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Perry Staying Busy, Gaining in Enthusiasm at Energy Department

Rick Perry twice ran for president and appeared as a contestant on TV’s Dancing with the Stars.

But since becoming President Donald Trump’s energy secretary, Perry has kept a low profile and rarely has been seen publicly around Washington. Comedian Hasan Minhaj joked at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner that Perry must be “sitting in a room full of plutonium waiting to become Spider-Man. That’s just my hunch.”

In truth, Perry has been busy — but far away from the capital.

He has toured Energy Department sites around the country, represented the Trump administration at a meeting in Italy and pledged to investigate a tunnel collapse at a radioactive waste storage site in Washington state.

Perry has visited a shuttered nuclear waste dump at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain and cautiously began a yearslong process to revive it.

Asia trip

On Thursday, Perry embarked on a nine-day trip to Asia, where he planned to check on the progress made since a 2011 nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to help decontaminate and decommission damaged nuclear reactors. Perry also was to represent the United States at a clean-energy meeting in Beijing.

The former Texas governor says he’s having the time of his life running an agency he once pledged to eliminate. Perry has emerged as a strong defender of the department’s work, especially the 17 national labs that conduct cutting-edge research on everything from national security to renewable energy.

“I’m telling you officially the coolest job I’ve ever had is being secretary of energy … and it’s because of these labs,” Perry, 67, told an audience last month at Idaho National Laboratory, one of several he has visited since taking office in March.

“If you work at a national lab … you are making a difference,” Perry said.

The energy chief soon will have a chance to back up those words when he and other officials head to Capitol Hill to defend a budget proposal that slashes funding for science, renewables and energy efficiency.

Paris accord

Perry probably will be asked to defend Trump’s decision to withdraw from the landmark Paris climate accord. Perry said Thursday that the U.S. remains committed to clean energy and that he was confident officials could “drive economic growth and protect the environment at the same time.”

The administration has called for cutting the Office of Science, which includes 10 national labs, by 17 percent. The proposed budget would reduce spending for renewable and nuclear energy, eliminate the popular Energy Star program to enhance efficiency and gut an agency that promotes research and development of advanced energy technologies.

Perry, who served 14 years as Texas governor, likened the spending plan to an opening offer that he expects to see significantly changed in Congress.

“I will remind you this is not my first rodeo when it comes to budgeting,” he said during a recent tour of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. “Hopefully we will be able to make that argument to our friends in Congress — that what DOE is involved with plays a vital role, not only in the security of America but the economic well-being of the country as we go forward.”

Energy lobbyist Frank Maisano said Perry’s actions show instincts honed in his tenure as Texas’s longest-serving governor.

“He’s trying to find out what he needs to find out — hearing about these issues from the front lines,” Maisano said.

While Perry will never match the scientific expertise of his most recent predecessors at the Energy Department, nuclear physicists Steven Chu and Ernest Moniz, his political skills may offset that knowledge gap, Maisano said.

Renewable energy support

During his Oak Ridge visit, Perry pledged to be “a strong advocate” for Oak Ridge and other labs. He has spoken out in favor of renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, noting that while he was governor, Texas maintained its traditional role as a top driller for oil and natural gas while emerging as the leading producer of wind power in the United States and a top 10 provider of solar power.

Abigail Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said she had “a very positive conversation” with Perry at a meeting in April.

“He was very interested in our technology and how it can be utilized,” she said in an interview.

Perry also “knew exactly where Texas was in solar installation,” Hopper said — No. 9 in the nation, compared with its top ranking among wind-producing states.

Hopper, a former Interior Department official under President Barack Obama, said she and Perry did not discuss her federal service — but did talk about how national labs can boost the solar industry.

“It was good to make that connection between the research and how it translates into the marketplace,” she said. “He gets it.”

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Malta Votes in Election Tied to Panama Papers Scandal

Maltese voters went to the polls a year early Saturday in a snap election called by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat following an official investigation into allegations his wife owned a company related to the Panama Papers scandal.

Surveys showed Labour Party’s Muscat was likely to win a second, five-year term. But polls indicated one-fifth of voters were undecided, giving the National Force made up of the Nationalist Party and newly formed Democratic Party a slight chance.

The Panama Papers scandal, which detailed offshore companies and other financial data of the rich and powerful, exposed Malta’s energy minister and Muscat’s chief of staff as having acquired a company in Panama.

Muscat called new elections and ordered a magisterial inquiry midway through Malta’s first-ever stint at the presidency of the European Council after allegations surfaced in April that his wife also owned a company in Panama. The Muscats deny the allegations.

Setting up an offshore company is not illegal or evidence of illegal conduct, but shell companies can be used to avoid taxes or launder money.

After the publication of the Panama Papers last year, Muscat was criticized for retaining Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi and chief of staff Keith Schembri, whose names figured in the document dump. They acknowledged that they acquired the companies but deny wrongdoing.

Since then, two other magisterial inquiries have been opened after money laundering and kickback allegations were made against Schembri by opposition Nationalist leader Simon Busuttil. Schembri denies any wrongdoing.

None of the investigations had finished before Saturday’s vote.

During the campaign, Busuttil, Muscat’s prime challenger, charged that accusations of corruption had hurt Malta’s financial services industry and would continue to damage the island’s reputation.

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Many Businesses Critical of Trump Decision to Leave Climate Accord

Dozens of U.S. companies spoke out against President Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord. Analysts say the improving economic case for renewables has boosted support for green energy in the once-skeptical business community; but, as VOA’s Jim Randle reports, some coal companies supported the president’s action.

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This Year, No US Pressure to Avoid Russia’s Davos

For three years after Russia annexed Crimea, Washington officials quietly cautioned major U.S. firms about attending the annual St. Petersburg forum, where investors mingle with President Vladimir Putin and his lieutenants.

This year, the first forum since Donald Trump became U.S. president, such cautions were not issued, according to four people familiar with preparations for U.S. companies to attend.

Washington’s policy toward Russia is essentially unchanged under Trump, with the United States committed to maintaining sanctions on Moscow unless it complies with international demands about Ukraine.

Change in tone

But its approach this year to the St. Petersburg event — often described as Russia’s version of the Davos forum in Switzerland — reveals a change in tone, according to some people who follow U.S.-Russia trade relations.

Daniel Russell, the head of the U.S.-Russia business council, when asked if U.S. companies were feeling less pressure from the administration to stay away, said: “I think that’s right.

“Some of the companies, particularly in 2015, received calls from the U.S. government not to attend and I think that attitude has certainly changed,” he said.

The change in tone fits with promises Trump made during his election campaign to pursue friendlier ties with Russia.

Any sign of warming toward the Kremlin is highly sensitive for the White House, since Congress and the FBI are conducting inquiries into whether members of the Trump team had improper contacts with Russian officials before Trump’s inauguration.

Trump has denied doing anything wrong.

Asked about contacts with companies planning to attend the forum, a State Department spokesperson said: “We have an open dialogue with the business community, and ultimately companies are free to make their own decisions, in line with applicable laws and regulations.”

The forum in St Petersburg was in its second day Friday and there were signs of a more substantial U.S. presence than in previous years since the March 2014 annexation of Crimea.

US ambassador attends

U.S. ambassador to Russia John Tefft was at the forum, though he did not have a speaking slot. No U.S. ambassador attended in 2014, 2015 or 2016.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Moscow said his attendance was a routine part of his ambassadorial duties.

Major U.S. companies who sent senior executives, including oil major Exxon, Boeing, Chevron and JPMorgan, were represented at a similar level to last year, but several delegates at the forum said they estimated the U.S. presence to be numerically bigger than in previous years.

“We see a much larger number of people from the U.S., Canada,” said Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a state body that works with foreign investors.

“There is a better understanding (among foreign investors) that sanctions really did not work, the Russian economy continues to grow, Russia represents an attractive market and people should work with Russia,” he told Reuters.

Russian economy growing

Several U.S. delegates said that, politics aside, they were drawn to the forum by the fact the Russian economy had returned to growth after a slowdown.

The forum is a prestige project for Putin, a native of St. Petersburg. Foreign executives typically use their presence to signal to the Kremlin their enthusiasm for investing in Russia.

In 2014, when the Ukraine crisis first started, U.S. Cabinet officials including Secretary of State John Kerry made personal calls to chief executives of U.S. firms asking them not to attend, said a former U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The next year, senior U.S. officials below Cabinet level were charged with persuading American executives not to attend, and in 2016, U.S. officials brought up the issue in a low-level manner, the former official said.

The account of those conversations was confirmed by a second former official who served in the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama.

The guidance in later years was not necessarily to stay away, but that executives who did attend should keep their presence low-key, said several other people familiar with the discussions.

Ian Colebourne, who is CEO for Deloitte in the Commonwealth of Independent States and sits on the U.S.-Russia business council, said he was aware of officials giving guidance to executives in previous years, but added: “I haven’t heard anything this year.”

Two other sources familiar with the preparations for U.S. companies to attend also said there had been no guidance before this year’s forum, in contrast to previous years.

Green light?

The lack of contact from the U.S. government this year is being interpreted among business executives as meaning: “You can go,” said one of the two sources.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce did not receive any guidance from the administration about whether or not to participate in the event, a source with the Chamber said.

Still, some companies that did attend exercised caution, keeping a low profile.

The head of U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil, Darren Woods, did not join the table of panelists at the main oil session of the forum. It was chaired by the head of Kremlin oil major Rosneft, Igor Sechin, who is on the U.S. sanctions list.

Like his predecessor as Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, now Trump’s Secretary of State, Woods made only brief remarks from the floor in a discussion about the energy industry.

Among other U.S. companies at the forum, JPMorgan Chase & Co., sent Daniel Pinto, Chief Executive Officer of its corporate and investment business, while Boeing sent Bertrand-Marc Allen, president of its international arm.

U.S. oil major Chevron sent its vice president for business development, Jay Pryor. He was also at the forum last year. A company representative did not reply to questions about any guidance from the administration.

“Let’s say the seniority of some of the teams is more senior this year, certainly compared to some prior years and that’s a positive sign,” Deloitte’s Colebourne said of the U.S corporate presence.

Robert Dudley, chief executive of BP, a British company with substantial business in the United States, said his impression was that this year there were more representatives of U.S. companies at the forum than previously.

“That would suggest they are not feeling that kind of pressure,” to curb their presence, he said.

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What’s Truly Italian? Food Fight Foils ‘Made in Italy’ Plan

For the Italian government, it seemed like a recipe for success: create an official “Made in Italy” logo to defend the country’s finest food exports from an army of foreign impersonators.

On supermarket shelves worldwide, a star-shaped logo would mark out real Italian cheeses, hams, pasta and sparkling wines from those that only look or sound Italian, such as Parmesan made in New Zealand or Prosecco bottled in Brazil.

But Rome has discovered that even the simplest recipe can go wrong. Instead of unifying Italy’s food industry against a common enemy that is bagging billions of euros in sales, the government’s proposal for a Made in Italy certification quickly created bitter divisions.

A row has erupted over what it means to be truly Italian — should every single raw ingredient be made in Italy, for example — and now the project could be ditched altogether for lack of an industry consensus, according to two industry ministry sources who declined to be named as talks with food firms are ongoing.

“For now there is no final decision on whether to go ahead with the Made in Italy sign, we are studying it, we are doing technical checks,” said one of the sources, an industry ministry official who is working on the project.

“We will launch it only if it fully meets the requests of producers,” he said, adding that the food industry was split into several groups with conflicting views on the project.

The ministry announced the project at the end of last year, and began consultations with food producers in March, in response to industry complaints that foreign-made foods masquerading as Italian produce were costing the country billions of euros in lost export sales.

A logo guaranteeing Italian origin would enable exporters to grab some of the roughly 60 billion euros ($67 billion) in annual global sales generated by foreign imitations, according to Italy’s food producers’ lobby, Federalimentare.

Marketing experts agree. Brand Finance, a global consultancy that compiles an index of the world’s most valuable brands, estimates it could add up to 5 percent to the enterprise value of small- and medium-sized Italian food companies.

“Domestic companies would surely gain from such a logo given that Italy has a high reputation in the food sector and many of them are not well known outside the country,” said Massimo Pizzo, Italy managing director for Brand Finance.

However, Federalimentare’s members could not agree on a definition of Italian-made. Some took a hard line, insisting products be made entirely in Italy from ingredients sourced at home, while others argued for a less stringent approach.

‘If we open the door’

The consortium of producers of Parmigiano Reggiano, the king of Italian cheeses, insists on rigid standards for everyone.

“If we open the door to products with foreign ingredients, we are not talking of real Made in Italy … this is not the kind of help we are looking for,” said Riccardo Deserti, chairman of the consortium.

Under the consortium’s rules, recognized across the European Union, cheese can only be marketed as Parmigiano Reggiano, or by its English name Parmesan, if it is made according to a precise method within a restricted area around the town of Parma.

The consortium of Prosecco wine producers takes a similar stance, rejecting the idea of being put in the same authenticity category as products made with foreign raw materials.

On the other hand, some firms believe traditional Italian production methods should be enough to qualify for the logo.

Barilla, the world’s biggest pasta maker, wants to carry the Made in Italy logo though 16 of its 30 plants are abroad, including in the United States and Russia.

“We are Italian, we pay taxes in Italy and we run our foreign plants following the rules of the Italian quality,” Paolo Barilla, vice chairman of the family-owned business, told a food conference in March. A Barilla spokesman declined to make any further comment for this story.

One of Italy’s most identifiable food brands, the high-end food chain Eataly, draws a finer line on the issue.

It recently opened its first store in Moscow where an embargo on some European food imports forced it to make some cheeses from local ingredients. It sells mozzarella and burrata made in Russia, but not Parmigiano.

Olive and oak

Italian food producers can at least agree on one thing: Foreign rivals are competing unfairly by marketing distinctly Italian products, using words and symbols that suggest an Italian origin but listing the real provenance in fine print.

They point the finger at goods such as New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra’s Perfect Italiano range of Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses or Garibaldi Prosecco made in Brazil by the Garibaldi Winery Cooperative.

“I totally agree with the idea of a Made in Italy sign,” Eataly founder Oscar Farinetti told Reuters at the inauguration of the store, but did not say whether he sided with the Italian-made purists or the likes of Barilla.

Contacted by Reuters, a Fonterra spokesperson said the group markets the two cheeses using their Italian names and featuring the Italian flag because they were launched by Natale Italiano, an Italian who migrated to Australia in the 1920s.

“While the brand is proud of its heritage, its packaging is evolving away from featuring the Italian flag,” Fonterra said.

The group did not disclose the turnover of the Perfect Italiano products.

Garibaldi Winery did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

The Rome government had proposed a Made in Italy logo employing the symbols of the Italian republic: a star framed by olive and oak branches.

The project, however, was constrained by EU rules.

The government planned to include products if their last “significant transformation” happened in Italy, the ministry official said — meaning, for example, sausages produced in Italy using imported meat would qualify for the label while ham made in a foreign plant of an Italian producer would not.

This would bring the logo into line with the European Customs Code governing country-of-origin labeling, but the plan satisfied neither side in the food fight; the purists balked at the idea of foreign ingredients being allowed, while other firms argued the rules were too stringent.

Hence the impasse that threatens the project.

“Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t use a different standard from the one used in Europe,” said the source.

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UN Security Council Sanctions More North Korean Companies, Individuals

The U.N. Security Council increased international pressure on North Korea on Friday to give up its pursuit of a nuclear bomb, adding 14 individuals and four companies to its sanctions lists.

The council unanimously voted to impose travel bans and asset freezes following North Korea’s stepped-up ballistic missile launches this year. The tests, including three last month alone, violate existing council resolutions demanding that Pyongyang cease such activity.

The United States, which drafted the resolution in consultation with China, took a strong stance, with U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley declaring that “all options for responding to future provocations must remain on the table.”

“Beyond diplomatic and financial consequences, the United States remains prepared to counteract North Korean aggression through other means, if necessary,” Haley said.

Future launches ‘unacceptable’

“The United States is fully committed to defending ourselves and our allies against North Korean aggression,” she added.  

Haley said future ballistic missile launches or nuclear tests would be “absolutely unacceptable,” and she urged Pyongyang to choose “a more constructive path toward stability, security and peace.”

Several of the individuals added to the sanctions list were elderly, including one man, Ri Yong Mu, 92. He is listed as the vice chairman of a state commission that deals with military and security affairs, including acquisition and procurement. At least two other designees are in their 80s, and two are 79.

 

“The individuals and entities that will be subject to the travel ban and asset freeze by this resolution include the senior DPRK officials and its core military operators that are directly responsible for the regime’s illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” South Korea’s U.N. ambassador, Cho Tae-yul, told the council.

Sanctions have financial sting

“Some DPRK businessmen and commercial entities are also newly designated, which I believe will help further restrict the DPRK’s ability to finance its illicit activities,” he added. DPRK is the customary acronym in English for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

There is growing frustration in the international community with North Korea for its continued defiant behavior. Since January, Pyongyang has test-fired nine ballistic missiles, some landing close to South Korea, Japan and even Russia.

Even Beijing is reportedly increasingly weary of its rogue ally. China has condemned the launches and repeatedly called for a reduction in tensions on the Korean Peninsula and a return to talks.

“The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complex and sensitive,” China’s Ambassador Liu Jieyi said. “At the same time, there is a critical window of opportunity for the nuclear issue of the peninsula to come back to the right track of dialogue and negotiations.”

US targets Russians

On Thursday, the United States imposed unilateral sanctions on three Russian firms and one individual for their support of North Korea’s weapons program. Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, expressed his government’s anger at the move.

“This step is something that is very puzzling and deeply disappointing,” Safronkov said, demanding an explanation from the United States.  

“It’s been shown that this is a destructive approach when instead of diplomatic instruments, the sledgehammer of sanctions is being used as a universal way of resolving issues,” Safronkov said. “And this fully applies to the current decision made by Washington; it is not helpful in settling the situation in the Korean Peninsula.”

He noted Moscow’s disappointment that relations with Washington had not improved since the start of the Trump administration and that sanctions remained a constant of U.S. policy.

“Instead of trying to work through the bilateral backlog in our work, Washington is doing exactly the opposite, and undertaking unfriendly steps which make it more difficult to normalize our dialogue and make it more difficult to cooperate in international affairs,” he added.

The United States’ unilateral sanctions on Moscow for its invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in March 2014 remain in effect as well.

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Putin Ridicules Russia Hysteria in US

Russian President Vladimir Putin shook off and joked about allegations that Moscow was involved in hacking during last year’s presidential election in the United States or colluded with aides to President Donald Trump before he took office. 

Speaking at the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum Friday, Putin denied there was any deal made between Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak and anyone in Trump’s transition team about easing sanctions against Russia.

“This is some sort of hysteria, you just can’t get over!” joked Putin, half-indignantly.

Putin also repeated that there was no evidence of Russian state involvement in attempts to sway the election in Trump’s favor.

“IP addresses can be invented. You know how many specialists there are, they will arrange it in such a way that your children send something from your home computer [so it appears that] your three-year-old child carried out an attack,” he said.

A day earlier, Putin conceded that hacking could have been done from Russia by “patriotic” people fighting against those who say bad things about Russia. He maintained there was no state support.

U.S. intelligence services say Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee last year to harm the campaign of Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton, who political analysts say Putin despised.

At the forum Friday, Putin lashed out at those blaming Russia for Clinton’s election defeat.

“That reminds me of anti-Semitism,” he said.

“‘It’s all the Jews’ fault.’ If one is foolish and can’t do anything, it’s the Jews’ fault. But we know what such things result in, and they don’t lead to anything good,” Putin added.

Climate deal

On Trump’s announcement Thursday to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, Putin was one of the very few world leaders to defend Trump’s decision.

“I would hold off on judging President Trump right now because it was President Obama who made the decision [to join the Paris agreement], so maybe the new president believes it was not well-conceived, maybe he thinks there are not enough resources,” he said.

Putin also made it clear that the climate deal was not final as far as Moscow was concerned. 

“As far as I remember, the United States ratified the agreement, but we have not yet,” he said.

The head of the Center for Economic Research at the Institute of Globalization and Social Movements, Basil Koltashov, said Russia is backing away from the deal. 

“The Paris agreement is no longer seen by the Russian leadership as beneficial … Vladimir Putin expressed that. Only he did not say directly, but made it clear that Trump will actually make the project pointless and, therefore, Russia will not be able to participate in it.”

Russian economic recovery

On the economy, analysts said there was a better mood at the forum than previous years.

“There is some optimism, and they spoke not about recession but how to speed up economic growth,” said the Institute of USA and Canadian Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Vladimir Batuk.

Putin said Russia’s economic recovery had entered a new phase, with three consecutive quarters of growth and GDP expected to increase 1 to 1.5 percent this year. He underscored the need for increased investment and a shift to a more modern, digital economy.

But analysts say more efforts are needed by Russia to better attract foreign investment and reduce red tape.

“It is required for Russia, in particular, to analyze and drastically change legislation established for the last 10 years concerning foreign investments by getting rid of multiple restrictions,” said the National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations’ Mikhail Subbotin. “There is so much to be done!” he added.

Earlier in the forum, Putin spoke to U.S. businessmen.

“Help us restore a good political dialogue. I am asking you on behalf of Russia. I am addressing our American counterparts. Help the newly elected president and the new administration of the United States,” Putin said.

Analysts argue there is some evidence that closer business ties could help.

“U.S.-China relations are much more stable than Russia-U.S. relations. The reason for that — China and the U.S. have big trade and investment relations. There’s nothing like that in Russia,” Batuk said. But he also acknowledge Russia too often restricts trade for political purposes. “Yes, indeed in many cases. Not good for both the Russia economy and international relations,” he said.

Olga Pavlova contributed to this report.

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Ireland’s Ruling Party Names First Gay Prime Minister

Ireland is set to have its first gay prime minister: Leo Varadkar, the son of an Indian immigrant, who won the ruling Fine Gael party’s leadership election Friday.

Varadkar, 38, also would be the Republic of Ireland’s youngest prime minister ever. He won the leadership contest with 60 percent of the votes and replaces Enda Kenny, who has been Ireland’s Taoiseach, or prime minister, since 2011.

Kenny, 66, announced his retirement last month. Varadkar, as the new Fine Gael leader, automatically becomes prime minister-elect, but the party’s choice must be confirmed by the full parliament when it reconvenes June 13.

The Irish parliament must still confirm his nomination when it reconvenes after a break on June 13. Fine Gael leads a minority government with support from the Fianna Fail party.

In addition to his youth and his openly gay profile, Varadkar also would be the first Irish prime minister from an ethnic-minority background.

“If my election as leader of Fine Gael today has shown anything, it is that prejudice has no hold on this republic,” he said to loud applause after his victory was announced in Dublin.

“I know when my father traveled 5,000 miles to build a new home in Ireland, I doubt that he ever dreamed that one day his son would grow up to be its leader. And despite his differences, [that] his son would be judged by his actions, not his identity,” he said.

Varadkar faces many challenges as prime minister, including steering an economy still recovering from the 2008 global financial crisis. He will also have to navigate Brexit, which is set to impact neighboring Ireland more than most European countries due to its close trading links with Britain.

He said he and his center-right party are “ready for the challenges ahead.” He has pledged to increase infrastructure spending and further slash income taxes.

Varadkar is currently the minister for social protection and has earned a reputation as a candid politician. His party hopes that candor will help in the next elections, while opposition parties hope his blunt style will prove a liability to Fine Gael.

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EU, China Renew Commitment to Fight Climate Change

The European Union and China recommitted Friday to the 2015 Paris climate deal, one day after the United States announced it would withdraw from it.

In a joint statement, the EU and China said climate change and clean energy “will become a main pillar” of their bilateral partnership.

European Council President Donald Tusk said the fight against climate change would continue, with or without the United States:

“Today, China and Europe have demonstrated solidarity with future generations and responsibilities for the whole planet,” he said. “We are convinced that yesterday’s decision is a big mistake.”

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, in Brussels for an EU-China business summit, said it was important for China and EU relationships to become more stable.

“We believe that there have been changes in the international situation, and there will be rising uncertainty and destabilizing factors,” he said. “This requires our efforts to resolve existing issues.”

Other issues

Besides climate change, other issues discussed at the summit included trade, investment, the migration crisis, North Korea and the security partnership in Africa.

Li had expressed China’s continued support for the global climate deal on Thursday during his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying, “China will stand by its responsibilities on climate change.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said China agreed with the EU on the “unhappiness” about America’s unilateral decision to abandon the climate agreement.

The 2015 agreement, signed by 195 countries, calls for reducing the impact of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The EU and China committed to actions related to climate change, such as developing ways to change into zero-emissions economies, promoting zero-carbon transitions in developing countries and developing long-term decarbonization plans.

Wendel Trio, director of the Climate Action Network Europe, called the EU-China statement a milestone in the history of global climate diplomacy.

“This historic partnership to push forward with the Paris Agreement is a significant advance in the fight against climate change. Through deeper cooperation on climate action, the EU and China can propel the global clean energy transition,” Trio said.

China and the EU are two of the three biggest economies in the world with a large carbon footprint. If one of them were to follow the U.S. withdrawal, it’s unlikely that the Paris accord would lead to large-scale reduction of emissions.

Push from Greenpeace

Ansgar Kiene of the environmental activist group Greenpeace said it was clear from the global response to the American decision that leaders around the world were united in the fight against climate change. But Kiene urged leaders to translate their words into actions.

“The EU and China are switching to clean energy production too slowly to keep global temperature rises below levels that will cause catastrophic changes in our climate,” Kiene said. “The EU’s investment in renewable energy, once the highest in the world, has dropped off in recent years as its targets for renewables were too low compared to the real rate of growth.”

China still produces 62 percent of its energy with coal, according to Greenpeace. But despite its bad record in the past, China’s investments in recent years in solar and wind energy have been much larger than those of any other country. Investments in renewable energy in Europe, though, have dropped by half in the past six years.

In withdrawing the United States from the climate accord, which was signed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, U.S. President Donald Trump cited the predicted economic burden and job losses associated with complying with the accord as some of his reasons.

“The Paris climate accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries,” Trump said.

Renegotiation spurned

Trump said the U.S. could re-enter negotiations on the climate pact, but that idea was dismissed by the EU Commissioner for Climate Action Miguel Arias Cañete, who said Friday that “the 29 articles of the Paris Agreement are not to be renegotiated, they are to be implemented.”

China and the European Union wrote in their joint statement that they thought investing in tackling climate change would actually contribute to job creation, investment opportunities and economic growth.

Many world leaders have condemned the U.S. withdrawal. French President Emmanuel Macron even invited scientists to relocate to France, saying in a speech televised in English, “Make our planet great again.”

The United States joined Nicaragua and Syria as the only countries in the world that are not part of the Paris Agreement.

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В Івано-Франківську парадом візочків відзначили День захисту дітей

У центрі Івано-Франківська, на Вічевому майдані, 2 червня відбувся парад візочків, присвячений Дню захисту дітей, який відзначали напередодні.

Як повідомляє кореспондент Радіо Свобода, на розгляд журі представили 11 композицій. Батьки оформили візочки у вигляді великого воза, гуцульської ґражди, повітряної кулі, замку принцеси, цукерки, квіткового букету, моряка Папая. Відповідно підготували костюми і малюків, і їхніх братів-сестер, і навіть батьків.

Перше місце здобув візок «космічної родини» – «літаюча тарілка».

Для учасників свята проводилися конкурси.

Нинішній парад візочків в Івано-Франківську – вже одинадцятий.