POLSKA УКРАЇНА - My - Polacy, ale żyjemy w Ukrainie

US Airlines Await Critical Aid Deal

Losses are mounting for the U.S. airline industry as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the economy and hope dims for an immediate government aid package.  Karl Moore, associate professor at Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, says, “We’re looking at flights being down in the area of 90% less in March and April than they were the year before. So, it’s a time of enormous crisis. And there are hundreds of thousands of people who work in the airline industry.” For now, combined third-quarter losses for American, United, Delta, Southwest and Alaska Air have exceeded $11.5 billion. The industry’s downturn dwarfs previous crises such as SARS and the September 11 terrorist attacks of 2001, Moore says.WATCH: US Airlines Await Critical Aid DealSorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 10 MB480p | 14 MB540p | 19 MB720p | 33 MB1080p | 69 MBOriginal | 94 MB Embed” />Copy Download AudioEarlier this year, U.S. airline companies received billions from Congress through the CARES Act in the form of cash and loans that helped keep them afloat. The hope was that the virus would have subsided by now. It hasn’t.   “What we’ve seen is domestic travel in the U.S. has gone up some, but international travel is down horrifically, and even domestic travel is not anywhere near what it was last year. So, we have the ongoing crisis. We have maybe a second wave — certainly a lot more people getting sick than we had hoped at this time of year. So, it’s a thing where the industry’s troubles have not yet gone beyond six or seven months and it will go on for some months and perhaps a couple of years to come,” says Moore. Nearly 5 million air transport jobs globally are at risk, according to estimates by the Air Transport Action Group. Mask wearing is mandatoryTo bring passengers back, airlines have made mask wearing mandatory. They’ve also stepped up their cleaning of plane cabins. Some leave middle seats open to put more space between passengers.Negotiations between Congress and the White House on a new aid package continue with few signs that an agreement will be reached soon.   This has led airlines to cut jobs, offer early retirement and take other cost-cutting measures. But some experts note that with airlines raking in profits over the past decade, they could have made better decisions.Even though they could not foresee the pandemic and the fallout from COVID-19, Israel Shaked, a finance and economics professor at Boston University Questrom School of Business, says airlines’ own choices left them with little cash.Shaked is also the managing director of the Michel Shaked group, a consulting firm based in Boston. In a recent article, he argues that decisions made in the past few years by the airlines were short-sighted and that they could have saved for a so-called rainy day.    “If you take a look at 2019, for example, this industry paid itself, and I am only talking about American, United, Southwest, Alaska, JetBlue … and Delta. … They paid out dividends of $1.7 billion and the stock repurchase of $7.4 billion. If you combine these two, you’re talking about almost like a 7, 8, 9 billion dollars in one year going out of the company … and it was similar the year before.” Minimum of 80% capacity neededHe points out that airlines need minimum 80% capacity utilization to survive because they have huge fixed costs.He says he supports government aid in the short term, but authorities need to put some limits in what the airlines can do with that money.This month the number of people screened at U.S. airports is down 65%, compared with last October, but that’s better than the 68% decline in September, the 71% drop in August and the 96% plunge in mid-April.  

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Roads Blocked in Nigeria in Defiance of President’s Call for Calm

Major roads in Lagos, Nigeria were blocked Friday by groups of people armed with knives and sticks, many of whom were angered by the president’s speech that appealed for calm but failed to denounce the police killing of peaceful protesters demanding an end to police brutality.In his first public comments Thursday on the unrest gripping the West African country, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari urged youth involved in the protests to end demonstrations and begin a dialogue with the government.In this photo released by the Nigeria State House, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, addresses the nation on a live televised broadcast, Oct. 22, 2020.However, Buhari did not mention the police shooting of peaceful protesters at Lekki toll plaza earlier this week that resulted in the deaths of at least 12 protesters. Nigeria’s military has denied responsibility for that shooting.On Friday, the president’s office acknowledged that “many lives have been lost” in the unrest but still did not disclose the death toll. The office said Buhari made the comment in a meeting with former heads of state on how to address some of the country’s most intense violence in years.Also on Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Nigerian authorities must “not abuse force when dealing with demonstrations” and that he received assurances from Buhari.“I heard from the president his strong commitment to do everything possible to avoid these kinds of incidents and I hope it will be the case in the future,” Guterres said.On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the police brutality in Lagos and called for an investigation.“We welcome an immediate investigation into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces. Those involved should be held to account in accordance with Nigerian law,” Pompeo said in a statement.
Amnesty International on Wednesday reported that a total of 38 people died in protest-related incidents on Tuesday. Amnesty International also said at least 56 people have been killed over the past two weeks in protests directed at the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS, which the international rights group accused of torture and murders. The government disbanded SARS last week, but that has not tempered the outrage.Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, speaks during the March on Washington, Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.Congressional Black Caucus member Sheila Jackson Lee, along with caucus members Barbara Lee and Frederica Wilson, sent a letter to the Nigerian president demanding an end to the violence, the release of those who have been arrested and an investigation into the shootings at the toll plaza.Lee told VOA she and her colleagues also wrote to the U.N. Security Council “to ask for an investigation because this is a violation of human rights and the violation of human rights should not be tolerated by the United Nations.”Alister, a protester who says his brother Emeka died from a stray bullet from the Army, reacts while speaking to Associated Press near Lekki toll gate in Lagos, Nigeria, Oct. 20, 2020.U.S. Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa also condemned the police brutality and called for “an immediate end to the violent crackdown on peaceful protestors.”“That security forces have used live ammunition against peaceful protestors demonstrating against police brutality is especially alarming. We urge security forces to act with restraint and for Nigerian authorities to de-escalate the situation and hold perpetrators of violence to account,” Senators Chris Coons, Cory Booker, Tim Kaine and Chris Murphy said in a statement.Lagos authorities have not been able to fully enforce a curfew as anger continued to escalate. The Lagos government said Friday the curfew would be eased on Saturday, remaining in effect from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. local time.VOA’s Salem Solomon contributed to this report.
 

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Czech PM Demands Health Minister Resign for Violating COVID-19 Restrictions

A political standoff is brewing in the Czech Republic where the health minister has refused to resign after pictures were published of him eating in a Prague restaurant closed under COVID-19 regulations.
 
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis Friday called on Health Minister Roman Prymula to resign after the tabloid Blesk published pictures of Prymula leaving a restaurant late at night and entering a car without a face mask. Both acts appear to violate Health Ministry restrictions on restaurants and mask requirements in most places, including chauffeured cars.
 
But later Friday, Prymula told reporters he did not break any rules and refused to step down. He said he had been invited to the restaurant for meeting with a hospital director and entered the restaurant through a private entrance and wore a mask once he was in his car.
 
Bars and restaurants in the Czech Republic are closed under current regulations designed to at least slow the spread of the virus. Schools, theaters, cinemas, zoos and many other locations are also closed and professional sports competitions have been stopped.
 
The health minister said the prime minster does have the option to fire him. Babis was scheduled to meet with Czech President Milos Zeman, who approves ministerial changes, later Friday to discuss the matter.
 
The controversy comes as the nation is battling the worst resurgence of COVID-19 in Europe. As of Friday, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control reports over the past two weeks, the Czech Republic has led the continent with 1,148 cases per 100,000 people. 

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Pompeo Urges Azerbaijani, Armenian FMs to End Violence in Nagorno-Karabakh

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling on the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan to “end the violence and protect civilians” after nearly a month of intense fighting in the breakaway mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.
 
The State Department issued the statement after Pompeo met separately with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan in Washington on Friday.
 
“The secretary also stressed the importance of the sides entering substantive negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to resolve the conflict based on the Helsinki Final Act principles of the non-use or threat of force, territorial integrity, and the equal rights and self-determination of peoples,” said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.
 
Mnatsakanyan told VOA the talks were “very good,” as he left the State Department Friday. When asked about a timeline for a cease-fire, he said “we [will] keep working on that.”
 
A group of some two dozen demonstrators, mostly Armenians, were gathered outside the State Department Friday.Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 7 MB480p | 10 MB540p | 14 MB720p | 34 MB1080p | 58 MBOriginal | 60 MB Embed” />Copy Download AudioThe meeting in Washington was arranged after two failed Russian attempts to broker a cease-fire in the worst outbreak of fighting over the region in more than a quarter-century.
 
Pompeo has joined other global leaders in pushing for an end to the fighting over the disputed territory. But Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Wednesday he sees no possibility of a diplomatic solution at this stage of the conflict.
 
For his part, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has said Armenian forces must withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh to end the fighting, which Russian President Vladimir said may have killed about 5,000 people since the violence erupted.
 
Also Wednesday, Turkey said it will not hesitate to send troops and provide military support to help Azerbaijan if such a request is made. Pompeo has called on other countries not to provide “fuel” for the conflict.
 
Shortly before the meetings in Washington began, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped to collaborate with Russia to resolve the conflict.
 Aram Avetisyan of VOA’s Armenian Service contributed reporting. 

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White House Halloween Event Tweaked for Coronavirus

Ghosts, goblins and other costumed kids are welcome to trick or treat at the White House on Sunday during a Halloween event that has been rejiggered to include coronavirus precautions.
The gates to the South Lawn will be opened to children from military families, frontline workers and others, from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Melania Trump announced Friday.
Extra precautions have been added to the spooky celebration.
President Donald Trump and the first lady — both recently recovered from COVID-19, the disease brought on by the coronavirus — will welcome guests at some point during the event.
Guests older than 2 are required to wear face coverings and practice social distancing. The same goes for all White House personnel working the event, while any staff handing out candy will also wear gloves.
Hand sanitizer will be available along the route and social distancing measures will be in place.
Participating federal departments will use a “no-touch” approach.
NASA will display space-related items, including an inflatable rocket. Costumed-clad kids can wave to the Agriculture Department’s Smokey Bear and pick up Junior Ranger badges from the Interior Department’s station.
The Education and Labor departments will offer photo opportunities, and the Transportation department will provide paper airplanes for children to take home.
The South Portico of the White House will be decorated with bright-colored leaves in various shades of autumn, chrysanthemums and pumpkins.

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NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins Casts Ballot From Space

With her work taking her away from home on Election Day, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins cast a unique early ballot Thursday, voting aboard the International Space Station (ISS), more than 200 miles above Earth. From her NASA Astronauts Twitter account, Rubins posted a picture of herself smiling broadly and pointed to a hand-written sign saying, “ISS Voting Booth.”   Rubins is among several NASA astronauts who are registered in Texas, home of the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Texas law allows them to vote from space using a secure electronic ballot, which is relayed to their respective county clerks by mission control. Rubins, the first person to sequence DNA in space, is currently aboard the International Space Station for a six-month stay. She plans to work on cardiovascular experiment and conduct research using the space station’s Cold Atom Lab. She’ll celebrate the 20th anniversary of continuous human presence on the space station and welcome members of the second SpaceX commercial crew mission, who are expected to arrive in late October. 
 

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Pompeo Meets With Azerbaijani, Armenian FMs in Bid to Help End Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in Washington Friday with the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia in a bid to help end nearly a month of intense fighting in the breakaway mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.
 
Pompeo invited Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan to meet with him separately at the State Department and said earlier this week he is anxious to hear what they are seeing on the ground.
 
The meeting in Washington was arranged after two failed Russian attempts to broker a cease-fire in the worst outbreak of fighting over the region in more than a quarter-century.
 
Pompeo has joined other global leaders in pushing for an end to the fighting over the disputed territory. But Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Wednesday he sees no possibility of a diplomatic solution at this stage of the conflict.  
 
For his part, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has said Armenian forces must withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh to end the fighting, which Russian President Vladimir said may have killed about 5,000 people since the violence erupted.  
 
Also Wednesday, Turkey said it will not hesitate to send troops and provide military support to help Azerbaijan if such a request is made. Pompeo has called on other countries not to provide “fuel” for the conflict.  
 
Shortly before the meetings in Washington began, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped to collaborate with Russia to resolve the conflict.
 

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German Health Minister Predicts Vaccine by Early 2021

German Health Minister Jens Spahn says he expects a viable vaccine to be available to Germans by early next year and enough for “a large number of those want to be vaccinated” within six or seven months. In an interview published Friday in Germany’s Der Spiegel, Spahn — who tested positive for COVID-19 this week — said he expects there would be more than enough vaccine for the German population, and he would like to pass on any surplus to other nations that might need it. FILE – German Health Minister Jens Spahn receives an influenza injection at Charite hospital, during the coronavirus pandemic, in Berlin, Germany, Oct. 14, 2020. (Reuters)Spahn told the German media outlet that health care workers would be prioritized to be vaccinated first. But he said he would refer to the Standing Vaccinations Commission at Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for Health and Infectious Diseases for guidance. In another sign the German government is preparing for vaccine distribution, Germany’s Daily Bild also reported Friday the health ministry has asked the nation’s 16 state governors to identify potential vaccination centers by November 10. The report says the government is seeking to establish at total of 60 vaccination centers nationwide in order to effectively vaccinate the population. On Thursday, the Koch Institute chief Lothar Wieler warned the COVID-19 situation in Germany was “very serious,” as the nation set a record for daily infections with more than 11,000. 
 

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