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  • China’s Xi Calls for Reform Implementation, Offers No New Measures

    Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday called for the implementation of reforms but offered no new specific measures in a highly anticipated speech that marked the 40th anniversary of China’s move towards market liberalization.

    In a speech lasting nearly an hour-and-a-half, Xi called for support of the state economy while also guiding the development of the private sector, and said China will expand efforts at opening up and ensure the implementation of major reforms.

    “We must, unswervingly, reinforce the development of the state economy while, unswervingly, encouraging, supporting and guiding the development of the non-state economy,” Xi said during a speech at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

    Xi was speaking on the day China marked as the 40th anniversary of the start of late leader Deng Xiaoping’s campaign of “reform and opening up,” which led to explosive industrial growth that made China’s economy the world’s second-largest.

    “Opening brings progress while closure leads to backwardness,” he added.

    “Every step of reform and opening up is not easy. In the future, we will be inevitably faced with all sorts of risks and challenges, and even unimaginable tempestuous storms,” said Xi, stressing the role the ruling Communist Party.

    Xi was speaking amid mounting pressure to accelerate reforms and improve market access for foreign companies as a bitter trade war with the United States weighs on the Chinese economy.

    China’s heavy support of its sprawling state sector has been a point of contention with the United States.

    The trade war has spurred some Chinese entrepreneurs, government advisers and think tanks to call for faster economic reforms and the freeing up of a private sector stifled by state controls and struggling to gain access to credit.

    Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed early this month to a 90-day truce in the trade dispute, which halted the threatened escalation of punitive tariffs while the two sides continue negotiations.

    In his speech, Xi enumerated the accomplishments of China’s development.

    “Grain coupons, cloth coupons, meat coupons, fish coupons, oil coupons, tofu coupons, food ticket books, product coups and other documents people once could not be without have now been consigned to the museum of history,” he said. “The torments of hunger, lack of food and clothing, and the hardships which have plagued our people for thousands of years have generally gone and won’t come back.”

    Numerous luminaries in attendance were cited for their contributions to China’s economic reforms including the heads of online giants Alibaba, Tencent Holdings and Baidu and car maker Geely Automobile Holdings.

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    18/12/2018

  • China Hopes for ‘Orderly’ Brexit, Calls for More Open EU Economy

    China hopes Britain’s exit from the European Union can happen in an orderly way and that the bloc will reduce hurdles to Chinese investment and keep its markets open, China’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

    China, the world’s second-largest economy, has watched Brexit nervously, worried not only about potential market turmoil from a disorderly departure but about losing Britain’s supportive voice for free trade within the EU.

    “China hopes to see Brexit proceed in an orderly fashion and stands ready to advance China-EU and China-UK relations in parallel,” the ministry said in a lengthy policy document on EU ties.

    The EU and China are often at loggerheads over trade and other issues, with the EU sharing many of the same concerns as the United States about market access, trade imbalances and intellectual property rights protection.

    The bloc is China’s largest trading partner while China is its biggest trading partner after the United States.

    The EU has been pressing for better access to the Chinese market for its companies, while China has complained about what it sees as unfair restrictions on Chinese investments in the EU.

    Despite events such as Brexit, China said the EU has remained committed to integration, pressed on with reforms and played a major role in regional and international affairs.

    Beijing has promised to look at the possibility of reaching a “top notch” free trade deal with Britain post-Brexit.

    The Brexit process is currently deadlocked with just over 100 days until Britain is due to leave the EU.

    On trade, China’s white paper said the EU should ease high-tech export controls on China and facilitate mutual investment.

    The government will significantly ease market access and endeavor to foster a “stable, fair, transparent, law-based and predictable business environment that protects the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investment and treats Chinese and foreign firms registered in China as equals,” it said.

    “China hopes that the EU will keep its investment market open, reduce and eliminate investment hurdles and discriminatory barriers, and provide Chinese companies investing in Europe a fair, transparent and predictable policy environment and protect their legitimate rights and interests.”

    The EU last month provisionally agreed on rules for a far-reaching system to coordinate scrutiny of foreign investments into Europe, notably from China in the wake of a surge in Chinese investments, to end what a negotiator called “European naivety.”

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    18/12/2018

  • Run-up to Flynn Sentencing Tinged with Unexpected Drama

    Michael Flynn may have given extraordinary cooperation to prosecutors, but the run-up to his sentencing hearing Tuesday has exposed raw tensions over an FBI interview in which the former national security adviser lied about his Russian contacts.

     

    Flynn’s lawyers have suggested that investigators discouraged him from having an attorney present during the January 2017 interview and never informed him it was a crime to lie. Prosecutors shot back, “He does not need to be warned it is a crime to lie to federal agents to know the importance of telling them the truth.”

     

    The mere insinuation of underhanded tactics was startling given the seemingly productive relationship between the two sides, and it was especially striking since prosecutors with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office have praised Flynn’s cooperation and recommended against prison time. The defense arguments spurred speculation that Flynn may be trying to get sympathy from President Donald Trump or may be playing to a judge known for a zero-tolerance view of government misconduct.

     

    “It’s an attempt, I think, to perhaps characterize Flynn as a victim or perhaps to make him look sympathetic in the eyes of a judge — and, at the same time, to portray the special counsel in a negative light,” said former federal prosecutor Jimmy Gurule, a University of Notre Dame law school professor.

     

    Until the dueling memos were filed last week, the sentencing hearing for Flynn — who pleaded guilty to lying about conversations during the transition period with the then-Russian ambassador — was expected to be devoid of the drama characterizing other of Mueller’s cases.

    Prosecutors, for instance, have accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of lying to them even after he agreed to cooperate. Another potential target, Jerome Corsi, leaked draft court documents and accused Mueller’s team of bullying him. And George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser recently released from a two-week prison sentence, has lambasted the investigation and publicly claimed that he was set up.

     

    Flynn, by contrast, has been notably silent even as his supporters advocated a more combative stance. He met privately with investigators 19 times and provided cooperation so extensive that prosecutors said he was entitled to avoid prison altogether.

     

    Then came his sentencing memo.

     

    Although Flynn and his attorneys stopped short of any direct accusations of wrongdoing, they took pains to note that Flynn, unlike other defendants in Mueller’s investigation, was not informed that it was against the law to lie to the FBI. They suggest the FBI, which approached Flynn at the White House just days after Trump’s inauguration, played to his desire to keep the encounter quiet by telling him the quickest way to get the interview done was for him to be alone with the agents — rather than involve lawyers.

     

    They also insinuate that Flynn, of Middletown, Rhode Island, deserves credit for not publicly seizing on the fact that FBI officials involved in the investigation later came under scrutiny themselves. Former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who contacted Flynn to arrange the interview, was fired this year for what the Justice Department said was a lack of candor over a news media leak. Peter Strzok, one of the two agents who interviewed Flynn, was removed from Mueller’s team and later fired for trading anti-Trump texts with another FBI official.

     

    Mueller’s team has rejected any suggestion that Flynn was duped, with prosecutors responding in a sentencing memo Friday that there was no obligation to warn Flynn against lying.

     

    “A sitting National Security (Adviser), former head of an intelligence agency, retired Lieutenant General, and 33-year veteran of the armed forces knows he should not lie to federal agents,” prosecutors wrote.

    Former FBI Director James Comey criticized the broadsides on the Flynn investigation during a Monday appearance on Capitol Hill, saying, “They’re up here attacking the FBI’s investigation of a guy who pled guilty to lying to the FBI.”

    Trump has made no secret that he sees Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt” and has continued to lash out at prosecutors he sees as biased against him and those who help them. He’s shown continued sympathy for Flynn, though, calling him a “great person” and asserting erroneously last week that the FBI said he didn’t lie.

     

    Flynn has not tried to retract his guilty plea, and there’s every indication the sentencing will proceed as scheduled.

     

    Arun Rao, a former Justice Department prosecutor in Maryland, said the defense memo is striking because it’s “inconsistent” with Flynn’s cooperative stance so far.

     

    “You also wonder in this very unusual situation,” he said, “whether it is a play for a pardon.”

     

    It’s possible at least some of the defense arguments may resonate with U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who directed prosecutors to produce FBI records related to Flynn’s interview. That included portions of the notes from Flynn’s Jan. 24, 2017 interview with FBI agents.

     

    Responding to Sullivan’s order, prosecutors filed a redacted copy of the FBI interview notes Monday evening. The notes show FBI agents interviewed Flynn about his Russian contacts, including past trips to the country and his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.

     

    Last year, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about the contents of his conversations with Kislyak during the presidential transition.

     

    The notes show Flynn told agents he didn’t ask Kislyak not to escalate Russia’s response to sanctions imposed by the Obama administration over election interference. But Flynn admitted as part of his guilty plea that he did.

    The notes also show Flynn told agents he didn’t ask Kislyak to see if Russia would vote a certain way on a United Nations resolution involving Israeli settlements. But last year he admitted having asked Kislyak to see if Russia would vote against or delay the resolution. Court papers show Flynn made the request at the direction of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.

     

    Sullivan was the judge in the Justice Department’s botched prosecution of now-deceased Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska. He dismissed the case after prosecutors admitted that they withheld exculpatory evidence, prompting the judge to say that in nearly 25 years on the bench, “I’ve never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I’ve seen in this case.”

     

    In an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal last year, Sullivan said the experience inspired him to explicitly remind prosecutors in every criminal case before him of their obligation to provide defendants with favorable evidence. He says he has encouraged colleagues to do the same.

     

    But while Sullivan has proved especially sensitive to hints of government overreach, nothing about the Flynn case comes close, said Gurule, the law professor.

     

    “To portray him as somehow an innocent dupe, as somehow just this innocent victim in the process, this suggestion that there was a perjury trap — it’s an absurd allegation,” he said.

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    18/12/2018

  • GOP Waits on Trump as Clock Ticks Toward Partial Shutdown

    The fight over President Donald Trump’s $5 billion wall funds deepened Monday, threatening a partial government shutdown in a standoff that has become increasingly common in Washington.

    It wasn’t always like this, with Congress and the White House at a crisis over government funding. The House and Senate used to pass annual appropriation bills, and the president signed them into law. But in recent years the shutdown scenario has become so routine that it raises the question: Have shutdowns as a negotiating tool lost their punch?

    Monday brought few signs of progress. A partial shutdown that could occur at midnight Friday risks disrupting government operations and leaving hundreds of thousands of federal employees furloughed or working without pay over the holiday season. Costs would be likely in the billions of dollars.

    Trump was meeting with his team and getting regular updates, said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Trump was also tweeting Monday to keep up the pressure.

    Exiting a Senate Republican leadership meeting late Monday, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said, “It looks like it probably is going to have to build for a few days here before there’s a solution.”

    The president is insisting on $5 billion for the wall along the southern border with Mexico, but he does not have the votes from the Republican-led Congress to support it. Democrats are offering to continue funding at current levels, $1.3 billion, not for the wall but for fencing and other border security.

    It’s unclear how many House Republicans, with just a few weeks left in the majority before relinquishing power to House Democrats, will even show up mid-week for possible votes. Speaker Paul Ryan’s office had no update. Many Republicans say it’s up to Trump and Democrats to cut a deal.

    ​Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump talk most days, but the senator’s spokesman would not confirm if they spoke Monday about a plan. McConnell opened the chamber hoping for a “bipartisan collaborative spirit” that would enable Congress to finish its work.

    “We need to make a substantial investment in the integrity of our border,” McConnell said. “And we need to close out the year’s appropriation process.”

    Meanwhile more than 800,000 government workers are preparing for the uncertainty ahead.

    The dispute could affect nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State and Justice, as well as national parks and forests.

    About half the workers would be forced to continue working without immediate pay. Others would be sent home. Congress often approves their pay retroactively, even if they were ordered to stay home.

    “Our members are asking how they are supposed to pay for rent, food, and gas if they are required to work without a paycheck,” said a statement from J. David Cox, Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the large federal worker union. “The holiday season makes these inquiries especially heart-wrenching.”

    Many agencies, including the Pentagon and the departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services, are already funded for the year and will continue to operate as usual, regardless of whether Congress and the president reach agreement this week.

    Congress already approved funding this year for about 75 percent of the government’s discretionary account for the budget year that began Oct. 1.

    The U.S. Postal Service, busy delivering packages for the holiday season, wouldn’t be affected by any government shutdown because it’s an independent agency.

    Trump said last week he would be “proud” to have a shutdown to get Congress to approve a $5 billion down payment to fulfill his campaign promise to build a border wall.

    ​During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump promised that Mexico would pay for the wall. Mexico has refused.

    Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, in a meeting last week at the White House, suggested keeping funding at its current level, $1.3 billion, for improved fencing. Trump had neither accepted nor rejected the Democrats’ offer, telling them he would take a look.

    Schumer said Monday he had yet to hear from Trump. Speaking on the Senate floor, Schumer warned that “going along with the Trump shutdown is a futile act” because House Democrats would quickly approve government funding in January.

    “President Trump still doesn’t have a plan to keep the government open,” Schumer said Monday. “No treat or temper tantrum will get the president his wall.”

    One option for lawmakers would be to provide stopgap funding for a few weeks, until the new Congress convenes Jan. 3, when Pelosi is poised to become House speaker.

    Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, who is in line to become the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, suggested a stopgap bill could be one way to resolve the issue or a longer-term bill that includes money for border security.

    GOP leaders, though, were frustrated as the clock ticked away. Leaving the weekly leadership meeting, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said any planning was a “very closely held thing. That’s why we should never let this happen. We should pass the bills the way we’re supposed to pass them.”

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    18/12/2018

  • Mexico to Raise Base Wage, New Leader Pledges to Lift Buying Power

    Mexico’s wage commission said on Monday it planned to hike the country’s minimum wage by 16 percent to around $5 per day and leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador pledged further increases to keep salaries apace with inflation.

    The salary commission, made up of government, business and labor representatives, said the daily minimum wage would rise to 102.68 pesos from 88.36 pesos on Jan. 1, the biggest such hike since 1996.

    “During many years the minimum wage has lost its purchasing power. Some say it has lost 70 percent of its purchasing power over the last 30 years,” said Lopez Obrador.

    “We’re never going to have wage (increases) below inflation,” said Lopez Obrador, who took office on Dec. 1.

    Low wages have helped to attract foreign companies to Mexico and create jobs, but also encourage migration to the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump argues that low wages south of the border kill U.S. jobs.

    Lopez Obrador has called for doubling the minimum wage in northern states that border the United States in a bid to reduce inequality with neighboring U.S. areas.

    In the area within 25 kilometers (16 miles) from the U.S. border, the minimum wage will be increased to 176.72 pesos per day, Mexican employers’ confederation Coparmex said in a statement.

    Lopez Obrador’s maiden budget, delivered on Saturday, was welcomed by markets for pledging to stick to fiscal discipline, but the wage policy raised concerns that it could hit inflation and spark higher interest rates.

    Benito Berber, chief economist for Latin America at Natixis, said Lopez Obrador’s new take on wages, including the commitment to keep pace with inflation, could push Mexico’s central bank to raise interest rates on Thursday.

    “It seems the government is willing to accept higher inflation and perhaps stickier inflation,” Berber said. “Banxico has been clear that wage increases above productivity would entail tight monetary policy.”

    ($1 = 20.1160 Mexican pesos)

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    18/12/2018

  • US Senate Advances Criminal Justice Reform

    The U.S. Senate advanced a bipartisan bill Monday that would decrease America’s large prison population by lowering some mandatory federal sentences and giving prisoners added opportunities to earn reductions in jail time.

    With the 82-12 procedural vote, the Senate formally took up the First Step Act, which is backed by President Donald Trump but has fewer than two weeks to reach his desk before the end of the current Congress.

    “This landmark legislation restores fairness in sentencing by ensuring that penalties fit their crimes, gives low-level, non-violent offenders a better chance to turn over a new leaf upon release from prison, and ultimately reduces crime and makes our streets and neighborhoods safer,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said in a statement.

    “These historic changes will make communities SAFER and SAVE tremendous taxpayers dollars,” Trump tweeted. “It brings much needed hope to many families during the Holiday Season.”

    The First Step Act would retroactively end the discrepancy in federal sentences for drug offenses involving crack and the powder form of cocaine, reducing jail time for thousands of prisoners already serving time for crack offenses.

    The bill also would reduce some mandatory sentences, give federal judges more flexibility to make exceptions to mandatory prison terms, and allow prisoners to earn greater sentence reductions through good behavior and vocational training.

    “The vast majority of prison inmates will one day be released back into our communities after serving their sentence,” Grassley said. “It is in everyone’s best interest to equip inmates with the skills and training needed to be become productive citizens, rather than returning to a life of crime.”

    Proponents say the bill aims to correct a failed 1980s-era attempt to deter illegal drug use that established long mandatory prison sentences for drug convictions.

    “Since 1980, the federal prison population has grown by over 700 percent,” Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin said. “Today, the United States of America holds more prisoners by far than any country in the world, more than Russia or China.”

    Durbin added that existing law has unfairly targeted people of color, saying, “The majority of illegal drug users and dealers in America are white. But three-quarters of the people serving time in prison for drug offenses are African-American or Latino.”

    The House of Representatives passed a similar version of the bill earlier this year. Now, the Senate is racing to complete work on the legislation before the chamber adjourns for the Christmas holiday.

    Criticism of bill

    The First Step Act has robust but not universal Senate support in its current form. Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton is demanding the bill stipulate that some prisoners will be barred from early release.

    “Unfortunately, the bill still has major problems & allows early release for many categories of serious, violent criminals,” Cotton tweeted. “This includes felons who commit violent bank robberies with dangerous weapons, who assault children, & who commit carjacking with the intent to cause death.”

    Cotton and several other Republicans are pressing an amendment that would specify which offenders are ineligible for sentence reductions, something that proponents of the First Step Act say the bill already sets forth.

    “This bill will not allow dangerous, violent criminals to be released early — that [assertion] is pure fiction,” said the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas. “It’s important that we look at people who are low risk of recidivism [committing more crimes] and low risk to public safety, because what we can do is use the resources — not to keep people like that behind bars unnecessarily — but to focus on the truly violent criminals.”

    America’s prison population exceeds 2 million people, and incarceration consumes vast resources within the nation’s justice system. Even if it becomes law, the First Step Act would have a modest impact on incarceration numbers, as the bill only applies to federal inmates, who account for less than 10 percent of the national total. Other initiatives seek to achieve similar results at the state level.

    Support for bill

    A wide array of law enforcement organizations support the bill, as do both right-leaning and left-leaning advocacy groups.

    Durbin hailed “the most extraordinary political coalition I’ve ever witnessed in the time I’ve been in Washington” joining forces to back the legislation.

    “Every once in a while, the stars line up, and the Democrats and the Republicans, and the conservatives and the progressives, and the president and the Congress agree on something,” the Illinois Democrat said.

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    18/12/2018

  • Лауреатом премії «Світло справедливості» став дослідник і соціолог Леонід Фінберг

    Лауреатом нагороди «Світло справедливості» у 2018 році став Леонід Фінберг – соціолог, дослідник культури, головний редактор видавництва «Дух і Літера», директор Центру досліджень історії та культури східноєвропейського єврейства. Церемонія вручення відбулася у Національному музеї Тараса Шевченка в Києві. Організатором заходу виступив Інститут лідерства та управління Українського католицького університету.

    Нагорода заснована канадійкою українського походження Анастасією Шкільник і вручається «за моральне і духовне лідерство в Україні» в пам’ять про її батька Михайла Шкільника, громадського і політичного діяча часів Української Народної Республіки.

    «Ця нагорода відзначає особливих людей за їхню здатність запалити світло справедливості у темних щілинах людської душі та вказати шлях до більш людяного суспільства», – сказала про премію Анастасія Шкільник.

    У 2017 році лауреаткою премії стала Наталка Седлецька – авторка програми журналістських розслідувань «Схеми» (спільний проект Радіо Свобода і телеканалу «UA:Перший»). До цього премії отримували Надія Савченко, Євген Сверстюк, Мустафа Джемілєв та Лариса Заливна.

    «Ми шукаємо людей, які у щоденному житті дають нам приклад жертовності заради розбудови демократичного суспільства. Очевидно одне: ці люди стають для нас ціннісними орієнтирами, вони творять острівки нової України», – розповіла одна із організаторок нагороди «Світло Справедливості», директорка Інституту лідерства та управління УКУ Наталія Бордун.

    «В особливий спосіб капітула хоче відзначити Леоніда Фінберга і показати суспільству його поставу під час Майдану. Коли нова політична нація українців показала, що вона досягає нової зріслості, відбулась спроба придуши цей рух, кинувши на нього тінь антисемітизму. У той час Фінберг разом з іншими патріотами-євреями провадив систематичну акцію пояснюючи світу і розкаючи, що євреї також є на Майдані і теж вболівають за Україну», – наголосив єпископ Української греко-католицької церкви Владика Борис (Ґудзяк).

    «Ми не помітили, як змінилися, бо порівнюємо своє життя із тим, що є у інших країнах, тоді як треба порівнювати нас теперішніх із нами вчорашніми. Відроджується український кінематограф, який стає відомим у світі, українські театри, відкриваються важливі культурні заклади. Відбувається чітке домінування української гуманітаристики та української літератури – і покупці дедалі частіше купують українські переклади. Окрема перемога – це українська дитяча література, де окремі твори друкують сотнями тисяч примірників», – зауважив лауреат премії Леонід Фінберг. 

    Для визначення переможця впродовж року збирається капітула нагороди «Світло справедливості», яка спочатку визначається зі сферою, з якої буде обрано лауреата, а потім визначає претендентів. До складу капітули входить Владика Борис (Ґудзяк), Мирослав Маринович, Данило Білак, Джим Кінгем, Василь Мірошниченко, Марта Коломиєць, представник Української Католицької фундації з Чикаго Олександр Кузьма.

    Леонід Фінберг народився 30 липня 1948 року. У 1972 році закінчив Київський політехнічний інститут. З кінця 1980-х років – член редакційної ради журналу «Філософська та соціологічна думка», організатор низки експертних соціологічних досліджень. Читав курси лекцій у Женевському університеті про «Соціальні і економічні проблеми посткомуністичної України» і «Українську політичну історію 20-го століття». 

    З 1997 року Леонід Фінберг є головним редактором видавництва «Дух і літера», а з 2006 року директором Центру досліджень історії та культури східноєвропейського єврейства НаУКМА. Основні теми наукових досліджень: сучасне українське суспільство, історія та культура євреїв України. Має понад 80 власних публікацій.

    Лауреат премій Фундації Омеляна та Тетяни Антоновичів, у 2014 році нагороджений Срібним Хрестом Заслуг Республіки Польща.

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    17/12/2018

  • Nissan Board Meets, no Chairman Picked to replace Ghosn

    Nissan’s board met Monday but failed to pick a new chairman to replace Carlos Ghosn, who was arrested last month on charges of violating financial regulations, saying more discussion was needed.

     

    Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa told reporters that the board approved a special committee of outsiders to strengthen governance at the company. A date for the selection of a chairman was not decided.

     

    “We plan to be cautious in this process, and I do not plan to rush this,” Saikawa said.

     

    The recommendations for beefing up governance are due in March, and Saikawa said he was willing to wait until then to choose a chairman.

     

    The board meeting came amid an unfolding scandal that threatens the Japanese automaker’s two-decade alliance with Renault SA of France and its global brand, and highlights shoddy governance at the manufacturer of the Leaf electric car.

     

    Ghosn and another board member Greg Kelly were formally charged last week with falsifying financial reports in underreporting Ghosn’s income by about 5 billion yen ($44 million) from 2011 to 2015. They were arrested Nov. 19 by Tokyo prosecutors and remain in detention.

     

    A source close to Ghosn’s family says Ghosn is innocent, as the alleged income was never decided upon or paid. Aubrey Harwell, the U.S. lawyer for Kelly, an American, says he is innocent, and that Nissan insiders and outside experts had advised him that the financial reporting was proper.

     

    The chairman must be selected from among the board members. Three outside board members — race-car driver Keiko Ihara, Masakazu Toyoda, an academic, and Jean-Baptiste Duzan, formerly of Renault — are making that decision.

     

    The special committee for governance includes the three outside board members and four other outsiders, including former judge Seiichiro Nishioka.

     

    One candidate for chairman is Saikawa, who was hand-picked by Ghosn to succeed him as chief executive. He has denounced Ghosn and Kelly as the “masterminds” in a scheme to falsify income reports and abuse company money and assets.

     

    Renault has kept Ghosn as chief executive and chairman, saying its investigation has not found wrongdoing in the awarding of Ghosn’s compensation.

     

    Nissan Motor Co.’s allegations also include million-dollar homes in several nations, including France, Japan, Brazil, Lebanon and the Netherlands, purchased by Nissan or a subsidiary and used by Ghosn.

     

    Wrangling over a home in Rio de Janeiro has developed into a court battle in Brazil, with Nissan seeking to block Ghosn’s family from retrieving items.

     

    Ghosn was born in Brazil of Lebanese ancestry and holds French citizenship. He was sent in by Renault in 1999 to turn around Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy.

     

    It’s unclear when Ghosn and Kelly may be released, with Tokyo prosecutors saying they are a flight risk.

     

     

     

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    17/12/2018

  • US, China Trade Barbs at WTO Amid Calls for Reform

    The United States said on Monday that China’s “unfair competitive practices” were harming foreign companies and workers in a way that violates World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, but vowed to lead reform efforts.

    U.S. trade ambassador Dennis Shea drew fire from Chinese envoy Zhang Xiangchen who said the Trump administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum products allowed protectionism under the guise of dubious national security concerns.

    The heated words, in texts seen by Reuters, were exchanged at the start of a closed-door review of U.S. trade policies, held every two years at the WTO, which continues on Wednesday.

    Shea expressed concern about the WTO dispute settlement system having “strayed far from the system agreed to by members” and said that the Appellate Body had overreached in some legal interpretations.

    Zhang countered that by blocking the selection of judges, Washington was putting the system into paralysis.

    To force reform at the WTO, Trump’s team has refused to allow new appointments to the Appellate Body, the world’s top trade court, a process which requires consensus among member states. As a result, the court is running out of judges, and will be unable to issue binding rulings in disputes.

    Shea described the U.S. economy as “one of the most open and competitive economies in the world,” with among the lowest tariffs globally, rejecting criticism by some of the U.S. approach as “unilateralist and protectionist.”

    China has pursued “non-market industrial policies and other unfair competitive practices” aimed at supporting its domestic industries while restricting or discriminating against foreign companies and their goods and services, he said.

    “The WTO is not well equipped to handle the fundamental challenge posed by China, which continues to embrace a state-led, mercantilist approach to the economy and trade,” Shea said.

    He did not refer to the dispute on steel or automobiles which brought the two powers to the brink of a major trade war but defended the U.S. “Section 301” investigation that found in March that Chinese practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation were discriminatory.

    On Section 301, Zhang said the U.S. measures vastly increased tariffs, “bringing back to life the ghost of unilateralism that has been dormant for decades.”

    Shea said the United States was committed to working with like-minded members to address concerns on the functioning of the WTO.  “Reforms are necessary for the continued viability of the institution,” he said.

    Zhang echoed his call, but said: “If the roof of this building is leaking, we should work together to fix it, rather than dismantling it and exposing all of us to rains and storms.”

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    17/12/2018

  • Partial US Government Shutdown Looms

    A quarter of U.S. government operations could shut down Friday at midnight unless the White House and lawmakers agree on a new spending plan, including whether to fund President Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to thwart illegal immigration.

    Spending for three-fourths of the government has already been approved through next September, but the remaining bills include 2019 funding for the Department of Homeland Security, and possible money for the wall, a favorite Trump campaign vow while campaigning for the presidency in 2016.

    But the $5 billion down payment Trump wants for the $20 billion wall is adamantly opposed by Democrats and some Republicans, leaving its fate in doubt. Democrats have offered a maximum of $1.6 billion, for enhanced border security, not specifically for the wall. 

    Trump last week said he would proudly shut down the government if money is not included for his wall. But to avert a Friday shutdown he also could reach agreement on some kind of stopgap spending plan to carry all government operations through the end of this year and into 2019. Aside from Homeland Security, funding is at stake for the State Department, the Department of Justice and the Interior Department.

    In a meeting last week at the White House, Trump told the top two Democratic congressional leaders, House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, that he would be happy to take responsibility for a government shutdown rather than give up any ground on the border wall issue.

    ​If the government is forced into a partial shutdown, it could be short, like the two that took place early this year — the first lasted three days, and the second lasted only about six hours. 

    Or it could resemble the longest shutdown in U.S. history, which started December 16, 1995, and ended 21 days later. The second longest occurred in October 2013, when the government closed for 16 days, costing it $2.5 billion in wages and benefits to workers who were not allowed to do their jobs because they were furloughed, according to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

    Results of a shutdown

    With each shutdown come questions about what federal services will and will not be provided. Generally, agencies or offices funded by service fees, such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, can continue their work, so the shutdown would not affect naturalization interviews or citizenship ceremonies. 

    In a new shutdown, about 380,000 federal workers could be furloughed.

    National parks have shut down in the past, but during the shutdowns earlier this year, the head of the Office of Budget and Management, Mick Mulvaney, pledged that they would be kept open.

    ​Experts say the Internal Revenue Service may not be able to process tax refunds. Health safety inspections could be stalled. Most employees at the U.S. space agency NASA would likely be furloughed and might not get paid for that time, although Congress usually grants pay retroactively after a shutdown is over.

    About 420,000 federal workers are deemed “essential” and are expected to remain on the job.

    Voice of America continues to broadcast, and air traffic controllers are usually expected to keep working — along with FBI agents, members of the Transportation Security Administration, and the Secret Service agents that protect the president. Like the furloughed workers, they may not see any pay until after the shutdown concludes.

    The Friday deadline is the result of a spending agreement Congress reached in September and the death of a former president. 

    The September measure set a December 7 deadline for passing the seven spending bills that remain outstanding. That deadline was pushed back two weeks after the death November 30 of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, whose funeral ceremonies were held the following week.

    In one more possible hurdle, Schumer has indicated that the Democrats might block the spending bill unless Congress also approves a bill protecting special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump 2016 campaign links to Russia and whether Trump, as president, obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe.

    A looming shutdown is not expected to affect the investigation because it is funded with an appropriation that does not require renewal.

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    17/12/2018

  • 16-кілометрову зону навколо складів біля Ічні очистили від снарядів – Чернігівська ОДА

    Роботи з очищення 16-кілометрової зони навколо 6 арсеналу боєприпасів Міністерства оборони в Ічнянському районі Чернігівської області завершилися, повідомляє Департамент з питань цивільного захисту та оборонної роботи Чернігівської обласної державної адміністрації.

    «Очищено 80 ділянок розмінування, 79 733 гектарів прилеглої до арсеналу території. Вилучено 100 351 вибухонебезпечний предмет, відпрацьовано 308 повідомлень від населення про виявлення боєприпасів», – йдеться в повідомленні.

    Наразі триває перевірка очищення територій від вибухонебезпечних предметів, заявляють у департаменту.

    Читайте також: Міністр оборони повідомив, скількох генералів покарали через вибухи на артскладах​

    Вибухи й пожежі на військових складах біля Ічні Чернігівської області почалися в ніч на 9 жовтня. Загиблих і постраждалих не було.

    У прокуратурі відкрили кримінальне провадження за частиною 3 статті 425 Кримінального кодексу України (недбале ставлення військової службової особи до служби, якщо воно спричинило тяжкі наслідки, вчинене в умовах особливого періоду, крім воєнного стану).

    Згодом головний військовий прокурор Анатолій Матіос повідомив, що відкрите ще одне провадження – за статтею про диверсію.

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    17/12/2018

  • Міжнародна федерація плавання визнала українку найкращою синхроністкою року

    Міжнародна федерація плавання визнала українку Єлизавету Яхно найкращою синхроністкою 2018 року.

    У федерації назвали проведений Яхно сезон «фантастичним».

    Яхно входить до складу збірної України. Разом з партнерками цього року вона здобула кілька нагород Чемпіонату Європи у командних змаганнях та бронзу у сольних виступах.

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    17/12/2018

  • «Динамо» та «Шахтар» сьогодні отримають суперників у Лізі Європи

    Жеребкування розпочнеться о 14:00 за київським часом

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    17/12/2018

  • Українські пластуни передали митрополиту Епіфанію вогонь миру з Віфлеєма

    У Михайлівському соборі Києва 16 грудні члени української скаутської організації «Пласт» передали вогонь миру з Віфлеєма предстоятелю єдиної Української православної церкви, митрополиту Київському та всієї України Епіфанію.

    «Дякую вам за те, що ви робите таку добру справу: вже протягом 20 років привозите Віфлеємський вогонь миру до України напередодні Різдва Христового», – зазначив Епіфаній.

    «Уже 22 рік поспіль члени Пласту привозять Віфлеємський вогонь миру в Україну та поширюють його у всі куточки країни, зокрема українським військовим на Сході», – розповіли у організації.

    Традиція розповсюджувати світло з Віфлеєма 1986 року започаткувала австрійська телерадіокомпанія ORF з міста Лінц, ідею одразу підтримали скаути. Суть акції полягає у тому, щоб передати світло із місця народження Ісуса Христа у Віфлеємі по всьому світу. Вогнем з Віфлеєму люди запалюють свічки на Святу Вечерю (надвечір’я Різдва Христового). Традиційно вогонь зберігають у церквах до Йордану – 19 січня.

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    17/12/2018

  • Report to Senate: Russia Used Every Major Social Media Platform to Help Trump Win

    A draft report prepared for the U.S. Senate, and seen by the Washington Post, says Russia used every major social media platform to target voters with misinformation to try to get Donald Trump elected president.

    The Post said Sunday the report was done by Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and network analysis firm Graphika.

    The report says Russians working for a group called The Internet Research Agency (IRA) began experimenting with social media to influence local elections in 2009 and expanded its operations to U.S. elections in 2013 using Twitter.

    It gradually added other popular social media sites to its campaign, including YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

    For the 2016 presidential campaign, the report says Russians attempted to stir up conservative voters to back Trump by stressing such issues as gun rights and immigration.

    At the same time, the Russian operatives sent black voters messages and other information aimed at confusing them about the electoral process, including misleading information on how to vote.

    ​Other groups, such as liberals, women, Muslims, Latinos, and veterans, were also targeted with similar messages either appealing to their politics or trying to discourage them from voting.

    “What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party and specifically Donald Trump,” the report says according to The Washington Post. 

    The newspaper says the report criticizes technology companies for what it calls their “belated and uncoordinated response” when the misinformation campaign was discovered and their delay in sharing information with investigators.

    The report also warns that social media is morphing from what it says are tools for “sharing collective grievances and coordinating civic engagement,” including in the Middle East, to threats to democracy from “canny political consultants” and “politicians in democracies and dictatorships alike.”

    The Post says Facebook and Google have not commented on the report. But Twitter says it has made “significant strides since the 2016 election to harden its digital defenses.”

    The United States has already leveled criminal charges against Russia’s Internet Research Agency for interfering in the 2016 campaign. 

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election and whether the president has tried to obstruct justice by trying to undermine the probe.

    Trump denies there was any collusion and calls the Mueller probe a “witch hunt.”

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    17/12/2018