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.

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.

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.


US Trade Deficit Rises to Highest Level Since January

The U.S. trade deficit rose in April to the highest level since January. The politically sensitive trade gap with China registered a sharp increase.


The Commerce Department said Friday that the U.S. trade gap in goods and services climbed 5.2 percent to $47.6 billion in April from March. Exports dropped 0.3 percent to $191 billion, pulled down by a drop in automotive exports. Imports rose 0.8 percent to $238.6 billion as Americans bought more foreign-made cellphones and other consumer goods.


So far this year, the trade deficit is up 13.4 percent from a year earlier to $186.6 billion. Exports are up 6.1 percent to $765.6 billion this year, but imports are up more _ 7.5 percent to $952.2 billion. So far in 2017, the United States is running a $268.7 billion deficit in goods and an $82.1 billion surplus in services such as banking and tourism.


The deficit in goods with China rose by 12.4 percent to $27.6 billion in April.


The Trump administration has vowed to reduce the trade deficit, blaming the gap between exports and imports on abusive practices by America’s trading partners.


President Donald Trump recently has singled out Germany for criticism, saying it is unfairly benefiting from a weak euro. When a country’s currency is weak, its products enjoy a price advantage in foreign markets. The trade deficit with Germany rose 4.3 percent in April to $5.5 billion.



Київське «Динамо» тренуватиме білорус Олександр Хацкевич

Новим головним тренером футбольного клубу «Динамо» (Київ) призначили Олександра Хацкевича. Як повідомляє офіційний сайт клубу, контракт із білоруським наставником розрахований на два роки. До тренерського штабу Хацкевича увійшли колишні гравці «Динамо» Максим Шацьких, Олег Лужний і тренер воротарів Михайло Михайлов.

Хацкевич народився 19 жовтня 1973 року в Мінську. Футбольну кар’єру він починав у мінському «Динамо», звідки в 1996 році перейшов до київського «Динамо». За українську команду грав до 2004 року, сім разів ставав чемпіоном України і чотири рази володарем Кубка України.

31 травня стало відомо, що Сергій Ребров йде із посади головного тренера футбольного клубу «Динамо» (Київ). Як повідомив офіційний сайт клубу, найближчий час він має намір побути з сім’єю, після чого він допускає роботу із закордонними клубами. Сергій Ребров очолював футбольний клуб «Динамо» від 2014 року.

Громадянство постраждалих через атаку в столиці Філіппін наразі невідоме – МЗС України

У Міністерстві закордонних справ України заявляють, що влада Філіппін поки не надає інформації про громадянство постраждалих в результаті нападу на казино в розважальному комплексі столиці Маніли минулої ночі. Про це йдеться в повідомленні консульської служби МЗС України на сторінці у Twitter.

Відомство підтверджує наявність «десятків поранених і загиблих» через напад, втім поки не знає, чи є серед них громадяни України.

За останніми даними, щонайменше 36 людей загинули у приміщенні розважального комплексу Resorts World Manila у столиці Філіппін Манілі вночі 2 червня після того, як чоловік увірвався у казино, підпалив ігровий стіл і влаштував стрілянину.

За даними правоохоронців, більшість загиблих задихнулися від загорання ігрових столів і подальшої пожежі. Також щонайменше 54 людини зазнали поранень. Нападник вчинив самогубство. Поліція припускає, що мотивом його нападу було пограбування, а не терористичний акт.

Steady, Solid Jobs Market Likely to Continue in May Numbers

Exactly eight years after the Great Recession ended, the U.S. job market has settled into a sweet spot of steadily solid growth.


The 4.4 percent unemployment rate matches a decade low. Many people who had stopped looking for jobs are coming off the sidelines to find them. More part-timers are finding full-time work. About all that’s still missing is a broad acceleration in pay. 


On Friday, when the government releases the jobs report for May, that pattern is likely to extend itself. The consensus expectation of economists is that the Labor Department will report that employers added 176,000 jobs, according to a survey by FactSet, a data provider. That’s right in line with the monthly average of 174,000 over the past three months.


All told, it’s evidence of an American economy that is running neither too hot nor too cold, with growth holding at a tepid but far from recessionary 2 percent annual rate. Few economists foresee another downturn looming, in part because the recovery from the recession has been steady but grinding, with little sign of the sort of overheated pressures that normally trigger a recession.


May jobs expectations high

Separate reports Thursday solidified expectations that job growth for May was healthy. Payroll processor ADP reported that in a private survey of companies, it found that a hefty 253,000 jobs were added in May, mostly among companies with fewer than 500 workers.


Nor are layoffs much of a concern. Weekly applications for unemployment benefits, which tend to reflect the pace of layoffs, averaged a low 238,000 over the past four weeks, according to the Labor Department.


The government’s monthly jobs report produces a net gain by estimating how many jobs were created and comparing that figure with how many it estimates were lost.


The unemployment rate is expected to have remained in May at 4.4 percent, a low figure that historically has reflected a healthy job market. If hiring maintains its current pace, it would exceed population growth, and the unemployment rate should eventually fall even further.


Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, estimates that monthly job growth above 80,000 or so should cause the unemployment rate to fall.


“I think 4 percent unemployment is dead-ahead, and we’ll probably go past that,” he said. 


Other measures of unemployment

Still, the jobs report produces several different measures of unemployment, and the broadest gauge might be most critical to watch Friday. This particular measure includes not only the officially unemployed but also part-time workers who would prefer full-time jobs and people who want a job but aren’t actively looking for one and so aren’t counted as unemployed.


Known as the “U-6” rate, this measure is one of the favorite metrics for Trump administration officials. The U-6 has plunged since January to 8.6 percent in April, a 0.8 point decline.


The decline in that measure is an encouraging sign that jobless people who had given up hope of working are now being hired. If that trend continued in May, a falling U-6 would point to a strengthening economy despite weak growth during the first three months of the year.


But the influx of job seekers can also inflict a drag on pay growth. As more people start seeking jobs, employers begin to have less incentive to raise pay. It’s only when employers face a shallow pool of job applicants that they tend to feel compelled to raise pay in hopes of hiring people who fit their needs.


Annual growth in average hourly earnings was a so-so 2.6 percent in April. And whatever meaningful pay raises that exist are going disproportionately to managers and supervisors. For workers who aren’t supervisors, average hourly pay has risen just 2.3 percent. In a healthy economy, average pay gains would typically grow roughly 3.5 percent a year.


The Trump administration has designated the pace of hiring for good-paying skilled jobs in construction, manufacturing and mining as among the key categories it monitors for economic health. Those three sectors were relatively weak in April.

Prisoners in Chicago Make Gourmet Pizza

A jail in Chicago is serving some of the best Italian pizza in town. Inmates are making gourmet pizzas for their fellow prisoners. It’s part of a training program called Recipe for Change in which the inmates can acquire skills to get jobs after they are released. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.

World Leaders Criticize US Withdrawal from Paris Agreement

The Trump administration’s announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Change agreement is prompting swift reaction around the globe. Jesusemen Oni has more.

Russian Prosecutor Urges Guilty Verdict in Nemtsov Killing

The prosecutor at the trial of five men charged with killing Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov in Moscow in 2015 has urged jurors to find them guilty.

Wrapping up the state’s case Thursday, Maria Semenenko said their guilt was undisputed.

She also told the official Itar-Tass news agency that investigators had used special equipment during a re-enactment of the crime that placed the defendants’ mobile phones at the site of Nemtsov’s death when the shots were fired.

“Step by step, using the process of elimination, the investigators uncovered the entire chain of the crime, thanks to that expertise,” she told Itar-Tass.

The defense argued that no one could prove a motive for the killing.

Nemtsov was gunned down just steps from the Kremlin in February 2015. He was a popular opposition leader and a strong critic of Russian support for the rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Five suspects from Chechnya or Ingushetia were arrested. One of them confessed but later recanted, claiming he had been tortured.

A former Chechen security official, Ruslan Mukhudinov, is accused of paying the suspects to kill Nemtsov. He is at large.