Monthly Archives : August 2021

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Poland Could Declare State of Emergency at Belarus Border

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Aug,2021

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The Polish government has asked President Andrzej Duda to declare a state of emergency along the Poland-Belarus border. Poland accuses Belarus of using migrants as political pawns by pushing them into the European Union in retaliation over EU sanctions. According to a recent BBC report, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko accused Poland of starting a “border conflict” and violating his country’s territory. The state of emergency would create a three-kilometer-wide zone around the border that would prohibit outsiders from entering. FILE – Polish President Andrzej Duda speaks in Gdansk-Westerplatte, Sept. 1, 2020.”Please expect Poland’s security to be strengthened in the nearest time through acts of law, and also through subsequent actions on Poland’s border,” Duda said. The country’s parliament would need to approve the emergency declaration, and Duda said he thinks it would. About 30 migrants, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, have been in limbo at the border for weeks. So far, Poland’s response has been to deploy troops to the border and install a barbed wire fence. Last week, it said it had provided tents, blankets and power generators to the migrants, who remain on Belarusian territory. Also last week, the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, called for Poland to provide medical and legal support to the migrants. Some refugee rights groups say several migrants are sick. One group reportedly tried to cut a hole in the barbed wire fence. About 3,000 migrants have attempted to enter Poland from Belarus this month, The Associated Press reported. Poland is not alone in accusing Belarus of using migrants as political pawns. Other Baltic states have said Minsk is pushing migrants toward them in response to the EU sanctions following a crackdown against those protesting the disputed reelection of President Lukashenko in August 2020. Last week, the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, said it was monitoring the situation. “We firmly reject attempts to instrumentalize people for political purposes,” spokesman Christian Wigand said in Brussels. “We cannot accept any attempts by third countries to incite or acquiesce in illegal migration” to the EU.  Some information in this report comes from the Associated Press and Reuters. 
 

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Turkish Officials Say Deportation Centers Packed With Afghan Refugees

31
Aug,2021

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Under a small bridge more than 100 kilometers from the Turkish border with Iran, a small group of boys and young men waits quietly for a smuggler.  They are unwashed, exhausted and hungry. Most of them are under 18, and they are all from Afghanistan. When the Taliban began taking over their towns and villages, they fled their homes with almost nothing. Currently, after more than two months of travel, they have even less. “I brought shampoo, soap, money, my phone and a watch,” says Saboon Afghan, 24, the oldest in the group and its de facto leader. “I used up some and the rest was stolen. Now, I just have these clothes and an empty bag.” Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
Zaki Wassim, 17, at right, sits beside his brother under the bridge. Both of them are trying to reach Istanbul for the second time, after being sent back to the Iranian border by Turkish police a few weeks ago. (VOA/Yan Boechat)”We were walking openly on the streets for an hour when the police arrested us last time,” says Zaki Wassim, 17, from Kabul, explaining what happened when he tried to enter Turkey from Iran about a month ago. “The next evening, they took us in a bus to the border and shouted, ‘Don’t come back to Turkey.'” Influx angers some Turks Earlier this month, the Taliban swept into Kabul after taking over vast swaths of Afghanistan in a matter of days. Since then, mass evacuations have left the Kabul airport in chaos, and Islamic State suicide bombers have killed at least 170 people and 13 U.S. service members.  The country is on edge, waiting to find out what will happen now that the United States has met its self-declared August 31 deadline to pull out of Afghanistan completely. Afghan refugees detained in a Turkish deportation center watch journalists touring their facility with Turkish officials in Van, Turkey, Aug. 30, 2021. (VOA/Yan Boechat)Turkish officials also are waiting to see what happens next, saying it may be weeks or months before they can resume deportations. Turkey currently has 25 deportation centers, all filled to capacity with mostly Afghan refugees, and it plans to build eight more. “We cannot send them back because of human rights issues,” says Omurcu. “But if things go well, we will resume normal deportations.” Soldiers patrol the Turkish-Iranian border trying to prevent Afghans refugees from entering Turkey, on Aug. 30, 2021. (VOA/Yan Boechat)Many Turkish people are angered by the influx of Afghan refugees, saying their country is being damaged economically and socially by the crisis. Turkey already hosts more than 4 million refugees and asylum-seekers, more than any other country in the world, including 3.6 million Syrian refugees. During the tour, officials express sympathy for the detainees, showing playrooms for children, Turkish language classes, and a line of young men picking up what appears to be a healthy meal. They also express sympathy for the angered Turkish nationals, who want refugees out of their country.  “Illegal entries are out of control in Turkey,” Omurcu continues. “It is too much.” Asylum claims The process for becoming a legal refugee in Turkey involves applying for asylum via government officials. In most countries, the U.N. refugee agency, the UNHCR, processes the claims, but Turkey relieved the agency of that responsibility in 2018. Under the bridge, the boys do not seem to know much about the process, saying first they were driven from their homes by crushing poverty. Later, they explain the poverty was a result of war and violence. Both the United Nations and Turkey are clear: fleeing violence and danger can make you eligible for refugee status. Fleeing poverty does not, even if the two are intertwined.  At the deportation center, some refugees point out that no one plans to become a refugee, so it is reasonable that some people do not know how to organize their tragic stories in order to fit into a legal definition. Soraya, 19, fled her home in the western part of Afghanistan when the Taliban was getting closer. She left with her sister and five nephews and nieces, After crossing Iran and entering Turkey they decided to go to the police and seek asylum, pictured Aug. 30, 2021. (VOA/Yan Boechat)Soraya, 19, was in her third semester at a university when she ran from her home in western Afghanistan. She was studying physics and chemistry, hoping one day to become a doctor.  When the Taliban took over her town, she and her sister fled with her nieces and nephews. Besides the violence of the war, they feared they would be in danger, just for being educated women.  And while she hopes Turkey will help her find a safe place to live, outside of the detention camp, she doesn’t see it as Turkey’s responsibility. “This is my request for the whole world,” she says. “Please pave the way for us. We escaped the battles ourselves. Now we need help.” Mohammad Mahdi Sultani contributed to this report.
 

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Валютний ринок: долар знову наближається до 27 гривень

31
Aug,2021

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Торги на міжбанку в останній день літа завершилися на рівні 26 гривень 92–94 копійки за долар

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EU to Meet to Discuss Preventing Uncontrolled Migration From Afghanistan

31
Aug,2021

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European Union ministers will hold an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss preventing uncontrolled migration from Afghanistan after the Taliban’s seizure of the country, according to a statement drafted for the meeting.EU member states hope to prevent a refugee crisis like the one fueled by Syria’s civil war in 2015. The EU was unprepared for the influx of more than a million refugees and migrants that created splits among members, while also energizing far-right parties, as camps in Greece, Italy and other countries became filled.A wave of migrants from Afghanistan is likely to escalate tensions among EU members. The draft says the member nations likely will fund the housing for refugees in countries bordering Afghanistan to prevent them from coming to Europe.In a letter sent to EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson before the meeting, Amnesty International said the 27-nation bloc “must refrain from extremely damaging responses that put emphasis on keeping the EU’s border ‘protected’ and proposing or adopting measures that shift the responsibility for the protection of refugees to third countries.”The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees warns that up to a half-million Afghans could flee their home country by the end of the year. The International Rescue Committee estimates 2.6 million Afghan refugees already are being hosted primarily by Iran and Pakistan.Thousands of others were evacuated before the U.S.-imposed August 31 deadline to  withdraw in a massive airlift conducted by military forces from Western nations.  

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BBC Reporter Leaves Russia After Credentials Withdrawn in Row With Britain

31
Aug,2021

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BBC journalist Sarah Rainsford left Russia Tuesday after Moscow abruptly refused to extend her permission to work in a tit-for-tat disagreement with Britain over the treatment of foreign media.Russian authorities earlier this month told Rainsford, one of the British broadcaster’s two English-language Moscow correspondents, to leave the country in retaliation for what it called London’s discrimination against Russian journalists working in Britain.Russian authorities accused London of mistreating a Russian journalist working for the state TASS news agency in London, who they said was forced to leave in 2019 after his visa was not extended without explanation.They said they had tried and failed to get Britain to remedy the situation before deciding to retaliate in kind.The BBC has called the expulsion of Rainsford a “direct assault on media freedom,” and the British government had without success urged Russian authorities to reconsider their decision.Rainsford, who has said she was devastated by the move posted pictures Tuesday on Twitter from a Moscow airport before she boarded a flight out of the country.”I have to leave Russia,” she wrote.Our correspondent @sarahrainsford reports on her expulsion from Russia. pic.twitter.com/QIE5kVUZx7— BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR) August 31, 2021Russia’s foreign ministry has made clear it will not allow the BBC to send her back or replace her with someone else until Britain gives a visa to a Russian state journalist.

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Milan Mayor Says Cladding Melted in Tower Block Blaze, as in London’s Grenfell Tower

31
Aug,2021

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The mayor of Italy’s financial capital Milan demanded answers on Monday over why a fire was able to rip through an apartment block and melt its cladding, comparing it to the Grenfell Tower fire in London that killed 71 people four years ago. Firefighters said everyone managed to escape the 18 story building in the south of Milan, which was gutted by the blaze that broke out on Sunday afternoon. Among the residents in the high rise building was rapper Mahmood, winner of the 2019 San Remo music festival with his international hit “Soldi.” Witnesses have said the fire, which started on the 15th floor, quickly surged through the outside cladding of the building. Video of the blaze showed panels melting off the building in liquefied clumps. “The tower was built just over 10 years ago and it is unacceptable that such a modern building should have proved totally vulnerable,” mayor Beppe Sala wrote on Facebook. “What was clear from the start was that the building’s outer shell went up in flames far too quickly, in a manner reminiscent of the Grenfell Tower fire in London a few years ago.” The deaths in Britain’s Grenfell Tower fire were blamed on exterior cladding panels made of flammable material. Owners of flats in similar buildings across Britain have since been forced to remove such panels at a cost estimated to run into billions of dollars, forcing many residents into economic hardship.  

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Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Heads to Long-Awaited White House Visit

31
Aug,2021

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is scheduled to visit the White House on Wednesday, September 1st. VOA’s Ostap Yarysh reports on the long-awaited meeting from Washington.Camera: Kostiantyn Golubchyk, Contributor: Myroslava Gongadze

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EU to Recommend Return of COVID Travel Restrictions on US Tourists

30
Aug,2021

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European Union officials say the bloc is expected to recommend its member nations reinstate COVID-19 travel restrictions on travelers from the United States, where new cases and hospitalizations have risen sharply in recent weeks.The officials, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity as the EU travel policy is still being reviewed, say that as early as this week, the U.S. could be removed from a “safe list” of countries whose residents can travel to the 27-nation bloc without additional restrictions, such as quarantine and testing requirements. The recommendation would come from the European Council, which reviews the EU’s travel list every two weeks. The suggested restrictions, however, would not be binding for member countries, as there is no unified travel policy and member nations are free to set their own regulations.The EU lifted most travel restrictions for U.S. tourists in June, even though the U.S. has remained closed to European travelers.The threshold for being on the EU “safe list’ is an infection rate of no higher 75 new cases per 100,000 residents over the previous 14 days. The latest figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show a rate of more than 300 new cases per 100,000 people.Last week, new cases per day averaged more than 150,000, a number reminiscent of the peak months of January and February of this year. COVID-19-related hospitalizations have also risen to around 100,000, a number not seen since early February. COVID-19 is caused by the coronavirus.

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Валютний ринок: гривня повертає позиції проти долара

30
Aug,2021

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Ukraine, US Leaders May Address Sensitive Issues at Next Meeting

30
Aug,2021

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is scheduled to visit the White House on Wednesday, a trip that has been in the works for two years and delayed one day by events in Afghanistan. During the administration of former President Donald Trump, surrogates for the U.S. president pressed Ukraine to open an investigation into activities involving the son of then-candidate Joe Biden. The incidents led to President Trump’s first impeachment by the House of Representatives, and the political furor sidelined relations with Kyiv. Analysts say there are both challenges and opportunities in the meeting between President Biden and Zelenskiy in Washington.Ukraine Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova is optimistic about the visit, saying it sends an important message about the U.S.-Ukraine relationship.     “After (German) Chancellor (Angela) Merkel, President Zelenskiy is the second leader the U.S. is inviting to the White House with a visit to discuss some strategic issues,” Markarova told VOA. “So, I believe it shows the level of attention, focus and importance of our bilateral relations for both Ukraine and the United States.”    American experts agree that the Biden-Zelenskiy meeting is a great opportunity to strengthen Ukraine-U.S. relations. Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine,  says the outcome of the meeting will depend to a great extent on Zelenskiy.”It seems to me, though, that part of the ability to make this a successful meeting will depend on what President Zelenskiy asks for,” Pifer told VOA. “He should moderate some of his requests because if he asks too much, he may be disappointed. You do not want to ask the question unless you are sure the answer is going to be yes.”    Among the more sensitive subjects are NATO membership and the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Europe, which Ukraine opposes. Experts believe it is important that Zelenskiy remain realistic and balanced when discussing these issues.  “He should not expect any commitment from the United States regarding Ukraine and NATO. He should also not expect any change in the Biden position on Nord Stream 2,” said John Herbst, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and the director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. “Zelenskiy has to make clear that he still opposes that decision and would like to see a change without antagonizing the president. So, he can do that, I think, by mentioning it, but not in a confrontational way in their White House meeting.”VOA Interview: Nord Stream 2 ‘Should Never Become Operational,’ Ukraine Energy Company SaysLaunch of Nord Stream 2 increases threat of Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine, Naftogaz official believes Daria Kalenyuk, executive director of the Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Action Center, says Zelenskiy should remain assertive when discussing the Nord Stream 2 issue. She says the White House’s decision to waive sanctions on Nord Stream 2 contradict Biden’s statements on fighting corruption abroad.  “The right thing would be to talk not only about corruption in Ukraine but also about geopolitical corruption and strategic corruption. We can and should ask why Nord Stream 2 is being finished despite it being the symbol of strategic corruption,” Kalenyuk said.Security cooperation is also expected to be discussed. Earlier, the White House decided to support providing additional military aid to Ukraine in case of a possible escalation of its longstanding conflict with Russia in eastern Ukraine. In addition, Biden did signal his intention to provide Ukraine with $60 million more in defense lethal and non-lethal U.S. military equipment.”So, I would think that additional American military assistance would be good,” Pifer said. “First of all, because it would help improve Ukrainians’ defense capabilities. That’s the practical step. But second of all, it would be a way to send a strong message of American support for Ukraine.” Herbst believes Biden should also be interested in supporting Ukraine through strong rhetoric.”He needs to demonstrate in very clear ways that the United States has Ukraine’s back — is supporting Ukraine — as Moscow continues this war. And Biden has even more reasons now to do it, after his administration’s disastrous handling of the pullout from Afghanistan. He needs to show that, in fact, he is a strong international player.”  At the same time, the White House has repeatedly emphasized that it expects Ukraine to deliver tangible results in the country’s fight against corruption. Pifer believes the biggest thing Zelenskiy can bring is a credible, compelling message of Kyiv’s commitment to reform. “And that means a more open and competitive economy,” Pifer says. “It means rule of law, including reforming the judicial sector. It means reducing the outsize political and economic influence of the oligarchs. It means combating corruption.” Markarova is convinced the two presidents will see eye to eye, even on the more complex issues. “We know that both Ukraine and the U.S. are strategic partners and friends. So the two leaders will discuss all the issues on the agenda like partners — sincerely and earnestly. And they will find solutions that are acceptable for both sides,” she said.Ukrainian diplomats say Zelenskiy’s visit to the White House is just a start. They expect the bilateral relationship will further flourish as the two countries work hard on fulfilling their agreements.Myroslava Gongadze contributed to this report.

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Купівля-продаж землі: кількість угод в Україні перевищила 10 тисяч

30
Aug,2021

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France’s Macron Visits Iraq’s Mosul  Destroyed by IS War 

29
Aug,2021

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French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday visited Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, which suffered widespread destruction during the war to defeat the Islamic State group in 2017. He vowed to fight alongside regional governments against terrorism. Macron said IS carried out deadly attacks throughout the world from its self-declared caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq. He said IS did not differentiate between people’s religion and nationality when it came to killing, noting that the extremists killed many Muslims. “We will do whatever we can, shoulder to shoulder, with the governments of the region and with the Iraqi government to fight against this terrorism,” Macron said in English following a visit to an iconic mosque that was destroyed by the extremists. “We will be present alongside with sovereign governments to restore peace.” Macron said France will help in rebuilding mutual respect as well as monuments, churches, schools and mosques and most importantly “economic opportunity.” Despite the defeat of IS on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, the group’s sleeper cells still carry out deadly attacks in both countries and an affiliate of the group claimed Thursday’s attacks at Kabul’s airport in Afghanistan that killed scores. Macron began his visit to Mosul by touring the Our Lady of the Hour Church, a Catholic church that was badly damaged during the rule of IS that lasted from 2014 until the extremists’ defeat three years later. Iraqi children dressed in white and waving Iraqi and French flags sang upon Macron’s arrival. FILE – Pope Francis arrives to pray for the victims of war at Hosh al-Bieaa Church Square in Mosul, Iraq.It was the same church where Pope Francis led a special prayer during a visit to Iraq in March. During the trip, the pontiff urged Iraq’s Christians to forgive the injustices against them by Muslim extremists and to rebuild as he visited the wrecked shells of churches. Macron moved around the church — whose walls are still riddled with bullets — amid tight security as a priest accompanying him gave him details about the church built in the 19th century. The French president then went up to the roof overlooking parts of Mosul accompanied by Iraqi officials. “We hope that France will open a consulate in Mosul,” Iraqi priest Raed Adel told Macron inside the church. He also called on the president to help in the reconstruction of Mosul’s airport. Macron made a list of promises during his meeting with Christian leaders at Our Lady of the Hour church, including opening a consulate. “I’m struck by what’s at stake here so I want to also tell you that we are going to be making the decision to bring back a consulate and schools,” Macron said. 
Macron left the church in the early afternoon and headed to Mosul’s landmark al-Nuri mosque, which was blown up in the battle with IS militants in 2017 and is being rebuilt. French President Emmanuel Macron (unseen) tours the Al-Nuri Mosque in Iraq’s second city of Mosul, in the northern Nineveh province, on August 29, 2021.The mosque, also known as The Great Mosque of al-Nuri, and its iconic leaning minaret were built in the 12th century. It was from the mosque’s pulpit that IS’s self-styled caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared the caliphate’s establishment in 2014. Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, became IS’s bureaucratic and financial backbone. It took a ferocious nine-month battle to finally free the city in July 2017. Between 9,000 and 11,000 civilians were killed, according to an Associated Press investigation at the time, and the war left widespread destruction. Many Iraqis have had to rebuild on their own amid a years-long financial crisis. Since the early years of Christianity, northern Iraq has been home to large Christian communities. But over the past decades, tens of thousands left Iraq and settled elsewhere amid the country’s wars and instability that culminated with the persecution of Christians by extremists over the past decade. The traditionally Christian towns dotting the Nineveh Plains of the north emptied out in 2014 as Christians — as well as many Muslims — fled the Islamic State group’s onslaught. Only a few have returned to their homes since the defeat of IS in Iraq was declared four years ago, and the rest remain scattered elsewhere in Iraq or abroad. Macron arrived in Baghdad early Saturday where he took part in a conference attended by officials from around the Middle East aimed at easing Mideast tensions and underscored the Arab country’s new role as mediator. Macron hailed the Baghdad conference as a major boost for Iraq and its leadership. The country had been largely shunned by Arab leaders for the past few decades because of security concerns amid back-to-back wars and internal unrest, its airport frequently attacked with rockets by insurgents. Macron vowed to maintain troops in Iraq “regardless of the Americans’ choices” and “for as long as the Iraqi government is asking for our support.” France currently contributes to the international coalition forces in Iraq with 800 soldiers. On Saturday night, Macron visited a Shi’ite holy shrine in Baghdad before flying to the northern city of Irbil, where he met Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad, the 28-year-old activist who was forced into sexual slavery by IS fighters in Iraq. A member of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, Murad was among thousands of women and girls who were captured and forced into sexual slavery by IS in 2014. Her mother and six brothers were killed by IS fighters in Iraq. She became an activist on behalf of women and girls after escaping and finding refuge in Germany and shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. 

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Spacex Launches Ants, Avocados, Robot to Space Station

29
Aug,2021

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A SpaceX shipment of ants, avocados and a human-sized robotic arm rocketed toward the International Space Station on Sunday.The delivery — due to arrive Monday — is the company’s 23rd for NASA in just under a decade.A recycled Falcon rocket blasted into the predawn sky from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. After hoisting the Dragon capsule, the first-stage booster landed upright on SpaceX’s newest ocean platform, named A Shortfall of Gravitas.SpaceX founder Elon Musk continued his tradition of naming the booster-recovery vessels in tribute to the late science fiction writer Iain Banks and his Culture series.The Dragon is carrying more than 2,170 kilograms of supplies and experiments, and fresh food, including avocados, lemons and even ice cream for the space station’s seven astronauts.The Girl Scouts are sending up ants, brine shrimp and plants as test subjects, while University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists are flying up seeds from mouse-ear cress, a small flowering weed used in genetic research. Samples of concrete, solar cells and other materials also will be subjected to weightlessness.A Japanese start-up company’s experimental robotic arm, meanwhile, will attempt to screw items together in its orbital debut and perform other mundane chores normally done by astronauts. The first tests will be done inside the space station. Future models of Gitai Inc.’s robot will venture out into the vacuum of space to practice satellite and other repair jobs, said chief technology officer Toyotaka Kozuki.As early as 2025, a squad of these arms could help build lunar bases and mine the moon for precious resources, he added.SpaceX had to leave some experiments behind because of delays resulting from COVID-19.It was the second launch attempt; Saturday’s try was foiled by stormy weather.NASA turned to SpaceX and other U.S. companies to deliver cargo and crews to the space station, once the space shuttle program ended in 2011. 

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Arc De Triomphe to be Wrapped for Posthumous Work by Christo

29
Aug,2021

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The Arc de Triomphe has seen parades, protests and tourists galore, but never before has the war monument in Paris been wrapped in silver and blue recyclable polypropylene fabric. That’s about to happen next month in a posthumous art installation designed by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude.”Christo has wrapped museums, parliaments as in Germany, but a monument like this? Not really. This is the first time. This is the first monument of this importance and scale that he has done,” Vladimir Yavachev, the late collaborating couple’s nephew, told The Associated Press.Preparations have already started on the Napoleon-era arch, where workers are covering statues to protect them from the wrapping.The idea for L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped was formed in 1961, when Christo and Jeanne-Claude lived in Paris. Jeanne-Claude died in 2009, and in spite of Christo’s death in May 2020, the project carried on.”He wanted to complete this project. He made us promise him that we will do it,” Yavachev told The Associated Press.It was to be realized last fall, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the installation.The $16.4 million project is being self-financed through the sale of Christo’s preparatory studies, drawings, scale models and other pieces of work, Yavachev said.Visitors to the foot of the Arc de Triomphe during the installation, scheduled for Sept. 18-Oct. 3, will be able to touch the fabric, and those climbing to the top will step on it when they reach the roof terrace, as intended by the artists.Born in Bulgaria in 1935, Christo Vladimirov Javacheff met Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon, born in Morocco on the exact same day as him, in Paris in 1958.The artists were known for elaborate, temporary creations that involved blanketing familiar public places with fabric, such as Berlin’s Reichstag and Paris’ Pont Neuf bridge, and creating giant site-specific installations, such as a series of 7,503 gates in New York City’s Central Park and the 39-kilometer Running Fence in California.Yavachev plans on completing another one of his uncle and aunt’s unfinished projects: a 150-meter-tall pyramid-like mastaba in Abu Dhabi.”We have the blueprints, we just have to do it,” he said. 

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France, Britain to Call for Kabul ‘Safe Zone,’ Macron Says 

29
Aug,2021

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France and Britain on Monday will urge the United Nations to work for the creation of a “safe zone” in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to protect humanitarian operations, French President Emmanuel Macron said. “This is very important. This would provide a framework for the United Nations to act in an emergency,” Macron said in comments published in the weekly Journal du Dimanche. Above all, such a safe zone would allow the international community “to maintain pressure on the Taliban,” who are now in power in Afghanistan, the French leader added. The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — France, Britain, the U.S., Russia and China — will meet on Monday to discuss the Afghanistan situation.  Paris and London will take the opportunity to present a draft resolution that “aims to define, under U.N. control, a ‘safe zone’ in Kabul, that will allow humanitarian operations to continue,” Macron said. His comments came as international efforts to airlift foreign nationals and vulnerable Afghanis out of the country neared an end.  France ended its evacuation efforts on Friday, and the United Kingdom followed suit on Saturday.  U.S. troops have been scrambling in dangerous and chaotic conditions to complete a massive evacuation operation from the Kabul airport by an August 31 deadline. Macron announced on Saturday that discussions had been “started with the Taliban” to “protect and repatriate” Afghan nationals at risk beyond August 31. Speaking to reporters in Iraq, where he was attending a meeting of key regional leaders, Macron added that with help from Qatar, which maintains good relations with the Taliban, there was a possibility of further airlift operations. He added that France had evacuated 2,834 people from Afghanistan since August 17. In the article published by the French Sunday newspaper, Macron said he envisaged targeted evacuations in future, “which would not be carried out at the military airport in Kabul” but perhaps via civil airports in the Afghan capital or from neighboring countries. 

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Macron to Attend Baghdad Summit Amid Fears Over IS

28
Aug,2021

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French President Emmanuel Macron is among the leaders set to attend a regional summit Saturday in Iraq, with the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and a deadly jihadist attack in Kabul overshadowing the meeting.Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II also are to attend the Baghdad summit, while the foreign ministers of arch-foes Iran and Saudi Arabia will also be present.Organizers have been tight-lipped on the agenda, but the meeting comes as Iraq, long a casualty of jihadist militancy, tries to establish itself as a mediator between Arab countries and Iran.Iraq seeks to play a “unifying role” to tackle crises shaking the region, sources close to Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi have said.Oil-rich Iraq has been caught for years in a delicate balancing act between its two main allies, Iran and the United States.Iran exerts major clout in Iraq through allied armed groups within the Hashed al-Shaabi, a powerful state-sponsored paramilitary network.Baghdad has been brokering talks since April between U.S. ally Riyadh and Tehran on mending ties severed in 2016.Macron aims to highlight France’s role in the region and its determination to press the fight against terrorism, his office said.The French president considers Iraq “essential” to stability in the troubled Middle East, it added.’More urgent than ever’An Islamic State (IS) group affiliate claimed Thursday’s suicide bombing in Kabul that killed scores of people, including 13 U.S. service members.The attack has revived global concerns that the extremist organization, which seized swathes of Syria and Iraq before being routed from both countries, is emerging anew, analysts said.According to Colin Clarke, senior research fellow at the Soufan Center, IS “still has access to tens of millions of dollars and will likely continue to rebuild its network throughout Iraq and Syria.”Its “primary goal at the moment is to have its affiliates maintain momentum until it can sufficiently rebuild its core in the Levant,” he said.”(IS) affiliates in sub-Saharan Africa and now Afghanistan will have the opportunity to make strides in the coming year.”In July, President Joe Biden said U.S. combat operations in Iraq would end this year, but that U.S. soldiers would continue to train, advise and support the country’s military in the fight against IS.Washington currently has 2,500 troops deployed to Iraq.Rasha Al Aqeedi, senior analyst at Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, said coalition forces believed Iraq’s security personnel could prevent another IS advance.”Maybe they’re not ideal, but they’re good enough for America to leave the country believing that Iraq is not going to live through another 2014,” she said. 

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