Nigerian Street Vendor Brutally Killed in Italy

Hundreds of people from the Nigerian community of the central Italian city of Civitanova Marche took to the streets Saturday to protest the slaying of a Nigerian street vendor. The killing was caught in cellphone video, but no one intervened to stop the slaying of the disabled man. Police say an Italian man, Filippo Claudio Giuseppe Ferlazzo, 32, has been arrested in connection with the brutal beating of Alika Ogorchukwu, a 39-year-old husband and father. The footage of the incident shows Ferlazzo using the vendor’s crutch to strike him down. Ogorchukwu had lost his job as a laborer after being hit by a car. He needed to use a crutch to walk after the accident. The street vendor was unable to get up after Ferlazzo attacked him, the video shows, …

Zelenskyy Calls for Evacuation of Eastern Donetsk

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Saturday for the evacuation of eastern Donetsk province, the region that has seen the fiercest fighting as Russia seeks to fully control it. Hundreds of thousands of people, including children and the elderly, remain in combat zones of the larger Donbas region, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk. It is also the region where Ukrainian prisoners of war died in a missile attack earlier this week. Zelenskyy made the announcement Saturday during his nightly video address to his nation. “The more people leave [the] Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill,” he said, adding that residents who left would be given compensation, he said according to Reuters. Zalenskyy promised logistical support to persuade people to leave. “Many refuse to …

Iran Arrests Swedish Citizen on Espionage Charges

Iran has arrested a Swedish citizen on espionage charges, the official IRNA news agency reported on Saturday, after a court in Stockholm sentenced a former Iranian official for war crimes earlier this month. Iran has arrested dozens of foreigners and dual nationals in recent years, mostly on espionage and security-related accusations. Rights groups call that a tactic to win concessions from abroad by inventing charges, which Tehran denies. “The suspect had been under surveillance by the intelligence ministry during several previous trips to Iran because of (their) suspicious behavior and contacts,” IRNA quoted the Iranian intelligence ministry statement as saying. It did not give a name or say when the arrest was made but added that the suspect had a history of going to the Palestinian territories, went to non-tourist …

Pope Says He’ll Slow Down or Retire

Pope Francis acknowledged Saturday that he can no longer travel like he used to because of his strained knee ligaments, saying his weeklong Canadian pilgrimage was “a bit of a test” that showed he needs to slow down and one day possibly retire. Speaking to reporters while traveling home from northern Nunavut, the 85-year-old Francis stressed that he hadn’t thought about resigning but said “the door is open” and there was nothing wrong with a pope stepping down. “It’s not strange. It’s not a catastrophe. You can change the pope,” he said while sitting in an airplane wheelchair during a 45-minute news conference. Francis said that while he hadn’t considered resigning until now, he realizes he has to at least slow down. “I think at my age and with these …

How Russia Spread a Secret Web of Agents Across Ukraine

When the first armored vehicles of Russia’s invading army reached the heart of Chernobyl nuclear plant on the afternoon of Feb. 24, they encountered a Ukrainian unit charged with defending the notorious facility. In less than two hours, and without a fight, the 169 members of the Ukrainian National Guard laid down their weapons. Russia had taken Chernobyl, a repository for tonnes of nuclear material and a key staging post on the approach to Kyiv. The fall of Chernobyl, site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, stands out as an anomaly in the five-month old war: a successful blitzkrieg operation in a conflict marked elsewhere by a brutal and halting advance by Russian troops and grinding resistance by Ukraine. Now a Reuters investigation has found that Russia’s success at Chernobyl …

Women’s Soccer Energizes England in a League of Their Own

Izzy Short, 13, struggles to pick her favorite England player as she anticipates the team’s appearance in Sunday’s final of the European soccer championships. There’s forward Ellen White. Defender Lucy Bronze. Midfielder Georgia Stanway. Captain Leah Williamson. The whole team basically. “I just look up to them really,” the high school player from Manchester said, excitement filling her voice. “They are all very positive … they all, like, appreciated one another and how they are such a good team and all of them just working together really. And they’re just so kind and so good as well.” The march to Sunday’s final against Germany has energized people throughout England, with the team’s pinpoint passing and flashy goals attracting record crowds, burgeoning TV ratings and adoring coverage. The Lionesses, as the …

US Imposes Sanctions, Files Charges Over Alleged Russian Influence Campaign

The United States has imposed sanctions on two Russians and four Russian entities in connection with U.S. claims of Russian interference in U.S. elections, and it formally charged one of the sanctioned individuals with using U.S. citizens and political groups to spread Russian propaganda. The U.S. Treasury Department said Friday that the designated individuals and entities played various roles in Russia’s attempts to manipulate and destabilize the United States and its allies and partners, including Ukraine. The sanctioned individuals and entities raised funds and spread misinformation to disrupt the American electoral process and were backed by Russian intelligence to “create or heighten divisions within the country,” the government said. Brian Nelson, the department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement that the sanctions were in response to …

Top US, Russian Diplomats Discuss Proposed Prisoner Swap

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by telephone Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, pressing him to accept a U.S. proposal to secure the release of American professional basketball star Brittney Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan.   The call is the first conversation between the two top diplomats since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February and the highest-level known contact between the two countries since that time. “We had a frank and direct conversation,” Blinken told reporters Friday at the State Department. “I pressed the Kremlin to accept the substantial proposal that we put forth on the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner,” he said. A Russian Foreign Ministry statement did not say whether the two sides had made any headway but chastised the United …

Russia, Ukraine Accuse Each Other of Prison Attacks That Killed Ukrainian POWs   

Dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed when a prison in eastern Ukraine was destroyed in a missile strike. Russia and Ukraine on Friday accused each other of carrying out the attack. Neither claim could be independently verified. Russia’s defense ministry said 40 prisoners were killed and 75 were wounded in the strike on the prison in Olenivka, a part of Donetsk province held by separatists. A spokesman for the Russian separatists put the death toll at 53 and accused Kyiv of targeting the prison with U.S.-made HIMARS rockets. Ukraine’s armed forces denied carrying out the attack, saying Russian artillery had targeted the prison to hide the mistreatment of the prisoners. A Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson described the attack as a “bloody provocation” aimed at discouraging Ukrainian soldiers from …

Record EU Inflation Expected; Economy Continues to Grow

The European Union’s statistical office, Eurostat, on Friday estimated inflation is expected to reach a record 8.9% in July, while the Eurozone and EU economy overall continued to grow during the first quarter of 2022. In its report, Eurostat indicated inflation in July was driven largely by the energy sector with 39.7% growth, down from 42% in June. The food, alcohol and tobacco sector follows, with a rise of 9.8%, compared with 8.9% in June. The non-energy industrial goods sector grew 4.5% compared with 4.3% in June, and the services sector grew 3.7%, compared with 3.4% in June. For months, inflation has been running at its highest levels since 1997, when record-keeping for the euro began, leading the European Central Bank to raise interest rates last week for the first …

Russia Says Ukrainian Shelling Kills 40 Ukrainian Prisoners of War

Russian-backed separatists say Ukrainian shelling in eastern Ukraine has killed at least 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war captured during the fighting in Mariupol.  The separatists said at least 75 prisoners were wounded.    The Ukrainian POWs had been among those who had taken refuge in the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol where they were able to hold off Russian troops for nearly three months.   The British Defense Ministry said in an intelligence update on Twitter Friday that Russia, “in a significant change,” has handed over responsibility for portions of its frontline activities to the Wagner Group, a Russian private military company.   The move makes it difficult, the post said, for Russia to deny links between such companies and the Russian state.  The measure was undertaken, according to the ministry, because …

Belarusian Sources See Lingering Russian Threat to Ukraine’s North, Disagree on Belarus’ Role

Exiled Belarusian sources say recent Russian military activities inside Belarus, a key Moscow ally, show Russia is trying to maintain a threat of attack from Belarus against northern Ukraine after failing in a land-based assault on the region housing Ukraine’s capital Kyiv earlier this year. While the Belarusian journalists, analysts and dissidents say another Russian invasion of northern Ukraine from Belarus does not appear imminent, that prospect has sparked a debate among them about whether the forces of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko would join such a Russian offensive. Belarus-based Russian forces pushed into northern Ukraine at the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country in late February in a bid to capture Kyiv, a 150-kilometer drive from the Belarusian border. Lukashenko kept his forces out of direct involvement in …

Ukraine Celebrates Its Tank-Towing Farmers

Towed away gleefully as if it were parked illegally, the Soviet-era armored personnel carrier doesn’t look so intimidating as it is paraded before the delighted Ukrainians gathered to celebrate its seizure. Theoretically, the 1970s MT-LB belongs to the Russian forces, but they abandoned it in Ukraine’s northeast, around 30 kilometers from the warring neighbors’ shared border. It was found by tractor driver Vitaliy Denysenko, who grins, a mischievous twinkle in his eye, as he pulls his prize around a field in the village of Mala Rogan, where it was left during a hasty withdrawal at the end of March. “We needed two tractors to pull it out, which we were able to do after the military demined the field,” the 44-year-old tells a group of reporters gathered to cover the …

Study: Climate Change Made UK Heat Wave Hotter, More Likely

Human-caused climate change made last week’s deadly heat wave in England and Wales at least 10 times more likely and added a few degrees to how brutally hot it got, a study said. A team of international scientists found that the heat wave that set a new national record high at 40.3 degrees Celsius was made stronger and more likely by the buildup of heat-trapping gases from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas. They said Thursday that temperatures were 2 to 4 degrees Celsius warmer in the heat wave than they would have been without climate change, depending on which method scientists used. The study has not been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal yet but follows scientifically accepted techniques, and past such studies have been published months …

Macron Hosts Saudi Crown Prince With Oil, Iran, Rights on Agenda

French President Emmanuel Macron hosts Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Thursday as part of increased Western efforts to court the major oil-producing state amid the war in Ukraine and faltering talks to revive a nuclear deal with Iran. French opposition figures and human rights groups have criticized Macron’s decision to invite to dinner at the Elysee Palace a man Western leaders believe ordered the murder in 2018 of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The visit to Paris by the de facto Saudi ruler, comes two weeks after he held talks in Saudi Arabia with U.S. President Joe Biden. The West is keen to reset relations with the Gulf Arab oil giant as it seeks to counter the rising regional influence of Iran, Russia and China. “The rehabilitation of …

Russian Missiles Hit Kyiv, Chernihiv Regions

For the first time in weeks, Russia launched missiles Thursday at Ukraine’s capital area, Kyiv, and the northern Chernihiv region, in what Ukraine alleged was retaliation for its continued resistance to Moscow’s invasion. Russia attacked the Kyiv region with six missiles launched from the Black Sea, wounding 15 people, five of them civilians, a Ukrainian regional governor said. Ukraine said it had shot down one of the missiles but that Moscow’s forces had hit a military compound in the village of Liutizh outside the capital, destroying one building and damaging two others. Kyiv regional Governor Oleksiy Kuleba linked the attacks to the Day of Statehood observance that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy instituted last year and that Ukraine marked Thursday for the first time. “Russia, with the help of missiles, is mounting …

US Proposes Swapping Prisoners With Russia

The United States said Wednesday it has made a “substantial proposal” to Russia, which people familiar with the matter described as a prisoner swap that would send convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout back to Moscow to secure the release of American professional basketball star Brittney Griner and accused spy Paul Whelan. The proposal was made several weeks ago, in June, although nothing has come of it to date even as officials from the two governments have discussed it. But U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, while declining to discuss details of the would-be deal, told reporters in Washington he expects to raise the issue yet again this week in a phone call with his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. News of a possible prisoner swap came the same …

Russia Captures Power Plant in Southern Ukraine

A Ukrainian official said Wednesday that Russian forces have taken over Ukraine’s second-biggest power plant and are carrying out a “massive redeployment” of troops to three regions in southern Ukraine.  Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, confirmed the capture of the Vuhlehirsk power plant in the eastern Donetsk region. But Arestovych said the development was a “tiny tactical advantage” for the Russians.  He said Russia’s troop redeployment involved sending forces to the Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson areas as part of an apparent shift to strategic defense efforts.  U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday he will speak to his Russian counterpart in coming days, with issues of discussion expected to include the implementation of a deal to resume grain exports through Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and …