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Vegas Survivors Signal Hope Even as US Mass Shootings Persist

It’s been five years since carnage and death sent his family running into the night, leaving them separated and terrified as a gunman rained bullets into an outdoor country music festival crowd on the Las Vegas Strip.

The memories don’t fade, they sharpen, William “Bill” Henning said as he prepared for ceremonies in Las Vegas marking the date of the Oct. 1, 2017, massacre.

“Chaotic and unreal,” he recalled. “A human stampede. People were bleeding and screaming and running. We all got separated. We didn’t know who was alive. That was the most difficult.”

He’s now part of a survivor community thousands strong, one that’s helped him sort through the horror of what happened during the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Fifty-eight people were killed and more than 850 were injured among a crowd of 22,000.

In the years since, the grim drumbeat of mass shootings has continued: schools in Uvalde, Texas, and Parkland, Florida; grocery stores in Buffalo, New York, and Boulder, Colorado; bars in Dayton, Ohio, and Thousand Oaks, California; a city building in Virginia Beach, Virginia; a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Meanwhile, the debate over gun laws in the U.S. rages on, including a renewed challenge to the federal regulation sparked by the Las Vegas shooting.

Nevada U.S. Rep. Dina Titus on Saturday called again for a federal law banning bump stocks, the devices used by the Las Vegas shooter that allow a semi-automatic rifle to fire repeatedly with just one pull of the trigger. They were outlawed by rule by the Trump Administration but face court challenges.

And President Joe Biden also called for renewed efforts to tighten firearms laws Saturday while mourning the victims and praising residents who came together in the aftermath of the shooting.

The president noted executive action he’s taken to crack down on ghost guns and rogue gun dealers and the passage of the first significant firearms legislation in 30 years. That bipartisan law signed by Biden in June in part boosts protections for domestic violence victims, funnels cash to states for firearms crime prevention and has money for mental health services.

“But we’re not stopping there,” Biden said in a statement. “I am determined to seize this momentum and work with Congress to enact further commonsense gun violence prevention legislation, including banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which have enabled shooters to slaughter so many innocents.”

The Las Vegas massacre is part of a horrifying uptick of shootings with especially high numbers of people killed, said James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology, law and public policy at Northeastern University in Boston. Five of the nine mass shootings in modern U.S. history with more than 20 people killed have taken place since 2016, starting with the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and continuing through the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

“The severity of public mass shootings has increased in the past few years. That’s clear,” Fox said. “And worrisome.”

Fox oversees a database maintained by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University that tracks mass killings involving four or more people slain, not including the perpetrator. The information is drawn from media reports, FBI data, arrest records, medical examiners’ reports, prison records and other court documents.

Watching the steady stream of shootings in the U.S. is tough for survivors, said Tennille Pereira, director of a Clark County recovery and support program called the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center.

“I know when it keeps happening, people often express feelings of hopelessness,” Pereira said. “I think the big thing for Las Vegas is to be able to share with those other communities that healing does occur, and that there is hope.”

For people like Henning, part of that hope has been the bond formed with other survivors. The retired computer technician was celebrating his 71st birthday at the Route 91 Harvest Festival with friends, his wife, daughter and three teenage grandchildren when the gunfire began. He suffered a knee injury while escaping that required surgery, but his group made it out without being struck by gunfire.

“At first, the first few years, it’s not really sinking in,” he said. “The more we organize ourselves, the more that we see each other, it actually brings us back to how serious this situation was.”

Many in Las Vegas who won’t name the man who police said fired 1,057 bullets from 32nd floor windows of the Mandalay Bay resort during a span of time now memorialized in a Paramount+ streaming service documentary called 11 Minutes.

“We don’t want to give him any more power, credibility, infamy,” Pereira said. “In this survivor population, words matter. We don’t use the word ‘anniversary.’ We use ‘remembrance.’ We try not to use the word ‘victims.’ We try to use the word ‘survivor.’”

Police and the FBI spent months investigating and concluded that gunman Stephen Paddock acted alone, meticulously planned the attack and intentionally concealed his actions. He amassed an arsenal of 23 assault-style rifles in his hotel room, including 14 fitted with bump stock devices that help the weapons fire rapidly.

Caches of weapons also were found at Paddock’s homes in Reno and Mesquite, Nevada. But he killed himself before police reached him, and local and federal officials said they never identified a clear motive for the attack.

Shortly after the shooting, the administration of then-President Donald Trump banned bump stocks under the same federal laws that prohibit machine guns. Gun-rights advocates sued, saying the weapons didn’t qualify as machine guns and it would take an act of Congress to ban them.

The ban has survived several court challenges. But a federal appeals court in New Orleans revived a case there in June, the same day the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling expanding gun rights. That case marked the high court’s first major gun decision in more than a decade and has sparked a wave of court challenges to gun laws around the country.

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, survivors are working toward a permanent memorial on a corner of the former Las Vegas Strip festival ground.

A sunrise remembrance ceremony is scheduled Saturday at the Clark County Government Center, and the names of those killed will be read at 10:05 p.m. — the time the shooting started — at a downtown Las Vegas Community Healing Garden.

Survivor Sue Nelson, 67, said she fled from her front-row seat and hid for hours on the Las Vegas Strip, forming deep bonds with others who escaped. She declared she has “survivor sorrow, not survivor guilt” because she didn’t do anything wrong.

Nelson drives two hours to Las Vegas from her home in Lake Havasu, Arizona, for memorial events and gives out lapel pins shaped like little guitars and rubber wrist bands stamped with: “We Remember 10.1.17 #Honors58.”

“I’m not afraid anymore,” she said. “It makes a big difference in healing when you’re not afraid anymore.”  

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EU Leaders to Discuss Infrastructure Following Incidents on Russian Pipelines

European Union leaders will discuss the security of crucial infrastructure when they meet in Prague next week following damage to the Nord Stream pipelines that many in the West have said was caused by sabotage.

“Sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines is a threat to the EU,” Charles Michel, who chairs meetings of EU leaders, said in a tweet Saturday after talks with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in Brussels.

“We are determined to secure our critical infrastructure. Leaders will address this at the upcoming summit in Prague,” he wrote.

The leaders of EU member states leaders are scheduled to meet in the Czech capital on Friday.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also met with Frederiksen in Brussels “to address the sabotage” on the pipelines, he said on Twitter.

“NATO allies will continue our close cooperation on resilience [and the] protection of critical infrastructure,” Stoltenberg wrote.

NATO earlier voiced “deep concern” over the damage sustained by the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea, calling the incidents “deliberate, reckless, and irresponsible acts of sabotage.”

Three leaks — two in the Danish zone and one in the Swedish zone — were discovered last week in the two major Russian underwater pipelines designed to ship natural gas to Germany, while Sweden on Thursday said its coast guard had found a fourth leak.

On Saturday, a Nord Stream 2 pipeline spokesperson told Agence France-Presse the pipeline is no longer leaking under the Baltic Sea because an equilibrium has been reached between the gas and water pressure. Information on the status of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline leak, which was significantly larger, was not immediately available, AFP reported.

The incidents come amid rising tensions between Europe and Russia over the war in Ukraine.

While both NATO and the European Union say the leaks were caused by sabotage, they have so far refrained from directly pinning the blame on Russia.

Some material for this article came from Reuters, Agence France-Presse and dpa. 

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Iran Allows US Citizen Out of Prison Temporarily

Siamak Namazi, an Iranian American imprisoned in Iran for nearly seven years on espionage-related charges rejected by Washington as baseless, has been allowed out of Tehran’s Evin prison on a one-week furlough, officials said Saturday.

Separately, his father and former United Nations official Baquer Namazi, who was also convicted on charges of “collaboration with a hostile government,” has been allowed to leave Iran for medical treatment, U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Dujarric said U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres “is grateful that, following his appeals to the President of the Islamic Republic or Iran . . . Baquer Namaze has been permitted to leave.”

It was unclear if the moves might be a step toward Siamak’s full release, nor whether it signals the possible furlough or release of other U.S. citizens detained in Iran.

Soon after news of Siamak’s furlough broke, Iran’s Nournews said an unnamed regional nation had mediated between Tehran and Washington for the “simultaneous release of prisoners.”

The semi-official news agency also reported that “billions of dollars of Iran’s frozen assets because of the U.S. sanctions will be released soon.”

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said: “We were deeply gratified to learn from the U.N. Secretary-General today that Iran has lifted the travel ban imposed on Baquer Namazi.”

The department was grateful that Siamak Namazi, “has been granted a humanitarian furlough in order to be with his father,” Price said in a release.

It was unclear what motivated Tehran’s decisions on both men. Neither the Iranian foreign ministry in Tehran nor the Iranian mission to the U.N. immediately responded to requests for comment.

Iran is grappling with the biggest show of opposition to its clerical authorities since 2019 with dozens of people killed in unrest across the country ignited by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman from Iranian Kurdistan, in police custody.

Baquer Namazi, 85, was convicted in Iran of “collaboration with a hostile government” in 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Iranian authorities released him on medical grounds in 2018 and closed his case in 2020, commuting his sentence to time served but effectively barring him from leaving the country.

His son Siamak, 51, has been held in Evin prison since 2015 and was convicted of the same charge as his father in 2016. The U.S. government has described the charges against both as baseless.

“I am thrilled for the Namazi family that for the first time in seven years Siamak Namazi is sleeping at home with his family,” lawyer Jared Genser, who represents the family, told Reuters, saying Siamak was staying with his parents at their Tehran apartment and was on a one-week renewable furlough.

“This is a critical first step but of course we will not rest until the entire family is able to return to the United States and their long nightmare is finally over,” Genser added.

Iranian Americans, whose U.S. citizenship is not recognized by Tehran, are often pawns between the two nations, now at odds over whether to revive a fraying 2015 pact under which Iran limited its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

In addition to the Namazis, other U.S. citizens detained in Iran include environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, 67, who also has British nationality, and businessman Emad Shargi, 58. A separate State Department spokesperson said the United States is working to bring those two home as well as Siamak Namazi.

Karim Sadjadpour, an analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank in Washington, said the Namazis should never have been imprisoned.

“The Islamic Republic deserves no credit for temporarily releasing hostages that never deserved to spend a single day in prison,” Sadjadpour said.

Price thanked U.S. allies and partners who worked to help the Namazis, including the U.N. Secretary-General, Switzerland, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and the United Kingdom.

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Danes: Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Seems to Have Stopped Leaking

The Danish Energy Agency says one of two ruptured natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea appears to have stopped leaking natural gas.

The agency said on Twitter on Saturday that it had been informed by the company operating the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that pressure appears to have stabilized in the pipeline, which runs from Russia to Germany.

“This indicates that the leaking of gas in this pipeline has ceased,” the Danish Energy Agency said.

Undersea blasts that damaged the Nord Stream I and 2 pipelines this week have led to huge methane leaks. Nordic investigators said the blasts have involved several hundred pounds of explosives.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the West of sabotaging the Russia-built pipelines, a charge vehemently denied by the United States and its allies.

The U.S.-Russia clashes continued later at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York called by Russia on the pipelines attacks and as Norwegian researchers published a map projecting that a huge plume of methane from the damaged pipelines will travel over large swaths of the Nordic region.

Speaking Friday in Moscow, Putin claimed that “Anglo-Saxons” in the West have turned from imposing sanctions on Russia to “terror attacks,” sabotaging the pipelines in what he described as an attempt to “destroy the European energy infrastructure.”

In Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden dismissed Putin’s pipeline claims as outlandish.

“It was a deliberate act of sabotage. And now the Russians are pumping out disinformation and lies. We will work with our allies to get to the bottom (of) precisely what happened,” Biden promised. “Just don’t listen to what Putin’s saying. What he’s saying we know is not true.”

U.S. officials said the Putin claim was trying to shift attention from his annexation Friday of parts of Ukraine.

“We’re not going to let Russia’s disinformation distract us or the world from its transparently fraudulent attempt to annex sovereign Ukrainian territory,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said Friday.

European nations, which have been reeling under soaring energy prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have noted that it is Russia, not Europe, that benefits from chaos in the energy markets and spiking prices for energy.

The U.S. has long opposed to the two pipelines and had repeatedly urged Germany to halt them, saying they increased Europe’s energy dependence on Russia and decreased its security. Since the war in Ukraine began in February, Russia has cut back supplies of natural gas sent to Europe to heat homes, generate electricity and run factories. European leaders have accused Putin of using “energy blackmail” to divide them in their strong support for Ukraine.

The attacks on the pipelines have prompted energy companies and European governments to beef up security around energy infrastructure.

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Bosnia Goes to the Polls as Ethnic Divisions Grow

With ethnic divisions growing deeper, Bosnia will hold general elections Sunday amid secession threats and fears of fresh political turmoil nearly three decades after war ravaged the Balkan nation. 

The country is torn between secessionist Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats demanding greater autonomy, while Muslim Bosniaks calling for a more egalitarian state appear to be chasing little more than a pipedream.  

For more than two decades, the impoverished Balkan state has been governed by a dysfunctional administrative system born out of the 1995 Dayton Agreement.

And while the accords may have succeeded in ending the war in the 1990s, the country has withered amid political paralysis ever since.

Analysts have warned that Bosnia is sinking ever deeper into troubled waters with divisions along ethnic lines appearing to grow even further on the eve of elections. 

“Bosnia-Herzegovina is experiencing the most serious political crisis since the signing of the peace agreement,” Ranko Mavrak, a Sarajevo-based political analyst, told AFP. 

“The ethnic divisions are so deep that they are now a real danger to Bosnia’s survival and its integrity,” he added.

Bosnia is divided between a Serb entity — the Republika Srpska (RS) — and a Muslim-Croat federation linked by a weak central government.

With Bosnia’s three main groups rarely mixing in the wake of the war, ethnic political parties have long exploited the country’s fault lines in a bid to maintain power, driving hundreds of thousands abroad in search of better opportunities. 

“It’s a beautiful, rich country and we could move forward with even a minimum of understanding,” said Salko Hasanefendic, 70, a business owner from Sarajevo. 

“If we raise our children today in such a nationalist context, we can only expect to have new nationalists in 40 years,” he told AFP.

Amid the gloom, voters will cast ballots in a dizzying array of contests Sunday, including for the three members of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, the deputies of the central parliament and a raft of local races in the two separate entities. 

With little to no polling data to rely on, analysts say incumbents and nationalist parties are likely to dominate many of the contests, including longtime Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, who is running for the presidency of the RS.

For months, Dodik has been stoking tensions amid frequent calls for Bosnia’s Serbs to separate even further from the country’s central institutions.  

“This situation is like two brothers who don’t like each other,” Rajko, a retiree and Dodik supporter who did disclose his surname, told AFP before a recent campaign rally.

“It is better that they do not live together,” he added, echoing a common refrain said by Dodik.

Amid the calls for secession, there are many who appear happy to see their Serb countrymen leave.

“Dodik and those like him can go to another country that they find more beautiful,” said Bosnia’s former co-president Bakir Izetbegovic during a recent rally.

Izetbegovic— the son of the first president of independent Bosnia—is running for a third term as the country’s Bosniak president but is facing stiff competition from 46-year-old history professor Denis Becirovic.  

Backed by 11 opposition parties, Becirovic is vowing to fight for a “pro-European and united” Bosnia.

To add to the growing divide, many of the country’s Catholic Croats have been pleading for greater autonomy or electoral reforms during the run-up to the polls, with the leading nationalist party HDZ threatening to boycott the contest for months.

Thanks to their vast numerical advantage in the Muslim-Croat federation, Bosniaks hold de facto control over who can be elected to lead the Croats at the presidential level.

HDZ and other Croat parties have been calling for a mechanism to allow the community to appoint their own representatives to the presidency and upper house — a move fiercely opposed by the federation’s ruling Bosniak party.

Fears are growing of potential turmoil after the polls if the incumbent Croat co-president Zeljko Komsic — who is widely reviled by all Croat parties — is reelected following repeated threats by nationalists, who say they are prepared to widen boycotts at government institutions.

“At the moment, there is no sign the situation will stabilize in Bosnia,” said Mavrak, the analyst. “There is no indication at the moment that it is possible to reach a compromise.” 

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Venezuela Releases 7 Jailed Americans; US Frees 2 Prisoners

In a rare softening of hostile relations, the White House said Saturday that Venezuela freed seven Americans imprisoned in the South American country and the United States released two nephews of President Nicolás Maduro’s wife who had been jailed for years on drug smuggling convictions. 

The swap of the Americans, including five oil executives held for nearly five years, is the largest trade of detained citizens ever carried out by the Biden administration. 

“These individuals will soon be reunited with their families and back in the arms of their loved ones where they belong,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “Today, after years of being wrongfully detained in Venezuela, we are bringing home” the seven men, whom the president cited by name. “We celebrate that seven families will be whole once more.” 

The White House said Biden had spoken with the families and that the men were in stable health and have been offered a range of support services, including medical care. 

Maduro’s government said in a statement that it was releasing the American citizens as a humanitarian gesture. It praised the diplomacy that resulted in the freeing of the two “unjustly imprisoned” Venezuelans imprisoned in the United States and said it “hopes for the preservation of peace and harmony with all the nations of our region and the world.” 

The exchange amounts to an unusual gesture of goodwill by Maduro as the socialist leader looks to rebuild relations with the U.S. after vanquishing most of his domestic opponents. The deal follows months of back-channel diplomacy by Washington’s top hostage negotiator and other U.S. officials — secretive talks with a major oil producer that took on greater urgency after sanctions on Russia put pressure on global energy prices. 

The transfer took place in a country between the U.S. and Venezuela after the men in the deal arrived in separate planes, the Biden administration said. 

Those freed include five employees of Houston-based Citgo — Tomeu Vadell, Jose Luis Zambrano, Alirio Zambrano, Jorge Toledo and Jose Pereira — who were lured to Venezuela right before Thanksgiving in 2017 to attend a meeting at the headquarters of the company’s parent, state-run-oil giant PDVSA. Once there, they were hauled away by masked security agents who busted into a Caracas conference room. 

“I can’t believe it,” said Vadell’s daughter, Cristina, when contacted in Houston by The Associated Press. Holding back tears of joy on her 31st birthday, she said: “This is the best birthday present ever. I’m just so happy.” 

Also released was Matthew Heath, a former U.S. Marine corporal from Tennessee who was arrested in 2020 at a roadblock in Venezuela on what the State Department has called “specious” weapons charges, and Florida man, Osman Khan, who was arrested in January. 

The United States freed Franqui Flores and his cousin Efrain Campo — nephews of “First Combatant” Cilia Flores, as Maduro has called his wife. The men were arrested in Haiti in a Drug Enforcement Administration sting in 2015 and immediately taken to New York to face trial. They were convicted the following year in a highly charged case that cast a hard look at U.S. accusations of drug trafficking at the highest levels of Maduro’s administration. 

Both men were granted clemency by Biden before the release. 

The Biden administration has been under pressure to do more to bring home the roughly 60 Americans it believes are held hostage abroad or wrongfully detained by hostile foreign governments. While much of the focus is on Russia, where the U.S. has so far tried unsuccessfully to secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American, Paul Whelan, Venezuela has been holding the largest contingent of Americans suspected of being used as bargaining chips. 

At least four other Americans remain detained in Venezuela, including two former Green Berets involved in a slapdash attempt to oust Maduro in 2019, and two other men who, like Khan, were detained for allegedly entering the country illegally from neighboring Colombia. 

“To all the families who are still suffering and separated from their loved ones who are wrongfully detained — know that we remain dedicated to securing their release,” Biden said in his statement. 

His administration did not release another prisoner long sought by Maduro: Alex Saab, an insider businessman who Venezuela considers a diplomat and U.S. prosecutors a corrupt regime enabler. Saab fought extradition from Cape Verde, where he was arrested last year during a stopover en route to Iran and is now awaiting trial in Miami federal court on charges of siphoning off millions in state contracts. 

The oil executives were convicted of embezzlement last year in a trial marred by delays and irregularities. They were sentenced to between eight years and 13 years in prison for a never-executed proposal to refinance billions in the oil company’s bonds. Maduro at the time accused them of “treason,” and Venezuela’s supreme court upheld their long sentences earlier this year. The men have all pleaded not guilty and the State Department has regarded them — and the two other Americans freed Saturday — as wrongfully detained. 

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Latvian PM’s New Unity Party Ahead in Vote, Exit Poll Shows

The center-right New Unity party of Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins was set to win Saturday’s national election, an exit poll showed, after a campaign dominated by security concerns following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

If confirmed, the result should mean Latvia remains a leading voice alongside its Baltic neighbors Lithuania and Estonia in pushing the European Union for a decisive stance against Russia.

But it could widen a rift between the country’s Latvian majority and its Russian-speaking minority over their place in society, amid widespread national anger over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

The first Latvian head of government to serve through a full four-year term, Karins, a 57-year-old dual U.S. and Latvian citizen, has benefited from his Moscow policy, which included restricting the entry of Russian citizens traveling from Russia and Belarus.

“We have known Russia’s politics for years, we had been trying to warn our neighbors for years before the war started,” Karins told reporters after exit polls were published.

“We will continue to invest in our own defense … to ensure that Latvia and the Baltic region remains as secure in the future as it is today.” 

A LETA/LSM exit poll showed New Unity at 22.5%, twice the number of votes as its nearest competitor, the United List of smaller parties. 

The Greens and Farmers Union, a coalition of conservative groups closely knit around Aivars Lembergs, the long-term mayor of Ventspils who was put on a U.S. sanctions list for alleged corruption in 2019, was in third place with 10.9%. 

Exit polls showed falling support for parties popular with Latvia’s Russian-speaking minority, which makes up about a quarter of the country’s population of 1.9 million. 

The left-leaning Harmony party saw its support decline to single digits, with observers saying this was driven in part by ethnic Latvian voters turning away. Some Russian speakers were also disappointed by the party leadership criticizing the Kremlin over Ukraine.  

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UK Train Strikes, Energy Hikes Add to Week of Turmoil

Trains in Britain all but ground to a halt Saturday as coordinated strikes by rail workers added to a week of turmoil caused by soaring energy prices and unfunded tax cuts that roiled financial markets.

Only about 11% of train services were expected to operate across the U.K. Saturday, according to Network Rail. Unions said they called the latest in a series of one-day strikes to demand that wage increases keep pace with inflation that is expected to peak at around 11% this month.

Consumers were also hit with a jump in their energy bills Saturday as the fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine pushes gas and electricity prices higher. Household bills are expected to rise by about 20%, even after the government stepped in to cap prices.

Prime Minister Liz Truss, who has been in office less than a month, cited the cost-of-living crisis as the reason she moved swiftly to introduce a controversial economic stimulus program, which includes 45 billion pounds ($48 billion) of unfunded tax cuts.

Concern that the plans would push government debt to unsustainable levels sent the pound tumbling to a record low against the dollar this week and forced the Bank of England to intervene in the bond market.

“We need to get things done in this country more quickly,” Truss said in an unapologetic column for The Sun newspaper published Saturday. “So, I am going to do things differently. It involves difficult decisions and does involve disruption in the short term.”

Many workers aren’t convinced.

Four labor unions have called three, 24-hour strikes over the next eight days, ensuring service disruptions for much of the week.

The timing is of particular concern for runners and fans trying to get to the capital for Sunday’s London Marathon, with is expected to attract 42,000 competitors.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union, said the strikes were designed to target the annual conference of Truss’s Conservative Party, which begins Sunday in Birmingham, England.

“We don’t want to inconvenience the public, and we’re really sorry that that’s happening,’’ Lynch said. “But the government has brought this dispute on. They (put) the challenges down to us, to cut our jobs, to cut our pensions and to cut our wages against inflation.”

Lynch urged Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan to take “urgent steps to allow a negotiated settlement.” The union said the latest figures showed railway bosses benefiting from government tax cuts.

As a result of the strike, there will be no service between London and major cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle Saturday. Lingering disruptions are likely to affect service Sunday morning as well.

Runners and spectators traveling to London for the marathon, which begins at 9:30 a.m., have been warned they are likely to be frustrated by the strike.

“It is particularly disheartening that this weekend’s strike will hit the plans of thousands of runners who have trained for months to take part in the iconic London Marathon,’’ said Daniel Mann, director of industry operations at Rail Delivery Group. “That will also punish the many charities, large and small, who depend on sponsorship money raised by such events to support the most vulnerable in our community.”

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Turkish Minister Says Deadly Gun Attack Was ‘America-Based

Turkey’s interior minister Saturday described a gun attack that killed a police officer in the country’s south as an “America-based” operation.

Two suspected Kurdish militants opened fire on security force lodgings in the Mediterranean province of Mersin late Monday, killing one officer and wounding a second officer and a civilian.

The female attackers, who Turkish authorities said were affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, later killed themselves by detonating suicide bombs.

“This action is an America-based action,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told ruling party officials in the Black Sea province of Giresun, according to the private Demiroren news agency and other outlets.

Soylu also said U.S. authorities had requested the serial numbers of the firearms used in the attack from the Turkish police, without specifying which U.S. agency made the request.

Turkish government officials have previously accused Washington of supporting the PKK by arming and training the group’s Syrian branch, known as the YPG.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the 38-year on-off conflict between the PKK and the Turkish state. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union. The U.S. does not recognize the YPG, which helped combat the Islamic State group in Syria, as a terrorist entity.

Soylu last year alleged American involvement in a failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016 that killed more than 250 people. In 2018, he was placed on a sanctions list by Washington over the arrest and detention of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson.

The minister said Monday’s attackers, who targeted accommodations for security personnel in Mersin’s Mezitli district, had arrived in Turkey from the YPG-controlled Syrian city of Manbij by motorized parachute.

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У Миколаєві під завалами знайшли загиблу – Замазєєва

«Поцілили в 5-поверховий житловий будинок у центрі міста. В іншому районі також вдарили по житлових будинках. Мінімум 5 постраждалих. Серед постраждалих є 2 дітей»

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Східне угруповання військ каже, що ЗСУ зайшли в Лиман. Росія заявила про відхід

Міністерство оборони Росії заявило про «виведення з Лиману своїх військ на більш вигідні рубежі»

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Влада Монголії підтвердила, що видаватиме посвідки на проживання росіянам, які втекли від мобілізації

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В Східному угрупованні ЗСУ розповіли, які населені пункти навколо Лиману вже звільнені

У п’яти звільнених пунктах в районі Лиману тривають стабілізаційні заходи

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Українські війська можуть оточити чи звільнити Лиман протягом наступних 72 годин – ISW

За даними Інституту, російські війська 30 вересня продовжили відхід із позицій у цьому районі

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Malaysia Aims To Add US Flights After Safety Rating Boost

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has upgraded Malaysia’s air safety rating to Category 1, allowing the country’s carriers to expand flights to the United States after a three-year hiatus, Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong said Saturday.

Wee said the move will bolster tourism and economic growth in Malaysia, which opened from pandemic shutdowns in April.

“With the return to Category 1, our airlines can now mount new flights to the U.S. and have code sharing with American carriers. There is no more barrier now,” said Wee, who was in Montreal for an ICAO assembly. “This is good news after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Riad Asmat, CEO of low-cost carrier AirAsia Malaysia, said it was a “very good start.” He said AirAsia, currently the only Malaysian carrier that flies to the United States — from Kuala Lumpur to Honolulu — will seek opportunities to expand in the U.S.

The FAA lowered Malaysia’s rating in November 2019 to Category 2 due to non-compliance with safety standards. The FAA identified deficiencies in areas including technical expertise, record keeping and inspection procedures.

Under the FAA system, countries are listed either as Category 1, which meets International Civil Aviation Organization standards, or Category 2, which doesn’t meet standards.

Wee told an online news conference that the downgrade prompted Malaysia to restructure its Civil Aviation Authority and make various efforts to strengthen its aviation workforce, documentation processes and inspection methods to ensure effective safety oversight.

He said the FAA was satisfied the issues identified in 2019 had been rectified but found 29 new problems in its December assessment. Those issues were swiftly rectified in the first half this year, he said, and the FAA has restored Malaysia’s Category 1 rating.

Malaysia Airlines CEO Izham Ismail said the national carrier will resume flight plans with its partners, especially American Airlines, but didn’t elaborate. 

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Туреччина засудила спроби Росії анексувати окуповані території України

Анкара закликає до завершення війни «на основі справедливого миру, якого буде досягнуто шляхом переговорів»

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US Judge Dismisses Mexico’s $10 Billion Lawsuit Against Gun Makers

A U.S. judge on Friday dismissed Mexico’s $10 billion lawsuit seeking to hold U.S. gun manufacturers responsible for facilitating the trafficking of a deadly flood of weapons across the U.S.-Mexico border to drug cartels.

The decision by Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor in federal court in Boston is a victory for Smith & Wesson Brands Inc, Sturm, Ruger & Co and others accused of undermining Mexico’s strict gun laws by designing, marketing and selling military-style assault weapons that cartels could use.

Mexico said it would appeal the decision.

“This suit by the Mexican government has received worldwide recognition and has been considered a turning point in the discussion around the gun industry’s responsibility for the violence experience in Mexico and the region,” Mexico’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Saylor said federal law “unequivocally” bars lawsuits seeking to hold gun manufacturers responsible when people use guns for their intended purpose. He said the law contained several narrow exceptions, but none applied.

“While the court has considerable sympathy for the people of Mexico, and none whatsoever for those who traffic guns to Mexican criminal organizations, it is duty-bound to follow the law,” Saylor wrote in a 44-page decision.

Other defendants included Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc, Beretta USA Corp, Colt’s Manufacturing Co and Glock Inc.

Representatives for the companies either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment. Lawrence Keane, the general counsel of firearm industry trade group National Shooting Sports Foundation, welcomed the dismissal of the “baseless lawsuit.”

“The crime that is devastating the people of Mexico is not the fault of members of the firearm industry, that under U.S. law, can only sell their lawful products to Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights after passing a background check,” he said.

In its August 2021 complaint, Mexico estimated that 2.2% of the nearly 40 million guns made annually in the United States are smuggled into Mexico, including as many as 597,000 guns made by the defendants.

Mexico said the smuggling has been a key factor in its ranking third worldwide in the number of gun-related deaths. It also claimed to suffer many other harms, including declining investment and economic activity and a need to spend more on law enforcement and public safety.

But the judge said Mexico could not overcome a provision in a U.S. law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, that shields gun makers from lawsuits over “the harm solely caused by the criminal or unlawful misuse of firearm products … by others when the product functioned as designed and intended.”

Other defendants included Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc, Beretta USA Corp, Colt’s Manufacturing Co and Glock Inc. 

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Turkey Rejects Russia’s Annexation of Ukrainian Territory

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday it rejects Russia’s annexation of four regions in Ukraine, adding the decision is a “grave violation” of international law.

Turkey, a NATO member, has conducted a diplomatic balancing act since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Ankara opposes Western sanctions on Russia and has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbors. It has also criticized.

Russia’s invasion and sent armed drones to Ukraine.

The Turkish ministry said on Saturday it had not recognized Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, adding that it rejects Russia’s decision to annex the four regions, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

“This decision, which constitutes a grave violation of the established principles of international law, cannot be accepted,” the ministry said.

“We reiterate our support to the resolution of this war, the severity of which keeps growing, based on a just peace that will be reached through negotiations,” it added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of the regions on Friday, promising Moscow would triumph in its “special military operation” even as he faced a potentially serious new military reversal.

His proclamation came after Russia held what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and non-representative.

The United States, Britain and Canada announced new sanctions in response.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday his country had submitted a fast-track application to join the NATO military alliance and that he would not hold peace talks with Russia while Putin was still president.

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Russia Accused of ‘Kidnapping’ Head of Ukraine Nuclear Plant

Ukraine’s nuclear power provider accused Russia on Saturday of “kidnapping” the head of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, a facility now occupied by Russian troops.

Russian forces seized the director-general of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ihor Murashov, around 4 p.m. Friday, Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom said.

Energoatom said Russian troops stopped Murashov’s car, blindfolded him and then took him to an undisclosed location.

“His detention by (Russia) jeopardizes the safety of Ukraine and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant,” said Energoatom President Petro Kotin said.

Kotin demanded Russia immediately release Murashov.

Russia did not immediately acknowledge seizing the plant director.

The Zaporizhzhia plant repeatedly has been caught in the crossfire of the war in Ukraine. Ukrainian technicians continued running it after Russian troops seized the power station. The plant’s last reactor was shut down in September amid ongoing shelling near the facility.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which has staff at the plant, did not immediately acknowledge Energoatom’s claim of Murashov’s capture by the Russians.

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At UN, Russia, US Trade Barbs Over Nord Stream Damage

The United States and Russia traded barbs and accusations at a U.N. Security Council meeting Friday about the apparent sabotage to a major gas pipeline that Russia uses to supply Europe.

Between Sept. 26 and 29, explosions caused four leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that run along the floor of the Baltic Sea.

The United States, European Union, NATO and Russia all agree the damage and gas leaks point to sabotage, but they disagree about who is the likely perpetrator.

Russia requested the Security Council meeting to discuss the pipeline incident.

“It’s quite clear to us that carrying out of sabotage of such complexity and scale is beyond the power of ordinary terrorists,” Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said at the meeting. “We consider the actions to damage the gas pipelines to be deliberate sabotage against a crucial element of the Russian Federation’s energy infrastructure.”

He reiterated Kremlin talking points, saying that it could not have happened without the involvement of a state or state-controlled actors, and that Moscow would “certainly identify” the perpetrators.

“I hope, colleagues, that everyone in this room is aware of the dangerous brink to which those who committed this sabotage are leading us,” he said.

Assessing blame

Nebenzia implied that the United States had the most to gain by damaging the pipeline, and directly asked his U.S. counterpart if he could confirm that Washington was not involved.

“Let me be clear: The United States categorically denies any involvement in this incident, and we reject any assertions saying the contrary,” U.S. envoy Richard Mills responded.

Mills accused Russia of using the Security Council as a platform to launch conspiracy theories and disinformation. He noted that since Russia invaded Ukraine seven months ago, it has repeatedly damaged and destroyed civilian infrastructure there.

“If there is any country, perhaps, that has a record of doing what we are discussing here today, it’s not the United States,” Mills noted.

Some European officials and energy experts have suggested that Russia likely carried out the attacks to benefit from higher energy prices and to create more economic chaos in Europe for its support of Ukraine in fending off Russia’s war. But other officials urged caution in assessing blame until investigators determine what happened.

The damage to the pipelines happened off the shores of Sweden and Denmark. Ahead of Friday’s meeting, their ambassadors sent a joint letter to the Security Council president. They said at least two underwater detonations occurred on Sept. 26, damaging pipelines on Nord Stream 1 and 2 and causing “major leaks” of natural gas several hundred meters wide.

The cause was likely two massive explosions, “probably corresponding to an explosive load of several hundred kilos,” which were “the result of a deliberate act.” The blasts were so powerful, they said, that they measured 2.3 and 2.1 on the Richter scale, which is used to gauge earthquakes.

They warned that the gas plumes pose a risk to both sea and air traffic, and they instituted a navigation warning to ships to maintain a distance of at least 5 nautical miles, or 10 kilometers, from the leaks.

Danish, Swedish and German authorities are carrying out a joint investigation. Russia’s ambassador said Moscow would only accept the results of an independent investigation that included Russian experts.

NATO

On Thursday, NATO vowed retaliation for attacks on the critical infrastructure of its 30 member states.

“Any deliberate attack against allies’ critical infrastructure would be met with a united and determined response,” NATO ambassadors said in a statement.

The bloc said the four ruptures in the Nord Stream pipelines were of “deep concern” and agreed that current information pointed to “deliberate, reckless and irresponsible acts of sabotage.”

Two of the leaks are on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, where the flow of gas was recently halted, while the other two are on Nord Stream 2, which has never been opened.

Although they were not in operation, both pipelines were filled with methane gas, which has escaped and is bubbling to the surface.