King Tut Tomb Restored to Prevent Damage From Visitors

The tomb of Egypt’s famed boy pharaoh, King Tutankhamun, has undergone restoration to help minimize damage by tourists.

The work, done by the Getty Conservation Institute after years of research and officially presented Thursday, aims to minimize scratches, dust damage and microbiological growth from breath and humidity brought in by tourists.

The nearly intact tomb of King Tut, who ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago, was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings, located on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor.

For many, King Tut embodies ancient Egypt’s glory, because his tomb was packed with the glittering wealth of the 18th Dynasty, which ruled from 1569 to 1315 B.C.

 

Ghirardelli, Russel Stover Fined over Chocolate Packaging

Ghirardelli and Russell Stover have agreed to pay $750,000 in fines after prosecutors in California said they offered a little chocolate in a lot of wrapping.

Prosecutors in Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta, Fresno, Santa Cruz and Yolo counties sued the candy makers, alleging they misled consumers by selling chocolate products in containers that were oversized or “predominantly empty.”

Prosecutors also alleged that Ghirardelli offered one chocolate product containing less cocoa than advertised.

The firms didn’t acknowledge any wrongdoing but agreed to change their packaging under a settlement approved earlier this month. Some packages will shrink or will have a transparent window so consumers can look inside.

San Francisco-based Ghirardelli and Kansas City-based Russell Stover are owned by a Swiss company, Lindt & Sprungli.

Chicago Police Still Looking for Video of Attack on Actor

Detectives have recovered more surveillance footage of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett walking in downtown Chicago before and after he says he was attacked by two masked men, but they still haven’t found video of the attack, a police spokesman said Thursday.

 

Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said there are hundreds of surveillance cameras in the area, which is home to many high-end hotels and restaurants, and that the hope is that detectives will be able to piece them together to capture most if not all of Smollett’s trip from a Subway restaurant to his apartment at about 2 a.m. Tuesday, when Smollett said the attack occurred.

 

Guglielmi said piecing together the private and public surveillance video is tedious work that is made more difficult by the fact that the time stamps on various cameras may not be in sync, meaning detectives have to figure out the exact times of events.

 

“It’s like putting together a puzzle,” he said.

 

Guglielmi also said police have recovered video that shows the 36-year-old actor walking into his apartment, but that he hasn’t seen it and doesn’t know if Smollett appeared to be in any distress when he arrived home.

 

He said that Smollett and his manager told detectives they were talking on the phone at the time of the attack, but that Smollett declined to turn over his phone records to the detectives, who routinely ask for such information during criminal investigations.

 

Meanwhile, police are hoping to identify and talk to the two people who were walking in the area at the time of the attack and whose images police released to the public late Wednesday. Guglielmi stressed that the people are not considered suspects and that police want to question them because they were in the vicinity and might have information that could be useful to the investigation.

 

Smollett, who is black and gay and plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox television show, said the men beat him, subjected him to racist and homophobic insults, threw an “unknown chemical substance” on him and put a thin rope around his neck before fleeing. Smollett returned to his apartment afterward and his manager called police from there about 40 minutes later, Guglielmi said.

When officers arrived, the 36-year-old actor had cuts and scrapes on his face and the rope around his neck that he said had been put there by his assailant. According to Guglielmi, Smollett later went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital after police advised him to do so.

 

Reports of the attack drew a flood of outrage and support for Smollett on social media. Some of the outrage stemmed from Smollett’s account to detectives that his attackers yelled that he was in “MAGA country,” an apparent reference to the Trump campaign’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

 

The FBI is investigating a threatening letter targeting Smollett that was sent last week to the Fox studio in Chicago where “Empire” is filmed, Guglielmi said. The FBI has declined to comment on the investigation.

 

Guglielmi said Wednesday that detectives, who are investigating the allegations as a possible hate crime, have looked at hundreds of hours of surveillance video from that section of the Streeterville neighborhood. But he said they still needed to collect and view more in the hopes of finding footage of the attack or of the men who match Smollett’s description of the suspects.

 

In addition to his acting career, Smollett has a music career and is a noted activist, particularly on LBGTQ issues. Smollett’s representative said his concert scheduled for Saturday in Los Angeles will go on as planned. Smollett has not spoken publicly about the attack, but his representative told The Associated Press on Wednesday night that the actor “is at home and recovering.”

 

Now in its fifth season, the hourlong drama “Empire” follows an African-American family as they navigate the ups and downs of the record industry. Smollett’s character is the middle son of Empire Entertainment founder Lucious Lyon and Cookie Lyon, played by Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, respectively.

 

Chicago has one of the nation’s most sophisticated and extensive video surveillance systems, including thousands of cameras on street poles, skyscrapers, buses and in train tunnels.

 

Police say the cameras have helped them make thousands of arrests. In one of the best-known examples of the department’s use of the cameras, investigators in 2009 were able to recreate a school board president’s 20-minute drive through the city, singling out his car on a succession of surveillance cameras to help them determine that he committed suicide and had not been followed and killed by someone else, as his friends speculated.

 

 

Trump Order Asks Federal Fund Recipients to Buy US Goods

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Thursday pushing those who receive federal funds to “buy American.” The aim is to boost U.S. manufacturing.

Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, told reporters during a telephone briefing the policies are helping workers who “are blue collar, Trump people.” Later he amended that, saying he “every American is a Trump person” because Trump’s economic policies affect everyone.

 

Navarro said the order would affect federal financial assistance, which includes everything from loans and grants to insurance and interest subsidies.

 

He says some 30 federal agencies award over $700 billion in such aid each year. Recipients working on projects like bridges and sewer systems will be encouraged to use American products.

 

 

Greece to Ratify Macedonia’s NATO Accession in ‘Coming Days’

Greece will bring Macedonia’s NATO accession agreement to parliament for ratification “in the coming days,” the government spokesman said Thursday, which will bring into effect the change of the country’s name to North Macedonia.

Once parliament ratifies the NATO protocol, Greece’s Foreign Ministry will inform Macedonia’s Foreign Ministry of the result, a move which will automatically bring into effect the name change, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said. He didn’t give a specific date.

 

The name change deal, dubbed the Prespa Agreement after the border lake where it was signed last year, ends a 27-year dispute between the two neighbors that had kept the former Yugoslav republic out of NATO and the European Union. Greece argued that the use of the name “Macedonia” implied territorial claims on its own northern province of the same name and usurped Greek history and culture, and had blocked its neighbor’s efforts to join NATO over the issue.

 

Tzanakopoulos said the nearly three-decade dispute had given rise to “the monster of lies, nationalism and extreme historic revisionism” in Greece. Greek lawmakers’ Jan. 25 ratification of the deal was “a historic milestone for peace, cooperation and stability in the Balkans,” he said during a media briefing, adding that the agreement restores Greece’s “leading role in the Balkans.”

 

The agreement’s ratification “symbolizes the victory of political courage and respect of the country’s history, over opportunism, nationalism, the taking advantage of patriotism and the commerce of hate,” he added.

 

The deal has been met with vociferous opposition by many in both countries, with critics accusing their respective governments of making too many concessions to the other side.

 

Once the deal comes into effect, Macedonia will have a five-year period to implement many of the practical changes it must make, including changing vehicle license plates and issuing new passports.

 

 

Report: Germany, France, Britain to Create Way to Trade with Iran

Germany, France and Britain have officially set up a European mechanism to facilitate non-dollar trade with Iran and circumvent U.S. sanctions, two diplomats said Thursday.

The EU has been preparing the system, in effect a clearinghouse that avoids monetary transfers in dollars between the EU and Iran for months although it is unlikely to become operational for several months because of technical details.

German broadcaster NDR reported that the European Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) would be named INSTEX-Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges.

The idea is for the SPV to help preserve the economic nuclear program under a 2015 deal with world powers.

Small transactions

Europe has been keen to show good faith toward Iran since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal last year. 

The entity is not likely to revive trade with Iran because its focus will primarily be food, medicine and humanitarian, with small transactions. It will not be used for oil-related transactions that have been hit hard by U.S. sanctions.

“It won’t change things dramatically, but it’s an important political message to Iran to show that we are determined to save the JCPOA,and also the United States to show we defend our interests despite their extraterritorial sanctions,” one European diplomat said.

Worsening relations

However, relations between Tehran and the EU have worsened, and the EU this month imposed its first sanctions on Iran since the 2015 deal in reaction to Iran’s ballistic missile tests and assassination plots on European soil.

In a symbolic move, the EU added two Iranian individuals and an Iranian intelligence unit to the bloc’s terrorist list.

EU member states are also finalizing a joint statement on Iran to outline concerns about Tehran’s regional policies and ballistic missile program, but also to show their desire to maintain the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

France and Germany had taken joint responsibility for the SPV. A German banker would head up the vehicle, which would be based in France. France, Britain and Germany will be shareholders and they hope other states will join.

US, Russia Nuclear Treaty Talks Fail

Russia and the United States failed to bridge their differences over a landmark Cold War-era arms treaty at last-ditch talks in Beijing, Russia’s deputy foreign minister was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies Thursday.

The impasse sets the stage for the United States to begin pulling out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) as early as Saturday unless Moscow moves to destroy a missile Washington says is violating the accord.

Moscow has refused to destroy the Novator 9M729 missile, insisting it is fully compliant with the treaty.

“Unfortunately, there is no progress,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency. 

“As far as we understand, the next step is coming, the next phase begins, namely the phase of the United States stopping its obligations under the INF, which will evidently happen this coming weekend,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.

Ryabkov met U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson in Beijing on the sidelines of a meeting of the P5 nuclear powers.

Thompson confirmed to Reuters that the U.S. government will likely announce the suspension of its obligations under the INF with Russia soon.

“The Russians still aren’t in acknowledgment that they are in violation of the treaty,” she said in an interview.

Thompson added, however, that “diplomacy is never done” and she anticipated more discussions.

Doga — Doing Yoga With Your Dog

Some people take their pet dogs everywhere they can. One place where they are always welcome is at doga — yoga classes for dogs and humans. While the pet parents get into their yoga poses, like downward-facing dog, their pups get petted and held. VOA’s Deborah Block takes us to a doga class in Alexandria, Virginia, where people and pups are having a good time.

Venezuela Detains Colombian, Spanish, French Journalists

Venezuelan authorities detained three foreign journalists and a driver working for the Spanish news agency EFE on Wednesday, the company said, in the latest arrests of reporters covering U.S.-backed efforts to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

Colombian photographer Leonardo Muñoz was arrested with his Venezuelan driver Jose Salas while reporting on protests against the government.

Hours later intelligence officers detained Spanish reporter Gonzalo Domínguez Loeda and Colombian TV producer Mauren Barriga Vargas at their hotel, EFE’s bureau chief in Caracas, Nelida Fernandez said.

The entire team had travelled from Bogota earlier in the month.

The arrests follow the deportation of two Chilean reporters detained this week. A French diplomatic source said on Wednesday that two French reporters covering the turmoil had been arrested and that the French Embassy was seeking their release.

“Our Embassy has requested consular protection in accordance with the Vienna Convention and in particular the right of access,” the source said.

The French reporters were working for daily television program Quotidien, part of the TF1 television network. TF1 declined to comment.

Accused of election fraud, and overseeing a deep economic collapse that has led millions of Venezuelans to migrate, Maduro is facing the biggest challenge to his rule since replacing Hugo Chavez six years ago.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido has won the backing of the most countries in the Western Hemisphere since declaring himself interim president last week and calling for fresh elections.

Maduro says the strategy to topple him is a coup, led by hawks in the Trump administration such as Special Envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams, a veteran diplomat involved in the armed interventions in Central America in the 1980s.

France said on Wednesday that Maduro appeared not to be heeding calls for new presidential elections and that European foreign ministers would discuss next steps at a meeting in Bucharest on Thursday.

Need for Speed: Carts on Rails Help Manila’s Commuters Dodge Gridlock

Thousands of commuters flock to Manila’s railway tracks every day, but rather than boarding the trains, they climb on to wooden carts pushed along the tracks, to avoid the Philippine capital’s infamous traffic gridlock.

The trolleys, as the carts are known, most of them fitted with colorful umbrellas for shade from the sun, can seat up to 10 people each, who pay as little as 20 U.S. cents per ride, cheaper than most train rides.

“I do this because it gives us money that’s easy to earn,” said Reynaldo Diaz, 40, who is one of more than 100 operators, also known as “trolley boys,” who push the carts along the 28-km (17-mile) track, most wearing flimsy flip-flops on their feet.

“It’s better than stealing from others,” said Diaz, adding that he earned around $10 a day, just enough for his family to get by. A trolley boy since he was 17, he lives in a makeshift shelter beside the track with his two sons.

Diaz said the trolley boys were just “borrowing” the track from the Philippine National Railways, but the state-owned train company has moved to halt the trolley service after the media drew attention to its dangers recently.

The risk arises because those pushing and riding the trolleys have to watch out for the trains to avoid collisions.

“Of course we get scared of the trains,” said Jun Albeza, 32, who has been a trolley boy for four years after he was laid off from plumbing and construction jobs.

“That’s why, whenever we’re pushing these trolleys, we always look back, so we can see if there’s a train coming. Those in front of us will give us a heads-up too.”

When a train approaches, the trolley boys quickly grab the lightweight carts off the track and jump out of the way along with their riders.

Still, there have been no fatal accidents since the makeshift service started decades ago, some of the trolley boys told Reuters.

A Manila police officer confirmed that records showed no casualties related to the trolley boys.

“It is really dangerous and should not be allowed, But we understand that it’s their livelihood,” said the officer, Bryan Silvan. “They’re like mushrooms that just popped up along the tracks and they even have their own association.”

When the Philippine National Railways began operation in the 1960s, its network of more than 100 stations extended to provinces outside Manila.

But neglect and natural disasters have since caused it to cut back operations by two-thirds, even as the capital’s population has ballooned to about 13 million.

For office workers and students, the minutes shaved off daily commutes justify the risks of trolley rides.

“The distance to our workplaces is actually shorter through this route,” said one office worker, Charlette Magtrayo.

Lawmakers Attempt to Rein in President’s Tariff Power

U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday introduced legislation to limit the president’s power to levy import tariffs for national security reasons. The bills face an uncertain future but underscore bipartisan concerns on Capitol Hill over the rising costs of the Trump administration’s trade policies.

The United States in 2018 slapped duties on aluminum and steel from other countries, drawing criticism from lawmakers who support free trade and complaints of rising supply chain costs across business sectors.

Two bipartisan groups of lawmakers Wednesday introduced legislation known as the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The bills would require Trump to have congressional approval before taking trade actions like tariffs and quotas under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. The law currently allows the president to impose such tariffs without approval from Capitol Hill.

“The imposition of these taxes, under the false pretense of national security (Section 232), is weakening our economy, threatening American jobs, and eroding our credibility with other nations,” said Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, co-sponsor of the Senate bill.

Toomey led a similar push last year that did not go to a vote.

It is unclear that Congress would consider taking up such legislation now. Still, the bills underscore mounting pressure from lawmakers to address concerns over tariffs, especially those on Canada and Mexico as lawmakers prepare to vote on a new North American trade deal agreed to late last year.

​Republican Chuck Grassley from Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, earlier pressed the Trump administration to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico before Congress begins considering legislation to implement the new pact.

Numerous business and agricultural groups have come out in support of the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, but have said its benefits will be limited so long as the U.S. tariffs and retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico remain in place.

Companies are able to request exemptions from the steel and aluminum tariffs, but the process has been plagued by delays and uncertainty.

“Virginia consumers and industries like craft beer and agriculture are hurting because of the president’s steel and aluminum tariffs,” said Democratic Senator Mark Warner, co-sponsor of the Senate legislation. “This bill would roll them back.”

Republicans Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin and Darin LaHood of Illinois and Democrats Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Jimmy Panetta of California introduced the House legislation.

Trump Organization to Use E-Verify for Worker Status Checks

The Trump Organization, responding to claims that some of its workers were in the U.S. illegally, said on Wednesday that it will use the E-Verify electronic system at all of its properties to check employees’ documentation.

A lawyer for a dozen immigrant workers at the Trump National Golf Club in New York’s Westchester County said recently that they were fired on Jan. 18. He said many had worked there for a dozen or more years. Workers at another Trump club in Bedminster, New Jersey, came forward last month to allege managers there had hired them knowing they were in the country illegally.

“We are actively engaged in uniforming this process across our properties and will institute E-verify at any property not currently utilizing this system,” Eric Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said in a statement provided to The Associated Press. “As a company we take this obligation very seriously and when faced with a situation in which an employee has presented false and fraudulent documentation, we will take appropriate action.”

“I must say, for me personally, this whole thing is truly heartbreaking,” he added. “Our employees are like family but when presented with fake documents, an employer has little choice.”

Launched in 1996, the E-Verify system allows employers to check documentation submitted by job applicants with records at the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to see whether they are authorized to work. 

During his presidential campaign, Republican Donald Trump called for all employers to use the federal government online E-Verify system. He told MSNBC in 2016 that he uses it at his properties, and that there should be a “huge financial penalty” for companies that hire workers who are in the country illegally.

Several of those workers from Trump’s properties paid visits to Congressional offices this week in hopes of raising support for their fight against possible deportation. One Democrat, New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, confirmed Wednesday that she had invited a maid who had cleaned President Trump’s rooms at Bedminster as her guest at his State of the Union speech.

The maid, Victorina Morales, was featured in a New York Times story last month titled “Making President Trump’s Bed: A Housekeeper Without Papers.” She has said that managers there knew she was living in the country illegally, helped her obtain false documentation and that she was physically abused by a supervisor.

Morales’ lawyer, Anibal Romero, said that Morales had accepted the invitation.

The Trump Organization has said it does not tolerate employing workers who are living in the U.S. without legal permission, and any problems with hiring is not unique to the company.

“It demonstrates that our immigration system is severely broken and needs to be fixed immediately,” Eric Trump said in his statement. “It is my greatest hope that our ‘lawmakers’ return to work and actually do their jobs.”

President Trump has repeatedly cast the millions of immigrants in the country illegally as a scourge on the health of the economy, taking jobs from American citizens. He has said they also bring drugs and crime over the border.

He turned over day-to-day management of his business to Eric and his other adult son, Donald Jr., when he took the oath of office two years ago. The Trump Organization owns or manages 17 golf clubs around the world.

Dior Gowns That Made Headlines Star in London Exhibition

From Princess Margaret’s 21st birthday gown to Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence’s red carpet dress, Christian Dior outfits that have made headlines go on show in a London exhibition dedicated to the French fashion house.

With a supporting cast of accessories, sketches and perfume bottles, “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” takes a close look at the history of the luxury brand he founded in 1946 and which remains the epitome of haute couture.

In all more than 500 items, the legacy of the late couturier and his six successors are on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum from Feb. 2.

“Not only did (Dior) …revolutionize fashion design… but he was also important in how he did business,” Oriole Cullen, Fashion and Textiles curator at the V&A, told Reuters.

“His business model was very much something which is still in use today. He wanted to look globally and at different markets.”

One of the earliest outfits on show is Dior’s signature Bar suit: a sculpted off-white jacket cinched at the waist and black pleated skirt. The 1947 design revolutionized womenswear and was dubbed Dior’s “New Look.”

Another highlight is the gold straw embroidered silk bodice and full-skirted gown Dior designed for Britain’s Princess Margaret’s in 1951. She wore the gown for her official 21st birthday portrait.

Dior’s love of Britain — where he staged several fashion shows — is also explored in the exhibition, which is based on a previous Paris House of Dior display.

“He was a self-confessed anglophile,” Cullen said. “For him it was an important market.”

Dior died in 1957, aged 52. A young Yves Saint Laurent took over and was followed by successive creative directors Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri, at the helm since 2016.

Their designs, worn by royals and celebrities, are mixed alongside the founder’s, each loyal to his legacy and fascinations. Dior was superstitious — his lucky star is on display — and Chiuri has paid homage to that in her creations.

“The lovely thing is to see how different these designers are but how they always reference back to the heart of Dior, different themes such as the garden, travels and historicism,” Cullen said.

Baseball Remembers Jackie Robinson on His 100th Birthday

Major League Baseball is kicking off a yearlong tribute to Jackie Robinson, who would have been 100 years old Thursday.

Robinson’s widow, Rachel, and their daughter Sharon, will be handed the symbolic key to the city in Brooklyn, New York, where Robinson spent his major league career.

They will also join baseball commissioner Rob Manfred to open an exhibit dedicated to Robinson at the Museum of the City of New York.

A new Jackie Robinson Museum will open in New York later this year, and on April 15, every major league team will observe Jackie Robinson Day.

All players will wear a number 42 on their uniforms for one day, the number Robinson wore during his career. Baseball has retired the number 42, meaning no major league player can choose it for his number.

Robinson was the first African-American to play in the major leagues, joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 as a second baseman.

He faced outright racism from fans, other teams, and other players, including some of his teammates.

The sometimes short-tempered Robinson held back his anger, refusing to give his racist critics the satisfaction of reacting with violence, even when he was physically assaulted.

He instead silenced his critics with his performance on the playing field, including superb fielding, aggressive base-running, a .311 lifetime batting average, 137 home runs, six all-star games, and helping lead the Dodgers to the World Series six times and one world championship in 1955.

Robinson retired from playing in 1956 and was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame six years later. He was 53 when he died of a heart attack in 1972.

«Моліться за мене» – Мадуро венесуельцям

Президент Венесуели Ніколас Мадуро попросив своїх прихильників молитися за нього на євангельській релігійній церемонії 30 січня. Мадуро молився на цьому заході в оточенні своєї дружини Сілії Флорес і свого віце-президента Делсі Родрігес. «Я прошу вас молитися за мене, я прошу вашого благословення, і я молюся за мир і майбутнє Венесуели», – сказав Мадуро. Останніми роками у Венесуелі триває гуманітарна криза. У 2018 році показник інфляції в країні перевищив позначку в мільйон відсотків. Від 2014 року в країні регулярно спалахують вуличні протести проти президента. У січні 2019 року Хуан Гуайдо на мітингу опозиції оголосив себе тимчасовим президентом країни і пообіцяв провести в країні нові вибори. (Відео Reuters)

Україна має право на власне майбутнє – голова МЗС Чехії

Міністр закордонних справ Чехії Томаш Петршичек заявив, що Україна повинна мати право сама вирішувати своє майбутнє, незалежно від бажань Росії.

 

«Україна є важливим партнером Європейського союзу та Чехії, і ми б хотіли, щоб вона мала право на те, щоб обрати своє власне майбутнє. Я переконаний, що питання «сфер впливу» є справою минулого, і ми б не хотіли, щоб воно поверталося до міжнародних стосунків», – сказав в ексклюзивному інтерв’ю Радіо Свобода міністр закордонних справ Чехії Томаш Петршичек після закінчення дводенного візиту до України.

 

Він наголосив, що для Чехії є важливим дотримання міжнародного права. «А якщо це не так, то ми б мали піднести свій голос та чітко назвати речі своїми іменами», – сказав міністр після своєї поїздки на Донбас, де він побував на лінії зіткнення та в Маріуполі. 

 

Міністр також пообіцяв на зустрічі представників влади наступного тижня поінформувати їх про те, що він «дізнався і побачив тут в Україні, в Маріуполі». За словами Томаша Петршичека, це буде важливий аргумент до дискусії щодо скасування санкцій щодо Росії, що розпочалася серед керівників Чехії ще у вересні минулого року.

 

«Немає поступу у виконанні Мінських угод, конфлікт заморожується, а ми не повинні допустити, щоб у Європі створився ще один заморожений конфлікт», – наголосив Томаш Петршичек.

 

У рамках свого візиту до України 28–29 січня міністр закордонних справ Чехії Томаш Петршичек побував у Києві та на Донбасі. Він провів зустрічі з українськими урядовцями, відвідав лінію зіткнення та Маріупольський порт. Керівники цього підприємства, а також очільники приазовського міста ознайомили його з втратами людськими та економічними, яких зазнав регіон унаслідок російської агресії, що триває з 2014 року.

 

Протести у Венесуелі: супротивники режиму Мадуро заполонили вулиці столиці – відео

Тисячі протестувальників у Венесуелі вийшли на вулиці Каракаса, щоб вимагати у діючого президента Венесуели Ніколаса Мадуро піти у відставку на користь самопроголошеного тимчасового президента Венесуели Хуана Гуайдо. Акції супротивників Ніколаса Мадуро проходять у декількох районах столиці Венесуели та в інших містах країни. Наразі Мадуро запропонував представникам опозиції сісти за стіл переговорів. (Відео Reuters)

As Britain Seeks to Alter Brexit Deal, EU Firm Against Changes

British and European Union negotiators expressed different views Wednesday on the state of Britain’s exit from the EU after British lawmakers gave Prime Minister Theresa May what she called a “mandate” to seek changes to the country’s withdrawal agreement.

A series of votes in the British parliament Tuesday resulted in May’s party getting approval for its plan to seek “alternative arrangements” to the Irish border provision of the current Brexit deal.

British Brexit minister Stephen Barclay told BBC radio in an interview Wednesday that those changes would be the subject of negotiations in the coming days.

But on the EU side, chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the bloc’s position “is very clear.”

“The only point I want to make is to confirm that the EU institutions remain united and we stand by the agreement we have negotiated with the [United Kingdom],” Barnier told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday.

He said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker would address the issue later in the day.

Britain’s House of Commons rejected May’s Brexit plans two weeks ago, primarily because of the Irish border provision, known as the backstop, which would be in place until Britain and the EU could negotiate a new post-Brexit trade deal.

The backstop would keep Britain in a customs union with the EU in order to keep a free flow of goods between Ireland — an EU member — and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK.

Backstop opponents who still support the idea of Brexit say it means Britain would still be subjected to EU rules, which is the reason they want Britain to leave the EU in the first place. 

Without an agreement in place, Britain faces a “no-deal” Brexit departure. 

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a congressional panel in Washington Tuesday such an outcome “would cause economic disruptions that could substantially weaken the [United Kingdom] and Europe.”

Business leaders are worried that a no-deal Brexit would lead to economic chaos.

British opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn said he believes the British government would have to delay its Brexit departure for three months to allow for more negotiations.

European Parliament Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said Wednesday it is not in anyone’s interest to prolong the process.