US Warns Russia of ‘Horrific’ Consequences of Any Nuclear Attack in Ukraine   

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States has made it clear publicly and privately to Russia to “stop the loose talk about nuclear weapons” in the Ukraine conflict following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement that he would use any means to defend Russia.   “It’s very important that Moscow hear from us and know from us that the consequences would be horrific, and we’ve made that very clear,” Blinken told CBS News’s “60 Minutes” show in an interview broadcast late Sunday.   Blinken said using nuclear weapons “would have catastrophic effects for, of course, the country using them, but for many others as well.”   The U.S. response came after Putin signaled the possibility of a nuclear attack last week as he called up 300,000 military reservists to help Russia …

Tax Cut Plans Pull British Pound to 4 Decade Lows 

The British pound has resumed a slide against the U.S. dollar that picked up pace last week after the U.K.’s new government outlined plans to cut taxes and boost spending. The pound dipped as low as $1.0349 per U.S. dollar early Monday but then rebounded to $1.0671, down 2.3%. The tax-cut plan has sparked concerns that increased public borrowing will worsen the nation’s cost-of-living crisis. The British currency plunged over 3% on Friday. It’s trading at levels last seen in the early 1980s. Other currencies have also weakened against the dollar as the Federal Reserve has hiked interest rates to combat inflation. Japan’s central bank intervened last week to support the yen, slowing its decline against the dollar. Treasury chief Kwasi Kwarteng announced the sweeping tax cuts that he said …

Gunman Kills 15 in Russian School Shooting  

A gunman in Izhevsk, the capital of Russia’s Republic of Udmurtia, has killed at least 15 people, including 11 children, the fourth school shooting in the region in the past 15 months. Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Monday that the gunman has been identified as Artem Kazantsev, a man in his early 30s who was a graduate of school No. 88, which is attended by students from kindergarten up to the end of high school. The gunman, who some media outlets said was wearing a T-shirt with a swastika on it, shot himself dead at the scene, the committee said, adding that 24 people, including 22 children, were wounded in the incident. The Investigative Committee also said that its Main Investigative Directorate in Moscow is looking into the shooting. Shootings …

Russia’s Prigozhin Admits Link to Wagner Mercenaries for First Time 

Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Monday that he had founded the Wagner Group private military company in 2014, the first public confirmation of a link he has previously denied and sued journalists for reporting. The Wagner Group, staffed by veterans of the Russian armed forces, has fought in Libya, Syria, the Central African Republic and Mali, among other countries. The press service of Prigozhin’s Concord catering firm posted his comments on the social network VKontakte in response to a request for comment from a Russian news site on why he had stopped denying his links to Wagner. “I cleaned the old weapons myself, sorted out the bulletproof vests myself and found specialists who could help me with this. From that moment, on May 1, 2014, a group of patriots …

Italy Voters Shift Sharply, Reward Meloni’s Far-Right Party

 Italian voters rewarded Giorgia Meloni’s euroskeptic party with neo-fascist roots, propelling the country toward what likely would be its first far-right-led government since World War II, based on partial results Monday from the election for Parliament.  In a victory speech, far-right Italian leader Giorgia Meloni struck a moderate tone after projections based on votes counted from some two-thirds of polling stations showed her Brothers of Italy party ahead of other contenders in Sunday’s balloting.  “If we are called to govern this nation, we will do it for everyone, we will do it for all Italians and we will do it with the aim of uniting the people (of this country),” Meloni said at her party’s Rome headquarters.  “Italy chose us,” she said. “We will not betray (the country) as we …

Fire Breaks Out at World’s Biggest Produce Market in Paris

A billowing column of dark smoke towered over Paris Sunday from a warehouse blaze at a massive produce market that supplies the French capital and surrounding region with much of its fresh food and bills itself as the largest of its kind in the world. Firefighters urged people to stay away from the area in Paris’ southern suburbs, as 100 officers and 30 fire engines battled the blaze at the Rungis International Market. Capt. Marc Le Moine, a representative for the Paris fire service, said no one was injured. The fire was brought under control and there was no risk of it spreading from the soccer field-sized warehouse, covering an area of 7,000 square meters (1.7 acres), he said. The cause of the blaze was unknown but will be investigated, …

Italy’s Right-wing, Led by Meloni, Wins Election – Exit Polls

A right-wing alliance led by Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party looks set to win a clear majority in the next parliament, exit polls said Sunday after voting ended in an Italian national election. An exit poll for state broadcaster RAI said the bloc of conservative parties, that also includes Matteo Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, won between 41% and 45% of the vote, enough to guarantee control of both houses of parliament. Italy’s electoral law favors groups that manage to create pre-ballot pacts, giving them an outsized number of seats by comparison with their vote tally. Full results are expected by early Monday. If confirmed, the result would cap a remarkable rise for Meloni, whose party won only 4% of the vote in the last national …

In Moldova, Thousands Protest in New Call for Government’s Resignation

Several thousand people protested in Moldova’s capital Sunday for the second straight weekend to demand the resignation of the country’s pro-Western government amid mounting anger over spiraling natural gas prices and inflation. The small east European nation, sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania, has seen political tensions rise in recent months as gas prices soar following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A Reuters reporter estimated the crowd at about 5,000 outside the official residence of President Maia Sandu — slightly smaller than last Sunday’s gathering. Protesters chanted “Down with Maia Sandu,” and “Down with the government.” The rallies are the largest since Sandu won a landslide election victory in 2020 on an anti-corruption platform but pose no immediate threat to the president and her administration. Sandu has repeatedly condemned Moscow’s actions in …

Hundreds Arrested in Russian Crackdown on Anti-Mobilization Protests  

Nearly 800 people have been detained in Russia as protests against the country’s partial military mobilization continue in cities across the country. As of Sunday, at least 796 people had been detained in 33 cities, with almost half of the total reported in the capital, Moscow, according to OVD-Info. The human rights group, which monitors political arrests and detentions in Russia, said that some of those detained in the crackdown on dissent following this week’s military call-up were minors. The demonstrations erupted within hours after President Vladimir Putin on September 21 announced the partial military mobilization, which is intended to buttress Russian military forces fighting in Ukraine. Russian police have been mobilized in cities where protests were called for by the opposition group Vesna and supporters of opposition politician Alexey …

Pope urges Italians to Have More Children, Welcome Migrants 

Pope Francis traveled to southern Italy on Sunday to close out an Italian church congress that coincided with Italy’s national election, and delivered a message that hit on key domestic campaign issues including immigration. Neither Francis nor his hosts referred to the vote during the open-air Mass, though Italy’s bishops conference had earlier urged Italians to cast ballots in the eagerly watched election that could bring Italy its first far-right government since World War II. At the end of the outdoor Mass in Matera, Francis spoke off the cuff asking Italians to have more children. “I’d like to ask Italy: More births, more children,” Francis said. Italy has one of the lowest birth rates in the world and Francis has frequently lamented its “demographic winter.” Far-right leader Giorgia Meloni, who …

Italians Vote in Election That Could Take Far-Right to Power

The Italians voted Sunday in an election that could move the country’s politics sharply toward the right during a critical time for Europe, with war in Ukraine fueling skyrocketing energy bills and testing the West’s resolve to stand united against Russian aggression.  Polls opened at 7 a.m. (0500GMT) and by noon turnout was equal to or slightly less than at the same time during Italy’s last general election in 2018. The counting of paper ballots was expected to begin shortly after they close at 11 p.m. (2100 GMT), with projections based on partial results coming early Monday morning. Publication of opinion polls is banned in the two weeks leading up to the election, but polls before that showed far-right leader Giorgia Meloni and her Brothers of Italy party, with its …

Milan Fashion Week Hears Calls for More Designer Diversity

Haitian Italian designer Stella Jean returned to the Milan runway after a two-year hiatus with a tour de force that highlighted the talents of 10 new designers of color whose design history is tied to Italy. Jean pledged in 2020 not to return to Milan Fashion Week, which opened Wednesday, until she was not the only Black designer. The We Are Made in Italy movement she founded with Black American designer Edward Buchanan and Afro Fashion Week Milano founder Michelle Ngomno ensured she would not be. Maximilian Davis, a 27-year-old British fashion designer with Afro-Caribbean roots, is making his debut as the creative director for Salvatore Ferragamo. Filipino American designer Rhuigi Villasenor is bringing Bally back to the runway for the first time in 20 years. Tokyo James, founded by …

Russia’s Lavrov Dismisses Western ‘Hysteria’ Over Ukraine Referenda

Russia’s foreign minister has dismissed Ukrainian and Western condemnation of what they say are sham referenda in four regions of Ukraine. “The hysteria which we have seen is very telling,” Sergey Lavrov told a news conference at the United Nations on Saturday, after he addressed the General Assembly’s annual meeting. Voting began Friday and will run through Tuesday in the provinces of Luhansk, Kherson and the partially Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions. Polls also opened in Russia, where refugees and other residents from those areas could vote. In Ukraine, some local officials said voters were being intimidated and threatened. Kyiv and Western nations warn that the referenda are aimed at annexing the occupied areas and denounce them as a violation of international law. “As was said by President Putin, we …

Ukrainian Push Slowed by Rain, River and Russian Holdouts

What had been a lightning push by Ukraine to drive Moscow’s forces from the eastern Kharkiv region slowed to a brutal slog Saturday, stalled by heavy rain and Russian resistance. In the frontline town of Kupiansk against a background of constant shelling noise a column of dark smoke rose across the Oskil River, which separates the Ukrainian-held west bank from the east, still disputed by Russian forces. “For now, the rain is making it difficult to use heavy weapons everywhere. We can only use paved roads,” Ukrainian army sergeant Roman Malyna told AFP, as tanks and APCs maneuvered under the downpour.    “For now, because it’s hard to move forward due to the weather, we are targeting their armored vehicles, ammunition depots and groups of soldiers,” he said.   On …

UN: Climate of Repression in Belarus Stifles Civil, Political Rights

The United Nations reports the human rights situation in Belarus has seriously deteriorated as the government seeks to maintain control over its people, stripping them of their civil and political rights. The report, submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council, finds the climate of repression continues throughout Belarus two years after Alexander Lukashenko was reelected for a sixth term as president in a vote considered rigged by the country’s opposition. The anger over the election’s outcome that sparked large-scale protests at that time has not subsided.    Since her office’s last update in March, Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada Al-Nashif said there has been a massive crackdown on civil society in Belarus. She said the media, political opponents, trade unions and other perceived dissidents have been prevented from exercising …

After Partial Russian Retreat, Chilling Signs of Horrors Against Ukrainians Revealed

Almost 2,000 innocent people have been killed by Russian forces in Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, Ukraine – some just for speaking Ukrainian or having Ukrainian symbols. VOA’s Eastern Europe Bureau Chief Myroslava Gongadze was granted exclusive access to the scene of a mass graveyard in Izium in the Kharkiv region that contains more than 400 bodies. Most of them apparently died particularly violent deaths, with many victims found with their hands tied behind their backs, ropes around their necks, broken bones, and gunshot wounds. United Nations experts and Ukrainian officials have pointed to new evidence of war crimes in Ukraine. The head of a U.N.-mandated investigation body said Friday war crimes including rape, torture and the confinement of children have been committed in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. “Based on the evidence …

Church of England Prohibits Tutu’s Daughter from Officiating Funeral

The Church of England said the daughter of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu could not be an officiant at her godfather’s funeral in England because she is married to a woman. The Rev. Mpho Tutu van Furth told The New York Times that she was “stunned” by the church’s “lack of compassion.” However, Tutu was able, in the end, to fulfil her godfather’s wish. She was able to officiate his funeral, as the service was moved from a church and was instead held in her godfather’s garden in Shropshire. Martin Kenyon, Tutu’s 92-year-old godfather, died last week. His funeral was held Thursday. Kenyon and Desmond Tutu became friends when they were both students at Kings College. The archbishop was Kenyon’s daughter’s godfather. …

VOA Visits Mass Burial Site in Izium, Ukraine

Ukrainian officials announced on Friday that they had exhumed more than 400 bodies at a mass burial site near Izium, Kharkiv region, from which Russian troops recently retreated after a Ukrainian counteroffensive. Many of those buried there, they said, apparently died a violent death — bodies were found with their hands tied behind their backs, ropes around their necks, broken bones and gunshot wounds; some men had their genitalia severed. VOA Eastern Europe Bureau chief Myroslava Gongadze visited the site. …

Ukraine Says Residents Coerced Into Russian Annexation Vote

Western nations and Ukraine say voting is a sham that began Friday on Russian referendums aimed at annexing four occupied regions of Ukraine. Some local officials said voters were being intimidated and threatened. In the balloting, scheduled to run from Friday to Tuesday in the provinces of Luhansk, Kherson and the partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions, voters are being asked if they want their areas to become part of Russia. Polls also opened in Russia, where refugees and other residents from those areas could vote. The West and Ukraine said the voting is illegal under international law. “Any elections or referenda on the territory of Ukraine can only be announced and conducted by legitimate authorities in compliance with national legislation and international standards,” the Organization for Security and Cooperation …

Russian Troops Have Committed War Crimes in Ukraine, UN Investigators Say

U.N. investigators say there is evidence that Russian forces who invaded Ukraine in February 2022 committed war crimes. The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine presented its findings Friday to the U.N. Human Rights Council.  The commission centered its inquiry on events from late February and March in the regions of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy. It says it documented many human rights violations, including the illegal use of explosive weapons, indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas, torture, and sexual and gender-based violence.  Commission Chair Erik Mese said Russia’s illegal use of explosive weapons has caused immense suffering among the civilian population, and accounts for most of the deaths recorded by United Nations monitors.   He said investigators were struck by the large number of executions in 16 towns and …