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  • Guinea Bissau Women Entrepreneurs Share Ideas, Expand Business

    A group of young female business owners in Guinea Bissau have banded together to learn more about the business world and increase sales. A year later, their efforts appear to be paying off. Ricci Shryock reports from the west African nation.

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  • Saudi Arabia Rejects US Senate Position on Khashoggi

    Saudi Arabia has hit back at a U.S. Senate resolution to end U.S. military support for the war in Yemen and blame the Saudi crown prince for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    “The Kingdom condemns the latest position of the U.S. Senate that was based on unsubstantiated allegations and rejects the blatant interference in its internal affairs,” the foreign ministry said in a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency.

    The Senate delivered a rare double rebuke to U.S. President Donald Trump on Saudi Arabia last week, voting to end American military support for the war in Yemen.

    It also condemned Khashoggi’s death and called Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, “responsible” for it.

    Riyadh warned that it would not tolerate any “disrespect” of its rulers. “This position by the U.S. Senate sends the wrong messages to all those who want to cause a rift in Saudi-U.S. relationship,” the Saudi ministry said.

    The Senate resolution acknowledged that the U.S.-Saudi relations were “important,” but it called on the kingdom to “moderate its increasingly erratic foreign policy.”

    Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post, was killed Oct. 2 shortly after entering the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in what Riyadh has called a “rogue” operation.

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  • Про що говорив Порошенко на прес-конференції – відео

    У неділю, 16 грудня, президент України Петро Порошенко дві години спілкувався з журналістами. Радіо Свобода зібрало 5 найактуальніших тем, про які говорив глава держави: автокефалія, Росія, вибори, політичні опоненти й президентські амбіції

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  • Debt Threat: Business Debt, Worries About it, Are up

    Homeowners appear to have learned the lesson of the Great Recession about not taking on too much debt. There is some concern that Corporate America didn’t get the message.


    For much of the past decade, companies have borrowed at super-low interest rates and used the money to buy back stock, acquire other businesses and refinance old debt. The vast majority of companies are paying their bills on time, thanks in large part to profits that have surged since the economy emerged from the Great Recession nine and a half years ago.


    But with interest rates rising and U.S. economic growth expected to slow next year, worries are building from Washington to Wall Street that corporate debt is approaching potentially dangerous levels. U.S. corporate debt has grown by nearly two-thirds since 2008 to more than $9 trillion and, along with government debt, has ballooned much faster than other parts of the bond market. Investors are most concerned about companies at the weaker end of the financial-strength scale _ those considered most likely to default or to get downgraded to “junk” status should a recession hit.


    “I’ve been more worried about the bond market than the equity market,” said Kirk Hartman, global chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Asset Management. “I think at some point, all the leverage in the system is going to rear its ugly head.”


    Consider General Electric, which said in early October it would record a big charge related to its struggling power unit, one that ended up totaling $22 billion. Both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s subsequently downgraded GE’s credit rating to three notches above “speculative” grade, which indicates a higher risk of default.


    GE, with about $115 billion in total borrowings, is part of a growing group of companies concentrated at the lower end of investment-grade. Other high-profile names in this area within a few notches of junk grade include General Motors and Verizon Communications. They make up nearly 45 percent of the Bloomberg Barclays Credit index, more than quadruple their proportion during the early 1970s.


    Credit-rating agencies say downgrades for GE, GM or Verizon aren’t imminent. But the concern for them, and broadly for this swelling group of businesses, is if profits start falling or the economy hits a recession.


    If those companies do drop below investment grade, they’d be what investors call “fallen angels,” and they can trigger waves of selling. Many mutual funds and other investors are required to own only high-quality, investment-grade bonds — so they would have to sell any bonds that get cut to junk.


    The forced selling would lead to a drop in bond prices, which could result in higher borrowing costs for companies, which hurts their ability to repay their debts, which could lead to even more selling.


    Even the chairman of the Federal Reserve has taken notice of the rise in corporate debt. Jerome Powell said in a recent speech that business borrowing usually rises when the economy is growing. But he said it’s concerning that, over the last year, the companies increasing their borrowing the most are those already with high debt and interest burdens.


    To be sure, many bond fund managers say companies were smart to borrow hefty sums at low rates. And at the moment, there are no outward signs of danger. The default rate for junk-rated corporate bonds was 2.6 percent last month, which is lower than the historical average, and S&P Global Fixed Income Research expects it to fall in upcoming months.


    Even if the economy does fall into a recession, fund managers say losses won’t be to the same scale as 2008 when the financial crisis sent the S&P 500 to a drop of nearly 37 percent and the most popular category of bond funds to an average loss of 4.7 percent.


    In his speech, Powell said he doesn’t see the weaker parts of the corporate debt market undermining the financial system in the event of an economic downturn, at least “for now.”


    Other investors see the market’s growing worries as premature. Companies are still making record profits, which allow them to repay their debts, and consumer confidence is still high.


    “There is a story out there that there’s a recession coming very soon, and you had better head for the hills,” said Warren Pierson, deputy chief investment officer at Baird Advisors. “We think that’s a pretty early call. We don’t see recession on the horizon.”


    That’s why he and Mary Ellen Stanek, who run bond mutual funds at Baird, haven’t given up on corporate bonds, even if they’ve moderated how much they own.


    But critics see some echoes of the financial crisis in today’s loosening lending standards. Consider leveraged loans, a section of the market that makes loans to companies with lots of debt or relatively weak finances. These loans have been popular with investors in recent years because they often have what are called floating rates, so they pay more in interest when rates are rising.


    Paul Massaro, portfolio manager for floating-rate strategies at T. Rowe Price, says he’s still positive about this market in general. But his team of analysts has been finding more warning flags in offerings, where the terms of the deal may be overly friendly to borrowers and allow them to amass more debt than they should.


    It’s gotten to the point where Massaro is participating in about 15 percent of all offerings today, down from 30 percent a few years ago.


    Investors have largely been willing to stomach higher risk because they’ve been starved for income following years of very low interest rates.


    As a result, some bonds that by many accounts look like risky junk bonds are trading at prices and yields that should be reserved for higher-quality bonds, say Tom McCauley and Yoav Sharon, who run the $976.3 million Driehaus Active Income fund. To take advantage, they’re increasingly “shorting” corporate bonds, which are trades that pay off if the bonds’ prices fall.


    They recently began shorting bonds of a packaged goods company with a “BBB” rating that borrowed to help pay for a large acquisition, for example. A “BBB” rating is at the lower end of investment grade, and a drop to “BB” would send it into junk status.


    With so much debt, McCauley and Sharon believe that it’s at risk of getting downgraded to junk and is not paying enough in yield to compensate for its risk.


    “As we get into the later stages of the cycle, the sins of the early stages of the cycle tend to start showing up,” said Sharon. “We think that’s where we are today.”


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  • Український інститут національної пам’яті виявив у Facebook появу фейкової сторінки

    «Просимо поскаржитися та не поширювати від неї дописів»

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  • Pistol-Packing Teachers Becoming More Common in Arkansas

    Dale Cresswell keeps his gun on his hip at all times: in his classroom, at sporting events, whenever he’s at school.

    Cresswell, head coach to the senior boys’ track and cross-country teams, is one of a small, but growing group of teachers around the United States who are volunteering to carry a weapon. His employer, Heber Springs School District, just came online this semester.

    “It was a no-brainer. I have a daughter still in school,” said Cresswell of his decision, acknowledging that he might know any potential shooter. “I see it as, I’m protecting more than one person. I’m protecting all the other students.”

    Tests and training

    In order to qualify, Cresswell and other faculty, including administrators and IT professionals who can move around more easily, underwent background checks and psychological tests. They continue to go through rigorous training.

    “I know that last summer there was a big movement here. We were fortunate that we had made the decision early, and we were able to secure trainers and get our time slot locked in,” said Heber Springs School District Superintendent Alan Stauffacher, noting that some other schools are “struggling” to get set up.

    A semester in, the novelty of Cresswell carrying a weapon has worn off. He said that when asked, the students tell him they don’t even notice his gun anymore.

    ​Sandy Hook 

    While there appears to have been no law prohibiting it, guns were rarely carried by teachers in Arkansas schools before a 20-year-old gunman killed 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the northeastern U.S. state of Connecticut in 2012.

    That incident prompted David Hopkins, superintendent of the Clarksville Public Schools in Clarksville, Arkansas, to begin searching for more effective ways to protect his students.

    “It was just so terrible. Something like that, it makes you really pause,” Hopkins said. “I started getting calls from parents and grandparents asking, ‘What are you doing to protect our kids?’”

    At that time, Hopkins wondered whether what he had in mind — arming faculty across each school in the district — was even legal. Since then, he has counseled other Arkansan schools as they follow suit.

    “It’s not like we want to be cowboys, but if you stop and think about the reality of someone coming into your business or your school, don’t you want to be prepared?” he asked.

    Protecting schools, students

    Protecting schools from future shootings has increasingly occupied administrators and lawmakers’ time. Just this year, 113 people were killed or injured in school shootings in the U.S.

    After the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson tasked a committee with studying how to prevent future school shootings.

    Their report, released earlier this month, stressed that individual schools need to make decisions for themselves, but recommended that “no campus should ever be without an armed presence when staff and children are attending class or a major extracurricular activity.”

    A study published by Vice News in March found that at least 14 of the 50 states arm teachers and another 16 allow local school boards to decide on the issue.

    But while Cresswell and Hopkins believe arming teachers serves as a deterrent for gun violence, not everyone agrees.

    Following the Safety Commission report, Moms Demand Action stated that “putting guns in the hands of teachers is not the answer…” and that “research indicates that arming teachers will make children less safe.”

    “As a general rule, I don’t think anyone believes that it is preventative. I think that most thoughtful individuals know that if a person sets out to do harm to themselves or someone else, they’re not gonna stop and think ‘Oh, there might be someone armed,’” said Cathy Koehler, president of the Arkansas Education Association.

    Koehler stopped short of saying that faculty shouldn’t be armed, recognizing that it can take 20 minutes for police in some rural counties to respond to a situation. She stressed that schools should gain community buy-in, which superintendents in both Clarksville and Heber Springs said they did.

    “Our preference is always going to be that the investment is made in the mental health services that are so desperately needed and are underfunded,” Koehler said.

    Scott Gauntt, a member of the Safety Commission and superintendent of Westside Consolidated School District, said he has received no pressure to arm teachers.

    Westside was the site of a deadly shooting 20 years ago, so it is often invoked in conversations about school safety. Like other superintendents interviewed, Gauntt takes his role as protector of students very seriously.

    “Just about every time we hear of another shooting, we look at how that took place. How would we have combated that? Could we fix that?” Gauntt asked.

    Over the years, the school has installed dozens of surveillance cameras and stronger classroom locks. Teachers undergo survival training to apply a tourniquet, for example, in order to prevent kids from bleeding out from bullet wounds. Students as young as those in elementary school are taught to be a “partner in [their] own survival.” Instead of hiding quietly under their desks, they are now taught to make loud noises and throw things.

    “It’s mind boggling that I’ve gotta go down and tell a kindergartener that if a man comes in and tries to shoot you, that you need to run around and scream,” Gauntt said. “That’s not why I got into education.”

    When it comes to arming teachers inside the classroom, he’s reluctant to take a hard stance but admits that he worries about guns getting loose.

    Ultimately, most parties agree that despite all precautions, a motivated shooter will find a way to do harm.

    “School safety is an illusion,” Gauntt said.

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  • European Film Award​-2018: представники Європейської кіноакадемії згадали про Сенцова і Серебренникова

    ​«Те, що відбувається з Олегом Сенцовим – величезна неповага до культури і свободи творчості» – Агнежка Голланд

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  • The Historic Place Where Literary, Political Worlds Intersect

    A relatively modest, independently owned bookstore in Washington has become a standout on the cultural scene in the U.S. capital. It’s called Politics and Prose. Since opening in 1984, it’s managed to survive the age of online book buying and thrive as a magnet for some of the world’s highest profile authors, from former Presidents Clinton and Obama, to J.K. Rowling, Salman Rushdie and photographer Annie Leibovitz. Ani Chkhikvadze stopped by Politics and Prose to learn more about its success.

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  • Fate of Kansas Ban on Telemedicine Abortions Uncertain

    Kansas clinics still don’t know whether it will be legal for them to offer telemedicine abortions in January. Meanwhile a state-court judge Friday derided the upcoming ban as an “air ball” that can’t stop doctors from providing pregnancy-ending pills to patients they don’t see in person.

    An abortion rights group seeking an order to block the ban found its request enmeshed in larger legal battles over abortion. Attorneys for the state raised the question of whether other state laws might block telemedicine abortions, and District Judge Franklin Theis held off on issuing an order.

    ​Suit: Ban unconstitutional

    The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit last month on behalf of Trust Women of Wichita, which operates a clinic there that performs abortions. Since October, some patients seeking abortion pills have consulted with offsite doctors through teleconferencing, and the clinic hopes to start providing abortion pills to women in rural areas without having them come to Wichita.

    The center argues that the new law violates the state constitution by placing an undue burden on women seeking abortion and singling out abortion for special treatment as part of broader policies otherwise meant to encourage telemedicine.

    “The use of telemedicine right now for medication abortions is extremely important,” said Leah Wiederhorn, an attorney for the center. “It’s a way for women to access this type of health care during a time when there are a lot of hostile laws that are meant to shut down clinics across the country.”

    Seventeen other states have telemedicine abortion bans, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a group that advocates for abortion rights. The new Kansas law says that in policies promoting telemedicine, “nothing” authorizes “any abortion procedure via telemedicine.”

    But Theis said the law doesn’t give a prosecutor any avenue for pursuing a criminal case. While the state medical board could act against the clinic’s doctors, the judge added, “There’s no jeopardy yet.”

    Few clinics

    Kansas has no clinics providing abortions outside Wichita and the Kansas City area. The Republican-controlled Legislature has strong anti-abortion majorities, and the state has tightened restrictions over the past decade.

    Lawmakers have tried three times to ban telemedicine abortions. In 2011, a ban was part of legislation imposing special regulations on abortion clinics that critics said were meant to shut them down. Providers sued and Theis blocked all of the regulations. The case is still pending.

    Legislators passed a law in 2015 requiring a doctor to be in the same room when a woman takes the first of two abortion pills. The Center for Reproductive Rights argues that it’s covered by the 2011 lawsuit over clinic regulations and has been blocked by Theis. Though the judge said he’s inclined to agree, state attorneys argued that it is in effect, even if it hasn’t been enforced.

    The anti-abortion group Kansans for Life filed a complaint Friday against the Wichita clinic with the state medical board, asking it to investigate its “illegal” telemedicine abortions. Jeanne Gawdun, the group’s senior lobbyist, called them “dangerous.”

    “Where’s that important physician-patient relationship?” Gawdun said. “It’s not there.”

    ​Few complications

    A study of abortions in California, published in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ journal in 2015, said less than one-third of 1 percent of medication abortions resulted in major complications.

    The Kansas health department has reported that in 2017, nearly 4,000 medication abortions were reported, or 58 percent of the state’s total, all in the first trimester. It’s not clear if any were telemedicine abortions.

    Wiederhorn said banning telemedicine abortion would be a hardship for the clinic’s patients because its doctors, while licensed in Kansas, are outside the state and can spend only two days a week in Wichita. Also, many women in rural areas would face hardships in getting medication abortions without telemedicine, she said.

    But Assistant Attorney General Shon Qualseth said: “We’re just theorizing on what could happen.”


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  • Lawmakers to Visit Detention Site in Wake of Girl’s Death

    U.S. lawmakers will travel to New Mexico in the coming week as they search for answers about how a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died while in federal custody. 

    The Congressional Hispanic Caucus said Friday that it would lead a delegation on Dec. 18 to Lordsburg Station in Lordsburg, N.M., the detention center Jakelin Caal Maquin was en route to, along with her father and scores of other migrants detained with them on the night of Dec. 6, after being taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

    Jakelin died in an El Paso, Texas, hospital 27 hours later of what medical officials preliminarily determined to be “sepsis shock,” according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Her official cause of death has not yet been released. 

    Symptoms of sepsis, or septic shock, can include extremes in body temperature, lethargy and restlessness. Official accounts indicate the girl received a quick assessment, as all people taken into custody do, before waiting for hours to be transported to the next detention facility with the group.  

    ​Minors transported first 


    Among the 163 people detained that night in a remote area of southern New Mexico, near the Antelope Wells Port of Entry, were 50 unaccompanied minors, who were transported to Lordsburg Station first, according to DHS. 


    It was en route to Lordsburg that Jakelin’s symptoms worsened, according to the government’s timeline of events.  

    “This is not who we are or who we want to be as a nation,” U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, chairman-elect of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement Friday that included an open invitation to lawmakers to join the visit. “We must understand what led to this child’s death and how these stations are equipped to protect the health and safety of those seeking refuge at our borders.” 


    Jakelin crossed into the U.S. with her father, Nery Caal, 29, after traveling from Raxruha in Alta Verapaz, northern Guatemala. The father and daughter left home on Nov. 30.   

    Guatemalan media reported the girl’s mother and three siblings remain in Raxruha, citing an interview with Tekandi Paniagua, Guatemala’s consul in Del Rio, Texas.


    Language barrier 


    Prior to the bus ride to Lordsburg, Caal signed a form indicating Jakelin did not have health issues. However, there may have been a language barrier. 


    CBP said border agents provided Spanish interpretation to fill out the English-language form. However, a Guatemalan official in Texas told Univision that Jakelin’s father is a native speaker of the Mayan language of Ke’chi, also called Q’eqchi’.

    The Guatemalan press also reported on the potential language problem. A consular official told El Pais that Caal said he “doesn’t fully understand Spanish” and has received consular services in Q’eqchi’.


    It can be challenging for U.S. personnel to find Q’eqchi’ interpreters even during normal business hours, a DHS staffer with experience interviewing Guatemalan migrants told VOA on condition of anonymity.  


    “It’s a difficult thing,” the staffer said, describing the need to schedule “relay interviews” with a Q’eqchi’ interpreter who interprets to Spanish, then a Spanish interpreter who speaks in English to the U.S. government employee, a process that often involved a full 24 hours of planning. 


    More questions than answers 


    The girl’s death on Dec. 8 was not initially made public by CBP or DHS. The Washington Post first reported the story on Dec. 13.  

    Since then, the agencies have made several public comments and provided a timeline about the events leading to Jakelin’s death. In a Facebook statement, DHS related that according to the girl’s father, she “had not been able to consume water or food for days” before her death. 


    The Office of the Inspector General at DHS announced Friday that it would be investigating Jakelin’s death. 


    U.S. House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi said Friday that in addition to the DHS inspector general’s investigation, “Congress will also investigate this horrific tragedy to ensure the safety and security of every child.”


    Additionally, a letter sent Friday by six members of Congress, including New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan and acting DHS Inspector General John V. Kelly raised the issue of why CBP did not report the death of an individual in its custody within 24 hours as required. 


    The lawmakers requested, in part, details and a full investigation into Jakelin’s death, as well as a meeting with the commissioner.


    McAleenan testified before Congress this week but made no mention of the death.  

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  • Governments Agree on Rules for Implementing Climate Accord

    After two weeks of bruising negotiations, officials from almost 200 countries agreed Saturday on universal, transparent rules that will govern efforts to cut emissions and curb global warming. Fierce disagreements on two other climate issues were kicked down the road for a year to help bridge a chasm of opinions on the best solutions. 


    The deal agreed upon at U.N. climate talks in Poland enables countries to put into action the principles in the 2015 Paris climate accord.


    “Through this package, you have made a thousand little steps forward together,” said Michal Kurtyka, a senior Polish official chairing the talks. 


    He said while each individual country would likely find some parts of the agreement it didn’t like, efforts had been made to balance the interests of all parties. 


    “We will all have to give in order to gain,” he said. “We will all have to be courageous to look into the future and make yet another step for the sake of humanity.” 


    The talks in Poland took place against a backdrop of growing concern among scientists that global warming on Earth is proceeding faster than governments are responding to it. Last month, a study found that global warming will worsen disasters such as the deadly California wildfires and the powerful hurricanes that have hit the United States this year. 

    Overhaul of global economy


    And a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, concluded that while it’s possible to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century compared with pre-industrial times, this would require a dramatic overhaul of the global economy, including a shift away from fossil fuels. 


    Alarmed by efforts to include this in the final text of the meeting, oil-exporting nations the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait blocked an endorsement of the IPCC report midway through this month’s talks in Katowice. That prompted an uproar from vulnerable countries like small island nations and environmental groups.  

    The final text at the U.N. talks omits a previous reference to specific reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and merely welcomes the “timely completion” of the IPCC report, not its conclusions. 


    Last-minute snags forced negotiators in Katowice to go into extra time, after Friday’s scheduled end of the conference had passed without a deal. 


    One major sticking point was how to create a functioning market in carbon credits. Economists believe that an international trading system could be an effective way to drive down greenhouse gas emissions and raise large amounts of money for measures to curb global warming. 


    But Brazil wanted to keep the piles of carbon credits it had amassed under an old system that developed countries say wasn’t credible or transparent. 

    Push from U.S. 


    Among those that pushed back hardest was the United States, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord and promote the use of coal. 


    “Overall, the U.S. role here has been somewhat schizophrenic — pushing coal and dissing science on the one hand, but also working hard in the room for strong transparency rules,” said Elliot Diringer of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a Washington think tank. 


    When it came to closing potential loopholes that could allow countries to dodge their commitments to cut emissions, “the U.S. pushed harder than nearly anyone else for transparency rules that put all countries under the same system, and it’s largely succeeded.”  

    “Transparency is vital to U.S. interests,” added Nathaniel Keohane, a climate policy expert at the Environmental Defense Fund. He noted that the breakthrough in the 2015 Paris talks happened only after the U.S. and China agreed on a common framework for transparency. 


    “In Katowice, the U.S. negotiators have played a central role in the talks, helping to broker an outcome that is true to the Paris vision of a common transparency framework for all countries that also provides flexibility for those that need it,” said Keohane, calling the agreement “a vital step forward in realizing the promise of the Paris accord.” 


    Among the key achievements in Katowice was an agreement on how countries should report their greenhouses gas emissions and the efforts they’re taking to reduce them. Poor countries also secured assurances on getting financial support to help them cut emissions, adapt to inevitable changes such as sea level rises and pay for damages that have already happened. 

    Some not hearing alarms


    “The majority of the rulebook for the Paris Agreement has been created, which is something to be thankful for,” said Mohamed Adow, a climate policy expert at Christian Aid. “But the fact countries had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the finish line shows that some nations have not woken up to the urgent call of the IPCC report” on the dire consequences of global warming. 


    But a central feature of the Paris Agreement — the idea that countries will ratchet up their efforts to fight global warming over time — still needs to be proved effective, he said. 


    “To bend the emissions curve, we now need all countries to deliver these revised plans at the special U.N. secretary-general summit in 2019. It’s vital that they do so,” Adow said. 


    In the end, a decision on the mechanics of an emissions trading system was postponed to next year’s meeting. Countries also agreed to consider the issue of raising ambitions at a U.N. summit in New York next September. 


    Speaking hours before the final gavel, Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna suggested there was no alternative to such meetings if countries want to tackle global problems, especially at a time when multilateral diplomacy is under pressure from nationalism. 


    “The world has changed, the political landscape has changed,” she told The Associated Press. “Still, you’re seeing here that we’re able to make progress, we’re able to discuss the issues, we’re able to come to solutions.”  

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  • Архієпископ Климент (Кущ) остерігається «помсти за томос» у Криму

    Архієпископ Климент також зазначив, що має намір боротися за свою паству, в тому числі і через суд

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  • Republicans Say Little About Obamacare Ruling

    Republican lawmakers have been mostly silent on Friday’s court ruling that the Affordable Care Act, known commonly as Obamacare, is unconstitutional. Democrats, however, have said they’ll hold the GOP to its commitment to retain popular provisions of the law, such as guaranteed coverage for those with pre-existing health conditions. 

    “The GOP spent all last year pretending to support people with pre-existing conditions while quietly trying to remove that support in the courts,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said in a tweet Saturday. “Next year, we will force votes to expose their lies.” 

    U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat who will assume the speaker’s role next year, said the House “will move swiftly to formally intervene in the appeals process to uphold the lifesaving protections for people with pre-existing conditions and reject Republicans’ effort to destroy” the law. 

    U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas ruled Friday that a change in tax law last year eliminating a penalty for not having health insurance invalidated the entire ACA. The decision is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the ACA will remain the law during the appeal.  

    U.S. President Donald Trump had promised during his presidential campaign to dismantle the ACA, a program that made affordable health insurance available to millions of Americans.  

    ‘Great news’

    The president took to Twitter Friday night:  “Wow, but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a highly respected judge in Texas. Great news for America!” 

    White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the judge’s decision “vindicates President Trump’s position that Obamacare is unconstitutional. Once again, the President calls on Congress to replace Obamacare and act to protect people with pre-existing conditions and provide Americans with quality, affordable health care.”  

    Americans with pre-existing conditions, before ACA, faced either high premiums or an inability to access health insurance at all.  

    Schumer said in a statement Friday that the ruling “seems to be based on faulty legal reasoning, and hopefully it will be overturned. Americans who care about working families must do all they can to prevent this district court ruling from becoming law.”   

    “Today’s misguided ruling will not deter us,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the leader of an alliance of states opposing the lawsuit, said in a statement Friday.  “Our coalition will continue to fight in court for the health and well-being for all Americans.”  

    New law unlikely for now

    Some legal observers believe Congress is unlikely to pass a new law while the case is in the courts. Many senior Republican lawmakers have said they did not plan to also strike down provisions such as pre-existing condition coverage when they repealed the law’s fines for people who can afford coverage but remain uninsured. 

    If the case reaches the Supreme Court, it would be the third time the high court considers a challenge to ACA provisions. The law’s opponents lost the first two cases. 

    Polls have regularly shown wide public support for the guarantee of health insurance coverage regardless of pre-existing health conditions, an issue Democrats successfully leveraged in last month’s midterm elections to win control of the House of Representatives.

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  • Правозахисники назвали кількість цивільних заручників в ОРДЛО, чиї дані їм вдалося встановити

    «Медійна ініціатива за права людини» заявляє про щонайменше 89 цивільних заручників, які утримуються на непідконтрольній Україні території Донбасу і яких представникам організації вдалося ідентифікувати.

    Співкоординаторка організації Марія Томак оприлюднила інфорграфіку, за якою на Луганщині сепаратисти силоміць утримують 6 військових та 13 цивільних. За інформацією правозахисників, найімовірніше, цих людей утримують у Луганському СІЗО та колишньому приміщенні управління СБУ (яке зараз займає «МГБ ЛНР»).

    ​На Донеччині МІПЛ нараховує 7 військовополонених та 76 цивільних заручників. За даними організації, їх можуть тримати в СІЗО міста Донецьк, Макіївській виправній колонії №32, Сніжнянській виправній колонії №127, а також захопленому угрупованням «ДНР» приміщенні арт-центру «Ізоляція».

    Серед заручників – український журналіст, автор Радіо Свобода Станіслав Асєєв (Васін). Він перебуває в ув’язненні, за різними даними, з травня або червня 2017 року. Спершу він просто зник, два тижні про нього нічого не було відомо. Пізніше підконтрольне Росії угруповання «ДНР» визнало його затримання й звинуватило у шпигунстві на користь України. Також МІПЛ говорить про утримання у заручниках медсестри з Горлівки Марини Чуйкової та підприємця Романа Сагайдака.

    Окрім того, правозахисники назвали імена деяких українських військових, які утримуються у полоні сепаратистів вже майже чотири роки.

    Як повідомляє МІПЛ, 15 грудня колишні полонені та громадські активісти провели мітинг на майдані Незалежності з метою привернути увагу до доль людей, які нині силоміць утримуються на непідконтрольній Україні території.

    Востаннє обмін полоненими на Донбасі між Україною і підтримуваними Росією бойовиками відбувся в грудні 2017 року, а в листопаді окремо обміняли двох лідерів кримських татар у рамках особистої домовленості між керівниками Росії і Туреччини.

    Станом на кінець січня в СБУ повідомляли, що в заручниках на непідконтрольних уряду територіях Донбасу перебувають 108 людей, десятки – в Росії, 402 людини вважалися зниклими безвісти. 




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  • Військова прокуратура почала розслідування падіння СУ-27 на Житомирщині

    Військова прокуратура Центрального регіону заявила про початок розслідування падіння 15 грудня винищувача СУ-27 поблизу аеродрому Озерне на Житомирщині. За даними відомства, провадження почато за статтею 416 Кримінального кодексу (Порушення правил польотів або підготовки до них).

    «Аварія сталася під час проведення планового польоту. За попередньою інформацією з місця події, льотчик – Олександр Васильович Фоменко, загинув. На місцї аварії літака працює група військових прокурорів апарату військової прокуратури Центрального регіону України, прокурорів Житомирського гарнізону та слідчих Державного бюро розслідувань», – мовиться на сайті відомства.

    Як раніше повідомили у Генеральному штабі Збройних сил України, аварія трапилася під час заходу літака на посадку.

    Це вже другий за останні два місяці випадок загибелі пілотів на літаку Су-27. У жовтні під час міжнародних навчань літак Су-27 упав у Вінницькій області близько біля села Уланів. Обидва пілоти, українець і американець, загинули.

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