Group Buys Land, Prevents Break in Pacific Crest Trail

A group dedicated to preserving and promoting the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail has purchased private land in western Washington state to prevent a break in the path.

The Pacific Crest Trail Association bought more than 400 acres (162 hectares) in the Stevens Pass area this week from a private landowner for $1.6 million, The Seattle Times reported.

The association says the landowner had considered putting up a fence and cutting off public access to the trail.

“Given the topography, we found it very difficult to loop around that piece of private property,” said Megan Wargo, the group’s director of land protection. “There’s only a short window you can be out there building trail. It would have meant several years of access to the PCT as a through-hike would have been closed.”

The 2,600-mile (4,200-kilometer) trail from Mexico to Canada generally follows the crests of several mountain ranges, including the Cascades in Washington state and Oregon.

Wargo said the U.S. Forest Service manages the trail and has easements where it crosses private land. However, no one got an easement for the private land on the section of trail at the Stevens Pass Trailhead, she said.

“In most likelihood, it was just an oversight,” Wargo said. “Somebody thought there was an easement there, but the easement was not recorded.”

In 2015, the property owner was looking to sell and fence off the trail, so the association borrowed money to buy the land. It says the next step is to sell the land to the Forest Service at market value so it can repay the loan.

Report: No Fireworks — or Progress — at NAFTA Talks

Negotiators at high stakes talks to update NAFTA have so far kept their tempers but are not making much progress on tough U.S. demands that could sink the 1994 trade pact, a well-placed source said Saturday.

Officials from the United States, Canada and Mexico are meeting in Mexico City for the fifth of seven planned rounds to update the North American Free Trade Agreement, which U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from.

Time is running short to seal a deal by the deadline of end-March 2018. Officials say next year’s Mexican presidential election means talks after that date will not be possible.

US demands

The U.S. administration has made a series of demands that the other members say are unacceptable, such as a five-year sunset clause and tightening so-called rules of origin to boost the North American content of autos to 85 percent from the current 62.5 percent.

“It is very slow moving but there are no fireworks,” said a Canadian source with knowledge of the talks, adding there had “not been much conversation at all” on the more contentious U.S. proposals.

Officials have so far discussed other issues such as labor, gender, intellectual property, energy and telecommunications but it is too soon to say whether there will be any breakthroughs during this round, added the source. The talks are due to end next Tuesday.

Though the mood in the fifth round has been calmer than the tense scenes seen last month during the fourth round in Arlington, Virginia, the negotiations are now beyond the halfway point of an initial schedule with few clear signs of process.

‘Things Mexico won’t accept’

Mexican officials say they hope chapters on telecommunications and e-commerce will be concluded in the fifth round, but there has been no indication of this yet.

Although negotiators are scheduled to discuss rules of origin every day starting Saturday, the source said detailed talks on boosting North American content would not be held before the end of the round.

Canada and Mexico say the new rules of origin are unworkable and would damage the highly integrated auto industry.

“I hope the United States understands there are things … that Mexico won’t accept, and (I hope) the negotiating process becomes more rational,” Moises Kalach, head of the international negotiating arm of Mexico’s CCE business lobby, told Reuters late on Friday.

Congressional action

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office on Friday revised its official objectives to conform to demands that it currently has on the negotiating table.

The move prompted U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, to remove a “hold” he had put in place to block the confirmation of two Trump administration nominees for deputy USTR positions, a Wyden aide said.

Wyden complained the trade office had been keeping members of Congress “in the dark” about its tactics and was not in compliance with U.S. trade negotiating laws.

AC/DC Co-Founder, Guitarist Malcolm Young Dies at 64

Malcolm Young, the co-founder of rock band AC/DC, has died at the age of 64, according to a statement on the group’s website. 

Ailing for several years with dementia, Young created the Australian heavy metal band with his brother Angus Young in 1972.

He was the group’s guitar player until April 2014 when he took leave of the band. It was later announced he had been suffering with dementia, according to Rolling Stone magazine.

AC/DC was known for its bold guitar riffs and declarative, howling vocals, characterized by such songs as Back in Black and Highway to Hell.

“Today, it is with deep heartfelt sadness that AC/DC has to announce the passing of Malcolm Young,” a statement read on the band’s website.

“With enormous dedication and commitment, he was the driving force behind the band. As a guitarist, songwriter and visionary, he was a perfectionist and a unique man,” Angus Young said in a



As Sex Harassment Scandal Grows, Minorities Seldom Involved

In the weeks since dozens of women have accused movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of rape or sexual, unleashing an avalanche of similar charges against other prominent men across American life, women and men of color have been largely absent from the national furor.

The stories of abuse have roiled the entertainment industry, politics, tech and more, raising the possibility that this could be a watershed moment to end tolerance of such behavior. But some observers fear minority women may miss the moment, as they often are more reticent to speak up about sexual harassment.

“The stakes are higher in a lot of instances for us than they are for a lot of other women,” said Tarana Burke, a black activist who founded the #MeToo movement on Twitter in 2006 to raise awareness around sexual violence. “That creates a dynamic where you have women of color who have to think a little bit differently about what it means for them to come forward in cases of sexual harassment.”

A few high-profile minority actresses have come forward. New York authorities are investigating claims from actress Paz de la Huerta that Weinstein raped her twice in 2010; he has denied charges of non-consensual sex with any woman.

When Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o wrote in a New York Times op-ed last month that she had an unsettling encounter with the producer in 2011 at his home, Weinstein quickly denied doing anything inappropriate with Nyong’o, after days of silence following similar accusations by famous white accusers.

Author and activist Feminista Jones said that Weinstein’s denial of Nyong’o’s allegations sent the message to black women that they can’t be harassed, they can’t be assaulted.”

For black women, that is a message that dates back to slavery, when black women’s bodies were not their own and racist stereotypes were used to justify abuse, said Rutgers University historian Deborah Gray White.

“Historically, African-American women have been perceived as promiscuous,” said White, author of the book, “Ar’n’t I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South.”

“Black women’s bodies, from Day One, have been available to all men,” she said.

As a result, White said, black women have had a hard time proving sexual exploitation. In response, many chose to remain silent as a form of self-preservation.

“Somehow talking about it is admitting , ’I walk the land unprotected,’” White said. “They were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t.”

For Asian-American women, speaking up after sexual assault can be daunting for a variety of cultural reasons, said Anna Bang, education coordinator at KAN-WIN, a Chicago-based domestic violence and sexual assault services group that frequently helps Asian-American and immigrant women. Bang said she has noticed the absence of Asian-American women from the Weinstein conversation and, as a Korean immigrant, doubts that she would tell her family if she were ever assaulted.

“It’s such a shame and guilt,” she said. “You don’t want your parents to be worried about you … When we are growing up, your parents teach you, ‘Don’t share your family problems with people.’ We’re trying to break that silence by educating our community members.”

Many of the women who seek help from KAN-WIN do so a decade or more after the abuse took place, she said.

“In our culture, women … they teach you how to suck it up,” she said. “They teach you to swallow your anger, your fear. It’s tough.”

Women of Latin American descent also weigh economic and cultural issues when deciding whether to speak out about sexual abuse.

Women of Latin American descent have been stereotyped as being submissive and sexually available, according to Monica Russel y Rodriguez, a Northwestern University ethnographer whose research includes sexuality, race and class in Latino communities. She said that undocumented immigrants in the United States would be even less likely to report an assault or harassment, fearing anything from job loss to blackmail or deportation.

“Even for white women, there’s not going to be any guarantee of an equitable resolution, so it’s a lot to expect women in a more highly vulnerable situation to be willing to speak out at the same rate,” Russel y Rodriguez said. “There’s no reason to expect that Latinas aren’t being sexually harassed or raped at the same degree or more.”

While most of the recent spate of sexual abuse allegations have been against white men, men of color have not been immune to such charges. Before the Weinstein scandal upended Hollywood, Bill Cosby’s name became synonymous with sexual abuse, as more than 50 women came forward and said the pioneering black actor once known as “America’s Dad” forced sexual contact with them over decades. Last June, Cosby went to trial on charges that he drugged and molested a woman in 2004. The case ended in a mistrial and Cosby is expected to be retried next year.

Since the Weinstein scandal, a writer for The Root, a website geared toward the black audience, said both Jesse Jackson and John Singleton sexually harassed her. Jackson and Singleton declined comment when contacted by The Associated Press, as did the Root writer.

George Takei, best known for his role in the original “Star Trek,” was recently accused of groping a man decades earlier; he denied the allegations. Actor Terry Crews went public with a claim that a Hollywood agent groped him, and that agent was later fired.

And an actress, Demi Mann, filed a lawsuit Thursday in which she alleged agent Cameron Mitchell sexually assaulted her. Mitchell, who is black, was fired by Creative Arts Agency, LLC.; he called Mann’s claims false.

But compared to the dozens of well-known white men named and white women who have made allegations, people of color have not played a prominent role in this evolving scandal.

Nearly three decades ago, an African-American attorney started the conversation on the topic. Anita Hill detailed allegations of sexual harassment by her former boss, then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, during the 1991 congressional hearings held ahead of his confirmation. Thomas, also African-American, framed the hearings as a “high-tech lynching” and went on to be confirmed to the high court.

Hill was treated as a pariah by some for coming forward, but she was hailed by others and has spent the decades since as an advocate for women’s equality.

Burke, whose online #MeToo campaign was resurrected by actress Alyssa Milano in the wake of the Weinstein charges, doesn’t want minority women to miss the moment. She is launching a series of webinars to help women understand sexual violence and is encouraging women of color around the world to speak out.

“At some point, we have to confront this as a community,” Burke said. “This is a great place for this to happen.”

‘Pocket Hercules,’ 3-time Olympic Champion, Dies at 50

Naim Suleymanoglu, the Turkish weightlifter who won three Olympic gold medals and was known as “Pocket Hercules,” died Saturday. He was 50.

Suleymanoglu was considered one of the sport’s greatest athletes and earned his nickname for his strength and diminutive size. He died at an Istanbul hospital where he was receiving treatment for cirrhosis of the liver. He had been in intensive care since Sept. 28 and received a liver transplant in October, according to Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency.

The weightlifter – 1.47 meters (4-foot-10) tall – won three straight Olympic gold medals for Turkey between 1988 and 1996. The Bulgarian-born Suleymanoglu could lift three times his weight.

He came out of retirement to try for a fourth gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 but missed all three of his lifts.

“I know only gold,” Suleymanoglu had said as he returned to competition. “I do not know about silver or bronze.”

Suleymanoglu also won seven world and six European championships.

He was born to an ethnic Turkish family in Bulgaria, and defected to Turkey in 1986 while training in Australia.

Regarded as a national hero in his adopted country, Suleymanoglu captured the hearts of Turks after winning his first gold at Seoul, South Korea, in 1988. Whenever Suleymanoglu returned home from a tournament, he would be greeted by thousands of fans who would lift him up on their shoulders.

Suleymanoglu missed the 1984 Games at Los Angeles because of a Soviet-led boycott. Although only 17, he was the favorite to win the bantamweight gold.

He was an outspoken critic of the Bulgarian government’s treatment of the Turkish minority in his homeland, and was forced by the authorities to change his surname to the more Slavic-sounding Shalamanov.

When the Bulgarian weightlifting team went to a training camp at Melbourne, Australia, in 1986, he slipped away from the group while pretending to visit the restroom at a hotel.

Suleymanoglu hid in Australia for several days before he went to the Turkish consulate to seek asylum. Eventually the Bulgarians allowed him to switch nationalities and he kissed the airport tarmac on arrival in Turkey. In 1986 he changed his name to the more Turkic-sounding Suleymanoglu.

He went to the Seoul Olympics as a Turk and twice broke the world record in the snatch on the way to winning the gold medal.

He competed unsuccessfully for a seat in Turkish parliamentary elections in 1999 and 2007.

МЗС викликає польського посла в Україні через недопуск Святослава Шеремети до Польщі – Беца

У Міністерстві закордонних справ України повідомили про виклик посла Польщі в Україні через повідомлення про відмову польських прикордонників пропустити на територію країни секретаря Державної міжвідомчої комісії у справах увічнення пам’яті учасників антитерористичної операції, пам’яті учасників жертв війни та політичних репресій Святослава Шеремету. Про це повідомила на сторінці у Twitter речниця МЗС Мар’яна Беца.

«Терміново викликаємо посла Польщі в Україні у зв’язку з недопуском секретаря Державної міжвідомчої комісії Святослава Шеремети до Польщі», – написала Беца.

Раніше сьогодні секретар Державної міжвідомчої комісії у справах увічнення пам’яті учасників антитерористичної операції, пам’яті учасників жертв війни та політичних репресій Святослав Шеремета повідомив, що його не пропустили прикордонники до Польщі. За його словами, причин йому не пояснили, вказавши лише, що заборона встановлена на рік, а німецька віза, за якою він намагався перетнути кордон, буде анульована. Шеремета повідомив, що метою його поїздки у складі української групи було відвідання українського військового цвинтар у місті Ланцут для вшанування пам’яті близько 400 українських вояків Української галицької армії та Армії Української Народної Республіки.

Офіційних коментарів польських прикордонних служб чи МЗС Польщі щодо заборони в’їзду Святославу Шереметі наразі немає.

Святослав Шеремета раніше припустив, що його прізвище може потрапити до так званого списку заборонених до в’їзду в Польщу громадян України. Польські ЗМІ з посиланням на міністра закордонних справ Польщі Вітольда Ващиковського повідомляли, що формується список українців, яким заборонять в’їзд у Польщу через «антипольські погляди», блокування питання проведення ексгумації та реновації місць польських поховань тощо. Серед «заборонених» у ЗМІ прізвищ фігурував директор Українського Інституту національної пам’яті Володимир В’ятрович.

В МЗС України неодноразово заявляли, що в Україні немає антипольських настроїв.

Соломатіна оголосила про намір позиватися проти Луценка та Холодницького через передачу справи СБУ

Викривачі зловживань у Національному агентстві з питань запобігання корупції мають намір подавати позов до суду проти Генпрокуратури та Спеціалізованої антикорупційної прокуратури через передачу цієї справи до Служби безпеки України. Відповідну заяву 18 листопада у Facebook оприлюднила колишня співробітниця агентства Ганна Соломатіна.

За її словами, йдеться про конфлікт інтересів.

«Як ви могли передати справу до СБУ, якщо знали, що викривачі дали свідчення на заступника начальника Управління СБУ Карпушина?! Саме Карпушин приніс назад пакет з документами про зловживання у НАЗК, який мій колега відвіз на Різницьку. Повернув незареєстрованим і сказав: не лізьте», – зазначила Соломатіна.

Представники СБУ ситуацію наразі не коментували. 

Раніше про те, що кримінальне провадження щодо керівництва Національного агентства з питань запобігання корупції за фактами, оприлюдненими екс-співробітницею агентства Ганною Соломатіною, забрали з НАБУ і передали в СБУ за рішенням генерального прокурора Юрія Луценка, повідомив депутат Мустафа Найєм.

У коментарях до цього повідомлення генеральний прокурор Юрій Луценко написав, що для уникнення конфлікту інтересів Спеціалізована антикорупційна прокуратура звернулася до нього щодо зміни підслідності на СБУ.

14 листопада керівник департаменту фінансового контролю і моніторингу способу життя НАЗК Ганна Соломатіна заявила, що перевірки е-декларування фальсифікуються, і попросила антикорупційні органи розслідувати факти неправомірних дій, а голову НАЗК Наталію Корчак відсторонити від виконання обов’язків на час розслідування.

Пізніше у НАБУ повідомили, що почали розслідування за фактом можливих корупційних дій службових осіб НАЗК.

У НАЗК заяву Соломатіної назвали поширенням «недостовірної інформації негативного змісту з метою дискредитації роботи агентства» і заявили, що подали на екс-співробітницю в суд.

Сама Соломатіна заперечує, що вона – «колишня співробітниця», стверджуючи, що перебуває на лікарняному.


Post-Harvey Houston: Years Until Recovery, Plenty of Costs Unknown

When the heaviest rain of tropical storm Harvey had passed, Kathryn Clark’s west Houston neighborhood had escaped the worst. Then the dams were opened — a decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prevent upstream flooding and potential dam failures by releasing water into Buffalo Bayou, just a few hundred feet from the end of Clark’s street.

When she and her husband returned to survey the damage later that week, they entered their two-story home by kayak in roughly three feet of water. In the kitchen, a snake slithered past.

Nothing like that had happened in the nearly 11 years the Clarks have lived there; it got Kathryn thinking about their long-term plans, including whether to rebuild.

“What if they decide to open the dams again?” she asked. “But if you don’t rebuild, you just walk away, and that is a big loss.”

The Clarks ultimately opted to reconstruct, a process that will take another half-year before they can move back in. Elsewhere in the city, the waiting will be longer.

​A sprawling concrete jungle

In early November, Texas Governor Greg Abbott told reporters that Texas will need more than $61 billion in federal aid, to help fund a reconstruction plan that he said would curtail damage from future coastal storms. However, he added, there will be more requests: “This is not a closed book.”

Hurricane Harvey, the costliest storm in U.S. history, will affect Houston for months, and years. Apart from tens of thousands of ongoing home rebuilding projects, civil construction is in the evaluation phase.

“With Katrina, it actually took them 12 years before FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] made their final payment to the city of New Orleans,” said Jeff Nielsen, executive vice president of the Houston Contractors Association. “That’s how long it takes to really test and figure out where all the repairs and where all the damage occurred.”

Houston covers a landmass of 1,600 square kilometers, compared to New Orleans’ 900, and is much more densely populated. The impermeable concrete jungle experienced major runoff during the storm, and that translates to high civil construction costs in roads, bridges, water, sewage and utility lines that are difficult to determine.

WATCH: Post-Harvey Houston: Years Until Recovery, Unknown Costs

Nielsen explains to VOA the immensity of the task. 

“You may be driving down the road one day and, all of a sudden — boom — there is a 10-foot sinkhole underneath the road because there is a water line or a sewer line or a storm sewer line that runs underneath that road.

“There is no way to tell that that’s happening without going through and testing each and every line,” Nielsen said.

​Waiting, waiting

Rob Hellyer, owner of Premier Remodeling & Construction, says Houston has seen an uptick in inquiries for both flood and nonflood-related projects — good for business, but a challenge for clients.

“A lot of those people come to the realization that ‘If we want to get our project done in the next two or three years, we better get somebody lined up quick,’” Hellyer told VOA.

But industrywide, much of the workforce is dealing with flooding issues of their own, while simultaneously attempting to earn a living.

“It really has disbursed that labor pool that we have been using for all these years,” Hellyer said.

Labor shortages in construction-related jobs have long been a challenge despite competitive wages, according to Nielsen, who describes his field — civil construction — as less-than-glamorous.

“Outside, it’s hot. What could be more fun than pouring hot asphalt on a road?” he asked.

Networking barriers

With construction costs up and waiting periods long, the hands-on rebuilding effort is typically attractive for some lower-wage immigrant communities.

Among the city’s sizable Vietnamese population, though, that’s not exactly the case, said Jannette Diep, executive director of Boat People SOS Houston office (BPSOS), a community organization serving the area’s diaspora population.

“[Vietnamese construction workers] face not only a language barrier but that networking piece, because they’re not intertwined with a lot of the rules and regulations,” Diep said. “‘Well, how do I do the bid; what’s the process?’”

Overwhelmed with paperwork and often discouraged by limited communication skills in English, Diep says many within the industry opt to work only from within their own communities, despite more widespread opportunities across Greater Houston.

The same barriers apply to the Asian diaspora’s individual post-recovery efforts. BPSOS-Houston, according to Diep, remains focused on short-term needs — food, clothing, cleaning supplies — and expects the longer-term recovery to take two to three years, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods.

Love thy neighbor

Loc Ngo, a mother of seven and grandmother from Vietnam, has lived in Houston for 40 years, but speaks little English. In Fatima Village, a tightly knit single-street community of mobile homes — comprising 33 Vietnamese families — she hardly has to.

“They came to fix the home and it cost $11,000, but they’re not finished yet,” she explained, through her son’s translation. “The washer, dryer and refrigerator — I still haven’t bought them yet, and two beds!”

Across the street, the three-generation Le family levels heaps of dirt across a barren lot that’s lined by spare pipes and cinderblocks. They plan to install a new mobile home.

At the front end of the road is the village’s single-story church, baby blue and white, like the sky — the site of services, weddings, funerals and community gatherings.

Victor Ngo, a hardwood floor installer, typically organizes church events. But for now, his attention is turned to completing reconstruction of the altar and securing donations to replace 30 ruined benches.

“At first I had to spend two months to fix up my house, and now I finished my house, and I [have started] to fix up this church,” Ngo said. “So basically, I don’t go out there to work and make money. Not yet.”

In the village, made up largely of elders, Ngo stresses the importance of staying close to home to help with rebuilding, translation, and paperwork, at least for a while longer.

“We stick together as a community to survive,” he said.

про уродов и людей