Ukraine’s Zelenskyy lays out his case against Russia to UN
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Ukraine’s president laid out a detailed case against Russia’s invasion at the United Nations and demanded punishment from world leaders in a speech delivered just hours after Moscow made an extraordinary announcement that it would mobilize some reservists for the war effort.
Buoyed by a counteroffensive that has retaken swaths of territory that the Russians seized, Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed in a video address Wednesday that his forces would not stop until they had reclaimed all of Ukraine.
“We can return the Ukrainian flag to our entire territory. We can do it with the force of arms,” the president said in a speech delivered in English. “But we need time.”
Video speeches by Zelenskyy in an olive green T-shirt have become almost commonplace. But this speech was one of the most keenly anticipated at the U.N. General Assembly, where the war has dominated.
The topic popped up in speeches by leaders from all over the world who deplored the invasion not least because they said it was not consistent with the cornerstone principles of the United Nations — including respect for sovereignty.
Ukraine’s Mariupol defenders, Putin ally in prisoner swap
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine announced a high-profile prisoner swap early Thursday that was the culmination of months of efforts to free many of the Ukrainian fighters who defended a steel plant in Mariupol during a long Russian siege. In exchange, Ukraine gave up a prominent ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and 55 other prisoners.
President Volodymr Zelenskyy said his government had won freedom from Russian custody for 215 Ukrainian and foreign citizens, with the help of Turkish and Saudi mediation efforts. He said many were soldiers and officers who had faced the death penalty in Russian-occupied territory.
Russian officials didn’t immediately confirm or otherwise comment on what appeared to be the biggest prisoner swap during the nearly seven-month war.
Of the total, 200 Ukrainians were exchanged for just one man — pro-Russian opposition leader Viktor Medvedchuk, who is Ukrainian. The 68-year-old oligarch escaped from house arrest in Ukraine several days before Russia’s invasion Feb. 24 but was recaptured in April. He faced up to life in prison on charges of treason and aiding and abetting a terrorist organization for mediating coal purchases for the separatist, Russia-backed Donetsk republic in eastern Ukraine.
Medvedchuk came to know Putin while serving as chief of staff for former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. The Russian leader is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter. His detention sparked a heated exchange between officials in Moscow and Kyiv.
Trump docs probe: Court lifts hold on Mar-a-Lago records
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a stark repudiation of Donald Trump’s legal arguments, a federal appeals court on Wednesday permitted the Justice Department to resume its use of classified records seized from the former president’s Florida estate as part of its ongoing criminal investigation.
The ruling from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit amounts to an overwhelming victory for the Justice Department, clearing the way for investigators to continue scrutinizing the documents as they consider whether to bring criminal charges over the storage of of top-secret records at Mar-a-Lago after Trump left the White House. In lifting a hold on a core aspect of the department’s probe, the court removed an obstacle that could have delayed the investigation by weeks.
The appeals court also pointedly noted that Trump had presented no evidence that he had declassified the sensitive records, as he maintained as recently as Wednesday, and rejected the possibility that Trump could have an “individual interest in or need for” the roughly 100 documents with classification markings that were seized by the FBI in its Aug. 8 search of the Palm Beach property.
The government had argued that its investigation had been impeded, and national security concerns swept aside, by an order from U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon that temporarily barred investigators from continuing to use the documents in its inquiry. Cannon, a Trump appointee, had said the hold would remain in place pending a separate review by an independent arbiter she had appointed at the Trump team’s request to review the records.
The appeals panel agreed with the Justice Department’s concerns.
Powell’s stark message: Inflation fight may cause recession
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve delivered its bluntest reckoning Wednesday of what it will take to finally tame painfully high inflation: Slower growth, higher unemployment and potentially a recession.
Speaking at a news conference, Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged what many economists have been saying for months: That the Fed’s goal of engineering a “soft landing” — in which it would manage to slow growth enough to curb inflation but not so much as to cause a recession — looks increasingly unlikely.
“The chances of a soft landing,” Powell said, “are likely to diminish” as the Fed steadily raises borrowing costs to slow the worst streak of inflation in four decades. “No one knows whether this process will lead to a recession or, if so, how significant that recession would be.”
Before the Fed’s policymakers would consider halting their rate hikes, he said, they would have to see continued slow growth, a “modest” increase in unemployment and “clear evidence” that inflation is moving back down to their 2% target.
“We have got to get inflation behind us,” Powell said. “I wish there were a painless way to do that. There isn’t.”
AP PHOTOS: Backbreaking work for kids in Afghan brick kilns
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Nabila works 10 hours or more a day, doing the heavy, dirty labor of packing mud into molds and hauling wheelbarrows full of bricks. At 12 years old, she’s been working in brick factories half her life now, and she’s probably the oldest of all her co-workers.
Already high, the number of children put to work in Afghanistan is growing, fueled by the collapse of the economy after the Taliban took over the country and the world cut off financial aid just over a year ago.
A recent survey by Save the Children estimated that half of Afghanistan’s families have put children to work to keep food on the table as livelihoods crumbled.
Nowhere is it clearer than in the many brick factories on the highway north out of the capital, Kabul. Conditions in the furnaces are tough even for adults. But in almost all of them, children as young as four or five labor alongside their families from early in the morning until dark in the heat of summer.
Children do every step of the brickmaking process. They haul cannisters of water, carry the wooden brick molds full of mud to put in the sun to dry. They load and push wheelbarrows full of dried bricks to the kiln for firing, then push back wheelbarrows full of fired bricks. Everywhere they are lifting, stacking, sorting bricks. They pick through the smoldering charcoal that’s been burned in the kiln for pieces that can still be used, inhaling the soot and singeing their fingers.
In Ukraine’s retaken battlefields, soldiers recover bodies
PRUDYANKA, Ukraine (AP) — The four soldiers lay in the grass, sleeping bags and cans of food, some opened, scattered around them. Beneath nearby trees, their cars were smashed and torn by shrapnel. The men had been dead for months.
This region of rolling fields and woodland near the Russian border was the site of fierce battles for months during the summer. Only now, after Ukrainian forces retook the area and pushed Russian troops back across the border in a blistering counteroffensive, has the retrieval of bodies scattered across the battlefield been possible.
The area was of strategic importance as its high ground is among the positions where Russian artillery could easily strike Kharkiv, Ukraine’s hard-hit second-largest city, said Col. Vitalii Shum, deputy commander of the 3rd Brigade of Ukraine’s National Guard, whose team has been collecting the battlefield dead — both Ukrainian and Russian — for days.
For the soldiers’ families, news of the body recovery will be final, incontrovertible confirmation that their son, brother, father or husband will not be coming home.
Even if they had been notified that their loved ones died in combat, without a body to mourn over a glimmer of hope remained.
6.8 magnitude earthquake shakes Mexico, 1 dead
MEXICO CITY (AP) — A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 struck Mexico early Thursday, causing buildings to sway and leaving at least one person dead in the nation’s capital.
The earthquake struck shortly after 1 a.m., just three days after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake shook western and central Mexico, killing two.
The U.S. Geological Survey said Thursday’s earthquake, like Monday’s, was centered in the western state of Michoacan near the Pacific coast. The epicenter was about 29 miles (46 kilometers) south-southwest of Aguililla, Michoacan, at a depth of about 15 miles (24.1 kilometers).
Michoacan’s state government said the quake was felt throughout the state. It reported damage to a building in the city of Uruapan and some landslides on the highway that connects Michoacan and Guerrero with the coast.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said via Twitter that it was an aftershock from Monday’s quake and was also felt in the states of Colima, Jalisco and Guerrero.
Alex Jones set to testify in trial over Sandy Hook hoax lies
WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — Seven days into his trial for calling the Sandy Hook school shooting a hoax, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is expected make his first courtroom appearance and begin testifying Thursday, as he and his lawyer try to limit damages he must pay to families who lost loved ones in the massacre.
Jones has been in Connecticut this week in preparation for his testimony, but appeared only briefly in the courthouse Tuesday and did not enter the courtroom. The Infowars host has bashed the proceedings as a “travesty justice” and the judge as a “tyrant” in comments outside the courthouse in Waterbury, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the scene of the 2012 shooting in Newtown.
Twenty first graders and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Several victims’ relatives, meanwhile, have given emotional testimony during the trial about being traumatized by people calling the shooting fake, including confrontations at their homes and in public and messages including death and rape threats. The plaintiffs include an FBI agent who responded to the shooting and relatives of eight of the victims.
Judge Barbara Bellis last year found Jones liable by default for damages to plaintiffs without a trial, as punishment for what she called his repeated failures to turn over documents to their lawyers. The six-member jury only will be deciding how much Jones and Free Speech Systems, Infowars’ parent company, should pay the families for defaming them and intentionally inflicting emotional distress.
Constitution stops Charles becoming Britain’s ‘green’ king
LONDON (AP) — On a blustery November day last year Britain’s future king stood before world leaders to deliver a rallying cry that they should “act with all despatch, and decisively” to confront a common enemy.
The clarion call — in the vast, windowless hall of a Glasgow convention center at the opening of the U.N. climate conference — concerned an issue long dear to the heart of the then-Prince Charles.
Climate change and loss of biodiversity were no different from the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, he said. “In fact, they pose an even greater existential threat, to the extent that we have to put ourselves on what might be called a war-like footing.”
He warned leaders that time was running out to reduce emissions, urging them to push through reforms that are “radically transforming our current fossil fuel-based economy to one that is genuinely renewable and sustainable.”
“We need a vast military-style campaign to marshal the strength of the global private sector,” he said, adding that the trillions at businesses’ disposal would go far beyond what governments could muster and offered “the only real prospect of achieving fundamental economic transition.”
Fugitive in massive Navy bribery case caught in Venezuela
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Malaysian defense contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” who orchestrated one of the largest bribery scandals in U.S. military history has been arrested in Venezuela after fleeing before his sentencing, authorities said Wednesday.
The international manhunt for Leonard Glenn Francis ended with his arrest by Venezuelan authorities Tuesday morning at the Caracas airport as he was about to board an airplane for another country, the U.S. Marshals Service said.
Interpol Venezuela Director General Carlos Garate Rondon said in a statement posted on Instagram that Francis came to Venezuela from Mexico. Rondon said he was headed to Russia.
The arrest came on the eve of his scheduled sentencing in a federal court in California for a bribery scheme that lasted more than a decade and involved dozens of U.S. Navy officers.
There was no immediate word on when he might be extradited to the United States.
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