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POLSKA УКРАЇНА - My - Polacy, ale żyjemy w Ukrainie

US House Boosts Military Spending, Gives Trump Border Wall Money

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a $68 billion increase in military spending next year with legislation that also provides money to start construction of President Donald Trump’s Mexican border wall.

The bill increased spending on the U.S. capability to defend itself from foreign missile attacks amid growing concerns about North Korea’s increasing capacity to hit the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile after it successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in July.

The money for the wall is dwarfed by the $658.1 billion the bill would provide for the Defense Department, an increase of $68.1 billion above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $18.4 billion above Trump’s budget request.

The House voted 235-192 for the fiscal 2018 spending bill that would provide $1.6 billion for initial construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, which was a centerpiece of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Democrats repeatedly have referred to any money for the wall as a “poison pill” and are likely to try to kill it in the Senate.

Oct. 1 deadline looms

Congress is up against an Oct. 1 deadline — the start of a new fiscal year — for either passing spending bills or temporarily extending funding at current-year levels to give negotiators more time to come to agreements.

Funding for the wall was tucked into a wide-ranging national security appropriations bill at the last minute by Republican leadership, knowing that many House members who oppose the wall would not sink defense spending with a “no” vote.

Trump has argued that a “big beautiful wall” was needed along the entire southwestern U.S. border and that Mexico would ultimately pay for its construction.

Mexico has flatly refused to pay and in recent weeks Trump indicated that there could be portions of the border that are not conducive to a wall.

Democrats and many Republicans in Congress have questioned the feasibility and effectiveness of a border wall, with immigration advocacy groups arguing that it would not stem the flow of illegal border crossings and would hurt U.S.-Mexico relations.

Opposition to wall

In interviews in recent weeks with more than a half-dozen Republican senators from states that voted for Trump for president last November, only Ted Cruz of Texas embraced building the wall.

Similarly, House Republicans representing districts along the U.S.-Mexico border have expressed opposition to the barrier, which could end up costing well over $21 billion.

Representative Nita Lowey, the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, called the wall a “waste … that experts confirm is unneeded and ineffective and cuts against our values as Americans.”

Furthermore, Lowey noted that Pentagon funding would run into a technical problem as it breaches a cap on defense spending by $72 billion. If the bill became law, she said, it actually would “trigger across-the-board cuts of 13 percent to every defense account” in order to stay within the cap.

The beefed up defense spending would allow the Pentagon to continue military activities in Iraq, Afghanistan and other trouble spots and hire more troops while providing soldiers with a 2.4 percent pay raise.

Big-ticket items

It also would allow the Pentagon to undertake a shopping spree with money to buy ships and submarines, aircraft, tanks and other big-ticket items.

The House-passed bill also includes an increase for America’s nuclear weapons stockpile managed by the Department of Energy, as well as for U.S. Capitol Police following a June 14 shooting that gravely wounded Republican Representative Steve Scalise.

A $825 million increase for the Missile Defense Agency to more than $8.6 billion is more than Trump asked for and includes  additional boosters and missile silos for the main system that would defend against an ICBM attack, a program run by Boeing.

Missile defense would also gain 14 more THAAD interceptors made by Lockheed Martin.


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US Jury Finds Macau Billionaire Guilty in UN Bribery Case

A U.S. jury on Thursday found Macau billionaire Ng Lap Seng guilty on charges he bribed two United Nations ambassadors to help him build a multibillion-dollar conference center.

Ng, 69, was convicted on all six counts he faced, including bribery, money laundering and corruption, in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Jurors needed less than a day to reach a verdict, following a four-week trial.

“In his unbridled pursuit of even greater personal fortune, billionaire Ng Lap Seng corrupted the highest levels of the United Nations,” Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said after the verdict.

“Through bribes and no-show jobs, Ng turned leaders of the league of nations into his private band of profiteers.”

Tai Park, a lawyer for Ng, said in court that his client had “substantial” legal issues to raise on appeal. Park later declined to comment to reporters. The United Nations also had no comment.

Prosecutors accused Ng of paying more than $1 million of bribes to bypass the normal hassles of dealing with the U.N., with a goal of winning “fame and more fortune” by developing in Macau what he thought of as the “Geneva of Asia.”

Ng hoped that building the conference center, meant to serve developing countries, would pave the way for the construction of luxury housing, hotels, a shopping mall, marinas and a heliport, prosecutors said.

Defense lawyers countered that Ng’s goals were consistent with the types of public-private partnerships that the U.N. favors, and that other diplomats abused Ng’s trust.

The conference center was never built.

Ng has been free on $50 million bail, living under 24-hour guard in a luxury Manhattan apartment.

After Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Richenthal warned that Ng could now be a flight risk, U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick modified bail by subjecting Ng to house arrest.

“He is not to leave the apartment: no ifs, ands or buts about it,” the judge said.

Broderick scheduled an Aug. 7 hearing to decide whether to revoke bail.

Prosecutors said the recipients of Ng’s bribes were Francis Lorenzo, a former deputy ambassador of the Dominican Republic, and John Ashe, a former U.N. General Assembly president and ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda.

Lorenzo pleaded guilty to bribery and money laundering, and testified against Ng for more than a week after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors.

Ashe was also criminally charged, but died accidentally at home in June 2016 after dropping a barbell on his neck.

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Lawmakers: Ross Defers to Trump on US Steel Tariff Timing

U.S. lawmakers said on Thursday that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told them he will defer to President Donald Trump on the timing of a decision on new steel import curbs, likely meaning further delays and deliberations on the issue.

Members of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee attending a briefing with Ross said he did not specify a timetable for releasing a long-awaited report that will lay out options for shielding the steel industry from imports on national security grounds.

Ross had originally hoped to release the steel “Section 232” report at the end of June but the timing has slipped amid disagreements among White House aides over the merits of restricting imports that could hurt steel consuming industries.

A House Democratic aide who attended the briefing said Ross repeated President Donald Trump’s comments in a Wall Street Journal interview this week that the decision on potential steel tariffs would take more time and could come after congressional debates on health care, tax reform and infrastructure spending.

“I can only follow my leader,” the aide said Ross told the briefing.

The Commerce secretary also told lawmakers the issue had a lot of complexities and that he was considering the interests of both steel makers and steel users and concerned about potential trade retaliation against U.S. agricultural products. The lawmakers said Ross told them he was taking a similar approach to a parallel national security probe into aluminum imports.

“I think it’s a good sign that they’re actually slowing down and taking a long look, not trying to mix this in with these other issues that have to be lifted,” said Republican Representative Jackie Walorski.

“I think that Secretary Ross is committed to making sure that we’re doing no harm, that we’re getting this right. I need it to be right when it comes to aluminum,” Walorski said, adding that the recreational vehicle industry in her northern Indiana district does not want to higher aluminum prices due tariffs.

Representative Judy Chu, a California Democrat, said Ross told the lawmakers that the Trump administration also wanted to pursue negotiations with other steel-producing countries to address the problem of excess capacity that was causing a flood of dumped imports.

But Ross and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week failed to secure commitments from their Chinese counterparts to make specific commitments to cut steel production capacity.

China, which produces half the world’s steel, is widely viewed as the source of much of the metal’s excess production.

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Prince William Quits Job as Air Ambulance Pilot

Britain’s Prince William is hanging up his flight suit for the last time.

The heir to the British throne worked the night shift Thursday at the East Anglian Air Ambulance, where he has been flying medical crews to emergencies for about two years.

The 35-year-old Duke of Cambridge is giving up his job to become a full-time royal.

“As I hang up my flight suit, I am proud to have served with such an incredible team of people, who save lives across the region every day,” he wrote in an exclusive story in the Eastern Daily Press, a newspaper that serves the community near the ambulance service’s base at southern England’s Cambridge airport.

His team assisted people in life-threatening moments such as a heart attack or a car crash. William said he was glad he could contribute and be part of a team that changed people’s lives.

“I have been invited into people’s homes to share moments of extreme emotion, from relief that we have given someone a fighting chance, to profound grief,” he said.

The job change also has to do with location. William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, will be spending less time in their Norfolk residence and be carrying out more duties in London, where their 4-year-old son, Prince George, is due to start school.

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Italy Plans Naval Patrols Off Libya to Stop Migrants

Italy is planning to send warships to help Libya’s coast guard combat smugglers who have transported thousands of migrants to Italian shores.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Thursday that the move could be a “turning point” in the migrant crisis that has gripped Europe for months.

This year alone, 100,000 migrants from Africa, South Asia and the Middle East have arrived in Italy, a 7 percent rise from the same period last year. More than 2,000 others have died attempting the treacherous voyage.

With the foundering of a European Union plan to redistribute thousands of migrants rescued at sea and brought to Italy, Gentiloni said his center-left government would brief lawmakers next week about Libya’s request for Italian navy vessels to patrol its Mediterranean shores.

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Serraj, who leads a U.N.-backed unity government based in Tripoli, met in Rome with the Italian leader on Wednesday and asked for the assistance. Gentiloni said his government was working out the details of a naval mission.

Military ships from European nations, vessels organized by aid organizations and commercial cargo ships frequently pick up men, women and children making the perilous Mediterranean Sea crossing. Lately, most of those rescued at sea have been economic migrants from African nations unlikely to win asylum.

The migrant crisis has stoked tensions between Italy and the rest of the European Union, which has been reluctant to share the burden of the migrants flowing into Italy, even though most of the migrants wish to resettle in other European nations.

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Poland’s Kaczynski Vows ‘Radical’ Court Reform Will Happen, Targets Private Media

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party is sticking to its flagship plans for “radical” reform of the judiciary, despite seeing two bills vetoed by the president this week, PiS head Jaroslaw Kaczynski said on Thursday.

Kaczynski, who holds no government post but is widely seen as Poland’s de facto leader, also promised legislation to reduce the concentration of ownership in private media, in the face of what was likely to be “strong resistance.”

In his first public comments since President Andrzej Duda’s veto of two bills designed to give the government direct influence over the make-up of the Supreme Court, he told TV Trwam in an interview that Duda had made a “very serious mistake,” but the focus needed to be on how to proceed.

“This means there will be a reform, a radical reform. … Partial reform won’t change anything,” Kaczynski said, without saying exactly what he planned to do.

PiS argues that the courts are too slow and unaccountable to the people, and tainted with communist-era thinking. Duda had said he will present his own versions of the bills within two months.

“The president has clearly said that he wants to take the initiative here and under no circumstances will we disturb him in this,” Kaczynski said.

The European Commission on Wednesday announced fresh legal action against Poland because it said the reforms would undermine the independence of judges and break EU rules, accusations denied by Warsaw.

The Commission gave Poland a month to respond to its concerns for the rule of law, warning that it may start an Article 7 censure process. This could eventually lead to Poland’s voting rights being suspended, if all the other 27 member states agree.

Kaczynski, whose eurosceptic, nationalist-minded party has alienated much of the liberal urban population since coming to power in 2015, but remains popular among its core small-town voters, dismissed the threat.

“We will wait this month out. In the second phase of this procedure, a unanimous position is needed. And I am convinced that it will not be achieved,” Kaczynski said. “These are attempts to exert psychological pressure.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has promised to block any such move, to defend Poland against an EU “inquisition.”

Media the next target

Kaczynski also said PiS planned to reduce the concentration of ownership in Poland’s private media sector.

“With respect to big reforms, then with all certainty we have the issue of reducing concentration in the media. There will also be very strong resistance here,” Kaczynski said.

Foreign-owned firms such as German publisher Axel Springer, Swiss-based Ringier and the U.S. firm Scripps Network Interactive, which owns Poland’s biggest private television network, TVN, have a large presence in Poland.

There are also private Polish-owned broadcasters such as Polsat, controlled by one of Poland’s richest men, Zygmunt Solorz-Zak.

Since coming to power, the PiS has not only increased government influence over courts but also brought prosecutors and state media under direct government control and introduced some restrictions on public gatherings.

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У Дніпрі вшанували пам’ять українських бійців, загиблих влітку 2014-го під Шахтарськом

У Дніпрі вшанували пам’ять українських бійців, загиблих під Шахтарськом три роки тому, влітку 2014 року. Вечір пам’яті відбувся на Алеї пам’яті у сквері Героїв, передає кореспондент Радіо Свобода.

 На захід зібралися сотні людей – рідні та близькі загиблих, бойові побратими, жителі міста. Родичі загиблих тримали в руках портрети бійців.

Учасники заходу поклали квіти до меморіальних плит з прізвищами українських бійців. Загиблих ушанували хвилиною мовчання. Священики УПЦ Київського патріархату відслужили панахиду.

 «Ті, хто були мобілізовані навесні 2014 року, фактично на своїх плечах витягнули цю операцію, понесли втрати. Але в боях за Шахтарськ наша 25-а бригада підтвердила свій девіз – «Ніхто, крім нас», – сказав учасник АТО Володимир Бойко.

У липні 2014 року в боях під Шахтарськом на Донеччині тільки 25-а окрема повітряно-десантна бригада, яка дислокується на Дніпропетровщині, втратила понад два десятка військових.

Наприкінці липня 2017 року точились бої за Шахтарськ між озброєними сепаратистами та українською армією. За повідомленням РНБО, 28 липня Збройні сили України увійшли в Шахтарськ, Торез та Лутугіне, закріпилися на околицях Горлівки.


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Україна здобула «золото» з кікбоксингу на Всесвітніх іграх

На спортивних Всесвітніх іграх, що тривають у польському Вроцлаві, український кікбоксер Орфан Сананзаде став першим у кікбоксингу у ваговій категорії 63,5 кілограмів. Про це повідомляє спеціальний кореспондент Радіо Свобода.

У важкому фіналі українець здобув перемогу над сербом Александром Коноваловим. Зустріч завершилась із рахунком 1–2.

За словам Орфана, перемогу він присвячує матері. Проте бій був дійсно складним, каже спортсмен.

«Це було принципово – виграти саме у нього. Ми постійно зустрічались, і на минулих змаганнях я йому програв. Тут мав реабілітуватися. Вдалося. Тож задоволений. До цієї нагороди йшов десять років, і радію, що зміг для України вибороти ще одне «золото», – каже Орфан.

Це вже третє «золото» для України за сьомий день змагань на Всесвітніх іграх, головних щочотирирічних змаганнях із неолімпійських видів спорту.

Раніше у веслуванні на ергометрах українка Олена Буряк та Антон Бондаренко на дистанції 500 метрів здобули золоті нагороди та встановили два світові рекорди.

Але ці три золоті нагороди не враховуються у командному заліку. Тож на рахунку збірної України лише 6 золотих нагород.

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