Ukraine paying three times more for American coal – EIA

The US has almost tripled the price for coal shipped to Ukraine in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period in 2016, according to a report by the US Energy Information Administration.

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A coal barge sits off in the distance as U.S. President Donald Trump © John Sommers II

Kiev has been buying US coal at $ 206 per short ton since January through March, which is almost triple the $ 71 the US billed last year.

At the same time, sales of American coal to Ukraine have more than doubled. The US shipped 865,000 tons of coal to Ukraine in the first quarter of the year against 355,100 tons bought during the first quarter of 2016.

At the same time, the price for US coal to Norway dropped around 10 percent from $ 140 to $ 125 per short ton.

Ukraine faced massive disruption at plants using anthracite coal after the railways leading to the breakaway Donbass region were blocked by Kiev-backed militant groups.

The price hike will lead to a decline in Ukraine’s revenue with massive layoffs in the steelmaking sector that directly depends on coal supplies, according to Vyacheslav Holodkov from the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies.

“As Ukraine stopped purchasing coal from the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, most of the anthracite coal is imported. Metal works need more. The extra cost coal will increase the price of the steelmakers’ product, making it less competitive. One way or another it will hit Ukraine’s economy,” the expert said.

Earlier, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the country was due to buy two millions tons of coal from the US state of Pennsylvania.

Ukraine reportedly rejected South African coal as it turned out to be too expensive, while Russia was rejected for political reasons.

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GOP budget would cut social safety net, boost military funding

WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a budget that proposes trillions of dollars in cuts to the social safety net and other domestic programs while sharply boosting military spending, a blueprint that elicited criticism from conservatives and moderates.

The GOP plan, authored by Budget Chairman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) is critical to GOP hopes to deliver on one of President Trump’s top priorities — a Republican-only effort to overhaul the tax code.

Unclear, however, is whether GOP leaders can get the budget measure through the House. Conservatives want a larger package of spending cuts to accompany this fall’s tax overhaul bill while moderates are concerned cuts to programs such as food stamps could go too far.

Black announced a committee vote for Wednesday, but action by the entire House could be delayed by the ongoing quarrel between the GOP’s factions.

The plan, in theory at least, promises to balance the budget through unprecedented and politically unworkable cuts across the budget. It calls for turning this year’s projected $ 700 billion or so deficit into a tiny $ 9 billion surplus by 2027.

It would do so by slashing $ 5.4 trillion over the coming decade, including almost $ 500 billion from Medicare, $ 1.5 trillion from Medicaid and the Obama health law, along with sweeping cuts to benefits such as federal employee pensions, food stamps, and tax credits for the working poor.

“The status quo is unsustainable. A mounting national debt and lackluster economic growth will limit opportunity for people all across the country,” Black said. “But we don’t have to accept this reality. We can move forward with an optimistic vision for the future and this budget is the first step in that process. This is the moment to get real results for the American people. The time for talking is over, now is the time for action.”

But in the immediate future the GOP measure is a budget buster.

It would add almost $ 30 billion to Trump’s $ 668 billion request for national defense, which already exceeds an existing “cap” on spending by $ 54 billion. But while Trump proposed taking that $ 54 billion from domestic agencies and foreign aid, the GOP budget plan would restore most of the cuts, trimming non-defense agencies by just $ 5 billion.

And of the more than $ 4 trillion in promised saving from mandatory programs like Medicare and Medicaid, the plan assumes just $ 203 billion would actually pass this year.

Democrats focused their fire on the plan’s sweeping, but nonbinding, promises to cut from almost every corner of the budget other than Social Security, defense and veterans programs.

“It embraces the worst extremes of the Trump budget, sacrificing nearly every investment that helps American families get ahead,” said top Budget Committee Democrat John Yarmouth of Kentucky. “It puts education, job training, transportation, medical research, and veterans’ healthcare at risk — all investments that the American people overwhelmingly support.”

All told, the GOP plan would spend about $ 67 billion more in the upcoming annual appropriations bills than would be allowed under harsh spending limits set by a failed 2011 budget and debt agreement and pads war accounts by $ 10 billion. And, like Trump’s budget, the House GOP plan assumes rosy economic projections that would erase another $ 1.5 trillion from the deficit over 10 years.

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Police helicopter filmed couple ‘brazenly’ having sex on patio, court hears

A police crew made inappropriate use of a helicopter as it filmed a couple “brazenly” having sex in their garden, a court has heard.

The crew from South Yorkshire police are on trial at Sheffield Crown Court for taking an eight-minute video featuring a naked woman engaging in sexual acts with a man wearing only a Manchester United football shirt.

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© Hammersmith & Fulham Council

They are also accused of filming individuals sunbathing naked and nudists in campsites.

Richard Wright QC, prosecuting, told the jury that besides a great waste of police resources, the crew’s acts greatly breached the people’s right to privacy, and did so for their own amusement, at the least, and their own sexual gratification at worst.

“They used the unique viewing position afforded to them, together with the powerful video camera with which the helicopter is equipped, to video members of the public engaged in private activities in a gross violation of their privacy,” he was reported as saying in the Telegraph.

The defendants include Matthew Lucas, 42, Lee Walls, 47, Matthew Loosemore, 45, and Malcolm Reeves, 64, who all deny misconduct in a public office, as well as former police officer Adrian Pogmore, 50, of Whiston in Rotherham, who instead admitted five charges of misconduct in public office.

Wright claimed the couple were friends of Pogmore, suggesting they were aware of being filmed and actually “relished” putting on an act for the “sex-obsessed air observer.”

“The reason that this couple are so happy to be recorded engaging in sexual intercourse is that they are friends of Mr Pogmore and shared his sexual interest in the swinging scene,” the prosecutor told the jury.

“It was clearly, therefore, no coincidence that the helicopter orbits around their garden while they brazenly put on a show.”

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© Alberto Pezzali / Global Look Press

Wright said the officers’ activities go against police duty and said: “You may hope that the police helicopter is chasing down criminals and keeping the community safe.

“You may never imagine that in fact it is being used to film a pair of swingers in the throes of sexual passion for the entertainment of the crew.”

The incident of the couple engaging in sexual intercourse in their garden occurred on July 28, 2008. Earlier on the same day, the crew used the helicopter to film a naked couple sitting next to a caravan in a naturist campsite in South Yorkshire.

Wright argued that while naturists are aware they will be seen naked by fellow naturists, they do not “expect to be monitored by the crew of the police helicopter.”

The trial started on Tuesday and is set to last for the next three weeks.

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Trump admin slaps Iran with new sanctions despite nuclear deal compliance

The US has imposed new sanctions on companies and individuals that it says provide material support to Iran’s military, as well as on organizations involved in the country’s ballistic missile program. The restrictions are not related to Iran’s nuclear program.

The US Department of the Treasury “designated 16 entities and individuals for engaging in support of illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity,” the department announced on Tuesday.

The announcement comes the day after the Trump administration certified that Tehran is in compliance with the terms of the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement designed to ensure Iran doesn’t make nuclear weapons.

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FILE PHOTO U.S. Secretary of State Kerry meets Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif in Vienna © Kevin Lamarque

The new sanctions “target procurement of advanced military hardware, such as fast attack boats and unmanned aerial vehicles, and send a strong signal that the United States cannot and will not tolerate Iran’s provocative and destabilizing behavior,” said US Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement

“We will continue to target the [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps] and pressure Iran to cease its ballistic missile program and malign activities in the region,” he added.

President Donald Trump has accused Iran of being a “state sponsor of terrorism,” but his administration has stopped short of designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, although it reportedly considered doing so.

“Counting the Revolutionary Guard the same as terrorist groups and applying similar sanctions to the Revolutionary Guard is a big risk for America and its bases and forces deployed in the region,” Iran’s armed forces chief of staff, Mohammad Baqeri, said on Monday, according to Sepah News, an official news site of the Guard.

Baqeri did not elaborate on any potential consequences that the US could face.

He also said that Iran’s ballistic missile program is purely defensive and entirely non-negotiable.

Trump put Tehran “on notice” in February after it conducted a missile test.

In June, the US Senate voted to impose additional sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program. However, the same bill would also cement sanctions on Russia, as it was written to include both countries. To become law, the legislation would also require the House of Representatives to pass it and the president to sign it.

The administration has opposed the initiative, arguing it would undermine the authority of the executive branch to determine sanctions.

Last Friday, the US government lifted nuclear-related sanctions on Iran under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the United States under the Obama administration together with Russia, France, Germany, China, the United Kingdom and the European Union negotiated with Iran in 2015.

Even though Trump called it the “worst deal ever negotiated,” his administration has adhered to it.

Under the terms of the deal, in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions Iran agreed to reduce the number of its uranium enrichment centrifuges by two-thirds, cap its enrichment below the level needed for weapons-grade material, reduce its enriched uranium stockpile by 98 percent from around 10,000kg for 15 years, and allow international inspections.

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Cost of making western Mosul ‘liveable’ double previous estimates, UN warns

The cost of stabilizing areas of western Mosul and making them liveable is double previous estimates and will be about $ 700 million, the UN said, adding that though the fighting has ceased, “the humanitarian crisis has not.”

Some 15 residential districts out of 54 in western Mosul have been “basically flattened,” UN Deputy Special Representative Lise Grande said via videolink from Baghdad on Monday.

Twenty-three more are moderately damaged and 16 neighborhoods of the Iraqi city have light damage, she added.

“The fighting may be stopping but the humanitarian crisis has not,” said Grande, who is also the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Iraq.

READ MORE: ‘The liberation of Mosul has come at an incredibly high cost’ – Human Rights Watch

The UN estimates that to stabilize western Mosul and make it liveable again, the organization needs more than $ 700 million. Of that sum, $ 237 million would be used for the moderately and lightly damaged areas and $ 470 million for the “flattened” neighborhoods.

“That is double the estimate for stabilization,” Grande said, adding that fighting in the area was “so fierce and so much worse than what anyone else experienced.”

According to UN figures, about 700,000 people have been displaced from western Mosul. 

“We believe perhaps hundreds of people are still there [in western Mosul],” Grande said, adding that some 12,000 people were evacuated from the area in the last week of fighting. The majority of those are children and the elderly, who can’t even walk unaided after suffering from malnourishment and lack of water.

READ MORE: ‘Media ban during Mosul campaign helped conceal full extent of destruction’

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Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Islamic State militants, are seen at Federal Police Headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul, Iraq July 13, 2017. © Thaier Al-Sudani

“The historic liberation of Mosul should not conceal the fact that the road ahead is extremely challenging,” the special representative of the secretary-general for Iraq, Jan Kubis, told the Security Council on Monday.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists showed “absolute disregard for human lives and civilization” by killing civilians, destroying property and making children suicide bombers, said Kubis, who also heads the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

The US-backed operation to retake Mosul from the terrorist group was launched in October of 2016. Iraqi authorities declared victory in liberating the city from IS earlier in July. 

A day after the victory was announced, Amnesty International criticized the US-led coalition in Mosul for misplaced and excessive airstrikes, and urged it to publicly admit its failure to protect civilian lives. The NGO also proposed the establishment of a commission to look into reported violations. 

It said the terrorist atrocities do not excuse the Iraqi and US militaries from their obligations under international law.

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Who will steal the show at Russia's MAKS-2017 Air Show?

The 13th international aerospace show has opened in the Russian city of Zhukovsky outside Moscow on Tuesday. Delegations from 50 countries are expected to visit the MAKS-2017 air show from July 18-23.

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© Ruptly

The program will feature 200 aircraft, according to MAKS-2017 CEO Alexander Levin who told TASS that 84 of them would take part in the flying program while another 116 aircraft will be showcased on the ground.

Overall, 770 companies are expected to participate in the event, including 140 businesses from abroad. Separate pavilions will be showcased by Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, China, India, Iran, Canada, and Belarus.

Russia’s new MC-21 narrow-body airliner, which made its maiden flight in May, will make its debut at the airshow. According to the Ilyushin Finance leasing company, it plans to sign contracts to supply 31 MC-21 passenger jets to two Russian airlines.

“We plan to sign a firm contract for the delivery of 16 MC-21 jets to a Russian company and sign a preliminary agreement to deliver 15 more MC-21 aircraft with another one,” the company’s spokesperson said.

Another potential show stealer could be the demonstration flight of Russia’s most advanced MiG-35 multirole fighter jet. The multi purpose generation 4++ fighter is due to replace the MiG-29.

Visitors can also get a close look at Russia’s fifth-generation fighter-interceptor aircraft, the Sukhoi PAK FA. The jet, which made its debut in 2011, is expected to fly at this year’s MAKS using new Izdelie-30 fifth-generation engines.

Russian Helicopters will showcase its new military transport helicopter. The Mi-171Sh-VN is equipped with new profile composite rotor blades and an X-shaped tail rotor. These innovations allow the helicopter to have an increased cruising speed of 161 mph, and maximum speed of 174 mph, with a maximum takeoff weight of 13.5 tons.

The Airbus A350-900 wide-body passenger plane will also be demonstrated at MAKS-2017.

READ MORE:Russian airliner to dominate Iranian skies

An agreement is expected to be inked by the United Aircraft Corporation with Russia’s Aeroflot at the airshow for the delivery of 20 Sukhoi Superjet-100 short-haul passenger planes to the airline.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit the MAKS 2017 air show on Tuesday and will hold a meeting on the development of civil aircraft industry.

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Declassified Russian Defense Ministry docs show Polish gratitude for WWII liberation

The Russian Defense Ministry has declassified documents on the war in Poland in 1944-45, which describe Nazi atrocities and the positive attitude of the Polish people toward their liberators.

The historical documents declassified in July 2017 have never been published in open sources and were only available to a limited circle of specialists,” read a statement by the Defense Ministry’s press service.

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 © Evgeny Yepanchintsev

It also noted that all documents, such as field reports, certificates and telegrams show that the Poles’ attitude toward Soviet military servicemen was good. For example, a telegram from the Polish Patriots’ Union states that Polish citizens fighting on the Soviet side – in the so-called Armia Ludowa, or People’s Army – “have created a bridge that unites two brotherly nations.”

A special address of the pro-Communist Polish forces, dated July 1944, calls for all Poles to join the fight against the Nazi occupiers. “Give a proper welcome to our ally – the Red Army – that has great achievements in fighting the Germans. Help our military and Soviet troops to destroy the German forces,” the document reads.

The Defense Ministry also emphasized the importance of numerous reports by Soviet military officers that described cases of mass executions, torture and looting committed by the Nazis against the Polish civilian population, as well as the barbaric destruction of civilian infrastructure and historical legacy by the Nazi troops.

The declassification comes after Poland introduced a law in late June that bans any propaganda of totalitarian regimes, such as the Soviet one, including any mention of the names on buildings or other architectural sites. There are fears this could result in the destruction of memorials to Red Army soldiers who died liberating Poland from the Nazis.

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A view of a memorial to soldiers of the Soviet army fell in the battle for the liberation of Krakow. © Global Look Press

Russian officials and politicians have already blasted the new law as an attempt to rewrite history and to blacken the memory of Soviet troops.

In late June, State Duma Deputy Speaker Irina Yarovaya (United Russia) called the Polish law “a crime against their own nation” and “a treacherous move aimed against those who liberated Europe.” Another United Russia MP – Dmitry Sablin – told reporters that the Polish authorities had failed to learn anything from history. “People like them flirted with Hitler before the war and ripped pieces from occupied Czechoslovakia. Now they try to forget the debt they owe those who liberated their country from Nazism,” he said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry reacted with an official statement saying that the recent actions of the Polish government could further strain relations between the two nations.

No one tries to conceal the fact that the main blow will be delivered on monuments and other memorial sites installed in honor of the feat of the Red Army that freed Poland from the Nazi yoke and saved the Polish people from complete destruction,” the document read.

Poland was occupied by the Nazis between 1939 and 1945. About 6 million Poles – 20 percent of the country’s population died in the war and occupation. Over 40,000 Soviet soldiers gave their lives in the operation to liberate Poland.

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Two arrested for sex trafficking teens in Brooklyn apartment

Two 16-year-old girls were forced into prostitution in a Brooklyn apartment where younger children were living, police sources said Monday.

A 21-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman were arrested Saturday after one of the victims escaped the Crown Heights rental on Lincoln Place and ran home.

The victim then told cops she had been in captivity for about a month and pointed police to the lair.

When cops got there, they found a second victim being held against her will.

She told police she had also been forced to sell her body.

Four kids — girls 14 and 8 and boys 13 and 7 — were also there. They were not considered victims, but their mother was not home, and police are trying to determine what connection, if any, the family has to the suspects.

Sources also said police arrested four other adults there, but the cases were later sealed, suggesting there was not enough evidence to charge them with a crime.

The suspects, Denina Roman, 21, and Taymel Harris, 20, were charged with sex trafficking, sexual misconduct, acting in a manner injurious to a child less than 17, unlawful imprisonment and promoting prostitution.

They were ordered held on 50,000 bail. Their lawyers could not be located for comment.

Sources said the girl who fled the apartment (door photo inset) attended an event on or around June 21 that was sponsored by the city Administration for Children’s Services, and then was taken by a woman to the apartment, where she was handed over to Roman.

The apartment in the building on Lincoln Place where arrests were made after two young women reported they were forced into protitution.

The apartment in the building on Lincoln Place where arrests were made after two young women reported they were forced into protitution.

(Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News)

According to court papers, Roman threatened to beat the victim if she tried to leave. Both she and the other victim, the papers said, were forced to strip to their bras and panties and pose for pictures that were placed in ads on backpage.com.

The girl who escaped was forced to have sex with about eight men her first day as a prostitute, then about 10 men each day after that, the papers said. The other girl had sex with a total of three men.

An ACS spokesman, Jose Bayona, said it did not appear that the agency had an event on June 21 but that officials are still investigating.

“Sexual exploitation of children in New York City is a special concern to ACS, as many of the children who come to our attention are vulnerable,” Bayona said.

“We continue to build on our efforts to serve children and youth and prevent trafficking with various initiatives.”

At the apartment Monday, a neighbor across the hall, Tasha Daniely, 41, said the sight of children coming in and out was no surprise — but the allegations of teen sex trafficking were.

“That’s terrible,” she said. “I wouldn’t want that to happen to nobody. I’m a female first. There’s so many crazy things going on in this world, but that’s really unusual and that’s really close.”

The building superintendent, meanwhile, said he couldn’t talk much because he didn’t want to interfere with the investigation, but he did confirm that police told him about the prostitution.

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5 Germans incl 16yo girl reportedly among 20 female ISIS fighters captured in Mosul

Iraqi forces have detained a group of female Islamic State fighters in Mosul, five of whom are reportedly German. Berlin is investigating whether one of them is a 16-year-old girl who left the country a year ago to join the terrorist group.

Iraqi troops captured a group of some 20 female fighters last week in the city of Mosul, which was held by Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS/ISIL), Die Welt reported.

It added that at least five of them were German citizens, while others came from Russia, Turkey, Canada, Syria, Libya and the Caucasus. 

The women were hiding in tunnels built by the terrorists, media reported, adding that Iraqi forces allegedly found weapons and suicide vests during the arrests. 

A 16-year-old student from the German federal state of Saxony, Linda W., is presumably among the five German women, Die Welt newspaper reported, citing security sources. The authorities are investigating whether the teen held in Mosul was Linda, Lorenz Haase, chief prosecutor for the state of Saxony, said.

She reportedly converted to Islam and falsified documents to travel alone to Istanbul, Turkey, and then on to Syria back in the summer of 2016.

Linda’s parents reported that she was missing immediately after her disappearance. The authorities issued an international search warrant for the student in July 2016. The General Prosecutor’s Office in Dresden, Saxony, began an investigation into the girl for alleged preparations of violent acts against Germany. The probe was suspended due to the absence of the main suspect, DW earlier reported

“There are new details in the case of Linda W., which are being examined at the moment,” a spokeswoman from Saxony’s State Criminal Police Office (LKA) told Die Welt on Monday.

According to the LKA, Linda was in contact with IS supporters while in Germany and allegedly got in touch with the terrorist group online, DW reported

Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi member of the Council of Representatives of Iraq, confirmed the identity of the girl on Twitter, releasing pictures during her alleged capture by Iraqi forces. Linda was an IS sniper, Dakhil claimed, adding that her mother “didn’t deny” that the girl in the photos was Linda.

READ MORE: Germany must expect attacks by lone wolves & terrorist groups at ‘any time’ – intel chief

Some 930 people left Germany to fight in Syria or Iraq, 20 percent of whom were women, Hans-Georg Maassen, the president of Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), the German domestic security agency, said earlier in July.

A BfV report, also released in July this year, states that young people can easily be indoctrinated to “develop a readiness to consequently obey the order to kill unbelievers.” 

The report warns that Germany is the focus of Islamist terrorism and “terrorist incidents are possible in Germany at any time in the future.” The Islamist following in Germany in 2016 amounted to approximately 24,400 individuals, the document added.

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Spanish football chief Angel Villar arrested in corruption probe

The head of the Spanish football association, Angel Maria Villar, was arrested as part of an anti-corruption investigation by the Civil Guard on Tuesday.

Villar, who has been president of the Spanish football association (RFEF) since 1988, was detained on Tuesday along with his son, Gorka, and three federation executives, AP reports.

Angel Villar is a former Spanish international and has also served on the council of FIFA for the last 29 years.

The probe into accusations of fraud and financial mismanagement began over a year ago, and is being run by Spanish High Court judge Santiago Pedraz.

Villar was voted in for another four-year term in May, which would see his tenure as the head of Spanish football extended up to 32 years. He is also a senior vice president of FIFA and senior vice president of UEFA.

UEFA released a statement acknowledging the arrest, but added that “we have no comment to make at this time.”

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