U.S. homeland security chief seeks pay for Coast Guard amid shutdown

WASHINGTON ( ) – U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Tuesday she was working with the White House and Congress to pass legislation to fund the Coast Guard so that its workers could get paid even amid the partial government shutdown.

“Like the other branches of the U.S. military, active duty @USCG should be paid for their service and sacrifice to this nation,” Nielsen wrote on Twitter.

According to the Military Times, about 43,000 Coast Guard employees are working without ,上海贵族宝贝论坛Fabi,pay, and another 10,000 are furloughed, as the shutdown grinds into its fourth week. The guard said on Monday it would not be able to make its Tuesday payday and last week announced it was increasing the amount of interest-free loans available to some members.

A standoff over fun上海419论坛ding for President Donald Trump’s long-promised border wall, which he says will curb the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States from its southern neighbors, has led to the longest shutdown in U.S. history. On Tuesday the shutdown dragged into its 25th day with neither Trump nor Democratic congressional leaders, who have called the wall immoral and ineffective, showing signs of bending on funds.

As part of the Department of Homeland Securi,上海楼风419论坛Nala,ty, the Coast Gu,爱上海同城最新Cade,ard is charged with blocking illegal immigration and the smuggling of illicit goods into the United States by sea.

Since Oct. 1, it has stopped approximately 383 migrants attempting to enter Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands illegally, according to its website.

China’s population set to peak at 1.44 billion in 2029: government…

SHANGHAI ( ) – China’s population is set to reach a peak of 1.442 billion in 2029 and start a long period of “unstoppable” decline in 2030, government scholars said in a research report published on Friday.

The world’s most populous country must now draw up policies to try to cope with a declining labor force and a rapidly ag,爱上海同城交流论坛Fabi,eing population, according to the summary of the latest edition of the “Green Book of Population and Labor” published by the China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

Growth in the working population had now stagnated, the report said, and the rising number of elderly people will have a far-reaching impact on the social and economic development in the country, especially if fertility rates remain low.

“From a theoretical point of view, the long-term population decline, especially when it is accompanied by a continuously ageing population, is bound to cause very unfavorable social and economic consequences,” it said.

China’s population,上海419龙凤交友Kade, is expected to fall back to 1.36 billion by the middle of the century, it said, which could mean a decline in the workforce of as much as 200 million. If fertility rates remain unchanged, the population could fall to 1.17 billion by 2065, it said.

China decided in 2016 to relax a controversial “one-child policy” aimed at curbing population growth and allow all couples to have two children. However, the country’s birth rate still fell 3.5 percent in 2017 and is expected to have fallen again last year.

China’s “dependency rate” – or the proportion of non-working people, including children and the elderly, in the total population – rose for the first time in more t上海419论坛han 30 years in 2011, and is widely predicted to increase further for at least the next few decades.

The proportion of retirees is projected to rise until 2060, the CASS report said, and while the decision to relax “one-child” rules was designed to rebalance China’s age structure, in the short term it will also lead to a greater dependency rate.

According to previous forecast,免费上海楼凤论坛Ida,s, China’s elderly population is expected to reach 400 million by the end of 2035, up from around 240 million last year.

Tired tugboat captains flag accident risk at Panama Canal

PANAMA CITY ( ) – In April last year, the 148-tonne tugboat Cerro Santiago collided with the U.S. Coast Guard vessel Tampa while passing through the Panama Canal after the captain of the tug fell asleep.

No one was injured, but the repairs to the Tampa cost $170,000, said a report by the U.S. Nati,爱上海同城aishRadcliff,onal Transpor,上海419论坛Dallas,tation Safety Board, a government agency.

The risk of such incidents is growing as fatigue plagues tug operators from long shifts, according to a report published this month commissioned by Panama’s captains union.

The Panama Canal Authority disputes the findings.

Since the Panama Canal opened a new set of locks in 2016, some captains have been covering long shifts.

The report said the system is negatively affecting crews’ health on the canal, which handles 5 percent of world trade.

The study, which included interviews with 55 captains, a third of the total working at the facility, is the union’s most recent push for a different shift system, crew members said.

“We’re worried about the deterioration of the captains’ health and fear another accident might happen,” captain Ivan De La Guardia told .

The union said it had sent 15 letters to the canal authority urging action, without receiving an answer.

De La Guardia, one of the union’s leaders, said that since July 1 there have been seven tugboat accidents. None were serious, but all involved captains falling asleep, he said.

When the new locks first opened, two tugboat captains were assigned to each maneuver in the canal. But the canal authority decided in mid-2018 that one captain would be enough after a period of “adaptation,上海419论坛宝山Rae,” ended.

That has implied longer shifts and more pressure at work, captain Roberto Feurtado said.

Jorge Quijano, administrator of the Canal authority, told that operational rules for tugboats demand only one captain, two crew and one machinist.

“The w上海419论坛ork that is being done is not generating any fatigue,” Quijano said, calling the operations safe and the work environment “appropriate.”

The authority says the accident rate is below 1 percent at the canal, which has over 13,000 transits every year.

The new set of locks requires tugboats to accompany vessels passing through the waterway during the entire transit. Maneuvers can take up to 10 hours.

Nearly one in three captains interviewed for the report said they have worked up to 20 hours in a single shift, and six of them reported falling asleep at work.

Obama to nominate Supreme Court justice when Senate returns: White…

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. ( ) – President Barack Obama will not rush through a Supreme Court choice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia this week but will wait to nominate a candidate until the U.S. Senate is back in session, the White House said on Sunday.

“,上海419论坛体验Eason,Given that the Senate is currently in recess, we don’t expect the president to rush this through this week, but instead will do so in due time once the Senate returns from their recess,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

“At that point, we expect the Senate to conside,上海后花园1314龙凤论坛上不去Eden,r that nominee, consistent with their responsibilities laid out in the United States Constitution,” he said.

Obama is traveling in California and returns to,爱上海北京验证论坛Gabi, Washington on Tuesday. The Senate returns from recess on Feb. 22.

Making a recess appointment would have been extremely controversial.

The White House declined to give a more specific timeline for Obama to announce his nominee.

For his previous two Supreme Court picks, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the president took about 30 days each to announce his selection after their predecessors, Justice John Paul Stevens and Justice David Souter, respectively, said they planned to step down.

In remarks honoring Scalia on Saturday, Obama made clear he would not succumb to pressure from Republicans to leave the selec爱上海tion of a new justice to his successor.

The president, who leaves office in January 2017, said he would make his choice in due time.

“These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone. They’re bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy,” he said. “They’re about the institution to which Justice Scalia dedicated his professional life, and making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our founders envisioned.”

Scalia’s death and the upcoming fight over his replacement gives the White House an unexpected shot at shifting the balance of power on the Supreme Court in what would be a legacy-defining act during his last year in office. It also keeps the president from slipping quickly into “lame duck” status during an election year.

White House officials are unlikely to drag out the process of announcing Obama’s choice.

“They should move with dispatch,” said David Axelrod, Obama’s former senior adviser.

To rebut Republican arguments, the White House points to a host of previous Supreme Court nominees who have received speedy hearings and votes regardless of which party had control in Congress.

Syrian rebels say U.S. troops remain in key garrison near Iraq

AMMAN ( ) – U.S. troops have not left the strategic Tanf garrison on the Iraq-Jordan border following President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria, the leader of a Pentagon-backed rebel group there said on Saturday.

Colonel Muhanad al Talaa, leader of Maghawir al-Thawra whose several hundred fighters work alongside U.S. troops at the Tanf camp, said although they,上海龙凤1314 shlfNadia, were notified of Washington’s decision, the situation on the ground remained as it was.

“American troops plan to withdraw completely form Syria but I don’t have details and things are as they are up until this moment,” Talaa told from the base.

The garrison is located in a strategic area near Syria’s Tanf border crossing with Iraq at the crossroad of a main Baghdad-Damascus highway, Tehran’s main arms supply route by land to Syria and Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah militia.

Russia and the Syrian government have repeatedly called on Washington to pull its troops from the Tanf base, where it has declared a 55 km (35 mile)-radius “deconfliction zone” which has become a safe haven for at least 50,000 civilians, mostly women and children, who live in the Rukban camp within it.

The garrison was first set up when Islamic State fighters controlled eastern Syria bordering Iraq but since the militants were driven out, Tanf has assumed a role as part of a U.S. strategy to contain Iran’s military buildup in eastern Syria.

Tanf is the only position with a significant U.S. military presence in Syria outside the Kurdish-controlled north, where it has much larger air bases

Only several months ago, U.S. marines h上海419论坛eld major rare exercises in the base in what Western military officials said was a strong message to Russia and Iran that the Americans and the rebels it supports intend to stay.

A western diplomatic source and a regional intelligence source told the decision to leave Tanf will not necessarily affect the broader U.S. strategy against Iran, where regional power Israel will continue its aerial strikes.

Israel has in the last year hit several suspected,上海千花验证归来Macey, Iranian-backed militia convoys and bases near Tanf where Iran’s proxies are expanding their foothold, especially in the city of AlBukamal to the northeast of the base, another intelligence source involved in Syria said.

Washington’s,龙凤网419论坛Idaline, decision means an even bleaker future for these camp dwellers for whom the camp was a safe haven as many fear retribution if they return back to their towns in Syrian government-controlled areas in eastern Syria, residents say.

Corbyn: Labour bid to force general election matter of ‘when, not if’

( ) – British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn told the Independent newspaper the Labour party’s attempt to force a general election by tabli,上海后花园花千坊Jacob,ng a no-confidence motion was a matter of “when, not if.”

Corbyn suggested the move would be unavoidable爱上海419 if British Prime Minister Theresa May fails to secure backing for her Brexit policies from parliament.

“We’ve made clear it’s a question of when not if we do a vote of no confidence in the government, and obviously we do (it) at a time when their confidence is the lowest ever, which I suspect will be after they’ve lost the vote”, Corbyn told the newspaper ind.pn/2CAZymq in an interview.

The Labour leader added that the party has selected candidates in all of its marginal seats in preparation for a snap election.

A new election is not due until 2022 but one could be called if May fails to get her primary policy through parliament.

Corbyn also urged May to recall parliament early during the new year to bring forward a critical vote on the Brexit deal.

Late last week, Corbyn said ,上海楼凤个人Idaia,he would push ahead with Brexit and seek to renegotiate the terms if he won a snap election next year.

With Britain due to leave the European Union on March 29, Labour has been insisting it wants a permanent customs union with the EU and a close relationship with its lucr,爱上海Easton,ative single market.

Eritrea closes border crossing to Ethiopians, official and…

ADDIS ABABA ( ) – Eritrea has blocked entry for Ethiopians at one of the border crossings that opened this year after the neighbors ended a long military standoff and restored relations, an Ethiopian official and people who live near the crossing said on F,爱上海北京验证论坛Hadleigh,riday.

Liya Kassa, spokeswoman for the regional admin,上海后花园阿拉网Eden,istration in the Tigray region which borders Eritrea, said Ethiopian citizens and Ethiopia-licensed vehicles traveling to Eritrea from the Ethiopian town of Rama were asked for “permits” on Wednesday. Those using a crossing in Zalambessa were asked the same on Thursday, she said.

“The restrictions have only been imposed on the Eritrean side,” she said. “We did not receive any prior notice.”

It was not clear why Ethiopians were being prevented from entering at the Zalambessa crossing, which was shut on Thursday morning and remained closed on Friday, said Solomon Desta, a minibus driver on the Ethiopian side, speaking by phone.

The crossing opened in Se,上海419论坛最新Lake,ptember, after the countries agreed to r爱上海emove their troops as part of a reconciliation process.

Thousands of people have crossed since. Trade has flourished and families separated since war broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1998 have reunited.

A spokesman for Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry told reporters on Thursday that he had no information about any border restrictions. Eritrea’s information minister, Yemane Ghebremeskel, did not respond to phone calls on Friday.

Tsegaye Kassaye, a tire fixer on the Ethiopian side of the frontier, said by phone that Eritreans were being permitted to enter Eritrea, and Ethiopians were being allowed to leave.

Alaska National Guard commander fired rival job-seekers: governor

JUNEAU ( ) – Governor Sean Parnell has ordered the Alaska National Guard’s top commander to rehire two senior officers he fired last ,爱上海419Odelle,week as the trio were all competing for the same higher-ranking job, officials said on Monday.

Brigadier General Mike Bridges, the guard’s top acting official in Alaska, fired Brigadier General Catherine Jorgensen and Colonel Edie Grunwald on Thursday, Parnell’s spokeswoman said in a statement.

Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow declined to provide the original reason for the firings. But she said Parnell had not been consulted on the move and ordered the pair rehired after he learned of the dismissals.

“To avoid any appearance of impropriety on behalf of General Bridges, who has also applied for the adjutant general position, (Parnell) directed General Bridges to rescind the terminati,上海419论坛Terra,ons,” Leighow said in a statement. 

The personnel rethink comes with Parnell, a Re爱上海publican who faces re-election in November, facing scrutiny after a federal investigation he ordered cited examples of fraud, ethical misconduct and lack of confidence in the command.

The report led to the firing of Major General Tom Katkus, adjutant general and commissioner for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and his deputy, civilian McHugh Pierre.

On Thursday, Parnell told reporters there would be more firings but would not be specific, citing personnel laws. It was unclear whether Jorgensen and Grunwald were connected to the broader allegations of misconduct.

“I initiated some leadership changes without consulting with the governor’s office, which I rescinded within 24 hours,” Bridges told the Alaska Dispatch News. “My fault.”

The Alaska National Guard did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Leighow did not say whether Bridges knew whether the other two were seeking the adjutant general job. Nor did she say how it became known that all three were vying for the top position.

Trump expected to tout North Korea progress, but concrete moves…

UNITED NATIONS/WASHINGTON ( ) – A year after Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea in his first speech at the United Nations, the U.S. president will return to the podium in New York this week to tout diplomatic efforts that have reduced the risk of war.

But even if Trump’s rhetoric at the annual United Nations General Assembly is expected to differ sharply from his 2017 address in which he mocked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man” on a “suicide mission,” some U.S. officials and analysts say Pyongyang has yet to take concrete measures to show it is prepared to give up a nuclear arsenal that threatens the United States.

The change of mood was sealed when Trump and Kim met for an unprecedented summit on June 12 in Singapore, and in the past week, the North Korean leader promised South Korean President Moon Jae-in to dismantle a missile site and also a nuclear complex – if the United States takes “corresponding action.”

While appearing to set a positive tone, the commitments fell far short of Washington’s demands for a complete inventory of North Korea’s weapons programs and irreversible steps towards denuclearization.

Trump is to meet Moon on Monday to get a first-hand account of the Korean summit before delivering his U.N. address on Tuesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, has proposed a meeting with his North Korean counterpart, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, and plans to chair a Security Council meeting on the denuclearization effort on Thursday.

Some U.S. officials are concerned Trump is taking an overly rosy view of North Korea developments.

Trump called last week’s joint declaration by Moon and Kim “very exciting” and has previously said he is willing to meet Kim a second time, in spite of a lack of obvious progress from their first meeting in Singapore.

One U.S. official, speaking on co,上海贵族宝贝论坛Tempe,ndition of anonymity, said the worry was Trump might offer Kim “too much too soon” to score a win ahead of the Nov. 6 congressional elections, which will decide whether Trump’s Republican Party maintains control of Congress.


While declaring the developments in the Koreas summit sufficient to allow a restart of high-level talks with North Korea, Pompeo’s tone has been more measured.

In television interviews on Friday, he said there was still work to do “to make sure conditions are right” for a second summit and reiterated that sanctions would have to remain on North Korea until it gives up its nuclear weapons.

Past U.S. insistence that North Korea act first before expecting any easing of sanctions or a formal end to the 1950-53 Korea War over have not gone down well with Pyongyang.

Pompeo’s proposed interlocutor in New York, Foreign Minister Ri, responded to Trump’s U.N. remarks last year by calling them “the sound of a dog barking” and warning that North Korea could detonate a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific.

Soon after his summit with Kim, Trump declared the North Korean nuclear threat over, despite little more than a broad pledge by Kim to “work toward” denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

“Trump will likely continue his practice of hailing even insignificant North Korean steps as major advances,” said Evans Revere, a former U.S. negotiator with North Korea under the last Republican president, George W. Bush.

“His approach, which I have dubbed ‘strategi上海龙凤419c optimism’, seems to regard the appearance of denuclearization as more important than the real thing, since the former is ea,爱上海Sandford,sier to achieve than the latter,” he said.

Revere and other former officials and analysts said North Korea seemed to have done little more so far than repackage past promises broken in decades of failed talks.

However, Joseph Yun, who retired this year as U.S. envoy on North Korea, said relations with Pyongyang were at least “materially better” now the two sides were no longer trading threats and there was a chance to make progress.

“Are they going to completely denuclearize by January 2021?” Yun said, referring to the end of Trump’s current term that Pompeo has set for this goal.

“No. It’s going to take longer than that.”

Albania seizes 3.4 million euros cash in alleged drug profits in…

TIRANA ( ) – Albanian police seized 3.4 million euros ($3.97 million) in cash hidden in two cars on a trailer that arrived in the port of Durres from Belgium, a stash Albania’s opposition leader said was linked to drug gangsters.

Albania is awaiting a European Union decision later this week about whether it can start membership talks with the EU, but some of the bloc’s leaders want it to show more progress in stamping out organized crime and corruption first.

Albanian police said on Monday they were alerted last week about the number plate of a trailer with the undeclared cash that would arrive at the weekend on an Adriatic ferry in Durres.

“,上海龙凤419Beckett,State police have credible data showing the shipment had been ordered by two citizens currently at large that we are looking for,” a national police statement said.

Thre爱上海419e days before the cash seizure, opposition Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha said he had been tipped off that 1.5 million euros in drug profits would be smuggled into Durres in the same car as one of the two searched by police.

Basha told reporters on Monday the money belonged to “one of the most dangerous drug gangs active” in the central town of Elbasan and elsewhere in the poor Balkan country.

“Albanian police were under pressure from one of our partner countries, which are skeptical about our fitness for (EU) integration, especially the (performance of) the police fight against drugs and corruption,” Basha said.

Analysts say indications of euros streaming into Albania illicitly, most probably from drug trafficking, may explain partly why Albania’s lek currency has strengthened this year.

The EU’s executive European Commission has recommended opening membership negotiations with Albania and neighboring Macedonia. But EU government leaders due to decide the matter at a summit later ,上海419论坛Odelyn,this week are divided.

France and the Netherlands sent other EU governments a paper in May saying the lack of judicial reforms, endemic corruption and organized crime were reasons why Albania and Macedonia were not ready for EU membership talks, according to diplomats.

Chemicals factory blast injures 12 outside Cairo’s main airport

CAIRO ( ) – Egyptian firefighters battled flames that erupted after an explosion at a che,上海千花网Caleb,micals factory outside Cairo’s main airport on Thursday, with a dozen people reported injured in a blast an army spokesman said was caused by high temperatures.

State news agency MENA quoted a security source as saying that 12 people were taken to a hospital after the blast, which occurred in a storage facility belonging to a local petrochemicals company outside the airport in the northern part of the capital.

The minister of civil aviation, Younis al-Masri, said air traffic at the airport was unaffected by the explosion, which could be heard across the area.

“Due to high temperatures, an explosion happened at a petrochemicals storage belonging to the Heliopolis for Chemical Industries,” said Colonel Tamer al-Rifai, the military spokesman, in上海龙凤419 a social media posting.

“Civil defense trucks were deployed to bring the fire under control,” he added.

Rifai did not say who owned the factory, but security sourc,上海贵族宝贝论坛Caden,es and some internet postings suggested it belonged to the armed forces.

Witnesses said ambulances and fire trucks rushed to the scene as a cloud of black smoke rose over the area.

State television said firefighters had managed to bring the fire under control.

Egypt is battling an Islamist militant insurgency that has carried out attacks, mainly in the remote Sinai Peninsula, where the army has been conducting a security operation since February.

Violence appeared to have subsided in recent months, with no incidents reported in the country’s mainland outside Sinai.

Italy’s League advances in local polls amid immigration crackdown

ROME ( ) – Italy’s ruling right-wing League party gained ground in local elections at the weekend, strengthening its hand as it cracks down on immigrants fleeing Africa and urges the European Union to revise its policy on asylum-seekers.

The League, in a governing coalition with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, extended its political reach in a second round of municipal elections on Sunday, taking over some strongholds of the center-left, which lost power nationally in March.

The results are a boost for League leader Matteo Salvini, who flew on Monday to Libya, staging post for waves of Africans fleeing to Italy in flimsy boats, many with the ultimate aim of settling in other EU countries such as Germany and France.

The elections appeared to confirm opinion poll findings which show the League doubling its support since the March 4 election and putting it on par with its larger coalition partner.

Salvini, who wants the EU to do more to help Libya stop people making the perilous journey, announced his departure for Libya in a Twitter post on Monday, without giving details.

He is due to meet Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Taher Siala and Prime Minister Fayez Seraj, and appear at a news conference there later on Monday.

Salvini, interior minister responsible for border contr,上海龙凤419Fergus,ol, wants his EU partners to revise the rules governing asylum seekers crossing the Medit上海419论坛erranean so that the bloc shares out the burden of handling them.

Under current EU rules, responsibility for handling boatloads of asylum seekers rests with the country where they first disembark. Italy, which lies close to North Africa, has taken in some 650,000 boat migrants since 2014.

Salvini’s decision to close port access to foreign-registered rescue vessels has caused a standoff with Malta, which also has refused ,爱上海Lake,to allow them to dock.

Rescue vessel Lifeline is carrying more than 230 migrants and is stuck in international waters in the Mediterranean.[nL8N1TQ0A5]

A private cargo ship, the Alexander Maersk, also has been waiting to be assigned a port since it picked up 113 migrants off southern Italy on Friday, the ship owner said.

Germany hands war crime suspect over to Bosnia

SARAJEVO ( ) – Germany on Wednesday extradited a Bosnian Serb to Bosnia who is accused of taking part in the detention and torture of about 120 Muslim Bosniaks in the Bosnian war, and ,上海龙凤419Tara,personally killing three others, the Bosnian prosecutor’s office said.

Milorad Ob爱上海419radovic, 49, known as “Stiven”, was identified and detained late la,爱上海419Les,st year in Munich on an international warrant issued by Bosnia, the office said in a statement.

“The defendant … is suspected of taking part in the illegal detention and torture of about 120 Bosniak civilians in July 1992 at Miska Glava in Prijedor, who were later executed,” the statement said.

“The defendant is also accused of personally and directly killing three Bosniak civilians at the Rudar football club stadium, shooting from a firearm.”

Thous,上海贵族宝贝论坛Carmen,ands of Bosniaks and Croats p,上海千花网Rebel,erished in Bosnian Serb detention camps in the northwestern town of Prijedor as part of a campaign to drive non-Serbs from the area.

Ten other Bosnian Serbs are already on trial for the crimes committed at Miska Glava.

Around 100,000 people died in the 1992-95 war, a large majority of them Bosniaks.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, set up in The Hague to prosecute atrocities committed during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, closed its doors last December, having tried 161 suspects.

Plane skids off runway at airport in Ukraine’s capital

KIEV ( ) – A plane skidded off the runway at an,上海419论坛Nigel, international airport in the Ukrainian capital on Thursday and authorities closed the airport for a few hours, news agency Interfax Ukraine quoted the airport as saying.

There were 169 passengers on board the flight operated by Ukrainian charter airline Bravo Airways tha爱上海t was landing at Zhuliany airport from the Turkish resort city of Antalya when it skidded.

“Nobo,上海贵族宝贝论坛Bart,dy was h,上海龙凤419Odelyn,urt,” Zhuliany’s pres,上海千花网Aaliyah,s service was quoted as saying. The airport is due to reopen at 2200 GMT, according to the report.

French parliament approves SNCF reform bill in breakthrough for Macron

PARIS ( ) – France’s parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill overhauling the indebted state-run rail company SNCF on Wednesday, handing a significant victory to President Emmanuel Macron in his bid to outflank the unions and reform the economy.

The 452 to 80 vote in the National Assembly, where Macron’s Republique En Marche party has an absolute majority, was largely a formality after a committee of the lower house and the Senate agreed joint amendments to the legislation on Monday.

The Senate upper house will approve the bill on Thursday.

It represents the most fundamental reform of the 150,000-strong SNCF since rail nationalization in the 1930s, and Macron has overcome a challenge that defeated previous administrations.

Conservative Prime Minister Alain Juppe had to withdraw welfare reforms in 1995 after weeks of strikes and social unrest led by rail workers.

The new law will turn the SNCF into a joint-stock company, giving its management greater corporate responsibility, will phase out its domestic passenger monopoly from 2020 and put an end to generous benefits and pensions for future employees.

At the same time, the government has committed not to sell any of the stock, a move to reassure unions that it won’t be privatized.

“The government has committed itself to our rail industry as no other has before us,” Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne told FranceInfo radio on Tuesday. “I now urge the unions to take stock of their responsibilities.”

The government has also said it will write off 35 billion euros of the SNCF’s 47 billion euros ($55 billion) of debt, giving the company more room to maneuver and prepare for greater competition from other European operators.


France’s rail unions have been staunchly opposed to the reforms. In April they began three months of rolling strikes in protest, shutting down local, regional and international services for two days ou,爱上海Iggy,t of every five. Those stoppages are set to run until the end of June.

At the start, the public expressed some sym,上海龙凤419Quinney,pathy — polls showed more than half of those surveyed thought the strikes were justified — but support has waned over time. Commuters have grown fed up with the disruptions and found ways around them, using car-sharing apps, telecommuting or cycling to work.

Gaps in the unions’ position have also em,上海419论坛Dani,erged and been exploited — a tactic Macron used to sound effect last year in securing the backing of the largest u上海龙凤419nion, the CFDT, for reforms to the labor code to make hiring and firing easier.

The CFDT, the most moderate of the larger unions as well as the biggest, has signaled it will accept the SNCF bill once it becomes law. When the rolling strikes end on June 28, its railworkers are expected to return to work.

The more militant CGT union remains firmly against, with 95 percent of its members voting against the legislation last month. Employees represented by the union have said they will pursue wildcat strikes from July.

But their ability to cause widespread disruption or win public sympathy ap,上海贵族宝贝论坛Rae,pears limited. Many CGT unionists are among those who have gradually given up adhering to the strike.

For a graphic see tmsnrt.rs/2JnAdwO

“I think the unions may have overplayed their hand here,” said Bob Hancke, a professor of European political economy at the London School of Economics, describing the SNCF as “one of the last bastions of union power in France”.

A change in public sentiment toward organized labor — part of a broader social shift as younger people increasingly engage in the ‘gig’ economy and see the future in technology — has left the unions looking out of touch.

But Hancke warns that while it is an important symbolic victory for Macron, it may do little to improve the business climate in France or stimulate much-needed growth.

Big data and facial recognition used to serve 2nd Chinese Youth Games

The main stadium of the 2nd Chinese Youth Games in Taiyuan, North China’s Shanxi Province. Photo: Sun Haoran/GT


The technical operations center for the 2nd Chinese Youth Games in Taiyuan, North Ch爱上海ina’s Shanxi Province. Photo: Sun Haoran/GT

High technology, such as big data and facial recognition, will be used to allow the Second Chinese Youth Games to be carried out smoothly and in an or,上海龙凤419Daryl,derly way.

The Second Chinese Youth Games, sponsored by the General Administration of Sports of China, will open in Taiyuan, North China’s Shanxi Province, on August 8, and will last until August 18.

About 30,000 of the nation’s athletes are expected to attend the event, making it the games with the largest number of participants worldwide, according to the organizers. 

The organizing committee of the Second Youth Games has set up a technical operations center (TOC) to monitor and give central commands for the games.

Big data relating to the competition, such as results, me,爱上海Octava,dal winners, layout of the stadiums, athletes and emergencies, will be gathered and analyzed by the center and the results will be showcased and visualized in graphs or tables on a big screen at the TOC.

The big screen can also display live footage and real-time information on the official website of the games, which will help TOC staff members to better understand what is going on during the event and prepare for any unexpected occurrences. 

“We also collect information about athletes, such as their birthdays, so we will inform the athletes’ village about any athlete’s birthday during the event, and the village will probably prepare some gifts or even throw a birthday party for the lucky person,” Yan Linyun, chief engineer of the information technology department of the organizing committee, told the Global Times on Monday.

Facial recognition will also be used during the competition. 

The water sports center uses this technology to quickly identify athletes. The center records the athletes’ photos into a face recognition recording system beforehand and distinguishes the athletes during the games. 

“Facial recognition has rarely been used in aquatics in China before. The recording system can easily acquire the athletes’ personal information and connect it with their records and performances during the games,” said Ren Kaiyun, director of the national Fitness Guidance Center to Taiyuan, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Besides technologies, environmental improvement and protection has also been a main characteristic of the preparation for the Second Youth Games. 

For example, the Shanxi extreme sports center, which will be used as the venue for extreme sports competitions during the games, was built on wasteland, and the Ao Shen sports park for soccer matches was built in an area that used to be a coal ash landfill. 

“We have done our best to make sure the Second Youth Games are economically and eco-friendly, and have built the stadiums in different parts the province so as to engage more people in the event,” Liu Qingzao, secretary-general assistant of the organizing committee, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

“This is the first time that Shanxi has ever organized such a national multi-sports event, and it’s also the first time that both summer and winter sports (such as skating, skiing, curling, ice hockey, and biathlon) will be carried out in the same province,” Liu added. 

The Chinese Youth Games is held every four years to improve the performance of China’s best young athletes and promote widespread involvement in sports. 

Angela Merkel denies rumors of declining health after third public shaking incident: ‘I’m fine’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to visibly shake for a third time in less than a month on Wednesday, however, she downplayed claims that her health is declining.

Merkel, 64, was seen unsteady while standing alongside Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinee during a military honors ceremony outside the chancellery in Berlin on Wednesday.

The German leader appeared to visibly shake while the two lead上海龙凤419ers stood and listened to their respective national anthems play.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister of Finland Antti Rinne listen to the national anthems at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Merkel told reporters following the episode that she was “fine” and suggested that the psychological impact of the first incident was responsib,上海419论坛Quincy,le for the subsequent episodes.

“I said recently that I am in a phase of processing the last military honors with President Zelenskiy. That is clearly not entirely complete, but there is progress,” she said.

The first time Merkel was seen shaking was on June 18 as she stood alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy,爱上海Harley, at a military honors ceremony.

The second incident on June 27 rekindled concerns over her health after she was seen again unsteady at the German president’s palace as she listened to his comments on the swearing-in of a new justice minister.


Public figures’ health is generally regarded as a private matter in Germany and the country’s privacy laws are very strict on that type of information.

Angela Merkel was seen shaking at a public event for the second time in less than two weeks. A spokesman on Wednesday dismissed any concerns over her health, saying “the chancellor is fine.” (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)