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EU Blames Kosovo for Failing to Ease Spat Amid Tensions

(Bloomberg) -- Kosovo rejected a European Union proposal to ease tensions with neighbor Serbia in what the bloc’s foreign policy chief warned was a step that could stoke an already-tense standoff between the former wartime foes.
While Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic agreed to a proposal at an emergency meeting aimed at resolving a dispute over government-issued documents, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti refused, according to Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat.
“Both bear full responsibility for the failure of the talks today and for any escalation and violence that might occur on the ground,” Borrell said on Monday.
The failure to defuse tensions underscore persistent animosity between the two sides. Kosovo broke away from Serbia following a war in 1998-1999 and declared independence in 2008.
The EU has been encouraging the countries to normalize ties — saying it will be a requirement to join the world’s largest trading bloc — but years of talks have yielded few results.
The dispute centers around a demand from Kosovo that ethnic Serbs in the Albanian-majority nation replace their identity documents and license plates issued by Belgrade with new versions from Pristina.
Serbia also rejected part of the proposal, Jeton Zulfaj, an adviser to Kosovo’s premier, said on Twitter late Monday.
The change in documents would effectively recognize Pristina as the rightful government of Kosovo — a premise rejected by Vucic, a majority of Serbs, and ethnic Serbs living in Kosovo who remain loyal to Belgrade. Kosovo has repeatedly postponed a deadline for compliance, which is now set to expire at midnight on Monday.
In October, Kosovo Serbs threatened to set up blockades if the government in Pristina pushes ahead with the controversial plan. And earlier this month, hundreds of Serbs in northern Kosovo quit their jobs as police officers, judges and other positions in state institutions in protest.
The EU proposal centered around Kosovo not punishing ethnic Serbs who haven’t switched license plates, and an agreement by Serbia to stop issuing them for places inside Kosovo.
Even though it wasn’t accepted, Borrell said that he now expected Kosovo and Serbia to immediately implement the points of the proposal.
He also said he would inform EU member states about both countries’ behavior in the talks “and the lack of respect for legal obligations,” noting that would particularly apply to Kosovo.
Borrell also said that the resignations of around 600 ethnic-Serb police in Kosovo meant that there were fewer than 50 law-enforcement personnel working in northern Kosovo.
“This ...

Musk Fires More Twitter Sales Workers After ‘Hardcore’ Purge

(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk laid off more Twitter Inc. workers from the sales side of the social network’s business beginning late on Sunday, further trimming a staff that had already been decimated by cuts and resignations.
Last week, Musk had asked workers to commit to his more “hardcore” version of the company or leave. Sales employees signed on to his vision in greater numbers than workers on the technical side, which saw mass resignations, according to people familiar with the matter. Musk is using the cuts to balance out the remaining staff, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal decisions.
Some of those who were fired started to receive notice on Sunday, according to two people familiar with the matter, though it’s unclear how many will be impacted in the current round. Platformer earlier reported the news.
Twitter’s sales organization held an all-hands meeting on Sunday with Musk and the new head of sales, Chris Riedy, two people said. Many employees showed up expecting some announcement about cuts, after Bloomberg reported Saturday that more were coming. Instead, Musk used the time to talk about ongoing updates, including his decision to reinstate the account of former US President Donald Trump, one of the people said. He also explained that the company needed to make ads more targeted to particular users, according to another person familiar with the remarks. There was no mention of layoffs during the meeting.
Employees who were cut received notice via emails entitled: “Your Role at Twitter.”
“After further review of our workforce, we have identified roles within our organizational structure that are no longer necessary,” the note reads, according to a copy seen by Bloomberg. “Today is your last working day at the company.” The note, which goes on to explain that details on severance and returning company property is coming later, is signed, “Twitter.”
An internal counter of employees currently reads 2,750, one person said, though some resignations and cuts may still be in the process of being counted. Twitter had more than 7,000 employees before Musk took over in late October.

Indonesia quake kills more than 50, wounds hundreds, destroys homes

JAKARTA, Nov 21 (Reuters) - A 5.6-magnitude earthquake killed more than 50 people and wounded hundreds in Indonesia's West Java province on Monday, with rescuers trying to reach survivors trapped under the rubble as aftershocks hit.
West Java GovernorRidwan Kamil confirmed 56 deaths from the quake, whose epicentre was the town of Cianjur, about 75 km (45 miles) southeast of the capital, Jakarta.
The national disaster agency (BNPB), whose data lagged behind local officials on the ground on Monday, told a news conference up to 700 people had been injured and more than 300 homes damaged or destroyed.
Electricity was down in the area and disrupting communications efforts, Herman Suherman, a government official from Cianjur, said, adding that people in the area of Cugenang were unable to be evacuated because of a landslide blocking access.
Footage from news channel Metro TV showed what appeared to be hundreds of victims being treated in one hospital parking lot and some buildings in Cianjur reduced almost entirely to rubble as worried residents huddled outside.
Other TV channels showed victims hooked up to intravenous drips and being treated on the sidewalk.
Officials were still working to determine the full extent of the damage caused by Monday’s quake, which struck on land in Cianjur at a depth of 10 km, according to the weather and geophysics agency (BMKG).
Muchlis, who was in Cianjur when the quake hit, said he felt “a huge tremor” and the walls and ceiling of his office building were damaged.
“I was very shocked. I worried there would be another quake,” Muchlis told Metro TV, adding that people ran out of their houses, some fainting and vomiting in response.
In less than two hours after the quake, 25 aftershocks had been recorded, BMKG said, adding there were concerns about the potential for more landslides in the event of heavy rain.
In Jakarta, some people evacuated offices in the central business district, while others reported feeling buildings shake and seeing furniture move, Reuters witnesses said.
Indonesia straddles the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire”, a highly seismically active zone, where different plates on the earth’s crust meet and create a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.
In 2004, a 9.1 magnitude quake off Sumatra island in northern Indonesia triggered a tsunami that struck 14 countries, killing 226,000 people along the Indian Ocean coastline, more than half of them in Indonesia.
(Reporting by Ananda Teresia, Gayatri SuroyoWriting by Ed Davies and Kate Lamb; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor, ...

New Zealand court rules voting age of 18 is discriminatory

WELLINGTON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - New Zealand's highest court ruled on Monday that the country's current voting age of 18 was discriminatory, forcing parliament to discuss whether it should be lowered.
The case, which has been going through the courts since 2020, was bought by advocacy group Make It 16, which wants the age lowered to include 16 and 17 year olds.
The Supreme Court found that the current voting age of 18 was inconsistent with the country’s Bill of Rights, which gives people a right to be free from age discrimination when they have reached 16.
The decision triggers a process in which the issue must come before parliament for discussion and be reviewed by a parliamentary select committee. But it does not force parliament to change the voting age.
“This is history,” said Make It 16 co-director Caeden Tipler, adding: “The government and parliament cannot ignore such a clear legal and moral message. They must let us vote.”
The group says on its website there is insufficient justification to stop 16 year olds from voting when they can drive, work full time and pay tax.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government would draft legislation to reduce the age to 16, which could then be put to a vote in parliament.
“I personally support a decrease in the voting age but it is not a matter simply for me or even the government, any change in electoral law of this nature requires 75% of parliamentarian support,” she said.
Political parties have mixed views on the subject. The Green Party wants immediate action to lower the voting age to 16, but the largest opposition party, the National party, does not support the shift.
“Obviously, we’ve got to draw a line somewhere,” said National party leader Christopher Luxon. “We’re comfortable with the line being 18. Lots of different countries have different places where the line’s drawn and from our point of view, 18’s just fine.”
By Lucy Craymer
(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Bradley Perrett & Shri Navaratnam)

A Breakthrough on climate compensation and 7 other takeaways from COP27

(Bloomberg) -- They got there in the end. After dawn on Sunday morning in Egypt, bleary-eyed ministers adopted a final agreement for COP27 and completed more than two weeks of UN climate negotiations in the Sinai peninsula.
The deal included a historic provision to set up a fund to help poorer countries face the harm caused by climate change, and that outcome was understandably celebrated by nations on the front line of a warming world. “A mission 30 years in the making has been accomplished,” said Molwyn Joseph, the minister from Antigua and Barbuda and chair of the AOSIS group of small island nations.
But beyond loss and damage — the COP-world term for paying up for climate catastrophes — the final deal was a clear disappointment for those wanting to ratchet up the ambitions of last year’s Glasgow agreement. The statement didn’t include a commitment to broaden the pledge to phase down unabated coal emissions to cover all fossil fuels, and there was no reference to global greenhouse gas emissions peaking by 2025.
The endgame was clearly tough for the European Commission climate chief Frans Timmermans, who had taken center stage at the summit, proposing a grand bargain on loss and damage in exchange for more emissions ambition and then threatening a late walkout by the European Union.
In the end, the EU and its allies had to settle for some technical changes to the so-called work program on mitigation. Now that the books have closed on COP27, here’s a look at eight key takeaways from two weeks of climate talks involving nearly 200 countries.
1. A new fund for loss and damage
Climate change causes inequities and exacerbates them. The rich countries gained their wealth from fossil fuels, leaving poor countries who haven’t benefited from those emissions with huge bills from the resulting climate impacts. After decades of calls to compensate climate victims in the developing world, COP27 finally produced an agreement to create a fund that would address loss and damage.
But this breakthrough comes with enormous question marks. No sums of money were actually committed at Sharm El-Sheikh, and the rules of how the fund would work were left to be decided at next year’s COP28 in the United Arab Emirates. Henry Kokofu, Ghanaian politician and head of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, warned that without further concrete steps there is a risk of simply creating “an empty bank account.”
2. Possible changes coming to ...

England to take knee, Kane to wear One Love armband against Iran

DOHA, Nov 20 (Reuters) - England will take the knee and captain Harry Kane will wear the One Love armband at their opening match of the World Cup against Iran on Monday, manager Gareth Southgate confirmed on Sunday.
By Martyn Herman
England have knelt before games since 2020, initially in solidarity with protests over George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer and then in support of equality.
The gesture is no longer a feature before kickoffs in the Premier League, where it is selectively used, but Southgate believes it is important his team continue it at the World Cup.
“It’s what we stand for as a team and have done for a long period of time,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“We feel this is the biggest (stage) and we think it’s a strong statement that will go around the world for young people, in particular, to see that inclusivity is very important.”
Kane, along with the captains of the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales, will wear the One Love armband on Monday.
The armband represents support for equality and while it is not solely aimed at the rights of the LGBTQ community it is significant in Qatar where homosexuality is illegal.
World soccer’s governing body FIFA takes a dim view of political statements and according to reports could punish those wearing the One Love armband with fines or disciplinary action.
Kane, however, said he would wear one.
“We’ve made it clear as a team, the staff and an organisation that we want to wear the armband,” Kane said. “The FA are talking to FIFA at the moment and I’m sure by game time tomorrow we would have had their decision.”
Southgate has become used to dealing with social issues in his time as England manager and Sunday’s media conference again went beyond the field of play.
The former defender was asked, in a question from an Iranian reporter lasting several minutes, whether he supported those protesting against the Iranian regime, a cause supported by some of Iran’s players.
“I don’t feel informed enough to comment on what’s going on in Iran, and I don’t think it’s really my place to comment on it either,” Southgate said.
“I think the Iranian players and manager (Carlos Queiroz), I understand them, they are in a difficult position but I think they’re better informed to speak about those things.
“If we were asked by their team to support them ...

Colorado clubgoers stop shooter who killed five in gay nightspot

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Nov 20 (Reuters) - "Heroic" clubgoers fought and stopped a gunman shortly after he opened fire inside a LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, killing at least five people and injuring 18 others, police said on Sunday.
By Kevin Mohatt and Maria Caspani
Police identified the suspect as Anderson Lee Aldrich, a 22-year-old man, who shot at patrons with a long rifle, a powerful weapon that can inflict devastating wounds. He was taken into police custody shortly after the shooting began and was being treated for injuries, according to officials.
Club Q, which describes itself as an adult-oriented gay and lesbian nightclub, called Saturday night’s events a “hate attack” in a statement on its Facebook page. Authorities said they were investigating whether the attack was motivated by hate.
Two firearms were found at Club Q, Colorado Springs Police Department Chief Adrian Vasquez said in a news conference on Sunday.
“Club Q is a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens,” he said. “I’m so terribly saddened and heartbroken.”
Joshua Thurman choked up as he told reporters on Sunday that he was dancing in the club when he first heard the gunshots. He sought refuge in a dressing room and locked himself inside with other people, praying for his life and thinking about his loved ones.
“It’s supposed to be our safe place. A community shouldn’t have to go through something like this for us to come together,” Thurman told local media, adding that one of his friends was killed in the shooting.
“We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement. “We cannot and must not tolerate hate.”
Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who in 2018 became the first openly gay man in the country to be elected as a governor, commended the “brave individuals who blocked the gunman” in a statement released on Twitter in which he called the shooting “horrific, sickening, and devastating.”
Several of the injured were in critical condition and being treated at local hospitals, authorities said.
Police said the initial phone call about the shooting came in just before midnight, and that the suspect was apprehended within minutes.
Images of the scene after the shooting showed security and emergency vehicles with flashing blinkers parked on a street near the venue.
By 4 a.m. local time (1100 GMT), police had taped off the area around the club, which is located in a strip mall on the outskirts ...

Ukraine energy supply under persistent Russian attack, heavy fighting in east

KYIV/KHERSON, Ukraine, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Russian forces kept up a barrage of shell and missile attacks on various regions of Ukraine, many hitting power infrastructure, while heavy fighting persisted in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in the east of the country.
As the winter’s first snow fell in Kyiv, authorities said they were working to restore power nationwide after Russia earlier this week unleashed what Ukraine said was the heaviest bombardment of civilian infrastructure of the war, which began on Feb. 24 when Russia invaded its neighbour.
About 10 million people are without power, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a Thursday evening video address, in a country with a pre-war population of about 44 million. Authorities in some places ordered forced emergency blackouts, Zelenskiy said.
Ukraine’s energy infrastructure came under renewed heavy attack on Thursday, from the capital Kyiv in the north to Dnipro in central Ukraine and Odesa in the south, the military said in a statement.
Ukrainian forces in the past 24 hours downed two cruise missiles, five air-launched missiles and five Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones, the military said. Reuters was unable to verify battlefield reports.
Pope Francis reiterated on Friday the Vatican was ready to do anything possible to mediate and put an end to the conflict.
“We must all be pacifists,” he told Italian daily La Stampa. “Wanting peace, not just a truce that may only serve to rearm. Real peace, which is the fruit of dialogue.”
In Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Russian forces have been reinforced by troops pulled from Kherson city in the south which Ukraine recaptured last week.
Investigators in recaptured territory in the Kherson area uncovered 63 bodies bearing signs of torture after Russian forces left, Ukraine’s interior minister was quoted as saying.
The Ukrainian parliament’s human rights commissioner, Dmytro Lubinets, released a video of what he said was a torture chamber used by Russian forces in the Kherson region, including a small room in which he said up to 25 people were kept at a time.
Reuters was unable to verify the allegations – which included the use of electric shocks to secure confessions – made by Lubinets and others in the video. Russia denies its troops deliberately attack civilians or have committed atrocities.
Mass burial sites have been found in other parts previously occupied by Russian troops, including some with civilian bodies showing signs of torture.
The central square of Kherson city was a frenetic melee of humanitarian aid queues and ...

Three men found guilty of downing flight MH17; Black Sea grain deal to be extended for 120 days

Two Russians and a Ukrainian were found guilty by a Dutch court of carrying out an attack on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014 that led to the deaths of all 298 people on board.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said officials would travel to the site of a missile blast in eastern Poland that put his country’s air defences under the spotlight as Kyiv’s allies face growing pressure to deliver more air defence weapons.
Wheat, maize and soybean oil extended losses after Zelensky’s infrastructure minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, said a Black Sea grain-export deal would be prolonged by 120 days. He called the move “another important step in the global fight against the food crisis”.
Key developments
Grains extend losses as Ukraine says Black Sea deal to continue
Zelensky softens stance on rocket origin after Biden comment
No peace until Ukraine gets Crimea, Donbas back, says Zelensky
Polish blast puts focus on Ukraine’s need for stronger air defence
Repair crews dodge bullets, splice cable to keep Ukraine online
On the ground
The city of Odesa was attacked with Kalibr missiles from the Black Sea by Russian ships, which are currently on combat duty there, southern command spokeswoman Nataliya Humeniuk said on television. The Russian air force was also used. “Su-30 planes directed six missiles at Odesa in the morning, all of them were downed by Ukrainian air defence over the Black Sea,” she said. Russia has launched a total of 148 missiles and 26 drones against Ukraine since 11 November, General Staff spokesman Oleksii Hromov said at a briefing.
Ukraine’s 2023 crop yields ‘likely to fall by up to 25%’
Yields of crops being planted for harvest in 2023 are likely to fall 20%-25% year on year as farmers face difficulties buying enough fertiliser, according to the chief operating officer of one of Ukraine’s largest farming companies. Many farmers are now avoiding purchases of Russian fertiliser because of the war, UkrLandFarming chief operating officer Galyna Kovtok said in an interview.
Trio found guilty of downing flight MH17 over Ukraine
Judges in The Hague ruled that Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Ukraine national Leonid Kharchenko caused the 17 July 2014 attack, while a fourth defendant was acquitted. Though the three convicted men were sentenced to life in prison, none is likely to face jail any time soon.
The Dutch government has held Russia liable for the incident after a five-country investigation team concluded that a BUK missile that downed the plane belonged to Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile ...

North Korea fires missile after warning US of ‘Fierce’ move

(Bloomberg) -- North Korea fired a suspected ballistic missile Thursday toward waters off its east coast after issuing a warning to the US of a ‘fierce’ move if it persists in conducting joint military drills with allies in the region.
North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile at around 10:48 a.m. from Kangwon province, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said. It was its first missile test in about a week and adds to the record of more than 60 ballistic missiles fired this year — in defiance of United Nations resolutions barring Pyongyang from such launches.
The test came shortly after Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui issued a statement saying Pyongyang will respond militarily if the US keeps working with its allies on joint exercises, including those to deter North Korea.
“The keener the US is on the ‘bolstered offer of extended deterrence’ to its allies and the more they intensify provocative and bluffing military activities on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, the fiercer the DPRK’s military counteraction will be,” she said in a statement issued by state media, referring to North Korea by its formal name.
North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile, Adding to Barrage
Leader Kim Jong Un has ratcheted up tensions to some of the highest levels in years by firing off a massive barrage of missiles in recent weeks that included the first one shot across a nautical border with South Korea set up after the Korean War.
Kim is finding space to ramp up provocations and conduct tit-for-tat military moves against the US and its allies as the Biden administration focuses on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and China, two long-time partners of North Korea, have veto power at the UN Security Council and have shown no intent to punish Kim with extra sanctions.
North Korea has bristled for decades at joint military exercises, calling them a prelude to an invasion. The US, Japan and South Korea have all warned that Kim’s regime seems to be ready to turn tensions even higher with its first test of a nuclear bomb in about five years.

GOP Retakes US House by Slim Margin in Washington Power Shift

(Bloomberg) -- Republicans won a narrow House majority that gives them the power to halt President Joe Biden’s agenda, yet their slim margin marked a letdown for a party that had counted on decisive election results as a springboard for the 2024 presidential race.
More than a week after Election Day, the party finally gained the minimum 218 seats needed to control the chamber, the Associated Press reported Wednesday night, when incumbent GOP Representative Mike Garcia defeated Democrat Christy Smith in California. Roughly a half-dozen races still remain undecided.
Despite concerns about Biden’s handling of the economy and the prospects of a recession, voters delivered a split verdict over who was to blame and how much weight to put on issues such as abortion rights and election deniers’ threats to democracy. While giving control of the House to the GOP, they kept the Senate in the hands of Democrats.
Slender as it is, the House majority hands Republicans control of committees with subpoena authority, allowing them to make good on campaign pledges to investigate Biden’s administration and family, as well as social-media companies that conservatives claim are biased against them.
Republicans also have promised to slash government spending, expand fossil fuel production and extend Trump-era tax cuts on the wealthy. Much of that agenda, however, will be left to wither in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
For businesses, the return of Republicans to control of the House takes the possibility of corporate tax increases favored by Democrats off the table while diminishing the changes of workforce-boosting reforms to legal immigration. But markets may become turbulent in the middle of next year if Republicans carry through on threats to hold the nation’s debt ceiling hostage to force the president to accept spending cuts.
Biden, on his way back to Washington from the G-20 summit in Indonesia, said he would work with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy. “I congratulate Leader McCarthy on Republicans winning the House majority, and am ready to work with House Republicans to deliver results for working families,” the president said in a statement.
McCarthy cheered the results, tweeting: “Republicans have officially flipped the People’s House! Americans are ready for a new direction, and House Republicans are ready to deliver.”
The GOP has spent the past week brooding over its poor showing in the midterm elections, with some Republicans blaming former President Donald Trump for losses in key races, not only in Congress but in statehouses as well.
Yet even ...

Ukraine says some 50 Russians killed or wounded in shelling attack

Nov 16 (Reuters) - Around 50 Russian soldiers were killed or wounded in a long-range Ukrainian artillery attack, Kyiv's military said on Wednesday in a rare instance of Ukraine claiming to have inflicted major casualties in a single incident.
In a Facebook post, the armed forces general staff said Russia suffered the losses on Tuesday when Ukrainian forces shelled the village of Denezhnykove, 70 km (45 miles) behind front lines in the eastern province of Luhansk.
It gave no further detail. The Russian defence ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment, and Reuters was unable to independently verify the Ukrainian military’s account.
The United States has provided Ukraine with advanced rocket systems capable of hitting targets up to 80 km away.
Last month Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said 23 of his soldiers had been killed and another 58 wounded in a Ukrainian artillery barrage.
(Reporting by David LjunggrenEditing by Mark Heinrich)

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