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США в ОБСЄ засудили проведення російського перепису в окупованому Криму

Санкції, які стосуються Криму, будуть діяти доти, поки Росія не поверне повний контроль над півостровом Україні, наголосила Кортні Острієн

Депутати «обмінюються» родичами, влаштовуючи їх своїми помічниками на зарплату з бюджету – «Схеми»

4,5 мільйони гривень заплатили 12 родичам депутатів, що працюють помічниками в інших парламентарів

South Korea Takes Another Step Toward Reaching the Moon

A global giant in technology completes a space launch as it aims to eventually send a probe to the moon. Plus, NASA launches its latest deep-space explorer and a look at a robot that turns humidity into drinking water. VOA’s Arash Arabasadi brings us the Week in Space.

Immigrant Advocates See Double Standard in US Border Reopening

The Biden administration is preparing to open America’s borders to travelers fully vaccinated against COVID-19 on November 8, but the decision will not affect asylum-seekers at the southern border, many of whom are barred entry under a Trump-era public health order that authorizes the swift expulsion of migrants.

The administration is hailing the reopening of the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada land borders, closed to most travelers since March 2020, as a win for interlinked communities in all three countries.

“Cross-border travel creates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy. We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

But immigration advocacy groups see disparate and unfair treatment of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. They note the U.S. will welcome nonimmigrant travelers coming to the U.S. for tourism or business while a federal public health order continues to serve as the basis for expelling migrants, regardless of their vaccination status.

“The Biden administration’s so-called public health restrictions on asylum are a deadly and illegal double standard,” Kennji Kizuka, associate director of research for refugee protection at Human Rights First, said in a statement.

In a report issued this week, Human Rights First documented 7,600 cases of migrants the Biden administration expelled under Title 42 who were subsequently kidnapped or victims of violence in Mexico’s crime-ridden border regions.

Defense of policy

The Biden administration continues to defend the expulsion policy, which it has modified to exclude unaccompanied minors and some families with young children. The United States recently allowed entry to thousands of Haitian migrants encamped at a Texas border town, while sending many others back to Haiti.

Biden’s pick to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Chris Magnus, promised during his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday that he would continue to enforce the health order.

“I think it’s absolutely imperative that we do everything possible to stop the spread of COVID. And Title 42 is a CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] authority, and I think it helps with this,” said Magnus, who is currently police chief of Tucson, Arizona.

Magnus acknowledged challenges at the U.S.-Mexico border and stressed he is dedicated to enforcing immigration law in a humane way.

Immigrant advocates are not satisfied.

Matt Nelson, executive director of Presente.org, told VOA that reopening land borders for fully vaccinated nonessential travelers next month shows the administration believes America has reached a milestone in the pandemic.

In light of that, retaining Title 42 “boggles the mind,” he said.

“The U.S. is a global leader in vaccine production and can easily vaccinate asylum-seekers and process their asylum cases but chooses not to. The paradigm of restriction, exclusion and punishment is an inhumane response to a humanitarian crisis,” Nelson added.

ВАКС відмовився конфісковувати квартиру Волинця, про яку розповідали «Схеми»

У САП повідомили, що подаватимуть апеляційну скаргу після ознайомлення з повним текстом рішення

The Inside Story-Afghanistan’s Addiction Crisis TRANSCRIPT

TRANSCRIPT 

 

The Inside Story: Afghanistan’s Addiction Crisis 

Episode 10 – October 21, 2021 

 

Show Open: 

 

Voice of: KATHERINE GYPSON, VOA Congressional Correspondent: 

 

Afghanistan’s poppy fields provides most of the world’s opium …  

Creating a crisis of addiction in the country.  

 

 

Mark Colhoun, Former UNODC Representative in Afghanistan: 

 

So, these are all increasing the threat to the population exponentially. 

 

 

KATHERINE GYPSON: 

The old … the young.  

The men … and the women …  

Drugs’ grip on Afghanistan’s society and economy —  

On The Inside Story: Afghanistan’s Addiction Crisis.  

 

 

The Inside Story:  

KATHERINE GYPSON: 

 

Hi. I’m Katherine Gypson, VOA’s Congressional Correspondent.  

 

While members of Congress and others debate the tactics of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the strategies of 20 years of war, there is one issue that has constantly plagued that country: Drugs. Narcotics. Specifically, opium.  

 

According to the U.N., Afghanistan produces 80 percent of the world’s opium.  

While the rest of the world tries to deal with the trafficking of the drug, millions of people are addicted inside Afghanistan.  

 

Before the U.S. withdrawal, VOA’s Afghan Service traveled through the country to document the extent of Afghanistan’s Addiction Crisis.  

 

 

Our grim trip begins in the capital, Kabul.  

 

Voice of narrator (Annie Ball):  

 

In Afghanistan, this is where, and how, it sometimes ends. A drug addict’s life.  

 

Health workers came to round-up the addicts and take them to addiction treatment centers. But today they encounter the lifeless bodies of three addicts. 

 

Here, at Kabul’s “Pul-e-Sokhta” bridge, the health workers face the grim, and heavy chore of removing the bodies, hauling them up to the street and away for burial. If no family can be located, they will be laid in an unmarked grave, with no one to mourn their loss. It is the mark of shame to be buried alone in Afghanistan.  

 

For the workers and government officials, it reminds them they cannot help everyone. 

Dr. Aref Wafa was working with addicts. 

 

 

 

Dr. Aref Wafa, Department of Drug Demand Reduction: 

 

Especially when we come here in the winter, our goal is to save their lives. They may increase the dose due to cold or chills. When they overdose, they do not feel it, therefore, this causes their death. 

 

 

 

Narrator:  

 

Doctors say, these addicts are consuming heroin, morphine, opium and increasingly, crystal meth. The cause of death is usually a drug overdose. They are taken to a Kabul cemetery for burial. How many bodies are buried there? No one knows. Officials don’t track the numbers.  

 

Gholam Yahya’s brother lost his life to addiction under the bridge. Yahya, an addict like his brother, still lives under this bridge. Now, he describes the sadness—and shame—and how addicts’ deaths are treated by religious leaders.  

 

 

 

Gholam Yahya, Drug Addict: 

 

They said those who use drugs, commit suicide. Since they commit suicide, their funeral prayers are forbidden. They cannot be washed. His mother did not bring her child to this world to end up under Pull-e-Sokhta bridge. He did not wish this for himself., but I could not bury him in any cemetery. 

 

 

 

Narrator:  

 

In Kabul’s ‘Pul-e-Sokhta area, this is not just the story of Gholam Yahya’s life.  

 

Throughout Afghanistan, it is known as a drug addiction center. The bridge in western Kabul has become a major hub for drug users for the past two decades. An iconic symbol of drug abuse in a nation rife with addiction. 

 

The addicts don’t come just from Kabul, but many from the provinces, too.  Hundreds of them share this grimy space, spending their days and nights getting high amidst the waste and debris.  Most of them have been evicted by their families and have no shelter. 

 

They live in squalor, surrounded by filth, black walls, and dirty water. 

 

Over the years there have been several unsuccessful attempts to close the area. But it remains a popular gathering place for addicts. 

 

Nazo is one of many looking for loved ones. Her husband and brother are addicted to drugs. Nazo’s husband uses opium and is remarried. He left her with the responsibility of taking care of their six boys. In Afghanistan, single mothers with no men in the house face a particularly difficult life, especially when the single mother is the only breadwinner. This is why Nazo hopes to find her brother, who is a heroin addict. 

 

 

 

Nazo, Sister of a Drug Addict: 

 

It has been five months since I went to Kart-e-now, Arzan Qemat, Jada, and Cinema-e-Pamir to Shama-li so that anyone could tell me his whereabouts. I don’t know the area. I went to ask. I got home about ten o’clock at night. I am a woman. I cannot bear this grief, if God forbid. someone touches me or someone talks dirty behind my back. 

 

 

 

 

Narrator:  

 

In addition to her six children, Nazo also has been taking care of her mother and her brother’s wife. She washes dishes and cleans people’s laundry, making about $2.60 a day.  

 

 

 

 

Nazo, Sister of a Drug Addict: 

 

I suffered for him so much. The other day, I told my mother. ‘Mother!’ She said, ‘Yes.’ I said ‘it’s a pain, we can get over it. I will find a poison tablet and we will end everything together. 

 

 

 

KATHERINE GYPSON: 

 

Stories like Nazo’s are becoming more commonplace because of the drug trade’s grip on Afghanistan’s economy.   

 

2017 was the peak, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.  

 

Nearly 10-thousand tons of opium brought in one-point-four billion dollars — seven percent of Afghanistan’s GDP.  

 

And now the opium produced from the poppy plant has a rival that also grows wild in Afghanistan.  

 

 

 

Narrator:  

 

As a country, Afghanistan deals with insecurity, endless wars, corruption, poverty, a weak economy, high unemployment, and other challenges. But it also faces the problem of home-grown addiction and drug use. Some describe drug addiction in this country as a hidden tsunami; a large wave ready to crush what is in its wake. 

 

Despite billions of dollars in international aid, government projects and efforts, Afghanistan remains the world’s top cultivator of poppy—the plant used to make opium and heroin. 

 

The country is the world’s largest narcotics producer.  A joint survey by the Afghan government and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, shows they are losing the war to eradicate the crop.  

 

It says in 2020, poppy cultivation was up 37% in Afghanistan.  

 

The report found that last year poppy was cultivated on nearly a quarter of a million hectares of land in 22 of the 34 provinces. 

 

Most of the opium is smuggled abroad, but what remains is a problem at home. 

 

 

 

Mark Colhoun, Former UNODC Representative in Afghanistan: 

 

We are seeing high level of opioid use in the country. We are seeing high level of cannabis use in the country and an emerging threat that we have been noticing for the last number of years is definitely methamphetamine and other amphetamine type stimulants in the country. So, these are all increasing the threats to the population exponentially, so we have drug production and then rising drug use in the country which is a severe threat to the people of the country. 

 

 

 

Narrator:  

 

Drug production and addiction go hand-in-hand, and both are on the rise.  

 

User statistics are hard to come by. The most recent numbers are from a 2015 survey. It was conducted by INL, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and the Afghan government. It found that 2.5 to 3.5 million Afghans are directly or indirectly addicted to drugs. At that time, one in three families tested positive for drugs. And the rural areas were three times worse than in the cities. 

 

 

 

Dr. Ahmad Jawad Osmani, Former Afghanistan Minister of Public Health: 

 

Unfortunately, drug addiction is not diminishing. It is increasing. And that’s why, we think that the number that was estimated in the past has increased even more.  

 

 

 

Narrator:  

 

Meanwhile, a recent report shows crystal methamphetamine – also called crystal or meth — is a growing problem in Afghanistan. Last November, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) reported that the country is becoming a significant global producer of meth. 

 

One reason is drug traffickers discovered that the ephedra plant, which commonly grows wild in parts of Afghanistan, can be used to make meth. The report focused on the production of meth in Bakwa district. It called the preliminary findings “worrying,” adding there is potential for meth to rival the country’s production of opiates. 

 

  

 

KATHERINE GYPSON: 

Concern over the rapid increase in meth production is its relative low cost to make.   

And for many of Afghanistan’s addicts, low cost is what they are looking for.  

And it is not limited to the cities.  

 

VOA’s Afghan Service went about 180 kilometers west of Kabul — to Bamyan province — for a ground-level view of addiction’s reach into rural villages.  

 

 

 

Narrator:  

 

Bamyan is known for its beautiful landscapes. It is where, nearly 20 years ago (March 2001) the Taliban destroyed two ancient statues of Buddha, which had been the largest in the world.  

 

Here, people in the cities and villages suffer from drug addiction. 

 

Local officials say there are about 50,000 addicts, and people affected by addiction. 

 

Head west, into more rural areas, and you find drugs even more prevalent than in central Bamyan province.  

 

The Waras district is where most of the villagers use drugs.  

 

The long drive to get there winds through scenic landscapes and rutted roads.  

 

Waras district is surrounded by green hills and valleys.  

 

People in this remote area live in poverty. They lack the benefits of modern society, like good schools, clinics or hospitals, and technology.  

 

The sun shines brightly this morning in Bazobala village. Here, everyone, young and old, including the men, women and children are drug addicts.  

 

Eighty families live in Bazobala.   

 

Most people here use drugs together, in groups, and out in the open. The lives of the villagers revolve around smoking drugs. When they have it, they use it. 

 

When asked why, they mention many reasons. Like this 18-year-old man: 

 

 

 

Drug Addict, Bazobala Shuqol village: 

 

The reason I became addicted to drugs was unemployment and poverty. I went to Iran, far away from home. I was unemployed and the situation was bad, so I got addicted to drugs. So, when I return here, I thought that the situation will be better. The situation is bad here as well. 

 

 

 

Ali Yawar, Bazobala Shuqol village: 

  

I have been using drugs for almost fifteen years. First, I used heroin, now I’m using in crystal. 

 

 

 

 

Narrator:  

 

It affects the children too. Parents not only use themselves, but also give drugs to their children. In addition to heroin, opium and crystal meth, the addicts of Bazobala are also familiar with other drug options, like tramadol tablets. It is a cheap alternative to heroin and opium. 

 

 

 

Drug Addict, Bazobala Shugol village: 

 

Those whose consumption is high, like myself, my spending is also high. I use may be one or one and half packet. A packet is 25 (32 cents) to 50 Afghanis. You can’t even purchase this tramadol 500 for 100 Afghanis. 

 

 

 

Narrator:  

 

In Pezhandur village, women are also drug addicts. 

 

In many families in the area, they use drugs with their husbands and children 

 

This is Fatima. She has been addicted to drugs for 30 years. Fatima, her husband and her sons use drugs together.  

 

 

 

Fatima, Pashandur Village: 

 

I have asthma. I’m sick as well. I’m 65 years old. I go to work in the desert and mountains until late. I’m weak and my husband is also sick. 

 

 

 

Narrator:  

 

Villagers here work in farming and raising animals. Young people go to the mountains to collect grass for the animals, and the children are shepherds. 

 

The idyllic life of these villages is disrupted by narcotics, brought in from neighboring provinces. Residents say they have repeatedly informed security agencies about the smugglers, but no action is taken. 

 

The villagers want the government’s attention. They want help, and they want an addiction treatment center. 

 

There is only one 20-bed clinic in Waras, which clearly lacks the ability to treat all the addicts in an area of tens of thousands of people. Local officials want more. 

 

 

 

Qasim Ali, Chairman, People’s Council of the Peshandur & Bazobala Area: 

 

Everyone is addicted to drugs. These people are all unfortunate. The reason is unemployment and poverty. The government does not care about these people. I request from the government, the international community, and human rights to build a hospital in the Shiwqol area. The hospital should be 100 beds or so so these people can be treated. 

 

 

 

KATHERINE GYPSON 

Addiction treatment is undergoing a change now that the Taliban are running Afghanistan.  

 

Police have been recently rounding up addicts in Kabul, giving them a choice to either sober up or face beatings.  

  

They are stripped, bathed and shaved before going into a 45-day treatment program.  

 

But as one Taliban officer put it: “It’s not important if some of them will die. Others will be cured. After they are cured, they can be free.” 

 

The addicts rounded up in these raids have been men. But women fall victim to drug addiction, too. Before the Taliban took over, our VOA Afghan Service team went to Balk province in northern Afghanistan and discovered the disturbing way women addicts can be preyed upon.  

 

 

 

Narrator:  

 

The yellow morning sun shines on Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh’s capital.  

 

This is one of the most populous provinces in northern Afghanistan, and Mazar-e-Sharif is the fourth largest city in the country. 

 

The Blue Mosque, dating back to the 15th century, has made this city famous.  

 

Mazar-e-Sharif hosts internally displaced people, IDPs, from nearby provinces. Security in the city brings people to come live here.  

 

The city suffers from a large presence of drug addicts. Local officials say more than 300,000 people in Balkh province, including women and children, use drugs. 

 

Easy access to drugs has led to more addicts. In the city of Mazar-e-Sharif, some women addicts are homeless, and some seek shelter in the cemetery at night.  

 

This area is called Dasht-e-Shoor. These are the tents of internally displaced families. 

 

This woman lives in the camp. She is an addict with a difficult story. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zohra, Homeless Drug Addict: 

 

I was 13 years old, and my father was not there when my brother and mother married me. Now I am 31 years old, and I am lost. My mother-in-law was beating me. My father-in-law was beating me. I was smoking opium. I used to drink opium and that’s why they were beating me and telling me not to eat it. My husband left me and said “I don’t want a wife like you. You are free.” I have my two children with me. My husband hates me and doesn’t allow me to go home. I live in a tent. I have relatives, but they don’t care about me. 

 

 

 

Narrator:  

 

But Zohra says she is not addicted to drugs by her own free will. She says her family got her hooked. They used drugs in groups, she explains, to lessen the intense pain caused by their work as carpet weavers. 

 

Zohra uses marijuana and opium. She has tried to quit several times but concerns about being homeless led her to relapse. 

She walks the streets of Mazar-e-Sharif at night, begging and collecting usable garbage. This is NOT normal practice for women—because generally, it is not safe here for a woman to be out alone at night.  

 

VOA went with her one night to see how she fares alone. 

 

Zohra told us about how she pays for her habit. And in this harrowing story, she shared about someone giving her a ride, and the offer he made her: 

 

 

 

Zohra/Homeless Drug Addict: 

 

I weave carpets to earn money. I use opium, that’s not cheap. I was on my way to collect waste when a car stopped, and the driver told me to get in the car. And he told me I will take you home and help you. Then I got in the car. The driver showed me the suicide jacket and asked me, ‘Do you want to do this? I will give you money.’ I said ‘No, I will not do it.’ And I jumped out of the car. 

 

 

 

 

 

KATHERINE GYPSON: 

 

The United States spent more than eight-and-a-half billion dollars between 2002 and 2017 battling Afghanistan’s drug trade — That, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.  

 

In May, the Special Inspector General said the Taliban gets an estimated 60 percent of its income from illegal drugs —   About 400-million dollars between 2018 and 2019 according to the U.N.  

 

And in Afghanistan’s easternmost province, VOA’s Afghan service found out that addiction knows no age — old or young.  

 

 

 

Narrator:  

 

Here in Badakhshan province, there are an estimated 25 to 30,000 addicts. Like elsewhere, addiction tends to run in families. 

 

Jan Begum’s family is one of them. They live in the city of Faizabad. Her two sons and husband are addicted. They use crystal meth and heroin. 

 

 

 

Jan Begum, Drug Addict: 

 

We don’t have anything. They are both unemployed, this one is an addict, that one is an addict, too. My older son is not here. It has been three years since he is missing. I don’t know if he is alive or dead. There are four of us, and all four of us are addicts. Yes, we sold everything. We sold bedsheets and everything that we had. And with the money, we bought drugs and used it. 

 

 

 

Narrator: 

 

Jan Begum’s family used to live in a house in Faizabad.  When the homeowner found out the family was using drugs, he kicked them out. 

 

Now, they beg, take in laundry, and spend most of their income on drugs. Some of them have been treated several times for their addiction, but relapsed.  

 

Samiullah is 18 years old. He uses drugs together with his mother, father, and brother. 

 

Samiullah, Drug Addict: 

 

I have been taking drugs from a young age. I take it with my parents. I go out to find then I take it. I wish the government would come and treat us and I would work as a server in a hotel. 

 

 

 

Narrator:  

 

Afghanistan remains the world’s largest opium producer.  

 

Here in Nangahar province, children and teenagers work in the poppy fields collecting the gum with the elders in their family. They’re helping with opium production. 

 

Mustafa is one of the teenagers working the poppy fields. Now,16 years old, Mustafa says he has been moving towards addiction for a long time, just because he works with poppies and opium. 

 

 

 

Mustafa, 16-Year Old Poppy Field Worker: 

 

Well, it’s narcotics, it gets you high. When we collect, we sniff, and it made us dizzy. Made us high, then we would sit down or go home with an excuse to relax and then go out. It had a bad effect. I had a headache when I went to school. I got permission to leave. It had a very bad effect because our heads were spinning, we were high. Drugs must cause this condition to our body. 

 

 

 

Narrator:  

 

This is some of Mustafa’s poppy harvest for the year. A few kilograms of opium have been harvested from the fields. He says that after collecting, he sold the opium and kept two more kilograms to sell later.  

 

When the poppy season is over, he works in fields tending other crops like onions. 

 

Mustafa says he has seen many people, including women, become addicted to drugs after working in poppy fields. He does not want to become an addict himself. 

 

 

 

 

Mustafa, Poppy Field Worker: 

 

If no narcotics were planted here, maybe no one would be addicted to drugs. Poppy made many people addicted to heroin. We want the government to stop the poppy cultivation. They should cultivate for us good, good fruit trees. 

 

 

 

Narrator:  

 

Less poppy production would mean less drug addiction, and fewer drug addicts ending up here, in this cemetery, in an unmarked grave. A sad and shameful death, in a nation where nothing is more important than family, honor and tradition. 

 

 

 

KATHERINE GYPSON: 

 

These are just a few of the stories of addiction in Afghanistan – you can watch the entire documentary at VOANews.com. That’s all we have for now.   

 

Connect with us at VOANews on Instagram and Facebook.  

And you can follow me on Twitter at Kgyp. That’s @ K G Y P.  

See you next week for The Inside Story.  

 

 

### 

  

  

 

 

 

Україна готова надати міжнародним організаціям допуск до росіянина Косяка, затриманого 13 жовтня на Донбасі – МЗС

МЗС також доручило посольствам за кордоном детально поінформувати іноземні уряди про «докази російської агресії»

В ОПЗЖ заперечили виключення Киви з партії

В «ОПЗЖ» заявили, що дії «організаторів цієї провокації отримають належну оцінку керівництва і членів нашої політичної сили, а самі вони понесуть партійну відповідальність»

Lone Democratic Senator Blocks Biden’s Climate Agenda as COP26 Nears

With the U.N. Climate Change Conference set to begin in less than two weeks, a vital piece of the Biden administration’s climate agenda is in danger of dying in the U.S. Senate, at the hands of a member of the president’s own party.

Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat who represents the state of West Virginia, has said he will not support the most important clean energy provisions in the administration’s “Build Back Better” package of infrastructure and social spending programs. Because the Democrats have only 50 seats in the 100-member Senate, and expect zero votes from Republicans, Manchin can kill the entire bill by withholding his vote.

Last week, he indicated he would do just that if the Clean Energy Performance Program, considered the centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s climate plan, were part of the bill. The CEPP would reward electricity producers that begin converting to renewable energy at a rate of 4% per year or greater, and penalize those that do not.

The economy of Manchin’s home state is disproportionately reliant on fossil fuel, so oil and gas firms, coal mining operations and natural gas pipeline companies all wield significant political muscle. The coal industry in West Virginia would be particularly hurt by the CEPP, because 90% of the electricity produced in the state comes from coal-fired power plants.

This week, Manchin also rejected a different effort to meet the administration’s emission reduction goals, this time by imposing a tax on carbon. To the frustration of many in his party, Manchin has not offered any alternatives that would come close to the kind of impact on emissions that the Biden administration is seeking.

Bold promises

On his first day as president, Biden announced that the U.S. would rejoin the Paris Agreement, a climate accord that his predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, had exited. In April, Biden announced that his goal was to reduce U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases that cause climate change to between 50% and 52% of 2005 levels.

Experts say the 4% annual increase in electricity generated by renewables required by the CEPP is essential to meeting the emissions reduction goal.

The bold promise was meant to demonstrate renewed U.S. leadership in the global effort to fight climate change, and was made with an eye on next month’s U.N. climate summit, also known as COP26. Recently, the administration announced it would be sending 13 members of Biden’s Cabinet to the summit, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, demonstrating a very high level of commitment spanning the breadth of the federal government.

Empty-handed at COP 26?

But Manchin’s unwillingness to budge on the climate issue leaves the president in danger of traveling to Glasgow with little, other than good intentions, to show for his first 10 months in office.

Other Democrats in Congress have warned of the danger of failing to take significant action. Former U.S. Senator John Kerry, Biden’s climate envoy, told The Associated Press it would compound the reputational damage the U.S. suffered when Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, told The Guardian newspaper it would make the U.S. delegation look “ridiculous,” adding, “It would be bad for U.S. leadership, bad for the talks and disastrous for the climate. Just disastrous.”

Manchin’s claims

Manchin has claimed the energy industry is making the change to renewables on its own, and that it makes little sense to spend taxpayer dollars on something that is already happening.

Chris Hamilton, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said Manchin’s assessment of the industry’s progress is accurate.

“We can get there if we … allow for the various carbon capture technologies to be developed, commercialized and then utilized within the coal and natural gas sectors,” Hamilton said. “Our goal is to reduce the carbon footprint as well, you know. It’s not like anyone’s opposing that.”

But climate activists sharply dispute Manchin’s characterization of the industry’s progress on reducing emissions.

Manchin’s claims are “demonstrably false,” said Michael O’Boyle, director of electricity policy at Energy Innovation, an energy and climate policy think tank in San Francisco.

“Over the last five years, from 2016 to 2020, the U.S. added about 1.1% to its clean energy share annually,” he said. “In 2020, alone, we hit a record of 2.3%, so barely more than half of a 4% increase.”

Manchin’s personal interests

Critics of the West Virginia senator also point out that Manchin has a considerable personal financial interest in the coal industry. He owns between $1 million and $5 million in shares of Enersystems Inc., a coal brokerage that he founded and that is now run by his son. The company has paid him nearly $5 million over the past decade.

When asked about this apparent conflict of interest, Manchin has for years protested that his assets are held in a blind trust. However, his Senate financial disclosure forms expressly name Enersystems.

Manchin also receives major campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry at large, taking in well over $250,000 in the 2022 election cycle so far.

A dying industry

Adding to the frustration of Manchin’s fellow Democrats is that the coal mining industry that he is so intent on protecting has been shriveling for decades, as demand for coal across the United States decreases.

In 2020, the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that the coal industry in West Virginia, including “all employees engaged in production, preparation, processing, development, maintenance, repair shop or yard work at mining operations, including office workers,” employed 11,418 people, or about 1.4% of the state’s workforce.

The numbers were down slightly in 2020 because of the pandemic and will likely rise when 2021 figures are released, but the longer-term trend is quite clear. Since the early 1950s, when more than 125,000 men mined coal with pickaxes and shovels in West Virginia, improved technology began steadily reducing the number of people needed to run the state’s coal mines.

By the 1990s, there were fewer than 40,000 people employed by the industry in the state, and the numbers have kept falling.

Add to that the decline in demand, as power companies switched to cleaner fuels, including natural gas, and the picture of a dying industry becomes complete. After peaking at 158 million tons in 2008, West Virginia’s coal production has fallen sharply, to well under 100 million tons for the past several years.

Ex-Minneapolis Police Officer Faces New Sentence in Death of 911 Caller

A Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot an unarmed woman after she called 911 to report a possible rape happening behind her home will be sentenced on a lesser charge Thursday after his murder conviction was overturned in a case that drew global attention and was fraught with the issue of race.

Mohamed Noor was initially convicted of third-degree murder and manslaughter in the 2017 fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a 40-year-old dual U.S.-Australian citizen and yoga teacher who was engaged to be married. With his conviction and sentence for murder thrown out, he could be out on supervised release within months.

 

Last month, the Minnesota Supreme Court tossed out Noor’s murder conviction and sentence, saying the third-degree murder statute doesn’t fit the case. The justices said the charge can only apply when a defendant shows a “generalized indifference to human life,” not when the conduct is directed at a particular person, as it was with Damond.

Noor testified at his 2019 trial that he and his partner were driving slowly in an alley when a loud bang on his police SUV made him fear for their lives. He said he saw a woman appear at the partner’s driver’s side window and raise her right arm before he fired a shot from the passenger seat to stop what he thought was a threat.

He was sentenced to 12 1/2 years on the murder count and had been serving most of his time at an out-of-state facility. Noor will be resentenced for his second-degree manslaughter conviction, with state guidelines calling for a range of 41 to 57 months and a presumptive sentence of four years.

His attorneys, Tom Plunkett and Peter Wold, have asked for 41 months, citing Noor’s good behavior behind bars and harsh conditions he face during many months in solitary, away from the general prison population. Legal experts expect prosecutors to seek a sentence at the top end of the range.

Noor, who was fired after he was charged, has already served more than 29 months. In Minnesota, defendants with good behavior typically serve two-thirds of their prison sentences and the remainder on supervised release. If Noor gets the presumptive four years, he could be eligible for supervised release around the end of this year.

If the judge sentences Noor to 41 months, he could be eligible for supervised release — commonly known as parole — right away, though in such situations defendants are typically briefly returned to prison to work out logistics of the parole.

Noor can make a statement at Thursday’s hearing. At his original sentencing in 2019, he got emotional as he expressed regret for what he had done and apologized to Damond’s family.

Damond’s family members came from Australia for the 2019 trial, but they were expected to have statements read on their behalf Thursday.

Damond’s death angered citizens in the U.S. and Australia, and led to the resignation of Minneapolis’ police chief. It also led the department to change its policy on body cameras; Noor and his partner didn’t have theirs activated when they were investigating Damond’s 911 call.

Noor, who is Somali American, was believed to be the first Minnesota officer convicted of murder for an on-duty shooting. Activists who had long called for officers to be held accountable for the deadly use of force applauded the murder conviction but lamented that it came in a case in which the officer is Black and his victim was white. Some questioned whether the case was treated the same as police shootings involving Black victims.

Days after Noor’s conviction, Minneapolis agreed to pay $20 million to Damond’s family, believed at the time to be the largest settlement stemming from police violence in Minnesota. It was surpassed earlier this year when Minneapolis agreed to a $27 million settlement for George Floyd’s death just as former officer Derek Chauvin was going on trial.

У МЗС повідомили, що перевіряють інформацію про можливе затримання українця в Туреччині

Раніше повідомлялося, що у Стамбулі шестеро іноземців заарештовані за звинуваченням у політичному і військовому шпигунстві, в тому числі українець

Головне на ранок: рекорди «ковіду» щодо нових хворих, смертей і вакцинації, вступ у дію обмежень на перевезення регіонами

Про головні події останніх годин в Україні та світі у дайджесті Радіо Свобода

Blinken Makes Push for Democracy in South America

Antony Blinken is making a major push for democracy on his first journey to South America as U.S. secretary of state, visiting two stable democracies, Ecuador and Colombia, at a time of rising violence, authoritarianism and populism in the region. VOA Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports.

NGO: Kidnappings Surge in Haiti in October

At least 119 people were kidnapped by criminal gangs in Haiti during the first half of October, a Haitian NGO said Wednesday, marking a significant surge that has been highlighted by the abduction of 17 North American citizens last weekend.

The increase in crime raised alarms at the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights (CARDH), based in Port-au-Prince, which had already recorded 117 cases for the month of September alone.

“Ninety percent of the kidnappings are committed in the capital region, 70% in the town of Port-au-Prince itself but we see, for this third quarter of the year, an increase in cases in Croix-des-Bouquets,” Gedeon Jean, director of organization, told AFP.

Since the summer, Croix-des-Bouquets, in the eastern suburbs of Port-au-Prince and home to more than 300,000 people, has been under the full control of the gang known as the “400 mawozo,” which kidnapped 17 foreign nationals on Saturday.

 

The victims, a group of missionaries and their family members, had gone to visit an orphanage in the heart of the area under the control of the gang.

Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, to which the abducted missionaries belong, said the group numbered “five men, seven women and five children.”

The kidnappers are demanding a ransom of $17 million for their release, security sources have confirmed to AFP.

The surge in kidnappings throws into sharp relief the increased domination of gangs over the country, something Haitian law enforcement agencies are unable to contain.

“Citizens do not trust the Haitian national police and this poses a problem because we cannot have an efficient police force if the population does not collaborate,” said Jean.

Popular distrust of the police is fueled by involvement of police officers in criminal activities.

“According to our statistics, there are at least two policemen in every large armed group: some policemen are active in gangs and others provide cover, allowing gangs to operate, or they share information with them,” said the Haitian activist.

According to CARDH, at least 782 people have been kidnapped for ransom since January in Haiti, almost as many as in the whole of 2020, which saw 796 kidnappings in total.

US Urges North Korea to Halt Missile Test ‘Provocations’

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations called on North Korea Wednesday to refrain from further provocative actions and engage in “sustained and substantive dialogues,” after Pyongyang launched a ballistic missile from a submarine this week.

“We should not look at this most recent launch in isolation. It is the latest in a series of reckless provocations,” Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said of Pyongyang’s announced submarine-launched ballistic missile test on Tuesday.

She spoke to reporters ahead of a closed-door Security Council meeting called by the United States, Britain and France to discuss the launches.

“Since the beginning of September, the DPRK has launched multiple ballistic missiles, one of which the DPRK claimed included a new hypersonic glide vehicle capability,” Thomas-Greenfield said, using the abbreviation for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“These are unlawful activities,” she said. “They are in violation of multiple Security Council resolutions, and they are unacceptable. Each new advancement of the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs destabilizes the region and threatens international peace and security.”

New missiles, delivery systems

North Korea on Tuesday test-fired a short-range submarine-launched ballistic missile, or SLBM. It was the North’s first launch in two years of an SLBM, which if deployed would add an unpredictable component to its fast-expanding arsenal.

Since nuclear talks with the United States broke down in 2019, North Korea has rolled out a series of new missiles and delivery systems, most of which are designed to evade the missile defenses of the U.S. and its allies.

North Korea is banned from any ballistic missile activity — short range or long range — by a series of Security Council resolutions.

“These launches clearly demonstrate the need for the full and effective implementation of U.N. sanctions, as well as the urgent need to address sanctions evasion by the DPRK,” Irish Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason said in a joint statement with her French and Estonian council colleagues.

“The DPRK must immediately end its destabilizing actions and take concrete steps to abandon its ballistic missile, other WMD, and nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner,” Byrne Nason added.

Tuesday’s test was carried out while neighbors Japan and South Korea held talks with the United States in Seoul.

South Korea and the United States have repeatedly offered to resume talks with North Korea in order to reduce tensions and make progress on denuclearization.

“To reach this objective, we will seek diplomacy with the DPRK to make tangible progress that increases the security of the United States and our allies. This includes considering potential engagement with the DPRK to reduce tensions,” Sung Kim, the U.S. envoy for North Korea, said late Monday.

“The U.S. continues to reach out to Pyongyang to restart dialogue. Our intent remains the same. We harbor no hostile intent towards the DPRK, and we are open to meeting with them without preconditions,” he said.

Rejection from Pyongyang

In a speech last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rejected those offers.

“Recently, the United States has frequently sent signals that it is not hostile to our state, but its behaviors provide us with no reason why we should believe them,” Kim said, according to state media.

In recent weeks, North Korea has released statements objecting both to U.S.-South Korea military exercises, as well as the U.S. military presence in Korea and the wider region.

“North Korea is trying to coerce the world into accepting its violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions as if they are normal acts of self-defense,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

“This is part of the Kim regime’s efforts to achieve de facto international recognition as a nuclear power and receive concessions just for resuming contact.”

US Regulators OK Mixing COVID Vaccines

U.S. regulators on Wednesday signed off on extending COVID-19 boosters to Americans who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine and said anyone eligible for an extra dose can get a brand different from the one they received initially.

The Food and Drug Administration’s decisions mark a big step toward expanding the U.S. booster campaign, which began with extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine last month. But before more people roll up their sleeves, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will consult an expert panel Thursday before finalizing official recommendations for who should get boosters and when.

The latest moves would expand by tens of millions the number of Americans eligible for boosters and formally allow mixing and matching of shots — making it simpler to get another dose, especially for people who had a side effect from one brand but still want the proven protection of vaccination.

Specifically, the FDA authorized a third Moderna shot for seniors and others at high risk from COVID-19 because of their health problems, jobs or living conditions, six months after their last shot. One big change: Moderna’s booster will be half the dose that’s used for the first two shots, based on company data showing that was plenty to rev up immunity again.

For J&J’s single-shot vaccine, the FDA said all U.S. recipients, no matter their age, could get a second dose at least two months following their initial vaccination.

The FDA rulings differ because the vaccines are made differently, with different dosing schedules, and the J&J vaccine has consistently shown a lower level of effectiveness than either of the two-shot Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

As for mixing and matching, the FDA said it’s OK to use any brand for the booster regardless of which vaccination people got first. The interchangeability of the shots is expected to speed the booster campaign, particularly in nursing homes and other institutional settings where residents have received different shots over time.

The decision was based on preliminary results from a government study of different booster combinations that showed an extra dose of any type revs up levels of virus-fighting antibodies. That study also showed recipients of the single-dose J&J vaccination had a far bigger response if they got a full-strength Moderna booster or a Pfizer booster rather than a second J&J shot. That study didn’t test the half-dose Moderna booster.

Health authorities stress that the priority still is getting first shots to about 65 million eligible Americans who remain unvaccinated. But the booster campaign is meant to shore up protection against the virus amid signs that vaccine effectiveness is waning against mild infections, even though all three brands continue to protect against hospitalization and death.

“The available data suggest waning immunity in some populations who are fully vaccinated,” FDA acting commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement Wednesday. “The availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against COVID-19 disease.”

The Moderna booster decision essentially matches FDA’s ruling that high-risk groups are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, which is made with the same technology.  

FDA recommended that everyone who’d gotten the single-shot J&J vaccine get a booster since it has consistently shown lower protection than its two-shot rivals. And several independent FDA advisers who backed the booster decision suggested J&J’s vaccine should have originally been designed to require two doses.

Experts continue to debate the rationale of the booster campaign. Some warn that the U.S. government hasn’t clearly articulated the goals of boosters given that the shots continue to head off the worst effects of COVID-19, and wonder if the aim is to tamp down on virus spread by curbing, at least temporarily, milder infections.

Those questions are likely to come up Thursday as an influential panel convened by the CDC offers more specifics on who should get boosters and when. Their recommendations are subject to approval by the CDC director.

The vast majority of the nearly 190 million Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have received the Pfizer or Moderna options, while about 15 million have received the J&J vaccine.

Глава ОБСЄ закликала розблокувати роботу місії на Донбасі

У повідомленні згадується про блокування роботи місії у контрольованому бойовиками Донецьку

Кандидат у нардепи супроводжував Зеленського на Черкащині – «Опора» вбачає застосування адмінресурсу

За словами самого президента, поїздка до Черкаської області планувалася давно, але відкладалася через карантинні обмеження

Blinken Focuses on Democracy, Migration While Visiting Ecuador, Colombia

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined several challenges being faced by democracies in the Western Hemisphere in a speech Wednesday in Ecuador but said he is optimistic they can be overcome, while noting the survival of a democracy driven by ordinary people is vital to the shared future in the region.

Those challenges include corruption, civilian security, and tackling the economic and social issues facing the people. 

“The reality is we’ve often put more energy into strengthening civil and political rights, as vital and important as they are — free and fair elections, the rule of law, freedom of speech and assembly — and less into strengthening people’s economic and social rights, like bolstering labor standards, expanding access to adequate education and health, providing more inclusive opportunities. People across our hemisphere are demanding that we do both,” Blinken said Wednesday in a speech at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito.

The United States has for the first time designated fighting corruption as a core U.S. national security interest, Blinken noted, as Washington cracks down on illicit financing, and seizing and freezing stolen assets. 

Since 2020, more than $10 billion has been invested by the U.S. in Latin America and the Caribbean through the International Development Finance Corporation. In Ecuador, the U.S. is working with the Banco de la Produccion to provide $150 million in loans this year to small businesses, especially those owned by women. 

Blinken said these investments are done in a “transparent” manner and they treat local communities as “partners,” while drawing a stark contrast with the authoritarian governments that mire countries in the region “in a pernicious cycle of debt.” 

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso declared a surprise state of emergency to combat violence as the chief U.S. diplomat visits the South America country. 

The security forces to carry out these measures must abide by international standards and be held accountable when they are not doing so,” Blinken emphasized during the speech as Lasso said he’s sending troops to the streets to combat drug trafficking. 

In addition to democratic and human rights issues, another major focus of Blinken’s trip is migration, and in Bogota he will co-lead a meeting with foreign ministers from the region about a humane migration policy.  

Speaking Tuesday alongside Ecuador’s foreign minister, Mauricio Montalvo, Blinken said migration is “challenging everyone in the hemisphere,” including in Ecuador, where thousands of Venezuelans have settled in recent years. 

“The foreign minister and I tomorrow will be in Colombia, where we’re together with most of our colleagues in the hemisphere, to talk about what is so necessary right now, and that is a truly regional, coordinated approach of shared responsibility,” Blinken told reporters.  

As Blinken was heading to Ecuador, Lasso declared a 60-day state of emergency to crack down on drug crime.  

The two met Tuesday, and Blinken said Lasso assured him Ecuador’s government would uphold democratic values such as acting in accordance with the country’s constitution.  

“We talked as well about the exceptional measures that have been taken here in Ecuador to deal with the narcotrafficking challenge and the violence and crime that is attendant with that,” Blinken told reporters. ”And we know that in democracies there are times when, with exceptional circumstances, measures are necessary to deal with urgencies and urgent situations like the one Ecuador is experiencing now.”  

Blinken also praised Ecuador for its vaccination campaign against COVID-19.  

VOA’s Chris Hannas contributed to this report. Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.  

 

Longtime Powell Friend Recalls Humble Statesman, ‘Man of His Word’ 

This week Americans and others around the world are reflecting on the life and legacy of Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state and top military officer, who died Monday at age 84. Powell’s family said he died of complications due to COVID-19. He was fully vaccinated but had been battling multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the immune system.

Those close to Powell say that in addition to his being a statesman, he also was a great friend. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb spoke to retired Army Colonel Joe Schwar, whose friendship with Powell spanned six decades, about how Schwar would like his friend to be remembered.

Joe Schwar met Colin Powell in early 1959. Both were brand new Army second lieutenants stationed in Germany.

“He was a bachelor. I was married. He knew basically where to get a free meal,” Schwar said with a laugh. “So, the three of us became very good friends during the two years we served together.”

Schwar’s next assignment was at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Schwar is a white man from the northern state of Pennsylvania. He said Powell was one of the first Black men he ever knew.

Schwar wasn’t too familiar with the racial policies in the era of segregation, which often mandated separate facilities for Blacks and whites until the 1960s. He said he had been on the base in North Carolina about a year when “there was a knock on my door. Open it up and there was Colin Powell. Colin was distraught because he couldn’t find a place that he considered satisfactory for his new bride. I believe it was the Jim Crow [laws] at work there. I guess my wife and I looked at each other and without blinking an eye basically said, ‘Stay with us.’ ”

Powell, his wife Alma, the Schwars and their young kids shared their three-bedroom apartment for six weeks, until Powell finished his training to deploy to Vietnam, and Alma went to live with her family during his deployment.

“And as long as we stayed by on Fort Bragg, we could go anywhere together. We could do anything together,” Schwar said. ” … Once or twice my wife and Alma went down into Fayetteville. Alma was very sensitive about being a Black African American. She educated my wife, basically on what she could and could not do, and my wife had a little rebellious spirit and she could not understand why Alma allowed this to happen.”

Schwar said the prejudice Alma Powell saw growing up in the South perhaps led to her caution years later when her husband was considering a run for president.

“She was concerned about him,” he said. “Not his ability to serve as president, but his physical security serving as president. And I believe she talked him out of it.”

After that fateful deployment to Germany in 1959, Schwar and Powell continued to cross paths. They fought just a few kilometers apart in Vietnam. They also studied at Fort Benning together.

“Fast forward to the mid-1970s,” Schwar said. “I was on my way to the Pentagon for an assignment, Colin had already been in the Pentagon for a year when I got there. And as things happen in the military, you get there, your house isn’t ready for you, your furniture hasn’t arrived yet.

“So, we were having dinner with Alma and Colin, and I mentioned the house isn’t going to be ready for a while, blah blah blah. Colin says, ‘Alma, start doubling up the kids in the rooms; the Schwars are moving in with us.’ ”

And that, Schwar said, was just typical Powell: a regular guy, a regular good guy, someone a young Schwar never suspected would one day rise to be a four-star general and secretary of state.

“One of the most unforgettable people that I ever served with,” he said. “It was just a consistent outstanding record of performance. He was never pretentious. He was a man of his word. What you see is what you get.”

And what the nation got was decade upon decade of steadfast service. Powell will be remembered at the Pentagon as one of the greats, following in the footsteps of George Marshall, a general-turned-secretary of defense and secretary of state, and paving the way for generals like former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and current Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

But Powell’s kindness and his dedication to country, family and friends are what Schwar wants the world to remember.

У КМДА заявили про підготовку до підвищення вартості проїзду у громадському транспорті

У КМДА запевнили, що усі пільги на проїзд для мешканців столиці збережуться.

Київ розірвав 28 договорів на перевезення у маршрутках – КМДА

За словами заступника голови КМДА, місто планує перевірити всю докуметацію щодо проведених раніше конкурсів на перевезення

Суд заочно заарештував експрем’єра Азарова – ДБР

За версією слідства, ексголова уряду «сприяв реалізації інтересів РФ» під час погодження Харкіських угод

Прокуратура Грузії планує висунути Саакашвілі звинувачення в незаконному перетині кордону

За даними прокуратури, політик прибув до Грузії на паромі «Вільнюс»