’s Socialist leader and acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez attends a rally to mark the kick off his campaign ahead of the general election in Seville, Spain, Oct. 31, 2019.Junqueras remains the leader of the Catalan ERC party, whose 13 lawmakers’ abstention from the 350-seat Congress of Deputies would allow the Socialists of caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the anti-austerity United We Can (Unidas Podemos) to form a minority coalition government after months of political impasse in Spain.The state attorney’s move could lead ERC to abstain from the confidence vote, expected as soon as next week. ERC has said it will make its final decision in a party meeting next week.Governing agreementIn a further sign of an impending end to the political deadlock, Sanchez and United We Can leader Pablo Iglesias were set to announce later on Monday their governing agreement, a 50-page document outlining more taxes for high-earning individuals and companies, plans to water down a labor reform passed in 2012 at the height of the financial crisis, as well as increases to spending on social policies.FILE – Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias speaks during a plenary session at Parliament in Madrid, Spain, Sept. 11, 2019.They also plan to roll back a national security law passed by a previous conservative government and increase the minimum wage, which stands at 1,050 euros (1,176 dollars), according to Spanish daily El Pais, which obtained a copy of the document.Spanish laws allow minority governments to be formed as long as they receive more votes in favor than against in the parliament’s lower house. But even with the support of a small Basque nationalist party, Sanchez and Iglesias need ERC’s abstention. They have been widely criticized by other parties for relying on the help of an imprisoned separatist.The 50-year-old Junqueras was convicted of sedition and misuse of public funds in October for his role in promoting the illegal 2017 secession bid of the prosperous northeastern region of Catalonia, which includes the city of Barcelona.He was under trial already when he decided to run in the European elections in May. Spain’s Supreme Court denied Junqueras permission to get out of jail at the time to take his position.’Against the interests of Spain’Pablo Casado, leader of the conservative Popular Party that for decades took turns in power with the Socialists, said that Sanchez was being opaque in the negotiations and that, as an interim prime minister over the past few months, the Socialist leader had governed “against the interests of Spain.””You can’t negotiate the government of Spain with those who want to break it apart,” Casado told reporters.The Popular Party, the fast-rising far-right Vox party and the center-right Citizens (Ciudadanos), which suffered a big defeat in the Nov. 10 repeated general election, together hold 150 seats in the lower chamber.
 

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Brazil Fines Facebook $1.6M for Improper Sharing of User Data

30
Dec,2019

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Brazil’s Ministry of Justice said on Monday it has fined U.S. tech giant Facebook Inc 6.6 million reais ($1.6 million) for improperly sharing user data.The ministry’s department of consumer protection said it had found that data from 443,000 Facebook users was made improperly available to developers of an app called ‘thisisyourdigitallife.’ The data was being shared for “questionable” purposes, the ministry said in a statement.Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.The ministry said the world’s largest social network failed to provide users with adequate information regarding default privacy settings, particularly related to data of “friends” and “friends of friends.”The ministry said it launched the investigation following media reports of the misuse of data by political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica in 2018.Facebook has 10 days to appeal the decision. The fine should be paid within 30 days. 

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Pompeo to Travel to Ukraine in January

30
Dec,2019

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U.S. top diplomat Mike Pompeo will travel in January to Ukraine, the country at the heart of the ongoing impeachment process against President Donald Trump, the State Department said Monday.Pompeo, who will also visit Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Cyprus, will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.The trip will make Pompeo the most senior U.S. official to visit Ukraine since the scandal over a controversial phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy erupted earlier this year.Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress Dec. 18 and faces trial in the Senate.Pompeo, a staunch Trump defender, was personally implicated by several witnesses during the impeachment inquiry.Trump is accused of having withheld nearly $400 million in assistance to Ukraine and a White House meeting with Zelenskiy to push Kyiv to investigate his political rival Joe Biden.Despite testimony from 17 officials that Trump leveraged his office for political gain, the president has maintained his innocence throughout the impeachment inquiry — denouncing it as an “attempted coup” and an “assault on America.”The statement does not mention corruption in Ukraine, although the White House has insisted this was the main reason Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who was then serving on the board of directors of a Ukrainian gas company.Ortagus only suggested that this issue could be discussed by referring to talks on “the investment climate, and the government’s reform agenda.”The visit comes after Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists battling the government’s forces exchanged 200 prisoners on Sunday, a further sign of the fragile detente that has begun since Zelenskiy was elected in April.Pompeo’s trip aims to “reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Ortagus said. 

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France, Egypt Urge ‘Restraint’ to Avoid Libya Escalation

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Dec,2019

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France and Egypt called Monday for the “greatest restraint” by Libyan and international authorities to avoid escalating the conflict in Libya, a statement from President Emmanuel Macron’s office said.Macron held talks late Sunday with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sissi when both agreed that warring Libyan powers need to negotiate a political solution under U.N. auspices.The statement comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed readiness this month to send troops to Libya if requested by the country’s Government of National Accord (GNA).The GNA is backed by the U.N., but the addition of Turkish troops could further inflame tensions in a country torn by the devastating campaign of strongman Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army.More than 140,000 Libyans have fled their homes since April when Haftar’s forces launched an assault on Tripoli.U.N.-sponsored talks on the conflict are set for January in Berlin to try to end the fighting, sparked by the NATO-backed uprising that toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.Neighboring countries like Egypt have been on high alert since then, not least against the potential for rival regional powers to exploit the turmoil.Macron and Sissi also criticized a recent deal between Turkey and Libya over maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean, calling it “against the rules of maritime law”.Critics say the deal, part of a security and military cooperation accord with the GNA, would greatly extend Ankara’s territorial claims. 

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Ukraine, Russia-Backed Rebels Swap Prisoners

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Dec,2019

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Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east have completed an exchange of about 200 prisoners. Ukrainian officials say Ukraine received 76 captives while the separatists say they took 124 of theirs. The swap carried out on Sunday was brokered earlier this month at a summit of the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France in Paris.  VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports. 

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Putin Thanks Trump for Helping Foil Terrorist Acts in Russia

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Dec,2019

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Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with President Donald Trump on Sunday to thank him for information that Putin said helped Russia foil terrorist attacks over the New Year’s holiday, the Kremlin said.Putin thanked Trump “for information transmitted through the special services that helped prevent the completion of terrorist acts in Russia,” the Kremlin said in a brief statement posted on its website.Based on the U.S. information, the Russian security forces detained two Russians suspected of preparing to carry out terrorist acts in St. Petersburg during the upcoming holiday, state news agency Tass reported, citing the Federal Security Service.The security service said it obtained the information from its “American partners.” It said it seized material from the suspects that confirms they were preparing terrorist acts, with no further details.There was no immediate comment from the White House.

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