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POLSKA УКРАЇНА - My - Polacy, ale żyjemy w Ukrainie

Snow, High Winds hit Europe; Croatia Faces Swollen River

Croatian emergency crews and soldiers are struggling to contain the swollen Sava River that has reached record levels southeast of the capital, Zagreb.

Authorities say water levels Monday by the town of Jasenovac exceeded the highest-ever recorded by some 10 centimeters (4 inches). About a dozen houses in a nearby village are cut off. The Croatian state TV channel HRT says residents have refused to evacuate so emergency crews are delivering food and water by boat.

Experts say the Sava is expected to rise further in the coming days due to fresh snow.

To the east, snow and freezing rain have delayed dozens of flights and some trains in Romania amid an unseasonal cold snap.

Valentin Iordache, the spokesman for Bucharest airports, reported 30 flight delays Monday morning due to the wintry weather. Temperatures were around minus 5 Celsius (23 Fahrenheit). Trains running from Bucharest to the Black Sea port of Constanta and the southern city of Craiova were also delayed.

Weather forecasters issued an amber warning Monday for Bucharest and seven counties in southern and eastern Romania for sleet, snow and black ice.

Winter snow has also hit Germany, Hungary and Britain, among other European nations.


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12 цивільних жителів загинули на Донбасі за три місяці – ООН

За три місяці (листопад-лютий) моніторингова місія ООН із прав людини задокументувала 12 випадків загибелі і 61 випадок поранення цивільних жителів у зв’язку з конфліктом на сході України, повідомила голова Моніторингової місії ООН з прав людини в Україні Фіона Фрейзер.

19 березня в Києві вона презентувала чергову квартальну доповідь ООН про ситуацію з правами людини в Україні.

За словами Фрейзер, нинішні дані свідчать про зменшення числа жертв на 16 відсотків порівняно з попереднім звітним періодом.

«Це пояснюється зменшення мкількості загиблих і поранених у результаті інцидентів, пов’язаних із мінами, та необережним поводженням з вибухонебезпечними пережитками війни. Водночас кількість жертв серед цивільного населення, спричинених обстрілами і використанням стрілецької зброї та легких озброєнь, зросла», – заявила голова місії.

За її словами, незважаючи на незначне скорочення кількості жертв серед цивільного населення, Управління верховного комісара ООН з прав людини, як і раніше, занепокоєне продовженням використання сторонами конфлікту важкого озброєння і стрілецької зброї, а також поширеною присутністю нерозірваних боєприпасів, мін і мін-пасток, що становить серйозну небезпеку для цивільних осіб.

«Причиною більшості жертв серед цивільного населення залишилося використання систем зброї неточної та (або) вибухової дії. УВКПЛ нарахувало 40 жертв серед цивільного населення (2 загиблих і 38 поранених) у результаті обстрілів із різних систем зброї – включаючи, міномети, гаубиці і реактивні системи залпового вогню (РСЗВ) – та вогню з легкого озброєння. Це на 66,7 відсотка більше, ніж у попередньому звітному періоді (з 16 серпня до 15 листопада 2017 року), коли УВКПЛ задокументувало 24 жертви серед цивільного населення, спричинені обстрілами та вогнем з легкого озброєння (2 загиблих і 22 поранених)», – йдеться в звіті ООН.

Як заявила Фрейзер, кількість загиблих серед цивільних за весь час конфлікту Моніторингова місія ООН з прав людини оцінює в три тисячі, поранених може бути втричі більшою.

Збройний конфлікт на Донбасі триває від 2014 року після російської анексії Криму. Україна і Захід звинувачують Росію у збройній підтримці сепаратистів. Кремль відкидає ці звинувачення і заявляє, що на Донбасі можуть перебувати хіба що російські «добровольці». За даними ООН, за час конфлікту загинули понад 10 тисяч людей.

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Johnson: Russia’s Denial About Poisoning ‘Increasingly Absurd’

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson told his European Union counterparts at a meeting in Brussels Monday that Russia’s denial of its involvement in the poisoning on British soil of a former Russian spy is “a classic Russian strategy of trying to conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation.”

Johnson said Russia’s continued denial of its participation in the nerve-agent poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, is “growing increasingly absurd.”

Johnson added that “technical experts” from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will be in Britain Monday to take samples of the poison.

As the dispute between Britain and Russia continues to mount over the poisoning of Skripal, the Kremlin announced the expulsion of 23 British diplomats and Russia’s foreign ministry came up with yet another theory about the origin of the toxin used.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry listed four European countries as the most likely source for the Novichok nerve agent British officials say was used. Topping the list was Britain itself — the other three, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Sweden.

In an interview with a Russian state broadcaster on the eve of Russia’s presidential election Sunday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova suggested all three states, along with Britain, had been “carrying out intense research” on Novichok, but she offered no evidence for her assertion.

Worsening rift

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said Monday the suggestion that Sweden has stockpiles of Novichok is “just ridiculous and totally unfounded.” She said, “I think that they are trying to make some kind of diversion from the real issues here.”

German Foreign Minister Heilo Mass said, “All the information we have suggests that there is no alternative plausible explanation to the Russian side bearing a share of the responsibility.”

Czech Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky rejected Zakharova’s assessment, saying, “We reject such groundless statement on the origins of the Novichok.”

With the rupture worsening between Britain and Russia over the nerve-agent poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, who were found slumped and unconscious on March 4 in a sleepy English cathedral town, British Prime Minister Theresa May is being urged by British lawmakers and analysts not to hesitate to seize assets invested in Britain of Russian plutocrats tied to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Targeting assets

Among property that should be targeted, say lawmakers eager for an immediate response to the expulsion of British diplomats, is property owned by companies registered to Russia’s first deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov and the London house worth more than $150 million of oligarch Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea soccer club.

The Kremlin’s announcement Saturday of the expulsion of British diplomats had been the expected like-for-like response to the British government’s expulsion earlier of the same number of Russian diplomats. Last week, the British Prime Minister unveiled a raft of reprisals for what London says was a Kremlin-approved assassination attempt on Skripal, a double agent Putin vowed publicly once to kill, and his daughter.

British officials say father and daughter remain in critical condition. A policemen who was among the first to try to help the pair is still in hospital but is now in stable condition.


British toxicologists say Novichok was used in the assassination attempt.


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WH Lawyer: Trump Not Considering Firing Special Counsel Mueller

A top White House lawyer says President Donald Trump is not considering firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, after the president accused him of political bias in a series of tweets Sunday.

“In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the administration, the White House yet again confirms that the president is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller,” White House Lawyer Ty Cobb said.

Trump assailed Mueller, accusing him of political bias in his investigation of Trump’s 2016 election campaign links to Russia and whether the president obstructed justice in trying to thwart the probe.

“Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added … does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!” Trump said in one of a string of Twitter remarks over the weekend recalling his defeat of Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton and his negative view of the investigations in the year and a half since then.

Trump failed to note that at least at one point Mueller was a registered Republican voter and is generally viewed in Washington as an apolitical prosecutor, whose investigation of the Trump campaign is supported by Democrats and key Republicans who voiced their support on Sunday news shows for Mueller’s handling of the probe.

On Saturday, Trump’s personal lawyer John Dowd suggested that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel, “bring an end” to Mueller’s investigation, resulting in media speculation about Trump’s next move regarding the probe.

Trump also attacked two former ousted FBI officials, former director James Comey, fired by Trump last May, and former deputy director Andrew McCabe, dismissed at Trump’s urging late Friday by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, 26 hours before McCabe was set to retire and collect his full pension. Trump contended that Comey’s and McCabe’s personal written recollections of their conversations he had with them are fabricated.

Trump said he “spent very little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with me. I don’t believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably at a later date. Same with lying James Comey. Can we call them Fake Memos?” In another tweet, Trump referred to the one-time FBI chief as “Sanctimonious James Comey” and said he made McCabe “look like a choirboy.”

Sessions dismissed McCabe after concurring with an internal Justice Department investigation that McCabe “had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor, including under oath, on multiple occasions,” a news leak McCabe said Comey knew about while they served together at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The president contended “The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary” and the Democratic National Committee, “and improperly used” by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!”

On Sunday, Senator Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a key Trump supporter, told CNN that Mueller “needs to be able to do his job without interference.” Graham said that if Trump were to attempt to fire Mueller it would be “the beginning of the end of his presidency.”

Congressman Trey Gowdy, another South Carolina Republican, told Fox News, “I think the president’s lawyer does a disservice when he says that and frames the investigation that way … Russia attacked our country, let special counsel Mueller figure that out.”

Gowdy was part of the Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee that concluded a week ago that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, but said in the television interview, “You should want Special Counsel Mueller to take all the time and have all the independence he needs to do his job.”

Trump said, “As the House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign. As many are now finding out, however, there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State. Drain The Swamp.”

McCabe, in a statement after his firing, called his ouster “retribution,” saying, “I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of [former FBI Director] James Comey.” U.S. news accounts said he had written contemporaneous accounts of his conversations with Trump.

His firing, barely a day ahead of his 50th birthday on Sunday, could cost McCabe thousands of dollars in retirement benefits.


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After 2016 Election, US Poised to Fight Fake News – in Kenya

Just ahead of Kenya’s disputed 2017 election, video clips started spreading on social media of a slick-looking CNN broadcast asserting that President Uhuru Kenyatta had pulled far ahead in the polls. But the CNN broadcast was fake, splicing together real coverage from CNN Philippines with other footage with the network’s iconic red logo superimposed in the corner.

It happened with a BBC video, too, and with a photo purportedly of Kenyan security forces killing protesters that was actually from Tanzania, and with thousands of spurious blog posts and other false reports that flooded the popular messaging app WhatsApp, fueling further divisions and turmoil in an election that morphed into a major political crisis.


So the U.S. government is gearing up to fight fake news — not at home, where it’s the subject of heated debate following the 2016 presidential campaign, but in Kenya, where America has sought to nurture a vibrant but volatile African democracy.

“Information is, of course, power, and frankly, fake news is a real danger,” U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec said in an interview, adding that it had eroded confidence in Kenya’s real news media. “It’s being weaponized. It’s undermining democracy in Kenya.”


Godec kicked off the awareness campaign this past week with an email to the 47,000 members of the State Department’s Young African Leaders Initiative asking them to pledge to prevent the spread of fake media by pausing to verify the source and validity before passing information along to others through social media. For a while this week, the hashtag (hash)StopReflectVerify was the No. 2 trending hashtag on Twitter in Kenya, where the U.S. Embassy pushed it to its 256,000 followers.


In addition to offering resources for discriminating between fact and fake, the campaign involves three-day training sessions for public affairs officials in Kenya’s counties, encouraging local governments to be more responsive and forthcoming so that journalists on deadline can fact-check information they hear. Though it’s starting in Kenya, the program is expected to expand, with an Africa-wide international fact-checking day and a global, virtual event on World Press Freedom Day in May anchored out of Nairobi.


The focus on fighting fake news in Kenya stands in contrast to what’s happening in the United States, where President Donald Trump uses the term to denigrate credible news outlets that publish critical coverage about him or his Republican administration. Trump has also continually downplayed the role that false information from illegitimate sources may have played in affecting the outcome of the election. Last month, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians accused of using a network of fake social media accounts and targeted political messages to stir up turmoil in the 2016 race.

The campaign also comes as the U.S. has been warning Kenya’s government about worrisome restrictions on the legitimate news media. The group Human Rights Watch has said Kenyan officials try to stop critical coverage by threatening, intimidating and harassing journalists. The United States was particularly concerned in February when Kenya shut down major broadcasters after opposition leader Raila Odinga held a mock inauguration on television.

In Kenya, the fake news problem has also raised fears about violence being stoked by false facts that often mushroom on social media before they can be stopped.


At election time, a fake but realistic-looking U.S. diplomatic cable circulated that appeared to show embassy officials predicting instability, celebratory violence, “severe unrest and a massive breakdown of law and order” if Odinga were to defeat Kenyatta in the election. The U.S. Embassy quickly tweeted its own version of the cable with the word “FAKE” slapped across it in bold red font.


Yet there are risks for the U.S. in appearing to tell people what to believe, say or not say in Kenya, a former British colony. So the embassy is taking pains to show it’s a locally driven operation, partnering with groups like AfricaCheck, a fact-checking website similar to the U.S. site Snopes.com.


“We’re not asking them to believe any particular thing,” Godec said. “We’re just saying, don’t take everything you see on your phone via WhatsApp as the truth because it may not be.”




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Sweetwater Bridge Collapse: Seconds Separated Those Who Lived, Died

They had just finished up lunch, and set off to run a humdrum errand: a drive to the travel agency to pick up airline tickets for their annual visit to their beloved homeland Cuba.


Osvaldo Gonzalez and Alberto Arias, friends and business partners, happened to pass under a Miami bridge that Thursday afternoon, the road bustling with fellow drivers also out on the most ordinary and unthreatening of life’s tasks.


A teenager was driving her friend to the doctor’s office to pick up some medicine. A father of three was heading home from work. A woman on her way to a nail salon was stopped at a red light. Seconds – inches – would soon separate those who would live from those who wouldn’t.


Sweetwater police Detective Juan Llera was at his office a few blocks away, when he heard what he thought was a bomb exploding.


It was not a bomb; it was a bridge, a structure every American has passed under hundreds of times. But in an instant, this 950-ton span under construction at the Florida International University collapsed, and with no time to act or to flee, the cars that just so happened to be below it were pancaked under the rubble. Six people died.


“Imagine,” said Amauri Naranjo, who has known Gonzalez since before he left Cuba in the 1980s, “a longtime friendship that survives even with the sea between us, and it ends because of something like that.”

Gonzalez and Arias, who together owned a party rental and decoration business, were among the dead. Their bodies were found Saturday inside their white Chevy truck as rescuers for days painstakingly dug through the debris of the fallen pedestrian bridge at Florida International University. Hope for a miracle rescue faded as the names of the six dead became known, and those left living grappled with the senselessness, the suddenness of it.


Many others had been saved by mere seconds.


Dania Garlobo was driving to work at a nail salon when the green light changed to yellow and a man in a white Mercedes tried to make it through the light, but stomped on the brakes just as the bridge fell in front of him.


“He was almost caught underneath. I couldn’t believe it,” Garlobo said. She watched the bridge smash into the street below in what seemed like an instant.


“How is it that a strong bridge falls down like a piece of board?”

Llera had sped to the scene, arriving within minutes. In the mayhem, he found a man lying unconscious on the street and started performing CPR. He could barely feel a pulse, but someone with the medical staff from the university came by and said, “you are keeping him alive. Keep going.” And so he did, and the man was alive when they rushed him away.


Llera checked in at the hospital but could get no information. He thought the man had lived. He’d hoped they could shake hands one day.


But on Sunday morning, he studied a picture on the news of a young man in a crisp red shirt.


He has been identified by police as Navarro Brown, a 37-year-old employee with Structural Technologies VSL, listed among those killed. He had died at the hospital.


“I feel like the bad guy won this time,” the officer said as he processed the news Sunday afternoon.


The families of the dead and the injured asked for privacy as they try to make sense of their sudden, inexplicable loss.


“It’s a pretty magical thing to find your soul mate in this world,” Brandon Brownfield’s wife, Chelsea, wrote on Facebook on Sunday. “Like pieces to a jigsaw puzzle, our crazy curvy edges matched and we fit together like no one else could.”


The Brownfields had three young daughters, and the family moved to Florida several years ago for his job at Maxim Crane Works, according to a fundraising page a friend started for the family that had raised more than $50,000 in a few days. He was driving home from work when the bridge collapsed.


“I now have to find the words and the answers to tell my girls that their Daddy is not coming home,” his wife wrote on Facebook.


Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the bridge to crumble. Cracking had been reported in the concrete span in the days before and crews were performing what’s called “post-tensioning force” on the bridge when it flattened onto the busy highway.


Inside one car there, one teenager was killed and one walked away with minor injuries – a fate decided by which seat they happened to be sitting in.


Richie Humble, a 19-year-old student, had not been feeling well earlier in the week. On Thursday, a friend, 18-year-old Alexa Duran, the nicest person he said he ever knew, gave him a ride to his doctor’s office to pick up some medication. They stopped at a red light, under the bridge.


“I heard a creak, a long creak,” Humble told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “I looked up, and in an instant, the bridge was collapsing on us completely. It was too quick to do anything about it.”


Once he realized he was alive, he also realized that he couldn’t get to his friend. As he called out for her, getting no response, a group of men outside the car started yelling at him to try crawling out of the car. They pried open the door to free him.


He sat on a curb as rescue workers checked out the cuts on his leg and slight facture in a vertebrae. He remembers asking, “What do I do?”


“Everyone has to pick up the pieces,” he said the rescuer responded. “Life doesn’t stop.”

Duran’s uncle Joe Smitha was preparing for a colonoscopy that Thursday afternoon when he heard a bridge had collapsed near her school. She was not answering her phone, but he said he was not worried. His kids sometimes didn’t answer their phones right away.


“I said, ‘What are the odds that out of the thousands of people in Miami that she would be one of six or eight people caught under the bridge at a red light?”’ Smitha said.


But then, after he awoke from anesthesia following the procedure, he learned she had been one of those six people caught under a bridge at a red light.


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EU Criticizes Turkey’s Offensive in Syrian Town of Afrin

The European Union’s top diplomat criticized Turkey on Monday over its military offensive in a northern Syrian town, calling on Ankara to ensure that fighting eases in the conflict-torn country.


The appeal came as looting was widely reported in the town captured a day earlier by Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters, according to residents and monitors. Meanwhile, Turkey’s state-run news agency said 11 people — seven civilians and four Turkish-backed Syrian fighters — were killed in an explosion in a building in Afrin town center as it was being cleared of booby traps. Anadolu News agency said the bomb was reportedly left by Syrian Kurdish fighters.

On Sunday, Turkish troops and Syrian opposition fighters allied with Ankara marched into Afrin, nearly two months after Turkey began its offensive on the enclave. Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish militia in Afrin a “terrorist” group and an extension of its own Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.

“I am worried about this,” Mogherini told reporters in Brussels on Monday, in reference to Turkey’s offensive in Afrin. She said that international efforts in Syria are supposed to be “aiming at de-escalating the military activities and not escalating them.”


Turkey views the local Kurdish militia, the People’s Defense Units or YPG, as a threat to its national security and has vowed to push it out of the district and away from its borders. The YPG retreated amid the swift Turkish offensive on Afrin’s town center, and vowed to start a “new phase” of fighting against the Turkish troops and allied fighters.


Meanwhile, Afrin residents and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported widespread looting and pillaging soon after Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters marched into the town center. The Observatory said the pillaging began on Sunday.


Images have emerged of torched stores, men in uniforms and others in civilian clothes walking out of homes with full loads of bales, while others were seen driving away with tractors and agriculture supplies.


A Syrian commander with the Free Syrian Army, which captured the district along with Turkish forces, blamed “thieves” for the looting. Moataz Raslan, a commander with the FSA, said a unit for protection of property has been formed to prevent further theft.


Thousands of Afrin residents, many of whom had earlier fled from the villages near the border with Turkey to the town center, streamed out of Afrin before the Turkish troops entered. Lines of vehicles and civilians on foot headed toward Syrian government-controlled areas to the south or other Kurdish-controlled areas.


Jiwan Mohamed, a doctor who worked at Afrin hospital, said the news from inside Afrin and images of looting were disturbing. The central Afrin hospital was bombed before the town center was captured, he said. The doctor said learned from contacts with those still inside Afrin that that more buildings were being burned.


Azad Mohamed, an Afrin resident who arrived Sunday in a region in the east of Syria after two days on the road, said looting began even before they entered the town center, in adjacent villages.


“If they have not yet stolen my things, they will in an hour,” he said. “We knew they would only leave the walls.”


Mohamed blamed the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia for failing to help people evacuate the town earlier with their belongings.


Syrian Kurdish officials have said that more than 800 YPG fighters have been killed in the 58 days of fighting for Afrin, and estimated that 500 civilians were killed. The Observatory puts the number of casualties at over 280 civilians, adding that more than 1,500 Kurdish fighters have been killed since Jan.20. Turkey says it has taken all measures to avoid civilian casualties. Turkey says 46 of its soldiers were killed in the offensive.



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В Україні знеструмлені 129 населених пунктів у семи областях – ДСНС

Протягом 17 і 18 березня внаслідок ускладнення погодних умов (сніг, налипання мокрого снігу, пориви вітру) були знеструмлені 129 населених пунктів у семи областях, повідомляє Державна служба України з надзвичайних ситуацій.

Найбільше таких населених пунктів у Запорізькій області (40), у Миколаївській (35), Донецькій (22), Дніпропетровській (17). Також є відключення електрики в Одеській, Херсонській та Кіровоградській областях, вказують рятувальники.

Рух автомобільного транспорту на автодорогах забезпечено, аеропорти та морські торгівельні порти працюють у штатному режимі, додають у ДСНС.

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