Monthly: July 2018

Turkish Court Rejects Appeal on US Pastor’s House Arrest

A Turkish court has rejected an appeal for U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson to be released from house arrest while being tried on terrorism charges.

Brunson’s detention has become a pressing issue for the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has threatened sanctions as part of a pressure campaign to free the pastor.

Brunson is next expected in court Oct. 12 as he battles charges of terrorism and espionage. He has been jailed for the past 21 months after indictment on charges of helping a network led by U.S.-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, which Turkey blames for a failed 2016 coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Brunson is also charged with supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The 50-year-old pastor, who denies the charges, could face up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

The detention of Brunson, an evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina, has strained relations between Turkey and the U.S., both NATO allies.

Trump has repeatedly demanded Brunson’s release. The U.S. president has tweeted that Brunson’s detention is “a total disgrace” and added, “He has done nothing wrong, and his family needs him!”

Brunson is among tens of thousands of people Erdogan detained on similar charges during the state of emergency he declared following the failed coup.

The state of emergency ended on July 18, but the Turkish legislature passed a new “anti-terror” law last week that gives authorities more power to detain suspects and restore public order.



your ad here

Turkey Warms Up to Europe as Its US Ties Fester

With U.S.-Turkish ties deeply strained, Ankara’s relationship with Europe is warming. Berlin reportedly has invited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a state visit. At the same time, Erdogan is organizing a summit between France, Germany, and Russia to discuss Syria.

This month, the Netherlands restored full diplomatic relations with Turkey after a bitter spat between the countries’ leaders.

For more than a year, relations between Turkey and Europe have been in the deep freeze. Erdogan frequently engaged in rhetoric aimed at infuriating European leaders, often accusing them of behaving like Nazis. Turkey’s detention of European nationals, particularly German citizens, often without charge, strained relations with Berlin to the breaking point.

Led by Germany, Europe had taken an increasingly assertive stance toward Turkey, with threats of financial and economic sanctions.

“The reason why bickering between Turkey and the EU stopped — the EU has finally reached conclusions about how to deal with Turkey, and Erdogan realized he couldn’t push the EU around,” said political analyst Atilla Yesilada of Global Source Partners.

Erdogan’s re-election in June is offering a chance of a reset with Europe.

“There will be low-tension policies on both sides,” said international relations professor Huseyin Bagci of Ankara’s Middle East Technical University. “In the next five years, they [Europe] have to deal with Tayyip Erdogan, and Erdogan has to deal with them.”

“Turkish economic policies and strategies require more cooperation than confrontation in the long run,” he added. “I consider this a new period with many lessons learned, with a more pragmatic and realistic foreign policy and economic policy orientation in the coming years.”

Prize of rebuilding Syria

Turkey and the European Union have found common ground in opposing the U.S. withdrawal from the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. Turkish companies, like their European counterparts, are facing American sanctions for trading with Iran.

However, analysts suggests any hope by Ankara for a united stance against Washington is misplaced.

“The way EU countries approach Iran sanctions is different. We already know big brands from Europe have left Iran,” said former senior Turkish diplomat Aydin Selcen.

Economic factors remain a vital driving force behind Turkey’s rapprochement with Europe. Erdogan is committed to continuing a series of major mega-construction projects, which include one of the world’s largest airports and a major canal running through Istanbul.

“The big Turkish projects, if he [Erdogan] is to realize them — he has to cooperate with international financial institutions and international money lenders,” Bagci said. “War has destroyed Iraq and Syria. Now is the time for reconstruction, and Europe’s support is needed for this.”

With Turkey bordering Syria and Iraq, analysts suggest Erdogan sees the reconstruction of its neighbors as offering an opportunity to revitalize the Turkish economy and, in particular, its ailing construction industry.

Erdogan’s planned summit later this year with France, Germany, and Russia reportedly is expected to focus on the task of rebuilding Syria.

Human rights concerns

Europe’s ongoing concerns over Turkey’s human rights record, though, could complicate rapprochement efforts. Under the EU’s Copenhagen Criteria as a membership candidate, Turkey is compelled to observe fundamental human rights.

“How are we [Ankara] going to appease Europe, which insists on strict compliance with the Copenhagen criteria?” asked Yesilada. “You cannot simply lock people up for social media postings that you don’t like.”

Brussels repeatedly has criticized Ankara on human rights, particularly its lack of freedom of expression. In a move this month interpreted as a gesture to Europe, Erdogan ended two years of emergency rule, introduced after the 2016 failed coup.

Critics dismissed the move, pointing out that new legislation passing through parliament includes many of the most severe elements of the emergency rule.

“If Erdogan places more emphasis on better relations with the EU, that may lead to a more tolerant attitude toward dissidents and the opposition,” Yesilada said. “But there are conflicting messages. The opposition fears a greater crackdown. I think a continuation of the crackdown is not feasible, given the economic situation and Turkey’s tenuous position between West and East.”

Strained US ties

Turkey’s current strains with Washington also are giving further impetus to Ankara’s courting of Europe.

“We will hear more pro-European verbalism from the Turkish foreign desk officers,” predicted Council of Europe member Ertugral Kurkcu of the Turkish HDP opposition. “We can see small steps on the migrant issues, the Cyprus issue.”

Migration remains a crucial card for dealing with the EU. Turkey is successfully controlling the flow of migrants into Europe as part of a two-year-old deal with Brussels. Turkish cooperation in monitoring returning European jihadis from Syria is seen as vital by Europe’s security forces.

Analysts are not predicting that rapprochement with Europe will offer any hope for revitalizing Turkey’s EU membership bid. But they say the relationship between the two is likely to be built on transactional initiatives.

your ad here

Президент Словаччини назвав байкерів «Нічні вовки» причетними до анексії Криму

Президент Словацької Республіки Андрей Кіска у своєму виступі 31 липня наголосив, що російське об’єднання байкерів «Нічні вовки» поруч зі спеціальними підрозділами російської армії взяло участь у військових операціях в Криму».

«Нічні вовки» є інструментом режиму, який займається відторгненням територій сусідньої країни – анексії частини України, що суперечить міжнародному праву», – наголосив словацький президент, звернувши при цьому увагу на те, що Словаччина не визнала і не визнає анексію Криму.

На думку президента Словаччини, «діяльність байкерської банди є очевидним ризиком для безпеки країни. Заснування так званого «європейського представництва» «Нічних вовків» у Словаччині водночас є насмішкою над офіційною позицією Словацької республіки щодо анексії Криму і російської політики».

Андрей Кіска закликав уряд країни сформувати необхідні умови для «дієвого втручання проти діяльності сумнівних об’єднань», які ширяться в країні.

«Гадаю, що чекати, коли об’єднання, яке служить чужій країні, розпочне на терені Словацької республіки порушувати закон, є убогою стратегією безпеки», – наголосив у своєму виступі президент Словаччини Андрей Кіска.

Читайте також: Російські «Нічні вовки» і «Словацькі новобранці»: як російські байкери отаборилися в Словаччині

Наприкінці червня словацькі ЗМІ повідомили, що прокремлівські байкери «Нічні вовки» створили в Словаччині «табір» у військовому стилі – у селі Долна Крупа (Dolná Krupá) поблизу міста Трнава, що на заході країни. Громадські активісти країни з цього приводу висловлювали занепокоєння.


your ad here

ЗМІ заявляють про загибель в ЦАР трьох російських журналістів

Російське видання «Известия» спростовує повідомлення ЗМІ про загибель в Центральноафриканській республіці трьох співробітників видання. 

У повідомленні прес-служби зазначається, що жоден співробітник «Известий» останнім часом на території ЦАР не перебував.

«Всі працівники редакції працюють в стандартному режимі, ніякої інформації про будь-які надзвичайні події з нашими журналістами у нас немає», – йдеться в повідомленні.

Як повідомила агенція AFP, у ЦАР виявили тіла трьох убитих росіян. За даними російського видання ТАСС, яке посилається на дані посольства Росії в ЦАР, у двох з трьох загиблих були виявлені при собі прес-карти «Известий».

Читайте також: Найманці «ПВК Вагнера» – тепер в Африці. Що вони там роблять?

Російська служба ВВС повідомила, що вбиті журналіст Орхан Джемаль, Олександр Расторгуєв і Кирило Радченко. За даними телеканалу «Дождь», в ЦАР журналісти знімали документальний проект про роботу «ПВК Вагнера».

your ad here

Trial of Former Trump Campaign Chair Begins in Virginia

A jury of six men and six women was impaneled on Tuesday afternoon for the closely watched financial crimes trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in Alexandria, Virginia.


Manafort, 69, is on trial for tax and bank fraud charges related to his political consulting and lobbying work for politicians in Ukraine.   


Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The trial of Manafort, who briefly headed President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, is the only to arise so far from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the vote.

The jurors – 10 whites and two Asian-Americans — who will decide Manafort’s guilt or innocence were selected from a pool of several dozen candidates. Four alternate jurors were also selected.


Prosecutors and defense lawyers objected to nearly two dozen other candidates in the juror pool for unknown reasons.


Federal District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III summarized the indictment for the jury, imploring them to consider the case “solely based on the evidence presented here and the court’s instructions of the law.”


With the jury impaneled, the trial is scheduled to continue Tuesday afternoon with 30-minute opening statements by prosecutors and defense lawyers.

On the surface, the criminal charges against Manafort — tax evasion, failure to report foreign bank accounts and fraudulently obtaining bank loans — are unrelated to the core of Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to subvert the 2016 U.S. national election.

The charges stem from Manafort’s decade-long lobbying and political consulting work for Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych.

On the surface, the criminal charges against Manafort — tax evasion, failure to report foreign bank accounts and fraudulently obtaining bank loans — are unrelated to the core of Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to subvert the 2016 U.S. national election.

The charges stem from Manafort’s decade-long lobbying and political consulting work for Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych.

While working for Yanukovych and his pro-Russia Party of Regions between 2006 and 2015, Manafort and his former business partner, Rick Gates, allegedly earned tens of millions of dollars in fees while hiding the income from the Internal Revenue Service.

To avoid paying hefty taxes, prosecutors say, they set up secret shell companies and offshore accounts to funnel their Ukrainian proceeds disguised as “loans” to U.S. accounts to buy multimillion dollar properties and luxury goods.

After Yanukovych was deposed in 2014 and their Ukrainian income dwindled, Manafort and Gates allegedly came up with another scheme to obtain money: the two used their real estate properties in the United States as collateral to fraudulently secure more than $20 million in bank loans by “falsely inflating” their income.

In all, prosecutors say, more than $75 million flowed through the offshore accounts Manafort and Gates set up.

Manafort has been in jail since June, when the judge presiding over the Washington case revoked his bail for allegedly tampering with potential witnesses.

The special counsel has enlisted as many as 35 witnesses to testify against Manafort. They include accountants, financial advisers, tax preparers and real estate agents.

But prosecutors’ star witness is likely to be Gates, who worked closely with Manafort in Ukraine and later followed him into Trump’s campaign as deputy chairman.

Gates was named as a co-defendant in the initial indictment handed down against Manafort last October. But when the special counsel hit the two men with a second indictment in February, Gates pleaded guilty to two lesser counts in exchange for cooperation.

Manafort has remained defiant, vowing to fight the charges.

your ad here

Trump: ‘Collusion Is Not a Crime’

U.S. President Donald Trump declared Tuesday “collusion is not a crime,” as he continued his attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into links between between his 2016 campaign and Russia.

Trump echoed comments by one of his lawyers, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, about collusion not specifically being an offense in the U.S. legal code.  Trump added that it “doesn’t matter,” because his campaign had not colluded with Russia.

Even without collusion being a criminal offense, U.S. legal analysts say Mueller is likely investigating a possible conspiracy, a criminal offense, to connect with a foreign government to influence the election and probing numerous ties Trump campaign aides had with Russian interests.  Trump has reluctantly acknowledged Russian interference in the election, but has called the investigation “a big hoax” to explain his upset victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump’s comments on collusion came on the first day of the trial of his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, accused by Mueller of hiding millions of dollars in offshore accounts that he had been paid for representing deposed Ukrainian strongman Viktor Yanukovych in the years before his short tenure leading Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Testimony at the expected three-week trial in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside Washington, could only peripherally touch on the Trump campaign.  But its outcome is being watched closely since it is the first case brought by Mueller’s legal team that has gone to trial.  If convicted, the 69-year-old Manafort, accustomed to a lavish lifestyle, faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison, a theoretical sentence of 305 years.

Mueller, 14 months into his probe, has secured guilty pleas from a handful of Trump aides for lying to investigators about their links to Russia and indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officials for allegedly hacking into the computers of Democratic officials supporting Clinton and releasing their emails through WikiLeaks.

Giuliani told CNN on Monday that it remains unlikely that Trump will agree to answer questions from Mueller about Russian interference in the election and whether the president obstructed justice by trying to thwart the investigation.

“The odds are against it, but I wouldn’t be shocked, because he wants to do it,” Giuliani said.

Giuliani said, however, that if Trump does sit for an interview he would only agree to answer questions about whether his campaign colluded with Russia to help him win, not questions, except in a very limited way, about obstruction.

Trump fired James Comey, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in May 2017 as he was leading the agency’s Russia investigation before Mueller was named to take over the Russia probe.



your ad here

«Посадіть його»: активісти зібралися під судом у справі Манафорта у США

Кількадесят активістів зібралися під федеральним судом в американському штаті Вірджинія, де 31 липня розпочинається процес у справі Пола Манафорта. Вони підтримують розслідування імовірного втручання Росії в американські вибори, яке здійснюють слідчі під керівництвом спецпрокурора Роберта Мюллера, та закликають засудити колишнього радника Дональда Трампа.

Манафорт є першим із колишніх помічників чинного президента США, який постане перед судом. Федеральні слідчі, які розслідують втручання у вибори в 2016 році, висунули Манафорту звинувачення в банківському і податковому шахрайстві.

Ідеться, зокрема, про роботу Манафорта як політичного консультанта та лобіста на користь колишнього українського президента Віктора Януковича. Законодавство США не забороняє таку роботу, але вона має бути офіційно задекларована, а з отриманих грошей мають сплачуватися податки.

Читайте також: Спецпрокурор США: Манафорт заробив понад 60 мільйонів доларів як консультант в Україні

Як очікується, сторона обвинувачення вкаже на ту обставину, що витрати Манафорта на купівлю нерухомості і предмети розкоші не відповідали сумам, оголошеним у його податкових деклараціях. Манафорт, на думку слідства, ввів в оману кредиторів, запозичуючи десятки мільйонів доларів.

Процес, який розпочинається у Вірджинії, буде першим зі щонайменше двох. Другий має розпочатися у вересні в столичному окрузі Колумбія, головна увага цього процесу буде прикута до політичних питань. У червні 2016 року Манафорт був присутній на зустрічі функціонерів з оточення Трампа з громадянами Росії, які нібито мали у своєму розпорядженні компрометуючі матеріали щодо кандидата в президенти США від Демократичної партії Хілларі Клінтон.

Спеціальний прокурор Роберт Мюллер та його команда вже 14 місяців проводять розслідування ймовірного втручання Кремля у вибори в США.

your ad here

Transparency International закликає поліцію розслідувати напад на чиновницю у Херсоні

«Застерігаємо херсонську поліцію від спокуси спустити справу на гальмах»

your ad here

Tehran: Trump Wrong to Expect Saudis to Cover Loss of Iran Oil Supply

Iran said on Tuesday U.S. President Donald Trump was mistaken to expect Saudi Arabia and other oil producers to compensate for supply losses caused by U.S. sanctions on Iran, after OPEC production rose only modestly in July.

The comments, from Iran’s OPEC governor, came a day after a Reuters survey showed OPEC production rose by 70,000 barrels per day in July. Saudi production increased but was offset by a decline in Iranian supply due to the restart of U.S. sanctions, the survey found.

“It seems President Trump has been taken hostage by Saudi Arabia and a few producers when they claimed they can replace 2.5 million barrels per day of Iranian exports, encouraging him to take action against Iran,” Hossein Kazempour Ardebili told Reuters. “Now they and Russia sell more oil and more expensively. Not even from their incremental production but their stocks.”

He said oil prices, which Trump has been pressuring the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to bring down by raising output, will rise unless the United States grants waivers to buyers of Iranian crude.

“They are also calling for the use of the U.S. SPR [Strategic Petroleum Reserve]. This will also mean higher prices. U.S. waivers to our clients if they come is due to the failure of bluffers [Saudi and the other producers] and, if not given, will again push the prices higher,” he said.

“So they hanged him [Trump] on the wall. Now they want to have a mega OPEC, congratulations to President Trump, Russia and Saudi Arabia.”

OPEC governors represent their respective country on the organization’s board of governors and are typically the second most senior person in a country’s OPEC delegation after the oil minister.

“The longer-term solution, Mr President, is to support and facilitate capacity building in all countries, proportionate to their reserves of oil and gas. And we will remain the biggest opportunity,” Kazempour said.


your ad here

50 Years on, McDonald’s and Fast-Food Evolve Around Big Mac

McDonald’s is fighting to hold onto customers as the Big Mac turns 50, but it isn’t changing the makings of its most famous burger.

The company is celebrating the 1968 national launch of the double-decker sandwich whose ingredients of “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and a sesame seed bun” were seared into American memories by a TV jingle. But the milestone comes as the company reduces its number of U.S. stores. McDonald’s said Thursday that customers are visiting less often. Other trendy burger options are reaching into the heartland.

The “Golden Arches” still have a massive global reach, and the McDonald’s brand of cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets and french fries remains recognizable around the world. But on its critical home turf, the company is toiling to stay relevant. Kale now appears in salads, fresh has replaced frozen beef patties in Quarter Pounders, and some stores now offer ordering kiosks, food delivery and barista-style cafes.

The milestone for the Big Mac shows how much McDonald’s and the rest of fast-food have evolved around it.

“Clearly, we’ve gotten a little more sophisticated in our menu development,” McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a phone interview.

As with many of its popular and long-lasting menu items, the idea for the Big Mac came from a franchisee.

In 1967, Michael James “Jim” Delligatti lobbied the company to let him test the burger at his Pittsburgh restaurants. Later, he acknowledged the Big Mac’s similarity to a popular sandwich sold by the Big Boy chain.

“This wasn’t like discovering the light bulb. The bulb was already there. All I did was screw it in the socket,” Delligatti said, according to “Behind the Arches.”

McDonald’s agreed to let Delligatti sell the sandwich at a single location, on the condition that he use the company’s standard bun. It didn’t work. Delligatti tried a bigger sesame seed bun, and the burger soon lifted sales by more than 12 percent.

After similar results at more stores, the Big Mac was added to the national menu in 1968. Other ideas from franchisees that hit the big time include the Filet-O-Fish, Egg McMuffin, Apple Pie (once deep-fried but now baked), and the Shamrock Shake.

“The company has benefited from the ingenuity of its small business men,” wrote Ray Kroc, who transformed the McDonald’s into a global franchise, in his book, “Grinding It Out.”

Franchisees still play an important role, driving the recent switch to fresh from frozen for the beef in Quarter Pounders, Easterbrook says. They also participate in menu development, which in the U.S. has included a series of cooking tweaks intended to improve taste.

Messing with a signature menu item can be taboo, but keeping the Big Mac unchanged comes with its own risks. Newer chains such as Shake Shack and Five Guys offer burgers that can make the Big Mac seem outdated. Even White Castle is modernizing, recently adding plant-based “Impossible Burger” sliders at some locations.

A McDonald’s franchisee fretted in 2016 that only one out of five millennials has tried the Big Mac. The Big Mac had “gotten less relevant,” the franchisee wrote in a memo, according to the Wall Street Journal.

McDonald’s then ran promotions designed to introduce the Big Mac to more people. Those kind of periodic campaigns should help keep the Big Mac relevant for years to come, says Mike Delligatti, the son of the Big Mac inventor, who died in 2016.

“What iconic sandwich do you know that can beat the Big Mac as far as longevity?” said Delligatti, himself a McDonald’s franchisee.

your ad here

Accusations Fly as US Firms Seek to Avoid Trump’s Steel Tariff

U.S. companies seeking to be exempted from President Donald Trump’s tariff on imported steel are accusing American steel manufacturers of spreading inaccurate and misleading information, and they fear it may torpedo their requests.

Robert Miller, president and CEO of NLMK USA, said objections raised by U.S. Steel and Nucor to his bid for a waiver are “literal untruths.” He said his company, which imports huge slabs of steel from Russia, has already paid $80 million in duties and will be forced out of business if it isn’t excused from the 25 percent tariff. U.S. Steel and Nucor are two of the country’s largest steel producers.

“They ought to be ashamed of themselves,” said Miller, who employs more than 1,100 people at mills in Pennsylvania and Indiana.

Miller’s resentment, echoed by several other executives, is evidence of the backlash over how the Commerce Department is evaluating their requests to avoid the duty on steel imports. They fear the agency will be swayed by opposition from U.S. Steel, Nucor and other domestic steel suppliers that say they’ve been unfairly hurt by a glut of imports and back Trump’s tariff.

U.S. Steel said its objections are based on detailed information about the dimensions and chemistry of the steel included in the requests. “We read what is publicly posted and respond,” said spokeswoman Meghan Cox. Nucor did not reply to requests for comment.

The 20,000-plus waiver applications that the Commerce Department has received illustrate the chaos and uncertainty ignited by Trump’s trade war against America’s allies and adversaries. It’s a battle that critics of his trade policy, including a number of Republican lawmakers, have warned is misguided and will end up harming U.S. businesses.

Trump and European leaders agreed this past Wednesday not to escalate their dispute over trade, but the tariff on steel and a separate duty on aluminum imports remains in place as the U.S. and Europe aim for a broader trade agreement. The metal taxes would continue to hit U.S. trading partners such as Canada, Mexico and Japan even if the U.S. and the EU forge a deal.

Miller bristled over insistence by Nucor and U.S. Steel that steel slab is readily available in the United States. “That’s just not true,” he said.

His company isn’t the only one looking overseas for a product described as being consistently in short supply. California Steel Industries, a mill east of Los Angeles in Fontana, described the slab shortage as “acute” on the West Coast and declared that its waiver request is critical to its survival.

Aiming to rebuild the U.S. steel industry, Trump relied on a rarely used 1962 law that empowers him to impose tariffs on particular imports if the Commerce Department determines those goods threaten national security. He added a twist: Companies could be excused from the tariff if they could show, for example, that U.S. manufacturers don’t make the metal they need in sufficient quantities.

But there are hurdles to clear on the path to securing an exemption. A single company may have to file dozens of separate requests to account for even slight variations in the metal it’s buying. That means a mountain of paperwork to be filled out precisely. If not, the request is at risk of being rejected as incomplete. All this can be time-consuming and expensive, especially for smaller businesses.

The requests are open to objections. The Commerce Department posts the exemption requests online to allow third parties to offer comments — even from competitors who have an interest in seeing a rival’s request denied. But objections are frequently being submitted just as the comment period closes, undercutting the requester’s ability to fire back.

Willie Chiang, executive vice president of Plains All American Pipeline, told the House Ways and Means subcommittee on trade last week that his company had no opportunity to respond to objections that contained “incorrect information” before the Commerce Department denied its exclusion request. Chiang didn’t say who submitted the inaccurate information.

“The intent here is to restrict imports on a broad scale,” said Richard Chriss, executive director of the American Institute for International Steel, a free trade group opposed to tariffs. “It wouldn’t make sense from the administration’s perspective to design a process that readily granted exclusions.”

The Commerce Department declined to comment for this story.

Department officials have so far made public only a small number of their rulings.

An analysis of the numbers by the office of Rep. Jackie Walorski, an Indiana Republican and one of the most vocal opponents of the steel tariff on Capitol Hill, shows that 760 requests have been approved while 552 have been denied. The department hasn’t yet approved a waiver request that triggered objections, according to Walorski’s review.

The congresswoman’s office also examined the more than 5,600 publicly available comments and found they were submitted on average about four days before the end of the 30-day comment period. More than 50 percent of the comments weren’t delivered until 48 hours or less before the comment window closed. It took department an average of nine days to post comments online after receiving them, according to the analysis. The most prolific commenters were Nucor and U.S. Steel with 1,064 and 1,009, respectively.

A waiver request Seneca Foods Corporation submitted for tinplated steel it had already agreed to purchase from China was among the denials. U.S. Steel had objected, calling the tinplate a “standard product” that’s readily available in the United States. In fact, U.S. Steel said it currently supplies the material to Seneca Foods, the nation’s largest vegetable canner.

The New York-based Seneca Foods declined to comment. But in its waiver application, the company said domestically made tinplate “is of inferior quality to imported material.” Seneca Foods also said it’s unclear, at best, if U.S. suppliers have the ability or willingness to expand their production in the long term to meet the company’s annual demand for the material.

Philadelphia-based Crown Cork & Seal, a manufacturer of metal packaging for food and beverages, submitted a sharply worded attachment to its waiver application that anticipated pushback from domestic manufacturers. American steel mills, the document said, cannot meet aggregate demand for tinplate and have no plans to increase their capacity.

“We anticipate the U.S. mills will attempt to rebut this statement when they object to this exclusion request, but we encourage the Department of Commerce to see through their manipulative attempt to exploit the rules of the exclusion request process,” the application said.

Daniel Shackell, Crown Cork & Seal’s vice president for steel sourcing, said he’s not optimistic about the company’s chances of getting all 70 of its waiver requests approved. Eight have been granted so far primarily because the metal specified in those requests is not made in the United States. Twelve others have been denied, leaving 50 still to be decided.

“It’s hard not to interpret that the Commerce Department wants domestic suppliers to have an edge,” Shackell said.

Jay Zidell, president of Tube Forgings of America, a small company in Portland, Oregon, said he’s filed 54 exclusion requests and U.S. Steel has objected to 38 of them. U.S. Steel declared it is “willing and ready to satisfy” Tube Forgings’ demands for carbon steel tubing. But Zidell said the comments ignored past problems with metal quality and workmanship that led his company to sever a prior relationship with U.S. Steel.

Still, he’s worried the Commerce Department won’t approve all of the requests. Tube Forgings already has spent $600,000 on tariffs, he said, and may be on the hook for much more than that.

“The entire system is just screwed up,” Zidell said.

your ad here

Sessions: US Culture ‘Less Hospitable to People of Faith’

American culture has become “less hospitable to people of faith,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday in vowing that the Justice Department would protect people’s religious freedom and convictions.

Sessions spoke at a Justice Department summit on religious tolerance at a time when courts across the country have been asked how to balance anti-discrimination laws against the First Amendment’s religious freedom guarantees. He also announced the creation of a “religious liberty task force” to help implement that guidance and ensure that Justice Department employees are accommodating peoples’ religious beliefs.

Conservative groups immediately praised Sessions for promising to protect deeply held religious convictions, though Trump administration critics have repeatedly voiced concerns that the attorney general’s stance undercuts LGBT rights and favors the rights of Christians over those of other faiths.

Sessions, the country’s chief law enforcement officer, warned of a “dangerous movement” that he said was eroding protections for religious Americans.

He asserted that “nuns were being forced to buy contraceptives” — an apparent, though not fully accurate, reference to an Obama administration health care policy meant to ensure women covered by faith-based groups’ health plans have access to cost-free contraceptives. Religious groups that challenged the policy argued it violated their religious beliefs.

Sessions also said it was inappropriate that judicial and executive branch nominees were being asked about their religious dogma. And he praised a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple in a case that reached the Supreme Court and ended in his favor this year. That baker, Jack Phillips, was part of a panel discussion at the Justice Department summit.

“Let’s be frank: A dangerous movement, undetected by many but real, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt. It’s no little matter. It must be confronted intellectually and politically, and defeated,” Sessions said. “This election, this past election, and much that has flowed from it, gives us a rare opportunity to arrest these trends and to confront them.

“Such a reversal will not just be done with electoral victories, however, but by intellectual victories,” he added.

Sessions, a Methodist and former Republican senator from Alabama, has made protecting religious liberty a cornerstone agenda item of his Justice Department — along with defending freedom of speech on college campuses.

In his speech, the attorney general noted that he had issued guidance last year advising executive branch employees on how to apply religious liberty protections in federal law.

your ad here

Poll: Young Americans Motivated to Fix Political ‘Dysfunction’

A new poll shows that young Americans are expressing widespread pessimism toward the current political system but are feeling motivated to make positive change in the country.

The poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and MTV found that about 70 percent of Americans ages 15 to 34 think American politics are dysfunctional, and just 1 in 10 have felt positive or excited about the state of the country in the past month.

However, the poll also found that 62 percent of young people believe that their generation is motivated to make positive changes in the United States. A similar percentage said that voting in the 2018 midterms will allow young people to effect real change in the government.

The survey found that young people are most eager to vote for someone who shares their political views. About a third say they are certain to vote in the upcoming midterm elections in November, and about half report following news about the midterms at least some of the time.

The issues that young Americans are most interested in are health care, immigration and the economy, according to the survey.

The poll found that fewer than half of American youths are excited about a candidate who is a lifelong politician, and 79 percent say leaders from their generation would do a better job running the country.

The nationwide poll was based on interviews with 1,030 young Americans ages 15-34, from June 21, 2018 to July 9, 2018.

your ad here

Italy’s PM Plans to Organize Conference on Stabilizing Libya

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Monday he was organizing a conference to look for ways to stabilize Libya, a main departure point for migrants from North Africa trying to reach Europe.

“In agreement with President (Donald) Trump, I’m going to organize a conference on Libya,” Conte told reporters at the White House after meeting with the U.S. president.

“We would like to deal (with) and discuss all of the issues related to the Libyan people, involving all of the stakeholders, actors, protagonists in the whole of the Mediterranean,” said Conte, who took office last month promising a crackdown on immigration.

Italy has told its allies it wants to hold an international conference on Libya this autumn and Conte was eager to get Trump’s blessing for the gathering at their meeting on Monday.

Italy is competing with neighboring France over how best to deal with Libya, which has been wracked by violence for years.

Conte believes a conference in Rome, backed by the United States, will help Rome establish itself as the major interlocutor for Libya’s warring factions.

After their meeting, Conte said Trump had agreed Italy would become “a reference point in Europe and the main interlocutor for the main issues that need to be faced … with particular reference to Libya.”

“We are going to discuss economic aspects, but also social aspects: the need for protection of civil rights; the problem of constitutional process – of issuing and passing laws so as to enable Libya, in particular, to get to democratic elections in a condition of the utmost stability,” Conte said.

your ad here

Lopez Obrador Looks to Tree Planting to Create Mexico Jobs

Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says he wants to create 400,000 jobs by planting 1 million hectares (2.47 million acres) with timber and fruit trees.


Lopez Obrador said in a video posted Sunday that he wants to plant half the total amount in 2019, focusing on timber species like cedar and mahogany. The other half would be planted in 2020.


Referring to the Usumacinta river basin near the border with Guatemala, Lopez Obrador said 50,000 to 100,000 hectares could be planted there. He said the upper canopy of timber species could provide cover for cacao plantings beneath. Cacao is the source of chocolate.


Lopez Obrador sees the planting program as a way to offer rural Mexicans work in their home communities, so they do not have to emigrate.

your ad here

Біля посольства Росії в Чехії відбулася акція «Миття в тазику»

Біля будівлі посольства Росії в Празі відбулася акція «Миття в тазику».

Чеські громадяни 30 липня зібралися біля посольства Росії у Чехії із атрибутами особистої гігієни та почали митися.

Більшість активістів принесла із собою тазки, балії, воду в пляшках, рушники, мочалки та гумові качечки для ванни. 

Серед учасників акції були чоловіки та жінки, які знімали взуття та наливали воду з пренесених із собою пляшок у тазики, у яких потім мили ноги. 

Акцію організувала сатирична група «Smějící se bestie» («​Чудовисько, яке сміється»​) як реакцію на статтю опубліковану на одному з російських державних інтернет-видань у Чехії У статті йдеться про особисту гігієну російських жінок, які миються два рази на день у порівнянні із європейками, які через дорогі комунальні послуги та заощаджування миються у раковині. 

На своїй сторінці у Facebook організатор закликав: «Досить російського марнотратства води! Давайте покажемо нашим слов’янським братам як правильно митися, щоб зберегти довкілля».

Організатор також запевнив, що це була не організована демонстрація. 

Із російського посольства до активістів ніхто не вийшов. Як повідомляє кореспондент Радіо Свобода, відразу до посольства Росії під’їхали дві поліцейські машини. 

Співробітники поліції розпочали перевірку документів учасників акції, після чого попросили їх «продовжити процес купання в іншому місці». 

Акція не була узгоджена з владою Праги. 

Біля стін російського посольства в Празі регулярно збираються активісти різних громадських ініціатив Чехії та України на акції в підтримку ув’язненого в Росії Олега Сенцова, протести проти агресії Росії в Україні та проти політики Кремля у Сирії.

your ad here

Портрет Сенцова вивісили на будівлі мерії Парижа

Портрет засудженого в Росії українського режисера Олега Сенцова вивісили на будівлі мерії Парижа, повідомила голова французької столиці Анн Ідальго у Twitter.

«Ми вимагаємо його звільнення і підтверджуємо нашу прихильність свободі думки й повазі до демократії», – пише Ідальго.

25 липня Європейський суд з прав людини закликав засудженого в Росії українського режисера Олега Сенцова припинити голодування й прийняти лікування, яке покращить його стан.

Водночас суд вимагає від Росії невідкладно надати Сенцову необхідне лікування в медичній установі.

Читайте також: Омбудсмен Денісова написала листа Москальковій з ініціативою обміну політв’язнів

Український режисер Олег Сенцов був засуджений у Росії в серпні 2015 року на 20 років колонії суворого режиму за звинуваченням у плануванні терактів в анексованому Криму. Він провину не визнає. 14 травня Сенцов оголосив безстрокове голодування, вимагаючи звільнення українських політв’язнів у Росії.

Активісти в Україні і по всьому світу продовжують вимагати від Росії та її президента Володимира Путіна звільнити незаконно утримуваних українців. Акції проходять у різних країнах і на різних континентах під гаслами #FreeOlegSentsov і #SaveOlegSentsov.

your ad here

Macedonia Sets Referendum Date on Renaming Country

Macedonia’s parliament has set September 30 as the date for a referendum on changing the country’s name to North Macedonia.

Macedonian lawmakers approved the measure with 68 votes in the 120-seat parliament. Opposition members boycotted the vote by leaving the room.

Greece has objected to its neighbor being called Macedonia, saying it implies territorial claims over its own province of the same name. It has blocked the former Yugoslav republic’s bid to join the European Union and NATO because of the naming disagreement.

Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who was elected in 2017, has pushed for an agreement with Greece to solve the dispute. In June, the two sides agreed on the name North Macedonia.

The referendum question that parliament approved Monday does not explicitly mention changing the country’s name. It says only: “Are you for EU and NATO membership by accepting the agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece?”

Macedonia’s nationalist opposition party, VMRO-DPMNE, criticized the wording of the referendum question. “It is manipulative,” said Igor Janusev, VMRO-DPMNE secretary general.

your ad here

Impact of Trade Tariffs on European Companies

Some European companies are rethinking their strategies to cushion the impact of trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies, the United States and China.

The focus will switch back to China after a truce on tariffs emerged from U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on July 25.

Trump and Juncker agreed to suspend any new tariffs on the European Union, including a proposed 25 percent levy on auto imports, and hold talks over duties on imports of European steel and aluminum. However, Trump retained the power to impose tariffs if no progress is made.

In the case of China, Trump threatened that he was ready to impose tariffs on an additional $500 billion of imports.

The United States has already imposed tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports. In return, China has levied taxes on the same value of U.S. products.

Below are recent comments from European companies on trade tensions:

Russian steelmaker MMK has delayed the launch of a project in Turkey, which was expected to add $90-$100 million to its core earnings, due to uncertainty created by global trade wars, the company said.
Siemens Healthineers plans to cushion the impact of U.S.-China trade tensions by changing its supply routes to ship goods from its European factories. The firm expects tariffs to have a low single digit million euro impact on Healthineers' results this year, which could rise to a double-digit million euro effect next year.
German automaker BMW said it would increase suggested retail prices of the relatively high-margin X5 and X6 SUV models by 4 percent to 7 percent. The company has said that it would be unable to "completely absorb" a 25 percent Chinese tariff on imported U.S.-made models.
China-based car dealers said Mercedes maker Daimler moderately raised prices in the country of its GLE midsize SUV which is produced in Alabama. Daimler is looking at ways to mitigate the impact of the trade tensions, including reviewing whether to shift some U.S. production to Asia. The company blamed tariffs for a 30 percent drop in second-quarter profit.
Wind turbine maker Siemens Gamesa warned that trade tensions would drive up U.S. costs by 2 to 4 percent, depending on the product and whether further tariffs are imposed. The company is working to reduce the impact on margins by optimizing its supply chains.
French electrical equipment company Schneider Electric foresees growth slowing in the second half of the year and expects the first extra costs linked to higher U.S. tariffs, which could reach 20 million euros.
"If the trade war escalates we are more concerned about the consequences that it can have on global macro environment," STMicro said, adding that the direct impact of trade war risks were currently negligible.
Fiat Chrysler cut its 2018 outlook, hurt by a weaker performance in China. Its operating profit for the second-quarter was negatively impacted by China import duty changes.
French mining group Eramet warned that current favorable markets could be hurt by trade rows.
Philips confirmed its sales growth target for this year but added that trade worries and the consequences of Brexit continued to cause uncertainty.
Finnish steel maker Outokumpu sees a double impact from the U.S. tariffs, with surging imports to Europe resulting in heavy price pressure, whilst in the Americas base prices have risen, benefiting local manufacturers itself.
Fellow Finnish company Valmet said tariff increases could derail the recovery and depress its medium-term growth prospects.
Chinese-owned Volvo Cars  said it was shifting production of its top-selling SUV production for the U.S. market to Europe from China to avoid Washington's new duties on Chinese imports.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, whose members include General Motors, Volkswagen AG and Toyota, also warned on the impact of the tariffs. A study released by a U.S. auto dealer group warned that the tariffs could cut U.S. auto sales by 2 million vehicles.
Sweden's Electrolux said U.S. tariffs announced in July would have an impact of $10 million plus this year. In the third quarter. It expects raw material costs to rise by 0.5 billion Swedish crowns.
Belgian steel wire maker Bekaert reported it sees underlying operating profit 20 percent below analysts' estimates in the first half, blaming wire rod costs partly driven up by tariffs.
Swedish lock maker Assa Abloy sees a further increase in steel prices in the second part of the year in the U.S., partly due to new import tariffs.
Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine said about a third of its U.S. sales would be impacted by import tariffs, adding it was talking to its customers about who would bear the cost.
Norway's REC Silicon booked an impairment charge of $340 million "due to the market disruption from the curtailment of solar incentives in China, as well as continued trade barriers that prevent access to primary markets inside China."

your ad here

Трамп запевнив, що санкції проти Росії діятимуть і надалі

Американські санкції проти Росії діятимуть і надалі, заявив президент США Дональд Трамп під час спільної прес-конференції з прем’єром Італії Джузеппе Конте в Білому домі.

«Санкції щодо Росії залишатимуться такими, якими вони є», – зазначив Трамп.

Відносини між Вашингтоном і Москвою загострилися після анексії Росією українського півострова Крим і початку збройного конфлікту на Донбасі. Після цього США запровадили проти Росії економічні санкції, які кілька разів розширювалися й посилювалися.

your ad here