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Paris Cleans Up After Latest Riot; Nearly 1,800 Arrested

Nearly 1,800 people were arrested Saturday across France in the latest round of “yellow vest” protests.

Nationwide, the Interior Ministry says some 136,000 people rallied against France’s high-cost of living. Protesters also expressed their dismay with the presidency of Emmanuel Macron.

Protests were mounted in a number of cities besides Paris, including Marseilles, Bordeaux, Lyon and Toulouse.

The ministry said Sunday 1,723 people were arrested nationwide, with 1,220 of them ordered held in custody.

Parisian police said they made 1,082 arrests Saturday, a sharp increase from last week’s 412 arrests.

Meanwhile, tourist destinations, including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum, reopened and workers cleaned up broken glass Sunday. 

The man who unleashed the anger, President Emmanuel Macron, broke his silence to tweet his appreciation for the police overnight, but pressure mounted on him to propose new solutions to calm the anger dividing France.

On Saturday, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said violent outbreaks in Paris were “under control” despite ongoing disorderly acts he declared “totally unacceptable.”

French police supported by armored vehicles fired tear gas at yellow-vested protesters on the Champs Elysees.

Castaner estimated 10,000 demonstrators had taken to Parisian streets.

He said 135 people had been injured, including 17 police officers.

France closed the Eiffel Tower and other tourist landmarks and mobilized tens of thousands of security forces for the fourth week of violent demonstrations.

Many shops in Paris were boarded up before Saturday’s protests to avoid being smashed or looted, and police cordoned off many of the city’s broad boulevards.

Despite what Castaner said were “exceptional” security measures, protesters still smashed store windows and clashed with police.

More than 89,000 police were deployed nationwide, an increase from 65,000 last weekend.

Police in central Paris removed any materials from the streets that could be used as weapons or projectiles during the demonstrations, including street furniture at outdoor cafes.

Macron made an unannounced visit Friday night to a group of anti-riot security officers outside Paris to thank them for their work.

The protests erupted in November over a fuel tax increase, which was part of Macron’s plan to combat global warming.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe called for new talks Saturday with representatives of the “yellow vest” movement. He vowed the government would address their concerns over rising living costs.

“The president will speak, and will propose measures that will feed this dialogue,” Philippe said in a televised statement.


WATCH: Clashes and Hundreds Detained in France in ‘Yellow Vest’ Protests

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday that the Paris Agreement, a global effort to reduce global warming beginning in 2020, “isn’t working out so well for Paris” and that “People do not want to pay large sums of money … in order to protect the environment.”

Since the unrest began in November, four people have been killed in protest-related accidents.

While Macron has since abandoned the fuel tax hike, protesters have made new demands to address other economic issues hurting workers, retirees and students.

Government officials are concerned the repeated weekly violence could weaken the economy and raise doubts about the government’s survival.

Officials are also concerned about far-right, anarchist and anti-capitalist groups like Black Bloc that have attached themselves to the “yellow vest” movement.

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Female Veterans Quietly Struggle With Sexual Harassment, Suicide

Pfc. Nichole Bowen-Crawford said she was walking to lunch on her Army base near Nasiriyah, Iraq, in 2003 when she received her daily proposition from a passing fellow soldier.

“Hey, Bowen,” the officer tossed out, “let’s go f— in the bunker.”

Bowen-Crawford told VOA that while this was the most shocking example of the day-to-day regimen of verbal sexual harassment she experienced while in the Army between 2001-2004, it was not her worst experience — she had been assaulted by a higher-ranking sergeant earlier that year.

When she reported the incident to a male supervisor, she was advised to stay quiet for the sake of her career.

Bowen-Crawford’s experience is not universal, but far from rare.

​Suicide rate

A work environment tolerant of sexual assault and harassment is believed to be one of the causes of high suicide rates among female veterans, which soared more than 45 percent between 2001 and 2015, according to data from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).

The rate among female veterans is lower than that of male veterans, but not compared to their civilian counterparts. Female veterans are almost twice as likely to kill themselves as civilian women.

“Certainly a mental health diagnosis like PTSD is a risk factor for suicide,” said Megan McCarthy, VA deputy director of suicide prevention. “Certainly, there’s some evidence that experiencing MST (Military Sexual Trauma) is associated with suicidal thoughts and behaviors, so those that have experienced MST are more likely to think about suicide and possibly more likely to attempt suicide.”

McCarthy told VOA that the relationship between suicide and trauma is complex. The VA’s own research has shown that veterans who experience MST tend to be at higher risk for suicide. A 2016 VA survey of 60,000 veterans found that more than 41 percent of female veterans had experienced sexual harassment.

Many believe that the military’s flawed reporting mechanisms have aggravated the epidemic.

Sexual misconduct complaints are often handled by the alleged victim’s supervisor, who may have close ties to the accused. As the Convening Authority (CA), they have the power to act as judge in the case and appoint a jury, as well as decide if the charges should be referred to a court-martial.

Critics say this puts pressure on commanding officers to suppress allegations for the sake of their own reputations. Victims tend to face pressure to stay quiet, as well.

“Traditionally, if you talked about being sexually assaulted or being sexually harassed, you were seen as a troublemaker,” said Toni Rico, a former Army media relations worker who accompanied combat missions and now works as director of communications and policy for Service Women’s Action Network. “You were kind of harassed and faced retaliation. … So there’s this culture within the military of silence, and if you want it to negatively affect your career.”

Defense Department data

Protect Our Defenders, a nonprofit combating sexual assault in the military, has reported that 60 percent of men and 58 percent of women who reported sexual assault faced retaliation, based on an analysis of Department of Defense data. Veterans say retaliation can take the form of insults, social isolation and even physical threats.

But the greatest challenge to female veterans’ mental health may come after they leave service. Many report feeling there is no place for them in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ reintegration and health services, especially for sexual assault survivors.

“This is supposed to be where you get care when you’re dealing with whatever you’re dealing with, from your combat or from your service,” Bowen-Crawford said. “Getting hit on, it can be a trauma trigger.”

Bowen-Crawford said she sought treatment for PTSD elsewhere after being propositioned multiple times.

Outside the government, support groups exclusively for female veterans are rare, as well.

“I walked into an American Legion, and every gentleman I met there commented on the fact I was there and I was a woman Marine,” Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, a former Marine teaching public health at Charleston Southern University, told VOA. “They were in the kindest and well-intentioned possible way othering me and saying, ‘Wow, it’s really weird. I’ve never met a woman Marine. It’s weird to meet you.’”

Suicide rates steady for female vets

The lack of community and resources may help explain a 2015 study showing that while suicide rates steadily declined among male veterans of the Iraq War for seven years after leaving service, they remained elevated for women.

For veterans who attempt to kill themselves, the means are deadlier. Women who have served in the military use firearms to attempt suicide 41.2 percent of the time, compared to 32.4 of civilian women. The VA has said this may partly explain why the suicide rates are higher.

Suicide rates in the military and the civilian world have climbed in the last few years, but little public attention has been given to the dramatic rates among female veterans. Some say this may be because while women’s roles in the military are expanding, service is still seen as a traditionally male occupation.

“If you ask somebody what a veteran looks like, they’re not going to tell you that it’s a young woman from Kansas, you know?” Thomas said. “That’s just not the picture of a veteran.”

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World Marks Anti-Corruption Day

Corruption costs the world economy $2.6 trillion each year, according to the United Nations, which is marking International Anti-Corruption Day on Sunday.

“Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune,” the United Nations said.

The cost of $2.6 trillion represents more than 5 percent of global GDP.

The world body said that $1 trillion of the money stolen annually through corruption is in the form of bribes.

Patricia Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International, told VOA that about a quarter of the world’s population has paid a bribe when trying to access a public service over the past year, according to data from the Global Corruption Barometer.

Moreira said it is important to have such a day as International Anti-Corruption Day because it provides “a really tremendous opportunity to focus attention precisely on the challenge that is posed by corruption around the world.”

​Anti-corruption commitments

To mark the day, the United States called on all countries to implement their international anti-corruption commitments including through the U.N. Convention against Corruption.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. State Department said that corruption facilitates crime and terrorism, as well as undermines economic growth, the rule of law and democracy.

“Ultimately, it endangers our national security. That is why, as we look ahead to International Anticorruption Day on Dec. 9, we pledge to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide,” the statement said.

Moreira said that data about worldwide corruption can make the phenomena understandable but still not necessarily “close to our lives.” For that, we need to hear everyday stories about people impacted by corruption and understand that it “is about our daily lives,” she added.

She said those most impacted by corruption are “the most vulnerable people — so it’s usually women, it’s usually poor people, the most marginalized people in the world.”

The United Nations Development Program notes that in developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

What can be done to fight corruption?

The United Nations designated Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the U.N. General Assembly.

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about corruption and put pressure on governments to take action against it.

Tackling the issue

Moreira said to fight corruption effectively it must be tackled from different angles. For example, she said that while it is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption, governments must also have mechanisms to enforce that legislation. She said those who engage in corruption must be held accountable.

“Fighting corruption is about providing people with a more sustainable world, with a world where social justice is something more of our reality than what it has been until today,” she said.

Moreira said change must come from a joint effort from governments, public institutions, the private sector and civil society.

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges “to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide.”

It noted that the United States, through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, helps partner nations “build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable.”

Moreira said that it is important for the world to see that there are results to the fight against corruption.

“Then we are showing the world with specific examples that we can fight against corruption, [that] yes there are results. And if we work together, then it is something not just that we would wish for, but actually something that can be translated into specific results and changes to the world,” she said.

VOA’s Elizabeth Cherneff contributed to this report.


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US to Close Idaho Nuclear Waste Processing Project

Federal officials will shut down an Idaho nuclear waste treatment project after determining it would not be economically feasible to bring in radioactive waste from other states.

The U.S. Department of Energy in documents made public this week said the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project that employs 650 workers will end next year.

Officials said workers are wrapping up processing 85,000 cubic yards (65,000 cubic meters) of radioactive waste at the department’s 890-square-mile (2,300-square-kilometer) site that includes the Idaho National Laboratory.

$500 million plant

A $500 million treatment plant handles transuranic waste that includes work clothing, rags, machine parts and tools that have been contaminated with plutonium and other radioactive elements. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says transuranic wastes take much longer to decay and are the most radioactive hazard in high-level waste after 1,000 years.

The Energy Department said that before the cleanup began, Idaho had the largest stockpile of transuranic waste of any of the agency’s facilities. Court battles between Idaho and the federal government culminated with a 1995 agreement requiring the Energy Department to clean up the Idaho site.

The Idaho treatment plant compacts the transuranic waste, making it easier to ship and put into long-term storage at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

Not cost-effective

Federal officials earlier this year floated the idea of keeping the $500 million treatment plant running in Idaho with waste from other states. The bulk of that would have been 8,000 cubic yards (6,100 cubic meters) of radioactive waste from a former nuclear weapons production area in Hanford in eastern Washington.

Local officials and politicians generally supported the idea because of the good-paying jobs. The Snake River Alliance, an Idaho-based nuclear watchdog group, said it had concerns the nuclear waste brought to Idaho would never leave.

A 38-page economic analysis the Department of Energy completed in August and released this week found “it does not appear to be cost effective due to packaging and transportation challenges in shipping waste” to Idaho.

“As work at the facility will continue into 2019, no immediate workforce impacts are anticipated,” the agency said in an email to The Associated Press on Friday. The Energy Department “recognizes the contribution of this facility and its employees to DOE’s cleanup mission and looks forward to applying the knowledge gained and experience of the workforce to other key activities at the Idaho site.”

The agency said it would also consider voluntary separation incentives for workers.

Unclear where waste to go

With the Idaho treatment plant scheduled to shut down, it’s not clear how the transuranic waste at Hanford and other sites will be dealt with.

The Energy Department “will continue to work to ensure a path forward for packaging and certification of TRU (transuranic) waste at Hanford and other sites,” the agency said in the email to the AP.

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У Хмельницькому невідомі пошкодили меморіал героїв Небесної сотні

У Хмельницькому поліцейські розшукують невідомих, які в ніч з 7 на 8 грудня на місцевому майдані Незалежності пошкодили меморіальну дошку з фотографіями героїв Небесної сотні і загиблих учасників бойових дій на Донбасі.

Як повідомляє поліція, повідомлення про акт вандалізму надійшло вранці 8 грудня. На місце події виїхала слідчо-оперативна група Хмельницького відділу поліції.

Правоохоронці відкрили кримінальне провадження за статтею «хуліганство». Санкція статті передбачає відповідальність у вигляді обмеження волі на строк до п’яти років або позбавлення волі на строк до чотирьох років.



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Trump Says Chief of Staff John Kelly to Leave at Year’s End

President Donald Trump says chief of staff John Kelly will leave his job at the end of the year.

Trump isn’t saying immediately who will replace Kelly, a retired Marine general who has served as chief of staff since July 2017. But the president says an announcement about a replacement will be coming in the next day or two.

Trump spoke to reporters at the White House before departing for the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.

He calls Kelly “a great guy.”

The West Wing shake-up comes as Trump is anticipating the challenge of governing and oversight when Democrats take control of the House in January, and as gears up for his own campaign for re-election in 2020.


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Clashes and Hundreds Detained in France Amid New "Yellow Vest’ Protests Saturday

In France, police clashed with protesters, as tens of thousands of ‘yellow vest’ demonstrators took to the streets Saturday for the fourth consecutive weekend. Reports say at least 135 people have been injured.

French authorities deployed nearly 90,000 police across the country, detained hundreds of people and closed major landmarks and museums out of precaution. Anti-government yellow vest rallies also took place in nearby Belgium and the Netherlands.

It’s becoming a familiar sound — and smell: teargas lobbed by riot police against so-called yellow vest protesters. Demonstrators sporting fluorescent yellow jackets were out in force again in Paris and across the country, protesting against a range of grievances, including low wages and high taxes.

Around the iconic Champs Elysees, demonstrators clashed with police, set fire to barricades and attacked stores. Armored vehicles rumbled through the streets.

Paris area janitor Jonathan Gonzales wore “Resistance Macron” scrawled on his yellow vest — referring to French President Emmanuel Macron, whose popularity has plunged to record lows.

Gonzales said France is one of the world’s richest nations, but the French people are poor because of decades of government mismanagement. He wants higher minimum wage and lower salaries for government leaders.

Other protesters brandished slogans like “Macron resign” … and “Listen to the anger of the people.” Many criticize a raft of tough reforms the government says are needed to make France more competitive. They claim the president only cares about the rich, not the poor.

The yellow vest protests began against a planned fuel tax hike, aimed to help fight climate change. But while the government has since scrapped the increase, the demonstrations continue, by a movement with no clear leadership or demands.

Protester Olivier Goldfarb says people can’t live on what they earn. The working and middle classes pay more taxes than the more affluent.”

Another protester, giving only his first name Hugo, had broader complaints.


“We’re protesting against a system that doesn’t work, but it’s not up to me to say we should do that or we should do that,” said Hugo. “It’s up to the professional politicians. We send a message that it doesn’t work anymore. Now do something, and do it quickly.”

Polls show public support for the yellow vests is still high, despite the violence. Senior citizen Eliane Daubigny and her husband watched the demonstrations unroll early Saturday.

Daubigny said she understood the concerns of protesters who have a hard time making ends meet. But she also knows how people live in Madagascar — and believes the French are pretty spoiled by comparison.

Many stores were shuttered around hot spots like the Champs Elysees. Others were still boarded up from last week’s rioting that cost Paris alone millions of dollars in damage. Restaurants, hotels and stores have lost business during this holiday season.

Meanwhile, thousands of other French joined a very different protest on Saturday — marching in the capital and other cities for more action to fight climate change. In some cases, yellow vests joined the demonstrations.

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Один військовий легко поранений 8 грудня на Донбасі – штаб ООС

Один український військовий був легко поранений 8 грудня на Донбасі, повідомляє штаб української воєнної Операції об’єднаних сил. Дані наведені станом на 18:00.

Згідно з повідомленням, підтримувані Росією бойовики впродовж минулої доби вісім разів відкривали вогонь по позиціях українських військових, зокрема – і з озброєння, забороненого мінськими домовленостями.

За даними військових, обстрілів зазнали їхні позиції поблизу населених пунктів Чермалик, Невельське, Гнутове, Тарамчук, Шуми, Піски.

Підтримувані Росією угруповання «ДНР» і «ЛНР» традиційно звинувачують українських військових в обстрілах своїх позицій.

Тристороння контактна група з урегулювання ситуації на Донбасі домовилася про чергове перемир’я, починаючи з півночі 29 серпня. Рішення ухвалили у зв’язку з початком навчального року. Однак в перші ж години ОБСЄ зафіксувала порушення домовленостей.

Раніше схожі режими тиші також не дотримувалися, сторони звинувачували в порушеннях одна одну. Унаслідок російської гібридної агресії на сході України від квітня 2014 року в регіоні, за даними ООН, загинули понад 10 тисяч людей іще станом на кінець 2017 року – відтоді нових даних не оголошували.

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