Protesters In Belarusian City Meet Regional Official, Call For Better Work Conditions

Several hundred protesters in the Belarusian city of Slonim rallied on March 19 in opposition to a tax that authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says is needed to fight what he calls “social parasitism.” Slonim District Council head Aleh Tarhonski arrived to talk to protesters. The rally ended with the adoption of a joint statement urging the authorities to improve employment and private business conditions and to stop raising the age of retirement. The statement also called on Belarus’s state media to report impartially on economic and social conditions in the country. (RFE/RL’s Belarus Service)

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Three U.S. Troops Wounded In Insider Attack By Afghan Soldier

The NATO-led mission in Afghanistan says three U.S. troops were wounded in a March 19 attack by an Afghan soldier, the first known insider attack on coalition personnel in the country this year.

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Bulgaria Says Ready To Reinforce Border With Turkey If Needed

Bulgarian officials say they are prepared to increase patrols and complete a razor-wire fence along its border with Turkey to prevent any new flood of migrants.

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Report: Kellyanne Conway’s Husband Chosen for Justice Post

President Donald Trump has chosen the husband of White House counseler Kellyanne Conway to head the civil division of the Justice Department, The Wall Street Journal reported.

 

George Conway was chosen to head the office that has responsibility for defending the administration’s proposed travel ban and defending lawsuits filed against the administration, the newspaper reported.

Conway is a partner at the New York law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. The law firm’s website says Conway has extensive experience in litigation involving securities, mergers and acquisitions, contracts and antitrust cases. He graduated from Harvard and then Yale Law School. He joined the law firm in 1988, soon after his graduation from law school.

Paula Jones case 

He has been involved in numerous complex, high-profile cases with that law firm, where he has been a partner since 1994. In the 1990s, Conway wrote the Supreme Court brief that cleared the way for Paula Jones’ civil suit against President Bill Clinton. Clinton’s denial of an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky during a deposition in the Jones case led to his impeachment trial.

 

The White House and the Justice Department would not confirm the pick Saturday. George Conway declined to comment.

Powerful wife

 

Kellyanne Conway is a longtime Republican pollster who helped turn around Trump’s presidential campaign at a critical time last summer. She joined the campaign as a senior adviser and quickly earned the candidate’s trust. She’s also close with daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, another influential voice in Trump’s inner circle.

Kellyanne Conway stepped in to manage Trump’s bid against Democrat Hillary Clinton when the campaign began flailing in the face of a series of controversies. Many credit her with boosting him toward his Election Day victory after she urged him to more closely follow the teleprompter in his speeches and helped him deliver clearer talking points that minimized controversy in the final days of the campaign.

 

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US Seeks Bids From Builders for 9-Meter-High Border Wall

The U.S. government has put out a call for proposals to build a wall along the border with Mexico that President Donald Trump ordered as one of his first official acts after the inauguration.

The request for proposals issued by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency are a first step toward the multibillion-dollar wall project. 

The agency is seeking bids from designers and builders who are prepared to erect prototypes of their wall plans of a reduced size and total area of about 10 square meters each, which would be used to make a final decision later this year about how the wall would be built and by whom.

Specifications for the finished product, as described in the official documents, make clear that the wall will be a massive construction project. The government is asking for a 9-meter-high concrete barrier, extending 2 meters underground, built to be “physically imposing” and capable of resisting almost any attack, “by sledgehammer, car jack, pickaxe, chisel, battery-operated impact tools, battery-operated cutting tools [or] oxy/acetylene torch.” 

‘A big, beautiful wall’

Trump, who as a candidate made the Mexican border wall one of his main campaign themes, said he wanted “a big, beautiful wall,” and the government’s request for bids reflected that wish, declaring the completed project should be “aesthetically pleasing” — at least on the north or U.S.-facing side of the wall.

Two detailed requests for proposals were issued Friday, each more than 130 pages long. One was for a solid concrete barrier, the other called for a similar structure containing see-through openings, apparently for border guards’ use. The specifications noted that under certain circumstances, likely affected by local topography, some portions of the finished wall could be shorter than 9 meters.

Both walls would have to incorporate features to prevent anyone from scaling the barrier or attaching grappling hooks to its summit, and both also were required to incorporate electronically controlled gates for vehicles and pedestrians.

First step calls for scale models

Customs and Border Protection said it intends to award multiple contracts based on responses to its request statement, but noted the aggregate awards would not surpass $300 million. The agency previously called for would-be bidders to submit concept designs by March 10, but it was not clear whether any were submitted.

The prototypes, or scaled-down sample walls, are to be built in Southern California, close to the Mexican border in the U.S. city of San Diego.

The entire U.S.-Mexico border covers 3,200 kilometers, over a variety of terrain, from California, through Arizona and New Mexico and ending in southern Texas. More than 1,100 kilometers of that stretch already is fenced, but nowhere is the barrier as massive as the wall described in the new CBP documents.

Trump called for the wall to stop illegal immigration into the United States from Mexico and to cut off drug-smuggling routes. A preliminary version of the president’s budget for government for fiscal 2018, beginning in October, was sent to Congress this week, and it included $2.6 billion for the beginning of wall construction.

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Russia Sets Date For International Talks On Afghanistan Conflict: Report

Russia has set April 14 as the date for international talks on the conflict in Afghanistan, Russian state-run news agency Interfax says.

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Chuck Berry, Rock ‘N’ Roll Icon, Dies at Age 90

Police in St. Louis, Missouri, say rock ‘n’ roll legend Chuck Berry has died at age 90.

Berry was an American music legend, a pioneer of the rock ‘n’ roll style, which blended rhythm and blues with pop music in a blend that became synonymous with the developing culture of  American teenagers in the 1950s.

Police in St. Charles County, Missouri, announced in a Facebook post Saturday that they had responded to a medical emergency at a local home. After unsuccessfully trying to revive him, officials pronounced Berry dead.

Berry’s death was announced using his full name Charles Edward Anderson Berry Sr.

Police say the family has requested privacy.

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У Києві вандали облили червоною фарбою пам’ятник князю Володимиру

Червоною фарбою вандали облили пам’ятник князю Володимиру Великому у Києві. Про це повідомляють користувачі соціальних мереж. Співробітник Українського інституту національної пам’яті Олена Халімон розмістила відповідні фото у Facebook.

«Червоною фарбою у Києві не лише облили пам’ятник Олені Телізі у Бабиному Яру, ось так зараз виглядає пам’ятник Володимиру Великому», – написала вона.

Увечері 17 березня невідомі особи залили червоною фарбою пам’ятник Олені Телізі, встановлений у Бабиному Яру. 18 березня кияни відчистили пам’ятник загиблій від рук нацистів поетесті.

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Звинувачений США в хакерстві співробітник ФСБ працював в інвестиційному банку в Москві

Один із двох агентів ФСБ, яких влада США звинувачує в хакерстві, працював під прикриттям у Renaissance Capital, московському інвестиційному банку, що належить мільярдерові Михайлу Прохорову.

Офіцер, названий в обвинувальному акті Міністерства юстиції Ігорем Сущиним, був звільнений з банку 16 березня, на наступний день після того, як посадові особи США оголосили звинувачення, пов’язані з масовим зламом акаунтів на сервері інтернет-компанії Yahoo в 2014 році. Звільнення Сущина підтвердив Радіо Свобода високопосадовець банку, знайомий із ситуацією.

Сущин може досі перебувати в Москві, хоча його точне місцезнаходження встановити не вдалося.

Посадові особи США офіційно вимагають екстрадиції як Сущина, так і двох інших росіян, названих в обвинувальному висновку – Олексія Белана і Дмитра Докучаєва, ще одного офіцера Федеральної служби безпеки Росії.

Ще один фігурант справи, Карім Баратов, був заарештований у Канаді цього тижня, і очікує на вердикт щодо запиту про екстрадицію до США.

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У Вірменії вимагають з’ясувати причини смерті активіста

Кількасот людей збираються в столиці Вірменії Єревані вже третій день, вимагаючи повного розслідування недавньої смерті активіста Артура Сарґсяна.

49-річний Сарґсян помер 16 березня – через кілька днів після звільнення з в’язниці, де він тримав 25-денне голодування. Один із лікарів Сарґсяна заявив, що активіст помер від серцевої недостатності після того, як переїхав до лікарні для термінової операції.

За словами слідчих, вони порушили кримінальну справу за фактом смерті.

Розтин був запланований на 18 березня, але, за повідомленнями, відкладений на прохання родини Сарґсяна.

Артур Сарґсян перебував у в’язниці за звинуваченням у сприянні озброєним опозиціонерам під час подій улітку 2016 року. Його звинувачували в постачанні харчів членам радикальної озброєної групи під час двотижневого протистояння з силами безпеки.

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