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Міністри оборони НАТО зібралися вперше після інавгурації Байдена

Відеоконференція міністрів оборони країн-членів НАТО почалася 17 лютого. Це перша така нарада з моменту вступу на посаду президента США Джо Байдена.

Під час конференції мають розглянути питання бюджету НАТО, розширення місії в Іраку і можливе завершення операції в Афганістані. В ній вперше бере участь новий міністр оборони США Ллойд Остін.

Генеральний секретар НАТО Єнс Столтенберґ закликав європейських союзників виконувати зобов’язання, пов’язані з ростом витрат на оборону. Домогтися вкладу в загальний бюджет НАТО від кожного союзника на рівні двох відсотків від внутрішнього валового продукту – така мета була поставлена ще в 2014 році, нагадав Столтенберґ. У той час Джо Байден був віцепрезидентом США.

Столтенберґ зазначив, що мета, поставлена у 2014 році стала відповіддю на «агресивну поведінку Росії, анексію Криму і більш жорстокі форми тероризму». Він наголосив, що ці загрози збереглися, а до них додалася кіберзагроза.

Конференція продовжиться 18 лютого.

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Зеленський розширив перелік посад, які має затверджувати президент

Президент України Володимир Зеленський розширив перелік посад, призначення на які має затверджувати глава держави. Відповідний указ оприлюднений Офісом президента 17 лютого.

До переліку додано кілька посад: голова Державної служби спеціального зв’язку та захисту інформації України; перший заступник, заступники Голови Державної служби спеціального зв’язку та захисту інформації України».

Указ набуває чинності з моменту публікації.

Перелік посад керівників військових формувань, правоохоронних органів, кандидатури для призначення на які погоджуються з президентом України затвердив третій президент України Віктор Ющенко 4 червня 2008 року.

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UNHCR to Help Identify Migrants in Mexico Eligible to Enter US

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will work to identify the most needy migrants waiting in Mexico and help them complete paperwork to pursue asylum claims in the United States, a U.S. official told VOA.Mirroring the UNHCR’s role in facilitating refugee resettlements around the world, the U.N. agency will work with the Biden administration to address the plight of tens of thousands of asylum-seekers the former Trump administration forced to remain in Mexico while awaiting U.S. immigration court dates under an initiative known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) or the “remain in Mexico” policy.”UNHCR is working to select the most vulnerable people or those who have more time in the MPP program to cross [into the United States],” Roberta Jacobson, coordinator for the southwest border on the White House National Security Council, told VOA.The Biden administration, which has moved to end MPP, is expected to begin processing asylum claims February 19.There are approximately 25,000 migrants with active MPP cases.UNHCR screening of asylum seekers is expected to reduce the need to detain migrants who are allowed to enter the United States. Instead, most will be permitted to stay with sponsors or family members already in the U.S.“We don’t have in mind detaining the majority of these persons,” Jacobson said. “We are going to start with a very small number to ensure that everything works well.”Despite the UNHCR’s assistance, the United States will continue to decide who ultimately is granted asylum and allowed to legally remain in the country.The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has stressed that the policy shift does not mean the border is “opening for people to migrate irregularly to the United States.”DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the initiative shows the administration’s commitment to immigration reform, but added that, due to capacity constraints at the U.S.-Mexico border exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, change will take time.“Individuals who are not eligible under this initial phase should wait for further instructions and not travel to the border,” Mayorkas said in a statement. “Due to the current pandemic, restrictions at the border remain in place and will be enforced.”President Joe Biden suspended MPP within days of his inauguration last month. Until this week, it was unclear what would replace it and when the new policy would go into effect.”This new process applies to individuals who were returned to Mexico under the MPP program and have cases pending before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR),” DHS said in a recent press release. “Individuals outside of the United States who were not returned to Mexico under MPP or who do not have active immigration court cases will not be considered for participation in this program and should await further instructions.”A migrant puts on her shoes after crossing the Rio Bravo river to turn herself in to a U.S. Border Patrol agent to request for asylum in El Paso, Texas, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Feb. 8, 2021.The former Trump administration launched MPP in 2019 to deter mass migration to America’s southern border and ease overcrowding at U.S. detention facilities. The Trump White House defended the policy as both necessary and humane in that it persuaded many migrants not to make an arduous and dangerous journey northward.Backers of the program called MPP a success.“MPP was a game changer,” said Lora Ries, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank based in Washington. “And it was because migrants learned that just claiming fear wasn’t the golden ticket to get into the U.S.”Immigrant rights groups contend the policy forced many migrants into makeshift camps in northern Mexico where they endured hunger, disease and threats to their physical safety from criminal gangs.Human Rights First reported that migrants have been kidnapped, tortured, and sexually assaulted by cartels that operate along the U.S.-Mexico border.Last week, the Biden administration indicated that migrants will need to register with international organizations online or over the phone and then await instructions.U.S. officials said migrants will be tested for COVID-19 before being allowed to enter the United States and will be required to wear face masks and comply with social distancing guidelines. Jorge Agobian contributed to this story.
 

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Американські законодавці закликали Байдена проінформувати Конгрес щодо санкцій проти «Північного потоку-2»

На початку лютого консорціум «Північний потік-2» повідомив про відновлення будівництва газопроводу

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European Court of Human Rights Calls on Russia to Free Navalny

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is calling on Russia to release top Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny. ECHR said in a press release Wednesday that it “grants an interim measure in favor of” Navalny and “asks the Government of Russia to release him.”  The court’s ruling demanded that Navalny be released immediately, warning that failure to do so would mark a breach of the European human rights convention.The court pointed to Rule 39 of its regulations, citing “the nature and extent of risk to the applicant’s life.”  FILE – This photo shows the inside of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, eastern France, Feb. 7, 2019.Navalny, 44, has been jailed since his return to Russia last month. Moscow said he violated the terms of his probation while recuperating in Germany from a poisoning attack. The sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction ECHR has ruled to be unlawful.  Navalny was treated in Germany following a nerve-agent poisoning in Siberia last August. He blamed Russia for the poisoning, a charge denied by the Kremlin.  Several western countries have called for Navalny’s release, threatening to impose sanctions against Russia over the case. The Russian Justice Ministry warned in a statement that the ECHR’s demand would represent a “crude interference into the judicial system” of Russia and “cross the red line.” ECHR is the international court of the Council of Europe, Europe’s main human rights forum. In the past, it has complied with ECHR’s rulings to compensate Russian citizens who contested verdicts in Russian courts, but it has never faced a demand by the court to release someone who has been detained.  
 

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Trump’s One-time Atlantic City Casino Is Demolished

The crumbling Trump Plaza Casino along the oceanfront in Atlantic City, New Jersey, once a key real estate asset of former U.S. President Donald Trump before his White House tenure, was demolished Wednesday.
As onlookers cheered, the 39-story hotel with 906 rooms and 8,000 square meters of gambling space for an array of casino games, disappeared in seconds in a controlled implosion.
It was left in rubble, with a cloud of billowing dust drifting from the site on a sunny morning.
Trump, a flamboyant real estate developer before winning the presidency in 2016, opened the casino in 1984. It was the site of numerous high-profile boxing matches that he attended.
Bernie Dillon, the events manager at the casino from 1984 to 1991, recalled the glory days of the casino’s past.
“The way we put Trump Plaza and the city of Atlantic City on the map for the whole world was really incredible,” Dillon told the Associated Press. “Everyone from Hulk Hogan to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, it was the whole gamut of personalities. One night before a Tyson fight, I stopped dead in my tracks and looked about four rows in as the place was filling up, and there were two guys leaning in close and having a private conversation: Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty.”
“It was like that a lot: You had Madonna and Sean Penn walking in, Barbra Streisand and Don Johnson, Muhammad Ali would be there, Oprah sitting with Donald ringside,” he recalled. “It was a special time. I’m sorry to see it go.”
But the facility subsequently fell into disrepair, as had several other casinos in Atlantic City, and it was closed in 2014.
At the end, the building was just a shell of exposed concrete and plumbing.
The building’s current owner, billionaire investor Carl Icahn, has not announced his plans for the prime real estate.
Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small said the demise of the casino “is not about Donald Trump. This is not about politics.”
“Immediately after the implosion, that’s where the conversation shifts,” Small said.

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Millions Still Without Power as Winter Storm Grips Texas

A historic winter storm and frigid temperatures that have gripped at least half the United States has left more than 2.5 million Texans without power. Snow and record cold continued Wednesday in the southwestern state where temperatures are forecast to remain at or below freezing. The unusual winter weather created a huge demand for electricity that caused the state’s independently-run power system to fail, exposing issues with its structure.  In an interview, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo — whose county includes the city of Houston — said some of the outages are caused directly by the weather, and many of those problems are being repaired.  Customers, whose homes are without electric power, wait in line to purchase food and snacks at a gas station in Pflugerville, Texas, Feb. 16, 2021. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/via Reuters)But she said much of what the state is dealing with is a “man-made disaster” stemming from how the electricity grid is managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). She said residents statewide deserve answers. ERCOT President Bill Magness said the system tried to prepare for the storm, but as conditions worsened Monday into Tuesday, several power plants went offline.  Some politicians in the oil- and natural-gas-producing state blamed the problems on green energy sources, saying iced wind turbines were the cause. Magness said some turbines were frozen, but he said twice as much power was wiped out at natural gas and coal plants. He said forcing controlled outages was the only way to avert an even more dire blackout in Texas. As of Wednesday, Magness said ERCOT could not offer a firm timetable for when power might be fully restored. Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott called for an investigation of the agency.  Cold and wintry weather is forecast to continue for at least the next few days in Texas and much of the eastern half of the United States. 
 

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14 Arrested in Spain Protests Over Rapper’s Apprehension

Fourteen people were arrested in Spain Wednesday after violent street protests in several cities followed the apprehension of a controversial rapper who had barricaded himself inside a building to avoid jail.Police say rapper Pablo Hasél was arrested at Lleida University in northeastern Spain after a 24-hour standoff. He was taken to prison to serve a nine-month sentence after being convicted of offending the monarchy and endorsing terrorism in tweets and a song about King Juan Carlos.His arrest triggered protests in several cities, resulting in 33 injuries. The largest demonstration was in Barcelona, where protesters threw stones at police and set trash cans on fire.Convicted Spanish Rapper Arrested in Free Speech CasePablo Hasél’s arrest came after a 24-hour standoff with Catalan police at Lleida university, where he had barricaded himselfSome protesters looted stores and some police used batons and foam projectiles to disperse crowds.After Hasél’s detention, Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said people should not be imprisoned over freedom of speech issues in a democracy like Spain. Last week, the country’s left-wing coalition government said it intended to amend the country’s criminal code to eliminate prison terms for offenses involving freedom of expression. The Catalonian rapper was previously charged with assault and breaking into private premises. Hasél’s case has drawn international attention from artists, other celebrities and politicians who are demanding a change in Spain’s “gag law.”His case is the latest in a list of trials in Spain involving artists and social media personalities under its 2015 Public Security Law, which was enacted by a conservative government, according to Amnesty International.