Fears Grow as Malaria Resurges; London Summit Urges Global Action

After 16 years of steady decline, malaria cases are on the rise again globally, and experts warn that unless efforts to tackle the disease are stepped up, the gains could be lost. Henry Ridgwell reports from a malaria summit Wednesday in London, where delegates called for a boost in funding for global anti-malarial programs.

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Olympians, 13 Journalists Recognized by Advocates for Free Speech

Advocates of free speech recently honored about a dozen U.S. journalists who uncovered widespread sexual misconduct in politics, sports and movies, as well as a pair of Olympians who used their fame in a controversial bid to bring injustices to light half a century ago. In 1968, U.S. Olympians John Carlos and Tommie Smith bowed their heads and raised their fists on the medal stand at the Summer Olympics to protest injustices toward African Americans. VOA’s Mariama Diallo reports.

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As Raul Castro Steps Aside, a New Era for Cuba

For the first time in nearly 60 years, a Castro will not lead Cuba. This will happen after the country’s National Assembly approves First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel to replace President Raul Castro This was a long-planned transition, but is unlikely to bring much immediate change to the Communist-ruled country, as VOA’s Bill Gallo reports.

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House Panel Cuts Food Stamps, Renews Farm Subsidies

A bitterly divided House panel Wednesday approved new work and job training requirements for food stamps as part of a five-year renewal of federal farm and nutrition policy.

The GOP-run Agriculture Committee approved the measure strictly along party lines after a contentious, five-hour hearing in which Democrats blasted the legislation, charging it would toss up to 2 million people off food stamps and warning that it will never pass Congress.

The hard-fought food stamp provisions would tighten existing work requirements and expand funding for state training programs, though not by enough to cover everybody subject to the new work and training requirements.

Agriculture panel chair Michael Conaway said the provisions would offer food stamp beneficiaries “the hope of a job and a skill and a better future for themselves and their families.”

Food stamps

At issue is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which provides food aid for more than 40 million people, with benefits averaging about $450 a month for a family of four.

The food stamp cuts are part of a “workforce development” agenda promised by GOP leaders such as Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., though other elements of the agenda have been slow to develop.

“The timing is just perfect, given the fact that we have more than 5 million jobs that are open and available,” said Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., who said the GOP provisions would cement “a pathway to opportunity” for the poor and “give them better access to skills-based education.”

But Democrats said the provisions would drive up to 2 million people off the program, force food stamp recipients to keep up with extensive record keeping rules, and create bulky state bureaucracies to keep track of it all, while not providing enough money to provide job training to all those who would require it.

“This legislation would create giant, untested bureaucracies at the state level. It cuts more than $9 billion in benefits and rolls those savings into state slush funds where they can use the money to operate other aspects of SNAP,” said Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, top Democrat on the panel. “Let me be clear: this bill, as currently written, kicks people off the SNAP program.”

Currently, adults ages 18-59 are required to work part-time or agree to accept a job if they’re offered one. Stricter rules apply to able-bodied adults without dependents between the ages of 18 and 49, who are subject to a three-month limit of benefits unless they meet a work requirement of 80 hours per month.

Under the new bill, that requirement would be expanded to apply to all work-capable adults, mandating that they either work or participate in work training for 20 hours per week with the exception of seniors, pregnant women, caretakers of children younger than 6, or people with disabilities.

Farm safety net

In addition to food stamps, the measure would renew farm safety-net programs such as subsidies for crop insurance, farm credit, and land conservation. Those subsidies for farm country traditionally form the backbone of support for the measure among Republicans, while urban Democrats support food aid for the poor.

The legislation has traditionally been bipartisan, blending support from urban Democrats supporting nutrition programs with farm state lawmakers supporting farm programs.

The measure mostly tinkers with those programs, adding provisions aimed at helping rural America obtain high-speed internet access, assist beginning farmers, and ease regulations on producers.

“When you step away from the social nutrition policy, much of this is a refinement of the 2014 farm bill. So we’re not reinventing the wheel. That makes it dramatically simpler,” said Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., a former chairman of the committee. “Most folks are generally satisfied with the fundamentals of the farm safety net.”

That satisfaction has helped fuel speculation that this year’s renewal of food and farm programs will fail because just a short-term renewal of current policies would satisfy many lawmakers. The Senate is taking a more traditional bipartisan approach that’s sure to avoid big changes to food stamps.

The House measure also would cut funding for land conservation programs long championed by Democrats, prompting criticism from environmental groups. At the same time, it contains a proposal backed by pesticide manufacturers such as the Dow Chemical Company that would streamline the process for approving pesticides by allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to skip reviews required under the Endangered Species Act.

The panel adopted by voice vote a proposal by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., to prohibit the slaughter, trade or import or export of dogs and cats for human consumption in the United States.

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SunPower Buys US Rival SolarWorld to Head Off Trump Tariffs

SunPower Corp. on Wednesday said it would buy U.S. solar panel maker SolarWorld Americas, expanding its domestic manufacturing as it seeks to stem the impact of Trump administration tariffs on panel imports.

The White House cheered the deal, saying it was proof that Trump’s trade policies were stimulating U.S. investment.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The news sent SunPower’s shares up 12 percent on the Nasdaq to their highest level since before President Donald Trump imposed 30 percent tariffs on imported solar panels in January.

“The time is right for SunPower to invest in U.S. manufacturing,” chief executive Tom Werner said in a statement.

SunPower is based in San Jose, California, but most of its manufacturing is in the Philippines and Mexico. The company had lobbied heavily against the solar trade case brought last year by U.S. manufacturers, including SolarWorld, which said they could not compete with a flood of cheap imports.

‘This is great news’

The deal is a win for the Trump administration’s efforts to revive U.S. solar manufacturing through the tariffs. SunPower will manufacture its cheaper “P-series” panels, which more directly compete with Chinese products, at the SolarWorld factory in Hillsboro, Oregon, it said. It will also make SolarWorld’s legacy products.

“This is great news for the hundreds of Americans working at SolarWorld’s factory in Oregon and is further proof that the president’s trade policies are bringing investment back to the United States,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in an emailed statement.

The announcement comes as SunPower is seeking an exemption from tariffs on its higher-priced, more efficient panels manufactured overseas. It has argued to the U.S. trade representative, which will make a decision on exemptions in the coming weeks, that those products should be excluded because there is no U.S. competitor that makes a similar product.

In a note to clients, Baird analyst Ben Kallo said the SolarWorld deal would enable the company to compete against Chinese imports should SunPower’s products not receive an exemption. But he added that skeptics “may question the company’s ability to generate profits with U.S. manufacturing.”

Capital injection

The deal will inject much-needed capital into SolarWorld’s long-suffering manufacturing plant and give it the support of a major market player. SunPower is one of the largest solar companies in the world and is majority owned by France’s deep-pocketed oil giant Total SA.

The U.S. arm of Germany’s SolarWorld AG opened the Hillsboro factory in 2008 as it sought to capitalize on surging solar demand in the United States. But its start coincided with a dramatic increase in the production of cheaper solar products in Asia, and SolarWorld struggled to compete.

Twice, in 2012 and 2014, trade cases brought by SolarWorld prompted the U.S. Commerce Department to slap import duties on solar products from China and Taiwan. Yet prices on solar panels continued their free fall, and in 2017, the company joined rival Suniva in asking for new tariffs.

SolarWorld called the outcome “ideal” for its hundreds of employees in Hillsboro.

Suniva’s future in doubt

During the trade case and after the tariffs were announced, the solar  industry’s trade group, the Solar Energy Industries Association, argued that the tariffs would not be enough to keep SolarWorld and Suniva afloat.

Indeed, Suniva’s future remains uncertain after a U.S. bankruptcy court judge this week granted a request by its biggest creditor that will allow it to sell a portion of the company’s solar manufacturing equipment through a public


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US Manufacturers Seek Relief From Steel, Aluminum Tariffs

President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported aluminum and steel are disrupting business for hundreds of American companies that buy those metals, and many are pressing for relief.

Nearly 2,200 companies are asking the Commerce Department to exempt them from the 25 percent steel tariff, and more than 200 other companies are asking to be spared the 10 percent aluminum tariff.

Other companies are weighing their options. Jody Fledderman, chief executive of Batesville Tool & Die in Indiana, said American steelmakers have already raised their prices since Trump’s tariffs were announced last month. Fledderman said he might have to shift production to a plant in Mexico, where he can buy cheaper steel.

A group of small- and medium-size manufacturers are gathering in Washington to announce a coalition to fight the steel tariff.

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МВС: за два місяці 2018 року зафіксоване зниження кількості ДТП

За два місяці 2018 року в Україні зафіксоване зниження кількості дорожньо-транспортних пригод, заявила заступник міністра внутрішніх справ України Тетяна Ковальчук.

«З початку року у поліції з’явився обережний оптимізм – за два місяці 2018 було зафіксовано зниження кількості дорожньо-транспортних пригод та смертності на дорогах на 7%, порівняно з аналогічним періодом минулого року», – сказала Ковальчук.

За її словами, «щоб ця тенденція не була зруйнована такими страшними аваріями, як у Кривому Розі», парламенту варто терміново розглянути урядовий законопроект «Про посилення відповідальності за окремі правопорушення у сфері безпеки дорожнього руху».

Читайте також: Дорожня трагедія в Кривому Розі: хто винен?

10 листопада 2017 року Кабінет міністрів схвалив проект закону про посилення відповідальності за окремі правопорушення у сфері безпеки дорожнього руху.

Автори документа пропонують внести зміни до статті 286 Кримінального кодексу України («порушення правил безпеки дорожнього руху або експлуатації транспорту особами, які керують транспортними засобами»), зокрема збільшити розміри покарань за передбачені статтею склади злочинів, а також додатково передбачити кримінальну відповідальність за порушення ПДР, вчинене в стані алкогольного чи іншого сп’яніння, що спричинило нанесення тілесних ушкоджень середньої тяжкості, тяжких тілесниних ушкоджень або загибель людини.

Крім того, у випадку ухвалення закону за перевищення швидкості та втечу з місця ДТП доведеться заплатити штраф в майже 3,5 тисячі гривень. Для водіїв, які продовжують їздити за кермом після позбавлення посвідчення водія, штраф підіймуть до 10 тисяч гривень. 

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Суд планує допитати Мосійчука в справі Єфремова

Старобільский районний суд Луганської області планує допитати 19 квітня народного депутата, члена фракції «Радикальна партія Олега Ляшка» Ігоря Мосійчука в справі екс-лідера парламентської фракції Партії регіонів Олександра Єфремова, повідомляє кореспондент Радіо Свобода.

18 квітня суд допитав народного депутата Олега Ляшка. Він заявив, що колишній голова Служби безпеки України Валентин Наливайченко та голова Верховної Ради Андрій Парубій не погодилися штурмувати будівлю СБУ в Луганську, яку бойовики захопили у квітні 2014 року. Ляшко додав, що «якби Єфремов не підігрував сепаратистам, Луганськ був би українським».

Єфремова затримали 30 липня 2016 року в аеропорту «Бориспіль», звідки він, за даними ГПУ, намагався вилетіти до Відня. 13 січня 2017 року Єфремова з Києва конвоювали до Старобільська, де він і нині перебуває під арештом.

4 січня 2017 року Генеральна прокуратура України направила до суду обвинувальний акт стосовно Єфремова. Йому інкримінують організацію захоплення будівлі Луганської ОДА; пособництво в захопленні Управління СБУ в Луганській області; вчинення умисних дій з метою зміни меж території та державного кордону України; організаційне сприяння створенню й діяльності угруповання «ЛНР»; державну зраду.

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