European Signatories Call on Iran to Reverse Actions Against Nuclear Deal

France, Germany, Britain and the European Union say they are “extremely concerned” about Iran’s renewed uranium enrichment activities and what they call “regrettable acceleration of Iran’s disengagement” from commitments it made under the 2015 agreement regarding the country’s nuclear program.In a joint statement released Monday, the foreign ministers urged Iran to reverse all of the measures it has taken that go against those imposed in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which limited Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief.Iran has restarted enrichment at its Fordow facility, exceeded limits on enrichment levels and the amount of enriched material it is allowed to stockpile, while also announcing work on developing more advanced centrifuges.  Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the steps are reversible if the other signatories to the agreement help Iran work around U.S. sanctions.In their statement, France, Germany Britain and the EU said their side has “fully upheld” their commitments under the agreement, including lifting the sanctions they had imposed over fears Iran was working to develop nuclear weapons.  Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.”It is not critical that Iran upholds its JCPOA commitments and works with all JCPOA participants to de-escalate tensions,” the statement said.The deal originally also included China, Russia and the United States.  U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement last year.Also Monday, the U.N.’s nuclear monitor said uranium particles have been detected at an undeclared nuclear site in Iran.In a confidential report obtained by news agencies, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that manmade uranium particles had been discovered, without revealing the location of the undeclared site.The report also confirmed that Iran is enriching uranium at its underground Fordow facility — a site where, under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, it had agreed not to carry out any enrichment or enrichment-related research.Over the weekend, Iran began pouring concrete for a second nuclear reactor at its Bushehr power plant, which is monitored by the IAEA.Iran has said it intends to enrich uranium to 4.5%, slightly above the 3.67% limit allowed under 2015 deal. Enriching to 4.5% is far below the level needed to make a nuclear weapon.

Back to Jail, or Run for President: the Legal Maze Facing Brazil’s Lula

In allowing Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to walk out of jail last week, Brazil’s Supreme Court has blown open a legal labyrinth that could see the leftist former president return to prison just as easily as run for election again.The second chamber of the Supreme Court will soon hear an appeal from Lula’s defense team that Sergio Moro, the judge in the wide-ranging “Car Wash” corruption probe who secured Lula’s conviction and who is now justice minister in far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s cabinet, did not act impartially.The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that a person can only be imprisoned once all appropriate avenues of appeal are exhausted, so-called “res judicata”, which overturned the court’s opinion three years ago that convicted criminals face mandatory imprisonment if they lose their first appeal.Seventy-four year old Lula had been imprisoned for 19 months on corruption convictions carrying a nearly nine-year sentence.He is also facing several other corruption charges.If the Supreme Court’s second chamber annuls Lula’s conviction, he will once again be eligible to run for office, potentially opening the way for him to stand as the Workers’ Party (PT) candidate in the 2022 presidential election.On the other hand, if he loses an appeal relating to one of his other charges known as the “Atibaia” case, Lula could return to prison. Following last week’s Supreme Court ruling, lawmakers have advocated speeding up a constitutional amendment reinstating automatic jail time for convicts who lose their first appeal.Both the Lower house and Senate are currently analyzing constitutional amendments on this subject. Because they take longer to go through the legislative process than ordinary bills, nothing is likely to happen until next year.FILE – Demonstrators hold a Brazilian flag during an act in support of operation Car Wash and former judge Sergio Moro, in front of Supreme Court headquarters in Brasilia, Brazil, Sept. 25, 2019.The case against Moro and his alleged political bias in Lula’s conviction had been stalled since December last year, when justices Edson Fachin and Carmen Lucia took a stand against it and justice Gilmar Mendes requested a review of the case.”Annuling (Lula’s) conviction, if that’s what eventually transpires as a result of (Moro’s role), will lead to a new trial. That could happen,” justice Mendes said in an exclusive interview with Reuters in August.”It is important to do this analysis in a detached way. The media became very oppressive. The right verdict is not just a guilty verdict. This is not correct. We have to recognize that we owe Lula a fair trial,” Mendes said at the time. 

Evo Morales Heads to Asylum in Mexico, as US Applauds His Resignation as Bolivian President

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales is on a flight to Mexico, where he has been granted asylum.  Foreign Minister Marcelo Erbrad posted a picture of Morales onboard a Mexican air force plane, displaying a Mexican flag across his lap, as it departed La Paz Monday night.  “Your life and integrity are safe,” Erbrad tweeted. Ya despegó el avión de la Fuerza Aérea Mexicana con Evo Morales a bordo. De acuerdo a las convenciones internacionales vigentes está bajo la protección del de México. Su vida e integridad están a salvo.— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) November 12, 2019Morales requested asylum in Mexico hours after he abruptly resigned from office Sunday in the wake of mass protests over last month’s disputed presidential election, which ended with him being declared the winner after partial results had predicted he would face a December runoff against former President Carlos Mesa, his main rival.  Late Monday, Morales tweeted he was on his way to Mexico and was “grateful for the openness of these brothers who offered us asylum to protect our life. It hurts me to leave the country, for political reasons, but I will always be concerned. I will return soon, with more strength and energy.”The United States government is applauding the Morales’s resignation, rejecting assertions by several countries, including Mexico, that he was forced out by a coup.U.S. President Donald Trump, in a statement, called Morales’ departure “a significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere. After nearly 14 years and his recent attempt to override the Bolivian constitution and the will of the people, Morales’s departure preserves democracy and paves the way for the Bolivian people to have their voices heard.”The White House statement adds that the events in Bolivia “send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail. We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.”A senior State Department official told reporters on a conference call on Monday afternoon that Washington does not consider the resignation of Morales the result of a coup, but rather it is an expression of the Bolivian peopled fed up with government ignoring its will.“There were protesters from all walks on life,” said a senior administration official, denying that it was mainly the Bolivian middle class on the streets demanding Morales’ ouster. “It’s probably a little bit simplistic to boil this down to class or perhaps ethnicity in a complex set of circumstances.”A senior U.S. official added, that “there’s been too much violence on both sides.”Some of Morales’ ministers and senior officials who stepped down are also seeking refuge in the Mexican ambassador’s residence.At the request of a number of nations, including the United States, Brazil, Canada, Colombia and Peru, the Organization of American States on Tuesday afternoon is to hold a special meeting on the Bolivian situation.Morales stepped down Sunday, hours after he had accepted calls for a new election by an OAS team that found a “heap of observed irregularities” in the October 20 election.The delayed results of the balloting, which fueled suspicion of vote rigging, indicated Morales received just enough votes to avoid a runoff against a united opposition trying to prevent him from winning a fourth term.Morales, on Monday, called on the opposition to keep the peace.Mesa y Camacho, discriminadores y conspiradores, pasarán a la historia como racistas y golpistas. Que asuman su responsabilidad de pacificar al país y garanticen la estabilidad política y convivencia pacífica de nuestro pueblo. El mundo y bolivianos patriotas repudian el golpe— Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo) November 11, 2019According to the Bolivian constitution, the vice president is next in line to take power when the president steps down. The head of the country’s Senate is third in line, but both of them, as well as a number of other top ministers, resigned shortly after Morales, leaving a power vacuum.Opposition leader Jeanine Anez said Sunday she would assume the interim presidency of Bolivia, but Congress must first be convened to vote her into power.The U.S. government is calling for Bolivia’s legislative assembly to quickly convene to accept Morales’ resignation and follow the constitution to fill the political vacuum.“What’s important is to reconstitute the civilian government,” said a senior State Department official.Morales, the first member of Bolivia’s indigenous population to become president, announced his resignation on television shortly after the country’s military chief, General Williams Kaliman, called on him to quit to allow the restoration of peace and stability.Carlos Mesa credits a popular uprising, not the military for forcing Morales to step aside.The military made a decision not to deploy in the streets because “they didn’t want to take lives,” according to Mesa.Some of Morales’s ministers and senior officials who stepped down are currently seeking refuge in the Mexican ambassador’s residence.A high profile freshman opposition member of the U.S. House is also rejecting the Trump administration’s characterization of events in Bolivia.“What’s happening right now in Bolivia isn’t democracy, it’s a coup,” tweeted Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday. “The people of Bolivia deserve free, fair, and peaceful elections – not violent seizures of power.”What’s happening right now in Bolivia isn’t democracy, it’s a coup.The people of Bolivia deserve free, fair, and peaceful elections – not violent seizures of power.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 11, 2019

SpaceX Launches 60 More Mini Satellites for Global Internet

SpaceX launched 60 mini satellites Monday, the second batch of an orbiting network meant to provide global internet coverage.The Falcon rocket blasted into the morning sky, marking the unprecedented fourth flight of a booster for SpaceX. The compact flat-panel satellites – just 575 pounds (260 kilograms) each – will join 60 launched in May.SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk wants to put thousands of these Starlink satellites in orbit, to offer high-speed internet service everywhere. He plans to start service next year in the northern U.S. and Canada, with global coverage for populated areas after 24 launches.Last month, Musk used an orbiting Starlink satellite to send a tweet: “Whoa, it worked!!”Employees gathered at company bases on both coasts cheered when the first-stage booster landed on a floating platform in the Atlantic.”These boosters are designed to be used 10 times. Let’s turn it around for a fifth, guys,” company’s launch commentator said.This also marked the first time SpaceX used a previously flown nose cone. The California-based company reuses rocket parts to cut costs.SpaceX employees work on the Crew Dragon spacecraft that will astronauts to and from the International Space Station, from American soil, as part of the agency’s commercial crew Program, in Hawthorne, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019.Stacked flat inside the top of the rocket, the newest satellites were going to maneuver even higher following liftoff, using krypton-powered thrusters. SpaceX said there was a potential problem with one of the 60 that could prevent it from moving beyond its initial 174 mile-high (280 kilometer-high) orbit. In that case, the faulty satellite will be commanded to re-enter and burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere.Each satellite has an autonomous system for dodging space junk. In September, however, the European Space Agency had to move one of its satellites out of the way of a Starlink satellite. SpaceX later said it corrected the problem.SpaceX is among several companies interested in providing broadband internet coverage worldwide, especially in areas where it costs too much or is unreliable. Others include OneWeb and Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.According to Musk, Starlink revenue can help SpaceX develop rockets and spacecraft for traveling to Mars, his overriding ambition.

As Wildfires Worsen, Californians Harness Tech for Help

When a wildfire threatened Margie Hanselman’s home in the northern California hills two years ago, the fire department dispatcher told her all the crews were already busy battling another blaze.”That’s when I knew we were really on our own,” she said. “I knew I had to do something differently for the next big emergency.”So Hanselman, her neighbors and fire officials got together and turned to mobile phone apps, social media and communications technology to better share news, emergency updates and preparation advice on threats in their fire-prone community in Sonoma County wine country.This month’s wind-driven Kincade fire, which burned nearly 80,000 acres (32,400 hectares) and destroyed more than 370 structures, stopped just short of Hanselman’s driveway.This time, no one died, unlike two years ago, when the nearby Pocket fire and other windy wildfires north of the San Francisco Bay area killed 43 people.Joining forces to address the growing threat of living in a dry, rural forest area has made the community less stressed and anxious, said Priscilla Abercrombie, a nurse practitioner with a home on the region’s Fitch Mountain.Hanselman and Abercrombie helped put together a local COPE team – Citizens Organized to Prepare for Emergencies – which links residents and authorities to share advice on everything from how to pack evacuation bags to how to find family during a fire.”I feel more empowered. I feel more in control,” said Abercrombie. “I feel better about myself, and I feel better about my community.”Typically, the COPE network might collect and share information such as where doctors live, where a resident might be house-bound or where swimming pools are located that could be used in fighting a fire, organizers said.It was modeled after an original COPE team started a few miles south in Santa Rosa after the deadly 2017 Tubbs fire that killed more than 20 people, they said.’A huge difference’Healdsburg Fire Marshal Linda Collister said she has integrated the local COPE network with GroupMe, a mobile messaging app, to help share information that in the recent Kincade fire helped people evacuate early and smoothly.This time, no one died in the Kincade blaze.”We made a huge difference in this fire, compared to the last one, simply because we were ready for it,” the fire marshall said.Vines surround a burning building as the Kincade Fire burns through the Jimtown community of unincorporated Sonoma County, California, Oct. 24, 2019.As the Kincade fire raged, Collister said she used the communications system to show evacuated residents that their homes were still standing.”I could take a picture of their neighborhood and say it’s still there,” she said.COPE is one of a range of local networks set up to help residents grapple with the stress of living amid the growing threat of wildfires.The Integrative Healers Action Network, created in Sonoma County during the 2017 fires, for instance, draws on the skills of chiropractors, massage therapists and osteopaths to provide crisis care to those in need.Another small group started by a survivor of a 2008 wildfire is building tiny homes – some 200 square feet – provided free for survivors of the Kincade and Paradise blazes.Strengthened community links made an enormous difference this year compared to the fire two years ago, said Hanselman, who sells antiques in picturesque Healdsburg.”Two years ago, none of us had any idea what to do,” she said. “Today I feel much more secure and confident.”That’s something she and other residents are going to need more and more in coming years, she predicted.”(With) climate change, it only gets worse,” she said. “I joke it’s not fall anymore. It’s fire season. Every fall, the anxiety level definitely goes up.”

First Spanish Royal Visit Crowns Havana’s 500th Party

Cuba is in party mode this week, despite tough economic times worsened by tighter U.S. sanctions, as it prepares for its first state visit by a Spanish king, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana, the capital.Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia arrived late on Monday for a three-day stay to commemorate the Cuban capital, founded by a Spanish conquistador on Nov. 16, 1519 and considered one of the architectural jewels of Latin America.The royal trip also underscores Europe’s rapprochement with Cuba’s Communist government, even as the United States doubles down on a decades-old policy of sanctions.Events to mark Havana’s anniversary include the inauguration of renovated landmarks, concerts, the illumination of city fortifications and a rare fireworks display over the Malecon seafront boulevard.”We Cubans like to party,” said trade union worker Miryelis Hernandez, 32. “Even if we are feeling low, we know we have to pick ourselves up, so it’s good Havana is celebrating its 500 years and there is a party.”The royal couple will tour Havana’s old historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site boasting an eclectic mix of colonial, Art Deco and other styles that has been undergoing a slow facelift since the 1990s.A woman pulls towels off the line after they dried on the balcony of an old home, missing part of its roof, in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 10, 2019.Cuba focused more on building infrastructure in the impoverished countryside than on maintaining its cities in the early decades of Fidel Castro’s leftist 1959 revolution, allowing its punishing tropical climate to wreak havoc.”Havana luckily conserved its valuable architectural patrimony, unlike other Latin American cities that lost a good part of their historic centers’ patrimony due to real estate development,” said Cuban urban planning specialist Gina Rey.”But paradoxically this patrimony is very deteriorated, and (renovation) efforts have not been enough so far.”The only big recent changes to Havana’s urban landscape are the construction of a handful of hulking luxury hotels.Tourists sit on the terrace of newly opened Hotel Paseo del Prado in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 10, 2019.One of the main buildings on show for the celebrations will be the Capitol, a neoclassical gem built in 1929 and inspired by Washington’s Capitol.Reflecting a new geopolitical order, the gilded roof of its cupola was restored with the help of Russia.Just blocks away, though, are buildings that have collapsed or crumbling, such as the former Hotel Surf on the Malecon, clad in blue and salmon pink ceramic tiles and divided into apartments after the revolution.”It’s good they are doing restoration work,” said resident Mario Macias, pointing to rotten beams and holes in the ceiling where rain dripped through. “But maybe they should have started a long time ago.” 

Brazil Mulls Nuclear Agency as Stepping Stone to OECD Membership

Brazil is considering joining the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), a specialized agency within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which could serve as a stepping stone to joining the rich-nations club, its head said.NEA director general William Magwood said the membership of the agency, which groups 33 countries with 85% of the world’s nuclear power capacity, is straightforward and based on mutual interest in sharing state-of-the-art nuclear technology.”Membership can happen very quickly and that means it is a very practical stepping stone towards OECD membership,” Magwood said in an interview on Friday.He said South Korea used that path in the 1970s and, more recently, Argentina joined the agency in 2017 with the intention that it would help its pending bid for OECD membership.”They are certainly talking about it, it is something the Brazilian government is looking at,” Magwood said at the end of a visit to Brazil during which he visited the country’s unfinished Angra 3 reactor.Brazil had expected to join the OECD quickly with the backing that U.S. President Donald Trump offered President Jair Bolsonaro in March, but in October Trump said Argentina had U.S. endorsement to join first, dashing Brazil’s hopes.Membership of the NEA largely overlaps with the OECD, except for three exceptions: Russia, Romania and Argentina.Small is GoodMagwood said Brazil was doing the right thing in completing its mothballed third nuclear reactor, Angra 3, on the coast south of Rio de Janeiro, despite the price tag to finish the job, estimated at some 15 billion reais ($3.7 billion).General view of Angra Nuclear Power Plant complex during a media tour in Angra dos Reis, Brazil, Aug. 1, 2019.Brazil’s state nuclear power company Eletronuclear is looking for a partner for Angra 3 and has narrowed the field to China’s National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), France’s EDF or Russia’s Rosatom.”It is such a huge investment that it makes sense to go ahead and finish that plant, but beyond that Brazil should start looking at new technologies,” Magwood said.Magwood said Brazil is right to plan new reactors because climate change concerns will demand cleaner energy for the future, while Brazilian authorities he spoke with said the country is reaching the limits of its hydroelectric potential.As the government studies plans to build more nuclear plants in Brazil’s northeast, it would do well to study small reactors that are cheaper and safer and can be built in larger numbers, he said.The first of these, made by NuScale Power LLC, majority-owned by Fluor, will be on the market next year. 

Tens of Thousands Join Poland’s Nationalist Independence Day March

Tens of thousands of people answered the call of nationalist groups Monday, marching in Warsaw to mark the country’s independence day.The marchers chanted “God, honor, homeland!” and “No to the European Union!” while holding aloft torches and setting off fireworks to blanket the area with a cloud of smoke in the national red and white colors.A smaller group of counter-protesters sang “Bella ciao,” an Italian anti-fascist resistance anthem.The independence day march has been growing in size since the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party came to power in 2015. PiS won a second term last month with 44% of the vote.The party has called for a revival of nationalist and Catholic values and a rejection of Western liberalism.  “We have to return to our roots. Our world has abandoned God and Christianity,” Robert Bakiewicz, one of the march organizers, told the crowds in central Warsaw. “We will die as the nations of western Europe are dying.”On November 11, Poles mark the end of World War I, which was also the end of 123 years of occupation by tsarist Russia, Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian empire. 

Study: Social Media a Double-Edged Sword for Female Politicians

On Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s Facebook page, you can find videos ranging from an announcement in Des Moines, Iowa, that her campaign has reached $2 million in donations …Two Million DonationsWe’ve worked hard, sharing plans and building a grassroots movement. And yesterday, we reached a new milestone—two million donations!Posted by Elizabeth Warren on Monday, October 21, 2019… to one with the Massachusetts senator looking into the camera, explaining her plan to help U.S. teachers.My New Plan Would Help Teachers Like KatieBetween town halls last week, I took some time to read a letter I got from Katie, a teacher in North Carolina.

Katie wrote in with her story—so I called her to say thanks for being in the fight. My new public school plan would help Katie and her students: by FILE – A photo taken July 4, 2019, in Nantes, France, shows logos of the U.S.-based social media platform Facebook. “You are not asking a reporter to change a quote or asking for local news to recut the story,” she said. “You can put the video up that you want; you can put the message up that you want in a way that you want it to be shown to people. That’s often the best way to get truthful information about yourself out there — and to counter bad information.”While the 2018 midterm elections saw an unprecedented number of female candidates win congressional seats, Rebecca Schuller, executive director of Winning for Women, an organization that supports female Republican leaders, said right-of-center female candidates are working to build a similar kind of momentum online.”Maybe they are not getting the attention because they just don’t have the history that some of their male peers have, or maybe they are Republican women in a very purple district and it’s a challenging media environment,” she said.Even then, social media is still a useful tool that enables them “to kind of take the reins and do it for themselves,” Schuller said.While social media can be a great equalizer at a time when women politicians remain underrepresented in traditional media, Virginia-based political consultant Christine Matthews said the success of individual candidates in driving their message on social media depends largely on their skills in the medium.”A candidate who can use it [social media] effectively and authentically is going to be more powerful and have a better message,” Matthews, president of Bellwether Research and Consulting, told VOA.Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., top center, questions Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, foreground, as he appears before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 23, 2019.Matthews points to New York Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat, as one who is savvy at using social media. For last month’s pointed cross-examination of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Ocasio-Cortez sought questions from her Twitter followers to ask the tech mogul. Candidates who use social media in a “risk-averse way, I think you’re going to have more difficulties,” she said.Double-edged swordDespite myriad benefits of direct online engagement, broader online exposure can cut both ways, the Global Women’s Leadership initiative study found.Not only are women targeted for harassment on Twitter more frequently than that their male counterparts, but the nature of the criticism is different, the study, headed by Di Meco, found.”Twitter conversations, for example, looked more at their [the women’s] personality and character instead of their policies,” Di Meco said, adding that females also are more likely to be targeted by fake accounts.Consultant Matthews said all candidates — particularly women — should have an established strategy for responding to online harassment before hitting the campaign trail, such as identifying fake accounts and training staff in digital literacy.”What women in particular are going to need to do is think about, What is my strategy for responding to trolls or negative criticism or attacks,’ ” she said. They also need to consider real-time response logistics, from staffing size to specific skillsets of workers, in order to respond effectively, she added.Matthews also said it is imperative that party officials at all levels tell constituents and online commenters that offensive memes and misogynistic attacks, regardless of the target’s political affiliation, aren’t acceptable.Political consultant Jenna Golden, former head of political and advocacy sales at Twitter, said even if candidates face an unbearably toxic environment online, withdrawal from the political arena shouldn’t be the solution.”The solution is not to walk away, the solution is to say, ‘We belong here, this is a place for us, this is an opportunity for us to communicate,’ ” she said during an October panel discussion at American University on challenges facing female candidates.  “As a result, we have to look to all these groups of people and entities and say, ‘How can we come up with a solution together?'”Evolving responsesAnother key finding in Di Meco’s report: Women are increasingly savvy about responding effectively to harassment on the campaign trail.While female candidates have historically been advised to “take the high road” and ignore sexist attacks, Di Meco said new research indicates that many women are seeing an uptick in popularity when responding to harassment by calling it out, whether that’s online or on the campaign trail.”It was found that the better response is, in fact, to call it out, to say that those things aren’t acceptable,” Di Meco said. “When a female politician does that, she recovers in credibility and improves her likability.”Due to technology’s rapid advance, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are only now offering guidance on navigating social media platforms, partnering with digital-literacy advocates to train political professionals on how to maximize their reach and impact while shielding themselves from attack. The Women and Politics Institute at American University, for example, offers a WeLead training program that offers guidance to young women who want to run for office or run a political campaign.Asked whether the expanded online engagement can translate into more votes, Di Meco said results of the 2018 midterms are a positive sign.”We did see an uptick in the number of female politicians elected. And so I would think that the younger generations are politically active both online and offline,” she said.This story originated in VOA’s Albanian Service. 

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