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Wednesday 21.11.2018 | Name days: Andis, Zeltīte
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BNN summary of the week: fight for seats in Saeima; Valdgale’s fire, and blue-green problem in Baltics

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUBNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: fire; decline; warning; growth; truth; rating.

FIRE: Putting out peat fire in Valdgale will require waiting for autumn rainfall

In spite of use of helicopters, the only way to liquidate the peat fire in Valdgale County is waiting for autumn rainfall, says State Fire and Rescue Service representative Inta Palkavniece.

Helicopters have contributed a lot to putting out the bog fire, because they’ve helped keep the fire within the safety perimeter as well as perform fire-fighting activities inside the perimeter. Nevertheless, in spite of helicopters, it is likely full liquidation of the fire will be ensured by autumn rainfall, said the SFRS representative.

Palkavniece also said organization work and sorting of formalities is currently being performed to speed up the arrival of an additional helicopter from Belarus.

Although there is some wind at the fire location, open flame burning is not present. Fire fighters and other specialists continue fire-fighting activities at the site.

As it is known, Latvian fire fighters together with a helicopter provided by Lithuanian armed forces have been combating the fire in Valdgale County for more than a week without rest. The fire first appeared in a peat bog and then quickly spread to a nearby forest.

Full article here

DECLINE: Healthcare Ministry not in a hurry to organize final meeting to discuss doctors’ pay

The work group handling matters associated with matters of doctor wages in Latvia needs more time to prepare its report and perform the necessary calculations. This is why the final meeting will not be taking place this week.

It was previously planned that the work group would present its report by 27 July.

According to Healthcare Ministry’s representative Oskars Šneiders, it is necessary to perform estimates before the conclusive meeting can be organized. These estimates will be backed by information the ministry expects to receive from healthcare institutions.

Šneiders said preparing information is hard work. It is expected that this work will be finished this week. «If we receive all the necessary information soon, the conclusive meeting may be organized next week,» said the ministry’s representative.

Latvian Health and Social Care Unions is worried that Healthcare Ministry has decided not to organize the meeting of the work group because of unexplained reasons.

The union’s chairman Valdis Keris notes that the ministry’s delays in approval of jointly developed wage principles seem suspicious. «It would be a shame if everything the work group and government have accomplished was nothing more than a theatrical performance,» said Keris.

The union hopes the ministry’s promises about increasing wages for doctors remain in force.

Full article here

WARNING: Blue-green algae spread more and more in Baltic Sea thanks to human activities

The growth of blue-green algae in the Baltic Sea is a historic occurrence. However, it is thanks to human activities that the intensity of this process continues growing, explains head of Marine Ecology Laboratory of the University of Latvia Elmīra Boikova.

She says intensive growth of blue-green algae in hot weather conditions in the Baltic Sea was observed a couple of centuries ago. This phenomenon is natural for the Baltic Sea. However, it is thanks to human activities, anthropogenic load and agricultural waste water that this phenomenon has been spreading more wildly lately, causing major damages to the ecosystem.

«Blue-green algae have been present in the Baltic Sea for a very, very long time. Growth of these algae was observed as far back as the 18th century – when intensive industrial activities were not yet present. The question is scale of growth of these algae in the past?» said the researcher.

In spring, when river water carries nitrogen and phosphorus to the sea, it causes algae that feed of those substances to grow more. In summer, however, when inorganic nitrogen is close to zero, blue-green algae begin to grow. These algae are able to absorb nitrogen from the air, says Boikova.

The expert says that as blue-green algae grow they become buoyant, gathering on the surface of the water. Blue-green algae do not present a valuable source of nutrition for other organisms, and they do more harm than good – in large volumes they start slowly dividing and slowly sinking to the seabed and using up oxygen. This creates anoxic zones. Such zones were previously observed in Baltic Sea’s deepest areas, such as the Gotland Deep. Finnish researchers have been warning for decades that the spread of anoxic zones have been rapidly spreading, and one of the reasons for this is the rapid growth of blue-green algae, Boikova explains.

Full article here

GROWTH: Latvian government supports initiative to donate food to charity

On Tuesday, 24 July, Latvia’s government supported amendments put together by Agriculture Ministry to Law on the Supervision of the Handling of Food. These amendments permit donating food to charity after reaching minimal expiry term.

To reduce food waste, amendments state that products with a specific expiration date and ones that have reached a minimal expiry term but still considered acceptable for consumption will be permitted to be distributed to charity organizations, the ministry explains.

To do this, the Cabinet of Ministers first needs to establish in which situations, which product groups and in what order it is permissible to distribute products to charity organizations. New regulations should come into force 1 July 2019.

The Saeima still has to approve amendments in three readings.

Full article here

TRUTH: Ventspils port: inspectors found no violations; coal sprinkling to increase

Ventspils Commercial Port has plans to increase water sprinkling of coal heaps this summer to reduce drought and the possibility of the wind carrying coal particles into the air, representatives say. It is also mentioned that dust particle monitoring machines work day and night at coal-handling complexes to help control coal particle concentration in the air within acceptable limits (50 µg/m3).

It is mentioned that specialists from the State Environment Service have confirmed compliance of coal dust concentration with acceptable norms. Specialists visited the port and surveyed the situation together with representatives from the port. No violations were found.

«VCP performs all the necessary measures to reduce coal dust volumes. However, the company has no power over the heat and drought, or direction of the wind. Nevertheless, in spite of the weather, data from measurements performed by Latvia’s Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre shows that the quality of air in Ventspils matches requirements of regulations and coal particle concentration levels in the air do not exceed permitted levels,» VCP representatives say.

Experts say coal dust is not the only source of air pollution. «We should not forget about transport and production plant emissions. In addition, coal freight volumes have declined significantly. Because of that, the volume of coal dust concentration in the air cannot be as high as it was in the past. VCP performs constant coal dust monitoring. Data control is performed by State Environment Service’s Ventspils Regional Office. So far it seems dust concentration fits acceptable norms.»

Similar to previous years, stone coal heaps are sprinkled with water regularly. A so-called water wall is created by sprinklers to prevent coal dust from spreading. Sprinkling is currently performed more intensely than before because of intense heat and strong wind, VCP stresses.

Full article here

RATING: KPV LV had the largest rating increase in July; UGF suffered the largest decline

This July, the largest rating increase was experienced by KPV LV political party, according to data from a survey performed by SKDS at the request of LTV.

The survey was performed after the detainment of KPV LV leader Artuss Kaimiņš.

Survey results show that Harmony’s rating grew by 0.4 percentage points when compared to the June. The rating of the Union of Greens and Farmers declined by 2 percentage points, the rating of the National Alliance grew by 0.7 percentage points, whereas the rating of  Attīstībai/Par declined by 0.3 percentage points.

The rating of KPV LV grew by 2.6 percentage points. New Conservative Party’s rating grew by 0.1 percentage points, and New Unity’s rating grew by 0.2 percentage points.

Full article here


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EU-UK future ties declaration held back by issues of fisheries, Gibraltar, trade

As the European Union and the UK are now negotiating principles of their future relationship, British Prime Minister Theresa May is taking part in talks in Brussels on Wednesday to try solve disagreements regarding Gibraltar, fisheries and trade.

Bribery accused ex-Riga City Council official detained in Egypt

Law enforcement authorities in Egypt have detained bribery accused former Riga City Council official Ārija Stabiņa, as confirmed by Panorāma programe of LTV.

Police admit November 11 Embankment is not the best place for mass events

Security-wise, 11 November Embankment is not the best place for mass events. Nevertheless, responsible authorities plan to analyse in the near future ways to improve security measures in this portion of Riga, as reported by Criminal Police Chief Artis Velšs.

LMIB: CCLI price should not increase in Latvia in the near future

The price of Compulsory Civil Liability Insurance is not expected to increase in the near future, said board member of Latvian Motor Insurers' Bureau Juris Stengrevics in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Competition Council permits Energia Verde to change owners

Latvian Competition Council has permitted the agreement in which Estonia-based private capital investment fund Usaldusfond BaltCap Infrastructure Fund gains decisive influence over SIA Energia Verde by acquiring 70% of its shares from AS Energoeco, BNN was informed by the council.

Latvian corruption watchdog commenced five cases on crimes in healthcare in past five years

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has sent five criminal cases associated with corruption violations in healthcare to the prosecutor’s office in the fast five years.

Saeima approves deputies for work in parliamentary committees

Latvia’s Saeima has approved deputies who will work in the parliament’s standing committees in the next four years. 92 deputies participated in the vote; no one voted against or abstained in the vote.

NATO appreciates Lithuania's defence spending as showing example

Lithuania's significant increase in defence spending has been praised by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as an example this week.

Ieva Jaunzeme becomes candidate to lead Latvia’s State Revenue Service

The personnel selection process organized to pick the new head of Latvia’s State Revenue Service has concluded. Ieva Jaunzeme has been named the winner, as confirmed by State Chancellery.

Ilves urges to celebrate things uniting Latvia and Estonia on centenary

The ex-President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, has congratulated Latvia on the 100th anniversary of its statehood and urged to look back at the historical ups and downs experienced by Estonians and Latvians since the Middle Ages that have united the two peoples.

Opinion: government formation can be described with two words – haste and ambitions

The current government formation process in Latvia can be described with two words – haste and ambitions, says ex-prime minister Valdis Birkavs.

Russia to perform OSCE Armament Control Inspection in Latvia

Over the course from 20th to 23rd November, officers of Russian armed forces will be performing Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe armament control inspection in Latvia, as confirmed by Defence Ministry.

Bishops in Poland issue apology for sex abuse against children by clergy

Catholic bishops in Poland have asked for forgiveness to child victims of sexual abuse committed by priests and other Church workers in the mainly Catholic nation.

Week’s beginning to be chilly in Latvia – air temperature at night to drop below 0° C

Weather in Latvia will remain cold at the beginning of the week. Some areas may also experience precipitation in the form of wet snow and snow. It will become warmer closer to the middle of the week. However, colder masses of air will enter the country again at the end of the week, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

LAR leader: maths mercilessly played its role in 13th Saeima elections

«Latvia has a lame duck government at the moment. While the newly-elected politicians are struggling with forming a new government, Kučinskis’ government continues doing all the actual work. This means the people who fight oligarchs [with their indecisiveness] also support the government hey criticize as being a government of oligarchs,» says leader of Latvian Association of Regions Edvards Smiltēns.

Spain warns it could reject Brexit agreement regarding Gibraltar

Spain has warned it would not give its backing to the Brexit agreement passed by the UK government, if Madrid would be given a special veto to prevent any future EU trade agreement with Britain that applies to Gibraltar.

Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian government approves rules for paying whistleblowers

The Lithuanian government approved on Wednesday, November 14, rules for financially rewarding people who provide the authorities with valuable information on illegal activities.

BNN summary of the week: government formation in Latvia, Brexit plans, and Latvia’s 100th birthday

If someone hoped to see Latvia compile a government before the national holiday, they are going to be disappointed – three parties have decided to exit government formation talks headed by New Conservative Party. NCP’s prime minister candidate Jānis Bordāns receive criticism for having too ambitious and expensive goals. NCP, on the other hand, says parties did not try to study the party’s offers.

PUC commences dispute between AS Gaso and natural gas consumer

On Friday, 16 November, Public Utilities Commission decided to commence a dispute procedure between a natural gas consumer and AS Gaso in regards to natural gas supplies, as confirmed by the commission.

Latvian parties continue informal talks while next prime minister is being picked

While President Raimonds Vējonis is busy picking the next prime minister candidate, politicians of different parties are performing informal consultations. No official consultations are currently planned.

UN's global migration compact stirs up Estonia's calm politics

The Estonian government has taken a long time to reach a unanimous position on the United Nation's Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. This has been criticised by Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, who has to attend a conference in favour of the document in Morocco in December.

Latvian authorities detain CityCommerce Bank co-owner accused of embezzlement

Reinis Tumovs, co-owner of Ukrainian CityCommerce Bank, has been detained in Latvia. He is suspected of embezzling nearly UAH 300 million (EUR 9.5 million), as confirmed by Ukrainian National Police Economy Protection Department on Thursday, 15 November.

Russia ordered to pay damages for Navalny's political arrests by human rights court

Russia has been ordered by the European Court of Human Rights to repay 64 000 euros in damages and costs for politically-motivated arrests of Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.

Latvian president to consider Gobzems and Pabriks as perspective prime minister candidates

As parties’ efforts to form a new government continue, Latvia’s President Raimonds Vējonis plans to consider two new prime minister candidates – KPV LV leader Aldis Gobzems and Attīstībai/Par! candidate Artis Pabriks.

EC wants to reduce funding for supplies of fruits, vegetables and milk to schools

European Commission’s proposed regulation on organization of agriculture products market provides for reducing EU funding for the support programme on provision of fruits, vegetables and milk for schools by EUR 29.2 million or the same as United Kingdom’s share.

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