Федерація біатлону України назвала склад на чемпіонат Європи: до Білорусі їде «основа»

Федерація біатлону України оприлюднила склад команди, яка братиме участь у чемпіонаті Європи. Зі списку випливає, що чоловіки поїдуть до білоруських Раубичів основним складом, жінки – майже основним, за винятком Олени Підгрушної та Юлії Джими.

«На європейському чемпіонаті можуть виступити: жінки

Анастасія Меркушина

Віта Семеренко

Валя Семеренко

Юлія Журавок

Яна Бондар

Надія Бєлкіна

Ольга Абрамова

та чоловіки

Дмитро Підручний

Артем Прима

Сергій Семенов

Артем Тищенко

Тарас Лесюк

Руслан Ткаленко

Антон Дудченко», – вказує офіційний сайт ФБУ, посилаючись на слова генерального секретаря федерації Романа Бондарука.

Чемпіонат Європи містечко Раубичі під Мінськом прийматиме з 20 до 24 лютого. У програмі турніру – індивідуальні гонки, дві змішаних естафети, а також спринти і гонки переслідування.

Континентальна першість є не дуже престижним змаганням у світі біатлону, більшість провідних спортсменів цей старт пропускають, віддаючи перевагу змаганням Кубка світу і чемпіонату світу. Водночас в українській спортивній номенклатурі цей турнір стоїть поруч зі світовою першістю, а Кубок світу називають «комерційними змаганнями». За успішний виступ на чемпіонаті Європи спортсменам призначають стипендії.


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Аеропорти Будапешта й Таллінна почали писати Kyiv замість Kiev

А у представництві ЄС в Україні заявили, що і Євросоюз починає використовувати назву столиці України англійською Kyiv, а не Kiev


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Bug Appetit!

Edible insects are a great source of high quality protein and essential minerals such as calcium and iron. Edible grubs, insect larvae, offer all that, plus high quality fat, which is good for brain development. Insects are part of the diet in many parts of the world. But not in the US, where bug phobias mean insect dishes are extremely rare. But that’s starting to change . . . and some steps are so small, they are micro-sized. From Denver Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports.


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Feeling Unwelcome, Amazon Ditches Plans For New York Hub

Amazon.com Inc abruptly scrapped plans to build a major outpost in New York that could have created 25,000 jobs, blaming opposition from local leaders upset by the nearly $3 billion in incentives promised by state and city politicians.

The company said Thursday it did not see consistently “positive, collaborative” relationships with state and local officials. Opponents of the project feared congestion and higher rents in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, and objected to handing billions in incentives to a company run by Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man.

State Senator Michael Gianaris, who represents Queens and was a vocal critic of the deal, told a news conference Thursday that the Amazon subsidies were unnecessary.

“This was a shakedown, pure and simple,” he said.

Amazon’s sudden pullout from New York City prompted finger pointing by Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo, the politicians who crafted the deal. Cuomo angrily blamed the loss on local politicians while de Blasio blamed Amazon.

Cuomo said in a statement that a small group of politicians had “put their own narrow political interests” above those of New Yorkers.

The year-long search for its so-called HQ2 culminated in Amazon picking Northern Virginia and New York after hundreds of municipalities, from Newark, N.J., to Indianapolis competed for the coveted tax dollars and high-wage jobs the project promised.

Amazon said it would not conduct a new headquarters search and would focus on growing at other existing and planned offices. The company already has more than 5,000 employees in New York City and plans to continue to hire there, Amazon said Thursday.

A Siena College Poll conducted earlier this month found 56 percent of registered voters in New York supported the Amazon deal, while 36 percent opposed it.

City shakedown?

Some New Yorkers mounted protests after the deal was announced, angered by the $2.8 billion in incentives promised to Amazon and fearing further gentrification in a neighborhood once favored by artists looking for cheap studio space.

U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a critic of the project and a self-described democratic socialist whose district spans parts of Queens and the Bronx, cheered the reversal by the world’s third most valuable public company.

“Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world,” she wrote on Twitter.

People briefed on the decision said Amazon had made the decision early Thursday amid rising concerns about the small vocal minority. The people said Amazon will not shift any of the planned jobs to Tennessee — where an operations hub is planned — or Virginia, but plans to grow its existing network of locations.

Amazon had not acquired land for the project, making it easy to scrap its plans, a person briefed on the matter told Reuters on Friday.

Lost opportunity?

In a statement, de Blasio blamed Amazon for failing to address local criticism.

“We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world,” he said. “Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity.”

Some long-time residents in Long Island City, which sits across the East River from midtown Manhattan’s skyscrapers, feared being forced out by rising rents and untenable pressure on already overburdened subway and sewage systems. High-rise towers have sprouted across the neighborhood in recent years.

“This is a stunning development, with Amazon essentially giving in to vocal critics,” said Mark Hamrick, a senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com. The about-turn could spook other companies thinking about expanding in New York, he added.

Alphabet Inc’s Google has avoided competitions between cities for offices, and its growing presence in lower Manhattan has met with little serious blowback.

Google said in December it plans to invest more than $1 billion on a new campus in New York to double its current headcount of more than 7,000 people.

“I think the [Amazon] PR event turned out to be a mistake,” said Jason Benowitz, senior portfolio manager at the Roosevelt Investment Group, who owns Amazon shares.

Shares of Amazon fell 1 percent.


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New Study Shows Rapid Decline in Insect Populations

Insects are the most biodiverse group of living things on the planet. And it is a good thing there are so many of them because they are responsible for many of the fundamental processes that allow life on earth, from pollination to decomposition. But a new report suggests they are disappearing, and that could be catastrophic. VOA’s Kevin Enochs reports.


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Mars Rover’s Mission Finally Over, NASA Says

“I declare the Opportunity mission is complete,” NASA official Thomas Zurbuchen said Wednesday of the U.S. Mars rover mission that outlasted its projected life span by more than 14 years.  

 

The Opportunity rover succumbed to a Martian dust storm and lost contact with Earth nearly eight months ago. NASA finally gave up on it after more than 800 attempts to re-establish contact. 

Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said at a news conference at the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., that he shared the news “with a deep sense of appreciation and gratitude.”

Opportunity was launched in 2003 and reached Mars a year later, close on the heels of its “twin,” a rover named Spirit. Both rovers, roughly the size of golf carts, were tasked with activities that would last about 90 days, but both far outlasted their original missions, spending years exploring the planet’s rocky terrain while using solar panels for engine power.

First to fall silent

Spirit got stuck in 2009 and stopped communicating with NASA a year later. It is believed to have shut down for good during the harsh Martian winter.

Opportunity continued to explore until last year when a dust storm consumed the entire planet and blocked communication with Earth.

NASA scientists said they had hoped the wind would eventually clear debris off Opportunity’s solar panels and allow it to power up and re-establish contact. But repeated attempts to reach the rover failed.

Late Tuesday, NASA scientists made one last try to reach it. By Wednesday, the agency announced the long mission was finally over.

“It was an incredibly somber moment,” NASA scientist Tanya Harrison told The New York Times.  

At the end, the rover had covered a distance of 45.16 kilometers (28.06 miles) — a little longer than a marathon. 

But NASA’s work on Mars continues. The rover Curiosity has been exploring another part of the planet since 2012.

Next year, two more rovers — one from China and one from a combined effort by Russia and the European Union — are expected to begin their own voyages to the Red Planet.  


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US Taxpayers Face Bitter Surprise After Trump’s Tax Cuts

Some taxpayers are getting a bitter surprise this year as their usual annual tax refunds have shrunk — or turned into tax bills — even though President Donald Trump loudly promised them largest tax cut “in American history.”

And with tax season under way, thousands of unhappy taxpayers have been venting their displeasure on Twitter, using hashtags like #GOPTaxscam, and some threatened not to vote for Trump again.

“Lowest refund I have ever had and I am 50 yrs old. No wall and now this tax reform sucks too!!” a woman going by “Speziale-Matheny” wrote from the crucial political swing state of Florida. “Starting to doubt Trump. I voted for him and trusted him too.”

During the year, American wage earners see a portion of each paycheck withheld as income tax, and many then receive a refund the following year if they have overpaid the federal government. That cash boost is eagerly awaited each year, and used to help pay off debt or make large purchases.

But the 2017 tax overhaul — which Republicans promoted as a boon to the middle class — meant many workers paid less in taxes during the year reducing the amount withheld, a change which may have gone unnoticed.

And the reform also cut some popular deductions, sometimes resulting in thinner refunds or even unexpected tax bills.

Early data from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service show that refunds so far this year are 8.4 percent lower than 2018 payouts on average, falling to $1,865 from $2,035.

However, many millions more taxpayers will be filing tax returns by the annual April 15 deadline, meaning this figure could change.

Mark Mazur, assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy under former President Barack Obama, told AFP the negative reaction was “understandable.”

“People focused on the amount of the refund but that’s not the same as their tax liability, the amount of tax they pay for the year,” he said.

Because of lower withholding during the year, some taxpayers have in effect already seen the benefit of the tax cut in their higher paychecks, said Mazur, who is vice president at the Urban Institute.

About five percent of taxpayers — 7.5 million people — will in fact see a tax increase, while about 80 percent should pay less, he said.

‘Angry, disappointed and betrayed’

The IRS on Wednesday said taxpayers who suddenly found they owe taxes could pay their bill in installments and apply for a waiver of penalties normally imposed for failing to pay by the deadline.

“The IRS understands there were many changes that affected people last year, and the new penalty waiver will help taxpayers who inadvertently had too little tax withheld,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement.

A key change of the 2017 tax reform is it limited federal deductions for certain state and local taxes like real estate taxes. As a result, many homeowners in states with higher property taxes will owe more to the federal government.

Neil Frankel, a New York accountant, told AFP people were feeling “angry, disappointed and betrayed.”

“I sympathize with them. The new tax law’s withholding tables were incorrect and misleading. A complete shenanigan,” he added.

“Since my clients are mostly professionals, I don’t really hear any screaming,” he said. “However, I do hear long diatribes on hatred for the U.S. government.”

Last year, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin invited taxpayers to use an online calculator to estimate their tax payments, to determine if they should modify their withholding amount.

‘Misleading’ reports

This week, the Treasury Department said media reports on the lower refunds were “misleading.”

“Refunds are consistent with 2017 levels and down slightly from 2018 based on a small, initial sample from only a few days of data,” the department said on Twitter.

But, Mazur said, perception is key: When the administration of former President George W. Bush cut taxes in 2001, it mailed out checks directly.

“Taxpayers remembered that they got that check,” he said.

Under Obama, however, a tax cut showed up as smaller withholdings and fatter checks during each pay cycle.

“Most Americans when they were surveyed didn’t think they got a tax cut from Obama,” he said.


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Ліга чемпіонів: «Реал» здобув перемогу в Амстердамі

Мадридський «Реал» здобув перемогу над голландським «Аяксом» в Амстердамі – 2:1 у першому для цих команд поєдинку 1/8 фіналу Ліги чемпіонів УЄФА.

Всі голи команди забили по перерві. У складі мадридців відзначилися Карім Бензема (на 60-й хвилині) та Марко Асенсіо (на 87-й), за господарів забив Хакім Зієш (на 75-й).

В іншому матчі середи англійський «Тоттенгем» розгромив німецьку «Боруссію» з Дортмунда – 3:0.


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Доха: Цуренко поступилася третій ракетці світу

Українська тенісистка Леся Цуренко поступилася у другому раунді турніру турніру в Досі (Катар) Qatar Total Open – Premier.

Цуренко програма третій ракетці світу, румунці Симоні Халеп за рахунком 2:6, 3:6.

Ще одна українка, Еліна Світоліна продовжує змагання. Сьогодні вона перемогла латвійку Олену Остапенко. В наступному раунді суперницею Світоліної стане Кароліна Мухова з Чехії.


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Somalia Readies for Oil Exploration, Still Working on Petroleum Law

The Somali government says it will award exploration licenses to foreign oil companies later this year, despite calls from the opposition to wait until laws and regulations governing the oil sector are in place.

Seismic surveys conducted by two British companies, Soma Oil & Gas and Spectrum Geo, suggest that Somalia has promising oil reserves along the Indian Ocean coast, between the cities of Garad and Kismayo. Total offshore deposits could be as high as 100 billion barrels.

The government says it will accept bids for exploration licenses on November 7, and the winners will be informed immediately. It says production-sharing agreements will be signed on December 9, with the agreements going into effect on January 1, 2020.

“We have presented our wealth and resources to the companies,” Petroleum Minister Abdirashid Mohamed Ahmed told the VOA Somali program Investigative Dossier. “We held a roadshow in London [last week], and we will hold two more in two major cities so that we turn the eyes of the world to contest Somalia.”

But several lawmakers have expressed concern the government is moving too quickly. Last week, the head of the National Resource committee in the Upper House of Parliament accused President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s government of a “lack of due diligence” and violating the constitution.

Barnaby Pace, an investigator for the NGO Global Witness, which exposes corruption and environmental abuses, says Somalia, after decades of internal conflict, does not have the legal and regulatory framework to handle oil deals and the problems they can cause, such as environmental abuses, corruption, and political fights over revenue.

“There is not a clear consensus about how the oil sector could be managed in Somalia,” he said. “And once Somalia makes deals like the one it’s proposing, it may be locked in for many years and find it difficult to renegotiate or change them to best protect itself.”

Former oil officials speak out

Somalia’s parliament passed a Petroleum Law to govern oil sector in 2008 when the country operated under a transitional charter. But constitutional experts say that law was nullified after a constitution was ratified in 2012.

A proposed new law is now before parliament for debate. The bill says negotiations for oil-related contracts will be the responsibility of the Somali Petroleum Agency, which would not be formed until the law is passed.

Ahmed said government’s timetable for awarding licenses is just “tentative,” though he believes the government can keep to its schedule.

But Somali lawmakers and opposition leaders are worried the government is in a needless rush.

Jamal Kassim Mursal was permanent secretary of the Somali Petroleum Ministry until last month when he resigned.

He says when the government came to power in 2017, the ministry was informed that bids for oil exploration licenses would not be considered until the Petroleum Law was passed and “we are ready with the knowledge and skills.”

Since then, he told VOA, “Nothing has changed — petroleum law is not passed, tax law is not ready, capacity has not changed, institutions have not been built.”

Abdirizak Omar Mohamed is the former petroleum minister who signed the 2013 seismic study agreement with Soma Oil & Gas.

Mohamed said the country needs political consensus and stability before oil drilling. He notes that a resource-sharing agreement between the federal government and Somali federal states has yet to be endorsed by the parliament.

“No company is going to start drilling without agreement with regions,” says Mohamed. “So why rush? It’s not good for the reputation of the country.”

Soma and Spectrum’s advantage

Mursal also objects to an agreement that gives first choice of oil exploration blocks to Soma Oil & Gas, one of the companies that conducted the seismic studies.

According to the agreement, Soma Oil & Gas will choose 12 blocks or 60,000 square kilometers to conduct oil exploration. Among these are two blocks believed to contain large oil reserves near the town of Barawe.

He says the government needs to renegotiate and offer just two blocks instead.

“This is the one that is causing the alarm,” he said. He predicts that if Soma Oil & Gas gets to choose 12 blocks, the company will “flip” some of the blocks to the highest bidder.

In 2015, Soma Oil & Gas was caught up in controversy after allegations of quid pro quo payments to the Somali Ministry of Petroleum. The payments were termed as “capacity building.” The following year, Britain’s Serious Fraud Office closed the case because it could not prove that corruption took place.

 

Somalia’s current prime minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, was working for Soma Oil & Gas at time. Somali officials say that since taking office, Khaire has “relinquished” his stake in the company, said to be more than 2 million shares.

The other company that conducted seismic surveys, Spectrum, also made payments to the Somali Ministry of Finance, according to Mursal.

Mursal told Investigative Dossier that between 2015 and 2017, Spectrum paid $450,000 every six months to the ministry.

A senior official who previously was involved in the Ministry of Petroleum told VOA that Spectrum paid $1.35 million in all. He said the payment was “consistent,” though, with the advice of the Financial Governance Committee, a body consisting on Somali and donors which gives financial advice to Somalia.

Spectrum has not yet responded to Investigative Dossier requests for an interview.

Current Petroleum Minister Ahmed said the government will do what is best for Somalia, but needs to have a law governing the oil sector in place.

“The parliament has the petroleum law,” he said. “Without it being passed, we can’t touch anything.”

 


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