Facing Republican revolt, House Speaker Johnson pushes ahead on US aid for Ukraine, Israel

Washington — Defiant and determined, House Speaker Mike Johnson pushed back Tuesday against mounting Republican anger over his proposed U.S. aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other allies, and rejected a call to step aside or risk a vote to oust him from office. “I am not resigning,” Johnson said after a testy morning meeting of …

Biden hosts Czech leader to promote Ukraine aid amid delay in Congress

washington — President Joe Biden urged the U.S. House to immediately take up Senate-passed supplemental funding for Ukraine and Israel on Monday as he hosted Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala in the Oval Office.  The visit came as Biden aimed to highlight the efforts other nations are making to support Ukraine. It followed the Czech government’s …

US citizen arrested in Moscow on drug charges appears in court

Moscow — A U.S. citizen arrested on drug charges in Moscow amid soaring Russia-U.S. tensions over Ukraine appeared in court on Monday. Robert Woodland Romanov is facing charges of trafficking large amounts of illegal drugs as part of an organized group — a criminal offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison. He was remanded …

AI-generated fashion models could bring more diversity to industry — or leave it with less

Chicago, Illinois — London-based model Alexsandrah has a twin, but not in the way you’d expect: Her counterpart is made of pixels instead of flesh and blood. The virtual twin was generated by artificial intelligence and has already appeared as a stand-in for the real-life Alexsandrah in a photo shoot. Alexsandrah, who goes by her first …

Polish abortion opponents march against steps to liberalize strict law  

WARSAW — Thousands of Polish opponents of abortion marched Sunday in Warsaw to protest recent steps by the new government to liberalize the predominantly Catholic nation’s strict laws and allow termination of pregnancy until the 12th week. Many participants in the downtown march were pushing prams with children, while others were carrying white-and-red national flags or …

Germany’s Scholz arrives in China on a visit marked by trade tensions, Ukraine conflict

BEIJING — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived in China on Sunday on a visit focused on the increasingly tense economic relationship between the sides and differences over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Scholz’s first destination was the industrial hub of Chongqing, where he and his delegation of ministers and business leaders were to visit a partially German-funded …

Cyprus suspends processing of Syrian asylum applications

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus said Saturday it’s suspending processing all asylum applications by Syrian nationals because large numbers of refugees from the war-torn country continue to reach the island nation by boat, primarily from Lebanon. In a written statement, the Cypriot government said the suspension is also partly because of ongoing efforts to get the European …

Archeologists find frescoes of Trojan War figures in Pompeii

rome, italy — Archaeologists excavating new sites in Pompeii have uncovered a sumptuous banquet hall decorated with intricately frescoed mythological characters inspired by the Trojan War, officials said Thursday.  The hall, which features a mosaic floor, was uncovered as part of a project to shore up the areas dividing the excavated and unexcavated parts of Pompeii, …

Germany making it easier for people to legally change their name, gender

BERLIN — German lawmakers on Friday approved legislation that will make it easier for transgender, intersex and nonbinary people to change their name and gender in official records. The “self-determination law,” one of several social reforms that Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s liberal-leaning coalition government pledged when it took office in late 2021, is set to take effect …

Diplomat tapped as Latvia’s new FM as incumbent quits amid scandal

HELSINKI — The head of Latvia’s government tapped an experienced diplomat to become the Baltic nation’s new foreign minister after the incumbent stepped down earlier this week amid a criminal probe over alleged misuse of government funds.  The ruling center-right New Unity party decided to back the nomination of Baiba Braze, 57, who is currently the …

Vatican complains after French court rules in favor of dismissed nun

ROME — The Holy See has formally protested to France after a French court ruled that a former high-ranking Vatican official was liable for what the court determined to be the wrongful dismissal of a nun from a religious order. According to French media, the Lorient tribunal on April 3 ruled in favor of the nun, …

1 Dead, 10 injured in cable car accident in southern Turkey

ISTANBUL — One person died and 10 others injured Friday in the southern Turkish province of Antalya after a cable car cabin collided with a broken pole, the interior ministry said Saturday.  Twenty-four cabins were stranded in the air at 5:23 p.m. Friday. Sixteen hours later, more than 60 people were still stranded in the remaining …

Biden, Trump differ on how to end war in Ukraine

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, divisions have arisen in Congress over sending military aid to Kyiv. VOA’s Senior Washington Correspondent Carolyn Presutti explains how the two presidential frontrunners differ on how to handle the war. VOA footage by Mary Cieslak and Adam Greenbaum. …

Police arrest international gang in $686 million medicinal cannabis scam

MADRID — Police led by Spain on Thursday arrested members of a gang that allegedly defrauded $686 million from victims in 35 countries in a scam centered around cannabis plants for medicinal use.  The gang mounted a marketing system and attended international cannabis fairs to persuade victims to invest in the system, the Spanish National Police …

Russian city calls for mass evacuations as floodwaters rise

ORENBURG, Russia — Authorities in the Russian city of Orenburg called on thousands of residents to evacuate immediately on Friday due to rapidly rising flood waters after major rivers burst their banks due to a historic deluge of melting snow. Water was also rising sharply in another Russian region — Kurgan — and in neighboring Kazakhstan. …