Tag Archives: agency

The Latest: California fire agency requests more money

The Latest: California fire agency requests more moneyREDDING, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on wildfires burning in California (all times local):



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Hole in International Space Station was drilled deliberately, says Russian space agency

Hole in International Space Station was drilled deliberately, says Russian space agencyThe hole discovered in the International Space Station (ISS) was drilled deliberately, the Russian space agency has said. Last week mission controllers in Houston and Moscow noticed a drop in pressure on the station and astronauts discovered a hole in a Russian domestic module. Although the leak was small enough to be fixed by the crew, if it had not been spotted the astronauts would have run out of air in 18 days. Space debris or a micro-meteorite was initially blamed for the damage, but new pictures show the hole had been deliberately drilled and the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos and module manufacturer RSC Energia have launched an investigation to find the culprit. And one Russian politician and former cosmonaut has even claimed it could have been carried out by a homesick astronaut. Speaking to Russia’s International News Agency RIA Novosti, Maxim Suraev said on-board sabotage by a mentally unstable crew member could not be ruled out. “All of us are living people, everyone can want to go home, but this way is completely unworthy,” he said. The hole found in the ISS had been drilled  Credit: Nasa Mr Suraev also said that the ISS had a drill on board capable of making the hole.   Although Roscosmos said they were not accusing any of the crew, they said they had not ruled out that hole was drilled deliberately in space. They are also investigating whether it was an error made on the ground which was then patched up and was only noticed when the plug failed. Dmitry Rogozin, Head of Roscosmos, said: “Where were these actions taken – on Earth or already in orbit? “The version of the meteorite has already been swept away, but there was an obvious impact on the shelling of the ship from the inside, but to say more it is really too early. “It's up to RSC Energia to find out who did it, what is it: an error or intentional actions? I would like to know the name (of the culprit) and we will know.” When the leak was detected last week European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst initially plugged it with his finger, before the crew made an improvised patch using a rubber plug made from bin-bag seals, duct tape, gauze from the medical kit and vacuum proof sealant. The hole was sealed and a Russian Progress cargo ship docked at the ISS and Moscow is recommending using oxygen from its tanks to repressurise the station. As well as Gerst there are four other astronauts on board, Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel  and Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, and Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. Nasa has yet to comment on the investigation.



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Israel welcomes end of US funding for UN Palestinian refugee agency

Israel welcomes end of US funding for UN Palestinian refugee agencyIsrael welcomed Saturday a US decision to end funding for the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), accusing the organisation which supports some five million Palestinians of perpetuating the Middle East conflict. Israel and the United States have accused the nearly 70-year-old agency of maintaining the idea that many Palestinians are refugees with a right to return to the homes from which they fled or were expelled during the 1948 war that accompanied Israel’s creation, an idea they both oppose.



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US ends funding for UN Palestinian refugee agency

US ends funding for UN Palestinian refugee agencyThe United States announced it was halting funding for the United Nations’ agency for Palestinian refugees Friday after declaring the organization was “irredeemably flawed. Washington has long been the UN Relief and Works Agency’s (UNRWA) largest donor but is “no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. Nauert said there would be no additional contributions beyond a $ 60 million dollar payment made in January, drawing condemnation from both the Palestinians and UNRWA.



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Palestinians condemn US ending funding for UN refugee agency

Palestinians condemn US ending funding for UN refugee agencyJERUSALEM (AP) — The Palestinians on Saturday condemned the U.S. decision to end its decades of funding for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, calling it an attack on the Palestinian people and accusing the Trump administration of trying to remove sensitive core issues from the negotiating table as it says it is preparing a Mideast peace initiative.



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U.S. halts funding to U.N. agency helping Palestinian refugees

U.S. halts funding to U.N. agency helping Palestinian refugeesA spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the decision as “a flagrant assault against the Palestinian people and a defiance of U.N. resolutions.” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the business model and fiscal practices of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) were an “irredeemably flawed operation.” “The administration has carefully reviewed the issue and determined that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNRWA,” she said in a statement. UNRWA did not immediately comment on the U.S. decision.



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Palestinian refugees angry and dismayed at U.S. for halting funds to U.N. agency

Palestinian refugees angry and dismayed at U.S. for halting funds to U.N. agencyThe U.S. announcement on Friday that it will no longer support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has deepened a cash crisis at the agency, and heightened tensions with the Palestinian leadership. Most are descendants of the roughly 700,000 Palestinians who were driven out of their homes or fled the fighting in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation.



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EU urges US to reconsider 'regrettable' decision on UN Palestinian agency

EU urges US to reconsider 'regrettable' decision on UN Palestinian agencyThe European Union on Saturday urged the United States to reconsider “its regrettable decision” to halt funding for the United Nations relief and works agency for Palestinian refugees. The EU stressed the importance of continued international support for UNWRA which runs schools for hundreds of Palestinian children across the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. “The regrettable decision of the US to no longer be part of this international and multilateral effort leaves a substantial gap,” a spokesperson for the EU’s diplomatic service said in a statement.



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US will 'cut all funds to UN agency for Palestinian refugees'

US will 'cut all funds to UN agency for Palestinian refugees'The US is reportedly preparing to slash all funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, prompting outrage from Palestinians and warnings that the move could spark unrest in region.   The Trump administration is expected to announce in coming weeks that it is ending all aid for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which supports Palestinian refugees in the occupied West Bank and Gaza as well as neighbouring countries. The US is the single largest donor to UNRWA, giving around $ 350 million (£254 million) per year, and the cuts may force the agency to pare back education and medical services for 5 million Palestinians.  The White House is also expected to announce that it is abandoning the traditional definition of a Palestinian refugee and will only recognise around 500,000 Palestinians as having actual refugee status.  Taken together, the moves would represent a dramatic shift in US policy on one of the most sensitive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The changes closely align with the goals of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to close down UNRWA and take the question of refugees off the negotiating table in future peace talks with Palestinians.    Benjamin Netanyahu believes UNRWA sets back the peace process Credit: Ronen Zvulun/Pool via AP The Palestinian Authority warned that destabilising UNRWA would “create unimaginable suffering and would destabilise the entire region”.    UNRWA was created in 1949 to support the 750,000 Palestinians displaced from their homes in what is today Israel by the fighting between Jewish and Arab forces. The displaced people settled in refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.  The agency recognises the descendants of the original 750,000 as also being refugees, meaning their current number stands at more than 5 million.  Palestinians insist the refugees have “the right of return” and must be allowed to go back to their pre-1948 lands under any peace deal. Israel has always opposed this because a large-scale return would drastically shift Israel’s demographic make up.  Mr Netanyahu argues the refugees are used as a political pawn by Arab leaders, who have encouraged them to hold on to false hopes of one day returning to Israel. He believes UNRWA perpetuates this idea and therefore makes the conflict harder to solve.  Jared Kushner (right) also favours "disrupting" UNRWA Credit: Photo by Israel Press Office /Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Leaked emails from Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law and point man on Israel-Palestinian issues, show a similar thinking. “This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace,” Mr Kushner wrote, according to emails published by Foreign Policy. The US announced an initial cut to UNRWA funding earlier this year and the agency has already begun laying off some staff. Crowds stormed an UNRWA compound in Gaza in protest at the cuts.  Former US and Israeli officials have warned that bigger cuts will weaken both the Palestinian Authority and the government of Jordan, which relies on UNRWA to give services to 2 million Palestinians living in its territory.  Israel has close security cooperation with both Jordan and the Palestinians and the prospect of either collapsing is a major concern for Israel’s military.   Peter Lerner, a retired Israeli officer who served as the army’s spokesman, warned that “hardballing the Palestinians into submission is likely to blow up on Israel’s doorstep”.   Ex-Israeli officials have warned that instability could benefit Hamas and other militant groups Credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa “Will this doctrine bring peace, or will more, and potentially escalated, violence prevail? After all, in our region, poverty has been a breeding ground for radical recruitment, violence, and terrorism,” he wrote in an article for Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper. European governments have signaled they will boost funding for UNRWA to make up some of the shortfall and the agency also hopes to extract more money from Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Arab governments. 



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The agency created to protect elections is broken

The agency created to protect elections is brokenThe mission of the Election Assistance Commission — the nation’s first federal agency created to oversee elections at every level of government — has never been clear, and more than 15 years later, critics say the agency has succumbed to the whims of partisan operatives.



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