Американські спецпризначенці врятували громадянина США з полону в Нігерії

Американські спецпризначенці врятували громадянина США з полону в Нігерії

Американські спецпризначенці врятували громадянина США з полону в Нігерії, повідомив Пентагон. 27 жовтня озброєні люди взяли американця в полон та перевезли його через кордон до Нігерії.

Наразі він перебуває в безпеці, ним опікується Державний департамент США.

За даними Пентагону, під час спецоперації жоден американський військовий не постраждав. За словами речника Міністерства оборони, США цінують підтримку іноземних партнерів під час цієї спецоперації.

Засоби масової інформації пишуть, що звільненим з полону американцем є 27-річний Філіп Волтон. Він мешкає в селищі Массалта на півдні Нігеру з дружиною та родиною.

Нігер лежить в самому серці регіону Сахель, який бореться з повстаннями груп, що мають зв’язки з екстремістськими угрупованнями «Аль-Каїда» та «Ісламська держава». У полоні бойовиків перебувають кілька громадян країн Заходу.

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Armenia, Azerbaijan Trade Fresh Accusations of Karabakh Shelling 

Armenia and Azerbaijan once more accused each other of bombing residential areas on Saturday, in defiance of a pact to avoid the deliberate targeting of civilians in and around the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.   Shelling was reported by both sides within hours of the latest agreement to defuse the conflict, reached after talks in Geneva between the two countries’ foreign ministers and envoys from France, Russia and the United States.   The agreement with the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group fell short of what would have been a fourth ceasefire since fighting began on Sept. 27. The death toll in the worst fighting in the South Caucasus for more than 25 years has surpassed 1,000 and is possibly much higher.   Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians. About 30,000 people were killed in a 1991-94 war in the region.   The Nagorno-Karabakh Emergency and Rescue Service said the central market in Stepanakert, the enclave’s largest city, had come under fire and that large parts of it had been burned.   Armenia’s defense ministry said several civilians had been wounded in attacks on the city of Shushi, 15 km (9 miles) to the south, while the human rights ombudsman in Nagorno-Karabakh said a civilian in Martuni region had died when a shell hit his home.   Azerbaijan’s defense ministry denied these accusations. It said that the regions of Terter, Aghdam and Aghjabedi had come under artillery fire, as had Gubadli, a town between the enclave and the Iranian border that was taken by Azeri troops this week. Azerbaijan’s recent advances on the battlefield, which also extends to seven surrounding regions, have reduced its incentive to strike a lasting peace deal and complicated international efforts to broker a truce.   The conflict has also brought into sharp focus the increased influence of Turkey, an ally of Azerbaijan, in a former Soviet region considered by Russia to be within its sphere of influence. Russia also has a security alliance with Armenia.  In response to a request by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to outline the extent of Moscow’s support, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it would provide “all assistance required” should the conflict spill onto “the territory of Armenia” — land that is outside the current conflict zone.   Nagorno-Karabakh’s army says 1,166 of its soldiers have been killed since Sept. 27. Azerbaijan, which does not disclose its military casualties, updated its civilian death toll to 91. Russia has estimated as many as 5,000 deaths on both sides.  

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Міністр юстиції розповів, що можуть зробити з Окружним адміністративним судом Києва

Ліквідація Окружного адміністративного суду Києва мало що змінить, розповів міністр юстиції Денис Малюська в інтерв’ю Радіо Свобода.

«Навпаки, вона іноді може призвести до якихось негативних наслідків, якщо вона буде не продумана. Інша справа – якщо буде ухвалене рішення передати юрисдикцію частини спорів, які вирішує ОАСК, іншому суду. Або навіть ледь не всі. Або об’єднати ОАСК з іншим судом. Такого роду сценарії менше завдадуть шкоди, ніж проста і елементарна ліквідація ОАСК. Тому що, якщо ми ліквідуємо ОАСК, то це означає, що весь масив спорів, а вони дуже багато спорів розглядають, має розглянути хтось інший. Питання: хто? За які ресурси?» – розмірковує Малюська.

Він зазначив, що в ситуації з Окружним адміністративним судом Києва мало хто сумнівається в професійності суддів.

«Судді професійні і знають законодавство дуже і дуже непогано. Сумніваються у доброчесності і в етичних стандартах. Це ключове», – розповів Малюська в ефірі програми «Суботнє інтерв’ю».

Він оцінив петицію до президента України Володимира Зеленського з вимогою ліквідації Окружного адміністративного суду як політичне звернення.

«Треба зробити щось з ОАСК, з тим, щоб він перестав генерувати ось ці сумнівні судові рішення, щоб йому знову можна було би довіряти. Як це зробити? Реорганізація, злиття чи передача повноважень іншому суду, чи передача разом з ліквідацією? Тобто там потрібно зробити кілька кроків, але це вже вирішувати за консультаціями», – заявив Малюська.

26 жовтня петиція до президента України Володимира Зеленського про ліквідацію Окружного адміністративного суду Києва набрала 25 тисяч підписів. У відповідь президент доручив розпочати консультації з Вищою радою правосуддя.

 

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Security Remains High in France After Deadly Knife Attack at Church in Nice 

Security throughout France was high Saturday after this week’s deadly stabbings at a church in Nice as President Emmanuel Macron tried to ease tensions in the country. French leaders have termed Thursday’s incident an Islamist terrorist attack after the perpetrator shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) as he decapitated a woman and killed two others in Notre Dame Basilica in Nice. Thursday’s attack followed the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty earlier this month after the republication of the Prophet Muhammad by the Paris-based satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.  Macron triggered protests in the Muslim world after the murder of Paty, who showed a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad to his class, by saying France would never renounce its right to caricature. On Saturday, though, Macron sounded a more empathetic tone in an interview with Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera. “I can understand that people could be shocked by the caricatures, but I will never accept that violence can be justified,” Macron said. 
 
Meanwhile, French authorities detained a third man for questioning Saturday in connection with the Islamist knife attack at Notre Dame Basilica in the southern French city of Nice that left three people dead. 
 
The man, a 33-years-old, was present during a police search Friday at the home of a second young Tunisian man suspected of being in contact with the attacker. 
 
France, Tunisia and Italy are jointly investigating to determine the motive of main suspect Ibrahim Issaoui, a 21-year-old Tunisian, and whether he acted alone and whether his act was premeditated. 
 
French police have three people in custody for questioning after they found two telephones on the suspect after the attack. 
 
The first man, age 47, was detained Thursday night after police reviewed surveillance footage and observed the person next to the attacker on the day before the attack. 
 
A second detained subject, 35, suspected of contacting Ibrahim Issaoui, the day before the attack, was arrested Friday. 
 
Macron said earlier in the week he would increase the number of troops deployed to protect schools and churches from 3,000 to 7,000. Indonesian President Joko Widodo, meanwhile, strongly denounced the attacks and remarks Macron made on Oct. 21, when he said Paty “was the victim of a conspiracy of stupidity, hate, lies … hate of the other … hate of what we profoundly are.” “The comments could divide the unity of the world’s religious communities at a time when the world needs unity to curb the COVID-19 pandemic,” Widodo said Saturday during a televised news conference in Jakarta.   Tunisian authorities are reportedly investigating whether a group called the Mahdi Organization carried out the attack. The state news agency TAP reported Friday investigators were also trying to determine whether the group exists and that the probe is based on claims of responsibility on social media.   Issaoui, who transited Italy last month en route to France, remains in critical condition in a French hospital after being wounded by police as they arrested him.   Three people were killed in Thursday’s attack. French anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said a 60-year-old woman was decapitated, and a 55-year-old man, the church sexton, had his throat slit. Forty-four-year-old Brazilian national Simone Barreto Silva was stabbed several times before fleeing to a nearby bistro, where she raised the alarm before succumbing to her wounds.     Issaoui was not on Tunisia’s list of suspected militants and was not known to French intelligence services.   Ricard said Issaoui arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa on September 20 and traveled to Paris on October 9.   He said Issaoui was carrying a copy of the Quran. The knife used in the attack was found near him and two other knives not used in the attack were found in a bag that belonged to him.   French leaders have termed Thursday’s incident an Islamist terrorist attack and raised the country’s security alert to its highest level.   

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At Least 27 Dead as Powerful Quake Hits Major Turkish City, Greek Islands

Rescue teams in Turkey working around the clock recovered another body Saturday from the rubble of a collapsed building in Bayrakli district in Izmir struck by a strong earthquake.The quake hit Turkey’s third-largest city and a nearby Greek island on Friday morning, killing at least 27 people and injuring more than 800.Haluk Ozener, director of the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute, said that Izmir was the hardest-hit and most-damaged area.Izmir’s Governor Yavuz Selim Kosger said at least 70 people were rescued from the wreckage of four destroyed buildings and from more than 10 other collapsed structures.As the quake hit, residents were seen running into the streets in panic in Izmir, which has a population of 4 million.The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.9 with an epicenter 13 kilometers north-northeast of Samos and 32 kilometers off the coast of Turkey.The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude at 7.0. It is common for preliminary magnitudes to differ in the early hours and days after a quake.The quake triggered a surge of water into Izmir’s Seferihisar district.On the nearby Greek island of Samos, a teenage boy and girl were found dead in an area where a wall had collapsed.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said all means necessary would be used to assist rescue efforts.Many of Izmir’s inhabitants, fearing for their safety, were spending the night outside, in parks and open land or in their cars. Soup kitchens have been set up to feed those in need.Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis offered his condolences to Erdogan. The quake comes amid high tensions between the neighbors over disputes over territorial waters, but Mitsotakis tweeted, “Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together.”Erdogan thanked Mitsotakis and offered assistance, “We are standing with Greece if there is anything we can do for them.”Turkey is no stranger to powerful earthquakes, developing a large pool of expertise in rescue operations.The provincial city of Izmit, close to Istanbul, was devastated by an earthquake in 1999, killing at least 17,000 people. Many of those killed died in collapsed buildings.Since the 1999 quake, stringent building regulations have been introduced, along with a program of strengthening old structures. 

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Deadly Earthquake Warms Relations Between Greece and Turkey 

Rescue teams on both sides of the Aegean Sea searched Saturday through crushed buildings and concrete rubble, pulling out at least 27 dead and hundreds more injured after a powerful earthquake toppled buildings in the Turkish city of İzmir and created sea surges on at least two Greek islands.    At least 60 separate aftershocks have jolted the Greek islands of Samos and Ikaria since the deadly 7.0 earthquake hit the region, experts in Athens said Saturday.   Damaged buildings at the port town of Vathy following an earthquake, on the island of Samos, Greece, Oct. 30, 2020. (Samos24.gr via Reuters)The powerful tremor originated from a 250-kilometers-long fault line off the coast of Samos, streaming across the Aegean Sea that divides the two adversaries.   Yet just hours after Greece and Turkey were struck by the deadly quake, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis placed a rare telephone call to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to offer his condolences.   “Whatever our differences, these are times when people need to stand together,” Mitsotakis posted on Twitter.   And his gesture was met.   Turkey’s strongman replied in a twin tweet: ‘That two neighbors show solidarity and support in difficult times is more valuable than many things in life.”   Although Greece and Turkey are both members of NATO, there are perhaps no two allied, neighboring nations whose dealings have been marked with so much conflict and mistrust. And most recently, both sides have been embroiled in a heated energy standoff in the eastern Mediterranean, bringing them to the brink of war during the summer.   FILE – Warships from Greece, Italy, Cyprus and France, participate in a joint military exercise which was held from 26-28 of August, south of Turkey in eastern Mediterranean sea, Aug. 31, 2020.The European Union and the United States have been working for months in hope of sitting both sides down to negotiate their differences — but to no avail.   It remains unclear whether the deadly earthquake can warm up ties.   Unlike a set of devastating quakes that hit the two countries in 1999, both sides have settled for diplomatic niceties. Greece has not offered rescue crews and supplies to assist Turkey’s quake-hit Izmir and surrounding provinces.   Athens and Ankara only recent re-established a military hotline but diplomatic talks planned initially for the start of October were scrapped. Still, millions of Greeks kept glued to their television sets watching their neighbor’s tragedy unfold alongside their own.   Dramatic footage broadcast by Turkish television was interplayed against domestic stills of search efforts in Samos, where two teenagers were crushed to death by a building whose walls crumbled and balcony fell as the pair were walking home from school. In Izmir, cars and household contents such as refrigerators, chairs and tables were seen floating through the main streets — an almost mirror image of the calamity that cloaked port towns in Samos and Ikaria. All but two of the people killed — the two teenage students — were from Turkey. Experts anticipate the death toll will rise. Rescue workers search for survivors at a collapsed building after an earthquake in the Aegean port city of Izmir, Turkey Oct. 31, 2020.Greek seismologist Akis Tselentis warned that aftershocks could prove powerful because of the shallow depth of the quake — roughly 10 kilometers. He said post tremors were expected for as long as two months. On Saturday, France offered assistance to both countries, extending “full solidarity to both Greece and Turkey.”  

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Помер перший виконавець ролі Джеймса Бонда Шон Коннері

Шотландський актор, перший виконавець ролі агента 007 Джеймса Бонда, сер Шон Коннері у віці 90 років. Про це повідомляє ВВС.

Новина доповнюється.

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У Греції на місяць закриють ресторани та запровадять комендантську годину

У Греції на місяць запроваджують нічну комендантську годину та закриють ресторани і бари у густонаселених районах країни, щоб стримати поширення пандемії коронавірусу. Про це 31 жовтня заявив прем’єр-міністр країни Кіріакос Міцотакіс, повідомляє агентство Reuters.

У Греції виявили менше випадків COVID-19, ніж в інших країнах Європи, однак з початку жовтня спостерігається зростання щоденної кількості інфікованих.

Анонсовані заходи набудуть чинності 3 листопада.

Суворий локдаун цього тижня оголосили у Франції та Німеччині.

 

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Halloween 2020: Some Fun with Death and Fear, Anyone?

The setting: a rolling patch of Pennsylvania farmland, about 15 miles from the little town where “Night of the Living Dead” was filmed. The moment: Halloween season 2020, a moonlit Friday night.She strides up to the hayride, then beckons you to the dimly lit tent behind her. Her eyes are hollow. “Blood” streaks her nurse’s uniform. Across her forehead is a deep, oozing wound.”This is the corona tent,” she says. “I’m Nurse Ratched. We’re gonna test you all for the corona.”This is Cheeseman Fright Farm, one of those stylish Halloween attractions that emerge from the shadows in the United States of America when the leaves start falling and the days grow shorter.On this night, it is the place to be: By 8:45 p.m., a line 400 strong — some wearing face masks, some not — waits, at $20 a pop, to be carted off into the darkness and have creatures in various states of decay leap out at them for the better part of an hour.Good fun? Other years, sure. But this year — this 2020 of pandemic and uncertainty and racial injustice and sometimes violent unrest and unthinkable political divisions?In a year when fear and death have commandeered front-row seats in American life and more than 225,000 are dead from COVID, what does it mean to encounter the holiday whose existence hinges on turning those things into entertainment? What happens when 2020 and Halloween collide? Can being scared — under certain, controlled conditions — still be fun?A jack-o’-lantern is part of a Halloween display in front of an Upper East Side home on Oct. 30, 2020, in New York City.There’s precedent. In 1931, when the Great Depression was at its height and American society seemed fragile, Universal Studios uncorked its first iconic horror films, delivering up Bela Lugosi as Dracula and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster.In the 1950s, when American life felt finite, with nuclear menace from without and subversive threats from within, science fiction produced “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and “The Thing From Another World.”But usually the fear Americans have chased is different than — though certainly related to — the fear in our lives.”We have to process all this unpleasant cultural stuff. But it’s easier to do when you’re not looking at it too directly,” says David J. Skal, who chronicles the American fascination with horror and is the author of “Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween. “I hope there is some kind of catharsis that comes out of Halloween this year.”The question is, with so many Americans affected by this year’s events, is that the kind of release people seek?”If you’ve been directly impacted by serious illness or loss, we’ve heard from people that this isn’t something that appeals to them this year,” says Matt Hayden, co-owner of Terror Town, an Old West-themed horror village in Williamsburg, Ohio.That’s not the majority. Hayden reports record attendance this year, people who want to swap that dull, pounding fear for something cinematic. “They can come to places like this,” he says, “and separate themselves from this year and what it’s been.”Even beyond COVID, there’s enough fear and death to go around. Among the year’s scares: What will happen on Election Day? What will happen to the republic AFTER Election Day?A skull and spiderwebs are part of a Halloween display in front of an Upper East Side home on Oct. 30, 2020, in New York City.Then there’s the racial reckoning fueled by centuries of fear and death visited unto Black people in America — and renewed by 2020’s convulsive events. As The Root wrote in October 2016, “Every day is Halloween for Black people.”The HBO show Lovecraft Country, which ended its first season this month, played on that notion with a blend of fantastical horror and the ugly real-life terror of racism in 1950s America. The show got, instinctually, what Americans are absorbing in 2020: What we’ve been trained by Hollywood and Halloween to see as frightening might pale when compared to what’s around daily life’s next corner.Are your finances uncertain? Unemployment might be your horror. Pre-existing health condition? As daunting as a murderer in a hockey mask. And if you are a young Black man who gets pulled over by police, the fear could be as dreadful as any seven-eyed monster with 3-inch teeth.Esther Jones, dean of the faculty at Clark University in Massachusetts, studies medical ethics, speculative fiction and African American literature. To her, 2020’s blurred lines are part of what’s making this Halloween unusual.”Halloween, for one night, you know it’s coming. You’re going to immerse yourself in this fear and this release. And the next day you’re back to normal,” Jones says. But 2020 “has turned over the rock. It’s removed the mask,” she says. “Everything that we thought was so strong and resilient and would not change is changing in front of our very eyes.”So right now, what do zombie mannequins in the supermarket foyer and hands clawing out from front-yard Halloween graves in the suburbs really give us?Perhaps the fear itself isn’t what provides the release. Maybe it’s that the fear, consumed in bite-sized doses, comes to a measurable end. And when it does conclude, no matter what the rest of the world is dishing out, turns out you’re still fine after all. You’ve made it. Or, at least, you can pretend you have.”The notion of survival — that we come out on the other side of this — has perhaps changed, but perhaps come out stronger,” Jones says. But “if there’s no end in sight for it, how do we exist with this threat?”Back in 1968, that original “Night of the Living Dead” ended with the hero — a Black man — surviving the flesh eaters only to be shot by a police posse. Then came “Dawn of the Dead” and “Day of the Dead.” Halloween will come and go, but those other horrors — they don’t end when the sun comes up the next morning. 

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Trump Travels Saturday to Pennsylvania; Biden to Michigan

With only three days of campaigning left before Election Day in the United States, both top candidates travel to battleground states Saturday, with Republican President Donald Trump focusing on Pennsylvania while Democratic candidate former Vice President Joe Biden plans events in Michigan.Biden will be campaigning alongside former President Barack Obama for the first time during the campaign. The two will travel to Flint and Detroit on Saturday, part of two days of campaigning to get out the vote in Michigan.In Detroit, they will be joined by singer Stevie Wonder, who will perform at a drive-in rally. Wonder has previously performed at several Democratic events, including for Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012 as well as for Hillary Clinton in 2016.Trump plans to hold four rallies in cities across Pennsylvania on Saturday. The president narrowly won the state in 2016 and is seeking to repeat his performance there. Polls currently show Biden with a slight advantage.Trump told reporters Friday that he is undecided about his election night plans after The New York Times reported he canceled plans to appear at an event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.“We haven’t made a determination,” Trump said in response to a reporter’s question about his whereabouts on election night. Trump said coronavirus restrictions imposed by the local government in Washington, including a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, would be a factor in the decision.“You know, Washington, D.C., is shut down. The mayor has shut it down. So we have a hotel; I don’t know if it’s shut — if you’re allowed to use it or not, but I know the mayor has shut down Washington, D.C. And if that’s the case, we’ll probably stay here or pick another location,” Trump added.On Friday, Trump and Biden both campaigned in the Midwest with Trump traveling to Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, while Biden held events in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.Michigan has 16 electoral votes, Minnesota and Wisconsin have 10 each, and Iowa has six.Biden told supporters at a drive-in rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines Friday that the state hit a daily record number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations this week and argued that Trump “has given up” on fighting the virus.Trump told supporters at an outdoor rally in Waterford Township, Michigan, that Biden has predicted a dark winter ahead because of the coronavirus pandemic.“Just what our country needs is a long dark winter and a leader who talks about it,” Trump said.The president said a safe vaccine would be delivered to Americans in a matter of weeks, adding that it will be free because “this wasn’t your fault. This wasn’t anyone’s fault. This was China’s fault.”National polls typically show Biden with a lead of 7 or 8 percentage points over Trump, although the margin is about half that in several key battleground states that are likely to determine the outcome in the Electoral College.According to an average of major polls compiled by the website Real Clear Politics, Biden and Trump are virtually tied in the battleground states of Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina, while the president trails the former vice president in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.Americans are voting early for Tuesday’s presidential election in unprecedented numbers, a product of strong feelings for or against the two main candidates and a desire to avoid large Election Day crowds at polling stations during the pandemic.More than 82 million people had already voted as of Friday, well above half of the overall 2016 vote count, which was 138.8 million.     

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В Україні минулої доби знову виявлено рекордну кількість хворих на COVID-19

В Україні упродовж минулої доби, 30 жовтня, встановлено черговий рекорд за кількістю хворих на COVID-19 на добу – 8 752. Про це свідчать дані Системи моніторингу поширення епідемії коронавірусу РНБО.

Померли 155 людей, одужали 3 902.

Найбільше хворих виявили у Києві (781), Донецькій (749) та Харківській (622) областях.

 

Станом на 31 жовтня в Україні виявлено понад 387 тисяч інфікованих коронавірусом, померли 7 196 людей, одужали – майже 159 тисяч.

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Від початку доби на Донбасі зберігається тиша – штаб ООС

Від початку поточної доби, 31 жовтня на Донбасі не зафіксовано порушень режиму припинення вогню. Про це повідомили у штабі операції Об’єднаних сил.

«Від початку поточної доби, 31 жовтня, порушень режиму припинення вогню не зафіксовано. По всій лінії розмежування спостерігається тиша», – мовиться у повідомленні.

Упродовж минулої доби бойовики тричі порушили домовленості, внаслідок одного з обстрілів загинули двоє українських військових.

 

У незаконному збройному угрупованні «ДНР» заявили про один обстріл з боку ЗСУ. У аналогічному угрупованні «ЛНР» про перебіг бойових дій минулої доби не звітували.

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Thousands in Warsaw Join Biggest Protest so far Against Abortion Ruling

Tens of thousands of Poles joined a march Friday in Warsaw, the biggest in nine days of protests against a ruling by the country’s top court last week that amounted to a near-total ban on abortion in the predominantly Catholic nation.Defying strict rules that restrict gatherings to five people during the coronavirus pandemic, demonstrators walked through central Warsaw streets carrying black umbrellas, a symbol of abortion rights protests in Poland, and banners that read “I think, I feel, I decide” or “God is a woman.”Military police, some in riot gear, lined the streets as the demonstration began.Organizers and the city of Warsaw said some 100,000 people took part, one of the largest protest gatherings in years, following a Constitutional Court ruling on Oct. 22 outlawing abortions because of fetal defects. It ended the most common of the few legal grounds left for abortion in Poland and set the country further apart from Europe’s mainstream.Daily protests have taken place across the country in the past week and have turned into an outpouring of anger against five years of nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) rule and the Roman Catholic church, which is an ally of the government.Far-right groups which support the court ruling also turned out in small gatherings in Warsaw on Friday, and TV footage showed police clashing with them to keep one group away from the protesters.The leader of the abortion rights movement in Poland, Marta Lempart, told activists to report any attacks and to resist any threats of prosecution or fines for taking part. “We are doing nothing wrong by protesting and going out on the streets,” she told a news conference.After the ruling goes into effect, women will only be able to terminate a pregnancy legally in the case of rape, incest or a threat to their health.Dancing on tramsIn an effort to ease tensions, President Andrzej Duda proposed legislation on Friday reintroducing the possibility of terminating a pregnancy due to fetal abnormalities, although only limited to defects that are immediately life-threatening.Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki pledged lawmakers would proceed with the legislation quickly, but demonstrators were unimpressed.”This is an attempt to soften the situation for PiS, but no sane person should fall for it,” activist and leftist lawmaker Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus told Reuters.The government has accused demonstrators of risking the lives of the elderly by defying strict pandemic rules against large gatherings. Poland reported a daily record of more than 21,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.Health Minister Adam Niedzielski drew comparisons between the Polish protest and the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality, saying demonstrations across the United States caused an “escalation” of the pandemic.Public health experts say there has yet to be conclusive evidence of large-scale spread from the U.S. events.Five women were charged with organizing an illegal protest which attracted 850 people in the town of Police on Thursday, officials said.The Roman Catholic Church has said that while it opposes abortion, it did not push the government or the court to increase restrictions.PiS, however, has sought to instill more traditional and Catholic values in public life, ending state funding for in vitro fertilization, introducing more patriotic themes into school curricula and funding church programs.It has also launched a crackdown on LGBT rights and a reform of the judiciary the European Union says subverts the rule law. PiS says it seeks to protect traditional Polish values against damaging western liberalism.Opinion polls have shown its support falling sharply in recent weeks.

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Hundreds of Romanians Form Human Chain on Fifth Anniversary of Deadly Fire

On the steps of a Bucharest court on Friday, Adrian Albu pointed to his sister among the pictures of the 65 people who died in a nightclub fire five years ago, triggering mass protests across Romania at a culture of graft and lack of accountability.Hundreds of people wearing protective masks and standing 4 meters apart lit candles and formed a socially distanced human chain between the site of the former Colectiv club and the Bucharest Court of Appeals where the trial against those responsible is still taking place.”We should know who is guilty and people should know that the same thing can happen again at any moment and we are as unprepared now as we were then,” said Albu, 43, who survived the fire but lost both his sister and his cousin.The fire broke out when fireworks used during a concert by rock band Goodbye to Gravity ignited non-fireproofed insulation foam, triggering a stampede toward the single-door exit.Prosecutors have shown the club’s owners allowed it to fill beyond capacity and that Bucharest officials gave it an operating license while safety inspectors allowed it to run despite knowing it did not have a fire safety permit.A trial resulted in preliminary prison sentences last year, but the decision is on appeal.Badly burned patients were treated in improper conditions in Romanian hospitals, where many contracted infections that are still hampering their recovery.On Friday, centrist President Klaus Iohannis signed into law a bill that covers all future medical expenses of those injured at Colectiv. Albu said the legislation does not account for hundreds of non-Colectiv burn victims Romania records every year.Romania, which has one of the European Union’s least developed health care infrastructures, currently has one of the EU’s highest coronavirus death rates.”Change must start with us citizens,” said Marian Raduna, one of the human chain organizers. “We are the ones who tolerate corruption cases and incompetent authorities, and, sadly, we forget quickly.”

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Why a Big Boost in Litigation Is Possible After Tuesday’s Election

With Tuesday’s U.S. presidential election upon us, it is far from certain that either President Donald Trump or his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, will emerge as the clear winner on election night.While Biden is leading Trump by a cumulative average of 8 percentage points in national polling, the Democrat’s lead shrinks to just a few points in a number of battleground states crucial to determining the winner in America’s unique system of indirect presidential election.This has raised the odds that the election results could be delayed until all the ballots are officially tallied and certified. To be sure, a winner could well be declared if either Trump or Biden comes out on top with a large margin of votes.But if the results are too close to call in some states, the ballots there could be subject to a recount and potential legal challenges, a process that could take weeks, if not longer, to sort out.“There’s nothing magical about Election Day or election night in terms of the legal requirements of finding out who won,” said James Gardner, a law professor and election law expert at the University of Buffalo. “What you have to do is go through the complete electoral process and count all the votes. And (if) that takes a few days or more, then we just wait.”Tom Spencer, a veteran Republican election lawyer and vice president of the Lawyers Defense Fund, agrees that the impending electoral contest won’t be over until all the ballots are counted.“I think that experienced election lawyers know that results change predicated upon when the ballots come in,” said Spencer, who served as co-counsel for the George W. Bush presidential ticket during the 2000 vote recount in Florida.Hundreds of lawsuitsFor American voters, this has been a year of confusion as Republican and Democratic lawyers have filed hundreds of lawsuits over voting by mail and other rules during the pandemic, making this election cycle the most litigated in history.With the looming possibility that the presidential election outcome could be decided in the courts rather than at the ballot box, both the Trump and Biden campaigns have enlisted high-powered lawyers who have already begun running through various post-election scenarios.“We have been planning for any post-election litigation and recounts for well over a year and are extraordinarily well-positioned,” Justin Riemer, chief counsel for the Republican National Committee, said in a statement to VOA. “With the help of our national network of attorneys, the RNC has been beating the Democrats in court for the last several months and that will continue should they attempt to sue their way to victory in November.”A Biden campaign spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. In an Oct. 9 tweet, Democratic lawyer Marc Elias wrote, “Republicans are spending $20 million to make voting more difficult in the middle of a pandemic that has cost over 200,000 lives.”If any of the election results for president, members of Congress or state offices are close, losing candidates have two “remedies” available to them, Gardner said.The first is a vote recount. Currently, 21 states allow for automatic recounts if the margin between the two opposing candidates is less than 1%, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In other states, a losing candidate can request a recount.A recount “simply repeats, with greater care, the counting of ballots that were in the initial pool of ballots,” Gardner said.If a recount does not change the results – they rarely do – the losing candidate can launch what is known as an election contest, essentially filing a legal challenge, Gardner said. This is the phase where the losing candidate can dispute the validity of ballots or practices used in counting the votes, triggering court battles that could take weeks and potentially end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.State and federal courts all the way up to the Supreme Court have been busy for months dealing with more than 300 cases stemming from the primary and general election campaign – many of them having to do with mail-in voting and changes in procedures at polling places in response to the coronavirus pandemic.This week, the Supreme Court allowed election officials in the battleground states of  Pennsylvania and North Carolina to accept mail-in ballots that arrive three to six days after the election, respectively, after refusing to affirm Wisconsin’s six-day ballot receipt extension.“You could very well have a situation like we had in 2000 with ballot examination and counting teams going through thousands of ballots with observers from both parties looking over their shoulders,” Gardner said.Late-arriving ballotsOne potential area of post-election dispute will likely involve mail-in ballots that arrive after Election Day, said Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections at Common Cause, a citizen advocacy organization.As of Friday, there were still many millions of outstanding mail-in ballots. That means ballots that arrive after Election Day may not count in some states.In Pennsylvania and Minnesota, two battleground states that accept mail-in ballots after Election Day, election officials will segregate late-arriving paper votes. How to dispose of those ballots could become the main issue in subsequent court cases. North Carolina, another key state, may do the same, Albert said.“I think there will be an attempt to segregate those ballots to possibly have them thrown out,” Albert said.Rejected mail-in ballotsRejected mail-in ballots could become another focus of any post-election litigation.During every U.S. presidential election, hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots are discarded by election officials for a variety of reasons, from arriving after the deadline to missing a proper signature on the outer envelope.But this year, because of the ramp-up in absentee voting, a lot more ballots face rejection, with minority and first-time voters disproportionately affected, according to experts. In North Carolina and Florida, respectively, more than 10,000 and 15,000 ballots face rejection.Although voters in 30 states including Florida are given an opportunity to “cure” or correct problems with their ballots, voters in 20 other states are not afforded that opportunity. That means election officials can toss ballots without informing voters about the defects.“I think there will be large disagreements and lots of wrangling over which of those ballots should count and which of the absentee voters should be able to correct any errors in their ballots,” Albert said.Ballot drop boxesBallots placed in drop boxes across the country are another category of voting facing potential litigation.While some states have long used free-standing boxes to collect ballots, this year 40 states will use them, according to the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project.The expanded use of drop boxes has become a major flashpoint in the debate over voting access during the pandemic and a focus of litigation in at least three states: Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.While Democrats and voting rights advocates say drop boxes make it easier for voters to cast their ballots without exposing themselves to the virus, President Trump and Republicans have railed against them, describing them as a potential ballot security risks and trying to limit their number. In Texas, for example, Gov. Greg Abbott has limited the number of drop boxes to one per county.While election officials have sought to reassure voters regarding the security of drop boxes, Republicans continue to argue that they pose problems. In Texas, litigation continues over whether ballots dropped in a collection box were secure enough to be counted, Albert, of Common Cause, said.“I think there are going be arguments that drop boxes were not secure and therefore none of the ballots should count,” she said.   

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