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Britain’s May Sticks to Brexit Deal as Rebellion Grows

Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May came out fighting Friday in defense of her contentious draft Brexit deal, calling on the British public to back her. But critics within her party, who complain the proposed agreement would turn Britain into a “vassal state,” mounted a formal bid to oust her.

The proposed deal with the European Union, more than two years after Britons voted in a referendum to exit the bloc, has triggered half-a-dozen ministerial resignations.

It also prompted high drama in the House of Commons, where May received the most hostile reception a sitting prime minister has endured since 1940, when Neville Chamberlain was pushed out of office at the start of the Second World War.

The withdrawal deal has been pronounced “dead on arrival” by lawmakers across the political spectrum. They say the agreement won’t gain parliamentary backing in a planned vote next month. The deal would see Britain remaining in the EU’s customs union, which address imports and exports, for an indefinite period and subject to the bloc’s rules and regulations without having any say about them

May maintained during a radio interview Friday that she has negotiated the best deal possible, despite it crossing many “red lines” she had set previously. May and her loyalists say there is no alternative to the proposed withdrawal agreement that runs to 538 pages and took many months of tortuous negotiations to seal, because the alternatives are even more unpalatable for Britain or impossible to get the EU and its 27 member countries to accept.

May says the draft agreement is just a staging post, a temporary deal that’s in place while Britain negotiates over the next few years a fuller free trade deal with the bloc. Her supporters say it is no time for a change in leadership with just over four months to go before Britain is scheduled to leave the EU, deal or no deal.

“I am not sure any other prime minister could have done any better,” said Simon Hart, a Conservative lawmaker. “I will say one thing for the prime minister — you can never doubt her resilience and stoicism,” he added.

Partial relief

The prime minister got some relief Friday when a senior minister, Michael Gove, who had been rumored to be resigning to protest the draft deal, said he would be staying in the Cabinet.

It remains unclear, however, whether other prominent hardline Brexiters in May’s thinning Cabinet will follow Gove’s cue over the next few weeks and decide against tendering their resignations. So far, several other Brexiters in the Cabinet have indicated they will stay to work together to improve the deal. “Resigning and joining a rebellion is not going to help anything,” said one of their aides.

Whether their resolve will hold is another thing, if the internecine [destructive] rebellion against May gains momentum.

“Then they will have to consider how their choice plays out in any future leadership election they may want to compete in,” said a party official.

And talk of renegotiation is being rebuffed by EU officials, who on Friday cautioned that the agreement is the best they can do and there can be no changes.

“This is a good deal for both sides,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Friday. “No one was tricked into anything,” said Kurz, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency until the end of the year. He warned that the only alternative would be for Britain to leave the EU without any deal, which “would hurt Britain badly.”

Mounting leadership challenges

Gove’s decision not to resign didn’t stop more Conservative lawmakers from lodging formal letters with party authorities calling for a vote of no confidence in May as party leader, the first stage in a leadership challenge.

As May started her effort to sell the deal to the public, John Whittingdale, a Brexiter and former culture secretary, filed his letter, joining more than two dozen other Conservative rebels who have publicly called for her to step aside.

“I believe that the agreement that is being proposed does not deliver Brexit in the way that I and many others want to see. It leaves us locked in indefinitely into the customs union. I also don’t think it can get through the House of Commons,” he wrote.

May’s party critics accuse her of going from her oft-stated position that “no deal is better than a bad deal” to one where she appears to accept “any deal is better than no deal.”

“It is no good trying to pretend that the deal honors the result of the referendum when it is obvious to everyone it doesn’t,” said Esther McVey, who resigned this week as works and pension minister.

Time on May’s side

Whether the deal honors what the majority of Britons voted for in June 2016 may be a moot point, say analysts. In trying to sell a deal that satisfies neither Brexiters, who want a sharp break with the EU, nor Remainers, who say staying as a member of the bloc is the only thing that won’t damage Britain, May, if she can see off the rebellion, has time on her side, they say.

She is banking on securing a majority next month for her deal when parliament is scheduled to vote formally on it, by daring lawmakers across the political spectrum — all the opposition parties have formally come out against the deal — to let a “no-deal Brexit” go ahead, likely triggering a recession and leaving behind it bankrupt businesses and ruined livelihoods.

The fear of quitting the EU without a deal seems to be persuading some lawmakers who dislike the agreement to accept they have no option but to back it.

“The most likely alternative is we leave the EU with no deal at all,” wrote Nicky Morgan, a former Conservative minister, in an article for The Guardian newspaper. “And I believe that would be deeply damaging to our economy and our constituents. I cannot sign up to that.”

Party officials, known as Whips, were mounting a feverish effort Friday to dissuade Conservative lawmakers from insisting on holding a no-confidence vote on May’s leadership. Their biggest fear is that if they are unable to do so before lawmakers head back to their constituencies, where the draft agreement is highly unpopular among grassroots Conservatives, then the prime minister will not be able to avoid a leadership challenge and the rebellion will gather steam, analysts say.

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South Africa Cannabis Ruling Leads to Pot-Themed Products

Now that South Africa’s highest court has relaxed the nation’s laws on marijuana, local entrepreneurs are trying to cash in on the popular herb. Among the latest entries to the market: several highly popular cannabis-laced alcohol products, which deliver the unique taste, though without the signature high. Marijuana activists say this could just be the beginning and that the famous plant could do much more for the national economy. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

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Amazon’s ‘National Landing’ Leads to Confusion and Jokes

Place names in Arlington County have never been a simple matter. A major fight broke out when National Airport was named for Ronald Reagan in 1998. A fight continues over whether to name a park next to the airport for Nancy Reagan. And in the 1920s, the Postal Service refused to establish a post office in Arlington because the street names were so confusing and haphazard.

So it is fitting that as Arlington officials celebrated Amazon’s decision to locate a new headquarters in the area, there was a bit of confusion over the place name.

Amazon announced Tuesday that it was coming to National Landing, a place people had not heard of because it doesn’t exist. Economic development officials who were wooing the online retailing giant came up with the name as a way to describe the multiple neighborhoods that were being offered as a site.

Those neighborhoods — Crystal City and Pentagon City in Arlington County, and Potomac Yard in the city of Alexandria — span multiple jurisdictions, so the name allowed Alexandria and Arlington to work cooperatively without marketing one locality over another.

Unfortunately, because the yearlong process of wooing Amazon had been so secretive, the moniker that had become so commonplace in the economic-development discussions had zero recognition among the general public. So Amazon’s use of the name in its big announcement left people scratching their heads.

Some people confused it with National Harbor, a new development in Maryland that has attracted one of the biggest casinos on the East Coast. Comedian Remy Munasifi, who made his name poking fun at Arlington in a YouTube rap that has been viewed more than 2 million times, suggested that Arlington National Cemetery would soon be renamed “Kindle Shores.”

Rep. Don Beyer, whose congressional district encompasses the neighborhoods, got in on the act when he suggested that the location of a new $1 billion graduate campus be dubbed “Hokie Landing.” The campus was a key incentive offered to Amazon by Virginia, which promised to double the number of students who graduate each year with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science and related fields.

No official steps were ever taken to rename the region, and local officials have made clear they have no intention of trying to rename Crystal City or any other neighborhood.

In a tweet posted by Arlington Economic Development on Thursday, Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz explained that National Landing was simply “a way to avoid saying, ‘Parts of Arlington, parts of Alexandria.’ ”

Christina Winn, director of business investment for Arlington Economic Development, said officials never imagined “there would be so much conversation” about the concept. Winn said there’s no intention to supplant or override the name of Crystal City, which draws its name from a big chandelier in one of the first apartment buildings to go up in the area in the 1960s.

Still, she said, if Arlington and Alexandria team up on another economic-development pitch in the future, she said that the moniker might be revived.

“It worked once,” she said.

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Через відсутність щеплень в Україні у 2018 році померли 15 людей – Супрун

Виконувач обов’язків міністра охорони здоров’я Уляна Супрун заявила 16 листопада у Вінниці, що з початку 2018 року в Україні через відсутність щеплень померли 15 людей.

«На нараді у Вінниці нагадала управлінцям про національну безпеку – вакцинацію. З 1991 року в Україні не сталося жодної смерті через вакцинацію. Через відсутність щеплення та загального імунітету лише у 2018 році померло 15 людей. Усі вакцини є і вони безпечні. Вакцинуйтесь!» – закликала керівниця МОЗ у мережі Twitter.

Раніше в цьому місяці Міністерство охорони здоров’я повідомило, що з початку року від ускладнень кору померло 11 дітей і четверо дорослих.

Кір – це заразне захворювання, ліків від якого не існує, а ускладнення цієї хвороби можуть мати смертельні наслідки. Діти, які не отримали профілактичне щеплення, перебувають у зоні ризику.

Кір легко передається від людини до людини, поширюється при кашлі, тісних особистих контактах. Вірус залишається активним і живе в повітрі або на інфікованих поверхнях протягом двох годин. Спочатку хворий відчуває ознаки звичайної застуди: нежить, температуру, кашель, приблизно через тиждень з’являється висип (спочатку на голові, далі – на верхній та нижній частинах тулуба). Серед ускладнень, які викликає кір, – ураження нервової системи (енцефаліт), пневмонія, отит, втрата зору.

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За півдоби 16 листопада бойовики не стріляли – штаб

З початку доби 16 листопада станом на 11 ранку не зафіксовано жодного обстрілу або іншої ескалації бойових дій, заявив на брифінгу речник Міністерства оборони полковник Олександр Мотузяник.

«Відзначу, що з початку поточної доби станом на 11.00 в районі проведення операції Об’єднаних сил бойових дій та ворожих обстрілів поки не фіксувалося. Наші військовослужбовці перебувають напоготові, ситуація цілком контрольована підрозділами Об’єднаних сил», – повідомив він.

При цьому за попередню добу Збройні сили України зафіксували 16 випадків порушення режиму тиші. В половині випадків підтримувані Росією бойовики застосовували міномети.

Зі свого боку бойовики незаконного збройного угруповання «ДНР» звинувачують українську армію у 60 порушеннях режиму тиші за минулий тиждень. В аналогічному угрупованні «ЛНР» раніше заявляли про три обстріли з боку ЗСУ за минулу добу.

Тристороння контактна група з урегулювання ситуації на Донбасі домовилася про чергове перемир’я, починаючи з півночі 29 серпня. Рішення ухвалили у зв’язку з початком навчального року. Однак в перші ж години ОБСЄ зафіксувала порушення домовленостей.

Раніше схожі режими тиші також не дотримувалися, сторони звинувачували в порушеннях одна одну.

Унаслідок російської гібридної агресії на сході України з квітня 2014 року в регіоні, за даними ООН, загинули понад 10 тисяч людей іще станом на кінець 2017 року – відтоді нових даних не оголошували.

Більше цікавих новин, які не потрапили на сайт, – у Telegram-каналі Радіо Свобода. Долучайтеся!

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Шевченко обіцяє «дати шанс» молодим футболістам у матчі Словаччина – Україна

Головний тренер збірної України Андрій Шевченко заявив, що планує надати можливість зіграти молодим футболістам у виїзному матчі Ліги націй Словаччина – Україна, який розпочнеться у Трнаві 16 листопада о 21:45.

«У нас величезна відповідальність перед уболівальниками, але ми йдемо на певні ризики, тому що бачимо перспективи нашої молоді. Треба давати хлопцям шанс. У них, безумовно, немає ще того досвіду, щоб грати на такому рівні, але будемо балансувати при визначенні складу», – заявив Шевченко на передматчевій прес-конференції.

Збірна України достроково, за тур до завершення міні-турніру забезпечила собі перше місце в групі 1 ліги В, що гарантує підвищення в класі. Зараз в активі «синьо-жовтих» 9 очок, чехи мають три бали, словаки – жодного. Для українців зустріч у Трнаві стане останньою, а словаки ще зіграють у Чехії 19 листопада. Для того, щоб не вилетіти до ліги С, словаки мають випередити чехів.

Більше цікавих новин, які не потрапили на сайт, – у Telegram-каналі Радіо Свобода. Долучайтеся!​

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Climate Change, Steel, Migration Bedevil G20 Communique

Climate change, steel and migration have emerged as sticking points in the final communique that world leaders will issue at the end of the Group of 20 summit in Argentina later this month, an Argentine government official said on Thursday.

Those issues were the “most complicated” areas of discussion, said Argentina’s Pedro Villagra Delgado, the lead organizer, or “sherpa,” for the summit of leaders from key industrialized and developing economies. 

But he told a press briefing he was optimistic these issues would be resolved in time.

The G20 communique is a non-binding agreement on key international policy issues and will be presented at the conclusion of the two-day summit, which begins on Nov. 30.

Climate goals concern United States

Villagra Delgado said the United States was resistant to including language that outlined guidelines for climate goals in the document.

After withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement last year, the United States broke with other G20 member countries who have pledged to end coal usage and take steps to reach the goals outlined in the accord.

Villagra Delgado also said China disagreed with the rest of the G20 countries on steel, but did not provide further details over the specifics of their disagreement.

The United States has skirmished with a number of its trading partners — including China — over steel, imposing a 25 percent duty on imports of steel and a tariff of 10 percent on aluminum.

Other countries objected to including language about immigration in the communique, Villagra Delgado said, but would not elaborate on which countries expressed concern.

WTO reform may be on table

Reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) may also be a topic of discussion at this month’s meeting, Villagra Delgado said, but added that specific issues to be discussed in the G20 sessions were still being worked out.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the WTO, while China has claimed the 20-year-old organization’s dispute resolution mechanisms are outdated in the current global economy.

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Ex-Macedonia PM Gruevski Seeking Refugee Status in Hungary

Former Macedonian prime minister Nikola Gruevski sought asylum at a Hungarian representation outside Macedonia before reaching Hungary earlier this week and submitting his formal application for refugee status, Budapest said on Thursday.

Gruevski, who resigned in 2016 after 10 years in power, fled his Balkan homeland six months after being sentenced to two years in prison on corruption-related charges.

Macedonian police issued an arrest warrant for him after he failed to show up to begin his sentence following a Nov. 9 court ruling against his motion for a reprieve.

Gruevski’s refugee status application could put Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in a tight spot. He supported the fellow nationalist Gruevski in the run-up to Macedonia’s 2017 election and praised his party’s efforts in halting migrants passing through the Balkans northwards towards Western Europe.

A senior Hungarian official declined to say in which country Gruevski had first sought Hungarian asylum or how he later made his way to the Immigration and Asylum Office in Budapest where he submitted documents and secured a hearing.

“According to my knowledge he made a statement regarding threats to his safety … that justified that his hearing should be conducted not in a transit zone but in Budapest,” said Gergely Gulyas, Orban’s cabinet chief.

Speaking to reporters, Gulyas would not say whether the Hungarian government was involved in helping Gruevski get to Budapest or whether he arrived by land or air. He said Hungary played no role in Gruevski’s exit from Macedonia.

Police in Albania, which borders Macedonia, said later on Thursday that Gruevski had crossed Albanian territory into Montenegro to the north on Sunday evening as a passenger in an Hungarian embassy car. It was unclear whether Gruevski then transited Serbia to reach Hungary further north.

Albanian police said Interpol notified them of an arrest warrant for Gruevski only on Tuesday, when the ex-premier announced on his Facebook page that he was in Budapest and seeking asylum.

Gulyas said Budapest had not yet received an official request from Macedonia to extradite Gruevski, adding Hungary would act “in line with the laws” if that happens. He said there was an extradition agreement between the two countries.

Asked if Gruevski was being protected by Hungarian authorities, Gulyas said Budapest had applied “the appropriate security protocol”, and was assured he would not leave the country. Gruevski had not met Orban this week, he added.

On Wednesday, a Fidesz party spokesman said Gruevski was a politician who was being persecuted by Macedonia’s leftist government. Gulyas declined to comment on this.

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Ukraine PM Upbeat on IMF Loan Prospects

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman expects to get new loans from the International Monetary Fund as early as December, once parliament passes a budget of stability that refrains from making pre-election populist moves, he said Thursday.

Securing IMF assistance will also unlock loans from the World Bank and the European Union. Groysman also said Ukraine was in negotiations with Washington for a new loan guarantee for sovereign debt.

Groysman negotiated a new deal with the IMF last month aimed at keeping finances on an even keel during a choppy election period next year. The new loans are contingent on his steering an IMF-compliant budget through parliament.

“This budget is a budget of stability and continuation of reforms,” Groysman said in an interview with Reuters. “This is fully consistent with our IMF program.”

“Yes. We are counting on a tranche in December,” he added, when asked about when IMF loans were expected, though he did not elaborate on the possible size of the loan.

Ukraine’s government approved a draft budget in September but it will typically undergo a slew of amendments before parliament finally approves it. 

Tax proposal dropped

Groysman said a proposal to change how companies are taxed — on withdrawn capital, rather than profits — had been dropped from the budget because of the IMF’s concerns.

He also said he would not bow to opposition parties’ demands to reverse a recent increase in household gas tariffs, a step that his government reluctantly took to qualify for more IMF assistance.

“Populism led to the weakness of Ukraine,” he said. “This should not be allowed.” 

The IMF and Kyiv’s foreign allies came to Ukraine’s rescue after it plunged into turmoil following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and support for separatist rebels occupying the eastern industrial Donbass region. 

The United States has also sold coal to plug a domestic shortage caused by rebels taking control of mines in the east. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry visited Ukraine this week. 

In response to a question about whether Ukraine would continue to buy coal from the United States and potentially also liquefied natural gas, Groysman said that “liquefied gas is very interesting for Ukraine. We talked about the whole spectrum of our cooperation in the energy sector.”

As for coal, he added, “we will buy it from our international partners until we cover the domestic deficit.” 

Washington has also previously issued loan guarantees for Ukrainian debt. Groysman said another such guarantee was “under discussion.” 

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Business Bosses Alarmed as Resignations Imperil Brexit Deal

Business leaders expressed growing alarm Thursday as a draft Brexit agreement seen as the only chance of preserving some stability in U.K.-EU trading threatened to unravel, sending stock prices and the pound plunging.

Just 12 hours after British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that her cabinet had agreed to the terms of the draft agreement, Brexit minister Dominic Raab and work and pensions minister Esther McVey quit, saying they could not support it.

Their departures and those of other, junior ministers, revived the specter for business of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal next March, and sent shares in British housebuilders, retailers and banks tumbling.

“The political situation remains uncertain,” German carmaker BMW said in a statement. “We must therefore continue to prepare for the worst-case scenario, which is what a no-deal Brexit would represent.

“We continue to call on all sides to work toward a final agreement which maintains the truly frictionless trade on which our international production network is based.”

The European Union is Britain’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 44 percent of U.K. exports and 53 percent of imports to the UK.

After 45 years of membership, industries including defense, cars and aerospace have created intricate supply chains that rely on smooth, “just-in-time” delivery of thousands of parts across the sea that divides Britain from the continent.

Business leaders fear that the country could stumble toward a no-deal Brexit where border checks block ports and fracture the supply chains that support the likes of Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems.

Karen Betts, the head of the Scotch Whisky Association, said a no-deal Brexit would cause “considerable difficulties” for the industry and increase cost and complexity. It accounts for around 20 percent of all U.K. food and drink exports.

‘Only deal in town’

A senior executive at one of Britain’s biggest banks said this was the most disastrous government he had ever seen.

“The rest of the world is looking at us and laughing. It is time to have some stability so business can get some certainty. This is what the country needs.”

Industry bosses who had been briefed on the draft agreement by ministers late Wednesday had broadly welcomed it as the best chance of a compromise that would secure a transition period and avert the chaos of no deal at all.

May’s office also released statements from a number of major companies such as Diageo, the London Stock Exchange and Royal Mail welcoming the draft deal.

“Most business people ultimately are pragmatists and this is about playing the cards we have been dealt rather than wishing for a better hand,” Roger Carr, chairman of BAE Systems, told BBC Radio.

Iain Anderson, executive chairman of public affairs firm Cicero, which represents many finance companies, said although most executives did not like May’s deal they realized it was now the only game in town.

“Business is watching with horror the resignations now taking place,” he said. “Yesterday we had a plan and stability and today we do not.

“There is now no time to negotiate another deal. We thought we had stability — now we have instability writ large.”

The U.K. chief of German industrial group Siemens, which employs 15,000 people in the U.K., reiterated his call to get behind the draft agreement even as senior politicians called for May to quit.

“We hope all sides keep calm, look at the facts, and move to support this draft to provide UK business with greater certainty,” Juergen Maier said in an emailed statement.

Even if May survives, her chances of winning a vote in parliament to approve the draft agreement are seen as slim.

Market jitters

Lawmakers across the political spectrum have said May’s deal will leave Britain bound by EU rules without having any say.

Many have argued it will also damage the integrity of the United Kingdom by aligning Northern Ireland with the rest of the EU in order to avoid a hard border with EU-member Ireland.

Many executives spoken to by Reuters were trying to guess what could happen next, either a national election, a second referendum or the extension of the negotiating period.

One senior executive at a FTSE 100 company was still holding out hope, however, that lawmakers would eventually be persuaded to vote for the deal when it comes before parliament before the end of the year.

“We’re going to need the market to throw up and scare them all into voting for it,” he said. The pound was down 1.8 percent against the dollar in early evening trading.

The CEO of French outdoor advertising company JCDecaux, which runs London’s bus-shelter advertising and makes 10 percent of its sales in Britain, called the situation “obviously very serious.”

“Today’s events reinforce the uncertainties in the market,” Jean-Charles Decaux told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of an industry conference in Barcelona.

Martin Sorrell, ex-CEO and founder of ad agency group WPP and one of Britain’s best-known businessmen, said the country was in a state. “The situation this morning saps the confidence of the city and the country,” he told Reuters.