Monthly Archives : September 2021

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New Holographic Technology Provides Transportive Experience

30
Sep,2021

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A company in suburban Washington, D.C., is using cutting-edge technology to create lifelike video avatars to drop into music and training videos, games and other immersive environments. It’s an entry point to the so-called metaverse, as VOA’s Arzouma Kompaoré discovered while touring Avatar Dimension’s new studio.

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Ціна на електроенергію для деяких споживачів з 1 жовтня буде змінена – Міненерго

30
Sep,2021

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В уряді запевняють, що тарифи на електроенергію «гарантовано будуть незмінними» протягом всього опалювального сезону

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За півтора року 137 українських компаній розпочали роботу на іноземних ринках – МЗС

30
Sep,2021

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Кулеба закликав бізнес надалі розвивати культуру експортера та конструктивно співпрацювати з дипломатами

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Germany’s Political Parties Bargain to Determine Next Government

30
Sep,2021

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The wrangling over who will control Germany’s government has begun among the top four finishing parties following parliamentary elections.

The Social Democrats (SPD), led by Olaf Scholz, defeated outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) 25.8% to 24.1%, handing the conservative party its worst ever defeat.  

But since neither party won enough votes to control the Bundestag – the lower house of parliament – they must work with the third-place finishers, the Green party, which received 14.8% of the vote, and fourth place finishers, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), which received 11.5%.

The Greens and FDP agreed Tuesday to meet with each other first before discussions with the SPD or CDU. A photo was released to the media showing Green party candidate Annalena Baerbock with FDP leader Christian Lindner.

While the two parties have some common ground, they have traditionally belonged to rival ideological camps and have different approaches to issues including the economy and fighting climate change.

During media briefings with reporters Wednesday, both parties said they have scheduled meetings with the SPD and CDU, as well another meeting with each other.  

But traditionally, the Greens have leaned more toward the SPD’s left-center politics, and the FDP has been more aligned with the more conservative CDU, and their leadership indicated Wednesday that may not have changed.

When asked which coalition his party preferred, FDP General Secretary Volker Wissing said, “Our preference was based on content and since the parties’ content has not changed, the preference of course remains the same.”

At her own news conference, while stressing they were meeting with all parties, the Green party leader Baerbock, said that since SPD was the winner of the election, it was important to meet with them first.  

The Green and FDP leaders said they scheduled talks with the two first-place finishing parties for this Saturday and Sunday, followed by deliberations with their own party membership.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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Kosovo, Serbia Reach Deal to End Border Tensions

30
Sep,2021

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Kosovo agreed on Thursday to withdraw police units from its northern border with Serbia to end a mounting dispute over vehicle license plates that briefly escalated into violence and prompted NATO to step up its patrols.

The accord negotiated in Brussels calms the latest flare-up in a decades-old standoff between Serbia and Kosovo but does not resolve a bigger issue blocking European Union membership talks: that Serbia and its former province Kosovo should normalize relations following Pristina’s 2008 independence.

“We have a deal,” said Miroslav Lajcek, the EU’s envoy dealing with one of Europe’s toughest territorial disputes. “After two days of intense negotiations, an agreement on de-escalation and the way forward has just been reached,” he said on Twitter, where he posted the details.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gabriel Escobar was in Brussels to show support for E.U.-led talks, which he said showed the potential for more progress in the Balkans.

“I think we can make enormous strides in helping the Balkans get over a very difficult period during the ’90s and hopefully, eventually become more integrated with the European Union,” Escobar said on a briefing call with reporters.

However, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic played down hopes of any broader breakthrough for now. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence.

“I think the agreement is fair for the citizens. I would like us to be able to find more lasting solutions. That would not include recognition of Kosovo,” Vucic told a news conference in Serbia, where he was hosting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

 

Special stickers

 

Under the agreement, NATO troops will replace the Kosovar police units on the border, who will withdraw from Saturday. From Monday, both countries will place special stickers on car license plates to remove national symbols and allow the free movement of citizens.

NATO has had some 5,000 troops in Kosovo under a United Nations mandate since June 1999, overseeing a fragile peace following a U.S.-led bombing campaign to end ethnic conflict.

The new agreement ends a ban instigated by Kosovo for all drivers from Serbia to show a temporary, printed registration. Pristina said its move was in retaliation for measures in force in Serbia against drivers from Kosovo since 2008.

Lajcek said he was working on a longer-term solution.

The confrontation was a reminder to the wider world of the larger Kosovo-Serbia dispute that was the EU’s to resolve, diplomats said. One senior diplomat in Brussels said the latest flare-up was, in part, an attempt to get Brussels’s attention as the process towards EU membership has stalled.

Ahead of a Balkan-EU summit on Oct. 6 in Slovenia, Reuters reported on Tuesday that the 27 member states have so far been unable to agree a declaration reaffirming their 18-year-old pledge of future EU membership for the western Balkan states.

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Україна вперше матиме свій павільйон на ІТ-конференції Web Summit

30
Sep,2021

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British Government to Use Army to Help Ease Fuel Trucker Shortage

30
Sep,2021

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Britain’s business minister said Wednesday the army would begin driving fuel tankers in response to shortages at gas stations around the nation brought on by a dearth of truck drivers.

For about a week now, a shortage of around 100,000 truck drivers in Britain has made it difficult for oil companies to get gasoline from refineries to fueling stations. The British Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) reported Wednesday that more than a third of the nation’s 8,500 gas stations remain without fuel.

The situation has left long lines of motorists trying to buy fuel at stations that did have gasoline.

Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng told reporters they could expect to see soldiers driving tanker trucks to help get gasoline to the stations in a few days. He added that he felt the situation was stabilizing, noting that the inflow of gasoline matched sales on Tuesday. 

The situation had been exacerbated by panic buying among some motorists, but Kwarteng said people were “behaving quite responsibly” over the last day or so, and he encouraged them to continue buying fuel as they normally would.

The British business minister said Britain was not alone in facing a truck driver shortage. He said Poland is facing a shortage of about 123,000 drivers, and the United States is facing a similar situation. 

In a release on their website, the PRA reported “early signs that the crisis at pumps is ending,” with more of the association’s members reporting they are now receiving deliveries of fuel. 

They expect the percentage of stations without fuel is likely to improve further over the next 24 hours.

The driver shortage, however, is raising fears in Britain’s retail sector that if it continues much longer, it could create problems for the holiday season.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press and Reuters. 

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В Україні продовжили заборону на імпорт електроенергії з Росії та Білорусі

30
Sep,2021

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У НКРЕКП зазначили, що на необхідності продовжити заборону на засіданні Антикризового енергетичного штабу 27 вересня наголосили представники Кабінету міністрів та Міністерства енергетики

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YouTube Will Ban All Content Containing What it Calls Vaccine Misinformation

29
Sep,2021

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YouTube will ban any video that claims vaccines are ineffective or dangerous, including those that question vaccines for measles and chickenpox, the company announced Wednesday.  

“Specifically, content that falsely alleges that approved vaccines are dangerous and cause chronic health effects, claims that vaccines do not reduce transmission or contraction of disease, or contains misinformation on the substances contained in vaccines will be removed,” the Google-owned company said in a blog post announcing the new enforcement measures.

The company said “vaccines in particular have been a source of fierce debate over the years, despite consistent guidance from health authorities about their effectiveness.”  

“Today, we’re expanding our medical misinformation policies on YouTube with new guidelines on currently administered vaccines that are approved and confirmed to be safe and effective by local health authorities and the WHO.”

The company said it “will continue to allow content about vaccine policies, new vaccine trials and historical vaccine successes or failures.”  

YouTube’s COVID-19 vaccine policy has met with some backlash for being overly aggressive.

On Tuesday, the company removed Russian state-backed broadcaster RT’s German-language channels, saying they violated the company’s COVID-19 policy.

On Wednesday, Russia threatened to block YouTube, calling the channel removals “unprecedented information aggression.”

YouTube said it has removed over 130,000 videos over the past year for violating its COVID-19 policies.

Some information in this report comes from Reuters.

 

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«Важливо, щоб угорська сторона не керувалася емоціями» – МЗС про газову угоду Угорщини та Росії

29
Sep,2021

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«Виключення України з системи транзиту газу в цій угоду було ключовою вимогою російської сторони і на цю вимогу угорська сторона пристала», – вважають у МЗС

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Russia Threatens YouTube Block After RT TV’s German Channels Are Deleted

29
Sep,2021

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Russia threatened Wednesday to block Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube after Russian state-backed broadcaster RT’s German-language channels were deleted, and said it was considering retaliating against German media.

YouTube said on Tuesday that RT’s channels had breached its COVID-19 misinformation policy, a move Russia’s Foreign Ministry described as “unprecedented information aggression.”

Russian state communications regulator Roskomnadzor said it had written to Google and demanded the restrictions be lifted. It said Russia could seek to partially or fully restrict access to YouTube if it failed to comply.

Google declined to comment Wednesday.

The Kremlin said it may have to force YouTube to comply with Russian law, saying there could be zero tolerance for breaches.

“Of course there are signs that the laws of the Russian Federation have been broken, broken quite blatantly, because of course this involves censorship and obstructing the spread of information by the media,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The foreign ministry said Russian authorities had been approached with “a proposal to develop and take retaliatory measures against the YouTube hosting service and the German media.”

Christian Mihr, executive director at Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Germany, said the threat of action against German journalists was “completely inappropriate.”

Moscow has increased pressure on foreign tech firms in the past year, fining social media companies for failing to delete content Russia deems illegal and punitively slowing down the speed of Twitter.

That pressure led Google and Apple to remove an anti-government tactical voting app from their stores on the first day of a parliamentary election earlier this month, Kremlin critics said.

Berlin denied an allegation by the Russian foreign ministry that YouTube’s decision had been made with clear and tacit support from the German authorities and local media.

“It is a decision by YouTube, based on rules created by YouTube. It is not a measure [taken by] the German government or other official organizations,” German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert told reporters.

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У «Нафтогазі» оцінили втрати для України від газової угоди між Угорщиною та Росією

29
Sep,2021

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Потрібна інтеграція української газотранспортної системи в європейську єдину модель газопостачання, вважає представник компанії

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New Technologies Aim to Reduce Carbon in Atmosphere

29
Sep,2021

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A bunch of new technologies are popping up that could help bring global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to net-zero by 2050, and all need investment. Governments worldwide are having to decide which one suits their geography and how much they can spend on a given technology. More with VOA’s Mariama Diallo.

Produced by: Kimberlyn Weeks    

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Massive North Sea Wind Farm Could Power Denmark, Neighbors

29
Sep,2021

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Weeks before a high-profile climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Danish officials are talking up an ambitious program to develop the world’s largest offshore wind energy complex, with the potential to provide enough green energy to power not just Denmark, but some of its neighbors as well. 

The complex, to sit on and around an artificial North Sea island about 80 km off Denmark’s coast, would span an area up to the size of 64 soccer fields and support thermal storage facilities, HVDC converters, a heliport, and a research and visitor center.

Energy Island Envisioned by Denmark

“You can have hundreds of wind turbines around this island,” said Dan Jorgensen, Denmark’s climate and energy minister, during a visit to Washington this month. His government calculates that the energy island could yield up to 10 gigawatts of electricity — enough for 10 million households. 

“Since we’re only 5.8 million people in Denmark, that’s far more electricity than we’ll need for ourselves, so we want to find other countries to be part of this,” Jorgensen said, adding that Denmark is in talks with other European countries. 

The 10-gigawatt estimate is at the high end of what might finally be built. Current planning allows for a range of from three to 10 gigawatts, according to Jorgensen. But even at the low end, the energy island would dwarf the largest existing offshore wind farm — Britain’s Walney Extension Offshore Wind Farm in the Irish Sea that has a capacity to generate 0.66 gigawatts and provide power to 600,000 homes. 

The world’s largest wind farm of any kind is a 10-gigawatt complex completed this summer and based in the northwestern Gansu province of China. The next largest of any kind is a 1.6-gigawatt wind farm in Jaisalmer, India. 

“It’s the biggest infrastructure investment in the history of my country, but we foresee it will be a good business model,” Jorgensen told VOA. 

“There will be some initial costs there, but we’re willing to bear them because this will also mean that we will get the project itself, but also the development know-how, the skills, and the expertise that we want.” 

The project is remarkable not just for its size but also for its innovative approach to some of the most difficult obstacles to weaning the world off fossil fuels. These include finding an effective way to store energy generated from wind turbines, and a way to transform the electricity into fuels to power transportation systems. 

Denmark’s plan is to transform the electricity into hydrogen, which can be used directly as an energy source or turned into fuels for use “in ships, planes and trucks,” as Jorgensen put it. 

“This sounds a bit like science fiction, but actually it’s just science; we know how to do it,” he said. 

While talks between the Danish government, industry, scientists and potential investors are still in the early stage, one decision has already been made, Jorgensen said. 

“We want at least 50.1% of the island to be publicly owned,” he said, calling the island “critical infrastructure because it’ll be such a huge part of our energy supply.” He added that the actual wind turbines will be owned by investors. 

“So far we have seen interest from Danish companies and investment funds; we’ve also seen interest from the governments of several European countries. We expect, of course, this will also mean interest from companies from other countries, definitely European, but probably also others.” 

Jacob F. Kirkegaard, a Danish economist based in Brussels, says the ambitious plan is plausible in light of Denmark’s track record in developing green energy. 

“There are already many days in which Denmark gets all its electrical power from wind energy, so rapid electrification is coming as are further rapid expansions of offshore wind farms,” he told VOA in an exchange of emails. 

He said he has “no doubt” that Denmark will achieve full decarbonization by 2050, “probably even considerably before” that date, thanks to broad public support, especially from the young. 

According to the Danish embassy in Washington, more than 50% of Denmark’s electrical grid is already powered by wind and solar energy, and the government projects that renewables will meet 100% of the nation’s electricity needs by 2028. 

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In Spain, the Push is on for Squatter’s Rights

29
Sep,2021

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The pandemic has made Spain’s affordable housing crisis worse and civil organizations are now pressuring the government to pass a housing law that includes making available vacant, foreclosed homes. The push is causing new friction between Spanish political factions and raising concerns among real estate investors. Jonathan Spier narrates this report by Alfonso Beato in Barcelona.

Camera: Alfonso Beato

 

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German Election: Olaf Scholz Narrow Favorite to Succeed Angela Merkel

28
Sep,2021

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It’s still not clear who will be the next leader of Germany, after Sunday’s election failed to give any party a ruling majority. Talks between rival parties over forming a coalition government are under way. As Henry Ridgwell reports, Olaf Scholz is the narrow favorite to take over from Angela Merkel as chancellor — but the outcome remains uncertain. 

Camera: Henry Ridgwell Produced by: Henry Ridgwell, Marcus Harton 

 

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