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Vatican Indicts 10, Including a Cardinal, in London Deal 

A Vatican judge on Saturday indicted 10 people, including a once-powerful cardinal, on charges including embezzlement, abuse of office, extortion and fraud in connection with the Secretariat of State’s 350 million-euro investment in a London real estate venture.The president of the Vatican’s criminal tribunal, Giuseppe Pignatone, set July 27 as the trial date, though lawyers for some defendants questioned how they could prepare for trial so soon given they hadn’t yet formally received the indictment.The 487-page indictment request was issued following a sprawling, two-year investigation into how the Secretariat of State managed its vast asset portfolio, much of which is funded by donations from the faithful. The scandal over its multimillion-dollar losses has resulted in a sharp reduction in donations and prompted Pope Francis to strip the office of its ability to manage the money.Five former Vatican officials, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu and two officials from the Secretariat of State, were indicted, as well as the Italian businessmen who handled the investment.Vatican prosecutors accuse the main suspects of bilking millions of euros from the Holy See in fees, bad investments and other losses related to financial dealings that were funded in large part by Peter’s Pence donations to the pope for works of charity. The suspects have denied wrongdoing.One of the main suspects, Italian broker Gianluigi Torzi, is accused of having extorted the Vatican of 15 million euros to turn over ownership of the London building in late 2018. Torzi had been retained by the Vatican to help it acquire full ownership of the building from another indicted money manager who had handled the initial investment in 2013, but lost millions in what the Vatican says were speculative, imprudent deals.Vatican prosecutors allege Torzi inserted a last-minute clause into the contract giving him full voting rights in the deal.The Vatican hierarchy, however, signed off on the contract, with both the pope’s No. 2, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and his deputy approving it. Neither was indicted. In addition, Francis himself was aware of the deal and Torzi’s involvement in it.Vatican prosecutors say the Vatican hierarchy was hoodwinked by Torzi and aided in part by an Italian lawyer — who was also indicted Saturday — into agreeing to the terms. The Secretariat of State intends to declare itself an injured party in the case.Torzi has denied the charges and said the accusations were due to a misunderstanding. He is currently in London pending an extradition request by Italian authorities, who are seeking to prosecute him on other financial charges. His representatives said they had no immediate comment Saturday since they hadn’t yet seen the indictment.Cardinal indictedAlso indicted was a onetime papal contender and Holy See official, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who helped engineer the initial London investment when he was chief of staff in the Secretariat of State.Francis fired him as the Vatican’s saint-making chief last year, apparently in connection with a separate issue: Becciu’s 100,000-euro donation of Holy See funds to a diocesan charity run by his brother.Becciu had originally not been part of the London investigation but was included after it appeared that he was behind the proposal to buy the building, prosecutors say, alleging that he also interfered in the investigation.In a statement Saturday issued by his lawyers, Becciu insisted on the “absolute falsity” of the accusations and denounced what he said was “unparalleled media pillory” against him in the Italian press.”I am the victim of a plot hatched against me. And I have been waiting for a long time to know any accusations against me, to allow myself to promptly deny them and prove to the world my absolute innocence,” he said.One of Becciu’s proteges, self-styled intelligence analyst Cecilia Marogna, was indicted on separate embezzlement charges. Becciu had hired Marogna as an external consultant after she reached out to him in 2015 with concerns about security at Vatican embassies in global hot spots. Becciu authorized hundreds of thousands of euros of Holy See funds to her to free Catholic priests and nuns held hostage in Africa, according to WhatsApp messages reprinted by Italian media.Her Slovenian-based holding company, which received the funds, was among the four companies also ordered to stand trial.Marogna says the money was compensation for legitimate intelligence work and reimbursements. Prosecutors say she spent the money on luxury purchases that were incompatible with the humanitarian scope of her company.In a statement Saturday, her legal team said Marogna had been prepared for months to “provide a full accounting of her work and fears nothing about the accusations made against her.”Also indicted were the former top two officials in the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency, for alleged abuse of office. Prosecutors say by failing to stop the Torzi deal, they performed a “decisive function” in letting it play out.The lawyer for the former office director, Tommaso di Ruzza, said he had only seen the Vatican press statement about the allegations but insisted that his client “has always acted in the most scrupulous respect of the law and his office duties, in the exclusive interest of the Holy See.”The former head of the office, Rene Bruelhart, defended his work and said his indictment was a “procedural blunder that will be immediately clarified by the organs of Vatican justice as soon as the defense will be able to exercise its rights.”A former Secretariat of State official, Monsignor Mauro Carlino, expressed shock at his indictment on alleged extortion and abuse of office charges, saying his only involvement in the deal was after he was ordered by his superiors to negotiate Torzi down from a 20 million-euro fee to 15 million euros.”It seems incomprehensible that a worthy act … that brought him no personal advantage and had on the contrary provided a significant savings for the Secretariat of State could lead to an indictment,” said a statement from his lawyer, Salvino Mondello.

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11 People in Custody After Hourslong Armed Standoff on Massachusetts Highway

An hourslong standoff with a group of heavily armed men that partially shut down Interstate 95 ended Saturday with 11 suspects in custody, Massachusetts state police said.Police initially reported nine suspects were taken into custody, but two more were taken into custody in their vehicle later Saturday morning.Two suspects were hospitalized, but police said it was for preexisting conditions that had nothing to do with the standoff.State Police Colonel Christopher Mason said the suspects surrendered after police tactical teams used armored vehicles to tighten the perimeter around them.The standoff shut down a portion of I-95 for much of the morning, causing major traffic problems during the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Authorities later said the interstate had been reopened and that the shelter-in-place orders for Wakefield and Reading had been lifted.In Massachusetts, Interstate 95 runs from the Rhode Island line, around Boston, to the New Hampshire line. Wakefield is just east of where Interstate 95 and 93 meet north of Boston.Headed for ‘training’The standoff began around 2 a.m. when police noticed two cars pulled over on I-95 with hazard lights on after they had apparently run out of fuel, authorities said at a Saturday press briefing.At least some of the suspects were clad in military-style gear with long guns and pistols, Mason said. He added that they were headed to Maine from Rhode Island for “training.””You can imagine 11 armed individuals standing with long guns slung on an interstate highway at 2 in the morning certainly raises concerns and is not consistent with the firearms laws that we have in Massachusetts,” Mason said.He said he understood the suspects, who did not have firearms licenses, have a different perspective on the law.”I appreciate that perspective,” he said. “I disagree with that perspective at the end of the day, but I recognize that it’s there.”The men refused to put down their weapons or comply with authorities’ orders, claiming to be from a group “that does not recognize our laws” before taking off into a wooded area, police said.Police and prosecutors were working to determine what charges the members of the group would face.The suspects were expected to appear in court in Woburn on Tuesday, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said.Not anti-government, leader saysMason said the “self-professed leader” of the group wanted it to be known that they were not anti-government.”I think the investigation that follows from this interaction will provide us more insight into what their motivation, what their ideology is,” Mason said.In a video posted to social media Saturday morning, a man who did not give his name, but said he was from a group called Rise of the Moors, broadcast from Interstate 95 in Wakefield near Exit 57.”We are not anti-government. We are not anti-police, we are not sovereign citizens, we’re not Black identity extremists,” said the man, who appeared to be wearing military-style equipment. He said that “as specified multiple times to the police,” the group members were “abiding by the peaceful journey laws of the United States.”The website for the group says they are “Moorish Americans dedicated to educating new Moors and influencing our Elders.”Mason said he had no knowledge of the group, but it was not unusual for the state police to encounter people who have “sovereign citizen ideology,” although he did not know if the people involved in the Wakefield standoff were a part of that.

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Євро-2020: збірна України розгромно поступається англійцям у чвертьфіналі

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Work Stopped at Collapsed Florida Condo, Demolition Imminent as Tropical Storm Elsa Nears 

Florida officials halted search and rescue work Saturday at the site of a partially collapsed condo building as they prepare to raze what remains standing over concerns that the arrival of Tropical Storm Elsa could trigger a secondary collapse, potentially endangering rescue workers. Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told family members of the 124 missing people that rescue work stopped Saturday afternoon, news that one relative described as “devastating.”Demolition crews have begun boring holes for explosives into the concrete of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Surfside. Raide said the demolition won’t happen until Monday, at the earliest. A woman mourns at a memorial site created by neighbors in front of a partially collapsed residential building as the emergency crews continue the search and rescue operations for survivors, in Surfside, Fla., July 3, 2021.“If the building is taken down, this will protect our search and rescue teams, because we don’t know when it could fall over,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said earlier Saturday at a news conference, describing the “structurally unsound” remnants of damaged building as “tottering.”“And, of course, with these gusts, potentially that would create a really severe hazard,” added DeSantis, who, after meeting with Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett, said officials are confident what’s left of the building can likely be brought down Sunday with minimal interruption of ongoing search and rescue efforts. Officials on Saturday said the death toll from the June 24 collapse increased to 24 victims during the overnight hours, and that 124 people remain unaccounted for. Rescue teams use jack hammers to chip through debris and rubble as they continue to look for survivors at the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South Condo building in Surfside, Fla., July 3, 2021.Once the building has been brought down, Raide said the debris will be removed quickly to give rescuers access for the first time to parts of the garage area that are a focus of interest, possibly providing a clearer picture of pockets that may exist in the rubble and may harbor survivors. Elsa was downgraded Saturday from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm as it barreled past the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, menacing Haiti and the Dominican Republic with driving rain and winds of up to 110 kph (70 mph). Florida remained in Elsa’s “cone of uncertainty.” The Orlando Sentinel reported that the storm’s projected path placed it near the Florida Keys by 2 a.m. Tuesday, and from there it was expected to move along Florida’s western coast, passing Tampa by 2 a.m. Wednesday. DeSantis issued a state of emergency for Miami-Dade and 13 other counties Saturday morning. FILE – Search and rescue personnel work at the site of a collapsed Florida condominium complex in Surfside, July 2, 2021. (Miami-Dade Fire Department photo)Miami-Dade officials refused to take any chances. “We have no control over where it lands,” said Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky, echoing concerns of regional officials who’ve worked closely with demolition experts who initially thought safe removal of the remaining, unstable structure could take weeks. “The fear was that [Elsa] may take the building down for us and take it in the wrong direction,” said Burkett, Surfside’s mayor. Controlled collapse Fire officials on Saturday said the remaining units of Champlain Towers South, which have been vacant since the collapse, will be destroyed in a controlled manner using explosive charges and no wrecking balls.The city of North Miami Beach on Friday said the nearby Crestview Towers building was found to be structurally and electrically unsafe.“In an abundance of caution, the city ordered the building closed immediately and the residents evacuated for their protection, while a full structural assessment is conducted and next steps are determined,” City Manager Arthur Sorey said in a statement.Home Depot department supervisor Arnaldo Gonzalez loads water bottles into Elena Arvalo’s shopping cart as shoppers prepare for possible effects of Tropical Storm Elsa in Miami, July 3, 2021.The review of the building was part of an audit of buildings 40 years old and older recommended by the mayor of Miami-Dade County following last week’s partial collapse of Champlain Towers South. U.S. President Joe Biden spoke to about 200 family members Thursday at a Miami Beach hotel, and then he and first lady Jill Biden went from table to table, conversing with them in smaller groups, according to the White House, which said the Bidens were joined by the state’s two U.S. senators, DeSantis and other Florida politicians. Before visiting a memorial near the site of the tragedy in the oceanfront community of nearly 6,000 residents, Biden announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would provide temporary housing and other urgent needs for those made homeless by the disaster. The president also met earlier with some of the search and rescue team members, whom he described as “under a great deal of stress.”Personal belongings are seen amid debris dangling from the remains of apartments sheared in half, in the still standing portion of the Champlain Towers South condo, more than a week after it partially collapsed in Surfside, Fla.A 2018 engineering report noted “major structural damage” to a concrete slab beneath the building’s ground-floor pool and “abundant cracking” in the concrete structure of the parking garage. Bids for millions of dollars in repair work were still pending when the building collapsed. The president announced that the National Institute of Standards and Technology would try to determine why the building crumpled.No one has been rescued alive since the first hours after the June 24 collapse. Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters. 

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У Таджикистані запроваджена обов’язкова вакцинація від COVID-19

Також штаб із протидії хворобі закликав громадян, які повертаються з-за кордону, незалежно від позитивного чи негативного результату ПЛР-тесту перебувати в режимі самоізоляції впродовж 10 діб

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У Бразилії демонстранти вимагають відставки президента Болсонару

Суддя Верховного суду Роза Вебер 2 липня дозволила початок розслідування щодо Болсонару з приводу імовірних порушень у закупівлі вакцин, розроблених в Індії

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Ukrainian Women Troops Marching in Heels Spark Outrage

Ukrainian authorities found themselves buried in controversy Friday after official pictures showed women soldiers practicing for a parade in heels.Ukraine is preparing to stage a military parade next month to mark 30 years of independence following the Soviet Union’s breakup, and the defense ministry released photographs of fatigue-clad women soldiers marching in mid-heel black pumps.”Today, for the first time, training takes place in heeled shoes,” cadet Ivanna Medvid was quoted as saying by the defense ministry’s information site ArmiaInform.”It is slightly harder than in army boots, but we are trying,” Medvid added in comments released on Thursday.The choice of footwear sparked a torrent of criticism on social media and in parliament, and led to accusations that women soldiers had been sexualized.”The story of a parade in heels is a real disgrace,” commentator Vitaly Portnikov said on Facebook, arguing that some Ukrainian officials had a “medieval” mindset.Another commentator, Maria Shapranova, accused the defense ministry of “sexism and misogyny.””High heels is a mockery of women imposed by the beauty industry,” she fumed.Several Ukrainian lawmakers close to Ukraine’s former president Petro Poroshenko showed up in parliament with pairs of shoes and encouraged the defense minister to wear high heels to the parade.”It is hard to imagine a more idiotic, harmful idea,” said Inna Sovsun, a member of the Golos party, pointing to health risks.She also said that Ukraine’s women soldiers — like men — were risking their lives and “do not deserve to be mocked”.Ukraine has been battling Russian-backed separatists in the country’s industrial east, in a conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014.Olena Kondratyuk, deputy speaker of the legislature said authorities should publicly apologize for “humiliating” women and conduct an enquiry. Kondratyuk said that more than 13,500 women had fought in the current conflict.More than 31,000 women now serve in the Ukrainian armed forces, including more than 4,000 of whom are officers.

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Сирійські курди передали Росії 20 дітей із таборів угруповання «Ісламська держава»

Курдська влада та Міжнародний комітет Червоного Хреста (МКЧХ) звернулися з пропозицією про репатріацію до 60 країн, з яких прибули бойовики «Ісламської держави» та їхні родичі