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In 2017, furniture exports exceeded EUR 335 million. The growth trend has been steady over the years, and has grown nearly twice as much compared to 2008. This was announced by Deputy Minister of Economy Alexander Manolev during the biggest forum for the furniture industry in Bulgaria - the exhibitions "Technomebel" and "The World of Furniture".

"Some of the countries in the top 10 for Bulgarian exports are Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and even China," said Alexander Manolev, adding that the Bulgarian business deserves congratulations on the high quality it offers. He also addressed some of the main problems of the sector with the shortage of qualified staff and the fight against the gray sector and emphasized the measures taken by the Ministry of Economy to solve these difficulties.

The production in the sector in 2017 exceeds BGN 919 million and the turnover of the companies is about BGN 1 billion, it became clear during the event. "My wish for you is to never stop updating and always look for new solutions. Just as you have shown that you can do it over the years. We, both through the Operational Program "Innovation and Competitiveness" and through other initiatives of the Ministry, will strive to support you, "Alexander Manolev said to the representatives of the branch.

Within the framework of the exhibitions, the awards were presented in the contest "Bulgarian Furniture of the Year". The International Exhibitions "Technomebel" and "The World of Furniture" are held at Inter Expo Center - Sofia from 24 to 28 April 2018. They enable the end user to see the whole production cycle of a product and the opportunity to participate in b2b meetings with experts from the country and abroad, demonstrations and presentation of new technologies and trends in the field of woodworking.

The last edition of the two exhibitions was attended by 11,000 people from Bulgaria and 30 other countries. There were 184 companies who presented their products and services on a total area of ​​14 500 sq.m.

The new tiles in front of the National Palace of Culture, placed and repaired before the start of the Bulgarian EU Presidency, did not survive the warm weather and showed a defect that could have a use - they became mini ramps for skateboarders. The tiles have risen, and the reason for this is probably the time.

The pictures of the new "skate ramps" were published in the group "Spotted in Sofia".

"Repairing the repair of the previous repair ... it would have been funny if they did not spend 40 million in two years," wrote the uploader Mladen Manev. The square in front of the National Palace of Culture was repaired by GIP Group, and it was clear from their website that the renovation of the space was worth BGN 2.5 million. Tiles and infrastructure should be under warranty and their repair should be at the expense of the company.

The Government endorsed the Agreements signed in November 2017 in Riyadh for cooperation in the field of agriculture, livestock and fisheries between the Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The document supports the introduction of new technologies in agriculture, livestock and fisheries as well as participation in the implementation of joint projects.

The agreement will help to promote trade in agricultural products by facilitating market access for each country.

The aim is to encourage investment in agriculture, livestock and fisheries.

Tim Draper, an American venture capital investor believes that Bitcoin will not only continue to exist but it will also become bigger than the Internet.

The investor suggests that bitcoin is "bigger than the internet. It's bigger than the Iron Age, the Renaissance. It's bigger than the Industrial Revolution'' Draper reaffirms his positive attitude that the bitcoin will rise to $ 250,000 in four years.

He was asked how he would compare the digital currency with his early investments in Tesla, Hotmail and Skype. Draper said that Bitcoin will be "bigger than all of them put together."

Tim Draper is convinsed that "in five years you are going to try to go buy coffee with flat currency and they are going to laugh at you because you're not using crypto."  "There will be a point at which you will no longer really want any of the fiat currency."
He feels more secure about his bitcoins than his money staying in the banks.

The CEO of Overstock.com,Patrick Burn supports Draper's oppinion and is also so positive about the security of the cryptocurrency.

"The bicoin has been hacked more than anything else in history and has never been defeated," says Burn. "As far as I know, the banks have been hacked too, and yes, bitcoin is also being used by unpleasant people, as far as I know, they also use US dollars."

According to CoinMarketCap.com, nowadays there are more than 1,500 cryptocurrencies. However in Draper's oppinion bitcoin has a "huge" advantage and is likely to win the "long-term cryptocurrency battle" because of its market share.

"In 2017, there has been a stagnation in the protection of human rights in Bulgaria, with some areas deteriorating: the authorities and the public sphere have been deaf for human rights and civil society has failed to raise concerns about major issues and this task stands on the agenda in 2018. " This is what the Chairman of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) Krasimir Kanev commented on the presentation of the annual report of the organization on the state of human rights in Bulgaria, Dnevnik daily quoted. Emphasis is placed on persecution of the Roma population, violence towards women and freedom of expression, with deterioration in the three spheres.

The state of the media, which has become an unfavorable environment for raising human rights issues, as well as the presence of nationalist organizations in government, are among the factors behind stagnation in most areas.

"The formation of the government of GERB and the United Patriots led to a general deterioration of the social climate related to human rights, interethnic and religious tolerance, and the possibilities for implementing any minority and refugee integration policy were very limited. By the end of 2017, a number of restrictive legislative amendments concerning human rights were proposed and adopted, some of which were subsequently abolished following international criticism. Incitement to Hate, Discrimination and Violence towards some of the vulnerable groups in Bulgarian society have continued to happen unpunished.

"The authorities' cooperation with non-governmental organizations, especially those for the protection of human rights, has worsened," the report said.

According to Kanev, the government has demonstrated total disregard for the worst and systematic manifestations of violence against women in our country and have not fulfilled one of the most important commitments - the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. The BHC notes that at the end of 2017, the issue of accepting the document has caused "one of the most irrational and destructive debates in Bulgarian society and human rights".

The BHC report that in 2017 there was a drastic deterioration of freedom of expression in Bulgaria. The year has been marked by unprecedented political pressure, threats and attacks on journalists, media have continued to play the role of instrument for manipulation and attacks.

The government will give the Ministry of Defense up to BGN 26 million to repair the MiG-29 aircraft. The decision was taken today at the Cabinet meeting, the press service of the Council of Ministers announced.

The funds are provided in the central budget for payments under contracts under the framework agreement with the RAC MiG. The reason is stated that the conclusion of contracts to create the necessary conditions for the Air Force to maintain and develop the ability to control aviation and ensuring air sovereignty of the country and incorporated in the collective defense of NATO and the Common Security and Defense Policy of the European Union.

Recently, Defense Minister Karakacanov announced that the contract with RAC MiG for the next four years, repairs will be made in Bulgaria, with parts bought from Russia. The ambition is to fly all 15 Bulgarian multi-purpose fighters MiG-29 in the next seven years.

The execution of the entire contract will cost 81 million leva, so the amount allocated is only for the first year of it.

The government has approved additional costs and transfers of 204 930 BGN. The funds are for scholarships for students from state and municipal schools, which have achieved high results at different competitions, the press center of the cabinet said.

The funds are provided in the central budget under the program: Measures for protection of children with prominent gifts.

The government has approved additional spending on the budgets of ministries and transfers BGN 20,784,639. to municipalities.

The funds are provided in the central budget for financing expenditures related to prevention, mitigation and disaster relief activities, reported Bgnes. Their allocation was approved at a meeting of the Interdepartmental Commission for Reconstruction and Support, held in March 2011.

Part of the funds are provided to the district governors of Dobrich, Montana and Smolyan to clean river beds. The funds provided for the municipalities are for construction of levees, restoration of public buildings, road pavements, retaining walls, fortification of bridges, etc.

The popular WhatsApp communication app will now only allow users over the age of 16 to use it. The measure applies to the countries of the European Union.

So far, the border was 13 years old. The change is due to the new rules on personal data protection that enter into force in the EU in May.

The Facebook-owned app will also require its users to confirm their age and agree to new conditions, the BBC said.

However, there is still no information as to whether new users are really over 16 years of age or are lying about their age.

In the UK, for example, WhatsApp is quite popular among children between 12 and 15 years of age. This is the fifth most widely used app in this age group after Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube.

Alphabet Inc’s Google unveiled on Wednesday its first Gmail redesign since 2013, capping what the company says was an expensive overhaul two years in the making to adopt security and offline functionality and better resemble Microsoft Outlook, reported Reuters. 

It is Google’s most extensive update to software in its G Suite workplace bundle since accelerating efforts to steal business from Microsoft Corp’s dominant Office workplace software suite. Previously, G Suite added instant-messaging and spreadsheet features.

With Gmail, Google said it restructured email storage databases, unified three dueling systems for syncing messages across devices and upgraded computers underpinning the service. That shift to Google’s self-developed Tensor processing chips enables smart-assistant features such as “suggested replies” to messages and “nudges” to respond to forgotten emails.

“This is an entire rewrite of our flagship, most-used product,” said Jacob Bank, product manager lead for Gmail, which 1.4 billion people use each month.

 Unreliable offline access to email has long discouraged would-be customers, while recent high-profile corporate data breaches have increased their desire to lock down email. Analysts estimate G Suite generated about billion in revenue last year, 10 times behind Office.

Google declined to specify costs associated with the redesign. But parent Alphabet reported Monday that first-quarter capital expenditures nearly tripled year-over-year to .3 billion.

Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat told analysts that half of the spending resulted from hardware purchases to support expanding use of machine learning, which describes automated programs that can, among other things, identify spam and predict which emails users would find most important.

SECURITY AND SMARTS

Google’s Bank said the overhaul was required primarily to provide offline access to up to 90 days of emails for users who turn on the feature.

The changes also fulfill another top demand of business executives - message expiration.

Users who enable a “confidential” option when sending an email can time-limit its access to recipients and also require they enter a one-time passcode sent to their phones to read it.

The new setting does not override corporate email retention policies or present new obstacles to law enforcement.

“Nudges” and a higher bar for new-mail notifications round out Google’s revised sales pitch. The company estimated that nudges will lead 8 percent of business users each week to remember to follow-up on something important.

Cosmetic changes bring Gmail’s website in line with Office by placing Google’s calendar, tasks and note-taking services within the same page as emails.

 Bank said testers have advanced from “neutral to positive to very positive” on the new look.

Outcome of the case with the extradition of Zhelyaz Andreev and four other Bulgarians accused of violating the embargo on trade with Syria. The meeting was held between Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, US Ambassador Eric Rubin, Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov and Justice Minister Tsetska Tsacheva.

Sotir Tsatsarov, Chief Prosecutor: The US side will accept that this is not a matter of urgency, otherwise the detention of the persons will not proceed. However, this is only the first stage, the second stage is related to the fact that requests for extradition in essence with corresponding supporting documents should also be received within a certain period of time with the requests already made. Under our understanding, there are no legal prerequisites for the extradition of individuals.

Tsetska Tsacheva, Minister of Justice: We believe that there is no urgency, we expect, after we have already understood the US, to have written reluctance to make a preliminary arrest, hence, according to Article 20 of the treaty, we are in a regime of consultations with the countries, have already been mentioned - the Department of Justice and the Ministry and the relevant prosecutor's offices of the two countries.

(CNN) - The world's first successful total penis and scrotum transplant was completed at Johns Hopkins Hospital on March 26, according to a news release issued Monday.

The procedure lasted 14 hours and involved nine plastic surgeons, two urological surgeons and a team of anesthesiologists, nurses and surgical technicians, according to the release. The transplant recipient, who wished to remain anonymous, is a young US serviceman who sustained injuries to his lower pelvis, lower abdominal wall and lower extremities in an improvised explosive device blast while serving in Afghanistan.

"While war injuries cause great suffering, disfigurement and disability, they have also provided the impetus for medical discoveries," said Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, chairman of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins University and one of the surgeons in the case, in a news briefing.

"While extremity amputations are visible and resultant disability obvious, some war injuries are hidden and their impact not widely appreciated by others," Lee added. "Genitourinary injury, where the male service members' external genitalia are lost or severely damaged, is one such 'unspoken injury of war.' "

In order to perform the transplant, the team had to obtain the necessary tissues -- consisting of a penis, scrotum and part of the lower abdominal wall -- from a deceased donor, according to Dr. Rick Redett, clinical director of the Johns Hopkins genitourinary transplant program and another surgeon on the case.

"To perform the transplant, we procured the necessary tissue from the donor to restore normal anatomy in the recipient," Redett said in a statement.

During the procedure, three arteries, four veins and two nerves were connected under microscopic guidance in order to provide adequate blood flow and sensation to the transplanted tissue, Redett said.

However, the donor's testicles and vas deferens -- which produce and transport sperm -- were not transplanted due to ethical concerns, according to Dr. Gerald Brandacher, scientific director of the Composite Tissue Allotransplantation Program at Johns Hopkins and a surgeon on the case.

"For ethical reasons, we would not want to transplant the germ line from the donor, because that would mean that, were the recipient to father a child, that actually the genetic background of the child would be from the donor and not from the recipient," Brandacher said. "But in a second step, the patient will receive testicle prostheses."

After the announcement of the surgery, the donor's family, which also was not mentioned by name, released a statement thanking the recipient for his service: "We are all very proud that our loved one was able to help a young man that served this country. We are so thankful to say that our loved one would be proud and honored to know he provided such a special gift to you. As a family, we are very supportive of all the men and women who serve our country and grateful for the job you did for this nation."

So far, there were only two metro stations that were used by the city rail - the trams.

Siniša Mali, the current Mayor of Belgrade attended the presentation of the project for a subway in Belgrade, writes Beograd.rs. The project was made after an analysis of the existing transport infrastructure in the city.

"Experts have found that only two metro rails are linked to four lines of the city rail to relieve traffick in Belgrade.'' said the Mayor of Belgrade.

According to Mali the new subway will reduce the traffic jumps and open huged opportunities for investment, because it will connect distant parts of the city.

"As this is the only realistic plan, the first metro line will be put into operation by 2022," the mayor added.

archaeologyinbulgaria.com -  Bulgaria’s National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia has released the official print catalog for 11th annual “Bulgarian Archaeology" exhibition which has showcased for the first time some of the most intriguing artifacts discovered across the country during the 2017 archaeological season.
The 2017 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition is open for visitors from February 17 until April 1, 2018, in the National Museum of Archaeology building near the Bulgarian Presidency in downtown Sofia.

The dating range of the archaeological artifacts presented in the exhibition is from the mid-Paleolithic ca. 40,000 BC until the Middle Ages.
The 2017 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition features some 340 archaeological artifacts in total discovered in 22 archaeological sites across Bulgaria over the 2017 season.

The discoveries from dozens of other archaeological sites from across Bulgaria have been presented in the exhibition with posters.

The official catalog (ISNN 2367-8860; ISBN 978-954-9472-55-4.) of the 2017 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition is available here.

In addition to the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology, which is a body of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, a total of 17 other museums of archaeology and history from across Bulgaria are co-organizers of the exhibition and have contributed artifacts for its displays.

These are the National Museum of History in Sofia, the Plovdiv Museum of Archaeology, the Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History, the Veliko Tarnovo Regional Museum of History, the Vidin Regional Museum of History, the Pazardzhik Regional Museum of History, the Museum of Sofia History (Sofia Regional Museum of History), the Shumen Regional Museum of History, the Maritsa East Museum of Archaeology in Radnevo, the Old Nessebar Museum, the Sredets Museum of History, the Belogradchik Museum of History, the Dimitrovgrad Museum of History, the Dryanovo Museum of History, the Petrich Museum of History, the Svilengrad Museum of History, and the Sevlievo Museum of History.

Some of the artifacts on display in the 2017 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition include:
The nephrite amulet buckle from 14th century China probably brought to Bulgaria by the Mongols (Tatars) which was discovered in the Kaliakra Fortress on the Kaliakra Cape on the Black Sea coast.

Artifacts from the Early Iron Age and Late Roman settlement with a bi-ritual necropolis found in rescue digs near Moshtanets in Southwest Bulgaria;

The marble statue of Egyptian goddess Isis and a satyr’s head discovered at the Roman villa with nymphaeum in Kasnakovo, Southern Bulgaria;

Artifacts from the excavations of the Ancient Roman city of Serdica in downtown Sofia, which include bronze figurines of Dyonisus, Eros, and Cupid;

A Roman Era gold necklace discovered in the ancient city of Heraclea Sintica near Petrich in Southwest Bulgaria;

Encrusted pottery from a Bronze Age necropolis found in Bulgaria’s Danube town of Baley;

Anthropomorphic figurines found in the huge Late Neolithic settlement near Damyanitsa in Southwest Bulgaria.

The 6,500-year-old gold amulet, which easily ranks among the world’s oldest gold artifacts, which has been found in Yunatsite Settlement Mound in Southern Bulgaria;

A well-preserved 5th century BC pottery krater from the Ancient Greek colony of Apollonia Pontica in Bulgaria’s Black Sea town of Sozopol depicting Oedipus and the Sphinx from the Greek mythology;

Paleolithic artifacts from the Bacho Kiro Cave near Dryanovo in Central Bulgaria;

The latests finds from the Nebet Tepe Fortress in the southern Bulgarian city of Plovdiv;

Artifacts from the Provadiya – Solnitsata (“The Salt Pit") prehistoric settlement in Northeast Bulgaria known as Europe’s oldest town.

Among the tens of archaeological research projects to be presented with posters will be the findings of the Black Sea M.A.P. underwater archaeology initiative which has discovered dozens of very well preserved ancient ships in the Bulgarian section of the Black Sea.

Another site to be presented with a poster is the Roman villa estate and ceramics factory where ancient mirror frames have been discovered.

At the very beginning of today's government meeting, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov announced that Bulgaria has reduced its external debt for only a year, and this places us on the third place in the EU.

,,The Eurostat report comes out. From 29 to 25.4, Bulgaria's foreign debt declined. Third, we are ranked in the lowest foreign debt in Europe after Estonia and Luxembourg. Luxembourg has 23%, but at that pace, the government is working and at the end of the year, we will downgrade it to 20%'', Boyko Borissov pointed out. 

 

The best Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov started perfectly his participation in the Barcelona ATP500 tennis tournament with a prize of 2 510 900 euros.

The fifth in the world rankings Dimitrov was in the first round as the number two in the main circuit and today reached his first clay victory over the 33-year-old Frenchman Gilles Simon - 6:2, 6:1 in 1 hour and 22 minutes.

Employees of the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (NIMH) at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) protest against the allocation of the agency's subsidy for 2018. The NIMH protests against the unfair distribution of the budget subsidy for 2018 by the board council of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, which threatens the functioning of the national hydrometeorological service ". Currently, a black screen message welcomes anyone who wants to visit the official website of NIMH.

In a statement of the General Assembly of Scientists from NIMH-BAS and the directors of branches, adopted at the beginning of April, it is noted that "... the budget subsidy is below the critical minimum for the normal functioning of the NIMH activities because it will lead to resignation of specialists ". Scientists note that they are ready to take "adequate forms of protest" as a last resort to rescue their activities.

A temporary change of urban mobility organization is being introduced in connection with the filming of the film "Fall and Salvation".

This was announced by the press center of Sofia Municipality. It is forbidden to stay and park vehicles, except for the cars of the film crew and outside the paid parking facilities, as follows:

- From 10.00 to 22.00 today and from 10.00 to 13.00 hours 26 April 2018 on 33, Georgi Benkovski Str.

- From 16.00 to 19.00 on April 26, 2018 in front of bl. 1, Dianabad district.

Half a million professionals from  third-countries will arrive in Bulgaria over the next few years. We are talking about graduates working in different fields. The forecast is from the business, said Podkrepa Labor Union. The reason for the imminent import of so many qualified workers was the amendments to the Migration and Labor Mobility Act adopted in early March.

The change allowed the proportion of third-country employees to grow from 10 to 35% for small and medium-sized enterprises, which in practice means that every third employee may be a foreigner. Besides, the mandatory blue card market test was dropped and employers are no longer required to prove that they have not been able to find the required personnel in Bulgaria for the period of 6 months, writes Monitor.

Deputy Prime Minister Valeriy Simeonov said the concerns over possible problems are unfounded and added that it is expected that the number of workers who will arrive in Bulgaria will be about 300 000 people. In the past year, 117 foreigners from third countries received a blue card. The most common are IT specialists and engineers from Ukraine, Russia, India. Another 4,000 foreigners have taken permission for seasonal work. They are mostly from Ukraine and Moldova and have worked as waiters, receptionists and chefs for which there is a shortage. It turns out that the business is also looking for masseurs from Thailand.

Airport officials at Rio de Janeiro's found 50 kilograms of explosives and about 100 kilograms of heroin in a shipment from China.

They have been at the airport for months, writes BGNES. According to Globovision, the cargo was detained at the airport in September last year because of problems with the documents, but just recently the customs officials decided to check what's inside. In the test, drugs and an explosion were detected in place of the chemicals for the production of medical drops.

Futurism.com - Sorry, basic income. Finland is simply just not that into you.

Well, the Finnish government in particular.

In January 2017, Finland launched a first-of-its-kind basic income trial, the first by a European government. For two years, 2,000 randomly chosen unemployed citizens would receive a tax-free, no-strings-attached monthly payment of €560 ($690) from the government to test the viability of basic income.

With eight months still left in its two-year-long trial of universal basic income, the nation’s government has told Kela, the Finnish social security agency, it will not expand the project, The Guardian reports.

The Finnish government has refused Kela’s request for an additional £61 million ($85 million) to expand the project to include employed citizens in 2018. It will continue to pay the people already involved in the project until January 2019, as originally planned.

Finland’s decision to end its basic income trial could be because another kind of welfare program has already caught its eye: Petteri Orpo, Finland’s finance minister, told Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet he thinks the nation should give a universal credit trial a go once the basic income project officially ends.

A universal credit is a single social security payment that replaces several once-distinct benefits, such as income support or child welfare. How much money a person gets in that payment depends on a person’s income — those who earn more money receive less in their credit. This tiered payment system eliminated an argument long wielded by opponents of UBI: It wouldn’t disincentive people from seeking employment.

However, a universal credit would include one of the logistical benefits of UBI: a single, streamlined payment for all uses. The United Kingdom introduced a universal credit in 2013, so Finland has an example to consider while designing its own universal credit trial.

Indeed, it looks like Finland is leaning more towards a universal payment system than less. Last December, the Finnish Parliament passed a law that requires people receiving benefits from the government to actively seek employment and report their efforts to officials every three months. The legislation, which went into effect in January, does align with a future shift toward a universal credit-type system.

And that might be pretty good for Finns. A study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found a universal credit could cut the poverty rate in Finland from 11.4 percent to 9.7 percent.

Finland may not have fallen in love with UBI, but citizens could still benefit as the nation revamps its welfare system.

Russia doesn't support the expansion of NATO in Europe, said Mrs.Valentina Ivanovna Matviyenko, a Russian politician serving as the Senator from Saint Petersburg and Chairwoman of the Federation Council since 2011. The Russian Chairwoman arrived in Bosnia on Monday. This was the first official visit of a high-ranking Russian representative since the beginning of the century, reminds Russian media.

"The turbulence on the world stage does not go away from the Balkans." Matviyenko said.

During her speach at the Sarajevo's parliament, she said Montenegro's accession to NATO has become "practically against the will of half of its citizens".

"This step only leads to further destabilization of the region and undermines the European security system," the Russian chairwoman said.

According to her, Balkan ambitions to join the alliance are "a dangerous experiment."

213.11 leva - is the amount every municipal councilor should give in order to pay a fine imposed on the chief architect of the city Zdravko Zdravkov. The idea is from the chairman of the Sofia Municipal Council, Elena Gerdjikov, tells bTV.

The sanction imposed by the Supreme Administrative Court to Zdravko Zdravkov is because of a garden. Following a municipal council decision and protests, he refused to allow a construction of a 44-storey skyscraper in its place.

"He has been fined because he has complied with the law and a series of Sofia Council decisions," said Elena Gerdjikov.
Most municipal councilors tend to respond to Gerdjikova's idea and give 200 leva.

But the dispute over the garden is ongoing at the moment, although it is a green area under urban planning, now the place is fenced and can not really be used.

The construction company remind that they had bought the parcel with high-rise building in mind in 2007 and paid 4 million leva.

The Chief Architect was fined because he did not execute a court decision in 2016 in their favor, with which the Sofia Council's decision was declared null and void. 

The construction company is not giving up and whether the municipal councilors will pay the fine of architect Zdravkov in solidarity will be clear on Thursday.

The government will vote on the amount of application and study fees at state universities for the next academic year.
 
17 universities will probably maintain their current fees. Among them are the medical universities in Sofia and Varna, NATFIZ, the National Sports Academy, UNWE.

16 other schools are subject to an increase in tuition fees. For example, the Sofia University will increase the price of education in the specialties of psychology, law and philology, and at the University of Plovdiv will increase the fees for the specialties Tourism, Economics, Mathematics and Informatics.
 
Fees for some specialties in Sofia University will actually decrease - from 200 to 550 leva will be reduced the amount paid for full-time and part-time training in Physics and specialty Nuclear Chemistry.
 
At today's meeting, the cabinet will also approve additional funds for the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense.

Scientists have discovered a 'pitch black' planet 470 light-years away that absorbs 99 per cent of light, making it one of the darkest planets ever found.

The planet, named WASP-104b, was discovered by researchers from Keele University in the UK, who used NASA's Kepler telescope to show that it is 'darker than charcoal.' "This is one of the darkest planets ever discovered - reflecting very little light from its host star," said Teo Mocnik from Keele's Astrophysics Group.

"WASP-104b is interesting because it was not even seen. All planets reflect starlight from their host star. Some planets are highly reflective, such as Venus reflecting 70 per cent of the light, while some others reflect only 10 per cent," Mocnik said.

"When analysing the highly precise photometric data from Kepler, we were surprised not to see reflected starlight from WASP-104b," said Mocnik, who led the research.

The planet was discovered orbiting a yellow dwarf star some 470 light-years away from us in the constellation Leo, and is categorised as a hot Jupiter' planet.

Hot Jupiters are gas giant planets of a similar mass to Jupiter, but are located much closer to their host stars - making them very hot.

WASP-104b is so close to its host star (at around 2.6 million miles) it takes just 1.76 days to complete its orbit.

This proximity to its host star may be the reason the planet is so dark - as conditions are too hot for clouds (which are highly reflective) to form, researchers said.

The lack of light being reflected from the planet may also be attributed to the presence of alkali metals such as sodium and potassium in a 'hazy' atmosphere, which causes significant absorption of light in the visual wavelengths, they said.

"Since WASP-104b is one of the least-reflective planets known to date, it will serve as a test bed for atmospheric models," said Mocnik.

100-year-old residential buildings in the center of Plovdiv, which are in poor condition, will be renewed with European funds under the "Regions in Growth" program. Up to now, over 90 owners' associations have submitted documents for restoring beautiful facades and ongoing repairs on them. Priority will be given to the monuments of culture.


The houses on the central pedestrian street of Plovdiv are part of an ensemble monument of culture. In this area 40 residential buildings are waiting to be renovated.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced on Wednesday that Germany will donate an additional €1 billion ($1.22 billion) in aid to Syria and neighboring countries who are hosting Syrian refugees.

"In Syria alone there are still more than 13 million people who are dependent on humanitarian aid," Maas said as he arrived in Brussels for a humanitarian aid drive for Syria.

"We must not leave the people of Syria alone," he added.

The Foreign Ministry announced that another €300 million could be tacked on to Germany's pledge once the German government finalizes its budget this summer.

Alongside Germany's concerns over the "protection of the civilian population," Maas emphasized that Germany was "strongly committed to the effort" to restart the political process to resolve the conflict.

During last year's United Nations aid drive for Syria, Germany was the largest donor and has contributed around €4.5 billion in aid to Syria since 2012.

Over 80 delegations from dozens of countries are participating in the two-day donor conference, which is being co-hosted by the UN and the European Union.

The UN and the EU hope not only to mobilize financial support to aid Syria and neighboring countries, but to also revive the stalled Geneva peace talks.

Aid organizations are hoping that donors at this year's conference will surpass the $6 billion in emergency humanitarian aid that was pledged last year. The heads of UN agencies warned on Tuesday that only $2.3 billion have been received so far.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in Syria during the country's seven-year civil war. Millions of Syrians fleeing the conflict are being hosted in neighboring countries including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan as well as Germany.

''The European Union will provide Turkey with an additional € 3 billion to help Syrian refugees over the next two years.''

This was stated by the head of European diplomacy Federica Moghereini. "We will give Turkey another 3 billion euros in the next two years," she said at the second Donor Syria conference in Brussels.

About 30 percent of the Bulgarian population or nearly every third Bulgarian lives in a serious risk of poverty, according to Eurostat analysis of the share of people in severe material deprivation in the EU in 2017. The EU average indicator of people living in severe material deprivation , is 6.7 per cent.

Still, our country has achieved a significant growth in its social policy, as in 2010 the share of people in severe material deprivation in Bulgaria was 46 percent, compared with 30 percent in the previous year, according to Eurostat data.

Depending on the population of the country, the figures show that approximately 3.5 million Bulgarians lived in material deprivations in 2010, while in 2017 their number was about 2.1 million or a decrease of 1.4 million people in Bulgaria, who have had serious material deprivations.

According to current NSI data, the highest share of people in Bulgaria who live in serious risk of poverty or material deprivation is the largest among Bulgarians aged 65+,  about 46 per cent of citizens in this age category or close over 670 thousand people.

The second group, which also reports indicators of poverty and material deprivation, is young Bulgarians up to 17 years of age, who are about 42 percent or over 550 thousand. Among Bulgarians aged 18-64, the risk of poverty is 37 per cent, according to the statistics.

About 33 million Europeans or 6.7 percent of EU citizens were in a situation of serious material deprivation in 2017, according to Eurostat data.

The lowest levels of material deprivation are recorded in the following Member States: Sweden (0.8%), Luxembourg (1.6%), Finland (2%) and the Netherlands (2.6%).

At the other end of the scale, the EU countries with the highest percentage of people in material deprivation are: Bulgaria - 30 per cent, Greece - 21 percent, Romania - 19, 4 percent and Hungary - 14, 5 percent.

The highest shares of people in the EU who were in severe material deprivation were registered among households with one adult - about 10 per cent. 

For households with two or more members / with or without children, the poverty indicator is significantly lower and ranges between 5-6 percent.

According to European practice, one person is considered to be at risk of poverty when he can not afford at least four of the following things most people think is desirable or necessary for an adequate social life: to pay their bills on time ; to keep your home warm; facing unexpected costs and to handle them without problems; to eat meat / or vegetarian equivalent regularly; to be able to afford a week away from home; to make use of the TV, washing machine, car, telephone.

Bulgaria continues to drop down in the Reporters Without Borders Index of Media Freedom and is in a lower position than any other member of the European Union. Our country is now 111th, while in 2017 it was 109th. Despite being the current rotating President of the European Council (by the end of June 2018), Bulgaria is with lower index than all the Western Balkan countries, some of which are candidates for EU membership.

In the conclusions of Reporters Without Borders for Bulgaria it is noted that the media group with owner Delyan Peevski has 6 newspapers and controls nearly 80% of the print media distribution.

The government's allocation of EU funding to certain media is done in a complete lack of transparency, which effectively corrupts them to be "softer" in their coverage and to refrain entirely from reporting and analysing certain topics, Reporters Without Borders said.

They also argue that threats and attacks against journalists have intensified in recent months.

It may be dangerous to be a journalist in Bulgaria, note from Reporters without Borders.

Speaking at the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) Summit in Brdo pri Kranju, Slovenia, on 24thof April, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that there is no alternative to the Balkans' EU perspective and that the SEECP remains a leading political format for open and honest discussions on the matters of importance to the region.

The Prime Minister stressed that during the first 4 months of the Bulgarian Presidency of the council of the EU, Bulgaria has respected the commitment made last year at SEECP Dubrovnik Summit and made the EU integration of the Western Balkans a current topic in all Member States. Prime Minister Borissov once again emphasized the role of regional co-operation as a key to progress in the economic, political and security areas.

The management of the migrant crisis and the relations between the Balkan countries were the highlights of the meeting between Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and his Slovenian counterpart Miroslav Cerar.

 

 

 

Source: BNT

As diplomats from Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) prepare to resume talks in Vienna on Wednesday, European Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn on Tuesday expressed optimism that the dispute could be resolved in the next two weeks, Kathimerini writes.

“I am optimistic that in the next two weeks we will have a solution. At least a solution that will open the way for the beginning of accession talks with FYROM,” he reportedly told the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs.

“I think everyone agrees that this would be useful for the country, for society and the whole region of the Western Balkans,” he added.

FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev remarked later that such a swift solution would be welcome though he did not expect it.
“I would like it very much but I don’t think it’s possible,” he said.

The Greek Foreign Ministry, for its part, issued a terse statement, describing Hahn’s comments as “unfortunate” and asking him to “stop undermining” the negotiations.

Director of Serbia’s Office for Kosovo, Marko Djuric, called on Kosovo Serbs not to join the Army of Kosovo, and citing Serbian legislation he threatened local Serbs of severe punishments up to 10 years imprisonment, if they decide to become part of future army of Kosovo, Gazeta Express writes.

Djuric said that creation of Kosovo Army is illegal and in violation with the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the Kumanovo Agreement that ended Kosovo war in 1999, and is against interests of the state of Serbia. Djuric said that Srpska List, a political entity representing Serbs in Kosovo, which is opposing establishment of Kosovo Army, has full support of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the Government of Serbia.

Kosovo is making efforts to transform the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) into Army of Kosovo through constitutional amendments. In order for Kosovo to amend its Constitution the vote of Serbian MPs is crucial. Srpska List as the only political force representing Serbs in Kosovo Parliament and Government is strongly opposing the creation of Kosovo Army.

Mostly sunny and warm is forecast for Bulgaria today, with clouds gathering in the afternoon and short spells of rain with thunder and winds increasing briefly in many places. The maximum temperatures will range between 26°C and 31°C.

This is the weather forecast of the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, quoted by Focus News Agency.

The Black Sea coast will be mostly sunny, with maximum temperatures between 20°C and 24°C and a breeze. Short spells of rain with thunder in the afternoon are expected in some places only. 

Mountains will be cloudy with short spells of rain with thunder and moderate west-southwest winds increasing briefly. The maximum temperature at 1,200 m will be about 20°C, and at 2,000 m - about 13°C.

Warsaw and Budapest are expected to lose out on massive amounts of cash as Brussels proposes to move tens of billions of euros in EU funding away from central and Eastern Europe to the countries worse hit by the financial crisis, such as Spain and Greece, writes The Daily Express.

The aim of the plan is to support the less developed parts of the union as Brussels does not want to continue distributing cash just based on a country’s wealth or GDP (gross domestic product).

Cash given to countries will depend on different criteria such as youth unemployment, education, the environment and innovation.
Poland has warned that tough conditions for EU funding would cause “enormous problems”.

The country received about ?77 billion (£67 billion) from the EU’s cohesion policy in the 2014-20 budget.
The plan is part of the European Commission’s draft of 2021-27 EU budget, which will be announced in May.

Since the end of March, State Fund Agriculture has paid a total of BGN 20 620 952 million to 112 poultry farmers under the measures under the scheme "Aid for the implementation of voluntary commitments for bird welfare," the institution said.

State aid aims to support farmers to implement voluntary animal welfare commitments in the poultry sector.

Assistance is provided annually to cover costs or income foregone for poultry farmers who undertake to apply one or more of the measures for a period of at least 5 years.

 

New energy trends are gaining strength in Europe, including rising investments in wind power. Belgium, for example, plans to double its offshore wind farms, while Denmark plans to build enough turbines to feed its seven largest cities. 

A few days ago, the Belgian government announced it would allocate another large area near the French waters to build new wind farms after 2020.

Belgium currently receives only 870 megawatt hours of its four offshore parks but plans to reach 2.2 gigawatt hours by 2020 and 4 gigawatts by 2030.

Denmark also has large-scale plans in the sphere. Energy Minister said on Monday that the country wants to open one of the world's largest wind farms.

"We are talking about a very, very large park that will play a central role in achieving our goal by 2030 that at least half of the energy consumed in Denmark comes from sustainable sources," he said.

According to him, the park will be 50 km inland and will generate enough energy to feed the seven largest cities in the country. It is expected to have between 50 and 75 turbines, but more detailed plans are not yet prepared.

In a report , Tomáš Boček, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees , acknowledges that Bulgaria's efforts to address the challenges posed by the high number of migrant arrivals and refugees, but he underlines his concern about the difficulties they face in entering Bulgarian territory, especially on the border with Turkey, and for obtaining international protection.

"Bulgaria has made considerable progress in enrolling refugee children in school. However, the integration of migrants and refugees at the local level is slow, because it is not mandatory for municipalities and public opinion generally shows a negative attitude towards them, "said Special Representative.

He stressed that Bulgaria should set up a functional system for assessing the age and guardianship of unaccompanied refugee and migrant minors. It also recommended addressing issues such as the lack of available information on the rights of asylum seekers and the lack of interpretation and legal aid during the process of determining their status.

The report recommends concrete measures regarding the assistance that the Council of Europe could offer to Bulgaria, in particular to improve the access of foreigners to international protection, to strengthen the guarantees offered to migrants and refugees during the retention period. immigration and improve the protection of vulnerable people.

The Special Representative made a fact-finding visit from 13 to 17 November 2017, during which he visited migrant and refugee reception centers and met with representatives of relevant Bulgarian authorities and NGOs.

 

Source: Council of Europe 

The average price per one decare of agricultural land in Bulgaria rose by 14.6% year-on-year to 872 BGN ($543.6/445.8 euro) in 2017, the National Statistical Institute (NSI) said on Tuesday.

The price of arable land rose 13.0% to 870 BGN per dca in 2017, while the price of permanent grassland fell 3.4% to 262 BGN per dca, NSI said in a statement. The highest price of agricultural land was in Bulgaria's northeast region - 1,401 BGN per dca.

Agricultural land prices rose the most, by 83.4%, in the southwest region, but still remained the lowest in the country - 406 BGN per dca. The average rent price per one dca of leased agricultural land rose by an annual 4.5% to 46 BGN  in 2017. Rent prices of arable land increased 6.8% to 47 levs, while rents of permanent grassland grew 6.7% to 16 BGN.

 

Source: See News

More than 10 employees of the Executive Agency “Automobile Administration“ in the city of Blagoevgrad were arrested in an anticorruption operation carried out by the Specialised Prosecutior’s Office and the chief directorate for combatting organized crime on 24th of April.

They were taken to the police station in the city. The Specialised Prosecutor's Office said the arrests were made over bribing accusations. The detained officials allegedly demanded between 300 and 600 euros from hauliers. At this stage, however, the authorities refused to say whether the alert for the corrupt officials was filed by the hauliers or not.

Petar Belchev, Prosecutor, explained thjat this was allegedly an organised criminal group of officials from the regional department "Automobile Administration" in Blagoevgrad. They asked for and received sums of money in the form of a bribe from representatives of haulier businesses in order to not issue penalties to offenders from the hauliers, he added.

For the time being it not known for how long the officials of the automobile agency have been monitored and how much money they received per day or month. The detained will be interviewed. The investigation is likely to last until later today. It is not known whether all detainees will be charged.

A woman from Colorado has been fined $500 (£360) after failing to declare an apple that she took from a transatlantic flight.

Crystal Tadlock was given the fruit sealed in a wrapper on her Delta flight from Paris to Minneapolis on 18 April. She did not eat it on the journey and decided to save it for her connecting flight to Denver.

As Minneapolis was her first landing point in the US, Ms Tadlock was required to declare all food products, or deposit the offending item in an “amnesty bin”.

But a random check by US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service officials discovered the forbidden fruit.

She told Denver TV station Fox 31: “He had asked me if my trip to France was expensive and I said, ‘yeah’. I didn’t really get why he was asking that question and then he said ‘it’s about to get a lot more expensive after I charge you $500’.” 

She added that she had pointed out the Delta logo on the wrapper, showing the fruit came from the airline.

“It’s really unfortunate someone has to go through that and be treated like a criminal over a piece of fruit," she said. 

The passenger also lost her Global Entry status, which provides express screening and border control for international journeys./ independent.co.uk/

Bulgarian Posts EAD informs its clients that on 1, 6, 7, and 24 May 2018 the post offices will not work. On May 5, post offices will work with Saturday's working hours.

Next month's pensions will be paid out in the period 8-21 May 2018 according to the announced schedules.

''The European perspective of our region has no alternative, and the Southeast European Cooperation Process remains the leading political format for an open and fair discussion on the important issues for us''.

This was said by the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in his speech  at the Summit of the South East European Co-operation Process (SEECP) in Brno, which summarizes the progress achieved within the Slovenian presidency of the initiative, the press service of the Council of Ministers reported. 

 

The G7 Foreign Ministers endorsed the UK position that Russia was "highly likely" responsible for the poisoning of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the United Kingdom, reports Sputnik.

"We share, and agree with, the U.K.’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation was responsible for the attack, and that there is no plausible alternative explanation. We call on Russia to urgently address all questions related to the incident in Salisbury," the ministers said in a joint communique.

"Russia should provide full and complete disclosure of its previously undeclared Novichok programme to the OPCW in line with its international obligations. We call on Russia to live up to its Chemical Weapons Convention obligations, as well as its responsibilities as a permanent member of the UNSC to uphold international peace and security," the statement reads.

The suspect in a Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 15 others on Monday attended a high school programme for students with special needs where he would often walk the halls with his head down and hands tightly clasped, according to former classmates, reports Reuters.
Shereen Chami said her former classmate was not violent. She said Minassian was part of a programme at Thornlea Secondary School, in Toronto’s northern suburbs, for high school students with special needs, attending a mix of mainstream and separate classes. 
Chami remembers him walking the halls with his hands together and his head down, and making meowing noises. 
“He wasn’t a social person, but from what I remember he was absolutely harmless,” she said. 
Two other classmates said they attended classes for students with special needs alongside Minassian.

 

 A van attack in Toronto that killed 10 people and injured another 15 could be a terrorist attack, but the investigation is considering all versions, Toronto Police Chief Mark Sanders said during a press conference.
According to Sanders, investigators are now working with the driver suspected of running his van into a crowd of people, a 25-year-old Alek Minassian. Currently police offers no details on the driver's possible motive.
According to him, 10 people were killed and 15 others were injured in an attack. So far, not all the victims have been identified.

 It will be mostly sunny today. Around noon and in the afternoon, cloud will start gathering and in some places, mainly in the mountains, there will be short spells of rain with thunders. This is the weather forecast of the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, quoted by Focus News Agency.

Maximum temperatures will be between 26°C and 31°C.
The Black Sea coast will be mostly sunny. Clouds will increase around noon and in and afternoon, but the chances of rain are slim. There will be light to moderate southeast wind. The maximum temperatures will reach 17°C to 20°C.

The mountains will be mostly sunny and warm. In the afternoon, some places will see short spells of rain with thunders.

The wind will be light to moderate from west-northwest. The maximum temperature at 1,200 m will be about 21°C, and at 2,000 m - about 14°C.

This summer, airport traffic in Varna and Bourgas is expected to increase by 10% and reach over five million passengers. 19 new airlines enter the summer schedule of the two airports, which will serve a total of 20 destinations.

This year, most passengers from Russia, Germany, Great Britain and Poland are expected to be at airports in Varna and Burgas. As the interest of British and Polish tourists to Bulgaria is growing.

Adriana Troanska - Chief of Public Relations at Varna Airport:
"Last year, the largest tourist growth was reported from Poland with a 70% increase. This year we expect this growth to be 30-40%. "

By the end of the summer, two million passengers are expected to be at Varna Airport and three million passengers are at Burgas Airport. Besides the known destinations to Germany, Britain, Austria and France, there will be flights to Israel and to Egypt.

"11 new airlines will start flights at Varna airport and will serve 6 destinations. Bourgas Airport will launch a total of 8 new airlines, serving 14 destinations. "

 

Thirteen people were injured in an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, registered in the southeast Turkish district of Adayaman during the night. The earthquake has caused many material damage, Turkish CNN-Turk reported.

The tremor occurred at 3.34 o'clock at a depth of 7 kilometers, and the epicenter of the earthquake was in the area of ​​the city of Samsat, the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) informs.

According to the Istanbul-based seismological observatory, Kandilli, the magnitude of the earthquake was 5.4 on the Richter scale. According to Turkish TV NTV the wounded people are 18.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said today that there are no casualties after the earthquake, TASS reports.
Damage has been caused to a number of buildings. The government has begun work to assess damages and the need for relief, the prime minister said, quoted by NTV. 

After the first earthquake eight secondary quakes were recorded with magnitudes between 1.4 and 2.7 on the Richter scale.

Former US president George H.W. Bush has been hospitalised just days after his wife of 73 years Barbara passed away.

A spokesman for the family Jim Mcgrath said George Bush Sr. was taken to a hospital in Houston the day after attending the funeral of his wife after an infection spread to his blood.

Mr McGrath said Bush is “responding to treatments and appears to be recovering.”

Barbara Bush was laid to rest Saturday in a ceremony attended by her husband and former presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and their spouses, along with current first lady Melania Trump.

Mr Bush Sr was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital on Sunday morning.

The elder Bush uses a wheelchair and an electric scooter for mobility after developing a form of Parkinson’s disease, and he has needed hospital treatment several times in recent years for respiratory problems.

A year ago this month, Bush spent two weeks in the hospital for treatment of pneumonia and chronic bronchitis, a constant irritation of the lining of tubes that carry air to one’s lungs. Bush’s doctors said chronic bronchitis is a condition more prevalent with age and can aggravate the symptoms of pneumonia. Bush was hospitalized for 16 days in January 2017 for pneumonia. During that hospital stay, which included time in intensive care, doctors inserted a breathing tube and connected him to a ventilator.

He also was hospitalized in 2015 in Maine after falling at home and breaking a bone in his neck, and in December 2014 for about a week for shortness of breath. He spent Christmas 2012 in intensive care for a bronchitis-related cough and other issues.

George Herbert Walker Bush served as president from 1989 to 1993. Born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, Bush also served as a congressman, CIA director and Ronald Reagan’s vice president. He is the oldest of the five living former US presidents.

Mrs Bush passed away last Wednesday at the age of 92. The Bushes married in 1945 and had the longest marriage of any presidential couple in American history. Their son former president George W. Bush said he and his family were saddened by the death of the matriarch. “I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother.” he said. “Our family will miss her dearly.”

The weather for the next 10-15 days will be sunny, warm and even hot. Temperatures will be like it is summer, in the range of 26-31 degrees, even higher. A little cooler will be only towards the end of the week, but not significantly. This indicates the medium-term weather forecast.

During the next seven days in the morning and until noon will be mostly sunny, but in the afternoon and before midnight, not all days, in places in the mountainous regions it is possible to form cloudy overcast and showered with rain, accompanied by thunder. Temperatures, however, will not change significantly and will remain warm.
 
For the moment, weather forecasts show that the weather will be relatively good until 1 May and no heavy rainfall is expected, but after 4-5 May and around Gergyovden holiday a serious worsening of weather and rainfall is expected.

NYT, BEIJING—A fire that tore through a karaoke bar in southern China in the early hours of Tuesday killed 18 people, the police said, adding that arson was probably the cause.

A brief initial police account of the blaze in Qingyuan, a city in Guangdong province, said firefighters received an emergency call about 30 minutes past midnight.

By the time they extinguished the fire about 25 minutes later, the karaoke bar was gutted. In addition to the 18 dead, the police said, five people rescued from the fire were hospitalized.

“According to a preliminary investigation, the blaze was arson,” the online statement from the Qingyuan police said. “Currently, the public security authorities are stepping up their investigation.”

Video footage shown by Chinese news outlets showed bystanders watching helplessly as intense flames flared out of the three-story building containing the karaoke bar and climbed up its walls.

The police did not identify a suspect or motive, nor did they say how many of the dead were found in the bar. Often karaoke bars in China feature small rooms padded with carpet, and at least some of the dead may have been trapped in such rooms.

The person believed to have started the fire had been in a quarrel beforehand and used a motorbike to block the only entrance to the karaoke club, then lit the fire at the door, a reporter for CCTV, the state-run broadcaster, said in an online report that did not cite the source of the account.

The China News Service, a state-run news agency, said police in Qingyuan — an industrial and commercial center — had blocked off roads to catch the person responsible.

The deadly fire is likely to prompt another round of calls from the Chinese government to tighten up safety, especially in the crowded fringes of cities and industrial zones where fires often break out.

After a fire roared through an apartment on the outskirts of Beijing in November, killing 19 people, the city intensified a program to expel migrant workers who live in such areas, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

Following his inauguration on May 7, the head of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, will adopt an unprecedented decision, said the newspaper Moskovski Komsomolets quoted Focus.

Bloomberg sources reveal that the Kremlin leader will sign a decree containing a plan for Russia's economic development for the next six years. It is supposed to be presented as a plan to improve the quality of life of the Russians. And if it comes to specific measures, it is reported to increase spending on infrastructure development, education and healthcare.

The amount to be mentioned is 10 trillion rubles. However, it is specified that its exact size, as well as the sources of funding for the additional costs, will not be made public. The editorial emphasizes that money can be provided by reducing spending in other sectors - for example, defense or by raising taxes.

A helicopter from agricultural aviation landed in the yard of Vinprom winery in Svishtov. It was miraculous that the incident was without injuries. There is no serious material damage, reports "24 hours".

In the morning the machine sprayed the vineyards of the plant. After finishing the treatment, it had to land on the vinprom plate, but due to technical failure or pilot error, it landed in a narrower place in the yard of the company and hung the roof of an old building nearby.

"Several rows of roof tiles are broken and there is a broken part of the propeller. There was no fire. The pilot was alive and healthy During the landing in the yard there were two more workers but no one was injured" , explained the head of the city fire brigade Svetlin Mihalov.
  
A view was made at the site. The causes of the incident are made clear.

There is a double increase of detained migrants at the state border in March compared to February this year, according to data from the Ministry of Interior.

A total of 175 people without registration were detained at the entrance, at the exit and inside the country. In the first two weeks of April, there is also an increasing flow of people. Although there is an increase, the data show that there is still no room for pressure as it did in 2015 and 2016 at the same time.

Since the beginning of 2018, 356 people have been arrested, and for the same period in 2017, they were over 700. The State Agency for Refugees reports that more than 80 people have applied for refugee status. The Agency has granted this status to 8 people. In 2017, the EU sheltered more than 538,000 refugees, with 60% of the shelters granted by Germany. The number of refugees is lower by about a quarter compared to 2016. 24 000 migrants were displaced from the quotas adopted in the EU.

The Bulgarian division of the German company Lidl introduces new higher standards for the quality of the sausage from their own brand that they offer. All sausages from the Pikok, Baroni and Dulano brands, as well as from the "Rodna Stryha" product line, are now produced without the use of mechanically separated meat, which reduces the use of improvers and thickeners, the company said.

The chain also expands the Clean Label series, which includes meat products in a completely clean recipe without artificial additives, which is an innovation for the Bulgarian market, the company said.

"One of our goals is to continuously expand the range towards offering even higher quality products in clean, high-standard recipes," commented Milena Dragiyska, Chief Executive Officer of Lidl Bulgaria. 

All products of the series - spice salami, ham and bacon are made by Bulgarian producers, the company said.

There are ,ass complaints from the high heating bills in Sofia in March, reports Mediapool. 

Users are resentful that their invoices are for drastically higher sums than in the colder February and January, although the average temperature in the third month of the year was higher than the previous two. From Toplofikatsia - Sofia explained the higher bills with that March 2018 was colder than the same month in 2017.

The average monthly temperature last month was 6 degrees and in March 2017 - by three degrees higher.

"As a result of the lower temperature in March 2018, the invoiced heat for the month is 527,607 MWh, while in March 2017 368,790 MWh of thermal energy is invoiced to customers," the company said. 

Most heating bills are calculated on the basis of consumption in the same month of the previous year, which is adjusted by a fixed rate. It depends on the difference in monthly temperatures - the bigger it is, the higher the coefficient. This further led to an increase in the bills, explained from Toplofikatsia.

In addition, the price of heating jumped 23% in April last year, and this further increased the difference between the March 2018 and March 2017 bills. From there, they reminded that the actual energy consumed by the customers during the heating season will become clear after the heat meters and the formation of balancing accounts.

ATW - The European Commission (EC) has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether Italy’s €900 million ($1.1 billion) bridge loan to flag carrier Alitalia constituted state aid and whether it complied with European Union (EU) rules for aid to companies in difficulty.

Alitalia, which is 49% owned by Etihad Airways, filed for bankruptcy in May 2017 after employees rejected a labor agreement that would have unlocked shareholder funding for a turnaround plan.

The carrier has kept operating with the help of government funding as the process for finding an investor continues slowly, with UK LCC easyJet, Lufthansa and Cerberus Capital Management in the running and Lufthansa seen as the frontrunner.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The Commission has a duty to make sure that loans given to companies by member states are in line with the EU rules on state aid. We will investigate whether this is the case for Alitalia."

The Italian government awarded a €600 million bridge loan to the airline in May 2017, adding an extra €300 million to the loan in October and notifying the European Commission that the funding was classified as “rescue aid”.

The Commission said it had received a number of complaints in 2017 alleging that the loan constituted state aid that was not compatible with the applicable EU rules.

“The Commission’s current view is that the state loan may constitute state aid,” the EC said. “It will now investigate further whether the loan satisfies the conditions under the Guidelines.”

The EC said it had concerns that the duration of the loan—from May 2017 until at least December 2018—exceeded the maximum of six months for a rescue loan. “Furthermore, the Commission has doubts as to whether the aid is limited to the minimum necessary.”

It now plans to investigate whether these initial concerns are justified.

Under EU state aid rules, public interventions in favor of companies can be considered free of state aid when they are made on terms that a private operator would have accepted under market conditions.

Alitalia has had a troubled financial history and this is not the first time its funding has come under scrutiny.

A €300 million loan granted to Alitalia following a previous bankruptcy in 2008 was found to come under the classification of state aid, but Compagnia Aerea Italiana, the consortium of investors that holds 51% of Alitalia, was not forced to pay back the loan because it was not considered a legal successor to the bankrupt airline.

Irish budget carrier Ryanair had brought a court case over the earlier loan, but lost its appeal.

The new right-wing "Democratic Bulgaria" unification offers limited advertising on gambling and the sale of lottery tickets. The formation has sent a draft of amendments to the Gambling Act to the President of the National Assembly and all parliamentary groups. The most important change, which the Democrats insist, is that gambling and lottery tickets are sold only in gambling halls or bets establishments, reports Mediapool. 

The idea is that the points in question only deal with gambling activities and that other business activity is prohibited. This would seriously limit the current mass distribution of lottery tickets and lottery games of companies with the participation of Vasil Bozhkov "National Lottery" and "Lottery Bulgaria" because they are distributed in a wide variety of retail outlets.

"At present, special requirements for the distribution of gambling are observed only at the location and spacing of schools and homes for children, which in practice protects the distribution of lottery tickets and games, regardless of the importance of facilitated access by defenseless public groups," comment "Democratic Bulgaria".

"A similar imperative change is also introduced in the distribution of the territory of and in the vicinity of public and municipal property, as well as medical establishments, which aim to harmonize the criteria for the organization and distribution of gambling, regardless of the particular type of game". The formation also offers a restriction on gambling advertising. The aim is to treat this activity on an equal footing with the advertising of tobacco and alcohol.

"The mandatory ban on advertising of gambling games will align the regulation with the European one in this direction and will give optimally restrictive access for promotion and dissemination through the mass media," comment from Democratic Bulgaria.

Their specific suggestion is that gambling advertising can not be broadcast by electronic media before 10 pm.

Recently, Deputy Prime Minister Valeriy Simeonov has announced that he believes there should be a restriction of gambling advertising, and ten days ago he added that he is due to submit to Parliament amendments to two laws - gambling and radio and television.

Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com

Representatives of the European Youth Forum have expressed outrage at the way the EU Bulgarian Presidency organised an EU-sponsored youth event in Sofia last week, pointing out a perfunctory approach, mismanagement and inappropriate behaviour on the part of government officials.

At the EU Youth Conference organised in Sofia by the Bulgarian EU Presidency on 17-19 April, young people and policymakers met to discuss how to improve the lives of young Europeans.

The EU Youth Conference is the flagship event of the sixth cycle of the Structured Dialogue on Youth, a mass consultative process that aims to bring young people closer to policymakers.

At these youth conferences, which that take place on the occasion of every EU Presidency, youth elected representatives, together with national governments and European Commission officials, discuss and debate youth-related issues and come up with conclusions, which are then submitted to the Council of Ministers – as a way of ensuring that young people can co-shape the policies which affect their lives.

“The future of young people in Europe is one of the priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU,” the Bulgarian Presidency writes on its official website.

But according to Luis Alvarado, the President of the European Youth Forum, what happened in Sofia “was far from that reality, destroying the work of generations before us and disregarding young people at all cost”.

“This conference was an out-of-the-book example of what youth participation is not. Europe is a global example and inspiration for the rest of the world of what is possible when it comes to the empowerment of young people – because we have built it the hard way. And this conference has undermined and put in danger all of this,” Alvarado told EURACTIV.

“There were no young and European elected representatives on any panel of discussion of the conference […] Is this what they mean by fighting for youth empowerment?” Alvarado asked. He added that the Bulgarian government adopted a top-down, perfunctory and condescending approach.

The European Youth Forum chief said there were “plenty of UN officials” at this conference, who “are of course always welcome for inter-institutional coordination” but, in his words, “they don’t follow or contribute to the Structured Dialogue, EU youth policy and the processes currently at stake such as the upcoming new EU Youth Strategy and the progress of the ERASMUS+ budget negotiations”.

He also quoted government representatives from other member states who said that the UN presence was exorbitant for an EU conference and that there was frustration among other EU governments, researchers and youth leaders on how Bulgaria has managed this presidency.

Alvarado pointed out a number of shortcomings in the organisation of the conference, claiming that the Bulgarian Presidency wanted to change every process that was used in the past events of this type.

“The aim of these conferences is to reach out to groups of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. A key instrument to achieve that is to ensure they don’t have to put money from their own pockets to participate”, he said.

Alvarado explained that tor the first time in the history of this process, young people had to buy their flight tickets by themselves – in the past this was done by the relevant national government, given that this expense is covered by European Commission funds. “Young people are worried over their reimbursements and these new practices which put more obstacles”, he said.

Every six months, the EU executive provides the host member state a grant to organise the youth conferences.

“Why was this time different? There were young people who struggled to afford a ticket […] it’s a practical detail but showcases how ‘seriously’ young people are taken,” he added.

Free alcohol, half-naked women

Alvarado complained that free hard alcohol was offered at the conference and that the drinks prevented some of the participants from being in shape for the next morning working session.. More shockingly, he said that even though there was a session during the conference about gender equality and young women empowerment, at night there was a party at which “half-naked” women danced on tables, which he called “unacceptable” and “a clear indication of patriarchal stereotypes being promoted within our Union”. This clearly disturbed many of the young leaders and government representatives, he said.

“It’s outrageous that EU public money has been spent in this way. This is not the EU the young people I represent are fighting for”, Alvarado said.

Navracsics too busy

The President of the European Youth Forum also noted that Tibor Navracsics, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, left after the end of his speech without listening to the policy recommendations of young people.

“He was supposed to take these recommendations into account in terms of the ongoing shaping of the next EU Youth Strategy. Commissioner Navracsics needs to understand that young people of Europe expect much more from him and he needs to deliver. We expect the new EU Youth Goals to be reflected in the next EU Youth Strategy and we expect him to be ambitious and propose an instrumental increase of the ERASMUS+ budget as we have asked in our ERASMUSx10 campaign”.

“It is quite sad that member states are being more ambitious than EU institutions when it comes to the increase of the budget of the most successful EU program in history – we expect more leadership.”

EURACTIV contacted the European Commission for a comment on the issue as well as whether it exists a mechanism to monitor how the EU money is spent in these conferences.

No answer has been provided by the time of this article’s publication.

He also said that young people were frustrated with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who according to them in his speech, urged young people not to forget their first duty of nature to procreate, using the example of a German minister who has 7 children. “Easy for him who is not part of the first generation that will be worst off than their parents”, commented Alvarado.

In addition, Alvarado noted that following the conference, Bulgarian government officials badmouthed youth representatives on social media, who “dared” to criticise the organisation of the conference. He added:

“They realised their mistake and started deleting their posts.”

Contacted by EURACTIV, Raycho Raychev, Vice-President of the Bulgarian Youth Council, confirmed Alvarado’s claims about the lack of youth participation in the panels, adding that there were also debates without any interaction with the participants.

He also complained that the flight tickets issue caused accessibility difficulties for participants.

Applauding Borissov

But he went a step further: “It is crucial to highlight that the Ministry forced the volunteers to stand up and applaud after our Prime Minister’s speech, also written questions were given by the Ministry to some of the participants for the Citizen dialogue with the Commissioner.”

He noted that the Bulgarian youth council faces the same attitude from the government in its everyday work, as the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Bulgaria excluded it from the planning, co-management and the evaluation process during the Presidency.

“Deaf people were included in the event but and no accessible and inclusive environment was provided to them for the whole time.”

“While the results were concluded till 3 am and the DGs from Estonia and Austria worked hard on them, the Ministry representatives were at the conference party, in a club with female go-go dancers. I could say that the Ministry is having a fancy way to promote our Youth Goal of gender equality.”

What the Bulgarian government says

EURACTIV contacted the Permanent Representation of Bulgaria to the EU for a comment on the issues that were raised.

Regarding the absence of young people in the panels, Spokesperson Elitsa Zlateva stressed that the European Youth Goals, which are the main outcome of the Conference were developed by 11 thematic working groups consisting of young people and representatives of the public authorities in charge of youth policy in EU, Western Balkan and Eastern Partnership countries.

“The President of the National Youth Forum of Bulgaria and the President of the European Youth Forum were actively participating in the entire process.”

“On the first day if the Conference a youth representative was included as speaker together with representatives of the European Commission, Ministry of Youth and Sports, UN in the high-level discussion panel.”

She also referred to a special format of the “Citizens’’ Dialogue” with the participation of the EU Commissioner for EYCS, the Minister of Youth and Sport of Bulgaria and the UNSG’s Special Envoy on Youth (aged 28).

Zlateva also played down the ticketing issues, explaining that there is no mandatory procedure to be followed. “Thus, to provide more flexibility to the youth delegates the Presidency decided to follow the model of reimbursement.”

‘Beyond strictly-EU format’

The Bulgarian Presidency has set up an “ambitious agenda” in the field of youth and decided to put a particular focus on cross-sectorial issues related to the European Youth Strategy priority “Youth and the World”, she said.

“In line with the UNSC Resolution 2250, one of the elements to be included in the draft Council Conclusions in the youth field will be linked to the role of youth in building a harmonious and peaceful society in Europe. With this objective in mind, the Youth Working Party in the Council of the EU established a unique cross-sectorial partnership with the UN Working Party of the Council and the initiative was highly welcomed.”

“The Presidency decided to further strengthen this approach by expanding the scope of the participation in the European Youth Conference thus providing an opportunity for further exchange and hopefully a source for inspiration beyond the strictly-EU format. Besides the UN, in the conference took part representatives of EURODESK, and of the Western Balkan and Eastern Partnership countries,” she concluded.

Young participants in the conference “suspect” that behind the UN focus there were personal motivations.

“The Structured Dialogue is a positive and powerful tool for young people to be co-shapers of policies at EU level. Even though it is far from perfect and needs reform, it’s unique in the world and inspiration and it must be protected from public officials trying to use it for personal gain undermining the efforts of an entire generation,” Alvarado commented.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov announced he is opposed to the return of the division in establishments of smoking area and non-smoking saloon.
 
"We at GERB are convinced and we have backed up all the actions involved in the fight against smoking that damages human health. This will be my opinion if the topic is set. Meanwhile this is his opinion (Valery Simeonov on his suggestion to abolish the complete ban on smoking in the restaurants), he expressed it. We have not spoken, but that does not mean that he can not have an opinion. Democracy is pluralism of opinions - I support this, "he said at a conference on the presentation of results of checks on smuggling of cigarettes.

The prime minister congratulated the institutions for their job in the fight against the smuggling of cigarettes.
 
"We can assure that in all spheres of the fight against smuggling and corruption we are relentless. For two and a half years, it is precisely this lasting trend, as the reduction of foreign debt, "he said.

With the proceeds from the fight against cigarette smuggling, various European policies, including the Cohesion Policy, could be pursued, Borisov said. Concerning short-term measures to tackle smuggling of cigarettes in the country, Borisov has assured that measures will be taken, among which markets will have more policemen.

Washington (CNN)Donald Trump is not the only President who wants to make his country great again -- his first state dinner guest, Emmanuel Macron, wants to do the same.

That's why the young, pragmatic French President is giving the impression that there's nothing he'd rather do than spend time with his scandal-plagued US counterpart, offering him the respect and validation he craves.

But he's not acting purely out of the goodness of his heart: To fulfill his goal of restoring France's prestige and global influence, he needs the United States -- and that means there is no choice but to deal with the man in the Oval Office.

It was a dynamic on display when Macron played a leading role alongside Washington in punishing chemical weapons strikes in Syria -- reinforcing the values of Western civilization that many Europeans believe Trump disdains. It's why Macron is so insistent that despite Trump's instincts, the United States cannot afford to withdraw its troops from Syria and leave an open playground for extremists like ISIS and regional superpowers like Iran.

And it explains why Macron, who greeted Trump with an air kiss on his cheek as he arrived for his state visit to the White House, has gone out of his way to be friendly to Trump, who is as unpopular in France as he is in the rest of Europe.

On Monday, the leaders flew by helicopter past the monuments in Washington, a city laid out by French architect Pierre Charles L'Enfant before heading down the Potomac to dine with their wives at George Washington's mansion at Mount Vernon.

The first state visit of the current presidency is intended by Trump to return the compliment offered by Macron when he made the President guest of honor at France's Bastille Day national celebration last July, at a time when other European leaders were still recoiling from the shock of Trump's "America First" revolution.

TORONTO — The killing began on a busy lunchtime thoroughfare in Toronto on Monday when a white rental Ryder van ran over a pedestrian crossing the street — then mounted a sidewalk and began plowing into people indiscriminately.

“One by one, one by one,” said a witness who identified himself as Ali. “Holy God, I’ve never seen such a sight before. I feel sick.”

By the end, at least 10 people were dead and 15 were injured, said the authorities.

The driver’s actions, they said, appeared intentional, but did not seem to have been an act of terrorism. “The city is safe,” said the Toronto police chief, Mark Saunders.

The driver, who was identified as Alek Minassian, 25, was in custody after initially refusing to surrender.

Armenia’s prime minister, Serzh Sargsyan, has said he will resign after days of large street protests against him, according to a statement posted on his website.

“The street movement is against my tenure. I am fulfilling your demand,” the statement said.

Hundreds of uniformed soldiers had joined anti-government demonstrators earlier on Monday on the 11th consecutive day of protests over an alleged power grab by Sargsyan.

Prior to Sargsyan’s resignation, and apparently yielding to opposition pressure, police released Nikol Pashinyan, a protest leader and opposition MP who had been arrested alongside hundreds of demonstrators on Sunday in an attempt to crush the demonstrations. Until his release, Pashinyan’s whereabouts had been unknown.

“Nikol! Nikol!” chanted protesters draped in Armenian flags as they marched in the country’s capital, Yerevan. Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in the city’s Republic Square at the weekend in one of the country’s largest demonstrations in years.

“This is the last time I will speak to you as the head of the government,” Sargsyan’s statement said. “Nikol Pashinyan was right. I was wrong.”

The demonstrations were sparked by Sargsyan’s decision to take on the post of prime minister after serving for more than a decade as the former Soviet country’s president, provoking anger among opposition parties and other protest groups over his domination of Armenia’s political scene.

The decision came as his second term as president ended, but shortly after the constitution was amended to give more power to the prime minister and transform the presidency into a ceremonial role.

Political opponents and civil society activists cried foul. “I came here to discuss your resignation,” Pashinyan told Sargsyan shortly before negotiations broke down on Sunday. Pashinyan was arrested shortly afterwards.

The protests have simmered in Armenia for more than a week. Defying threats from police to stay away, striking students on Monday blocked streets in Yerevan, with dozens of soldiers pouring out of their barracks to join demonstrators, according to videos posted on social media. The soldiers appeared to be unarmed.

The defence minister warned that Armenia’s foe Azerbaijan was benefiting from the unrest. “The enemy is looking at events in our country. Instability inside our country opens a road for them to take action. We need to tell society about this,” Vigen Sarkisian said. He said the army could only become involved if a state of emergency was declared, which he hoped would not happen “for years to come”.

A shrewd former military officer, Sargsyan was first elected as president of the impoverished Moscow-allied country in 2008. After that poll, 10 people died in clashes between police and supporters of the defeated opposition candidate. He was re-elected in 2013, with his second and final term ending on 9 April./ The Guardian

Digitisation and easing the access to the book stock are key priorities for attracting young readers, Tsvetanka Tomova, Programmes and Projects expert at the National Library, told Focus Radio.

The library is planning a series of activities this summer, including a programme for its 140th anniversary. Tsvetanka Tomova spoke about the work on various projects, such as creating an accessible environment for disadvantaged visitors and staff, a restoration of the lab and the purchase of modern digitisation techniques, and a contemporary presentation of the book heritage with virtual exhibitions and holographic books to attract young people.

Meanwhile, the storage conditions in the library are still not in line with the requirements. The main tasks involve improvements to obsolete building parts, especially the roof, the expert said.

The European Commission today presented a study on the opinion of EU citizens about justice. According to data, 53 percent of Europeans say that most of the things that happen in their lives are fair, while only 38 percent of Bulgarians think that.

61 per cent of Bulgarian citizens say that they are in good health and 78 per cent of the rest of the EU. 83 percent of people in the EU and 62 percent of Bulgarians feel happy.

More than double the difference in responses to the issue of equal opportunities for progress in life - 58% of people in the EU feel on an equal footing with others, whereas in Bulgaria this is only 32%. According to the survey, Bulgarians place the need to be healthy to advance their lives (73 per cent vs. 48 per cent in the EU).

"Knowing the right people" to make progress is the answer of 22 percent of the other Europeans and 56 percent of the Bulgarian participants in the consultation. "To be lucky" is the answer of 21% of the people in the EU and 60% of the Bulgarians. "To have political ties," 10% of Europeans and 37% of Bulgarian participants are responsible.

The majority of Bulgarians (91 per cent) and Europeans (84 per cent) state that income disparities are too great. The majority of us and the rest of the EU (81 per cent) are of the opinion that in order to change this, governments should take action.

Another study of food in Bulgaria and in Western Europe shows "double standards" in terms of both quality and price. This was announced by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
 
A total of 106 samples, covering 53 food and beverage from the same brand, offered on the one hand in a retail chain in Bulgaria, and on the other in the same or similar chain of stores in Germany, Austria, Italy and Czech Republic.

The study includes a comparison of labels and external looks in a laboratory, and a comparison of prices.
 
The study shows that there is a discrepancy in the composition and quality of some products offered on the Bulgarian and other European markets. There are significant discrepancies in milk for young children.

Laboratory tests show higher levels of vegetable fat, including palm oil, in the Bulgarian analogue. A product from Bulgaria does not contain milk whey powder and has a lower content of microelements and vitamins.
 
Although the Bulgarian analogue can be described as inferior quality, it is offered at a similar price to that in Italy.

BBC - Mohamed Salah has won the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year award for 2017-18.

The Liverpool forward, 25, beat Kevin de Bruyne, Harry Kane, Leroy Sane, David Silva and David de Gea in the vote by his fellow players.

Manchester City's Sane won the young player prize, while Chelsea's Fran Kirby won the Women's Player of the Year award.

Bristol City's Lauren Hemp was named Women's Young Player of the Year.

"It's an honour and especially as it's voted by the players. I am happy and proud," Egypt international Salah said.

"I didn't have my chance at Chelsea. It was clear I would return and show everyone my football. I think I left and came back a different person, man and player."

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said he was "happy to have the opportunity" of being Salah's manager and added it was an "unbelievable honour" to win the award.

"It's been a fantastic ride but we still have games to go," Klopp said. "But please grab the trophy and come home. We play on Tuesday!"

Former West Brom and England forward Cyrille Regis, who died in January at the age of 59, was honoured with the PFA's merit award during the ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

Former England captain Casey Stoney, who retired from football this year, picked up the PFA Special Achievement award.

Salah has scored 31 goals in 33 Premier League games for Klopp's free-scoring Liverpool side and leads the race for the golden boot.

The Egypt international's 31st league goal against West Brom on Saturday took him alongside Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez, who share the record for a 38-game season.

He scored in both legs of Liverpool's 5-1 aggregate victory over Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals, as well as four goals in their league victory over Watford in March.

The £34m summer signing from Roma, is just the fifth player to register more than 40 goal involvements in a single Premier League season (31 goals, nine assists).

For the sixth consecutive year, people gathered to dance traditional Bulgarian Horo on the central square in the capital of Europe - Brussels.

The event is part of the cultural calendar of the Bulgarian Euro-Presidency and is under the patronage of the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani.

The festival of Bulgarian folklore in Brussels gathered dancers, musicians and singers from the Academy of Music and Dance in Plovdiv, Tarnovo Tsaritsa ensemble from Veliko Tarnovo, as well as kukeri from the village of Rakovski.

The initiative for the great Bulgarian horo is by the MEP Eva Maydell, who took over the tradition of former EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva.

"Gathering of at least 1000 people in the central square in Brussels - we have set ourselves this goal, we would like to tell the story about a modern, talented, colorful Bulgaria," said Eva Maydell to Horizon.

The Horo is part of the Balkan Traffic Festival, which is held for the seventh consecutive year in Brussels.

"This is the main event where the values, traditions of the Balkan countries are presented, and they are a major and special guest in their quest to promote Plovdiv as the capital of culture for 2019," added the Bulgarian MEP.

According to preliminary data of the National Statistical Institute in 2017, the institutional sector "General government" reports a budget surplus of BGN 920 million or 0.9% GDP, NSI reported.

The surplus in the central government sub-sector amounted to BGN 727 million, or 0.7% of GDP. The local government sub-sector has realized a surplus of BGN 256 million and the Social Security Funds sub-sector - a deficit of BGN 63 million.

The debt of Bulgaria in 2017 amounts to BGN 25,064 million, or 25.4% of GDP. The statistical information on the activities of the institutional sector "General government", including debt, deficit and surplus, is prepared according to a harmonized EU methodology. 

Bulgarians and Greeks are the European citizens who spend the least money on books and newspapers. This shows Eurostat statistics released on the occasion of the World Book Day, April 23rd.

The figures are for 2016 and show that only 0.6% of the expenses of Bulgarian and Greek households go to books and printed publications. In total, all European citizens have spent 90 billion euros on books, newspapers and magazines or on average 1.1% of their costs.

The largest share of book spending in Slovakia is 2.1% of all household spending. Germany is second with 1.6% and Poland with 1.4%. In Bulgaria and Greece, the percentage is 0.6. It is slightly higher in the Czech Republic, Spain and Malta - 0.7 per cent.

The removal of illegal movable establishments on the beach of Sunny Beach-North continues. Two more sites have been removed, which have existed in violation of the approved scheme for affixing beachfront sites.

The Amigo bar, with an area of ​​350 square meters, was voluntarily removed, it was located in front of the Bellevue Hotel, in violation of the scheme approved by the Minister of Tourism, the Ministry of Tourism announced. There was also a Terra (400 square meter) restaurant located in front of the Palace Hotel and working in contradiction with the contractual relationship.

Previously, the 400-square-foot Stela di marre restaurant was also destroyed, as well as the Bubles Bar & Restaurant, about 400 square meters, located in front of Glarus Hotel and not far from Chaika Hotel.

Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelova suspended the concession on Sunny Beach-North Beach after it was found over 8000 square meters of relocating sites that exceeded the approved for their deployment scheme. At the Minister's inspection in February this year it was found that more than 190 illegal sites had already been destroyed. Clearance of some of the sites was delayed due to the beginning of the active summer season. Checks on the rigorous implementation of rental and concession contracts on beaches continue.

French President Emmanuel Macron will meet with his colleague Donald Trump on Monday. He is the first foreign leader whom the US Head of State will accept with all honor on a state visit - after a year in the White House.

They will have a private dinner at George Vernon's historic residence in Washington DC, followed by a ceremony in the White House garden and evening reception in its salons, BTV reports.

Main topics of talks between the presidents are expected to be the Iranian nuclear program and the duties imposed by the United States on countries of the European Union.

France supported the United States in its initiative against Syria's chemical forces, believing that it would put Macron in a good position when talking to Trump.

The Council of Europe today presented a report on migrants and refugees, dedicated to Bulgaria. Account is taken of the efforts made by our country to overcome the challenges of the large migration flows.

The document states that migrants hardly reach our country from Turkey and are hardly receiving international protection. According to the report, Bulgaria make efforts refugees' children to go to school, but the entry of foreigners into the local community remains hampered by the lack of an obligation on municipalities to do so. A "general negative attitude towards migrants and refugees" is reported in Bulgaria.

The Council of Europe notes that it is necessary for our country to provide migrants with more information on their asylum rights, as well as translation and legal assistance when passing through relevant procedures. It is clarified that for the preparation of the report a representative of the Council of Europe was in our country in November last year to visit migrant centers and to talk with the authorities and local NGOs.

Nine of the countries that are at serious risk of losing a large proportion of their population over the coming decades are from Eastern Europe, whose younger generations have moved to the West to find a job. This is stated in a Bloomberg report, based on UN data, cited by FOCUS.

The document notes that the young working-class population leaves the former Eastern Bloc countries and goes to the West in a way that resembles the industrial revolution. For example, Latvia has lost 25% of its population in the last 27 years, and it is expected in 2100 that the decline will reach 41% (compared to 1989). Estonia is expected to have lost 32% of its population for the same period and Lithuania - 41%. The situation in Ukraine and Moldova is even worse. The UN predicts that they will lose 36 and 51 percent of their population by the end of the century.

Among the factors contributing to the depopulation of the region are the strong anti-immigrant sentiment, low incomes and insufficient growth. The report states that the average annual income in the EU in 2015 was 24,183 euros, while in Latvia it was 6814 euros. Many young people from the East emigrate to start unskilled jobs in the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom and Ireland because of the economic situation in their countries and the remaining population in these countries is aging.

In order to halt the process of depopulation, economic growth is needed, and in order to achieve growth, countries must explain to foreign investors what they are going to do about the declining population, said former economy minister of Latvia Vyacheslav Dombrovskis to Bloomberg.

The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a baby boy – on St George's Day – with Prince William by her side.

Kensington Palace tweeted at 1pm: "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 1101hrs.

"The baby weighs 8lbs 7oz.

"The Duke of Cambridge was present for the birth.

"Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well."

Kate fell into the early stages of labour in the early hours of this morning and was taken to hospital.

The world's media descended on the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in London to await the imminent arrival.

It was expected the birth would come soon, with Kate being in hospital with Prince George for 24 hours, and with Princess Charlotte in just 10 hours.

At least 20 people were killed and 40 others wounded in an air raid on a wedding party in Yemen, rescue teams told AFP on Monday (Apr 23).

Huthi rebels who control most of northern Yemen blamed the Sunday attack on a Saudi-led Arab coalition that backs the country's government.

Rescue teams said the wedding was taking place in the Huthi-controlled Bani Qais area of Hajjah province, north of Sanaa, when jets carried out the raid.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Twitter that a hospital it supports in Hajjah received at least 40 patients wounded in the airstrikes.

"Medical teams are working around the clock to provide assistance to the victims," MSF said.

The Huthi-run Al-Masirah Television tweeted that at least 33 people were killed and as many as 55 wounded in the air raid.

It said an unspecified number of children and women were among those killed, in addition to at least 30 children among the wounded.

The Saudi-led coalition's spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the incident.

Saudi Arabia launched a coalition of Arab states in March 2015 to battle the Iran-backed Huthis in its southern neighbour and restore to power Yemen's internationally recognised government.

Nearly 10,000 people have since been killed in the conflict, which has sparked what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Source: channelnewsasia.com

Smuggling of cigarettes is currently 6.6%, according to data from tobacco companies. They announced this to Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov and the Ministers of Finance and Interior - Vladislav Goranov and Valentin Radev.

Highest remains the smuggling in Haskovo, Yambol and Dimitrovgrad. Last year, smuggling was 6%. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov announced that he would order an inspection due to the increase in smuggling.

On Saturday, a joint action of the Ministry of Environment and Water, Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters - Smolyan and the Four Paws Foundation saved three bears found near the road near the Rhodopian village of Barutin, near the Dospat Dam. The bears are at a very tender age and were without their mother, which forced their urgent accommodation in the Dancing Bears Park near Belitsa.

Yesterday the bears were examined by a veterinarian.

According to Dimitar Ivanov, manager of Four Paws and the Bridget Bardo Rescue Center Foundation, the three bears are very stressed because of their premature separation from the mother:

"They were alone 24-hours, not eating or taking liquids during that time. Our experience shows that in more than 90% of the cases of found bears in the wild, the mother is chased or shot by poachers. Growing orphaned bears by humans is extremely difficult, but we will nevertheless do our best to save them. "



The three bears are about three months old. The Four Paws specialists have begun feeding them with goat milk, which is closest to the bears', adding vitamins to it. Two of the bears  are male and one female. The largest bear is the female bear weighing over 3 kg, and the worries of the caretakers and doctors in the Dancing Bears Park are related to the smallest bear weighing less than 2 kg.





 

A young man is found with a gunshot wound in an underground garage in Burgas. The 30-year-old man has probably attempted suicide. Doctors in the hospital in Burgas are fighting for his life.
 
A signal of the incident in the underground garage of block 161 in the Slaveykov complex was received late last night in the Second District Administration. On-site policemen were greeted by a 30-year-old woman who claimed the victim was her friend. In front of the uniforms she explained that they had celebrated a birthday together with their acquaintances earlier in the evening.
 
At one point, 30-year-old Alexander Stoyanov of Silistra announced that he was going out for a while. After his delay, his friends went out to look for him. They found him in helpless condition in the underground garage of the block with a gunshot wound in his temple.

Shortly after 9 am, an anonymous male voice called to report that there was an explosive device around the St.George Church. Police teams i mmediately arrived on site but however, after the check, it turns out that the signal is fake.

The  press service in the Presidency has said the presidential administration has not stopped working.

Russian gas giant Gazprom plans to build a huge gas-processing plant near the Baltic Sea, integrated with gas-chemical power. The partner of the company in this project is the company "Rusgaznitsa", writes "Vedomosti".

The business edition cites a source who spoke with managers of the Rusgazanci and a top manager of Gazprom's counterpart. According to them, the future production complex will be able to process up to 45 billion cubic meters of gas annually. The estimated cost of the project is nearly $ 20 billion, adds Vedomosti's interlocutors.
 
A Gazprom spokesman confirmed on April 22 that the project was being developed. If carried out, it could become the second largest in all Gazprom investment projects following the Siberian Power pipeline ($ 55 billion in 2014 estimates), the Russian daily notes.

Five district centers have increased the number of their residents last year. Kardzhali joined Varna, Veliko Tarnovo, Plovdiv and Sofia, which increased their population in 2016. This shows a BTA survey of population data on cities of 31 December 2017 of the National Statistical Institute.
 
According to the report, out of a total of 257 Bulgarian cities, only 25 have increased their population in the past year, compared to 23 in the year before. In the remaining 232 cities the population decreases with a different number of people, the data show. Last year the Bulgarian cities, whose population is less than 1000 people, are increasing by one. In the group of Melnik, Madzharovo, Pliska, Kiten and Klisura is now also Brusarci.

According to data in 2017, the largest increase in population was registered in Sofia. The number of residents in the capital has increased by 2391 compared to the previous year and reached 1 238 438 people. After Sofia, the biggest increase in the population is in Plovdiv1789, with the town under the hills already having a population of 345 213.

 

Jing Travel - An undisclosed number of Chinese tourists were killed in a fatal bus accident in North Korea on Sunday in what could turn out to be one of the worst incidents involving Chinese tourists in recent years. According to a Chinese media report that was later deleted, over 30 Chinese tourists died after their tour bus fell off a bridge in North Korea.

Details of the incident still remain scarce after Chinese state media pulled their more detailed report, but state-run media outlets still maintain that a “serious traffic incident” with “heavy casualties” involving Chinese tourists had occurred in North Korea.

If the previously disclosed number of over 30 casualties is accurate, the incident is likely the most fatal accident involving Chinese tourists since the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in 2014, where 153 Chinese passengers have been declared dead in absentia.

Other major fatal incidents involving Chinese tourists in recent years involves the 2016 Taoyuan bus fire in Taiwan, where 24 Chinese tourists and 2 Taiwanese nationals were killed, and the 2017 Borneo shipwreck, which caused three confirmed Chinese tourists’ deaths and the disappearance of an additional five passengers.

By far and large, most publicized fatal incidents involving Chinese tourists are traffic accidents and other vehicle failures. Last year, a total of some 700 Chinese tourists were killed abroad—one third of them during water-based activities, prompting authorities to remind travelers to tread with caution when partaking in activities such as snorkeling and swimming abroad.

Yesterday’s bus accident could prove particularly challenging to both China and North Korea.

China, which tends to be quite heavy-handed in its reaction to Chinese fatalities abroad, may feel compelled to take a more cautious approach to an incident in North Korea given recent developments in the world of diplomacy. The seeming rapprochement between North Korea, the United States, and South Korea has left China worried about potential lost influence on the Korean peninsula, according to a New York Times report. Putting heavy pressure on the Kim regime at a time when the country’s government is exploring a path forward with South Korea and the United States could certainly prove diplomatically unwise.

However, China may have surprisingly little sway over its tourists, even to North Korea. Chinese tourists, known to be notoriously security conscious, may simply shun travel to North Korea as a result of the accident. With Chinese tourists representing a vast majority of tourists in North Korea—and a valuable source of foreign currency—a sharp reduction in Chinese visits would leave China with less leverage over its secluded neighbor.

While it’s unclear how many Chinese visitors go to North Korea every year, 237,000 Chinese visits were made to North Korea in 2012, the last year China reported such statistics. If Chinese tourism to North Korea followed the same trend as Chinese tourism as a whole, that number is likely far larger today. In 2012, 83 million Chinese tourists went abroad, with 130 million traveling abroad last year. Assuming that the growth rate was the same for travel to North Korea, that would amount to over 370,000 Chinese tourist arrivals in North Korea last year.

Needless to say, a sharp reduction of that number in 2018 would prove both devastating for Chinese diplomacy as well as the North Korean economy that still suffers from widespread international sanctions.

Free legal aid for the socially disadvantages. The consultation can be done by phone. There are 11 specially created centers for the National Legal Aid Bureau, NOVA reports.

An average of 12 people call the phone each day for legal help, and on the other side of the phone is a lawyer with many years of experience. Advices are given free of charge.

Free help can benefit everyone who can not hire a lawyer. The person calling provides data and a check is made on whether he/she is really socially disadvantaged.

Cases in which socially disadvantaged seek legal aid are on the increase. 

The first plenary session of the informal meeting of EU Health Ministers in Sofia is under way. It will be dedicated to the healthy nutrition for children, one of the priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU in the health sector.

 

Expect more details later.

Air France KLM shares fell on Monday as its Air France division faced further disruption to flights due to workers striking in protest over pay, reported Reuters.

Air France KLM shares were down 1.4 percent in early trading, among the worst performers on Paris' SBF-120 index.

Air France predicted that 25 percent of its flights would be canceled on Monday, the 10th day of a strike by staff. The airline has said that the strike has cost it 220 million euros ($270 million).

 

Due to repair 46th kilometer from "Struma" motorway, will stop the traffic lane to ''Dupnitsa'' from "Dolna Dikanya" junction to "Dupnitsa-North".

The movement towards Sofia will take place without change.

A bomb warning around the Presidency was received this morning at 9 am on 112, the press center of the Ministry of Interior announced. The signal was given by a male voice, claiming that around the Church of St. George there was an explosive device. The police are investigating the case.

Expect more details!

 Greece on Sunday said it considers the President's call for peace a positive step, Daily Sabahreported.

"From the Turkish president's statements yesterday we keep the positive elements: his shift towards peace in the Aegean and the support for dialogue between the two countries on important sectors, among which security," a statement from the Greek prime ministry said.

The previous day, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for peace with Greece, saying he does not want any more tensions, amid provocations in the Aegean and Mediterranean.

"We need peace now. Besides, our peace with you is like no other," he said referring to Greece, during a live interview with Turkish channel NTV.

On the two Greek soldiers who were remanded into custody in March after they "inadvertently" crossed the border in northwestern Turkey, the Greek prime ministry noted that comparing their issue to other issues is "unacceptable".

Today the weather will remain warm and mostly sunny. Around noon and thereafter, cumulus clouds will develop over the northeastern and the mountainous regions in Southwestern Bulgaria, but it will rain only in some areas, possibly with thunder.

There will be light northwestern wind, in Eastern Bulgaria from east-southeast.

The maximum temperatures will mostly range between 25°C and 30°C, in Sofia about 26°C, the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrologytold Focus News Agency.








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