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Posted by Worldkrap on

US Senate to Vote on Abortions Rights Bill

Democrats are moving forward this week on a Senate vote on a bill that would codify abortion rights into federal law, in the wake of a leaked draft from the Supreme Court that signals a possible end to the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. As Arash Arabasadi reports, the legislation is expected to be blocked by Senate Republicans.

Posted by Ukrap on

Українські військові знищили 20 російських танків на Донбасі протягом дня – штаб ООС

За підсумками штабу, протягом тижня військові ООС відбили 71 ворожу атаку

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US, Allies Bolster Ukraine Support

The United States and other leading economies in the Group of Seven nations Sunday agreed to ban or phase out the purchase of Russian oil, directly targeting a major source of income for Moscow to pay for its 10-week invasion of Ukraine.  

“This will hit hard at the main artery of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s economy and deny him the revenue he needs to fund his war,” the G-7 leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. said after a virtual meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.  

The U.S. has already ended its purchase of Russian oil, while the 27-nation European  Union, which gets about a quarter of its crude oil imports from Russia, has also announced plans to do likewise. It is still in talks on exactly how to end its reliance on Moscow’s oil.

“Putin has failed in his initial military objective to dominate Ukraine – but he has  

succeeded in making Russia a global pariah,” the White House said in a statement.  

“Today, the United States, the European Union and G7 committed to ratchet up these  costs” with further sanctions targeting “financial elites” in Russia who support Putin, as well as their family members.

The call with Zelenskyy took place on the day the G-7 leaders commemorated the end of World War II in the European theater and as Russia prepared for Monday’s annual celebration of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in 1945, which it calls Victory Day.

“We remain united in our resolve that President Putin must not win his war against Ukraine,” the G-7 statement said. “We owe it to the memory of all those who fought for freedom in the Second World War.”

The G-7 said Putin’s invasion of Ukraine brings “shame on Russia and the historic sacrifices of its people.”

As part of Sunday’s talks, Washington announced new sanctions against three highly watched Russian state television outlets, saying they “have been among the largest recipients of foreign revenue, which feeds back to the Russian state’s revenue.”

The U.S. also said it would ban Americans from providing financial services to Russian companies to keep elites from building wealth, “thereby generating revenue for Putin’s war machine, and to trying to hide that wealth and evade sanctions.”

The White House statement said the U.S. would also impose further export controls on a wide range of industrial products, to “further limit Russia’s access to items and revenue that could support its military capabilities.”

The U.S. said it has already imposed about 2,600 visa restrictions on Russians and Belarusians in response to what it said was their ongoing efforts to undermine Ukraine. Belarus is one of Russia’s closest allies.

The U.S. government has also sanctioned eight executives at Sberbank, the largest financial institution in Russia; 27 executives from Gazprombank, which handles business by Russia’s Gazprom, one of the largest natural gas exporters in the world; and Moscow Industrial Bank and its 10 subsidiaries.

Posted by Ukrap on

В України наразі немає зброї, яка б дозволила військовим шляхом розблокувати Маріуполь – Зеленський

«Росія міняє військових, тільки якщо вони полонені, на полонених», сказав президент, говорячи про можливість визволити військових з «Азовсталі»

Posted by Ukrap on

Під час евакуації з «Азовсталі» мати чотирирічної дівчинки потрапила до фільтраційного табору – «Азов»

За даними «Азова», до Запоріжжя доїхала лише дитина, точне місце перебування матері наразі невідоме

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Patriotism, Unease Mix as Russia Marks Victory Day in WWII

Red Soviet flags and orange-and-black striped military ribbons are on display in Russian cities and towns. Neighborhoods are staging holiday concerts. Flowers are being laid by veterans’ groups at monuments to the Great Patriotic War, as World War II is known in the country.

At first glance, preparations for Monday’s celebration of Victory Day, marking the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, seem to be the same as ever.

But the mood this year is very different, because Russian troops are fighting and dying again.

And this battle, now in its 11th week, is going on in neighboring Ukraine, against what the government has falsely called a campaign against “Nazis.”

The pride and patriotism usually associated with Russia’s most important holiday, marked by a huge parade of soldiers and military hardware through Red Square, is mixing with apprehension and unease over what this year’s Victory Day may bring.

Some Russians fear that President Vladimir Putin will use it to declare that what the Kremlin has previously called a “special military operation” in Ukraine will now be a full-fledged war — bringing with it a broad mobilization of troops to bolster Russia’s forces.

“I can’t remember a time when the May 9 holiday was anticipated with such anxiety,” historian Ivan Kurilla wrote on Facebook.

Ukraine’s intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, said Moscow was covertly preparing such a plan. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told LBC Radio that Putin was “laying the ground for being able to say, ‘Look, this is now a war against Nazis, and what I need is more people.’”

The Kremlin denied having such plans, calling the reports “untrue” and “nonsense.”

Asked by The Associated Press on Friday whether mobilization rumors could dampen the Victory Day mood, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “nothing will cast a shadow” over “the sacred day, the most important day” for Russians.

Still, human rights groups reported a spike in calls from people asking about laws concerning mobilization and their rights in case of being ordered to join the military.

“Questions about who can be called up and how have started to flow on a mass scale through our hotline about the rights of conscripts and the military,” said Pavel Chikov, founder of the Agora legal aid group, on the messaging app Telegram.

Russian state TV has ramped up the patriotic rhetoric. In announcing the Feb. 24 military operation, Putin declared it was aimed at the “demilitarization” of Ukraine to remove a perceived military threat to Russia by “neo-Nazis.”

A recent TV commentary said Putin’s words were “not an abstract thing and not a slogan” and praised Russia’s success in Ukraine, even though Moscow’s troops have gotten bogged down, making only minor gains in recent weeks.

Ukraine, which has a democratically elected Jewish president who lost relatives in the Holocaust, and the West have condemned the remarks as a fictitious cover for a blunt act of aggression.

But many Russians fed a steady diet of the official narrative have cheered on their troops, comparing them to “our grandfathers” who fought the Germans.

Popular support in Russia for the war in Ukraine is difficult to gauge in a country that has seen a steady crackdown on journalists in recent years, with independent media outlets shut down and state-controlled television providing a pervasive influence.

A recent poll by the respected independent Levada Center found that 82% of Russians remain concerned by the military campaign in Ukraine. The vast majority of them – 47% – are worried about the deaths of civilians and Russian soldiers in the war, along with the devastation and suffering. Only 6% of those concerned by the war said they were bothered by the alleged presence of “Nazis” and “fascists” in Ukraine.

“A significant part of the population is horrified, and even those who support the war are in a permanent psychological militant state of a perpetual nightmare,” said political analyst Andrei Kolesnikov in a recent commentary.

A government campaign encouraging support for the military is using the distinctive black-and-orange St. George’s ribbon that is traditionally associated with Victory Day.

The letter “Z” has become a symbol of the conflict, decorating buildings, posters and billboards across Russia, and many forms of it use the ribbon’s colors and pattern.

Rallies supporting the troops have taken place in recent days at World War II memorials, with participants singing wartime songs from the 1940s.

One official has suggested that Victory Day marchers display photos of soldiers now fighting in Ukraine. Normally on the holiday, Russians carry portraits of their relatives who took part in World War II to honor those in the so-called “Immortal Regiment” from a conflict in which the Soviet Union lost a staggering 27 million people.

 

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US First Lady Jill Biden Makes Surprise Visit into Ukraine 

U.S. first lady Jill Biden made a surprise visit Sunday to Ukraine, where she met with Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska at a school that has been converted into a shelter for people fleeing violence and Russian bombing elsewhere in the country.

Biden crossed the Slovakia-Ukraine border into the city of Uzhhorod in the southwestern corner of the country after visiting with Ukrainian refugees who fled their homeland to Slovakia.

Zelenska, the 44-year-old wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has been in hiding, along with their two children, since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine 10 weeks ago.

Zelenska stepped out of a black SUV that was guarded by a Ukrainian soldier. Biden handed her flowers on Mother’s Day and the two hugged before meeting in a small side room at the shelter.

“I wanted to come on Mother’s Day,” Biden said. “We thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop, and this war has been brutal. And the people of the U.S. stand with the people of Ukraine.”

“We feel it,” Zelenska responded.

“First of all, I would like to thank you for a very courageous act,” Zelenska said. “Because we understand what it takes for the U.S. first lady to come here during a war when the military actions are taking place every day, where the air sirens are happening every day, even today.”

“We all feel your support and we all feel the leadership of the U.S. president, but we would like to note that the Mother’s Day is a very symbolic day for us because we also feel your love and support during such an important day.”

U.S. officials said Biden had previously communicated with Zelenska, exchanging correspondence in the last few weeks.

For security reasons, the first lady’s visit to Ukraine was not announced ahead of time or on her public schedule. Biden’s motorcade was pared down for the drive into Ukraine, and several staffers stayed behind in Slovakia.

Biden and Zelenska talked behind closed doors for more than an hour and then joined children at the center who were doing arts and crafts, making bears out of tissue paper and cardboard.

The visit by a U.S. first lady to a war zone was unusual but not unprecedented.

Laura Bush traveled to Afghanistan in 2005 and 2008.

IN 2015, Michelle Obama visited Qatar’s al-Udeid Airbase, which was designated a combat zone. Al-Udeid has been used for U.S. military operations in the Middle East.

Some material in this report came from the Associated Press.

Posted by Ukrap on

Журналісти повідомляють, що дипломати посольства США приїхали до Києва

За даними видання Politico, американські дипломати повертаються, аби відзначити День перемоги над нацизмом у Європі

Posted by Ukrap on

Контрнаступ на Харківщині. Як працює українська артилерія (фотогалерея)

Генеральний штаб ЗСУ повідомив про проведення контрнаступальних дій на Слобожанському напрямку

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Dozens Feared Dead in Russian Shelling of Ukrainian School 

Dozens of Ukrainians were feared dead Sunday after a Russian bomb leveled a school sheltering about 90 people in eastern Ukraine.

The governor of the disputed Luhansk province where intense fighting has raged for weeks between Russian and Ukrainian forces said 30 people were rescued at the site in Bilohorivka but that the others in the school probably did not survive.

“Most likely, all 60 people who remain under the rubble are now dead,” Governor Serhiy Haidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app. He said Russian shelling also killed two boys, ages 11 and 14, in the nearby town of Pryvillia.

The latest shelling in the Donbas region came as Russia relentlessly pushed to show some battleground success in eastern Ukraine ahead of its Victory Day holiday on Monday commemorating its defeat of Nazi Germany in the European theater of World War II.

While still launching missile attacks throughout Ukraine, Moscow has in recent weeks concentrated its offensive in the Donbas after failing to topple the Ukrainian government and capture the capital Kyiv. Russian forces control the eastern port city of Mariupol, with the exception of a sprawling steel mill where as many as 2,000 Ukrainian fighters are still believed to be holding out and refusing to surrender.

All the remaining women, children and older civilians who had been sheltering with Ukrainian fighters in the Azovstal plant were evacuated Saturday.

The Ukrainian government is trying to enlist international relief organizations to extricate wounded fighters and medics from the steel plant, but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy acknowledged the difficulty during his nightly address on Saturday.

“We are not losing hope; we are not stopping,” he said. “Every day we are looking for some diplomatic option that might work.”

Zelenskyy on Sunday was holding a virtual meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden and other Group of Seven leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and Germany, who together head some of the world’s largest economies. The G-7 has pledged billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine.

In a Saturday address, Zelenskyy decried Russia’s bombing of a museum in the Kharkiv region dedicated to 18th century philosopher and poet Hryhorii Skovoroda.

Zelenskyy said Skovoroda was a man who “taught people what a true Christian attitude to life is and how a person can get to know himself.”

Zelenskyy said, “Well, it seems that this is a terrible danger for modern Russia — museums, the Christian attitude to life and people’s self-knowledge.”

He said Russia has destroyed nearly 200 Ukrainian cultural sites.

“Today, the invaders launched a missile strike at Odesa. At a city where almost every street has something memorable, something historical,” Zelenskyy said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “should remind every state and every nation that it is impossible to defeat evil once and for all,” Zelenskyy said.

The United Nations, which is leading the civilian rescue effort at the Mariupol steel plant, along with the International Red Cross, is not confirming that the operation has ended.

While under heavy bombardment at the steel plant, fighters and civilians have been trapped for weeks in deep bunkers and tunnels that crisscross the site, with little food, water or medicine.

Russian forces backed by tanks and artillery tried again Saturday to storm Azovstal, Ukraine’s military command said, part of an assault to dislodge the last Ukrainian defenders in the strategic port city on the north coast of the Sea of Azov.

Mariupol has been left in ruins by weeks of Russian bombardment, and the steel mill has been largely destroyed.

The World Health Organization is gathering evidence for a possible war crimes investigation. The agency said Saturday it has documented Russian attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine.

The Reuters news agency reported that WHO Emergencies Director Mike Ryan, on an unannounced visit to Ukraine with WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told reporters of the explicit responsibility of warring parties to avoid attacking health facilities, yet the WHO had documented 200 attacks on hospitals and clinics.

“Intentional attacks on health care facilities are a breach of international humanitarian law and as such — based on investigation and attribution of the attack — represent war crimes in any situation,” Ryan said.

“We continue to document and bear witness to these attacks … and we trust that the U.N. system and the International Criminal Court and others will take the necessary investigations in order to assess the criminal intent behind these attacks,” Ryan said.

Russia has denied previous accusations by Ukraine and Western nations of possible war crimes and of targeting civilians in the war.

Russia’s most senior lawmaker Saturday accused Washington of coordinating military operations in Ukraine, which he said amounted to direct U.S. involvement in military action against Russia.

“Washington is essentially coordinating and developing military operations, thereby directly participating in military actions against our country,” Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on his Telegram channel.

Reuters reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin will send a “doomsday” message to the West on the Monday holiday, but a Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said Friday that Russia has no intention of deploying tactical nuclear weapons to Ukraine.

“Russia firmly abides by the principle that there can be no victors in a nuclear war, and it must not be unleashed,” Alexei Zaitsev said.

Elsewhere in eastern Europe. U.S. first lady Jill Biden was in Slovakia Sunday. She visited a refugee center for Ukrainians housed in a bus station. The first lady had a long conversation with Viktoце Kutocha and her 7-year-old daughter, Yulie. Viktoue Kutocha talked about leaving Ukraine, and how “cruel” the Russian attacks were.

Later, at a school, Biden met with mothers and their children in a Mother’s Day activity.

Biden traveled to eastern Europe to show support for U.S. troops and Ukraine.

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

Posted by Ukrap on

Перші леді Олена Зеленська та Джилл Байден зустрілися в Ужгороді

За словами першої леді США, вона хотіла відвідати Україну саме 8 травня, коли світ відзначає День матері

Posted by Worldkrap on

Motherhood Deferred: US Median Age for Giving Birth Hits 30

For Allyson Jacobs, life in her 20s and 30s was about focusing on her career in health care and enjoying the social scene in New York City. It wasn’t until she turned 40 that she and her husband started trying to have children. They had a son when she was 42.

Over the past three decades, that has become increasingly common in the U.S., as birthrates have declined for women in their 20s and jumped for women in their late 30s and early 40s, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. The trend has pushed the median age of U.S. women giving birth from 27 to 30, the highest on record.

As an older parent celebrating Mother’s Day on Sunday, Jacobs feels she has more resources for her son, 9, than she would have had in her 20s.

“There’s definitely more wisdom, definitely more patience,” said Jacobs, 52, who is a patients’ services administrator at a hospital. “Because we are older, we had the money to hire a nanny. We might not have been able to afford that if we were younger.”

While fertility rates dropped from 1990 to 2019 overall, the decline was regarded as rather stable compared to previous eras. But the age at which women had babies shifted. Fertility rates declined by almost 43% for women between ages 20 and 24 and by more than 22% for women between 25 and 29. At the same time, they increased by more than 67% for women between 35 and 39, and by more than 132% for women between 40 and 44, according to the Census Bureau analysis based on National Center for Health Statistics data.

Decisions by college-educated women to invest in their education and careers so they could be better off financially when they had children, as well as the desire by working-class women to wait until they were more financially secure, have contributed to the shift toward older motherhood, said Philip Cohen, a University of Maryland sociologist.

In the past, parents often relied on their children for income — putting them to work in the fields, for example, when the economy was more farm-based. But over the last century or more in the U.S., parents have become more invested in their children’s futures, providing more support while they go to school and enter young adulthood, he said.

“Having children later mostly puts women in a better position,” Cohen said. “They have more resources, more education. The things we demand of people to be good parents are easier to supply when you are older.”

Lani Trezzi, 48, and her husband had their first child, a son, when she was 38, and a daughter followed three years later. Even though she had been with her husband since she was 23, she felt no urgency to have children. That changed in her late 30s, once she’d reached a comfortable spot in her career as an executive for a retail company.

“It was just an age when I felt confident all around in the many areas of my life,” said Trezzi, who lives in New Jersey, outside New York City. “I didn’t have the confidence then that I have now.”

Over the last three decades, the largest increases in the median age at which U.S. women give birth have been among foreign-born women, going from ages 27 to 32, and Black women, going from ages 24 to 28, according to the Census Bureau.

With foreign-born women, Cohen said he wasn’t quite sure why the median age increased over time, but it likely was a “complicated story” having to do with their circumstances or reasons for coming to the U.S.

For Black women, pursuing an education and career played roles.

“Black women have been pursuing higher education at higher rates,” said Raegan McDonald-Mosley, an obstetrician and gynecologist, who is CEO of Power to Decide, which works to reduce teen pregnancies and unwanted births. “Black women are becoming really engaged in their education and that is an incentive to delay childbearing.”

Since unintended pregnancies are highest among teens and women in their 20s, and more of their pregnancies end in abortion compared to older women, ending Roe v. Wade would likely shift the start of childbearing earlier on average, in a reverse of the trend of the past three decades, “although the magnitude is unknown,” said Laura Lindberg, principal research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

“The burden will fall disproportionately on women of color, Black women, people without documentation, people living in rural areas, people in the South — where there are a lot of Black women — and in the Midwest,” said McDonald-Mosley, who also has served previously as chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Motherhood also has been coming later in developed countries in Europe and Asia. In the U.S., it could contribute to the nation’s population slowdown since the ability to have children tends to decrease with age, said Kate Choi, a family demographer at Western University in London, Ontario.

In areas of the U.S. where the population isn’t replacing itself with births, and where immigration is low, population decline can create labor shortages, higher labor costs and a labor force that is supporting retirees, she said.

“Such changes will put significant pressure on programs aimed at supporting seniors like Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare,” Choi said. “Workers may have to pay higher taxes to support the growing numbers of the retired population.”

Although the data in the Census Bureau report stops in 2019, the pandemic over the past two years has put off motherhood even further for many women, with U.S. birth rates in 2020 dropping 4% in the largest single-year decrease in nearly 50 years. Choi said there appears to have been a bit of a rebound in the second half of 2021 to levels similar to 2019, but more data is needed to determine if this is a return to a “normal” decline.

During the pandemic, some women at the end of their reproductive years may have given up on becoming parents or having more children because of economic uncertainties and greater health risks for pregnant women who get the virus, she said.

“These women may have missed their window to have children,” Choi said. “Some parents of young children may have decided to forego the second … birth because they were overwhelmed with the additional child-caring demands that emerged during the pandemic, such as the need to homeschool their children.”

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As Conflict and Climate Change Bite, Are High Food Prices Here to Stay?

Food prices around the world have soared to record levels this year as the Russia-Ukraine war slashes key exports of wheat and fertilizer from those countries, at the same time as droughts, floods and heat fueled by climate change claim more harvests.

Wheat prices hit a 14-year peak in March, and maize prices reached the highest ever recorded, the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES) said in a report released on Friday.

That has made basic staples more expensive – or harder to find – for families in many countries, especially the poorest.

Climate change, widespread poverty and conflicts are now combining to create “endemic and widespread” risks to global food security – which means higher food prices may be the new normal, unless action is taken to curb the threats, IPES noted.

It suggests not only cutting emissions swiftly to limit climate change but also tackling commodity speculation, giving debt relief, cutting reliance on chemical fertilizers, reshaping trade and shoring up national grain reserves.

If these things are neglected, the world will find itself “sleepwalking into the catastrophic and systematic food crises of the future”, the IPES experts noted.

Why are food prices so high right now?

Russia and Ukraine supply about 30% of global wheat exports, but those have fallen as a result of the conflict.

National stocks of wheat – mostly eaten in the countries where it is grown – remain relatively high, said Brigitte Hugh of the U.S. Center for Climate and Security.

But the drop in exports from Russia and Ukraine has driven up competition for the remaining wheat on the global market, leading to higher costs that are particularly painful for poorer, debt-ridden countries that rely heavily on imports.

Almost 40% of Africa’s wheat imports come from Ukraine and Russia, while rising global wheat prices have sent bread prices in Lebanon 70% higher, IPES said.

But the disruption to wheat exports from Russia and Ukraine is not the whole reason for the price hikes, which have spilled over into maize, rice and soy markets as buyers seek alternative grains.

Spurred by the conflict, financial speculators have leapt into trading in grain futures, for instance, “artificially” inflating prices as they seek to profit from market uncertainty, G7 agriculture ministers have complained.

Since the last food price crises of 2007-2008 and 2011-2012, “governments have failed to curb excessive speculation and ensure transparency of food stocks and commodity markets,” said Jennifer Clapp, a professor specialized in food security at Canada’s University of Waterloo.

The problem “must be urgently addressed” if the world wants to ensure more stable food prices in coming years as climate change, conflict and other threats drive up risks, she added.

Can’t more food be grown to boost global supplies?

Some wheat-growing countries are already planting more, and India has said it will boost exports of wheat to meet demand, although its current heatwave could dent yields, the London-based Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit warned.

But efforts to boost production globally have been hampered by shortages of chemical fertilizer. Russia and Belarus produced 40% of international potash exports last year and that trade has also been hit by the war.

Climate change impacts – from droughts and heatwaves to flooding and new pests – also are making it harder for farmers in many parts of the world to get a reliable crop, a problem set to worsen as planet-heating emissions continue to rise.

As well, the land available to plant more wheat, maize and rice is limited, with expansion of farmland – particularly in countries such as Brazil – often coming at the expense of forests that are key to keeping the climate stable.

With a limited supply of land under increasing pressure from those trying to grow food, protect nature, install renewable energy and store carbon, land may become the strategic global asset of this century, said Tim Benton, research director of the environment and society program at think-tank Chatham House.

A desire to control more Ukrainian farmland – and more of the future global food market – could even be one of the drivers of Russia’s invasion, he noted.

What could help keep food affordable?

Because a large share of the world’s grain goes to feeding livestock, persuading people to eat less meat and dairy could boost grain supplies dramatically, said Pierre-Marie Aubert, an agriculture expert at France’s Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations.

The global shortage of cereals on export markets this year is expected to be 20-25 million tonnes – but if Europeans alone cut their consumption of animal products by 10%, they could reduce demand by 18-19 million tonnes, he noted.

Improving grain storage, particularly in countries highly reliant on imports, and helping those countries grow more staple food at home – not the cash crops for export that have often replaced staples – could also help, food experts said.

And globally, planting a wider variety of crops in order to reduce dependence on just a few grains, with markets dominated by a small number of exporters, could boost food security.

Policy shifts – like Africa’s new continental free trade area – could eventually allow some poorer nations to reduce their dependence on distant producers and fragile supply chains, said Sithembile Mwamakamba of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN).

In addition, investing in climate-smart farming, to protect harvests as the planet warms, would help shore up global food supplies, while providing debt relief could give the poorest countries more fiscal space to manage food price fluctuations.

What happens if food prices continue to rise?

As food prices soar on world markets, humanitarian agencies are struggling to buy grain for hungry people in conflict-hit places like Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan and Syria.

The international aid system was already “overwhelmed” by rising need and inadequate funding before the Russia-Ukraine war, and now high prices mean less grain can be bought, said Gernot Laganda, the climate and disaster risk reduction chief at the U.N. World Food Program.

“It has never been this bad,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. He fears that, as climate change adds to existing food security threats, price hikes are “a runaway train you can’t stop”.

Worse, as costly food threatens to stoke political unrest and eat up government funds, it could derail efforts to curb climate change and build resilience to its impacts, driving a vicious cycle of ever more poverty, unrest and hunger, he warned.

Benton of Chatham House said the Russia-Ukraine war may trigger a landmark shift in food prices.

“The end of cheap and highly available food, for some people, is going to be very much the reality,” he noted.

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Ukraine President Attends Virtual Meeting with G7 Leaders

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is meeting virtually Sunday with the Group of 7 leaders, who head the world’s largest economies.

The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Germany and the United States are meeting with the Ukrainian leader to show their support for Ukraine as it fights off a Russian invasion that began in February. The G-7 has pledged billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine.

Sunday’s meeting is a day ahead of Russia’s annual Victory Day celebration, commemorating the 77th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. The holiday is celebrated across Russia with military parades.

Ukrainian officials had warned its citizens to expect increased shelling in the lead-up to Monday’s celebrations in Russia.

In his daily address Saturday, Zelenskyy decried Russia’s bombing of a museum in the Kharkiv region dedicated to 18th century philosopher and poet Hryhorii Skovoroda.

Zelenskyy said Skovoroda was a man who “taught people what a true Christian attitude to life is and how a person can get to know himself.”

Zelenskyy said, “Well, it seems that this is a terrible danger for modern Russia — museums, the Christian attitude to life and people’s self-knowledge.”

He said Russia has destroyed nearly 200 Ukrainian cultural sites.

“Today, the invaders launched a missile strike at Odesa. At a city where almost every street has something memorable, something historical,” Zelenskyy said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “should remind every state and every nation that it is impossible to defeat evil once and for all,” Zelenskyy said.

Ukrainian officials said Sunday up to 60 people are presumed dead after Russia bombed a school in the eastern Ukrainian village of Bilohorivka. Thirty people were rescued, and two bodies were recovered from the site that was being used as a bomb shelter.

All women, children and the elderly have been evacuated from the Mariupol steel works plant besieged by Russian forces, according to Anna Chernikova, a VOA reporter in Kyiv.

The Soviet-era steel mill of Azovstal, the last holdout in Mariupol for Ukrainian forces, has emerged as a symbol of resistance to the wider Russian effort to capture swathes of eastern and southern Ukraine in the 10-week-old war.

The United Nations, which is leading the rescue effort, along with the International Red Cross, is not confirming that the operation has ended.

While under heavy bombardment at the steel plant, fighters and civilians have been trapped for weeks in deep bunkers and tunnels that crisscross the site, with little food, water or medicine.

Russian forces backed by tanks and artillery tried again Saturday to storm Azovstal, Ukraine’s military command said, part of a ferocious assault to dislodge the last Ukrainian defenders in the strategic port city on the Sea of Azov.

Mariupol has been left in ruins by weeks of Russian bombardment, and the steel mill has been largely destroyed.

The World Health Organization is gathering evidence for a possible war crimes investigation.  The agency said Saturday it has documented Russian attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine.

Reuters reports that WHO Emergencies Director Mike Ryan, on an unannounced visit in Ukraine with WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told a news conference it was the explicit responsibility of warring parties to avoid attacking health facilities, yet the WHO had documented 200 attacks on hospitals and clinics in the country.

“Intentional attacks on health care facilities are a breach of international humanitarian law and as such — based on investigation and attribution of the attack — represent war crimes in any situation,” Ryan said.

“We continue to document and bear witness to these attacks … and we trust that the U.N. system and the International Criminal Court and others will take the necessary investigations in order to assess the criminal intent behind these attacks.”

Russia has denied previous accusations by Ukraine and Western nations of possible war crimes and has also denied targeting civilians in the war.

Ryan said the 200 cases did not represent the totality of attacks on Ukrainian medical facilities, only those the WHO had verified. Kyiv has said there have been around 400 such attacks since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s armed forces Saturday released footage said to show a Russian landing ship being destroyed near Snake Island.

Satellite images taken early Saturday by Planet Labs PBC showed what appeared to be a Serna-class landing ship near Snake Island’s northern beach.

That corresponds with the video released by the Ukrainian military said to show a Bayraktar TB2 drone striking it, engulfing the vessel in flames.

Striking Snake Island would impede Russia’s efforts to control the Black Sea.

Russia’s most senior lawmaker Saturday accused Washington of coordinating military operations in Ukraine which he said amounted to direct U.S. involvement in military action against Russia.

“Washington is essentially coordinating and developing military operations, thereby directly participating in military actions against our country,” Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on his Telegram channel.

Reuters reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin will send a “doomsday” message to the West on May 9.

A Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson said Friday that Russia has no intention of deploying tactical nuclear weapons to Ukraine.

“Russia firmly abides by the principle that there can be no victors in a nuclear war, and it must not be unleashed,” Alexei Zaitsev said.

Elsewhere in Eastern Europe. U.S. first lady Jill Biden is in Slovakia on Sunday where she visited a refugee center for Ukrainians housed in a bus station. She had a long conversation with Viktoце  Kutocha and her 7-year-old daughter, Yulie. Viktoue Kutocha talked about leaving Ukraine, and how “cruel” the Russian attacks are.

Later, at a school, the first lady interacted with mothers and their children in a Mother’s Day activity.

Biden is in Eastern Europe to show support for U.S. troops and Ukraine.

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

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Мер Львова: з міста їхати не треба, подбайте про укриття

«Нікуди з міста їхати не треба. Не витрачайте пальне. Краще подбайте про укриття на випадок тривоги»

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У Запоріжжі вшанували пам’ять захисників України

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Президентка Бундестагу прибула до Києва

«Голова Бундестагу Бербель Бас розпочинає свій візит до Києва. 8 травня вона вшанує пам’ять всіх жертв Другої світової війни і тиранії націонал-соціалістів і проведе політичні переговори»

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What They Wore: Amish Country Exhibit Spotlights Sex Abuse

Clotheslines with billowing linens and long dresses are a common sight on the off-grid farms of Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, home to the nation’s largest Amish settlement. For many tourists they’re as iconic a part of Amish Country’s bucolic scenery as the rural lanes and wooden bridges.

But for two days in late April, a clothesline with a different purpose was strung in a small indoor exhibit here. Hanging from it were 13 outfits representing the trauma of sexual assault suffered by members of the Amish, Mennonite and similar groups, a reminder that the modest attire they require, particularly of women and girls, is no protection.

Each garment on display was either the actual one a survivor wore at the time they were assaulted, or a replica assembled by volunteers to match the strict dress codes of the survivor’s childhood church.

One was a long-sleeved, periwinkle blue Amish dress with a simple stand collar. The accompanying sign said, “Survivor Age: 4 years old.”

Next to it was a 5-year-old’s heavy coat, hat and long, hunter green dress, displayed above sturdy black shoes. “I was never safe and I was a child. He was an adult,” a sign quoted the survivor as saying. “No one helped me when I told them he hurt me.”

There was also an infant’s onesie.

“You feel rage when you get a tiny little outfit in the mail,” said Ruth Ann Brubaker of Wayne County, Ohio, who helped put the exhibit together. “I didn’t know I could be so angry. Then you start crying.”

The clothes on display represented various branches of the conservative Anabaptist tradition, which include Amish, Mennonite, Brethren and Charity. Often referred to as the Plain churches, they emphasize separation from mainstream society, church discipline, forgiveness and modest dress, including head coverings for women.

It was part of a larger conference on awareness of sexual abuse in the Plain churches held April 29-30 at Forest Hills Mennonite Church in Leola and sponsored by two advocacy organizations: A Better Way, based in Zanesville, Ohio, and Safe Communities, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Hope Anne Dueck, the executive director of A Better Way and one of the exhibit’s organizers, said many survivors report being told things such as “If you had been wearing your head covering, then you probably wouldn’t have been assaulted,” or “You couldn’t have been dressed modestly enough.”

“And as a survivor myself,” Dueck said, “I knew that that was not the truth.”

“You can be harmed no matter what you’re wearing,” she said. Those who contributed to the exhibit “were wearing what their parents and the church prescribed, and wearing them correctly, and were still assaulted.”

The exhibit was based on similar ones that have been staged at college campuses and elsewhere in recent years called What Were You Wearing? They show a wide range of attire with the aim of shattering the myth that sexual assault can be blamed on what a victim had on.

Current and former members of plain-dressing religious communities — not just the Anabaptists but others such as Holiness, an offshoot of Methodism with an emphasis on piety — agreed last year that it was time to hold their own version.

“At the end of the day, it was never about the clothes,” said Mary Byler, a survivor of child sexual abuse in the Amish communities where she grew up. Byler, who founded the Colorado-based group The Misfit Amish to bridge cultural gaps between the Amish and the wider society, helped to organize the exhibit.

“I hope it helps survivors know that they’re not alone,” she said.

Survivors were invited to submit their outfits or descriptions of them. All but one provided children’s attire, mostly girls and one boy, reflecting their age when they were assaulted. The lone adult outfit belonged to a woman who was raped by her husband shortly after giving birth, Dueck said.

Organizers plan to have high-quality photos made of the clothes to display online and in future exhibits.

Plain church leaders have acknowledged in recent years that sexual abuse is a problem in their communities and have held seminars to raise awareness.

But advocates say they need to do more, and that some leaders continue to treat abuse cases as matters of church discipline rather than as crimes to be reported to civil authorities.

Dozens of offenders from Plain church affiliations have been convicted of sexually abusing children in the past two decades, according to a review of court files in several states. Several church leaders have been convicted for failing to report abuse, including an Amish bishop in Lancaster County in 2020.

Researchers and organizers at the conference said they are surveying current and former Plain community members to gather concrete data on what they believe is a pervasive problem.

But the display made a powerful statement on its own, said Darlene Shirk, a Mennonite from Lancaster County.

“We talk about statistics … but when you have something physical here, and because the dress is from the Plain community, it shouts, ‘Look, this is happening in our community!’” she said.

Advocates say that in the male-led Plain churches, where forgiveness is taught as a paramount virtue, people are often pressured to reconcile with their abusers or their children’s abusers.

Byler said that in the 18 years since she reported her sexual assaults to civil authorities, she has heard more stories of abuse in the Plain churches than she can count.

Survivors are often isolated from their communities and met with “very victim-blaming statements,” she said.

“Child sexual assault and sexual assault is something that happens … inside of communities from every walk and way of life,” Byler said.

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Ukrainians Fleeing Mariupol Reach Safety in Zaporizhzhia

Ukrainians are finding different ways to leave the areas under heavy fire along the southern front line of the Russian-Ukrainian war.

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Latest Developments in Ukraine: May 8

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.: Kyiv’s mayor says it’ll probably be safer for residents to return to the city after Monday, which is Russia’s Victory Day, The Washington Post reports.

Victory Day marks the Soviet Union’s 1945 victory over Nazi Germany, and there are fears that Russia may use the holiday as a reason to ramp up attacks on Ukraine.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko says about 2.2 million of the city’s normal 3.5 million residents remain.

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