Archive for November, 2018

How blue-collar aristocracy was laid low

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Globalisation was not the cause of job losses among low-educated factory workers

BHP settles tax dispute with Australian government

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Pranksters Plant Missing ‘Picasso’ in Romania

Monday, November 19th, 2018

A writer who thought she had found a painting by Pablo Picasso stolen in an infamous art heist six years ago said Sunday she was the victim of a “publicity stunt”, Dutch media reported, quoted by AFP

Picasso’s “Harlequin Head” was one of seven celebrated paintings snatched from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam in 2012 during a daring robbery local media dubbed “the theft of the century”.

The artworks by Picasso, Monet, Gauguin, Matisse and Lucian Freud have not been seen since.

But Dutch writer Mira Feticu, who wrote a novel based on the brazen heist, thought she had uncovered the piece after she was sent an anonymous letter around 10 days ago “with instructions regarding the place where the painting was hidden” in Romania.

Feticu, of Romanian origin, told AFP the tip-off led her to a forest in the east of the country where she dug up an artwork wrapped in plastic.

Romanian authorities, who were handed the canvas on Saturday night, said that it “might be” Picasso’s painting, which is estimated to be worth 800,000 euros ($915,000).

However, on Sunday night Feticu told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS that she was the victim of a “performance” by two Belgian directors in Antwerp.

Feticu said she received an email from the Belgian duo explaining that the letter was part of a project called “True Copy”, dedicated to the notorious Dutch forger Geert Jan Jansen, whose fakes flooded the art collections of Europe and beyond until he was caught in 1994.

“Part of this performance was prepared in silence in the course of the past few months, with a view to bringing back Picasso’s ‘Tete d’Arlequin’,” Bart Baele and Yves Degryse wrote on their website.

Their production company “currently wishes to abstain from any comment” because it first wants to speak to Feticu, the statement said.

“We will be back with more details on this issue within the next few days.”

- ‘Theft of the century’ -

Four Romanians were jailed in 2014 for the heist and ordered to pay 18 million euros ($20.5 million at today’s rates) to the work’s insurers.

One of the group, Olga Dogaru, told investigators she had burned the paintings in her stove in the sleepy village of Carcaliu to protect her son, Radu, when he could not sell them. She later retracted the statement.

Investigators have previously said the paintings were destroyed after the thieves failed to find a buyer.

Specialists from Romania’s museum of natural history examined ashes from a stove in Dogaru’s home and found traces of at least three oil paintings, based on lead- and zinc-based pigments in blue, yellow, red and green that are no longer used, director Ernest Oberlaender-Tarnoveanu said.

The thieves had slipped into the Dutch museum during the night of October 15-16, 2012 and got away with the works which despite their value were not protected by alarms.

Source

Hong Kong Democracy Leaders Plead not Guilty in Umbrella Movement Trial

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Three leading Hong Kong democracy campaigners pleaded not guilty on Monday to public nuisance charges over their involvement in massive rallies calling for political reform, as room for opposition in the semi-autonomous city shrinks under an assertive China,reports AFP

The pioneering trio are among nine activists all facing “public nuisance” charges for their participation in the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests. The charges are based on colonial-era law and carry jail terms of up to seven years.

Sociology professor Chan Kin-man, 59, law professor Benny Tai, 54, and baptist minister Chu Yiu-ming, 74, founded the “Occupy Central” movement in 2013 and joined with the student-led Umbrella Movement which brought parts of the city to a standstill for months, calling for free elections for the city’s leader.

The activists were welcomed outside court by hundreds of supporters shouting: “Peaceful resistance! I wanted real universal suffrage!”

Prosecutor Andrew Bruce argued that the mass protests had caused a “common injury done to the public”, who had been affected by the blockage of major roads.

He accused the trio of taking part in and supporting the demonstration “by way of unlawful obstruction of public places and roads”.

Occupy Central called for the occupation of Hong Kong’s business district if the public was not given a fair vote for the city’s leader, who is appointed by a pro-Beijing committee.

It was overtaken by the student movement that exploded in September 2014 when police fired tear gas on gathering crowds.

The Occupy trio urged people to join what became known as the Umbrella Movement as protesters used umbrellas to shield themselves from tear gas and pepper spray.

The movement failed to win reform and since then activists have been prosecuted, with some jailed.

 

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Intense Week of Talks Ahead of Brexit Showdown Summit

Monday, November 19th, 2018

European governments get their own say on Brexit this week as they debate future ties with London in the run-up to Sunday’s summit to sign Britain’s divorce papers, reports AFP. 

Ministers from the other 27 EU member states are in Brussels on Monday at the start of what Prime Minister Theresa May calls “an intense week of negotiations.”

The British leader has said she will be in the city herself later in the week to meet the head of the EU commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, for last-minute talks.

Neither May nor European leaders are keen to reopen the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement that was grudgingly approved by the British cabinet last week.

But both sides are scrambling to finalise a parallel political declaration that will set out a road-map for post-Brexit negotiations on future EU-UK ties.

“The focus this week will be on the future relationship,” May told Sky News.

“We won’t agree the leaving part… until we’ve got what we want in the future relationship, because these two go together.”

Specifically, London wants to lay out in as much detail as possible how to get to a free trade agreement before the end of a 21-month post-Brexit transition.

Brussels, meanwhile, insists Britain cannot have the same privileged access to the single market as it did as a member state after Brexit on March 29 next year.

European negotiators plan to publish their version of the statement on future relations on Tuesday, after their ambassadors met over the weekend.

On Sunday, according to diplomatic sources, the document was fleshed out from just over six pages to around 20 as more details were agreed.

They also discussed an EU proposal that the draft withdrawal agreement be amended to extend the post-Brexit transition to the end of 2022.

No decision was taken on this, however, and members are wary of re-opening the document and allowing British hardliners to restart a debate on its terms.

More closed-door talks were to follow on Monday, when the EU 27 ministers of European affairs meet to prepare Sunday’s signing summit.

In the meantime, EU Council president Donald Tusk is going ahead with plans to bring May and her fellow leaders together on November 25 to sign the deal.

“We now have an intense week of negotiations ahead of us,” May will tell British business leaders on Monday, according to Downing Street.

“During that time I expect us to hammer out the full and final details of the framework that will underpin our future relationship,” she was to say.

“And I am confident that we can strike a deal at the council that I can take back to the House of Commons.”

 

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Statue of Liberty’s Original Torch Moved to Museum Site

Monday, November 19th, 2018

The Statue of Liberty’s original torch, which has been housed in the base of the statue since a replica replaced it in the 1980s, was moved across Liberty Island on Thursday to its new home in a museum that will open next year, according to kfdm.com

Visitors watched as the base and the detached flame of the 3,600-pound (1,633-kilogram) torch were trucked slowly and carefully to the museum construction site about 100 yards (91 meters) from the statue.

Officials with the National Park Service and the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation said the torch was removed in 1984 because it was too badly damaged to restore.

“Taking it down was very frightening,” said Stephen Briganti, president and CEO of the foundation. “We had the largest freestanding scaffolding that at that point had ever been built.”

Thursday’s brief trip to the museum site was the latest chapter for an icon that “has crossed many miles in its lifetime,” Briganti said.

The torch left France in 1876 for the United States, where it was exhibited at the Centennial celebration in Philadelphia and then in New York City’s Madison Square Park. The trip was intended to raise funds to pay for the statue’s pedestal, Briganti said.

NEW YORK (AP) — The Statue of Liberty’s original torch, which has been housed in the base of the statue since a replica replaced it in the 1980s, was moved across Liberty Island on Thursday to its new home in a museum that will open next year.

Visitors watched as the base and the detached flame of the 3,600-pound (1,633-kilogram) torch were trucked slowly and carefully to the museum construction site about 100 yards (91 meters) from the statue.

Officials with the National Park Service and the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation said the torch was removed in 1984 because it was too badly damaged to restore.

“Taking it down was very frightening,” said Stephen Briganti, president and CEO of the foundation. “We had the largest freestanding scaffolding that at that point had ever been built.”

Thursday’s brief trip to the museum site was the latest chapter for an icon that “has crossed many miles in its lifetime,” Briganti said.

The torch left France in 1876 for the United States, where it was exhibited at the Centennial celebration in Philadelphia and then in New York City’s Madison Square Park. The trip was intended to raise funds to pay for the statue’s pedestal, Briganti said.

It went back to Paris in 1882, then returned to the New York Harbor along with other crated pieces of the statue in 1885.

The torch was held high by Lady Liberty from 1886 to 1984, but modifications to the flame changed its original design over the years.

The flame resembled a stained-glass sculpture lying on its specially designed flatbed truck. That’s because the sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who also designed Mount Rushmore, “put all the holes in it with amber glass” during a 1916 redesign, park Superintendent John Piltzecker said. “It led to the flame’s deterioration.”

The torch was further weakened in July of that year by the Black Tom explosion, an act of German sabotage at a munitions plant nearby in Jersey City.

The 1980s gilt flame that the statue is holding now restores sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi’s original design, officials said.

The old torch, meanwhile, made another fundraising trip at the end of 1984, traveling to Pasadena, where it starred in the Rose Parade.

A trench was dug under the statue so that the 16-foot (4.9-meter) original torch could be moved into the pedestal when it returned to New York.

It couldn’t depart the pedestal that way Thursday, Piltzecker said. “It had to come out in two pieces.”

Joining the torch’s two pieces was a full-scale copper replica of the statue’s face. The torch and the face will be highlights of the new 0 million museum, which is scheduled to open in May 2019.

Source

2.9 Magnitude Earthquake Was Registered Near Blagoevgrad

Monday, November 19th, 2018

2.9 magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale was registered near Blagoevgrad. This was announced by bTV of the National Institute of Geophysics, Geodesy and Geography at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

The quake was registered at 4:09 am, 10 kilometers southeast of Blagoevgrad.

Source

Gazprom to Complete Offshore Section of Turkish Stream

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin will take a one-day working visit to Turkey on Monday, timed to the completion of construction of the offshore section of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline. According to the Kremlin press service, in Istanbul, the Russian leader, together with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will participate in the ceremony in the form of a video conference, reported TASS. 

“There will also be a meeting between Putin and Erdogan, during which issues of further development of Russian-Turkish relations and current regional and international problems will be discussed,” the press service noted.

Putin has already visited Turkey twice this year. Both times due to his participation in international meetings on Syria: in April in the format of Russia – Iran – Turkey and in October in the format of Russia – France – Germany – Turkey. In both cases, Putin held separate bilateral conversations with Erdogan. The last visit to Turkey in a purely bilateral format with the President of Russia took place on December 11 last year.

In December 2014, Russia abandoned the South Stream gas pipeline project through Bulgaria and replaced it with a pipeline of similar capacity, which was later called the Turkish Stream.

 

Gazprom began construction of the offshore section of the Turkish Stream in May 2017, managed by South Stream Transport B.V. (100% subsidiary of Gazprom).

The offshore section of the pipeline runs along the bottom of the Black Sea to the coast of Turkey. Its length is 930 km. The pipeline will be continues by a 180-km land transit line to the border of Turkey with neighboring countries.

The first line will be designed for the Turkish market, the second – for gas supply to the countries of South and Southeast Europe. The capacity of each line is 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas per year. The first deliveries are scheduled for the end of 2019.

Gazprom announced the completion of deep-sea laying of the offshore section of the first Turkish Stream in April 2018.

Turkey is Gazprom’s second largest export market. Currently, Russian energy is supplied to this country through the Blue Stream pipeline and the Trans-Balkan gas pipeline. In 2017, Gazprom exported a record volume of gas to the Turkish market – 29 billion cubic meters, which is 17.3% more than in 2016, and 1.7 billion cubic meters (6.2%) more than in 2014 when the previous maximum was set (27.3 billion cubic meters).

At the end of May, Gazprom and the Turkish government signed a protocol on the land section of the Turkish Stream pipeline transit line to supply Russian gas to European consumers.

Gazprom and the Turkish company Botas concluded an agreement on the basic conditions and parameters for the construction of the section. Joint venture TurkAkim Gaz Tasima A. S. will carry out construction of the land section.

Earlier, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom Alexander Medvedev said that in the near future the company would finally determine the route of the second line of the Turkish Stream for gas supply to countries in Southern and Southeast Europe. According to him, two main options are being discussed in accordance with the procedures in the European Union and the European Commission. Medvedev cited Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary as potential markets.

Gazprom’s investments in the construction of the Turkish Stream for 2018 are planned at the level of 182.4 bln rubles ($2.76 bln) against almost 93 bln rubles ($1.4 bln) in 2017. The company estimates the cost of laying the pipeline at 7 bln euro.

More:
http://tass.com/economy/1031386

Source

Maya Manolova Gathers Ombudsmen From the Balkan Countries

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Maya Manolova gathers ombudsmen from the Balkan countries at a forum in Sofia today, reported the Bulgarian National Television. 

At the National Palace of Culture, public advocates will discuss opportunities for Balkan cooperation in protecting citizens’ rights.

The event is in the context of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and is in partnership with the Macedonian Ombudsman.

Source

Over 160 Snow-Cleaning Machines Take Care of the Sofia Street

Monday, November 19th, 2018

”The main boulevards and streets are cleaned. 169 machines have been involved in the snow-cleaning of Sofia last night. The streets and boulevards of public transport, as well as the main roads, have been cleaned. They are still working machines, the snow is expected to stop, but the temperatures will fall. This was said by Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova at an extraordinary briefing this morning, according to the Bulgarian National Television. 

Urban transport moves everywhere along its usual routes.

The municipality reminds drivers to drive carefully.

Source

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