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  • Indictment Undercuts Assange on Source of Hacked Emails

    At the beginning of 2017, one of Julian Assange’s biggest media boosters traveled to the WikiLeaks founder’s refuge inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London and asked him where he got the leaks that shook up the U.S. presidential election months earlier.

    Fox News host Sean Hannity pointed straight to the purloined emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

    “Can you say to the American people, unequivocally, that you did not get this information about the DNC, John Podesta’s emails, can you tell the American people 1,000 percent you did not get it from Russia or anybody associated with Russia?”

    “Yes,” Assange said. “We can say — we have said repeatedly — over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party.”

    12 Russians indicted

    The Justice Department’s indictment Friday of 12 Russian military intelligence officers undermines those denials. And if the criminal charges are proved, it would show that WikiLeaks (referred to as “Organization 1” in the indictment) received the material from Guccifer 2.0, a persona directly controlled by Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, also known as GRU, and even gave the Russian hackers advice on how to disseminate it.

    Whether Assange knew that those behind Guccifer 2.0 were Russian agents is not addressed in the indictment. But it seems unlikely that Assange, a former hacker who once boasted of having compromised U.S. military networks himself, could have missed the extensive coverage blaming the Kremlin for the DNC hack.

    Assange told Hannity he exercised exclusive control over WikiLeaks’ releases.

    “There is one person in the world, and I think it’s actually only one, who knows exactly what’s going on with our publications and that’s me,” Assange said.


    On June 22, 2016, by which point the online publication Motherboard had already debunked Guccifer 2.0’s claim to be a lone Romanian hacker, WikiLeaks sent a typo-ridden message to the persona, saying that releasing the material through WikiLeaks would have “a much higher impact than what you are doing,” the indictment states.

    “If you have anything hillary related we want it in the next (two) days pref(er)able because the DNC is approaching and she will solidify bernie supporters behind her after,” says a message from July 6, 2016, referring to the upcoming Democratic National Convention and Clinton’s chief party rival, Bernie Sanders.

    The exchange appears to point to a desire to undercut Clinton by playing up divisions within the Democratic camp.

    “we think trump has only a 25% chance of winning against hillary … so conflict between bernie and hillary is interesting,” the message says.

    At that time in the campaign, there were simmering tensions between the supporters of Clinton and Sanders that would come to a head during the convention because of the hacked emails.

    WikiLeaks and a lawyer for Assange, Melinda Taylor, did not return messages seeking comment on the indictment or the exchanges with Guccifer 2.0.

    Reporter told to butt out

    Assange’s eagerness to get his hands on the alleged material from GRU reflected in the indictment — and prevent anyone else from beating WikiLeaks to the punch — is also revealed in leaked messages to journalist Emma Best. She, like several other reporters, also was in communication with Guccifer 2.0.

    In copies of Twitter messages obtained by The Associated Press and first reported by BuzzFeed, WikiLeaks demands that Best butt out.

    “Please ‘leave’ their convers(a)tion with them and us,” WikiLeaks said on August 13, 2016, arguing that the impact of material would be “very substantially reduced” if Best handled the leak.

    Best told BuzzFeed she dropped the matter. About an hour after the conversation ended, Guccifer 2.0 announced on Twitter that it was sending a “major trove” of data and emails to WikiLeaks.

    Seth Rich theory put to rest

    The indictment also puts to rest a conspiracy theory, carefully nurtured by Assange and his supporters, that slain DNC staffer Seth Rich was at the origin of the leaks.

    Rich died in July 2016 in what police in the District of Columbia say was a botched robbery. But the tragedy became fodder for conspiracy theorists who pushed the unfounded allegation that Rich, 27, had been providing information to the hackers and was killed for it.

    It was Assange who first floated the idea into the mainstream, bringing up Rich’s case in an interview with Dutch television the following month.

    “What are you suggesting?” the startled anchor asked him.

    “I’m suggesting that our sources take risks and they become concerned to see things occurring like that,” Assange answered.

    The anchor pressed Assange repeatedly, eventually saying: “It’s quite something to suggest a murder. That’s basically what you’re doing.”

    Over the next few months, WikiLeaks would continue to amplify the conspiracy theory — all while stopping short of endorsing it outright. During all this time, the indictment alleges, WikiLeaks knew full well that Guccifer 2.0 was its source, cajoling the account’s operators to hand it more data and ordering rival journalists to steer clear.

    The conspiracy theory has been a source of deep pain for Rich’s family, who declined to comment on the indictment.

    Lisa Lynch, an associate professor of media and communications at Drew University who has written about WikiLeaks, said the indictment highlighted the cynicism of WikiLeaks’ wink-wink support for conspiracy theories.

    “We can see very well-intentioned people arguing about whether those documents should be published,” Lynch said of the DNC documents. “But the whole Seth Rich thing is incredibly venal.”

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  • Judge Criticizes Plan to Use Shortcuts to Reunite Families

    A federal judge, responding to a plan to reunify children separated at the border, said he was having second thoughts about his belief that the Trump administration was acting in good faith to comply with his orders.

    The Justice Department on Friday filed a plan to reunify more than 2,500 children age 5 and older by a court-imposed deadline of July 26 using “truncated” procedures to verify parentage and perform background checks, which exclude DNA testing and other steps it took to reunify children younger than 5.

    The administration said the abbreviated vetting puts children at significant safety risk but is needed to meet the deadline. Chris Meekins, the deputy assistant Health and Human Services secretary for preparedness and response, filed a declaration that he is fully committed to meeting the deadline. However, he does not believe “the placing of children into such situations is consistent with the mission of HHS or my core values.”

    Judge reconsiders ‘good faith’

    U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw took umbrage at Meekins’ statement, disputing the official’s interpretation of his orders and saying that safe reunification could and will occur by July 26.

    “It is clear from Mr. Meekins’s declaration that HHS either does not understand the court’s orders or is acting in defiance of them,” he wrote late Friday. “At a minimum, it appears he is attempting to provide cover to defendants for their own conduct in the practice of family separation, and the lack of foresight and infrastructure necessary to remedy the harms caused by that practice.”

    Sabraw, an appointee of President George W. Bush, said Meekins’ statement “calls into question” his comments in court hours earlier that the administration was acting in good faith.

    Monitoring progress

    Sabraw said in court Friday that the administration had largely complied with orders but, at the same time, he indicated he will be monitoring its actions ahead of the deadline.

    The judge said the administration must provide a list of names of parents in immigration custody and their children by Monday and complete background checks for them by Thursday. He scheduled four hearings over the next two weeks for updates, including one Monday.

    “The task is laborious, but can be accomplished in the time and manner prescribed,” he wrote in his order.

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  • Twitter Suspends 2 Accounts in Mueller Indictments

    Social networking site Twitter Saturday suspended two accounts linked to 12 Russian spies indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    On Friday, a federal grand jury charged the 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking Democratic computer networks in 2016 in the most detailed U.S. accusation yet that Moscow meddled in the election to help Republican Donald Trump.

    Twitter said Saturday it had suspended the accounts @DCLeaks_ and @Guccifer_2 that were named in the indictment, which alleges a wide-ranging conspiracy involving sophisticated hacking and staged release of documents.

    The indictment alleges that from around June 2016 the conspirators released tens of thousands of stolen emails and documents “using fictitious online personas, including ‘DCLeaks’ and ‘Guccifer 2.0.’”

    In a statement Saturday, a Twitter spokesman said: “The accounts have been suspended for being connected to a network of accounts previously suspended for operating in violation of our rules.”

    Twitter in recent months has purged suspicious user accounts in a bid to prevent the dissemination of fake news and “encourage healthy conversation,” the company said this month.

    Friday’s indictment was the first by Mueller that directly charges the Russian government with meddling in the election. The Kremlin denies it interfered.

    Speaking at a cybersecurity conference in Philadelphia on Saturday, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the indictments proved that the United States “will not tolerate interference with our democratic processes and that there will be consequences for foreign meddling.”

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  • У Києві розпочалася акція на підтримку «Стіни пам’яті»

    У Києві 14 липня капелани, волонтери, митці та учасники бойових дій на сході України провели акцію на підтримку «Стіни пам’яті», розміщеної на стіні Михайлвського монастиря. У рамках акції відеоролики з проханням підтримати цей проект записали режисер Ахтем Сейтаблаєв, музикант, лідер гурту «Мандри» Сергій Фоменко (Фома) та інші, серед яких матері загиблих воїнів.

    Також волонтери розпочали збір коштів, щоб поруч зі Стіною встановити електронне обладнання, на якому можна дізнатись про кожного загиблого, про основні віхи нинішньої війни та про історію місця, де розташована Стіна.

    «Стіна пам’яті – це волонтерський проект, на який держава не витратила жодної гривні. Її поява – це воля народу України, тієї його частини, яка душу й тіло кладе за Соборну Незалежну Україну. На сьогодні ми зібрали більш як половину коштів, необхідних для встановлення і функціонування електронного монітора біля Стіни, з інформацією про нинішню війну, про загиблих українських воїнів», – розповів Радіо Свобода волонтер-пошуковик (пошук загиблих бійців), координатор проектів «Стіна пам’яті», «Блокпост пам’яті» Павло Нетьосов.

    Він також повідомив, що 29 серпня, коли біля Стіни відбудеться міжконфесійний молебень у пам’ять про загиблих захисників України, на монастирській стіні встановлять чотири нові секції з іменами і короткими даними загиблих на сході бійців (період кінець 2016 – початок 2018 року). На сьогодні на Стіні пам’яті можна побачити портрети та короткі біографічні дані учасників бойових дій на сході, загиблих у 2014 – на початку 2016 року.

    Також читайте: Матері загиблих воїнів: як жити далі?

    Підтримку проекту надають, серед інших, капелани, благодійна організація «ELEOS-Україна» і департамент цивільно-військового співробітництва міністерства оборони України.

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  • Цікаво було б зіграти когось, хто потрібен Путіну – актор Ерік Робертс

    Голлівудському актору Еріку Робертсу було б цікаво зіграти в фільмі про сучасне життя в Україні, зокрема про відносини з Росією. Як він заявив під час спілкування із журналістами в Одесі 14 липня, його б зацікавила можливість зігріти когось, хто потрібний президенту Росії Володимиру Путіну.

    «Важливими сьогодні є відносини між Україною і Росією. І я би хотів зіграти когось, хто має до цього стосунок. Я би хотів зіграти когось, хто потрібний Путіну. Когось, хто організує зустрічі для нього. Це мав би бути фільм на кшталт «Три дні Кондора», – заявив Робертс, відповідаючи на запитання Радіо Свобода. («Три дні Кондора» – шпигунський трилер 1975 року про протистояння Сполучених Штатів Америки і Радянського Союзу – ред.)

    Персона Володимира Путіна захоплює актора, який вважає його найкращим світовим лідером на сьогодні. І важливим є навіть не те, скільки в нього грошей, наголошує Робертс, а його шлях до його нинішнього місця.

    «Все, що відбувається, це не про почуття Путіна і не про почуття українців – це про гроші. Саме за гроші можна придбати владу і свободу», – заявив актор. Також під час зустрічі із журналістами Робертс наголошував, що грати «поганих хлопців» йому взагалі цікавіше. «У них кращий одяг, більш гарні жінки і вони вмирають в кінці», – пожартував він, відповідаючи на інше запитання про свої акторські вподобання.

    Робертс приїхав до чорноморського міста для участі в Одеському міжнародному кінофестивалі, де він провів майстер-клас. У день свого приїзду він також привітав із днем народження українського режисера Олега Сенцова, який голодує вже понад два місяці, вимагаючи від Володимира Путіна звільнити українських політичних в’язнів.

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  • Збірна Бельгії стала бронзовим призером ЧС-2018

    Збірна Бельгії з результатом 2:0 перемогла команду Англії у втішному фіналі чемпіонату світу з футболу і вперше у своїй історії здобула бронзові нагороди мундіалю.

    Бельгійці забили по голу в кожному з таймів – на 4-й хвилині після флангового прострілу відзначився Тома Меньє, а на 82-й хвилині свій гол забив Еден Азар.

    Фінальний поєдинок чемпіонату відбудеться 15 липня. Зіграють команди Франції та Хорватії.

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  • Trump Faults Obama for US Response to Russian Hacking

    President Donald Trump on Saturday tried to blame the Obama administration for not responding aggressively enough to Russian hacking of Democratic targets in the 2016 U.S. election — cyberattacks underpinning the indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers.

    Trump’s first response to special counsel Robert Mueller’s initial charges against Russian government officials for interfering in American politics came in tweets the president posted while at his golf resort in Scotland, two days before a high-stakes summit in Finland with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

    “The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration,” Trump tweeted. “Why didn’t they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September, before the Election?

    The indictment announced Friday said the Russians hacked into Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic Party and released tens of thousands of private communications as part of a broad conspiracy by the Kremlin to meddle in an American election that ended up putting Trump in the White House.

    U.S. intelligence agencies have said Moscow was aiming to help the Trump campaign and harm Clinton’s bid.

    The 29-page indictment lays out how, months before Americans voted in November 2016, Russians schemed to break into key Democratic email accounts, including those belonging to Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

    Stolen emails, many politically damaging for Clinton, appeared on WikiLeaks in the campaign’s final stretch.

    The charges say the Russian defendants, using a persona known as Guccifer 2.0, in August 2016 contacted a person in touch with the Trump campaign to offer help. And they say that on the same day Trump, in a speech, urged Russia to find Clinton’s missing emails, Russian hackers tried for the first time to break into email accounts used by her personal office.

    Mueller did not allege that Trump campaign associates were involved in the hacking effort, that Americans were knowingly in touch with Russian intelligence officers or that any vote tallies were altered by hacking.

    The White House seized on those points in a statement that offered no condemnation of Russian election interference.

    Trump has repeatedly expressed skepticism about Russian involvement in the hacking while being accused by Democrats of cozying up to Putin. Trump, hours before the indictment was made public, complained about the Russia investigation hours, saying the “stupidity” was making it “very hard to do something with Russia.”

    The Kremlin denied anew that it tried to sway the election. “The Russian state has never interfered and has no intention of interfering in the U.S. elections,” said Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov.

    The indictment identifies the defendants as officers with Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, also known as GRU. If that link is established, it would shatter the Kremlin denials of the Russian state’s involvement in the U.S. elections, given that the GRU is part of the state machine.

    The Russian defendants are not in custody, and it is not clear they will ever appear in an American court.

    The indictment accuses the Russian hackers, starting in March 2016, of covertly monitoring the computers of dozens of Democratic officials and volunteers, implanting malicious computer code known as malware to explore the networks and steal data, and sending phishing emails to gain access to accounts.

    One attempt at interference came hours after Trump, in a July 27, 2016, speech, suggested Russians look for emails that Clinton said she had deleted from her tenure as secretary of state.

    “Russia, if you’re listening,” Trump said, “I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

    That evening, the indictment says, the Russians attempted to break into email accounts used by Clinton’s personal office, along with 76 Clinton campaign email addresses.

    By June 2016, the defendants, relying on fictional personas such as DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, began planning the release of tens of thousands of stolen emails, the indictment alleges.

    The Podesta emails published by WikiLeaks displayed the campaign’s private communications, including deliberations about messaging that played into attacks that Clinton was calculating and a political flip-flopper. Private speeches she gave to financial industry firms were particularly damaging within the left wing of the Democratic party and among independents frustrated with the influence of Wall Street in politics.

    The indictment alleges that Guccifer 2.0 was in touch with multiple Americans in the summer of 2016 about the pilfered material, including an unidentified congressional candidate who requested and then received stolen information.

    On Aug. 15, 2016, the indictment says, Guccifer 2.0 reached out to someone in contact with the Trump campaign and asked the person if they had seen anything “interesting in the docs I posted?” Guccifer 2.0 said it would be a “great pleasure” to help.

    Prosecutors say weeks later, Guccifer 2.0 referred to a stolen DCCC document posted online and asked the person, “what do u think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign.” The person responded, “(p)retty standard.”

    The indictment doesn’t identify the person, though longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone acknowledged Friday, through his lawyer, a “24-word exchange with someone on Twitter claiming to be Guccifer 2.0.”

    “This exchange is now entirely public and provides no evidence of collaboration or collusion with Guccifer 2.0 or anyone else in the alleged hacking of the DNC emails,” said lawyer Grant Smith.

    The charges come as Mueller continues to investigate potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. Before Friday, 20 people and three companies had been charged in the investigation.

    Defendants include four former Trump campaign and White House aides, three of whom have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate, and 13 Russians accused in a powerful social media campaign to sway U.S. public opinion in 2016.

    Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said on Twitter that it was time to end the investigation since “no Americans are involved” in Friday’s indictment. But with Mueller still investigating, it’s not known whether further indictments are taking shape or will.

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  • Trump Says He’ll ‘Firmly’ Ask Putin About Russia’s Interference in US Presidential Election

    U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday he would “firmly” ask Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin about his country’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election that has triggered a U.S. federal investigation Trump claims is a “rigged witch hunt.”

    “I think it really hurts our country,” Trump said at a news conference in Britain after meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May. “It really hurts our relationship with Russia. I think that we would have a chance at a very good relationship with Russia and a very good chance, a very good relationship with President Putin. I would hope so.”

    Trump said he does not anticipate a “Perry Mason” moment when he confronts Putin on the issue, a reference to a decades-old U.S. television courtroom drama, and he predicted Putin would continue to deny the allegations.


    “I don’t think you’ll have any gee, I did it, I did it, you got me,”‘ Trump said. He added, “There won’t be a Perry Mason here, I don’t think, but you never know what happens, right?”

    Just days before the meeting, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russians, alleging Friday they hacked into the Democratic National Committee to undermine the election.

    They are the most recent charges in the special counsel probe that already has resulted in guilty pleas from three of Trump’s campaign aides.

    In tweets from Scotland on Saturday, Trump questioned why the Obama administration did not act, asked about the location of the DNC server that was hacked, and again questioned the integrity of the FBI.


    The server was hacked by Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate shortly after then-presidential candidate Trump called on Russian hackers in a July 27, 2016 speech to find emails from Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, the indictment said.

    “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” a reference to emails Clinton deleted from a private account she used when she served as secretary of state.

    Hours later, Russia’s foreign military intelligence agency targeted Clinton’s personal office for the first time and launched an effort to access 76 Clinton campaign accounts, according to the indictment.

    When asked if he has given Putin the advantage going into the meeting by challenging long-standing Western alliances, Trump said his administration has been “far tougher on Russia than anybody.”

    “When you look at what we’ve done in terms of Russia, I guarantee whoever it is in Russia, they’re saying ‘oh gee, we wish that Trump was not the victor in that election?”


    Prime Minister May said Trump is well-positioned as he prepares to meet with Putin, saying, “What is important is that the president goes into this as he is doing from a position of strength and also from a position of unity in NATO.”

    NATO allied leaders, who Trump met with in Brussels earlier this week, are skeptical about whether he will be firm enough with the Russian leader, who has denied the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the election with the intent of helping Trump win.

    Trump reiterated Friday that he is not going into the meeting with high expectations, but he said the two leaders would also discuss “a number of things,” including cuts to nuclear weapons arsenals. He said the U.S. has been “modernizing and fixing” its nuclear weapons program and added “it’s just a devastating technology and they [the Russians] likewise are doing a lot. And it’s a very, very bad policy.”

    Trump has not disclosed details about what nuclear arms control treaties he would propose to Putin, but they may discuss the extension of the “New Start” treaty, a pillar of arms control. They also may discuss the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty to try to reduce the possibility of a nuclear rivalry between the world’s two largest nuclear powers.

    Trump cautioned it was difficult to reach substantive agreements with Putin because his critics would accuse him of being a proponent of Russia.

    “We have this stupidity going on, pure stupidity, but  it makes it very hard to do something with Russia, because, anything you do, it’s like: ‘Russia, oh He loves Russia.'”

    The two leaders are scheduled to meet Monday in Helsinki.

    Finnish National Defense University security policy expert Lt. Col. Jyri Raitasalo told VOA the Trump-Putin summit will be largely “symbolic.”

    “It could open up new negotiations on a lower level that could actually achieve something,” Raitasalo said. He also said any real progress on issues the leaders discuss “could take time.”

    “In most cases, a couple of hours between heads of states that haven’t seen each other for a time and discussed things properly, you can’t achieve much in several hours. But it could be a good start,” said Raitasalo.

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  • Київ: Кличко повідомив про порядок застосування пільг у міському транспорті після подорожчання проїзду

    Київський міський голова Віталій Кличко повідомив про порядок застосування пільг у міському транспорті після підвищення тарифів на проїзд.

    Як сказав він 13 липня в ефірі телеканалу «Київ», безкоштовний проїзд для пільгових категорій населення діятиме і надалі.

    «Хочу зазначити: для пенсіонерів, школярів, інвалідів, учасників бойових дій та інших пільгових категорій громадян проїзд у комунальному громадському транспорті столиці залишиться безкоштовним», – заявив Кличко.

    Він також зазначив, що проїзд у комунальному транспорті для тих, хто користується ним регулярно, коштуватиме в середньому 6,50 гривень. 8 гривень за проїзд – це вартість разової поїздки.

    За його словами, без підвищення тарифів на проїзд у громадському транспорті Києву не уникнути кризи у транспортній сфері. Отримані від підвищення тарифів кошти підуть, у першу чергу, на підвищення заробітних плат працівникам транспортних комунальних підприємств, розвиток транспортної інфраструктури, ремонт та закупівлю транспортних засобів. Також підвищення тарифів дозволить зменшити суми дотацій, які міський бюджет виділяє на покриття збитків транспортних підприємств.

    Попереднього дня, 12 липня, Кличко підписав розпорядження про запровадження нових тарифів у міському комунальному транспорті Києва з 14 липня. Зокрема, одноразова поїздка дорожчає до 8 гривень. Але в разі купівлі проїзних чи купівлі більшого числа поїздок наперед вартість однієї поїздки знижується – за даними Київської міської державної адміністрації, і до 6,50 гривень чи й навіть до 6,14.

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  • Criminal Gangs in Guatemala Drive Many to Flee

    Guatemalan Yeni González is one of the few mothers able to see their children after they were separated earlier this year under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy when they tried to cross the southern U.S. border illegally. VOA’s Celia Mendoza reported last week when González traveled to New York to see her children at the Cayuga Care Center, where they remain until reunification can be arranged. In this third installment, Mendoza goes to the Guatemalan village where Yeni González used to live and spoke with her relatives about why the mother of three decided to embark on such a dangerous journey.

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  • Lost Luggage Finds New Home — at Bargain Prices

    Suspiciously cheap diamonds, jeans for $1 and a pair of skis for next to nothing. It’s not a dream, these are actual bargains at a store in a small town in Alabama. What it sells are the contents of lost airline baggage. Every year airline companies lose about 20 million suitcases, and while most of them find their way back to their owners, thousands of bags are never picked up. As Daria Dieguts found out, some of these lost items end up here at the lost baggage store in Alabama.

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  • Lost Luggage Finds New — at Bargain Prices

    Suspiciously cheap diamonds, jeans for $1 and a pair of skis for next to nothing. It’s not a dream, these are actual bargains at a store in a small town in Alabama. What it sells are the contents of lost airline baggage. Every year airline companies lose about 20 million suitcases, and while most of them find their way back to their owners, thousands of bags are never picked up. As Daria Dieguts found out, some of these lost items end up here at the lost baggage store in Alabama.

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  • US Formally Lifts Ban on China’s ZTE

    The United States has formally lifted a crippling ban on exports to the Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE. 

    The Commerce Department said Friday that it had removed the ban after ZTE deposited $400 million in a U.S. bank escrow account as part of a settlement reached last month.

    ZTE has already paid a $1 billion fine that is also part of its settlement with the U.S. government. 

    “While we lifted the ban on ZTE, the department will remain vigilant as we closely monitor ZTE’s actions to ensure compliance with all U.S. laws and regulations,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. He described the terms of the deal as the strictest ever imposed in such a case.

    The Chinese company is accused of selling sensitive technologies to Iran and North Korea, despite a U.S. trade embargo. 

    In April, the Commerce Department barred ZTE from importing American components for its telecommunications products for the next seven years, practically putting the company out of business. However, Trump later announced a deal with ZTE in which the Chinese company would pay a $1 billion fine for its trade violations, as well as replace its entire management and board by the middle of July.

    Lawmakers from both parties have criticized Trump’s efforts and have taken steps to block the White House’s efforts to revive ZTE. The Senate passed legislation last month included in a military spending bill that would block ZTE from buying component parts from the United States. That legislation now moves to a joint committee of House and Senate members who will decide the fate of the ZTE measure in a compromise defense bill. 

    Most of the world first heard of the dispute over ZTE in May after one of Trump’s tweets. “President Xi of China and I are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!” Trump said.

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  • White House Declares War on Poverty ‘Largely Over’

    The White House released a report Thursday contending that the United States’ war on poverty — a drive that started over 50 years ago to improve the social safety net for the poorest citizens of the world’s largest economy — is “largely over and a success,” contrasting with other reports on the nation’s poor.

    The report, authored by President Donald Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, called for federal aid recipients to be pushed toward work requirements.

    The report says poverty, when measured by consumption, has fallen by 90 percent since 1961. It also says that only 3 percent of Americans currently live under the poverty line.

    “The timing is ideal for expanding work requirements among non-disabled working-age adults in social welfare programs,” according to the report. “Ultimately, expanded work requirements can improve the lives of current welfare recipients and at the same time respect the importance and dignity of work.”

    U.N. report

    The council’s report contrasts with a U.N. report on poverty in the U.S. that was released last month. That report said about 12 percent of the U.S. population lives in poverty, and that the U.S. “leads the developed world in income and wealth inequality.”

    Phillip Alston, a U.N. adviser on extreme poverty and the author of the report, wrote in December 2017 that he believed Trump and his administration, along with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, “will essentially shred crucial dimensions of a safety net that is already full of holes.”

    In April, Trump signed an executive order outlining work mandates for low-income citizens on federal aid programs. These programs included Medicaid, which provides federal health insurance for low-income individuals, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides these low-income individuals with assistance in food purchasing.

    Both programs were among those introduced in the 1960s, during the administration of then-President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat who coined the term “war on poverty” during his first State of the Union address.

    Four state mandates

    The Trump administration has already permitted four states — Kentucky, Indiana, Arkansas, and New Hampshire — to implement work requirement programs for Medicaid recipients, the first such restrictions enforced on the program. In June, however, a federal judge struck down Kentucky’s mandate, writing that the administration’s waiver “never adequately considered whether [the program] would in fact help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid.”

    Anne Marie Regan, a senior staff attorney for the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, one of the organizations that successfully challenged the Kentucky waiver, told VOA that while she didn’t know the specifics of other states’ Medicare waivers, she thought similar challenges could be successful because of the administration’s insistence on work requirements.

    Regan said her state’s proposal would have removed 95,000 people from health care coverage.

    “The war on poverty is certainly not over,” Regan said. “There’s certainly still a great need for a safety net.”

    In June, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed a farm bill that includes work requirements for some adults who receive food assistance benefits. Every Democrat, along with 20 Republicans, voted against the bill, which is not expected to pass the Senate.

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  • Кількість чартерів на відпочинок з України зросла удвічі – Омелян

    Міністр інфраструктури України Володимир Омелян повідомив, що за останні три роки кількість чартерів на відпочинок із України зросла вдвічі. Про це він заявив в ефірі Радіо Свобода. 

    «Цифри абсолютно об’єктивні. Якщо ми порівняємо навіть з 2015 роком, то у 2017 році ми бачимо ріст нерегулярних, чартерних, так званих відпочинкових перевезень вдвічі – з 1,8 мільйона до майже чотирьох. Ми маємо вдвічі ріст пасажиропотоку загального. Тобто люди справді почали літати. І це мене тішить», – сказав Омелян.

    Втім, звернув увагу міністр, що лише 5% українців користуються послугами авіакомпаній. 

    «Мене пригнічує той факт, що лише 5% українців користуються авіакомпаніями. Це величезна проблема. 80% людей взагалі за межі області не виїжджають», – сказав міністр. 

    Омелян повідомив також, що міністерство інфраструктури та міністерство економічного розвитку і торгівлі України працюють над правилами для туроператорів, щоб посилити їхню відповідальність перед клієнтами. В уряді вже зараз посилюють контроль за роботою туроператорів і авіакомпаній. 

    Повністю інтерв’ю з Володимиром Омеляном дивіться у програмі Радіо Свобода «Суботнє інтерв’ю» у суботу, 14 липня.

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