Burundi Paralyzed by Fuel Shortages as Leaders Blame Lack of Dollars

Fuel shortages have paralyzed the small central African nation of Burundi, threatening further damage to an economy already moribund after years of political violence and raising questions about the role of the country’s only oil importer.

The problem has damaged two big foreign investors, Kenya’s KenolKobil and South Africa’s Engen, a subsidiary of Malaysian parastatal Petronas.

The shortages, which forced the government to introduce rationing on May 16, have paralyzed commerce and caused food prices to jump by around a third, raising the prospect of a wave of economic migration. More than 400,000 people have already fled Burundi into the volatile central African region.

Anti-corruption campaigners said the fuel shortages became severe after Burundian company Interpetrol Trading Ltd. received the lions’ share of dollars that are allocated by the central bank to import fuel.

“The oil sector is undermined by favoritism and lack of transparency, because the rare hard currency available in the central bank reserves is given to one oil importer,” said Gabriel Rufyiri, head of anti-graft organization OLUCOME.

The central bank declined to answer Reuters’ questions.

Interpetrol’s lawyer, Sylvestre Banzubaze, said: “I am not associated with the day-to-day operations and only intervene on legal questions. You should address your questions directly to Interpetrol sources.”

He did not respond when asked for further contacts, and the company does not have a website.

Rufyiri said that government sources told him that the bulk of dollars for fuel purchasing had been allocated to Interpetrol since March this year.

Reuters confirmed with two other sources that Interpetrol received the bulk of dollar allocations. Other companies only received a small fraction of the dollars they needed, the sources said, severely damaging their businesses.

Earlier this month, South African petrol company Engen confirmed it had sold its assets in Burundi to Interpetrol.

Engen declined to comment further. KenolKobil also declined to comment, but Burundian citizens say most of their petrol stations have been closed for three months.

Sole importer

Interpetrol is now the sole oil importer and runs all the fuel storage tanks in the country, said an industry source.

Banzubaze said there was “no link” between Interpetrol’s shareholders and any member of the government.

But a 2011 U.S. State Department report described attempts by senior government officials to pressure judges into dropping a corruption case against the company, owned by brothers Munir and Tariq Bashir. Neither the government nor Interpetrol’s lawyer responded when asked about the status of the case.

Government officials blame dollar shortages on aid cuts that donors imposed after President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third term in 2015, triggering a wave of political violence.

“These days, fuel importers don’t get enough dollars to bring petroleum products,” said Daniel Mpitabakana, the government’s director of fuel management.

Burundi’s economy shrank by 0.5 percent last year, and the International Monetary Fund expects no growth at all this year and 0.1 percent next year.

Black market prices for fuel range between 5,000 to 6,000 Burundi francs per liter, vendors said, double the official price of 2,200 francs.

The street exchange rate is 2,600 francs to the dollar, although it is just over 1,700 to the dollar at the central bank. Only the central bank can receive dollar deposits and allocate dollars to businesses.

In the capital, queues at empty petrol stations snaked around the block. One civil servant said he had taken the last three days off work to search for gas.

“I have no fuel for days and I don’t know if by chance will get it today,” he said, asking not to be named.

Burundi has also been battered by drought and almost two years of political instability. Hundreds of people were killed and hundreds of thousands were forced to flee abroad during the political violence, which still sometimes erupts in low-level clashes.

Almost 3 million of Burundi’s 11 million citizens are dependent on food aid, the U.N. says.

US Starts Providing Weapons to Syrian Kurds

The United States said Tuesday that it had begun distributing arms to Syrian Kurdish militia members battling to help retake Raqqa from Islamic State, moving ahead with a war plan that has angered NATO ally Turkey.

Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said the Kurdish fighters received small arms and vehicles from the U.S. military. He said he thought the arms were distributed earlier Tuesday.

Another U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the distribution of the arms had started in the past 24 hours, based on authority given by President Donald Trump earlier this month.

There was no immediate reaction from Turkey, which has warned the United States that its decision to arm Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State in Syria could end up hurting Washington.

Turkey views the YPG as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has fought an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984 and is considered a terrorist group by the United States, Turkey and Europe.

U.S. partner

The United States regards the YPG as a valuable partner in the fight against Islamic State militants in northern Syria.

Washington says that arming the Kurdish forces is necessary to recapturing Raqqa, Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria and a hub for planning attacks against the West.

U.S. officials have told Reuters that the United States was also looking to boost intelligence cooperation with Turkey to support its fight against the PKK.

It was unclear whether the effort would be enough to soothe Turkey, however.

Ankara worries that advances by the YPG in northern Syria could inflame the PKK insurgency on Turkish soil. It has also voiced concern that weapons given to the YPG would end up in the hands of the PKK.

Poland Extradites Austrian Accused of Killing Civilians in Ukraine

Poland has extradited an Austrian accused of killing unarmed civilians and captured troops in Ukraine.

Austrian authorities will identify the suspect only as Benjamin F.

He was arrested last month on a European warrant while trying to cross into Ukraine from eastern Poland.

He is suspected of committing the killings last year while fighting against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine has been struggling to put down a three-year-old uprising that has killed more than 10,000 people.

Efforts to secure a lasting cease-fire have failed.

Hungary Seeks Talks with New York State on Soros School

The Hungarian government said Tuesday it was seeking to engage with New York state about the status of Budapest-based Central European University, founded by billionaire George Soros.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sent letters to Prime Minister Viktor Orban and President Janos Ader advocating for CEU, saying recent changes to Hungary’s higher education law “attempts to close the university for no legitimate reason.”

“CEU is an important collaboration between New York and Hungary,” Cuomo said in the letters obtained by The Associated Press. “I hope that this important partnership will be allowed to continue with the guarantee of CEU’s independence.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Tamas Menczer said the ministry was working with Cuomo’s office to schedule a meeting about the university.

CEU, founded in 1991, is accredited in New York state, but doesn’t have a campus there, one of the new rules in the amended law. CEU issues diplomas accepted in Hungary and the U.S.

The legal amendments adopted in April also call for bilateral agreements between Hungary and the home countries of foreign universities operating in the country. In the case of the United States, Hungary is also seeking agreements with the schools’ home states.

The changes could force CEU to move, although Rector Michael Ignatieff reiterated Tuesday that the school is determined to stay in Budapest.

“We hope that in the course of the next few months, this absurd effort by the government to shut us down will be taken away,” Ignatieff told reporters. “Budapest is our home, we’re staying here and it’s business as usual.”

The U.S State Department, however, has said the U.S. “has no authority or intention” to negotiate about CEU or other American universities with a presence in Hungary.

A Foreign Ministry official is expected to travel in about two weeks to Maryland to speak with officials there about McDaniel College, Menczer said. Established in 1867 as Western Maryland College, the college also has operated a campus in Hungary since 1993.

Cuomo’s office said a meeting with Hungarian officials also was tentatively scheduled for June.

The conflict over CEU is part of a wider dispute between Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Soros, whose idea of an “open society” is at odds with Orban’s desire to turn Hungary into an “illiberal state.”

Olivia Newton-John Postpones Tour as Cancer Returns

Singer, actress Olivia Newton-John has revealed that she has breast cancer again, 25 years after recovering from her original diagnosis.

She has postponed upcoming tour dates after discovering that severe back pain she has been suffering is a result of the disease spreading to her spine.

The 68-year-old was due to perform across the U.S. and Canada next month.

Newton-John  said she will undergo a short course of radiation, as well as natural therapies, upon the advice of specialists at a cancer research center named after her in her adopted home of Melbourne, Australia.

Newton-John has been a chart-topper since the 1970s with songs that stretch into pop, folk and country but she became best-known for starring in the 1978 musical comedy “Grease” alongside John Travolta.

Newton-John was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, forcing her to halt her schedule.

The experience had a major impact on Newton-John who became an advocate for research into cancer and for early detection.

Last week, the four-time Grammy award winner cancelled several events for the upcoming tour dates due to “severe back pain.”

A statement  from her management on Tuesday said: “The back pain that initially caused her to postpone the first half of her concert tour, has turned out to be breast cancer that has metastasized to the sacrum.”

Білий дім: Трамп і Меркель «добре ладнають»

Білий дім похвалив стосунки між президентом США Дональдом Трампом і канцлером Німеччини Анґелою Меркель. Це сталося через кілька годин після того, як американський президент розкритикував Німеччину через торгівлю й оборону.

Речник Білого дому Шон Спайсер 30 травня заявив, що Трамп і Меркель «добре ладнають», і додав, що президент США «дуже поважає» канцлера Німеччини. «І він розглядає не лише Німеччину, але і решту Європи як важливого союзника США», – сказав Спайсер.

30 травня у Twitter Трамп поскаржився на дефіцит США у торгівлі з Німеччиною. Він також ще раз попередив Німеччину про необхідність збільшення видатків на оборону, щоб підтримати альянс НАТО, і зазначив, що ситуація буде змінюватися.

«У нас є масивний дефіцит у торгівлі з Німеччиною, плюс вони витрачають набагато менше, ніж вони повинні, на НАТО і армію. Це дуже погано для США, ситуація зміниться», – написав президент США.

Заява Трампа з’явилася після критики з боку Німеччини по завершенні першого офіційного закордонного туру президента США, який, зокрема, відвідав саміт НАТО в Брюсселі і зустріч «Групи семи» в Італії.

30 травня Анґела Меркель у Берліні заявила, що відносини Німеччини зі США «надзвичайно важливі», але Берлін повинен взаємодіяти з іншими ключовими державами.

Канцлер також повторила свою заяву від 28 травня про те, що Європа «має брати свою долю у власні руки» і стати «активним гравцем у міжнародних справах».

29 травня міністр закордонних справ Німеччини Зіґмар Ґабріель також розкритикував Вашингтон, заявивши про «недалекоглядну політику» адміністрації Трампа, що йде врозріз з інтересами Європейського союзу і «ослаблює Захід». Наступного дня Ґабріель висловив сподівання на повернення добрих відносин США і Німеччини. «Це правда, що у нас зараз складна ситуація у відносинах між США і Німеччиною. Проте США старшні і більші, ніж нинішній конфлікт, тому я думаю, що ми повернемося до добрих відносин у майбутньому», – сказав він.

Під час своєї першої закордонної поїздки Трамп не піддався на тиск від союзників по G7 і не підписав декларацію щодо важливості втілення в життя кліматичної угоди – зобов’язань, взятих у Парижі в 2015 році. У своєму Twitter 27 травня Трамп заявив, що він зробить остаточне рішення щодо Паризької угоди наступного тижня.

На зустрічі НАТО 25 травня Трамп критикував 23 членів альянсу – в тому числі Німеччину – які не витрачають 2 відсотки від валового внутрішнього продукту на оборону.

Kenyans Forced Off Tea Highlands by British Colonialists Seek Justice

In a roadside cafe in Kenya’s majestic highlands, Elly Sigilai cradled a steaming mug of tea and recalled how 17 relatives died after British colonialists ousted them in 1934 to plant tea on their family land.

The 79-year-old is one of hundreds of elderly Kenyans seeking to sue the British government for alleged displacement and torture by its colonial predecessor, in a case that could encourage other former colonies to press similar claims.

“Those on this list died from malaria and sleeping sickness,” said Sigilai, a neatly folded piece of paper in his hand naming the dead in his family, including two brothers and a sister. “They were sent to a valley infested by tsetse flies to die.”

Survivors and their descendants hope to win “significant” compensation from Britain’s High Court and the return of swaths of land, largely owned by international tea companies, said George Tarus, a legal adviser to the government of Nandi County in Kenya’s North Rift region, which is financing the case.

“We became beggars in our own land,” Sigilai said, removing a faded baseball cap and putting it on the table by his tea.

“We love it,” he said of the commodity which is grown in and around Kericho, 260 kms (162 miles) northwest of Kenya’s capital. “But it has brought a lot of misery to my community.”

Around 200 people have already come forward with evidence to support the case, Tarus said.

“All land within Nandi belongs to the county and we want it all to be given back to us,” he said.

Kenya’s 47 counties manage leaseholds on their land.

A British foreign office spokeswoman declined to comment on the legal proceedings.

The case could be politically important for millions of voters ahead of Kenya’s elections in August, with some politicians already starting to stoke tensions over land.

More than 1,200 Kenyans were killed following a disputed 2007 poll, largely in the Rift Valley where resentment over the loss of land during the colonial era still festers.

Much of the land vacated when the British left Kenya in 1963 after 43 years was sold to the political elite who could afford to buy it, rather than returned to its original owners.

Atrocities

Kenya was one of Britain’s most important colonies with hundreds of settlers moving into the best agricultural land to grow tea, coffee and tobacco, forcing Africans into reserves and employing them as cooks, guards and gardeners.

The British displaced hundreds of Nandi and Kipsigis families — sub-tribes of Kenya’s third-largest ethnic group, the Kalenjin — from the Rift Valley highlands for tea plantations.

“They have to pay for what they did to us,” said Moses Mosonet, 83, a Nandi, his eyes coated with a milky veneer.

“They can take their tea and leave us with our land,” he said, seated outside his home, which overlooks lush, hilly tea estates in Nandi, some 70 km north of Kericho, not far from the African reserve where his parents were taken eight decades ago.

Kenya is the world’s largest exporter of black tea, an industry which employs more than 3.5 million Kenyans, directly and indirectly, the national trade union says.

London-based Finlays, one of the tea companies whose land is being targeted, declined to comment.

Dozens of villages were decimated, the potential plaintiffs say, and those who opposed the displacement tortured and exiled.

“Serious atrocities were committed,” said Philemon Koech of Lilan and Koech Associates, which won a tender from Nandi County government in March to pursue a civil case for reparations. “If such things like the torture of the people and their subsequent displacement were to happen in present day, we would be dealing with the International Criminal Court [ICC].”

More than 5,200 other elderly Kenyans won almost 14 million pounds ($18 million) in compensation from Britain in a 2013 out-of-court settlement for abuse by colonial forces during the 1950s Mau Mau insurgency.

Evidence

Gathering evidence will not be easy, particularly as the annexation of African land was legal under British colonial law, said Gitobu Imanyara, a Kenyan human rights lawyer.

“There can hardly be anyone alive to corroborate some of the claims,” he said.

Once the evidence is collected, British lawyer Karim Khan, who specializes in international criminal law and international human rights law, has agreed to assess its worth.

“I will advise on the merits or otherwise of a case under English law,” he told Reuters by phone. “I can’t possibly say that there will definitely be a case in the High Court until I have advised on the evidence.”

Khan is well-known in Kenya for successfully defending deputy president William Ruto against charges of crimes against humanity in the ICC from 2013 to 2016.

While the undulating manicured tea bushes, extending as far as the eye can see, evoke painful memories for the elderly, the younger generation are more skeptical about the case.

“If they tell the multinationals to leave who will employ us?” asked Justus Ngetich, 30, a taxi driver in Bomet, some 70 km south of Kericho. “It is all about power and politics, not about the well-being of the people. We shall just sit here and watch the tea estates change hands from the whites to blacks.”

Азербайджанський журналіст заявляє, що його викрали в Грузії і силою повернули в Баку

Азербайджанський журналіст заявляє, що його силою повернули з Грузії до Азербайджану, де його, за словами адвоката, звинувачують у незаконному перетині державного кордону і контрабанді грошей.

Адвокат Ельчин Садигов повідомив Радіо Свобода, що він зустрівся зі своїм підзахисним Афганом Мухтарлі у штаб-квартирі Державної прикордонної служби Азербайджану в Баку 30 травня, через день після того, як журналіст заявив про викрадення його невідомими особами в Тбілісі.

«Афган сказав мені, що невідомі люди змусили його сісти в автомобіль Opel у Тбілісі поруч з тим місцем, де він живе, і що ці люди, на його думку, були представниками грузинських спецслужб», – сказав Садигов. – Афган сказав мені, що в автомобілі його побили, зав’язали йому очі. Через дві години автомобіль змінили, потім змінили його знову. Афган каже, що в третьому автомобілі люди говорили азербайджанською мовою».

«Коли третя машина зупинилася, вони зняли з його очей пов’язку і поклали в кишеню 10 тисяч євро, які він ніколи не бачив раніше. Він побачив, що місцем, куди вони прибули, був пункт пропуску на кордоні Грузії й Азербайджану. Афган сказав мені, що після перетину кордону він був доставлений в Баку», – додав адвокат.

Міністерство внутрішніх справ Грузії заявило, що почало розслідування ймовірного «незаконного ув’язнення» Мухтарлі.

Мухтарлі залишив Азербайджан три роки тому. У Тбілісі він проводив протести перед будівлею посольства Азербайджану і нещодавно написав про переслідування азербайджанських активістів у Грузії.

 

США почали постачати зброю сирійським курдам

Сполучені Штати Америки почали постачати зброю курдським бійцям у Сирії, що воюють проти екстремістського угруповання «Ісламська держава».

«Ми приступили до передачі стрілецької зброї і транспортних засобів для курдських елементів сирійських демократичних сил», – заявив речник Пентагону Адріан Ранкіне-Ґалловей.

Реакції Туреччини, яка раніше критикувала наміри США надавати озброєння курдам, на реалізацію рішення поки що не було.

Член НАТО Туреччина раніше заявляла, що рішення США про озброєння курдських бійців, які воюють проти екстремістського угруповання «Ісламська держава» в Сирії, є «неприйнятним», застерігаючи, що така політика «невигідна нікому».

10 травня віце-прем’єр-міністр Туреччини Нуреттін Джаніклі висловив сподівання, що США припинять політику підтримки «Загонів народної самооборони» (YPG). Анкара називає YPG «терористичною організацією», бо вважає їх союзниками збройного угруповання курдських сепаратистів у самій Туреччині, «Робітничої партії Курдистану» – воно визнане терористичним і в Туреччині, і у США і ще низці країн і міждержавних об’єднань.

США заявляють, що озброєння курдів необхідне для відновлення контролю над Ар-Раккою на півночі Сирії, що стала «столицею» для бойовиків «Іламської держави».

 

Indie Bookstores Hold Steady in Tough US Retail Market

With retail stores shutting down at the fastest pace since the crash of 2008, the head of the American Booksellers Association is grateful to see business holding steady.

 

After seven straight years of growth, core membership in the independent sellers’ trade group has dropped slightly since May 2016, from 1,775 to 1,757. At the same time, the number of actual locations rose from 2,311 to 2,321, reflecting a trend of owners opening additional stores.

The association’s CEO, Oren Teicher, says sales from reporting outlets are up around 2 1/2 percent in the first four months of 2017 over the same time period last year. Sales increased 5 percent from 2015 to 2016.

 

“We’re pleased that the sales and presence of independent stores continues to grow at a time when thousands of other stores are closing,” he told The Associated Press during a recent interview.

 

Teicher said he was also encouraged by a bump in “provisional members,” those intending to open a store, from 103 to 141. During the association’s prolonged decline, when the rise of superstores and e-books helped cut membership from around 5,000 in the 1980s to just 1,401 in 2008, the market looked so dire that some profitable stores closed because the owner wanted to retire and no buyer could be found. In recent years, independent stores have been helped by a variety of factors, from the fall of Borders and the struggles of Barnes & Noble to the leveling off of e-book sales.

 

Concerns do remain for independent sellers as they prepare to join thousands of publishers, authors, agents and librarians at the industry’s annual national convention, BookExpo, which begins Wednesday at New York’s Jacob Javits Center.

Closed stores of any kind can reduce foot traffic in a shopping district and hurt booksellers among others. And one company expanding on the ground is the online giant Amazon.com, which has been cited as a factor in closings for everyone from J.C. Penney to American Apparel.

 

Amazon just opened its first bookstore in Manhattan and seventh overall. One outlet is within 1 1/2 miles of Third Place Books in Amazon’s hometown Seattle, where Third Place managing partner Robert Sindelar says sales initially dropped after the Amazon store opened in November 2015, but had bounced back by the end of last year.

 

“So it feels that their larger impact on us was short-lived,” said Sindelar, the booksellers association’s new president. “However, any bookstore — Amazon, indie or chain store — that close is going to impact our sales to some degree.”

 

BookExpo runs Wednesday to Friday and will be immediately followed by the fan-based BookCon, which ends Sunday. Profits have long been narrow or nonexistent in publishing and BookExpo/BookCon is one way to limit costs.

For much of its century-plus history, the convention rotated locations, including Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C., in the spirit of fairness and of spotlighting different parts of the country. But since 2008, New York publishers have preferred staying home. The 2016 show in Chicago, once a favorite setting for BookExpo, was notable for a drop in attendance and floor space and a lack of high-profile guests.

 

This year, the names have returned, although floor space continues to decline and side programs have been cut back. Hillary Clinton will speak at an hour-long event billed as “An Evening With Hillary Clinton” and is expected to promote a book of essays coming this September that will touch upon her loss to Donald Trump in 2016. Daughter Chelsea Clinton will be autographing her picture book “She Persisted” and Stephen King will make a joint appearance with son Owen King. Other featured speakers include Dan Brown, Kevin Hart and Sen. Al Franken, promoting his memoir “Al Franken, Giant of the Senate.”

 

Events director Brien McDonald says that the convention will address issues within and beyond book publishing. A First Amendment “resistance” panel organized by PEN America, the literary and human rights organization, will include Scott Turow and Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors. A discussion sponsored by the grassroots organization We Need Diverse Books is called “Real Talk About Real Apologies.”

The panel’s moderator, Laura M. Jimenez, noted that Rick Riordan apologized for inappropriately using the term “spirit animal,” a sacred creature for some American Indians, in his novel “The Sword of Summer.” Little, Brown and Co., publisher of Lemony Snicket’s (aka Daniel Handler’s) picture book “The Bad Mood and the Stick,” promised to remove images of blacks by illustrator Matt Forsythe that were criticized as racist.

 

Jimenez said she wanted the panel to emphasize how “the overwhelming whiteness of publishing makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible for them to see the problematic representations.”

 

“It seems the insular world of children’s literature publishing creates a space where white people are unaware of their own privilege and, historically, have been unwilling to hear us,” said Jimenez, a lecturer at Boston University’s School of Education. “That is changing with Twitter and other social media outlets and blogs. … I think an all-out drive for diversity in publishing is needed.”

Moreno: Assange is a ‘Hacker’ But Will Continue to Receive Haven

Ecuador’s new President Lenin Moreno described WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a “hacker” but said he would continue to receive asylum in the South American country’s embassy in London.

“Mr. Assange is a hacker. That’s something we reject, and I personally reject,” Moreno told journalists on Monday. “But I respect the situation he is in, which calls for respect of his human rights, but we also ask that he respects the situation he is in.”

Moreno’s tone is a sharp break from that of his predecessor Rafael Correa, who had said Assange was a “journalist and granted him asylum in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape allegations. And Moreno’s right-wing opponent in the election had promised to kick Assange out of the embassy if he won.

Since taking power, Moreno has also warned Assange “not to intervene in the politics” of Ecuador or its allies.

Assange, who denies the allegations, feared Sweden would hand him over to the United States to face prosecution over WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents in one of the largest information leaks in U.S. history.

Even though Sweden dropped the charges earlier this month, authorities in London have warned Assange that he would be arrested if he left the embassy that his been his home for five years.

 

Путін у Парижі назвав королеву Франції Анну Ярославну «русской»

Президент Росії Володимир Путін назвав королеву Франції Анну, дочку князя Київського Ярослава Мудрого, «русской». Він сказав про це після зустрічі з президентом Франції Емманюелем Макроном у Версалі під Парижем, де Путін і Макрон відкрили виставку до 300-річчя візиту російського царя Петра І до Франції.

«Але не з поїздки царя Петра до Франції почалася історія російсько-французьких відносин, вона має набагато глибше коріння. Освічена французька публіка знає про «русскую» (цитується за текстом прес-служби Кремля – ред.) Анну, королеву Франції; молодша дочка нашого великого князя Ярослава Мудрого була дружиною Генріха I і внесла істотний внесок в розвиток Франції, будучи однією із засновниць як мінімум двох європейських династій – Бурбонів і Валуа, – одна з яких досі править в Іспанії», – сказав Путін.

1051 року Анна Ярославна, відома у світі як Анна Київська, дочка київського князя Ярослава Мудрого та шведської принцеси Інгігерди, вийшла заміж за Генріха I, короля Франції, і стала королевою.

Це сталося майже за сто років до заснування селища Москви близько 1147 року, коли Москва вперше згадана в письмових джерелах. Лише через кілька століть по тому це місто об’єднало навколо себе землі, які ще пізніше склали державу, що взяла собі назву занепалої доти Київської Русі – «Русское» царство чи потім у візантійському звучанні «Россія», «Россійська імперія».

Перейняття назви давньоукраїнської держави є для сучасної Росії приводом для спекуляцій із заявами про ведення своєї історії від давньої Київської держави і тверджень про «російський» (рос. «русский») характер Київської Русі і її діячів.

В «Яндексі» відкинули звинувачення СБУ щодо передачі даних Росії

Компанія «Яндекс» відкидає звинувачення Служби безпеки України щодо того, що менеджмент компанії незаконно збирав і передавав до Росії персональні дані українських громадян.

«Ні у співробітників «Яндекс.Україна», ні у керівництва українського підрозділу не було доступу до персональних даних користувачів «Яндекса». Захист персональних даних наших користувачів у всіх країнах, де ми надаємо послуги, є найвищим пріоритетом. Зокрема для забезпечення цього, дані про користувачів знеособлені і анонімні», – йдеться в заяві прес-службі компанії.

«Існують суворі законні процедури, за якими правоохоронні органи можуть звернутися в компанію з вимогою розкрити ті чи інші дані – але на це має бути відповідне рішення суду, і сама компанія повинна визнати його обґрунтованим. Ніякої передачі даних, в якій звинувачують Яндекс, не було», – додали в «Яндексі».

У компанії заявили, що ведуть консультації з юристами щодо ситуації.

У Службі безпеки України 29 травня заявили, що сьогоднішні обшуки у «Яндексі» провели у зв’язку з тим, що менеджмент компанії незаконно збирав і передавав до Росії персональні дані українських громадян.

Раніше сьогодні у Службі безпеки України повідомили про проведення обшуків в офісах дочірньої структури російської компанії «Яндекс» у Києві й Одесі. У відомстві повідомили, що слідчі дії відбуваються у рамках кримінального провадження, відкритого за статтею 111 Кримінального кодексу України (Державна зрада).

15 травня президент України Петро Порошенко указом ввів у дію рішення Ради національної безпеки і оборони України, що передбачає застосування нових санкцій проти російських фізичних і юридичних осіб. У списку 468 юридичних осіб – зокрема сервіси «Яндекс», соцмережі «ВКонтакте», «Однокласники». Згідно з указом, інтернет-провайдери зобов’язані заблокувати доступ до цих інтернет-ресурсів. Тоді також у Раді національної безпеки і оборони України заявили, що через російські соцмережі «ВКонтакте» і «Одноклассники» ведеться інформаційна агресія проти України.

Прокуратура оскаржує відмову суду розглядати справу екс-заступника голови МОЗ

Прокуратура Києва заявляє, що оскаржує рішення Печерського райсуду, який повернув прокуророві обвинувальний акт стосовно колишнього заступника міністра охорони здоров’я України.

У прокуратурі рішення суду, ухвалене раніше цього місяця, назвали незаконним і необґрунтованим.

«Екс-високопосадовець МОЗ спільно з завідувачем відділення Олександрівської лікарні створили систему поборів з практикуючих лікарів за надання їм можливості здійснювати свої функціональні обов’язки, зокрема проводити операції у вказаній лікарні. За корупційною схемою, ряд лікарів центру були зобов’язані передавати їм гроші, які отримували від пацієнтів», – заявили в прокуратурі.

Прізвища колишнього заступника міністра в прокуратурі не вказують. Проте в липні минулого року в ГПУ заявляли про затримання в цій справі заступника голови МОЗ Романа Василишина, якого згодом відсторонили від посади.

Як повідомила у Facebook член правління Центру протидії корупції Олександра Устінова Печерський районний суд Києва 19 травня повернув прокуратурі обвинувальний акт щодо Василишина через порушення правил підслідності досудового розслідування.

Border Closure Hurts Afghan-Pakistan Produce Trade

Cross-border fighting between Afghanistan and Pakistan has suspended trade worth millions of dollars and stranded hundreds of trucks loaded with fruits and vegetables at the border, where the produce stands to spoil in the rising heat.

Pakistan had temporarily closed the Chaman border crossing, across from Afghanistan’s Spinboldak, after a frontier skirmish earlier this month between Afghan and Pakistani border guards left more than 10 people dead. Global economic institutions say South Asia is one of the world’s least economically connected regions, and the periodic closures of border crossings complicate things further.

Summer is peak time for fruit and vegetable production in the two countries. Under normal circumstances around this time of the year, a significant portion of Afghanistan’s grapes and pomegranates is ferried overland to Pakistan.

Pakistan’s mangoes and vegetables go the opposite direction, along with bilateral trade in many other commodities — some legal and some otherwise.

Part of the Afghan fruit produce is sold in Chaman and nearby villages; the remainder finds its way to markets across Pakistan.

It’s a long-established system that relies heavily on trust: Pakistani fruit traders send advance payments to their Afghan counterparts, who then send the fruit after it’s harvested. But so far this year, the Chaman businessmen say they have not cut the usual deals because the border closure have created the risk of coming up empty-handed.

Amant Khan, a fruit trader in Chaman, said he suffered losses last year as tensions rose between the two countries.

“This season we did not give the grape or melon dealers anything,” he said. “In fact, we decided not to do business with Afghanistan.”

For traders in Waish Mandi, a thriving Afghan market town across from Chaman, these are hard financial times, too. Hundreds of people, who used to benefit from border trade, have lost work. Unable to move their merchandise across the border, goods worth millions of dollars are stranded in truck containers.

Apart from the fruit trade, bilateral trade between Afghanistan and Pakistanonce worth $3 billion a year has dropped to $1.2 billion, said Khan Jan Alkozai, president of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Pakistan’s own fruit exports to Central Asia via Afghanistan, which usually average 2 million pounds, also suffer because of border closures, Alkozai said.

Daro Khan, former vice president for the Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Chamber of Commerce, said Pakistani farmers and businessman have not recovered from losses due to border closures last year.

Paris Mayor Says ‘Solution’ Found for Black Feminist Event

The mayor of Paris said Monday that a “clear solution” has been found with organizers of a festival for black feminists, an event that had aroused her ire because four-fifths of the festival space was to be open exclusively to black women.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo had strongly criticized and threatened to cancel the upcoming Nyansapo Festival a day earlier because it was “forbidden to white people.”

 

In a new series of tweets on the topic, Hidalgo said her “firm” discussion with organizers had yielded a satisfactory clarification: the parts of the festival held on property would be open to everyone and “non-mixed workshops will be held elsewhere, in a strictly private setting.”

Three-day event

 

MWASI, the Afro-feminist collective sponsoring the three-day event, responded to the mayor’s latest comments by saying it hadn’t changed the festival program “an inch.”

 

“That’s what was planned from the beginning,” the collective said of how the public and private spaces would be assigned.

Anti-racism associations and far-right politicians in France both had criticized the event over the weekend for scheduling workshops limited to a single gender and race.

 

France defines itself as a country united under one common national identity, with laws against racial discrimination and to promote secularism to safeguard an ideal that began with the French Revolution.

Paris mayor steps in

On Sunday, Hidalgo had said she would call on authorities to prohibit the cultural festival and might call for the prosecution of its organizers on grounds of discrimination.

“I firmly condemn the organization of this event in Paris (that’s) ’forbidden to white people,’” Hidalgo had written.  

 

Telephone calls to MWASI were not immediately returned Monday.

 

The group describes itself on its website as “an Afro-feminist collective that is part of the revolutionary liberation struggles” and is open to black and mixed-race women.

The program for the first annual Nyansapo Festival, which is set to run July 28-30 partly at a Paris cultural center, stated that 80 percent of the event space only would be accessible to black women.

Rights group condemns festival

Other sessions were designed to be open to black men and women from minority groups that experience racial discrimination, and one space was scheduled to be open to everyone regardless of race or gender.

 

Organizers said on the event’s website that “for this first edition we have chosen to put the accent on how our resistance as an Afro-feminist movement is organized.”

Prominent French rights organization SOS Racism was among civil rights groups condemning the festival, calling it “a mistake, even an abomination, because it wallows in ethnic separation, whereas anti-racism is a movement which seeks to go beyond race.”

 

The International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA), meanwhile, called the festival a “regression” and said American civil rights icon “Rosa Parks must be turning in her grave.”

 

 

‘Burkini party’

 

Identity politics remain a recurrent hot potato in a nation where collecting data based on religious and ethnic backgrounds is banned and the wearing of religious symbols — such as face-covering veils — in public is prohibited.

This approach, known to the French as “anti-communitarianism,” aims to celebrate all French citizens regardless of their community affiliations.

Last week, several women attempting to stage a “burkini party” were detained in Cannes after a ban against the full-body beachwear favored by some Muslim women was upheld in a fresh decree.

Tiger Woods Arrested on Drunk Driving Charge

Tiger Woods, once the top golfer in the world, has been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in Florida.

Police say Woods was arrested early Monday morning in the city of Jupiter and was released on his own recognizance several hours later.

The greatest player of his generation and one of the best of all time, Woods, 41, has not won a major tournament since 2008. He was the world’s number-one ranked golfer for nearly 700 weeks but is now ranked at number 876.

Woods had been plagued in recent years by multiple back surgeries which have forced him to withdraw from recent tournaments.

Woods has won 14 major golf championships and had been pursuing the record of 18 held by retired U.S. golfer Jack Nicklaus.

Manchester Bomber’s Mosque Comes Under Scrutiny

The mosque where the Manchester bomber prayed is coming under the spotlight after it emerged at least two other British recruits of the Islamic State also worshipped there.

One of the recruits, Khalil Raoufi, died fighting in Syria in 2014. The other, Ahmed Ibrahim Halane, is living in Denmark, where he holds citizenship and is banned from re-entering Britain.

Halane’s sisters, Zahra and Salma Halane, who traveled to Syria to become “jihadi brides,” are believed also to have worshipped at the mosque, say local Muslims.

Last week, trustees of the Didsbury Mosque and Islamic Center issued a statement condemning as an act of cowardice the Manchester Arena bombing by 22-year old British-Libyan Salman Abedi. The bombing left 22 people dead and 100 injured.

The trustees detailed clashes Abedi had with imam Mohammed Saeed over sermons he delivered denouncing IS in 2015. Saeed said Abedi looked at him “with hate” after he gave a sermon criticizing IS and militant Libyan group Ansar al-Sharia. Saeed said most of the mosque’s members supported the condemnation of IS, although a few signed a petition criticizing him.

Saeed said he reported his worries about Abedi’s friends to the police. Manchester police say the mosque is not under investigation.

Inconsistent statements

Mosque elders have been inconsistent in their remarks about Salman Abedi and his attendance at the mosque. Saeed acknowledged the suicide bomber was a regular worshipper until the 2015 argument over IS. But mosque chairman, Muhamad el-Khayat, said last week while other family members were regulars, Salman Abedi “himself we did not know, maybe we have seen him once.”

The bomber’s father Ramadan was a member of the anti-Gadhafi Libyan Islamic Fighting Group that had ties to Osama bin Laden but whose

leaders insist they never affiliated to al Qaida . Ramadan called worshippers to prayer at the Manchester mosque before he moved back to Libya after the ouster of Muammar Gadhafi. He is being held by a vigilante militia in Tripoli along with one of his sons, who the militia says has confessed to IS membership and was involved in a plan to assassinate U.N. envoy to Libya Martin Kobler.

Mosque elders have also appeared defensive. They have refused to allow the media into the mosque and tried to block a Muslim reporter from the BBC from entering to pray.

During Friday prayers, el-Khayat told worshippers the media interest in the mosque, which has been receiving threats and hate mail and is being guarded by police, had been overwhelming. He said the elders fear being misinterpreted.

“We strongly continue to condemn the horrendous crime that was committed,” he said. He praised Britain as a hospitable country for Muslims.

But his remarks aren’t silencing mounting criticism from Muslim activists opposed to militant Islamic ideologies. They say the mosque must bear some responsibility for Abedi’s radicalization because of the conservative Salafi brand of Islam it espouses.

Providing platform for hate

Maajid Nawaz, who helped found the London-based counter-extremist group, Quilliam, has accused the Didsbury mosque of hosting preachers who expressed anti-Semitic and anti-liberal views.

Speaking on London radio station LBC, Nawaz, a British-Pakistani, refused to praise the mosque for its condemnation of IS, saying “the biggest danger to our community at the moment is extremist preachers like this, using mosques that tolerate extremist preachers like this, that breed jihadist terrorists.”

“Until we can separate these extremists from our community and isolate them, don’t blame the rest of society for wondering whether every Muslim is an extremist, when our mosques are hosting the extremists themselves,” he added.

There has been fierce debate in Britain in recent years about the role mosques play, unwittingly or not, in the process of radicalization. In 2015, Conservative peer Baroness Warsi, a Muslim, claimed most radicalization is happening online and not at mosques.

But two British government reports have warned extremists take advantage of mosques and other institutions, including universities, to spread a “poisonous narrative.”

In a recent study of British IS recruits for the Henry Jackson Society, British research institute analyst Emma Webb warned some mosques have “functioned as spaces in which extremists could socialize with each other and form relationships” and where extremists can begin the process of recruitment.

She told VOA some family members of British IS recruits complain that by providing a platform, even for non-violent Salafi ideology, some mosques are playing a role in the radicalization process.

“It isn’t so much that they recruited them,” she argued, “but that they gave them an ideology that allowed them to think it was okay to kill Shi’ites and okay to hate certain people, so it made it easier for them to be recruited subsequently.”