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Держсекретар США закликав ООН не політизувати гуманітарну допомогу Сирії

Представник США закликав відновити закриті пункти перетину на сирійському кордоні для допомоги місцевому населенню

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Косово стало останньою країною Європи, яка почала вакцинацію від COVID-19

За словами Альбіна Курті, він хотів показати приклад, який заохотив би людей вакцинуватися

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Pandemic Apologies and Defiance: Europe’s Leaders Increasingly Rattled

European leaders are handling rising public frustration, economic distress and mounting coronavirus case numbers in different ways, with most showing the strain of dealing with a yearlong pandemic, say analysts and commentators, who add that the leaders seem to be rattled by a third wave of infections sweeping the continent.A defiant French President Emmanuel Macron defended his decision to avoid a lockdown as the infection rate climbed in January, telling reporters last week he had “no remorse” and would not acknowledge any failure for the deepening coronavirus crisis engulfing France.“There won’t be a mea culpa from me,” said Macron.In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel last week apologized to Germans for her initial decision — now rescinded — to lock the country down tight for Easter. She called the idea a mistake and apologized after a hastily arranged videoconference with the country’s 16 state governors.German Chancellor Angela Merkel answers questions from lawmakers at German parliament Bundestag in Berlin, March 24, 2021.But she urged fellow Germans to be more optimistic and stop complaining about restrictions and vaccine delays.“You can’t get anywhere if there’s always a negative,” she said. “It is crucial whether the glass is half full or half empty.”Merkel has likened the third wave of rising coronavirus infections to “living in a new pandemic” and encouraged Germans to test themselves once a week with rapid tests provided by authorities.In France, medical directors from the Paris public health system warned in a statement to Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper that soaring infections are overwhelming the capital’s hospitals. As in Bergamo, Italy, a year ago, they say medical staff will soon have to choose which patients to treat.“We’re going straight into the wall,” said Catherine Hill, an epidemiologist in France. “We’re already saturated, and it’s become totally untenable. We can no longer take in non-COVID patients. It is completely mad,” she told French radio.France’s Health Ministry reported 37,014 new coronavirus cases Sunday, bringing the country’s total number of infections to over 4.5 million. Over 94,000 people in the country have died from the virus.Medical staff work in the intensive care unit where COVID-19 patients are treated at Cambrai hospital, France, March 25, 2021.Across Europe, 20,000 people are dying per week, more than a year ago, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO has urged governments to get back to basics in their handling of the pandemic. Central Europe, the Balkans and the Baltic states are also being hit hard with cases, hospitalizations and deaths — among the highest in the world.Political repercussionsThe pandemic has claimed two political positions, as well. The coalition government in Italy headed by Giuseppe Conte collapsed last month amid a dispute about how to spend European Union recovery funds.On Sunday, embattled Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovič announced his resignation to end a monthlong political crisis sparked by his decision to buy the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine to make up for a shortfall in vaccines distributed by the EU.Prime Minister Igor Matovic, front, announces the resignation of Health Minister Marek Krajci, left, in Bratislava, March 11, 2021.Matovič will switch places with current Finance Minister Eduard Heger, who will become the new prime minister of the fractious four-party coalition government.Under public pressure to get a grip on the crisis, some leaders appear to be increasingly nervous about the possible electoral repercussions from more lockdowns, deaths and likely more months of reduced economic activity, which means more bankruptcies.According to a pan-Europe opinion poll conducted for the International Republican Institute, a U.S.-based NGO in partnership with European parliamentary groups, Europeans, especially in the East and center of the continent, are becoming increasingly gloomy about their economic prospects. Pessimism is especially pronounced among low-income Europeans.More than 40% of respondents from Hungary, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Italy, Romania, Poland and Spain told pollsters they feel their financial situation will get worse. With the gloom mounting, governments appear to be lashing out, according to some commentators, with efforts being made to find scapegoats for the worsening crisis.A vendor waits outside her stall at a deserted market in Budapest, Hungary, March 25, 2021.British officials argue that the ongoing dispute between Britain and the EU over supplies to Europe of the AstraZeneca vaccine are part of an effort to shift blame. The EU claims it is not getting a fair share of doses, thanks to behind-the-scenes British shenanigans — an accusation London vehemently denies.The British media have also lambasted European leaders for what they say are false accusations, with Macron being seen as largely behind the distraction. “There is now a systematic attempt by his (Macron’s) entourage to blame the unfolding debacle on the British, trying to create a sense that everything would be on track were it not for the U.K.’s refusal to hand over AstraZeneca vaccines,” said British columnist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.Policy U-turns are coming thick and fast — another sign of political disarray, analysts say.Merkel on Sunday — just days after relenting on a tight Easter lockdown — blamed regional governments for failing to take the crisis seriously enough and for easing restrictions despite rapidly rising infection rates.She threatened to centralize Germany’s pandemic response and override regional powers, a move that would be legally and politically risky and would undermine traditional German federalism. 

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Єрмак у розмові з радником Байдена припустив, що США могли б відіграти більш активну роль

Єрмак «подякував» США за підтримку суверенітету та територіальної цілісності України

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Vatican Banishes Retired Polish Archbishop Over Sex Allegations

The Vatican banished the former archbishop of Gdansk in Poland on Monday following an investigation into negligence over sex abuse allegations. The announcement came from the Vatican’s embassy in Warsaw. The investigation into Archbishop Leszek Slawoj Glodz, who retired last August, began in November of last year. “Acting on the basis of the provisions of the Code of Canon Law … the Holy See, as a result of formal notifications, conducted proceedings concerning the reported negligence of Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz in cases of sexual abuse committed by some clergy towards minors and other issues related to the management of the archdiocese,” said the apostolic nunciature. A statement from the apostolic nunciature said Glodz may not live in the territory of the archdiocese of Gdansk, nor may he attend religious celebrations or secular meetings there. In addition, Glodz will be paying a “suitable sum” to the Saint Joseph Foundation, an organization that provides assistance to victims of abuse. In 2019, priests in Gdansk accused Glodz of covering up cases of sexual abuse. At the time, Glodz denied any wrongdoing. Glodz was included in a report by people who said they were survivors of abuse. The report identified two dozen current and retired Polish bishops who have been accused of protecting predator priests. The report was delivered to Pope Francis on the evening of his 2019 global abuse prevention summit at the Vatican. Glodz could not be contacted for comment as his whereabouts were not known. The Gdansk archdiocese told Reuters it had received the decision but did not provide any further comment. 

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Spain Looks at Human Trafficking Side of Prostitution 

Adebi works in the shadows on La Rambla, Barcelona’s famous boulevard. In normal times, she tries to attract tourists or locals who are out for a night out on the city. The 36-year-old has lived in Spain for 10 years but when she arrived in her adopted home from Nigeria, prostitution was hardly what she had in mind. “I wanted to come here and do domestic work, you know, send money back home. It has not been like that,” she told VOA. Adebi, who did not want to use her real name, is like many other women who have been tricked into prostitution by well-organized sex trafficking gangs, who demand that the women pay off a debt by selling themselves for sex. Prostitution has boomed in Spain since decriminalizing the practice in 1995. The country became known as the brothel of Europe after a 2011 United Nations report said it was the third biggest capital of the sex trade after Thailand and Puerto Rico. The sex trade is worth $25 billion per year and about 500,000 people work in unlicensed brothels, according to data from Eurostat, the European Union Statistics agency.  About 80% of these women are victims of sex traffickers, say Spanish National Police officials. New legislation Now, Spain’s leftist coalition government wants to ban prostitution by bringing in a new law that would attempt to penalize anyone profiting from the sex trade. “We are on the right path, which has to end in national legislation against prostitution and trafficking, which says that our sexuality is available to men that we are a commodity which is bought and sold,” said Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo last week. “There is trafficking because there is prostitution; if there is no prostitution there is no trafficking. We are abolitionists.” Prostitution occupies something of a legal limbo in Spain; selling yourself for sex is not illegal but profiting from it is. According to Spanish law, sex trafficking is when one person moves, detains or transports someone else for the purpose of profiting from their prostitution using fraud, force or coercion. Previous attempts to bring in a national law have floundered because political parties could not agree. Calvo has the support of the far-left Unidas Podemos party, the junior partner in the coalition government, but seeks to win over the opposition conservative People’s Party and regional parties. More harm than good? Nacho Pardo, a spokesman for the Committee to Support Sex Workers, CATS, believes banning prostitution will harm the very people it is designed to help. 
“This will not eradicate prostitution. It will not offer people working in prostitution and it will help the mafias in the same way as happened in the US when prohibited alcohol,” he told VOA in a telephone interview.  “I think it will be catastrophic.” CATS helps about 2,000 prostitutes in southeastern Spain each year, of which about 10% were victims of sex trafficking, says Pardo. He said many women, men and transsexuals from Africa and South America, became involved in the sex trade in Spain because sex traffickers insisted they pay off debts.  The traffickers demand payment for the cost of smuggling the sex workers and finding them work, but advocates say the alleged debts in reality amount to swindling and extortion.  Nigerian women form the largest group of Africans who operate in Spain, Pardo said. Romanians form the largest group of foreign prostitutes in Spain, followed by women from the Dominican Republic and Colombia. “Most feel deep shame about being involved in the sex trade,” he said. FILE – Women hold a giant banner reading ‘Abolition of prostitution’ during a demonstration to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Madrid on Nov. 25, 2019.Rocío Mora, who has been campaigning against sex trafficking for three decades, is the director of Apramp, which helps protect, help and reintegration women who are in prostitution. She says her team sees almost 300 women per day who are victims of sex trafficking. “Since 1985 we have been calling for abolition of prostitution. In a country which believes in the state of law, no person should be sold for their body,” she told VOA. “There is now a need for a comprehensive law that criminalizes those who profit from what is a form of violence against women.” Back on the streets of Barcelona, Adebi says all women were forced to have sex with clients, often under threat. She says some Nigerian women were told they had run up debts of up to $60,000 but despite plying their trade for years, they never worked it off. “Women are fined for being late, not looking good, buying cigarettes from a place which is not the sex club they are working in, anything,” she says. “That whole film with Richard Gere was a myth. There is no such thing as Pretty Woman.”  

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Opening Arguments Begin in Ex-Police Officer’s Trial in George Floyd’s Death

Opening arguments started Monday in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, accused of pinning down a Black man, George Floyd, on a city street in an incident last year that triggered protests around the world against police abuse of minorities. A 12-member jury and three alternates are hearing the case, with testimony in the high-profile trial possibly lasting a month. The 45-year-old Chauvin, who is white, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in the death of Floyd, who was 46. If convicted, Chauvin could face years in prison.  Ex-Police Officer’s Trial in George Floyd’s Death Starts MondayDerek Chauvin faces murder charges; a multiracial jury set to hear opening argumentsChauvin says he was following police training in arresting Floyd as he pinned him to a city street by keeping his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. A nearby shopkeeper had accused Floyd of passing a counterfeit $20 bill.Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump and other supporters knelt on a sidewalk outside the courthouse for the same length of time before the trial started.“What kind of hate would you have to keep pressure on for that length of time?” the civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton said. “It became deliberate and intentional.” Crump said, “America, this is the moment to show the rest of the world…there is liberty and justice for all.”Floyd died in custody after gasping that he could not breathe. Aside from claiming his client was following police training in the way the arrest was carried out, Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, is expected to argue that Floyd died from underlying medical conditions, not because Chauvin was holding him down on the street. In a victory for the defense, the judge overseeing the trial said Nelson could tell the jury about a 2019 encounter between Floyd and Minneapolis police during which Floyd allegedly exhibited behavior like his actions in the incident in which he died. Nelson has said the 2019 incident is central to his argument that Floyd’s health issues and the level of drugs in his system killed him, not Chauvin pinning him down on May 25, 2020. Prosecutors opposed admission of a two-minute video of the 2019 incident, contending that it was an attempt to tarnish Floyd’s character in the minds of the jurors. Street protests of police treatment of minorities, some of which turned violent, erupted in numerous U.S. cities and elsewhere throughout the world in the weeks after Floyd’s death. Over the last three weeks, the jury was picked to try the case. The panel, including the three alternates, is racially diverse. It includes six white women, three white men, three Black men, one Black woman and two multiracial women, according to court records. The city of Minneapolis agreed recently to pay Floyd’s relatives $27 million in damages to settle their claims of abuse in the case. But the trial was not delayed because of the settlement.

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VOA Interview: Retired Admiral James Stavridis on US-China Relations

Retired Admiral James Stavridis spent 37 years in the military serving in NATO and as head of the U.S. Southern Command. He has spent his career dealing with the world’s great naval powers. VOA’s Jela de Franceschi spoke with him about the current state of affairs between Beijing and Washington.