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Europeans Mark International Workers’ Day with Protests, Grim Mood

Europeans marked International Workers’ Day, May 1, with traditional lily of the valley flowers and street protests. But this year’s mood was grim, with many countries feeling the health and economic backlash of COVID-19, including a double-dip recession in the 19-member euro currency zone.The weather was cold and damp in Paris as thousands of protesters marched down Boulevard Voltaire to Place de la Nation — or Nation’s Square — a favorite guillotine spot during the French Revolution.A protester holds a sign denouncing profiteers who have enriched themselves from the COVID crisis, in Paris, May 1, 2021. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)There was no such bloodshed during Saturday afternoon’s march, but there was a similar spirit of revolt. “We’re here, we’re here … even if Macron doesn’t like it, we’re still here,” protesters chanted, referring to President Emmanuel Macron. They brandished signs that said “The Profiteers Must Pay for the Covid Crisis” and “Slavery by Banks.”Jean-Pierre, a member of the Lutte Ouvriere workers union, said it was important to fight, especially against capitalists using the pandemic to enrich themselves.Graffiti in Paris says, “University students, left to their own devices.” Conditions around COVID-19 have hit many young people hard, with reports of some going hungry. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)“We’re manifesting against the change of tariffs for university, for foreign students,” he said. “A lot of things pertaining to the university and how the public system is being neglected. They’re wanting more money to create equality for all the students in France.”A year before presidential elections, Saturday’s protests had particularly sharp political overtones. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who placed her party’s annual wreath at the Joan of Arc statue in Paris, warned that another term for Macron would be a disaster for France. A number of prominent leftist leaders joined the Paris march.

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Indiana’s Governor: ‘Pain Will Persist’ for Families of FedEx Shooting Victims 

Indiana’s governor told Sikh community members and others gathered at an Indianapolis stadium Saturday to remember the eight people killed in a shooting at a warehouse that he knew their anguish from the attack was far from over.The three-hour event at Lucas Oil Stadium came two weeks after a former FedEx employee fatally shot the eight people, including four Sikhs, before killing himself. Authorities have not released a motive in the April 15 shooting.Governor Eric Holcomb said the capital was “still reeling from the impact of that dark night.””Never in my wildest imagination did I see this day or this cause of gathering as a reason for our unification,” Holcomb said. “Why must any day be that dark? Why must tragedy strike and tear a community, tear humanity apart? This pain will for sure persist as we continue to live with the loss.”In a letter read during the ceremony, former Vice President Mike Pence, a former Indiana governor, emphasized the grief of the Sikh community, whose members “add to the tapestry of this country.””Know that our hearts and our prayers are with you all,” Pence’s letter said. “We join fellow Hoosiers across the state of Indiana and Americans across the country in expressing our heartfelt condolences.”A monotheistic faith founded more than 500 years ago in India’s Punjab region, Sikhism is the world’s fifth-largest religion with about 25 million followers, including about 500,000 in the United States.Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said his message to the Sikh community, to immigrants and “to anyone who feels threatened by this act simply because of who they are” is that they are “welcome in Indianapolis, and it is the responsibility of every one of our residents to make sure you know that to be true.”Gun lawsHogsett also reiterated his previous calls for changes to gun policy, saying the shooting could have been prevented. He said the city, state and country are “far past due for transformative action.”Authorities have said that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, had two rifles that he was able to purchase legally, even after his mother called police last year to say her son might undertake “suicide by cop.” Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears has faced sharp criticism for choosing not to pursue court hearings that could have prevented Hole from accessing the guns.Private services for victims from the Sikh community are also expected to take place in the coming week. The proceedings will begin with cremation, followed by up to 20 days of reading of the 1,400-page Guru Granth Sahib scripture.The victims’ families were granted roughly two dozen fast-tracked visas so relatives overseas could travel for the funerals, said Amrith Kaur, legal director at the Sikh Coalition. They’re arriving just days before the U.S. restricts travel from India — a response spurred by a rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.

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Кулеба: Головна мета розмови Зеленського з Путіним – припинення війни в Україні

«Ми розуміємо, що головна мета розмови президента Зеленського з президентом Путіним – це припинення війни в Україні, деокупація наших територій», – заявив Дмитро Кулеба.

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Боррель засудив рішення Росії про санкції щодо громадян ЄС

Боррель назвав рішення Кремля «неприйнятним, позбавленим будь-яких юридичних підстав і необґрунтованим.

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Many Americans Anxious About Returning to ‘Normal’ After Pandemic

In the United States, as millions of people are getting vaccinated and signs indicate the pandemic is easing, there is an excitement about the possibility of things going back to normal.Many people are looking forward to attending sports events and concerts and dining inside restaurants again. But for others, returning to normalcy provokes an uneasiness about what the new normal will look like.FILE – Diners eat in isolated rooms outside the Townhouse restaurant, in Birmingham, Mich., March 25, 2021. While many people are eager to discard this kind of protection, others will hesitate about the transition back to a new normal.”Transitions are hard, especially after a collective trauma,” Lucy McBride, a primary care physician in Washington, told VOA.”While planning for a post-pandemic life can feel comfortable, thinking about the future too much can also increase our anxious thoughts,” said Kevin Antshel, director of the clinical psychology program at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, about half of adults are uncomfortable about returning to in-person interactions after the pandemic. Their concerns range from getting COVID-19 to communicating with friends, family and co-workers again.”Some people will feel paralyzing anxiety about resuming their normal activities after being in a fear mode for more than a year,” McBride said. Even when the threat is gone and they’ve been vaccinated, it is going to take time for them to be comfortable reentering society after the pandemic, she said.That’s true for Cassie Davis in Pensacola, Florida, whose uncle died of the virus. Even though she got vaccinated, she is nervous about being near people in shopping centers.”When my uncle died, it really hit home how terrible the virus is and that it might never completely go away,” she said.FILE – A man walks into a restaurant displaying a “Now Hiring” sign, March 4, 2021, in Salem, N.H. For some people, looking for a new job to replace one lost to the pandemic will be a stressful experience.Some people will “feel a loss because things are different,” said Karestan Koenen, a professor of psychiatric epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. That could mean feeling uncomfortable with a good friend you haven’t seen for a long time or losing a job and looking for new one.Some ‘quite comfortable’Others, however, have found contentment in their lifestyle during the pandemic.They “have grown quite comfortable being alone,” Antshel pointed out. “They’ve grown accustomed to not having to interact with people or fearing scrutiny and rejection from others.””I have been enjoying my own company by being at home,” said Elizabeth Albrecht, a single 27-year-old who lives in Washington. “I have no desire to go out with my friends all the time like I did before.”FILE – Kyree Kayoshi, his dog Kumi, and Miranda De Llano use circles marked for social distancing at the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, March 3, 2021. What will happen when restrictive, virus-related rules for interaction are all gone?It’s also going to be stressful unlearning some of the things you were supposed to do during the pandemic, said Deborah Serani, a psychologist and professor at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. For example, she said, “how do I interact with everyone with their masks off?”Patrick Reed in Alexandria, Virginia, who just got vaccinated, is trying to figure that out. Virginia’s mask mandate recently changed to allow fully vaccinated people to participate in outdoor activities and small outdoor gatherings without wearing  masks.”I didn’t like wearing a mask for months and then got used to it,” he said, “and now I don’t feel comfortable not having it on around people.”A matter of timeAccording to Christine Runyan, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, it will take time for everyone to adjust to the changes, but some will do that quicker than others.”Our nervous systems are quite sensitive to these rapid adjustments,” she said. “A lot of people might find themselves really tired after in-person social engagements because they’re not used to it.”Antshel suggested that people “reacclimate gradually” back into society and not isolate themselves.”I’m hoping we’re going to come back together with a greater appreciation and gentleness for each other,” Serani said.

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Prosecutors Seek Higher Sentence for Chauvin in Floyd Death

Prosecutors are asking a judge to give Derek Chauvin a more severe penalty than state guidelines call for when he is sentenced in June for George Floyd’s death, arguing in court documents filed Friday that Floyd was particularly vulnerable, and that Chauvin abused his authority as a police officer.Defense attorney Eric Nelson is opposing a tougher sentence, saying the state has failed to prove that those aggravating factors, among others, existed when Chauvin arrested Floyd on May 25, 2020. Chauvin, who is white, was convicted last week of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes as the Black man said he couldn’t breathe and went motionless.Even though he was found guilty of three counts, under Minnesota statutes he’ll only be sentenced on the most serious one — second-degree murder. While that count carries a maximum sentence of 40 years, experts say he won’t get that much.  Prosecutors did not specify how much time they would seek for Chauvin.  Under Minnesota sentencing guidelines, the presumptive sentence for second-degree unintentional murder for someone with no criminal record like Chauvin would be 12 1/2 years. Judges can sentence someone to as little as 10 years and eight months or as much as 15 years and still be within the advisory guideline range. To go above that, Judge Peter Cahill would have to find that there were “aggravating factors,” and even if those are found, legal experts have said Chauvin would likely not face more than 30 years.  In legal briefs filed Friday, prosecutors said Chauvin should be sentenced above the guideline range because Floyd was particularly vulnerable with his hands cuffed behind his back as he was face-down on the ground, and that he was intoxicated. They noted that Chauvin held his position even after Floyd became unresponsive and officers knew he had no pulse.  Prosecutors also said Chauvin treated Floyd with particular cruelty during the lengthy restraint, saying Chauvin inflicted gratuitous pain and caused psychological distress to Floyd and to bystanders.  “Defendant continued to maintain his position atop Mr. Floyd even as Mr. Floyd cried out that he was in pain, even as Mr. Floyd exclaimed 27 times that he could not breathe, and even as Mr. Floyd said that Defendant’s actions were killing him,” prosecutors wrote. They added that he stayed in position as Floyd cried out for his mother, stopped speaking and lost consciousness.  “Defendant thus did not just inflict physical pain. He caused Mr. Floyd psychological distress during the final moments of his life, leaving Mr. Floyd helpless as he squeezed the last vestiges of life out of Mr. Floyd’s body,” prosecutors wrote.  They also said that Chauvin abused his position of authority as a police officer, committed his crime as part of a group of three or more people, and that he pinned Floyd down in the presence of children — including a 9-year-old girl who testified at trial that watching the restraint made her “sad and kind of mad.”Nelson disagreed, writing that “Mr. Chauvin entered into the officers’ encounter with Mr. Floyd with legal authority to assist in effecting the lawful arrest of an actively-resisting criminal suspect. Mr. Chauvin was authorized, under Minnesota law, to use reasonable force to do so.”  Nelson said Floyd was not particularly vulnerable, saying he was a large man who was struggling with officers. He wrote that courts have typically found particular vulnerability if the victims are young, or perhaps sleeping, when a crime occurs.  Nelson also said Floyd was not treated with particular cruelty, saying that there is no evidence that the assault perpetrated by Chauvin involved gratuitous pain that’s not usually associated with second-degree murder.“The assault of Mr. Floyd occurred in the course of a very short time, involved no threats or taunting, such as putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger … and ended when EMS finally responded to officers’ calls,” Nelson wrote.  He also said the state hasn’t proven that any of the other officers actively participated in the crime for which Chauvin was convicted. Those officers are scheduled to face trial on aiding and abetting charges in August. He also wrote that the presence of children in this case is different from cases in which children might be witnessing a crime in a home and unable to leave.  And, he said, the state failed to prove that Chauvin’s role as a police officer was an aggravating factor, saying that Floyd’s struggle with officers showed that Chauvin’s authority was irrelevant to Floyd.  Cahill has said he will review the attorneys’ written arguments before determining whether aggravating factors exist that would warrant a tougher sentence.  No matter what sentence Chauvin gets, in Minnesota it’s presumed that a defendant with good behavior will serve two-thirds of the penalty in prison and the rest on supervised release, commonly known as parole. 

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Diplomats From 5 Nations Resume Iran Nuclear Talks in Vienna

High-ranking diplomats from China, Germany, France, Russia and Britain resumed talks Saturday focused on bringing the United States back into their landmark nuclear deal with Iran.The U.S. will not have a representative at the table when the diplomats meet in Vienna because former President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the country out of the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in 2018. Trump also restored and augmented sanctions to try to force Iran into renegotiating the pact with more concessions.U.S. President Joe Biden wants to rejoin the deal, however, and a U.S. delegation in Vienna is taking part in indirect talks with Iran, with diplomats from the other world powers acting as go-betweens.The Biden administration is considering a rollback of some of the most stringent Trump-era sanctions in a bid to get Iran to come back into compliance with the terms of the nuclear agreement, according to information from current and former U.S. officials and others familiar with the matter earlier this week.Ahead of the main talks, Russia’s top representative Mikhail Ulyanov said JCPOA members met on the side with officials from the U.S. delegation but that the Iranian delegation was not ready to meet with U.S. diplomats.“JCPOA participants held today informal consultations with the U.S. delegation at the Vienna talks on full restoration of the nuclear deal,” Ulyanov tweeted. “Without Iran who is still not ready to meet with U.S. diplomats.”The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, promised Iran economic incentives in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. The reimposition of U.S. sanctions has left the Islamic Republic’s economy reeling. Tehran has responded by steadily increasing its violations of the restrictions of the deal, such as increasing the purity of uranium it enriches and its stockpiles, in a thus-far unsuccessful effort to pressure the other countries to provide relief.The ultimate goal of the deal is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, something it insists it doesn’t want to do. Iran now has enough enriched uranium to make a bomb, but nowhere near the amount it had before the nuclear deal was signed.The Vienna talks began in early April and have included several rounds of high-level discussions. Expert groups also have been working on proposals on how to resolve the issues around American sanctions and Iranian compliance, as well as the “possible sequencing” of the U.S. return.Outside the talks in Vienna, other challenges remain.An attack suspected to have been carried out by Israel recently struck Iran’s Natanz nuclear site, causing an unknown amount of damage. Tehran retaliated by beginning to enrich a small amount of uranium up to 60% purity, its highest level ever.