Former James Bond Actor Sean Connery Dies Aged 90 

Scottish movie legend Sean Connery, who shot to international stardom as the suave, sexy and sophisticated British agent James Bond and went on to grace the silver screen for four decades, has died aged 90. The BBC and Sky News reported his death on Saturday. “I was heartbroken to learn this morning of the passing of Sir Sean Connery. Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons,” said Scottish First Minster Nicola Sturgeon. “Sean was a global legend but, first and foremost, he was a patriotic and proud Scot.” 
Connery was raised in near poverty in the slums of Edinburgh and worked as a coffin polisher, milkman and lifeguard before his bodybuilding hobby helped launch an acting career that made him one of the world’s biggest stars. 
Connery will be remembered first as British agent 007, the character created by novelist Ian Fleming and immortalized by Connery in films starting with “Dr. No” in 1962. 
 FILE – In this file photo taken on Oct. 22, 1982 British actor Sean Connery is seen during the making of the film “Never say, never again” in Nice.As Bond, his debonair manner and wry humor in foiling flamboyant villains and cavorting with beautiful women belied a darker, violent edge, and he crafted a depth of character that set the standard for those who followed him in the role. 
He would introduce himself in the movies with the signature line, “Bond – James Bond.” But Connery was unhappy being defined by the role and once said he “hated that damned James Bond.” Tall and handsome, with a throaty voice to match a sometimes crusty personality, Connery played a series of noteworthy roles besides Bond and won an Academy Award for his portrayal of a tough Chicago cop in “The Untouchables” (1987). 
He was 59 when People magazine declared him the “sexiest man alive” in 1989. 
Connery was an ardent supporter of Scotland’s independence and had the words “Scotland Forever” tattooed on his arm while serving in the Royal Navy.FILE – Sir Sean Connery, with wife Micheline (R), pose for photographers after he was formally knighted by the Britain’s Queen Elizabeth at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh July 5.When he was knighted at the age of 69 by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth in 2000 at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, he wore full Scottish dress including the green-and-black plaid kilt of his mother’s MacLeod clan. 
 Became fed up with ‘idiots’  
Some noteworthy non-Bond films included director Alfred Hitchcock’s “Marnie” (1964), “The Wind and the Lion” (1975) with Candice Bergen, director John Huston’s “The Man Who Would be King” (1975) with Michael Caine, director Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989) and the Cold War tale “The Hunt for Red October” (1990). 
Fans of alternative cinema will always remember him starring as the “Brutal Exterminator” Zed in John Boorman’s mind-bending fantasy epic “Zardoz” (1974), where a heavily mustachioed Connery spent much of the movie running around in a skimpy red loin-cloth, thigh-high leather boots and a pony tail. 
Connery retired from movies after disputes with the director of his final outing, the forgettable “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” in 2003. 
“I get fed up dealing with idiots,” he said. The Bond franchise was still going strong more than five decades after Connery started it. The lavishly produced movies, packed with high-tech gadgetry and spectacular effects, broke box office records and grossed hundreds of millions of dollars. 
After the smashing success of “Dr. No,” more Bond movies followed for Connery in quick succession: “From Russia with Love” (1963), “Goldfinger” (1964), “Thunderball” (1965) and “You Only Live Twice” (1967). 
Connery then grew concerned about being typecast and decided to break away. Australian actor George Lazenby succeeded him as Bond in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” in 1969. 
But without Connery it lacked what the public wanted and he was lured back in 1971 for “Diamonds Are Forever” with temptations that included a slice of the profits, which he said would go to a Scottish educational trust. He insisted it would be his last time as Bond. 
Twelve years later, at age 53, Connery was back as 007 in “Never Say Never Again” (1983), an independent production that enraged his old mentor, producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli. 
 Preferred beer to martinis  
In a 1983 interview, Connery summed up the ideal Bond film as having “marvelous locations, interesting ambiance, good stories, interesting characters — like a detective story with espionage and exotic settings and nice birds.” 
Connery was a very different type from Fleming’s Bond character with his impeccable social background, preferring beer to Bond’s vodka martini cocktails that were “shaken not stirred.” 
But Connery’s influence helped shape the character in the books as well as the films. He never attempted to disguise his Scottish accent, leading Fleming to give Bond Scottish heritage in the books that were released after Connery’s debut. 
Born Thomas Connery on Aug. 25, 1930, he was the elder of two sons of a long-distance truck driver and a mother who worked as a cleaner. He dropped out of school at age 13 and worked in a variety of menial jobs. At 16, two years after World War II ended, Connery was drafted into the Royal Navy, and served three years. 
“I grew up with no notion of a career, much less acting,” he once said. “I certainly never have plotted it out. It was all  happenstance, really.” 
Connery played small parts with theater repertory companies before graduating to films and television. It was his part in a 1959 Disney leprechaun movie, “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” that helped land the role of Bond. Broccoli, a producer of the Bond films, asked his wife to watch Connery in the Disney movie while he was searching for the right leading actor. 
Dana Broccoli said her husband told her he was not sure Connery had sex appeal. 
“I saw that face and the way he moved and talked and I said: ‘Cubby, he’s fabulous!'” she said. “He was just perfect, he had star material right there.” 
Connery married actress Diane Cilento in 1962. Before divorcing 11 years later, they had a son, Jason, who became an actor. He married French artist Micheline Roquebrune, whom he met playing golf, in 1975.   

French Authorities Detain Third Suspect in Nice Knife Attack  

French authorities detained a third man for questioning Saturday in connection with the Islamist knife attack at Notre Dame Basilica in the southern French city of Nice that left three people dead.   The man, a 33-years-old, was present during a police search Friday at the home of a second young Tunisian man suspected of being in contact with the attacker.   France, Tunisia and Italy are jointly investigating to determine the motive of main suspect Brahim Issaoui, a 21-year-old Tunisian, and whether he acted alone and whether his act was premeditated.    French police have three people in custody for questioning after they found two telephones on the suspect after the attack.   The first man, age 47, was detained Thursday night after police reviewed surveillance footage and observed the person next to the attacker on the day before the attack.   A second detained subject, 35, suspected of contacting Ibrahim Issaoui, the day before the attack, was arrested Friday.   Three people died in Thursday’s assault, two women, 60 years old and 44 years old, and a man, who was 55 years old.    Issaoui arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa on September 20 and traveled to Paris October 9.   He was not on Tunisia’s list of suspected militants and was not known to French intelligence services.  

Britain Poised to Join France, Germany in Locking Down  

For weeks, Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, has resisted mounting calls to impose a national lockdown as coronavirus cases have risen inexorably, saying that closing the country for a second time this year would be a “disaster.” But the British leader appeared poised Saturday to join his counterparts in France, Germany and Belgium in ordering a nationwide shutdown.  
New national lockdown restrictions could be imposed in England as early as next week. Wales announced a lockdown last week, and Scottish leaders say the next few days will be critical for Scotland to avoid a lockdown north of the border with England, too.  
The British prime minister met his top Cabinet members Friday to discuss toughening restrictions in light of worsening coronavirus infection rates and rising hospital admissions. 
Cabinet ministers had been chorusing all week that another lockdown wasn’t likely, saying a regional tiered strategy they have been following for weeks would work. “We are confident we’ve got the right measures in place — which is not to have a blanket approach,” said Britain’s foreign secretary Dominic Raab.  
 FILE – Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a virtual news conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Downing Street, London, Oct. 12, 2020.Johnson had previously warned that a second national lockdown would be like checking into “Hotel California” with no end in sight once it had been entered, a riff on a 1977 song by the rock band the Eagles. But “alarming data,” according to government insiders, has shifted his opinion. 
Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, warned Downing Street Thursday the coronavirus was out of control and that hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed. 
The government’s main scientific advisory group, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, known as SAGE, also has been cautioning ministers that the pandemic is on course to breach the “reasonable worst-case scenario” it had previously outlined. 
Projection modeling had suggested that under a tiered regional lockdown approach, daily infections in England would run at between 12,000 and 13,000. The actual numbers, however, are now running more than four times more, with confirmed daily cases between 43,000 to 74,000. 
 FILE – A passenger in a car receives a novel coronavirus test at a drive-in COVID-19 testing facility set up at the Chessington World of Adventures Resort, in Chessington, southwest of London, Oct. 20, 2020.Daily COVID-19-related deaths are now approaching 200 in England, twice the level projected under the previous worst case scenario. On Friday, top infectious disease expert and government adviser Jeremy Farrar tweeted that to bring the coronavirus under control “we have to act now.”  
He added: “The best time to act was a month ago but these are very tough decisions, which we would all like to avoid. The second-best time is now.” 
Opposition politicians and many government advisers had been clamoring for several weeks for a two-week so-called “circuit breaker” lockdown, a brief shutdown. But ministers had opted for a lighter-handed approach that has seen them impose tougher restrictions on regions as flare-ups occur. But earlier this month, Patrick Vallance, the government’s leading scientific officer, had warned publicly he doubted the regional strategy would work to curb rising case numbers. 
London University’s Imperial College warned midweek that case numbers have been picking up speed in the south of England to match big jumps in northern England. One of their models projected that about 96,000 people would become infected in England daily without a national lockdown.  
Johnson’s U-turn comes just days after Germany, France and Belgium opted to impose national lockdowns.FILE – Waiters are seen inside “La Chicoree” restaurant a few minutes before the start of the late-night curfew introduced as part of coronavirus restrictions, in Lille, France, Oct. 16, 2020.French President Emmanuel Macron said midweek he had to “brutally apply the brakes” and announced the banning of social gatherings, the closure of restaurants and bars, and a prohibition on non-essential travel, with citizens only allowed to leave home for essential work or medical care. “The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated,” he said.  
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Wednesday a lockdown would take effect November 2 and last until November 30, with restaurants and bars only allowed to provide carry out service. Beginning Monday, all theaters, gyms, swimming pools, and movie theaters will be closed. Merkel said Germany’s health system “can still cope” with current cases, but “at this speed of infections it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks.” 
Italy has so far held out from imposing a formal national lockdown, but pandemic rules have been toughened, promoting violent protests in Milan, Turin, Naples and Rome.  
On Thursday, European Union leaders pledged to cooperate on the latest lockdowns, hoping to avoid the border closures seen earlier this year when the pandemic first struck the continent. During a three-hour videoconference, the bloc’s 27 heads of state and government also discussed developing plans for the swift manufacture and distribution of vaccines. 
“I want to stress that I understand how tired and worried everyone is,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at a news conference after the video-conference concluded. “We are all wondering when we will come out of this crisis. But now is the time for patience, for determination and for discipline from all of us, from governments right down to each of us individually,” she added. 
The EU has earmarked $257 million to help fund the transfer of COVID-19 patients across borders to help prevent hospital systems in the bloc from being overwhelmed. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 10 million Europeans are now infected with the virus.       

At Least 27 Dead as Powerful Quake Hits Major Turkish City, Greek Islands

Rescue teams in Turkey working around the clock recovered another body Saturday from the rubble of a collapsed building in Bayrakli district in Izmir struck by a strong earthquake.The quake hit Turkey’s third-largest city and a nearby Greek island on Friday morning, killing at least 27 people and injuring more than 800.Haluk Ozener, director of the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute, said that Izmir was the hardest-hit and most-damaged area.Izmir’s Governor Yavuz Selim Kosger said at least 70 people were rescued from the wreckage of four destroyed buildings and from more than 10 other collapsed structures.As the quake hit, residents were seen running into the streets in panic in Izmir, which has a population of 4 million.The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.9 with an epicenter 13 kilometers north-northeast of Samos and 32 kilometers off the coast of Turkey.The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude at 7.0. It is common for preliminary magnitudes to differ in the early hours and days after a quake.The quake triggered a surge of water into Izmir’s Seferihisar district.On the nearby Greek island of Samos, a teenage boy and girl were found dead in an area where a wall had collapsed.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said all means necessary would be used to assist rescue efforts.Many of Izmir’s inhabitants, fearing for their safety, were spending the night outside, in parks and open land or in their cars. Soup kitchens have been set up to feed those in need.Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis offered his condolences to Erdogan. The quake comes amid high tensions between the neighbors over disputes over territorial waters, but Mitsotakis tweeted, “Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together.”Erdogan thanked Mitsotakis and offered assistance, “We are standing with Greece if there is anything we can do for them.”Turkey is no stranger to powerful earthquakes, developing a large pool of expertise in rescue operations.The provincial city of Izmit, close to Istanbul, was devastated by an earthquake in 1999, killing at least 17,000 people. Many of those killed died in collapsed buildings.Since the 1999 quake, stringent building regulations have been introduced, along with a program of strengthening old structures. 

Hundreds of Romanians Form Human Chain on Fifth Anniversary of Deadly Fire

On the steps of a Bucharest court on Friday, Adrian Albu pointed to his sister among the pictures of the 65 people who died in a nightclub fire five years ago, triggering mass protests across Romania at a culture of graft and lack of accountability.Hundreds of people wearing protective masks and standing 4 meters apart lit candles and formed a socially distanced human chain between the site of the former Colectiv club and the Bucharest Court of Appeals where the trial against those responsible is still taking place.”We should know who is guilty and people should know that the same thing can happen again at any moment and we are as unprepared now as we were then,” said Albu, 43, who survived the fire but lost both his sister and his cousin.The fire broke out when fireworks used during a concert by rock band Goodbye to Gravity ignited non-fireproofed insulation foam, triggering a stampede toward the single-door exit.Prosecutors have shown the club’s owners allowed it to fill beyond capacity and that Bucharest officials gave it an operating license while safety inspectors allowed it to run despite knowing it did not have a fire safety permit.A trial resulted in preliminary prison sentences last year, but the decision is on appeal.Badly burned patients were treated in improper conditions in Romanian hospitals, where many contracted infections that are still hampering their recovery.On Friday, centrist President Klaus Iohannis signed into law a bill that covers all future medical expenses of those injured at Colectiv. Albu said the legislation does not account for hundreds of non-Colectiv burn victims Romania records every year.Romania, which has one of the European Union’s least developed health care infrastructures, currently has one of the EU’s highest coronavirus death rates.”Change must start with us citizens,” said Marian Raduna, one of the human chain organizers. “We are the ones who tolerate corruption cases and incompetent authorities, and, sadly, we forget quickly.”

Thousands in Warsaw Join Biggest Protest so far Against Abortion Ruling

Tens of thousands of Poles joined a march Friday in Warsaw, the biggest in nine days of protests against a ruling by the country’s top court last week that amounted to a near-total ban on abortion in the predominantly Catholic nation.Defying strict rules that restrict gatherings to five people during the coronavirus pandemic, demonstrators walked through central Warsaw streets carrying black umbrellas, a symbol of abortion rights protests in Poland, and banners that read “I think, I feel, I decide” or “God is a woman.”Military police, some in riot gear, lined the streets as the demonstration began.Organizers and the city of Warsaw said some 100,000 people took part, one of the largest protest gatherings in years, following a Constitutional Court ruling on Oct. 22 outlawing abortions because of fetal defects. It ended the most common of the few legal grounds left for abortion in Poland and set the country further apart from Europe’s mainstream.Daily protests have taken place across the country in the past week and have turned into an outpouring of anger against five years of nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) rule and the Roman Catholic church, which is an ally of the government.Far-right groups which support the court ruling also turned out in small gatherings in Warsaw on Friday, and TV footage showed police clashing with them to keep one group away from the protesters.The leader of the abortion rights movement in Poland, Marta Lempart, told activists to report any attacks and to resist any threats of prosecution or fines for taking part. “We are doing nothing wrong by protesting and going out on the streets,” she told a news conference.After the ruling goes into effect, women will only be able to terminate a pregnancy legally in the case of rape, incest or a threat to their health.Dancing on tramsIn an effort to ease tensions, President Andrzej Duda proposed legislation on Friday reintroducing the possibility of terminating a pregnancy due to fetal abnormalities, although only limited to defects that are immediately life-threatening.Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki pledged lawmakers would proceed with the legislation quickly, but demonstrators were unimpressed.”This is an attempt to soften the situation for PiS, but no sane person should fall for it,” activist and leftist lawmaker Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus told Reuters.The government has accused demonstrators of risking the lives of the elderly by defying strict pandemic rules against large gatherings. Poland reported a daily record of more than 21,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.Health Minister Adam Niedzielski drew comparisons between the Polish protest and the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality, saying demonstrations across the United States caused an “escalation” of the pandemic.Public health experts say there has yet to be conclusive evidence of large-scale spread from the U.S. events.Five women were charged with organizing an illegal protest which attracted 850 people in the town of Police on Thursday, officials said.The Roman Catholic Church has said that while it opposes abortion, it did not push the government or the court to increase restrictions.PiS, however, has sought to instill more traditional and Catholic values in public life, ending state funding for in vitro fertilization, introducing more patriotic themes into school curricula and funding church programs.It has also launched a crackdown on LGBT rights and a reform of the judiciary the European Union says subverts the rule law. PiS says it seeks to protect traditional Polish values against damaging western liberalism.Opinion polls have shown its support falling sharply in recent weeks.

Powerful Quake in Aegean Sea Leaves 6 Dead; Buildings Toppled in Turkey, Greece

Officials in Greece and Turkey say rescue efforts are continuing into the night after a powerful earth struck Friday in the Aegean Sea between the Turkish coast and the Greek island of Samos, killing at least 14 people and injuring hundreds amid collapsed buildings and flooding caused by a minor tsunami.
Video clips showed several damaged buildings, some partially or completely collapsed, as emergency services attended the scene.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency reported12 people died, one due to drowning, while 419 people were injured.
On the Greek island of Samos two teenagers, a boy and a girl, were found dead in an area where a wall had collapsed. Haluk Ozener, director of the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute, reported a small tsunami struck the Seferihisar district south of Izmir, the city in western Turkey that was the worst affected.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency  said search and rescue operations continued at 17 collapsed or damaged buildings. Izmir’s governor said 70 people had been rescued from under the rubble.
The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.9 with an epicenter 13 kilometers north-northeast of Samos and 32 kilometers off the coast of Turkey. The United States Geological Survey put the magnitude at 7.0. It is common for preliminary magnitudes to differ in the early hours and days after a quake.
Multiple aftershocks struck the region.
Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency said three injured people were pulled from the wreckage of a building in Izmir. Izmir mayor Tunc Soyer told CNN Turk that about 20 buildings collapsed. The city is the third largest in Turkey with about 4.5 million residents.
Media reports say the quake was felt as far away as Britain and Bulgaria. 

Pope Francis Focused on Fighting Vatican Corruption

Pope Francis said he is focused on fighting corruption in the Catholic Church, despite the challenges.”I know I have to do it (fight corruption), I was called to do it, but it will be the Lord to decide if I did well or not. Sincerely, I am not very optimistic,” he said during an interview Friday with Italian news agency AdnKronos.Pope Francis also said he is not deterred by criticisms in whatever area, noting he takes them “on board because it can lead to self-examination.” He added he will not let himself be “dragged down by every non-positive thing written about the pope.”In 2013, Pope Francis was elected by cardinals on a mandate to clean up the Vatican’s finances, after a series of corruption scandals.Last month, Francis fired a former top Vatican official, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, for alleged embezzlement in the purchase of a luxury London building for the Vatican. Becciu has denied all accusations.A former worker of Becciu, 39-year-old Cecilia Marogna, was released Friday after spending at least two weeks in jail. Marogna is awaiting a judge’s decision on extradition from the Vatican.Francis says he is worried the “cases of malfeasance, of betrayals” hurt believers of the Catholic faith.

At Least 4 Dead After Powerful Earthquake Hits Turkey

Officials in Turkey say at least four people are dead in western Izmir province following a powerful earthquake that struck Friday along the Turkish coast and the Greek island of Samos. From his Twitter account, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reported that four people were killed in Izmir and 120 were injured. He said 38 ambulances, two ambulance helicopters and 35 medical rescue teams were working in the province. The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.9 with an epicenter 13 kilometers north-northeast of Samos and 32 kilometers off the coast of Turkey.  The United States Geological Survey put the magnitude at 7.0. It is common for preliminary magnitudes to differ in the early hours and days after a quake. Multiple aftershocks struck the region. Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency said three injured people were pulled from the wreckage of a building in Izmir. Izmir mayor Tunc Soyer told CNN Turk that about 20 buildings collapsed. The city is the third largest in Turkey with about 4.5 million residents. Turkey’s interior minister said there were small cracks in some buildings in six other provinces.Some damage also was reported to buildings and roads on Samos, an island in the eastern Aegean Sea. The director of the hospital in Samos said four people were treated there for light injuries.Greek public television said the quake also caused a mini-tsunami on Samos, damaging buildings. Video taken at the scene showed boats pushed up onto city streets. Media reports say the quake was felt as far away as Britain and Bulgaria.  

2nd Suspect Held After Deadly Knife Attack at French Church

Police in France have detained a second suspect in connection with Thursday’s deadly knife attack at a church in the city of Nice. The suspect is a 47-year-old man believed to have been in contact with the attacker the night before the attack at Notre Dame Basilica, according to a judicial official, who was not authorized to be publicly named.  In Tunisia, authorities are reportedly investigating whether a group called the Mahdi Organization carried out the attack. The state news agency TAP reported Friday investigators were also trying to determine whether the group exists and that the probe is based on claims of responsibility on social media. A picture of Brahim al-Aouissaoui, who is suspected by French police and Tunisian security officials of carrying out Thursday’s attack in Nice, is seen in this undated photo provided by his family on Oct. 30, 2020.Authorities have identified the attacker as a Tunisian national, 21-year-old Ibrahim Issaoui. He was shot and seriously wounded by police Thursday and remained hospitalized Friday in life-threatening condition.  Three people were killed in Thursday’s attack. French anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said a 60-year-old woman and a 55-year-old man had their throats slit, while a 44-year-old woman was stabbed several times. Brazilian media identified the stabbing victim as a Brazilian national, Simone Barreto Silva. Ricard said she was able to flee the church but died after collapsing at a nearby restaurant. Issaoui was not on Tunisia’s list of suspected militants and was not known to French intelligence services.  Ricard said Issaoui arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa on September 20 and traveled to Paris on October 9.He said Issaoui was carrying a copy of the Quran. The knife used in the attack was found near him and two other knives not used in the attack were found in a bag that belonged to him. French leaders have termed Thursday’s incident an Islamist terrorist attack and raised the country’s security alert to its highest level. President Emmanuel Macron said he would increase the number of troops deployed to protect schools and churches from 3,000 to 7,000. He vowed the country will not give in to any terrorism.

НБУ зберігає курс у парі долар-гривня на рекордному рівні

Національний банк України встановив опівдні 30 жовтня довідкове значення курсу 28 гривень 44 копійки за долар. Це не відрізняється від офіційного курсу на сьогодні, який був рекордним за останні 26 місяців – із вересня 2018 року.

На українському міжбанківському валютному ринку торги відбуваються з мінімальними коливаннями, станом на 12:30 котирування становлять 28 гривень 44–45,5 копійки за одиницю американської валюти (долар втратив пів копійки порівняно з показниками відкриття, свідчать дані

«На фоні зростання котирувань долара на вчорашніх торгах і певного дефіциту валюти, який закривав НБУ своєю інтервенцією, вчора частина клієнтів перенесла свої заявки з купівлі долара на сьогодні. Тобто вони залишили свої зовнішньоекономічні розрахунки на останній день звітного періоду, чого зазвичай по великих сумах ніхто не робить. Сьогодні тягнути їм вже немає часу, і ці компанії будуть закривати свої угоди за чинним на момент курсом», – писали аналітики сайту «Мінфін» перед початком торгів.


НБУ прогнозує відновлення економіки України від «коронакризи» у 2022 році

Економіка України у 2022 році повністю надолужить втрати від кризи, спричиненої COVID-19 і запровадженими через пандемію обмеженнями, ідеться в підготовленому Національним банком України Інфляційному звіті за жовтень 2020 року.

«За підсумками цього року падіння ВВП становитиме 6%, а далі вийдемо на зростання приблизно на 4% щорічно», – стверджують експерти центробанку.


Також, за прогнозом регулятора, реальна заробітна плата у 2020 році зросте на 6,2%, а в 2021 році – на 9,5%.

«Доходи українців після нетривалої паузи на етапі жорсткого карантину відновили зростання. Подальше пожвавлення економіки й зростання соціальних стандартів підтримає цей процес. Номінальна зарплата зросте на майже 9% у 2020 році й на 16% у наступному. Реальна – на 6,2% і 9,5% відповідно», – ідеться в повідомленні.

Раніше у жовтні МВФ покращив оцінки падіння української економіки з мінус 8,2% в 2020 році, за оцінками, оприлюдненими у червні, до мінус 7,2% за оцінками в жовтні у зв’язку зі швидшим, ніж очікувалось, відновленням української економіки.

Загалом, за оцінками МВФ, падіння ВВП в Європі складе 7% в 2020 році, що є найбільшим падінням з часів Другої світової війни.


Економічне відновлення в Європі буде нерівномірним і тривалим, прогнозує фонд. В 2021-му, за прогнозами фонду, ВВП зросте на 4,7%. Більшість європейських країн вийдуть на рівень ВВП 2019 року лише в 2022-2023 роках, вважають у МВФ.

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Promises Action as Allies Sound Alarm Over Reform Rollback

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy promised swift action on Thursday and warned Ukraine could lose international aid and support after a Constitutional Court this week ruled to abolish some anti-corruption laws. The court said it saw as excessive the punishment set for false information on officials’ asset declarations and struck down some critical powers of the key anti-graft body NAZK, which in turn said the court had destroyed the anti-corruption system. Ukraine’s patchy performance on reforms and tackling entrenched corruption has derailed a $5 billion program agreed in June with the International Monetary Fund at a time its economy is in sharp downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. FILE – The International Monetary Fund logo is seen in Washington, April 21, 2017.The European Union’s delegation to Kyiv warned that its financial assistance was tied to Ukraine’s performance on corruption. A further deterioration could threaten Ukraine’s prized visa-free access to the EU countries, a member of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee has warned. “We will not have money. We will not have support. Projects on which agreement was reached will be canceled, as well as World Bank support. We will have a big hole in the budget,” Zelenskiy said in a statement. “The recent decisions of the [court] undermine trust in Ukraine, outrage Ukrainians,” he said in a separate post on Twitter, adding that he wanted new legislation introduced as soon as possible to rectify the situation. The United States, Canada, Britain and the European Union have backed Ukraine with aid and sanctions on Russia after the 2014 Maidan street protests that ousted a Kremlin-backed leader but have repeatedly pressed Kyiv to quicken the pace of reforms. “The G-7 ambassadors are alarmed by efforts to undo the anti-corruption reforms that followed the Revolution of Dignity,” a statement said. “Too much progress has been made, Ukraine must not go back to the past.” In a separate statement, the EU said the court decision “calls into question a number of international commitments which Ukraine assumed in relation to its international partners, including the EU.”  

NATO Allies Growing Weary of Turkish Aggression

The United States is pushing NATO countries to work with Turkey in hopes of healing divisions that have seen Ankara move closer to Russia, but at least one of those allies is bracing for more turmoil.Greece, embroiled in a dispute with Turkey over rights and resources in the eastern Mediterranean, has repeatedly put its FILE – Greek Minister of National Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos speaks to journalists in Kastanies on March 1, 2020.Turkey has “become increasingly more self-confident … coupled with a rising element of aggressive rhetoric, a confrontational attitude and the revisionist political position,” Greek Minister of National Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos said Thursday, during a virtual talk sponsored by the German Marshall Fund.”At some point, something needs to be done,” he said. “Unfortunately, this entails elements of being unpleasant.”Panagiotopoulos and others say that newfound aggressiveness was on display Wednesday, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at the West, and France, during a speech to members of his political party.FILE – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his ruling party lawmakers at the parliament, in Ankara, Oct. 28, 2020.”They literally want to relaunch the Crusades,” Erdogan said, referring to the French government’s defense of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.The Turkish leader also said the West is “once again headed to a period of barbarity.”Turkey has also incurred the wrath of Western countries, specifically fellow NATO allies, after carrying out tests last week of its Russian-made S-400 air defense system.Talking to reporters Wednesday, a top U.S. State Department official said Washington was prepared to take a harder line with Ankara, warning the threat of sanctions was very real.“Sanctions is very much something that is on the table,” Assistant Secretary of State R. Clarke Cooper told reporters. “Operationalizing such an asset or system incurs further risk of sanctions and further risks of restrictions.”The United States has banned Turkey from participation in its F-35 stealth fighter jet program, and threats of additional sanctions, from the U.S. or other European countries, are not new.But Panagiotopoulos said Thursday that he believed Turkey was likely to make the Russian air defense system operational sooner rather than later and that NATO might be running out of time to take meaningful action.A U.S. Marines F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft prepares to land on the flight deck in the South China Sea.Such concerns, though, have repeatedly been cast aside by Turkish officials, something that troubles Panagiotopoulos.“Russia cannot be counted out,” he said, adding Ankara’s purchase of the S-400 air defense system is “enough to prove that potentially Turkey, whether it wanted to or inadvertently, would prove to be a source of undermining NATO’s cohesion from within.”Reuters contributed to this report.

Родина голови внутрішньої безпеки СБУ придбала квартиру в елітному ЖК в 4 рази дешевше від ринкових цін – «Схеми»

Родина начальника Управління внутрішньої безпеки СБУ Андрія Наумова придбала 3-кімнатну квартиру в елітному житловому комплексі у центрі Києва в чотири рази дешевше від ринкових цін. Про це йдеться у розслідуванні програми «Схеми» (проєкт Радіо Свобода і телеканалу «UA:Перший») – «Таємний кадр СБУ: Alter Ego Наумова». Журналісти виявили, що ця квартира, а також маєток під Києвом, оформлені на його матір, але користується ними сам високопосадовець СБУ. При цьому, підкреслюється у розслідуванні, інформація про керівника Управління внутрішньої безпеки та його статки, згідно з офіційною відповіддю спецслужби, належить до категорії «з обмеженим доступом». Водночас юристи підтверджують, що купівлю квартири у кілька разів дешевше від ринкової вартості можна розцінювати як неправомірне отримання подарунку у розумінні закону «Про запобігання корупції».

Від власних джерел у Міністерстві юстиції «Схеми» отримали копію договору про передачу матері Андрія Наумова Ірині влітку 2019 року майнових прав на 3-кімнатну квартиру площею більше ніж 100 квадратних метрів у житловому комплексі Alter Ego у Печерському районі Києва. Вона придбала ці права за 1 мільйон 191 тисячу 300 гривень.

Водночас, підкреслюють журналісти, апартаменти такою площею згідно з цінами від забудовника у 2019–2020 роках у цьому ЖК коштують від майже 4,5 мільйонів гривень до 5,5 мільйонів.

«Тобто Ірині Наумовій житло в Alter Ego обійшлось щонайменше в 4 рази дешевше. Чи могла вона самостійно придбати коштовне майно? Відповідно до реєстру юридичних осіб, свого бізнесу вона вже більше ніж 10 років як не має, з соцмереж видно, що жінка займається майструванням ляльок», – мовиться у розслідуванні.

«Схеми» зафіксували, що Андрій Наумов користується цією квартирою. Знімальна група кілька разів помічала Mercedes із номерами прикриття, який заїжджав і виїжджав з підземного паркінгу ЖК.

В один із днів, 9 жовтня, знімальній групі вдалось зафіксувати його пасажира – ним виявився сам Андрій Наумов.

Майнові права на квартиру мати високопосадовця СБУ купила у бізнесмена Костянтина Ученика, який придбав їх у забудовника на етапі інвестування у 2016 році за суму майже в 1 мільйон 190 тисяч гривень. І теж, схоже, за заниженою вартістю, зазначають журналісти. Цей будинок був зведений на землях, які перебували у власності Генпрокуратури. На момент купівлі Костянтином Учеником квартири в цьому ЖК за заниженою вартістю сам Наумов був одним із керівників управління матеріально-технічного забезпечення ГПУ.

«Якщо орієнтуватись на ціни 2016 року, коли він здійснив купівлю, то апартаменти схожого метражу мали би обійтись йому у суму більше від 3 мільйонів гривень. Тобто, незважаючи на зростання цін на житло і беручи до уваги лише зміну курсу валют, на перепродажу майнових прав за 3 роки він не тільки не заробив, а навіть втратив більше від 3 тисяч доларів», – підрахували журналісти.

Згідно з даними реєстру юросіб, Костянтин Ученик – бізнесмен, раніше очолював із десяток будівельних фірм. Дві з них пов’язані із колишнім очільником СБУ, а нині бізнесменом Валерієм Хорошковським.

Одна з них – ТОВ «Маяк-Вестдом», яку Ученик очолює і досі, – регулярний фігурант розслідувань правоохоронців – зокрема, податківців та поліції.

Юристи підкреслюють: на момент купівлі квартири посада, яку обіймав Наумов, – керівника державного підприємства у Чорнобильській зоні відчуження, – підпадала під дію антикорупційного законодавства і належала до посад з високим корупційним ризиком.

«По суті, різниця між ринковою вартістю і заниженою ціною – це вже є пільга додаткова, тобто держслужбовець не має права таке отримувати. Тому придбання апартаментів, оформлених на близьку особу, зі значною знижкою у розумінні закону «Про запобігання корупції» може бути розцінено як незаконне одержання подарунку через близьку особу. За це чинним законодавством передбачена адміністративна відповідальність», – аналізує заступник голови Громадської ради при НАЗК Сергій Миткалик.

Як виявили журналісти, Наумов користується ще одним родинним майном – будинком у селищі Гребінки Київської області. Біля нього «Схеми» фіксували той самий мерседес, який заїжджав та виїжджав з паркінгу ЖК на Печерську. А біля автомобіля – особу, за статурою схожою на Андрія Наумова.

На його матір у Гребінках оформлені три земельні ділянки на березі річки Протока загальною площею півтора гектара. На них, згідно з даними з реєстру, зведений один будинок, водночас зйомка з повітря виявила, що на території – два будинки.

Тут, у Гребінках, ймовірно, мешкає цивільна дружина високопосадовця СБУ Анна Ревенко, яка публікує звідси пости у соцмережах. Також протягом 2014–2016 років вона працювала у компанії «Маяк-Вестдом» бізнесмена Ученика, який за заниженою вартістю продав квартиру матері Наумова.

У 2019 Анна Ревенко придбала одразу дві машини – вантажний Volkswagen Crafter та позашляховик Toyota Rav4 2018 року випуску. Їхня сумарна вартість, відповідно до цін з оголошень про продаж подібних авто, коливається від майже 1 мільйона 200 тисяч до 1 мільйона 340 тисяч гривень.

Згідно з даними джерел «Схем» у податковій, загалом, починаючи з 2011 року, Анна Ревенко заробила трохи більше ніж 400 тисяч гривень – разом зі стипендіями та соцвиплатами. Тобто, виходить, офіційних доходів Ревенко вистачило би лише на оплату третини від сукупної вартості придбаних автомобілів, мовиться у розслідуванні.

Андрій Наумов особисто відмовився відповідати на запитання «Схем». Не надали відповідей щодо його майнового стану і в пресслужбі СБУ. Бізнесмен Костянтин Ученик також не захотів спілкуватися з журналістами.

Управління внутрішньої безпеки СБУ, яке очолює Наумов, з-поміж інших функцій має виявляти правопорушення самих співробітників спецслужби. Це один із найзакритіших підрозділів. Положення про нього засекречене, а у відповідь на прохання «Схем» ознайомитись із трудовою біографією та відзнаками його керівника в СБУ зазначили, що така інформація належить до категорії «з обмеженим доступом».

Лише нещодавно, 14 жовтня, інформація про те, хто обіймає посаду керівника управління внутрішньої безпеки СБУ, стала публічною : Володимир Зеленський своїм указом присвоїв Андрієві Наумову військове звання бригадного генерала.

Відповідно до останньої декларації за 2019 рік – до початку роботи в СБУ, – Наумов не має власної нерухомості, орендує службове житло і зберігає заощадження готівкою та у банку. Вступ на зазначену посаду посаду в СБУ дозволив Наумову не показувати декларацію.

У середині жовтня безпековий комітет Верховної Ради погодив до першого читання президентський законопроєкт про реформування СБУ, який не тільки залишає шанс на цілковите засекречення декларацій, але й збільшує і без того широкі повноваження СБУ, твердять юристи.

28 жовтня НАЗК закрив доступ до Єдиного державного реєстру декларацій. Це зроблено на виконання рішення Конституційного суду від 27 жовтня, який, зокрема, визнав неконституційним положення щодо відкритого доступу громадян до цього реєстру. Судді КСУ також проголосували за визнання неконституційною статті про кримінальну відповідальність за декларування недостовірної інформації і скасував її.

Spain Investigates Russian Links to Catalan Separatists

Russian agents offered military aid to Catalan separatists at the height of their failed bid to break away from Spain in 2017, according to a judicial investigation in Spain.These are the extraordinary allegations at the heart of an investigation launched by a judge in Barcelona who is probing alleged links between the Catalan independence movement and a Russian misinformation campaign designed to destabilize Europe.Police arrested 21 suspects in Barcelona on Wednesday on the orders of Judge Joaquin Aguirre, including three men who were close to the former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont who fled Spain shortly after the failed declaration of independence three years ago.In one recording presented in court documents, one of those detained by police allegedly mentions an offer by Russian agents to provide Puigdemont with 10,000 troops to help in a theoretical armed conflict with Spanish forces. The offer never materialized.Fake news offensive”Russian interference as a geopolitical strategy was a fact during the fall of 2017 when (the Russians) spread fake news and disinformation,” Judge Aguirre said in a ruling, citing online items backing the Catalan separatists spread by Russian news platforms.The Spanish government had accused Russia in 2017 of meddling in the Catalan conflict, a charge that Russian officials denied at the time.
In what appeared to be an ironic repost to the court allegations, the Russian Embassy in Madrid tweeted: “It is necessary to add two zeros to the number of soldiers and the most shocking thing about this conspiracy: the troops should be transported by Mosca and Chato, airplanes assembled in Catalonia during the (Spanish) Civil War and hidden in a safe place in the Catalan Sierra until they receive the order to act through encrypted publications.”A woman holds a sign during a protest against police raids and the arrest of Catalan separatists, in Barcelona, Spain, Oct. 28, 2020.TimingThough the investigation relates to events three years ago which threatened to tear apart one of Europe’s largest economies, it has ramifications in today’s polarized political environment.Spain’s minority left-wing coalition government depends on the Catalan separatist party Esquerra Republicana, ERC, for support as talks are under way to pass a budget for 2021.  Spain has had no full year spending plan for the past four years and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic this budget is crucial to finance the country’s recovery.“It is evident that the Spanish government has no appetite to find a solution to the conflict in Catalonia,” said Raul Murcia, a spokesman for ERC, told VOA.Regional elections are planned in Catalonia in February when separatist parties are likely to win a majority but not more than 50% of the vote, according to recent polls.The Catalan separatist movement has always proclaimed non-violent beliefs, even though last year there were violent clashes with police after nine leaders were jailed for up to 13 years for their roles in the 2017 breakaway bid.Wider investigationThe investigation also targets the alleged misuse of public funds for the separatist movement in Spain as well as the allegedly active role of Russian-backed disinformation campaigns to discredit Madrid.Those arrested face allegations of embezzlement and money laundering.Investigations revealed that money intended for Barcelona’s provincial government and a regional entity for promoting sports teams had been diverted illegally, the Spanish government said in a statement after the arrests.
Josep Lluis Alay, a close collaborator of Puigdemont, was one of those detained. Others included David Madi and Oriol Vendrell, two former politicians for Catalonia’s major separatist parties.A demonstrator is detained by police officers during a protest against police raids and the arrest of Catalan separatists, in Barcelona, Spain, Oct. 28, 2020.In the wake of the early morning raids, Puigdemont tweeted that Alay and the others “must be immediately released. Acting against political dissidents is a huge violation of fundamental rights”.After the breakaway attempt failed, Puigdemont fled Spain hidden in the boot of a car to France then flew to Brussels, where he has campaigned to raise support for his cause internationally. Puigdemont is currently a European Parliament member.Another suspect, Oriol Soler, is a publisher who is considered one of the top strategists of the separatist movement.Assange connectionHe is being investigated for allegedly meeting Russian contacts and the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange when he was seeking refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to promote the separatist cause and discredit Spain internationally.In a court document which was made public, it said the alleged meeting between Soler and Assange in September 2017 “falls within the strategy of misinformation and destabilization in which the Kremlin has also participated as part of its general narrative that the European Union is on the brink of collapse, the principal message of the news outlets controlled by the Kremlin.”Benet Salellas, Soler’s defense attorney, said that his client is innocent and “denounces that the justice system is being utilized to fight against the Catalan independence movement”.The arrests sparked several small protests across Catalonia.The issue of independence has consistently divided the region’s 7.5 million inhabitants.In a recent poll earlier this month for the Catalan regional government, 46.3% of Catalans opposed breaking away from Spain, while 45.5% backed independence. 

Museum Exhibit Revamp Raises Concerns in Hong Kong

Scholars are urging government curators not to shy away from controversial issues in the production of new exhibits as the Hong Kong Museum of History undertakes a two-year revamp of its popular Hong Kong Story exhibition.Occupying 7,000 square meters in eight galleries on two floors, the permanent exhibition of the Hong Kong Story has attracted more than 10 million local and overseas visitors since its launch in 2001, according to the museum website. It has now been temporarily closed, starting October 19, for an extensive renovation.  Visitors wearing masks to help protect against the coronavirus walk past an earth sculpture, at the Hong Kong Museum of History, in Hong Kong, Oct. 16, 2020.The old exhibition showcased exhibits starting from the Devonian period 400 million years ago up to 1997. It only caused a stir in the public when the exhibition was officially closed this month, even though the decision was announced in 2015. The revamp is a regular exercise of history museums conducted every 20 years, according to John Carroll, a professor in the University of Hong Kong’s History Department and an expert in museology.Coming at a time when Hong Kong is reeling from intense turmoil after yearlong massive protests sparked by a now-defunct extradition bill last year, many fear the new exhibition — which will cover the period from the Neolithic to 2014 — will be a watered-down version of the recent history of the city.“Everything in Hong Kong these days is politically charged, there’s no point in speculating. The project is going to be difficult and challenging. However, it’s a good opportunity to make it an even better exhibition,” according to Carroll, the author of A Concise History of Hong Kong.   “It’s not uncommon for governments to produce museums which are not critical because they don’t want to train people to be critical of the authorities. Most museums are a compromise,” he said, adding that “Museums should be a product of discussion, argument and negotiation, and to tell complex stories.”  A screen shows the ceremony of British handover Hong Kong to China, at the exhibition “The Hong Kong Story” in the Hong Kong Museum of History, Oct. 16, 2020.He said even the old exhibition was curated in a traditional, conservative way, with an apparent attempt to avoid controversy. For instance, the portraits of the British governors who headed Hong Kong before the political handover to China in 1997 were displayed in a “dark corner” of the venue. “It is designed in such a way that people would not spend much time there,” he said.Echoing Carroll’s views, Godfrey Lai, a history researcher at Lingnan University, a Hong Kong liberal arts university, said, “I’m not too concerned with certain events being omitted or downplayed in the new exhibition since it’s rather difficult to wipe out history in modern times. But I am more concerned with the use of language and whether the selection of the content is biased.”“What’s so problematic is that the government tends to obtain the information from pro-establishment sources such as pro-Beijing newspapers,” he added.  In the old exhibition, photos and videos instead of text were used to depict politically sensitive incidents, such as the pro-communist Hong Kong riots in 1967 under the British rule to keep away from having to deal with the conflicting views related to the historic events, Lai said.For the updated version of the exhibition, he suggested that interviews with people who have participated in the events and government officials who are responsible for making the decisions, and artifacts generated during that time be included to provide a more complete perspective.  Lai also said the display should be presented from the point of view of Hong Kong people rather than that of the mainland Chinese.“Domestically, it should resonate and have a connection with the local people. Externally, tourists would want to know how the local people look at the events. If people want a mainland Chinese perspective, they should go the museums in Beijing,” he said.Taking a broader view, Carroll said the exhibition will be aimed at not just the 7.5 million local population but also visitors from mainland China and overseas.  “Some people want to be more critical of the colonial rule, but some don’t,” he said.  Both history scholars indicated they would want to have government officials’ reaction to key events shown in the exhibition. Then-Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s decision-making over the Umbrella Revolution, for example, also known as Occupy Central Movement when a series of mostly peaceful sit-in pro-democracy protests took place in 2014 should be featured in the renewed production, Carroll said.Angela Fong, who had visited the now-closed exhibition several times over the years with her two children, aged 17 and 10, said she is concerned that key political issues will be left out or “twisted.”“The government is already making changes to the history textbooks in schools. It’ll be difficult to tell the truth to our next generation,” she said.In 2015, history researcher Lai founded Wetoasthk, a Facebook page dedicated to Hong Kong history that has close to 30,000 followers. He said the government does not have an exclusive privilege in keeping a record of history.“Anyone can record history, especially with the help of technology today,” he told VOA.

В Україні почала роботу попередня оціночна місія ЄС із «промислового безвізу» – Мінекономіки

Попередня оціночна місія Євросоюзу стосовно готовності Києва до підписання угоди про «промисловий безвіз» розпочала роботу в Україні, повідомила пресслужба Міністерства розвитку економіки, торгівлі та сільського господарства України.

«29 жовтня під час онлайн-зустрічі торгового представника Тараса Качки з членами представництва ЄС в Україні, Генерального директорату Єврокомісії з питань внутрішнього ринку, промисловості, підприємництва та МСП досягнуто домовленостей про початок роботи попередньої оціночної місії ЄС стосовно готовності інфраструктури якості України до укладення Угоди про оцінку відповідності та прийнятність промислових товарів (угода АСАА, «промисловий безвіз»)», – йдеться в повідомленні.

У Мінекономіки зазначили, що угоди АСАА відкриває нові можливості для українського бізнесу та залучення нових інвестицій в розвиток економіки України.

«Сторони відзначили прогрес у діалозі між Україною і ЄС щодо підготовки до укладання Угоди АСАА та домовилися активізувати спільну роботу під час проведення попередньої оціночної місії експертами ЄС системи технічного регулювання, оцінки відповідності, акредитації, стандартизації та метрології України», – йдеться в повідомленні.

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Угода про асоціацію України та ЄС передбачає перспективу укладення Угоди про оцінку відповідності та прийнятності промислової продукції (ACAA). Раніше в уряді заявляли, що потенційно ACAA може охопити до п’ятої частини українського експорту до ЄС, передусім продукцію машинобудування, полегшивши торгівлю і піднявши імідж української продукції на глобальних ринках.

Merkel Defends German Coronavirus Restrictions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday defended new coronavirus restrictions to lawmakers and lashed out at those who tried to dismiss the infection as harmless as the number of cases hit a new high.
In a speech before the Bundestag – the German parliament – that was interrupted by heckling from right-wing politicians, Merkel said the new measures “are appropriate, necessary and proportionate.” She said, “There is no other milder approach than reducing personal contacts to try and stop the infections chain and to change the course of the infections back to a level where we can handle it.”  
Merkel spoke a day after she and the governors of Germany’s 16 states agreed on far-reaching restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, including the closure of bars and restaurants, limits on social contacts and bans on concerts and other public events.
But, as in most countries around the world, there has been pushback against such restrictions. There have been protests and reports of violence in some areas by those claiming the dangers of the virus have been overstated and restrictions are nothing more than a power grab.
When heckling broke out from populist politicians during Merkel’s speech, Bundestag President Wolfgang Schauble warned there would be consequences for their actions if they did not let the chancellor continue.
Merkel responded by lashing out at those who claim the virus is harmless, saying, “Lies and disinformation, conspiracy theories and hate, damage not only democratic debate but also the fight against the virus.”
She said, “When science has proven something is false then it must be clearly stated. Because our relation to facts and information not only affects democratic debate but human lives.”
Merkel told lawmakers that Germany is in a “dramatic situation” as it goes into winter, which she said would be “four long, difficult months. But it will end.”
Germany’s disease control center said local health authorities reported 16,774 new positive tests in the past day, pushing the country’s total since the start of the outbreak close to half-a-million.
The Robert Koch Institute recorded 89 additional deaths, taking Germany’s toll to 10,272.

France-Turkey Dispute Grows Over Cartoons and Influence in Africa

The war of words between France and Turkey over cartoons portraying Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, triggered by the recent beheading of a French teacher, continues to escalate. But behind the diplomatic storm over freedom of expression versus religious sensitivity is a bitter rivalry for influence in Africa.To rousing applause from parliamentary deputies of his party, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday accused Western countries of seeking to re-launch the Crusades. Erdogan’s latest salvo is over French President Emmanuel Macron’s defense of the publication of cartoons of Islam’s prophet Muhammad.Erdogan said it is an issue of honor for Turkey to stand against the attacks against the Prophet who honored Mecca, Medina, Africa, Asia, Europe, in the whole world, and at all times.Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his ruling party lawmakers at the parliament, in Ankara, Turkey, Oct. 28, 2020.The Turkish president has sought to present himself as a global defender of Muslim rights. But the current dispute over the cartoons is part of a growing rivalry between France and Turkey, says analyst Sinan Ulgen of the Edam research institution in Istanbul.”There is a different positioning regionally with France having established a strategic alliance with the United Arab Emirates ostensibly to fight against the influence of political Islam in the Middle East and Northern Africa,” Ulgen said. “And where Turkey is seen on the contrary as belonging to the other camp, namely of supporting political Islam through its relationship with the different entities and the Muslim Brotherhood.”West Is in Danger of Losing Turkey, US WarnsTop State Department official says when it comes to tensions with Ankara, the US, allies watch for ‘actions from Moscow to cleave us apart’ France and Turkey back rival sides in the Libyan civil war, while Erdogan is a strong critic of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah, el-Sissi, a key French ally. Turkey is now challenging France’s powerful influence in predominantly Muslim West African countries that were once French colonies, says Emre Caliskan of Britain’s University of Oxford.”Turkey, as a newcomer, an emerging power, their interests, and presence is threatening French interests and a vice versa,” said Caliskan. “Turkey is trying to secure the region around Libya. We saw Erdogan’s visit to Niger and Turkey recently engaging with Mali.Earlier this year, Turkey signed a defense agreement with Niger. The Turkish military already has a presence in Libya. For now, analysts say Ankara’s priority is to build a strategic presence in the region. But Turkish companies are also eyeing African markets currently dominated by French firms, which analysts say can only add to the deepening rivalry between Turkey and France.

France, Germany Impose New Lockdown Measures as COVID-19 Cases Soar

A rising tide of new coronavirus cases has prompted the leaders of France and Germany to impose a new round of lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus.During a televised speech Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a nationwide monthlong lockdown that will take effect Friday. Macron said restaurants, bars, cafes and other nonessential businesses will be closed, while residents will only be allowed to leave their homes for work, shopping and doctor’s appointments.German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a set of similar measures in her own monthlong lockdown order Wednesday after a meeting with leaders of the nation’s 16 federal states. In addition to restaurants and bars, all gyms, theaters and opera houses will be shut down under Merkel’s order, which takes effect Monday, while the majority of businesses, shops and hair salons will be allowed to remain open.Schools in both nations will remain open during their respective lockdowns.The restrictions were announced by Macron and Merkel as both nations struggle with a record number of new COVID-19 cases practically every day — with Germany posting nearly 15,000 new cases Wednesday — creating a situation that has pushed their respective health care systems to their limits.France and Germany are joining several other European nations that have been forced to impose a new set of restrictions to deal with a second and growing wave of the virus as the cold weather season approaches in the Northern Hemisphere.As of early Thursday, there are more than 44.4 million total COVID-19 cases worldwide, including over 1.1 million deaths. India has reached the milestone of over 8 million total novel coronavirus cases, second only to the United States, with 8.8 million total confirmed cases.As the effort to develop a safe and effective vaccine continues, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration says it will ensure that everyone in the United States will be able to be inoculated free of charge.Seema Verma, the head of the federal government’s Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs, announced Wednesday the agency will cover the cost of any vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.Verma also said that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will cover a larger portion of the cost of any new COVID-19 treatments. Private health plans will also be banned from charging their customers anything for administering the vaccine.