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У Енергодарі окупанти забирають документи у місцевих, аби забезпечити «масовку» на 9 травня – Запорізька ОВА

Окупанти обіцяють віддати документи саме 9 травня. Сподіваються, що велика кількість українців збереться в одному місці та створить необхідну картинку для російських телеканалів

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Chinese Calculations on Taiwan Affected by Ukraine Conflict, CIA Director Says  

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns said on Saturday that China is closely monitoring Russia’s conflict in Ukraine and that it is affecting Chinese leaders’ calculations over Taiwan, the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing. 

Burns, speaking at a Financial Times event in Washington, said the Chinese government had been struck by Ukraine’s fierce resistance to Russia’s invasion and by the economic costs Russia is bearing. 

“I think the Chinese leadership is looking very carefully at all this – at the costs and consequences of any effort to use force to gain control over Taiwan,” Burns said. 

He cautioned, however, that it would not shift Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s long-term goals over Taiwan. 

“I don’t for a minute think that this has eroded Xi’s determination over time to gain control over Taiwan,” he said. “But I think it’s something that’s affecting their calculation about how and when they go about doing that.” 

China has refused to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine and has criticized Western sanctions on Moscow. 

Beijing and Moscow declared a “no-limits” strategic partnership several weeks before the February 24 invasion and have been forging closer energy and security ties in recent years to push back on the United States and the West. 

But Burns said the United States believed China was unsettled by the reputational damage of being associated with the “brutishness” of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military action. 

“I think what the bitter experience, in many ways, of Putin’s Russia in Ukraine over the last 10 or 11 weeks has done is demonstrate that that friendship actually does have some limits,” Burns said. 

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«Це складно, але ми не зупиняємося» – Зеленський про порятунок військових в Маріуполі

Українська влада щоденно шукає дипломатичний варіант, який може спрацювати

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Russian Blockade of Ukrainian Sea Ports Sends Food Prices Soaring

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says global food prices stabilized last month at a very high level but were slightly lower than in March, which saw the highest ever jump in food prices.

FAO officials see little prospect of a significant decrease in the price of food as long as the Russian-Ukrainian war goes on. Both countries combined account for nearly a third of the world’s wheat and barley exports and up to 80% of sunflower seed oil shipments.

The FAO’s deputy director in the markets and trade division, Josef Schmidhuber, said disruption in the export of those and other food commodities from Ukraine is taking a heavy toll on global food security. He said poor countries are suffering most because they are being priced out of the market.

“It is an almost grotesque situation that we see at the moment,” he said. “In Ukraine, there are nearly 25 million tons of grain that could be exported but they cannot leave the country simply because of the lack of infrastructure and the blockade of the ports. At the same time…there is no wheat corridor opening up for exports from Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s summer crop of wheat, barley, and corn will be harvested in July and August. Despite the war, Schmidhuber said harvest conditions are not dire. He said about 14 million tons of grain should be available for export.

However, he notee there is not enough storage capacity in Ukraine. He added there is a great deal of uncertainty about what will happen over the next couple of months as the conflict grinds on.

“And what we also see, and that is, of course, only anecdotal evidence, that grain is being stolen by Russia and is being transported on trucks into Russia,” Schmidhuber said. “The same goes for agricultural implements, tractors, etc., etc. And all that could have a bearing on agricultural output.”

The FAO official said the situation in Ukraine indicates that the current problem is not one of availability, but one of access. He said there is enough grain to go around and feed the world. The problem, he said, is the food is not moving to the places where it is needed.

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Путін перекручує історію, аби виправдати жорстоку війну в Україні – Блінкен

Держсекретар США Ентоні Блінкен заявив, що президент Росії Володимир Путін перекручує історію задля виправдання жорстокої війни проти України.

«Президент Путін намагається перекрутити історію, щоб спробувати виправдати свою неспровоковану і жорстоку війну проти України. Ті, хто вивчає минуле, знають, що президент Зеленський і хоробрий народ України втілюють дух тих, хто переміг під час Другої світової війни. Вони мужньо захищають свою країну, свою демократію та законне майбутнє України в цілій, вільній і мирній Європі», – сказав він у своїй заяві з нагоди 77-ої річниці Дня Перемоги в Європі.

За його словами, оскільки в Європі знову вирує війна, США «повинні посилити рішучість протистояти тим, хто зараз прагне маніпулювати історичною пам’яттю, щоб просувати власні амбіції».

Posted by Ukrap on

На Харківщині із окупованих Руських Тишок медикам вдалося вивезти трьох поранених цивільних – Синєгубов

Російські війська обстріляли населені пункти Чугуївської, Золочівської, Красноградської громад.

Posted by Ukrap on

У Придністровʼї знову заявляють про вибухи

Повідомлення про вибухи і обстріли у цьому регіоні, який підтримується Москвою, почали надходити з кінця квітня.

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Ukraine, China, Trade Set to Dominate US-ASEAN Summit Agenda

Trade relations, regional security and the Russian invasion of Ukraine will top the agenda when U.S. President Joe Biden hosts the leaders of member countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, at a conference May 12-13.

Eight out of 10 ASEAN leaders will attend the U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit. Missing will be Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is due to leave office in June, and Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, whom ASEAN excluded in a rare rebuke. The military chief led a coup against Myanmar’s elected civilian government in February 2021.

The White House has not released many details about the summit, except to say it will demonstrate the United States’ “enduring commitment” to ASEAN. 

While the summit is not expected to yield much substance, observers say the symbolism of Biden taking two days to host these leaders while war rages in Ukraine will reaffirm that the Indo-Pacific is still Washington’s priority. Biden will follow up with a trip to Seoul and Tokyo for a Quad Summit later this month.

Some key issues to watch from the summit:

Ukraine

 

Biden is likely to push the Ukraine issue in pursuit of a coalition against Moscow that extends beyond Europe.

“I would note that there has been a broad response to the invasion of Ukraine by [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin and the Russian military, including by a number of countries who are participating,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Friday. 

Regional views on the war are mixed, however. Myanmar, for example, openly supports Russia, while Singapore was the only ASEAN country to slap Moscow with sanctions. And with many members hit by war-induced increases in the cost of oil, gas, grains and fertilizers, ASEAN will bring forth calls for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

Sarang Shidore, director of studies at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, warned that in a region bloodied by the Cold War, the Biden doctrine of pitting democracies against autocracies will not work. The administration must be mindful not to trigger nonaligned regional instincts. 

“Ultimately, ASEAN countries don’t want a world of two blocs,” he told VOA.

The region’s states need to diversify their relationships with major players, including Russia, to avoid being caught in the U.S.-China rivalry trap, said Aaron Connelly, a senior fellow for Southeast Asian politics and foreign policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. 

“To have one of those relationships, with Russia, potentially taken off the table by Western sanctions or by pressure — that is really challenging to them because that would force them to be even more engaged in the U.S.-China relationship, which they don’t want to do,” Connelly told VOA.

A key area to watch is whether Washington will push the ASEAN leaders to cut back on weapons purchases from Moscow or threaten them with secondary sanctions on Russian oil. Secondary sanctions, like those reimposed on Iran in 2018, pressure third-party importing countries to reduce their purchases or risk being cut off from the American financial system.

Trade relations

 

The summit presents an opportunity to discuss deepening trade relations, a key part of what ASEAN wants as part of the comprehensive strategic partnership (CSP) framework negotiated since October. ASEAN already has a CSP with China and Australia.

Observers say the U.S. lacks a robust economic and trade strategy to counter China’s increasing influence in the region. The administration has stated it will not sign on to any new free trade agreements; with Trump-era protectionist sentiments still running high, opening American market access is viewed as politically perilous domestically.

Meanwhile, the region has many free trade options to choose from. ASEAN is negotiating a free trade agreement with Canada, and some of its members have joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).  

Watch related video by Jessica Stone:

Washington is not part of RCEP, the world’s largest free trade agreement that includes China. Beijing has applied for membership to CPTPP, a free trade agreement born out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Obama pushed for, but Trump pulled out of.

To signal its interest in rebuilding trade relations in the region, the administration is developing its Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), which will include different modules covering “fair and resilient trade, supply chain resilience, infrastructure and decarbonization, and tax and anticorruption.” Countries can choose the modules they are interested in. 

So far, regional reception to IPEF has been lukewarm — a challenge for the administration. Collectively, the ASEAN’s 10 member states make up the third-largest economy in Asia and the seventh largest in the world, with a combined gross domestic product of $2.4 trillion.

“ASEAN countries really matter,” said Marc Mealy, senior vice president of policy at the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council. “If you look at America’s top 20 to 30 trade partners in the world, six of them are ASEAN member states.” 

The U.S. is also lagging China in another area: infrastructure investment. The launch of the Build Back Better World initiative, billed as a healthier alternative to Beijing’s Belt and Road program, has been delayed.

China threat

Amid security threats posed by China, ASEAN nations will want reassurances that U.S. military support for NATO and Ukraine will not come at the cost of a reduced commitment to the Indo-Pacific.

The U.S. is likely to condemn Chinese behavior, particularly its militarization of islands in the South China Sea. However, ASEAN’s divergent views on China pose a challenge.

“Some members — Vietnam, for instance, Philippines to a lesser degree — would really like to hear more tough talk about China. Indonesia — to a degree Singapore, certainly Malaysia and Thailand — wants to kind of hive off U.S.-China competition and keep it outside of the organization, at least publicly,” said Gregory Poling, director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The U.S. has to respond to both those demand signals.”

The summit statement will also likely include standard language about North Korea and nuclear proliferation risks. But more closely watched will be what the statement says about Ukraine and the South China Sea. 

Pandemic recovery

Indonesia, as host of the Group of 20 summit in November and co-host of the second virtual Global COVID-19 Summit next week, is set to push for a more robust and equal global pandemic recovery agenda that includes access to vaccines, testing and therapeutics.

So far, the U.S. has donated 190 million vaccine doses to ASEAN countries and others in the East Asia and Pacific region.

The summit is also set to build on past investments to fight the pandemic, including the $40 million announced in October to accelerate joint research and strengthen health system capacity through U.S.-ASEAN Health Futures — an initiative launched under the Trump administration. Another key investment is the Southeast Asia regional office of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which opened in Hanoi, Vietnam, in August.

However, because the administration’s request for global pandemic response funding is stuck in Congress, the U.S. may not be able to offer what the region needs: money to turn vaccines in vials into shots in arms. 

Human rights

This will be the first time Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen, this year’s ASEAN chair, sets foot in the White House since taking power in 1985. Activists worry that Biden is giving international legitimacy to the former Khmer Rouge commander, whose rule is been marked with corruption, repression and violence.

“If the administration holds this summit and does not publicly raise human rights concerns with ASEAN members, it will send a message that human rights violations will now largely be tolerated in the name of forging alliances to counter China,” John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, told VOA.

Myanmar, led by a coup-installed junta, is another problem. While junta leader Min Aung Hlaing has agreed to follow ASEAN demands to send only nonpolitical representatives to the summit, he has largely ignored ASEAN’s five-point consensus to halt violence and engage in dialogue following the deadly unrest in the wake of the coup.

Just last month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called out Myanmar’s military for crimes against Rohingya Muslims. Observers say the administration will urge tougher steps against Myanmar, but that is likely to get nowhere with the ASEAN members.

Climate change

Observers say there are untapped opportunities that can pair the administration’s global climate change goals with the infrastructure demands of the region. Several initiatives are set to be expanded, including the U.S.-ASEAN Climate Futures, a program to help the world limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

ASEAN leaders are scheduled to meet with U.S. congressional leaders and attend a dinner at the White House Thursday. Biden and ASEAN leaders will participate in summit discussions at the State Department the next day.

This will be the second special summit with ASEAN leaders held in the U.S. since then-President Barack Obama’s meeting at the Sunnylands estate in California. Many hailed the 2016 summit as the beginning of a new era in Washington’s relationship with one of the most dynamic regions in the world, given the political, cultural and economic diversity of its 10 member states.

Jessica Stone contributed to this report.

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Sinn Fein Set for Historic Win in Northern Ireland Election

Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein was widely expected to become the largest group in the Northern Ireland Assembly for the first time, giving it the right to the post of first minister in Belfast, as vote-counting in this week’s election resumed Saturday.

A Sinn Fein win would be a milestone for a party long linked to the Irish Republican Army, a paramilitary group that used bombs, bullets and other forms of violence to try to take Northern Ireland out of U.K. rule during decades of unrest — in which the British Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary, as well as Protestant Loyalist paramilitaries, were also strongly involved.

A victory would bring Sinn Fein’s ultimate goal of a united Ireland a step closer. But the party has kept unification out of the spotlight during a campaign that has been dominated by more immediate concerns, namely the skyrocketing cost of living.

With about 51 of 90 seats counted so far, results showed that Sinn Fein has 18 seats, while the Democratic Unionist Party, which has been the largest in the Northern Ireland Assembly for two decades, have 14.

The centrist Alliance Party, which doesn’t identify as either nationalist or unionist, has seen support surge and is set to be the other big winner of the elections. It has 10 seats so far.

Unionist parties have led the government since Northern Ireland was formed as a Protestant-majority state in 1921.

While a Sinn Fein win would be a historic shift that shows diluting support for unionist parties, it’s far from clear what happens next.

Under a mandatory power-sharing system created by the 1998 peace agreement that ended decades of Catholic-Protestant conflict, the jobs of first minister and deputy first minister are split between the biggest unionist party and the largest nationalist one.

Both posts must be filled for a government to function, but the Democratic Unionist Party has suggested it might not serve under a Sinn Fein first minister.

The DUP has also said it will refuse to join a new government unless there are major changes to post-Brexit border arrangements, known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, that are opposed by many unionists.

The post-Brexit rules have imposed customs and border checks on some goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K. The arrangement was designed to maintain an open border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland, a key pillar of the peace process.

But it angered unionists, who maintain that the new checks have created a barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. that undermines their British identity.

In February the DUP’s Paul Givan resigned as first minister as post-Brexit tensions triggered a fresh political crisis in Northern Ireland.

Polling expert John Curtice, a professor of political science at the University of Strathclyde, said the Northern Ireland results are a legacy of Brexit.

“The unionist vote has fragmented because of the divisions within the community over whether or not the Northern Ireland Protocol is something that can be amended satisfactorily or whether it needs to be scrapped,” he wrote on the BBC website.

Persuading the DUP to join a new government will pose a headache for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he added.

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill said the party wanted to work “in partnership with others.”

“That is the only way we will achieve much, much more for people here, whether in terms of the cost-of-living crisis or trying to fix our health service,” she said.

She also said that with regard to Irish unification, there would be no constitutional change until voters decide on it.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald indicated on Friday that planning for any unity referendum could come within the next five years.

The full results of the election, which uses a system of proportional representation, were expected later in the weekend.

The new legislators will meet next week to try to form an executive. If none can be formed within six months, the administration will collapse, triggering a new election and more uncertainty.

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US Companies Struggle to React to Potential State Abortion Bans

In the days since the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade and allow individual states to outlaw abortion, U.S. corporations have been largely silent on the issue. But experts say that behind the scenes, corporate leaders are scrambling to figure out how to respond.

The court’s opinion, written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito, would change the law in huge swaths of the United States, primarily in the South and Midwest.

If the opinion takes effect, access to abortion would be sharply curtailed or effectively eliminated in up to 26 states, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research organization. Those bans will apply immediately in states that have passed “trigger” laws that take effect as soon as Roe v. Wade is struck down.

For business leaders, deciding how to react is a complex calculation, involving challenges such as how to address the concerns of employees who live in states poised to ban abortion; what sort of public stance, if any, to take on the divisive issue; and how to plan for a future in which a state’s social policies — beyond the control of corporate executives — can affect potential employees’ willingness to take a job.

Difficult subject

“I think we can kind of start off by saying that this is an issue that corporations would really, really rather not touch with a barge pole,” Alison Taylor, executive director of the business advisory organization Ethical Systems, told VOA.

Taylor said that if the ruling takes effect, she has little doubt that companies are going to have to address it through changes to their benefits packages that, for example, cover the expenses of women who have to travel to a different state to obtain an abortion.

Many companies will eventually have to take a public stand, she said, because of the increasing expectation, particularly among younger workers, that corporations ought to have positions on important social issues.

Given the current uncertainty, however, it is understandable that many companies would prefer not to take a public stance right now, she said.

“People are not really saying anything yet,” she added. “I think they are trying to get their ducks in a row. But I am not convinced that speaking up is a very advisable idea given the current context.”

Retaliation worries

A real concern is that any company response that seems implicitly critical of the court’s decision leaves that business open to the possibility of political retaliation.

On Wednesday, for example, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida harshly criticized companies that offer to pay for employees to travel to different states for abortion care. He introduced a new bill that would make it illegal for companies to claim that spending as a business expense. Rubio’s bill also would target companies that pay for parents to take children out of state for treatment of gender-identity conditions.

In a statement, Rubio said, “Our tax code should be pro-family and promote a culture of life. Instead, too often our corporations find loopholes to subsidize the murder of unborn babies or horrific ‘medical’ treatments on kids. My bill would make sure this does not happen.”

Retaliation has also occurred at the state level. In March, Citigroup said it would pay for employees in Texas to travel out of state for an abortion, circumventing a new law in that state. In response, a state lawmaker announced he would introduce a bill that would prevent the company from underwriting municipal bonds in Texas.

Silence not total

While most major corporations have been silent on the draft opinion, social media firms appear to be an exception. While not speaking expressly for her company, Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Meta, formerly known as Facebook, criticized the opinion on her own Facebook page.

“This is a scary day for women all across our country,” she wrote. “If the leaked draft opinion becomes the law of the land, one of our most fundamental rights will be taken away. Every woman, no matter where she lives, must be free to choose whether and when she becomes a mother. Few things are more important to women’s health and equality.”

The social media site Yelp issued a statement that said, in part, “Overturning Roe v. Wade will jeopardize the human rights of millions of women who stand to lose the liberty to make decisions over their own bodies.”

Bumble, which owns online dating sites, issued a statement that said, “At Bumble, we believe strongly in women’s right to choose and exercise complete control over their bodies. The safety, privacy, and freedom of family planning are critical to equality for all.”

Benefit changes likely

Past actions suggest many companies will alter their benefits packages to allow employees in states that ban abortions to access services in states that do not.

Last year, when the Supreme Court allowed a controversial Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks to stand without ruling on the merits of the case, a number of companies were quick to promise support to their employees in Texas.

Apple offered to cover medical expenses for its workers who had to leave the state for abortion services. Salesforce offered to help employees relocate to a different state if they wanted to. On Monday, before the draft opinion leaked, Amazon announced that it would reimburse Texas employees up to $4,000 for travel expenses related to out-of-state abortion care.

Jen Stark, senior director for corporate strategy at the Tara Health Foundation, told VOA that in the short term, she would expect to see more of the same.

“We’ve seen examples of companies beginning to roll out programs to provide some travel support, update their paid sick leave programs and other wraparound benefits and existing policies and practices that can be adapted to meet the moment,” she said.

Stark said that corporate leaders she has spoken with are also beginning to consider how to address public policy issues such as this one in the future.

Against public opinion

The anti-abortion movement in the United States is large and well-organized. However, the elements of the movement that seek total or near-total bans of the practice represent a minority of the population.

Survey data have demonstrated again and again that a broad majority of the American public does not want Roe v. Wade overturned. Belief that access to abortion ought to be maintained is even more popular among younger workers than it is across the population in general.

This presents potential problems for businesses operating in states likely to sharply restrict access to abortion.

“Eight in 10 college-educated knowledge workers — top talent — view access to abortion and reproductive health care as part of gender equity in the workplace, no more, no less,” Stark said. “Employers that want to attract top talent into states that have social policies that don’t align with their values will have to do more to make up for this.”

In some cases, that might well involve locating operations elsewhere.

Said Taylor, of Ethical Systems: “If I had expansion plans in states that are going to be enacting these laws, I’m going to be revisiting them now because of the expense and the hassle, and because of the noise that a lot of these lawmakers are making about ‘If you put in place protections, or if you try and do something to help women, we’re going to retaliate against you.'”

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US-China Policy Takes Shape Ahead of Meetings with Asian Leaders

The United States plans to more fully outline its policy toward China ahead of a series of high-profile meetings with Asian leaders, and the first in-person meeting between U.S. and Chinese defense chiefs in June.  

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was expected to make a major policy speech this week outlining the administration’s approach to relations with China. The speech was postponed after the secretary tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.    

The U.S.’s China policy likely will be a part of the U.S.-ASEAN summit next week in Washington, as well as the Quad summit later this month in Tokyo, where President Joe Biden will meet with counterparts from Australia, India and Japan.  

President Biden has emphasized that Washington and Beijing need to establish “guardrails” to avoid unintended conflicts while managing great power competition with China.   

Those are expected to be a feature of talks between defense chiefs from the United States and China during the so-called Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, a high-level Asia security summit.   

Keeping military communications open  

This year’s annual Shangri-La Dialogue will be held from June 10–12.  It was last held in 2019 and canceled in consecutive years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that he hoped the meeting with China’s Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe can “promote security and stability in the region.” 

“We both recognize the importance of a dialogue and maintaining open channels,” said Austin. “I look forward to again, engaging him in the future — in the not-too-distant future.”   

This would be their first in-person meeting since President Biden took office. Austin and Wei spoke over the phone on April 20. The two sides provided different accounts of the conversation afterward.

 Some experts said while it is significant that both the U.S. and China are “demonstrating to the region that there are lines of communication,” the security gathering itself cannot solve longstanding problems between the two countries.  

“The two sides would have the appearance of being cordial and professional but the meeting itself would be likely reading scripts,” said Drew Thompson, a senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.  

Improving US competitiveness with China  

State Department Counselor Derek Chollet told VOA in a recent interview that elements of the U.S.-China relationship are “conflictual,” “competitive,” with areas on which the countries fundamentally disagree. He said the space for cooperation between the U.S. and China is “dwindling” after Russia’s war on Ukraine. 

 

This week, the U.S. Senate passed the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021. If signed into law, the bill would pay for billions to support semiconductor manufacturing and enhance the U.S. capability to compete with Chinese technology.   

Secretary of State Blinken’s China speech is expected to underscore the government’s plan to invest more in U.S. strategic interests, such as high-tech products like semiconductors, as part of a broader push to improve U.S. competitiveness with China.   

“We have strengthened our capacity to shape the ongoing technological revolution so that it actually protects our interests. It boosts our competitiveness, it upholds our values,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week.  

The U.S. government considers China a strategic competitor, with Beijing seeking to grow its military and economic influence around the world. There have been clashes over tariffs and technology secrets, as well as regional flashpoints that have the potential to spiral into armed conflict, including in the Taiwan Strait and the South China and East China seas.  

“When it comes to Taiwan,” Blinken told U.S. lawmakers last Tuesday, “we are determined to make sure that it has all necessary means to defend itself against any potential aggression, including unilateral action by China to disrupt the status quo that’s been in place now for many decades.”  

China considers self-ruled Taiwan a breakaway province and has not ruled out the use of force to reunify the two sides.

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Europe’s Farmers Stir Up Biogas to Offset Russian Energy

In lush fields southwest of Paris, farmers are joining Europe’s fight to free itself from Russian gas.

They’ll soon turn on the tap of a new facility where crops and agricultural waste are mashed up and fermented to produce “biogas.” It’s among energy solutions being promoted on the continent that wants to choke off funding for Russia’s war in Ukraine by no longer paying billions for Russian fossil fuels.

Small rural gas plants that provide energy for hundreds or thousands of nearby homes aren’t — at least anytime soon — going to supplant the huge flows to Europe of Russian gas that powers economies, factories, business and homes. And critics of using crops to make gas argue that farmers should be concentrating on growing food — especially when prices are soaring amid the fallout of the war in Ukraine, one of the world’s breadbaskets.

Still, biogas is part of the puzzle of how to reduce Europe’s energy dependence.

The European Biogas Association says the European Union could quickly scale up the production of bio-methane, which is pumped into natural gas networks. An investment of 83 billion euros ($87.5 billion) — which, at current market prices, is less than the EU’s 27 nations pay per year to Russia for piped natural gas — would produce a tenfold increase in bio-methane production by 2030 and could replace about a fifth of what the bloc imported from Russia last year, the group says.

The farmers around the Paris-region village of Sonchamp feel their new gas plant will do its bit to untie Europe from the Kremlin.

“It’s not coherent to go and buy gas from those people who are waging war on our friends,” said Christophe Robin, one of the plant’s six investors, who farms wheat, rapeseed, sugar beets and chickens.

“If we want to consume green (energy) and to avoid the flows and contribution of Russian gas, we don’t really have a choice. We have to find alternative solutions,” he said.

Biogas is made by fermenting organic materials — generally crops and waste. Robin likened the process to food left too long in a container.

“When you open it, it goes ‘Poof.’ Only here, we don’t open it. We collect the gas that comes from the fermentation,” he said.

The gas from their plant could meet the needs of 2,000 homes. It will be purified into bio-methane and injected into a pipeline to the nearby town of Rambouillet, heating its hospital, swimming pool and homes.

“It’s cool,” said Robin. “The kids will benefit from local gas.”

Like in the rest of Europe, the production of bio-methane in France is still small. But it is booming. Almost three bio-methane production sites are going online every week in France on average and their numbers have surged from just 44 at the end of 2017 to 365 last year. The volume of gas they produced for the national network almost doubled in 2021 compared to the previous year and was enough for 362,000 homes.

France’s government has taken several steps to quicken bio-methane development since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. The industry says bio-methane met almost 1% of France’s needs in 2021 but that will increase to at least 2% this year and it could make up 20% of French gas consumption by 2030, which would be more gas than France imported last year from Russia.

The Sonchamp farmers took out 5 million euros ($5.3 million) in loans and received a 1-million-euro state subsidy to build their plant, Robin said. They signed a 15-year contract with utility firm Engie, with a fixed price for their gas. That will limit their ability to profit from high gas prices now but ensures them a stable income.

“We’re not going to be billionaires,” said Robin.

Workers are finishing the construction and the plant is almost ready to be connected to the network. Piles of agricultural waste — wheat husks, pulped sugar beets, onion peelings, even chicken droppings — have been prepared to be fed into the giant bubble-like fermentation tanks.

Winter barley specially grown to make gas will make up about 80% of the 30 tons of organic material that will be fed each day into the plant.

Robin insists that the barley won’t interfere with the growing of other crops for food, which critics worry about. Instead of one food crop per year, they’ll now have three harvests every two years — with the barley as extra, sandwiched in between, Robin said.

In Germany, the biggest biogas producer in Europe, the government is cutting down on crop cultivation for fuels. The share of corn permitted in biogas facilities will be lowered from 40% to 30% by 2026. Financial incentives will be provided so operators use waste products such as manure and straw instead.

Germany is estimated to have over 9,500 plants, many of them small-scale units supplying rural villages with heat and electricity.

Andrea Horbelt, a spokeswoman for the German biogas association, said the production of bio-methane could be doubled in a matter of years but also wouldn’t be cheap.

“Using biogas for electricity is more expensive than solar and wind, and will always remain so,” she said.

At the end of their gas-making process, the Sonchamp farmers will also get nitrogen- and potassium-rich wastes from the fermenters that they’ll use to fertilize their fields, reducing their consumption of industrial fertilizer.

“It’s a circular economy and it’s green. That pleases me,” Robin said. “It’s a superb adventure.”

Posted by Ukrap on

Абрамович продає «Челсі» за 4 млрд фунтів

Англійський футбольний клуб «Челсі» продадуть консорціуму бізнесменів з участю мільярдера Тодда Белі, йдеться у повідомленні на сайті клубу.

Сума угоди – понад чотири мільярди фунтів стерлінгів (понад п’ять мільярдів доларів). Її мають схвалити британський уряд та Англійська футбольна прем’єр-ліга. Виручені кошти надійдуть на заморожений рахунок Романа Абрамовича у Великій Британії. Потім їх спрямують на благодійність.

Тодд Белі – співвласник бейсбольної команди «Лос-Анджелес Доджерс». Крім нього, в угоді беруть участь американський бізнесмен Марк Волтер, швейцарський мільярдер Хансйорг Віс та інвестиційна компанія Clearlake Capital.

Мільярдер Роман Абрамович придбав «Челсі» у 2003 році за 140 мільйонів фунтів. Після російського вторгнення в Україну Великобританія запровадила щодо Абрамовича санкції. Абрамович має російський та ізраїльський паспорти. Останній він отримав після того, як у 2018 році зіткнувся із труднощами під час продовження британської візи та переїхав із Лондона до Тель-Авіва. Нещодавно Абрамович отримав також громадянство Португалії.

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Яхту у ймовірній власності Путіна арештували в Італії

Останніми тижнями в портах Євросоюзу в рамках санкцій проти Росії за вторгнення в Україну було заарештовано кілька супер’яхт, що належать російським мільярдерам

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Угорщина надасть Україні допомогу на 37 млн євро – посольство

Усі пропозиції, як вказують угорські дипломати, були озвучені 6 травня у столиці Польщі Варшаві

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Latest Developments in Ukraine: May 7

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:

12:02 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, says that “likely widespread civilian resistance” may disrupt Russian plans for a Victory Day event in Mariupol.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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Зеленський затвердив відзнаку «Хрест бойових заслуг» – першим її отримав головнокомандувач ЗСУ

Президент вказав на те, що досі країна не мала «саме бойових відзнак»

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Байден заявив про новий пакет військової допомоги Україні

За словами президента, США «майже вичерпали» суму, яку Конгрес санкціонував для України у березні. Він закликав затвердити новий пакет на 33 млрд доларів

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Влада Берліна заборонила українську символіку на заходах 8-9 травня – медіа

Посол України в Німеччині Мельник закликав ​міську голову Берліна скасувати рішення, назвавши його «ляпасом Україні і українському народові»