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Понад 30 людей визволили із підпільного «реабілітаційного центру для наркозалежних» на Волині – прокуратура

В одному із житлових будинків населеного пункту поблизу Луцька під час обшуку виявлено понад 30 осіб, які незаконно утримувались під приводом надання реабілітації від наркотичної залежності та алкоголізму, повідомляє прокуратура Волинської області на своєму сайті.

За даними прокуратури, спецоперація відбувалась у п’ятницю, 3 листопада, серед утримуваних осіб були жителі Волинської, Івано-Франківської, Харківської, Львівської та інших областей.

«Громадяни були позбавлені засобів зв’язку, особистих документів та верхнього одягу. Як з’ясовано, організація так званого реабілітаційного центру здійснювалась на платній щомісячній основі (6 тисяч гривень). Про функціонування цього центру на території Луцького району органам державної влади, місцевого самоврядування відомо не було», – мовиться у повідомленні.

Триває досудове розслідування. За даними прокуратури, затримано двох осіб, підозрюваних у причетності до протиправного функціонування центру, вирішується питання про оголошення їм про підозру у катуванні та незаконному позбавлення волі кількох осіб на тривалий час з корисливих мотивів (кримінальні правопорушення, передбачені ч. 2 ст. 127 та ч. 2 ст. 146 Кримінального кодексу України) та обрання щодо них запобіжного заходу у вигляді тримання під вартою.

У вересні цього року заявили про викриття у Запоріжжі незареєстрованого «реабілітаційного центру» для алко- та наркозалежних при релігійній організації, де насправді силоміць утримували і катували людей. Як повідомив тоді генеральний прокурор України Юрій Луценко, у результаті спецоперації правоохоронці звільнили близько сотні бранців.

Раніше, у квітні, «Центр інформації про права людини» повідомляв також про такий центр на Чернігівщині, де утримували і катували близько двох сотень людей.

Як коментував Радіо Свобода Юрій Бєлоусов із «Експертного центру з прав людини», такі установи є фактично «приватними в’язницями», бо сьогодні в Україні передбачено виключно добровільне лікування залежностей, якщо інакше не вирішив суд.

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Афганістан заблокував WhatsApp і Telegram на 20 днів

Афганістан тимчасово заблокував найпопулярніші месенджери WhatsApp і Telegram з посиланням на «технічні проблеми» та необхідність більшого нагляду.

 Обидва мобільних додатка, які використовують зашифрований канал передачі повідомлень, популярні серед користувачів смартфонів в Афганістані, включаючи бойовиків талібів.

Саєд Наджиб Нангял, представник Міністерства зв’язку та інформаційних технологій Афганістану, 4 листопада підтвердив тамтешній службі Радіо Свобода, що ордер був виданий, але не роз’яснив причин ухвалення такого рішення.

 «Через деякі технічні проблеми і для кращого нагляду ми вирішили зупинити роботу цих двох додатків. Це тимчасове рішення, яке діятиме з сьогоднішнього дня і буде протягом 20 днів», – сказав Нангял, зауваживши, що це не вплине на інші додатки, такі як Facebook, Twitter та YouTube.

Цей крок викликав хвилю критики в соціальних мережах, де користувачі розцінили заборону користуватись месенджерами як атаку на свободу слова.

Уповноважений міністра телекомунікацій Афганістану Шахзад Аріобі відкидає такі звинувачення. Він написав у Facebook, що регулятор відповідав на скарги громадян про функціональність додатків.

«Уряд прагне до свободи вираження поглядів», – заявив Аріобі.

Раніше місцеві ЗМІ з посиланням на невідомі джерела повідомляли, що заборону ініціювали афганські службовці безпеки, щоб припинити обмін зашифрованими повідомленнями серед представників екстремістських груп.

Регулювати роботу сервісів для відправки повідомлень взялися також, зокрема, у Росії. 21 липня цього року Держдума ухвалила закони про регулювання роботи месенджерів і про заборону засобів обходу блокування сайтів.

Закон про месенджери зобов’язує адміністрацію сервісів встановлювати особу користувачів (за номером телефону), а також обмежувати передачу повідомлень за процедурою, яку визначить уряд. У Держдумі заявляли, що користувачів відключатимуть від месенджерів за рішенням суду.

Закон про заборону засобів обходу блокувань передбачає блокування так званих «анонімайзерів» і VPN-сервісів, які не обмежують доступ до сторінок з реєстру заборонених сайтів «Роскомнагляду». Виявляти такі анонімайзери будуть ФСБ і поліція Росії.

 

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Saudi Crown Prince Tackles Extremism on the Road to Social, Economic Reform

The recent flurry of social and economic reform coming out of Saudi Arabia has left some Saudis ecstatic, others more circumspect, and a few conservatives bewildered or even angry.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman told a crowd of investors at a conference in late October that he was merely attempting to “return Saudi Arabia to the moderate Islam that once prevailed” before the Iranian Revolution in 1979. He stressed that 70 percent of Saudis are younger than 30 and vowed “not to spend another 30 years of our lives living under extremist ideas.”

The young crown prince also proposed an ambitious plan for a new economic zone on the Red Sea near Jordan and Egypt. In April, he put forward an economic road map for the kingdom, called Vision 2030. Part of the plan calls for privatizing 5 percent of the country’s flagship petroleum company Aramco, in addition to attracting foreign investment capital.

​Too much change too fast

Clarence Rodriguez, who spent 12 years as a French foreign correspondent in Riyadh and recently wrote a book called Saudi Arabia 3.0 on the aspirations of Saudi women and young people, tells VOA that she believes Saudi Arabia “is in crisis, due to the drop in the price of petroleum,” and that it has found itself under pressure to “diversify its economy, which necessitates societal reform involving women and young people, as well.”

Rodriguez points out that the late King Abdallah, who died in 2015, started the reform movement by allowing Saudi women to run for the country’s consultative “Shoura” council and to enter the work force, becoming lawyers, bankers and salespeople.

She worries, however, that some recent moves to change the status of women have angered parts of the kingdom’s mostly conservative population. Traditionalists, she says, are “not used to such quick change” and many “are afraid, because things are moving too fast for them.”

On a recent talk show on an Arabic-language news channel, a conservative Saudi caller told the show’s host that he thinks Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman are “violating (Islamic) sharia law” with some of their recent reforms “and should go to jail.”

Saudi commentator Jamal Kashoggi tells VOA that he’s “not optimistic about the reforms,” but that he would “still like to be optimistic … since everyone will suffer if they fail.” Kashoggi worries that the reforms are “not engaging Saudi society, enough.” 

“We wish Mohammed Bin Salman well, and we need economic (and social) reform,” he said, “but, we also need to discuss (these issues). The change,” he said, “is being done in very narrow circles. (Ordinary) people are not feeling engaged.” 

Was Saudi society more moderate?

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, is not convinced that Saudi society was more moderate before the Iranian Revolution in 1979. He thinks that parts of Saudi society have always had a conservative streak to them, pointing out that Wahabi conservatives killed many moderate Muslims, including the Shafa’i mufti of Mecca when they overran the city and the nearby resort city of Ta’ef in 1924.

A handful of prominent Saudi conservative clerics have been arrested since Mohammed Bin Salman replaced his cousin, Mohammed Bin Nayef, as crown prince, in June. 

“By weakening the clerical establishment and making clerics simple government workers,” Khashan said, “(Mohammed Bin Salman) will be able to give women more rights, as he is proposing.” Saudi women were allowed to drive, starting in September, and this week were given permission to attend sports matches with their families.

Khashan believes that economic considerations are a key factor in the decision to allow Saudi women to drive. 

“If 10 million women are given the right to drive in Saudi Arabia,” he said, “and if just a fraction of those women buy cars, take driving lessons or buy insurance, that would contribute to stimulating Saudi Arabia’s stagnant economy.” Allowing women to drive will also curtail the expensive practice of hiring foreign chauffeurs to drive women around.

Both Kashoggi and Khashan believe that the Saudi government will eventually prevail in its efforts to reform society. 

“Conservatives,” Kashoggi said, “have already lashed out. They’ve been lashing out since 2003. Al-Qaida, or ISIS, or the radical Wahabis … these are the extremists in Saudi Arabia … and they don’t want change. They have resisted, and will continue to resist. … The only thing stopping them is (government) security.”

Clashes with clerics

Khashan points out that in clashes with conservative clerics back in the 1960s, after King Faisal opened a school for girls in Riyadh, and when the king opened the first TV station in Riyadh in 1965, the government prevailed. 

“Whenever the state clashes with the (conservative) clerical establishment, the state emerges victorious,” he said, “and there’s no reason to believe that things will not be the same, this time.”

Jordanian analyst Shehab Makahleh is less certain about who will come out on top, however. 

“There is a kind of opposition among royal family members who are not happy (about the reforms),” he said, “and they have had a number of meetings to clarify where the country is heading in the coming five to 10 years.”

Makahleh believes that King Salman may soon abdicate in favor of Mohammed Bin Salman “in order to gain more support from the international community” for his ambitious reform program and to promote a more secular model of society.

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US Unemployment Lowest in 17 Years After Employers Add 261,000 Jobs

A solid rebound for the job market in October as the U.S. economy added 261,000 jobs. Job gains were strong across the board, and the unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent, its lowest level in 17 years. But, as Mil Arcega reports, American workers are not seeing any real growth in their wages.

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Arrest Warrant Issued for Former Catalan Leader

A Spanish judge on Friday issued an international arrest warrant for Catalonia’s ousted president, a day after she jailed members of the region’s separatist government pending possible charges over last week’s declaration of independence.

The national court judge issued the warrant for Carles Puigdemont in response to a request from state prosecutors.

Puigdemont flew to Brussels earlier this week with a handful of his deposed ministers after Spanish authorities removed him and his cabinet from office for pushing ahead with the declaration, despite repeated warnings that it was illegal.

Puigdemont’s Belgian attorney said he would fight extradition without seeking political asylum.

The ousted president told Belgian state broadcaster RTBF he would turn himself in to Belgian authorities, “but not to Spanish justice.”

He said he would run for re-election and, if need be, run his campaign from Belgium, where he remained in hiding.

Puigdemont told RBTF Friday that he was “ready to be the candidate” in the election, scheduled for late December.

“We can run a campaign anywhere because we’re in a globalized world,” he said.

The beleaguered president was due to appear at Spain’s National Court on Thursday to answer questions in a rebellion case brought by Spanish prosecutors, but he did not show up.

The judge jailed nine former members of Catalonia’s separatist government on Wednesday, while they were being investigated on possible charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement connected to their push for achieving the region’s independence from Spain.

She later granted one of them bail at $58,300.

In an earlier address from Brussels broadcast by Catalan regional television TV3, Puigdemont called for the release of “the legitimate government of Catalonia” as hundreds of people gathered outside the Catalan parliament also calling for them to be freed.

“As the legitimate president of Catalonia, I demand the release of the members of my cabinet,” he said. “I demand respect for all political options, and I demand the end of the political repression.”

Puigdemont said the imprisonment of former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras and eight members of his cabinet was an attack on democracy and not compatible with a “Europe in the 21st century.”

Meanwhile, data released Friday showed that unemployment rose sharply in Catalonia in October, more than anywhere else in Spain, as companies fled in the midst of the country’s worst political crisis in decades.

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Implications of Venezuela’s Proposed Foreign Debt Restructuring

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced that the country and state oil company PDVSA will restructure its burgeoning foreign debt, even as he vowed to make a payment of more than $1 billion that came due on Thursday.

The announcement did not put Venezuela or PDVSA into default, but suggests that Maduro’s cash-strapped government may be preparing to do so as heavy debt payments aggravate the country’s crippling economic crisis.

Why is Venezuela so heavily indebted?

Even though the OPEC nation was flush with cash during a decade-long oil boom, Venezuela’s ruling Socialist Party borrowed heavily during the era of late president Hugo Chavez to finance generous social programs that made him popular. The country also dismantled mechanisms meant to ensure Venezuela saved money when oil prices were high, leaving it without sufficient hard currency reserves to import basic goods such as food and medicine after prices crashed in 2014. Hunger and preventable diseases are as a result taking a growing toll on the population of 30 million.

Why can’t Venezuela refinance its debt?

The most common refinancing mechanisms are effectively blocked by U.S. sanctions levied this year, in response to accusations that Maduro was undermining democracy, which prevent U.S. banks from acquiring newly issued Venezuelan debt.

Venezuela and PDVSA cannot carry out “swap” transactions in which they exchange maturing bonds for ones that come due further down the road because financial institutions with U.S. headquarters would not be able to acquire the new debt. Investors also say bondholders would have no interest in renegotiating payment timelines without a cohesive plan to reform the country’s dysfunctional socialist economic model. Maduro has repeatedly balked at carrying out such reforms.

Who are the major holders of Venezuela and PDVSA bonds?

These securities are popular among funds that invest in emerging market bonds. Their high yields – which are close to 10 times higher than those of neighboring Colombia – help increase the overall profitability of the portfolios.

Institutional investors with big holdings include T. Rowe Price Associates Inc., Ashmore Investment Management Ltd., and BlackRock Investment Management Ltd. Goldman Sachs Group Inc came under heavy fire this year for purchasing $2.8 billion in PDVSA bonds at a steep discount, which opposition critics dubbed “hunger bonds.”

What would be the consequences for Venezuela of default?

Creditors could seek to seize assets Venezuela owns in other countries, including refineries such as those operated by PDVSA’s U.S. refining and marketing subsidiary Citgo. A default could also make it more complicated for Venezuela to import products from foreign companies.  Providers of goods such as food and medicine may reduce sales to Venezuela on concern that they will not get paid, or that they could find themselves ensnared in creditor lawsuits.

What is the role of Russia and China in financing

Venezuela?

Venezuela has borrowed heavily from both nations via oil-for-loan agreements in which it pays back in deliveries of crude and fuel. Investors believe support from Moscow and Beijing has been instrumental in allowing Venezuela to keep up with bond payments so far. Russia recently said it was willing to restructure a $3 billion loan.  But both China and Russia have shown impatience with Venezuela’s continued refusal to reform its Byzantine socialist economic regulations that are widely cited as the principal obstacle to growth.

Could multi-lateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank get involved in the country’s debt restructuring?

Maybe, but substantial obstacles loom. There has been no formal contact between Venezuela and the IMF and World Bank although it does have a representative on each of their boards. Before the fund could get involved again, Maduro’s government would have to agree to an economic and financial assessment – something it has for years refused to do on the grounds that it violates sovereignty. Its current willingness to submit to such a review is unclear.

How would a default affect daily life in Venezuela?

Default would likely further pummel the country’s already bruised bolivar currency, which has depreciated 99 percent on the black market since Maduro took office. Reluctance to do business with Venezuela could make it harder to import goods.

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Some 700 Migrants Rescued in Mediterranean, 23 Found Dead

Rescuers pulled 700 boat migrants to safety in the Mediterranean and found 23 bodies during one operation on Friday, an Italian coastguard spokesman said, the second loss of multiple lives recorded in the area so far this week.

After around three years of mass arrivals, the number of migrants reaching Italy has fallen sharply since July, when Rome struck a deal with Libya to block what had become a busy route for people smugglers.

A Spanish ship deployed in the European Union’s Operation Sophia naval mission recovered the dead, along with 64 survivors, from a sinking rubber boat, the mission said on its Facebook page.

“A tough day in the Central Mediterranean Sea,” the Facebook post said, adding the rescues had started in the early morning.

Six rescue operations were carried out in total on Friday, the spokesman said, making it one of the busiest days for rescues in recent months. Seven people were found dead and 900 saved on Wednesday.

The Italian Coast Guard ship Diciotti was heading for the southern port of Reggio Calabria with 764 rescued migrants on board, the ANSA news agency said in a report confirmed by the coast guard spokesman.

Diciotti was also carrying eight dead bodies, ANSA said. It was not clear if they had been among those recovered by the Spanish ship.

Those rescued were originally from Sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan, Libya, Bangladesh, Algeria, Egypt, Nepal, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, ANSA said.

In the Aegean Sea on Friday, three people drowned, six were known to be missing and scores of others were rescued while trying to reach Greece.

 

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California Asks US for $7.4 Billion for Wildfire Rebuilding

California Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers asked the U.S. government Friday for $7.4 billion to help rebuild after a cluster of fires tore through the heart of wine country, killing more than 40 people and leaving thousands without housing.

 

In a letter to the White House, Brown joined California’s U.S. senators and 39 members of its congressional delegation to urge President Donald Trump and Congress to quickly adopt a disaster-related appropriations measure to support the state’s recovery.

 

Brown said the funding would go toward cleanup and programs to support housing, transportation, agriculture, environmental protection and other services for those affected by the fires.

A series of blazes that started in Northern California the night of Oct. 8 killed at least 43 people and destroyed about 8,900 homes and other buildings. At the peak, thousands of firefighters battled 21 blazes that burned simultaneously.

Officials have not yet assessed all the damage and effects of the fires, but the governor’s office and the affected counties determined that $7.4 billion in federal funding is needed to help California recover, the letter says.

 

The wildfires significantly damaged farmland, rangeland and watersheds, and more than a third of the funding requested, $3.1 billion, would go toward helping agricultural industries bounce back, including affected wineries, California officials said.

 

“The full economic impact to the agricultural, tourism, hospitality, and wine industries is still not known,” the letter says. “Nine California wineries were destroyed and 21 were damaged in the nation’s most prominent winemaking region.”

Congress last month approved $576.5 million in aid for wildfires earlier this summer in California and the U.S. West. It also has approved billions in relief funding to help states affected by hurricanes and other weather-related disasters this year.

 

Trump pledged aid for California fire victims on Oct. 10, saying he had told Brown that “the federal government will stand with the people of California.”

 

Brown said he has asked the California Department of Finance to expedite doling out $41.5 million to support the immediate needs of victims not eligible for federal aid.

During the wildfires last month, Brown declared a state of emergency for the Northern California counties of Solano, Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Butte, Lake, Mendocino and Nevada as well as Orange County in the south.

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Albanians View Antique Communist-era Spyware in ‘House of Leaves’

In the days of communist Albania’s near-total isolation, Saimir Maloku used his technical know-how to gain illicit glimpses of the outside world. Unluckily for him, as he and his father watched forbidden Italian television, the regime was watching him.

Maloku was jailed for nine years in 1976 after the secret police bugged his home. Four decades on, he can visit a unique Tirana museum and see for himself the kind of listening devices that betrayed him.

At the Museum of Surveillance, created in the former headquarters of the feared Sigurimi security service, Albanians can now inspect some of the spying paraphernalia used by dictator Enver Hoxha’s totalitarian state as well as the files kept on many of them.

“Until now nothing had been done to show how Albanians were spied upon and kept in check, so this is a good step to illustrate the history of spying we were the victims of,” Maloku, now 71, told Reuters.

Visiting the museum, Maloku told the story of how he had wanted to help his paralyzed father by broadening his television viewing beyond the drab daily four hours of Albanian state broadcasts.

‘Opened a window’

An electronic engineer, he built a device he called “the can” to convert UHF signals from Italy’s RAI television so they could be viewed on an Albanian set.

“The can opened a window into the West for the Albanians. I made them free of charge for my friends, but later learned some of them had denounced me,” Maloku said.

The Sigurimi planted a listening device in a wall to gather evidence against him.

The same model of device — once attached to a broomstick to spy on the Italian Embassy in Tirana — is on display in another museum depicting the work of the communist-era Interior Ministry.

In the age of the smartphone, both Maloku’s and the Sigurimi’s electronic gizmos now look quaintly crude. But they did their jobs, and Maloku went to prison for devising his, convicted of hostile “agitation and propaganda.” He remembers singing Rolling Stones and Beatles songs in his underground cell to preserve his sanity.

Before the collapse of Albanian communism in 1990, the building that now houses the Museum of Surveillance was known as the “House of Leaves” — a pun referring to both its ivy-clad walls and the “leaves” of secret police files kept on citizens.

During World War II it was used by the Gestapo of the occupying Nazi forces.

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У Дніпрі презентували перевиданий унікальний словник Яворницького

У Дніпрі презентували перевиданий перший том «Словника української мови», укладеного й виданого відомим краянином, академіком Дмитром Яворницьким 1920 року. Презентацію репринтного видання у Дніпропетровському національному історичному музеї приурочили до дня народження вченого.

Перевиданням раритетної книжки займалися наукові співробітники музею. Працю відновлювали одразу за двома примірниками, що збереглись із 1920 року, адже деякі сторінки були пошкоджені. За словами музейників, книжка об’єднує рідкісні слова, зібрані на теренах, прилеглих до Дніпрових порогів.

Перший том словника містить понад 8 тисяч слів від А до К, видати наступні вчений не зміг. Решта праці вважається загубленою під час евакуації 1941 року, але в музейних працівників є надія її відшукати. За попередніми даними, у загублених матеріалах – понад 50 тисяч слів.

«У моєму словнику є лише те, чого ви не знайдете в інших лексичних довідниках», – писав Дмитро Яворницький про свою працю.

Зробити репринт першого тому словника запропонував дніпровський краєзнавець і журналіст Микола Чабан, який досліджує постаті українських діячів у Дніпрі. Книжка вийшла накладом у тисячу примірників.

Дмитро Яворницький (1855–1940) – академік, відомий збирач старовини й дослідник козаччини, «літописець» Запорозької Січі, фундатор і перший директор Дніпропетровського національного історичного музею, активний діяч українського національного руху.

Історичний музей у Дніпрі своєю цінною колекцією експонатів доби козацтва завдячує зусиллям саме Дмитра Яворницького.

Як розповідають музейники, на початку ХХ століття Яворницький здійснив серйозну пошукову роботу і перевіз із церковних і приватних бібліотек краю до музею близько 750 старовинних книжок. Як лексикограф Яворницький за життя зібрав 55 тисяч українських слів, що не були зафіксовані до нього.