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Myanmar Military Investigating Death of 2 Boys Allegedly Used as Minesweepers   

Myanmar’s military said it is investigating the recent deaths of two Muslim boys and the injury of another while the children allegedly were being used as human minesweepers when crossfire erupted between the military and the Arakan Army, an armed group seeking independence.Army Major General Zaw Min Tun, a spokesperson for the Tatmadaw, as the Burmese army is called, said, “We are launching an investigation about that incident, in case, if there are any discrepancies or weaknesses in handling the said case.” Zaw Min Tun said the Tatmadaw brought the bodies of two boys to their village, Pyin-shay, a Muslim area, and took the injured child to a military hospital for treatment. Myanmar is Buddhist majority.The identities of the boys have not been released.Rohingya refugee children fly kites in Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia on Oct. 11, 2020.According to the U.N. Country Taskforce on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Violations against Children in Myanmar, October 5, “two boys were killed in Buthidaung Township, Rakhine State, in crossfire between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army. This occurred after the children, as part of a group of 15 local farmers, were alleged to all have been forced to walk in front of a Tatmadaw unit to ensure the path toward a military camp was clear of landmines and to protect the soldiers from potential enemy fire.“On the way, fighting broke out between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army, after which the two boys were found dead with gunshot wounds,” the taskforce stated.“We call for a full, transparent, and expedited investigation of the incident and for anyone responsible for the use and for the killing of the children to be held accountable,” the CTFMR also stated. A Pyin-shay village resident who did not want his name used told VOA’s Burmese service that the Tatmadaw had forced some 15 villagers to work as porters as the military advanced.“AA did not shoot at them,” the villager said.“They died in crossfire between the AA and military. The military did not release them. They ran for their lives.  We brought back two bodies to the village and buried them,” he said.Rakhine State, in Myanmar’s far west, borders Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal. The ethnic Rakhines are waging a Rohingya refugee children play football at Thankhali refugee camp, in Ukhia on Oct. 6, 2020.The agencies also voiced “deep alarm” over an alarming increase in reports of killings and injuries of children in Myanmar.More than 100 children were killed or maimed in conflict during the first three months of 2020, amounting to more than half of the total number in 2019, and significantly surpassing the number of child casualties in 2018, according to the U.N.The most recent incident occurred within 12 months of the delisting of the Tatmadaw for underage recruitment in the U.N. Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) of 2020, agencies noted.


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Zeta Weakens After Crossing Yucatan, But Expected to Strengthen Again

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Zeta – now a tropical storm – has moved off the northern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and is likely to restrengthen into a hurricane as it moves out over the Gulf of Mexico later Tuesday.  In its latest report, the hurricane center says Zeta’s maximum sustained winds are at about 100 kilometers per hour (kph), just below hurricane strength. Forecasters expect the storm to move out over the warm waters of the gulf, strengthen later Tuesday, then pick speed as it moves towards the southeastern U.S. coast.The forecasters say on its current trajectory, Zeta will likely come ashore in eastern Louisiana or western Mississippi late Wednesday or early Thursday. The storm is likely to be a category one hurricane by the time it strikes the coast.  If Zeta does come ashore in Louisiana, it will be the third major storm to hit the state this year, following Hurricane Laura in August and Delta earlier this month. The state has spent a cumulative total of at least three weeks in the National Hurricane Center’s forecast zone for a possible hurricane this season.  Hurricane Zeta Makes Landfall on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula  Hurricane Zeta pounds Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula with strong winds and heavy rains    Zeta is the 11th hurricane and record-tying 27th named storm to form this season.  With more than four weeks left in the season, the record may fall. It is only the second time the hurricane center has gone this deep into the Greek alphabet to select names for a storm. The previous Zeta was in 2005 and marked the last storm of that season.


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US Senate Races Tighten Ahead of Election

With days left until the U.S. election, Democrats are in a position to win a handful of Senate races that could give them control of the chamber in 2021. No matter who wins the White House, party control of the Senate will be a key factor determining how much work gets done in Washington for the next two years.Republicans currently have a 53-47 Senate majority. If Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wins the presidency, Democrats would need a net pickup of just three Senate seats to assume the majority. If U.S. President Donald Trump is elected to a second term, Democrats would need to gain four Senate seats to have a working majority.According to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, seven of the 35 U.S. Senate seats up for reelection November 3 are races that are too close to call. All seven of those seats are currently Republican-held. Additionally, in this cycle Republicans are defending nearly twice as many seats as Democrats, making it more challenging for Republicans to maintain their numbers.Of the 12 Democrat-held U.S. Senate seats up for reelection, only one is rated by Cook Political Report as leaning Republican – the Alabama race between Senator Doug Jones and his Trump-endorsed Republican challenger Tommy Tuberville. The former football coach has been leading Jones in the polls by double digits since the summer.Casey Burgat, director of the Legislative Affairs program at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management, said polling data showing a shift in Democrats’ favor reflect how many races have been nationalized by Trump’s presence at the top of the ticket.“If we think of elections as referendums on those incumbents, Republicans are in a really tight spot right now, led by President Trump,” he said. “Candidates are having to work in their seats to distance themselves, to show a streak of independence to say that ‘I’m just not a vote for an unpopular president.’ States where just four years ago he was incredibly popular – being that he brought in some senators to the Senate based on his election tally. So quite a shift in a few short years.”Here’s where a handful of key races stand:Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) walks on Capitol Hill, February 3, 2020, in Washington.IowaEarlier this year, the central state of Iowa looked to be one of the states holding strong for Republicans. But while Trump carried the state by 9 percentage points in 2016, his trade wars have had an impact on its heavily agricultural economy.Incumbent Republican Senator Joni Ernst supported Trump’s policies and government payments to farmers to supplement the lost income. She has either trailed or tied her Democratic challenger, real estate developer Theresa Greenfield, in almost all polls throughout the year.Iowa farmer Doug Thompson, a Greenfield supporter, said Ernst’s political fortunes are tied to the president.“Her success or failure is going to be based on Trump’s success or failure in Iowa,” Thompson told VOA. “Agriculture has been devastated even though we’ve been paid off [received federal aid]. There’s still a lot of stress out here – a lot of stress on balance sheets.”Ernst stumbled in a recent debate answering a question about commodities prices, but farmer and Iowa State Senator Dan Zumbach said she understands agriculture in Iowa.“President Trump will get our trade settled down so that we can get better prices long term. Joni Ernst is genuine, honest and knowledgeable, and she works hard for our agriculture because she understands it – it’s where her roots are.”North CarolinaEarly October was a tumultuous time for both candidates in one of the nation’s most closely watched Senate races: North Carolina. Considered a bellwether for American politics because its demographic makeup reflects a diverse range of areas, ages and ethnicities, North Carolina is fiercely fought over in the presidential election and features a marquee contest between incumbent Republican Senator Thom Tillis and his Democratic challenger, former state senator Cal Cunningham.FILE – Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) talks to reporters prior to the resumption of the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, January 30, 2020.Earlier this month, Tillis was diagnosed with COVID-19 as a part of the outbreak of cases that impacted the White House and the U.S. Congress. While Tillis has since quarantined and recovered, the virus kept him from the campaign trail. At the same time, his opponent was facing questions about revelations he had been texting a woman who was not his wife. Cunningham ended up admitting to an intimate encounter earlier in the summer and apologized publicly to his family. According to a Real Clear Politics average of polls, Cunningham appears not to have been significantly damaged by those events. He leads Tillis by an average of 1.8 percentage points in political surveys.FILE – Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham speaks to supporters during a primary election night party in Raleigh, N.C., March 3, 2020.MaineFacing a tough reelection race, Senator Susan Collins crossed the aisle Monday to vote against the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. Collins made it clear she was not voting against Barrett based on her qualifications but on timing.“I do not think it is fair nor consistent to have a Senate confirmation vote prior to the election,” Collins said in a statement Monday.FILE – Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) talks to reporters before attending the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, January 28, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.Making decisions in the national spotlight is a familiar role for Collins, who cast a key vote earlier this year in the Senate impeachment trial of Trump. Her opponent, Democratic challenger Sara Gideon, raised funds on the basis of Collins’ vote confirming Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, another decision that led some Maine voters to question whether Collins had maintained her reputation as an independent voice in the U.S. Senate.“Her vote for Brett Kavanaugh was kind of that breaking point, or at least one of the flashpoints in saying we like when you’re independent, but only so far as when you are agreeing with what we do as a state,” said Burgat. “She’s been kind of fighting back against that narrative ever since.”Gideon, a Maine state representative, leads Collins by an average of 4.2 percentage points in a Real Clear Politics average of polls conducted in September and October prior to the Supreme Court vote.South CarolinaThe home state of one of Trump’s strongest Senate defenders is a relatively late entry into the list of close races. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is leading his Democratic challenger, former South Carolina Democratic party chairman Jaime Harrison by 6 percentage points in the latest New York Times/Siena poll conducted the week of October 9. But a Quinnipiac University poll has shown the two candidates in a tie in multiple polls since July.FILE – Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jaime Harrison speaks at a campaign rally on Oct. 17, 2020, in North Charleston, S.C.Money is keeping this race competitive. Graham notably complained about Harrison’s fundraising abilities in the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Barrett last week. Harrison, the former South Carolina Democratic party chairman, has broken the record for the largest three-month fundraising effort ever in a Senate race – a record $57 million.“His fundraising numbers have been astronomical, but a lot of that money has been coming from outside the state where voters are looking to him as an opportunity for a Democratic pickup,” said Burgat. “So they are funneling money into that race, for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that Lindsey Graham has become kind of the face of Trump-enabling, Trump-supporting and going along with the Trump agenda.”Harrison has been careful not to focus his campaign on criticism of Trump – part of a balancing act intended to appeal to voters in a state that went for the president over Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton by 14 percentage points in 2016.Toss-upsOther toss-up races include both Georgia Senate races. Polls show Republican incumbent U.S. Senator David Perdue leading Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff by 1.5 percentage points. In an open race for Georgia’s other Senate seat, a Democratic political newcomer, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, leads a crowded field by an average of 8.5 percentage points. The Montana Senate race shows encouraging signs for Republican incumbent Senator Steve Daines, who leads his Democratic challenger, Steve Bullock, by 3.3 percentage points.Kane Farabaugh contributed to this report.


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Europe’s Central Governments Struggle With Restive Regions 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson won last December’s general election partly on the back of promises to unite post-Brexit Britain and to level the country up by reviving parts neglected by previous governments. Partly as a result of his pledge, the Conservative party captured seats in the de-industrialized north of England, breaching a so-called red wall of constituencies that for decades had reflexively voted for Labor, the country’s main, center-left opposition party. Johnson took aim, too, at the Scottish nationalists, vowing to block a second Scottish independence referendum. But thanks to the havoc wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, Britain’s persistent north-south divide has widened — and support for Scottish independence has never been stronger. Welsh nationalism has been stirred by the pandemic into “greater wakefulness,” according to Polly Mackenzie of Britain’s cross-party think tank Demos, with nearly half of all under-25s in Wales now saying they want secession.Northern regional leaders have wrangled with London, complaining it is not doing enough to help them weather lockdowns or to cope with the grievous economic fallout of the coronavirus. Some have opposed a new three-tiered system of restrictions and lambasted Johnson’s handling of the crisis, accusing the government of playing politics with the pandemic.Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham speaks to the media outside Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, England, Oct. 20, 2020.The north’s mayors complain the new tighter measures are being imposed on them with too little consultation by government officials in London. “They can only see numbers and blobs on the map, whereas we see names, communities, the full picture of what happens on the ground,” Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, fumed to reporters last week.  On Monday, 54 Conservative lawmakers representing northern seats warned Johnson that his election pledge to “level up” the nation was being undermined by the disproportionate impact of restrictions in northern England. They said in a collective letter that the coronavirus is threatening to “send the North into reverse.”“The virus has exposed in sharp relief the deep structural and systemic disadvantage faced by our communities and it threatens to continue to increase the disparity between the North and South still further,” the lawmakers said. Their constituencies risk being left behind unless there is a clear strategy for exiting lockdown restrictions.A group of people push a dustbin after a demonstration against curfew and deprivation of rights, in Barcelona, on Oct. 26, 2020. Spain’s Catalonia region said it was studying imposing a lockdown on weekends to fight the spread of the coronavirus.Fueling separatismJohnson isn’t alone among Europe’s national leaders struggling with restive regions to forge a political consensus around a pandemic strategy. Central and regional governments in many European countries are increasingly at loggerheads. Some of the disputes revolve around what approaches to adopt to contain the coronavirus pandemic; others over how to share shrinking economic pies. Many of Europe’s poor regions are being hit harder by the pandemic; wealthy regions, such as Catalonia, Lombardy and Flanders, bristle at the idea that they will have to help bail out their less prosperous neighbors. Lack of consultation or the sidestepping of parliaments and imposing restrictions with no prior agreement are also prompting disquiet, exacerbating pre-pandemic divisions.Some analysts hazard that one of the legacies of the coronavirus crisis could well be to strengthen separatist sentiment in some countries already struggling with secessionists and to boost demands by regions for greater devolved powers. “The coronavirus pandemic is serving to catalyze pre-existing territorial disputes and empower regional nationalist movements,” says Jonathan Parker of Britain’s University of Sussex. “The pandemic is intensifying debates about the constitutional futures of several European regions. Many on the pro-independence side have been empowered by the crisis, which is highlighting the failings of central governments and underscoring the power of the regions,” Parker wrote in a commentary for Britain’s’ Financial Times.Belgium, Spain, Italy and Germany have all seen disputes flaring between national and regional leaders. In Belgium, Flemish nationalists have attacked the central government for its handling of the pandemic. Disputes have raged between Flanders and officials in Brussels. The latest came this week when Flanders declined to impose additional coronavirus restrictions, despite moves by Brussels and French-speaking Wallonia to tighten up. In the past week around 12,000 Belgians a day on average have tested positive for the coronavirus — hospitalization admissions and the death county keep on rising.Speaking to VTM news, Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon accused the central government and Wallonia of adopting “exaggerated measures.” He warned the additional measures won’t necessarily succeed in tamping down transmissions of the potentially deadly virus, adding that cooler heads need to prevail. Flemish nationalists are bristling at the idea that wealthier Flanders should help subsidize poorer Wallonia.FILE – Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaks during a parliamentary session in Madrid, Spain, Oct. 21, 2020.In Spain, seven of the country’s regions have criticized the decision taken this week by the government of Pedro Sánchez to declare a state of national emergency and to impose a curfew. Other regions take an opposite view and have been clamorous for weeks for the central government to order lockdowns. Catalan separatists have argued an independent Catalonia would have tackled the pandemic better than it has as part of Spain, and that there would have been fewer deaths had the wealthy northeastern region been on its own, they say. Earlier this year, when the pandemic started to unfold in Spain, they called on the central government to impose a tough lockdown much earlier than it did.FILE – In this Feb. 10, 2020, file photo, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks during an event at the European Policy Center in Brussels.ScotlandIn Britain, already fractured by Brexit, the pandemic has witnessed a steady divergence in the handling of the pandemic between Johnson’s government in London and the devolved authorities of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The latter were more cautious than the central government in July and August when Johnson eased restrictions. They decided not to do so. Though Scottish nationalists do not like to admit it, the coronavirus has boosted their fortunes, say analysts. Their leader and Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has benefited from increased visibility and has grabbed at chances to differentiate Scotland from England. Support in opinion polls for the Scottish Nationalist Party is now running at about 50%. And backing for Scottish independence also has climbed. Support for separation rose to nearly 60% this month, panicking Conservative ministers in London. “In the 2014 referendum, the Nationalists struggled to get Scots to imagine what an independent government might look like. The pandemic was just what the doctor ordered. Health is devolved under Britain’s constitution, so Ms. Sturgeon’s administration has the trappings of a state-in-waiting,” noted The Economist magazine recently.Sturgeon has received plaudits for her handling of the pandemic — her message has been consistent and so have her policies.  “The coronavirus crisis has given Nicola Sturgeon’s government renewed purpose, increased visibility, new chances to differentiate from England and the opportunity to boast about its supposed superiority,” according to Polly Mackenzie of the Demos think tank.
 


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ВАКС постановив поновити розслідування схеми «Роттердам +»

На засіданні 27 жовтня суд задовольнив скаргу «Нікопольського заводу феросплавів» та скасував рішення САП закрити справу


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Досудове розслідування у справі про закупівлю неякісних бронежилетів для ЗСУ завершене – ОГП

В Офісі генерального прокурора повідомили про завершення досудового розслідування у справі про закупівлю неякісних бронежилетів для Збройних сил України. Як йдеться на сайті ОГП, підозрюваним надано доступ до матеріалів кримінального провадження.

«У кримінальному провадженні повідомлено про підозру 8 особам, серед яких два генерали та засновник підприємства-виробника бронежилетів, який лобіював через заступника Міністра оборони України інтереси свого підприємства. Їм інкримінується вчинення за попередньою змовою групою осіб бездіяльності військовою владою, що спричинила тяжкі наслідки в умовах особливого періоду», – йдеться в повідомленні.

Повідомляється, що під час досудового розслідування відбулося 43 обшуки, в ході яких були вилучені 11 тисяч бронежилетів.

Читайте також: Після закупівлі «бронежилетів, які прострілюються», у Міноборони не припинили співпрацю з виробником – «Схеми»

«Під час слідчого експерименту з дотриманням усіх правил сертифікаційних випробувань встановлено, що захисні властивості бронежилетів не відповідають заявленим виробником 1-4 класам захисту. Також проведено 13 судових експертиз, за результатами яких встановлено, що більше 70% бронежилетів прострілюються тими видами зброї, від якої повинні захищати військовослужбовців», – вказали в ОГП.

У липні 2019 року Державне бюро розслідувань оприлюднило розмови працівників Міноборони, звинувативши чиновників відомства «у закупівлі 20 тисяч неякісних бронежилетів» для військових на загальну суму 176 мільйонів гривень. Експертиза слідчих тоді показала, що при намоканні один із його захисних елементів – балістичний пакет – прострілюється. Підозру отримали двоє представників фірми-виробника, а також п’ятеро військових – посадовців Міноборони, серед яких генерал Дмитро Марченко та його підлеглі.

 


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British Study Shows Antibodies Against COVID-19 Declined Rapidly

A new study of the British population shows that antibodies in the human body fighting COVID-19 declined rapidly in the British population during the summer, suggesting any immunity against the virus may not last long.The study, conducted by Imperial College London and published Tuesday, involved tests on more than 365,000 British people between June 20 and Sept. 28.In their findings, the researchers’ analysis of the home finger-prick tests found that the number of people testing positive for antibodies dropped by 26.5% during the study period, from almost 6% to 4.4%.The findings suggest the possibility of decreasing population immunity ahead of a second wave of infections in recent weeks that has forced local lockdowns and restrictions.The researchers say it is unclear what level of protection antibodies give a person against COVID-19 specifically.Imperial College London Department of Infectious Disease head, Wendy Barclay, told reporters in London they are confident in what a decline in antibodies tells them.“On the balance of evidence, I would say with what we know for other coronaviruses, it would look as if immunity declines away at the same rate as antibodies decline away, and that this is an indication of waning immunity at the population level.”The researchers say that more than anything, the study reinforces the need for a vaccine to effectively bring the virus under control.  


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Embattled Malaysian PM Receives Support From Former Ruling Party

Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has received crucial support from a key ally in his attempt to keep his fragile governing coalition together.
 
The United Malays National Organization issued a statement Monday offering its support for the prime minister as the country faces a surge of new coronavirus cases.   
 
Prime Minister Muhyiddin appeared to be on the brink of being forced from power a day earlier after King Al-Sultan Abdullah rejected his request to declare a state of emergency due to the pandemic. Had the king approved Muhyiddin’s request, the state of emergency would have suspended parliament before the prime minister is due to present a budget in early November.   
 
Failure to pass the budget would be the equivalent of a no-confidence vote against Muhyiddin and put pressure on him to call for a general election.    
 
Muhyiddin has been prime minister since February, when he was chosen by King Abdullah after then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad unexpectedly resigned and his government collapsed. His slim alliance includes UMNO, which had ruled Malaysia for more than six decades since it gained independence from Britain in 1957.
 
UMNO leaders have been angered over Muhyiddin’s failure to place its members in senior leadership positions.   
 
Veteran opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim met with the king last month and said he gave the monarch the names of 120 members of the 222-seat parliament who are ready to defect from the prime minister’s coalition. Anwar led a coalition that ousted scandal-tainted Prime Minister Najib Razak and the ruling UMNO-led coalition from power in a historic election in 2018.   
 
But Najib, who remains in parliament despite a conviction on corruption charges, has called on UMNO to join forces with Anwar’s coalition.   


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