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The Associated Press

HELSINKI — Russia halted gas exports to neighboring Finland on Saturday, a highly symbolic move that came just days after the Nordic country announced it wanted to join NATO and marked a likely end to Finland's nearly 50 years of importing natural gas from Russia. The measure taken by the Russian energy giant Gazprom was in line with an earlier announcement following Helsinki's refusal to pay for the gas in rubles as Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded European countries do since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. The Finnish state-owned gas company Gasum said that "natural gas supplies to Finland under Gasum's supply contract have been cut off" by Russia on Saturday morning at 7 a.m. local time (0400 GMT). The announcement follows Moscow's decision to cut off electricity exports to Finland earlier this month and an earlier decision by the Finnish state-controlled oil company Neste to replace imports of Russian crude oil with crude oil from elsewhere. After decades of energy cooperation that was seen beneficial for both Helsinki — particularly in the case of inexpensive Russian crude oil — and Moscow, Finland's energy ties with Russia are now all but gone.

Jane Harper, The Virginian-Pilot

Former Norfolk sheriff Bob McCabe was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison after his conviction last summer on nearly a dozen bribery and public corruption charges. U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen issued the sentence at the end of a lengthy hearing in federal court attended by several friends and family members — and a few former colleagues — of McCabe’s. “In the court’s opinion, you were guilty beyond all doubt,” Allen said to McCabe, calling his bribery scheme “sophisticated and very intricate.” Allen disputed his previous claims that he’d simply made some mistakes. “It’s not a mistake, it’s a crime — a 22-year crime.” Before the sentence was issued, McCabe tearfully apologized to the court. “I deeply regret, and I’m truly remorseful for, my misguided and reckless decisions,” he said. “I alone take sole responsibility for my selfish actions.” McCabe was ordered into custody in August after a jury convicted him of all 11 charges he faced at the end of 3 ½-week trial. He was threatened on his first day at Western Tidewater Regional Jail in Suffolk, according to his attorney, and has been in solitary confinement in a Hanover County facility since for his own protection. When the 63-year-old walked into the courtroom Friday, hunched over and pushing a wheeled walker in front of him, his wife of 20 years, Janet, began sobbing loudly. He appeared frail and much thinner than at his trial.

Ben Westcott

Australia’s Labor Party is set to take power for the first time since 2013, as voters booted out Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative government in a shift likely to bring greater action on climate change and a national body to fight corruption. The Labor Party led by Anthony Albanese was projected to win enough seats to form a government in Saturday’s election, even if it falls short of a majority in the 151-seat parliament, according to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The broadcaster said it won at least 72 seats, compared with 51 for Morrison’s Liberal-National Coalition. Still, it wasn’t all good news for Labor. The party only won about 31.7% of the primary vote on the latest count, which would be its worst result in decades and the lowest margin for an incoming government since the end of World War II.

Kyle Barr

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro arrives to a resort hotel where he is expected to meet with Elon Musk in Porto Feliz, Brazil on Friday. There’s a lot of scandals hitting Tesla CEO Elon Musk all at once, but at least he knows he has a friend in Brazil’s deforester-in-chief Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing demagogue who similarly to Musk, has a very hard time taking any sort of public criticism, and has tried using the power of his office to make sure his conspiracies don’t get deplatformed. Musk’s trip down south was reportedly meant to include talks about internet connectivity within the country alongside concerns of rapid deforestation. The Brazilian Amazon has seen a 15-year high under the three-year Brazilian president, which has scientists concerned it could lead to a total ecological collapse.

Is Tucker Carlson just Russian friendly or something far worse?

Jon Jackson

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Thursday said shows like Tucker Carlson's should be broadcast "24/7." Orban made the comment during a meeting of the U.S.-based Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Budapest, Hungary. According to The Guardian, he also railed against liberals and "neo-Marxists" who are "dazed by the woke dream." Orban, who won a fourth term as prime minister in Hungary's April elections, has maintained close ties with Putin during his time in office. In February, the two appeared at a joint news conference during which they discussed their countries' economic relationship. Hungary was the first country in the European Union (EU) to buy Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, even though it hadn't been approved by European regulators. However, Orban's bond with Putin has been tested since the beginning of Russia's war in Ukraine. While Orban has publicly criticized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, his country supports Ukraine's membership application to the EU. Orban has also said that even though he doesn't support the EU's sanctions on Russia, he will not block them. Addressing the CPAC crowd, Orban spoke of the importance of media and denounced what he called Western media's "leftist viewpoint" before bringing up Fox News' Carlson.

By Anne Kauranen

HELSINKI, May 20 (Reuters) - Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM) has informed Finland it will halt flows of natural gas from Saturday morning, Gasum said on Friday, after the Finnish state-owned gas wholesaler refused to pay its Russian supplier in roubles. Gazprom Export has demanded that European countries pay for Russian gas supplies in roubles because of sanctions imposed over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Most supply contracts are denominated in euros or dollars and Moscow has already cut off gas to Bulgaria and Poland last month after they refused to comply with the new payment terms. The majority of gas used in Finland comes from Russia but gas only accounts for about 5% of its annual energy consumption.

By ELLEN KNICKMEYER, ZEKE MILLER and CHRIS MEGERIAN

WASHINGTON (AP) — Flanked by the leaders of Finland and Sweden, President Joe Biden forcefully supported their applications to join NATO on Thursday as Russia’s war in the heart of Europe challenges the continent’s security. The U.S. president rejected Turkey’s opposition, insisting the two countries “meet every NATO requirement and then some.” Biden walked to a White House Rose Garden appearance with his hands on the shoulders of Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland for an event designed to emphasize U.S. backing of their NATO candidacies. The firm show of support was targeted not only at Russia, but also Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who earlier emphasized his opposition to the two countries joining the military alliance. Erdogan’s new comments added to uncertainty about whether he is determined to derail the expansion, which needs the unanimous support of all 30 NATO members, or whether he is using the threat to gain concessions from the two nations as well as the United States.

American far right has long embraced Hungary’s prime minister, who speaks of Europe’s ‘suicidal’ immigration policies
Flora Garamvolgyi and Julian Borger

Hungary’s nationalist leader, Viktor Orbán, will be the star speaker at an extraordinary session of America’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to be held in Hungary this week, in an effort to cement bonds between the radical right on both sides of the Atlantic under the banner of the “great replacement” ideology. In a speech on Monday, Orbán made explicit reference to the ideology, which claims there is a liberal plot to dilute the white populations of the US and European countries through immigration. Increasingly widespread among US Republicans, the creed was cited by the killer who opened fire on Saturday in a supermarket in a predominantly black area of Buffalo, New York. Speaking in Buffalo on Tuesday, Joe Biden called it a “perverse ideology” and “a lie”.

Sune Engel Rasmussen

Finland and Sweden formally applied for NATO membership on Wednesday, a move that, if approved, would fundamentally transform the security landscape of Northern Europe and give the alliance a valuable edge against Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The two Nordic countries’ bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization breaks with a decadeslong defense doctrine that has seen them balance political and security partnerships with other Western nations while staying out of formal military alliances. Finnish Ambassador to NATO Klaus Korhonen and his Swedish counterpart Axel Wernhoff personally handed the applications to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on Wednesday morning, according to live footage broadcast on Finnish television. “This is a good day at a critical moment for our security. Thank you so much for handing over the applications for Finland and Sweden’s membership in NATO,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. “Every nation has the right to choose its own path. You have both made your choice after thorough democratic process and I warmly welcome the requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO.”

Holly Ellyatt

In a country where independent media and commentary has all but disappeared from public view, it’s rare to hear dissenting voices on the many state-controlled TV networks in Russia — particularly now with the country at war with Ukraine. But one well-known military analyst and veteran has stood out this week after he appeared on state TV and gave a damning assessment of the Ukraine invasion, or what Russia calls its “special military operation.” “The situation, frankly speaking, will get worse for us,” Mikhail Khodaryonok, a retired Russian army colonel, told the “60 Minutes” talk show on Rossiya-1 TV program hosted by Olga Skabeyeva, who’s renowned for her pro-Kremlin stance.

Former Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron doesn't understand "how the network can go through with it."
By Lee Moran

Carl Cameron on Tuesday slammed his old employer, Fox News, and its prime-time personality Tucker Carlson for peddling the same kind of racist rhetoric that reportedly inspired the deadly massacre in Buffalo, New York, in which 10 people were killed over the weekend. MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace noted to Cameron, who was the chief political correspondent at Fox until 2017, how “the ideology left in the mass shooter’s screed” at a supermarket “mirrors the ideology championed” by Carlson, who has frequently talked on his show about the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory cited by the killer.

Ed Mazza

Aformer Homeland Security official in the Trump administration who later turned into one of the former president’s critics has quit the Republican Party, saying the GOP can’t be saved. Miles Taylor, who was the agency’s deputy chief of staff and then chief of staff from 2017 to 2019, wrote on Twitter:

By Gerrard Kaonga

Russian forces may have opened fire at Israel's jets in Syria, according to a report. The alleged attack is believed to have taken place in Syria on Friday last week, according to Israel's Channel 13 news. Newsweek has not been able to independently verify whether the attack did take place and whether it was the act of Russian forces. The unsourced report alleges that Russia used its S-300 anti-aircraft missiles as the Israeli jets attacked targets in Northwestern Syria. On Friday night, at least five people were killed and seven injured in the alleged airstrike, according to Syria's state news agency. However, other media in the country claimed that six people were killed. The reports indicated that the Syrian military fired off dozens of anti-aircraft missiles at the Israeli jets. As well as this, Syria's S-300 batteries, that are operated by the Russian military and cannot fire without their approval, were also used against the jets. The reports also claimed that S-300 radar did not manage to lock onto the Israeli jets.

Reuters

May 16 (Reuters) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Monday urged other members of a Russian-dominated military alliance to stand united, and accused the West of hoping to prolong the conflict in Ukraine to try to weaken Russia as much as possible. Lukashenko, speaking at a summit of the leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) in Moscow, said "hellish sanctions" against his country and Russia could have been avoided if the group had spoken with one voice. "Without a united front, the collective West will build up pressure on the post-Soviet space," Lukashenko said in televised opening remarks, addressing Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Brad Dress

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday condemned the mass shooting at a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery market over the weekend, calling the attack a “vile act of racist violent extremism.” In a statement, Guterres gave his condolences to the 13 victims of the shooting at Tops Friendly Market, at least 10 of whom were killed. Guterres said he was appalled by the shooting, which authorities are investigating as a hate crime. Eleven of the victims are Black and the gunman allegedly published a racist manifesto online before the shooting. “The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms racism in all its forms and discrimination based on race, religion, belief or national origin. We must all work together towards building more peaceful and inclusive societies,” the statement read. The gunman, who was wearing a tactical vest and had briefly livestreamed the shooting on Twitch, surrendered to police. Payton Gendron, 18, of Conklin, N.Y., was arraigned on a first-degree murder charge Saturday evening. Gendron, who is white, allegedly wrote and published a 180-page manifesto via 4Chan, an online social forum in which he espoused racist ideas and white supremacist ideology including the “great replacement” theory, or a belief that liberals are intentionally replacing white people with minorities in the U.S. for political benefit.

Shireen Abu Akleh was shot to death last week.
By Associated Press

JERUSALEM — As Israel and the Palestinians wrangle over the investigation into the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, several independent groups have launched their own probes. One open-source research team said its initial findings lent support to Palestinian witnesses who said she was killed by Israeli fire. The outcome of these investigations could help shape international opinion over who is responsible for Abu Akleh’s death, particularly if an official Israeli military probe drags on. Israel and the Palestinians are locked in a war of narratives that already has put Israel on the defensive. Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American and a 25-year veteran of the satellite channel, was killed last Wednesday while covering an Israeli military raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. She was a household name across the Arab world, known for documenting the hardship of Palestinian life under Israeli rule, now in its sixth decade. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday said he had spoken to Abu Akleh’s family to express condolences and respect for her work “as well as the need to have an immediate and credible investigation” into her death.

By Tara John, Chandler Thornton and Amy Cassidy, CNN

(CNN) Finland's government said Sunday it intends to join NATO, ditching decades of neutrality and ignoring Russian threats of possible retaliation as the Nordic country attempts to strengthen its security following the onset of the war in Ukraine. Sweden's ruling party later said it will also support joining the alliance. The decision was announced at a joint press conference by President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who said the move must be ratified by the country's parliament before Finland can formally seek membership of the alliance. "We hope that the parliament will confirm the decision to apply for NATO membership," Marin said in Helsinki on Sunday. "During the coming days. It will be based on a strong mandate, with the President of the Republic. We have been in close contact with governments of NATO member states and NATO itself." "We are close partners to NATO but it is a historic decision that we will join NATO and hopefully we are making the decisions together," she added.

By REUTERS

Turkey's foreign minister said on Sunday that Sweden and Finland must stop supporting terrorist groups in their countries, provide clear security guarantees and lift export bans on Turkey as they seek membership in NATO. Speaking after a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Berlin, Mevlut Cavusoglu said he met his Swedish and Finnish counterparts and all were seeking to address Turkey's concerns. He added that Turkey was not threatening anybody or seeking leverage but speaking out, especially about Sweden's support for the PKK Kurdish militant group, deemed a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. Finland confirmed on Sunday that it would apply for NATO membership and Sweden is expected to follow suit, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. However Turkey's concerns may pose an obstacle, as any decision on NATO enlargement requires unanimous approval by all 30 member states.

By Eileen AJ Connelly

Russian President Vladimir Putin is “very ill with blood cancer,” an oligarch close to the Kremlin said in a secret recording obtained by New Lines Magazine. The type of cancer was unspecified, New Lines reported in a story discussing myriad rumors about Putin’s health. “The recording represents rare testimony by someone with proven ties to the Russian government that its fanatical dictator may well be seriously unwell,” the magazine stated of the comments made during a mid-March discussion with someone described as a “Western venture capitalist.” “He absolutely ruined Russia’s economy, Ukraine’s economy and many other economies — ruined [them] absolutely,” the unnamed oligarch said of Putin on the tape. “The problem is with his head. … One crazy guy can turn the world upside down.”

By REUTERS

Forces from the regional Kurdish government have taken control of some oil wells in northern Kirkuk, Iraq's state-run North Oil Company said in a statement on Saturday. It said the forces arrived with a technical team from the Kurdish region and took over some of the oil wells in the Bai Hassan oilfield, which is controlled by the North Oil Company. The statement did not say when the forces arrived and whether they were still there. Iraqi forces took back control of Kirkuk oilfields from the Kurds in 2017 following a referendum on Kurdish independence.

Yuliya Talmazan

How many seconds does it take for a ballistic missile to reach London, Paris or Berlin? That’s the question pundits on Russian state TV were pondering as the war in Ukraine entered its third month. The eerie estimates were accompanied by a graphic showing the trajectories that Moscow’s intercontinental ballistic missiles would take to reach the capitals of European nations that supply Kyiv with the most military aid. All the while, pro-Kremlin host Olga Skabeyeva and the experts on her “60 Minutes” show on the Russia-1 TV channel were nonchalantly joking about how the West should tune in. Just months ago, the graphic, the rhetoric and the seeming casualness of such conversations would have been shocking, even by the standards of Russian propaganda. But with Russia’s military struggling, its rivals emboldened and the neighbor it invaded responding with defiance, NBC News watched dozens of hours of state media coverage to find the Kremlin and its mouthpieces increasingly reaching for new and more outlandish claims to justify the Ukraine invasion.

Brendan Cole

A Russian lawmaker who has previously boasted about his country's missile capabilities on Kremlin-backed television has said that Finland is endangering its existence if it joins NATO. Duma deputy Aleksey Zhuravlyov, who chairs the nationalist Rodina political party, told the news outlet Ura.ru that Finland and Russia once enjoyed good relations following World War Two but now Helsinki is "going to do something to create additional problems for us." "When you create problems for someone, you must understand that you will get them yourself," he said in the article headlined, "Joining NATO threatens Finland with annihilation." Last month, Zhuravlyov said on the program 60 Minutes, which pushes the Kremlin line on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that he wished missiles had hit Kyiv while U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was visiting. On another episode of the program, Zhuravlyov suggested Moscow's latest missile, the Sarmat, should target the U.K. because of London's support for Ukraine's war effort.

By Brendan Cole

The host of a news program in Russia has issued an ominous warning in response to Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki's condemnation of Vladimir Putin. The show 60 Minutes on Russia-1 has been pushing fiery rhetoric justifying Putin's invasion of Ukraine, while condemning the actions of NATO members, in particular the U.K. and the U.S. for their supporting of Kyiv's war effort. In Friday's episode, host Olga Skabeyeva took aim at Poland and Morawiecki's op-ed in The Daily Telegraph where he said Putin's idea of a 'Russkiy Mir' (Russian world) was "a cancer" which proliferated in Russian society and "poses a deadly threat to the whole of Europe."

tporter@businessinsider.com (Tom Porter)

A steady supply of Western weapons has enabled Ukraine's outnumbered military to hold back Russian forces and inflict thousands of casualties during the ongoing war. But experts are increasingly concerned that as Russia's invasion stalls, the Kremlin could choose to retaliate against the West not just through economic and diplomatic means, but also by inciting violent attacks at the heart of the NATO alliance. The tool it could seek to exploit is a network of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups in Russia, Western Europe, and the US with which it has cultivated ties for decades. "They've done that before in much of Europe and I would not be surprised if they are doing that today — trying to get their intelligence services at the right moment to get these groups agitated," Chris Chivvis, who served as the National Security Council's intelligence officer for Europe from 2018 to 2021, told Insider. He warned of a likely effort to stir "political unrest, political violence" and "get these groups agitated to achieve political effects in countries in Europe, and possibly the United States."

“There is an unprecedented and seemingly almost concerted effort to bandy around and play fast and loose with this rhetoric of World War III and nuclear strikes,” one expert said.
By Yuliya Talmazan

How many seconds does it take for a ballistic missile to reach London, Paris or Berlin? That’s the question pundits on Russian state TV were pondering as the war in Ukraine entered its third month. The eerie estimates were accompanied by a graphic showing the trajectories that Moscow’s intercontinental ballistic missiles would take to reach the capitals of European nations that supply Kyiv with the most military aid. All the while, pro-Kremlin host Olga Skabeyeva and the experts on her “60 Minutes” show on the Russia-1 TV channel were nonchalantly joking about how the West should tune in. Just months ago, the graphic, the rhetoric and the seeming casualness of such conversations would have been shocking, even by the standards of Russian propaganda. But with Russia’s military struggling, its rivals emboldened and the neighbor it invaded responding with defiance, NBC News watched dozens of hours of state media coverage to find the Kremlin and its mouthpieces increasingly reaching for new and more outlandish claims to justify the Ukraine invasion.

Lawrence Richard

Russia said it would cut off electricity to Finland starting Saturday as it claims the country has not paid, a state-owned power company said. RAO Nordic, a subsidiary of Inter ROA, said it will stop exporting electricity to Finland without providing specifics amid larger tensions across Europe beset by the Russia-Ukraine War, Reuters reported. "This situation is exceptional and happened for the first time in over twenty years of our trading history," RAO Nordic said in a statement, per the report. Electrical services, which account for 10% of the country’s total consumption, were discontinued "for the time being" at 1 a.m. local time, Finnish grid operator Fingrid said, according to the report. "Missing imports can be replaced in the electricity market by importing more electricity from Sweden and also by domestic production," the company added, Reuters reported. According to the report, Fingrid is not involved in the dispute. "Nord Pool is the one paying for them. Fingrid is not a party in this electricity trade. We provide the transfer connection from Russia to Finland," Reima Paivinen, Fingrid's senior-vice president for operations told the outlet.

Worries mount that Moscow could grow more moody, provocative
HIROYUKI AKITA, Nikkei Commentator

TOKYO -- Russia has been hit hard by Western sanctions in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine, sparking fears the nation will grow increasingly dependent on China. With the U.S. and many European countries apparently ready to target all aspects of Russia's economy to pile pressure on President Vladimir Putin, the world order could shift as a weakened Moscow moves ever closer to Beijing. That potential realignment has been stoking worries around the world. .S., European and Asian policymakers gathered in New Delhi last month to discuss pressing geopolitical issues at the Raisina Dialogue. Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen, president of the European Council, and senior U.S. government officials were among those calling for stronger pressure against Russia, repeatedly urging India and other countries to do more.

Editorial

Support for membership in Finland and Sweden shows the Russian president’s assault on Ukraine has only strengthened the alliance. In 2019, Emmanuel Macron declared that Nato was becoming “braindead”. The French president’s warning was prompted by fears that the US, under Donald Trump, could no longer be relied upon to come to the defence of Nato allies. Mr Trump last month confirmed that he had threatened not to defend them against Russia. Fewer than three years on from Mr Macron’s warning, the alliance is reinvigorated. Members have increased defence spending significantly, though only eight out of 30 met the target of 2% of GDP last year. Finland and Sweden, long resistant to joining, are knocking on the door. Nothing has done more for Nato solidarity and expansion than Vladimir Putin’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. As the Swedish prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, observed: “There is a before and after 24 February.”

By Atika Shubert and Abeer Salman, CNN

Jerusalem (CNN)Mourners flocked to Jerusalem's streets on Friday to attend the burial of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead on Wednesday while reporting on a military raid in the West Bank city of Jenin, and were met with violence by Israeli police as they tried to carry the coffin on foot. The funeral was taking place a day after a memorial procession that brought thousands to the West Bank city of Ramallah. Hundreds gathered on Friday before the funeral outside St. Joseph hospital in East Jerusalem, where Abu Akleh's body remained until the burial. Muslims performed Friday prayers and mourners chanted "walking, walking on foot," demanding that Abu Akleh's coffin be carried and transported on foot from the hospital to the Greek Orthodox Church, where a service will be held, and then to the burial site. Israeli police were lined outside the hospital, according to CNN reporters. Police roadblocks were set up to and from near the hospital.

Russia threating to cut off oil and gas supplies will only make countries want to get off Russian off oil and gas faster. It will cause countries to reconsider using Russian oil and gas as Russia is no longer a trusted provider of oil and gas.

Reuters

HELSINKI, May 12 (Reuters) - Key Finnish politicians have been warned that Russia could halt its gas supplies to neighbouring Finland on Friday, local newspaper Iltalehti reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources. The paper did not specify where the warning would have come from and Reuters was not able to verify the information. Finland's President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Thursday said Finland would apply to join the Western defence alliance NATO "without delay", prompting Russia to vow a response.

ABC News

"Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay," President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a joint statement. "We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days." Leaders in both Sweden and Finland had been expected to announce their positions on joining NATO this week, as the war in Ukraine continues to have unintended consequences for Russia by potentially pushing two more of its neighbors to the transatlantic alliance. Finland’s decision to apply for NATO membership is a threat to the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, Russia's presidential press secretary, said on Thursday. "Another enlargement of NATO does not make our continent more stable and secure,” Peskov told reporters.

By Haley Ott

London — As Ukrainian authorities and the international community work to meticulously collate mounting evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine, the last surviving prosecutor from the Nuremberg trials of World War II-era Nazi officials told CBS News that Russian President Vladimir Putin is "certainly" a war criminal. Benjamin Ferencz, now 102, fought in some of the most significant battles of World War II. He was a young lawyer, recently graduated from Harvard Law School, when he was assigned to a unit tasked with gathering evidence of the Nazi's war crimes in Europe. "It was horror. It was incredible and indescribable. My job was to get into the concentration camps as they were being liberated, so by the time I got there, the SS was fleeing. The American army was chasing them, and the ground was covered with dead people, some of them still partly alive, pleading with their eyes for help. All of them looked like they were starving. It was not only an unforgettable experience, it was completely traumatic, and I always have that picture," Ferencz told CBS News.

James Hockaday

People who put their life savings into cryptocurrencies face losing their homes after a massive and sudden crash in their value. More than $200billion has been wiped off the cryptocurrency market today alone, as investors are sent into a panic. Ethereum, the world’s second largest digital currency plummeted by 20% in the space of 24 hours. Bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency started in 2009, dropped by 9%, but overall it is down 50% since its all time high in November. Chaos on the market has seen other currencies such as Shiba Inu and Dogecoin losing 30% and 25%, respectively. Meanwhile Terra Luna, which was among the top 10 most valuable cryptocurrencies had 98% of its value wiped out overnight, falling to below one dollar per coin. Its Reddit page had a suicide hotline pinned to it, as users of the site shared their devastating losses. One member wrote: ‘I lost all my life savings. Had bought Luna at $85, not sure what to do.’

By Zoe Strozewski

Since the start of the year, at least seven Russian oligarchs have been found dead under mysterious circumstances in a grim trend happening alongside the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War. While few connections can be definitively drawn between all seven oligarchs and their mysterious deaths, they all have two key things in common: none were known to be outwardly critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine, and none were included on sweeping lists of sanctions imposed on Russian figures, systems and organizations. Strings of high-profile Russian deaths have gained attention in the past. USA Today published a list in 2017 of 38 Russian officials and figures who died under suspicious circumstances. But even while Russia has been accused in the past of attempting to silence critics by deadly means, the seven oligarchs' lack of known criticism of Russia's invasion and freedom from sanctions lists muddies any potential alleged links between Russia and their deaths.

Thomas Newdick

Russia has threatened to respond to Finland’s decision, announced today, that it will seek NATO membership, an aspiration that has been prompted, to a significant degree, by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, now in its 79th day. Kremlin officials have not stated explicitly what kind of reaction could follow, although a spokesman said Finnish accession to NATO posed a direct threat to Russia. Meanwhile, Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Russia’s security council, today issued a warning of a “full-fledged nuclear war” if NATO continues “pumping weapons into Ukraine,” the timing of which may well be related.

Bloomberg News

Russian setbacks in Ukraine have begun to prompt more explicit warnings in China about Moscow’s value as a diplomatic partner, in a sign of growing unease over President Xi Jinping’s strategic embrace of Vladimir Putin. Russia was headed for defeat and being “significantly weakened” by the conflict, a former Chinese ambassador to Ukraine told a recent Chinese Academy of Social Sciences-backed seminar in remarks widely circulated online. The comments, which Bloomberg News was unable to verify, were attributed to retired diplomat Gao Yusheng, who served as China’s top envoy in Kyiv from late 2005 to early 2007. Gao described the war as the “most important” international event since the Cold War ended, according to an article published by Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television before being taken down. He had previously been posted in Moscow at the time of the Soviet Union’s fall in 1991.

Cases of mob attacks because of alleged blasphemy happen intermittently in Nigeria, especially in the north.
Aljazeera

A college in the northwestern Nigerian state of Sokoto has been indefinitely shut after a female student in the school was killed over alleged blasphemy. The yet-to-be-identified student was accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, which led to a mobbing that resulted in her death on Thursday, according to reports from local media. Her body was also allegedly burned afterwards within the school premises. Sokoto state’s Governor Aminu Tambuwal ordered the closure of the school and directed the Ministry of Higher Education and relevant security agencies to investigate the incident. This came after outrage on social media against the killing, the state’s Commissioner of Information Isa Bajini Galadanchi told reporters.

By KIM TONG-HYUNG and HYUNG-JIN KIM

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea imposed a nationwide lockdown Thursday to control its first acknowledged COVID-19 outbreak after holding for more than two years to a widely doubted claim of a perfect record keeping out the virus that has spread to nearly every place in the world. The outbreak forced leader Kim Jong Un to wear a mask in public, likely for the first time since the start of the pandemic, but the scale of transmissions inside North Korea wasn’t immediately known. A failure to slow infections could have serious consequences because the country has a poor health care system and its 26 million people are believed to be mostly unvaccinated. Some experts say North Korea, by its rare admission of an outbreak, may be seeking outside aid. However, hours after North Korea confirmed the outbreak, South Korea’s military said it detected the North had fired three suspected ballistic missiles toward the sea. It was its 16th round of missile launches this year, in brinkmanship aimed at forcing the United States to accept North Korea as a nuclear power and negotiate sanctions relief and other concessions from a position of strength.

By Snejana Farberov

People of Thailand are certain to be in high spirits come next month when the government will give away 1 million free cannabis plants for home cultivation. Thailand’s public health minister, who has spearheaded the country’s drive to decriminalize weed, announced in a Facebook post Sunday the government will distribute 1 million of the plants when most legal restrictions on production and possession of the drug are lifted in June. Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul added that people would be able to grow as many cannabis plants as they like at their homes. In February, Charnvirakul signed a measure officially dropping cannabis, best known in the form of marijuana, from a list of controlled drugs. Closely regulated use of cannabis was legalized in 2018, with several restrictions gradually eased since then.

By Hadas Gold and Abeer Salman, CNN

Ramallah, West Bank (CNN) Thousands of mourners gathered in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday to mourn slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, as the Palestinian Authority vowed to take the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Journalists, diplomats, religious leaders, and officials including Arab members of Israel's parliament, the Knesset, attended the memorial procession at the Palestinian Authority President's residence, which saw Abu Akleh's Palestinian-flag-draped coffin carried in as honor guards played musical instruments. Crowds that had gathered on the streets outside the residence were heard chanting "the honest voice never dies" and "we sacrifice our blood and spirit for you, Shireen." The memorial was attended by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who in a speech at the event rejected Israel's offer for a joint investigation into Abu Akleh's killing and vowed to take the case to the ICC.

World News

"You will be held accountable as an adult, no matter how much you play the fool" message says. The Russian space chief Dmitry Rogozin has sent a very peculiar message to the world's richest man and founder of Space X, Elon Musk, and he seems untroubled. This past Sunday, Musk shared a Russian note that he mentioned was sent by Dmitry Rogozin to the Russian Media by Roscosmos, the Russian equivalent of NASA.

Rachel Treisman

Lithuania's parliament has designated Russia a terrorist country and its actions in Ukraine as genocide. The Lithuanian Seimas tweeted Tuesday that its members had passed the resolution unanimously. This makes Lithuania the first country to declare Russia a perpetrator of terrorism, according to Ukraine's Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security. It's not the first to formally accuse Russia of genocide: Canadian lawmakers unanimously adopted such a motion last month. Lithuania's resolution says that Russia's armed forces and mercenaries have committed war crimes in Ukraine, citing the atrocities reported in places Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, Borodyaka, Hostomel and other cities, according to public broadcaster Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT). "The Russian Federation, whose military forces deliberately and systematically target civilian targets, is a state that supports and perpetrates terrorism," the resolution reads.

By JUSTIN SPIKE and SAMUEL PETREQUIN

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — As the European Union tries to impose sanctions on Russian oil over the war in Ukraine, Hungary has emerged as one of the biggest obstacles to unanimous support needed from the bloc’s 27 member nations. The president of the EU’s executive commission, Ursula von der Leyen, last week proposed phasing out imports of Russian crude within six months and refined products by the end of the year to wean Europe off its dependence on Russian fossil fuels and cut off a lucrative source of income that helps fund Russia’s war. But Hungary’s nationalist government — one of the most friendly to Moscow in the EU — insists it will not support any sanctions that target Russian energy exports. Hungary is heavily reliant on Russian oil and gas and says the EU oil boycott would be an “atomic bomb” for its economy and destroy its “stable energy supply.”

The Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines — The namesake son of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos appeared to have been elected Philippine president by a landslide in an astonishing reversal of the 1986 "People Power" pro-democracy revolt that ousted his father. Marcos Jr. had more than 30.8 million votes in the unofficial results with more than 97% of the votes tabulated as of Tuesday afternoon. His nearest challenger, Vice President Leni Robredo, a champion of human rights, had 14.7 million votes in Monday's election, and boxing great Manny Pacquiao appeared to have the third highest total with 3.5 million. His running mate, Sara Duterte, the daughter of the outgoing president and mayor of southern Davao city, had a formidable lead in the separate vice presidential race.

Analysis by Luke McGee, CNN

Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine has backfired on a number of fronts. But one of the most disastrous consequences of all for the Russian President is the increasingly likely prospect of Finland joining NATO. The Nordic nation is expected to announce its interest in NATO membership as soon as this week after its Foreign Affairs Committee drafts a response to the government's security report -- which includes the option of joining the alliance. After that, the Finnish parliament will hold an extraordinary debate on whether to approve the security report recommendations. At this point it is very likely NATO would invite the country to talk about accession to the alliance. It is broadly believed this would happen very quickly, as Finland already meets most of the criteria and it's highly unlikely any NATO members would object. Multiple recent opinion polls have shown that at least 60% of Finns are now in favor of NATO membership, a huge jump from a previous high of around 30% in past years.

Reuters

TAIPEI, May 6 (Reuters) - Taiwan's air force scrambled on Friday to warn away 18 Chinese aircraft that entered its air defence zone, Taiwan's defence ministry said, part of what is a regular pattern of incursions that has angered the government in Taipei. Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, has complained of repeated such missions by Chinese aircraft, which have become a common occurrence over the past two years or so. Taiwan is currently in a heighten state of alert due to fears China could use Russia's invasion of Ukraine to make a similar military move on the island, though Taipei's government has not reported any signs Beijing is about to attack. The number of aircraft involved was well off the last large-scale incursion, 39 Chinese aircraft on Jan. 23, and since then, such fly-bys have been with far fewer aircraft.

Yahoo News

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia will respond calmly to the Solomon Islands after it signed a security pact with China, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, dismissing a furious response by the leader of the Pacific nation to Western criticism of the deal. In a fiery speech to parliament on Tuesday, Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said "we are threatened with invasion" but he did not name any countries or give evidence for his claim. "None of that is true," Morrison said on Thursday, responding to questions from reporters. Defence Minister Peter Dutton said he didn't believe the comments were directed at Australia, which had defence forces and police personnel in the Solomon Islands at Sogavare's request.

Yahoo News

A process that began on April 24 during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's historic meeting with the head of the U.S. State Department Antony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Kyiv continued throughout the last week. It included a meeting in the U.S. Ramstein airbase of the defense ministers of the 40 most industrial powers in the world. They, in fact, entered into a military alliance in support of Ukraine. The West has finally clearly formulated its goals. When asked what the purpose of the war was, Austin replied: “The purpose of the war for the United States is the victory of Ukraine. Restoration of its territorial integrity, and that Russia, as a result of the war, is weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” That is, the West has already formulated a program not only for the victory of Ukraine in the war but also for the post-war structure. This is a common practice after world wars, but in essence, this is not a Russo-Ukrainian war, this is a world war that the insane dictator Putin declared against the entire West and the free world. After the world war, the victorious powers form a new world order. And now Ukraine will be the main victorious power in this process.

KEN MORITSUGU

HONG KONG (AP) — China is installing a career security official as the new leader of Hong Kong in the culmination of a sweeping political transformation that has gutted any opposition in the Asian financial center and placed it ever more firmly under Beijing’s control. John Lee, formerly the city’s No. 2 official, is the only candidate Sunday in what is an election in name only. Well over half of the 1,500-member Election Committee that selects the chief executive has already endorsed him and he needs only a simple majority to win. Speaking to supporters Friday, Lee acknowledged that Hong Kong has deep-rooted problems and reiterated his intention to bring a “results-oriented” approach. “Hong Kong has to seize its opportunity, we cannot afford to wait, we cannot be late,” the 64-year-old former police officer said. “We will have to consolidate Hong Kong as an international city, to develop Hong Kong’s potential as a free and open society, to connect the mainland of China and the world.”

Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- China has ordered central government agencies and state-backed corporations to replace foreign-branded personal computers with domestic alternatives within two years, marking one of Beijing’s most aggressive efforts so far to eradicate key overseas technology from within its most sensitive organs. Staff were asked after the week-long May break to turn in foreign PCs for local alternatives that run on operating software developed domestically, people familiar with the plan said. The exercise, which was mandated by central government authorities, is likely to eventually replace at least 50 million PCs on a central-government level alone, they said, asking to remain anonymous discussing a sensitive matter. The decision advances China’s decade-long campaign to replace imported technology with local alternatives, a sweeping effort to reduce its dependence on geopolitical rivals such as the U.S. for everything from semiconductors to servers and phones. It’s likely to directly affect sales by HP Inc. and Dell Technologies Inc., the country’s biggest PC brands after local champion Lenovo Group Ltd. Shares of HP and Dell were both down about 2.5% in New York Friday morning.

Amnesty International says it has documented extensive war crimes by Russian forces in communities around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, including arbitrary executions, bombardments of residences and torture
By The Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine -- Amnesty International says it has documented extensive war crimes by Russian forces in communities around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, including arbitrary executions, bombardments of residences and torture. “The pattern of crimes committed by Russian forces that we have documented includes both unlawful attacks and willful killings of civilians,” Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said in a statement on Friday. “It is vital that all those responsible, including up the chain of command, are brought to justice.” The organization said it collected evidence and testimony in eight cities near Kyiv, including Bucha. After Russian forces retreated from Bucha in April, corpses were found lying on streets, many with their hands bound behind their backs, and in mass graves. Kyiv regional governor Oleksandr Pavlyuk said that at least 1,235 civilian bodies have been found in the region. Russia has consistently claimed that it hits only targets with military values. It has denied war-crimes allegations and claimed that the Bucha corpses were falsified as a “provocation."

Penny Starr

At a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Thursday in London, the oil cartel voted on a modest production increase and announced that the organization is not to blame for the disruptions and price increases since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

By Brendan Cole

Moscow has reiterated that it will not use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, a day after its envoy to the United States had criticized NATO for not taking the threat of nuclear war seriously. State news agency Tass reported comments by Russian Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Alexey Zaitsev that Moscow had no intention of using nuclear arms in the Ukraine war, which Moscow calls a "special military operation." With Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine faltering, the prospect of President Vladimir Putin resorting to nuclear weapons has been a talking point in the media and in western capitals. "The scenarios of our potential use of nuclear weapons are clearly prescribed in Russian doctrinal documents," Zaitsev said on Friday. "Russia firmly abides by the principle that there can be no victors in a nuclear war."

By Zoe Strozewski

The Kremlin denied Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin apologized to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remark that Adolf Hitler may have had "Jewish blood." A Kremlin statement issued Thursday detailing a phone conversation between Putin and Bennett did not mention any apology. Additionally, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the leaders' talks were "exactly as disclosed" in the statement, The Cradle reported. The denial could intensify already strained tensions between Russia and Israel that stemmed from Lavrov's controversial remarks. The conflict may cause Russia to lose a key Middle East ally in Israel, which has so far taken somewhat of a mediator role in the Russia-Ukraine war by expressing support for Ukraine while refraining from publicly criticizing Moscow.

By AMOTZ ASA-EL

Foreign ministers come in one of two types: those who matter and those who don’t. Some mattered greatly. Austrian foreign minister Klemens von Metternich led the Congress of Vienna’s arrangement of post-Napoleonic Europe, and thus shaped an international order that lasted a century. Henry Kissinger’s sway reached even further, as he orchestrated the great American-Chinese rapprochement, ended the Vietnam War and sowed the seeds of Arab-Israeli peace. In Israel, the Oslo Accords were cooked by foreign minister Shimon Peres, and his enlistment of Yitzhak Rabin for that cause was almost as challenging as enlisting its Palestinian side. Such foreign ministers are the exceptions. Most foreign ministers do a lot of flying and cocktailing but never remap borders, ignite wars or end them. And when such dramas do happen, the foreign ministers are mostly supporting actors in someone else’s show.

Nicholas Gordon - 4h ago

With no corporate taxes, murky disclosure rules and close connections to the U.K., the British Virgin Islands were a popular destination for wealthy individuals and international companies wanting to minimize their tax burden. But now the arrest of the Islands' leader in Miami threatens to upend how the popular tax haven operates. On April 28, U.S. officials arrested BVI Premier Andrew Fahie in a Miami airport. The U.S. accused Fahie of offering a drug smuggler—who turned out to be an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration—use of the BVI island of Tortola as a waypoint for U.S.-bound cocaine. Fahie has pled not guilty. On Thursday, the local legislature ousted Fahie in a vote of no confidence, replacing him with Deputy Premier Natalio Wheatley, who served as acting premier after the arrest. Fahie's arrest was a political crisis for the BVI, “home” to about 400,000 companies with registered offices in the tiny territory. But then it got worse. After news of Fahie's arrest broke, a commission established by BVI British governor John Rankin to investigate unrelated claims of corruption released its findings ahead of schedule.

By Hannah Ritchie, CNN

(CNN) Forces identified by witnesses as Russian have "summarily executed, tortured, and beaten civilians" in the Central African Republic (CAR) since 2019, a report by rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has alleged. The report -- which is based on interviews with 40 people, including 10 victims of violence and 15 witnesses -- details abuses that were allegedly committed by men "with white skin speaking Russian" who wore "beige khaki clothes" and used military-grade weapons. Citing evidence from "several Western governments, United Nations experts and special rapporteurs," HRW attributed the crimes to "forces linked to Russia operating in the Central African Republic," including "a significant number of members of the Wagner Group," which is a private military security contractor with ties to the Russian government. The Wagner group first came to prominence in 2014, when Russian-backed separatists in Donbas began their war with the Ukrainian government. Since then, independent research and CNN investigations have found that the private military contractor has operated in Syria and multiple countries in Africa. They have been accused by US officials and human rights watchdogs of sustained human rights abuses. In late March, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said about 1,000 people associated with the Wagner group were in the Ukraine's eastern Donbas region. That same month, a senior Ukrainian adviser told CNN that Wagner was involved in an alleged assassination plot against the Ukrainian president and prime minister.

By Amanda Ferguson

BELFAST, May 6 (Reuters) - Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the IRA, sought to claim top spot in elections in British-controlled Northern Ireland for the first time on Friday, a historic power shift that could bring the once-remote prospect of a united Ireland closer. Pre-election polls indicated Sinn Fein was set to become the first Irish nationalist party to win the most seats in an election to the regional assembly since the state's creation in 1921. Final results were not expected until late Friday or early Saturday. A Sinn Fein victory would not change the province's status, with the required referendum on leaving the United Kingdom at the discretion of the British government and likely years away. But the psychological implications of an Irish nationalist First Minister would be huge. Pro-British parties, supported predominantly by the region's Protestant population, have dominated Northern Ireland for a century.

By Jon Jackson

Russia on Wednesday announced it had conducted simulated nuclear missile strikes near a region between Poland and Lithuania, according to a report. The Moscow Times wrote Russia's defense ministry released a statement that said its forces carried out the strikes in a western part of the Kaliningrad province. Kaliningrad is a small Russian enclave separated from Russia's mainland. It lies on the Baltic Sea and borders the European Union countries Poland and Lithuania. Since Russian President Vladimir Putin began his military assault on Ukraine on February 24, he and other Russian officials have made statements that contained threats of retaliatory strikes against countries that interfere with his war. Putin has also been at odds with Poland and other EU nations since the invasion. Last week, Russia stopped supplying natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria due to the countries' support of Ukraine.

Fazelminallah Qaziziai, Diaa Hadid

KABUL, Afghanistan – Girls have pretty much been unable to attend secondary school in Afghanistan since the Taliban took power nine months ago. Public protests – with demonstrators shouting "We are sick of captivity!" – have been shut down by the Taliban. But now the supporters of secondary education for girls have unexpected new allies: Muslim clerics, including those sympathetic to the Taliban. "Clerics are coming out and issuing statements and saying girls' education is a right," says Ibraheem Bahiss, an analyst for the International Crisis Group. "They're trying to convince the hardliners that this decision is detrimental." The secondary education for girls that many of the clerics advocate is not the Western-style education that more progressive Afghans would hope for. The clerics emphasize strict segregation and the importance of girls studying so they can be better mothers — which, they presume, is the chief role for women.

Kremlin readout of call doesn’t mention an apology, says president spoke with PM about ‘historic memory,’ the Holocaust and the situation in Ukraine
By TOI staff

In a phone call Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin apologized to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for incendiary comments made by the Kremlin’s top envoy earlier this week, the prime minister’s office said. The comments by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claiming that Adolf Hitler had “Jewish blood,” and the following back-and-forth between Israel and Russia, marked the worst flare-up between the countries since Russia invaded Ukraine. “The prime minister accepted the apology of President Putin for comments by Lavrov and thanked him for clarifying the president’s view of the Jewish people and the memory of the Holocaust,” Bennett’s office said.

The drills, by the Baltic Fleet in Kaliningrad close to the European Union, involved scenarios with “radiation and chemical contamination.”
Allison Quinn

Russian forces held drills this week simulating nuclear-capable strikes close to European Union borders, the Russian Defense Ministry has revealed. Members of the Baltic Fleet held war games Wednesday to “deliver mock missile strikes with the crews of Iskander operational-tactical missile systems” in Kaliningrad, the press service of the Western military district said in a statement. The drills, held near the borders of EU-member states Poland and Lithuania, come amid increasingly unhinged attempts by Kremlin mouthpieces in Russia’s state-run media to sell the idea that a nuclear strike is inevitable. RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan last month said it is “more probable” Russia’s war in Ukraine will end in a nuclear strike than Vladimir Putin simply backing down. On Russia’s state-owned Channel One, Russian lawmaker Aleksei Zhuravlyov and TV host Olga Skabeyeva went even further, openly discussing the prospects of Moscow lobbing nuclear missiles at the United Kingdom, Germany and France.

AFP

Taiwan has opted out of purchasing anti-submarine helicopters from the United States because they are too expensive, its defence minister said Thursday. The island was planning to buy up to 12 Seahawk choppers but the deal has been scrapped as Taipei prioritises lower cost, more mobile weaponry to counter any threat from China. Local media reported earlier this year that the sale could fall through after Washington concluded the helicopters were not the best bet for Taiwan's "asymmetric warfare" needs. Taiwan has shifted to a "porcupine" strategy that seeks to equip the island to repel an attack from a far larger Chinese military.

Beijing’s deal with the Solomon Islands has sparked concern among the United States and its allies.
By Jonah Blank

The last time the outside world paid much attention to the Solomon Islands was in 1943: More U.S. troops lost their lives in the six-month Battle of Guadalcanal there than in the deadliest four-year period of the Afghan War. Since World War II, this remote chain of South Pacific islands has gone from occupied territory to colony to frequently chaotic independent state, all without the great powers seeming to notice. Last month, however, a secret deal between the Solomons and China aroused fear of Beijing’s expanding presence throughout the region. China’s rivals worry that it may be shifting its security strategy, from a focus on economic sway alone to an increased emphasis on military dominance.

Russian mercenaries dragged young men out of their homes and forced them to hide the evidence of a massacre of their friends and neighbors.
Philip Obaji Jr.

ABUJA, Nigeria—The French military has released videos appearing to show Russian mercenaries burying corpses near the Gossi military base in northern Mali as part of a smear campaign to falsely accuse the departing French forces of leaving behind mass graves. Not for the first time, it appears to be a case of Russian misdirection. The Russians want Malians to believe their ex-colonial masters are behind the death and destruction in northern Mali but Daily Beast sources say the Russians are to blame. Three witnesses say that Russia’s private military contractors have been blindfolding local villagers and forcing them to dig mass graves to hide the evidence of their atrocities. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that foreign soldiers—believed to be Russian mercenaries from the infamous Wagner Group, which is run by one of President Putin’s closest associates, and their Malian associates summarily executed an estimated 300 civilian men in the central Malian village of Moura in late March.

insider@insider.com (John Haltiwanger)

Russia on Tuesday escalated a rhetorical spat with Israel over Ukraine, essentially accusing the Israelis of being pro-Nazi by expressing support for Kyiv, which it falsely called a "neo-Nazi regime." Moscow is risking pushing away one of the only countries with close ties to the US that has remained relatively neutral and has yet to impose sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine war or provide Kyiv with weapons. The dispute began after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov over the weekend pushed the unfounded claim that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had Jewish origins in attempt to bolster Russia's farcical assertion that it's "de-Nazifying" Ukraine.  Russia has maintained its war in Ukraine is being waged against the country's "neo-Nazi" leaders — a wrongful assertion that's fundamentally undermined by the fact Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is a democratically elected leader, who happens to be Jewish and who lost family during the Holocaust. But Russia has repeatedly disseminated this baseless narrative in an attempt to justify its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

Deutsche Welle

"Russian-identified forces" may have committed grave abuses against civilians in the Central African Republic, Human Rights Watch has said in a new report.Witnesses cited by Human Rights Watch (HRW) implicated "Russian-speaking men in uniform" in relation to a massacre in the Central African town of Bossangoa in June 2021, the organization said on Tuesday. The Bossangoa incident claimed at least 12 lives, HRW said. The group also spoke with a local administrative official who blamed local rebel forces for the massacre. What did witnesses say happened in Bossangoa? "Based on its interviews, Human Rights Watch concluded that between four and six men blocked the road about 12 kilometers [7.5 miles] north of Bossangoa. They were standing next to four motorbikes, spoke Russian, and wore beige khaki clothes, scarves to cover their faces, military boots, gloves, and sunglasses," HRW said.

Charles R. Davis

MOLOVATA NOUĂ, Moldova — Victor Besleaga remembers well the start of the war that killed his brother. It was dark when Russian troops surrounded the station in Dubăsari, a 20-minute drive from the border with Ukraine, where he was working as a police officer. Less than a year earlier, in 1991, Moldova had declared independence from the Soviet Union — and, according to the propaganda that helped spark a conflict that killed hundreds, it was now oppressing Russian speakers in a region that today is known as Transnistria, a breakaway republic aligned with Moscow but unrecognized by the international community. A firefight broke out, leaving one of the soldiers dead; to save their own lives, the police soon gave up their arms and surrendered. Victor remembers being transported to Tiraspol, the self-proclaimed capital of Transnistria, and paraded before cameras broadcasting back to Russia. Overnight, this veteran of the Soviet military, trained as a paratrooper in Belarus, had become a "Romanian Nazi infiltrator."

Cheryl Teh

A Russian propagandist has presented on state TV a simulation of a hypothetical nuclear strike that would wipe out the UK and Ireland. Dmitry Kiselyov, a propaganda figure allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin, was seen in a May 1 broadcast of "News of the World" show narrating how the UK might be destroyed by a nuclear strike delivered either by air or sea. "Just one launch, Boris, and England is gone," Kiselyov said over a computer-generated simulation, referring to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. "Once and for all. Why play with us?" "It actually seems like they're raving on the British Isles. Why threaten never-ending Russia with nuclear weapons when you're on an island, which, you know, is so small?" Kiselyov said. He added that "just one Sarmat missile" would be "sufficient to sink it once and for all."

China’s leader risks being blamed for the failure of a zero Covid policy that once seemed successful
Gideon Rachman

The government of China does not have the legitimacy that flows from winning an election. But officials in China often claim that the Communist party benefits from something even better: “performance legitimacy”. The idea that the Chinese government easily outperforms the dysfunctional west has been pushed hard during the Covid-19 crisis. At a ceremony in 2020, President Xi Jinping proclaimed that “the pandemic once again proves the superiority of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics”. On the first anniversary of the outbreak of the virus in Wuhan, the city hosted an exhibition on China’s successful battle against the disease, featuring, as the BBC reported, “models of medical workers in hazmat suits . . . and everywhere you look, giant portraits of Xi Jinping.”

Reuters

Reuters - Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on retaliatory economic sanctions in response to the "unfriendly actions of certain foreign states and international organisations", the Kremlin said on Tuesday. The document does not provide any details of which individuals or entities may be affected by the measures. According to the decree, Russia will forbid the export of products and raw materials to people and entities that it has sanctioned.

By Steve Holland, Trevor Hunnicutt and David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON, May 3 (Reuters) - Two months after warning that Beijing appeared poised to help Russia in its fight against Ukraine, senior U.S. officials say they have not detected overt Chinese military and economic support, a welcome development in the tense U.S.-China relationship. U.S. officials told Reuters in recent days they remain wary about China's long-standing support for Russia in general, but that the military and economic support that they worried about has not come to pass, at least for now. The relief comes at a pivotal time.

Reuters

May 3 (Reuters) - Russia's foreign ministry accused Israel on Tuesday of supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine, further escalating a row which began when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed Adolf Hitler had Jewish origins.

BEIJING (AP) — Two people were rescued Sunday from the rubble of a building in central China more than 50 hours after it collapsed, leaving dozens trapped or missing, state media said. Separately, police arrested nine people including the building owner on suspicion of causing a major liability accident, the official Xinhua News Agency said. State broadcaster CCTV showed video of rescuers bringing a woman out on a stretcher about 4:30 p.m. Some could be heard shouting words of encouragement during the operation. She was taken to a hospital and is in stable condition, CCTV said. State media reported another person was brought out alive in the evening but provided no details.

Dmitry Kiselyov, a Putin propagandist, threatened the UK with a Poseidon underwater drone
Joe Middleton

Britain could be “plunged into the sea” by an underwater nuclear strike, a host on Russian state television has threatened. Dmitry Kiselyov, a key propagandist for Vladimir Putin, used his show on Sunday night to suggest an attack on UK using a Poseidon underwater drone could be a possible course of action for Russia.

Unconfirmed claims from the mystery 'General SVR' Telegram channel - Putin set to undergo cancer surgery. Putin’s cancer surgery will force him to hand over power in the Ukraine war 'for days', claims a 'Kremlin insider'. Reports suggest the Russian President is battling both abdominal cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan's Defence Ministry said on Monday it was considering alternative weapons options after the United States informed it that the delivery of an artillery system would be delayed due to a "crowded" production line. Washington last year approved the potential sale of 40 155mm M109A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer artillery systems to Taiwan in a deal valued at up to $750 million, which Taiwanese media said had been due to be delivered by 2023.

Scott White, now 51, faces a potential sentence of life in prison over the death of 27-year-old Scott Johnson.
By The Associated Press

A man told police he killed American mathematician Scott Johnson in 1988 by pushing the 27-year-old off a Sydney cliff in what prosecutors describe as a gay hate crime, a court heard on Monday. Scott White, 51, appeared in the New South Wales state Supreme Court for a sentencing hearing after he pleaded guilty in January to the murder of the Los Angeles-born Canberra resident, whose death at the base of a North Head cliff was initially dismissed by police as suicide. White will be sentenced by Justice Helen Wilson on Tuesday. He faces a potential sentence of life in prison. “I pushed a bloke. He went over the edge,” White said in recorded police interview in 2020 that was played in court. White said in the interview he lied when he had earlier told police that he had tried to grab Johnson and prevent his fatal fall.

Authorities say the phones of the two top officials were tapped in an ‘illicit and external intervention’ last year.
Aljazeera

Spanish authorities have said that the mobile phones of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Minister of Defence Margarita Robles were tapped using Pegasus spyware in an “illicit and external” intervention. “It is not a supposition, they are facts of enormous gravity,” the minister of the presidency, Felix Bolanos, said, confirming the news on Monday. “We are absolutely certain that it was an external attack … because in Spain, in a democracy like ours, all such interventions are carried out by official bodies and with judicial authorisation,” he said.

By Nectar Gan and CNN's Beijing Bureau

(CNN) Beijing has banned all restaurant dining, shut down Universal Studios and ordered residents to provide proof of a negative Covid test to enter public venues in a major escalation of restrictions as a five-day holiday gets underway. The Labor Day holiday, which started on Saturday this year, has traditionally been a busy time for mass travel and gatherings in China. But there is little holiday spirit this year, as the Chinese government doubles down on its zero-Covid policy to fight the country's worst outbreak since Wuhan. Many local governments have ordered residents not to leave their cities unless absolutely necessary and have imposed lengthy quarantine requirements for people coming from areas where Covid cases have been reported. The Chinese Transport Ministry expects 100 million journeys to be made over the holiday -- a 62 percent plunge from last year. As a month-long lockdown continues in the financial hub of Shanghai, the Chinese capital of Beijing is grappling with a new Omicron outbreak that has put officials and residents on edge.

Anthony Faiola

RIGA, Latvia — In his two-bedroom Moscow apartment, 35-year-old start-up wizard Pavel Telitchenko spent years mulling a move from Russia, fearing the gradual rise of a police state. Then, three days after the Kremlin’s tanks rolled into Ukraine, he made the hard choice — packing up his young family, along with his prized vinyl-record collection, and joining a historic exodus that includes a massive outflow of Russia’s best and brightest minds in tech. “I did not want to make an emotional decision, but I could not raise my son in a country like that,” said Telitchenko, who resettled in neighboring Latvia in March with his wife and 3-year-old son. He spoke in their comfortable Riga two-story walk-up, standing near a high shelf with a white Santa Claus statue from his childhood — a reminder of what he had left behind. “The war made me realize that Russia will not change,” he said. Western attention is focused on the millions of refugees who have fled Ukraine since the Russian assault began on Feb. 24. But Russia is also in the midst of an emigration wave that is upending its spheres of arts and journalism, and especially the world of tech.

By Michelle Watson and Eliza Mackintosh, CNN

(CNN) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made an unannounced trip to the Ukrainian capital on Saturday, becoming the most senior United States official to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky since the war broke out more than two months ago. Pelosi's office confirmed the trip in a statement on Sunday, saying that the speaker had led an official congressional delegation to Ukraine -- the first amid Russia's invasion. Zelensky shared a video on Sunday of their meeting in Kyiv, and thanked the US for its powerful support of Ukraine against Russian aggression. "We are visiting you to say thank you for your fight for freedom, that we're on a frontier of freedom and that your fight is a fight for everyone," Pelosi said to Zelensky in the clip. "And so our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done."

Doyle McManus

Russian President Vladimir Putin reminded the world last week that he controls the world's largest arsenal of nuclear weapons. It wasn't the first time. “If anyone decides to meddle [in Ukraine] and create unacceptable strategic threats for Russia, they must know our response will be lightning-quick,” Putin said Wednesday. "We have all the tools for this … and we will use them if we have to.” Two days earlier, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivered the same message a little more diplomatically. “The risk is serious, real. It should not be underestimated,” Lavrov said. “Under no circumstances should a third World War be allowed to happen.” Nuclear saber-rattling is an unattractive habit, and Putin and his aides resort to it often. In 2008, they warned Poland that it would risk annihilation if it joined a U.S.-sponsored missile-defense program. (The Poles joined anyway.) In 2014, they warned that an attempt to push Russia out of Crimea, which they had grabbed from Ukraine, could trigger a nuclear response.

Neil Parish, a member of Parliament since 2010, announced his decision Saturday after pressure from members of his own Conservative Party seeking to defuse sleaze allegations.
By Associated Press

LONDON — A British lawmaker from the governing Conservative Party has resigned after admitting he watched pornography on his phone in the House of Commons chamber. Neil Parish, a member of Parliament since 2010, announced his decision Saturday after pressure from members of his own party who sought to defuse sleaze allegations before Britain holds its local elections on May 5. The ballot is seen as pivotal for Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is already facing a voter backlash over lockdown-breaking parties in government offices during the Covid-19 pandemic.


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