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Friday 17.08.2018 | Name days: Oļegs, Vineta
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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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Latvia’s State Audit requests additional funding to invest in workers

State Audit has requested additional funds in next year’s budget to invest in employees, as head of the institution Elita Krūmiņa mentioned in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Nearly half of children born in Latvia in 2017 were delivered by mothers with higher education

20,828 children were born in Latvia in 2017. Almost half of them were born to mothers having higher education. Out of the total number of newborn children mothers, 7,229 or 34.7 % had acquired upper secondary general or vocational education and 2,775 or 13.3 % had basic education or lower.

«Steel Magnolia» named Lithuania's most influential politician for fourth consecutive year

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, dubbed as «Steel Magnolia» by foreign press, remains the most influential politician in the country for the fourth consecutive year. In two separate polls, one by the popular ratings magazine Reitingai and the other by pollster Spinter Tyrimai, she appeared on top, being followed by Saulius Skvernelis, Prime Minister, Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union (LFGU), Valdas Adamkus, ex-president, and Vytautas Landsbergis, Lithuania's first post-independence leader.

Ex-director: Rundale Castle Museum should be managed with the same ideals as before

In the years to come Rundale Castle Museum should be managed with the same ideals as before, says the soon ex-director of the museum Imants Lancmanis, who intends to retire at the end of this year.

Star Rating determines the best schools in Latvia

According to the 2018 Star Rating, Riga State Gymnasium No.1 remains in the lead among Latvia’s schools. Daugavpils Russian Secondary School – Lyceum is second, and Riga State Gymnasium No.2 is third.

ABLV Bank assets worth EUR 21.052 million were recovered in July

Liquidators of ABLV Bank have recovered assets worth EUR 21.052 million in July. This includes EUR 11.602 million recovered from issued loans, EUR 7.644 million from recovered/sold securities, EUR 1,792 million from loans provided to credit institutions, and EUR 14,000 from sales of real estate and other types of property, according to the account published in Latvian Herald.

Concerns over Turkish crisis cause world stock market decline

Stock prices around the world took a massive dive on Wednesday, 15 August, as concerns over Turkish crisis’ possible influence and investors’ attempts to get rid of risky assets surfaced again.

Election commission receives word some candidates’ possible non-compliance with the law

Latvia’s Central Election Commission has received information regarding possible non-compliance of multiple deputy candidates with requirements of the Saeima Election Law, says CEC chairman Arnis Cimdars.

African swine fever found in domestic pigs in Saldus; inspectors investigate illness in Unguri

African swine fever has been found in domestic pigs in Saldus Country’s Zaņa Parish. The infection was found in four domestic pigs. It cannot be excluded that ASF may have entered SIA Druvas Unguri farm’s pig enclosure along with sawdust or cars, as reported by Food and Veterinary Service Public Relations Office manager Ilze Meistere.

Lithuania lays symbolic rail on restored Mažeiķi–Reņģe railway line

Lithuania’s Lietuvos geležinkeliai railway company’s director general Mantas Bartuška and Polish oil concern Orlen manager Daniel Obatjek laid a symbolic rail on the restored railway route connecting Orlen Lithuania owned Mažeiķi oil processing plant in Lithuania and Reņģi in Latvia this Tuesday, 14 August.

Unemployment level in Latvia down to 7.7% in Q2 2018

In Q2 2018 Latvian unemployment rate constituted 7.7 %. Compared to the previous quarter, unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percentage points, while over the year it dropped by 1.2 percentage points.

Saeima approves stricter requirements for fast loans

On Tuesday, 14 August, Saeima’s Economic Committee supported in the second reading amendments to the Consumer Rights Protection Law. The legislative draft states that total loan costs that exceed 0.07% a day from the loan amount are unacceptable and non-compliant with good practice, as reported by Saeima press-service.

Noord Natie develops a new business niche – attracts cruise ships for Ventspils

The first of the cruise ships attracted from SIA Noord Natie Ventspils Terminals will arrive at Ventspils port this week. NNVT stresses that development of cruise business as a new product will help develop tourism in the city and region, as well as provide a contribution to economic development and raise recognition of NNVT terminal and the city.

Culture Ministry announces open contest for post of director of Rundale Castle Museum

Latvia’s Culture Ministry invites contenders to apply for participation in an open contest for the post of director of Rundale Castle Museum. Contenders can submit their applications before 14 September.

Lithuania’s Central Bank to assess information about Latvian VIA SMS Group

Lithuania’s Central Bank has promised to assess information regarding Latvian VIA SMS Group working in the country. This decision is a reaction to the statement made by Seimas National Security and Defence Committee member Arvydas Anušauskas that people associated with former Parex Banka owners work in that company.

Small wineries in Latvia will be allowed to use only local products

Members of Saeima’s Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee supported amendments to the Handling of Alcoholic Beverages Law, stating that small breweries will be allowed to use products grown only in Latvia.

How successful are businesses owned by Saeima deputies? UGF members at the top

Currently politicians in Latvia who own shares in businesses and are also true beneficiaries in capital associations are in the minority. Information compiled by Lursoft shows that 35 Saeima deputies and members of the Cabinet of Ministers own shares in businesses.

Investigation: police arrest man who rammed car into a crowd of people in London

Police in London have arrested a man suspected of ramming barriers outside the parliament building and injuring multiple people in the process.

Number of visitors serviced at Latvian accommodation establishments up 11.3%

A total 772.3 thousand visitors stayed at Latvian tourist accommodation establishments in Q2 2018, which is 11.3 % more than in Q2 2017.

Ministry drops plans to allow doctor assistants rights to write referrals

Latvia’s Healthcare Ministry has dropped the proposal supported by multiple doctor organizations to allow doctor assistants write referrals, according to the project of rules for the organization of healthcare services approved at the state secretaries meeting.

Latvia to test its National Armed Forces’ state defence capabilities

The largest military drills in Latvia’s history – Namejs 2018 – will be taking place in the country from 20 August to 2 September. The goal of this military exercise is to test and improve the country’s National Armed Forces’ readiness to defend the country on their own and as part of a collective defence system, Defence Ministry says.

Insolvency administrator recovered EUR 320,500 from Trasta komercbanka in July

The administrator of the liquidated Trasta komercbanka has recovered EUR 320,501 in July 2018, which is much more than the amount recovered a month prior, when EUR 5,054 was recovered, according to information published by Latvian Herald.

Latvian parties promise to shorten length of judicial proceedings

Political parties that plan to participate in upcoming Saeima elections promise significantly reducing the length of judicial proceedings. They also promise to cancel the opportunity to appeal court verdicts in certain criminal cases, as well as perform a general modernization of the judicial system, according to LETA’s compilation of parties’ programmes.

Wooden promenade collapsed in Spain during festival, injuring 313 people

313 people were injured when a boardwalk collapsed during a sports and music festival in the City of Vigo, in the north-west of Spain, as reported by officials.

Insolvent Tosmare Shipyard plans to lay off workers

Tosmare Shipyard, which has been declared insolvent recently, has plans to lay off workers, as reported by LTV.

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