Monthly: May 2018

У ЄС обіцяють звернутися до СОТ через запровадження США мит на сталь і алюміній

У Євросоюзі обіцяють застосувати мита у відповідь і звернутися до СОТ через запровадження США з 1 червня високих мит на сталь і алюміній. 

«ЄС вважає, що ці односторонні тарифи США є невиправданими та суперечать правилам Світової організації торгівлі. Це протекціонізм, чистий і простий…», – йдеться у заяві голові Європейської Комісії Жан-Клода Юнкера.

Він зауважує, що Євросоюз демонстрував відкритість для обговорення шляхів вдосконалення двосторонніх торговельних відносин з США, але не погоджувався на переговори під тиском погроз. 

«Тепер США не залишає нам вибору, окрім як продовжити врегулювання спору в СОТ із застосуванням додаткових мит на низку імпорту з США. Ми будемо захищати інтереси ЄС у повній відповідності з міжнародним торговельним правом», – наголосив Юнкер.

Сполучені Штати Америки заявили, що з 1 червня запровадять ввізне мито на сталь з ЄС у розмірі 25 відсотків, а також 10 відсотків на алюміній. 

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Pope Vows ‘Never Again’ to Sex Abuse in Chile, Reopens Probe

Pope Francis on Thursday promised Chilean Catholics scarred by a culture of clergy sexual abuse that “never again” would the Church ignore them or the cover-up of abuse in their country, where a widespread scandal has devastated its credibility.

The pope issued the comments in a letter to all Chilean Catholics as the Vatican announced that Francis was sending his two top sexual abuse investigators back to the country to gather more information about the crisis there.

The Vatican’s most experienced sexual abuse investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, and Father Jordi Bertomeu, a Spaniard, had visited Chile earlier this year.

In the letter released by Chilean bishops, Francis also praised the victims of sexual abuse in the country for persevering in bringing the truth to light despite attempts by Church officials to discredit them.

“The ‘never again’ to a culture of abuse, and the system of cover-up that allowed it to perpetuate, calls on all of us to work towards a culture of carefulness in our relationships,” he said in the eight-page letter.

He described the Chilean scandal as a “painful open wound.” Hours before the letter was released in Chile, the Vatican said Scicluna and Bertomeu would concentrate on the diocese of Osorno in southern Chile, seat of a bishop who has been most caught up in the scandal.

A Vatican statement said the purpose of the trip, due to start in the next few days, was to “move forward in the process of reparation, and healing for victims of abuse.”

The two prepared a 2,300-page report for the pope after speaking to victims, witnesses and other Church members earlier this year.

On May 18, all of Chile’s 34 bishops offered to resign en masse after attending a crisis meeting with the pope in the Vatican about the cover-up of sexual abuse in the south American nation.

Francis has not yet said which resignations he will accept, if any. In his letter, the pope said the renewal of the Church hierarchy on its own would not bring the transformation needed in Chile, calling for unity in a time of crisis and a deepening of faith.

The scandal revolves around Father Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty in a Vatican investigation in 2011 of abusing boys in Santiago in the 1970s and 1980s. Now 87 and living in a nursing home in Chile, he has always denied any wrongdoing.

Victims accused Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno of having witnessed the abuse but doing nothing to stop it. Barros, who was one of those who offered to stand down, has denied the allegations.

During a visit to Chile in January, Francis staunchly defended Barros, denouncing accusations against him as “slander.”

But days after returning to Rome, the pope, citing new information, dispatched Scicluna and Bertomeu to Chile. Some of their findings were included in a damning 10-page document that was presented to the bishops when they came to Rome.

In April, the pope hosted three non-clerical victims who said they were abused by Karadima, and this weekend he will be meeting with priests who said they were abused by Karadima when they were young.

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Europe Responds Swiftly to US Tariffs, Threatens Retaliation

Reaction to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from American trading partners — including the European Union — came fast and furious, with threats of retaliation and warnings they risk sparking a trans-Atlantic trade war.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the European bloc would respond by imposing penalties of its own on American exports.

“Today is a bad day for world trade,” said Cecilia Malmström, the European trade commissioner. EU officials previously informed the World Trade Organization of the bloc’s plan to levy duties on $7.2 billion worth of U.S. exports if the Trump administration proceeded with threats to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum.

Canadian and Mexican officials also threatened retaliatory responses but have as yet not indicated which U.S. products they will target. Both countries had hoped that the White House would continue to exempt them from the tariffs. 

National security cited

Europe, along with Canada and Mexico, had been granted a temporary reprieve from the U.S. tariffs after they were unveiled in March by Trump, who said the levies were needed to stem the flood of cheap steel and aluminum into the U.S. and that to impose them was a national security priority.

In Europe, there was disappointment, but less surprise. 

Juncker called the U.S. action “unjustified” and said Europeans had no alternative but to respond with tariffs of their own and to lodge a case against Washington with the World Trade Organization in Geneva. “We will defend the union’s interests, in full compliance with international trade law,” he said.

The EU had already publicly announced that in the event tariffs did go ahead, it would impose levies on Levi-made jeans, Harley-Davidson motorbikes and bourbon whiskey.

British officials appeared the most alarmed. The government of Theresa May had pinned post-Brexit hopes on securing a trade deal with the U.S., and the imposition of tariffs on steel is adding to fears that negotiating a quick trade liberalization agreement with Trump looks increasingly unlikely.

“We are deeply disappointed that the U.S. has decided to apply tariffs to steel and aluminum imports from the EU on national security grounds,” a government spokesman said. “The U.K. and other European Union countries are close allies of the U.S. and should be permanently and fully exempted.”

Discussion at summit

He said the British prime minister planned to raise the tariffs with the U.S. president personally in Canada at a scheduled G-7 summit of the seven largest advanced economies. That summit is likely to be a frosty affair, much like last year’s in Taormina, Sicily. 

With a week to go before the June 7-8 summit, there’s still no final agreement on the agenda, British and Italian officials said. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had earmarked climate change, women’s rights and economic growth as key issues, but there has been pushback from Washington. Thursday’s tariff announcement by the White House will further complicate agreeing on a G-7 agenda.

German reaction to the announcement of the tariffs was among the fiercest. Chancellor Angela Merkel dubbed them “illegal.” Manfred Weber, a key ally of the German chancellor and leader of the biggest bloc in the European Parliament, accused the Trump administration of treating American allies as enemies.

“If President Trump decides to treat Europe as an enemy, we will have no choice but to defend European industry, European jobs, European interests,” he said. “Europe does not want a trade conflict. We believe in a fair trade regime from which everybody benefits.” 

Wilbur Ross, U.S. commerce secretary, who’s in Europe and has been pressing the EU to make concessions to avert the tariffs, dismissed threats of a trade war, saying retaliation would have no impact on the U.S. economy. He held out hope that the tariffs could be eliminated, saying, “There’s potential flexibility going forward. The fact that we took a tariff action does not mean there cannot be a negotiation.” 

Business leaders cautious

Some European business leaders have urged their national leaders to be restrained in response, fearing a tit-for-tat spiral could be triggered quickly. Britain’s Confederation of British Industry warned against overreaction, saying no one would win on either side of the Atlantic if a major trade war erupted.

The director of UK Steel, Gareth Stace, said he feared there was clear potential for a damaging trade war.

“Since President Trump stated his plans to impose blanket tariffs on steel imports almost three months ago, the U.K. steel sector had hoped for the best, but still feared the worst. With the expiration of the EU exemption now confirmed to take effect tomorrow [June 1], unfortunately, our pessimism was justified, and we will now see damage not only to the U.K. steel sector but also the U.S. economy.” 

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Trump Pardons Conservative Pundit in Campaign Finance Case

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday pardoned conservative commentator and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who admitted he funded illegal campaign contributions in 2012 to help a Republican Senate candidate in New York.

“He was treated very unfairly by our government!” Trump said in announcing the pardon, although D’Souza four years ago thanked a judge for “imposing a fair sentence” in the case, eight months in a community confinement center he could leave during the day to work and a $30,000 fine.

Later, the White House said Trump felt that D’Souza had been “a victim of selective prosecution.” It said D’Souza was “fully worthy” of a pardon because he had “accepted responsibility for his actions, and also completed community service by teaching English to citizens and immigrants seeking citizenship.”

In the last several years, the Indian-born D’Souza figured prominently in attacks on Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, whom Trump also frequently vilifies. D’Souza wrote a best-selling 2010 book, “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” and co-directed a 2012 film, “2016: Obama’s America,” which cast a bleak portrayal of what America would look like if Obama won re-election in 2012, which he did.

As he boarded Air Force One for a trip to Texas, Trump said he was considering pardons or commutations of sentences for two other prominent figures convicted in recent years: lifestyle maven and television star Martha Stewart, who served five months in prison in a securities fraud case, and former Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who once appeared on Trump’s reality television show, The Celebrity Apprentice. 

Blagojevich is in the midst of serving a 14-year term for trying to sell appointment to the Senate seat in Illinois that Obama vacated when he was elected president. At the time of the TV show, Trump praised Blagojevich for his “tremendous courage and guts,” but then fired him on the fourth episode of the 2010 season.

U.S. presidents have wide discretion in pardoning convicts they feel have been wronged.

Before his pardon of D’Souza, Trump already pardoned two other notable conservatives, former Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America” convicted of engaging in a crackdown on illegal immigrants, and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the one-time chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted of lying about the unmasking of the identity of a CIA agent.

Virginia Congressman Don Beyer, a Democrat, criticized Trump’s pardon of D’Souza, saying, “As with the pardon of Joe Arpaio, Trump is sending a message that he will reward political allies for loyalty with get-out-of-jail-free cards. He doesn’t care about the rule of law.”

The 53-year-old D’Souza pleaded guilty to illegally reimbursing two “straw donors” who had donated $10,000 apiece in 2012 to the unsuccessful Senate campaign of of Wendy Long, a woman he had known for years since their days at Dartmouth College in the 1980s. The donations exceeded the $5,000 limit for contributions from individuals that was in place at the time.

“It was a crazy idea, it was a bad idea,” D’Souza said as he was sentenced. “I knew that causing the campaign contributions to be made in the name of another was wrong, and something the law forbids. I deeply regret my conduct.”

Later, however, D’Souza claimed on television shows he had been “selectively” prosecuted — because of his vocal opposition to Obama — by federal prosecutor Preet Bharara, who was fired by Trump shortly after he assumed power in early 2017.

In a Twitter post, Bharara said, “The President has the right to pardon but the facts are these: D’Souza intentionally broke the law, voluntarily pled guilty, apologized for his conduct & the judge found no unfairness. The career prosecutors and agents did their job.”



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US Slaps Tariffs on Steel, Aluminum from EU, Canada, Mexico  

The United States is escalating trans-Atlantic and North American trade tensions, imposing a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico beginning on Friday.

The U.S. also negotiated quotas or volume limits on other countries, such as South Korea, Argentina, Australia and Brazil, instead of tariffs, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also told reporters by telephone. 

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said such measures are necessary to protect American jobs and industries in key manufacturing sectors. 

“The president’s actions are about protecting American steel, American aluminum,” a White House spokesman, Raj Shah, said on Fox News. “They’re critical for national security.”

But the negative reaction from some of America’s most important strategic allies has been quick and fierce.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the tariffs “totally unacceptable” and vowed retaliation. 

“This decision is not only unlawful, but it is a mistake in many respects,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, warning that “economic nationalism leads to war.”

France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, who met Ross earlier on Thursday, said the U.S. shouldn’t see global trade like the Wild West or Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

‘Bad day for world trade’

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the U.S. move marked “a bad day for world trade,” announcing there is “no choice” but to proceed with a World Trade Organization dispute settlement case and additional duties on numerous U.S. imports.

The retaliatory tariffs from the Europeans are expected to target several billion dollars’ worth of American goods, including such iconic American products as Harley Davidson motorcycles and Levi’s jeans, as well as Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey.

Ross, in Paris, interviewed on CNBC after the announcement, brushed off the retaliation saying, “It’s a tiny, tiny fraction of 1 percent” of trade.

Ross, a banker known for restructuring failed companies prior to joining Trump’s Cabinet, also predicted America’s trading partners “will get over this in due course.”

“The United States is taking on the whole world in trade and it’s not going to go well,” predicted Simon Lester, trade policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute.

The action is also not popular with some members of Congress, including those from Trump’s own party, whose states are dependent on exports. 

“Imposing steel and aluminum tariffs on our most important trading partners is the wrong approach and represents an abuse of authority intended only for national security purposes,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican.

“You don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents,” Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said on Twitter. “Blanket protectionism is a big part of why we had a Great Depression. ‘Make America Great Again’ shouldn’t mean ‘Make America 1929 Again.’ ”

Tennessee has three major auto assembly plants. Nebraska is a significant exporter of cattle, corn, soybeans and hogs. 

Mexico said, in response, it will penalize U.S. imports, including pork bellies, apples, grapes, cheeses and flat steel.

“There’s a reason why” the countries are carefully selecting which American products to target in response, said William Reinsch, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  

“Most of bourbon is made in Kentucky, which is the state of the Senate majority leader. Harley Davidsons are made in Wisconsin, which is the state of the speaker of the House,” Reinsch told VOA News. “Usually when other countries retaliate, and the Chinese have done something similar, is they’re good at maximizing political pain by picking out products that are made in places where people are politically important.”

“Tariffs on steel and aluminum imports are a tax hike on Americans and will have damaging consequences for consumers, manufacturers and workers,” said Republican Orrin Hatch, who chairs the Senate’s finance committee and is a longtime advocate of breaking down trade barriers. 

One side of equation 

Expected higher prices for U.S. consumers on some products is only one side of the equation, said Ross, who noted that steel and aluminum makers in the United States are adding employment and opening facilities as a result of the U.S. government action.

“You can create a few jobs, however, you’re going to lose more in the process,” as consuming industries will be placed at a disadvantage of paying more for raw materials compared to their foreign competitors, Lester told VOA News.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, is warning a trade war will also damage public trust in leaders. 

“First of all, those who will suffer most are the poorest, the less privileged people, those who actually rely on imported goods to have their living,” Lagarde said at a meeting in Canada of finance ministers and central bankers of the Group of Seven nations, adding that long-standing supply chains also would be disrupted.

Trump, in March, announced the United States would impose such tariffs, but he granted exemptions that expire Friday to the European Union and other U.S. allies.

The angst about global trade tensions helped send stock prices lower in the United States on Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 1 percent, while the broader S&P 500 was off nearly 0.7 percent.

Carol Castiel contributed to this report.

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У Римі вимагали звільнити ув’язнених у Росії українців

У Римі громада українців провела 31 травня маніфестацію неподалік посольства Росії в Італії з вимогою звільнити громадян України, ув’язнених Москвою.

Активісти згадали поіменно десятки обвинувачених цивільних і військових, зокрема і трьох бранців, які голодують: Олега Сенцова, Олександра Кольченка і Володимира Балуха, повідомляє кореспондент Радіо Свобода.

«Ми українці, виходимо на площі світу, щоб протестувати проти несправедливості. Свободу політичним в’язням!» – наголосила на мітингу активістка Мар’яна Тріль.

Згадали також про 29-річного Віталія Марківа, який майже рік перебуває під вартою в Італії за обвинуваченням у причетності до вбивства фотографа Андреа Роккеллі на Донбасі 24 травня 2014 року. Суд над ним почнеться 6 липня у місті Павії.

«На жаль, довга рука Кремля сягнула й Італії», – сказала активістка Тріль.

Флешмоб під час акції відобразив два «обличчя Росії». Одна Росія – «цивілізована» проводить футбольний чемпіонат світу і галасує на трибунах, інша Росія – захоплює території сусідів і садить невинних людей у тюрми.

«Бойкотуйте Чемпіонат світу з футболу в Росії 2018!», – закликали українці в Римі.

«Я вийшла з бібліотеки подивитися, що відбувається. Я живу в Римі і не чула зовсім про цю ситуацію в Україні. Вони добре роблять, що так розказують перехожим, адже тут нічого про це не знають», – сказала Радіо Свобода 26-річна Роберта, студентка медичного факультету університету La Sapienza спостерігала за акцією.

В акції взяли участь понад два десятки активістів. Одна з них – постійна учасниця й організатор флешмобів Леся Семеняк повідомила Радіо Свобода: «Ми вже п’ятий рік організовуємо подібні заходи і переконані, що вода камінь точить. Італійці по краплях отримують від нас інформацію про події в Україні і справжнє обличчя Росії».

Пікетування дипломатичних представництв Росії з вимогою звільнити українських бранців відбулися днями і в інших столицях світу.

За даними МЗС України, 24 політичних в’язнів з України перебувають в Росії, ще понад 40 в анексованому Криму.


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Суд отримав клопотання про запобіжний захід підозрюваному у справі Бабченка

Клопотання про обрання запобіжного заходу у вигляді тримання під вартою підозрюваному в організації замаху на російського журналіста Аркадія Бабченка розгляне Шевченківський суд Києва. Відповідне оголошення розміщене на сторінці суду у Facebook.

«На розгляд до Шевченківського районного суду міста Києва надійшло клопотання про обрання запобіжного заходу у вигляді тримання під вартою відносно Германа Бориса Львовича, … підозрюваного в організації готування до терористичного акту, тобто до застосування зброї з метою порушення громадської безпеки, залякування населення, за попередньою змовою групою осіб, що призвело до загибелі людини», – йдеться в повідомленні.

Дати і часу розгляду клопотання не вказано.

Увечері 29 травня поліція заявила, що в Києві вбили російського опозиційного журналіста Аркадія Бабченка.

Читайте також: Інсценування смерті Бабченка. Реакція Заходу

30 травня голова СБУ Василь Грицак повідомив, що журналіст живий.

Грицак стверджує, що спецслужбі вдалося розкрити план з підготовки вбивства журналіста. СБУ затримала громадянина України Г., якого, за словами Грицака, для організації вбивства найняли російські спецслужби.

Низка міжнародних організацій розкритикувала інсценування вбивства Бабченка. Зокрема, базований у Нью-Йорку Комітет захисту журналістів (КЗЖ) заявив, що інсценуванням убивства російського опозиційного журналіста Аркадія Бабченка український уряд «підірвав довіру до себе». З подібними заявами виступили в ОБСЄ та організації «Репортери без кордонів».

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Данія заборонила носити нікаб і бурку в громадських місцях

Парламент Данії заборонив носіння в громадських місцях одягу, що закриває обличчя, включаючи нікаб і бурку.

Заборона набуває чинності з 1 серпня. За порушення закону перші три рази загрожує штраф у розмірі однієї тисячі данських крон (близько 160 доларів). За четверте порушення штраф може бути збільшений до десяти тисяч крон (1600 доларів). Закон поширюється як на жителів Данії, так і на туристів.

Amnesty International розкритикувала ухвалення нового закону, назвавши його порушенням прав мусульманських жінок. В уряді Данії при цьому відзначають, що нова заборона не обмежує право носити хіджаби або інший релігійний одяг.

Міністр юстиції Данії Папе Поульсен раніше заявляв, що «мати закрите обличчя у громадських місцях є несумісним із цінностями данського суспільства».

Упродовж останніх років носіння одягу й головних уборів, що закривають обличчя, вже було заборонене, зокрема в Бельгії, Австрії, Франції, Болгарії, Нідерландах і в південному регіоні Німеччини Баварії.


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Oregon’s Marijuana Story a Cautionary Tale for California

When Oregon lawmakers created the state’s legal marijuana program, they had one goal in mind above all else: to persuade illicit pot growers to leave the black market.

That meant low barriers to entry that also targeted long-standing medical marijuana growers, whose product is not taxed. As a result, weed production boomed — with a bitter consequence.

Now, marijuana prices here are in free fall, and the craft cannabis farmers who put Oregon on the map decades before broad legalization say they are in peril of losing their now-legal businesses as the market adjusts.

Oregon regulators on Wednesday announced they will stop processing new applications for marijuana licenses in two weeks to address a severe backlog and ask state lawmakers to take up the issue next year.

​California takes heed

Experts say the dizzying evolution of Oregon’s marijuana industry may well be a cautionary tale for California, where a similar regulatory structure could mean an oversupply on a much larger scale.

“For the way the program is set up, the state just wants to get as many people in as possible, and they make no bones about it,” Hilary Bricken, a Los Angeles-based attorney specializing in marijuana business law, said of California. “Most of these companies will fail as a result of oversaturation.”

A staggering inventory

Oregon has nearly 1 million pounds (453,600 kilograms) of marijuana flower, commonly called bud, in its inventory, a staggering amount for a state with about 4 million people. Producers told The Associated Press wholesale prices fell more than 50 percent in the past year; a study by the state’s Office of Economic Analysis found the retail cost of a gram of marijuana fell from $14 in 2015 to $7 in 2017.

The oversupply can be traced largely to state lawmakers’ and regulators’ earliest decisions to shape the industry.

They were acutely aware of Oregon’s entrenched history of providing top-drawer pot to the black market nationwide, as well as a concentration of small farmers who had years of cultivation experience in the legal, but largely unregulated, medical pot program.

Getting those growers into the system was critical if a legitimate industry was to flourish, said Sen. Ginny Burdick, a Portland Democrat who co-chaired a committee created to implement the voter-approved legalization measure.

Lawmakers decided not to cap licenses; to allow businesses to apply for multiple licenses; and to implement relatively inexpensive licensing fees.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which issues licenses, announced Wednesday it will put aside applications for new licenses received after June 15 until a backlog of pending applications is cleared out. The decision comes after U.S. Attorney Billy Williams challenged state officials to address Oregon’s oversupply problem.

“In my view, and frankly in the view of those in the industry that I’ve heard from, it’s a failing of the state for not stepping back and taking a look at where this industry is at following legalization,” Williams told the AP in a phone interview.

But those in the industry supported the initial decisions that led to the oversupply, Burdick said.

“We really tried to focus on policies that would rein in the medical industry and snuff out the black market as much as possible,” Burdick said.


Lawmakers also quickly backtracked on a rule requiring marijuana businesses have a majority ownership by someone with Oregon residency after entrepreneurs complained it was hard to secure startup money. That change opened the door to out-of-state companies with deep pockets that could begin consolidating the industry.

The state has granted 1,001 producer licenses and has another 950 in process as of last week. State officials worry if they cut off licensing entirely or turn away those already in the application process, they’ll get sued or encourage illegal trade.

Some of the same parameters are taking shape in California, equally known for black-market pot from its Emerald Triangle region.

The rules now in effect there place caps only on certain, medium-sized growing licenses. In some cases, companies have acquired dozens of growing licenses, which can be operated on the same or adjoining parcels. The growers association is suing to block those rules, fearing they will open the way for vast farms that will drive out smaller cultivators.

Beau Whitney, senior economist at national cannabis analytics firm New Frontier Data, said he’s seeing California prices fall.

In contrast, Washington knew oversupply could draw federal attention and was more conservative about licensing. As the market matured, its regulators eased growing limits, but the state never experienced an oversupply crisis.

Colorado has no caps on licenses, but strict rules designed to limit oversupply allow the state to curtail a growers’ farm size based on past crop yields, existing inventory, sales deals and other factors.

Chain stores

In Oregon, cannabis retail chains are emerging to take advantage of the shake-up.

A company called Nectar has 13 stores around the state, with three more on tap, and says on its website it is buying up for-sale dispensaries too. Canada-based Golden Leaf Holdings bought the successful Oregon startup Chalice and has six stores around Portland, with another slated to open.

William Simpson, Chalice’s founder and Golden Leaf Holdings CEO, is expanding into Northern California, Nevada and Canada. Simpson welcomes criticism that he’s dumbing down cannabis the same way Starbucks brought coffee to a mass market.

“If you take Chalice like Starbucks, it’s a known quantity, it’s a brand that people know and trust,” he said.

Amy Margolis, executive director of the Oregon Cannabis Association, says that capping licenses would only spur even more consolidation in the long-term. The state is currently working on a study that should provide data and more insight into what lies ahead.

“I don’t think that everything in this state is motivated by struggle and failure,” she said. “I’m very interested to see … how this market settles itself and (in) being able to do that from a little less of a reactionary place.”

​Craft growers

For now, Oregon’s smaller marijuana businesses are trying to stay afloat.

A newly formed group will launch an ad campaign this fall to tell Oregonians why they should pay more for mom-and-pop cannabis. Adam Smith, who founded the Oregon Craft Cannabis Alliance, believes 70 percent of Oregon’s small growers and retailers will go out of business if consumers don’t respond.

“We could turn around in three to four years and realize that 10 to 12 major companies own a majority of the Oregon industry and that none of it is really based here anymore,” he said. “The Oregon brand is really all about authenticity. It’s about people with their hands in the dirt, making something they love as well as they can. How do we save that?”

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Влада Москви не погодила акцію на підтримку Олега Сенцова

Московська влада відмовилися погодити акцію на підтримку засудженого в Росії за звинуваченням у тероризмі українського режисера Олега Сенцова, який оголосив безстрокове голодування. Про це повідомила організатор акції письменниця Аліса Ганієва.

Активісти планували провести 2 червня московську частину глобальної акції #SaveOlegSentsov. Влада заборонила захід, пославшись на те, нібито його учасники заважатимуть москвичам і порушуватимуть їхні права. Жодної альтернативи організаторам акції в префектурі Центрального адміністративного округу не запропонували, додала Ганиева, зазначивши, що все одно планує провести акцію.

Олег Сенцов був заарештований в анексованому Криму в травні 2014 року. Його звинуватили в організації терактів на півострові. У серпні 2015 року російський суд засудив Сенцова до 20 років колонії суворого режиму. Він провину не визнав. 14 травня Сенцов оголосив безстрокове голодування. Він вимагає звільнення всіх українських політичних в’язнів із російських в’язниць.

Член Ради Федерації Росії Людмила Нарусова повідомила виданню «Новая газета», що має намір відвідати українського режисера Олега Сенцова в колонії в північному місті Лабитнангі, коли на півострові Ямал зійде паводок. Зараз же, за її словами, вирішується питання, коли відбудеться відеодзвінок із Сенцовим. Нарусова хотіла б побачити ув’язненого українця і поставити йому кілька запитань.

Раніше поїздку в колонію, де знаходиться Сенцов, через паводок скасувала уповноважена з прав людини в Росії Тетяна Москалькова.

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Бабченко: я якось неправильно не помер

Російський опозиційний журналіст Аркадій Бабченко, який 29 травня взяв участь в інсценуванні свого вбивства, повторив обіцянку «померти в 96 років, станцювавши на могилі Путіна».

«Хотів тут написати пост про хранителів моралі, які незадоволені тим, що я якось неправильно, на їхню думку, не помер, але чогось так … (тут автор ужив лайливе слово зі змістом «байдуже» – ред.)», – написав також Бабченко.

Базований у Нью-Йорку Комітет захисту журналістів (КЗЖ) 30 травня заявив, що інсценуванням убивства російського опозиційного журналіста Аркадія Бабченка український уряд «підірвав довіру до себе». Раніше з подібними заявами виступили в ОБСЄ та організації «Репортери без кордонів».

Увечері 29 травня поліція повідомила, що в Києві вбили російського опозиційного журналіста Аркадія Бабченка.

30 травня голова СБУ Василь Грицак повідомив, що журналіст живий.

Грицак стверджує, що спецслужбі вдалося розкрити план з підготовки вбивства журналіста. СБУ затримала громадянина України Г., якого, за словами Грицака, для організації вбивства найняли російські спецслужби.

Журналіст залишив свою батьківщину в лютому 2017 року, мав можливість жити в Празі, але обрав роботу ведучим на кримськотатарському телеканалі ATR у Києві. Він пояснював рішення виїхати з Росії інформацією про можливість відкриття кримінального провадження щодо нього.

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Gravity Could Be Source of Sustainable Energy

In today’s energy-hungry world, scientists are constantly revisiting every renewable resource looking for ways to increase efficiency. One researcher in the Netherlands believes even gravity can be harnessed to produce free electricity on a scale sufficient to power small appliances. VOA’s George Putic has more.

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Trump Ramps Up Rhetoric Against Special Counsel Probe

U.S. President Donald Trump has ramped up his campaign to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe in the eyes of the American people. Mueller has not responded to Trump’s attacks as he works to compile what is expected to be an exhaustive report on Russian election meddling, the actions of Trump’s inner circle, and whether the president obstructed justice. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.

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Іран погрожує французькій компанії Total передати вигідний контракт Китаю

Міністр нафти Ірану Біджан Зангане дав французькому енергетичному гіганту Total 60 днів для того, щоб ця компанія отримала від США виняток із режиму санкції. В іншому разі в Тегерані погрожують передати частку Total у багатомільярдному газовому проекті китайській нафтовій фірмі.

Total є єдиною західною фірмою, яка за останні два роки встигла укласти інвестиційну угоду в енергетичному секторі Ірану – після того, як за ядерною угодою 2015 року санкції були скасовані в січні 2016 року.

Згідно з інвестиційною угодою, Total має стати провідним партнером у проекті на суму 4,8 мільярда доларів, який передбачає видобуток газу в Південному Парсі. Молодшими партнерами мають виступити Китайська національна нафтова корпорація (CNPC) та іранська компанія Petropars.

Після того, як на початку травня Вашингтон оголосив про вихід із ядерної угоди та відновлення санкції США проти Ірану до 4 листопада, Total заявила, що відмовиться від газового проекту, якщо не отримає спеціального дозволу США.

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Source: Ex-FBI Official Wrote Memo on Comey Firing

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe drafted a memo on the circumstances leading up to the firing of his onetime boss, James Comey, a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday night.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press to discuss a secret document that has been turned over to special counsel Robert Mueller. His team is investigating whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 presidential election and whether the president sought to obstruct that inquiry through actions including the firing of Comey last May.

The memo concerns a conversation that McCabe had with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about Rosenstein’s preparations for Comey’s firing. Rosenstein played an important role in that episode, having authored a memo faulting Comey for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation that the White House held up as justification for President Donald Trump’s decision to fire the FBI director.

Rosenstein has said he wrote a memo laying out his concerns with Comey after learning that the White House intended to fire him.

According to McCabe’s memo, Rosenstein indicated to him that he was initially asked to reference the Russia investigation in his own memo on Comey. But the final version didn’t include discussion of Russia and focused instead on the Clinton email case.

Rosenstein appointed Mueller special counsel one week after Comey was fired. He has said he would recuse himself if necessary if his actions became relevant to Mueller’s investigation.

The AP reported in March that McCabe had drafted multiple memos, including about his interactions with Trump. Comey also drafted a series of memos about his own encounters with Trump that unnerved him.

The New York Times first reported on the content of this particular memo.

McCabe became FBI acting director following Comey’s firing last May. He was fired as deputy director in March, just days before his scheduled retirement, amid an inspector general finding that he had misled internal investigators about his role in an October 2016 disclosure to The Wall Street Journal.

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Trump Planning Tariffs on European Steel, Aluminum

President Donald Trump’s administration is planning to impose tariffs on European steel and aluminum imports after failing to win concessions from the European Union, a move that could provoke retaliatory tariffs and inflame trans-Atlantic trade tensions.

The tariffs are likely to go into effect on the EU with an announcement by Friday’s deadline, according to two people familiar with the discussions. The administration’s plans could change if the two sides are able to reach a last-minute agreement, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Trump announced in March the United States would slap a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum, citing national security interests. But he granted an exemption to the EU and other U.S. allies; that reprieve expires Friday.

​Europe bracing

Europe has been bracing for the U.S. to place the restrictions even as top European officials have held last-ditch talks in Paris with American trade officials to try to avert the tariffs.

“Realistically, I do not think we can hope” to avoid either U.S. tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum, said Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Union’s trade commissioner. Even if the U.S. were to agree to waive the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, Malmstrom said, “I expect them nonetheless to want to impose some sort of cap on EU exports.”

European officials said they expected the U.S. to announce its final decision Thursday. The people familiar with the talks said Trump could make an announcement as early as Thursday.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross attended meetings at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris on Wednesday, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer joins discussions in Paris on Thursday.

The U.S. plan has raised the threat of retaliation from Europe and fears of a global trade war — a prospect that is weighing on investor confidence and could hinder the global economic upturn.

If the U.S. moves forward with its tariffs, the EU has threatened to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. orange juice, peanut butter and other goods in return. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire pledged that the European response would be “united and firm.”

Limits on cars

Besides the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, the Trump administration is also investigating possible limits on foreign cars in the name of national security.

“Unilateral responses and threats over trade war will solve nothing of the serious imbalances in the world trade. Nothing,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in an impassioned speech at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris.

In a clear reference to Trump, Macron added: “These solutions might bring symbolic satisfaction in the short term. … One can think about making voters happy by saying, ‘I have a victory, I’ll change the rules, you’ll see.’”

But Macron said those “who waged bilateral trade wars … saw an increase in prices and an increase in unemployment.”

Tariffs on steel imports to the U.S. can help local producers of the metal by making foreign products more expensive. But they can also increase costs more broadly for U.S. manufacturers who cannot source all their steel locally and need to import the raw material. That hurts the companies and can lead to more expensive consumer prices, economists say.

Ross criticized the EU for its tough negotiating position.

“There can be negotiations with or without tariffs in place. There are plenty of tariffs the EU has on us. It’s not that we can’t talk just because there’s tariffs,” he said. He noted that “China has not used that as an excuse not to negotiate.”

But German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier insisted the Europeans were being “constructive” and were ready to negotiate special trade arrangements, notably for liquefied natural gas and industrial goods, including cars.

WTO reforms

Macron also proposed to start negotiations between the U.S., the EU, China and Japan to reshape the World Trade Organization to better regulate trade. Discussions could then be expanded to include other countries to agree on changes by the end of the year.

Ross expressed concern that the Geneva-based World Trade Organization and other organizations are too rigid and slow to adapt to changes in global business.

“We would operate within (multilateral) frameworks if we were convinced that people would move quickly,” he said.

Ross and Lighthizer seemed like the odd men out at this week’s gathering at the OECD, an international economic agency that includes the U.S. as a prominent member.

The agency issued a report Wednesday saying “the threat of trade restrictions has begun to adversely affect confidence” and tariffs “would negatively influence investment and jobs.”

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Угруповання «Ісламська держава» взяло відповідальність за напад у Льєжі

Відповідальність за напад в бельгійському місті Льєж взяло на себе угрупування «Ісламська держава». Про це повідомляє ресурс SITE, що відслідковує активність ісламістів в інтернеті.

Уранці 29 травня озброєний чоловік застрелив трьох людей у центрі міста Льєж. Двоє загиблих – поліцейські. Ще два офіцери поліції зазнали поранень. Нападник був застрелений. Перед атакою він здійснив ще один злочин, убивши 30-річного чоловіка.

Також читайте: Напад у Льєжі розслідують як теракт – прокуратура

Нападником виявився 36-річний Бенжамен Ерман. Раніше був засуджений за «дрібний злочин» і відбував покарання у в’язниці. Поліція стверджує, що в ув’язненні Ерман набув радикальних поглядів.

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Union: Strike Could Cost Vegas Casinos $10M a Day

The two largest resort operators in Las Vegas would lose more than $10 million a day combined if housekeepers, cooks and others go on strike, a possibility starting Friday, the union representing thousands of casino workers said Wednesday.

The Culinary Union detailed how it thinks a one-month strike would impact MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment, which operate more than half the properties that would be affected if 50,000 workers walk off the job. Workers last week voted to authorize a strike as disputes over workplace training, wages and other issues have kept the union and casino operators from agreeing on new contracts.

The union conceded that it is difficult to estimate how the strike at more than 30 casino-hotels would affect Las Vegas overall because the last citywide strike took place in 1984, when the city had 90,000 fewer hotel rooms and only about 12.8 million annual visitors. Last year, more than 42.2 million people visited.

Contract expires midnight Thursday

But it says MGM and Caesars would see a 10 percent reduction in revenue because of the loss of group and independent travelers. A strike also could happen as fans head to Las Vegas for the Stanley Cup Final.

“Furthermore, one might assume a 10 percent worsening of operating margins due to the use of less experienced and less skilled replacements … to keep the doors open, rooms cleaned, food cooked, and cocktails served, not to mention other factors such as the disruptions to management staff’s regular work,” the union wrote.

Using the companies’ earnings reports for the first three months of the year, the union’s estimates show a one-month strike could reduce MGM’s earnings before interest, taxes and other items by more than $206 million and Caesars’ by over $113 million.

Contracts expire at midnight Thursday for bartenders, housekeepers, cocktail and food servers, porters, bellmen, cooks and other kitchen workers at properties on the Las Vegas Strip and downtown Las Vegas, including Caesars Palace, Bellagio, Stratosphere, Treasure Island, The D and El Cortez.

Dealers are not part of the Culinary Union. Casino-resorts that would not be affected by the strike include Wynn Las Vegas, Encore, The Venetian and Palazzo.

More talks scheduled

MGM, which employees 24,000 of the workers, said it met with union negotiators Monday and has more talks scheduled this week. The company says it remains confident that it “can resolve the outstanding contract issues and come to an agreement that works for all sides.”

Caesars said it “expects to agree to a new 5-year contract with the Culinary Union on or about June 1 when the current contract expires.” About 12,000 of its workers are part of the negotiations for new five-year contracts.

The union said it is asking for training on new skills and job opportunities as the companies adopt technology that can displace workers. It also wants an independent study to analyze the workload of housekeepers and contract language that would protect workers if properties are sold.

“What is going to happen to my position?” said Fernando Fernandez, a guest runner at Caesars Palace. “I think they are going to be disappearing it, because robots are going to be available to deliver everything.”

He said he wants training to fix or program the robots that he believes could eventually replace him.

The union says it has asked MGM for average annual wage increases of 4 percent for each of the five years. A document says the company has countered with an approximate 2.7 percent increase.

Caesars workers are asking for an increase of 4.2 percent effective Friday, and annual increases of about 4 percent thereafter. Another document shows the company has offered an approximate 2.8 percent increase for each of the five years.

The average hourly wage of union workers is $23, including benefits such as premium-free health care, a pension and a 401(k) retirement savings plan and $25,000 down-payment assistance for first-time homebuyers.

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Malaysia Moves to Rebalance Relationship With China

Malaysia and China are looking to re-balance ties as the new government of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad seeks to renegotiate billions of dollars of Chinese backed infrastructure spending, with the goal of reducing the country’s national debt.

China is Malaysia’s leading foreign direct investor at over $3.38 billion, ahead of the U.S., Japan and Singapore, with major infrastructure deals negotiated during the previous government of Najib Razak.

The main contract is a $14 billion (55 billion ringgit) East Coast Rail Link, as well as manufacturing, real estate and sovereign wealth fund bonds.

Carl Thayer, a professor of politics at Australia’s University of New South Wales, says Malaysia is seeking to move beyond anti-Chinese rhetoric that had been an undercurrent of the May 9 national polls.

Thayer said during the campaign Chinese investment in Malaysia was an issue, amid concerns Malaysia was excessively indebted to China.

“But Prime Minister Mahathir since the election has basically declared that the existing agreements will stand — that’s with any country. But there will be a review of these agreements with China. And the key project there seems to be the east coast rail line which is seen as a ‘white elephant’, costing a lot of money and not really delivering,” he said.

The East Coast Rail line is a key portion of Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) infrastructure into South East Asia covering 688 kilometers connecting the South China Sea with the Thai Border.

The new government says the fresh negotiations are a bid to reduce the national debt burden, put at $251.32 billion (one trillion ringgit ) or 80 percent of national output (GDP).

Prime Minister Mahathir sees a need to reassess the projects and the Chinese investment strategy generally, especially depending on imported Chinese labor and technicians.

“We need to find out what benefit there is to us. To find out firstly the train is not going to be viable; secondly, its not benefiting Malaysia as much as we would like to see,” Mahthir told VOA.

“We don’t want to have a huge number of immigrants in Malaysia. Some of the Chinese companies have done that; that is not foreign direct investment,” he said.

WATCH: Mahathir Seeks to Implement Reforms

He said such projects as the rail link need to be scaled back in order to reduce the cost to renegotiate the loans and ensuring greater Malaysian participation.

“I think we will be able to convince [China] that some restructuring of the terms of the borrowing and the projects and all that will have to be done in order to reduce spending, in order to reduce the loans that we took from foreign countries,” Mahathir said.

In media reports Mahathir said he planned to scrap a 350 kilometer bullet train line from Singapore to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

The project, valued at around $20 billion, had attracted bidding interest from China, Japan and South Korea.

But Mahathir said this project “would be dropped” as it was unnecessary” and would “not earn a single cent.”

University of New South Wales’ Thayer expects China will be pragmatic in dealings with the new government.

“It’s got massive investments in Malaysia it would want to protect. China would roll with the punches and take the long view. Eventually that Malaysia — as I indicated — all the fundamentals are there to continue the relationship.”

“Trade is managed in Malaysia’s favor; substantial growing Chinese investment building infrastructure projects, some of which are needed, others maybe excessive, renewing, renegotiating the balance in that relationship, but not lurching to the U.S. camp,” Thayer said.

Both Mahathir and wealthy Malaysian businessman Robert Kouk, who sits on a powerful advisory panel to the Malaysian government, recently met China’s ambassador to Malaysia, Bai Tian. Mahathir later said Malaysia’s “strong ties with China will continue to flourish.”

James Chin, director of the South East Asia Institute at the University of Tasmania, says China’s Malaysian investments are also key to China’s regional strategic goals.

“Part of the reason China is such a big player in Malaysia is due to the geopolitical realities facing China. People do not realize that Malaysia is the only country in South East Asia that surrounds the South China Sea,” Chin said.

China has established disputed claims over much of the South China Sea.

But Bridget Walsh, based at the John Cabot University in Italy, said eventually Malaysia-China ties will return to a steady course.

“China is the regional global power in terms of economic issues, especially in South East Asia, and it is going to play a very big role and Malaysia is looking for new economic drivers,” Walsh said.

Walsh said outside infrastructure projects, China will look to other economic areas to continue a role in Malaysia’s economy. “And I think there are people in the system that understand that,” she said.

David Boyle contributed to this report.


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Контактна група зі врегулювання на Донбасі засідає в Мінську

У Мінську 30 травня відбувається зустріч Тристоронньої контактної групи зі врегулювання ситуації в зоні конфлікту на сході України, повідомляє Міністерство закордонних справ Білорусі.

Напередодні перший заступник голови Верховної Ради України, член гуманітарної підгрупи ТКГ на переговорах у Мінську Ірина Геращенко в ефірі Радіо Свобода заявила, що переговори в Мінську будуть «дуже важкими».

За її словами, на зустрічі буде дві ключові теми, які порушуватиме українська сторона: припинення порушень режиму тиші і звільнення заручників.

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Після попереднього засідання контактної групи в Мінську 16 травня Геращенко заявляла, що прогресу на переговорах у Мінську щодо звільнення заручників немає. За її словами, це викликає величезне занепокоєння, особливо на фоні останніх новин, зокрема про оголошене Олегом Сенцовим голодування і тривале голодування Володимира Балуха.

Станом на кінець січня в СБУ повідомляли, що в заручниках на непідконтрольних уряду територіях Донбасу перебувають 108 людей, десятки – в Росії, 402 людини вважалися зниклими безвісти. Востаннє обмін полоненими на Донбасі відбувався в грудні минулого року.

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