Polish Defense Minister Accuses European Council President Of Diplomatic Treason

Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz has accused European Council President Donald Tusk of committing diplomatic treason when he was Poland’s prime minister.

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3 Previous South Korean Presidents Also Faced Legal Proceedings

South Korean prosecutors began questioning ousted president Park Geun-hye on Tuesday as a criminal suspect in a widening corruption investigation.

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Park, 65, became South Korea’s first democratically elected president to be removed from office this month when the Constitutional Court upheld her impeachment by parliament. She has not been charged but prosecutors have accused her of bribery and abuse of power. She has denied wrongdoing. Below are some details of previous presidents who faced legal proceedings:

CHUN DOO-HWAN

Chun Doo-hwan was president from 1980 to 1988. In 1995, he was accused of mutiny, treason and bribery, but he refused to appear at the prosecutors’ office and instead traveled to his hometown. Then-President Kim Young-sam ordered his arrest and Chun was detained on Dec. 3, 1995. He was found guilty of mutiny, treason and corruption in August 1996. He was originally sentenced to death but was released, having spent just over two years at the Anyang Correctional Institution, near Seoul, in 1997 in a bid by Kim to promote “national harmony.”

ROH TAE-WOO

Roh Tae-woo was president from 1988 to 1993. In 1995, he was accused of taking bribes from top businessmen during his term as president. He was convicted of treason, mutiny and corruption and sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison. A court of appeal reduced that to 17 years. He served just over two years in prison before being released by Kim in 1997, again to promote national harmony.

ROH MOO-HYUN

Roh Moo-hyun was president from 2003 to 2008. Prosecutors suspected him of involvement in a bribery scandal and he appeared for questioning on April 30, 2009. On May 23 the same year, Roh jumped to his death from a cliff near his home.

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Malawi Deploys Military to Protect Its Fast-dwindling Forests

Malawi’s government is trying a new way to protect its fast-dwindling forests: Sending in the army.

With deforestation threatening the capital’s water supply, the government has launched 24-hour military patrols of the country’s major forests, with authorisation to arrest loggers and confiscate their equipment, said Sangwani Phiri, a spokesman for the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining.

The move is “a bid to avert unwarranted illegal cutting down of trees,” he said in a telephone interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The strategy, using soldiers from the Malawi Defence Forces (MDF), is one already being used by other southern African countries including Botswana and South Africa, and is common practice in parts of other countries, including India and Vietnam, he said.

Charcoal production

Malawi’s government estimates that the country’s 3.4 million hectares (8.4 million acres) of predominantly natural forests are being depleted at a rate of 1.8-2.6 percent annually, largely for charcoal production.

“We are targeting all forest areas across the country, but we are starting with the Mua, Livulezi, Dzalanyama, Viphya and Mulanje Mountain forests, whose rate of depletion has been worrisome,” Phiri said.

The deployment follows what he described as a successful pilot programme in the vast Dzalanyama Forest, which spreads across the Central Region districts of Dedza and Lilongwe. The programme began in February 2015.

FINES, CONFISCATION

Lieutenant Wilned Kalizgamangwere Chawinga, a staff officer in the MDF Public Information Office, said troops will conduct patrols 24 hours a day in the forests, as they have been doing in the pilot programme.

“We detain illegal loggers and charcoal producers and snatch their vehicles and any other equipment used,” he told Thomson Reuters Foundation by email.

“We take everything confiscated to the nearest MDF installation, where owners come to claim them if they have appropriate papers, or after paying fines to the Department of Forestry,” he said.

Chawinga said the soldiers also destroy charcoal kilns discovered in the forests.

“Apart from patrolling the forests, confiscating equipment and detaining those involved in illegal logging, MDF soldiers sensitise the public to the dangers of deforestation and encourage them to plant more trees,” Chawinga said.

Water resources

Rampant tree felling is having a severe impact on Malawi’s water resources, experts say.

The cutting down of trees in Dzalanyama, for example, is threatening the Lilongwe River, which supplies the capital with water.

The drying river has forced the Lilongwe Water Board to ration supplies, cutting off some areas of the city from water for as long as four days at a time.

John Paul, a climate change expert at Total LandCare, an African-based non-governmental organisation, said that as forests reduce in size they emit less water vapour which reduces rainfall, leading to lower levels of water in rivers and other waterways.

Deforestation also increases the rate of evaporation from water bodies already depleted by lack of rain, he said.

“Forests are carbon sinks and the absence of them raises temperatures, because when there are no forests, atmospheric carbon dioxide increases,” he said. That leads to faster global warming, he said.

Water losses

Edward Nyirenda, a spokesperson for the Northern Region Water Board, welcomed the involvement of soldiers in protecting forests, describing the rate at which forests are disappearing in its water catchment areas as “gravely worrying”.

“The situation is not good due to wanton cutting down of trees,” Nyirenda said. “Deforestation is affecting the quantity and quality of our raw water sources.”

Apart from reducing supplies of water, deforestation has also led to more eroded soil in the water supply, requiring more costly processing, he said.

Over the past few years, drought and erratic rainfall across the country have affected water levels in Lake Malawi, according to the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM).

The utility says that dwindling water levels in the lake have affected its ability to produce hydroelectric power on the Shire River, the sole outlet from Lake Malawi.

ESCOM has been rationing power supplies, which raises demand for alternative sources of energy, including charcoal. This in turn has increased the pressure on forests.

Phiri said that besides deploying soldiers to guard forests, the government is training forest rangers who it will “arm to the teeth for any crucial battles” that arise in the effort to guard the forests. He said the rangers would later take over from the soldiers in guarding the forests.

“Government will continue with efforts to find the best possible ways of protecting and preserving our remaining forest cover,” Phiri promised.

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Держсекретар США Тіллерсон відвідає Москву у травні

Держсекретар США Рекс Тіллерсон здійснить свій перший візит до Росії в травні. Про це американське зовнішньополітичне відомство повідомило пізно ввечері 20 березня.

Тіллерсон відвідає Москву в межах європейського турне, після саміту «Групи семи» провідних країн світу в Італії. Візит до Росії відбудеться на тлі розслідування, яке у США триває у зв’язку з російськими кібератаками під час президентської кампанії, а також стосується зустрічей між російськими офіційними особами і кількома представниками виборчої кампанії Трампа.

Водночас у повідомленні Держдепартаменту йдеться, що Тіллерсон 5 і 6 квітня не відвідає саміт НАТО, який був би його перший шанс зустрітися з усіма 27 іншими союзниками по альянсу.США на цьому заході представлятиме заступник держсекретаря з політичних питань Том Шеннон.

Із посиланням на неназваних колишніх американських чиновників інформагенція Reuters повідомила, що Тіллерсон пропустить саміт НАТО у Брюсселі, щоб 6 і 7 квітня бути присутнім на переговорах між президентом США Дональдом Трампом і головою КНР Сі Цзіньпінем на курорті Мар-а-Лаґо у Флориді.

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Tillerson To Visit Russia In May, Will Skip NATO Meeting In April

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will make his first visit to Russia as part of a European trip in May but will not attend a NATO meeting in April.

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Congressional Black Caucus To Meet with Trump Wednesday

When President Donald Trump asked an African-American reporter during a press conference last month to set up a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), caucus members were dismayed by the appearance of racial insensitivity.

Trump’s office later reached out to the group and a meeting is set for Wednesday.

Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York was one of the CBC members shocked when Trump asked reporter April Ryan to set up a meeting with the caucus.

“It shows the president is not really connected to the real world in my estimation. … It was somewhat insulting to all the American people for him to ask an individual who’s a White House reporter just because she happens to be black,” Meeks told VOA.

VOA requested comment from the White House but got no response.

After that news conference, most Black Caucus members attended Trump’s recent address to Congress, but others chose not to.

Trump opened his speech by acknowledging some of America’s racial challenges.

“Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our nation’s path towards civil rights and the work that still remains to be done,” he said.

While Meeks considers Trump’s remarks a start, he said there needs to be a more effective policy when it comes to the African American community.

“African-Americans don’t just live in urban America. … You’ve got to have a broad policy taking different geographical locations in place. … I happen to represent New York but there are many members of the CBC who represent rural areas of Mississippi, South Carolina or Georgia,” he added.

The CBC has a record 49 members. Meeks said that speaks volumes about America’s diversity.

“America has progressed to the point that African-Americans do not represent just African-Americans or majority African-American districts,” he said.

But politically, the caucus is mainly composed of Democrats with the exception of Republican Senator Mia Love. Two African-American lawmakers — Senator Tim Scott and Congressman Will Hurd, both Republicans — do not belong to the CBC.

Meeks said the biggest misconception is that the group is monolithic.

“You’ve got members who come from all different perspectives because some are from the East Coast, West Coast; some are from urban areas, rural areas, some believe in hunting and guns, others don’t; some believe in trade and some don’t,” he said.

Meeks has been in Congress for 17 years and is a member of the Financial Services and Foreign Affairs Committees. He said the caucus members have a wide range of expertise, which could be helpful to any administration.

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Росія висловила послу Ізраїлю стурбованість через авіаудари в Сирії

Міністерство закордонних справ Росії 20 березня повідомило, що викликало посла Ізраїлю Ґері Корена, щоб висловити стурбованість щодо повітряних ударів, які минулого тижня були здійснені неподалік російських сил в околицях сирійського міста Пальміри.

Заступник міністра закордонних справ Росії Михайло Богданов заявив, що посол Корен був викликаний 17 березня.

Москва, яка бере участь у шестирічній громадянській війні в Сирії на боці президента Башара Асада раніше в цьому місяці повідомила, що понад 180 російських військових розпочали розмінування в Пальмірі.

Росія і Ізраїль створили «гарячу лінію», щоб уникнути інцидентів у небі Сирії. Богданов заявив, що Москва «хотіла б, щоб цей канал працював ефективніше».

Ізраїльські військові літаки вразили 17 березня на території Сирії кілька цілей. Це спричинило пуски ракет із боку урядових сил, що стало найбільш серйозним інцидентом між двома країнами після початку бойових дій. Військові Ізраїлю заявили, що метою ударів були позиції підтримуваного Іраном угруповання «Хезболла».

Військові Сирії заявили про збиття ізраїльського літака, Ізраїль заперечив таку втрату.

19 березня міністр оборони Ізраїлю Авіґдор Ліберман погрожував знищити систему протиповітряної оборони Сирії «без найменших вагань», якщо такий інцидент повториться в майбутньому.

Росія розгорнула свої власні системи протиповітряної оборони в Сирії, щоб захистити свої сили на території цієї країни.

Інцидент у небі Сирії стався через кілька днів після зустрічі між президентом Росії Володимиром Путіним і прем’єр-міністром Ізраїлю Біньяміном Нетаньягу в Москві, де сторони обговорювали сирійський конфлікт.

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У Молдові після арешту за звинуваченням у корупції звільнений міністр сільського господарства

Президент Молдови Ігор Додон звільнив 20 березня міністра сільського господарства і продовольства Едуарда Ґраму через імовірну корумпованість цього чиновника.

«Я очікую на такі ініціативи в найближчому майбутньому. Є ще дуже багато корумпованих чиновників в уряді», – написав Додон у Facebook.

Прем’єр-міністр Молдови Павел Філіп минулого тижня звернувся до Додона із запитом про усунення Ґрами, який був затриманий як підозрюваний у причетності до схеми незаконного привласнення державних виноградників і будівель. Сам усунутий міністр заперечує будь-які порушення зі свого боку.

Антикорупційні прокурори твердять, що більше десятка осіб підозрюються в причетності до схеми незаконної оренди землі та будівель, які має у власності Національний коледж виноградарства і виноробства.

Прокуратура торік заарештувала 12 осіб у цій справі.

Молдова є одним із провідних виробників вина на пострадянському просторі. Близько 70% від загального обсягу виробництва вина торік експортувалися до Євросоюзу. У 2014 році, невдовзі після підписання Кишиневом угоди про асоціацію з ЄС, Росія заборонила імпорт молдовського вина, фруктів і деяких овочів.

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Russian Anti-Doping Agency Names Temporary Chief Executive

The Russian anti-doping agency, which has been suspended over an alleged cover-up of widespread doping in Russia, on March 20 named a new acting chief executive.

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Russia Summons Israeli Envoy Over Concern About Air Strikes In Syria

The Russian foreign ministry said on March 20 that it summoned Israel’s ambassador to express concern about air strikes that hit close to Russian forces last week around the Syrian city of Palmyra.

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