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На фронті без змін, триває «абсолютно героїчна» оборона Донбасу – Зеленський

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Міжнародні резерви України за підсумками травня скоротилися на 7% – Нацбанк

Скорочення пов’язане насамперед з продажем валюти на міжбанківському валютному ринку, каже регулятор

Posted by Worldkrap on

Son of Buffalo Victim Pushes Congress: ‘What Are You Doing?’

The son of Ruth Whitfield, an 86-year-old woman killed when a gunman opened fire in a racist attack on Black shoppers in Buffalo, New York, challenged Congress on Tuesday to act against the “cancer of white supremacy” and the nation’s epidemic of gun violence.

Garnell Whitfield Jr.’s emotional testimony comes as lawmakers are working furiously to strike a bipartisan agreement on gun safety measures in the aftermath of back-to-back mass shootings.

Ten days after the shooting death of his mother and nine others in New York by an 18-year-old gunman, another 18-year-old with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 school children and two teachers.

“What are you doing? You were elected to protect us,” Whitfield told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Is there nothing that you personally are willing to do to stop the cancer of white supremacy and the domestic terrorism it inspires?” he asked. “If there is nothing, then respectfully, senators … you should yield your positions of authority and influence to others that are willing to lead on this issue.”

The hearing is the first of two this week as families of the victims and survivors of the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde appear at public hearings and events on Capitol Hill to show the human toll of America’s gun violence and urge Congress to act.

Pressing for a deal, President Joe Biden met Tuesday with Senator Chris Murphy, a key Democratic negotiator, who has worked most of his career trying to curb the nation’s mass-shooting scourge after the heartbreaking slaughter of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary in his home state of Connecticut a decade ago.

Murphy told reporters after the meeting that he was grateful to have an opportunity to update the president on the talks in the Senate. “Obviously, we’ve still got work to do in the Senate,” he said.

Murphy said his goal is to try to get an agreement this week, but he added that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has been clear that “we need some extra time to dot the i’s and cross the t’s that will get it.”

On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee is expected to hear from more victims’ families and from fourth-grader Miah Cerrillo, who captured Americans’ attention after she described covering herself in her dead classmate’s blood and playing dead to survive the shooting rampage in Uvalde.

The Senate hearing Tuesday focused directly on the white supremacist ideology that authorities say led an 18-year-old gunman dressed in military gear to drive hours to a predominately Black neighborhood in Buffalo and live stream his violent rampage. The shooting left 10 people dead and several others wounded.

“My mother’s life mattered,” Whitfield said. “Your actions here will tell us if and how much it mattered to you.”

Shortly after the Buffalo massacre, a bill that would have bolstered federal resources to prevent domestic terrorism failed in the Senate at the hands of Republican opposition. Even at Tuesday’s hearing, Republican senators took the time to focus on the racial injustice protests that took place in the summer of 2020, citing those incidents as acts of domestic extremism.

Since the failed vote, senators have regrouped and began to meet privately in a small bipartisan group headed by Murphy and Republican Senator John Cornyn, trying to hash out a compromise that could actually become law.

But lawmakers have been here before — unable to pass any substantial gun safety laws in decades in the face of steep objections from Republicans in Congress, some conservative Democrats and the fierce lobby of gun owners and the National Rifle Association. No major legislation has made it into law since the 1994 assault weapons ban, which has since expired.

The package under discussion is far short of the sweeping measures for an assault weapons ban or universal background checks that are popular with Americans and advocated by gun safety groups but rejected by Republicans.

Instead, the senators are focusing on incremental policy changes through a system that would send funds and other incentives to the states to bolster security at school campuses, provide more mental health services to young people and possibly encourage states to pursue red-flag laws to keep firearms out of the hands of people who would do harm.

“I’m optimistic we can get 60-plus votes — but the question is what that package looks like,” Cornyn told reporters as lawmakers arrived back in town Monday from a week-long recess.

Cornyn was referring to the 60-vote threshold needed in the 50-50 Senate to advance legislation past a filibuster that can block most any bill.

The Texas senator said he was preparing to brief his colleagues Tuesday at their weekly Senate lunch on the status of negotiations. But he warned Democrats off rushing the process, saying “arbitrary deadlines” are no help in the talks.

While senators are reluctant to raise the age requirement for gun purchases from 18 to 21, as has been done in some states, an alternative idea surfacing is to open the records of juvenile offenders to look for problem spots before allowing adults to purchase weapons.

Murphy said that Cornyn has articulated a legitimate concern that many times law enforcement doesn’t have access to juvenile records when making a decision on a background check.

“That clearly seems like something we should fix and address,” Murphy said. “That’s certainly a part of our talks. It’s complicated because different states have different rules when it comes to juvenile records.”

The proposals are gaining traction, but also raising concerns from Democrats and some advocacy groups who are pushing senators to do more, faster, to stem the tide of mass shootings across the nation.

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McConaughey Calls for Gun Control Action at White House

Academy Award–winning actor Matthew McConaughey took center stage at the White House briefing Tuesday to call on Congress to “reach a higher ground” and pass gun control legislation in honor of the children and teachers killed in last month’s shooting rampage at an elementary school in his home town of Uvalde, Texas.

In a highly personal 22-minute speech, McConaughey offered a full-throated exhortation for a gridlocked Congress to pass gun reforms that can save lives without infringing on Second Amendment rights.

McConaughey used his star power to make an argument for legislation in a fashion that the Biden administration has not been able to, offering a clear connection to the small Texas town and offering vivid detail on the sheer loss of the 19 children and two teachers in the second worst mass school shooting in U.S. history.

“We want secure and safe schools and we want gun laws that won’t make it so easy for the bad guys to get the damn guns,” McConaughey said.

McConaughey, who earlier this year considered a run for governor in Texas before taking a pass, met briefly with President Joe Biden before addressing the White House press corps from the James Brady briefing room.

McConaughey, who declined to take questions, spoke of learning to become a responsible gun owner as a youngster in Uvalde. He said he and his wife drove back to Uvalde on the day after the shooting and spent time with the families of some of the victims and others directly impacted by the rampage.

He said every parent he spoke to expressed that “they want their children’s dreams to live on.”

“They want to make their loss of life matter,” McConaughey said.

He related the personal stories of a number of the victims, displaying the artwork of one girl and the trademark green tennis shoes worn by another.

McConaughey acknowledged that gun legislation would not end mass shootings but suggested that steps can be taken to lessen the chances of such tragedies happening so frequently.

“We need to invest in mental health care. We need safer schools. We need to restrain sensationalized media coverage. We need to restore our family values. We need to restore our American values and we need responsible gun ownership,” McConaughey said.

“Is this a cure-all? Hell no. But people are hurting,” he said.

Posted by Ukrap on

ГУР: Україні вдалося повернути 210 тіл військових, більшість – оборонці «Азовсталі»

Всі загиблі мають повернутися на підконтрольну Україні територію, наголощують у ГУР

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World Bank Warns of Global Economic Slowdown, More Inflation

The World Bank on Tuesday said the world is entering “a protracted period of feeble growth and elevated inflation,” as it cut global growth forecasts by 1.2% to 2.9% for 2022.

The bank added that many countries are likely to face recession.

The bank blames the COVID-19 pandemic for most of the problem and said the Russian invasion of Ukraine is also a factor.

“The danger of stagflation is considerable today,” World Bank President David Malpass wrote in the foreword to the report. “Subdued growth will likely persist throughout the decade because of weak investment in most of the world. With inflation now running at multi-decade highs in many countries and supply expected to grow slowly, there is a risk that inflation will remain higher for longer.”

The bank thinks global growth will hover around 3% in 2023 and 2024, with inflation remaining high in many economies.

Growth in the U.S., the bank said, would only be 2.5% this year, down from 5.7% last year.

Europe would also see growth of 2.5% compared to 5.4% last year, the bank predicted.

China was expected to grow 4.3% this year, down from 8.1% last year, the bank said. It blamed the country’s draconian COVID-19 lockdowns for the slowed growth.

Some information in this report comes from The Associated Press and Reuters.

Posted by Ukrap on

Російські спроби штурму біля Світлодарська та Вуглегірська ТЕС були безуспішними – Генштаб ЗСУ

На Бахмутському напрямку з боку  військ РФ були спроби штурму біля Світлодарська та Вуглегірська ТЕС, але вони – безуспішні, повідомляє у вечірньому зведенні Генштаб ЗСУ.

«Біля Нагірного, наші захисники завдали вогневого ураження підрозділам окупантів. Після невдалої спроби штурму, ворог відійшов на позиції, що займав раніше», – йдеться у повідомленні.

На Авдіївському, Курахівському, Новопавлівському та Запорізькому напрямках окупанти активних бойових дій не вели.

На Слов’янському напрямку війська РФ готуються до наступу на місто Слов’янськ. Обстріляли райони населених пунктів Велика Комишуваха, Долина, Курулька, Грушуваха, Червона Поляна та Шнурки.

На Сєвєродонецькому напрямку, за даними Генштабу, російські війська обстрілювали підрозділи українських військ та цивільну інфраструктуру із ствольної та реактивної артилерії в районах населених пунктів Лисичанськ, Борівське та Метьолкіно.

На Харківському напрямку противник веде бої з метою утримання зайнятих рубежів, продовжує обстріли українських військ, мінує місцевість, додають у Генштабі.

Posted by Worldkrap on

Erdogan Vows Military Operation Against US Kurdish Ally in Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced a major military operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria whom Ankara considers terrorists. Analysts say Turkey believes it’s in a strong position given that Washington needs Ankara to lift its threats to veto Sweden and Finland’s bids to join NATO. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul.

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Голова ВЦА розповів, хто з боку Росії штурмує Сєвєродонецьк

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У МВС розповіли, скільки вибухонебезпечних предметів виявили за час війни

За перші 100 днів широкомасштабної війни Росії проти України було розміновано 370 населених пунктів

Posted by Worldkrap on

Political Dangers Remain for British PM After Failed Bid to Oust Him

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday his Conservative Party should “draw a line under our issues” after he survived a no-confidence vote by his own Members of Parliament Monday evening, following months of speculation over the future of his leadership. 

The prime minister held a meeting of his Cabinet Tuesday, where ministers expressed their support and claimed he had a “fresh mandate” to govern.

In Monday night’s ballot, 211 MPs voted in favor of Johnson, with some 148 voting against him – meaning over 40% of his own MPs wanted to oust him as party leader and prime minister.

As the result was announced by Graham Brady, the chairman of the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, Boris Johnson’s supporters erupted in cheers. 

‘Move on’

The prime minister put a positive spin on the outcome. “I think it’s an extremely good, positive, conclusive, decisive result, which enables us to move on, to unite and to focus on delivery,” he told reporters.

Education Secretary Nadim Zahawi, a long-time supporter of Johnson, agreed it was time to move on – and praised the prime minister for the military support he had given to Ukraine.

“We’ve got to deal with the backlog of the NHS (National Health Service), safer streets and of course war in Europe. What do you think (Ukrainian) President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy will be thinking tonight? He’ll be punching the air because he knows his great ally, Boris Johnson, will be prime minister tomorrow morning. That’s what we’ve got to focus on,” Zahawi told Sky News Monday evening.

Politically wounded

However, the prime minister has been politically wounded by the vote, according to Anand Menon, a professor of European politics at Kings College London.

“This really is a pretty bad result for the prime minister and what it means going forward I think is that prime ministerial survival will be the foundation stone of this government,” Menon told VOA.

Boris Johnson delivered the Conservative Party a thumping 80-seat majority at the December 2019 election by promising to “get Brexit done.” His predecessor, Theresa May, was forced to resign after repeatedly failing to get a Brexit agreement through parliament.

Britain finally left the European Union weeks later, just as the coronavirus pandemic was hitting the continent. Johnson’s popularity peaked around May 2020, after he survived several days in intensive care having contracted the virus.  

Plummeting popularity

So what went wrong? 

The latest polls show his popularity has plummeted, with some 68% of voters saying he is doing a bad job, versus 26% who approve. He and his wife, Carrie, were booed Friday by sections of the crowd at Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee service at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral. 

“Boris Johnson being booed at St. Paul’s was quite a moment, actually,” says Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London. “One would expect most of the people who attend events like that as members of the public to be pretty traditional conservatives and for them actually to make their displeasure so obvious in public, I think is quite significant moment,” Bale told the Associated Press.

Party-gate

Johnson is the first British prime minister to be convicted of breaking the law while in office, after police investigations into parties held at his Downing Street residence during COVID-19 lockdowns – so-called party-gate. A parliamentary investigation into the parties is still ongoing. Johnson had previously told MPs that no such events were held.

“A number of his own MPs cited the fact that he had clearly lied to parliament as a reason for voting against him,” said analyst Anand Menon. “And secondly, those same MPs have seen the prime minister’s popularity ratings with the British public tank.”

Divisions

The prime minister denies that he lied to parliament. But his problems run deeper, according to Menon.

“Whether it be party-gate, whether it be a sense amongst his own backbenchers that there is no coherent plan for government, or whether it be the fact that actually the Conservative Party is divided.” 

Historically, British prime ministers who suffered significant rebellions haven’t survived long in the job – including Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Theresa May. “Boris Johnson is slightly strengthened by the fact that there is no obvious successor,” Menon said.

Johnson’s supporters say he got the big calls right: giving military support to Ukraine; delivering on the Brexit referendum; a fast COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

But his critics say he is now a political liability and their calls for him to resign are unlikely to die down.

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‘Heightened’ US Threat Environment Expected to Worsen

U.S. homeland security officials warn the chances for increased violence or terror attacks are likely to grow over the next six months, citing a volatile convergence of pervasive disinformation, conspiracy theories and several high-profile events like the anticipated Supreme Court decision on abortion and the country’s mid-term elections.

The Department of Homeland Security reissued its National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin Tuesday, hours before the previous advisory was set to expire, citing a continued heightened threat environment despite the lack of any specific or credible threats.

“As recent acts of violence in communities across the country have so tragically demonstrated, the nation remains in a heightened threat environment, and we expect that environment will become more dynamic in the coming months,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

“The Department of Homeland Security remains steadfast in our commitment to provide timely information and resources to the American public and our partners across every level of government,” Mayorkas added, promising “regular engagements” to promote the sharing of intelligence, training and other resources.

According to the new advisory, potential targets in the United States include public gatherings, faith-based institutions, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents.

This is the sixth time that DHS has issued a NTAS bulletin since January 2021 and comes as the U.S. is reeling from a spate of deadly mass shootings, including last month’s rampage by a white, teenage gunman at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York who specifically targeted Black victims.

The suspect in that case, Payton Gendron, has been charged with domestic terrorism motivated by hate and 10 counts of first-degree murder.

Less than two weeks later, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos entered the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, shooting and killing 19 students and two teachers, before he himself was killed.

Other deadly shootings in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Laguna Woods, California have also quickly been overshadowed.

A Washington-based non-profit organization that tracks shootings, GunViolenceArchive.org, found that since June 3 alone, more than 124 people have been killed and 325 wounded in more than 300 shootings across the U.S.

U.S. homeland security officials say they have been trying to work more closely with state and local officials, and with community organizations, to help them identify individuals who may be radicalized or motivated to engage in violence, and to help prevent and respond to attacks.

DHS has also worked with nonprofit organizations at risk of attack, providing more than $250 million in grants for “target hardening and other physical security enhancements.”

And officials are hoping to secure additional funding for similar programs in the near future.

“We’re working very closely with Congress to ensure we can increase funding so that all of our faith-based communities have what they need to upgrade their security and protect themselves against whether it’s terrorism, hate crimes or other targeted violence,” a senior DHS official told reporters in advance of the bulletin, briefing on the condition of anonymity under ground rules established by the department.

The department has also spent at least $77 million through a Homeland Security Grant Program to prevent and prepare for domestic violent extremist threats.

Officials acknowledge it has not been enough to counter conditions that have created what they describe as a dynamic threat environment.

“It’s really the convergence of that myth and disinformation with the current events that creates those conditions that we’re concerned about in terms of mobilization to violence,” said a second senior DHS official, also briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity.

“We’re seeing more kinds of actors, different types of actors that have different personal or ideological grievances, respond to events that we haven’t seen in the past,” the second official added. “A recent example of that is the threats that we’ve seen related to the issue of the Supreme Court opinion [on abortion] and the extent to which we’ve seen actors from across the ideological spectrum attempt to use that type of decision or events to mobilize or encourage violence.”

DHS officials also raised concerns about this year’s midterm elections, with many races already underway, ongoing grievances over the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, and possible change to U.S. immigration policies as potential triggers.

There is also heightened concern about the disinformation environment, with social media inundated by conspiracy theories and by influence operations engineered by both state and non-state actors.

Some of the most prevalent and most dangerous are ones like the so-called Great Replacement theory, which claims Western elites and Jewish people, in particular, are trying to replace white people with immigrants – a theory referenced in writing by the 18-year-old suspect in the deadly shooting in Buffalo last month.

“Easy access to the content online is really fueling those personal grievances and those often-inaccurate misperceptions about current events,” the second DHS official said, warning teenagers, are especially vulnerable.

“It’s really difficult for younger individuals to navigate the internet and understand what is considered to be credible information that they’re consuming,” the official said.

Information from Reuters was used in this report

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Ukrainian and Russian Forces Fight for Control of Sievierodonetsk

Ukrainian and Russian forces engaged in intense street-to-street fighting in the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk on Monday, as Ukraine’s president said Russian troops were also intending to capture the key southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia.  

The situation in Sievierodonetsk was “changing from hour to hour,” according to the head of the city’s administration, Oleksandr Stryuk, who spoke on television.  

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainian forces had “every chance” to gain control in the city.  

His assessment came after Luhansk regional Governor Serhiy Haidai suggested Ukraine had lost ground.       

Haidai said, “Our defenders managed to undertake a counterattack for a certain time. They liberated almost half of the city. But now the situation has worsened a little for us again.”        

Both Russia and Ukraine claim to have inflicted huge casualties on each other.   

Zelenskyy told a news conference Monday that Russian troops also intended to capture Zaporizhzhia, in the southeast, to allow them to advance closer to the center of the country.  

“The enemy wants to … occupy the city of Zaporizhzhia,” Zelenskyy said. The city is an industrial hub with a prewar population of more than 700,000 people.     

The Ukrainian leader said Monday he received confirmation from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson “of a new enhanced defense support package,” and that the two discussed ways to unblock Ukrainian ports and avoid a food crisis.      

Britain announced Monday it is sending M270 multiple-launch rocket systems that can hit targets up to 80 kilometers away.    

“We cannot stand by while Russian long-range artillery flattens cities and kills innocent civilians,” Johnson said.     

Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address Monday, “I am grateful to Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the complete understanding of our demands and preparedness to provide Ukraine with exactly the weapons that it so needs to protect the lives of our people.”    

 

Ben Wallace, Britain’s defense secretary, said support for Ukraine must change as Russia’s tactics change, and that the new rocket systems “will enable our Ukrainian friends to better protect themselves against the brutal use of long-range artillery, which Putin’s forces have used indiscriminately to flatten cities.” Wallace was referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.         

Putin has warned that Moscow would hit targets “we haven’t yet struck” if the West went ahead with plans to send long-range rocket systems to Ukraine.           

U.S. President Joe Biden said last week that the United States plans to send the Kyiv government $700 million in new weaponry that includes four precision-guided, medium-range rocket systems, helicopters, Javelin anti-tank weapon systems, radars, tactical vehicles, spare parts and more.    

Russia’s foreign ministry announced Monday new sanctions against 61 U.S. nationals in response to what it called “constantly expanding U.S. sanctions.” 

Those listed include Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.     

Some material in this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press. 

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Росія «обстрілює власних громадян заради пропаганди»: голова Сумщини про обстріл прикордонного селища РФ

«Бували навіть випадки, коли вони приганяли важку артилерію «Гради», виставляли вздовж кордону з Сумщиною і «гатили» в середину, вглиб Росії»

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Teacher, 14-year-old Among Hundreds of Americans Hit by Gunfire Over Weekend 

A Philadelphia school teacher, an Arizona teenager, and a Chicago police officer were among hundreds of people struck down by bullets over the weekend, part of a relentless wave of shootings that has pushed gun violence to the forefront of U.S. politics. 

More than 124 people were killed and 325 wounded in 300-plus shootings documented in the United States since Friday, according to GunViolenceArchive.org, a Washington D.C. non-profit that tracks shootings. 

The rash of violence over the weekend came on the heels of a series of deadly mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, Buffalo, New York, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, that re-ignited a national debate over tighter restrictions on gun ownership, which gun rights advocates fiercely oppose. 

After the weekend shootings, a number of big-city mayors voiced frustration over the impact of the violence on their communities. 

“I’m tired of standing in front of you talking about guns and bodies,” Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly told a news conference on Sunday, hours after two people were killed and 14 wounded in a shooting at a nightclub in his city. 

“The surge in gun violence that we’ve seen across the nation and here in Philadelphia makes me not just heartbroken, but angry,” Mayor Jim Kenney said on Sunday, the day after three people were killed and 12 injured when gunshots were fired into a crowded bar in the city’s South Street district. 

The Philadelphia shooting late Saturday night grew out of a confrontation between two men who exchanged words as they passed each other on the street, sparking a brawl that escalated quickly into gunfire involving at least four weapons, authorities said on Monday. 

Two suspects, one of them shot in the hand when he opened fire into the melee, were taken into custody on Monday, according to Joanne Pescatore, an assistant city district attorney. 

Kris Minners, a second-grade resident advisor at Philadelphia’s Girard College, a private boarding school, was among the victims who lost their life in the shooting, according to a Pennsylvania teachers union. 

“We see lives senselessly lost and those injured in yet another horrendous, brazen and despicable act of gun violence,” said Kenney. 

On Monday, in response to the gun violence, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed 10 gun control bills into law. Read full story.   

Lawmakers in Washington D.C. are also looking at several gun control measures, but any new federal gun legislation faces steep hurdles from Republicans, particularly in the Senate. Read full story.

“Change must happen now,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said in a Tweet after a 14-year-old girl was killed and eight others wounded in a shooting at a strip mall on Saturday.   

The weekend also saw police officers shot in Baltimore and Chicago. On Sunday afternoon, on Chicago’s South Side, a policeman was wounded during a traffic stop, becoming the second officer injured by gunfire in the area in the last four days. 

“How many officers and residents must be victims of gun violence before we act?” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement after the shooting. 

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Внаслідок обстрілів у Харківській області за добу загинули двоє людей, семеро поранені – Синєгубов

Російські війська обстрілювали Харків та інші населені пункти області протягом попередньої доби

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Бояться, що буде контрнаступ – Живицький про обстріли російськими військами прикордоння Сумщини

«Вони «прощупують» нашу вогневу силу, але вогонь у відповідь практично не відкривається»

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Russian Superyacht to Leave Fiji, Court Rules 

A Fiji court has ruled a Russian-owned superyacht be removed from the Pacific island nation by the United States because it was a waste of money for Fiji to maintain the vessel amid legal wrangling over its seizure.

The U.S. Justice Department’s Taskforce KleptoCapture has focused on seizing yachts and other luxury assets of Russian oligarchs in a bid to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war in Ukraine.

The 106-meter(350-foot) Amadea arrived in Fiji on April 13 after an 18-day voyage from Mexico. It was seized by Fiji authorities after the country’s High Court granted a U.S. warrant last month that linked the yacht to sanctioned Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov.

The FBI has said the $300 million luxury vessel had running costs of $25 million to $30 million per year, and the United States would pay to maintain the vessel after it was seized.

However, the Fiji government has been footing the bill while an appeal by the vessel’s registered owner, Millemarin Investments, worked its way through Fiji’s courts.

The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that public interest demands the yacht “sail out of Fiji waters,” because having it berthed in Fiji was “costing the Fijian Government dearly,” according to the judgment.

The vessel “sailed into Fiji waters without any permit and most probably to evade prosecution by the United States,” it added.

The United States alleges Kerimov beneficially owns the Amadea, although lawyers for the vessel have denied this and told the court it was owned by another Russian oligarch, Eduard Khudainatov, the former chief of Russian energy giant Rosneft, who has not been sanctioned.

Last month, another luxury yacht reportedly owned by Khudainatov worth some $700 million was impounded by police in Italy.

The FBI said in the seizure warrant the Amadea had tried to avoid being seized “almost immediately” after Russian troops entered Ukraine, turning off its automated tracking system on February 24.

The vessel’s lawyer, Feizal Haniff, declined to comment on the judgment.

“The decision acknowledges Fiji’s commitment to respecting international mutual assistance requests and Fiji’s international obligations,” said Fiji’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Pryde in a statement.

He said the court agreed “issues concerning money laundering and ownership” need to be decided in the originating U.S. court.

“The Amadea has been handed over to U.S. authorities and will now leave Fiji,” he added.

The U.S. embassy in Suva did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Biden Drops Tariffs on Southeast Asian Solar Panels for 2 years 

The Biden administration announced Monday that it would waive tariffs on solar panels imported to the United States from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam for 24 months, reducing uncertainty for the U.S. solar energy companies that had been spooked by a Commerce Department investigation launched in March. 

The announcement came as part of a package of measures to accelerate clean energy product development in the U.S. In addition to the waiver, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to upgrade the electrical grid and speed up investment in the domestic manufacturing of solar panels, building insulation, heat pumps and clean energy fuels. 

“The stakes could not be higher,” a document released by the White House said. “Failing to take these actions would deny consumers access to cost-cutting clean energy options, add risks to our power grid, and stall domestic clean energy construction projects that are critical to tackling the climate crisis.” 

Solar development roadblock 

In March, the Commerce Department announced it was investigating a complaint filed by a small solar panel manufacturer in California against competitors in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. 

The company, Auxin Solar, charged that manufacturers in those countries were using Chinese-made components to assemble solar panels for sale in the U.S.  

In 2011, the U.S. charged China with “dumping” solar panels in the U.S. market, a term for selling them at below cost. The Chinese imports were suffocating U.S. manufacturers, who could not profitably compete against the artificially low prices. As a result, the U.S. imposed tariffs of as much as 250% on Chinese-made solar panels. 

Auxin Solar’s complaint was that many of the solar panels coming from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam were really Chinese products with a misleading country of origin certification.   

When the Commerce Department investigation was announced, U.S. solar projects were immediately thrown into disarray, with many halting altogether. The fear that tariffs might suddenly more than triple the cost of solar panels changed the potential costs of new projects. In addition, the fear that the government might impose retroactive tariffs made U.S. importers even more reluctant to bring them into the country.    

A temporary reprieve 

The administration’s announcement on Monday includes language making it clear that the tariff waiver is meant to be a temporary “bridge” that will allow the solar power industry to continue to use imported panels of questionable origin until domestic production can be brought up to speed. 

The White House said that President Biden is “reinforcing his commitment to safeguarding the integrity and independence of all ongoing trade investigations by career officials at the Department of Commerce and recognizing the vital role these processes play in strengthening our economy.” 

That language did not satisfy some in the industry who are trying to compete with low-cost imports. 

‘Deeply disappointed’ 

In a statement emailed to VOA, Auxin Solar CEO Mamun Rashid criticized the Biden administration for “interfering” with the Commerce Department’s investigation.   

“By taking this unprecedented — and potentially illegal — action, he has opened the door wide for Chinese-funded special interests to defeat the fair application of U.S. trade law,” Rashid said. “Since filing this case, Auxin has been well under way to scaling up. If the President will follow through on his stated intent to support the U.S. domestic industry — including grants to scale and produce upstream inputs like cells and wafers — Auxin is ready, willing, and able to meet that challenge.” 

Arizona-based First Solar, one of the largest manufacturers of solar panels in the U.S., was sharply critical of the administration’s decision. 

“First Solar is deeply disappointed in today’s announcement, which only benefits China’s state-subsidized solar industry,” Samantha Sloan, the company’s vice president of global policy, said in a statement. 

“Today’s proclamation directly undermines American solar manufacturing by giving unfettered access to China’s state-subsidized solar companies for the next two years. This sends the message that companies can circumvent American laws and that the US government will let them get away with it as long as they’re backed by deep-pocketed political pressure campaigns.”    

Sloan also criticized the decision to use the Defense Production Act to increase domestic solar manufacturing, calling it “an ineffective use of taxpayer dollars.” 

Trade groups pleased 

Companies in the business of installing solar power projects greeted the administration’s decision warmly, however. 

“President Biden’s proclamation today to use the full power of executive authority to jumpstart the domestic solar industry is a bold act of leadership,” Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power Association, an industry trade group, said in a statement.    

“The President’s announcement will rejuvenate the construction and domestic manufacturing of solar power by restoring predictability and business certainty that the Department of Commerce’s flawed inquiry has disrupted,” Zichal said.  

In another statement, Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, another trade group, said, “While the Department of Commerce investigation will continue as required by statute, and we remain confident that a review of the facts will result in a negative determination, the president’s action is a much-needed reprieve from this industry-crushing probe.”  

“Today’s actions protect existing solar jobs, will lead to increased employment in the solar industry and foster a robust solar manufacturing base here at home,” Hopper said. “During the two-year tariff suspension window, the U.S. solar industry can return to rapid deployment while the Defense Production Act helps grow American solar manufacturing

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson Survives No-Confidence Vote 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a no-confidence vote Monday but is weakened after more than 40% of his Conservative Party voted against him remaining in office.

In a secret ballot, 148 of the 359 Conservative Party lawmakers voted against Johnson. At least 180 would have had to vote against Johnson for him to be removed.

The prime minister has been under heavy scrutiny since revelations last year that he and his staff held parties in his Downing Street office when Britain was under strict COVID-19 restrictions.

Lawmakers across the political spectrum have voiced concerns about Johnson, and he has faced anger from the public. Some in the crowd booed him when he arrived last week for a service in the queen’s honor during her Platinum Jubilee.

After Monday’s vote, Johnson called his win “convincing” and said, “What it means is that as a government, we can move on and focus on stuff that I think really matters to people.”

He has said he wants to focus on improving the economy and promoting conservative policies like cutting taxes.

Johnson said before the vote that if party members stuck with him, “I will lead you to victory again.”

Johnson became prime minister in July 2019. The next election must be held by 2024, and some Conservatives have expressed concern that the scandals will hurt the party.

However, leading Cabinet ministers have rallied around Johnson, touting his successes in implementing the country’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign and his strong support for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, often mentioned as a possible successor to Johnson, tweeted her support of the prime minister. “Pleased that colleagues have backed the Prime Minister. I support him 100%. Now’s the time to get on with the job,” she wrote.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.