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Kurds Hold March of Mourning After Paris Shooting Kills 3

Members of France’s Kurdish community and others held a silent march Monday to honor three people killed in a shooting at a Kurdish cultural center in Paris that prosecutors say was motivated by racism.

Turkey summoned France’s ambassador Monday over what it called “black propaganda” by Kurdish activists after the shooting. Some have marched in Paris with flags of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or suggested that Turkey was linked to the shooting.

A 69-year-old Frenchman was handed preliminary charges Monday of racially motivated murder and weapons violations over Friday’s shooting, the Paris prosecutor’s office said. The suspect told investigators that he had wanted to kill migrants or foreigners and then had planned to kill himself, and said he had a “pathological” hatred of non-European foreigners, according to prosecutors.

He was briefly put in psychiatric care but then returned to ordinary police custody. The suspect’s name hasn’t been officially released, though he is identified by French media as William K.

The shooting shocked and infuriated the Kurdish community in France, which organized the silent march on Monday. Demonstrators marched from the site of Friday’s shooting to the location where three female Kurdish activists were found shot dead in 2013.

“Every day we ask ourselves when someone will shoot at us again. Ten years ago, we were attacked in the heart of Paris, and 10 years later again,” said Dagan Dogan, a 22-year-old Kurd at Monday’s march. “Why there was nothing done to protect us?”

The solemn march ended calmly. Skirmishes broke out in the neighborhood where the killings took place on Friday, and again on the sidelines of a mostly peaceful Kurdish-led demonstration on Saturday.

Prosecutors say the suspect had a clear racist motive for the shooting.

Anti-racism activists and left-wing politicians have linked it to a climate of hate speech online and anti-immigrant, xenophobic rhetoric by far-right figures. The French government has reported a rise in race- or religion-related crimes and violations in recent years.

French authorities have called Friday’s attack an isolated incident, but some Kurdish activists in Paris think it was politically driven.

Turkey summoned French Ambassador Herve Magro on Monday to relay unease over what it called black propaganda being waged against Turkey by Kurdish militant groups following the attack, the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Turkey “expects France to act prudently over the incident and not to allow the (banned PKK) terrorist organization to advance its sneaky agenda,” Anadolu reported.

The PKK has waged an armed separatist insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 for independence, which has more recently morphed into demands for greater autonomy. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced many, with a significant number of ethnic Kurds and alleged PKK supporters migrating to European countries.

Turkey’s army has battled Kurdish militants affiliated with the PKK in southeast Turkey as well as in northern Iraq, and recently launched a series of strikes against Syrian Kurdish militant targets in northern Syria.

Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider the PKK a terror group, but Turkey accuses some European countries of leniency toward alleged PKK members. That frustration has been the main reason behind Turkey’s continued delay of NATO membership for Sweden and Finland.

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Ukraine FM Aims for February Peace Summit

Ukraine’s foreign minister said Monday that his government is aiming to have a peace summit by the end of February, preferably at the United Nations with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as a possible mediator, around the anniversary of Russia’s war. 

But Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told The Associated Press that Russia could only be invited to such a summit if the country faced a war crimes tribunal first. 

Kuleba also said he was “absolutely satisfied” with the results of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to the U.S. last week, and he revealed that the U.S. government had made a special plan to get the Patriot missile battery ready to be operational in the country in less than six months. Usually, the training takes up to a year. 

Kuleba said during the interview at the Foreign Ministry that Ukraine will do whatever it can to win the war in 2023, adding that diplomacy always plays an important role. 

“Every war ends in a diplomatic way,” he said. “Every war ends as a result of the actions taken on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.” 

Kuleba said the Ukrainian government would like to have a peace summit by the end of February. 

“The United Nations could be the best venue for holding this summit, because this is not about making a favor to a certain country,” he said. “This is really about bringing everyone on board.” 

On December 12, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine planned to initiate a summit to implement the Ukrainian peace formula in 2023. 

At the Group of 20 summit in Bali in November, Zelenskyy presented a 10-point peace formula that includes the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops, the release of all prisoners, a tribunal for those responsible for the aggression and security guarantees for Ukraine. 

Asked about whether they would invite Russia to the summit, he said that Moscow would first need to face prosecution for war crimes at an international court. 

“They can only be invited to this step in this way,” Kuleba said. 

About Guterres’ role, Kuleba said: “He has proven himself to be an efficient mediator and an efficient negotiator, and most importantly, as a man of principle and integrity. So, we would welcome his active participation.” 

The foreign minister again downplayed comments by Russian authorities that they are ready for talks. 

“They regularly say that they are ready for negotiations, which is not true, because everything they do on the battlefield proves the opposite,” he said. 

In comments released Sunday on Russian state television, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that his country is ready for talks to end the war in Ukraine but suggested that the Ukrainians are the ones refusing to take that step. Despite Putin’s comments, Moscow’s forces have kept attacking Ukraine — a sign that peace isn’t imminent. 

Zelenskyy’s visit to the U.S. was his first foreign trip since the war started February 24. Kuleba praised Washington’s efforts and underlined the significance of the visit. 

“This shows how both the United States are important for Ukraine, but also how Ukraine is important for the United States,” said Kuleba, who was part of the delegation to the U.S. 

Ukraine secured a new $1.8 billion military aid package, including a Patriot missile battery, during the trip. 

Kuleba said that the move “opens the door for other countries to do the same.” 

He said that the U.S. government developed a program for the missile battery to complete the training faster than usual “without any damage to the quality of the use of this weapon on the battlefield.” 

While Kuleba didn’t mention a specific time frame, he said only that it will be “very much less than six months.” And he added that the training will be done “outside” Ukraine. 

During Russia’s ground and air war in Ukraine, Kuleba has been second only to Zelenskyy in carrying Ukraine’s message and needs to an international audience, whether through Twitter posts or meetings with friendly foreign officials. 

On Monday, Ukraine called on U.N. member states to deprive Russia of its status as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and to exclude it from the world body. Kuleba said they have long “prepared for this step to uncover the fraud and deprive Russia of its status.” 

The Foreign Ministry says that Russian never went through the legal procedure for acquiring membership and took the place of the USSR at the U.N. Security Council after the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

“This is the beginning of an uphill battle, but we will fight, because nothing is impossible,” he told the AP. 


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Звільнено спецпредставника України з придністровського врегулювання – ОПУ

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4 Washington State Electrical Substations Vandalized

A fourth electrical substation was vandalized late on Christmas Day in Washington state, leaving homes in Kapowsin and Graham temporarily without power, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.

By 7 a.m. Monday, more than 10,500 Puget Sound Energy customers were without electricity across the region, KOMO-TV reported.

The suspects broke into a fenced area and vandalized equipment, causing a fire, officials said. The fire was extinguished, and power was later restored. No suspects are in custody, officials said.

The attacks come as federal officials are warning that the U.S. power grid needs better security to prevent domestic terrorism and after a large outage in North Carolina earlier this month that took days to repair.

The first substation was vandalized about 5:30 a.m. Sunday, followed by a second substation, according to Tacoma Public Utilities. The outages affected about 7,300 customers in an area southeast of Tacoma. Just before noon, the utility had restored power to all but 2,700 customers whose power was estimated to be restored about 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Meanwhile, just before noon, Puget Sound Energy reported vandalism that had happened about 2:30 a.m. Sunday caused a power outage at one of its substations. The nearly 7,700 customers who lost power had it restored by 5 a.m., Puget Sound spokesperson Andrew Padula said. The company is investigating, along with authorities, and declined to comment further, according to Padula.

In all four cases, the sheriff’s office says someone forced their way into the fenced area surrounding the substations and damaged equipment to cause a power outage.

Power stations have been hit in Washington and Oregon in the past month.

Portland General Electric, the Bonneville Power Administration, Cowlitz County Public Utility District and Puget Sound Energy confirmed six separate attacks on electrical substations in Washington and Oregon in the previous weeks, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting and KUOW-FM in Seattle.

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Все, про що домовились у США, реалізуємо швидко – Зеленський

«Часу втрачати не будемо. Все, про що домовились у Вашингтоні, реалізуємо швидко. Настільки, наскільки це можливо» – каже президент України

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Зеленський закликає українців не забувати про загрозу російських ракетних атак

«ППО готується, держава готується, і кожен має підготуватися. Зважайте, будь ласка, на сирени», – закликав Володимир Зеленський

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Police: No One Believed Missing in Austrian Avalanche

Police said Monday they believe no one is missing after a Christmas Day avalanche that swept across a ski trail near the town of Zuers in western Austria. 

First responders initially assumed as many as 10 people could be buried based on cell phone video from a witness showing the group near the avalanche that covered 500 meters (yards) of the trail near the 2,700-meter Trittkopf mountain, police in the Vorarlberg region said in a statement. 

One partly buried man was recovered with serious injuries and 200 rescuers were deployed to search the snow mass for more.  

It turned out that several of the people in the video had escaped and skied on down the mountain into the valley without reporting their involvement, and it took hours to track everyone down, police said. Three persons suffered minor injuries. A search was continuing Monday to make sure, but police said that “according to the current state of information, it can be assumed that no further persons are missing.” 

The avalanche followed days of heavy snow, followed by warm weather on Christmas Day, and the mountain rescue service had rated the avalanche danger as high. The head of tourism in the Zuers and Lech am Arlberg region, Hermann Fercher, said that the avalanche occurred even though explosives had been set off in that area to reduce the risk, the dpa news agency reported. Police said they would be investigating how the accident came about.  

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Savage US Blizzard Kills Dozens, Causes Power Outages 

The death toll from a pre-Christmas blizzard that paralyzed the Buffalo area and much of the country has risen to 27 in western New York authorities said Monday as the region dug out from one of the worst weather-related disasters in its history.

The dead have been found in their cars, homes and in snowbanks. Some died while shoveling snow. The storm that walloped much of the country is now blamed for at least 48 deaths nationwide, with rescue and recovery efforts continuing Monday.

The blizzard roared through the western New York Friday and Saturday, stranding motorists, knocking out power and preventing emergency crews from reaching residents in frigid homes and stuck cars.

Huge snowdrifts nearly covered cars Monday and there were thousands of houses, some adorned in unlit holiday displays, that have been dark from a lack of power.

The massive storm is expected to claim more lives because it trapped some residents inside houses and knocked out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses.

Extreme weather stretched from the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande along the border with Mexico. About 60% of the U.S. population faced some sort of winter weather advisory or warning, and temperatures plummeted drastically below normal from east of the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians.

The National Weather Service said Sunday the frigid arctic air “enveloping much of the eastern half of the U.S.” will move away slowly.

Buffalo saw hurricane-force winds and snow causing whiteout conditions that paralyzed emergency response efforts.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said almost every fire truck in the city was stranded Saturday and she implored people Sunday to respect an ongoing driving ban in the region. The National Weather Service said the snow total at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport stood at 43 inches (1.1 meters) at 7 a.m. Sunday. Officials said the airport would be shut through Tuesday morning.

With snow swirling down untouched and impassable streets, forecasters warned an additional 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 centimeters) of snow was possible in some areas through early Monday morning amid wind gusts of 40 mph (64 kph). Police said Sunday evening that there were two “isolated” instances of looting during the storm.

Two people died in their suburban Cheektowaga, New York, homes Friday when emergency crews could not reach them in time to treat their medical conditions. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said 10 more people died there during the storm, including six in Buffalo, and warned there may be more dead.

“Some were found in cars, some were found on the street in snowbanks,” Poloncarz said. “We know there are people who have been stuck in cars for more than two days.”

Freezing conditions and power outages had Buffalonians scrambling to get to anywhere with heat amid what Hochul called the longest sustained blizzard conditions ever in the city.

Ditjak Ilunga of Gaithersburg, Maryland, was on his way to visit relatives in Hamilton, Ontario, for Christmas with his daughters Friday when their SUV was trapped in Buffalo. Unable to get help, they spent hours with the engine running, buffeted by wind and nearly buried in snow.

By 4 a.m. Saturday, their fuel nearly gone, Ilunga made a desperate choice to risk the howling storm to reach a nearby shelter. He carried 6-year-old Destiny on his back while 16-year-old Cindy clutched their Pomeranian puppy, following his footprints through drifts.

“If I stay in this car I’m going to die here with my kids,” Ilunga recalled thinking. He cried when the family walked through the shelter doors. “It’s something I will never forget in my life.”

Travelers’ woes continued, with hundreds of flight cancellations already and more expected after a bomb cyclone — when atmospheric pressure drops very quickly in a strong storm — developed near the Great Lakes, stirring up blizzard conditions, including heavy winds and snow.

The storm knocked out power in communities from Maine to Seattle. According to poweroutage.us, fewer than 100,000 customers were without power Monday at 7 a.m. EDT — down from a peak of 1.7 million.

The mid-Atlantic grid operator had called for its 65 million consumers to conserve energy amid the freeze Saturday.

Storm-related deaths were reported all over the country, from six motorists killed in crashes in Missouri, Kansas and Kentucky to a woman who fell through Wisconsin river ice.


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US Holiday Sales Up 7.6% Despite Squeeze of Inflation

Holiday sales rose this as American spending remained resilient during the critical shopping season despite surging prices on everything from food to rent, according to one measure.

Holiday sales rose 7.6%, a slower pace than the 8.5% increase from a year earlier when shoppers began spending the money they had saved during the early part of the COVID pandemic, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks all kinds of payments including cash and debit cards.

Mastercard SpendingPulse had expected a 7.1% increase. The data released Monday excludes the automotive industry and is not adjusted for inflation, which has eased somewhat but remains painfully high.

U.S. sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, a period that is critical for retailers, were fueled by spending at restaurants and on clothing.

By category, clothing rose 4.4%, while jewelry and electronics dipped roughly 5%. Online sales jumped 10.6% from a year ago and in-person spending rose 6.8%. Department stores registered a modest 1% increase over 2021.

“This holiday retail season looked different than years past,” Steve Sadove, the former CEO and chairman at Saks and a senior advisor for Mastercard, said in a prepared statement. “Retailers discounted heavily, but consumers diversified their holiday spending to accommodate rising prices and an appetite for experiences and festive gatherings post-pandemic.”

Some of the increase reflected the impact of higher prices across the board.

Consumer spending accounts for nearly 70% of U.S. economic activity, and Americans have remained resilient ever since inflation first spiked almost 18 months ago. Cracks have begun to show, however, as higher prices for basic necessities take up an increasingly large share of everyone’s take-home pay.

Inflation has retreated from the four-decade high it reached this summer, but it’s still sapping the spending power of consumers. Prices rose 7.1% in November from a year ago, down from a peak of 9.1% in June.

Overall spending has slowed from the pandemic-infused splurges and shifted increasingly toward necessities like food, while spending on electronics, furniture, new clothes and other non-necessities has faded. Many shoppers been trading down to private label goods, which are typically less expensive than national brands. They’ve been going to cheaper stores like dollar chains and big box stores like Walmart.

Consumers also waited for deals. Stores expected more procrastinators to hit stores in the last few days before Christmas compared with a year ago when people began shopping earlier due to a global disruption of the supply chain that created thousands of product shortages.

“Consumers are trying to spread out their budget, and they are evaluating and shopping at different stores,” said Katie Thompson, the lead of consultancy Kearney’s Consumer Institute.

In November, shoppers cut back sharply on retail spending compared with the previous month. Retail sales fell 0.6% from October to November after a sharp 1.3% rise the previous month, the government said in mid-December. Sales fell at furniture, electronics, and home and garden stores.

A broader picture of how Americans spent their money arrives next month when the National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, comes out with its combined two-month results based on November-December sales figures from the Commerce Department.

The trade group expects holiday sales growth will slow to a range of 6% to 8%, compared with the blistering 13.5% growth of a year ago.

Analysts will also be dissecting fourth-quarter financial results from major retailers in February.

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Україна буде добиватися запровадження санкцій проти «Росатома» – Єрмак

Україна буде добиватися запровадження санкцій проти «Росатома», заявляє голова Офісу президентаАндрій Єрмак.

«Наша задача – санкції проти «Росатома». Ми ще в листопаді в рамках санкційної групи Макфола-Єрмака пропонували детальний план цих санкцій. Росія ж продовжує шантажувати світ ядерною зброєю, а «Росатом» сподівається нарощувати експортну виручку», – написав війну телеграмі.

«Їх портфель закордонних замовлень становить $200 млрд. Так не може бути. Будемо системно працювати над тим, щоб санкції проти «Росатома» стали реальністю», – додав він.

У жовтні після спроби Росії привласнити Запорізьку АЕС Міністерство закордонних справ України закликало Євросоюз, країни «Групи семи» та інших партнерів невідкладно розглянути запровадження санкцій проти російської державної корпорації «Росатом» та афілійованих з нею компаній та інституцій, а також інших ключових чинників атомної енергетики Росії.

Президент Росії Володимир Путін 5 жовтня доручив російському уряду прийняти у федеральну власність об’єкти Запорізької АЕС, яка від березня перебуває під окупацією російських військ.

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США: кількість загиблих через сніговий шторм зросла

Через шторм, який тривав кілька днів, загинули 47 людей у дев’яти штатах

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НАБУ також провели обшуки і в координатора «Великого будівництва» Голика

Раніше стало відомо, що обшуки також пройшли в Дніпропетровській ОВА та у підрядників адміністрації

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Kyiv’s Botanical Garden Struggles to Save Its Tropical Plants Amid Russian Attacks

In the lush greenhouses of Kyiv’s National Botanical Garden, staff are struggling to save a decades-old collection of tropical plants after months of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s power grid led to electricity outages, threatening the garden’s heating supply.

“These collections cannot be restored. This is not a greenhouse with cucumbers and tomatoes… The loss of this collection would be a great national loss for Ukraine,” said Lyudmyla Buiun, responsible for tropical and subtropical plants.

“Plants cannot be told… ‘please endure, because today it is -15 degrees (Celsius).’ It is impossible,” she said, pointing out signs of cold damage on some plants.

The plants would face a serious crisis if the temperature in the greenhouse dropped below 15 degrees Celsius, she added.

Finding ways to maintain a tropical climate in a freezing Kyiv hit by frequent power outages, is very difficult, and garden workers are now preemptively heating the greenhouses by burning firewood, although smoke poses a risk to plants.

They would usually create heat by burning wood in electric ovens. However, the frequent power cuts disrupt the heating cycle and it takes hours to restart the ovens, boiler room operator Yurii Nai said.

The garden’s administration has now connected to Kyiv’s central heating system to have a backup, but fears further missile strikes on the power grid.

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Savage US Blizzard Leaves 32 Dead, Power Outages, Travel Snarls

A brutal winter storm brought Christmas Day danger and misery to millions of Americans Sunday as intense snow and frigid cold gripped parts of the eastern United States, with weather-related deaths rising to at least 32.

A crisis unfolded in Buffalo, in western New York, where a blizzard left the city marooned, with emergency services unable to reach the worst-hit areas.

“It is (like) going to a war zone, and the vehicles along the sides of the roads are shocking,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a native of Buffalo, where eight-foot (2.4-meter) snow drifts and power outages have made for life-threatening conditions.

Hochul told reporters Sunday evening that residents were still in the throes of a “very dangerous life-threatening situation” and warned anyone in the area to remain indoors.

More than 200,000 people across several eastern states woke up without power on Christmas morning and many more had their holiday travel plans upended, although the five-day-long storm featuring blizzard conditions and ferocious winds showed signs of easing.

The extreme weather sent wind chill temperatures in all 48 contiguous US states below freezing over the weekend, stranded holiday travelers with thousands of flights canceled and trapped residents in ice- and snow-encrusted homes.

Thirty-two weather-related deaths have been confirmed across nine states, including at least 13 in Erie County where Buffalo is located, with officials warning the number is sure to rise.

Officials described historically dangerous conditions in the snow-prone Buffalo region, with hours-long whiteouts and bodies discovered in vehicles and under snow banks as emergency workers struggled to search for those in need of rescue.

The city’s international airport remains closed until Tuesday and a driving ban remained in effect for all of Erie County.

“We now have what’ll be talked about not just today but for generations (as) the blizzard of ’22,” Hochul said, adding that the brutality had surpassed the region’s prior landmark snowstorm of 1977 in “intensity, the longevity, the ferocity of the winds.”

Due to frozen electric substations, some residents were not expected to regain power until Tuesday, with one frozen substation reportedly buried under 18 feet of snow, a senior county official said.

‘Conditions are just so bad’

The National Weather Service warned that blizzard conditions in western New York’s Great Lakes region caused by lake-effect snow was continuing Sunday, with “additional snow accumulations of 2 to 3 feet through tonight.”

One couple in Buffalo, across the border from Canada, told AFP Saturday that with the roads completely impassible, they would not be making a 10-minute drive to see their family for Christmas.

“It’s tough because the conditions are just so bad… a lot of fire departments aren’t even sending out trucks for calls,” said 40-year-old Rebecca Bortolin.

A broader travel nightmare was in full effect for millions.

The storm, one of the fiercest in decades, forced the cancellation of nearly 3,000 US flights on Sunday, in addition to some 3,500 scrapped Saturday and nearly 6,000 Friday, according to tracking website Flightaware.com.

Travelers remained stranded or delayed at airports throughout Christmas Day including in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Detroit and New York.

Road ice and white-out conditions also led to the temporary closure of some of the nation’s busiest transport routes, including the cross-country Interstate 70.

Drivers were being warned not to take to the roads — even as the nation reached what is usually its busiest time of year for travel.

The extreme weather has severely taxed electricity grids, with multiple power providers urging millions of people to reduce usage to minimize rolling blackouts in places like North Carolina and Tennessee.

At one point on Saturday, nearly 1.7 million customers were without electricity in the biting cold, according to tracker poweroutage.us.

The figure dropped substantially by Sunday night, although more than 48,000 customers in eastern states still lacked power.

In British Columbia, Canada, a Saturday bus rollover believed to be caused by icy roads left four people dead and sent 53 to the hospital, including two still in critical condition early Sunday.

Hundreds of thousands were left without power in Ontario and Quebec, many flights were canceled in major cities and train passenger service between Toronto and Ottawa was suspended.

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Очільник ГУР: «Крим буде повернуто комбінованим шляхом»

«Крим буде повернуто комбінованим шляхом: і силою, і дипломатією. Але без сили нічого не буде. Наші підрозділи зайдуть туди зі зброєю в руках»

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НБУ: в Україні створили спільну банківську мережу на випадок блекауту

За даними Нацбанку, на сьогодні мережа Power Banking об’єднує «всі 14 системно важливих банків», відділення яких стали основою цієї мережі, та залучає інших учасників банківського ринку

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До суду передали справу проти ексзаступника секретаря РНБО за розгін студентського Майдану – ДБР

Дії колишнього посадовця, зокрема, кваліфікують за статтями про перешкоджання законним зібранням та перевищення повноважень

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Belarus Says Russia-Deployed Iskander Missile Systems Ready for Use

The Iskander tactical missile systems and the S-400 air defense systems that Russia has deployed to Belarus are fully prepared to perform their intended tasks, a senior Belarusian defense ministry official said on Sunday.   

“Our servicemen, crews have fully completed their training in the joint combat training centers of the armed forces of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus,” Leonid Kasinsky, head of the Main Directorate of Ideology at the ministry, said in a video posted on the Telegram messaging app.   

“These types of weapons (Iskander and S-400 systems) are on combat duty today and they are fully prepared to perform tasks for their intended purpose.”   

It is not clear how many of the Iskander systems, which are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, have been deployed to Belarus after Russian President Vladimir Putin said in June that Moscow would supply Minsk with them and the air defense systems.   

The news comes amidst Moscow’s increasing pressure on Minsk to aid its invasion of Ukraine, now in its 10 month and with no end in sight.   

Russian forces used Belarus as a launch pad for their abortive attack on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, in February, and there has been a growing flurry of Russian and Belarusian military activity in recent months.   

The Iskander-M, a mobile guided missile system code named “SS-26 Stone” by NATO, replaced the Soviet “Scud.” Its two guided missiles have a range of up to 500 kilometers (300 miles) and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.   

That range reaches deep into neighbors of Belarus: Ukraine and NATO member Poland, which has very strained relations with Minsk.   

The S-400 system is a Russian mobile, surface-to-air missile (SAM) interception system capable of engaging aircraft, UAVs, cruise missiles, and has a terminal ballistic missile defense capability.   

Kasinsky also said the country’s military aircraft have been converted to carry “special aviation ammunition.” 

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Українці зможуть обміняти старі лампочки на нові LED: у Мінінтеграції розповіли подробиці

50 млн LED-лампочок можуть розвантажити роботу цілого реактора атомної електростанції, уточнили в міністерстві

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Dutch King Says Slavery Apology Start of ‘Long Journey’

Dutch King Willem-Alexander welcomed the government’s apology for the Netherlands’ role in 250 years of slavery in his Christmas address on Sunday, saying it was the “start of a long journey.”    

Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday officially apologized for the Dutch state’s involvement in slavery in its former colonies, calling it a “crime against humanity.”    

“Nobody today bears responsibility for the inhumane acts that were inflicted on the lives of men, women and children,” Willem-Alexander said from the palace of Huis ten Bosch in The Hague.    

“But by honestly facing our shared past and recognizing the crime against humanity that is slavery, we lay the ground for a shared future — a future in which we stand against all modern forms of discrimination, exploitation and injustice,” the king said. “The apology offered by the government is the start of a long journey.”   

The Netherlands funded its “Golden Age” of empire and culture in the 16th and 17th centuries by shipping around 600,000 Africans as part of the slave trade, mostly to South America and the Caribbean.   

The Dutch government says several major commemorative events will be held from next year and has announced a $212 million fund for social initiatives. 

Willem-Alexander promised that the topic would retain the royal family’s attention during the commemorative year and that they would remain “involved.”    

But Rutte’s move went against the wishes of some slavery commemoration organizations who wanted the apology to be offered on July 1, 2023.  

Descendants of Dutch slavery will then celebrate 150 years of liberation from slavery in an annual celebration called “Keti Koti” (Breaking the Chains) in Suriname.   

The leaders of the Caribbean island Sint Maarten and Suriname in South America regretted the lack of dialogue from the Netherlands over the apology.   

Some former Dutch colonies have demanded compensation for slavery and criticized the government for not offering concrete actions.