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August 2nd, 2021 by Vbiz

Britain will begin offering a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to 32 million Britons starting in early September, The Telegraph reported Sunday. The shots will be available in as many as 2,000 pharmacies with the goal of getting them into arms by early December.
 
The government has been preparing since at least June, when the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) called for a plan to offer the third shot to people 70 years old or older, care home residents and those who are vulnerable for health reasons.
 
At least 90% of British adults have received at least one shot, but that rate falls to 60% for those 18-30 years old, government figures show.  
 
To encourage younger adults to get vaccinated before colder weather prompts people to spend more time indoors, the Department of Health and Social Care said that restaurants, food delivery services and ride-hailing apps are offering discounts to persuade people to be vaccinated.
 
“The lifesaving vaccines not only protect you, your loved ones and your community, but they are helping to bring us back together by allowing you to get back to doing the things you’ve missed,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid said, according to the Associated Press.
British Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, who tested positive for COVID-19 in December, said he may be suffering its effects after appearing unwell Sunday after finishing second at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
 
“I’ve been fighting all year really with staying healthy after what happened at the end of last year and it’s still, it’s a battle,” the 36-year-old said after seeing a doctor after the race. “I haven’t spoken to anyone about it but I think (the effects of COVID are) lingering. I remember the effects of when I had it and training has been different since then.”
 
In Berlin, thousands marched Sunday to protest pandemic restrictions and about 600 protesters were detained after clashes with police, the AP reported.Police officers scuffle with demonstrators during a protest against government measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, in Berlin, Germany Aug. 1, 2021.While Germany eased many of its restrictions in May, large gatherings remain banned. The number of new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, remain low but are rising. Germany, with a population of 83 million, reported 2,100 new cases Sunday, more than 500 above last Sunday’s number.
 
Since the pandemic began, it has reported 3.8 million cases and 92,000 deaths.  
 
More than 200 employees at two major hospitals in San Francisco, in the western U.S. state of California, have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a report Saturday in The New York Times.  
 
Most of the staff members at Zuckerberg San Francisco General and the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center Hospital were fully vaccinated and most of them tested positive for the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus, according to the newspaper.  
 
Only two cases required hospitalization. The hospitalization rate would have been higher without vaccinations, said Dr. Lukejohn Day, Zuckerberg’s chief medical officer.  
 
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said Sunday evening there are 198 million cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and 4.2 million deaths globally. The U.S. leads the world in the number of COVID-19 cases, with 35 million, and 613,174 deaths, according to the university.
 Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters. 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 31st, 2021 by Vbiz

Thousands of people protested France’s special virus pass by marching through Paris and other French cities on Saturday. Most demonstrations were peaceful but some in Paris clashed with riot police, who fired tear gas.About 3,000 security forces deployed around the French capital for a third weekend of protests against the pass that will be needed soon to enter restaurants and other places. Paris police took up posts along the Champs-Elysees to guard the famed avenue.With virus infections spiking and hospitalizations rising, French lawmakers have passed a bill requiring the pass in most places as of August 9. Polls show a majority of French support the pass, but some are adamantly opposed. The pass requires a vaccination or a quick negative test or proof of a recent recovery from COVID-19 and mandates vaccine shots for all health care workers by mid-September.For anti-pass demonstrators, liberty was the slogan of the day.Hager Ameur, a 37-year-old nurse, said she resigned from her job, accusing the government of using a form of blackmail.”I think that we mustn’t be told what to do,” she told The Associated Press, adding that French medical workers during the first wave of COVID-19 were quite mistreated. “And now, suddenly we are told that if we don’t get vaccinated it is our fault that people are contaminated. I think it is sickening.”Tensions flared in front of the famed Moulin Rouge nightclub in northern Paris during what appeared to be the largest demonstration. Lines of police faced down protesters in up-close confrontations during the march. Police used their fists on several occasions.Protesters attend a demonstration called by the “yellow vest” movement against France’s restrictions, including a compulsory health pass, to fight the COVID-19 outbreak, in Paris, July 31, 2021.Tear gas, water cannon, injuriesAs marchers headed eastward and some pelted police with objects, police fired tear gas into the crowds, and plumes of smoke filled the sky. A male protester was seen with a bleeding head and a police officer was carried away by colleagues. Three officers were injured, the French press quoted police as saying. Police, again responding to rowdy crowds, also turned a water cannon on protesters as the march ended at the Bastille.A calmer march was led by the former top lieutenant of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who left to form his own small anti-EU party. But Florian Philippot’s new cause, against the virus pass, seems far more popular. His contingent of hundreds marched Saturday to the Health Ministry.Among those not present this week was Francois Asselineau, leader of another tiny anti-EU party, the Popular Republican Union, and an ardent campaigner against the health pass, who came down with COVID-19. In a video on his party’s website, Asselineau, who was not hospitalized, called on people to denounce the “absurd, unjust and totally liberty-killing” health pass.French authorities are implementing the health pass because the highly contagious delta variant is making strong inroads. More than 24,000 new daily cases were confirmed Friday night, compared with just a few thousand cases a day at the start of the month.The government announcement that the health pass would take effect August 9 has driven many unvaccinated French to sign up for inoculations so their social lives won’t be shut down during the summer holiday season. Vaccinations are now available at a wide variety of places, including some beaches. More than 52% of the French population has been vaccinated.About 112,000 people have died of the virus in France since the start of the pandemic.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 31st, 2021 by Vbiz

Katherine Zimmerman, a fellow for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and Elana DeLozier, the Rubin Family Fellow in the Bernstein Program on Gulf and Energy Policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, assess with host Carol Castiel state of the civil war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen. DeLozier and Zimmerman say this proxy war between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran is exacerbated by the dearth of political will from within: the internationally-recognized Hadi government and the Houthi movement, which currently has the upper hand. Can Washington make a difference?

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 31st, 2021 by Vbiz

Issues in the News moderator Kim Lewis talks with VOA Congressional correspondent, Katherine Gypson and VOA executive editor Steve Redisch about riveting testimony and video footage of four police officers who were overwhelmed by a mob during the attack on the Capitol, what’s ahead after the GOP Senate voted to begin work on a $1 trillion national infrastructure plan, President Joe Biden’s new foreign policy focus as the U.S. will end its combat mission in Iraq, the CDC’s new mask wearing guidelines as COVID-19 variants continue to spread and world reaction to super star gymnast Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from some competitions at the Tokyo Olympics.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 31st, 2021 by Vbiz

Issues in the News moderator Kim Lewis talks with VOA Congressional correspondent, Katherine Gypson and VOA executive editor Steve Redisch about riveting testimony and video footage of four police officers who were overwhelmed by a mob during the attack on the Capitol, what’s ahead after the GOP Senate voted to begin work on a $1 trillion national infrastructure plan, President Joe Biden’s new foreign policy focus as the U.S. will end its combat mission in Iraq, the CDC’s new mask wearing guidelines as COVID-19 variants continue to spread and world reaction to super star gymnast Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from some competitions at the Tokyo Olympics.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 29th, 2021 by Vbiz

An independent inquiry into the car bomb murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia found on Thursday that the state had to bear responsibility after creating a “culture of impunity.”

Caruana Galizia was killed in a massive explosion as she drove out of her home on October 16, 2017.

Prosecutors believe top businessman Yorgen Fenech, who had close ties with senior government officials, masterminded the murder. Fenech, who is awaiting trial for association to murder, denies all responsibility.

Three men suspected of setting off the bomb were arrested in December 2017. One has since pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain and is serving a 15-year jail term. The other two are awaiting trial. The self-confessed middle-man has turned state witness and was granted a pardon.

The inquiry, conducted by one serving judge and two retired judges, found that a culture of impunity was created by the highest echelons of power within the government of the time.

“The tentacles of impunity then spread to other regulatory bodies and the police, leading to a collapse in the rule of law,” said the panel’s report, which was published by Prime Minister Robert Abela.

It said the state failed to recognize the real and immediate risks to Caruana Galizia’s life and failed to take reasonable steps to avoid them.

It was clear, the inquiry board said, that the assassination was either intrinsically or directly linked to Caruana Galizia’s investigative work.

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat resigned in January 2020 following Fenech’s arrest. He was never accused of any wrongdoing. Media later also revealed close links between Fenech, ministers, and senior police officers.

The judges called for immediate action to rein in and regulate the links between politicians and big business.

Abela said in a tweet that the report required “mature” and objective analysis. “Lessons must be drawn and the reforms must continue with greater resolve,” he said, without elaborating.

The inquiry heard evidence from the police, government officials, the Caruana Galizia family and journalists, among others.

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July 29th, 2021 by Vbiz

Vaccination programs against some of the world’s deadliest diseases have saved tens of millions of lives over the past twenty years, according to a new study. However, the researchers warn that continued progress is threatened by the coronavirus pandemic.

The scientists from the Vaccine Impact Modelling Consortium, funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, looked at vaccination programs over the past two decades targeting ten infectious diseases across 112 low- and middle-income countries. 

They found that some 50 million lives have been saved by vaccines, most of them children.

The diseases the researchers looked at included measles, hepatitis B, human papillomavirus (HPV), yellow fever, Haemophilus influenzae type b, Streptococcus pneumoniae, rubella, rotavirus, Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A, and Japanese encephalitis. 

The study is the largest assessment of vaccine impact before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Katy Gaythorpe, a co-author of the report at Imperial College London, told VOA that the successes of the past two decades would be replicated if progress in vaccination programs can be sustained.

“If we continued with the vaccinations in our projections, so beyond 2019, we’d avert another 47 million deaths — so huge numbers,” Gaythorpe said. “And really what we wanted to show in this paper is this is what we projected vaccination to look like before the COVID pandemic. And we wanted to emphasize these long-term effects, these long-term benefits of vaccination going into the future.”

Immunization programs have added benefits beyond the prevention of specific diseases.

“For example, if people aren’t getting sick of vaccine-preventable diseases then that means there’s less stress on healthcare due to those infections, which means you could potentially be treating people for other things,” Gaythorpe said.

But the researchers warn that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted vaccination programs — and could lead to a decline in coverage.

“We’ve got not only healthcare services stretched by possibly treating people infected with COVID, we’ve also got people’s personal choice — you know, they might put off going to seek immunization just because of fear surrounding being infected with COVID,” Gaythorpe said.

The World Health Organization earlier this year launched its “immunization agenda 2030” to try to get vaccine programs back on track and reach even more people. 

“It would mean reducing by half the children who are completely left out of essential vaccines — the ‘zero dose children’ — [and] it would mean achieving another 500 introductions of new and underused vaccines in low- and middle-income countries,” the WHO’s Vaccines Department chief Kate O’Brien told reporters in April.

Scientists say the huge number of lives saved demonstrates the stunning advances in modern medicine — and the importance of keeping other vaccine programs on track, alongside tackling the COVID pandemic.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 29th, 2021 by Vbiz

Rights groups are urging Morocco not to extradite to China a Uyghur activist who was arrested after arriving on a flight from Turkey.

The nongovernmental group Safeguard Defenders said Yidiresi Aishan was taken into custody in response to an Interpol Red Notice issued at China’s request.

The charges against Aishan are not clear.

Morocco’s General Directorate for National Security said Tuesday the Interpol notice was linked to suspicions that Aishan belonged to “an organization on the lists of terrorist organizations.”

Amnesty International said Aishan faces “arbitrary detention and torture if he is forcibly returned to China.”

“Deporting Idris Hasan to China, where Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities are facing a horrifying campaign of mass internment, persecution and torture, would violate international law,” Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Program director, Joanne Mariner, said in a statement.

The World Uyghur Congress also demanded Moroccan authorities halt any deportation procedures. Eric Goldstein, Human Rights Watch deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa region, described the Interpol system as “tainted” and said Aishan should be given a lawyer to fight extradition.

Aishan had been living in Turkey working as a web designer and activist since 2012. He flew from Istanbul to Casablanca on July 19. 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 28th, 2021 by Vbiz

A day after withdrawing from the women’s gymnastics team finals, Simone Biles of the United States has taken herself out of the individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics.  

A statement issued Wednesday morning from USA Gymnastics said Biles, considered the all-time greatest in her sport, is withdrawing “after further medical evaluation” in order to focus on her mental health. 

The statement said Biles will continue to be evaluated daily “to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals.”   

The 24-year-old Biles withdrew from the overall team finals Tuesday after failing to execute her planned maneuver in the vault and stumbling backward on her landing. She then briefly left the floor with her coach, then returned to rejoin her teammates with her ankle wrapped in a bandage.   

With the loss of Biles, the Russian Olympic Committee took the gold in the team finals with the U.S. taking silver and Britain getting the bronze.  

Biles later told reporters that she was not in the right frame of mind because of the stress and pressure heading into the competition, and that she needed to “focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being.” 

“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being,” USA Gymnastics said in its statement. “Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”

Jade Carey, who finished ninth in qualifying, will take Biles’ place in the all-around competition. 

Wednesday’s competitions saw U.S. swimmer Katie Ledecky making Olympic history while her Australian rival Ariarne Titmus earned a second gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.  

Ledecky won the finals of the women’s 1,500-meter freestyle race at the Tokyo Aquatics Center, the first time the event has been staged at a Summer Olympics. Ledecky’s fellow American Erica Sullivan won the silver medal, while Sarah Kohler of Germany took home the bronze medal.  

Ledecky’s dominating performance in the 1,500-meter freestyle — she finished four seconds ahead of Sullivan — came just moments after her dismal finish in the finals of the 200-meter freestyle event, her second head-to-head matchup against Titmus.  The Australian star, whose dominating performances have earned her the nickname “The Terminator” in her home country, finished the race at 1:53.50 (one minute, 53.50 seconds) to set a new Olympic record.  Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey won the silver medal, while Canadian Penny Oleksiak finished third to take the bronze.

Ledecky finished the 200-meter freestyle in fifth place, nearly two seconds behind Titmus, who also beat the celebrated American in Monday’s 400-meter freestyle race.  Ledecky won both events at the 2016 Rio Olympics and had been favored to repeat in Tokyo. But her win in the 1,500-meter freestyle gives her six career Olympic gold medals dating back to the 2012 London Games.  

Japanese swimmer Yui Ohashi also became a double gold medal winner Wednesday after winning the 200-meter individual medley, three days after her victory in the 400-meter individual relay. Ohashi edged Americans Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass, who won the silver and bronze medals respectively. Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, the 2016 champion and current world-record holder, finished in seventh place.   

Meanwhile, the British men’s team, anchored by Tom Dean, Duncan Scott, James Guy and Matthew Richards, won the 4×200 freestyle relay race, giving Britain its third swimming gold medal at Tokyo. Dean won the 200-meter freestyle Tuesday, with Adam Peaty winning gold in the 100-meter breaststroke the day before.   

And Kristof Milak of Hungary set a new Olympic record in winning the gold medal in the men’s 200-meter butterfly race, finishing at 1:51.25 (one minute, 51.25 seconds), with 19-year-old Tomoru Honda of Japan winning the silver medal and Italy’s Federico Burdisso finishing third to win the bronze medal.   

Cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands won the gold medal in the women’s time trials event with a time of 30:13.49 (30 minutes, 13.49 seconds) at Fuji International Speedway.  Switzerland’s Marlen Reusser finished in second place, with van Vleuten’s compatriot Anna van der Breggen winning bronze.   

Van Vleuten’s victory is certain to erase the memory of her humiliating finish in Sunday’s road race when she ecstatically crossed the finish line believing she had won, only to find out Austrian Anna Kiesenhofer had broken away from the field to take the gold medal, leaving van Vleuten with the silver medal.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 28th, 2021 by Vbiz

Some Nigerian companies are using coconut and palm shells to make charcoal briquettes in an effort to slow ongoing deforestation. Nigeria banned charcoal exports after a World Bank report showed the country lost nearly half its forest cover in just a decade. Timothy Obiezu reports from Kuje, Nigeria.

Camera: Emeka Gibson 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 28th, 2021 by Vbiz

Russia is already interfering in next year’s midterm U.S. elections, President Joe Biden said Tuesday in a speech at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).  

Referencing the day’s classified briefing prepared by the intelligence community for him, Biden said: “Look at what Russia’s doing already about the 2022 election and misinformation.” 

Such actions by Moscow are a “pure violation of our sovereignty,” the president said, without elaborating, in remarks to about 120 representatives of the U.S. intelligence community who gathered in northern Virginia at the ODNI headquarters.  

Biden’s public reference to something contained in that day’s top secret Presidential Daily Brief is certain to raise some eyebrows.  

“He’s the president. He can declassify anything he wants to whenever he wants to,” said Emily Harding, deputy director and senior fellow with the international security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 

“And I’m not sure it’s going to be a shock to anybody that Russia is looking at disinformation for the 2022 election. I think it is a really good reminder, though, that Russia continues to do this and that nothing has dissuaded them yet,” she said. 

The president also had an ominous prediction about the escalating cyberattacks targeting the United States that his administration has blamed on state-backed hackers in China and those operating with impunity in Russia.    

Biden said he believes it is growing more likely the United States could “end up in a real shooting war with a major power,” as the consequence of a cyber breach.  

Such cyber capabilities of U.S. adversaries are “increasing exponentially,” according to the president.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed much on Biden’s mind during his remarks to the intelligence community.  

Putin has “nuclear weapons, oil wells and nothing else,” Biden said, adding that the Russian leader knows he is in real trouble economically, “which makes him even more dangerous.”  

Biden also praised the U.S. intelligence community for its superiority over its counterpart in Moscow.  

Putin “knows that you’re better than his team. And it bothers the hell out of him,” Biden said.  

“I can see the wheels in Moscow turning to respond to that one,” Harding told VOA.  

Biden referred to both Russia and China as “possibly mortal competitors down the road.”  

In his remarks, the U.S. president said that Chinese President Xi Jinping “is deadly earnest about becoming the most powerful military force in the world, as well as the largest and most prominent economy in the world” by the mid-2040s.  

Biden made several cryptic references to hypersonic weapons of adversaries. But he stopped himself once in midsentence after saying, “I don’t know, we probably have some people who aren’t totally cleared” in the room. In fact, a group of White House reporters was present, and a television camera was recording the speech on behalf of the media.  

The president also appealed to his intelligence team, which is composed of elements from 17 different agencies, “to give it to me straight. I’m not looking for pablum … and when you’re not sure, say you’re not sure.”  

Biden said he “can’t make the decisions I need to make if I’m not getting the best unvarnished, unbiased judgments you can give. I’m not looking to hear nice things. I’m looking to hear what you think to be the truth.”  

Those words are “a big deal. That’s the thing that he probably most needed to say” to this particular audience, according to Harding.  

Biden stressed that the intelligence agencies should not be swayed by which political party holds power in Congress or the White House. He said it is “so vital that you are and should be totally free of any political pressure or partisan influence.”  

Biden vowed that while he is president he will not try to “affect or alter your judgments about what you think the situation we face is. I’ll never politicize the work you do. You have my word on that. It’s too important for our country.”  

The appearance by the 46th U.S. president was intended, in part, to demonstrate a different relationship with the intelligence community than experienced by his predecessor, Donald Trump.  

“I think you can all make the inherent contrast,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the previous day.  

Trump’s attitude toward the intelligence community publicly soured after he sided with Putin’s denial of the U.S. government’s conclusion that the Kremlin had meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Trump, a Republican, narrowly defeated Democratic Party challenger Hillary Clinton in that election.  
 

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July 27th, 2021 by Vbiz

European Union leaders said Tuesday that 70% of adult residents have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, hitting the target they set for the end of July.
 
Speaking to reporters in Brussels, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said 57% of all adults in the EU are now fully vaccinated. She said these numbers put Europe among the world leaders.
 
Von der Leyen said that, after falling behind early in its vaccination program, the EU’s “catch-up process has been very successful — but we need to keep up the effort.”
 
She said the Delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 “is very dangerous. I therefore call on everyone — who has the opportunity — to be vaccinated. For their own health and to protect others.” She said the EU will continue to provide sufficient volumes of vaccine.
 
The Reuters news agency reports the EU hopes to have 70% of all adults fully vaccinated by the end of the summer and the current statistics indicate that goal is within reach.
 
From her Twitter account, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides called on all citizens to “trust the science” and get vaccinated to protect themselves and those around them.

 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 27th, 2021 by Vbiz

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s PTI party has won the legislative elections in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, held Sunday, with a comfortable majority. The election commission announced the results Monday.

These were the first elections in the region after India in 2019 revoked the semi-autonomous status of the parts of Kashmir under its control. The Indian move played heavily in the campaign, with opposition parties accusing the prime minister of trying to do the same to Pakistani Kashmir.  

Countering the opposition claims, Khan offered to give Kashmiris the choice to decide their fate.

“We will give the opportunity of [a] referendum to Kashmiris to decide either to want to go with Pakistan or want to be an independent,” Khan said while addressing an election rally in Pakistani Kashmir just two days before the polling.

Kashmir-based newspaper columnist Arif Bahar sees Khan’s offer of a referendum as a big change in Islamabad’s stated position.  

“His (Imran Khan’s) statement to give [an] opportunity of [a] referendum indicates that Islamabad is ready to accept Kashmir as an independence state if Kashmiris wish so,” Bahar said.  

The disputed Himalayan region is divided between India and Pakistan, which have fought several wars over it. Regular skirmishes break out on the Line of Control that acts as the de facto border between the two sides.

The Pakistani-controlled portion of Kashmir continues to have a semi-autonomous government which includes its own national flag, a national anthem, and a Supreme Court. Its legislative assembly elects the region’s president and prime minister. Pakistan, however, controls foreign affairs as well as the currency and defense for the region.

Historically, the party in power in Islamabad also wins elections in Kashmir.

“It’s not unusual that PTI won here. … Voters are very wise and cast their vote for those who can solve their problems and develop their area more,” said Syed Afaq Hussain, editor of a widely circulated Urdu language newspaper in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir.  

Kashmiri nationalists demanding the independence of Kashmir from both India and Pakistan boycotted the polls calling them a “fraud.”  

Opposition parties accused Khan’s party of rigging but local journalists called the process mostly fair and transparent, barring a few cases of irregularities.

Pakistan’s army, supervising the polls, lost four men when the vehicle they were riding in went off the road and fell into a deep ravine.
 

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July 27th, 2021 by Vbiz

Russian officials have blocked access to the website of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny along with dozens of other websites run by allies of him. 

Russian internet regulator Roskomnadzor said it blocked navalny.com along with the other sites at the request of the prosecutor general. 

Included in the blocked sites is the website of Navalny’s top strategist, Leonid Volkov, along with the website for Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption, and the site for the Navalny-backed Alliance of Doctors union. 

The move comes ahead of September’s parliamentary elections, seen as a key part of President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to increase his support before a 2024 presidential election.  

Last month, a Russian court ruled that organizations linked to Navalny were “extremist,” barring them from operating and preventing people associated with them from running for public office.  

Navalny is Putin’s most prominent critic, and his organization has worked to expose corruption in Russia. 

He is currently serving a 2 1/2-year jail sentence for parole violations stemming from a 2014 embezzlement conviction, which he says was politically motivated.  

Navalny has accused the Kremlin of trying to poison him with a nerve agent, an accusation the government denies. 

His arrest and jailing earlier this year sparked a wave of protests across Russia and have been condemned by Western nations. 

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters. 
 

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July 26th, 2021 by Vbiz

With Europe’s rise in coronavirus infections accelerating, more governments are seeking ways to force the unvaccinated, mainly in their twenties and thirties, to get inoculated, and avoid a return to lockdowns.

Italy and Britain have followed France’s lead in planning or imposing restrictions on the unvaccinated.  The moves prompted street protests in both countries Sunday and Saturday. Several British Conservative lawmakers are threatening to boycott their party’s annual conference later this year because of vaccination requirements for attendees.

Initial evidence, however, suggests compulsion is working. Within 24 hours of Italy announcing that from next month entry to sports stadiums, museums, cinemas, swimming pools and gyms will only be permitted for people who’ve been inoculated, appointments for vaccinations soared in some regions by 200%, say authorities in Rome.

France saw a similar spike in vaccine bookings after it announced that certification — in other words a digital vaccine passport — would be needed to enter many venues.

The Italian government has prolonged its state of emergency to December 31 but is desperately trying to avoid lockdowns or reintroducing tighter restrictions for regions seeing spikes in confirmed cases, such as Lazio, Sicily, Veneto and Sardinia. Prime Minister Mario Draghi told reporters last week, “The health pass is an instrument to allow Italians to continue their activities with the guarantee of not being among contagious people.”

“No vaccines means new lockdowns,” he added.

Draghi had intended for the measure to go further and wanted to include vaccination requirements for counter service in bars and for traveling on long-distance trains, but had to weaken the measure in the face of resistance from Matteo Salvini and his Lega party, who threatened to block the restrictions in parliament.

Salvini was belatedly was inoculated Friday. The populist nationalist leader spoke out last week against compelling or seeking to coerce people to get the jab.

“I’m interested in not ruining the lives of millions of Italians who are not yet covered by the vaccine,” he said.  “Many cannot do it, for health reasons. Complicating the lives of these people with the obligation of the Green pass? Let’s not joke. We can’t stop in mid-July, a tourist season that is painstakingly restarting.”  By Green pass, he was referring to vaccine passports.

That earned a sharp rebuke from Draghi, who shot back at a press conference, “The appeal to the No Vax is an invitation to die.”

Thousands of Italians disagree with their prime minister and Saturday took to the streets in dozens of towns across the country to protest the new measure, which comes into effect August 6.

“Better to die free than live like slaves!” read a banner waved outside Milan’s cathedral, while another in Rome was captioned, “Vaccines set you free” over a picture of the gates to Auschwitz, according to AFP reports.

An estimated 160,000 people protested nationwide in France Saturday against making health passports a key tool in the bid to curb infections.  Dozens of people were arrested, according to French police. Twenty-nine policemen were injured.

The protests came hours before lawmakers hammered out a compromise deal between members of the National Assembly and Senate and approved a measure that requires proof of a double vaccination, recent recovery from the virus or a negative test for entry into entertainment venues. Proposed criminal sanctions for businesses that don’t check health passports were removed from the measure that passed.

Under the terms, employees of establishments that require a health pass cannot be dismissed if they refuse to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing, but will be required to take annual leave and thereafter unpaid leave.

“Nice evening for democracy, bad for the virus,” tweeted health minister Olivier Véran.

French President Emmanuel Macron, responding to accusations by vaccine opponents that he is trampling on individual liberty, said, “Everyone is free to express themselves calmly with respect for one another. But freedom where I owe nothing to someone else does not exist.”

French health authorities reported nearly 23,000 new confirmed cases Saturday, mainly of the high contagious delta variant.

Despite the raucous protests, the signs both in Italy and France are that tougher vaccination-related restrictions have public backing, with recent opinion polls in Italy and France suggesting support ranges from between 65% and 70%. 

Since Macron announced his plans for health pass rules two weeks ago, six million people in France have signed up for vaccinations.

In Britain, too, there is pushback to new proposed rules from an alliance of anti-vaxxers and libertarians on both the left and right of the political spectrum. After weeks of rejecting the idea of a regime of vaccine passports, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has been urging young people to get vaccinated, turned to the stick, too. Come September, vaccine passports will be needed to enter nightclubs and sports stadiums.

The tougher line came as the government’s own private polling suggested young people were far less likely to take up the offer of vaccinations than their older counterparts, government officials told VOA. Public polling by YouGov, a British pollster, has shown the same thing. According to a recent YouGov survey, people aged 16 to 34 are twice as likely to refuse the jab as those between the ages of 55 and 75.

Part of the reason for the schism is that the young feel they are at a much-reduced risk from the virus, say the government’s scientific advisers, and they are more susceptible to vaccine-conspiracy theories via social media, they add.

In Britain and other European countries, governments are being unnerved by the sluggish take-up of the jabs as a delta-driven pandemic picks up steam. In Greece, around 44% of the population is fully vaccinated. Greece’s government has announced mandatory vaccinations for health workers and other staff at hospitals and clinics. 

But the government is encountering fierce resistance from some senior Greek Orthodox clerics, despite the support for the government from Archbishop Ieronymos, the church’s primate, who last year spent several days in intensive care after contracting the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease.

Earlier this month, the Greek health minister, Vasilis Kikilias, met with the Synod, the church’s governing body, in an effort to persuade officials to back the vaccination campaign. The Synod, though, would only support the “free choice of vaccination as the exclusive and scientifically tested solution to stop the spread of the virus.” It added that prayer and “participation in worship” were also important and refrained from rebuking anti-vax clerics.

Germany, too, is now considering imposing restrictions on the unvaccinated, after weeks of German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying she disapproved of the idea. The change of heart coincides with warnings from disease modelers that cases are likely to increase by more than 60% per week.

“Vaccinated people will definitely have more freedoms than unvaccinated people,” Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, said in a broadcast interview Sunday. 

But there’s fierce debate within the ruling Christian Democratic Party about the tougher retractions on the unvaccinated with the party’s candidate to succeed Merkel in September elections, Armin Laschet, opposing efforts to compel people. “I do not believe in compulsory vaccination, and I do not believe in indirectly putting pressure on people to get vaccinated,” he told ZDF television Sunday.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 26th, 2021 by Vbiz

Staging an Olympics during the worst pandemic in a century? There’s a widespread perception that it couldn’t happen in a better place than Japan.

A vibrant, open democracy with deep pockets, the host nation is known for its diligent execution of detail-laden, large-scale projects, its technological advances, its consensus-building and world-class infrastructure. All this, on paper, at least, gives the strong impression that Japan is one of the few places in the world that could even consider pulling off the high-stakes tightrope walk that the Tokyo Games represent.

Some in Japan aren’t buying it.

“No country should hold an Olympics during a pandemic to start with. And if you absolutely must, then a more authoritarian and high-tech China or Singapore would probably be able to control COVID better,” said Koichi Nakano, a politics professor at Sophia University in Tokyo.

The bureaucratic, technological, logistical and political contortions required to execute this unprecedented feat — a massively complicated, deeply scrutinized spectacle during a time of global turmoil, death and suffering — have put an unwelcome spotlight on the country.

Most of all, it has highlighted some embarrassing things: that much of Japan doesn’t want the Games, that the nation’s vaccine rollout was late and is only now expanding, and that many suspect the Games are being forced on the country because the International Olympic Committee needs the billions in media revenue.

The worry here isn’t that Tokyo’s organizers can’t get to the finish line without a major disaster. That seems possible, and would allow organizers to claim victory, of a kind.

The fear is that once the athletes and officials leave town, the nation that unwillingly sacrificed much for the cause of global sporting unity might be left the poorer for it, and not just in the tens of billions of dollars it has spent on the Games.

The Japanese public may see an already bad coronavirus situation become even worse; Olympics visitors here have carried fast-spreading variants of the virus into a nation that is only approaching 25% fully vaccinated.

The Tokyo Olympics are, in one sense, a way for visitors to test for themselves some of the common perceptions about Japan that have contributed to this image of the country as the right place to play host. The results, early on in these Games, are somewhat of a mixed bag.

On the plus side, consider the airport arrivals for the thousands of Olympics participants. They showcased Japan’s ability to harness intensely organized workflow skills and bring them to bear on a specific task — in this case, protection against COVID-19 that might be brought in by a swarm of outsiders.

From the moment visitors stepped from their aircraft at Narita International Airport, they were corralled — gently, cheerfully, but in no uncertain terms firmly — into lines, then guided across the deserted airport like second-graders heading to recess. Barriers, some with friendly signs attached, ensured they got documents checked, forehead temperatures measured, hands sanitized and saliva extracted.

Symmetrical layouts of chairs, each meticulously numbered, greeted travelers awaiting their COVID-19 test results and Olympic credentials were validated while they waited. The next steps — immigration, customs — were equally efficient, managing to be both crisp and restrictive, but also completely amiable. You emerged from the airport a bit dizzy from all the guidance and herding, but with ego largely unbruised.

But there have also been conspicuous failures.

After the opening ceremony ended, for example, hundreds of people in the stadium were crammed into a corrallike pen, forced to wait for hours with only a flimsy barricade separating them from curious Japanese onlookers, while dozens of empty buses idled in a line stretching for blocks, barely moving.

Japan does have some obvious advantages over other democracies when it comes to hosting these Games, such as its economic might. As the world’s third-largest economy, after the United States and China, it was able to spend the billions needed to orchestrate these protean Games, with their mounting costs and changing demands.

Another advantage could be Japan’s well-deserved reputation for impeccable customer service. Few places in the world take as much pride in catering to visitors’ needs. It’s an open question, however, whether that real inclination toward hospitality will be tested by the extreme pressure.

A geopolitical imperative may be another big motivator. Japanese archrival China hosts next year’s Winter Games, and many nationalists here maintain that an Olympic failure is not an option amid the struggle with Beijing for influence in Asia. Yoshihide Suga, the prime minister, may also be hoping that a face-saving Games, which he can then declare successful, will help him retain power in fall elections.

And the potential holes in the argument that Japan is the perfect host nation for a pandemic Games?

Start, maybe, with leadership. It has never been clear who is in charge. Is it the city of Tokyo? The national government? The IOC? The Japanese Olympic Committee?

“This Olympics has been an all-Japan national project, but, as is often pointed out, nobody has a clear idea about who is the main organizer,” said Akio Yamaguchi, a crisis communications consultant at Tokyo-based AccessEast. “Uncertainty is the biggest risk.”

Japan has also faced a problem particular to democracies: a fierce, sometimes messy public debate about whether it was a good idea to hold the Games.

“After the postponement, we have never had a clear answer on how to host the Olympics. The focus was whether we can do it or not, instead of discussing why and how to do it,” said Yuji Ishizaka, a sports sociologist at Nara Women’s University.

“Japan is crucially bad at developing a ‘plan B.’ Japanese organizations are nearly incapable of drafting scenarios where something unexpected happens,” Ishizaka said. “There was very little planning that simulated the circumstances in 2021.”

Another possibly shaky foundation of outside confidence in Japan is its reputation as a technologically adept wonder of efficiency.

Arriving athletes and reporters “will probably realize that Japan is not as high-tech or as efficient as it has been often believed,” Nakano said. “More may then realize that it is the utter lack of accountability of the colluded political, business and media elites that ‘enabled’ Japan to hold the Olympics in spite of very negative public opinion — and quite possibly with considerable human sacrifice.”

The Tokyo Games are a Rorschach test of sorts, laying out for examination the many different ideas about Japan as Olympic host. For now, they raise more questions than they answer.
 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 25th, 2021 by Vbiz

On this edition of Encounter, Ambassador Michelle Gavin, senior fellow for Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and former Ambassador to Botswana, and Frans Cronje, CEO of the Johannesburg-based Institute of Race Relations, analyze with host Carol Castiel the political, economic and social situation in South Africa following the arrest and detention of former South African president Jacob Zuma given the protests, looting and violence which this incident triggered.  How did the celebrated multiracial democracy led by Nelson Mandela reach this critical juncture point, and what does the future hold for South Africa? 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 25th, 2021 by Vbiz

Scores of wildfires raging across forest and scrubland in the Western United States have belched so much smoke that it is helping an army of firefighters gain ground on the nation’s biggest blaze, Oregon’s Bootleg Fire, by blocking sunlight, officials said Saturday.

Both the National Weather Service and officials with the Oregon Department of Forestry said smoke in the lower atmosphere coming from California wildfires has floated over the Bootleg Fire, which has scorched more than 401,000 acres in Oregon about 402 kilometers (250 miles) south of Portland.

“It’s called ‘smoke shading’ and it’s basically put a lid on the lower atmosphere for now, blocking sunlight and creating cooler, more stable surface conditions,” said Eric Schoening, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City.

The phenomenon is unpredictable, and the area is still under red-flag warnings this weekend from the weather service, which said the Pacific Northwest may experience high temperatures and wind gusts that can fan the flames and spread hot sparks and embers.

More difficulty for aircraft

Schoening said the weather is a mixed bag in terms of helping firefighters.

Marcus Kauffman, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Forestry, said the drawback of the smoke shade is that it makes it harder to fly planes and helicopters that drop water and chemical fire suppressants, even “while it helps the teams on the ground.”

More than 2,000 firefighters and support crews had contained about 42% of the fire by Saturday, although the fire jumped containment lines the night before, he said.

“We lost 1,600 acres last night,” Kauffman said.

The Bootleg Fire is one of more than 80 large active wildfires in 13 states that have charred about 526,090 hectares (1.3 million acres) in recent weeks, an area larger than Delaware, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

The smoke, even as it provides some help to Oregon firefighters, has recently been carried by the jet stream and other air currents as far as the Northeastern cities of New York and Boston, where some residents have felt the air contamination in their eyes, noses and lungs.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 25th, 2021 by Vbiz

The world champion U.S. women’s water polo squad began its quest for a third straight Olympic gold medal Saturday by storming into the record books with a 25-4 humbling of hosts Japan at the Tatsumi Water Polo Center.

But the U.S. record for most goals scored in a single match at the Olympics stood just a few hours before being overhauled by reigning European champion Spain, which crushed South Africa 29-4 to lay down a marker of its own.

Teenager Elena Ruiz, making her Olympic debut at age 16, led Spain in scoring with five goals, while nine of her teammates also were on target.

Japan, which like South Africa is playing in its first Olympics, started brightly against the U.S. and even drew level at 3-3, but was outpowered and outclassed once its opponents settled into the match.

“We got off to a rocky start, especially defensively,” said U.S. captain Maggie Steffens, who scored five goals. “The Olympics gives you extra bit of energy and excitement and it was nice to see our team recover and take a deep breath.”

Stephania Haralabidis also scored five, while Madeline Musselman and Aria Fischer chipped in with four apiece for the Americans, who have dominated women’s water polo in the past few years.

Five other U.S. players got on the scoresheet as the match quickly descended into a drubbing.

“We’re human, and we get nervous just like everyone else,” U.S. coach Adam Krikorian said in response to a question on his team’s slow start.

“It’s the first game of the Olympics and those jitters aren’t going to go away for us or for any other team. Sometimes it just gets us, but once we settled down, we were much better.”

US tough in goal

Miku Koide scored twice for Japan, including her country’s first women’s water polo goal at the Olympics, with Yumi Arima and Eruna Ura also on target for the hosts.

But U.S. goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson was in scintillating form, saving 15 of the 19 shots she faced and shutting out the Japanese offense completely in the second and fourth quarters as her team made a dream start in Group B.

Australia also started with a win, beating Canada 8-5 in Group A, with driver Bronte Halligan the pick of the Aussie players with three goals in her Olympic debut.

The Russian Olympic Committee team, who won bronze in Rio five years ago, was locked in a fiercely physical battle with China in the day’s final match, but held on to win 18-17, with captain Ekaterina Prokofyeva helping her team snatch victory with two late goals.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 24th, 2021 by Vbiz

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is heading to Southeast Asia to unify allies concerned by China’s growing military abilities as the global coronavirus pandemic continues to cripple the region.

“It’ll be a really good visit,” Austin told reporters traveling with him to Alaska Friday ahead of his visit to Asia.

“We add value to the stability to the region, so my goal is to strengthen relationships,” he said.

Next week Austin will visit Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines. It is the first trip to Southeast Asia by a top member of the Biden administration and Austin’s second trip to the Asia-Pacific region, which he referred to earlier in the week as the Pentagon’s “priority theater of operations.”

Murray Hiebert, a Southeast Asia analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told VOA the subregion is primed for U.S. engagement after “a general feeling” that “under the [former President Donald] Trump administration they didn’t pay that much attention to Southeast Asia.”

“And there has been some grumbling — media reports, think tankers have been writing, ‘Where the heck is the U.S.?’

“It’s seven months in [to the Biden administration] and they haven’t done anything yet,” Hiebert said.

Austin had planned to lead a large delegation in June to the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, but the meeting was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. He is scheduled to deliver a keynote address for IISS on July 27 during his coming visit to Singapore, which likely will touch on Austin’s stated pursuit of a “new vision of integrated deterrence” of Chinese aggression across the region.

China’s coast guard and maritime militia vessels have frequently harassed fishermen inside the Philippine exclusive economic zone. Chinese vessels also have pestered oil and gas developers off the coasts of Malaysia and Vietnam, hindering their energy development.

Austin told reporters at the Pentagon Wednesday he plans to reaffirm America’s commitment to freedom of the seas, which runs counter to what he called “unhelpful and unfounded claims” made by China in the hotly contested South China Sea. 

“We don’t believe that any one country should be able to dictate the rules,” Austin said.

Last week, the USS Benfold destroyer sailed near the disputed Paracel Islands, located south of China and east of Vietnam, to challenge “unlawful restrictions on innocent passage” in a move known as a freedom of navigation operation, according to the Navy.

China claimed it “drove away” the U.S. warship, a claim the Navy immediately dismissed as “false.”

China, Taiwan and Vietnam each assert the islands are their territory and require either permission or advance notification before a military vessel passes near, which the U.S. did not give.

Other islands and atolls in the South China Sea are contested by Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines. China considers much of the resource-rich sea its territory — despite the territorial claims of other nations — and has created hundreds of hectares of artificial islands to bolster its territorial claims.

“It’s a dangerous place. Accidents could happen, that’s for sure,” Hiebert told VOA, adding that the expanded islands have enabled increased Chinese harassment and pressure.

The U.S. frequently conducts freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea to dispute China’s claims and to promote free passage through international waters that carry half the world’s merchant fleet tonnage, worth trillions of dollars each year.

The latest freedom of navigation operation earlier this month occurred on the fifth anniversary of an international court ruling in The Hague that held China had no historic title over the South China Sea.

Beijing has ignored the ruling.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 24th, 2021 by Vbiz

Issues in the News moderator Kim Lewis talks with VOA senior diplomatic correspondent, Cindy Saine, and senior reporter for Marketplace, Nancy Marshall-Genzer, about growing congressional challenges on infrastructure, police reform, COVID-19 and the economy facing the Biden administration, the ramifications of a widespread cyber-attack on Microsoft allegedly conducted by China, controversial Israeli phone surveillance software allegedly misused amid a global hacking scandal, the Tokyo Olympics and global concern over the spreading of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 24th, 2021 by Vbiz

Africa became the region hardest hit by terrorism in the first half of 2021 as the Islamic State and al-Qaida extremist groups and their affiliates spread their influence, boasting gains in supporters and territory and inflicting the greatest casualties, U.N. experts said in a new report.

The panel of experts said in a report to the U.N. Security Council circulated Friday that this is “especially true” in parts of West and East Africa where affiliates of both groups can also boast growing capabilities in fundraising and weapons, including the use of drones.

Several of the most successful affiliates of the Islamic State are in its central and west Africa province, and several of al-Qaida’s are in Somalia and the Sahel region, they said.

The experts said it’s “concerning” that these terrorist affiliates are spreading their influence and activities including across borders from Mali into Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Niger and Senegal as well as incursions from Nigeria into Cameroon, Chad and Niger in West Africa. In the east, the affiliates’ activities have spread from Somalia into Kenya and from Mozambique into Tanzania, they said.

One of “the most troubling events” of early 2021 was the local Islamic State affiliate’s storming and brief holding of Mozambique’s strategic port of Mocimboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado province near the border with Tanzania “before withdrawing with spoils, positioning it for future raids in the area,” the panel said.

Overall, the experts said, COVID-19 continued to affect terrorist activity and both the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, and al-Qaida “continued to gloat over the harm done by the coronavirus disease pandemic to their enemies, but were unable to develop a more persuasive narrative.”

“While ISIL contemplated weaponizing the virus, member states detected no concrete plans to implement the idea,” the panel said.

In Europe and other non-conflict zones, lockdowns and border closures brought on by COVID-19 slowed the movement and gathering of people “while increasing the risk of online radicalization,” it said.

The experts warned that attacks “may have been planned in various locations” during the pandemic “that will be executed when restrictions ease.”

The panel said that in Iraq and Syria, “the core conflict zone for ISIL,” the extremist group’s activities have evolved into “an entrenched insurgency, exploiting weaknesses in local security to find safe havens, and targeting forces engaged in counter-ISIL operations.”

Despite heavy counter-terrorism pressures from Iraqi forces, the experts said Islamic State attacks in Baghdad in January and April “underscored the group’s resilience.”

In Syria’s rebel-held northwest Idlib province, the experts said groups aligned with al-Qaida continue to dominate the area, with “terrorist fighters” numbering more than 10,000.

“Although there has been only limited relocation of foreign fighters from the region to other conflict zones, member states are concerned about the possibility of such movement, in particular to Afghanistan, should the environment there become more hospitable to ISIL or groups aligned with al-Qaida,” the panel said.

In central, south and southeast Asia, the experts said Islamic State and al-Qaida affiliates continue to operate “notwithstanding key leadership losses in some cases and sustained pressure from security forces.”

The experts said the status of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri “is unknown,” and if he is alive several unnamed member states “assess that he is ailing, leading to an acute leadership challenge for al-Qaida.” 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 23rd, 2021 by Vbiz

Ethiopia’s Afar region called on civilians Friday to take up arms against rebels from neighboring Tigray, signaling a potential escalation in fighting that has already displaced tens of thousands this week.

“Every Afar should protect their land with any means available, whether by guns, sticks or stones,” the regional president, Awol Arba, said in an interview aired by regional state media. “No weapons can make us kneel down. We will win this war with our strong determination.”

Tigrayan rebels launched operations in Afar last weekend, saying they were targeting pro-government troops massing along the two regions’ shared border.

A government official told AFP on Thursday that more than 20 civilians had been killed and 70,000 people displaced in “heavy fighting” in Afar that was continuing.

Rebel spokesman Getachew Reda has described operations in Afar as a “very limited” action against special forces and militia fighters deployed to Afar by the Oromia region, Ethiopia’s largest.

Time to ‘stand as one’

But Awol said Friday that the claim was misleading.

“Some people think they invaded us because we hosted the Oromo forces, but that’s far from the truth, as they had the intention to separate and isolate us from Ethiopia by force,” he said.

“It’s time that every Afar should stand as one against the junta,” he added, using government officials’ preferred term for the rebels.

The fighting in Afar highlights the potential for Ethiopia’s eight-month-old conflict to expand well beyond Tigray, where thousands of people have already been killed and hundreds of thousands pushed into famine, according to the United Nations.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray last November to oust the region’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, a move he said was made in response to TPLF attacks on federal army camps.

Though the 2019 Nobel Peace laureate declared victory later that month, TPLF leaders remained on the run and fighting dragged on.

Last month the war took a stunning turn when pro-TPLF fighters reclaimed the Tigray capital, Mekelle, and Abiy declared a unilateral cease-fire.

Yet clashes have continued, and officials from six regions and the city of Dire Dawa have since said they would send troops to back up government forces.

The road into Ethiopia via Djibouti’s port, east of Afar, is vital for the landlocked country, raising speculation that Tigrayan rebels might try to choke it off.

Getachew has said this is not an explicit goal of the operation but has declined to rule it out.

Route key to aid deliveries

Separately, the road into Tigray via Afar’s capital, Semera, has become critical for aid delivery in recent weeks, with two key bridges along other routes having been destroyed in late June.

But the recent fighting has put a halt to convoys, and the U.N. humanitarian coordination office said Friday that the route remained impassable, “preventing food stock, fuel and other humanitarian goods from entering Tigray.”

A convoy of 200 aid trucks is on standby in Semera, awaiting security clearance.

On Thursday, the U.N. Humanitarian Air Service operated its first flight from Addis Ababa to the Mekelle since June 24, when commercial services stopped.

The flight transported “more than 30 employees from multiple humanitarian organizations working to deliver urgently needed assistance,” the World Food Program said in a statement.

Government officials have accused aid groups of “arming” the TPLF, and one humanitarian official told AFP that security officials thoroughly searched everyone who boarded Thursday’s flight and prevented at least some passengers from traveling with more than 30,000 birr (roughly $700).

Multiple aid groups have said lack of cash, fuel and other supplies is limiting their ability to reach people facing famine.

“At this point, it’s severely restricting just how far we can go and whether or not we’re able to reach those communities that are most in need and may have not had any humanitarian supplies delivered,” one aid worker said Friday.

The government on Thursday blamed aid “obstruction” on the TPLF and said it was providing “unfettered access.”

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 23rd, 2021 by Vbiz

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has made a rare visit to Tibet as authorities tighten controls over the Himalayan region’s traditional Buddhist culture, accompanied by an accelerated drive for economic development and modernized infrastructure.

State media reported Friday that Xi visited sites in the capital Lhasa, including the Drepung Monastery, Barkhor Street and the public square at the base of the Potala Palace that was home to the Dalai Lamas, Tibet’s traditional spiritual and temporal leaders.

Xi’s visit was previously unannounced publicly and it wasn’t clear whether he had already returned to Beijing.

China has in recent years stepped up controls over Buddhist monasteries and expanded education in the Chinese rather than Tibetan language. Critics of such policies are routinely detained and can receive long prison terms, especially if they have been convicted of association with the 86-year-old Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India since fleeing Tibet during an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

China doesn’t recognize the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile based in the hillside town of Dharmsala, and accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking to separate Tibet from China.

Meanwhile, domestic tourism has expanded massively in the region during Xi’s nine years in office and new airports, rail lines and highways constructed.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency said that while in Lhasa on Thursday, Xi sought to “learn about the work on ethnic and religious affairs, the conservation of the ancient city, as well as the inheritance and protection of Tibetan culture.”

A day earlier, he visited the city of city of Nyingchi to inspect ecological preservation work on the basin of the Yarlung Zangbo River, the upper course of the Brahmaputra, on which China is building a controversial dam.

He also visited a bridge and inspected a project to build a railway from southwestern China’s Sichuan province to Tibet before riding Tibet’s first electrified rail line from Nyingchi to Lhasa, which went into service last month.

Xi’s visit may be timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the 17 Point Agreement, which firmly established Chinese control over Tibet, which many Tibetans say had been effectively independent for most of its history. The Dalai Lama says he was forced into signing the document and has since repudiated it.

It also comes amid deteriorating relations between China and India, which share a lengthy but disputed border with Tibet.

Deadly encounters last year between Indian and Chinese troops along their disputed high-altitude border dramatically altered the already fraught relationship between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

That appears to have prompted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to wish the Dalai Lama well on his birthday this month on Twitter and said he also spoke to him by phone. That was the first time Modi has publicly confirmed speaking with the Dalai Lama since becoming prime minister in 2014.

In a statement, the advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet called Xi’s visit “an indication of how high Tibet continues to figure in Chinese policy considerations.”

The way in which the visit was organized and the “complete absence of any immediate state media coverage of the visit indicate that Tibet continues to be a sensitive issue and that the Chinese authorities do not have confidence in their legitimacy among the Tibetan people,” the group based in Washington, D.C., said.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 22nd, 2021 by Vbiz

The United States will not reconsider the type of training it provides to foreign military members despite finding that seven of the 25 individuals arrested in the assassination of Haiti’s president were at one time trained by the U.S.

As VOA first reported, U.S. defense officials last week said that the seven received U.S. military training, both in the U.S. and in Colombia, between 2001 and 2015, when they were part of the Colombian military.

But Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Thursday there was nothing to tie that training to the alleged participation in the plot that killed Haitian President Jovenel Moise earlier this month.

“We know that these seven individuals got nothing certainly related, at all, or that one could extrapolate, as leading to or encouraging of what happened in Haiti,” Kirby told reporters during a press gaggle.

“I know of no plans right now as a result of what happened in Haiti for us to reconsider or to change this very valuable, ethical leadership training that we continue to provide to partners in the Western Hemisphere and to partners around the world,” he added.

While some of the training took place in Colombia, Pentagon officials say some of the Colombian nationals were trained at seminars in Washington. Some also took courses at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), based at Fort Benning in the southern U.S. state of Georgia.

WHINSEC, established in January 2001, replaced the School of the Americas, which came under heavy criticism in the early to mid-1990s after its graduates were implicated in human rights violations, including murders and disappearances, in El Salvador, Colombia, Peru, Honduras and Panama.

In an interview with VOA in April, WHINSEC Commandant Colonel John Dee Suggs said the new school was designed with a focus on human rights and ethics.

“There is a pretty rigorous review of people and their human rights history,” Suggs told VOA. “We will only train people who have the same human rights values that we have, who have the same democratic values that we have.”

“We’re not shooting anybody. We’re not teaching anybody to … go into a house and take these folks down,” he added.

Pentagon officials told VOA this week that the Colombians who trained at WHINSEC took courses in cadet leadership, professional development, counter-drug operations and small unit leader training.

“All WHINSEC courses include human rights and ethics training,” one official added.

Pentagon and State Department officials have previously said they are continuing to review their records to determine whether any other suspects received training from the U.S.

Haitian President Moise was shot and killed in the predawn hours of July 7 at his private residence in a wealthy suburb of Port-au-Prince.

Earlier this week, Haiti sworn in a new prime minister, Ariel Henry, as part of an attempt to stabilize the country following Moise’s death.

Haitian authorities say they are continuing to investigate Moise’s assassination.

Officials have accused Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian doctor with ties to Florida, as being the plot’s mastermind.

Some information from AFP was used in this report.

 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 22nd, 2021 by Vbiz

The Kennedy Center Honors will return in December with a class that includes Motown Records creator Berry Gordy, “Saturday Night Live” mastermind Lorne Michaels and actress-singer Bette Midler.

Organizers expect to operate at full capacity, after last year’s ceremony was delayed for months and later conducted under COVID-19 restrictions.

This 44th class of honorees for lifetime achievement in the creative arts is heavy on musical performers. The honorees also include opera singer Justino Diaz and folk music legend Joni Mitchell.

All will be honored on December 5 with a trademark program that includes personalized tributes and performances that are kept secret from the honorees.

Deborah Rutter, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, said the current plan is to pack the center’s opera house to full capacity and require all attendees to wear masks. But the plans remain fluid and Rutter said they’re ready to adapt to changing circumstances depending on the country’s COVID-19 situation.

Time to party

“We don’t know for sure what it’s going to be like,” Rutter said in an interview. “But don’t you think we all deserve to have a party?”

The 43rd Kennedy Center Honors class was delayed from December 2020 as the center largely shut down its indoor programming. A slimmed-down ceremony was finally held in May of this year, with a series of small socially distanced gatherings and pre-taped video performances replacing the normal gala event.

“We know how to do it now. We will make whatever adjustments we need,” Rutter said. “We’re going to be wearing masks right up until we don’t have to.”

Midler, 75, has won four Grammy Awards, three Emmys and two Tony Awards, along with two Oscar nominations. Her albums have sold over 30 million copies. In a statement, Midler said she was “stunned and grateful beyond words. For many years I have watched this broadcast celebrating the best talent in the performing arts that America has to offer, and I truly never imagined that I would find myself among these swans.”

Mitchell, 77, emerged from the Canadian coffee shop circuit to become one of the standard-bearers for multiple generations of singer-songwriters. In 2020, Rolling Stone magazine declared her 1971 album “Blue” to be the third-best album of all time. In a brief statement, Mitchell, said, “I wish my mother and father were alive to see this. It’s a long way from Saskatoon.”

The December 5 ceremony will be the centerpiece of the Kennedy Center’s 50th anniversary of cultural programing. The center opened in 1971 and a young Diaz, now 81, actually performed at the grand opening of the opera house.

“It’s a very special thing,” said Diaz, a bass-baritone from San Juan, Puerto Rico. “It’s such a great privilege to be able to say I shared this space with all these geniuses.”

Gordy, 91, founded Motown Records — the Detroit-based hit factory that spawned what became known as the Motown Sound and launched the careers of a huge list of artists, including Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Ritchie, Marvin Gaye and Martha and the Vandellas.

Gordy said in an interview that he always held President John Kennedy as one of the greatest leaders in American history.

“So to be honored in his name just means the world to me,” he said.

Michaels, 76, is a comedy institution unto himself — creating and producing “Saturday Night Live” since 1975 and producing dozens of movies and television shows, including “Wayne’s World,” “Kids in the Hall” and “Mean Girls.” He received the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Award for lifetime achievement in comedy in 2004.

Not normally an on-stage performer, Michaels recalls the Mark Twain evening as “mostly nerve-racking” because he spent the evening dreading the traditional end-of-night speech he had to deliver.

But the Kennedy Center Honors bring no such pressures, and Michaels said he intends to sit back in the special honorees box at the opera house and see what surprises the organizers have in store.

“You don’t have to give a speech at the end, which is huge,” he said. “You’re just there with your friends.”

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 21st, 2021 by Vbiz

A former senior editor of Hong Kong’s shuttered pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily was arrested by national security police on Wednesday morning. 

A police source told AFP that former executive editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung had been detained.  

In a statement, police said they had arrested a 51-year-old former newspaper editor for “collusion with foreign forces,” a national security crime.  

Lam is the ninth employee of Apple Daily arrested under a sweeping national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong last year after huge and often violent democracy protests. 

Apple Daily, an unapologetic backer of the democracy movement, put out its last edition last month after its top leadership was arrested and its assets frozen under the security law. 

Lam was the editor who oversaw that final edition, ending the paper’s 26-year run. 

Authorities said Apple Daily’s reporting and editorials backed calls for international sanctions against China, a political stance that has been criminalized by the new security law. 

The tabloid’s owner Jimmy Lai, 73, is currently in prison and has been charged with collusion alongside two other executives who have been denied bail. 

They face up to life in prison if convicted.  

Among the others arrested, but currently not charged, are two of the paper’s leading editorial writers, including one who was detained at Hong Kong’s airport as he tried to leave the city. 

The paper’s sudden demise was a stark warning to all media outlets on the reach of a new national security law in a city that once billed itself as a beacon of press freedom in the region. 

Last week the Hong Kong Journalists Association said media freedoms were “in tatters” as China remolds the once outspoken business hub in its own authoritarian image. 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 21st, 2021 by Vbiz

Space company Blue Origin and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos rocketed to space Tuesday, with the world’s oldest and youngest people to ever fly in space in tow.  Bezos’ flight follows last week’s suborbital jaunt by Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson. The two billionaires are further ushering in an era of space tourism and exploration. VOA’s Laurel Bowman has our story.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 20th, 2021 by Vbiz

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 20th, 2021 by Vbiz

Female refugees are among the most vulnerable to losing out on education, a problem made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.  To combat the challenge, U.S.-funded aid group  RefuSHE  offers learning programs for refugee women and girls in Kenya.  Brenda Mulinya reports from Nairobi.

Camera:  Amos Wangwa 
 

 

 

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 20th, 2021 by Vbiz

Belarus’ main opposition leader, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, is calling on the United States to put more pressure on President Alexander Lukashenko’s government. 

Tsikhanouskaya took her appeal directly to Biden administration officials on Monday as she met in Washington with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland and others. 

“I thanked him for supporting Belarusian democratic aspirations. I called on the United States to strengthen help for our civil society, economically & politically pressure the regime, & appeal to Russia to play a constructive role in the crisis resolution,” Tsikhanouskaya tweeted after the talks. 

She said the discussion also included ways to support media freedom in Belarus after government crackdowns against journalists. 

Tsikhanouskaya was the main challenger to Lukashenko in an August 2020 election that the opposition and many Western governments consider rigged. She fled the country after the election as Lukashenko’s government cracked down on protests. 

State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters, “They discussed the ongoing repression, the crackdown by the Lukashenko regime, and the steps that we have said and much of the international community has said that the Lukashenko regime must take.” 

Blinken tweeted that the group discussed a path to ending the crisis in Belarus, which includes “release of all political prisoners, inclusive dialogue, and new elections.” 

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters. 

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July 20th, 2021 by Vbiz

The United States is examining potential ways to aid the people of Cuba following anti-government protests this month that were the biggest on the island nation in decades. 

Senior administration officials who spoke to news agencies on the condition of anonymity said the steps under consideration include changes to remittances that would allow people in the United States to send money to their family in Cuba without the Cuban government taking a portion. 

Other potential actions include ways to make it easier to access the internet, working with international organizations to provide more humanitarian aid, and increasing U.S. Embassy staff in Havana.

The State Department reduced the number of staff at the embassy by more than half in 2017 after more than 40 American diplomats serving in Cuba said they suffered persistent ear pain, headaches, and problems with memory, concentration, balance and sleeping in 2016. The Trump administration said the injuries resulted from what it termed a “sonic attack.” 

The Biden administration has not publicly announced any intended actions, but it has been conducting an ongoing review of U.S.-Cuba policies. The White House said Monday several officials met with a group of Cuban American leaders “to listen to their policy recommendations and concern.” 

A White House statement stressed that addressing the current situation in Cuba “is a top priority.” 

State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Monday that the administration is concerned about human rights, democracy and civil rights. 

“That’s precisely what you’re seeing and what we have said in the mechanisms of support over the years that the United States has provided to the Cuban people, and it is precisely what we mean when we say that we will consider additional forms of support, including any humanitarian support for the Cuban people,” Price said. 

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters. 

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July 20th, 2021 by Vbiz

Ethiopian police have confirmed the arrest of hundreds of ethnic Tigrayans in the capital Addis Ababa in recent weeks. The police said they were supporting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which authorities banned after the Tigray conflict broke out in November. But rights group Amnesty International says dozens were detained because of their ethnicity.

Addis Ababa Police Commissioner Getu Argaw confirmed on Saturday that authorities had arrested over 300 Tigrayans.

But speaking on the state-run Ethiopian Broadcast Corporation, Getu denied the Tigrayans were arrested because of their ethnicity.

Getu said the arrests were made after thorough investigations found the suspects were supporting the TPLF, which authorities banned as a terrorist group in May over the conflict in Tigray region.

Getu said their arrests targeted only individuals who were supporting the ousted terrorist group. The arrests were not due to their ethnicity, said Getu, adding that suspects from other ethnic groups who were involved in supporting that terrorist group were also arrested. 

Getu said illegal weapons and ammunition were seized from some of the suspects.

He was responding to a call Friday by rights group Amnesty International for Ethiopian authorities to end arbitrary detentions of Tigrayans without due process.

Amnesty said the sweeping arrests appeared to be ethnically motivated.

The rights group said while some of those arrested were released on bail, while hundreds of others were still being detained and their relatives kept in the dark.

Fisseha Tekle is Amnesty International’s human rights researcher for Ethiopia.

Tekle told VOA the families of those arrested do not know where they are being kept, they have not appeared in court, and this should stop. If they are involved in criminal activities they should appear before court, said Tekle, and their family should have the right to visit them, and they should also get an attorney.

The arrests come as the war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region appears to be expanding.

A spokesman for neighboring Afar region on Monday said Tigrayan fighters attacked Afar forces on Saturday and that clashes continued over the weekend.

The TPLF has also vowed to regain territory seized by Amhara forces loyal to the federal government.

The conflict dates back to last November, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed deployed government forces to oust the TPLF from power in Tigray.

Ethiopian authorities announced a unilateral ceasefire in Tigray on June 28 as Tigrayan forces re-took the regional capital, Mekelle, from federal troops.

But with each passing day, it looks less likely the cease-fire is going to hold.

Some  information for this report came from Reuters.

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 19th, 2021 by Vbiz

From a survivor or Khmer atrocities to a woman rekindling her faith after a devastating accident, we meet people who are on soul searching journeys (previously aired material)

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 19th, 2021 by Vbiz

Monday is Freedom Day in England. The day has received the moniker because all social restrictions, like mask wearing and maintaining social distancing, that have been imposed to fight against COVID-19 have been lifted.  

The reversal of the restrictions happens amid a rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations in England, largely driven by the delta variant of the virus.

  

Freedom Day is also happening as Sajid Javid, Britan’s health minister, is self-isolating because he tested positive for COVID. The National Health Service notified British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the finance minister that they had been exposed to someone who had tested positive for COVID. 

People who have been notified by the NHS of an exposure are expected to self-isolate. Johnson and Sunak, however, were expecting to participate in a pilot program that would have allowed them to work at Downing Street but decided against it after a public uproar.  

“Whilst the test and trace pilot is fairly restrictive, allowing only essential government business,” Sunak posted on Twitter, “I recognize that even the sense that the rules aren’t the same for everyone is wrong. To that end I’ll be self-isolating as normal and not taking part in the pilot.” 

In Thailand, protesters demonstrating against the government’s handling of the COVID outbreak clashed with police Sunday in Bangkok, the capital. The protests in the capital and in other locations around the country were in defiance of a ban on public gatherings of more than five people that was recently announced by the government.  

U.S. teenaged tennis sensation Coco Gauff has tested positive for COVID and will not be part of the Tokyo Olympics. The 17-year-old athlete posted on Twitter that “It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future.” It was not immediately clear if Gauff had been vaccinated. The Olympic games were canceled last year, but the Olympic committee’s decision to continue with the games this year has received much criticism as the world continues to grapple with the handling of the COVID pandemic.  

190.4 million global COVID cases and more than 4 million deaths from the virus were recorded worldwide early Monday, according to the coronavirus resource center of Johns Hopkins University. The center’s data shows that over 3.6 billion vaccines have been administered so far.  

Posted in Бізнес, Нерухомість, Новини, Фінанси

July 19th, 2021 by Vbiz

A potential summit between Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and South Korean President Moon Jae-in later this week in Tokyo has been thrown into doubt after a Japanese diplomat made inappropriate comments about the South Korean leader. 

Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper reported Monday the two leaders would meet Friday in the Japanese capital to coincide with President Moon’s attendance at the opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics.   

But a statement released by South Korea’s Presidential Blue House, Moon’s official residence and office, suggested the meeting was in doubt due to an “obstacle” in the final discussions, an apparent reference to a comment by a high-level envoy attached to the Japanese embassy in Seoul.   

The envoy, identified by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency as Hirohisa Soma, the embassy’s deputy chief of mission, reportedly compared Moon’s efforts to improve ties with Seoul to sexual self-gratification during an interview with a local reporter.   

Relations between the East Asian neighbors have grown acrimonious in recent years due to South Korea’s lingering bitterness over Japan’s brutal colonial occupation of the Korean peninsula from 1910-45. Scores of Korean women were forced to work in Japanese military brothels during the war as “comfort women,”  while thousands of other Koreans were forced to work in Japanese factories during that time. 

Several surviving “comfort women” have filed lawsuits in South Korea seeking compensation from Japan for their ordeal, with mixed results. Tokyo maintains it had settled the issue under a 1965 treaty that normalized bilateral relations with Seoul that included $800 million in reparations, as well as a separate deal reached in 2015. 

This report includes information from Reuters. 

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