Denis Balibouse / Reuters

Updated – 10:50 a.m., ET

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov offered his resignation ahead of an extraordinary session of parliament, expected to play a decisive role in the troubled post-Soviet country’s spiraling political crisis.

In a statement posted on the government website Tuesday, Azarov wrote that he had asked President Viktor Yanukovych to accept his resignation “in order to create additional possibilities for socio-political compromise [and] to deal with the conflict peacefully.

“Today the most important thing is to preserve the unity and integrity of Ukraine. That is far more important than anyone’s personal plans or ambitions,” Azarov added. “And that is exactly why I have taken this decision.”

Yanukovych issued a decree on his website Thursday afternoon accepting Azarov’s resignation. Under Ukraine’s constitution, the entire government must resign alongside the prime minister, but will remain in office for up to 60 days until a new one is formed. Azarov’s spokesman told the Interfax-Ukraine news agency that first deputy prime minister Sergei Arbuzov would replace him, starting tomorrow. Speculation has focused on Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire chocolate magnate and oppositionist former foreign minister, as a potential compromise caretaker prime minister.

Ukraine’s opposition welcomed the news cautiously. Vitaly Klitschko, a former heavyweight boxing champion and one of the three political leaders who have been negotiating with Yanukovych over a compromise for the last few days, said Azarov’s resignation was “a step towards victory for the opposition, but not yet a victory,” Ukrainian media reported.

The opposition had earlier declined an offer that would have appointed Arseny Yatsenyuk — leader of the largest parliamentary opposition party — prime minister, and Klitschko — the most popular leader — one of his deputies. Yanukovych also offered to fire Azarov and Oleh Tyahnibok, leader of the nationalist party Svoboda.

Azarov’s government had been expected to face a no-confidence vote Tuesday, an extraordinary session of parliament called to solve the increasingly violent and chaotic crisis gripping the country since late November, when Yanukovych’s U-turn from Europe to Russia and police brutality sparked the biggest protests since 2004’s Orange Revolution. Huge crowds occupied Kiev’s Independence Square, known as the Maidan, and were mostly peacefully until far-right radical groups began fighting riot police last week. At least four protesters died last week during the clashes. Several hundred more were injured.

Parliament voted Tuesday, however, to overturn a series of Russian-inspired repressive laws passed in violation of protocol earlier this month after Yanukovych reached a compromise with the opposition Monday evening. Three-hundred and sixty-one lawmakers voted to strike the laws off the books, with only two against and Communist Party lawmakers abstaining. Those laws effectively banned all forms of public protest in Ukraine, absolved officials from responsibility for the street violence and placed draconian limits on freedom of speech.

The laws, which critics said amounted to establishing “dictatorship” in Ukraine, revived popular anger that led to the violent clashes. The concessions are seen as vital to appease protesters on the square, who have booed the opposition leaders in recent days for their perceived lack of political accomplishments and say they will continue to take to the streets until Yanukovych is out of office.

By Tuesday afternoon, protesters remained unwilling to retreat from the barricades they set up around the Maidan or the government buildings they occupied last month. Several set about fortifying the barricades on adjoining Grushevskogo Street, which went up after the violence broke out last week. Alexey Paruby, a member of parliament and protest “commander,” told the independent Ukrainska Pravda newspaper that the encampments and occupations would remain until Yanukovych’s allies “vacated government buildings.”

Fears Yanukovych would declare a state of emergency, tantamount to martial law, have skyrocketed in recent days since Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko said, “Attempts to solve the conflict peacefully, without recourse to a confrontation of force, remain futile.” Justice Minister Olena Lukash threatened Sunday to ask the government to declare a state of emergency, but then claimed Tuesday that the issue had not yet been discussed.

Rumors that Russia, which bailed out Yanukovych with a last-minute $15 billion loan and gas discount in December, would intervene to keep Ukraine in the Kremlin’s fold and out of the West’s — even going as far as sending troops to help the government bloodily quell the conflict — have persisted here as the unrest spreads. The Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed senior Russian official saying that the terms of the loan, which have not been made public, would have to be reconsidered if Yanukovych accepted Azarov’s resignation. “There is no decision yet, but it is self-evident,” the official was quoted as saying.

Putin later said Tuesday, however, that Russia had loaned Ukraine the money out of “the need and desire not to support some specific government or other, but the Ukrainian people,” Russian state media reported. Putin added that Ukraine had asked Russia to delay repayments on the gas, including the cut-price gas from the December deal, but said that the agreement would remain in place despite the change of government. Shortly after Putin’s comments, Russian deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov, one of the Kremlin’s most senior economic figures, told Russian wires that the loan would not be withdrawn as long as Ukraine stuck to its conditions.

Putin went on to issue an implicit warning to European nations against attempting to regulate the conflict. “Too many cooks spoil the broth,” Putin said. “I think the Ukrainian people are capable of handling it themselves. In any case, Russia won’t interfere,” he added.

European officials have proved unwilling to play a zero-sum game with the Kremlin for Ukraine’s future or provide it with the financial aid the country’s moribund economy desperately needs to stave off default. The conflict has further soured relations between Russia and the EU, each of whom has accused the other of interfering in Ukraine’s sovereign affairs. The EU scrapped most of the Brussels summit, originally planned to last two days, including the official dinner in Putin’s honor, to show him that things were “not business as usual” earlier this month.

Over the last few days, anti-government protesters have seized power in eight provinces and attempted to in four others.

Via Twitter: @EuromaidanPR

Read Azarov’s full statement:

The conflict that has appeared in the country threatens the economic and social development of Ukraine and contains a threat for all Ukrainian society and every citizen.

The government did everything to solve the conflict peacefully throughout the clashes. We have done and continue to do everything to prevent bloodshed, an escalation of violence, and the violation of citizens’ rights. The government ensured that the economy and social safety net would function in extreme conditions.
However, the acuteness and danger of the conflict depends further responsible steps for our citizens and the future of Ukraine.

In order to create additional possibilities for socio-political compromise, to deal with the conflict peacefully, I have taken the personal decision to ask the President of Ukraine to accept my resignation from the post of Prime Minister of Ukraine.

All these difficult years I did everything I could so that Ukraine could develop normally as a democratic European country. I made decisions and took responsibility in the interest of the people of Ukraine. And so I can honestly look in the eyes of every citizen of our country, every fellow Ukrainian.

I am grateful to the President of Ukraine for his trust. I am grateful to all members of parliament who supported the government’s extremely difficult work on the modernization and reform of the country all these years.

I am grateful to all citizens of Ukraine who supported the government and me personally, who believed and still believe in the rightness of the political direction we took.

Today the most important thing is to preserve the unity and integrity of Ukraine. That is far more important than anyone’s personal plans or ambitions.
And that is exactly why I have taken this decision.

Via kmu.gov.ua

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/maxseddon/the-ukrainian-prime-minister-has-resigned

Find out how to deal with your employees’ maternity rights, your small business maternity leave obligations, and maternity pay for employers…In Employment regulations

Source: https://startups.co.uk/maternity-leave-pay-for-employers/

Texting or talking on the phone affects our walking speed and gait and can increase the risk of serious injury.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/02/well/cellphones-and-crosswalks-a-hazardous-mix.html?partner=rss

Our Fat Pets

Sixty percent of cats tip the scales at unhealthy weights, slightly more than the 56 percent of dogs. It’s not good for them.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/02/well/fat-pets-dog-cat-health.html?partner=rss

In Saher v. Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena, (9th Cir., July 30, 2018), the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in a lengthy opinion applied the Act of State Doctrine to reject the attempt by plaintiff to recover two oil paintings of Biblical characters taken by the Nazis from her father-in-law in a forced sale. At issue are Renaissance masterworks painted by Cranach the Elder—

The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit this week in a West Virginia federal district court to stop the Parkersburg, West Virginia City Council from regularly opening its meetings with the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.  The complaint (full text) in Cobranchi v. The City of Parkersburg, (D WV, filed 7/30/2018), seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, contending that the prayer practice violates plaintiffs’ 1st and 14th Amendment rights. FFRF issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/08/suit-challenges-city-council-opening.html

Education Secretary and champion of for-profit colleges Betsy DeVos is once again siding with this controversial industry and against students who were defrauded by schools that tricked them into paying top dollar for a bottom-dollar education.
Amid the collapse of scandalized for-profit school chains like Corinthian Colleges and ITT, the Education Department had sought to simplify the process of allowing defrauded students to get their federal loans refunded.
But that was before DeVos became our nation’s top education regulator. Now, the Associated Press reports that the Secretary is considering a measure that would provide defrauded students with only half of a refund of their student loans.
Sources note that under DeVos’ plan refunds provided to students would be dependent on the average earnings of students in similar programs and schools.
Consumerist has reached out to the Dept. of Education for additional information on the possible change. We’ll update this post when we hear back.
Consumer advocates raised concerns about DeVos’ plan to half loan forgiveness, noting that many students have already received full forgiveness.
“It would be totally different from what was happening under the last administration,” Jennifer Wang, an expert with the Institute of College Access and Success, tells the AP. “It’s not equitable; it’s not fair for students. If she provides partial relief, it’s that she only cares what’s fair for schools and not students.”
The New Borrower Defense?
The change would likely be part of the administration’s revamp of the Borrower Defense rule.
Under the rule — which as been around for decades, but seldom used until recent years — borrowers could have their federal loans forgiven if they attended schools that were found to defraud students.
Following the closure of ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian Colleges, the Obama Administration began the process of revising and redrafting the rules.
The Department had decided to overhaul the rule in Jan. 2016 following an influx of claims from students shortly after Corinthian Colleges Inc — the operator of Heald College, Everest University, and WyoTech – closed in 2014.
Under the revised Borrower Defense rules — unveiled in Oct. 2016 — a student’s federal education loans can be forgiven if they can prove their college used deceptive practices to convince them to enroll.
The rule was also revised so that schools receiving federal aid can no longer put forced arbitration clauses in their student enrollment agreements. This is important because these clauses prevent students from suing the school in court and from joining their complaints together in class actions. While arbitration is now commonly used in consumer goods and services, in the education field it is almost exclusively used by for-profit schools.
While that rule was expected to go into effect in July 2017, DeVos instead called for a “regulatory reset,” claiming the previous rulemaking process “missed an opportunity to get it right,” resulting in a “muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools, and puts taxpayers on the hook for significant costs.”
The AP reports that the new consideration comes just three months after DeVos extended a contract to speed up the processing of student loan forgiveness claims.
However, in extending the contract, the Dept. noted that “policy changes may necessitate certain claims already processed be revisited to assess other attributes.”
That could mean that students who had already been approved for — but not yet received — loan forgiveness could find themselves still on the hook for thousands of dollars.
Where’s The Forgiveness?
The DeVos Dept. of Education has come under increased scrutiny for its treatment of students seeking loan forgiveness claiming they were defrauded by their schools.
While DeVos noted when she “reset” the Borrower Defense rules that applications for relief would continue to be processed under the current version of the rule, that hasn’t happened.
As noted by lawmakers and states attorneys general, refunds stemming from the Borrower Defense process have been delayed.
In July, acting undersecretary of education James Manning told Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin in a letter [PDF] that the Dept. of Education had not approved a loan forgiveness claim in six months.
At the time, the letter revealed that more than 65,100 borrower defense applications — 14,949 of which were submitted since Jan. 20 — were currently pending.
Of these applications, 45,092 were associated with students who attended defunct Corinthian College schools and 7,186 belong to those who attended the also-closed ITT Technical schools.
Many students who submitted claims for borrower defense have actually been approved. Despite this, their loans have yet to been discharged, according to lawmakers.
Back in May, lawmakers claimed that while the 23,000 students were notified in January that their Borrower Defense claims had been approved and they would receive discharges and refunds within 60 days and 120 days.
Despite this, the senators contended that they had received reports that many previously approved students had not obtained the relief they were promised within 120 days.

Source: https://consumerist.com/2017/10/30/betsy-devos-may-only-offer-partial-loan-refunds-to-defrauded-college-students/

I read something about networking that hit me hard…
Here’s the thing, I’m 26 and still learning about how to navigate my career. Lately, I’ve been making more of an effort to connect with people in my industry — both chatting with peers at events and introducing myself to leaders I look up to.… Read more
The post A 5-Minute Habit That Changes Your Career appeared first on A Cup of Jo.

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/bboSV/~3/UE14FCmDGZA/