Migrant workers’ struggles push Uzbekistan to open up

SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan ( ) – Maksud Mahmudov was among millions of Uzbeks who left their impoverished homeland as soon as they finished school to find work in Russia. In 2014, he and others came back as the Russian economy floundered, but it took two more years to find work.

The 27-year-old now runs teams of builders for hire, taking advantage of a construction boom in his home city of Samarkand following a 2016 change of leadership in the Central Asian state, one of the world’s most tightly controlled countries.

“I used to earn around $500 a month doing construction work, but then the treat,上海千花交友网Idaleen,ment of migrants worsened, we were paid less, it became harder to obtain a work permit, so I had to return to my home country in 2014,” he said, recalling a year in which falling oil prices hit Russia’s energy-dependent economy.

That change is now encouraging Uzbek leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev to open up the economy of ex-Soviet Uzbekistan, which for nearly three decades rejected market reforms, leaving it largely isolated and with mass unemployment.

Uzbekistan was able to ignore the issue as long as Russia was absorbing millions of migrants, but plummeting oil prices sent Russia into recession in 2015 and many migrants had to leave.

Russian central bank data shows Uzbeks have sent home 42 percent less money on average in 2015-17 than in 2011-14. Volumes picked up somewhat last year – when the Russian economy and the rouble stabilized – but上海龙凤419 are still well below those seen before the oil price crash and sanctions.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, who have re-engaged with Tashkent under Mirziyoyev, say implementing market reforms such as privatization are the only way to revive the economy and create new jobs.

Failing to do so could prompt Central Asia’s own equivalent of the Arab Spring, a senior World Bank economist warned last year, referring to a series of uprisings in 2011 that toppled longstanding leaders in Egypt, Yemen and Libya.

The Tashkent government has not commented on that warning and there has been no serious unrest in Uzbekistan since 2005, when security forces crushed protests in Andijan in the impoverished Ferghana valley.

But Mirziyoyev, who took over when his predecess,上海贵族宝贝交流群Lake,or Islam Karimov died in 2016 after 25 years in office, is now treating unemployment as a priority.

“They (migrants) are abroad for a reason. We could not create jobs for them, that’s why they are abroad. All the problems start here,” Mirziyoyev said at a meeting with officials earlier this year.

In its first major move to make hiring easier, the government will cut payroll taxes from next month, making it cheaper for companies to hire workers. The government estimates the measure will cost the state budget $570 million next year.

WAGE DIFFERENTIAL

A long-standing lieutenant to Karimov, Mirziyoyev showed little appetite for change before becoming president.

The country, long closed off from the outside world, has taken a first step by liberalizing its foreign exchange market, bringing a surge in machinery and equipment imports for industries that are still state-owned and centrally planned.

The government has signed memorandums of understanding with large energy companies such as France’s Total and India’s ONGC and hosts financiers representing Western and Asian companies keen to disc,2019上海龙凤419Sabia,over how far change will go.

The experiences of Uzbekistan’s migrant labor force and their relatives shows the pressing need for reform, suggesting that, while political controls remain tight, the government’s new openness to investment is more than a fad.

Uzbekistan is rich in natural resources such as gas, gold and other metals and is one of the world’s leading exporters of cotton.

But between two and three million of Uzbekistan’s more than 33 million people work abroad, mostly in Russia, to provide for their families back home. One in three young males is a migrant, according to a recent World Bank survey.

Sixty-two-year-old Ruqiyakhon has three children working in Russia. Her youngest son was able to stay at home and train as a doctor only thanks to his elder brother’s earnings.

“Now he works at a local hospital but still tries to earn extra money by running his own small business,” she said, declining to give her full name for fear of the authorities.

“I wish they all could work here and get the same wages, but it is not possible … there is a big difference between wages here and there.”

She lives in the small Uzbek town of Uchkuprik in the Ferghana valley, Central Asia’s most densely populated area, where even breeding livestock for extra income is difficult due to a shortage of land.

While some Uzbeks can only find seasonal or short-term jobs abroad, others settle. Many go to Kazakhstan and South Korea, but Russia is the default choice because of Soviet-era ties.

FICTITIOUS FIGURES

One of Mirziyoyev’s first moves was to dismiss as “fiction” official statistics which have long put unemployment at about five percent. Under Karimov, for example, officials would record anyone who owned a cow as a self-employed farmer.

Last month, the labor ministry reported unemployment for the first half of 2018 at 9.3 percent, up from 5.2 percent a year earlier, and cited a new methodology as the reason for the sharp increase.

Some Uzbeks have complained about abuse at the hands of employers who could act with impunity because they knew employees were unlikely to walk away with jobs so scarce. Under Karimov, some Uzbeks, for example, had to hand over part of their salaries to superiors in order to retain their jobs.

Shakhnoza Ishankulova, who used to work as a teacher in her home town of Marjonbuloq in the Jizzakh region, was fired in 2011 after failing to pay up – she had just undergone chemotherapy and was the only breadwinner in the family.

After many attempts to get her job back or find work in another school, she moved to Moscow in 2013, where she began working as a cleaner.

“Why did I bother getting a degree?” she said. “I went to university, and to a lycee. But despite all that, I am holding a broom.”

In Samarkand, former migrant Mahmudov now leads a 40-strong construction team. He makes about $250 a month in the winter, when snow makes work difficult, but takes home about $500 per month in the summer – almost as much as he used to in Russia.

Federal judge being considered for US Supreme Court nomination: Law…

WASHINGTON ( ) – Ketanji Brown Jackson, a federal trial judge in Washington, is being considered to fill the vacancy on the爱上海 U.S. Supreme Court, the National Law Journal reported on Friday, citing a lawyer who was contacted as part of the vetting process.

The unidentified lawyer was contacted this week and was asked about Jackson’s tenure on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in the context of her being a potential nominee for the Supreme Court, the Journal said.

The lawyer described the conversation, which lasted less than 30 minutes, as a “preliminary inquiry,” the Journal repo,上海后花园千花网Paige,rted.

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment on the Journal story.

President Barack Obama is expected to announce a nominee in the next several weeks to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Feb. 13.

Scalia’s death left the court with four liberals and four conservatives, and Republican leaders in the Senate have vowed to block anyone Obama nominates. The Senate must confir,上海419论坛宝山Quaid,m the nominee.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a moderate Republican, took himself out of consideration for appointment to the Supreme Court this week after his name surfaced as a ,021上海贵族宝贝论坛Gabriel,possible nominee.

If nominated and confirmed Jackson, 45, would be the first African-American woman on the Supreme Court.

She was confirmed to the federal district court in Washington in March 2013.

During her confirmation hearing, she received support from U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, who is related to her by marriage, the Journal reported. Jackson’s husband, Patrick Jackson, is the twin brother of Ryan’s brother-in-law William Jackson.

Jackson served as a federal public defender in Washington and then at a law firm. In 2010, she was appointed to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Taliban blow up Afghan army outpost, killing five soldiers, police say

KABUL ( ) – Taliban fighters detonated explosives planted in a tunne上海龙凤419l below an Afghan military outpost, killing five soldiers, a police official said on Wednesday.

Six soldiers were wounded in the attack on Tuesday in the Maiwand district of the southern province of Kandahar, police spokesman Mohammad Ashraf Watandost said.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, said the milit,上海千花mm自荐Kaia,ants, fighting to overthrow the government and reimpose strict Islamic law after their 2001 ouster, had killed or wounded 35 soldiers and destroyed a large cache of weapons and ammunition.

Afghan border security forces separately thwarted an attack on Italian military advisers at a paramilitary base in the western province of Herat on Wednesday.

Noorullah Qadri, the commander of 207 Zafar military corps, said two attackers who had infiltrated the border security forces tried to kill the Italians.

“The Italian nationals escaped uninjured. One attacker was gunned down immediately and the other was arrested,” said Qadri.

The Italian forces are part of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission focused on training, advising and assisting the Afghan forces in four western provinces. Italy has 895 soldiers attached to Resolute Support.

Officials at,爱上海同城论坛网Idaleen, the Italian embassy in Kabul,上海后花园419最新Jacklyn, were not immediately available for comment.

Congo warns of vote result delay as tallies trickle in

KINSHASA ( ) – Results from Democratic Republic of Congo’s chaotic presidential election could be delayed past Sunday’s deadline because cou,龙凤网419论坛Cain,nting centers are still waiting for more than 80 percent of local tallies, the electoral commission said.

The election, which is meant to mark Congo’s first democratic transfer of power, has already been marred by violence and logistical problems. The opposition has said there was widespread fraud, an accusation dismissed by the government.

As of Wednesday – three days after the election – counting centers had received just 17 percent of the tally sheets drawn up by individual polling stations, the president of the CENI electoral commission, Corneille Nangaa, told .

“We will try as hard as possible to meet Sunday’s deadline, but it will be challenging,” Nangaa said. He did not say what was causing the delays.

A spokesman for Felix Tshisekedi, one of two opposition candidates, said the hold-up was a further sign of fraud. “They are clearly trying to prolong the process to manipulate the truth of ,上海千花验证归来Gabriel,the ballots,” said Vidiye Tshimanga.

There was no immediate 爱上海419reaction from the government, though regional monitors earlier said the Dec. 30 vote was “relatively well-managed” given the challenges involved.

The election allowed “the majority of the Congolese population to exercise its right to vote,” the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said.

Vote counting was transparent, 59 percent of polling places it observed opened on time and police securing the polls behaved professionally, the organization added.

“A FIRST GREAT VICTORY”

Approval of the election’s results by SADC powers such as South Africa and Angola will be critical for the legitimacy of the administration of the next president, who will succeed veteran incumbent Jo,后楼凤419Babette,seph Kabila on Jan. 18.

Angola and South Africa have been important allies of Kabila over the years, but relations were strained by his refusal to step down when his mandate officially expired in 2016.

Pre-election polling showed Kabila’s preferred candidate, ex-interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, trailing the main opposition candidates, Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi, but both sides say they expect to win.

An African Union observer mission said in a separate statement on Wednesday that election day was blighted by a number of logistical problems.

“The holding of these elections constitutes, in itself, a first great victory for the Congolese people,” it said. “The mission strongly wishes that the results that will be declared are true to the vote of the Congolese people.”

Kabila’s government refused to accredit election monitors from the European Union and the U.S.-based Carter Center, which said there were widespread irregularities in the 2011 election.

Contested election results in 2006 and 2011 led to violent street protests, and a disputed outcome this time could also destabilize Congo’s volatile eastern borderlands with Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, where dozens of militia groups are active.

Yom Kippur, a children’s bike festival on Israel’s deserted roads

JERUSALEM ( ) – Yom Kippu上海龙凤419r, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, is a time when many non-regular Israeli synagogue-goers take time to pray. It is also an annual opportunity for children to ride their bicycles on deserted streets (pictured here).

Almost all Israeli road traffic stops on Yom Kippur as most of the country’s Jewish majority refrains from driving. Roads and main highways are deserted and left clear for children to enjoy without much fear of encountering a motor vehicle.

On Wednesday, scores of children went out to ride their bicycles, scooters and skateboards on a main road that separates the Israeli urban settlement of Pisgat Zeev from the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina, both in East Jerusalem.

Israeli children rode freely on the main road that leads into the heart of Jerusalem, where there were similar scenes on the deserted highways west of the Old City.

A few Palestinian children also took advantage of the open roads to have fun. In their own area, traffic ran freely and streets were bustling.

The decades-old traditional driving ban is not dictated by law but is maintained out of deference for the holy day. Israeli Jews refrain from driving during the 25-hour holy period which this year,上海419论坛Cade, began at dusk on Tuesday and ends after dark on Wednesday.

The days leading up to Yom Kippur are the busiest of the year for Israeli bicycle sellers and repairers, as children prepare for their big day of fun out in the fresh air when the weather is still warm.

Alongside the cyclists, scooters and pedestrians the occasional police car and ambulance could be seen driving slowly along highways, usually flashing their blue or red beacons to give warn,上海419论坛Jacqueline,ing of their approach.

Rescue services report several hundred cases of cyclists sustaining injuries during the day, but few of the casualties are considered serious.

U.S. sanctions China for buying Russian fighter jets, missiles

WASHINGTON ( ) – The Trump administration imposed sanctions on the Chinese military on Thursday for buying fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, in breach of a sweeping U.S. sanctions law punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

In Beijing, the Chinese government expressed anger and demanded the sanctions be withdrawn.

The U.S. State Department said it would immediately impose sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department (EDD), the military branch responsible for weapons and equipment, and its director, Li Shangfu, for engaging in “significant transactions” with Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms exporter.

The sanctions are related to China’s purchase of 10 SU-35 combat aircraft in 2017 and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment in 2018, the State Department said.

They block the Chinese agency, and Li, from applying for export licenses and participating in the U.S. financial system.

It also adds them to the Treasury Department’s list of specially designated individuals with whom Americans are barred from doing business.

The U.S. also blacklisted another 33 people and entities associated with the Russian military and intelligence, adding them to a list under the 2017 law, known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA.

CAATSA also seeks to punish Russia for its aggression in Ukraine and involvement in Syria’s civil war.

“China expresses strong indignation at these unreasonable actions by the U.S. side and has already lodged stern representations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing, adding the moved seriously harmed bilateral relations and military ties.

“We strongly urge the U.S. side to immediately correct the mistake and rescind the so-called sanctions, otherwise the U.S. side will,上海419论坛Ignacio, necessarily bear responsibility for the consequences,” he said, without giving details.

Turkey says reports of Kurdish militia withdrawal from Manbij…

ANKARA ( ) – A source at Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Monday dismissed a militia report that Kurdish YPG fighters had completely left Syria’s Manbij region as exaggerated, saying their withdrawal was still under way.

Turkey and the United States reached a deal last month over Manbij, a town in northern Syria, after months of disagreement. Under the deal, the YPG would withdraw from Manbij and Turkish and U.S. forces would maintain security and stability around the town.

The Manbij Military Council militia controlling Manbij said the last YPG fighters had left on Sunday after completing their mission of military training of local forces. The Manbij Military Council has repeatedly said there are no YPG fighters there, only some YPG military advisers.

The Manbij Military Council is allied to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S.-backed militia spearheaded by the YPG.

However, the Turkish Foreign Ministry source rejected the council’s report.

“We find reports that the PYD/YPG have completely withdrawn from Manbij to be exaggerated. T,上海千花网Garrett,he process is sti,上海419论坛Bernadette,ll continuing,” the source said, referring to the Kurdish YPG militia, and its political arm, the PYD.

“Withdrawal from the checkpoints on the patrol route is ongoing. Joint patrol preparations are continuing. Therefore, at this stage, reports that PYD/YPG have completely withdrawn from Manbij do not reflect the truth.”

It was not possible to independently verify the progress of the fighters’ withdrawal.

In a phone call on Monday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed the importance of implementing the joint roadmap in Manbij, the Turkish presidency said.

The two leaders said the implementation of the deal would “significantly contribute” to the cooperation in solving the Syria problem, the presidency said.

Washington’s support for the YPG militia in the fight against Islamic State has infuriated Ankara, which sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The PKK, considered a terrorist group by the United States, the Europ上海419论坛ean Union and Turkey, has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast. Ankara fears advances by the YPG in Syria will embolden Kurdish militants at home.

Highlights: Trump and Putin speak after meeting in Helsinki

HELSINKI ( ) – Donald Trump met one-on-one with Russia’s Vladimir Putin behind closed doors on Monday in a long-awaited summit overshadowed by the U.S. president blaming his own country’s past “foolishness and stupidity” for the two powers’ hostile relations.

Following are highlights of comments made by Trump and Putin at a news conference after their meeting in Finland’s capital Helsinki.

TRUMP’S OPENING REMARKS

“We discussed a wide range of critical issues for both our countries. We had a productive dialogue, it went very well.”

“I want to congratulate Russian President Putin for hosting one of the best ever World Cups. A great job.”

“We’re here today to extend the proud tradition of bold American diplomacy. Diplomacy and engagement are preferable to conflict and hostility … A productive dialogue is not only good for (the United States) and Russia but good for the world.”

“If we are going to solve many of the problems facing our world, we will have to find ways to cooperate … We have seen the consequences when diplomacy is left on the table.”

“Our relationship has never been worse than it is now, however that changed as of about four hours ago … To refuse to engage would not accomplish anything.”

“As president I cannot make decisions on foreign policy to appease the media or the Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct. I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than risk peace in pursuit of politics.

“I will do what is best for the American people.”

“I addressed directly (the question of) Russian interference in our elections. We spent a great deal of time talking about it. President Putin feels strongly about the issue and has an interesting idea.”

“We discussed … nuclear proliferation. After today I am sure that we and them want to end that problem.”

“We also discussed the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism that both Russia and the United States have suffered…

“We have agreed to maintain open communication between our security agencies to protect our citizen from this global menace.”

“We also discussed at length the crisis in Syria. Cooperation between our countries has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives.

“I made clear we will not allow Iran to benefit from our successful c爱上海ampaign against ISIS (Islamic State).”

“We also agreed that representatives from our national security councils will meet to follow up on all the issues we discussed today. We have made the first steps toward a brighter future…, grounded in America’s desire for friendship, cooperation and peace.”

“President Putin I want to thank you for … advancing open dialogue between Russia and the United States … for the greater good of all.

“This was a very constructive day, the few hours we spent together today. It is in the interest of both our countries to continue this conversation and I’m sure we will be meeting again in the future.”

PUTIN’S OPENING REMARKS

“Negotiations with Trump took place in an open and constructive atmosphere, I find them rather successful and useful.”

“It is obvious to everyone that international relations have lived through a difficult period … The Cold War has ended a long time ago, the situation in the world has drastically changed. Russia and the United States are now facing totally different challenges.”

Putin said the meeting marked the first steps to restore “an acceptable level of trust and go back to previous level of interaction on all mutual interest issues”.

“As far as Syria is concerned the task of establishing peace and reconciliation in this country could b,上海千花网Ralph,e the first showcase example of successful joint work.”

“The United States could convince the Ukrainian leadership to fulfill the Minsk (peace) accords.”

“(Trump) touched upon the theme of Russia’s so-called meddling (in the 2016 U.S. election). I had to repeat what I’ve said before, that the Russian state has never interfered and has no intention to interfere.”

“We have offered to consider building the philosophy of bilateral relations for the long term.”

“We have good talks, we started to understand each other better.”

“The talks have reflected our mutual desire to improve the situation … to restore trust,” Putin said, referring to global security, economic issues and ecological risks.

“We find it important to have dialogue on strategic stability.”

“We have everything necessary for efficient cooperation on Syria.”

“We as the largest gas state – and the United States is also such a country – could have worked on regulating the global market. We are not interested in prices dropping to low levels as producers could get hurt. We are also not interested in excessively high prices.”

“Concerning Nord Stream 2 I have reassured Trump that Russia is ready to preserve (gas) transit via Ukraine. We are ready to extend the contract that expires in 2019 if the dispute in Stockholm (court) is solved.”

“No one should trust anyone. He (Trump) is defending U.S. interests, I am defending interests of the Russian Federation. We have matching interests, we are looking for common points.”

“Concerning 12 alleged security officers, I know nothing about it, I need to figure out. Trump has put this question to me, we have discussed this.”

ASKED ABOUT U.S. INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED RUSSIAN MEDDLING IN THE 2016 ELECTION

TRUMP:

“The probe is a disaster for our country. I think it has kept us apart. There was no collusion at all…, so far that I know virtually nothing related to the campaign. It was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily and frankly we beat her…We won that race and it’s a shame that there can be even a little bit of a cloud over it.

“This had a negative impact upon the relationship between the two biggest nuclear powers of the world.

“There was no collusion, I did not know the president (Putin), there was nobody to collude with … We ran a brilliant campaign and that is why I am president.”

“I wonder why the FBI did not take the server. Where is the server? I want to know where is it, and what is the server saying? With that, all I can do is ask the question.

“Putin just said it’s not Russia. I do not see any reason why it should be … It (the election dispute) will go on for a while but it cannot be (resolved) unless we know what happened to the server.

“What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails — 33,000 just gone, gone.”

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people but President Putin was extremely strong and confident in his denial today.”

“He offered to have (our) people working on the case come and work with their (Russian) people on the case.”

PUTIN:

“We can suggest that the Mueller commission … files us an official request to carry out interrogation of the people that they deem guilty. Representatives of our prosecutor’s office and investigative authorities can carry out these interrogations and file the materials to the United States.”

“We can take another step: We can let U.S. official representatives, including Mueller, take part in these interrogations. We can raise the question of making these actions mutual. We can expect from the United States to question those representatives of special services that we suspect have carried out unlawful actions against Russia.”

“There is a well-known case of Hermitage Capital.  According to our investigation, (British businessman Bill) Browder’s partners have illegally made more than $1.5 billion in Russia. They have paid no taxes in Russia and the United States but they transferred this money to the United States, $400 million have been channeled into (Hillary) Clinton’s pre-election campaign.”

ASKED IF RUS,上海龙凤419Olsen,SIA HAS COMPROMISING MATERIAL ON TRUMP PRE-DATING HIS PRESIDENCY

PUTIN:

Putin denied what he called a “rumor” that Russia possessed compromising material on Trump dating back to when he was a businessman and visited Moscow.

“I’ve heard about us allegedly collecting compromising material on him when he came to Moscow. When he came to Moscow I didn’t even know he was there.

“It’s hard to imagine more nonsense. Throw this rubbish out of your head.

“I treat President Trump with utmost respect but back then nobody informed me that he was in Moscow.

“I was an intelligence officer myself and know how these dossiers are put together.”

TRUMP:

“If they (the Russian government) had anything (compromising material) on me it would have been out long ago … It (the allegations) was a disgrace to the FBI, our country, and it was a total witch-hunt.”

PUTIN ON CRIMEA

Putin said Trump’s position on Crimea is “well known now and he stands firmly by it. He continues to maintain it was illegal” for Russia to annex Crimea. He said his own position is that it was legal based on a referendum.

TRUMP:

“We both spoke with Bibi Netanyahu (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) and we would like to do certain things with Syria having to do with the safety of Israel. Russia and the U.S. will work jointly (in this regard).

“Creating safety for Israel is something both President Putin and I would like to see very much … We (also) want to help the Syrians on a humanitarian basis.

“Our (U.S. and Russian) militaries have gotten along better than our political leaders for a number of years. (And we get along in Syria as well).”

PUTIN:

“Yesterday I discussed this with French President Mr Macron and we reached an agreement that together with European countries including France we will step up this effort. On our side, we’ll provide military cargo aircraft to deliver humanitarian aid and today I brought up this issue with President Trump. There’s a huge amount of refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. If we help then immigration pressure on European countries will drop dramatically.”

“Generally, I agree with President (Trump), our military work rather successfully with each other (in Syria). I hope they will manage to make arrangements as they have managed to do this so far.”

TRUMP, ASKED IF HE’D CALLED PUTIN AN ADVERSARY:

“Actually I called him a competitor and a good competitor he is, and I think the word competitor is a compliment.”

TRUMP, ASKED ABOUT HIS EARLIER COMMENT ON U.S. FOOLISHNESS AND STUPIDITY TOWARD RUSSIA

“I hold both countries responsible. I think the U.S. has been foolish. We’ve all been foolish. I beat Hillary Clinton easily and frankly we beat her … We won that race and it’s a shame that there can be even a little bit of a cloud over it.”

PUTIN, ASKED WHETHER HE WANTED TRUMP TO WIN THE 2016 ELECTION

“Yes, I did.”

Assad pledges to regain control of northern Syria by force if needed

MOSCOW ( ) – The Syrian army will regain control of the country’s north by force if rebels there refuse to surrender, President Bashar a上海龙凤419l-Assad said in an interview with Russian television channel NTV on Sunday.

Assad, who said in the same interview he would not accept Western funds to rebuild his country, was speaking after Damascus said it rejected the presence of Turkish and U.S. forces around the northern town of Manbij, a day after soldiers of the two countries began patrolling the area.

“We have chosen two paths: the first and most important one is reconciliation… The second path is to attack terrorists if they don’t s,爱上海Ira,urrender and refuse to make peace,” Assad said in the interview.

“We will fight with them (rebels) and return control by force. It is certainly not the best option for us, but it’s the only way to get control of the country,” said Assad, responding to a question about the northern part of Syria where rebel groups backed by Turkey hold some territory.

Assad has previously promised to also squeeze rebels from the country’s south, ,上海千花网Leroy,and a war monitor and rebel officials said on Friday that the Syrian army had dropped barrel bombs on opposition areas of the country’s southwest for the first time in a year. Damascus denies using barrel bombs.

‘Avatar’ tribe poses second challenge to Vedanta after deadly India…

LANJIGARH, India ( ) – After an Indian state shut a copper smelter run by Vedanta Resources following deadly protests, the company faces another challenge 1,000 miles away, where axe-toting tribesmen and environmentalists have joined forces to demand the closure of an alumina refinery.

An alliance of activists and local people have for years blocked London-listed Vedanta’s plans to mine bauxite in the green, jungle-clad Niyamgiri hills of eastern Odisha state, which the tribespeople consider sacred.

The killing by police of 13 people protesting against the copper smelter in Tamil Nadu, to the south, has given fresh impetus to their campaign to also close the Odisha refinery run by the company’s Indian unit, Vedanta Ltd. The company is seeking to expand the plant.

“We’ll shed our blood for Niyamgiri, we will die for Niyamgiri,” tribal leader Lado Sikaka, carrying an axe hooked onto his shoulder blade in the fashion of men from his community, told a crowd of several hundred at a rally near the refinery, in the remote town of Lanjigarh, on June 5.

“Vedanta can give jobs to only a few but Niyam Raja has given us everything,” he said, referring to the hill-god of the community’s traditional animist religion. “We will keep fighting till the end. We will intensify our agitation.”

The poster behind him deman,上海419论坛Odelyn,ded: “Polluter and killer company Vedanta to quit India. Tribute to martyrs of Tuticorin”.

In Tuticorin, officially known as Thoothukudi, Vedanta has been accused by local residents and environmentalists of polluting the air and groundwater. The police shootings on May 22 came after at least 50,000 people gathered on the 100th day of their campaign to oppose the expansion of the smelter.

The company, in which Indian scrap metal dealer-turned-billionaire Anil Agarwal has a controlling stake, called the incident “absolutely unfortunate”. It denies it is in breach of any environmental laws.

In the wake of the police shootings, the Tamil Nadu state government ordered the closure of the Thoothukudi copper smelter on environmental grounds, wiping tens of millions of dollars off Vedanta’s market value and sales. Sources say the company may appeal.

TAKING RISKS

The Odisha alumina refinery, lacking a local source, mostly uses costly bauxite imported from as far as Brazil and Guinea and brought 170 miles (275 km) by train from a port in neighboring Andhra Pradesh state – a situation that makes no economic sense.

Sikaka and other representatives of the Dongria Kondh tribe, with an estimated population of up to 16,000, say they fear the company aims to revive plans to tap the high-quality bauxite beneath the pristine Niyamgiri hills.

The tribe, whose name derives from “dongar”, which means “farming on hill slopes”, believe they are the descendants of their male deity, Niyam Raja, and have exclusive rights to the hill they live in.

The tribe’s fight with Vedanta has been likened by environmental campaigners to James Cameron’s Oscar-winning “Avatar” movie, in which humans battled with indigenous people on a fictional moon for mineral rights.

One Vedanta executive who spoke to acknowledged that mining in Niyamgiri remained its long-term aim.

“In business you have to take risks. The whole purpose of setting up the plant in this jungle was to have access to bauxite,” said the executive, seated in the guesthouse of a Vedanta township ringed by hills and secured by large steel gates manned by private security guards.

“Some day bauxite mining will happen here. Dongria people are looking for opportunities. A section of them wants to join the mainstream.”

Vedanta had intended to supply the refinery with bauxite extracted from the Niyamgiri hills by a mining company owned by the state government, which backed the project. A rusting steel conveyor belt mounted on dozens of concrete pillars can still be seen snaking down the green hillside to the plant.

But, after opposition from local villagers and global rights groups, the plan was blocked by the federal government and Supreme Court in 2013. Two years later, Odisha tried to revive the mining plan without success.

Vedanta said in a statement to that it would participate in any auctions of new bauxite mines in Odisha, adding that the state had 70 percent of India’s total bauxite reserve, the world’s fifth-larg爱上海419est.

The company did not answer a question on whether it still hoped to access the Niyamgiri reserve, which is estimated to hold 88 million tonnes of bauxite, enough to meet the refinery’s demand for around 17 years based on current annual consumption of 5 million tonnes.

It takes around 3 tonnes of bauxite to produce 1 tonne of alumina, a chemical mixture used to make aluminum metal by running an electrical current through it.

Vedanta has environmental and other clearances in place to expand the refinery’s capacity to produce 6 million tonnes of alumina a year, said the executive, who declined to be named, citing company policy.

The plant produced around 1.2 million tonnes of alumina in the last fiscal year, and has a current capacity of 2 million tonnes.

Vedanta has already spent more than $9 billion to build the refinery and an aluminum smelter in Odisha. The refinery has never made money since being commissioned in 2007, mainly due to the use of costly bauxite.

A federal environment ministry spokesman did not respond to requests seeking comment on the protests against the refinery. A senior ministry official declined to comment.

“ZERO HARM”

Prafulla Samantray, who won the international Goldman Environmental Prize in 2017 for leading the legal campaign against the open-cast mine, said he had already challenged the expansion of the refinery in India’s National Green Tribunal, on the grounds that when mining is not allowed in Niyamgiri, no polluting industry should be permitted around it.

Vedanta denied the refinery polluted the area.

“We, at Lanjigarh, are committed to operating as a responsible business, adhering to international standards of sustainability and corporate governance,” the company said in the statement. “We are committed to our environment by achieving ‘zero harm’, ‘zero waste’ and ‘zero discharge’ at our unit and promote social inclusion across our operations.”

Vedanta insiders say it is natural for a company that has grown so quickly – majority owner Agarwal started out in 1979 buying a tiny copper company and n,上海贵族宝贝论坛Fergie,ow runs an empire spread across continents – to be the target of environmentalists.

But at the same time they acknowledge the damage to its image such protests can cause. Many high-profile investors have already sold their shares in the company.

A planned $1 billion university by Agarwal’s foundation in Odisha has been collateral damage from the opposition to Vedanta, said Bijay Patnaik, a former chief civil servant of Odisha who now heads the university project that has been delayed by years because of a dispute over whether the venture was ‘non-profit’.

“Vedanta University has nothing to do with the company as such. But people still think it’s all related to the company, nobody thinks it’s his personal wealth he is giving,” Patnaik said.

CONVINCING OPPONENTS

Vedanta says in a background paper posted on its website that the refinery and mine w,上海千花网Ireland,ere always conceived as an “integrated project” that would benefit an area it says is characterized by “stark poverty”.

In Lanjigarh, senior police officer Gopinath Monipatra said Vedanta has been able to convince a number of people about the economic benefits of having the refinery, though many still remained opposed to it.

Local journalists and police said the plant was the only reason the remote area, parts of which are controlled by leftist guerrillas, now had well-maintained, tarred roads and motorcycles.

“It would have remained a jungle otherwise,” said policeman Gupteswar Bhoi.

The plant employs around 5,300 people directly or indirectly, with more than two-thirds of them from its host district and the one adjoining it. Spending by the company on local health and education facilities is rising too, it said.

But tribal leaders such as Sikaka spoke passionately against the plant at the June 5 rally, held under a colorful tent shaded by mango trees as around 150 police kept a watch, some in riot gear.

Behind Sikaka sat a handful of Dongria women in their traditional red-and-white tribal dress, with golden rings through their noses and colorful beads around their necks.

One was the sister of millet-grower Drinju Krushuka, who said he walked five hours to the rally from his village deep in the hills, after hearing on the radio about the deaths in Thoothukudi.

“We will never allow them to expand and mine in Niyamgiri,” said Krushuka, who has never been to school. “How man,爱上海419Nicholas,y people can they kill?”