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EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Resigns

Embattled Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has resigned.

President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that he accepted Pruitt’s resignation, without making any mention of the numerous scandals and alleged ethics violation in which Pruitt has been embroiled.

The exact reason for Pruitt’s resignation was not announced.

Pruitt’s deputy, Andrew Wheeler, will take over the EPA as acting head.

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Trump Names Former TV Executive as Communications Chief

President Donald Trump on Thursday named Bill Shine, a former top official at Fox News, to be his fifth communications chief.

The White House said Shine, in his mid-50s, would serve as an assistant to Trump and as deputy chief of staff for communications.

“He brings over two decades of television programming, communications and management experience to the role,” the White House said in a statement.

Shine was co-president of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, but he was ousted in May 2017 in connection with the network’s handling of sexual harassment allegations brought by women who worked there. That led to the departure of former network Chairman Roger Ailes, who later died, and one of its prominent news show hosts, Bill O’Reilly.

Shine was never accused of harassment himself, but women who worked at Fox said he knew of the allegations of inappropriate behavior and failed to address it. He denied the allegations.

Shine is a close friend of one of Trump’s biggest supporters on the Fox network, conservative evening news commentator Sean Hannity.

Trump, who often tweets about things he sees and hears on Fox, is often his own top spokesman, offering comments on the day’s big and small issues. But he has had a string of communications directors, all of whom left his White House; some were dismissed, while others left to pursue other jobs. The communications position has been vacant since March, when Hope Hicks, a longtime Trump favorite, left.

Trump press secretary Sarah Sanders most often publicly answers reporters’ questions about the president’s actions and policies, in daily news briefings that often become contentious.

White House communications chiefs often give U.S. presidents behind-the-scenes advice or how best to relate their decisions to the American public and the world.

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У Києві відкрили меморіальну дошку поетові Осипу Мандельштаму та його дружині

У Києві на вулиці Марії Заньковецької 5 липня відкрили меморіальну дошку поетові Осипу Мандельштаму та його дружині Надії Мандельштам (Хазіній). Ініціювали проект Український центр Міжнародного ПЕН-клубу, видавництво «Дух і Літера» та Центр Юдаїки. 

Автор меморіальної дошки подружжю – скульптор Світлана Карунська. 

Осип Мандельштам із Надією Хазіною познайомилися в Києві та проживали у місті з 1919 до 1929 року.

На відкритті пам’ятної дошки зібралися українські літератори, художники, скульптори та кияни, які цікавляться творчістю письменника.

«Відкриття дошки не пов’язане з жодною датою. Просто в Києві не вистачало пам’ятного місця, пов’язаного з цими людьми. По-друге, сьогодні актуально нагадати, що обоє, особливо Осип Мандельштам, були жертвою того самого режиму, який сьогодні вбиває наших людей. Так само, як він вбив Осипа Мандельштама та багатьох росіян, українців та інших нещасних громадян тієї країни», – сказав на відкритті дошки президент українського ПЕН-Клубу Микола Рябчук.

Осип Мандельштам загинув у пересильному таборі під Владивостоком 27 грудня 1938 року.

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НАБУ та САП відкрили матеріали слідства щодо проекту «Стіна»

Національне антикорупційне бюро і Спеціалізована антикорупційна прокуратура завершили досудове розслідування справи про розкрадання бюджетних коштів проекту «Стіна», повідомила 5 липня прес-служба НАБУ.

Прокурори надали доступ до матеріалів слідства вісьмом підозрюваним у заволодінні коштами державного бюджету, виділеними на інженерно-технічне облаштування українсько-російського державного кордону та територій, прилеглих до зони бойових дій. Після того, як підозрювані завершать ознайомлення, детективи НАБУ складуть обвинувальний акт, а прокурори САП направлять його до суду.

Посадовців Державної прикордонної служби та представників бізнесу підозрюють у корупційних зловживаннях, в результаті яких інтересам держави завдано збитків у розмірі понад 16,68 мільйона гривень. Зокрема, детективи НАБУ і прокурори САП інкримінують вчинення кримінальних правопорушень начальнику управління капітального будівництва Держприкордонслужби України за ч.5 ст.191 («Привласнення, розтрата майна або заволодіння ним шляхом зловживання службовим становищем»), ч.3 ст.27, ч.2 ст.210 («Нецільове використання бюджетних коштів, здійснення видатків бюджету чи надання кредитів з бюджету без встановлених бюджетних призначень або з їх перевищенням») Кримінального кодексу України.

Також серед підозрюваних ще двоє посадовців ДПСУ, підрядники та посередники.

За даними слідства, розкрадання коштів проекту «Стіна» відбувалося через завищення обсягів фактично виконаних робіт порівняно із зазначеним в актах приймання-передачі. Крім того, у документах зазначалися роботи, які взагалі не виконувалися.

У НАБУ вказують, що кілька епізодів, пов’язаних із проектом «Стіна», виділені в окреме провадження й розслідування по них триває.

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СБУ заявляє, що викрила інтернет-шахраїв на запит ФБР

Співробітники СБУ за сприяння американського Федерального бюро розслідувань викрили схему інтернет-шахрайства, повідомляє 5 липня прес-служба відомства.

Як встановили оперативники, громадяни однієї з африканських країн створили в одній із соціальних мереж фейкову сторінку американського бізнесмена, який має бізнес в Україні.

Познайомившись із жінкою зі Сполучених Штатів, «бізнесмен» поскаржився на проблеми з українськими правоохоронцями, які не дозволяють повернутись до США. Жінка перерахувала на рахунок зловмисників півтора мільйона доларів.

Читайте також: «У США засудили двох вихідців з СРСР за звинуваченнями у вимаганні​»

Як повідомляє СБУ, за місцями проживання іноземців виявили комп’ютерну техніку, за допомогою якої вони вели листування, та банківські документи, які підтверджують отримання коштів.

Двоє організаторів схеми підозрюються у шахрайстів (стаття 190 Кримінального кодексу України). Шевченківський суд обрав їм запобіжний захід у вигляді тримання під вартою з можливістю внесення застави. Наразі триває слідство.

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Call-to-Listen Radio, A Respite for African Immigrants

For the millions of first-generation immigrants in the United States, whose native languages aren’t common on the streets of New York or any other U.S. community, staying connected to local news and culture can be challenging. But across Diaspora communities, call-to-listen radio programming is designed to fill this need and offer a respite from day-to-day hardships as immigrants, including the undocumented. VOA’s Ramon Taylor has this report from New York.

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Вімблдон-2018: усі українці зачохлили ракетки

Українських тенісистів більше немає в одиночному розряді на головному змаганні на трав’яних кортах – Вімблдонському турнірі. Останньою змушена була зачохлити ракетку Леся Цуренко. У другому колі українка поступилася 23-й сіяній чешці Барборі Стрицовій.

У першому сеті друга ракетка України не змогла нав’язати боротьбу – 1:6, а в другому спробувала нав’язати боротьбу вже тоді, коли суперниця подавала на матч за рахунку 5:2. Остаточний результат другої партії – 6:4 на користь Стрицової. Матч тривав одну годину й чотири хвилини.

Читайте також: Український старт на Вімблдоні: перша ракетка України вилітає у першому раунді, надія на інших

Поєдинок Цуренко – Стрицова мав відбутися ще 4 липня, але був перенесений на сьогодні через дощ.

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US Justice Ginsburg Gets Israeli Achievement Award

A prestigious Jewish organization gave its first lifetime achievement award Wednesday to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The Genesis Prize Foundation cited what it calls Ginsburg’s “groundbreaking legal work in the field of civil liberties and women’s rights” when it announced late last year she would be the recipient.

“I am a judge, born and raised and proud of being a Jew. The demand for justice, for peace, for enlightenment runs thorough the entirety of Jewish tradition and Jewish history,” Ginsburg said in her acceptance speech in Tel Aviv. 

She said she hopes to have the “strength and courage to remain steadfast in service to that demand” as she continues serving on the United States’ highest court.

Former President Bill Clinton, who appointed Ginsburg in 1993, sent a congratulatory letter, saying he is proud to have named her to the court.

“Your groundbreaking legal work has pioneered civil liberties and women’s rights in the United States,” Clinton wrote.

A group of wealthy Russian-Jewish businessmen, working with the Israeli government, established the Genesis Foundation in 2013 to honor Jews who have made major contributions to humanity.

It comes with a $1 million prize.

Past recipients have been former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, actor Michael Douglas, classical violinist Itzhak Perlman, British sculptor Anish Kapoor and actress Natalie Portman.

Portman created a controversy last year when she refused to attend the ceremony, saying she did not want to look like she was endorsing the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ginsburg is the first recipient of the foundation’s lifetime achievement award.

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Students Object to University Role in Movie on Trump

A book about an alleged prophecy describing Donald Trump’s win as U.S. president is being produced as a movie by Liberty University, but students at the Christian college are pushing back on the film.

The production, in which Liberty University students are technicians, editors and set decorators for class credit, tells the story of Mark Taylor, a retired firefighter from Orlando, Florida. Taylor said in 2011 God told him Trump would become president of the United States. Trump won the election in 2016.

“This movie could reflect very poorly on all Liberty students and Liberty University as a whole,” states an online petition called “Cancel the Liberty University Film Programs Heretical Film Project,” created by Liberty students.

The author’s “claims to have received prophecies directly from God … do not align with the Bible’s message,” states the petition signed by more than 2,000 respondents.

Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia, partnered with Christian filmmaker Rick Eldridge, owner of Reel Works Studio in Charlotte, N.C., to produce the book, which was published in July 2017. 

Liberty University staff contends that this has been an excellent learning experience for students in cinematic arts at the university.

“We think this feature-length work experience is unique to our department among film schools,” said Stephan Schultze, Liberty professor of cinematic arts and director of the film. “This distinction gives our students a skill set that makes them ready for the workforce upon graduating.”

Movie production experience

Students agree they have gained hands-on experience working on the movie production. But some said they object to the alleged prophecy and the message.

In their online petition, they cited a later interpretation of the Bible, 1 John 4:1, that suggests believers “test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

“We should be very wary of modern-day prophets,” the petition says. “Mark Taylor has claimed God told him that electing Trump will save the world, which is unbiblical at best and heretical at worst.”

“Liberty’s mission statement and purpose is to be a light on a hill and to train champions for Christ,” the petition continues. “Openly supporting both a ‘modern-day prophet’ and Trump as a school does not convey this mission.”

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. is an outspoken Trump supporter and was appointed to the Trump Task Force for Higher Education in 2017.

Schultze said the Liberty students who worked on the film served in positions that usually go to people with at least five years of experience in the film industry.

The Liberty students pushed back, saying they were “of the distasteful opinion that the producer had only come to Liberty to make his film because he could get free student labor that would significantly lower the cost of making the film,” according to a source who asked to remain anonymous. “Many of us felt used at times, which was another reason why we petitioned against the film in the first place.”

Students were given other options to working on the prophecy film, but those were of lesser experience, the source said. Well into the making of the film, students said, “it became clear … after the initial script reading and the many rewrites … the film did have a political agenda, which we were against.”

Biopic-style film

Schultze said the film is a biopic that “chronicles real-life events, following a fireman [Taylor] suffering from PTSD who believes he has heard a message from God, that Donald Trump will be the next president.” He did not respond directly to whether he thought the film was heretical but said he would “advise people to watch the movie first.”

“I think the film will be well-received, and people will be inspired to know that our students have created a narrative film whose quality is strong enough to warrant a national theatrical release on more than 1,200 screens,” he said.

“This is been a great experience for students, and I believe it will provide them with the edge they need for employment upon graduating,” Schultze added.

He said that Liberty University did not receive or pay any fees in exchange for the movie being produced there. He said there was a “cost benefit to student involvement,” but there was also “a risk to engage newly skilled labor still in a steep learning curve. It all evens out in the end because additional shooting days are required for the teaching process to take place on set. Our students’ education is a huge benefactor in the process.”

Students contested that the experience had enhanced their learning.

“Many do not want this movie on their resume and some are even considering … dropping out,” the student petition said.

Eldridge of Reel Works said he wants the film’s message to resonate with its viewers.

“We hope that they will be inspired by all that is great about our country,”  Eldridge said of the audience in an email to VOA. “All the while we hope that they will be entertained by the story and the many voices who will speak during our reflective conversations after the dramatic story.”

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Woman Climbs Statue of Liberty in Standoff With Police

The Statue of Liberty, a powerful symbol of US freedom and long a beacon to immigrants, was shut down Wednesday on Independence Day as a woman refused to leave its base in a lengthy standoff with police.

New York police assisted U.S. Park Police in removing the woman from the monument.

Local media first reported that demonstrators opposed to President Donald Trump’s immigration policy protested there and that the woman was among the demonstrators.

But Rise and Resist NYC, which organized the protest, said the woman was not affiliated with the group.

At least seven people were arrested earlier for hanging a banner from the base of the statue that read “Abolish ICE,” referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency at the forefront of the immigration debate. 

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