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1955 Mercedes Sells For Record $143 Million: Sotheby’s

A 1955 Mercedes-Benz, one of only two such versions in existence, was auctioned off earlier this month for a whopping $143 million, making it the world’s most expensive car ever sold, RM Sotheby’s announced Thursday.

The 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe was sold to a private collector for almost triple the previous record, which was set in 2018 by a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that fetched over $48 million.

The invitation-only auction took place on May 5 at the MercedesBenz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, the auction house said.

The car is one of just two prototypes built by the Mercedes-Benz racing department and is named after its creator and chief engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, according to RM Sotheby’s.

“The private buyer has agreed that the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe will remain accessible for public display on special occasions, while the second original 300 SLR Coupe remains in company ownership and will continue to be displayed at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart,” the auction company added.

RM Sotheby’s said the proceeds from the auction will be used to establish a worldwide Mercedes-Benz Fund that will fund environmental science and decarbonization research. 

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Latest Developments in Ukraine: May 20

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:

12:02 a.m.: U.S. think tank the Institute for the Study of War, says that Russian troops have withdrawn from the Kharkiv region and have been sent to the Donetsk region, The New York Times reports.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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Країни G7 виділять понад 15 мільярдів доларів для економіки України – міністерка фінансів США

Лідери фінансових відомств G7 також обговорили механізми скорочення доходів Росії від експорту нафти до Європи

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В уряді США розповіли, скільки гаубиць і радарів отримає Україна в новому пакеті допомоги

«Спроможності цього пакету адаптовані, аби забезпечувати критичні потреби України для сьогоднішньої боротьби»

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Війська РФ зі «Смерчів» обстрілюють Миколаївщину – ОК «Південь»

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US Congress Passes $40B in Military, Humanitarian Aid for Ukraine

The US Senate passed a $40 billion bill Thursday that provides humanitarian and military assistance to Ukraine. After a week of delay, the vote means President Joe Biden will be able to sign the bill into law just as billions in aid passed earlier this year runs out. VOA’s Congressional Correspondent Katherine Gypson has more.
Producer: Katherine Gypson

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Ballot Fiasco Delays Results in Oregon, Vote-by-Mail Pioneer 

Thousands of ballots with blurry barcodes that can’t be read by vote-counting machines will delay results by weeks in a key U.S. House race in Oregon’s primary election, a shocking development that is giving a black eye to a vote-by-mail pioneer state with a national reputation as a leader on voter access and equity. 

The fiasco affects up to 60,000 ballots, or two-thirds of the roughly 90,000 returned so far in Oregon’s third-largest county. Hundreds of ballots were still coming in under a new law that allows them to be counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day, and 200 Clackamas County employees were getting a crash course Thursday in vote-counting after being redeployed to address the crisis. 

Elections workers must pull the faulty ballots from batches of 125, transfer the voter’s intent to a fresh ballot, then double-check their entries — a painstaking process that could draw the election out until June 13, when Oregon certifies its vote. The workers operate in pairs, one Democrat and one Republican, in two shifts of 11 hours a day. 

Voters from both political parties milled about in a narrow room with windows that allowed views of workers opening ballots, transferring votes, reviewing flagged ballots and using the vote-counting machines. They expressed shock at the error and anger at the slow reaction by Elections Clerk Sherry Hall, who has held the elected post for nearly 20 years. By Wednesday night, workers had counted 15,649. 

“It blows my mind,” said Ron Smith, a Clackamas County voter. “It’s a little bit questionable. That’s why I’m here. … With all that’s going on, we don’t need extra suspicion. It seems like something like that would have been tested correctly at the beginning of this whole entire process.” 

The debacle has stunned Oregon, where all ballots have been cast only by mail for 23 years and lawmakers have consistently pushed to expand voter access through automatic voter registration, expanded deadlines and other measures. It’s also thrown into question a key U.S. House race in a redrawn district that includes a large portion of Clackamas County, which stretches nearly 5,180 square kilometers, from Portland’s liberal southern suburbs to rural conservative communities on the flanks of Mount Hood. 

Key race

In the Democratic primary for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, seven-term Representative Kurt Schrader, a moderate, was trailing in the vote behind progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner. The outcome could have an outsized impact in November, with the possibility that voters could flip the seat for the GOP. 

Hall said the problem came to light May 3, when workers put the first ballots returned through the vote-counting machine. About 70 or 80 ballots from each batch of 125 were spat out as unreadable because their barcodes were more faint and slightly blurred. It was too late to print and mail new ballots, she said. 

Hall said that as Election Day approached and ballots stacked up, she allowed elections workers to take the weekend off because just three people signed up to work Saturday or Sunday.  

“We have people mostly between the ages of 70 and 85” and they need rest, she said.

The secretary of state’s office said Hall declined help, saying Clackamas County could handle the situation. Hall told The Associated Press several county workers were assigned to the ballot problem May 11, a week after it surfaced. 

Kathy Selvaggio, who lives in the county’s more urban and affluent suburbs, peered through the windows Thursday to watch the vote tally. 

“Mail-in voting works, it works well here, but it does undermine my faith in [Hall],” said Selvaggio, who was there as a volunteer for the McLeod-Skinner campaign. 

Hall said her department has discussed running test ballots from the printer before they were mailed out, but that her office had used the printer in question for 10 years with no issues. 

“There’s lots of other tasks to do,” Hall, who is up for reelection in November, told AP. “I hate the fact that this happened with our ballots. It’s horrible. We need to be building trust with voters and this is not a trustworthy piece, but we are doing what we can.” 

It’s not the first time Hall has come under fire in her elections role. In 2012, a temporary election worker was sentenced to 90 days in jail after admitting she tampered with two ballots. In 2014, Hall was criticized for using the phrase “Democrat Party” — a pejorative used by Republicans to demean Democrats — on a primary ballot instead of Democratic Party. 

‘Unacceptable’

Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan said she was “deeply concerned” by the most recent situation and her office issued a statement Tuesday calling the delay “unacceptable.” But state elections officials said Thursday that they had little authority over local county elections officials. 

State law does not require county elections officials to run proof ballots through their machines before mailing them. Christopher Stout, an associate professor of political science at Oregon State University, said he wouldn’t be surprised to see legislation to change that. 

“I think all of these problems, of course, are bad in the short term,” he said. “But in the long term, they’ll lead to improvements, because people will see that those things are problems and they’ll find ways to make it better.”

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US Senate Overwhelmingly Approves More Ukraine Aid

The U.S. Senate completed congressional action Thursday on a new $40 billion aid package for Ukraine, overwhelmingly approving it and sending the measure to President Joe Biden for his expected signature.

The package is intended to buttress Ukraine over the next five months to combat Russia’s ongoing invasion. It includes money for military equipment, training and weapons, as well as billions of dollars in humanitarian aid, including money to help address global food shortages caused by the three-month conflict.

The assistance replenishes stocks of U.S. equipment sent earlier to Ukraine and provides financing to help other countries that are assisting the Kyiv government.

The 86-11 Senate vote came on top of an equally lopsided vote in favor of the legislation in the House of Representatives last week, a broad show of continuing U.S. support for Ukraine at a time when the politically fractious Congress is often sharply divided on the major issues of the day. Republicans cast all the “no” votes in the Senate.

The aid package was about $7 billion more than Biden originally proposed. But he has voiced support in one way or another for Ukraine on an almost daily basis and plans to sign the legislation.

Ahead of the Senate vote, several lawmakers said helping Ukraine in its fights against Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin was an imperative.

Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Aid for Ukraine goes far beyond charity. The future of America’s security and core strategic interests will be shaped by the outcome of this fight.”

“Anyone concerned about the cost of supporting a Ukrainian victory should consider the much larger cost should Ukraine lose,” McConnell warned, calling on “every senator on both sides to join this bipartisan supermajority.”

A Democratic lawmaker, Senator Jack Reed, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, “The next several months will be critical. I think the realization is … that if the Russians succeed here, that won’t satisfy them, that that will empower them to do more.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said this week, “We all want to see the fighting end. What we’re doing in the meantime is trying to provide as many advantages to the Ukrainian armed forces as we can so that they are in a better position on the battlefield — and, should there be a negotiated end to it, that they’re in a better negotiating position as well.”

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Зеленський обговорив із Джонсоном вивезення українських військових з «Азовсталь»

«Роблю все, щоб найвпливовіші міжнародні сили були поінформовані та, наскільки це можливо, залучені до порятунку наших військових»

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Russian Artists Flee Country Amid Brutal Clampdown on Opposition to Ukraine War

Amid a severe clampdown on political opposition and civil society in Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, thousands of people have fled the country – including many artists, whose work is often critical of President Vladimir Putin. Some of those artists are now in Finland, as Henry Ridgwell reports from Helsinki.

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Російські війська не змогли перерізати трасу на Бахмут – Кириленко

Один із населених пунктів, із якого рухалися російські війська, звільнений, додав голова області

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Київ вимагає від німецького телеканалу виправити мапу з «російським» Кримом

Як заявили в Представництві президента АРК, мапа може трактуватися як «визнання на міжнародному рівні незаконної окупації та спроби анексії» Криму

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Oklahoma Passes US’s Most Restrictive Abortion Ban

Oklahoma’s Legislature gave final approval Thursday to another Texas-style anti-abortion bill that providers say will be the most restrictive in the nation once the governor signs it.

The bill is part of an aggressive push in Republican-governed states across the country to scale back abortion rights. It comes on the heels of a leaked draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that suggests justices are considering weakening or overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nearly 50 years ago.

The bill by Republican Rep. Wendi Stearman would prohibit all abortions, except to save the life of a pregnant woman or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest that has been reported to law enforcement.

“Is our goal to defend the right to life or isn’t it?” Stearman asked her colleagues before the bill passed on a 73-16 vote mostly along party lines.

The bill is one of at least three anti-abortion bills sent this year to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who has indicated he’ll sign it. Another Texas-style abortion bill that prohibits the procedure after cardiac activity can be detected in the embryo, which experts say is about six weeks, has taken effect and has dramatically curtailed the practice in Oklahoma. Another bill set to take effect this summer would make it a felony to perform an abortion, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. That bill contains no exceptions for rape or incest.

“At this point, we are preparing for the most restrictive environment politicians can create: a complete ban on abortion with likely no exceptions,” said Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which stopped providing abortions at two of its Oklahoma clinics after the six-week ban took effect earlier this month.

Like the Texas law, the Oklahoma bill would allow private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion.

There are legal challenges pending in Oklahoma to both the bill to criminalize abortion and the six-week Texas ban, but the courts have so far failed to stop either measure.

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Russia: 1,730 Ukrainian Troops Have Surrendered in Mariupol

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Thursday hundreds more Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, bringing the total this week to 1,730. 

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement it was registering fighters who left Azovstal, an operation that began Tuesday and was continuing Thursday. 

“The ICRC is not transporting POWs to the places where they are held,” the aid group said. “The registration process that the ICRC facilitated involves the individual filling out a form with personal details like name, date of birth and closest relative. This information allows the ICRC to track those who have been captured and help them keep in touch with their families.”

Ukrainian officials have not confirmed the Russian account of the number of Ukrainian fighters who have surrendered at the last holdout in Mariupol. Ukraine has expressed hopes that the soldiers can be part of a prisoner swap with Russia, while Russia’s main investigative body said it intends to interrogate them and determine if any were involved in crimes against civilians. 

The capture of Mariupol, a prewar city of 430,000 people along the north coast of the Sea of Azov, would be Moscow’s biggest success in its nearly three-month offensive against Ukraine. 

With Russian forces focusing efforts on the eastern Donbas region, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who was involved in several rounds of talks with Russia, said Thursday that agreeing to a cease-fire with Russia “is impossible without total Russian troop withdrawal.”

“Until Russia is ready to fully liberate occupied territories, our negotiating team is weapons, sanctions and money,” Podolyak said in a Twitter post.

A senior U.S. Defense Department official said Thursday there have been no major gains by either Russia or Ukraine in the last day, although Ukrainian forces “continue to claw back territory” north and northeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second biggest city.

The official did not dispute a British intelligence assessment that top Russian military commanders have been fired.

“We have seen indications where Russian commanders at various levels have been relieved of their duties,” the U.S. official said, adding that the U.S. had nothing to share about “senior, senior levels” of the Russian command.

Russian logistical and troop morale issues are continuing, the official said. 

Ukraine on Thursday welcomed the confirmation of a new U.S. ambassador. The U.S. Senate gave its approval to Bridget Brink, a veteran foreign service officer who had been the U.S. ambassador to Slovakia.

The ambassador post in Ukraine had been vacant since 2019 when then-President Donald Trump forced out Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. 

Brink’s confirmation came as the United States also resumed operations at its embassy in Kyiv, joining other nations that have returned since Russian forces withdrew from the area around the Ukrainian capital. 

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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У Сєвєродонецьку через російські обстріли 12 людей загинули, понад 40 поранені – ОВА

«Дані щодо загиблих та постраждалих ще уточнюються, адже обстежити територію під обстрілами неможливо»

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ЗСУ звільнили 23 населені пункти Харківщини з 5 травня – Генштаб

«Противник посилив вогневий вплив, намагається стримати наступ наших військ і вихід до державного кордону України»

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Buffalo Shooting Suspect to Appear in Court

The 18-year-old suspect in the Buffalo, New York, grocery store mass shooting is expected to make a second court appearance Thursday.

Payton Gendron is charged with killing 10 people and wounded three others last Saturday at a grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Eleven of those shot were Black.

The FBI is investigating the attack as a hate crime. U.S. President Joe Biden visited the scene Tuesday.

Investigators are studying a racist 180-page document, purportedly written by Gendron, that said the assault was intended to terrorize all non-white, non-Christian people and get them to leave the United States.

In his first court appearance, Gendron’s court-appointed lawyer entered a plea of “not guilty” on his behalf. The Washington Post reports New York law gives a defendant held after a felony arrest the right to a hearing unless he is indicted quickly, generally within five days.

If prosecutors from the Erie County District Attorney’s Office report Thursday that a grand jury has already indicted Gendron, no hearing will be necessary. If not, the judge may hear evidence to decide whether Gendron can remain in the county lockup, where he has been held without bail since his arraignment hours after the shooting.

Some information in this report was provided by the Associated Press.

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Журналісти знайшли нового зятя Путіна: це – балетмейстер Зеленський

Він – колишній художній керівник Баварського державного балету та народний артист Росії

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US Senate to Vote on Ukraine Aid

The U.S. Senate is set to vote Thursday on a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine.

The measure includes money for military equipment, training and weapons for Ukraine, replenishing stocks of U.S. equipment sent to Ukraine and financing to help other countries that aid Ukraine.

It also includes billions of dollars in humanitarian aid, including helping money to address global food shortages caused by the conflict.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly gave its approval to the package last week.

If the Senate approves the measure, it will go to President Joe Biden for his signature. 

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Червоний Хрест заявляє про реєстрацію військовополонених з «Азовсталі»

В організації стверджують, що це дозволяє допомагати військовим підтримувати зв’язок зі своїми сім’ями