9 killed in Russian aerial attacks on Ukraine ahead of G7 summit aimed at slowing Moscow’s offensive

This handout photograph taken and released by the Ukrainian Emergency Service on Jun. 12, 2024, shows rescuers working at the site following a missile attack in Kryvyi Rig, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (AFP)
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Updated 12 June 2024
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9 killed in Russian aerial attacks on Ukraine ahead of G7 summit aimed at slowing Moscow’s offensive

  • Zelensky said the strike has again proven that “Ukraine, together with its partners, must strengthen its air defenses”
  • “Modern air defense systems are capable of providing maximum protection of people, our cities, and our positions“

KYIV: Russian forces launched new deadly attacks on Ukraine, killing at least nine people on Wednesday, a day before the leaders of countries that are some of Ukraine’s biggest backers were to discuss how to slow Moscow’s offensive.
Ukrainian authorities said that along with the nine killed, 29 others, including five children, were wounded when Russian missiles hit an apartment block in Kryvyi Rih, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown.
Zelensky said the strike has again proven that “Ukraine, together with its partners, must strengthen its air defenses” — something that he has repeatedly appealed for with Ukraine’s Western partners. The United States has agreed to send another Patriot missile system, two US officials said late Tuesday.
“Modern air defense systems are capable of providing maximum protection of people, our cities, and our positions,” Zelensky said. “And we need as many of them as possible.”
Earlier Wednesday, Ukraine’s air force said it shot down more than two dozen air targets, including cruise missiles, a Kinzhal ballistic missile and Shahed drones. Several people were wounded, authorities said.
Kyiv’s outgunned and outnumbered forces are battling to hold back the bigger Russian army, which is trying to exploit Ukrainian vulnerabilities. Ukraine has been short of troops, ammunition and air defenses in recent months as the Kremlin’s forces try to cripple the national power supply and punch through the front line in eastern parts of the country.
Ukraine will need to weather the Russian onslaught through the summer, military analysts say, and in the meantime train more soldiers, build fortifications and hope that the provision of Western military aid picks up speed so that in 2025 Kyiv may be able to mount its own offensive.
Several diplomatic events over the next few days are aimed at how to help Ukraine fend off the Russian invasion or how to bring about an end to the war.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden and the other Group of Seven leaders will gather in Italy for their annual summit to discuss ways to help Ukraine, including how to divert more frozen Russian assets to Kyiv’s defense.
Separately, the Biden administration on Wednesday said it had broadened sanctions against Russia by targeting companies that help Moscow’s war effort and raising the stakes for foreign financial institutions that work with sanctioned Russian entities.
The more than 300 new sanctions are largely aimed at deterring individuals and companies in countries such as China, the United Arab Emirates and Türkiye from helping Moscow circumvent Western blocks on obtaining key technology. They also threaten foreign financial institutions with sanctions if they do business with almost any sanctioned Russian entity, underscoring the US view that the Kremlin has pivoted the Russian economy on to a war footing.
Biden and Zelensky will also sign a bilateral security agreement between the US and Ukraine on Thursday, when they meet on the G7 summit’s sidelines, the White House said.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the agreement would not commit US troops directly to Ukraine’s defense, but that it would demonstrate the US supports the people of Ukraine and serve as a “bridge” to when Ukraine is invited to join the NATO alliance — a long-term priority of Zelensky’s that alliance members have said will first require an end to the war.
While the G7 meets in Italy, defense chiefs from the US, Europe and other nations will meet Thursday in Brussels for their monthly meeting on Ukraine’s security needs. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will host the event.
And this weekend, representatives of nearly 90 countries and organizations, half from Europe, are expected to attend a summit in Switzerland aimed at charting a path to peace between Russia and Ukraine, though Russia won’t be attending.
Both sides in Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II have been reaching out to friendly nations to help keep their armed forces supplied. The war has cost tens of thousands of lives on both sides, including more than 11,000 Ukrainian civilians, according to the United Nations.
While Ukraine has looked to Western countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin has turned to nations such as Iran and North Korea for help. Unconfirmed reports suggested Putin may soon make a third visit to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Moscow showed no signs of relenting in the war. The Kremlin said Wednesday that Putin met with Defense Minister Andrei Belousov, the chief of the military’s General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, and the commanders of Russia’s five military districts.
A readout of the Tuesday night meeting said the officials presented Putin with “plans to continue the hostilities.”
Fighting along the roughly 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line has in recent months focused on the partly occupied Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, where Russian forces are trying to reach the key hilltop city of Chasiv Yar and other strategic hubs.
Last month, Russian forces also launched an offensive in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, which borders Russia. Putin said he wanted to establish a buffer zone there to prevent Ukrainian cross-border attacks. The offensive drew some Ukrainian fighters away from Donetsk.
However, Russia’s gains have been incremental and costly.
In the Kharkiv region, Russian units have become bogged down in Vovchansk, Ukraine Commander in Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi said Wednesday on the Telegram messaging app.


Hopes high as first Titanic voyage in 14 years happens in wake of submersible tragedy

Updated 27 sec ago
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Hopes high as first Titanic voyage in 14 years happens in wake of submersible tragedy

  • The voyage arrives as undersea explorers are still reeling from the deadly implosion of an experimental submersible en route to the Titanic in June 2023
  • The Titan submersible disaster killed all five people on board, including Paul-Henri Nargeolet, who was director of underwater research for RMS Titanic

PORTLAND: The company that owns the salvage rights to the Titanic is undertaking its first expedition to the ship’s wreckage in years, and those involved in the mission said they have both heavy hearts and lofty goals for a trip happening a year after a submersible disaster involving another firm killed five people.
RMS Titanic Inc., a Georgia-based firm, holds the legal rights to salvage the wreck of the ship, which sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912. The company’s first expedition to the site since 2010 launched Friday from Providence, Rhode Island.
The voyage arrives as the worldwide community of undersea explorers is still reeling from the deadly implosion of an experimental submersible en route to the Titanic in June 2023. The Titan submersible disaster killed all five people on board, including Paul-Henri Nargeolet, who was director of underwater research for RMS Titanic.
This summer’s mission to the Titanic “means even more with the passing” of Nargeolet, known as “Mr. Titanic” by many, RMST Inc. president Jessica Sanders said.
The expedition will use modern imaging technology and remotely operated vehicles to capture detailed images of the Titanic, the wreckage site and the debris field, RMST Inc. representatives said.
“This monumental undertaking will allow us to document the Titanic in unprecedented detail and share new discoveries from the wreck site with the public, continuing the extraordinary work and passion of PH,” Sanders said.
The ship headed to the site, the Dino Chouest, will take several days to reach the site and is slated to return around Aug. 13, said Jon Hammond, a spokesperson for RMST Inc.
The work will allow the company to provide a comprehensive analysis of the current condition of the Titanic wreckage site and a detailed assessment of artifacts that can be safely targeted for future recovery, RMST Inc. representatives said.
Nargeolet made more than 35 dives to the Titanic in his lifetime. The implosion also killed Titan operator Stockton Rush; two members of a prominent Pakistani family, Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son Suleman Dawood; and British adventurer Hamish Harding.

The Titanic leaves Southampton, England, April 10, 1912, on her maiden voyage. The company that owns the salvage rights to the Titanic is undertaking its first expedition to the wreckage of the ship in 14 years, and those involved in the mission said they have both heavy hearts and lofty goals for the trip. (AP/File)

OceanGate, a company co-founded by Rush that owned the submersible, suspended operations a year ago. The US Coast Guard convened a high-level investigation into what happened, but it has taken longer than expected and it’s unclear when the investigation will conclude.
Undersea explorers are waiting to learn the results of the investigation and RMST Inc.’s trip to the Titanic site is an important milestone in the site’s exploration, said Katy Croff Bell, founder of the Ocean Discovery League.
“The Coast Guard investigation is still ongoing and they have not released their results yet, so the final chapter in this episode has yet to come out,” Bell said. “One thing that has come out is there is perhaps more interest.”
This month’s journey to the Titanic also will allow comparison to 2010 imaging, RMST Inc. representatives said. The mission also may result in discovery of new areas of the debris field, previously unknown marine life and new areas of deterioration that could provide unobstructed access to the interior of the ship, the company stated on its website.
The vessel making the trip is equipped with two remotely operated vehicles that will be used to capture the first end-to-end mapping image of the wreck field and debris site, RMST Inc. said.
The expedition will include “the highest resolution camera systems ever deployed at the site in an effort to bring new insights about the ship to the community,” said Evan Kovacs, an underwater cinematographer working on the mission.


France’s Bastille Day parade meets the Olympic torch relay in an exceptional year

Updated 14 July 2024
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France’s Bastille Day parade meets the Olympic torch relay in an exceptional year

  • Bastille Day marks the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris on July 14, 1789
  • The Olympic torch relay is joining up with thousands of troops marching in Paris beneath roaring fighter jets to mark Bastille Day

PARIS: Paris hosted an extra-special guest for France’s national holiday Sunday — the Olympic flame lighting up the city’s grandiose military parade for Bastille Day.
Just 12 days before the French capital hosts exceptionally ambitious and high-security Summer Games, the torch relay joined up with thousands of soldiers, sailors, rescuers and medics marching in Paris beneath roaring fighter jets.
While people around France mark the day with concerts, parties and fireworks, here’s a look at what the holiday’s about, and what’s different this year:
What does Bastille Day celebrate?
On July 14, 1789, revolutionaries stormed the Bastille fortress and prison in Paris, heralding the start of the French Revolution and the end of the monarchy.
The holiday is central to the French calendar, with events across the country. It aims to embody the national motto of ‘’liberty, equality and fraternity,” though not everyone in France feels the country lives up to that promise.
The Paris parade is the holiday’s highlight. This year, it paid tribute to those who freed France from Nazi occupation 80 years ago, with a re-enactment of the D-Day landings of June 6, 1944, and a presentation by service members from the 31 countries whose troops contributed to the liberation. About half are African nations that were under French colonial rule during World War II.
Who takes part?
Some 4,000 people and 162 horses marched in the tightly choreographed show, among them units that served in NATO missions in eastern Europe, against Islamic extremists in the Sahel, protecting French territories in the South Pacific and global shipping corridors. They were joined this year by three German officers from a cross-border brigade.
The ornamental uniforms are rich in symbolism — most notably those of the French Foreign Legion sappers, with long beards, leather aprons and axes from their original role as route-clearers for advancing armies.
Overhead, 65 aircraft flew in formations, including a British Typhoon fighter alongside French Mirages and Rafales, rescue helicopters and aircraft used in missions from Afghanistan to Mali or international drug busts.
President Emmanuel Macron kicked Sunday’s events off with a review of the troops.
Military bands and choirs played an important role, performing a medley of French military songs, American jazz tunes, a Scottish bagpipe ballad — and the Marseillaise.
The numbers are scaled back compared with previous years, because of Olympics security measures. Around 130,000 police are deployed around France for the holiday weekend.
What’s the political context?
This year’s Bastille Day offered Macron a moment of distraction from the political turmoil he unleashed with snap elections that weakened his pro-business centrist party and his presidency.
The result left a deadlocked parliament with no one clearly in charge. The prime minister could leave office within days, while the left-wing alliance that won the most seats is struggling to agree on a proposed replacement.
Meanwhile, Russia’s war in Ukraine is threatening Europe’s security. At a meeting with military leaders Saturday, Macron said France will keep up support for Ukraine and called for higher defense spending next year because of ‘’approaching threats.’’
What’s different this year?
The Olympic torch relay reached Paris just in time.
The parade wrapped up with the arrival of the flame, escorted by riders on horseback, 25 torchbearers, and cadets dressed in the five Olympic colors forming the shapes of the five interlocking Olympic rings.
The first torchbearer was Col. Thibault Vallette, equestrian gold medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympics, who passed it on to a group of young athletes smiling broadly as they passed it hand-to-hand in front of the presidential tribune.
Usually, the parade travels from the Napoleon-era Arc de Triomphe to the Concorde plaza, where France’s last king and queen were beheaded.
This year, Concorde has been transformed into a huge Olympic venue for breakdancing, skateboarding and BMX. So the parade route headed to the Bois de Boulogne park on the city’s edge instead.
Olympic venue construction around the Eiffel Tower means spectators can’t gather beneath the monument to watch its annual fireworks show, either.
After its Bastille Day appearance, the torch relay will swing by Notre Dame Cathedral, the historic Sorbonne university and the Louvre Museum before heading to other Paris landmarks Monday.


Eight female bodies recovered from Nairobi dump: police

Updated 14 July 2024
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Eight female bodies recovered from Nairobi dump: police

NAIROBI: A total of eight bodies, all of them female, have been recovered so far from a dumpsite in a Nairobi slum, Kenya’s acting police chief said on Sunday.
“They were severely dismembered in different states of decomposition and left in sacks,” Douglas Kanja told a press conference, adding that investigations into the gruesome find are ongoing.
Kanja said the first six corpses were found on Friday and body parts of another two women were found on Saturday.
“I would like to assure the public that we are committed to conducting transparent, thorough and swift investigations,” he added.
Kanja also called for public cooperation in the investigation “so that we bring the perpetrators of these heinous acts to book.”
Kanja took up his post only this week after the resignation of national police chief Japhet Koome in the wake of public fury over the deaths of dozens of protesters during anti-government demonstrations last month.


Arab Americans react with shock at attempted assassination of former president Trump

Updated 14 July 2024
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Arab Americans react with shock at attempted assassination of former president Trump

CHICAGO:Arab American leaders from the left and the right of American politics said they were in shock that former president Donald Trump was lightly injured in an apparent assassination attempt against him while he was speaking to a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday night.

Initial reports and live television showed Trump addressing the rally and he turned his head to the right as he was speaking when three loud gunshots were heard. Trump grabbed his right ear, which was bloodied, as he was brought to the ground and covered completely by four by Secret Service agents.

Trump raised his hand in the air as he was walked off the rally stage embraced by five Secret Service agents.

Arab Americans reacted with anger and expressions of concern over the attempted assassination in which at least one person was thought to have been killed, as well as the suspected shooter, initial news reports stated. 

Many said it is the result of the hatred that has been directed at Trump by his foes, especially on social media like Facebook, and because of the continued polarization that has divided America politically and socially.

“They tried everything from impeachments to indictments, and when everything failed, they tried to actually assassinate him,” Dr. Massad Boulos told Arab News minutes after the attempted assassination in Pennsylvania.

“But this has just made him the 47th president of the USA. He’s been making calls from the hospital and he’s in a very positive spirit.”

Boulos’s son Michael is married to Tiffany Trump, one of the former president’s daughters.

Boulos said that he was told by the president’s aides in the past that “former president Trump has been asking for a beefed-up security to be provided for weeks, but the Biden administration has refused.”

Yards away, a member of the audience was declared dead from the bullet as it passed the president. A second female audience member was seriously injured as the crowd began screaming.

President Joe Biden issued a statement to say he is grateful that “he is doing well” and emphasized that “there is no place for political violence.” 

Biden said on national TV that he “reached out to Trump at the hospital.” Sources said the Biden campaign confirmed that it is pulling down campaign commercials that have been very critical of Trump.

Bishara Bahbah, chairman of Arab Americans for Trump, blamed “the atmosphere of hatred against President Trump” that has been intensifying over the past several years.

“The Democrats have been demonizing him, making all kinds of horrible attacks against him and against his family. I am not saying they are behind this, but, at the same time, the hatred emanating from the Democratic Party and some of its leaders and members of Congress is making its way down to people like this person who tried to assassinate him,” Bahbah told Arab News.

“I believe he will come out stronger now as a result and that the people will rally around him. We are grateful that he survived. Violence cannot be tolerated. We pray for him that he remains safe.”

Arab Americans on the right and the left said they were “in shock at the violence” that was broadcast on live television.

Jim Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute in Washington D.C., said: “There is a lot we don’t know. But, what we do know is that violent rhetoric can give rise to violent behavior. We need to take action and that violence is never the way to resolve political differences. Our gun-crazy culture is out of control.”

Mohammed Jaber, a trustee on the suburban District 230 High School Board in Orland Park, said: “No human should fear for their life, whether it is a politician or a civilian. We can all agree to disagree, but everyone should be respected regardless of one’s view. It’s completely wrong what happened to Trump at this campaign rally.”

Samir Khalil, president of the Arab American Democratic Club of Illinois, said: “It is truly sad that so many tragic events around the world and the leading democracy nation reach this level of tragic political violence. As a human being I am saddened by this violent behavior. We should expect more intervention from the free world to influence peace and harmony not wars and no more hate. May God bless humanity of the world and the great USA.”

Mary Basta, mayor of the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, said: “I am deeply saddened by the senseless act of violence that occurred today.  Prayers go out to the victims and their families during this incredibly difficult time. Such acts of violence are unacceptable and have no place in our society and do not reflect the sentiment of true democracy.”

 


World leaders react to Trump rally shooting

Updated 14 July 2024
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World leaders react to Trump rally shooting

  • Trump rally shooting in Pennsylvania leaves two dead, two injured 
  • Presidents, prime ministers globally speak out against political violence 

WASHINGTON: World leaders reacted with shock to the wounding of Donald Trump in an assassination attempt against the former US president at an election rally.
Presidents and prime ministers globally spoke out against political violence and expressed their support for those affected by the shooting on Saturday, which killed one bystander and left two other spectators critically wounded.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, condemned the attack.
“Once again, we are witnessing unacceptable acts of violence against political representatives,” the bloc’s top diplomat said.
British Prime Minister Keir Starmer said Sunday he was “appalled by the shocking scenes” at the rally.
“Political violence in any form has no place in our societies,” the premier said.
Referring to “these dark hours,” Hungary’s nationalist leader Viktor Orban offered his “thoughts and prayers” to Trump.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said she was “following with apprehension” updates from Pennsylvania and wished Trump a speedy recovery.
The right-wing leader expressed her hope that “in the following months of the electoral campaign, dialogue and responsibility can prevail over hate and violence.”
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was “appalled to learn about the shooting” and wished Trump a “speedy recovery.”
“Such violence has no justification and no place anywhere in the world. Never should violence prevail,” he said.
Argentina’s President Javier Milei blamed the “international left” after the assassination attempt.
“In panic of losing at the polls, they resort to terrorism to impose their backward and authoritarian agenda,” said the populist president.
Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the shooting “must be strongly condemned by all defenders of democracy and political dialogue.”
Costa Rica’s government condemned the attack and said it was following updates on “this unacceptable act.”
“As a leader in democracy and peace, we reject all forms of violence,” the presidency said.
Chilean President Gabriel Boric expressed his “unqualified condemnation” of the shooting.
“Violence is a threat to democracies and weakens our life together. We must all reject it,” said Boric.
In Bolivia, President Luis Arce said “despite our deep ideological and political differences, violence, wherever it comes from, must always be rejected by everyone.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “deeply concerned by the attack on my friend.”
“Violence has no place in politics and democracies,” said Modi.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also spoke out against political attacks, saying “we must stand firm against any form of violence that challenges democracy.”
Taiwan’s President Lai Ching-te offered his “sincere condolences” to the shooting victims.
“Political violence of any form is never acceptable in our democracies,” he said.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos said it was “with great relief that we receive the news that former President Donald Trump is fine and well after the attempt to assassinate him.”
“Together with all democracy loving peoples around the world, we condemn all forms of political violence. The voice of the people must always remain supreme,” Marcos said.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was “shocked by the terrible scenes” at the Trump campaign event, expressing his relief that the former US president was safe.
“This was an inexcusable attack on the democratic values that Australians and Americans share and the freedom that we treasure,” Albanese said.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Luxon echoed these views, writing “no country should encounter such political violence.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he and his wife Sara “were shocked by the apparent attack on President Trump.”
“We pray for his safety and speedy recovery,” Netanyahu said.