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US holds drills in South China Sea amid tensions with China
The United States Navy and Marine Corps are holding drills in the South China Sea at a time of heightened tensions with Beijing over the shooting down of a suspected Chinese spy balloon. The 7th Fleet based in Japan says the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit have been conducting “integrated expeditionary strike force operations” in the South China Sea. It says exercises took place Saturday but gave no details on when they began or whether they had ended. China claims virtually the entire South China Sea and strongly objects to military activity by other nations in the contested waterway through which an estimated $5 trillion in goods are shipped every year.
Arrests made in Louisiana mass shooting that wounded 12
Police in Louisiana’s capital city have arrested two people for a mass shooting that left 12 others wounded at a nightclub in January. The Baton Rouge Police Department says two 19-year-olds were arrested Friday. Nikeal Franklin was charged with 12 counts of attempted first-degree murder. Jy’Shaun Jackson was charged with 12 counts of principal to attempted first-degree murder. The shooting occurred around 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 22 in the Dior Bar &Lounge in Baton Rouge. A dozen people were injured, and most sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Police say the shooting might have been targeted at one person who was at the nightclub.
Russia continues to shell Ukraine amid grinding push in east
Russian forces over the weekend continued to shell Ukrainian cities amid a grinding push to seize more land in the east of the country. One person was killed and another was wounded on Sunday morning by the shelling of Nikopol, a city in the southeastern Dnipropetrovsk region, Gov. Serhii Lysak reported. In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, one person was wounded after three Russian S-300 missiles hit infrastructure facilities overnight, regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said. The attacks come as Russian forces push to take over more lands in the eastern industrial heartland of Donbas, which comprises the partially occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Ukrainian officials say that Moscow is having trouble mounting a broad offensive in the area.
Neutral Austria under pressure to get tougher on Russia
Neutral Austria has come under heavy criticism for granting visas that will allow sanctioned Russian lawmakers to attend a Vienna meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The issue highlights the delicate balancing act the European country has engaged in while trying to maintain its longstanding position of military neutrality during the war in Ukraine. The Austrian government has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine while stressing the need to maintain diplomatic relations with Moscow. In a letter to Austria’s chancellor and other officials, 81 delegates from 20 countries called upon the Austrian government to prohibit the participation of the sanctioned Russian individuals at the upcoming OSCE meeting.
Pope worried about Nicaraguan bishop sentenced to 26 years
Pope Francis on Sunday expressed sadness and worry at the news that Roman Catholic Bishop Rolando Álvarez, an outspoken critic of the Nicaraguan government, had been sentenced to 26 years in prison in the latest move against the Catholic Church and government opponents. Álvarez was sentenced Friday after refusing to get on a flight to the United States with 222 other prisoners, all opponents of President Daniel Ortega. In addition to his prison term, Álvarez was stripped of his Nicaraguan citizenship. The pontiff told the faithful that he was “saddened, not a little” at the news, expressing both his love and concern for Álvarez. He called on the faithful to pray for the politicians responsible “to open their hearts.”
1st infant in Kentucky surrendered anonymously at ‘baby box’
Kentucky has seen its first infant anonymously dropped off at one of its “baby box” safe surrender locations. At a news conference Friday, Safe Haven Baby Boxes founder and CEO Monica Kelsey said the child was dropped off within the last seven days at a Bowling Green Fire Department location. She declined to be more specific to protect anonymity. She said fire department staff was able to tend to the child in less than 90 seconds. The child is the 24th in the country to be surrendered at one of more than 130 baby boxes and drawers the organization has established across nine states.
GOP election tactics no surprise to Wisconsin’s Black voters
Recent revelations about Republican election strategies targeting minority communities in Wisconsin’s biggest city came as no surprise to many Black voters. For years, voting rights advocates have accused Wisconsin Republicans of pushing policies to suppress voters of color and lower-income voters. Many of those policies centered on the Democratic stronghold of Milwaukee. The city is home to nearly 70% of Wisconsin’s Black population. Last month, a Republican state election commissioner boasted about low turnout in Black and Latino neighborhoods in the November election. More recently, an audio recording surfaced that showed then-President Donald Trump’s Wisconsin campaign team laughing behind closed doors about efforts to reach Black voters in 2020.
By wire sources
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