Moscow-held regions of Ukraine in ‘sham’ vote to join Russia
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Voting began Friday in Moscow-held regions of Ukraine on referendums to become part of Russia, Russian-backed officials there said.
The Kremlin-orchestrated referendums, which have been widely denounced by Ukraine and the West as shams without any legal force, are seen as a step toward annexing the territories by Russia.
The votes are being held in the Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions.
The vote, which asks residents if they want their regions to be part of Russia, is certain to go Moscow’s way. That would give Russia the pretext to claim that attempts by Ukrainian forces to regain control are attacks on Russia itself, dramatically escalating the seven-month war.
The referendums follow Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order of a partial mobilization, which could add about 300,000 Russian troops to the fight. The balloting will continue for five days through Tuesday.
World opinion shifts against Russia as Ukraine worries grow
NEW YORK (AP) — The tide of international opinion appears to be decisively shifting against Russia, as a number of non-aligned countries are joining the United States and its allies in condemning Moscow’s war in Ukraine and its threats to the principles of the international rules-based order.
Western officials have repeatedly said that Russia has become isolated since invading Ukraine in February. Until recently, though, that was largely wishful thinking. But on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, much of the international community spoke out against the conflict in a rare display of unity at the often fractured United Nations.
The tide had already appeared to be turning against Putin even before Thursday’s U.N. speeches. Chinese and Indian leaders had been critical of the war at a high-level summit last week in Uzbekistan. And then the U.N. General Assembly disregarded Russia’s objections and voted overwhelmingly to allow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to be the only leader to address the body remotely, instead of requiring him to appear in person.
That shift against Russia accelerated after President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced the mobilization of some additional 300,000 troops to Ukraine, signaling the unlikelihood of a quick end to the war. Putin also suggested that nuclear weapons may be an option. That followed an announcement of Russia’s intention to hold independence referenda in several occupied Ukrainian regions with an eye toward possible annexation.
Those announcements came at the very moment that the General Assembly, considered the premier event in the global diplomatic calendar, was taking place in New York.
Trump’s legal woes mount without protection of presidency
WASHINGTON (AP) — Stark repudiation by federal judges he appointed. Far-reaching fraud allegations by New York’s attorney general. It’s been a week of widening legal troubles for Donald Trump, laying bare the challenges piling up as the former president operates without the protections afforded by the White House.
The bravado that served him well in the political arena is less handy in a legal realm dominated by verifiable evidence, where judges this week have looked askance at his claims and where a fraud investigation that took root when Trump was still president burst into public view in an allegation-filled 222-page state lawsuit.
In politics, “you can say what you want and if people like it, it works. In a legal realm, it’s different,” said Chris Edelson, a presidential powers scholar and American University government professor. “It’s an arena where there are tangible consequences for missteps, misdeeds, false statements in a way that doesn’t apply in politics.”
That distinction between politics and law was evident in a single 30-hour period this week.
Trump insisted on Fox News in an interview that aired Wednesday that the highly classified government records he had at Mar-a-Lago actually had been declassified, that a president has the power to declassify information “even by thinking about it.”
US aircraft carrier arrives in South Korea for joint drills
BUSAN, South Korea (AP) — The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan arrived in the South Korean port of Busan on Friday ahead of the two countries’ joint military exercise that aims to show their strength against growing North Korean threats.
The joint drills will be the first involving a U.S. aircraft carrier in the region since 2017, when the U.S. sent three aircraft carriers including the Reagan for naval drills with South Korea in response to North Korean nuclear and missile tests.
The allies this year have revived their large-scale military drills that were downsized or shelved in previous years to support diplomacy with Pyongyang or because of COVID-19, responding to North Korea’s resumption of major weapons testing and increasing threats of nuclear conflicts with Seoul and Washington.
The South Korean navy said the training is meant to boost the allies’ military readiness and show “the firm resolve by the Korea-U.S. alliance for the sake of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”
“The commitment of the U.S. carrier strike group operating in and around the peninsula illustrates our commitment to stand together and our desire and focus ensuring that we are interoperable and integrated to face any challenge or threat whenever we are required,” Rear Adm. Michael Donnelly, commander of the carrier strike group, said in a news conference.
After days focused on Ukraine, other concerns emerge at UN
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — After three days in which the war in Ukraine consumed world leaders at the United Nations, other conflicts and concerns are beginning to emerge.
Some are long-simmering ones with global reach that have receded from the public’s attention recently. Israel’s prime minister called for the establishment of a Palestinian state in a speech Thursday that focused on that conflict. The Palestinian president speaks on Friday.
Others are regional conflicts that have flared. Armenia’s prime minister warned that “the risk of new aggression by Azerbaijan remains very high” after the largest outbreak of hostilities between the two adversaries in nearly two years. The ex-Soviet countries are locked in conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is part of Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994.
Leaders from Iraq and Pakistan, meanwhile, take the stage Friday. Both nations are pivotal to the geopolitical world order but have received less global attention in recent years.
The annual gathering of leaders at the U.N. General Assembly provides an opportunity for each country to air its concerns and express its hopes. This year’s meeting has thus far focused heavily on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing war, as countries have deplored how the conflict has upended the geopolitical order, repeatedly raised the specter of nuclear disaster and unleashed food and energy crises.
Powerful Hurricane Fiona roaring by Bermuda, then to Canada
SAN SALVADOR, Puerto Rico (AP) — Fiona, a Category 4 hurricane, pounded Bermuda with heavy rains and winds early Friday as it swept by the island on a route forecast to have it approaching northeastern Canada late in the day as a still-powerful storm.
Authorities in Bermuda opened shelters and closed schools and offices ahead of Fiona. Premier David Burt sent a tweet urging residents to “take care of yourself and your family. Let’s all remember to check on as well as look out for your seniors, family and neighbors.”
The Canadian Hurricane Centre issued a hurricane watch over extensive coastal expanses of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Fiona should reach the area as a “large and powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds.”
“It’s going to be a storm that everyone remembers when it is all said and done,” said Bob Robichaud, warning preparedness meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre.
The U.S. center said Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph) late Thursday. It was centered about 195 miles (315 kilometers) west of Bermuda, heading north-northeast at 21 mph (33 kph).
Hong Kong to end mandatory hotel quarantine for travelers
HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s leader announced the city would no longer require incoming travelers to quarantine in designated hotels as it seeks to remain competitive and open up globally after nearly two years.
Incoming travelers will also no longer need a negative PCR test within 48 hours before boarding a plane to Hong Kong, the city’s chief executive John Lee said Friday at a news conference. Instead, they will need to present a negative COVID-19 result from a rapid antigen test conducted within 24 hours before the flight.
The measures will come into effect Monday.
“While we can’t control the trend of the epidemic, we must allow the maximum room to allow connectivity with the world so that we can have economic momentum and to reduce inconvenience to arriving travelers,” said Lee, who also said that authorities will not roll back the measures announced Friday.
He said that there must be a “balance between risks and economic growth.”
Alabama halts execution because of time, IV access concerns
ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — Alabama officials called off the Thursday lethal injection of a man convicted in a 1999 workplace shooting because of time concerns and trouble accessing the inmate’s veins.
Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said the state halted the scheduled execution of Alan Miller after they determined they could not get the lethal injection underway before a midnight deadline. Prison officials made the decision at about 11:30 p.m. The last-minute reprieve came nearly three hours after a divided U.S. Supreme Court had cleared the way for the execution to begin.
“Due to time constraints resulting from the lateness of the court proceedings, the execution was called off once it was determined the condemned inmate’s veins could not be accessed in accordance with our protocol before the expiration of the death warrant,” Hamm said.
Hamm said “accessing the veins was taking a little bit longer than we anticipated.” He did not know how long the team tried to establish a connection, but noted there are a number of procedures to be done before the team begins trying to connect the IV line.
Miller was returned to his regular cell at a south Alabama prison.
‘Crucial’ vote could move Italy to right; many might boycott
ROME (AP) — Italians will vote on Sunday in what is being billed as a crucial election as Europe reels from repercussions of Russia’s war in Ukraine. For the first time in Italy since the end of World War II, the election could propel a far-right leader into the premiership.
Soaring energy costs and quickly climbing prices for staples like bread — the consequences of Russia’s invasion of breadbasket Ukraine — have pummeled many Italian families and businesses.
Against that bleak backdrop, Giorgia Meloni and her Brothers of Italy party — with neo-fascist roots and an agenda of God, homeland and Christian identity — appear to be the front-runners in Italy’s parliamentary election.
They could be a test case for whether hard-right sentiment is gaining more traction in the 27-nation European Union. Recently, a right-wing party in Sweden surged in popularity by capitalizing on peoples’ fears about crime.
Meloni’s main alliance partner is right-wing League party leader Matteo Salvini, who blames crime on migrants. Salvini has long been a staunch ideological booster of right-wing governments in Hungary and Poland.
Chinese man gets 24 years for brutal group attack on women
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A court in northern China sentenced one man to 24 years in jail Friday for his role in a vicious attack on four women, as well as other crimes including robbery and opening an illegal gambling ring.
The Guangyang Disrict People’s Court in northern Hebei province announced in a statement that the man, Chen Jizhi, was a ringleader of a criminal gang and had conducted criminal activities for years.
The court also sentenced 27 others. The charges against them include opening casinos, robbery, assisting in cybercrime activities, picking quarrels and provoking trouble and sentences range from 6 months to 11 years.
Authorities had started the investigation into Chen after a video came to light in early June in which he and some other men started beating up four women at a barbecue restaurant in Tangshan, a city in Hebei. The men spared no force, using glass bottles and their fists to attack the women and even throwing a chair.
Chen had started the assault on a woman after she rejected his advances and pushed away his hand. He then put his hands on her, and dragged her out of her chair. He was joined quickly by members of his crew as the woman’s friends tried to stop his attack. The incident was caught on video from surveillance cameras in the restaurant.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Be the first to know
Get local news delivered to your inbox!