Monthly: September 2018

У Македонії закрилися дільниці для референдуму, явка надто низька

Референдум має статус консультативного і не тягне прямих юридичних наслідків. На нього винесли питання: «Ви підтримуєте членство в ЄС і НАТО, приймаючи Договір між Республікою Македонією і Грецькою Республікою?»

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Російські війська вбили в Сирії майже 8 тисяч цивільних – правозахисники

Втрати Росія в Сирії щодо військової техніки, зокрема, 8 літаків, 7 вертольотів – Бондарєв

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Nobel Prizes Still Struggle with Wide Gender Disparity

Nobel Prizes are the most prestigious awards on the planet but the aura of this year’s announcements has been dulled by questions over why so few women have entered the pantheon, particularly in the sciences.

The march of Nobel announcements begins Monday with the physiology/medicine prize.

Since the first prizes were awarded in 1901, 892 individuals have received one, but just 48 of them have been women. Thirty of those women won either the literature or peace prize, highlighting the wide gender gap in the laureates for physics, chemistry and physiology/medicine. In addition, only one woman has won for the economics prize, which is not technically a Nobel but is associated with the prizes.

Some of the disparity likely can be attributed to underlying structural reasons, such as the low representation of women in high-level science. The American Institute of Physics, for example, says in 2014, only 10 percent of full physics professorships were held by women.

But critics suggest that gender bias pervades the process of nominations, which come largely from tenured professors.

“The problem is the whole nomination process, you have these tenured professors who feel like they are untouchable. They can get away with everything from sexual harassment to micro-aggressions like assuming the woman in the room will take the notes, or be leaving soon to have babies,” said Anne-Marie Imafidon, the head of Stemettes, a British group that encourages girls and young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“It’s little wonder that these people aren’t putting women forward for nominations. We need to be better at telling the stories of the women in science who are doing good things and actually getting recognition,” she said.

Powerful men taking credit for the ideas and elbow grease of their female colleagues was turned on its head in 1903 when Pierre Curie made it clear he would not accept the physics prize unless his wife and fellow researcher Marie Curie was jointly honored. She was the first female winner of any Nobel prize, but only one other woman has won the physics prize since then.

More than 70 years later, Jocelyn Bell, a post-graduate student at Cambridge, was overlooked for the physics prize despite her crucial contribution to the discovery of pulsars. Her supervisor, Antony Hewish, took all of the Nobel credit.

Brian Keating, a physics professor at the University of California San Diego and author of the book “Losing the Nobel Prize: A Story of Cosmology, Ambition, and the Perils of Science’s Highest Honor,” says the Nobel Foundation should lift its restrictions on re-awarding for a breakthrough if an individual has been overlooked. He also says posthumous awards also should be considered and there should be no restriction on the number of individuals who can share a prize. Today the limit is three people for one prize.

“These measures would go a long way to addressing the injustice that so few of the brilliant women who have contributed so much to science through the years have been overlooked,” he said.

Keating fears that simply accepting the disparity as structural will seriously harm the prestige of all the Nobel prizes.

“I think with the Hollywood (hash)MeToo movement, it has already happened in the film prizes. It has happened with the literature prize. There is no fundamental law of nature that the Nobel science prizes will continue to be seen as the highest accolade,” he said.

This year’s absence of a Nobel Literature prize, which has been won by 14 women, puts an even sharper focus on the gender gap in science prizes.

The Swedish Academy, which awards the literature prize, said it would not pick a winner this year after sex abuse allegations and financial crimes scandals rocked the secretive panel, sharply dividing its 18 members, who are appointed for life. Seven members quit or distanced themselves from academy. Its permanent secretary, Anders Olsson, said the academy wanted “to commit time to recovering public confidence.”

The academy plans to award both the 2018 prize and the 2019 prize next year _ but even that is not guaranteed. The head of the Nobel Foundation, Lars Heikensten, was quoted Friday as warning that if the Swedish Academy does not resolve its tarnished image another group could be chosen to select the literature prize every year.

Stung by criticism about the diversity gap between former prize winners, the Nobel Foundation has asked that the science awarding panels for 2019 ask nominators to consider their own biases in the thousands of letters they send to solicit Nobel nominations.

“I am eager to see more nominations for women so they can be considered,” said Goran Hansson, secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and vice chairman of the Nobel Foundation. “We have written to nominators asking them to make sure they do not miss women or people of other ethnicities or nationalities in their nominations. We hope this will make a difference for 2019.”

It’s not the first time that Nobel officials have sought diversity. In his 1895 will, prize founder Alfred Nobel wrote: “It is my express wish that in the awarding of the prizes no consideration shall be given to national affiliations of any kind, so that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be Scandinavian or not.”

Even so, the prizes remained overwhelmingly white and male for most of their existence.

For the first 70 years, the peace prize skewed heavily toward Western white men, with just two of the 59 prizes awarded to individuals or institutions based outside Europe or North America. Only three of the winners in that period were female.

The 1973 peace prize shared by North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho and American Henry Kissinger widened the horizons _ since then more than half the Nobel Peace prizes have gone to African or Asian individuals or institutions.

Since 2000, six women have won the peace prize.

After the medicine prize on Monday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences will announce the Nobel in physics on Tuesday and in chemistry on Wednesday, while the Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded Friday by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. On Oct. 8, Sweden’s Central Bank announces the winner of the economics prize, given in honor of Alfred Nobel.

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Невідомі напали на громадську приймальню Білецького в Києві – заява

Громадська приймальня народного депутата та голови партії «Національний корпус» Андрія Білецького у Києві зазнала нападу – про це йдеться в заяві прес-служби організації.

Згідно з нею, напад стався в ніч на 30 вересня в Оболонському районі столиці.

«Невідомі близько другої години ночі залили фарбою вікно офісу та закинули всередину приміщення молоток, який розбив вікно. Окрім цього, біля місця злочину було знайдено піротехніку, яку, ймовірно, молодики намагались використовувати для підпалу приміщення», – повідомляють у приймальні народного депутата.

Представники громадської приймальні Білецького вважають інцидент «помстою за активну діяльність Національного корпусу».

В поліції Києва Радіо Свобода підтвердили, що зареєстрували повідомлення про цей випадок і проводять оперативно-розшукові дії у справі за статтею «хуліганство».

Андрій Білецький, колишній командир добровольчого батальйону «Азов» і позафракційний депутат Верховної Ради, заснував партію «Національний корпус» у жовтні 2016 року.

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Macedonians Vote in Name-Change Referendum

Macedonians voted Sunday whether to change the name of their country – a move that could pave the way for it to join NATO and the European Union.

Following a deal with neighboring Greece after decades of dispute, Macedonians voted on whether to change the country’s name to North Macedonia.

Nationalists, including Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, urged a boycott of the vote Sunday, resulting in low voter turnout.  Macedonia’s electoral commission said two days ago the referendum results would be declared invalid if less than 50 percent of the eligible voting population went to the polls.

Even if the referendum vote passed and turnout exceeded 50 percent, Macedonia’s Parliament would have to pass the name change with a two thirds majority to amend the constitution. 

Athens has argued that the name “Macedonia”  belongs exclusively to its northern province of Macedonia and using the name implies Skopje’s intentions to claim the Greek province.

Greece has for years pressured Skopje into renouncing the country’s name, forcing it to use the more formal moniker Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the United Nations.   Greece has consistently blocked its smaller neighbor from gaining membership in NATO and the EU as long it retains its name.

President Ivanov said giving into Athens’ demand would be a “flagrant violation of sovereignty.”  

He steadfastly refused to back the deal reached between Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras that puts the name change to a vote.

“This referendum could lead us to become a subordinate state, dependent on another country,” Ivanov said.  “We will become a state in name only, not in substance.”

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Українські ВМС провели навчання на Чорному та Азовському морях

Азовське море стало останнім часом місцем численних провокацій із боку російських силовиків

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‘Terrorism’ Ad by Indicted Republican Roils California Election

When a Democrat with Palestinian-Mexican ancestry who had never before run for office was elected to challenge a Republican incumbent in a staunchly conservative southern California congressional district, few gave him much of a chance.

But five-term U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter, who has been criminally charged with misusing campaign funds, is concerned enough about Ammar Campa-Najjar to issue a YouTube ad accusing his Democratic rival of trying “to hide his family’s ties to terrorism.”

It was a reference to his Palestinian grandfather, who was involved in a 1972 plot to kill Israeli athletes at the Olympics and was killed the following year by Israeli commandos.

The ad, released Wednesday, shows Hunter, a former U.S. Marine who followed his father into Congress, dressed in camouflage and saying he approved the message.

​Democrat responds

Campa-Najjar told Reuters on Saturday Hunter’s ad was “racist, xenophobic and rooted in lies.”

He noted he had security clearances to work in the White House and the Labor Department under former President Barack Obama.

“If Hunter applied for that clearance under indictment, he would be denied, which is why (House of Representatives Speaker) Paul Ryan stripped him of his seat on the Armed Services Committee, because he would have access to confidential materials. That’s the irony of this,” Campa-Najjar said.

“I think he’s trying to tap into dark emotions and I don’t think people will rise to that,” Campa-Najjar said.

Hunter’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Hunter’s once-safe seat

Democrats need to pick up 23 House of Representatives seats in the Nov. 6 congressional elections if they wish to take a majority and serve as a more effective counter to U.S. President Donald Trump. Republicans can ill afford to lose normally safe seats like Hunter’s, in a district including San Diego, as they look to keep control of that chamber.

Polls show Hunter maintaining a comfortable lead over Campa-Najjar, though not as wide as his 27 percentage point margin of victory in 2016.

A Monmouth University Poll of 401 voters conducted between Sept. 22 and 26, found 53 percent of likely voters supported Hunter versus 38 percent for Campa-Najjar. The poll had a 5.3 percentage point margin of error.

Campa-Najjar’s campaign says its polling shows a much closer race.

Family blame game

The 29-year-old Democratic challenger is the son of a Mexican-American mother and a Palestinian father who immigrated from the Middle East. He stresses his Christian faith on the campaign trail and has tried repeatedly to distance himself from his Palestinian grandfather.

He responded to Hunter’s ad by pointing to the Republican’s own family troubles: “He knows I’m not responsible for my family’s actions, just like his wife isn’t responsible for his.”

Hunter, 41, and his wife pleaded not guilty Aug. 23 to charges of misusing $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for their children’s private school tuition, lavish travel including a trip to Italy and restaurant meals that cost hundreds of dollars. He has said the charges were politically motivated.

Criminal charges

Hunter is not the only Republican congressman running for re-election while fighting criminal charges. U.S. Representative Chris Collins is also campaigning in a normally solidly Republican western New York state district while awaiting trial on insider trading charges that he has denied.

Both Hunter and Collins were early supporters of Trump, who early this month criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for allowing federal prosecutors to charge Republican candidates in an election year.

Campa-Najjar’s fundraising has outpaced Hunter’s, according to Federal Election Commission data through June 2018. Hunter’s campaign had reported contributions of $854,787, while Campa-Najjar had reported nearly $1.1 million

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Tesla, Musk Settle Fraud Suit for $40M

Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk have agreed to pay a total of $40 million and make a series of concessions to settle a government lawsuit alleging Musk duped investors with misleading statements about a proposed buyout of the company.

The settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission allows Musk to remain CEO of the electric car company but requires him to relinquish his role as chairman for at least three years.

Tesla must hire an independent chairman to oversee the company, something that should please a number of shareholders who have criticized Tesla’s board for being too beholden to Musk. 

The deal was announced Saturday, just two days after SEC filed its case seeking to oust Musk as CEO.

‘Reckless tweet’

Musk, who has an estimated $20 billion fortune, and Tesla, a company that ended June with $2.2 billion in cash, each are paying $20 million to resolve the case, which stemmed from a tweet Musk sent Aug. 7 indicating he had the financing in place to take Tesla private at a price of $420 per share.

“A reckless tweet cost a lot of money — the $20-million tweet,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader.

The deal could remove one cloud that hangs over Tesla. Investors fretted about the company’s ability to cope without Musk, a charismatic entrepreneur whose penchant for coming up with revolutionary ideas has drawn comparisons to one of Silicon Valley’s most revered visionaries, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Tesla’s stock plummeted 14 percent Friday after the SEC filed its lawsuit, erasing more than $7 billion in shareholder wealth. Many analysts predicted the shares were bound to fall even further if Musk had been forced to step down. Tesla’s stock has dropped 30 percent since Aug. 7, closing Friday at $264.77.

The steep downturn in Tesla’s market value may have influenced Musk to have an apparent change of heart and negotiate a settlement. Musk had rejected a similar settlement offer before the SEC sued Thursday, maintaining he had done nothing wrong when he posted a tweet declaring that he had secured the financing to lead a buyout of Tesla.

New board members

The SEC alleged Musk wasn’t close to locking up the estimated $25 billion to $50 billion needed to pull off the buyout.

Musk and Tesla reached their settlement without admitting to or denying the SEC’s allegations.

Besides paying a fine and stripping Musk of his chairman’s title, Tesla also must appoint two more directors who have no ties to the company or its management. Musk will be allowed to remain on the board.

The company also must clamp down on Musk’s communications with investors, a requirement that might make its colorful CEO’s Twitter posts slightly less interesting.

Erratic behavior

Besides tweeting about a deal that the SEC alleged he didn’t have money to pay for, Musk had been engaging in other erratic behavior that had been raising questions about whether he should remain CEO.

Musk had raised hackles by ridiculing stock market analysts for posing fairly standard questions about Tesla’s shaky finances, and calling a diver who helped rescue 12 boys on a Thai soccer team from a flooded cave a pedophile, triggering a defamation lawsuit. He was also recently caught on a widely circulated video apparently smoking marijuana , a legal drug in Tesla’s home state of California.

The erratic behavior has convinced more analysts that Tesla needs to find a replacement for Musk, but the SEC settlement will allow the company to do so on its own timetable, if it decides to hire a new leader.

Tesla is also under mounting pressure to overcome its past manufacturing problems and produce enough vehicles to become consistently profitable after years of huge losses. 

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Canada FM Postpones UN Speech as Trade Talks Intensify

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland postponed her U.N. speech Saturday as free-trade talks between the U.S. and Canada intensified.

Freeland had been scheduled to deliver Canada’s address to the General Assembly in New York, but Canada exchanged the slot with another country. Freeland may or may not give the speech on Monday.

A senior Canadian government official said they were making progress in the talks but that it wasn’t certain that they would reach a deal soon. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Canada would sign only a good deal.

Canada, the United States’ No. 2 trading partner, was left out when the U.S. and Mexico reached an agreement last month to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement. The U.S. and Canada are under pressure to reach a deal by the end of the day Sunday, when the U.S. must make public the full text of the agreement with Mexico.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said he wants to go ahead with a revamped NAFTA, with or without Canada. It is unclear, however, whether Trump has authority from Congress to pursue a revamped NAFTA with only Mexico, and some lawmakers say they won’t go along with a deal that leaves out Canada. 

Dairy tariffs

Among other things, the negotiators are battling over Canada’s high dairy tariffs. Canada also wants to keep a NAFTA dispute-resolution process that the U.S. wants to jettison.

U.S.-Canada talks bogged down earlier this month, and most trade analysts expected the Sept. 30 deadline to come and go without Canada’s reinstatement. They suspected that Canada, which had said it wasn’t bound by U.S. deadlines, was delaying the talks until after provincial elections Monday in Quebec, where support for Canadian dairy tariffs runs high.

But trade attorney Daniel Ujczo of the Dickinson Wright law firm, who follows the NAFTA talks closely, said the United States put pressure on Canada, contending there would “consequences” if it didn’t reach an agreement by the end of the day Sunday. Trump has repeatedly threatened to start taxing Canadian auto imports. Ujczo put the odds of a deal this weekend at 75 percent. 

Relations between the two neighbors have been strained since Trump assailed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Group of Seven meeting in June, calling him “weak” and “dishonest.” Canadian leaders have objected to Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on Canadian steel, citing national security.

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Tension Flares in Kosovo Over Possible Land Swap With Serbia

Tension flared in a familiar section of the Balkans as thousands of people marched Saturday in Kosovo’s capital against a possible territory swap with former war foe Serbia, while the Serbian government put its troops on alert after special police were deployed to Kosovo’s Serb-dominated north.

Serbia reacted after Kosovo’s special police moved into an area around the Kosovo side of the strategic Gazivode Lake, said Marko Djuric, director of Serbia’s Office for Kosovo and Metohija.

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci visited the area near Serbia’s border Saturday, a move that temporarily redirected attention away from the large opposition protest in Pristina. A security unit was dispatched to the area for the president’s stop, Kosovo police said.

Serbia’s Djuric said special troops must not be deployed unannounced to northern Kosovo, where the country’s ethnic Serbian minority population is concentrated. Serbian media said Belgrade had complained to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

President Aleksandar Vucic, an ally of Russia in the Balkans, warned at a news conference later on Saturday that Serbia would not allow any violence against the Serb minority in Kosovo.

No ‘great global conflicts’

Asked if he would seek Russia’s help as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did, Vucic responded he would seek advice but not military help from President Vladimir Putin during an upcoming visit to Moscow.

“I would not like to see great global conflicts take part on our territory,” said Vucic.

Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence, but their governments have been in European Union-mediated negotiations for seven years. The two sides have been told they must normalize relations as a precondition to EU membership.

Thaci has said a “border correction” could be part of the discussions. Some Serbian officials have suggested an exchange of territories could help end the dispute.

One idea that has been floated by politicians in both countries involves exchanging predominantly ethnic Albanian Presevo Valley in southern Serbia with Kosovo’s Serb-populated north.

However, the idea has faced opposition from Germany and other EU nations, which have said they fear a Kosovo-Serbia trade could trigger demands for territory revisions in other parts of the volatile Balkans.

Thousands of supporters of Kosovo’s opposition Self-Determination Party marched peacefully through the capital, Pristina, on Saturday to protest any potential change of borders. The protesters held national Albanian flags.

‘Grandiose protest’

Opposition leader Albin Kurti said he considered Thaci a collaborator with Serbia and called for fresh elections.

“Such a grandiose protest is our response to the deals from Thaci and Vucic,” Kurti said.

Thaci has rejected both border revisions based on ethnicity and a possible land trade. But he has not clarified how Serbia could be persuaded to give away the Presevo Valley without something in exchange.

Three weeks ago, Serbian leader Vucic visited the lake in northern Kosovo that Thaci traveled to Saturday.

NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo, a force known as KFOR, called for calm and restraint. They said they would continue monitoring the situation along the Serbia-Kosovo border with ground patrols and helicopters.

Thaci’s office issued a statement acknowledging his visit to a border crossing and the lake.

“During the weekends the head of state usually goes to Kosovo’s beauties,” the statement said.

The governments in both Pristina and Belgrade have said they hope the EU-mediated talks will result in a legally binding agreement.

“Talks [with Serbia] that continue will be on peace and stability,” Thaci said Saturday.

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