Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 |
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Blinken, Russian top diplomat speak about Griner, Whelan
Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he has spoken to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and urged Moscow to accept a U.S. proposal to release WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American detainee, Paul Whelan. Blinken did not provide details of Lavrov’s response to what he had previously called a “substantial proposal” for Russia to release the two. Russian officials issued a chiding statement after the call urging the U.S. to pursue the Americans’ freedom through “quiet diplomacy, without releases of speculative information.”
Death toll rises in Kentucky flooding
Rain continued to fall in parts of eastern Kentucky on Friday, and creeks and rivers were still swelling. But where the floodwaters were receding, the destruction of the past two days was coming into view. At least 25 people had died, according to reports from the governor’s office and local officials. Gov. Andy Beshear said repeatedly that the toll would almost certainly rise. In central Appalachia, many places were still cut off Friday, and determining the toll of devastation could take weeks. There was more rain in the forecast for next week, adding even greater urgency to rescue efforts.
Russian national charged with spreading propaganda through US groups
The Russian man appeared in a Florida political group’s livestream in March, less than three weeks after his country had invaded Ukraine, and falsely claimed that what had happened was not an invasion. His name was Alexander Viktorovich Ionov, and he said he was a “human rights activist.” But authorities say he was working for the Russian government, orchestrating an influence campaign to use American political groups to spread Russian propaganda and interfere with U.S. elections. On Friday, the Justice Department revealed that it had charged Ionov with conspiring to have U.S. citizens act as illegal agents of the Russian government.
Pain doctor found guilty of sexually assaulting patients
For more than a decade, Ricardo Cruciani built a reputation as an esteemed physician. But then a string of claims began to surface: Dozens of patients accused him of sexually abusing them during exams after he offered sometimes dangerously high amounts of medication to maintain control over them, prosecutors in New York said during his trial. On Friday, a jury found Cruciani guilty on 12 counts of predatory sexual assault, sexual abuse, rape and other crimes. Cruciani’s trial centered on the stories of six women he treated around 2012 in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Explosion kills dozens of Ukrainian captives at Russian-held prison
For the Russians, the Ukrainian fighters held prisoner at Correctional Colony No. 120 are a trophy. For the Ukrainians, they are war heroes. Why either side would want any of them dead is a mystery, but that is the question that hung over the fighting in Ukraine on Friday after another deadly episode, with each side accusing the other of committing a war crime. What is known is that an explosion ripped through a barracks of the prison camp in the Russian-occupied town of Olenivka in southeastern Ukraine early Friday morning, killing at least 50 captured fighters and maiming dozens more, according to both Ukrainian and Russian officials.
In Canada, Catholicism maintains its stability
While the Roman Catholic Church is in severe decline in many Western countries, it remains the largest denomination in predominantly Christian Canada, accounting for about 38% of people who identify with a particular faith. And outside Quebec, a French speaking province it once dominated, the church’s decline has been modest. In 1951, 41% of Canadians said they were Catholics. The reason for the church’s stability, most analysts agree, is Canada’s relatively open immigration policies, which mean that immigrants make up a much larger share of Canada’s population than they do in the United States and other Western countries where Catholicism is waning.
Pressure grows in the US for the UAE to free an American lawyer
Pressure is mounting in the United States for the United Arab Emirates to release a Virginia lawyer who represented Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist who was murdered and dismembered by Saudi agents in 2018. On Thursday, members of Congress and a grouping of Muslim organizations held two separate news conferences to draw attention to the case of the lawyer, Asim Ghafoor, who was arrested this month. The UAE said on July 16 that it detained him after convicting him in absentia of tax evasion and money laundering.
Breaking agreement to use a condom is a sex crime, Canada high court rules
It is a crime to renege on a promise to wear a condom during sex without a partner’s knowledge or consent, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled this week. The decision sends a British Columbia man back to trial for sexual assault, and sets legal precedent in Canada, further clarifying the law governing sexual consent in a country that has been raising the bar for it for decades. “Sexual intercourse without a condom is a fundamentally and qualitatively different physical act than sexual intercourse with a condom,” states the ruling, which was approved by a 5-4 vote by the court and was released Friday.
By wire sources
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