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Biden offers ‘unwavering support’ for Ukraine amid Russia crisis

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U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday offered the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine‘s sovereignty and territorial integrity amid rising tensions with Russia.

President Biden, in a statement honoring millions of Ukrainians who died in the “Holomodor” famine of 1932-33, said the United States “reaffirms our commitment to the people of Ukraine today and our unwavering support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

 

(Reporting by Nandita Bose and Steve Holland; Editing by Chris Reese)

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Brazil Politics: Impasse Over Bill That Eases Fiscal Rule – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — The lower house and the senate reached an impasse over the so-called precatorio bill, which eases austerity laws and makes room in the budget for President Jair Bolsonaro’s new social program. 

The constitutional amendment was approved by both houses of congress in two rounds of voting, and the senate made changes to the text, forcing it to return to the lower house. But senators didn’t receive well a proposal made by house Speaker Arthur Lira, who would like to speed up the process by enacting only the consensual part of proposal — leaving changes to be voted on a separate bill at a later date. 

Another idea would be to take the full text of the bill, including changes introduced by the senate, directly to a vote on the floor of the lower house, skipping its committees. The issue will be debated on Monday during a meeting of senate leaders. 

Tighter Deficit

The economy ministry cut to 0.4% from from 0.99% of gross domestic product its estimate for next year’s primary budget deficit, considering the approval of the precatorio bill, according to newspapers.

Petrobras’s Prices

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the Brazilian state-owned oil giant, will announce a reduction in the price of fuel in the next few weeks, Poder360 reported, citing an interview with President Jair Bolsonaro. 

The report provided no details. The president’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

2022 Election

Room for a so-called third-way presidential candidate running as an alternative to leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and President Jair Bolsonaro depends on the incumbent losing popularity and not making it to the runoff, Christopher Garman, director of the Eurasia Americas division, said in an interview with Valor Economico. 

He forecast that Bolsonaro’s popularity will recover in the coming months with an increase in the minimum wage, cash handouts and an expected deceleration of inflation. Garman doesn’t expect such moves to make Bolsonaro the front-runner ahead of Lula, but sees former judge Sergio Moro coming third in the race. Chances of a runoff between Lula and Bolsonaro is 80% and the leftist leader is more likely to win then, the newspaper quoted Garman as saying.

  • Guedes wants Bolsonaro to support the liberal agenda during the 2022 election campaign: Folha de S.Paulo
  • Moro says he believes in the leadership of his electoral project and puts the polarization Lula-Bolsonaro in check : Estado
  • Moro met wit Rio Grande do Sul Governor Eduardo Leite

Coronavirus

Brazil reported 4,844 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, according to data published by the Ministry of Health. The death toll reached 615,636, with 66 in the past 24 hours.

Newspapers’ Top Stories

  • O Estado de S. Paulo
    • Mayors fail to use 15 billion reais ($2.6 billion) of the budget for education
  • Folha de S.Paulo
    • GSI allows mining in preserved areas of the Amazon
  • O Globo
    • Use of revolving credit card lines hits record
  • Valor Economico
    • Even with weak GDP, BC is likely to maintain a high interest rate policy

Original Story:

Promulgação da PEC gera embate no Congresso: Radar Político

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Don’t exploit migrants for politics, pope says on Lesbos visit – Aljazeera.com

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Pope Francis has denounced Europe’s fear and indifference to migrants on his second visit to the Greek island of Lesbos.

Pope Francis has blasted Europe’s indifference to the plight of migrants as the “shipwreck of civilisation” during a visit to a refugee camp in the Greek island of Lesbos.

On Sunday, the leader of the Catholic Church arrived at the Mavrovouni camp, where nearly 2,200 asylum seekers currently reside. He is on the second day of a five-day-long visit to Greece and Cyprus dominated by the issue of migration.

“I ask every man and woman, all of us, to overcome the paralysis of fear, the indifference that kills, the cynical disregard that nonchalantly condemns to death those on the fringes,” he said. “Please, let us stop this shipwreck of civilisation.”

Using latin terms, he called for the Mediterranean Sea to remain a bridge between cultures.

“Let us not let our sea (mare nostrum) be transformed into a desolate sea of death (mare mortuum),” he said.

He also condemned the exploitation of migrants for political purposes, lamenting that Europe had entered “an era of walls and barbed wire”.

Pope Francis has criticised the indifference and self-interest shown by Europe towards migrants [Alessandra Tarantino/AP]

The pope last visited Lesbos in 2016, when more than one million people crossed from Turkey into Greece and the island became one of the busiest crossing points. On that occasion, Francis brought 12 Syrian Muslim refugees home with him aboard the papal plane.

No such transfers were announced this time around, but the visit to the camp nonetheless raised hopes among its residents, some of whom have given birth to children while waiting for their asylum claims to be processed.

Enice Kiaku, from Congo, gave birth to Guiliain two years ago. He was born on the Greek island but has no identity documents.

“The arrival of the pope here makes us feel blessed,” Kiaku told The Associated Press. “We have a lot of problems here as refugees, a lot of suffering.”

Francis was greeted upon arrival by a group of African women who sung for him. He patted the heads of children and babies as he toured the camp and posed for selfies.

Pope Francis greeted children in Mavrovouni camp on the Greek island on Lesbos. [Vatican Media/­Handout via Reuters]

He was accompanied by Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas.

Greece has recently built a steel wall along a section of its border with Turkey and is intercepting boats transporting migrants from the Turkish side.

It denies allegations that it is carrying out summary deportations of migrants reaching Greek territory but human rights groups say numerous such pushbacks have occurred.

Francis also listened to the camp’s residents, among whom was Christian Tango Mukaya, a Congolese father of three, who thanked the pope for his show of solidarity and for his appeal to Europe.

The refugee said he lost track of his wife and their third child in their journey and was hoping his visibility with the pope might reunite them.

Mavrovouni is a temporary holding centre pending the construction on the island of a “closed controlled facility”.

These new closed camps, which are funded by the European Union, are already running on three other Greek islands, Samos, Leros and Kos.

Amnesty International has said that new EU-funded detention camps on Greek islands are in violation of Athens’ commitments to provide international protection to those in need.

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Sudan’s al-Burhan says army will exit politics after 2023 vote – Aljazeera.com

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Top general says Sudan’s military will not participate in politics after a civilian government is elected in 2023.

Sudan’s military chief says the army will leave politics after elections that are scheduled for 2023.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan offered the assurance during one of several interviews he gave to international news agencies on Saturday.

The general had led a military takeover in late October, upending Sudan’s transition to civilian-led democracy, but a deal struck on November 21 has reinstated Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to lead a technocratic Cabinet until elections in July 2023.

“When a government is elected, I don’t think the army, the armed forces, or any of the security forces will participate in politics. This is what we agreed on and this is the natural situation,” al-Burhan told the Reuters news agency.

The coup, which ended a partnership with civilian political parties after the toppling of long time ruler Omar al-Bashir, drew international condemnation after the detention of dozens of key officials and crackdowns on protesters.

Neighbourhood resistance committees and political parties have called for the military to exit politics immediately and have rejected any compromise, including the deal with Hamdok. At least 44 people have died during demonstrations, many from gunshot wounds from security forces, according to medics.

“Investigations regarding the victims of the protests have begun to identify who has done this … and to punish the criminals,” al-Burhan said, adding that security forces had only dispersed non-peaceful protests.

Al-Bashir has been jailed since his overthrow on corruption and other charges. Along with several other Sudanese suspects, he is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged war crimes in Darfur.

The civilian government dissolved in the coup had approved al-Bashir’s handover, but the military has yet to agree.

“We have understandings with the International Criminal Court for the appearance [of suspects] before the judiciary or before the court,” al-Burhan said. “We have remained in dialogue with the court on how to do right by the victims.”

In the aftermath of the coup, many civilian bureaucrats were dismissed or transferred and replaced with al-Bashir-era veterans in decisions Hamdok has sought to reverse.

Al-Burhan said on Saturday that al-Bashir’s former ruling party would have no role in the transition.

“We will work together so that the National Congress Party will not be a part of the transition in any form,” he said.

Sudan is in a deep economic crisis, though an influx of international economic support had begun to be felt before much of it was suspended after the coup.

Al-Burhan said he expected the backing to return once a civilian government is formed, indicating that the country would not reverse reforms enacted over the past two years by reinstating subsidies or returning to printing money.

“The international community including the African Union is watching what will happen in the coming days,” he told the AFP news agency.

“I believe there are positive indicators that things will return [to how they were] soon. The formation of a civilian government will put things back in order.”

Though Western nations and the African Union have spoken out against the coup, diplomats say Russia, which is seeking to develop a naval base on Sudan’s Red Sea coast, has been cultivating ties with military leaders.

A deal for the base has yet to be finalised, al-Burhan told Reuters.

“We hope that our relations [with Russia] will become stronger with the signature of this agreement,” he said. “Consultations are continuing and we are working on the agreement until it becomes acceptable and legal.”

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