Maduro Unveils New Banknote, Other Economic Reforms

Uncertainty reigned in Venezuela Saturday after President Nicolas Maduro unveiled a major economic reform plan aimed at halting the spiraling hyperinflation that has thrown the oil-rich, cash-poor South American country into chaos.

Ahead of a major currency overhaul Monday, when Caracas will start issuing new banknotes after slashing five zeroes off the crippled bolivar, Maduro detailed other measures he hopes will pull Venezuela out of crisis.

Those measures include a massive minimum wage hike, the fifth so far this year.

But analysts say the radical overhaul could only serve to make matters worse.

“There will be a lot of confusion in the next few days, for consumers and the private sector,” said the director of the Ecoanalitica consultancy, Asdrubal Oliveros. “It’s a chaotic scenario.”

​‘Pure lie’

The embattled Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader, said the country needed to show “fiscal discipline” and stop the excessive money printing that has been regular practice in recent years.

The new currency, the sovereign bolivar — to distinguish from the current, and ironically named, strong bolivar — will be anchored to the country’s widely discredited cryptocurrency, the petro.

Each petro will be worth about $60, based on the price of a barrel of Venezuela’s oil. In the new currency, that will be 3,600 sovereign bolivars, signaling a massive devaluation.

In turn, the minimum wage will be fixed at half a petro (1,800 sovereign bolivars), starting Monday. That is about $28, more than 34 times the previous level of less than a dollar at the prevailing black market rate.

Maduro also said the country would have one fluctuating official exchange rate, also anchored to the petro, without saying what the starting level would be.

As it stands, the monthly minimum wage, devastated by inflation and the aggressive devaluation of the bolivar, is still not enough to buy a kilo of meat.

In the capital Caracas, residents were skeptical about the new measures.

“Everything will stay the same, prices will continue to rise,” 39-year-old Bruno Choy, who runs a street food stand, told AFP.

Angel Arias, a 67-year-old retiree, dubbed the new currency a “pure lie!”

1 million percent inflation

The International Monetary Fund predicts inflation will hit a staggering 1 million percent this year in Venezuela, now in a fourth year of recession, hamstrung by shortages of basic goods and crippled by paralyzed public services.

Maduro blames the country’s financial woes on opposition plots and American sanctions, but admits that the government will “learn as we go along” when it comes to the currency redenomination.

His government pushed back Saturday against criticism of the economic reform plan.

“Don’t pay attention to naysayers,” Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said. “With oil income, with taxes and income from gasoline price hikes … we’ll be able to fund our program.”

Electronic transactions are set to be suspended from Sunday to facilitate the introduction of the new notes.

Economy in turmoil

Oil production accounts for 96 percent of Venezuela’s revenue, but that has slumped to a 30-year low of 1.4 million barrels a day, compared to its record high of 3.2 million 10 years ago.

The fiscal deficit is almost 20 percent of GDP while Venezuela struggles with an external debt of $150 billion.

Venezuela launched the petro in a bid for liquidity to try to circumvent US sanctions that have all but stamped out international financing.

But there’s a good reason the redenomination hasn’t generated renewed hope or investor confidence: Venezuela has done this before.

Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez stripped three zeroes off the bolivar in 2008, but that failed to prevent hyperinflation.

Also, Cryptocurrency rating site ICOindex.com has branded the petro a scam, and the U.S. has banned its nationals from trading in it.


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Scientists Extract Uranium Powder from Seawater with Yarn

The world’s oceans are filled with trace amounts of uranium, the primary fuel for nuclear power reactors. The trick is extracting it from the seawater. Now, scientists in the U.S. say they have done that using yarn, and extracted 5 grams of the powdered form of uranium used to produce reactor fuel. Faith Lapidus reports.


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Turkey’s Economic Crisis Rattles Global Markets

A budding trade war between the U.S. and Turkey over a detained American pastor is having global consequences. A sharp drop in Turkey’s lira, inflation and the threat of loan defaults, could drag down other economies, particularly in emerging markets. Turkey’s troubles are causing ripple effects in countries as far away as Argentina and Indonesia, while weighing on Asian currency rates and triggering currency fluctuations. VOA’s Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Washington.


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Гроза із сильним вітром у Києві триватиме всю ніч – КМДА

Гроза у Києві триватиме до кінця ночі, очікуються шквали 15-18 м/с, сильний дощ, повідомляє Київська міська адміністрація з посиланням на Український гідрометцентр.

«Управління з питань надзвичайних ситуацій Департаменту міського благоустрою нагадує основні правила поводження у разі посилення вітру: усі вікна будинків щільно закрити, прибрати з балконів і лоджій предмети, які можуть випасти назовні; якщо ви опинилися на вулиці, то триматися подалі від рекламних щитів, ліній електропередачі, дерев; у разі сильного вітру сховатися в найближчому приміщенні або природному укритті; уникати перебування поблизу великих дерев, особливо тополь, а також не паркувати поруч із ними автотранспорт», – радять на сайті КМДА.

У ніч на 16 серпня сильна злива накрила Київ. У результаті були затоплені вулиці, повалені близько 200 дерев і п’ять опор електропередач.


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Researchers Plot Maps, Collect Data to Fight Future Infectious Disease Outbreaks

With the Democratic Republic of Congo facing its second major Ebola outbreak this year, emergency responders have worked to contain the spread of the disease. Scientists, meanwhile, are testing the effectiveness of experimental vaccines in the field.

Alongside these efforts, researchers in the DRC are collecting data that will improve how we respond to, and prevent, future outbreaks of Ebola and other infectious diseases.

Their work involves building a comprehensive picture of how diseases like Ebola spread by tracking cases and mapping where people live, work and seek health care.

Over time, a more sophisticated understanding of the environments through which contagious diseases spread will lead to faster, more effective treatment.

Long-term response efforts

Anne Rimoin is an associate professor of epidemiology at the UCLA School of Public Health. She’s also the director of the UCLA-DRC Health Research and Training Program, an effort based in Kinshasa, Congo, that’s been underway for 16 years.

Rimoin returned to the U.S. last month from fieldwork in the DRC. She told VOA that her group is collecting data that will benefit responses to not just Ebola but emerging infectious diseases as well as.

“In an outbreak, you have to understand where people are and what their patterns of travel are. Where they’re going, where they’re working, where their fields are,” Rimoin said. “If you don’t know where things are, it becomes very difficult to define a response.”

Collecting this kind of data is especially important in a country like Congo, where small, unmapped villages checker vast forests, and the infrastructure hasn’t, for the most part, been developed.

“The DRC is a very large country,” Rimoin said. “There haven’t been good, accurate maps of the DRC available to date.”

​High-tech and local knowledge

Rimoin’s group partners with several organizations, including the DRC’s Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Rimoin said the Health Research and Training Program in Kinshasa uses a mix of high-tech solutions and local knowledge. The group analyzes satellite imagery to understand the terrain and population centers in the DRC. But they also rely on insights from residents to compile a more accurate and complete data set.

These data-collection tools allow Rimoin’s team to figure out not just boundaries but human activities, including traffic flows and health centers.

They plot important landmarks like roads, rivers and health centers. They also track exposure to health care workers and people who have been vaccinated to compare them to other populations, building a more complete understanding of how prevention drugs work.

“It’s important for data to be available so that you can look for trends between outbreaks and try to find commonalities and try to be able to quickly ascertain similarities between outbreaks,” Rimoin said.

Local knowledge

Working with local populations is critical to the project’s success. It’s these experts who know the terrain and the population, and that expertise often proves invaluable, especially when faced with skepticism from residents about the efficacy of vaccines.

By partnering with local organizations and international efforts with a long-term commitment to the country, Rimoin said, the Health Research and Training Program is better positioned to work with communities to understand their needs, concerns and beliefs.

“It’s really important to work with people who are there all the time — not parachuting in,” Rimoin said. 


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Поліція просить батьків бути пильними: за літо у водоймах загинули 53 дітей

Цього літа за період від 1 червня до 16 серпня у водоймах загинули 53 дітей, з них 22 – до 10 років, решта – тінейджери, повідомив у Facebook перший заступник голови Нацполіції В’ячеслав Аброськін.

Він розповів, що у п’ятницю у річці Стир потонула 16-річна дівчина, намагаючись врятувати молодшу дитину.

 «Дітям потрібні дорослі, аби захищати їх та робити все, аби вони уникали небезпеку. Ми маємо навчитися вчасно приходити на допомогу нашим дітям й це має бути цілий комплекс дій від виховання в сім’ї, дитячому садочку до школи, як себе поводити на річці, автошляхах, загалом як поводити себе, аби зберегти власне життя та здоров`я», – написав поліцейський.

​Для порівняння Аброськін також наводить статистику смерті дітей у ДТП за цей же період – 51 випадок, а такожза весь час воєнних дій на Сході Україні – 63 дитини.

 

 


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У центрі Києва триває репетиція параду до Дня Незалежності

У центрі Києва відбувається репетиція параду до Дня Незалежності України, який запланований на 24 серпня.

 

Користувачі соцмереж повідомляють про затори на дорогах.

Як раніше попереджали у КМДА, під час репетиції параду пролунають артилерійські салюти десятьма залпами гармат з вогневої позиції, розташованої на Трухановому острові.

Планується, що у параді візьме участь 4,5 тисячі військовослужбовців і 250 одиниць військової техніки. Генеральну репетицію проведуть 22 серпня.

11 квітня президент України Петро Порошенко доручив на День Незалежності провести військовий парад у центрі Києва, видавши відповідний указ.

У Міністерстві внутрішніх справ України заявили, що з 22 серпня підрозділи будуть переведені на посилений варіант несення служби.


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У центрі Одеси мітингували ЛГБТ і поборники «традиційних цінностей»

ЛГБТ-марш пройшов центром Одеси, повідомляє обласне управління Нацполіції на своїй сторінці у Facebook.

За даними відомства, вранці до початку ходи було затримано двох чоловіків, які «вчиняли хуліганські дії у центрі міста, вдаривши перехожого». На відео, оприлюдненому правоохоронцями, видно, що на затриманих – однакові камуфляжні штани.

Як повідомляє місцеве видання «Думская», затримані вчинили напад на учасника маршу поблизу Катерининської площі.

За даними видання, загалом хода тривала від Приморського бульвару до Думської площі, у тож же час біля пам’ятника Дюку мітингували противники проведення в Одесі ЛГБТ-заходів.

Як повідомляється на сторінці Одеса прайд – 2018, марш відбувався під гаслом «Наші сім’ї – наша цінність» і мав на меті привернути увагу до дискримінації ЛГБТ-людей в Україні. Спочатку його планували провести у неділю, 19 серпня, але потім вирішили змінити дату. Серед озвучених причин – багато паралельно заявлених акції, збіг у часі із християнським святом та особливості логістики.

 


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Economic Fears Grip Turkey

Turkey’s currency this month has suffered heavy falls triggered by U.S.-Turkish tensions over the ongoing detention of an American pastor. Washington’s threat to impose new economic sanctions sparked another steep currency drop Friday. Dorian Jones reports on the economic fall out for people in Istanbul.


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Tesla Stock Drops; Musk Under Fire

Tesla shares dropped nearly 9 percent in value Friday, amid reports of CEO and co-founder Elon Musk meeting with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Musk wrote on Twitter last week of his plans to take the company private for a price of $420 per share, writing that he had “funding secured.” On Monday, in a blog post, Musk admitted that was not true, as he was still waiting on a finalized deal with his investors, a Saudi Arabian foreign investment fund.

“I continue to have discussions with the Saudi fund, and I also am having discussions with a number of other investors, which is something that I always planned to do since I would like for Tesla to continue to have a broad investor base,” Musk wrote.

Since Musk’s original tweet, the company’s shares have dropped 12 percent overall, and reports of subpoenas being issued by the SEC have sent the company into turmoil.

In a New York Times interview Thursday, Musk said, “This past year has been the most difficult and painful year of my career.” The Times also reported that members of Tesla’s board are concerned with Musk’s drug use, notably his use of the sleep aid Ambien, which some believe have contributed to Musk’s controversial Twitter statements.

Last month, Musk came under fire for calling one of the cave divers who rescued 12 Thai soccer players and their coach a pedophile, citing no evidence. He later apologized for that remark.


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