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Worldwide more than 140,000 people died from measles in 2018, according to new estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC). These deaths occurred as measles cases surged globally, amidst devastating outbreaks in all regions.

Most deaths were among children under 5 years of age. Babies and very young children are at greatest risk from measles infections, with potential complications including pneumonia and encephalitis (a swelling of the brain), as well as lifelong disability - permanent brain damage, blindness or hearing loss.

Health experts described the situation as "shocking and tragic" and stressed that it could be prevented by vaccination.

However, vaccination rates globally have stagnated for almost a decade. WHO and UNICEF estimate that 86% of children globally received the first dose of measles vaccine through their country’s routine vaccination services in 2018, and fewer than 70% received the second recommended dose.

Worldwide, coverage with measles vaccine is not adequate to prevent outbreaks. WHO recommends that 95% vaccination coverage with two doses of measles vaccine is needed in each country and all communities to protect populations from the disease.

The United States has recorded the highest number of measles deaths in 25 years. There are epidemic manifestations in Congo, Madagascar and Ukraine.

“The fact that any child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease like measles is frankly an outrage and a collective failure to protect the world’s most vulnerable children,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “To save lives, we must ensure everyone can benefit from vaccines - which means investing in immunization and quality health care as a right for all.”, WHO reported.

 

 

China will waive import duties on some soybean and pork supplies from the United States, the Chinese Treasury said on Friday, citing a decision by the country's cabinet.

The tariff exemption is based on applications from individual soybean and pork companies in the United States, the ministry said. It does not list the corresponding quantities, CNBC reports.

In July 2018, China imposed a 25% duty on both soybean and pork from the United States, counteracting tariffs imposed by Washington over allegations that China was stealing and coercing the transfer of US intellectual property to Chinese companies.

The refusal comes amid negotiations between the United States and China to conclude a "phase one" or temporary deal to de-escalate a 17-month trade war between the two countries. Raising customs duties on goods is a key part of these talks.

China also needs serious meat imports to fill the big shortage after an outbreak of African swine fever devastated pork farms and thus reduced pork stocks.

75.1% of households in Bulgaria have access to the internet in their homes. In the last ten years alone, there has been an increase of 42.0 percentage points, according to the NSI in a survey on the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in households, conducted in 2019.

At the same time, one quarter (24.5%) have never used the internet, and over the past ten years, their relative share has doubled.

People mainly use a mobile connection through the network of mobile telephone operators (64.0%) and a fixed cable connection (57.8%). This year, the highest relative share of households with Internet access is the Southwestern region (77.8%) and the lowest is the Northwestern region (70.8%). Households with children make more active use of the global network, with as many as 90.5% of them having access to the Internet, compared to 70.0% for households without children.

In 2019, 24.8% of households do not have internet access in their homes. Half of them (or 50.3%) think that they do not need it (not useful, interesting, etc.), while 41.9% cite lack of internet knowledge and skills as the main reason, and according to 24,3% of the respondents, access costs are too high, the NSI study shows.

Police in several European countries have arrested 11 Dutch people and seized a significant amount of drugs after a year-long investigation into a criminal organization operating across Europe, France Press reported.

"The national authorities of Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and Norway, with the active support of Eurojust, have taken down an organised crime group (OCG) involved in drug trafficking." the European judicial cooperation body announced today.

Police suspect that the drugs were transported by truck, along with legal cargo, from Spain into the Netherlands, and redistributed to other countries., according to Eurojust.

4 tonnes of hashish, 200 kg of amphetamines, 64 kg of cocaine, 45 kg of MDMA, and 25 kg of heroin were seized.

A transport company based in the Netherlands was also involved in the traffic.

Following a yearlong investigation, coordinated arrests were conducted. 11 Dutch have been arrested across Europe. Another 50 suspects were charged in Norway as an expansion of the Eurojust case.

In 2017, air transport operators in the European Union (EU) ran a total of 6 711 aircraft, used for passengers or freight. This number excludes piston planes, helicopters and aircrafts with a maximum take-off weight of less than 2 600 kg.

From the total EU aircraft fleet, around one fifth (21%) of the aircraft were aged less than 5 years. Almost one third of the aircraft (27%) were 5 to 9 years old and 19% were 10 to 14 years old. The remaining third of the aircraft (34%) were 15 to 19 years old (17%) or 20 years or over (17%).

1 in 5 EU aircraft operated in the United Kingdom

In 2017, the United Kingdom was the leading aircraft operator in the EU, running more than 1 312 aircraft. In other words, UK-based operators accounted for almost one in every five EU aircraft (20%). Following them were Germany with 1 100 aircraft (16% of the EU aircraft fleet), France (571 aircraft, 9%), Ireland (569 aircraft, 8%) and Spain (509 aircraft, almost 8%).

Largest share of old aircraft operated in Sweden, Lithuania and Croatia, lowest in Finland and Luxembourg

Across the EU Member States, over half the aircraft fleet was aged 20 or more in Sweden (55%), Lithuania (52%) and Croatia (50%). Aircraft aged 20 years or more also made up more than a third of the fleet in Bulgaria (44%), Cyprus (40%), Romania (39%) and Denmark (35%).

In contrast, operators in Finland had no aircraft aged 20 years or over, whist this share was less than 10% in Luxembourg (3%), Czechia (6%), Ireland and Austria (both 7%) as well as the Netherlands (slightly below 10%).

A significant share of the fleet was made up of recent aircraft (aged less than 5 years) in Hungary (49%) and Malta (42%). The next in the ranking were Luxembourg (31%), Finland (30%), Ireland and Spain (both 27%), the Netherlands (25%) and the United Kingdom (23%).

In contrast, operators in Croatia and Cyprus had no aircraft that were less than 5 years old. In a further 9 EU Member States fewer than 10% of the aircraft fleet were made up of aircraft less than 5 years old: Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia (each 4%), Slovenia (5%), Romania (6%), Czechia, Estonia and Italy (each 7%) as well as Greece (little below 10%).

The survey was published on the Eurostat official website.

I do not see NATO’s future as a union between producers and clients, but of partners, which together guarantee their security, develop high technologies and together produce military equipment. This is what President Rumen Radev said after the summit of the state and government leaders of the NATO member states in London. Within the forum the Bulgarian Head of State also held talks with US President Donald Trump and the heads of delegations of the countries that allocate more than 2 percent of their GDP per year on defense.

Rumen Radev emphasized that dividing lines are drawn in NATO between the countries that allocate more than 2 percent of their GDP on defense and those that are below 2 percent. However, a debate should be held on another distinction that is not put on the agenda at all – the countries are also divided into producers and clients.

“This year Bulgaria considerably exceeds the respective 2 percent, but this is not the case for next year and the year after next. We rank second in NATO after the US of countries with such a high expenditure on defense and more than 60 percent of these expenditures are allocated to modernization. You know why – the purchase of F-16 fighters with a 100-percent prepayment. Therefore I raised the issue of what a fair distribution of expenditures means,” the President said.

The Head of State emphasized that the NATO member states are also divided into producers and buyers, which places them in completely different positions. On the one hand, we have the strong economies, which produce military equipment to satisfy their own needs and for export and which upon modernization invest in their own development and do not exert pressure on their social systems. “However, when you are a country with a weaker economy, which is not so hi-tech and you do not produce weapons, 100 percent of the expenditures that you allocate to modernization go to other rich countries. This is really a burden for us because it affects our social systems,” Rumen Radev further said. The President added that this deprives the more poorly developed countries of the opportunity to invest in their own economies and deepens the technological and economic abyss between the member states.

In this respect the Bulgarian Head of State has put forward a proposal not only to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, but also to US President Donald Trump, for holding a debate on new forms of partnership in NATO which should promote industrial cooperation and the transfer of technologies to countries such as Bulgaria. Rumen Radev also put forward a proposal to the US President to more actively support and stimulate the countries that spend more than 2 percent on defense by offering industrial cooperation and the transfer of technologies. “I consider this a deserved stimulus given that our governments have decided to allocate these funds,” Rumen Radev added.

The President further said that some issues remain unresolved, yet NATO Secretary General has voiced his commitment to continue the strategic discussion and to seek timely solutions at a high political level, so that crises among the allies are avoided.  

5 December 2019, Rome - World food prices rose significantly in November, reaching their highest point in more than two years, driven by jumps in the international prices of meat products and vegetable oils, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported.

The FAO Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of commonly-traded food commodities, averaged 177.2 points over the month, up 2.7 percent from October and 9.5 percent from the same period a year earlier.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index rose by 10.4 percent in November, as palm oil price quotations rose amid robust global import demand, increased use for the production of biodiesels and expectations of possible supply shortages next year. Rapeseed and soy oil values also rose.

The FAO Meat Price Index increased by 4.6 percent, its largest month-on-month increase in more than a decade. Price quotations for bovine and ovine meats rose the most, buoyed by strong import demand, especially from China ahead of year-end festivities. Pig and poultry meat prices also rose.

The FAO Sugar Price Index rose by 1.8 percent from October, buoyed by mounting indications that world sugar consumption in the coming year will surpass production - which is being hampered by less-than-ideal growing conditions in Thailand, India, France and the United States of America.

The FAO Cereal Price Index, by contrast, declined by 1.2 percent amid stiff competition among the world's leading wheat exporters. Rice values also fell while U.S. maize export prices remained under downward pressure even as those for Argentina and Brazil were generally firmer.

The FAO Dairy Price Index rose marginally from October, nudged up as milk production in Europe entered its seasonal low and global demand remained strong.

Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov and Dr. Carsten Bittner, a member of the Board of Group Technology Foundations Commerzbank AG discussed the bank's intentions to open an IT Hub in Sofia. During the meeting, the bank's investment plan was presented and, according to Dr. Bittner, 400 jobs will be initially created for highly qualified IT professionals, with the tendency to increase to 600.

Minister Karanikolov said that the intentions for the investment of Commerzbank AG is yet another proof of the positive development of the IT sector in Bulgaria and contributes to the consolidation of the image of Bulgaria as an attractive and competitive investment destination. "We count on Commerzbank AG's investment to provoke the interest of other leading German investment companies in Bulgaria as well," Karanikolov said.

In mid-2019, there are over 62,200 people employed in the IT sector. In the second quarter of 2019, the turnover of enterprises in the ICT sector increased by 28.9% compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year, the largest increase for a year and a half. In the previous quarter of 2019, the annual growth rate of turnover was 20.6%. Activities in the ICT sector are carried out by about 12,498 companies.

At a meeting in the Council of Ministers with the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that her new responsibilities in the EC were not only a high recognition for Bulgaria, but they were also in line with some of the key priorities of his cabinet.

Noting that she perceived her new portfolio as a commissioner as a huge honor, Maria Gabriel said that she and her team would seek solutions to the serious challenges Europe was now faced with, focusing primarily on the benefits for European citizens, BNR reported.

A gas explosion took place today in a 13-floor residential building in the town of Prešov, Eastern Slovakia, BTA reported.

According to preliminary data, there are casualties and their number is being determined.

The blast took place between the 10th and 13th floors.

According to the radio, there is a danger of the building to collapse.

A state of emergency has been declared.

Firefighters, ambulance teams and rescuers are on site.

The death toll from a migrant boat capsizing off Mauritania has risen to 63, the Associated Press reported, citing authorities.

The Coast Guard found five more bodies in the water.

This is one of the deadliest shipwrecks this year as young Africans try to reach Europe.

Search and rescue operations continue along the coast near the northern city of Nouadhibou.

At least 83 survivors have been able to swim to shore across the stormy sea after their boat capsized. The vessel, which carried about 150 migrants, including children, was on the high seas for nearly a week.

They tried to reach the Spanish Canary Islands but diverted to Mauritania because of the depletion of fuel and food supplies.

Most of the migrants were from the Gambia, although there are six Senegalese survivors.

Implementing the measures set out in the Air Quality Management Programme of the Sofia Municipality, teams of the Sofia Inspectorate have carried out inspections of sites with potential sources of pollution, said the municipality's press office.

This week, a total of 33 construction sites, 21 automobile repair shops, tyre replacement shops, and upholstery workshops have been inspected.

Together with experts from the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water – Sofia, the teams carried out four inspections at waste paper, cardboard and plastics collection centres. Inspections include the manner of heating and unregulated combustion of waste. Five production sites were also inspected.

In an interview with the British Guardian and six other European publications, former European Council President Donald Tusk said Brexit has been “one of the most spectacular mistakes” in the history of the EU and followed a campaign marked by “an unprecedented readiness to lie”, BGNES reported.

In his first interview since leaving office last week, Donald Tusk said Brexit was one of  “the most painful and saddest experience” of his five years in office, a tumultuous period marked by the Greek eurozone crisis, bitter rows over migration and the election of Donald Trump, The Guardian reported.

Tusk contradicted some other European leaders, saying that it was still better for both the EU and the UK if Brexit did not happen. Many diplomats fear a second referendum leading to a remain result would mean festering divisions in the UK that would block the EU from making decisions – a view Tusk strongly rejected.

Donald Tusk blames former British Prime Minister David Cameron for "the mistake of organizing a referendum he had no chance of winning." Tusk criticizes French Prime Minister Emmanuel

Macron for saying that "NATO is in a brain death" and refusing to open EU membership talks with Northern Macedonia and Albania.

“If we want to treat Macron as a future leader for the whole of Europe, in a political sense, then for this we need a politician who feels more responsible for the EU as a whole and not only for France,” Tusk said. He compared Macron to Angela Merkel, who is campaigning for the integration of the six Western Balkan countries, stating that she is always ready to think of Europe as a whole and sacrifice some domestic and national interests to protect Europe as a whole.

A 4.5 magnitude earthquake was registered today at 10:45 am on the island of Crete, according to the European Seismological Institute.

The epicentre was 321 km south of Athens at a depth of 2 km.

There is no information about casualties and destruction.

At the age of 97, the legend of Bulgarian  theater and cinema Stoyanka Mutafova died. During her career, she starred in over 53 theatrical plays and 25 films. She was famous as Ms. Natural Disaster.

Stoyanka Mutafova was born on February 2, 1922 in Sofia.

She was an official applicant for a Guinness Book of World Record as the actress with the longest active professional career. At the age of 94 in 2016, she toured the theater halls in major cities of the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland, UK and Germany.

Stoyanka Mutafova is the first Bulgarian actress to receive a honorable mention certificate from the Diana Memorial Fund. She will be noted for her exceptional contribution to the theater art.

The daughter of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had begun hormonal treatment, Gazeta.Ru wrote.

13-year-old Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt has started taking drugs as a step towards gender change. The actors' daughter also dresses like a boy and cuts her hair short. She has already changed her name and is officially named John.

Although they split up, Jolie and Pitt have announced they support their child's decision.

She likes tracksuits, she likes [regular] suits. So it’s a suit with a tie and a jacket and slacks, or a tracksuit. She likes to dress like a boy. She wants to be a boy. So we had to cut her hair. She likes to wear boys’ everything. She thinks she’s one of the brothers. Neither Brad nor I want to tell her how to act or feel. She has to find her own place,' said Jolie.

Pirates have abducted 19 crew members of an oil tanker off the coast of Nigeria, a Greek company, the vessel operator, said.

The ship was attacked 77 nautical miles from Bonny Island on Tuesday. As a result 18 Indians and one Turk were abducted. Seven other sailors remain aboard a crude oil carrier for an Indian refinery, a spokesman for the Greek shipping company Navios Tankers Management said.

The Nigerian authorities reported that they are working on the case.

"We are doing everything necessary to make sure that the 19 crew members will return safe," the official at Navios said, adding that their families have been informed.

The ship can carry two million barrels of oil. The vessel was chartered by French oil company Total to deliver Bonny Light oil at Vizag in southern India, the source said. "Total has told us it would arrange alternative crew to get the cargo delivered on time," the source, who did not wish to be identified, told Reuters.

Nigerian Navy commander Captain Kolawole Oguntuga said the vessel, which loaded Shell Bonny Light, was hijacked soon after leaving the terminal. The ship did not request a navy escort to provide them with adequate protection, he said.

The United States still owes $ 491 million to the UN budget, spokesman for the organization's Secretary General Stephane Dujarric said at a briefing.

"The United States paid off last year's debt and some of this year's, paying 563 million U.S. dollars in the last few weeks," Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, told a regular press briefing.

In October, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “the Organization is facing a severe financial crisis.  To be more specific, a severe liquidity crisis.  The equation is simple:  without cash, the budget cannot be properly implemented.  For the current biennium, budget implementation is no longer being driven by programme planning, but by the availability of cash at hand.”

The organization has even been forced to downsize some activities and switch to a cost-effective mode of operation at its headquarters in New York.

Total budgetary commitments amount to $ 1.355 billion. At the same time, Dujarric said that 7 countries owe 97% of this amount - the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Iran, Israel and Venezuela.

French President Emmanuel Macron has accused Turkish forces of sometimes working with Islamic State-affiliated groups in their operations in northern Syria, AFP reports.

“When I look at Turkey they are fighting against those who fought with us shoulder to shoulder against ISIS (Islamic State) and sometimes they work with ISIS proxies.” Macron said during a press conference with US President Donald Trump at the NATO Summit in London.

The French leader has also said he stands by his previous words that NATO was experiencing a state of brain death. He insisted that no compromise should be made with the Islamic State, and that Ankara's actions against Kurdish militias in northern Syria,  that helped the allies fight the jihadist group, showed a lack of coordination in NATO.

“We have lost cooperation with Turkey, on security and trade and migration and European Union and France,” Macron said, adding that two clarifications must be made at the summit.

“How is it possible to be a member of the alliance, to work with — to be integrated and buy things from Russia?” he asked, referring to Ankara’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile system.

According to him, another thing that needs to be clarified is whether Turkey should remain a NATO member if Erdogan makes good on a threat to delay Baltic defence measures unless allies declare the Kurdish militia terrorists.

Polish customs officers seized a record nearly two tonnes of cocaine worth half a billion dollars, the largest amount seized in the country in 30 years, according to BGNES.

The cocaine was possibly destined for sale across Europe, the Polish prime minister said on Thursday.

"This is the largest attempt at drug smuggling in the last 30 years," Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters in Warsaw, adding that the street value of the drugs amounts to about two billion zlotys (470 million euros or 522 million dollars).

Police say four Colombians, one Iranian living in Germany and two Poles  have been arrested for drug trafficking so far.

The cocaine was mixed with chalk, in a shipping container in the northern Polish port of Gdynia.

Police said they also found a sophisticated lab in Western Poland linked to the same gang.

France's air and rail traffic will be disrupted today due to a strike against pension reform, BTA reported.

The French National Railway Company (SNCF) has warned that 90% of high-speed trains and 70% of regional trains will be canceled tomorrow.

According to DGAC, 20% of flights operated by Charles de Gaulle, Orly, Beauvais, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux will be canceled because of the strike. Air France will not operate more than ¼ of the scheduled domestic flights and about 10% of mid-range flights.

A big strike took place yesterday in France. In Paris, 11 subway lines were completely shut down and many of the Paris suburban trains were canceled. Only 30% of buses and trams were on the move.

It will be foggy in plains and valleys before noon today, while other areas will be mostly sunny.

In the afternoon, clouds will start to increase from the west. It will be fairly calm, in eastern Bulgaria with light south-southwest wind. Maximum temperatures between 5C and 10C, lower in places with lasting fog. Atmospheric pressure is higher than the monthly average and will slowly decrease.

This is the the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (NIMH).

The Days of St Nicholas (Nikola), the patron of fisherman, sailors, merchants and bankers, is being marked nationwide by Orthodox Christians in Bulgaria on Sunday, December 06.

Known as Nikulden, it is also a special day for anyone named Nikolay, Nikola, Nikolina, Nikoleta, Neycho, Kolyo and many others - which means at least a couple of thousand Bulgarians. 

All (or most) of these normally use the occasion to invite family members, relatives, or friends to their home to have fish for lunch or dinner. Stuffed carp is considered to be the traditional choice; and the table has to be richly laid, given the Bulgarian custom that if someone is celebrating their name day, others may come to their home uninvited. 

Nikulden, however, is even a more special day in Bulgaria's annual festive calendar: in practice anyone may invite relatives or friends over lunch or dinner without bearing the name Nikoleta or Nikola.








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