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Ukraine’s Night Train to the Front Lines

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The Soviet-era carriages decorated in the blue and yellow hues of the Ukrainian flag have seen better days. But as the passengers prepare to embark, the smartly uniformed staff takes great pride in the train. Windows and handles are given a last polish, coal-fired heaters are stoked for the cold night ahead, and fresh bed sheets are fitted into newly-refurbished compartments.

At precisely 4:32 p.m. local time, Train 84 “Azov” pulls out of the Kyiv station into the southern suburbs of the capital bound for Mariupol – a journey of more than 1,000 kilometers to the frontline of Ukraine’s war with Russia. On board for the night is a cross-section of Ukrainian society.

Amid preparations for Ukraine’s presidential elections at the end of this month, VOA joined this epic journey to the east to talk to passengers heading for the key strategic port.

Thirty-one-year-old Sergey Ivanic has undergone eye surgery in Kyiv and is returning home to Mariupol with his wife Lena, who enjoys the slow pace of the night train. “You can lie in bed and sleep and relax and you arrive in the morning full of energy,” she says.

Sergey Ivanic laments that many young Ukrainians are leaving in search of a better life.

“The main issue is to stop the torrent of young people leaving to go abroad, to create stable jobs.”

After five years of war, Lena wants an end to the divisions in Ukrainian society.

“Ukraine is divided between east and west and we are always being made to fight each other. But in reality, normal people live on both sides. So I want the new president to unite us as a nation.”

Outside, dusk falls over the fields of Ukraine’s vast steppeland. Epic journeys are second nature for Gennadiy Syuzev, a merchant seaman on his way to Mariupol’s huge commercial port.

“In my mind, it doesn’t matter who is going to be the next president. Nothing significant will change,” says Syuzev.

A series of sharp jolts brings us to a halt, one of 19 scheduled stops on the route. It takes 18 hours for the train to travel from Kyiv to Mariupol. Its days could be numbered.  

The current government has promised to reopen Mariupol’s dilapidated airport, which would put the city just an hour’s domestic flight from the capital  – an election pledge that’s attracting voters.

For others, night trains are part of Ukraine’s way of life.

The cheapest tickets buy you a narrow bed in an open carriage, effectively a dormitory on wheels. Chatting away to their neighboring passengers, Oksana Repetskaya and her daughter are returning from a dance competition in Kyiv.

“We got used to living with the conflict,” she says. “My eldest son is doing military service; he’s with the army in Dnipropetrovsk.”

“We still have the same faces in power and so I have strong doubts that anything will change. But I also really hope that new faces will emerge,” she adds.

Close to midnight, the conversations fade and the lights are dimmed.

By daybreak, the train is running parallel to the frontlines of the conflict with Russian-backed separatists, which lie just seven kilometres to the east.

Disembarking at Mariupol, the signs of the nearby conflict are clear. Heavily armed soldiers patrol the platforms with sniffer dogs. A few nearby buildings are pockmarked with bullet holes and shell damage sustained during the height of the war in 2014, when it appeared that the separatists might take the city.

That risk appears to have diminished for now. But the threat of renewed fighting looms constantly.

For Ukrainians returning home to Mariupol, the election offers hope of change. But few believe their next president will have a quick fix to end the war.

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Ukraine’s Night Train to the Front Lines

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Ukraine is gearing up for presidential elections at the end of this month, a vote that holds huge implications for a country still at war with Russian-backed separatists. There are other issues on the agenda too – not least getting around this vast country. The dilapidated infrastructure means long night trains are the only practical transport. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell jumped on board to chat with some of the passengers heading east.

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Radovan Karadzic Faces Final Verdict in War Crimes Case

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United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday hand down a final verdict in the case of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, a key figure in the Balkan wars who is serving a 40-year prison sentence for genocide.

The ruling will likely bring to a close one of the highest profile trials stemming from the series of wars in the 1990s that saw the bloody collapse of the former Yugoslavia and death of at least 100,000 Bosnians.

Karadzic, 73, was convicted in 2016 for the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces. He was also found guilty of leading a campaign of ethnic cleansing that drove Croats and Muslims out of Serb-claimed areas of Bosnia.

On appeal, prosecutors are seeking a life sentence and a second genocide conviction for his alleged role in that policy of targeting non-Serbs across several Bosnian towns in the early years of the war. Karadzic meanwhile is appealing against his conviction and wants a retrial.

The ruling, which is final and cannot be challenged on appeal, will have huge resonance in the former Yugoslavia, especially in Bosnia, where ethnic communities remain divided and Karadzic is still seen as a hero by many Bosnian Serbs.

The judgment will be read out at 14:00 local time (13:00 GMT) in The Hague at a U.N. court handling cases left over when the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia closed its doors in 2017.

A delegation of the association of Mothers of Srebrenica will be in the Netherlands for the judgment.

In hiding for nearly a decade, Karadzic was arrested and handed over to the court in July 2008.

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Україна відзначила італійських волонтерів за гуманітарну допомогу на Донбасі

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За гуманітарну допомогу на Донбасі двоє італійських волонтерів отримали відзнаку президента України. Церемонія вручення нагород відбулася 19 березня в посольстві України в Римі, інформує кореспондент Радіо Свобода.

У лютому 2016 року громадяни Італії Джованні Д’Урсо й Вінченцо Ґуерра у складі громадської асоціації Ucraini Irpini з південного міста Авелліно на чолі з активісткою Оксаною Библів здійснили гуманітарну поїздку на Донбас до міста Мар’їнки. Вони доставили машину «швидкої допомоги», ліки, продукти і подарунки для дітей-сиріт, пенсіонерів і військових.

«Це був унікальний і сильний досвід, ми поїхали на передову і передавали воєнним машину. Щойно закінчили оформлення документації – і чуємо недалеко вибух бомби. Мене дуже вразило, як молоді бійці українського війська наввипередки виявляли готовність потрапити у загін, щоб вирушити на місце події для протидії ворожій акції. На мене, колишнього військового, це справило сильне враження: як молодь, знаючи про небезпеку, рветься захищати рідний край», – розповів Джованні Д’Урсо.

За його словами, волонтери стали свідками, як машина «швидкої» відразу була використана за призначенням для порятунку українських армійців.

Інший учасник поїздки Вінченцо Ґуерра повідомив про бажання повернутися на Донбас і додав, що наразі асоціація займається пошуком нової машини «швидкої допомоги» та речей, необхідних для фронту. Він також має намір зробити нові світлини у зоні бойових дій з метою влаштувати в Італії фотовиставку «Війна в серці Європи» у рамках проектів місцевої асоціації Ucraini Irpini.

«Війна йде за кілька кроків від нас, і про це тут не говорять, я хочу, щоб люди дізналися і побачили, що відбувається у тій частині Європи», – сказав Вінченцо Ґуерра.

Протягом п’яти років воєнної агресії на Донбасі у зону бойових дій доставляють гуманітарні вантажі й інші італійські волонтери спільно з українськими активістами. Деякі з них невдовзі також отримають відзнаки від України, повідомили дипломати в Римі.

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Поліція заявляє, що зупинила сутичку під час візиту Порошенка в Івано-Франківськ

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На мітинг, де мав виступати Порошенко, прийшли представники «Національного корпусу» і «Національних дружин» – місцеве видання

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Міськрада Павлограда не підтримала ініціативу піднімати червоно-чорний прапор

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У Павлограді не підніматимуть червоно-чорний прапор поряд із державним прапором України на флагштоці на Алеї Слави біля мерії. Депутати міськради на сесії 19 березня не підтримали ініціативу.

За словами однієї з авторів ініціативи, депутата міськради Ганни Третяк, дискусія навколо цього питання тривала близько місяця. Ідею підтримали ветерани бойових дій на Донбасі, волонтери, громадські активісти.

Планувалось вивішувати червоно-чорний прапор біля мерії тричі на рік: у День пам’яті Героїв Крут, День українського добровольця і День захисника України.

«У лютому на семінарі депутатів ми оприлюднили цю ініціативу. Частина депутатів одразу її підтримала і запропонувала винести на сесію. Але на найближчій сесії під приводом того, що проект не пройшов обговорення в комісіях, він був знятий і відправлений на доопрацювання. До нинішньої сесії рішення пройшло обговорення в усіх депутатських комісіях. Доводилось індивідуально обговорювати майже з кожним депутатом. Ми розуміли, що рішення, може, не набере голосів, але сподівались, що на депутатів вплине присутність добровольців, які прийшли підтримати цю ініціативу, які під цим прапором захищали нашу країну», – сказала Ганна Третяк.

Напередодні Дня добровольця, 14 березня, у Павлограді на флагштоці невідомі вивісили червоно-чорний прапор під державним. Комунальники його зняли.

2018 року біля мерії Кам’янського вперше на Дніпропетровщині підняли червоно-чорний прапор. Акцію ініціювали місцеві націоналісти на підтримку депутатського запиту щодо підняття прапора.

Для ухвалення рішення тоді забракло голосів. Під час обговорення цієї ініціативи сталася штовханина між депутатами. 

30 січня 2018 року Львівська облрада затвердила перелік днів, у які на будівлях обласної адміністрації та ради, а також органів місцевого самоврядування на Львівщині вивішуватимуть червоно-чорний прапор.

На Житомирщині сім днів на рік вивішуватимуть червоно-чорний прапор, таке рішення минулого року ухвалила облрада.

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High-Stakes Boeing Inquiry Hinges on Ethiopia Black Box Secrets

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The investigation into the final minutes of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 turned on Tuesday to the secrets in the cockpit voice recorder as Boeing and a shaken global aviation industry hung on the outcome.

The voices of Captain Yared Getachew and First Officer Ahmednur Mohammed could reveal what led to the March 10 crash of the Boeing 737 MAX that has worrying parallels with another disaster involving the same model off Indonesia in October.

The twin disasters killed 346 people.

Black box data was downloaded in France but only Ethiopian experts leading the probe have heard the dialogue between Getachew, 29, and Mohammed, 25. The data was back in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, sources familiar with the probe told Reuters.

Experts believe a new automated system in Boeing’s flagship MAX fleet — intended to stop stalling by dipping the nose — may have played a role in both crashes, with pilots unable to override it as their jets plunged downwards.

Both came down just minutes after take-off after erratic flight patterns and loss of control reported by the pilots.

However, every accident is a unique chain of human and technical factors, experts say.

The prestige of Ethiopian Airlines, one of Africa’s most successful companies, and Boeing, the world’s biggest planemaker and a massive U.S. exporter, is at stake.

Awkward questions for industry

Lawmakers and safety experts are questioning how thoroughly regulators vetted the MAX model and how well pilots were trained on new features. For now, regulators have grounded the existing fleet of more than 300 MAX aircraft and deliveries of nearly

5,000 more — worth well over $500 billion — are on hold.

Pressure on the Chicago-headquartered company has grown with news that federal prosecutors and the U.S. Department of Transportation are scrutinizing how carefully the MAX model was developed, two people briefed on the matter said.

The U.S. Justice Department was looking at the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) oversight of Boeing, one of the people said. And a federal grand jury last week issued at least one subpoena to an entity involved in the plane’s development. The rest of the world is watching anxiously.

The European Union’s aviation agency EASA promised its own deep look at Boeing’s software updates and failure modes.

“We will not allow the aircraft to fly if we have not found acceptable answers to all our questions,” its executive director Patrick Ky told an EU parliament committee hearing.

“Whatever the FAA does. OK? This is a personal guarantee that I make in front of you.”

Canada said it would independently certify the MAX in future, rather than accepting FAA validation, and would also send a team to help U.S. authorities evaluate proposed design changes.

In the hope of getting its MAX line back into the air soon, Boeing said it will roll out a software update and revise pilot training. In the case of the Lion Air crash in Indonesia, it has raised questions about whether crew used the correct procedures.

The MAX, which offers cost savings of about 15 percent on fuel, was developed for service from 2017 after the successful launch by its main rival of the Airbus A320neo.

Argus Research cut Boeing stock to “hold” from “buy”, giving the planemaker at least its fourth downgrade since the crash, Refinitiv data showed. Its shares, however, were enjoying a rare respite on Tuesday, up 1.6 pct to $378 and cutting losses since the crash to under 11 pct.

Global ramifications

In the hot seat over its certification of the MAX without demanding additional training and its closeness to Boeing, the FAA has said it is “absolutely” confident in its vetting.

The crisis has put pressure on airline companies.

Norwegian Airlines has already said it will seek compensation after grounding its MAX aircraft.

Various firms are reconsidering Boeing orders, and some are revising financial forecasts given they now cannot count on maintenance and fuel savings factored in from the MAX.

Illustrating the hoops airlines were jumping through, Air Canada said it intends to keep its MAX aircraft grounded until at least July 1, would accelerate intake of recently acquired Airbus A321 planes, and had hired other carriers to provide extra capacity meantime.

Beyond the corporate ramifications, anguished relatives are still waiting to find out what happened.

Many have visited the crash site in a charred field to seek some closure, but there is anger at the slow pace of information and all they have been given for funerals is earth.

“I’m just so terribly sad. I had to leave here without the body of my dead brother,” said Abdulmajid Shariff, a Yemeni relative who headed home disappointed on Tuesday.

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Warner Bros.’ Chief Tsujihara Steps Down Following Scandal

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Warner Bros. chief Kevin Tsujihara, one of the highest ranking Hollywood executives to be felled by sexual misconduct allegations, stepped down from the studio Monday following claims that he promised roles to an actress with whom he was having an affair.

WarnerMedia chief executive John Stankey announced Tsujihara’s exit as chairman and chief executive of Warner Bros., saying his departure was in the studio’s “best interest.”


“Kevin has contributed greatly to the studio’s success over the past 25 years and for that we thank him,” said Stankey. “Kevin acknowledges that his mistakes are inconsistent with the company’s leadership expectations and could impact the company’s ability to execute going forward.”


Earlier this month, WarnerMedia launched an investigation after a March 6 Hollywood Reporter story detailed text messages between Tsujihara and British actress Charlotte Kirk going back to 2013. The messages suggested a quid pro quo sexual relationship between the aspiring actress and the studio head in which he made promises that he’d introduce her to influential executives and she’d be considered for roles in movies and television.


In a memo to Warner Bros. staff on Monday, Tsujihara said he was departing “after lengthy introspection, and discussions with John Stankey over the past week.”


“It has become clear that my continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s continued success,” said Tsujihara. “The hard work of everyone within our organization is truly admirable, and I won’t let media attention on my past detract from all the great work the team is doing.”


Tsujihara’s attorney, Bert H. Deixler, earlier stated that Tsujihara “had no direct role in the hiring of this actress.” He declined further comment Monday.


Tsujihara, who has headed the Burbank, California, studio since 2013, earlier pledged to fully cooperate with the studio’s investigation and apologized to Warner Bros. staff for “mistakes in my personal life that have caused pain and embarrassment to the people I love the most.”


The scandal unfolded just as Warner Bros. was restructuring on the heels of AT&T’s takeover of WarnerMedia, previously known as Time Warner. Tsujihara’s role had just been expanded on Feb. 28 to include global kids and family entertainment including oversight of Adult Swim and the Cartoon Network.

Kirk appeared in Warner Bros.’ “How to Be Single” in 2016 and “Ocean’s 8” in 2018. She has denied any inappropriate behavior on the part of Tsujihara or two other executives, Brett Ratner and James Packer, who she communicated with. “Mr. Tsujihara never promised me anything,” Kirk said in an earlier statement.


But the details of the leaked text messages between Tsujihara and Kirk immediately put his future at Warner Bros. in jeopardy. Kirk wrote in one 2015 message to him: “Are u going to help me like u said u would?” Tsujhara responded, “Richard will be reaching out to u tonight,” referring to Richard Brener, president of Warner Bros.’ New Line label.


Other exchanges suggested the kind of give-and-take of Hollywood’s “casting couch” culture. Kirk was introduced to Tsujihara by James Packer, the Australian billionaire. Warner Bros. was then finalizing a $450-million co-financing deal with Packer and Brett Ratner, the director-producer. In a message to Ratner, Kirk said she was “used as icing on the cake.”


WarnerMedia, the studio’s parent company, said Monday that its internal investigation into the situation, carried out by a third-party law firm, will continue.


Tsujihara’s exit follows other high-profile executive departures in the post-Harvey Weinstein (hash)MeToo era. CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves was pushed out after numerous women accused him of sexual harassment. Walt Disney Animation chief John Lasseter was ousted after he acknowledged missteps in his behavior with employees.


The 54-year-old Tsujihara, the first executive of Asian descent to head a major Hollywood studio, presided over a largely positive Warner Bros. era with little fanfare. A former home video and video game executive at the company, Tsujihara focused on franchise creation, some of which have worked, some of which haven’t.


After poor marks from fans and critics, the studio’s DC Comics films have recently been retooled and found their footing in hits like “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman.” Other franchises — like “The Lego Movie” and the “Harry Potter” spinoff “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” — have seen diminishing returns on their latest incarnations. The studio has also fostered its connection with filmmakers like Christopher Nolan (“Dunkirk”) and Bradley Cooper (whose “A Star Is Born” was Warner Bros.’ top Oscar contender). Warner Bros. last year amassed $5.6 billion in global ticket sales, its best haul ever.


The studio will now begin a search for a new chief as it also prepares to launch a streaming service designed to compete with Netflix.

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AP Source: Justice Dept. Probing Development of Boeing Jets

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U.S. prosecutors are looking into the development of Boeing’s 737 Max jets, a person briefed on the matter revealed Monday, the same day French aviation investigators concluded there were “clear similarities” in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 last week and a Lion Air jet in October.


The Justice Department probe will examine the way Boeing was regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the inquiry is not public.


A federal grand jury in Washington sent a subpoena to someone involved in the plane’s development seeking emails, messages and other communications, the person told The Associated Press.


The Transportation Department’s inspector general is also looking into the FAA’s approval of the Boeing 737 Max, a U.S. official told AP. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The Wall Street Journal reported on the probe Sunday said the inspector general was looking into the plane’s anti-stall system. It quotes unidentified people familiar with both cases.


The anti-stall system may have been involved in the Oct. 29 crash of a Lion Air jet off of Indonesia that killed 189 people. It’s also under scrutiny in the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet that killed 157.


The Transportation Department’s FAA regulates Chicago-based Boeing and is responsible for certifying that planes can fly safely.


The grand jury issued its subpoena on March 11, one day after the Ethiopian Airlines crash, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press.


Spokesmen for the Justice Department and the inspector general said Monday they could neither confirm nor deny the existence of any inquiries. The FAA would not comment.


“Boeing does not respond to or comment on questions concerning legal matters, whether internal, litigation, or governmental inquiries,” Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers said in an email.


The company late Monday issued an open letter from its CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, addressed to airlines, passengers and the aviation community. Muilenburg did not refer to the reports of the Justice Department probe, but stressed his company is taking actions to ensure its 737 Max jets are safe.


Those include an upcoming release of a software update and related pilot training for the 737 Max to “address concerns” that arose in the aftermath of October’s Lion Air crash, Muilenburg said. The planes’ new flight-control software is suspected of playing a role in the crashes.

The French civil aviation investigation bureau BEA said Monday that black box data from the Ethiopian Airlines flight showed the links with the Lion Air crash and will be used for further study.


Ethiopian authorities asked BEA for help in extracting and interpreting the crashed plane’s black boxes because Ethiopia does not have the necessary expertise and technology.

The Ethiopian Accident Investigation Bureau intends to release a preliminary report within 30 days.

The United States and many other countries have grounded the Max 8s and larger Max 9s as Boeing faces the challenge of proving the jets are safe to fly amid suspicions that faulty sensors and software contributed to the two crashes in less than five months.


Both planes flew with erratic altitude changes that could indicate the pilots struggled to control the aircraft. Shortly after their takeoffs, both crews tried to return to the airports but crashed.


Boeing has said it has “full confidence” in the planes’ safety. Engineers are making changes to the system designed to prevent an aerodynamic stall if sensors detect that the jet’s nose is pointed too high and its speed is too slow.


Investigators looking into the Indonesian crash are examining whether the software automatically pushed the plane’s nose down repeatedly, and whether the Lion Air pilots knew how to solve that problem. Ethiopian Airlines says its pilots received special training on the software.

Dennis Tajer, an American Airlines pilot and a spokesman for their union, said Boeing held a discussion with airlines last Thursday but did not invite pilots at American or Southwest, the two U.S. carriers that use the same version of the Max that crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia.


Tajer said airline officials told the unions that Boeing intends to offer pilots about a 15-minute iPad course to train them on the new flight-control software on Max jets that is suspected of playing a role in the crashes. He called that amount of training unacceptable.


“Our sense is it’s a rush to comply — ‘let’s go, let’s go, let’s go,'” Tajer said. “I’m in a rush to protect my passengers.”


A spokesman for the pilots’ union at Southwest Airlines also said Boeing representatives told that union they expected the upgrade to be ready the end of January.


The spokesman, Mike Trevino, said Boeing never followed up to explain why that deadline passed without an upgrade. Boeing was expected to submit a proposed fix to the FAA in early January.




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Brexit in Crisis as PM May Plots Course Around Speaker’s Obstruction

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Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans were in disarray on Tuesday as her government sought to plot a way around the  speaker of parliament’s ruling that she had to change her twice-defeated divorce deal to put it to a third vote.

After two-and-a-half years of negotiations, Britain’s departure from the European Union remains uncertain – with options including a long postponement, leaving with May’s deal, an economically disruptive exit without a deal, or even another membership referendum.

Speaker John Bercow blindsided May’s office on Monday by ruling the government could not put the same Brexit deal to another vote in parliament unless it was substantially different to the ones defeated on Jan. 15 and March 12.

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said the ruling meant a vote this week on May’s deal was more unlikely but said ministers were studying a way out of the impasse and indicated the government still planned a third vote on May’s deal.

“This is a moment of crisis for our country,” Barclay said.

“The ruling from the speaker has raised the bar and I think that makes it more unlikely the vote will be this week.”

“We always said that in terms of bringing a vote back for a third time we would need to see a shift from parliamentarians in terms of the support – I think that still is the case.”

May is due at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday at which she will ask for a delay to the March 29 Brexit departure set in law as the British government tries to come up with a way to leave the European Union after 46 years of membership.

EU leaders could hold off making a final decision at that summit on any Brexit delay depending on what exactly May asks them for, senior diplomats in the bloc said.

“Now it looks like we have to wait till the week after the council to find out what happens,” one diplomat said.

Speaker’s spanner

Bercow said his ruling, based on a convention dating back to 1604, should not be considered his last word and the government could bring forward a new proposition that was not the same as those already voted upon.

Because May must now spice any deal with additional legal and procedural innovation, Bercow’s ruling means she is likely to get just one more chance to put the deal to a vote.

Barclay, who last week said Britain should be unafraid of a no-deal exit, indicated the government was looking at different options and that circumstances, such an extension or a shift in support, would indicate a change in context.

“The speaker himself has pointed to possible solutions, he himself has said in earlier rulings we should not be bound by precedent,” Barclay said. “You can have the same motion but where the circumstances have changed.”

“The speaker himself has said that where the will of the House is for a certain course of action, then it is important that the will of the House is respected.”

Third vote?

Even before Bercow’s intervention, May was scrambling to rally support for her deal – which keeps close trading ties with the EU while leaving the bloc’s formal structures – after it was defeated by 230 votes in parliament on Jan. 15, and by 149 votes on March 12.

To get her deal through parliament, May must win over at least 75 lawmakers – dozens of rebels in her own Conservative Party, some Labour lawmakers, and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up her minority government.

The biggest issue is the so-called Northern Irish border backstop, an insurance policy aimed at avoiding post-Brexit controls on the United Kingdom’s border with EU-member Ireland.

Many Brexiteers and the DUP are concerned the backstop will trap the United Kingdom in the EU’s orbit indefinitely, and have sought guarantees it will not.

The Financial Times said May had been told by senior colleagues she will have to set a timetable for her departure if she is to persuading many rebels to support her deal.

Barclay ruled out May asking Queen Elizabeth to cut short the entire parliamentary session, known as prorogation, saying involving the 92-year-old monarch in Brexit was a bad idea.

“The one thing everyone would agree on is that involving Her Majesty in any of the issues around Brexit is not the way forward, so I don’t see that a realistic option,” he said.

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Dutch Authorities Search For Motive in Tram Shooting

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Authorities in the Netherlands worked Tuesday to determine the motive behind a shooting on a tram that left three people dead and five others wounded in the city of Utrecht.

​Police arrested a suspect identified as 37-year-old Turkish-born Gokmen Tanis hours after a manhunt that lasted several hours Monday.

By Tuesday they said no direct link had been found between the suspect and the shooting victims.

In addition to the main suspect, two other people have been detained, but authorities have not detailed their possible roles in the attack.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Monday a terror attack “could not be excluded,” while the Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that relatives of Tanis in Turkey said the shooting could have been part of a family dispute.

A Dutch regional prosecutor said the suspect had previously been arrested in the Netherlands, but did not give further details.

Security has been increased at Dutch airports, as well as mosques. Schools in Utrecht have been closed, and residents were advised to stay home.

Political parties suspended campaigning for provincial elections scheduled for Wednesday that will also determine the makeup of the Dutch senate.

Utrecht is the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands, known for its canals and large student population. Gun violence in the city is rare, as it is across the Netherlands.


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NATO to Receive First Northrop Surveillance Drone, Years Late

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NATO is to receive the first of five Northrop Grumman high-altitude drones in the third quarter after years of delays, giving the alliance its own spy drones for the first time, the German government told lawmakers.

Thomas Silberhorn, state secretary in the German Defense Ministry, said the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) drone would be delivered to an air base in Sigonella, Italy, followed by four additional systems, including drones and ground stations built by Airbus, later in the year.

NATO plans to use the aircraft, a derivative of Northrop’s Global Hawk drone, to carry out missions ranging from protection of ground troops to border control and counter-terrorism. The drones will be able to fly for up to 30 hours at a time in all weather, providing near real-time surveillance data.

Northrop first won the contract for the AGS system from NATO in May, 2012, with delivery of the first aircraft slated for 52 months later. However, technical issues and flight test delays have delayed the program, Silberhorn said.

Andrej Hunko, a member of the radical Left opposition party, called for Germany to scrap its participation in the program, warning of spiraling costs and the risk that it could escalate the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

“The drones are closely linked to a new form of warfare,” he said. “They stand for an arms race that will see existing surveillance and spy systems replaced with new platforms.”

Silberhorn, in a previously unreported response to a parliamentary query from Hunko, said NATO had capped the cost of the program at 1.3 billion euros ($1.47 billion) in 2007.

Germany, which is funding about a third of system, scrapped plans to buy its own Global Hawk drones amid spiraling costs and certification problems, and is now negotiating with Northrop to buy several of its newer model Triton surveillance drones.

Fifteen NATO countries, led by the United States, will pay for the AGS system, but all 29 alliance nations are due to participate in its long-term support.

Germany has sent 76 soldiers to Sigonella to operate the surveillance system and analyze its findings, Silberhorn said.

He said a total of 132 German soldiers would eventually be assigned to AGS, of whom 122 would be stationed in Sigonella.

NATO officials had no immediate comment on the program’s status or whether Northrop faced penalties for the delayed delivery.

No comment was available from Northrop.

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Brazilian Court Suspends Operations at 2 More Vale Dams

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A Brazilian court has ordered Vale SA, the world’s largest iron ore miner, to suspend operations at two more dams, demanding that it prove the structures are stable.

The court decision dated Friday is the latest in a series of orders forcing Vale to halt operations at various dams that contain the muddy detritus of mining operations after one such barrier collapsed in January, killing some 300 people.

Vale has faced growing pressure to prove that its remaining dams are safe. The fatal disaster in the town of Brumadinho was the second of its kind in four years.

The company’s iron ore production is expected to be 82.8 million tons, or 21 percent, lower than was planned for the year due to the restrictions on its Brazil operations, including the planned decommissioning of all its upstream dams, according to data compiled by Reuters.

Karel Luketic, analyst for steel, iron ore and pulp at XP Investimentos, said on Monday he does not expect the impact on Vale’s earnings to be as large because iron ore prices are rising, which could compensate for lower volumes.

The miner said in a statement that the latest suspension, impacting its Minervino and Cordao Nova Vista dams, will not have a significant impact on its operations. It said that mining waste was already being shipped to “other structures,” which it did not identify.

Vale said on Friday it had received a court order to suspend activities at Ouro Preto dam.

Vale shares closed slightly lower in Sao Paulo, losing 0.18 percent to 50.46 reais, in contrast to a rally in rival miners Rio Tinto and BHP.

The company’s shares fell on the same day the Sao Paulo exchange’s main index reached 100,000 for the first time.

The restrictions to Vale operations in Brazil seem to have impacted shipments, something that was not clear in the first weeks after the disaster in Brumadinho.

According to trade ministry data released on Monday, Brazil’s iron ore shipments for the first two weeks of March were 1.29 million tonnes per day on average.

Shipments in February averaged 1.44 million tons per day while in March 2018 they averaged 1.42 million tons.