Франція: в університеті Ліона – вибух і пожежа

Пожежа спалахнула у будівлі бібліотеки університету Ліона (Франція). Reuters повідомляє про щонайменше одного постраждалого. За даними інформагентства, поліція заявила про вибух газового балона на даху будівлі.

У соцмережах поширюють відео інциденту.

В університеті, тим часом, повідомили, що причиною інциденту стали будівельні роботи на території кампусу. За даними вишу, людей, що перебували навколо, евакуювали, зараз вогонь вдалося локалізувати.

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Chinese Trade Negotiator to Visit US in Late January

China’s economic czar, Vice Premier Liu He, will travel to the United States later this month for the second round of negotiations aimed at resolving the ongoing trade war between the global economic giants.

Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters in Beijing Thursday that Liu will visit Washington on January 30-31. He was invited by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

U.S. negotiators were optimistic after the first round of talks in Beijing last week that the two sides would be able to resolve tariff disputes that have upset global markets.

The trade talks are the result of an agreement last month between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to stop the tit-for-tat tariff conflict between the two countries for 90 days starting on New Year’s Day.

The United States has long complained about access to the vast Chinese market and Beijing’s demands U.S. companies reveal their technology advances.

If no deal is reached by March 2, U.S. tariffs on $200 billion Chinese goods will rise from 10 percent to 25 percent.

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У Польщі суд визнав неконституційними поправки про «українських націоналістів» в законі про ІНП

Конституційний суд Польщі визнав неконституційними поправки до закону про Інститут національної пам’яті із визначеннями «українські націоналісти» та «Східна Малопольща».

Відповідні положення минулого року опротестував президент Польщі Анджей Дуда. Він вважає, що визначення «українські націоналісти» та «Східна Малопольща» є неточними, що перешкоджає точному визнанню забороненого діяння і, таким чином, це порушує конституційний принцип точності права, повідомляє «Польське радіо».

Президент України Петро Порошенко привітав рішення польського КС та подякував Дуді.

Читайте також: «Закон буде змінений» – Лукаш Адамський про польський «антибандерівський» закон

26 січня Сейм Польщі, нижня палата парламенту, вніс зміни до закону про Інститут національної пам’яті, який забороняє пропаганду тоталітарних ідеологій і визначає злочинною участь «бандерівських націоналістів» у знищенні єврейського населення та геноциду громадян міжвоєнної Польщі на території Волині та «Східної Малопольщі», тобто Галичини. Згідно зі змінами, порушників оновленого закону каратимуть грошовими штрафами або ув’язненням до трьох років.

Окрім того, закон передбачав тюремне ув’язнення на термін до трьох років за звинувачення поляків за поширення ідей про вину польського народу або держави в Голокості. Однак наприкінці червня цю норму із документу прибрали.

Читайте також: Ізраїль звинувачує Польщу в прагненні змусити свідків Голокосту мовчати

МЗС України у своїй заяві засудило рішення Сейму Польщі про заборону пропаганди «бандерівських націоналістів», назвавши це «черговою спробою нав’язати однобічне трактування історичних подій».

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Analysis: US, Britain Mired In Political Crises With No End in Sight

The United States and Britain are mired in political crises with no end in sight. U.S. freshmen representatives urged the Senate on Wednesday to schedule a vote on the longest ever U.S. government shutdown and British Prime Minister Theresa May barely survived a second no-confidence vote in just over a month, after her Brexit deal suffered a crushing defeat in Parliament. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke looks into the government gridlocks plaguing two allied nations across the Atlantic.

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Pakistan Trying to Rescue US-led Afghan Peace Talks

Pakistan has intensified efforts to keep the U.S.-led dialogue with the Afghan Taliban on track, but official sources in Islamabad maintain the responsibility for the “success or failure” of the fledgling peace process rests “exclusively” with the various negotiating sides.

The caution comes as U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, landed in the Pakistani capital Thursday amid expectations a direct meeting could take place between his delegation and Taliban negotiators during his stay in the country.

Meanwhile, in a significant move, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani telephoned Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday and discussed the efforts being made for bringing peace to Afghanistan.

Khan’s office said in a statement that Ghani expressed his gratitude for Pakistan’s “sincere facilitation” for Afghan peace and reconciliation.

It said the prime minister “assured President Ghani that Pakistan was making sincere efforts for a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan through an inclusive peace process, as part of shared responsibility.”

Official sources in Islamabad expected “important developments” over the next two days but they would not share further details. “There is no room for missed opportunities” under the circumstances, they insisted.

Pakistani officials maintain in background interviews with VOA that the U.S.-Taliban talks are being facilitated in the hope that they would ultimately lead to an intra-Afghan dialogue for political settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan. All sides in the peace process will share “the credit and benefits of a success,” they insisted.

“Similarly, given sincere desire and efforts of everyone, no one should be exclusively blamed if the main interlocutors fail to agree due to own lack of flexibility that is very much required from both the U.S. and the Taliban at this stage,” a senior official privy to the Pakistani peace diplomacy told VOA.

Khalilzad arrived in Pakistan from Afghanistan where he briefed Ghani and other top officials of Afghan government on the U.S.-led peace initiative.

The Taliban has held several meetings with Khalilzad’s team in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates but the insurgents have persistently refused to engage directly with the sitting administration in Kabul. Their refusal is blamed for a lack of progress in negotiations that started last summer, after American diplomats gave in to a major Taliban demand and met them directly.

Khalilzad, however, made it clear on Wednesday the insurgent group would have to engage with the Afghan government for the process to move forward.

“The road to peace will require the Taliban to sit with the Afghan government. There is a consensus among all the regional partners on this point,” the Afghan-born U.S. special envoy told reporters in Kabul.

He went on to warn that if the Taliban chose to fight over peace talks, the United States would support the Afghan government.

The Taliban threatened earlier in the week to pull out of all negotiations if the United States backed away from discussing the key insurgent demand for a troop withdrawal plan and pressured the insurgents into speaking to the Afghan government.

Diplomats privy to the peace process support the U.S. effort for the Taliban to speak directly to the current administration in Kabul to resolve internal Afghan matters. They see the Ghani-led National Unity government as a “legitimate” entity possessing official representation at the United Nations and maintaining diplomatic missions in world capitals.

The last substantial talks between Khalilzad and Taliban officials took place in Abu Dhabi about a month ago and Pakistan took credit for arranging it and bringing an authoritative team of insurgent negotiators to the table.

Officials in Islamabad say that Pakistan’s “biggest contribution” has been that it has “broken the political stalemate that was there in Afghanistan for several years.”

Prime Minister Khan has repeatedly stated that finding a political settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan is a top foreign policy priority for his government. While speaking to Khan on Thursday, Ghani invited him to visit Kabul at his earliest convenience and the Pakistani leader reciprocated by inviting the Afghan president to visit Islamabad.

Pakistan has long been accused of sheltering Taliban leaders and covertly helping them orchestrate insurgent attacks, charges Islamabad rejects.

U.S. officials, however, acknowledge the “positive role” Pakistan has played in the current Afghan peace effort. The thaw in traditionally mistrusted bilateral ties was visible earlier this month when U.S. President Donald Trump announced he intended to maintain a “great relationship” with Pakistan.

“So, I look forward to meeting with the new leadership in Pakistan. We will be doing that in the not too distant future,” said Trump.

Islamabad swiftly welcomed the remarks, which raised official expectations in Pakistan for an official invitation to Prime Minister Khan to visit Washington, though the Trump administration has so far given no such indication.

 

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Сербія: Белград готується до прийому Путіна

Як повідомили в адмінстрації президента Сербії Олександра Вучича, він зустрінеться з російським колегою в аеропорту «Нікола Тесла» в Белграді

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US Federal Workers Take On Odd Jobs to Make Ends Meet

When her paychecks dried up because of the partial government shutdown, Cheryl Inzunza Blum sought out a side job that has become a popular option in the current economy: She rented out a room on Airbnb.

Other government workers are driving for Uber, relying on word-of-mouth and social networks to find handyman work and looking for traditional temp gigs to help pay the bills during the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

The hundreds of thousands of out-of-work government employees have more options than in past shutdowns given the rise of the so-called “gig economy” that has made an entire workforce out of people doing home vacation rentals and driving for companies like Uber, Lyft and Postmates.

Blum decided to capitalize on the busy winter travel season in Arizona to help make ends meet after she stopped getting paid for her government contract work as a lawyer in immigration court in Tucson. She says she has no choice but to continue to work unpaid because she has clients who are depending on her, some of whom are detained or have court hearings.

But she also has bills: her Arizona state bar dues, malpractice insurance and a more than $500 phone bill for the past two months because she uses her phone so heavily for work. Blum bills the government for her work, but the office that pays her hasn’t processed any paychecks to her since before the shutdown began. So she’s been tapping every source she can to keep herself afloat — even her high school- and college-aged children — and is even thinking about driving for Uber and Lyft as well.

“So after working in court all day I’m going to go home and get the room super clean because they’re arriving this evening,” she said of her Airbnb renters.

“I have a young man who’s visiting town to do some biking, and he’s going to come tomorrow and stay a week,” she added. “I’m thrilled because that means immediate money. Once they check in, the next day there’s some money in my account.”

The shutdown is occurring against the backdrop of a strong economy that has millions of open jobs, along with ample opportunities to pick up Uber and Lyft shifts.

The Labor Department reported that employers posted 6.9 million jobs in November, the latest figures available. That’s not far from the record high of 7.3 million reached in August.

Roughly 8,700 Uber driver positions are advertised nationwide on the SnagAJob website, while Lyft advertises about 3,000.

But the gig economy doesn’t pay all that well — something the furloughed government workers are finding out.

Pay for such workers has declined over the past two years, and they are earning a growing share of their income elsewhere, a recent study found. Most Americans who earn income through online platforms do so for only a few months each year, according to the study by the JPMorgan Chase Institute.

Chris George, 48, of Hemet, California, is furloughed from his job as a forestry technician supervisor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture forest service. He’s been driving for Lyft but has only been averaging about $10 for every hour he drives. Paying for gas then eats into whatever money he has made.

He just got word that he’ll be getting $450 in weekly unemployment benefits, but hadn’t received any money as of Monday. In the meantime, he’s taking handyman or other odd jobs wherever he can.

“I’ve just been doing side jobs when they come along,” he said Monday. “I had two last week, and I don’t know what this week’s going to bring.”

George Jankowski is among those hunting around for cash. He’s getting a $100 weekly unemployment check, but that’s barely enough to pay for food and gas, he said.

On Monday, he made $30 helping a friend move out of a third-floor apartment in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Jankowski is furloughed from a USDA call center and does not expect to get back pay because his job is part-time and hourly.

Jankowski, an Air Force veteran, calls the situation “grueling.”

“It’s embarrassing to ask for money to pay bills or ask to borrow money to, you know, eat,” he said.

Some employers were looking at the shutdown as a way to recruit, at least temporarily.

Missy Koefod of the Atlanta-based cocktail-mixer manufacturer 18.21 Bitters said the company needs temporary help in the kitchen, retail store and getting ready for a trade show, and decided to put out the word to furloughed federal workers on social media that they were hiring.

“I can’t imagine not getting paid for a couple of weeks,” Koefod said.

American Labor Services, a staffing agency that employs 500 people a week in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, sent out an appeal to furloughed federal workers on Monday, asking them to get in touch for clerical or light-industrial work.

“Some might not realize that they could get something temporary, it could last for a short period,” said Ben Kaplan, the company’s president and CEO.

Israel Diaz sought out an Uber job and applied to be a security guard after he was furloughed from his Treasury Department job in Kansas City. He said federal work has become increasingly demoralizing and that he and many of his co-workers are considering quitting.

“In the old days, you work for the federal government, you get benefits, great,” said Diaz, a Republican and Marine Corps veteran. “Now, it’s not even worth it.”

 

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After Crossing into Guatemala, Migrants Set Sights on Mexico

More than 1,000 Hondurans were walking and hitchhiking through Guatemala on Wednesday, heading toward the Mexico border as part of a new caravan of migrants hoping to reach the United States.

Guatemala’s migration authority said just over 1,300 people were able to register at the border and pass through frontier controls under the watchful eyes of about 200 police and soldiers at the Agua Caliente crossing. Some migrants told The Associated Press that they crossed informally elsewhere.

Miria Zelaya, who left the Honduran city of Colon and was traveling with 12 relatives, said she did not know what sort of work she hopes to find in the United States but was not dismayed by tougher immigration policies under President Donald Trump.

“That does not discourage me,” Zelaya said. “The need is greater.”

Migrants leaving Central America’s Northern Triangle nations of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala routinely cite widespread poverty, lack of opportunity and rampant gang violence as their motivation.

Many in the group registered for 90-day visas in Guatemala, saying they felt it would offer peace of mind on the 300-mile (540-kilometer) trek to Mexico’s southern border.

Hector Alvarado, a 25-year-old announcer, said he had been shut out of job opportunities for belonging to the political opposition and felt forced to leave to find work. He learned about the caravan on Facebook, said goodbye to relatives and hit the road.

“My loved ones have already cried over of my leaving,” Alvarado said. “Now I have to press on.”

Previous caravans

The latest trek north comes as Trump has been working to convince the American public that there is a crisis at the southern border to justify construction of his long-promised border wall. Trump’s demand for billions of dollars to that end has resulted in a standoff with Congress that has forced a partial government shutdown.

The fate that awaits the migrants at the Mexico-U.S. border is uncertain. Previous caravans that were seized upon last year by Trump in the run-up to the 2018 midterm election have quietly dwindled, with many having gone home to Central America or put down roots in Mexico. Many others — nearly half, according to U.S. Border Patrol arrest records — have sought to enter the U.S. illegally.

About 6,000 Central Americans reached Tijuana in November amid conflict on both sides of the border over their presence in the Mexican city across from San Diego. As of earlier this week, fewer than 700 remained at a former outdoor concert venue in Tijuana that the Mexican government set up as a shelter to house them.

Mexico has issued humanitarian visas to about 2,900 migrants from last fall’s caravan, many of whom are now working legally there with visas.

Hope amid dangers

Also Wednesday about 100 migrants set out as a group from the capital of El Salvador, hoping to join the larger group from Honduras. Their numbers represent less than a third of the estimated 350 migrants who leave El Salvador each day.

“I can’t stay. I’m leaving because the gangs have threatened me — either I join them, or they’ll kill me,” said Adonay Hernandez, 22, who was carrying just $20 in his pocket but was confident he will make it to relatives in North Carolina. “God is my shield.”

Others hoped to find a better life in Mexico, where they have options for applying for refuge and work permits.

“I know that in Mexico they are helping us,” said Franklin Martinez, a 34-year-old traveling with his partner and their 2-year-old daughter. “We are going to ask for refuge and we are going to stay and work. After we have saved enough, perhaps we will go to the United States, but our goal is to make it to Mexico.”

Liduvina Margarin, vice minister for Salvadorans abroad, met with the migrants before they left a downtown plaza to warn them about the dangers of the northward route. She told them that more than half the Salvadorans who left in caravans have returned to the country.

“Our duty is to say to you that you are never going to be better off than in your homeland, in your communities of origin,” Margarin said.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Wednesday that Mexico has been monitoring the latest caravan closely.

He said the best option is for Central American governments to persuade their citizens to stay. Those who don’t will be allowed to enter Mexico in an orderly fashion and presented with options, and their human rights will be respected, Lopez Obrador added.

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Американські солдати загинули внаслідок вибуху в Сирії – коаліція

Американські солдати загинули внаслідок вибуху на півночі Сирії, повідомила у Twitter очолювана США коаліція, яка протистоїть екстремістському угрупованню «Ісламська держава».

«Військовослужбовці США вбиті унаслідок вибуху під час звичного патрулювання в Сирії сьогодні. Ми продовжуємо збирати інформацію й поділимося додатковими деталями згодом», – заявили в коаліції.

Агентство Reuters із посиланням на неназваного американського посадовця заявило, що через вибух у місті Манбіджі загинули четверо військових США, ще троє поранені.

Сирійська моніторингова група, зі свого боку, повідомляла про понад десяток вбитих і поранених унаслідок вибуху.

Базована в Британії Сирійська обсерваторія з прав людини заявляє про 16 загиблих, включно із п’ятьома підтримуваними США сирійськими військовими. Правозахисники додають, що дев’ять цивільних та інших людей були поранені.

Пов’язаний з бойовиками «Ісламської держави» сайт інформує, що на патруль напав смертник.

Президент США Дональд Трамп у відеозверненні 19 грудня 2018 року заявив, що війська США в Сирії «виводяться всі, і виводяться вже зараз». Тоді очікували, що війська виведуть за кілька тижнів, приблизно за два місяці. Це рішення викликало різку критику і серед політичних діячів, і серед військових.

14 січня Трамп офіційно заявив про початок виведення американських військ із Сирії.

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Small Quake Shakes N. California, No Immediate Damage Reported

A small earthquake shook buildings and roused Northern California residents from their sleep early on Wednesday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported the 7.2-mile (11.6 km) deep earthquake at 3.7 magnitude in the Oakland, California, area, at about 4:42 a.m. PST (1242 GMT). Reuters witnesses were among many who felt buildings tremble, but there were no immediate reports of damage.

“We felt it, but we haven’t had any calls or anything,” a dispatcher for the Oakland Fire Department said by telephone. Many residents took to Twitter to complain about having been shaken out of their sleep.

“Thought I was going to have a nice peaceful sleep, but Mother Nature thought otherwise,” said a Twitter user identified as Ross Melen.

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