Ecuador’s Moreno Scraps Fuel Subsidy Cuts in Big Win for Indigenous Groups

Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno on Monday officially scrapped his own law to cut expensive fuel subsidies after days of violent protests against the IMF-backed measure, returning fuel prices to prior levels until a new measure can be found.

The signing of the decree is a blow to Moreno, and leaves big questions about the oil-producing nation’s fiscal situation.

But it represents a win for the country’s indigenous communities, who led the protests, bringing chaos to the capital and crippling the oil sector.

The clashes marked the latest in a series of political convulsions sparked by IMF-backed reform plans in Latin America, where increased polarization between the right and left is causing widespread friction amid efforts to overhaul hidebound economies.

Moreno’s law eliminated four-decade-old fuel subsidies and was estimated to have freed up nearly $1.5 billion per year in the government budget, helping to shrink the fiscal deficit as required under a deal Moreno signed with the International Monetary Fund.

But the measure was hugely unpopular and sparked days of protests led by indigenous groups that turned increasingly violent despite a military-enforced curfew.

Moreno gave in to the chief demand of demonstrators late on Sunday, tweeting on Monday that: “We have opted for peace.”

Then, later on Monday, he signed the decree officially reverting his previous measure. Moreno, who took office in 2017 after campaigning as the leftist successor to former President Rafael Correa, said fuel prices would revert to their earlier levels at midnight.

A demonstrator holds tires as he runs during a protest against Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno’s austerity measures in Quito, Ecuador October 12, 2019.

He added that the government would seek to define a new plan to tackle the fuel subsidies that does not benefit the wealthy or smugglers, with prices remaining at prior levels until the new legislation is ready.

“While Moreno has survived for now, he is not yet out of the woods. Once again, Ecuador’s indigenous sector has proven its strength and now will be emboldened to look for concessions from the government in other areas,” said Eileen Gavin, senior Latin America analyst at Verisk Maplecroft.

“This inevitably means a slower fiscal adjustment between now and the 2021 election,” Gavin added in an email.

Nonetheless, for the time being, Moreno’s actions brought a much-needed measure of calm to the streets of the capital Quito, where residents on Monday began to restore order and clear away the makeshift blockades that sprang up in recent days.

“We have freed the country,” indigenous leader Jaime Vargas said to cheers from supporters at a press conference. “Enough of the pillaging of the Ecuadorean people.”

The protests had grown increasingly chaotic in recent days after the government launched a crackdown against what it labeled as extremists whom it said had infiltrated protests.

Authorities reported that the office of the comptroller, a local TV station and military vehicles were set on fire.

Indigenous protesters who streamed into Quito from Andean and Amazonian provinces to join the protests piled into buses that departed the city on Monday.

“We’re going back to our territories,” said Inti Killa, an indigenous man from the Amazonian region of Napo. “We’ve shown that unity and conviction of the people is a volcano that nobody can stop.”

One of the government’s more immediate priorities will be to kick-start oil sector operations, which were suspended in some regions after protesters broke into plants.

“We need to re-establish oil production,” said Energy Minister Carlos Perez. He added that Ecuador stopped producing some 2 million barrels of oil during the protests, costing the government more than $100 million in lost income. “I expect things to be back to normal in about 15 days,” Perez said.

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Pacific Northwest Tribes: Remove Columbia River Dams

Two Pacific Northwest tribes on Monday demanded the removal of three major hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River to save migrating salmon and starving orcas and restore fishing sites that were guaranteed to the tribes in a treaty more than 150 years ago.

The Yakama and Lummi nations made the demand of the U.S. government on Indigenous Peoples Day, a designation that’s part of a trend to move away from a holiday honoring Christopher Columbus.

For decades, people have debated whether to remove four big dams on the Lower Snake River, a tributary of the Columbia, but breaching the Columbia dams, which are a much more significant source of power, has never been seriously discussed.
 
Proposals to merely curtail operations, let alone remove the structures, are controversial, and the prospects of the Columbia dams being demolished any time soon appear nonexistent.

Tribal leaders said at a news conference along the Columbia River that the Treaty of 1855, in which 14 tribes and bands ceded 11.5 million acres to the United States, was based on the inaccurate belief that the U.S. had a right to take the land.

Under the treaty, the Yakama Tribe retained the right to fish at all their traditional sites. But construction of the massive concrete dams decades later along the lower Columbia River to generate power for the booming region destroyed critical fishing spots and made it impossible for salmon to complete their migration.

FILE – Water flows through the Dalles Dam, along the Columbia River, in The Dalles, Oregon, June 3, 2011.

After a song of prayer, Yakama Nation Chairman JoDe Goudy spoke Monday at the site of now-vanished Celilo Falls near The Dalles, Oregon, and said the placid Columbia River behind him looked “like a lake where we once saw a free-flowing river.”
 
“We have a choice and it’s one or the other: dams or salmon,” he said. “Our ancestors tell us to look as far into the future as we can. Will we be the generation that forgot those who are coming behind us, those yet unborn?”

Celilo Falls was a traditional salmon-fishing site for the Yakama for centuries, but it was swallowed by the river in 1957 after the construction of The Dalles Dam.

Support for dams

The three dams operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are a critical part of a complex hydroelectric network strung along the Columbia and Snake rivers in Oregon, Washington and Idaho that powers the entire region.

Government officials were unavailable for further comment Monday due to the holiday.

Supporters of dams along the Columbia and Snake rivers note the vast amount of clean energy they produce and their usefulness for irrigation and transportation. For example, they allow farmers to ship about half of U.S. wheat exports by barge instead of by truck or rail. According to the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, about 40,000 local jobs are dependent on shipping on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Salmon, orcas 

The Lummi Nation is in northwestern Washington state, far from the Columbia River, but it has also been touched by construction of the dams, said Jeremiah Julius, Lummi Nation chairman.

Chinook salmon are the preferred prey of endangered orcas but just 73 resident orcas remain in the Pacific Northwest — the lowest number in three decades — because of a lack of chinook, as well as toxic contamination and vessel noise. The orcas were hunted for food for generations by the Lummi Nation in the Salish Sea, he said.

“We are in a constant battle … to leave future generations a lifeway promised our ancestors 164 years ago,” he said. “Our people understand that the salmon, like the orca, are the miner’s canary for the health of the Salish Sea and for all its children.

“I choose salmon,” he added. “I will always choose salmon.”

Fish ladders built into the dams allow for the passage of migrating salmon, and migrating fish are hand-counted as they pass through. But the number of salmon making the arduous journey to the Pacific Ocean and back to their natal streams has declined steeply in recent decades.

The Columbia River Basin once produced between 10 million and 16 million salmon a year. Now there are about 1 million a year.

FILE – Water flows through the Bonneville Dam near Cascade, Oregon, June 27, 2012.

The Bonneville Dam was constructed in the mid-1930s and generates enough electricity to power about 900,000 homes — roughly the size of Portland, Oregon. The Dalles Dam followed in the 1950s and John Day Dam was completed in 1972.

Environmental groups applauded the tribes’ demand and said efforts to save salmon without removing the dams aren’t working because without the free flow of the Columbia, the entire river ecosystem is out of balance.

“The stagnant reservoirs behind the dams create dangerously hot water, and climate change is pushing the river over the edge. Year after year, the river gets hotter,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director for the nonprofit group Columbia Riverkeeper. “The system is broken, but we can fix it.”
 

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Changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day Gains National Approval

Along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, tens of thousands of New Yorkers and tourists celebrated the world’s largest display of Italian-American pageantry on Columbus Day, while New Mexico and a growing list of states and municipalities ditched the holiday altogether for the first time.

The Italian navigator namesake who sailed to the modern-day Americas in 1492, Christopher Columbus has long been considered by some scholars  and Native Americans as an affront to those who had settled on the land thousands of years prior to his arrival. 

While the earliest  commemoration of Columbus Day dates back to 1866 in New York City,  as a celebration to honor the heritage and contributions of the now-17 million Italian-Americans living in the United States, the movement behind “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” began more than a century later, in 1977, by a delegation of Native nations.

The resolution, presented in Geneva at the United Nations-sponsored International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, paved the way for cities like Berkeley, California to officially replace the holiday 15 years later.

Yet to organizers of the 75th annual Columbus Day Parade, the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus remains worth celebrating.

“Columbus discovered America. If it weren’t for Columbus, who knows where we’d be today,” said Aldo Verrelli, Parade Chairman with the Columbus Citizens Foundation.

“[With] any of those people in those days, we have to remember the good that they did,” Verrelli said. Let’s forget about all the other controversy.”

It’s a sentiment and a suggestion that has long divided Americans: honor tradition, or correct history and rectify the past.

“There were Native Americans that were here before, but [Columbus] basically discovered the New World, and that’s why we’re here today,” said Joe Sanfilippo, a participant at the New York Columbus Day Parade.

“The Europeans essentially tried to eradicate us,” U.S. Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM) told VOA. “They brought disease. They banished us to reservations later on when the U.S. government became an active force.”

Red paint covers a statue of Christopher Columbus, Oct. 14, 2019, in Providence, R.I., after it was vandalized on the day named to honor him as one of the first Europeans to reach the New World.

Since Berkeley’s decision to rename the holiday in 1992, more than 130 cities have followed suit. Joining several states — including Minnesota, Alaska, Vermont, Oregon and South Dakota — New Mexico became the latest state to legally replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2019, celebrated for the first time on Monday.

One of the first two Native American women elected to U.S. Congress and member of the Laguna Pueblo, Haaland describes her mission as one to “correct history” and honor the resilience of America’s Indigenous Peoples on the national stage. On October 11, she co-sponsored a national resolution to designate the second Monday in October as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”

“There’s 573 distinct tribes right now in our country. And we’re all diverse. And I just I think that it’s an excellent way for us to celebrate the diversity and recognize that when other indigenous people come to this country, that there’s a place for them also,” Haaland said of the renamed holiday.

People taking part in a rally to mark Indigenous Peoples’ Day in downtown Seattle sing as they march toward Seattle City Hall, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. The observance of the day was made official by the Seattle City Council in 2014.

America, she adds, was never “discoverable” in the first place, a “misnomer” that runs in direct contradiction to decades-old American history textbooks and the people who defend Christopher Columbus’s legacy.

“In their minds, accepting the truth, is somehow shifting the power — [in] that it contributes to the loss of power by minority over the majority,” said Regis Pecos, former governor of Cochiti Pueblo. “I think that these attitudes and behaviors are so deeply entrenched, that it is really based upon fear of losing a narrative, as false as that narrative is.”

Festival attendees in the state’s capitol, Santa Fe, say the celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day marks progress.

“History is always written by the winners. And then now, we[ve] come to a generation [where] we start to think about what we used to think is right is wrong now,” said attendee Silvia Sian.

At the Columbus Day Parade in New York, others argue it shouldn’t be an either-or decision.

“Those who want to honor Columbus, then they keep that day,” said New York resident Heather Fitzroy. “But those who want to honor the ones who lived before us, like the indigenous people of America, if they want to honor them, then that’s OK too.”

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Євро-2020: Україна перемогла Португалію в кваліфікаційному раунді

За підсумками матчу збірна України отримує путівку на Євро-2020

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Пристайко: «Формула Штайнмаєра» – це «болючий компроміс» 

Пристайко вважає втілення формули «шляхом до миру», а альтернативою йому – повну мобілізацію

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Всесвітні Пляжні ігри: перша нагорода України та перемоги баскетболістів

Українці вибороли першу нагороду на І Всесвітніх Пляжних іграх, які тривають у місті Доха (Катар). Аліна Бережна у фіналі з пляжної боротьби у ваговій категорії до 70 кг поступилася колумбійській спортсменці Татьяні Рентеріа з рахунком 3:2. Українка стала срібною призеркою Всесвітніх Пляжних ігор і здобула історичну дебютну для України нагороду.

 

В акватлоні (біг 2,5 кілометри, плавальна дистанція 750 метрів та біг 2,5 кілометри) українці потрапили до першої десятки спортсменів. Маргарита Крилова подолала дистанцію за 30 хвилин 34 секунди та стала п’ятою. Сергій Курочкін завершив змагання восьмим, його результат – 27 хвилин та 20 секунд. На 5 секунді більше витратив інший українець Віталій Воронцов та посів десяте місце.

Читайте також: Офіційно: Світоліна їде на Підсумковий турнір​

З перемог стартували українські баскетболісти 3х3. Чоловіча збірна, у складі якої Григорій Алтухов, Ілля Кабацюра, Ігор Стародуб та Всеволод Чесак, у груповому раунді подолали збірну Намібії (20:14) та команду Іорданії (17:15). Жіноча збірна України з баскетболу 3х3 поступилася команді Малі (15:17), проте не залишила шансів аргентинській збірній (21:15).

Уже завтра українські баскетболісти проведуть останні матчі у груповому раунді: чоловіча команда зіграє проти збірної Монголії, а жіноча перевірить власні сили у зустрічі проти французької збірної.

 

З 12 по 16 жовтня у Катарі тривають І Всесвітні пляжні ігри. Україну представляють 33 спортсмени у семи видах спорту: плаванні, баскетболі 3х3, пляжному футболі, спортивному скелелазінні, акватлоні, воднолижному спорті (стрибки на водних лижах та вейкбординг) та пляжній боротьбі.

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Biles Dazzles on Floor to Win Record 25th World Championship Medal

American Simone Biles became the most decorated gymnast in world championship history on Sunday when she won the beam and floor finals to take her career tally to 25 medals.

Soon after securing a convincing victory on the beam in Stuttgart to overtake Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo’s record tally of 23 world medals, the 22-year-old Biles successfully defended her floor title to win medal number 25.

The four-time Olympic champion is now the owner of 19 gold medals across four championships against 12 for Scherbo, who competed in five world events between 1991 and 1996.

Making her final appearance of the week in front of a raucous crowd, Biles wasted no time as she landed a superb triple-twisting double back flip — known as the Biles II – on her first pass.

Biles’s double layout with a half turn — another skill named after her — put her out of bounds for a 0.1 penalty but she did enough to post a winning score of 15.133.

“Honestly, I just couldn’t move. I was so tired,” Biles said of her final pose on the stage.

“This is really the best worlds performance I have ever put out.”

The Americans took a one-two finish as Sunisa Lee finished with 14.133 for the silver medal, while Russian Angelina Melnikova came third.

<!–[if IE 9]><![endif]–>FILE - US gymnyst Simone Biles poses with her gold medal for artistic gymnastics during the victory ceremony at the Rio Olympic Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug. 16, 2016.
Olympic Champ Simone Biles Says She was Abused by Doctor

Simone Biles watched as her friends and former Olympic teammates came forward to detail abuse at the hands of a now-imprisoned former USA Gymnastics team doctor.Drawing in part from their strength, the four-time gold medalist acknowledged Monday she is among the athletes who were sexually abused by Larry Nassar.Biles, who won five medals overall at the 2016 Olympics, released a statement via Twitter outlining that abuse.

BEAM BRILLIANCE

Earlier, Biles delivered a polished routine on the beam before a full twisting double tuck dismount for an impressive 15.066.

Although Biles had twice before won the world beam title, in 2014 and 2015, it has not always been plain sailing for her on the apparatus.

Her slip on the landing of a front tucked somersault at the 2016 Rio Olympics meant she had to settle for a bronze in the event. Last year again, she dropped off the beam during the women’s all-around final at the world championships.

But she has regained her swagger this week, under the watchful eyes of balance beam coach Cecile Landi, and posted top scores in all four attempts — qualifying, the team and all-around finals and Sunday’s apparatus final.

“It meant a lot because Cecile has really been working on bringing my confidence back up to where it used to be on the beam,” Biles said.

“To go out there and nail the routine, just like I do in practice, it felt really good and I knew she was really proud.”

As another title-winning score was announced in the arena, Biles punched the air in jubilation before joining celebrations with the U.S. team.

“I was really excited,” she added. “I thought it was going to be at least 14.8, 14.9, but to see 15, I was like well that’s pretty crazy, so I was very proud.”

Last year’s winner Liu Tingting of China took silver with 14.433, while team mate Li Shijia won the bronze.

Biles finished her campaign in Stuttgart with five gold medals from six events to mark ideal preparations for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Her barnstorming run included a record fifth all-around gold, an individual vault title, as well as helping the U.S. to a fifth straight world team title.

 

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Teen’s Parents Fly to US Hoping to Meet Driver Who killed Him

Parents of the British teen killed when his motorcycle collided with car allegedly driven by an American diplomat’s wife are on their way to the U.S. hoping to seek justice.

Harry Dunn, 19, died in August in near the Croughton Royal Air Force base in Northhamptonshire, which is used by the U.S. Air Force as a communications center.

Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, told the BBC the family hopes to meet with the suspected driver, identified by British police and Prime Minister Boris Johnson as Anne Sacoolas, wife of an American intelligence officer based at Croughton.

Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity and returned to the United States while the case was still being investigated. She has since written a letter of apology to Dunn’s family.

But Charles said Sunday, “It’s nearly seven weeks now since we lost our boy, sorry just doesn’t cut it.

“That’s not really quite enough,” she told Sky News. “But I’m still really open to meeting her, as are the rest of us. I can’t promise what I would or wouldn’t say, but I certainly wouldn’t be aggressive.”

Charles also said the family was thankful to receive a letter Saturday from the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab that said since Sacoolas had left Britain, “immunity is no longer pertinent”.

The family is hoping Sacoolas will return to Britain.  They have even called on U.S. President Donald Trump to intervene on their behalf.

But Trump told a news conference Wednesday that Sacoolas would not return. Harry Dunn’s death was a “terrible accident,” the president said but he noted that driving on the worn side of the road “happens”.

 

 

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