Italy: Lawmakers Want Salvini to Explain Alleged Russia Deal

Opposition lawmakers in Italy demanded Thursday to have Interior Minister Matteo Salvini appear in Parliament about allegations that a covert Russian oil sale scheme was devised to fund his pro-Moscow League party. Democratic Party lawmakers pressed for a parliamentary inquiry following another media report with allegations that a former Salvini associate proposed an under-the-table arrangement to pump money into the right-wing party. The alleged proposal for the multimillion-euro plan was made last year after the League became a partner in Italy’s populist coalition government and ahead of May’s European Parliament elections. Italian Senator Gregorio De Falco, top right, speaks at the Senate in Rome, July 11, 2019. Opposition lawmakers want to question Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini about allegations of a Russian oil deal to fund his pro-Moscow League party. As he did when the allegations first surfaced earlier this year, Salvini shrugged off the latest version. “Never took a ruble, a euro, a dollar or a liter of vodka of financing from Russia,” Salvini said after the BuzzFeed report was published Wednesday. Salvini has openly admired Russian President Vladimir Putin and vigorously advocates an end to European Union economic sanctions on Russia. The opposition lawmakers specifically want to question Salvini, the BuzzFeed journalist who reported the allegations, Italy’s ambassador to Moscow, and Russia’s ambassador to Rome. They also want to hear from Gianluca Savoini, a League associate close to the Russians who allegedly championed the proposed deal. Allegations The BuzzFeed article about a Moscow meeting aimed at arranging such a deal in 2018 largely mirrored allegations that appeared months ago in Italian magazine L’Espresso. BuzzFeed built on L’Espresso’s story, saying it had obtained an audio of the conversation about the purported deal among Italians and Russians at a Moscow hotel. Both articles said the alleged deal would have involved a Russian energy company selling fuel to an Italian energy company. The fuel would be allegedly offered at a discount, with part of the difference purportedly going to the League’s coffers.  Both L’Espresso and BuzzFeed stressed the reporters had no confirmation the deal was sealed or evidence that fuel was …


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France Adopts Pioneering Tax on Internet Tech Giants After US Threat

France adopted a pioneering tax on internet giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook on Thursday, despite U.S. threats of new tariffs on French imports. The final vote in favor of the tax in the French Senate came hours after the Trump administration announced an investigation into the tax under the provision used last year to probe China’s technology policies, which led to tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports. ”Between allies, we can, and we should, solve our differences without using threats,” Bruno Le Maire said. “France is a sovereign country. It will make its own sovereign decisions on fiscal measures.” The tax amounts to a 3% annual levy on the French revenues of digital companies with yearly global sales worth more than 750 million euros ($844 million) and French revenue exceeding 25 million euros. The tax primarily targets those that use consumer data to sell online advertising. ”Each of us is seeing the emergence of economic giants with monopolistic attributes and who not only want to control a maximum amount of data and make money with this data, but also go further than that by, in the absence of rules, escaping taxes and putting into place instruments that could, tomorrow, become a sovereign currency,” Le Maire said. The French Finance Ministry has estimated that the tax would raise about 500 million euros annually ($563 million) at first — but predicted fast growth. The tech industry is warning that consumers could pay more. U.S. companies affected included Airbnb and Uber as well as those from China and Europe. The bill aims to stop multinationals from avoiding taxes by setting up headquarters in low-tax EU countries. Currently, the companies pay nearly no tax in countries where they have large sales like France. France failed to persuade EU partners to impose a Europe-wide tax on tech giants, but is now pushing for an international deal with the 34 countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. ”The internet industry is a great American export, supporting millions of jobs and businesses of all sizes. Global tax rules should be updated for …


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US Targets Venezuela Intelligence Agency with Sanctions

The Trump administration imposed sanctions Thursday on Venezuela’s military intelligence agency, which is accused of torturing to death a navy captain in its custody.   The latest move by the U.S. Treasury Department to pressure President Nicolas Maduro from power followed another round of negotiations in Barbados between Maduro’s government and opposition leaders aimed at ending Venezuela’s political crisis.   Maduro’s spokesman Jorge Rodriguez said the talks moderated by Norway that closed Wednesday resulted in a successful exchange, but gave no details and it wasn’t immediately clear if any agreements had been reached.   The U.S.-backed opposition is demanding early presidential elections, contending that Maduro’s re-election last year was invalid.   Few hold out hope for the most recent attempt at dialogue. Several rounds of talks have failed to lead to solutions as Venezuela’s political and financial crisis has deepened in recent years, sparking one of the worst migration crises in Latin America’s history.   Maduro often says he’s willing to negotiate to end hostilities and bring peace to the South American nation, bu the opposition accuses the socialist government of using talks as a stalling tactic while continuing to threaten, torture and kill political opponents.   The Vatican extended its institutional prestige in 2016, attempting to mediate a dialogue that the pope later said went up in smoke,” placing blame on Maduro. A year later, a fresh round of talks in the Dominican Republic also fizzled with no constructive outcome.<br />  <br /> Meanwhile, crippling U.S. oil sanctions have exacerbated a crisis marked by food, fuel and medicine shortages that sent 4 million people _ more than 10% of Venezuela’s population _ fleeing the country in recent years.<br />  <br /> The new U.S. sanctions target Venezuela’s General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence. The sanctions appear to be largely symbolic because they prohibit Americans’ dealings with the agency, which likely has few already.<br />  <br /> The agency arrested Capt. Rafael Acosta on suspicion of plotting to assassinate Maduro. His attorney says he showed signs of torture before dying after a court appearance.<br />  <br />The politically motivated arrest and …


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Уряд: у липні ціна газу для населення знизиться ще на 650 гривень

«Нафтогаз України» у липні знизить ціну природного газу для населення ще на 650 гривень за тисячу кубічних метрів, йдеться в повідомленні прес-служби уряду. «Ціна газу в липні для населення, без ПДВ, без тарифів на транспортування і постачання, складе 4 905 гривень за тисячу кубічних метрів, що менше на 650 гривень, ніж ціна в червні – 5 554 гривень», – заявляють у Кабміні. У квітні в уряді повідомили, що узгодили з «Нафтогазом України» механізм зниження ціни на газ для населення і теплової генерації. Згідно з урядовим рішенням, ухваленим на засіданні 3 квітня, якщо кон’юнктура газового ринку демонструє зниження цін на газ для промисловості, «Нафтогаз» зобов’язаний продавати газ для населення за ціною, що визначається як середньоарифметична ціна газу, за якою державна компанія пропонує паливо промисловим споживачам за умови передоплати. У березні прем’єр-міністр України Володимир Гройсман заявив, що доручить Міністерству фінансів і «Нафтогазу» почати переговори із Міжнародним валютним фондом, щоб запобігти росту тарифів на газ для населення в майбутньому.   …


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«10 днів ринку»: електроенергія для промисловості подорожчала на 30% – «Укренерго»

За результатами 10 днів функціонування нового ринку електроенергії в Україні її вартість для промисловості (без урахування послуг диспетчера, транспортування та мереж розподілу) виросла на 30%, через особливі правила продажу енергії атомних електростанцій, найдешевшої за собівартістю. Так пояснили ситуацію, звітуючи про запуск ринку електроенергії, керівники ДП «НЕК «Укренерго». За словами директора компанії Всеволода Ковальчука, вартість електроенергії (без ПДВ) для конкретного підприємства тепер на 70% складається з середньої вартості електроенергії, яку воно купувало за довготерміновими двосторонніми угодами, на добу наперед і впродовж доби, а також з оплати «Укренерго» за функції диспетчера і передачу електроенергії, з тарифу операторів розподільчих мереж, та 3% «маржі» (доходу) постачальника. За першу декаду липня ця вартість для промисловості в середньому склала 2534,4 гривні за мегават-годину, тоді як у червні промисловість платила 1618 гривень (без ПДВ), повідомив Ковальчук журналістам. «Якщо ви пам’ятаєте, перед запуском ринку ми були, мабуть, першими (потім до нашої позиції приєдналося багато інших стейкхолдерів), хто озвучив позицію: ринок настільки не готовий, що це може призвести до значного підвищення ціни. Потім і НКРЕКП своїми розрахунками підтвердив, що та модель «покладання спеціальних обов’язків» (обов’язковий продаж частини електроенергії АЕС за низькими цінами, зокрема для компенсації та низьких тарифів для населення – ред.) призводить до підвищення ціни. Заходи регулятора частково цю ситуацію виправили. Але реальне зростання тарифів для споживачів… виявилося значно вищим за очікування уряду (6-7%) і сягнуло близько 30%. І тенденція – ця різниця продовжуватиме зростати, якщо дещо не буде змінено», – наголошує Ковальчук. Він пояснив механізм утворення цін, значно вищих, ніж були минулого місяця: за словами очільника «Укренерго», НАЕК «Енергоатом» зобов’язали продавати 90% новоутвореному підприємству «Гарантований покупець», щоб він компенсував відносно низьку ціну для приватних споживачів з одного боку, і високий «зелений тариф» для відновлюваних джерел енергії – з іншого. У результаті «Енергоатом» не продає свою електроенергію за довгостроковими контрактами і цим самим не знижує ціну на ринку для промисловості. Раніше в «Укренерго» пропонували компенсувати різницю в тарифах за рахунок частини прибутків «Енергоатому»: тоді атомники продавали б свою електроенергію на ринку, конкуруючи з тепловою й іншою генерацією і змушуючи її трохи знижувати ціни. Ще однією проблемою перших днів роботи ринку стало те, що не всі ті, хто купує …


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Верховна Рада повернула «зелений тариф» для наземних домашніх СЕС

Верховна Рада України ухвалила закон, який повертає «зелений тариф» для наземних домашніх сонячних електростанцій. Рішення 11 липня підтримали 243 народні депутати. Депутати скасували норму закону, ухваленого у квітні 2019 року, яка передбачала, що домашні сонячні електростанції можуть розміщувати сонячні панелі тільки на дахах та фасадах будівель. Ця поправка зазнала критики низки представників енергетичної галузі. …


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S. Korean Diplomat Complains to Pompeo About Japan’s Export Curbs

South Korea’s foreign minister told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Japan’s export curbs against South Korea are “undesirable” for trilateral cooperation, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday. Japan tightened curbs last week on exports of three materials crucial for smartphone displays and chips, saying trust with South Korea had been broken over a dispute with Seoul over South Koreans forced to work for Japanese firms during World War II The restrictions will affect companies such as Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd and SK Hynix Inc., which supply chips to companies such as Apple Inc., and South Korea is stepping up diplomatic overtures to their mutual ally the United States to step in. Widespread damage South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told Pompeo in a phone call late Wednesday that Japan’s trade restrictions may not only cause damage to South Korean companies but could also disrupt the global supply chain and hurt U.S. companies. Kang “expressed concern that this is undesirable in terms of friendly relations between South Korea and Japan and trilateral cooperation among South Korea, the U.S. and Japan,” the ministry said. Seoul hoped Tokyo would withdraw the curbs and that the situation would not deteriorate further, it said. Pompeo “expressed understanding” and both agreed to continue to cooperate and to strengthen communication between the three sides, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Kim Hyun-chong, deputy chief of South Korea’s National Security Office, arrived in Washington Wednesday in an unannounced visit and told reporters he was there to meet officials from the White House and Congress to discuss issues that included Japan’s export curbs.   …


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Britain, Canada Create Fund to Promote Global Free Press

Britain and Canada established a fund Wednesday to train and provide legal support for journalists in some of the world’s hot spots.   The two nations hope other countries will also contribute to the Global Media Defense Fund, which will be administered by UNESCO. Britain is donating about $3.8 million, and Canada kicked in about $765,000.  Britain also announced it was launching a separate, $18.8 million program to combat what many see as a growing crisis for independent media worldwide.  Two journalists relax in front of plaques memorializing journalists killed since 2016. The display was part of the Global Conference for Media Freedom. The new fund was announced in a keynote address by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt at the Global Conference for Media Freedom in London. The conference, which continues Thursday, is co-hosted by Canada and Britain. In his speech, Hunt told the story of reporter Francisco Romero Diaz, who was killed in May  in southern Mexico, to illustrate the dangers faced by a growing number of journalists each year. Last year, Hunt said, nearly 100 journalists were killed — more than twice the annual toll just a decade ago. Amal Clooney, a lawyer and activist who defended two Reuters reporters recently freed from jail in Myanmar, noted that Washington-based Freedom House, which publishes an annual report on world press freedom, recorded its 13th consecutive year of decline in its global freedom index. “This decline in media freedom doesn’t only mean that journalists have fewer rights,” she said. “It means we all have.” Money not enough The cash pledged Wednesday is earmarked for training journalists, paying legal expenses and creating other support systems.  But some of the reporters and editors covering the conference are calling for more direct and decisive action by world leaders to protect journalists and punish those who kill them. Clooney and Hunt both noted that more often than not, the killers of journalists aren’t punished for their crimes. That’s especially true when the perpetrators are government officials. And leaders of other nations often appear disinclined to try to hold their counterparts accountable. “When Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was …


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US Border Apprehensions Decline Amid Summer Heat, Mexico Deal

The number of people apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border declined in June, breaking a six-month streak of dramatic increases and prompting the Trump administration to quickly — though cautiously — claim an early victory in its negotiations for stricter border enforcement in Mexico.  The number of unauthorized border crossers detained by the U.S. Border Patrol in June fell to 94,897, a 28% decline from May, according to Wednesday’s data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  Apprehensions declined as summer temperatures climbed and Mexico ramped up its own border enforcement following an agreement with the U.S. to avoid a tariff President Donald Trump threatened to levy. “What we see in June is that our strategy is working. The president’s engagement with Mexico, the deal to enforce immigration security on their southern border … that’s clearly having an impact on the flow,” acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told CNN on Tuesday, hours after his agency released preliminary estimates for June. Reasons behind fluctuations Migrants from Central America’s Northern Triangle countries — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — make up the majority of apprehensions. However, migration numbers fluctuate for various reasons, including changes in season, political climate, policy and weather. In part, “we generally do have a small decline in June due to the high summer temperatures,” a senior CBP official told reporters, acknowledging that there may be more than one factor causing last month’s decrease in apprehensions. The official added that the agency is “very optimistic … as Mexico continues to deploy resources to their southern border and continues to beef up their border security.” The number of apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border usually reaches a peak in March, before declining steadily over the summer months. But this year, that reversal did not happen. Instead, that number spiked in May to more than 132,000. “The logistics of this flow is different than the U.S. has ever seen. And the size is different than Mexico has ever seen,” Andrew Selee, president of the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute, told VOA. The drop in apprehensions from May to June shows “clearly there’s an …


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Глава МінТОТ: виплачувати пенсії в ОРДЛО наразі неможливо

Виплачувати українські пенсії на окупованих територіях Донецької та Луганської областей до повернення цих територій під контроль української влади – неможливо. Про це заявив міністр з питань тимчасово окупованих територій і внутрішньо переміщених осіб України Вадим Черниш в ефірі проекту Радіо Свобода Радіо Донбас.Реалії. «Це неможливо. Банків немає. Банки відновити неможливо. Безпека не може бути забезпечена. Вимоги щодо протидії відмиванню грошей забезпечити неможливо. Тому є тільки одна схема. Як і зараз, отримувати пенсію на картки, видані Ощадбанком України», – заявив Черниш. За словами міністра, питання виплати пенсій жителям ОРДЛО пов’язане не тільки з банківською системою, а й зі сплатою податків. «Пенсійний фонд не просто наповнюється з повітря. Ви ж знаєте, що «віджали» підприємства, які до останнього моменту ще й платили податки … Підприємства які там працювали до останнього дня платили податки в бюджет України», – зазначив міністр. 10 липня правозахисна організація Human Rights Watch у листі до президента України Володимира Зеленського закликала українську владу посилити спроби захистити права українців похилого віку, які живуть на непідконтрольній уряду території Донецької та Луганської областей. Правозахисники наголошують, що Україна повинна завершити дискримінаційну практику, яка змушує пенсіонерів із ОРДЛО перетинати лінію розмежування для отримання пенсії. За даними правозахисників, щомісяця близько одного мільйона людей перетинають блокпости на Донбасі. Понад половина з них – люди, які їздять на підконтрольну українській владі територію для отримання пенсій. Щоб здобути право на виплати, пенсіонери повинні мати статус переселенця. 8 липня президент України Володимир Зеленський на саміті «Україна-ЄС» в Києві запропонував продовжити термін, в який пенсіонери з ОРДЛО повинні виїхати з окупованої території для отримання української пенсії з 60 днів до 1 року. …


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UN: Global Warming Threatens to Defeat Effort to Fix World Ills

Relentless global warming threatens the potential success of a sweeping set of goals established by the United Nations to tackle inequality, conflict and other ills, officials said on Tuesday. Climate change imperils food supplies, water and places where people live, endangering the U.N. plan to address these world problems by 2030, according to a report by U.N. officials. Member nations of the U.N. unanimously adopted 17 global development goals in 2015, setting out a wide-ranging “to-do” list tackling such vexing issues as conflict, hunger, land degradation, gender inequality and climate change. The latest report, which called climate change “the greatest challenge to sustainable development,” came as diplomatic, business and other officials gathered for a high-level U.N. forum to take stock of the goals’ progress. “The most urgent area for action is climate change,” said Liu Zhenmin, U.N. Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, in the report. “The compounded effects will be catastrophic and irreversible,” he said, listing increased extreme weather events, more severe natural disasters and land degradation. “These effects, which will render many parts of the globe uninhabitable, will affect the poor the most.” Progress has been made on lowering child mortality, boosting immunization rates and global access to electricity, the report said. Yet extreme poverty, hunger and inequality remain hugely problematic, and more than half of school-age children showed “shockingly low proficiency rates” in reading and math, it said. Two-thirds of those children were in school. Human trafficking rates nearly doubled from an average 150 detected victims per country in 2010 to 254 in 2016. But it was unclear how much of the increase reflected improved reporting systems versus an increase in trafficking, said Francesca Perucci of the U.N.’s statistics division, who worked on the report. “It’s hard to exactly distinguish the two,” she said at a launch of the report. But climate change remained paramount. Greenhouse gases have continued to climb, and “climate change is occurring much faster than anticipated,” the report said. At this week’s goals summit, 47 countries were expected to present voluntary progress reviews. Almost 100 other countries and four cities including New …


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Despite Funding Loss, Cities Vow to Continue Resilience Push

In the Dutch port city of Rotterdam, nine “water plazas” have been created that soak up excess rainfall while offering people a green space to meet and children to play. The city is also planting gardens and putting solar panels on a growing area of its nearly 20 square kilometers (8 square miles) of flat roofs. Paris, meanwhile, is redesigning and opening green schoolyards as cooler places for locals to escape extreme heat, while in New Zealand, Wellington is rolling out neighborhood water supplies to keep the taps on when an earthquake hits. More than 70 cities that are part of the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) network, set up in 2013, have crafted “resilience strategies” that include about 3,500 activities designed to combat shocks and stresses – everything from floods to an influx of refugees. The United Nations estimates that by 2050 nearly 70% of the world’s population will live in cities, which are increasingly impacted by extreme weather and sea level rise, while producing about 75% of planet-warming emissions. Michael Berkowitz, president of 100 Resilient Cities, told a gathering of the network’s cities in Rotterdam on Tuesday that efforts to build resilience had now become established as an approach to improving quality of life in cities. Those efforts to keep people safe and well in the face of rising climate, economic and social pressures will continue, despite the closure this month of the organization that helped them craft those plans, officials said. At the end of July, 100RC will shut its offices after the New York-based Rockefeller Foundation said in April it would no longer fund the body, having given about $176 million for its work. That funding helped pay initial salaries for chief resilience officers in member cities, for example, though about 80% of the cities now have made the role a part of their staff, 100RC officials said. The Rockefeller Foundation said on Monday it would provide an additional $8 million over 18 months to help 100RC cities and their chief resilience officers transition to a network they will lead themselves. “Ultimately, we aim to ensure continued …


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Woodstock 50 Organizers Still Hopeful Despite Second Venue Setback

The organizers of the beleaguered Woodstock 50 festival said on Tuesday they still hoped to get a permit for the event due to take place next month despite being turned down at a second site. Authorities in the town of Vernon in upstate New York turned down the organizers’ application to stage the three-day event, marking the 50th anniversary of the famed 1969 “peace and music” festival. Oneida County Administrator Anthony Picente Jr. told Hollywood trade publication Variety that efforts to stage the festival at Vernon Downs for some 65,000 people at short notice had been “chaotic.” Picente said he thought the chances of it taking place were “highly unlikely.” However, Woodstock 50 producers said they would appeal. “With a venue chosen, financing assembled and many of the artists supporting Woodstock’s 50th Anniversary event, the organizers are hopeful that their appeal and reapplication” will prevail, the producers said in a statement. Tickets have yet to go on sale. The Aug. 16-19 festival was originally due to take place at the Watkins Glen motor racing venue in upstate New York with a line-up including Jay-Z and Miley Cyrus. Watkins Glen in June pulled out, throwing the festival into further uncertainty after the original investors withdrew their support, citing problems with permits and arranging security and sanitation. Woodstock 50 announced in March that more than 80 musical acts, including 1969 festival veterans John Fogerty, Canned Heat and Santana, would take part. Some 100,000 fans, including campers, were originally expected to attend, but that number was later reduced to 60,000. …


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Вартість долара досягла мінімуму із 30 серпня 2017 року – НБУ

Вартість долара досягла свого мінімуму із 30 серпня 2017 року, свідчать дані на сайті Національного банку України. На 10 липня курс долара встановлений на рівні 25 гривень 48 копійок. Євро здешевшав до 28 гривень 56 копійок. Це мінімум із 18 квітня 2017 року. …


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Українські журналістки отримали премію за відвагу від Міжнародного жіночого медіафонду

Журналістка «Громадського» Анастасія Станко і керівниця незалежної розслідувальної агенції «Слідство.Інфо» Анна Бабінець отримали нагороду за відвагу від Міжнародного жіночого медіафонду (The International Women’s Media Foundation, IWMF). Як йдеться в повідомленні на сайті організації, нагорода демонструє, що «жінки-журналістки не збираються відступати, їх не можна змусити замовкнути, і вони заслуговують на визнання за їхню силу, попри труднощі». «Премією відзначають сміливих журналісток, які висвітлюють табуйовані теми, працюють у ворожому щодо жінок середовищі й розповідають «важку правду», – йдеться в повідомленні. За даними організації, від 1990 року премію отримали понад 100 жінок із 56 країн світу.   …


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