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  1. #9496

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Nearly a third of Poland has declared 'LGBT-free zones.' The EU is denying funds to them.
    After nearly a third of Poland towns and municipalities declared "LGBT-free zones," the European Union has stepped in and denied funding to them.

    Six towns in Poland that have adopted the homophobic policies have been denied funding, according to a statement from the EU's Commissioner for Equality.

    "EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by Member States and state authorities," said Commissioner Helena Dalli in a tweet Tuesday.

    They applied for grants as part of a "town twinning" proposal, which would connect two communities in separate nations for joint partnerships. Other applicants that didn't adopt "LGBT-free zone" policies were approved.

    The news comes as sitting president Andrzej Duda won a re-election as part of the right-wing Law and Justice party. In his tenure, the nation has intensified its anti-LGBT sentiment after Duda signed a "family charter" that pledged to “ban the propagation of LGBT ideology in public institutions.” Further, he proposed an amendment that would prohibit same-sex couple adoptions.

    Towns elsewhere in the EU, including France and the Netherlands, have reneged on "sister city" partnerships with Polish towns that have aligned themselves with "LGBT-free" ideologies.

    Nearly a third of Poland's 38 million residents live in zones declared by local officials as "LGBT-free," which have no legal power but mirror a rising anti-LGBT tide in the country.

    Poland's Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro called the rejection "unlawful," urging for a reversal from the EU Commission and arguing that the views of all citizens should be respected by the EU.

    Poland joined the EU in 2004.
    "And for my next fearless prediction..."

  2. #9497

    Re: World News Random, Random

    "EU values and fundamental rights must be respected by Member States and state authorities." This is exactly the concept I was asking about up-thread. Several of you had very wise thoughts about how this is clearly the policy but that the degree to which the EU would penalize member states about LGBTQ rights might not be very intense. I'm hoping that the EU will put some real teeth into their punishment of these area. This trend, present in several countries of the EU now, must be reversed.


  3. #9498

    Re: World News Random, Random

    How a surprising election has jolted the dictator of Belarus

    Opinion by Vladimir Kobets and David J. Kramer
    July 31, 2020 at 3:58 p.m. EDT

    Supporters of presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya attend her campaign rally in the town of Maladzechna, about 40 miles northwest of Minsk, on Friday. (Sergei Gapon/AFP/Getty Images)

    Vladimir Kobets is executive director of the International Strategic Action Network for Security. David J. Kramer, who served in the administration of George W. Bush, is director of the European and Eurasian studies program at Florida International University’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs.

    Suddenly facing an invigorated opposition in the run-up to presidential elections on Aug. 9, Belarus’s longtime leader Alexander Lukashenko needed to pull a rabbit out of his hat. How convenient that he has just uncovered a “conspiracy” against him and the country, this one coming from Russia.

    On Wednesday, Belarusan authorities announced a criminal investigation against 33 employees of Wagner PMC, a Russian security contractor involved in nefarious activities in places such as Ukraine, Syria and Libya. A unit of the Belarusan KGB — yes, they still call it the KGB — arrested the Russians in a sanatorium near Minsk, the Belarusan capital. Belarusan authorities claim that 170 other militants are still at large across the country. The Kremlin strongly denied the Belarusan accounts.

    Still, post-Soviet Russia does have a long history of meddling in Belarusan affairs, and circumstances have recently conspired to make Lukashenko vulnerable. He has dismissed the novel coronavirus pandemic, leaving the country’s businesses wide open and citizens unmasked even as polls show that an overwhelming majority would prefer decisive action against the virus. The economy, suffering from decades of mismanagement, is on the verge of collapse.

    All this helps to explain why the opposition’s latest rallies have been drawing huge crowds. Among the Belarusan people, Lukashenko’s act is getting old, and people are fed up with his 26 years of authoritarian rule. This is especially true among the younger generation. Those in their late teens and 20s want change, and they are not shy about calling for it. They want to live in a democratic and free country. They see integration with Europe, despite all its challenges, as their preferred orientation, not Russia. And they rely on social media, rather than official information sources, for news about what’s happening in the country.

    Lukashenko is feeling the heat and has pulled familiar tricks in the lead-up to the election. Three opposition candidates were excluded from running. Two of them — blogger and protest leader Sergei Tikhanovsky and banker Viktor Babariko — were thrown in jail on spurious charges.

    Svetlana Tikhanovskaya took her husband’s place, persevering in the fight to register as a presidential candidate. She has emerged as the chief rival to Lukashenko despite the president’s absurd arguments that under the country’s constitution the presidency is meant for a man, not a woman.

    The wives of other men denied registration as candidates have rallied around Tikhanovskaya and become a political force in the country. Despite concern about the pandemic, these women are generating unprecedented turnout for preelection rallies across the country.

    Crowds in the thousands are showing up even in small provincial towns with no history of protests. That Tikhanovskaya is a language teacher, not a politician, is a big draw for voters. If she wins, she has pledged to hold new, fair and free elections within six months.

    The official media are playing up the alleged Russian plot as evidence that Moscow is waiting to strip Belarus of its independence if Lukashenko doesn’t win. That can’t be entirely discounted. Yet while Belarusans are well-advised to remain wary of the Kremlin, they should also keep in mind that their current dire condition is the result of Lukashenko’s incompetent and brutal leadership.

    It is Lukashenko, after all, who left the country vulnerable to Russian pressure and dependence, including when he signed a treaty in 1999 creating a “union state” with Russia. Lukashenko thought this treaty would ultimately enable him to become ruler of a united Belarus-Russia state. Instead, it remains the Kremlin’s main instrument for potentially bringing the country under Moscow’s direct control.

    Lukashenko’s dictatorship is the main reason his country’s relations with the West have stayed in a deep freeze for decades. Despite a recent warming in ties with the West that included an ill-advised visit to Minsk on Feb. 1 by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Western leaders should have no illusions. Lukashenko is neither a friend nor the solution to his country’s problems. Should Lukashenko “win” — the most likely scenario, given his long history of rigging elections — the West should push for an end to the government’s repression and urge a start to a national dialogue with the opposition and civil society.

    In a free and fair election, Belarusans would likely vote for a change in leadership and a shift in their country’s orientation toward the West. Neither Lukashenko nor Moscow wants that to happen. The stakes are high, and Western leaders should make clear that they stand for a free and fair process and with the people of Belarus, no matter what.
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

  4. #9499

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Weirdly, my reaction to that article about Belarus' history of elections being fixed is that the USA has no leg to stand on in criticizing or demanding any change in how those elections are done. Let's clean our own noses first. GH

  5. #9500

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Borzou Daragahi ����@borzou

    Another view of the explosions in Beirut
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

  6. #9501

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Massive blast in Beirut kills at least 10 people and injures hundreds
    BEIRUT (Reuters) - A huge explosion near the centre of Beirut killed at least 10 people, injured hundreds and sent shockwaves across the Lebanese capital, shattering windows and causing apartment balconies to collapse, witnesses and security sources said.

    The most powerful explosion to hit Beirut in years shook the ground, leaving some residents thinking an earthquake had struck. Dazed and weeping, some of them wounded, people walked through streets checking to see if relatives were hurt.

    The blast occurred in the city’s port area, where there were warehouses housing explosives, Lebanon’s state news agency NNA and two security sources said. A third security source said there were chemicals stored in the area.

    Footage of the blast shared by residents on social media showed a column of smoke rising from the port district followed by an enormous blast. Those filming what initially appeared to be a big blaze were thrown backwards by the shock of the explosion.

    At least 10 bodies were taken to hospitals, a security source and a medical source told Reuters. The Lebanese Red Cross said hundreds of people were taken hospitals for treatment.

    Lebanese President Michel Aoun called for an emergency meeting of the country’s Supreme Defence Council, according to the presidency’s Twitter account.

    It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze that set off the blast or what kind of explosives were in the warehouses.

    Lebanon’s Internal Security Chief Abbas Ibrahim, touring the port area, said he would not pre-empt investigations. An Israeli official said Israel had nothing to do with the blast.

    The governor of Beirut port told Sky News that a team of firefighters at the scene had “disappeared” after the explosion.

    “I saw a fireball and smoke billowing over Beirut. People were screaming and running, bleeding. Balconies were blown off buildings. Glass in high-rise buildings shattered and fell to the street,” said a Reuters witness.

    The health minister told Reuters there was a “very high number” of injured. Al Mayadeen TV said hundreds were wounded.

    Another Reuters witness said she saw heavy grey smoke near the port area and then heard an explosion and saw flames and black smoke: “All the downtown area windows are smashed and there are wounded people walking around. It is total chaos.”

    U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters it was not immediately clear what the cause was, and that there was no indication of any injuries to any U.N. personnel.

    “We do not have information about what has happened precisely, what has caused this, whether it’s accidental or manmade act,” he said.

    The U.S. Pentagon said: “We are aware of the explosion and are concerned for the potential loss of life due to such a massive explosion.”

    In Cyprus, an island lying west of Lebanon, residents reported two large bangs in quick succession. One resident of the capital Nicosia said his house shook, rattling shutters.

    There will be way more than 10 dead based on the size of that explosion.
    "And for my next fearless prediction..."

  7. #9502
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    Re: World News Random, Random

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    Borzou Daragahi ����@borzou

    Another view of the explosions in Beirut
    Good grief... As if things in Beirut (and Lebanon) weren't bad enough...
    Winston, a.k.a. Alvena Rae Risley Hiatt (1944-2019), RIP

  8. #9503

    Re: World News Random, Random

    I was on site for 9/11. The fireball didn't look like that at all. The blast in Beirut looked like a low level nuclear blast with that small mushroom cloud at the end.
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

  9. #9504

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    I was on site for 9/11. The fireball didn't look like that at all. The blast in Beirut looked like a low level nuclear blast with that small mushroom cloud at the end.
    The second blast is quite impressive.

  10. #9505

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Death toll in Lebanon above 25 and expected to climb sharply. More that 2,500 injured.
    "And for my next fearless prediction..."

  11. #9506

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Argentina buries ghost of default with $65 billion debt deal
    LONDON/BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina has reached an agreement with creditors to restructure around $65 billion in sovereign debt, breaking a deadlock in talks the will help the country climb out of default and banish fears of a damaging and protracted legal standoff.

    The Economy Ministry said in a statement here on Tuesday it had reached an accord with major creditors after agreeing to adjust some payment dates and legal clauses to sweeten what had been touted as its "final" proposal made in early July. A deal will help bury the ghost of the country’s last major default in 2001-2002, which led to over a decade of litigation and left the country a pariah on global capital markets.

    “We resolved an impossible debt during the greatest economic crisis on record and amid a pandemic,” President Alberto Fernandez said on Twitter. “Now we have the horizon clear.”

    A major grain producer and once one of the world’s wealthiest countries, Argentina fell into its ninth sovereign default in May and is headed for an estimated 12% economic contraction this year on the back of two years of recession.

    The three creditor groups - the Ad Hoc Group, Argentina Creditor Committee and the Exchange Bondholder Group - said they were pleased to have reached an “agreement in principle” that provided debt relief and would lead to renewed access to international capital markets for Argentine issuers. “The agreement is a good outcome for all participants and delivers an offer that all creditors should support,” they said.

    The ministry said it would extend the deadline for creditors to formally accept the new deal to Aug. 24. It had been set to expire on Tuesday.

    The agreement helped lift sovereign bonds an average of over 8% following a rally on Monday in anticipation of a deal. The country had been at an impasse with creditors, which included big-name funds such as BlackRock (BLK.N) and Ashmore (ASHM.L), over revamping the debt. Investors were cheered by the announcement of an agreement.

    “It is something that the main bondholder groups can accept,” said Graham Stock, an emerging markets strategist at creditor BlueBay Asset Management, who said the average net present value of the new offer was 54.8 cents on the dollar.

    “The economic situation in Argentina is very challenging and a key focus for us was to make sure there was sufficient cash flow relief for the government in the short-term to help the government address the economic fallout from coronavirus.”

    Riccardo Grassi, risk manager at Mangart Capital Advisors, said the two sides had reached a “political compromise.” “I wouldn’t say creditors are happy, but we are happy that this thing has been resolved,” he added.

    Gabriel Torres at credit ratings agency Moody’s said the agreement would allow the country to avoid “protracted and costly legal proceedings with bondholders” and called for “credible and sustainable fiscal and monetary policies”.

    As part of the deal, the government said it would adjust some payment dates for the new bonds set out in the offer to raise the proposal’s value. The offer will also adjust certain legal aspects of so-called collective action clauses (CACs), which determine how future changes can be made to bond agreements. These had become a key point of contention in the talks. Some bondholders had feared Argentina would try to use the CACs to adopt a “Pac-Man” strategy of attempting to get them on board one at a time.

    Carlos de Sousa of Oxford Economics said the changes and the accord with major creditors meant a deal was almost in the bag. “It should be straight forward now to achieve the required qualified majorities for a successful debt exchange,” he said.

    Under the deal, payment dates on the new bonds will be Jan. 9 and July 9, instead of March 4 and Sept. 4. The new bonds will begin amortizing in January 2025 and mature in July 2029.

    Fernandez and Economy Minister Martin Guzman had been adamant that Argentina was unable to improve the offer made in early July, though people close to the talks said there could be wiggle room to sweeten the offer.

    Argentina struck a $57 billion loan deal with the International Monetary Fund in 2018 and has said it will seek a new program with the fund after it wraps up its talks with private creditors.

    “A very significant step. Look forward to a successful conclusion in the interest of all,” IMF head Kristalina Georgieva said in a congratulatory post on Twitter.
    "And for my next fearless prediction..."

  12. #9507

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Death toll in Lebanon currently will climb greatly. There were high-rise buildings that were basically destroyed.

    The most amazing single fact I heard about it was that the blast was HEARD on the island of Cyprus, 110 miles away. How loud does something have to be to be heard at 110 miles away?

    Unbelievable. Obviously, very much a developing and incredibly tragic story. GH

  13. #9508

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Richard Engel @RichardEngel

    Lebanon’s pm says 2750 TONS of stored ammonium nitrate (like a huge fertilizer bomb) ripped through Beirut. Now concerns about fumes in a city with blown out windows and doors.
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

  14. #9509

    Re: World News Random, Random

    US defense officials contradict Trump: No indication yet of attack in Beirut
    By Barbara Starr, Ryan Browne and Nikki Carvajal, CNN
    Updated 8:42 PM ET, Tue August 4, 2020

    (CNN)Three US Defense Department officials told CNN that as of Tuesday night there was no indication that the massive explosions that rocked Beirut on Tuesday were an "attack," contradicting an earlier claim from President Donald Trump.

    While speaking to reporters at the White House on Tuesday, Trump offered sympathy and assistance to the people of Lebanon after the explosions, which left dozens dead and thousands injured and he referred to the incident as a "terrible attack." An estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse in the Port of Beirut exploded Tuesday, causing destruction throughout the Lebanese capital. As of Tuesday night, at least 78 people were reported killed and 4,000 injured.

    "Let me begin by sending America's deepest sympathies to the people of Lebanon, where reports indicate that many, many people were killed, hundreds more were very badly wounded in a large explosion in Beirut," Trump said. "Our prayers go out to all the victims and their families. The United States ready to assist Lebanon."

    But the defense officials, who declined to be identified so they could speak freely, said they didn't know what the President was talking about.

    One official said that if there were indications anyone in the region pulled something off of this scale, it would trigger automatic increases in force protection for US troops and assets in the region -- if for no other reason than worry about retribution attacks.

    That official noted that none of that has happened so far.

    There were conflicting reports on what caused the explosion, which was initially blamed on a major fire at a warehouse for firecrackers near the port. The director of the general security directorate later said the blast was caused by confiscated "high explosive materials," but did not provide further details.
    Lebanese officials have not called the explosion an attack.

    But during his briefing on Tuesday, Trump did not shy away from implying that Beirut had been targeted.

    Trump said the US has a "very good relationship with the people of Lebanon and we will be there to help."

    "Looks like a terrible attack," Trump said, appearing to look up from notes on his podium.
    Asked if he was confident if the explosion was an attack and not an accident, the President said it "seems like" it was, based on what US military officials have told him.

    "It would seem like it based on the explosion," Trump said. "I've met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel that it was not a -- some kind of manufacturing explosion type of event. This was a -- seems to be according to them, they would know better than I would, but they seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind."
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

  15. #9510

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Tiny, as always, shows how stupid he is.
    If you are a terrorist, and have that amount of explosives, you do not set it in one place. You spread it, to create more damage.
    You know, energy dispersing exponentially in relation to the distance, but try to explain that to that buffoon.
    Face it. It's the apocalypse.

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