У Стамбулі вбитий власник телеканалів, що мовлять на Іран

Засновник і голова ради директорів компанії Gem TV, яка мовить на Іран, убитий в Стамбулі. 45-річний Саїд Каріміан і його кувейтський бізнес-партнер були застрелені невідомими в стамбульському діловому районі Маслак.

Джип, на якому втекли нападники, пізніше був знайдений спаленим. Турецька поліція веде розслідування.

Група компаній Gem Group була заснована в Лондоні, але пізніше перенесла значну частину своєї діяльності до Об’єднаних Арабських Еміратів. Як повідомляє сайт Gem Group, групі належить 17 телеканалів на перською мовою і по одному – арабською, курдською та азербайджанською.

Українці в Перемишлі показали речі, які їм вдалося зберегти під час акції «Вісла»

Об’єднання українців Польщі з 28 до 1 травня вшановує 70-ті роковини акції «Вісла» у Перемишлі. Саме з цих теренів східної Польщі у 1947 році польська комуністична влада примусово виселила українців у північно-західні регіони. Загалом рідні домівки і землю тоді змушені були покинути близько 150 тисяч людей.

У неділю, 30 квітня, українці на березі річ Сян у Перемишлі представили акцію «Збірний пункт», де були показані речі, які українські родини зберегли від часу операції «Вісла», – вишивані сорочки, рушники, предмети домашнього вжитку, картини, книжки, зокрема «Кобзар» Шевченка 1932 року видання.

«Мені було вісім років, і пам’ятаю багато. Чому пам’ятаю, бо діє не пам’ять, а травма, яка сидить у голові. При таких нагодах, вшануванні все це пригадуєш…Гута Поруби Березівського повіту, нас звідти було виселено 28 квітня раненько. Гарно світило сонечко. Мама вийшла на подвір’я, ми були в хаті, і мама нам сказала, що військо йде до села. Тоді почути це слово військо, це як струмом по тілу, бо був страх, що буде за 5–10 хвилин. Прийшов військовий і сказав усім дорослим на зібрання…» – пригадує Юліан Бак, який пережив операцію «Вісла».

«Я уже третє покоління українців. Мої тато, бабусі, дідуньо були виселені примусово зі східних теренів. Мені змалку вони розповідали про атмосферу рідного села Волоч, звідки були виселені, там мешкали українці і був український дух. Звідти вирвали всіх і виселили в Любуське воєводство на заході країни. Для мені ці спомини дуже завжди зворушливі, це була травма для рідних на все життя. Я вчитель у польській школі, і мене учні питають, чому я вважаю себе українкою, коли є полькою. Але моя душа українська», – каже Мирослава Тимечко.

Речі, які українці представили на березі Сяну, дуже дорогі для кожного, бо це їхня пам’ять про родину і про їхнє українське походження.

1 травня у Перемишлі українська спільнота продовжить заходи щодо вшанування 70-х роковин акції «Вісла». Люди обговорюватимуть питання української меншини у Польщі, співпрацю з українськими мігрантами, які масово виїжджають до Польщі.

70-ті роковини операції «Вісла» проігнорувала польська влада, провладна партія. Участь у заходах взяли кілька польських інтелектуалів, заступник мера Перемишля, депутати від опозиційної партії «Громадянська платформа».

«Ми налаштовані, що можемо почекати, що політики польські прийдуть і ми будемо розмовляти про наше спільне майбутнє. З нашого боку все робитиметься, щоб зберегти стратегічні відносини з Польщею», – наголосила співголова депутатської групи Верховної Ради України з міжпарламентських зв’язків з Польщею, народний депутат Оксана Юринець.

Комісія з питань громадянства не розглядала припинення громадянства Артеменка – депутат Пацкан

Комісія з питань громадянства при президентові України на своєму засіданні не розглядала питання припинення громадянства позафракційного народного депутата України Андрія Артеменка. Про це в ефірі телеканалу «112 Україна» повідомив член комісії, народний депутат від фракції «Блок Петра Порошенка», член комітету з прав людини Валерій Пацкан

1Була комісія минулого тижня з питань громадянства, де не розглядали питання пана Артеменка. Він також звернувся до мене як до члена комісії з листом. Але відповіді у мене поки що немає», – сказав Пацкан.

«Коли буде винесено на розгляд комісії це питання, я зможу прокоментувати. Після цього буде прийнято рішення президента на підставі матеріалів комісії – позбавити чи ні громадянства», – додав депутат. Також Пацкан вказав на необхідність ухвалити зміни до законодавства щодо припинення українського громадянства осіб з множинним громадянством.

Депутат Андрій Артеменко назвав необґрунтованим можливе позбавлення його громадянства України і заявив, що оскаржуватиме це рішення в разі підтвердження інформації.

29 квітня лідер Радикальної партії Олег Ляшко у Facebook заявив, що президент Петро Порошенко припинив громадянство Артеменка у зв’язку з тим, що він має громадянство іншої країни – Канади, що заборонено українським законодавством.

Раніше Радикальна партія виключила народного депутата Артеменка з фракції. Це сталося після того, як стало відомо, що той передав план нормалізації відносин між Україною і Росією екс-раднику президента США Майклу Флінну незадовго до його відставки.

Серед іншого, план містить ідею проведення всеукраїнського референдуму про передачу Криму Росії в оренду, а також передбачає виведення російських військ з території України. 27 лютого 2017 року Артеменко заявив, що так званий «План примирення України з Росією» був ініціативою Радикальної партії.

21 квітня Генпрокуратура звернулася до міністра внутрішніх справ Арсена Авакова з проханням ініціювати через Державну міграційну службу процедуру втрати громадянства України народним депутатом Артеменком, посилаючись на наявність у нього паспорта громадянина Канади.

Guy in Gorilla Costume Finishes London Marathon After 6 Days

An English policeman wearing a gorilla costume while crawling the London Marathon has finally finished the race, almost a week after starting.

 

Metropolitan Police officer Tom Harrison, who goes by the name “Mr. Gorilla,” raised a reported 26,000 pounds ($33,650) for the Gorilla Organization, which is dedicated to conserving gorillas in countries including Rwanda and Uganda.

 

The 41-year-old Londoner started the 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) route last Sunday and crossed the finish line on Saturday.

Harrison slept at friends’ houses in the evenings after completing around 10 to 12 hours and 4.5 miles per day. He has swapped between crawling on his hands and knees and up on his hands and feet to save his blistered knees.

He crossed the finish line in central London flanked by his two sons – and beating his chest.

VOA Observes Jazz Appreciation Month

April 30 is International Jazz Day, with events and concerts being held throughout the world. It also marks the end of Jazz Appreciation Month in the United States. Sponsored by the National Museum of American History, it’s designed to stimulate and encourage people to participate, study and listen to a genre of music that is uniquely American. Jazz has a storied place in Voice of America’s 75-year history. For 40 years, millions of people worldwide listened to VOA’s Jazz Hour with Willis Conover. During the Cold War, Conover’s programs created a connection to the United States for millions of people living behind the Iron Curtain. Earlier this past week, Voice of America hosted The Frankie Addison Quintet to mark Jazz Appreciation Month and VOA’s part in keeping the free form music genre alive. Enjoy the music.

Growth Slows in April in China’s Manufacturing Sector

Growth in China’s manufacturing sector slowed in April, official data showed Sunday, pointing to an unsteady recovery in the world’s second-largest economy. 

 

The monthly purchasing managers’ index by the Chinese Federation of Logistics and Purchasing fell to 51.2 in April, lower than the 51.8 recorded in March. 

 

The index is based on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 indicate expansion.

 

National Bureau of Statistics statistician Zhao Qinghe said in the release that April’s figure was affected by sluggish growth in market demand and supply, and slower expansion in imports and exports.

 

April’s index still represented a ninth consecutive month of expansion. 

 

China saw its slowest growth in nearly three decades in 2016. China’s huge manufacturing sector is seen as an important indicator for the wider Chinese economy. It has cooled gradually over the past six years as Beijing tries to pivot it away from heavy reliance on export-based manufacturing and investment toward consumer spending.

 

The official full-year economic growth target for 2017 is 6.5 percent. 

Late-night TV Host Samantha Bee’s Show Briefly Upstages Correspondents’ Dinner

Washington’s once-glitzy “nerd prom” was briefly upstaged Saturday as comedians and Hollywood stars gathered for jokes and jests about President Donald Trump for a tongue-in-cheek event to counter the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Late-night TV star Samantha Bee pulled in celebrities for the first “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner'”: Alysia Reiner of “Orange Is the New Black,” Retta of “Parks and Recreation” and Matt Walsh of “Veep.” Bee’s show, a comedic tribute to American news organizations, featured actor Will Ferrell and other guests roasting Trump and his allies.

The star power of the real correspondents’ dinner took a hit this year when Trump declined to attend, the first president since Ronald Reagan in 1981 to skip it. In Reagan’s case, he was recovering from an assassination attempt. Trump did his own counter-programming, scheduling a rally Saturday night in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to mark his 100th day in office.

The absence of the president himself at the WHCA dinner or even officials from the administration seemed to diminish attendance by big names in film, television and sports.

Barack Obama’s humorous remarks had become a highlight at the dinner. Last year, for Obama’s final appearance, the crowd included Will Smith, Emma Watson, Kerry Washington, Helen Mirren and model Kendall Jenner.

For years, the event offered Washington’s press corps an opportunity to wear black tie and stunning gowns while mixing with celebrities. With Trump out, organizers put the focus on the First Amendment and the role of the press in democracy.

The scheduled headliners were Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, set to present journalism awards. Woodward told The Washington Post the two planned to speak about “the First Amendment and the importance of aggressive but fair reporting.”

The dinner still booked a master of ceremonies: Hasan Minhaj of The Daily Show. Broadcast coverage was to begin at 9:30 p.m. on C-SPAN, followed by Bee’s event airing on TBS at 10 p.m.

Jeff Mason, the WHCA president, said this year would have been different even if Trump had attended, “based on the tension that has existed in the relationship and some of the things he has said about the press. We were preparing for a different dinner either way.”

Trump has called the media “fake” and “dishonest” and even “the enemy of the people.” In an emailed fundraising appeal before leaving for Pennsylvania, Trump cited among the accomplishments over his first 100 days, “We fought back against the media’s lies.”

Mason promised that Minhaj would use his comedy chops, without “roasting the president in absentia.”

“People don’t want to come to a dinner and feel bored or preached at. Hopefully neither of those things will happen,” Mason said.

Bee, who hosts TBS’ weekly show Full Frontal, said she cared deeply about the press.

“For God’s sake, we could not do our show if things were more restricted. So, boy, nobody needs press freedom more than we do,” she told The Associated Press in an interview.

Bee’s taped show singled out the Committee to Protect Journalists, the nonprofit group that will receive proceeds from the show. The show humorously assailed topics like “alternative facts,” a remark once made by Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway that drew heavy criticism.

The official WHCA dinner began in 1921. Most people trace the development of the celebrity guests to 1987, when Baltimore Sun reporter Michael Kelly brought Fawn Hall, the secretary at the center of the Iran-Contra affair.

For Russia and US, Uneasy Cooperation on Cybercrime Is Now a Mess 

Agents from the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service showed up in Moscow in May 2009 with a specific mission: to nab one of the world’s most notorious hackers. But to do that, the Americans needed Russia’s help.

They turned to the Federal Security Service (FSB), the country’s main intelligence agency, and shared operational information with officers from its computer-crimes unit, the Center for Information Security.

The hacker, Roman Seleznyov, shut down his operations a month later in a move prompted, the U.S. believes, by a leak from the FSB. The credit-card fraudster, it turns out, had bragged in conversations intercepted a year earlier about his protection from the computer-crimes unit.

US court

The incident, detailed in the legal filings that resulted in a U.S. federal court recently sentencing Seleznyov to 27 years in prison, exposes an unintended consequence of Washington’s cybercrime cooperation with Russia: the United States finds itself indicting some of the top-level Russian security officials it worked with. 

At least one of those officials is a former hacker who worked with the FSB — an agency accused of involvement in the hacking of U.S. political parties’ computers in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that one of those very FSB officers has himself been charged in Russia with high treason.

In short, the Russians were recruiting hackers while the Americans sought to work with the FSB to thwart cybercriminals. Now the Americans are indicting — and in Seleznyov’s case, sentencing — hackers tied in some way to the FSB. The Russians, meanwhile, are charging some of those same individuals with treason.

“Russia sees those who cooperated as traitors,” explained Pavel Vrublevsky, a prominent e-payment entrepreneur who was imprisoned in Russia for ordering a cyberattack against a competitor. “Now America sees the very same people as cybercriminals themselves.”

Seleznyov is not the first Russian to have been caught up in a widening U.S. dragnet that has snagged cybercriminals from around the world. Others include Aleksandr Panin, convicted in a federal court in Atlanta in 2016 for creating a computer program that infected millions of computers and drained bank accounts in multiple countries.

WATCH: Czech Police Arrest Yevgeny Nikulin In Prague

There’s also Yevgeny Nikulin, who has sat in a Czech jail following his October arrest while Moscow and Washington both fight for his extradition. And the same day that Seleznyov was sentenced, U.S. prosecutors announced the indictment of another Russian, Pyotr Levashov, arrested in Spain, accusing him of masterminding a “bot net” of infected computers to steal money from bank accounts.

Seleznyov, the son of a Russian lawmaker, raked in $170 million selling stolen credit-card information online beginning in 2007, according to U.S. officials. By 2009, his operation was one of the largest providers of such stolen data in the world.

The determination that Seleznyov was behind the scheme was what led U.S. investigators to seek the FSB’s help in 2009, according to material submitted by prosecutors in a U.S. federal court.

In Moscow, they met with officials from the agency’s Center for Information Security, including deputy chief Sergei Mikhailov and his subordinate, Dmitry Dokuchayev, current and former U.S. officials with knowledge of the case told RFE/RL.

 

 

Unfortunately for the Americans, news of the meetings apparently leaked. Seleznyov shut down his so-called carding operations a month later.

As U.S. prosecutors noted in court documents, Seleznyov had been recorded telling a colleague in 2008 that he had “obtained protection through the law-enforcement contacts in the computer-crimes squad of the FSB.”

Seleznyov eventually resurfaced using a different alias, but was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2011 and arrested by U.S. agents while vacationing in the Maldives in 2014. A federal jury convicted him on 38 counts in 2016, and he was sentenced on April 21 to 27 years in prison.

“Never before has a criminal engaged in computer fraud of this magnitude been identified, captured, and convicted by an American jury,” prosecutors wrote in their court filings.

In from the cold

The 2009 Moscow discussion was just one of many between U.S. and Russian officials as they sought to work together in investigating international computer crimes. 

The effort was largely ad hoc, and U.S. officials sought over the following years to a build a more formal arrangement, according to David Hickton, a former U.S. prosecutor involved in several high-profile criminal investigations of alleged Russian hackers. 

They include the 2014 indictment of Yevgeny Bogachev, who is accused by the FBI of helping to build a network of infected computers around the world using software known as GameOver ZeuS, and using it to steal money from online bank accounts.

Competing legal systems, differences of opinion, and distrust proved to be formidable obstacles to cooperation.

“They tried to develop a dialogue that would lead to cybernorms and some understanding of [what the] rules of the road would be and how we would navigate our adversarial relationship,” Hickton said of the Russians. “And that broke down.”

Luke Dembosky, who was the resident legal adviser for the Justice Department in Moscow between 2010 and 2013, told RFE/RL that “it was never easy working these kinds of cases with Russia. There were different systems, different laws, different interests.”

To really make an international cybercase work, Dembosky explained, “you need some alignment of interests and political will, and you need some commonality of law and capabilities.”

More than anything, he said, “you need some modicum of trust.”

A troubled relationship

As U.S.-Russian cooperation stumbled, the FSB’s computer-crimes unit was growing in clout and notoriety, thanks in part to one officer’s previous work as a hacker.

Dokuchayev, with whom the Americans met with during their 2009 meetings in Moscow, was once well-known in cybercircles under the nickname Forb.

He worked with other FSB officers, including one named Igor Sushchin, to recruit hackers to cooperate with the Russian agency on cyberactivities. Among the recruits was Aleksei Belan, who has been wanted by the FBI since 2012 for alleged hacking and computer fraud. 

Officials from the FSB’s Center for Information Security were also involved in the investigation of IT entrepreneur Vrublevsky, the founder of a successful online payment system called ChronoPay.

He was convicted in 2013 of orchestrating an attack on a ticketing system used by the airline Aeroflot. Mikhailov, Dokuchayev’s superior in the computer-crimes unit, testified against Vrublevsky during the trial.

U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that the hackers who broke into email accounts and computer servers belonging to the Democratic and Republican parties during last year’s election campaign did so with authorization from top-level Russian officials.

The declassified summary of a report released on behalf of the intelligence community in January pointed the finger at the FSB’s security rival, the military intelligence agency known as GRU. There was no mention of the FSB, or its computer-crimes unit.

But the previous month, then-President Barack Obama announced new economic sanctions and other punitive measures in response to alleged Russian hacking during the U.S. election campaign.

The list of those targeted included both the GRU and the FSB, as well as Belan and Bogachev.

High treason

Just prior to Obama’s announcement, Russian security officials moved to arrest FSB computer-crimes unit officers Mikhailov and Dokuchayev. That news became public when the Russian newspapers Kommersant and Novaya Gazeta reported in January that the two had been charged with high treason for giving classified information to Western intelligence, including possibly the CIA.

In a dramatic twist, according to Kommersant, Mikhailov was detained during an FSB meeting and taken from the room with a bag over his head.

There has been no comment on Mikhailov’s or Dokuchayev’s arrests from the FSB or Russian prosecutors; the only confirmation of their incarceration came from the lawyer for another computer expert also caught up in the arrests.

The U.S. Justice Department did not respond to a phone message or e-mail seeking comment.

In March, Dokuchayev’s name surfaced again when the U.S. Justice Department announced his indictment, and that of FSB officer Sushchin, in connection with the massive data breach at the Internet company Yahoo. Mikhailov’s name does not appear in the indictments, although cyberexperts believe someone identified only as “FSB Officer 3” is, in fact, Mikhailov.

Sushchin, according to the indictment, worked as an undercover officer at the investment bank Renaissance Capital.

That indictment also named Belan, who U.S. officials said could have been arrested by the FSB at the behest of the FBI any time after being named a top wanted cybercriminal in 2012.

Instead, “the FSB officers used him,” according to the indictment. “They also provided him with sensitive FSB law-enforcement and intelligence information that would have helped him avoid detection by law enforcement, including information regarding FSB investigations of computer hacking and FSB techniques for identifying criminal hackers.”

Gray zone

First and foremost, the arrests and criminal charges in both Russia and the United States highlight what experts say is the blurry line between Russian law-enforcement and security agencies and criminal networks, in cybercrime or otherwise.

“Moscow still depends, to a considerable extent, on recruiting cybercriminals, or simply calling on them from time to time, in return for their continued freedom,” Mark Galeotti, a Prague-based expert on Russian intelligence agencies, wrote in a report published on April 18.

It’s a gray zone that poses substantial danger for Russia itself, according to one of the other Russians charged with treason stemming from the December arrests: Ruslan Stoyanov, a former Interior Ministry investigator.

In a letter published by the Dozhd TV channel, Stoyanov, who worked for the Moscow-based computer security company Kaspersky Lab, warned that cooperating with cybercriminals would only embolden them.

“The worst scenario would be to give cybercriminals immunity from punishment for stealing money in other countries in exchange for intelligence. If this happens, an entire layer of ‘patriotic thieves’ will appear, violating the principles of the rule of law and the inevitability of punishment,” he wrote. “We will see a new wave of crime in Russia.”

Former U.S. prosecutor Hickton, who now heads the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security, said Russia could have easily arrested Bogachev after he was indicted in 2014 but there is no extradition treaty between the two countries.

Moreover, according to the research firm Fox-IT, the infected computers believed to have been used by Bogachev were also allegedly used to search for information about top-secret government files in places such as Ukraine, Georgia, and Turkey. That suggests the involvement of someone who was more than a mere criminal hacker — perhaps an operative working on behalf of an intelligence agency.

But the arrests also represent another facet of the collapsed relationship between Moscow and Washington.

Hickton said the Bogachev indictment may have been one factor in why U.S.-Russian cooperation in cybercrimes deteriorated. Or it may have merely been a casualty of other points of conflict between Washington and Moscow, such as Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and support for separatists in Ukraine’s east. 

“This all — this all is a mess,” Vrublevsky told RFE/RL. “And it’s a mess to be dealt with in both countries. The sooner the better.”

На Кубі розбився військовий літак, загинуло щонайменше 8 людей – ЗМІ

Кубинський військовий літак розбився в західній частині острівної держави, в результаті чого загинуло щонайменше восьмеро військових. Про це повідомляють у суботу західні ЗМІ.

У заяві уряду йдеться, що радянський Ан-26 вилетів вранці 29 квітня із аеропорту неподалік Гавани і невдовзі розбився на схилі за приблизно 40 миль від летовища.

Деталей про причини аварії наразі немає.

Військово-транспортний літак Ан-26 будували на авіазаводі у Києві від кінця 60-х до середини 80-х років минулого століття.

 

 

Пентагон повідомив про загибель військового США біля іракського Мосула

Міністерство оборони США 29 квітня повідомило, що американський військовослужбовець загинув в результаті підриву придорожньої бомби неподалік іракського міста Мосул. Це вже друга смерть військовослужбовця США в ході операції зі звільнення міста від бойовиків угруповання «Ісламська держава».

Жодних додаткових деталей про загибель військового Пентагон не повідомив.

Близько 800 іракських військовослужбовців загинули в боях за Мосул, що почалися понад півроку тому.

Близько сотні військовослужбовців спеціальних операцій США ведуть бойові дії разом з іракськими і курдськими силами, ще сотні військових сил США підтримують цю кампанію в інших місцях.

Загалом п’ятеро американців загинули від серпня 2014 року, коли бойові сили США почали повертатися в Ірак для боротьби з ісламськими екстремістами.

В Іраку зараз перебуває більше американських військ, ніж будь-коли, від часу виведення сил в 2011 році.

Бойовики обстріляли кладовище у Попасній, зруйновано понад 20 поховань – поліція

Підтримувані Росією бойовики обстріляли з реактивних систем залпового вогню «Град» кладовище у мікрорайоні Селище ВРЗ, що в місті Попасна Луганської області, в результаті чого було знищено понад 20 поховань. Про це на сторінці у Facebook повідомила речниця поліції Луганщини Тетяна Погукай.

«Внаслідок обстрілу зруйновано та пошкоджено 21 поховання.Не минуло й тижня, коли усі громадяни поминали своїх рідних і близьких, які пішли з життя, як сьогодні вночі бойовики відкрили залповий вогонь з реактивних систем «Град» по кладовищу, яке розташоване у місті  Попасна», – повідомила речниця.

Вона зазначила, що через обстріли могли постраждати люди, адже кладовище розташоване поряд з приватним сектором. Втім такої інформації немає.

Як повідомили в поліції, за фактом обстрілу відкрито кримінальне провадження за статтею про «теракт».

В угрупованні «ЛНР» інформацію про обстріл кладовища на своїх сайтах не коментують. Водночас луганські сепаратисти стверджують, що Збройні сили України напередодні вели вогонь з боку Попасної.

Наприкінці березня учасники Тристоронньої контактної групи домовилися про чергове перемир’я у зоні збройного конфлікту на сході України, воно мало почати діяти від 1 квітня. Проте обстріли не припинилися, а сторони конфлікту звинуватили в цьому одна одну.

Turkey Fires Nearly 4,000 from Civil Service, Military, Gendarmerie

Turkey has dismissed nearly 4,000 people from its civil service, military, and gendarmerie, in what appears to be a purge related to last year’s attempted coup.

Turkey announced the move on Saturday, saying in the government’s Official Gazette that those let go include 1,127 employees of the justice ministry, made up of prison guards, academics and religious affairs ministry employees.

It appears to be one of the largest such purges since the coup attempt last July.

Since that time some 120,000 people have been suspended from their jobs in civil service and the private sector, and more than 40,000 people were arrested.

Also Saturday, Turkey announced it has banned television dating programs, and access to the Wikipedia online research tool. Ankara says Wikipedia has suggested Turkey is cooperating with terror groups.

Former Street Boy Jazzing Up Nairobi Streets with His Saxophone

If you’ve been walking through downtown Nairobi lately, you may have seen Moses Odhiambo. The 29-year-old self-taught saxophonist has been drawing crowds and inspiring a love of music in young people who, like himself, are growing up on the streets.

Moses Odhiambo plays his saxophone amid the usual buzz of evening rush hour in Nairobi’s central business district.

 

He performs here every Tuesday and Thursday.

 

A small crowd gathers. Today marks one year since he started performing like this. But he is no stranger to the streets.

At 10 years old, he left home with his three brothers. Their mother couldn’t afford to feed them. Odhiambo spent several homeless years in the slums of Nairobi’s Kayole Soweto area. Through sponsorship programs, he was able to complete high school, where he played trumpet.

He showed a knack for music.   

“So the director called me and told me, before we get a professional teacher come and try teaching these students,” said Odhiambo. “So when I went there. I saw the saxophone and fell in love with it and I picked it up, taught myself from scratch up to where I am today”.

When he is not performing in the streets, Odhiamdo is teaching music in two public primary schools or giving private lessons. But the streets remain his source of inspiration.

“I could choose to be in the house and do my practice in the house but I saw that being not so productive for me so I wanted to go out and make a difference,” said Odhiambo. “Because of my background having been a street child, I thought of coming out into the streets and make a difference.”

After his performances, Odhiambo sets aside time to talk with street kids he meets.

“They can make a difference in life if indeed they pursue their passion,” he said.

Rafael Mwangi sings a song he composed. The 14-year-old has lived on the streets for over six years now.

He says “when I saw Moses play, it gave me so much hope. I felt it was time to also start singing… I started writing music and when I showed Mose my writings, he told me he could see my future.”

On Thursdays, Odhiambo is joined by another young musician, Steven Muthama, on the guitar.

 

Muthama says performing on the street creates a powerful connection.

“People just take time to come and listen,” said Muthama. “Tired people from work taking time to just stop in the street, not knowing you, just seeing you there, listening and appreciating, maybe dropping a shilling or two but just the time and the effort to stand there and listen is really amazing.”

 

Music has been Odhiambo’s ticket to a better life. He hopes to pass that opportunity on to the next generation.

 

 

Missions Help Tell Dramatic History of Lone Star State

San Antonio, Texas, is home to the greatest concentration of Catholic missions in North America, including The Alamo, the state’s first mission dating to 1718. The most visited historic landmark in Texas was also a fort and the site of a battle that played a pivotal role in the state’s dramatic history.

San Antonio Missions

In the 18th century, the government of Spain established Catholic missions in the American southwest, in an attempt to exert control and expand its influence in the region. The Spanish Crown looked upon the natives as potential subjects and saw the missions as a way to convert as many of them as possible to Catholicism.

But the native tribes in what is now east Texas showed little interest in what Spain had to offer. So in 1731, the missions there were relocated westward to the San Antonio River, where, according to the U.S. National Park Service, the hunter-gatherer tribes proved “more receptive” to the Spanish message. Upon entering a mission, tribal members were expected to give up their traditional life, accept a new religion and pledge loyalty to a distant and unseen king.

Most of the missions lasted as fully functional religious sites for six decades.

A perfect union

National parks traveler Mikah Meyer, who’s on a quest to visit all of the more than 400 sites within the U.S. National Park Service, described the relationship between the Spanish government and its Catholic priests as “a perfect marriage.”

“The Crown of Spain wanted to expand the territory and the Catholic priests wanted to help spread [Catholicism], so within that, it was kind of a magical partnership,” he said. “So these mission sites preserve a lot of that heritage.”

Today the National Park Service operates the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which helps preserve four of the five missions — San José, Concepción, San Juan and Espada. They were added to the list of national parks in 1978 under then-President Jimmy Carter.  

Meyer traveled on the scenic Mission Hike and Bike Trail that follows the San Antonio River and links all five sites. “Each of these mission sites tells part of the story in a different way, depending on how much of the site has been preserved,” he remarked.

“The outlying walls and buildings showcase where the religious figures would have lived, where the students would have lived who were being taught by the missionaries, and a lot of what the daily life would have looked like for these early Spanish colonizers,” he added.

And what life must have been like for Native Americans under Spanish rule, he noted.

“Some people would say they stole their culture from them. Other people would say they provided a means for survival in a changing world that was no longer nomadic and that was becoming agricultural,” he said.

 

“What’s really incredible about these sites are how well intact and preserved the churches are,” he said. “Most at least have their chapel still maintained.” In fact, all four of the churches remain active parishes, which means services are held in them every week.

The heart of San Antonio

Mission San Antonio de Valero, more commonly known as The Alamo, was established by the Franciscans in 1718. It is not a unit of the National Park Service but owned by the state of Texas and is a National Historic Landmark. The 3-century-old compound was a mission from 1718-1793, a fort from 1803-1835 and a battlefield from 1835-1836.

Many consider The Alamo the most enduring symbol of independence in Texas.

Remember The Alamo!

The historic compound is best known as the site of a 1836 battle that marked a turning point in the state’s history. At the time, Texas was a province of Mexico, and colonists (primarily from the United States) grew resentful of increasingly centralized Mexican government. On October 2, 1835, they launched a revolution for independence.

On February 23 the next year, Mexican President Santa Anna’s army began a siege of the Alamo Mission and overran it 13 days later, killing all of the defenders — known at the time as Texians. Among the dead were well-known men such as garrison commander William Travis, American pioneer Jim Bowie and Tennessee Congressman Davy Crockett.

The deadly siege motivated many Texians to join the Texian Army. They defeated the Mexican forces the following month at the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836, ending the revolution, and starting Texas’ decade-long status as an independent republic, until it joined the United States as the 28th state.

Mission accomplished

Today, the Alamo compound is the state’s most visited landmark — two centuries after Spain lost most of its influence throughout the Americas.

Meyer noted that considering the historic, life-altering events that took place at The Alamo compound, “it’s not that big of a building … but it’s impressive that it’s become such a well-known part of our culture.”

“It really seems like the town has embraced this part of their history and built a lot of their current day infrastructure around it,” he added.

All five missions were designated UNESCO World Heritage sites on July 5, 2015

As he prepared to depart Texas and head west, Meyer remarked how impressed he was by the Lone Star state’s vast landscape and diverse culture.

“It’s so huge that you got a very rich diversity of natural landscapes, and with that comes a rich diversity of history,” he said.

The national parks traveler invites you to join him as he continues his journey across the American southwest by visiting his website, Facebook and Instagram.

 

On 100th Day in Office, Trump to Focus on Trade

President Donald Trump will spend his 100th day in office talking tough on trade in one of the states that delivered his unlikely win.

 

The president is expected to sign an executive order Saturday that will direct his Commerce Department and the U.S. Trade Representative to perform a comprehensive study of the nation’s trade agreements to determine whether America is being treated fairly by its trading partners and the 164-nation World Trade Organization.

It’s one of two executive orders the president will sign at a shovel factory in Pennsylvania’s Cumberland County, the kind of place that propelled his surprise victory.

Rally in Pennsylvania 

The last week has been a frenzy of activity at the White House as Trump and his team have tried to rack up accomplishments and make good on campaign promises before reaching the symbolic 100-day mark. In addition to the visit to the Ames tool factory, which has been manufacturing shovels since 1774, the president will hold one of his signature campaign rallies in Harrisburg to cap the occasion.

 

It’s a return to fundamentals for a president who has, in recent days, sounded wistful reflecting on his term so far.

 

Earlier this week, Trump announced his intention to work to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. He also said he would begin renegotiating a free trade deal with South Korea, with which the U.S. has a significant trade deficit.

Trade discussed every day

 

“There isn’t a day that goes by that the president doesn’t discuss some aspect of trade,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said at the White House Friday.

 

The executive orders signed Saturday will mark Trump’s 31st and 32nd since taking office, the most of any president in his first 100 days since World War II. It’s a jarring disconnect from Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign, when he railed against his predecessor’s use of the tool, which has the benefit of not needing congressional sign-off.

The more significant of the two orders will give the Commerce Department and the U.S. Trade Representative 180 days to identify violations and abuses under the country’s trade agreements and recommend solutions.

World Trade Organization outdated 

Ross said the WTO, the Geneva-based arbiter of world trade rules, is bureaucratic and outdated and needs an overhaul. Ross downplayed the possibility that the United States would consider leaving the organization but didn’t rule it out. 

“As any multilateral organization, there’s always the potential for modifying the rules,” he said.

 

The administration argues that unfair competition with China and other trade partners has wiped out millions of U.S. factory jobs. Ross said dissatisfaction with trade policy is one reason voters turned to Trump.

 

“They’re fed up with having their jobs go offshore. They’re fed up with some of the destructive practices,” he said. “So in effect, the country said in this last election: It’s about time to fix these things. And the president heard that message.”

 

Trump, who campaigned on a vow to crack down on China and other trading partners, has announced several other moves on trade in recent weeks. He ordered the Commerce Department to study the causes of the United States’ massive trade deficit in goods, $734 billion last year, $347 billion with China alone. The administration is also imposing duties on Canadian softwood timber and is investigating whether steel and aluminum imports pose a threat to national security.

 

Ross said Friday that the WTO is too narrowly focused on limiting traditional tariffs — taxes on imports — and does little to counter less conventional barriers to trade or to police violations of intellectual property rights.

 

Trump has pushed a model of “reciprocal trade” agreements in which the U.S. would raise or lower tariffs on a country’s imports depending on how that country treats the U.S.