France announced its sixth case of the new coronavirus this week and repatriated a planeload of its citizens from the virus-stricken Chinese city of Wuhan. But back at home, Chinese and others in the wider East Asian community there say they are becoming targets for discrimination.Just as fast as the coronavirus is spreading, so too seems to be prejudice. In Japan, South Korea and Italy — and now France. This week the French hashtag #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus — I Am Not A Virus — was trending on Twitter. One Chinese man interviewed on France’s BFMTV — his face hidden so he wouldn’t be recognized — described walking out of a Paris gym and being accosted by teenagers, who laughed and said, “There’s coronavirus coming.” Ethnic Chinese aren’t the only ones being targeted. One account on social media describes a Vietnamese woman being shunned by those around her. Other East Asians say fellow passengers on public transport move away from them, or put scarves in front of their faces.French passengers on buses leave a military air base in Istres, southern France, Jan.31, 2020, after arriving by plane from the virus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan.In a television interview, Laetitia Chhiv, head of the Association of Young Chinese in France, said coronavirus was giving expression to latent racism. It hasn’t helped that a French newspaper, Le Courrier Picard, published the headline “Yellow Alert” on its cover last Sunday, and titled an editorial “A New Yellow Peril.” The newspaper quickly apologized, saying the move was unintentional, but the damage was done. Interviewed by a colleague, journalist Linh-Lan Dao said she couldn’t believe the Courrier Picard’s title. “We’re in the 21st century,” she said. All this comes after France reported a surge in racist and xenophobic acts in 2019 — up 130 percent from the previous year. While much of the focus has been on Jews and Muslims, ethnic Chinese have also been targeted in recent years. The government’s line is zero tolerance to discrimination.In 2016, thousands of Chinese staged protests after a Chinese man was killed outside Paris by three men trying to rob his companion’s bag. It wasn’t the first attack — and Chinese anti-violence activist Tamara Lui says it hasn’t been the last. Lui says the same prejudice behind these past attacks on the Chinese community — because they’re stigmatized as rich and hardworking and therefore good targets to rob — is being seen with coronavirus today.
Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate and peers from other African nations on Friday made an urgent appeal for the world to pay more attention to the continent that stands to suffer the most from global warming despite contributing to it the least.The Fridays For Future movement and activist Greta Thunberg held a news conference with the activists to spotlight the marginalization of African voices a week after The Associated Press cropped Nakate out of a photo at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.Nakate, Makenna Muigai of Kenya, Ayakha Melithafa of South Africa and climate scientist Ndoni Mcunu of South Africa pointed out the various challenges both in combating climate change on the booming continent of some 1.2 billion people and in inspiring the world’s response.“African activists are doing so much,” Nakate said. “It gets so frustrating when no one really cares about them.”The AP has apologized and acknowledged mistakes in sending out the cropped photo on Jan. 24 and in how the news organization initially reacted. The AP has said that it will expand diversity training worldwide as a result.Nakate said Friday she was very sad the photo incident occurred but added that “I’m actually very optimistic about this” as it has drawn global attention to climate activists in Africa and the various crises there.Muigai pointed to a recent locust outbreak that parts of East Africa have seen in 70 years, which threatens food security for millions of people in countries including Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia and is moving toward South Sudan and Uganda.Challenges include everything from deforestation to bad energy policies, Muigai said. They also include changes in storm intensity that brought two devastating cyclones to Mozambique a year ago, Mcunu said. And they include the recent drought crisis in South Africa’s Cape Town region, Melithafa said.“The narrative we have is Africans can adapt to this. That is actually not true,” Mcunu said.The warnings have been stark for Africa. No continent will be struck more severely by climate change, the U.N. Environment Program has said.Africa has 15% of the world’s population, yet is likely to “shoulder nearly 50% of the estimated global climate change adaptation costs,” the African Development Bank has said, noting that seven of the 10 countries considered most vulnerable to climate change are in Africa: Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea.And yet “to date, energy-related CO₂ emissions in Africa represented around 2% of cumulative global emissions,” the International Energy Agency said last year.In some cases it is difficult to persuade people to care more about climate change because there are so many other pressing everyday issues such as poverty, unemployment and gender-based violence, Melithafa said. “That’s hard for the global north to understand.”Instead people should work to hold more developed countries accountable for producing the bulk of emissions that contribute to global warming, the activists said.“Every individual is needed in the fight against the climate crisis,” Nakate said. “Because climate change is not specific about the kinds of people it affects.”For her part, Thunberg firmly returned the spotlight to the activists from African countries.“I’m not the reason why we’re here,” she said, later adding: “We are fighting for the exact same cause.” And she noted that while whatever she says gets turned into a headline, that is not the case for many others.“The African perspective is always so under-reported,” Thunberg said.Nakate urged the audience to make 2020 the year of action on climate change after young activists in 2019 put the issue squarely at the center of global discussions.It won’t be easy, she noted: “It is the uncomfortable things that will help to save our planet.”
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The United States’ new ambassador to Russia urged Moscow on Thursday to release a former U.S. Marine accused of spying, and said Russian investigators had failed to present credible evidence to back up their case.Days after starting as U.S. ambassador, John Sullivan accused Russian authorities of “shameful treatment” of Paul Whelan, who was detained by security agents in a Moscow hotel room on Dec. 28, 2018 and accused of espionage.Whelan, 49, denies the charges against him and holds U.S., British, Canadian and Irish passports. At court hearings over the past year, he has said he is being ill treated.The case, in which Whelan be jailed for 20 years if he is found guilty, has strained U.S.-Russian ties that are already under pressure from an array of issues including the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria and election-meddling allegations.On Thursday, Sullivan visited Whelan in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison. It was one of the ambassador’s first public appearances since he presented his credentials at Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Jan. 21.”It’s time for this nightmare to end, and for Paul to go home,” Sullivan said in comments published by the U.S. embassy on social media.”The case has gone on far too long. Investigators have shown no evidence – zero. Russian authorities show no credible justification for isolating Paul, and refuse to allow Paul to get proper medical attention. This is shameful treatment.”Russia’s Foreign Ministry has dismissed Whelan’s allegations of ill-treatment and accused him of trying to stir up noise around his case.Moscow says Whelan was caught red-handed with a computer flash drive containing classified information. Whelan says he was set up in a sting operation and had thought the drive, given to him by a Russian acquaintance, contained holiday photos.Previous efforts to secure Whelan’s release, including an appeal in December, have been ignored.
Nearly 60 years ago, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan launched Britain’s bid to join what was then called the European Community, now the European Union. He saw no alternative but to go in with the Europeans, fearing otherwise Britain would be diminished, its global influence weakened.Macmillan worried U.S. trade and investment inevitably would be drawn increasingly toward Europe and away from Britain, and that his country would lose major economic benefits by not being a member of the emerging bloc.It took more than a decade for Britain to join the EC and nearly a quarter of that time to exit the bloc.FILE – Britain’s new Prime Minister Harold MacMillan at his desk at 10 Downing Street, London, Jan. 11, 1957.The initial applications, encouraged by U.S. administrations, were blocked by France’s imperious Gen. Charles de Gaulle, who argued Britain wasn’t European enough. And he told Macmillan that Britain was too obsessed with America and its Commonwealth of former colonies. The French leader feared once inside the bloc, Britain would prove disruptive and paralyze an inevitable advance toward greater European political unity.Dubbed by the frustrated British establishment the “impossible ally,” de Gaulle, who was as disparaging of the British as he was sniffy of the Americans, dashed the hopes of an exhausted Macmillan. The British prime minister saw EC membership as a crucial part of his so-called “grand design” to revive Britain’s flagging economic and political fortunes and to avoid being squeezed by larger powers as it searched for a post-imperial role for itself.By the time Britain did join — in 1973, under the leadership of then-Prime Minister Harold Wilson — Macmillan had long retired, denied what he had hoped would be the great prize of his premiership. And de Gaulle was three years in the grave.Echo from the pastBut the same set of economic and geopolitical challenges that persuaded Macmillan, and his successors in Downing Street, of the necessity of joining the bloc will face the country after it exits— a remarkable and daunting echo from the past.Macmillan feared the rise and assertiveness of China and Russia, the loss of the British colonies and how that would impact the floundering British economy and reduce its clout. He worried that the European bloc, then just six members but now 27 with a combined economic activity last year of $18.7 trillion, would easily dominate the offshore British Isles.”The economic consequences to Britain may be grave,” he wrote in a memorandum. “However bold a face it may suit us to put on the situation, exclusion from the strongest economic group in the civilized world must injure us,” he wrote. Added to his fears was the predictability of Britain’s relations with the United States, which had interests of its own, and “the uncertainty of American policies towards us — treated now as just another country, now as an ally in a special and unique category.”Fast forward to now, and despite the “bold” face being offered by Britain’s Boris Johnson, who predicts great Brexit benefits for a buccaneering “global Britain,” the country’s dilemmas aren’t dissimilar from those identified more than half a century ago by Macmillan, say historians.British MEPs, or Member of the European Parliament, celebrate as they march out of European Parliament with their luggage in Brussels to take the Eurostar train back to Britain, Jan. 31, 2020, the day the U.K. is due to leave the EU.Brexit poses the same questions Macmillan was asking himself in 1961 as he drafted his “grand design,” shrugging off as he did so, and later disguising from the British public, the cost that would be incurred in terms of the dilution of sovereignty, if Britain joined the bloc.How can post-imperial Britain remain a player on the world stage? How can it avoid being squeezed between the U.S. on the one hand and the Europeans on the other?How can it boost its economy when historically it suffers low productivity and a shortage of skills in its native workforce? How can it attract foreign investment, if shut out of Europe’s single market and denied tariff-free access?”Brexit may well leave Britain marooned in its long-feared predicament: subject to the whims of larger powers,” according to Luke Reader, a historian with Ohio’s Case Western Reserve University. Britain has placed itself in “a geopolitical pickle” in a period of rising protectionism, he maintains. “It is reasserting itself as a nation-state at precisely the moment in which the world is reorganizing itself into powerful multi-national alliances and trading blocs,” he wrote in a commentary for opinion-site The Conversation.FILE – Britain’s Defense Secretary Ben Wallace is seen at Downing Street in London, Britain, Dec. 17, 2019.Earlier in January, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who is preparing what British officials say is the “deepest security review” ministers and officials have conducted since the end of the Cold War, raised a worry that wouldn’t have been unfamiliar to Macmillan either. Wallace warned about placing all of Britain’s security eggs in one basket, saying in an interview with The Times newspaper that Britain risked becoming too dependent on the U.S. militarily and that the interests of the two countries wouldn’t always converge.”We are very dependent on American air cover and American intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. We need to diversify our assets,” he said, adding Britain “must be prepared to fight wars without the United States as its key ally.”British officials hope, in spite of Brexit, Britain can maintain a strong defense and intelligence relationship with the EU, ensuring it has eggs in two baskets.Role of FranceLike the 1960s, all roads will lead through Paris as Britain negotiates its future relationship with the EU. Boris Johnson appears to hope that he can seal a deal which gives British exporters favorable access to the single market without having to comply with EU rules, regulations and product standards. Johnson has quipped in the past that Britain can “have its cake and eat it.” That is going to be difficult.Compliance with EU rules would defeat the purpose of Brexit, say Brexit hardliners in Johnson’s ruling Conservative party. It would force Britain to be a rule-taker rather than a rule-maker, they say. Close regulatory alignment with the EU will complicate Britain’s negotiations with the U.S. for a free trade deal — something U.S. President Donald Trump has made clear.FILE – Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomes France’s President Emmanuel Macron at the NATO leaders summit in Watford, Britain, Dec. 4, 2019.French President Emmanuel Macron will likely prove as prickly with Johnson as de Gaulle was with Macmillan in the forthcoming negotiations. The French leader seems determined that it will be the French eating cake, and not Johnson. He warned Wednesday that France will “not bow to pressure or “haste” in the forthcoming negotiations on Britain’s future relationship with the EU.The British tactic devised by Johnson’s closest adviser, Dominic Cummings, to escape the “geopolitical pickle” is to try to play the larger powers against each other, using threats of high tariffs to pressure the EU, United States, China and other nations to strike trade deals with London which are favorable for Britain, British media reported.The danger of playing powers off against each other was exposed this week when Johnson decided to allow the Chinese telecom giant Huawei a role in building Britain’s 5G network, which the Trump administration urged Britain not to do on security grounds. U.S. officials warned the decision could well imperil the trade deal Johnson wants to seal with Washington.US Warns Information-Sharing at Risk as Britain Approves Huawei 5G RolloutUS Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls Chinese firm an ‘extension of China’s communist party’Speaking to British historian James Hennessy, whose recent book “The Winds of Change” explores the dilemmas of post-imperial Britain, former Cabinet Secretary Richard Wilson noted: “We Brits always go into our big decisions as if under anesthetic, only waking up many years later and wondering, ‘Did we really mean to do that?'”Only time will tell if Brexit was one of those big decisions.
Russian authorities Thursday pardoned and released an American-Israeli citizen jailed on drug charges, in a gesture timed with a visit by embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Moscow intended to focus on a new U.S.-backed peace plan for the Middle East.Naama Issachar, 27, a native of New Jersey who had moved to Israel, was serving 7½ years in prison for drug possession after border guards found 9 grams of hash in her bag during a changeover at a Moscow airport on her way from India to Israel.While the case instantly became a cause celebre in Israel — widely seen as an overly harsh sentence for a minor crime — it was only recently that Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled her release was imminent.“Everything will be OK,” Putin told Issachar’s mother, Yaffa, during a sideline meeting in Israel last week to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of a key Nazi death camp in World War II.Yet the timing of Putin’s decision to grant a pardon was riven with political implications.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, walk with Naama Issachar and her mother, Yaffa, after Russian President Vladimir Putin granted Naama a pardon, at Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow, Jan. 30, 2020.Netanyahu visitIssachar’s release comes as Netanyahu is locked in a bitter yearlong struggle to maintain his hold on power while facing charges of criminal corruption. The Israeli leader was formally charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust by prosecutors this week.It also follows the White House’s unveiling of a new peace plan for the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict that U.S. President Donald Trump has controversially billed as “the deal of the century.”Israel’s Netanyahu has enthusiastically endorsed the proposal. The Palestinian leadership has rejected the deal outright.While Putin has yet to personally weigh in on the American proposal, initial reactions in Moscow underscored how the Kremlin is eager to build on its recent rise as a key power broker in Mideast regional politics.“We confirm our readiness to further constructive work towards the collective strengthening of efforts towards a complete resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, in underscoring Russia’ delicate balance of alliances throughout the region.Situational leverageFrom the beginning, Issachar was seen as a bargaining chip in a larger political game involving Washington, Moscow and Tel Aviv.Her initial arrest came as Russia was seeking extradition of Aleksei Burkov, an alleged Russian hacker accused of computer fraud by the U.S. government.Israel ultimately chose to turn over Burkov to U.S. authorities last November — a decision that seemed to have soured any chance of Issachar’s early release.Indeed, even among the celebrations of Issachar’s freedom Thursday, questions lingered: What might have prompted the exchange now? What changed? And what had Putin gained?For it was undoubtedly a boon to Netanyahu’s latest reelection bid, with Israelis headed to the polls again March 2 after three previous votes that ended in stalemate.Netanyahu thanked Putin for a “swift” decision to free Issachar. Further underlining the political timing of the pardon, Issachar joined Netanyahu on his government plane back to Israel.“We’re excited to see you. Now we go back home,” Netanyahu told the former prisoner, in a video posted to his official Twitter account.❤️?? pic.twitter.com/58UZwWaje3— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) January 30, 2020Back in Israel, media pundits suggested Netanyahu had secured Issachar’s release by granting Russia ownership of a Jerusalem site of importance to the Russian Orthodox Church, a key base of support for the Russian president.Fueling curiosity, the Kremlin released a statement in which Putin suggested the lead Orthodox Patriarch in Jerusalem had played a role, passing along a letter from Issachar’s mother.Meanwhile, in Russia, attention focused on the Kremlin leader’s other justifications for Issachar’s release.“She hadn’t even crossed the Russian border,” said Putin, a reference to the fact the small amount of hashish had been discovered while she was in an International airport transit zone.Despite the Kremlin insisting Issachar admit her guilt to gain pardon, the Russian leader seemed to back her lawyers view that no crime had actually been committed.“And so, was it a violation of the law or no?” political commentator Arkady Dubnov asked in a post to Facebook. К вопросу о милосердии президента РФ
Пресс-служба Кремля опубликовала…Posted by Аркадий Дубнов on Thursday, January 30, 2020Meanwhile, there remained little clarity over Putin’s views on President Trump’s grand bargain aimed at settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — the supposed reason for the trip.“In the end, who cares about this small stuff,” joked Matvei Ganapolsky, a commentator on the Echo of Moscow radio.He then stated the obvious.“Issachar needed to be freed, because she had become a drag on Russian-Israeli relations,” Ganapolsky said.
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.”
An hour’s train ride from the European Union’s headquarters, where the bloc’s British lawmakers and staffers packed up to leave, businesswoman Meriela Masson pondered Brexit during a quick smoke outside her Paris office.Parisian businesswoman Meriela Masson says she hasn’t had time to think of Brexit. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)”Unfortunately, I don’t have time to think of it,” Masson said of Britain’s departure from the EU, which becomes reality at midnight Friday in Brussels. “I don’t follow the news regarding Brexit, so I have no clue what to think about it.”If Britain’s departure from the EU amounts to a political earthquake in Brussels, the aftershock is less intense in other European capitals.Europeans feel sadness, but they are also watching Brexit unfold with “a sort of fatigue,” said analyst Elvire Fabry of the Jacques Delores Institute, a Paris research group.”It was more perceived as a deep political crisis within the U.K., than a real negotiation between the U.K. and EU,” she said, as the protracted talks wound out. Now, as Europe moves from saying goodbye to Britain to carving out a new and potentially rocky post-Brexit relationship, ordinary Europeans face many unknowns. Student Adolphine Nsimba exits a Paris M&S food store, one of Britain’s many marks on Europe. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)Will fishermen and farmers lose out on a lucrative British market? Will drivers and passengers be stuck in unending customs lines?”I hope it won’t penalize France,” said student Adolphine Nsimba, 25, as she exited an M&S food market in Paris — another sign of Britain’s imprint on Europe, along with craft beer and afternoon tea. “I have friends and family in England, and I don’t want to apply for a visa to go there.”Outside the Gare du Nord station, where London-bound Eurostar trains depart every 30 minutes, truck driver Pierre Weillart voiced similar fears. He spends many workdays moving refrigerated goods by road through the Channel Tunnel to Britain.”We’re worried about customs,” he said. “It could lose a lot of time.”Soul-searchingBrexit is also sparking soul-searching among some Europeans about what is broken in a political and economic union born from the ashes of World War II.”We European decision-makers must realize that if an increasing number of our fellow citizens have turned their back on the European project, it’s for a reason,” said Philippe Lamberts, an EU Greens Party lawmaker from Belgium. “It’s because many believe that too often, policies adopted at the European level have served the few rather than the many.”A Paris kiosok bears a magazine cover bidding farewell to Britain. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)Lamberts’ remarks came as the European Parliament voted to formally approve Brexit on Wednesday. As many lamented Britain’s departure from the bloc, euroskeptic parties cheered it on. “Brexit is the victory of the common people against multinational corporations, special interests and other elites,” populist Finns Party lawmaker Laura Huhtasaari said. “The 2020s is the decade where the national state makes the ultimate comeback in Europe.”Euroskeptic parties gained ground during last year’s European Parliament elections. In France, the far-right National Rally party led the overall vote with 23%, ahead of the ruling Centrist Party of President Emmanuel Macron. A comeback for Europe?Pro-EU parties still won the majority of votes, and overall turnout hit a record high of more than 50%. Promises of a French-style Frexit or Italexit in Italy have faded.Analyst Elvire Fabry of the Jacques Delors Institute, named after a former European Commission president whose photo is to her left, says there is a feeling of fatigue regarding Brexit. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)”All the parties that are really critical toward the EU have changed their strategy a little,” Fabry said. “Instead of calling for a similar move out of the EU, they now want to change the EU from the inside.”Recent polls also show an uptick in citizen support. A 2019 Eurobarometer survey found Europeans view the bloc in a more positive light than at any other point in the last decade.”Brexit is a failure of Britain, not the European Union,” former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said. Others see it as a failure of both. Fabry, for one, disagrees. She believes Brexit has delivered a powerful and positive message that might prove useful for other tricky negotiations, including with China and the United States.”We happened to see a new kind of cohesion among the Europeans,” she said, describing the unity in Brexit negotiations that member states have not found on issues like immigration and defense. “We were expecting divisions and increasing criticism of the EU — but on the contrary.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faced a delicate balancing act as he began a two-day visit to Ukraine on Thursday, trying to boost U.S. ties with a critical ally that is at the heart of the impeachment trial while not providing fodder for Democrats seeking to oust President Donald Trump.Pompeo’s visit comes as the Senate prepares to vote on whether to hear witnesses who could shed further light on Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.Pompeo is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the country and meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy since the impeachment process began last year with revelations about a July 25 phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian leader.Trump is accused of obstructing Congress and abuse of office for withholding critical military aid to the country in exchange for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival, and his son Hunter.Ukraine has been an unwilling star in the impeachment proceedings, eager for good relations with Trump as it depends heavily on U.S. support to defend itself from Russian-backed separatists. Trump, who has still not granted Zelenskiy the White House meeting he craves, has offered that support to some degree. Although the military assistance was put on hold, it was eventually released after a whistleblower complaint brought the July 25 call to light. The Trump administration has also supplied Ukraine with lethal defense equipment, including Javelin anti-tank weapons.FILE – President Donald Trump meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the InterContinental Barclay New York hotel during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sept. 25, 2019.Pompeo is likely to stress the importance of the U.S.-Ukraine relationship, a sentiment long shared by Republicans and Democrats who see the former Soviet republic as a bulwark against Russian ambitions. But it’s a view that now has partisan overtones, with Democrats arguing that withholding aid from such a critical ally for political purposes is an impeachable offense.The Senate is expected to vote on hearing impeachment witnesses on Friday. Democrats want to hear from former national security adviser John Bolton, whose forthcoming book reportedly says that Trump withheld the aid in exchange for a public pledge of a probe into the Bidens. That would back witnesses who testified before the House impeachment inquiry.Ukraine has been a delicate subject for Pompeo, who over the weekend lashed out at a National Public Radio reporter for asking why he has not publicly defended the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. She was removed from her post after unsubstantiated allegations were made against her by Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani.Pompeo has been criticized for not publicly supporting Yovanovitch, her now-departed successor as chief of the Kyiv embassy, William Taylor, and other diplomats who testified before House impeachment investigators. Yovanovitch and Taylor have been attacked by Trump supporters and, in some cases, have been accused of disloyalty.NPR interviewIn the NPR interview, Pompeo took umbrage when asked if he owed Yovanovitch an apology and maintained that he had defended all of his employees. In an angry encounter after the interview, he also questioned if Americans actually cared about Ukraine, according to NPR.That comment prompted Taylor and Pompeo’s former special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, who also testified to the impeachment panel, to write opinion pieces discussing the importance of the country to U.S. national security and why Pompeo should be explaining its role to Americans as their top diplomat.Pompeo brushed aside his reported comment, telling reporters aboard his plane that “of course, the American people care about the people of Ukraine” and said his message to American diplomats in Ukraine would be the same he gives to those at other embassies.”The message is very similar to every embassy that I get a chance to talk to when I travel,” he said. “I almost always meet with the team and tell them how much we love them, appreciate them, appreciate their family members and their sacrifice.”He said he would “talk about the important work that the United States and Ukraine will continue to do together to fight corruption inside of that country and to ensure that America provides the support that the Ukrainian people need to ensure that they have a free and independent nation.”Corruption issuePompeo twice postponed earlier planned trips to Ukraine, most recently in early January when developments with Iran forced him to cancel. Pompeo said he plans to discuss the issue of corruption but demurred when asked if he would specifically raise the Bidens or the energy company Burisma for which Hunter Biden worked.”I don’t want to talk about particular individuals. It’s not worth it,” he told reporters. “It’s a long list in Ukraine of corrupt individuals and a long history there. And President Zelenskiy has told us he’s committed to it. The actions he’s taken so far demonstrate that, and I look forward to having a conversation about that with him as well.”Pompeo traveled to Kyiv from London, which was the first stop on a trip to Europe and Central Asia that will also take him to Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Із початку січня долар зміцнився приблизно на 5%, свідчать дані на сайті Національного банку України.
На початку місяця вартість долара становила 23 гривні 69 копійок, а 31 січня вона досягне 24 гривень 92 копійок.
Євро зміцнився майже на 4% – з 26 гривень 42 копійок до 27 гривень 48 копійок.
За підсумками 2019 року долар втратив майже 15%, євро – практично 17%.your ad here
As Europe’s political establishment bids farewell to Britain and its EU membership with a mix of sorrow and some jubilation, many Europeans are not paying much attention this latest chapter of the very long process popularly known as “Brexit.” Lisa Bryant took the pulse of some Parisians, and filed this report for VOA from the French capital.
За місяць ціна на дизельне пальне та бензин знизилася в середньому на дві гривні, повідомив прем’єр-міністр Олексій Гончарук у Facebook.
«Що це дає людям? Просто в цифрах. Щоденні витрати українців на пальне зменшились на 16,5 млн грн, або на 511 млн грн на місяць. Більше того, офіційні продажі пального збільшились на 6% за місяць, а це означає, що збільшилась і кількість податків, які сплачують в бюджет», – написав Гончарук.
За його словами, правоохоронці та органи контролю «відпрацювали» майже чотири тисячі нелегальних автозаправних станцій по всій країні. Частину закрили, інша частина – отримала ліцензії на офіційну роботу.
«В окремих областях, наприклад, в Луганській та Миколаївській, обсяги продажі пального збільшились на 15%. Ще в трьох: Вінницькій, Дніпропетровській та Черкаській – на 14%», – додав прем’єр.
23 грудня президент України Володимир Зеленський зустрівся з представниками компаній – учасниць паливного ринку, нафто- та газовидобувної галузі й мереж автозаправних станцій. Він закликав «відреагувати на зміцнення курсу гривні» та знизити ціни на бензин.
У відповідь вони поскаржилися на роботу нелегальних автозаправних станцій, проте наступного дня все ж знизили ціни на пальне.
Законопроекти, які ініціює міністр культури, молоді та спорту Володимир Бородянський та народний депутат України Олександр Ткаченко щодо регуляції діяльності ЗМІ, можуть стати інструментами згортання свободи слова в Україні.
Про це заявив голова Національної спілки журналістів України Сергій Томіленко.
Сергій Томіленко розповів, що журналістське співтовариство занепокоєне тим, що розробляються два закони, які мають регулювати роботу ЗМІ в Україні.
“Найбільше поки що нас тривожать драконівські правки, які пропонує Міністерство культури, що об’єктивно, дійсно, називаючи ті загрози, які є, я знову кажу – це загрози російської пропаганди, російського впливу, але інструменти, які пропонуються – це фактично інструменти згортання свободи слова в Україні”, – зазначив Томіленко.
Зокрема, за його словами, якщо не буде якихось запобіжників, в Україні просто створиться механізм, коли держава жорстко регулюватиме журналістську діяльність.
“Зокрема, пропонується посада так званого омбудсмена з інформації, але насправді – це цинізм, бо омбудсмен це людина, яка захищає, це структура, яка захищає права. А тут це буде агентство, яке блокуватиме небажану інформацію”, – зауважив голова Національної спілки журналістів України.
Також, він наголосив, що інша небезпека – це криміналізація журналістської діяльності.
“На сьогодні міністр виступає адвокатом запровадження кримінальної відповідальності за введення суспільства в оману, за фейки, за дезінформацію. Але, знову ж таки, якщо це будуть нечіткі критерії, то тоді можна говорити, що дезінформацію продукують журналісти-розслідувачі, бо вони в таємниці тримають свої джерела – значить це брехня, бо не вказано першоджерело або інше. Відповідно ми проти криміналізації”, – сказав Томіленко.
Як повідомлялось раніше, міністр культури, молоді і спорту Володимир Бородянський заявляв: має намір ініціювати введення кримінальної відповідальності для журналістів за маніпуляцію інформацією.
Окрім того, він зазначав: держава регулюватиме діяльність блогерів. Зокрема йдеться про контент, який вони випускають.