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Israeli-Iranian Movie, Filmed Undercover to Avoid Suspicion, Premiers in Venice

The first production co-directed by Iranian and Israeli filmmakers had to be shot in secret to prevent possible interference by Tehran, directors Zar Amir Ebrahimi and Guy Nattiv told Reuters Sunday.

“Tatami,” a tense thriller centered on a world judo championship, got its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival at the weekend, receiving a standing ovation.

The film takes place over the course of the single day of competition as an Iranian judoka champion, played by Farsi-speaking U.S. actress Arienne Mandi, is ordered to fake an injury to avoid a possible match-up with an Israeli competitor.

Amir Ebrahimi and Nattiv shot the movie in Georgia, a country Iranians can easily visit. They stayed in separate hotels, spoke English and did not let on that they were making such a politically charged film.

“I knew there are many Iranians there, so we were trying to keep it calm and secret,” said Amir Ebrahimi, who is an award-winning actress and stars in the film, playing the judoka’s increasingly terrified trainer.

“We were undercover. We knew it was a dangerous thing,” said Nattiv, whose previous movie “Golda” premiered at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.

Iran does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and has banned its athletes from competing against Israelis.

In an incident that inspired “Tatami,” the International Judo Federation in 2021 gave Iran a four-year ban for pressuring one of its fighters not to face an Israeli.


Amir Ebrahimi, who won the best actress award in Cannes in 2022 for “Holy Spider,” fled Iran in 2008 for fear of imprisonment and lashings after a private video of her was leaked.

She said she had to take time to think through the possible consequences before accepting Nattiv’s offer to make the film.

“What I have learnt about the Iranian government is that as long as you are afraid, they can arrest you, they can kill you, they can make trouble around you. But as long as you are not afraid … it is going to be fine,” she said.

The film was shot in black and white, using a tight, 4:3 format, like for old television programs.

“These women are living in a black and white world. There are no colors. The box is the claustrophobic world they live in. That is the one thing they want to break. They want their freedom,” Nattiv said.

Children growing up in Iran were made to fear Israel as an implacable enemy, Amir Ebrahimi said – something Nattiv said was also happening in his own homeland, with Iran portrayed as an existential threat.

Nattiv revealed he had helped Amir Ebrahimi pay a clandestine visit to Israel, something that Tehran absolutely forbids for its citizens.

“I loved it. We could be from the same nation, the same family, we are the same,” said Amir Ebrahimi.

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Biden, Trump Keeping Light Campaign Schedules as Rivals Rack Up Stops

Their rivals are busy answering voters’ questions at town halls across South Carolina, glad-handing with business owners in New Hampshire and grinding to hit every one of Iowa’s 99 counties.

But the front-runners for their party’s nomination, former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, are barely campaigning in crucial early-voting states as the primary season enters the fall rush.

Biden is attending a union parade in Philadelphia on Monday. But he has held just one campaign rally in the four-plus months since he formally launched his 2024 reelection bid. Trump, who complained of Biden’s “basement strategy” in 2020, has not campaigned for three weeks now, last appearing at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 12.

The schedules underscore the reality that Democrat Biden and Republican Trump, despite underwater approval ratings nationally, are the dominant front-runners. Biden faces only token opposition in anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is viewed more favorably by Republicans than Democrats, while Trump is currently beating his closest rival by large margins, according to recent polls.

“When you have a massive lead over your primary opponents, it doesn’t seem like a lot of point,” said veteran Republican pollster Whit Ayres, speaking about the early-state campaigning typical at this stage of a race.

Biden and Trump have worked to project an air of inevitability four months before voting begins in 2024. Biden has focused on governing and traveling the country to promote his policy accomplishments. Trump repeatedly skips events with other candidates and passed on the first Republican primary debate last month.

But both have different reasons for their relative absence from campaigning.

Trump’s team has been consumed by the criminal charges he now faces in four separate jurisdictions accusing him of illegally trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election, improperly classifying hush money payments in business records, mishandling classified documents after leaving office and trying to obstruct that investigation.

Trump has complained that the looming trials will force from campaigning.

“I’m sorry, I won’t be able to go to Iowa today, I won’t be able to go to New Hampshire today because I’m sitting in a courtroom on bull——,” he said during his last visit to New Hampshire, in August.

For now, Trump’s bookings and arraignments have actually served as his highest-profile campaign events.

His trips to jails and courthouses in New York, Miami, Washington and Atlanta have dominated coverage of the race, with his movements tracked by news helicopters and broadcast live on television and across the internet. His historic mug shot, now featured on T-shirts, mugs and posters, helped his campaign raise more than $20 million in August alone.

Aides say his schedule will ramp up after the Labor Day weekend, with trips this coming week to Iowa and South Dakota — neither is a key primary or general election state — and California after that. He has also been busy behind the scenes. Beyond golfing and meetings with his lawyers, Trump has called into conservative podcasts, taped videos he releases on his Truth Social network and attended fundraisers, both at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and in other states.

Last month, he traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, for a fundraiser that drew several hundreds, including musicians Kid Rock and John Rich and the former NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip, according to a person who attended but asked to remain anonymous to discuss the private gathering at the Four Seasons hotel.

This past week, Trump hosted the families of members of the military who died during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. The week before, he held a fundraiser for the Patriot Freedom Project, a group that supports those who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Watch related video by Veronica Balderas Iglesias:

Aides say he has also focused on relationship building, calling party officials and recording videos for state and county party events. Such efforts, they say, have helped him earn endorsements from senators, members of Congress and statewide officials.

“We do a lot of fundraising out of state, at Bedminster, calls. There’s a lot that goes into running a campaign that’s not in front of the camera,” said Trump senior adviser Chris LaCivita.

They have also acknowledged the large-scale rallies that were the signature of his past campaigns — and which he was doing weekly at this point in 2015 — are expensive, especially as the former president’s political operation has been diverting tens of millions of dollars to spend on legal fees defending him and his allies. In place of the rallies, Trump has given speeches at events organized — and paid for — by state parties, and made unadvertised stops at local restaurants, where he interacts with supporters.

In early-voting New Hampshire, Mike Dennehy, a veteran Republican strategist, said he thinks Trump “is doing the bare minimum necessary for him to maintain his lead.” At the same time, Trump’s broader campaign “is working very hard, harder than they have worked in the history of Donald Trump campaigns,” Dennehy said.

“The contenders in the Republican primary are not giving Donald Trump much of a contest. So he has the luxury of just doing enough to maintain his lead,” he said.

Biden has campaigned even less.

The president championed a Democratic National Committee effort to make South Carolina the party’s leadoff state in its 2024 presidential primary, breaking with Republicans who are still starting in Iowa. But Biden has not visited South Carolina as a 2024 candidate.

Biden’s reelection campaign says his approach mirrors that of past incumbents, including Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Biden is frequently promoting his policy achievements but keeping campaign costs low, while working with national and state Democrats to bolster staff and data operations so that they will be in place when the race heats up next year.

The president has attended fundraisers around the country for his reelection campaign and visited battleground states such as Arizona on official business. Sometimes, he has gone to Republican bastions, including Utah, Texas and Alabama.

Once there, he often blurs the line between politics and the presidency, celebrating things such as the bipartisan infrastructure law approved by Congress last year, while chiding Republicans for opposing a green energy and health care package that he argues is creating jobs and lower costs for Americans.

“You get great credit for doing your job and people tend to listen to you more when you’re not talking about your own reelection but you’re just talking about enacting something that’s good for the country,” said Ed Rendell, a former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania. “That’s a real advantage. The incumbent can just go on being the incumbent.”

Biden’s Labor Day travels are taking him back to Philadelphia, site of his lone campaign rally. It was at the city’s convention center, where some of the country’s largest unions paid for a June event after announcing that they had banded together for the first time to offer a joint endorsement of Biden.

A return to Pennsylvania recalls the pandemic-marred 2020 campaign, when Biden visited the state more than any other. Even though he was a senator from Delaware, Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and still frequently talks about his Keystone State roots.

“I think it’s indicative of a campaign that is not forgetting the lessons that were learned in 2020, when Pennsylvania got so much attention – even in the limited campaigning,” said Mike Mikus, a longtime Democratic consultant based in Pittsburgh. “If you take it for granted you could lose it.”

Of course, focusing too much on one state can create gaps elsewhere. The most glaring example was Hillary Clinton not campaigning in Wisconsin after the 2016 Democratic primary and narrowly losing the state to Trump. But Ben Wikler, chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, noted that Biden’s first trip as president was to Wisconsin.

“This election cycle feels like the exact opposite of 2016,” Wikler said. Referring to the traditional Democratic “blue wall” of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, he added, “This is an administration that understands to its core that bolstering the blue wall is the path to reelection in 2024.”

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Israeli PM Pitches Fiber Optic Cable Idea to Link Asia, Middle East to Europe

Israel’s prime minister floated the idea Sunday of building infrastructure projects such as a fiber optic cable linking countries in Asia and the Arabian Peninsula with Europe through Israel and Cyprus.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he’s “quite confident” such an infrastructure “corridor” linking Asia to Europe through Israel and Cyprus is feasible.

He said such projects could happen if Israel normalizes relations with other countries in the region. The 2020 U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords normalized relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and the Biden administration is trying to establish official ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

“An example and the most obvious one is a fiber optic connection. That’s the shortest route. It’s the safest route. It’s the most economic route,” Netanyahu said after talks with Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides.

The Israeli leader’s pitch is itself an extension of proposed energy links with Cyprus and Greece as part of growing collaboration on energy in the wake of discoveries of significant natural gas deposits in the economic zones of both Israel and Cyprus.

Netanyahu repeated that he and Christodoulides are looking to follow through on plans for a 2,000-megawatt undersea electricity cable known as the EurAsia Interconnector connecting Israel with Cyprus and Greece that aims to act as an energy supply back-up for both Israel and Cyprus.

“You want to be connected to other sources of power that can allow a more optimal use of power or give you power when there is a failure in your own country,” Netanyahu said. “That is something that we’re discussing seriously, and we hope to achieve.”

Another energy link involves a Cypriot proposal to build a pipeline that would convey offshore natural gas from both Israel and Cyprus to the east Mediterranean island nation where it would be fuel for electricity generators or potentially be liquefied for export by ship.

Christodoulides said given Europe’s need for energy diversification considering Russia’s war in Ukraine, Cyprus and Israel are looking to developing “a reliable energy corridor” linking the East Mediterranean basin to Europe through projects including gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing plants.

Netanyahu said his government fully backs a European decision to create a regional firefighting hub in Cyprus from which aircraft and other technology could be dispatched to help put out fires in neighboring countries.

“The climate isn’t going to get cooler. It’s going to get hotter. And with, you know, with the heating up of our region and the globe, firefighting becomes a really important thing. We can — I think we can — do it better together,” the Israeli leader said.

Talks between Christodoulides and Netanyahu precede a trilateral meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday.

Since 2016 such meetings between the leaders of the three countries have become a staple of what they said are burgeoning ties that Netanyahu described as “a deep friendship, both personal, but also between our nations” that is “real” and “long overdue.”

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«Днів 3-4 ніхто не розумів, що сталося» – ГУР вперше показало російського пілота, який перегнав Мі-8 в Україну

У відео льотчик, якого називають Максим Кузьмінов, розповів, як він перелетів з території РФ в Україну і чому це зробив

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Повітряні сили ЗСУ попередили про ймовірний запуск військами РФ «шахедів»

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Could Third-Party Run Alter Presidential Race for Biden, Trump?

Currently, the odds seem high for an election rematch between incumbent U.S. President Joe Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump. However, some politicians are leaving the door open to entering the race. VOA’s Veronica Balderas Iglesias, has the story.

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Зеленський повідомив про «дуже важливу домовленість» щодо навчання українських пілотів у Франції

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From Strikes to New Union Contracts, Labor Day’s Organizing Roots Are Especially Strong This Year

Labor Day is right around the corner, along with the big sales and barbecues that come with it. But the activist roots of the holiday are especially visible this year as unions challenge how workers are treated — from Hollywood to the auto production lines of Detroit.

The early-September tribute to workers has been an official holiday for almost 130 years — but an emboldened labor movement has created an environment closer to the era from which Labor Day was born. Like the late 1800s, workers are facing rapid economic transformation — and a growing gap in pay between themselves and new billionaire leaders of industry, mirroring the stark inequalities seen more than a century ago.

“There’s a lot of historical rhyming between the period of the origins of Labor Day and today,” Todd Vachon, an assistant professor in the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, told The Associated Press. “Then, they had the Carnegies and the Rockefellers. Today, we have the Musks and the Bezoses. … It’s a similar period of transition and change and also of resistance — of working people wanting to have some kind of dignity.”

Between writers and actors on strike, contentious contract negotiations that led up to a new labor deal for 340,000 unionized UPS workers and active picket lines across multiple industries, the labor in Labor Day is again at the forefront of the holiday arguably more than it has been in recent memory.

Here are some things to know about Labor Day this year.

When was the first Labor Day observed?

The origins of Labor Day date back to the late 19th century, when activists first sought to establish a day that would pay tribute to workers.

The first U.S. Labor Day celebration took place in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882. Some 10,000 workers marched in a parade organized by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor.

A handful of cities and states began to adopt laws recognizing Labor Day in the years that followed, yet it took more than a decade before President Grover Cleveland signed a congressional act in 1894 establishing the first Monday of September as a legal holiday.

Canada’s Labour Day became official that same year, more than two decades after trade unions were legalized in the country.

The national holidays were established during a period of pivotal actions by organized labor. In the U.S., Vachon points to the Pullman Railroad Strike that began in May 1894, which effectively shut down rail traffic in much of the country.

“The federal government intervened to break the strike in a very violent way — that left more than a dozen workers dead,” Vachon says. Cleveland soon made Labor Day a national holiday in an attempt “to repair the trust of the workers.”

A broader push from organized labor had been in the works for some time. Workers demanded an 8-hour workday in 1886 during the deadly Haymarket Affair in Chicago, notes George Villanueva, an associate professor of communication and journalism at Texas A&M University. In commemoration of that clash, May Day was established as a larger international holiday, he said.

Part of the impetus in the U.S. to create a separate federal holiday was to shift attention away from May Day — which had been more closely linked with socialist and radical labor movements in other countries, Vachon said.

How has Labor Day evolved over the years?

The meaning of Labor Day has changed a lot since that first parade in New York City.

It’s become a long weekend for millions that come with big sales, end-of-summer celebrations and, of course, a last chance to dress in white fashionably. Whether celebrations remain faithful to the holiday’s origins depends where you live.

New York and Chicago, for example, hold parades for thousands of workers and their unions. Such festivities aren’t practiced as much in regions where unionization has historically been eroded, Vachon said, or didn’t take a strong hold in the first place.

When Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, unions in the U.S. were largely contested and courts would often rule strikes illegal, Vachon said, leading to violent disputes. It wasn’t until the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 that private sector employees were granted the right to join unions. Later into the 20th century, states also began passing legislation to allow unionization in the public sector — but even today, not all states allow collective bargaining for public workers.

Rates of organized labor have been on the decline nationally for decades. More than 35% of private sector workers had a union in 1953 compared with about 6% today. Political leanings in different regions has also played a big roll, with blue states tending to have higher unionization rates.

Hawaii and New York had the highest rates of union membership in 2022, respectively, followed by Washington, California and Rhode Island, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nationwide, the number of both public and private sector workers belonging to unions actually grew by 273,000 thousand last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found. But the total workforce increased at an even faster rate — meaning the total percentage of those belonging to unions has fallen slightly. 

What labor actions are we seeing this year?

Despite this percentage dip, a reinvigorated labor movement is back in the national spotlight.


In Hollywood, screenwriters have been on strike for nearly four months — surpassing a 100-day work stoppage that ground many productions to a halt in 2007-2008. Negotiations are set to resume Friday. Actors joined the picket lines in July — as both unions seek better compensation and protections on the use of artificial intelligence.

Unionized workers at UPS threatened a mass walkout before approving a new contract last month that includes increased pay and safety protections for workers. A strike at UPS would have disrupted the supply chain nationwide. 

Last month, auto workers also overwhelmingly voted to give union leaders the authority to call strikes against Detroit car companies if a contract agreement isn’t reached by the Sept. 14 deadline. And flight attendants at American Airlines also voted to authorize a strike this week.

“I think there’s going to be definitely more attention given to labor this Labor Day than there may have been in many recent years,” Vachon said. Organizing around labor rights has “come back into the national attention. … And (workers) are standing up and fighting for it.” 

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У Швеції знову спалювали Коран – сталися заворушення, є затримані

Шведська поліція в неділю заарештувала двох людей і затримала близько 10 людей після заворушень, які спалахнули на протесті під час спалення Корану, повідомляє AFP.

Протест був організований біженцем з Іраку Салваном Момікою, чиї акції, які включали публічне осквернення мусульманської священної книги, викликали обурення на Близькому Сході.

Акція протесту відбулася на площі міста Мальме, де проживає велика кількість іммігрантів, і, за даними громадського мовника SVT, на неї прийшло близько 200 людей.

«Деякі глядачі засмутилися після того, як організатор спалив книгу», — йдеться в заяві поліції.

За даними правоохоронців, захід закінчився після того, як організатор пішов, але група людей залишилася на місці події. Близько 10 осіб затримали за порушення громадського порядку, ще двох заарештували за підозрою в масових заворушеннях.

Місцеві ЗМІ повідомили, що деякі глядачі кидали каміння в Моміку, а на відео з місця події видно, як деякі намагаються прорватися через кордон, перш ніж їх зупинила поліція. На іншому відео можна побачити чоловіка, який намагається зупинити поліцейську машину, яка вивозила Моміку з місця події, ставши перед нею.

Завдяки серії акцій Моміка викликав гнів, спрямований на Швецію, і дипломатичну напруженість між Швецією та кількома країнами Близького Сходу.

Уряд Швеції засудив осквернення Корану,  при цьому Стокгольм наголошує на  «захищеному конституцією праві на свободу зібрань, вираженню думок і демонстрацій».

У січні священну книгу мусульман було спалено перед посольством Туреччини на тлі переговорів щодо вступу Швеції та Фінляндії до НАТО.


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Americans Have Long Wanted The Perfect Endless Summer; Jimmy Buffett Offered Them One 

It seemed wistfully appropriate, somehow, that news of Jimmy Buffett’s death emerged at the beginning of the Labor Day weekend, the demarcation point of every American summer’s symbolic end. Because for so many, the 76-year-old Buffett embodied something they held onto ever so tightly as the world grew ever more complex: the promise of an eternal summer of sand, sun, blue salt water and gentle tropical winds.

He was the man whose studied devil-may-care attitude became a lifestyle and a multimillion-dollar business — a connecting filament between the suburbs and the Florida Keys and, beyond them, the Caribbean. From Margaritaville to the unspecified tropical paradise where he just wanted to eat cheeseburgers (“that American creation on which I feed”), he became a life’s-a-beach avatar for anyone working for the weekend and hoping to unplug — even in the decades before “unplugging” became a thing.

“It’s important to have as much fun as possible while we’re here. It balances out the times when the minefield of life explodes,” he posted last year.

The beach has stood in for informality and relaxation in American popular culture for more than a century, propelled by the early Miss America pageants on the Atlantic City boardwalk and the culturally appropriative “tiki” aesthetic that GIs brought back from the South Pacific after World War II. It gained steam with the Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello “Beach Blanket Bingo” years, the mainstreaming of surfing and beach-motel culture and the Beach Boys’ “California Girls.” And it continues unabated — just look to the dubious stylings of MTV’s “Jersey Shore.”

That train arrived at Margaritaville in the 1970s, and Buffett jumped aboard and became the conductor and chief engineer of its gently rebellious counterculture. He was hardly a critical darling, but he was, as he sang, “a pirate, 200 years too late” who believed that latitude directly impacted attitude. That accounted for a lot of the mass appeal.

These days, for every piece of the culture that made the shoreline or the tropical island a potentially dispiriting place to become unanchored — “The Beach” or “Lost” or even, heaven help us, “Gilligan’s Island” — there is a counterbalancing Buffett song right there to tell you that at the edge of the land you can find peace, or at least a chance at it.

There was of course “Margaritaville,” the song that launched a “Parrothead” empire, the one that prescribed taking time “watching the sun bake” and invoked “booze in the blender” and shrimp “beginnin’ to boil” (from which you can draw a direct line to the sensibility of seafood restaurant chains like Joe’s Crab Shack).

There was “Last Mango in Paris,” in which the singer had to “get out of the heat” to meet his hero, who told him to inhale all that life offers, and that even after that, “Jimmy, there’s still so much to be done.” There was “’Bama Breeze,” an ode to a bar along the Gulf Coast where “you’re one of our own” and, says the protagonist, “Good God, I feel at home down there.”

And there was “Come Monday,” in which a trip to do a gig in San Francisco — on Labor Day weekend, no less — became a meditation on city (“four lonely days in that brown LA haze”) vs. paradise (“that night in Montana”) and which he liked better.

Here was the funny thing, though: In that song, the unrepentantly inland Montana became his beach, his paradise of the moment. That was part of why he resonated: because the metaphorical Buffett beach could be pretty much anywhere that contained people looking for a bit of peace.

Just as country music spent decades building “country” from an actual geography into an entire state of mind, Buffett — whose roots were in country and folk — did the same thing with the beach. In his hands, it became an aesthetic as much as a place — the anti-city, where the backbreaking labor and the cubicle blues could be left behind for a realm where real people roamed. That’s been a deeply American trope from the beginning.

Americans have always romanticized the frontier — the edge of civilization, the place whose exploration defined them. But the frontier was, of course, a lonely and dangerous place. As Buffett rhapsodized, the sand-covered edge of the land that he so adored was also the edge of civilization — but only in the most appealing (and, not coincidentally, mostly apolitical) ways possible. In the universe of his songs, the beach was a safe frontier that you could explore if you wanted to. But you could also sit back in a straw hut and hat, sip a Corona, contemplate your navel and your sins — and be left alone.

In their 1998 book “The Beach: The History of Paradise on Earth,” Lena Lenček and Gideon Bosker trace the emergence of the beach as “a narcotic for holiday masses.” They write: “Before it could be transformed into a theater of pleasure, it had to be discovered, claimed and invented as a place apart from the messy business of survival.”

Buffett and his music — and the empire they begat — became pivotal figures in that claiming and invention. Through them, the off-the-grid sensibility and the loud-shirt aesthetic were vigorously mainstreamed and popularized.

All of his imagery, beach and beach-adjacent, shouted to us that there was a better, more relaxing way than regular daily life. It said that all those characters and people were waiting there for us with bare, sandy feet and cold beers and a bit of melancholy, and that we could jack into that sunny world and escape the monotony — for a long weekend or forever.

And therein lies a rub.

These days, summer ain’t what it used to be. With apologies to Buffett and the Beach Boys, the notion of an “endless summer” has a different, more unsettling connotation after these climate-change-inflected months of dangerous heat and devastating wildfires in places like Maui. Five years ago, even Paradise burned. So “watching the sun bake” has become a statement with multiple layers, and some of them are more rueful than relaxing.

Jimmy Buffett’s work was big on not reading too much into things. You could say, fairly, that his musical aesthetic was built around a three-word statement: Don’t overthink it. “Never meant to last,” he once sang. But as with most artists who echo resoundingly in the culture, his work — and, not incidentally, the legions of Parrotheads whose lifestyles he inspired — takes on additional dimensions when you pull the lens back and consider the broader shoreline.

That was true especially when the flip-flop fantasy collided with the reality that most people live. That collision took place at the intersection where Buffett was the most memorable, where the summer of the mind met the reality of the rest of the year. As he put it in “Son of a Son of a Sailor”: “The sea’s in my veins, my tradition remains. I’m just glad I don’t live in a trailer.”

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Swedish Police Arrest Two as Riot Breaks Out at Quran Burning Protest

Swedish police on Sunday arrested two people and detained around 10 people after a violent riot broke out at a protest involving a burning of the Quran, police said.

The protest was organized by Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika, whose protests — which have included public desecrations of the Muslim holy book — have sparked outrage across the Middle East.

Sunday’s protest was held in a square in the southern city of Malmo, which has a large immigrant population, and according to public broadcaster SVT around 200 people had showed up to watch.

“Some onlookers have shown upset feelings, after the organizer burned writings,” police said in a statement.

“The mood was at times heated,” the statement said, adding that a “violent riot” occurred at 1:45 pm (1145 GMT).

According to police, the event had ended after the organizer left but a group of people remained at the scene.

About 10 people were detained for disturbing the public order and another two were arrested, suspected of violent rioting.

Local media reported that some onlookers threw rocks at Momika, and video from the scene showed some trying to break through the cordon before being stopped by police.

In another video a man could be scene trying to stop the police car that transported Momika from the location by getting in front of it.

Through a series of demonstrations, Momika has sparked anger directed at Sweden and diplomatic tensions between Sweden and several Middle Eastern countries.

The Swedish government has condemned the desecrations of the Quran while noting the country’s constitutionally protected freedom of speech and assembly laws.

Iraqi protesters stormed the Swedish embassy in Baghdad twice in July, starting fires within the compound on the second occasion.

Swedish envoys have also been summoned in a slew of Middle Eastern nations. 

In mid-August, Sweden’s intelligence agency heightened its terror alert level to four on a scale of five, noting that Sweden had “gone from being considered a legitimate target for terrorist attacks to being considered a prioritized target.”

Sweden also decided to beef up border controls in early August.

In late August, neighboring Denmark — which has also seen a string of public desecrations of the Quran — said it plans to ban Quran burnings.

Sweden has meanwhile vowed to explore legal means of stopping protests involving the burning of texts in certain circumstances.

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Тарнавський: ЗСУ прорвали першу оборонну лінію Росії на Запоріжжі, друга лінія – слабша

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Bavaria’s Governor Leaves Deputy in Office Despite Furor Over Antisemitism Allegations

The governor of the German state of Bavaria said Sunday that he will let his deputy stay in office despite a furor that started with allegations he was responsible for an antisemitic flyer when he was a high school student 35 years ago.

Governor Markus Soeder, a leading figure in Germany’s center-right opposition, said he had concluded that it would be “disproportionate” to fire Hubert Aiwanger, his deputy and coalition partner, but Aiwanger needs to rebuild confidence with the Jewish community and others.

Bavaria is holding a state election in just over a month. Soeder’s decision drew sharp criticism from political opponents and a cautious response from a Jewish leader.

On Aug. 25, the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that, when Aiwanger was a teenager, he was suspected of producing a typewritten flyer calling for entries to a competition titled “Who is the biggest traitor to the fatherland?”

It listed, among other things, a “1st prize: A free flight through the chimney at Auschwitz.”

Aiwanger, 52, said last weekend that one or more copies of the flyer were found in his school bag but denied that he wrote it. His older brother came forward to claim that he had written it.

Aiwanger has acknowledged making unspecified mistakes in his youth and offered an apology but also portrayed himself as the victim of a “witch hunt.” He stuck to that tone on Sunday, saying at a campaign appearance that his opponents had failed with a “smear campaign” meant to weaken his conservative party.

The deputy governor’s crisis management has drawn widespread criticism, including from Soeder.

On Tuesday, Soeder demanded that Aiwanger answer a detailed questionnaire, and his deputy delivered the answers Friday. Soeder said he had a long conversation with Aiwanger on Saturday evening.

Over the past week, there was a steady drip of further allegations about Aiwanger’s behavior in his youth, including claims that he gave the Hitler salute, imitated the Nazi dictator and had Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in his school bag. Aiwanger described the latter as “nonsense,” said he didn’t remember ever giving the Hitler salute and did not rehearse Hitler’s speeches in front of the mirror.

On Thursday, Aiwanger said: “I deeply regret if I have hurt feelings by my behavior in relation to the pamphlet in question or further accusations against me from my youth. My sincere apologies go first and foremost to all the victims of the (Nazi) regime.”

Soeder told reporters in Munich that the apology was “overdue, but it was right and necessary.” He said that Aiwanger’s answers to his questions “weren’t all satisfactory,” but that he had distanced himself again from the flyer and given repeated assurances he didn’t write it.

“In the overall assessment — that there is no proof, that the matter is 35 years ago, and that nothing comparable has happened since — a dismissal would be disproportionate, from my point of view,” Soeder said.

But leaders of Bavaria’s governing coalition agreed “it is important that Hubert Aiwanger work on winning back lost trust,” and should hold talks with Jewish community leaders, Soeder added. He said that was discussed Sunday with Bavarian and German Jewish leaders.

One of them, Munich Jewish community leader Charlotte Knobloch, said in a statement that Aiwanger “must restore trust and make clear that his actions are democratically and legally steadfast.” She said recent days had been “an enormous strain.”

The allegations put Soeder, who is widely thought to have ambitions to challenge center-left Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the 2025 national election, in an awkward position.

Aiwanger leads the Free Voters, a party that is a conservative force in Bavaria but has no seats in Germany’s national parliament. He has been the state’s deputy governor and economy minister since 2018, when his party became the junior partner in a regional government under Bavaria’s long-dominant center-right Christian Social Union.

Soeder, the CSU leader, made clear again Sunday that he wants to continue the coalition with the Free Voters, a more or less like-minded party, after the Oct. 8 state election. He dismissed the idea of switching to a coalition with the environmentalist Greens.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser accused Soeder of putting political tactics first.

“Mr. Aiwanger has neither apologized convincingly nor been able to dispel the accusations convincingly,” she told the RND newspaper group. Instead, she said, he has styled himself as a victim “and doesn’t think for a second of those who still suffer massively from antisemitism.”

“That Mr. Soeder allows this damages the reputation of our country,” she added.

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Зеленський повідомив про розмову з Макроном – обговорили «конкретику щодо безпеки в Чорному морі»

Президент України Володимир Зеленський повідомив про телефонну розмову з лідером Франції Еммануелем Макроном – обговорювали, серед іншого, експорт українського зерна та безпеку в Чорному морі. 

«Детально обговорили ситуацію на полі бою, кожен із напрямків…Обговорили конкретику щодо безпеки в Чорному морі, нашого «зернового коридору», який має бути продовжений. Домовилися посилити взаємодію в захисті морських шляхів», – йдеться у дописі Зеленського у телеграмі.

Пресслужба Макрона наразі не повідомляє подробиць цієї розмови. 

17 липня Кремль заявив про припинення дії зернової угоди і про повернення до реалізації чорноморських домовленостей, як тільки російська частина зернової угоди буде виконана. Після цього Росія посилила атаки на Одещину, зокрема, портову інфраструктуру.

У ніч на 3 вересня армія РФ атакувала 25 дронами-камікадзе припортову інфраструктуру Подунав’я в Одеській області. 22 БПЛА українські військові збили, повідомили в Повітряних силах ЗСУ. 

Повідомляється, що внаслідок нічного удару є влучання у припортову інфраструктуру, внаслідок чого виникла пожежа, яку пожежники оперативно ліквідували. Відомо про двох постраждалих.


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Smugglers Steering Migrants Into Remote Arizona Desert, Posing New Border Patrol Challenges

Border Patrol agents ordered the young Senegalese men to wait in the scant shade of desert scrub brush while they loaded a more vulnerable group of migrants — a family with three young children from India — into a white van for the short trip in triple-degree heat to a canopied field intake center.

The migrants were among hundreds who have been trudging this summer in the scorching sun and through open storm gates in the border wall to U.S. soil, following a remote corridor in the sprawling Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument that’s among the most desolate and dangerous areas in the Arizona borderlands. Temperatures hit 47.7 degrees Celsius just as smugglers abruptly began steering migrants from Africa and Asia here to request asylum.

Suddenly, the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector, which oversees the area, in July became the busiest sector along the U.S-Mexico border for the first time since 2008. It’s seen migrants from faraway countries like Pakistan, China and Mauritania, where social media is drawing young people to the new route to the border that begins in Nicaragua. There are large numbers from Ecuador, Bangladesh and Egypt, as well as more traditional border crossers from Mexico and Central America.

“Right now we are encountering people from all over the world,” said Border Patrol Deputy Chief Justin De La Torre, of the Tucson Sector. “It has been a real emergency here, a real trying situation.”

The patrol is calling on other agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Transportation Security Administration, for help in getting migrants “out of the elements and into our processing centers as quickly as possible,” De La Torre said.

During a recent visit, Associated Press journalists saw close to 100 migrants arrive in just four hours at the border wall near Lukeville, Arizona, inside Organ Pipe, as temperatures hit 43.3 degrees Celsius. The next morning, several hundred more migrants lined up along the wall to turn themselves in.

“Welcome to America, that’s good person,” a young Senegalese man said in his limited English, beaming as he crunched across the desert floor after Tom Wingo, a humanitarian aid volunteer, gave him some water and snacks. “I am very, very happy for you.”

The storm gates in the towering steel wall have been open since mid-June because of rains during the monsoon season. Rushing water from heavy downpours can damage closed gates, the wall, a rocky border road, and flora and fauna. But migrants get in even when the gates are closed, sometimes by breaking locks or slipping through gaps in the wall.

Agents from the Border Patrol’s small Ajo Station a half hour’s drive north of the border encountered several large groups the first weekend of August, including one of 533 people from 17 countries in the area that includes the national monument, an expanse of rugged desert scattered with cactus, creosote and whip-like ocotillo. The Tucson Sector registered 39,215 arrests in July, up 60% from June. Officials attribute the sudden influx to false advertising by smugglers who tell migrants it’s easier to cross here and get released into the United States.

Migrants are taken first to the intake center, where agents collect people’s names, countries of origin and other information before they are moved to the Ajo Station some 48 kilometers up a two-lane state highway. 

Arrests for illegally crossing anywhere along the nearly 3,200-kilometer U.S.-Mexico border soared 33% from June to July, according to U.S. government figures, reversing a plunge after new asylum restrictions were introduced in May. President Joe Biden’s administration notes illegal crossings were still down 27% that month from July 2022 and credits the carrot-and-stick approach that expands legal pathways while punishing migrants who enter illegally.

De La Torre said most migrants in the area request asylum, something far from guaranteed with the recent restrictions.

The Ajo Station’s area of responsibility is currently the busiest inside the Tucson Sector, De La Torre said. It includes the border areas of Organ Pipe and the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge, isolated areas with rough roads and scarce water and shade. They include the Devil’s Highway region, where 14 border crossers in a group of 26 died in 2001 after smugglers abandoned them.

CBP rescues by air and land along the border are soaring this year, with 28,537 counted during the 10-month period ending July 31. That compares with 22,075 for the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2022, the agency said. There were 2,776 migrant rescues in July.

The rescues continued in August, including one especially busy day when a Black Hawk helicopter hoisted a 15-year-old Guatemalan boy from a remote southern Arizona mountain to safety. A short time later, the chopper rescued a Guatemalan man who called 911 from the vast Tohono O’odham Nation just east of Organ Pipe.

Some activists recently protested outside the Ajo Station, saying migrants kept in an outdoor enclosure there didn’t have enough shade. Patrol officials say that only adult men waiting to be transported to bigger facilities for processing are kept outside for a few hours, and under a large canopy with fans. Women, children and vulnerable people stay inside. The average wait time the facility is 15 hours.

The influx has also presented challenges for humanitarian groups.

Wingo, a retired schoolteacher working with Samaritanos Sin Fronteras, or Samaritans Without Borders, travels to the border several times a week to fill bright blue plastic barrels at six water stations. He and other volunteers distribute hats, bandanas, snacks and ice-cold bottled water to migrants they encounter.

“A lot of these people go out into the desert not knowing the trouble they are getting themselves into,” said Wingo.

During a recent border visit, Wingo handed bottled water to people from India waiting for help by the wall after a woman they were traveling twisted her ankle. He gave water and granola bars to a Guatemalan couple with three young children who were traveling with a Peruvian man.

Wingo said he pays especially close attention to those who may be more susceptible to the torrid heat, such as pregnant and nursing women and the elderly. He recently encountered an 89-year-old diabetic woman from India about to go into shock. When he called Border Patrol agents on that especially busy day, he said, they asked him to bring the woman himself to their intake center for medical care. The woman is recovering in a Phoenix hospital.

Many others don’t survive.

The remains of 43 suspected border crossers were found in southern Arizona in July, about half of them recently dead, according to the non-profit organization Human Borders, which works with the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office to track and map the numbers.

They included two found in Organ Pipe: Hilda Veliz Maas de Mijangos, 36, from Guatemala City, dead about a day; and Ignacio Munoz Loza, 22, of the Mexican state of Jalisco, dead for about a week. Both succumbed to heat exposure.

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US Might Change How It Classifies Marijuana. Here’s What That Would Mean

The news lit up the world of weed: U.S. health regulators are suggesting that the federal government loosen restrictions on marijuana.

Specifically, the federal Health and Human Services Department has recommended taking marijuana out of a category of drugs deemed to have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” The agency advised moving pot from that “Schedule I” group to the less tightly regulated “Schedule III.”

So what does that mean, and what are the implications? Read on.

First of all, what has actually changed? What happens next?

Technically, nothing yet. Any decision on reclassifying — or “rescheduling,” in government lingo — is up to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which says it will take up the issue. The review process is lengthy and involves taking public comment.

Still, the HHS recommendation is “paradigm-shifting, and it’s very exciting,” said Vince Sliwoski, a Portland, Oregon-based cannabis and psychedelics attorney who runs well-known legal blogs on those topics.

“I can’t emphasize enough how big of news it is,” he said.

It came after President Joe Biden asked both HHS and the attorney general, who oversees the DEA, last year to review how marijuana was classified. Schedule I put it on par, legally, with heroin, LSD, quaaludes and ecstasy, among others.

Biden, a Democrat, supports legalizing medical marijuana for use “where appropriate, consistent with medical and scientific evidence,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday. “That is why it is important for this independent review to go through.”

So if marijuana gets reclassified, would it legalize recreational pot nationwide?

No. Schedule III drugs — which include ketamine, anabolic steroids and some acetaminophen-codeine combinations — are still controlled substances.

They’re subject to various rules that allow for some medical uses, and for federal criminal prosecution of anyone who traffics in the drugs without permission. (Even under marijuana’s current Schedule I status, federal prosecutions for simply possessing it are few: There were 145 federal sentencings in fiscal year 2021 for that crime, and as of 2022, no defendants were in prison for it.)

It’s unlikely that the medical marijuana programs now licensed in 38 states — to say nothing of the legal recreational pot markets in 23 states — would meet the production, record-keeping, prescribing and other requirements for Schedule III drugs.

But rescheduling in itself would have some impact, particularly on research and on pot business taxes.

What would this mean for research?

Because marijuana is on Schedule I, it’s been very difficult to conduct authorized clinical studies that involve administering the drug. That has created something of a Catch-22: calls for more research, but barriers to doing it. (Scientists sometimes rely instead on people’s own reports of their marijuana use.)

Schedule III drugs are easier to study.

In the meantime, a 2022 federal law aimed to ease marijuana research.

What about taxes (and banking)?

Under the federal tax code, businesses involved in “trafficking” in marijuana or any other Schedule I or II drug can’t deduct rent, payroll or various other expenses that other businesses can write off. (Yes, at least some cannabis businesses, particularly state-licensed ones, do pay taxes to the federal government, despite its prohibition on marijuana.) Industry groups say the tax rate often ends up at 70% or more.

The deduction rule doesn’t apply to Schedule III drugs, so the proposed change would cut pot companies’ taxes substantially.

They say it would treat them like other industries and help them compete against illegal competitors that are frustrating licensees and officials in places such as New York.

“You’re going to make these state-legal programs stronger,” says Adam Goers, an executive at medical and recreational pot giant Columbia Care. He co-chairs a coalition of corporate and other players that’s pushing for rescheduling.

Rescheduling wouldn’t directly affect another pot business problem: difficulty accessing banks, particularly for loans, because the federally regulated institutions are wary of the drug’s legal status. The industry has been looking instead to a measure called the SAFE Banking Act. It has repeatedly passed the House but stalled in the Senate.

Are there critics? What do they say?

Indeed, there are, including the national anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. President Kevin Sabet, a former Obama administration drug policy official, said the HHS recommendation “flies in the face of science, reeks of politics” and gives a regrettable nod to an industry “desperately looking for legitimacy.”

Some legalization advocates say rescheduling weed is too incremental. They want to keep focus on removing it completely from the controlled substances list, which doesn’t include such items as alcohol or tobacco (they’re regulated, but that’s not the same).

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Deputy Director Paul Armentano said that simply reclassifying marijuana would be “perpetuating the existing divide between state and federal marijuana policies.” Minority Cannabis Business Association President Kaliko Castille said rescheduling just “re-brands prohibition,” rather than giving an all-clear to state licensees and putting a definitive close to decades of arrests that disproportionately pulled in people of color.

“Schedule III is going to leave it in this kind of amorphous, mucky middle where people are not going to understand the danger of it still being federally illegal,” he said.

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Ukraine Shoots Down 22 Drones Launched from Russia

Ukraine shot down 22 of the 25 Iranian-made Shahed drones Russia launched into the southern Odesa region early Sunday, Ukraine’s Air Force posted on Telegram early Sunday.

Odesa houses ports that are vital for Ukraine’s grain shipments, following the collapse of U.N.-brokered deal that allowed Ukraine to ship its grain through the Black Sea.

It was not immediately clear whether one of the ports had been hit in the Russian attack on Ukraine.

There were no immediate comments from Russia.

One of Ukraine’s richest men was taken into custody Saturday on suspicion of fraud and money laundering.

Ihor Kolomoisky’s arrest comes as Kyiv is trying to show progress in its wartime crackdown on corruption.

A Ukrainian court set Kolomoisky’s bail at $14 million, but his defense lawyers said he would not post bail, broadcaster Radio Liberty reported; instead he will remain in custody for two months while he appeals the ruling, whose legality he questions.

Kolomoisky was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2021 “due to his involvement in significant corruption.” The U.S. suspects that Kolomoisky and a partner laundered money through the United States, which Kolomoisky denies.

He supported then-candidate Volodymyr Zelenskyy during the 2019 presidential elections in Ukraine.

In his nightly video address Saturday, President Zelenskyy thanked “Ukrainian law enforcement officials for their resolve in bringing to a just outcome each and every one of the cases that have been hindered for decades.”

Zelenskyy has made it a priority to crush graft and illicit financial dealings among officials and well-connected businessmen. Kolomoisky, one of Ukraine’s billionaire oligarchs, is the most prominent figure to have become a target. Zelenskyy is moving to equate wartime corruption with treason.

The White House has noted the progress Ukraine has made in combatting graft and in safeguarding the autonomy of crucial government institutions.

In a meeting with a delegation of the heads of Ukrainian anti-corruption institutions Friday, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan underscored the vital importance of independent, impartial law enforcement and judicial institutions to any democratic society. He also reiterated Washington’s steadfast support for anti-corruption reforms in Ukraine and “for Ukraine’s brave defense of its democracy against Russian aggression.”

‘We are on the move’

Zelenskyy touted Ukraine’s steady advances against Russian forces Saturday and derided Western criticism of Ukraine’s grinding counteroffensive.

“Ukrainian forces are moving forward. Despite everything, and no matter what anyone says, we are advancing, and that is the most important thing. We are on the move,” Zelenskyy wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

His comments come amid U.S. concerns about the slow pace of the operation and Western reports questioning Ukrainian strategy in the three-month counteroffensive.

Ukrainian forces have retaken about a dozen villages but no major settlements. Their advances are being impeded by myriad Russian minefields and subsequent defensive lines.

John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator, told reporters Friday that Ukraine made “notable progress” in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, though he cautioned it “is not beyond the realm of the possible that Russia will react” to Ukraine’s push.

Ukrainian troops advance

In its daily battlefield update, the Ukrainian military reported no new breakthroughs but said its troops broke through Russia’s outer defense perimeter and continued to advance toward Melitopol, a major Russian-occupied urban center in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar acknowledged Friday that Kyiv’s troops, who have been trudging through heavily mined areas for almost three months, had now run into major defensive Russian fortifications.

“Where we have already moved to the next line … the enemy is much more fortified there and, in addition to the mining, we also see concrete fortifications, for example, under the main commanding heights, and our armed forces have to overcome a lot of obstacles in order to move forward,” she said.

Kirby noted that Ukrainians are aware there are tough battles ahead and added that detractors of the Ukrainian counteroffensive are not “helpful to the overarching effort to make sure that Ukraine can succeed, and they are.”

Russia says it thwarts attack

Russia said early Saturday it had thwarted a naval drone attack on a bridge that links the Russian mainland with the Crimean Peninsula.

In messages posted to Telegram, the Russian Defense Ministry said three semisubmersible unmanned boats, “sent by the Kyiv regime to carry out a terrorist attack on the Crimean bridge” were destroyed in the Black Sea — one late Friday and two early Saturday.

The bridge was built after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Completed in 2018, the bridge has been targeted throughout Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including an attack in July that caused major damage to the bridge and killed two people.

Grain deal talks scheduled

Two cargo vessels have sailed from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports despite fears of Russian attacks, maritime officials said Saturday.

Ukraine’s infrastructure minister says the Anna-Theresa, a Liberian-flagged bulk carrier carrying 56,000 metric tons of pig iron, left the Ukrainian port of Yuzhny on Friday. A second vessel, the Ocean Courtesy, left the same port with 172,000 metric tons of iron ore concentrate.

The minister said the vessels sailed through a temporary corridor for civilian ships from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to the Bosporus. The ships are using the interim corridor established by Ukraine’s government after Russia quit the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a wartime agreement aimed at ensuring safe grain exports from Ukraine.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the talks are part of an effort to revive the U.N.-brokered Black Sea grain deal.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan met Friday with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow to discuss grain exports ahead of the Erdogan-Putin meeting.

VOA U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this story. Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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Eighty Years on, Italian Victims of Nazi Crimes Finally to Get Compensation

In October 1943, after the Nazis began a brutal occupation of their former ally, German troops hanged six Italian civilians on a hillside in southern Italy as collective punishment for the killing of a soldier, who had been foraging for food.

Eighty years later, some of the relatives of the men put to death in Fornelli are finally set to receive a share of 12 million euros ($13 million) awarded by an Italian court as compensation for their families’ trauma.

“We still mark the event every year. It hasn’t been forgotten,” said Mauro Petrarca, the great-grandson of one of those killed, Domenico Lancellotta, a 52-year-old Roman Catholic father of five daughters and a son.

All but one of the family members alive at the time of the killings are now dead, but under Italian law, damages owed to them can still be passed on to their heirs. This means Petrarca is set to receive around 130,000 euros ($142,000) under the terms of a 2020 court ruling.

In an ironic twist, it will be Italy rather than Germany that pays up, after it lost a battle in the International Court of Justice over whether Berlin could still be liable for damages tied to World War Two crimes and atrocities.

Jewish organizations in Italy believe Berlin should be paying to acknowledge their historical responsibility. But victims’ groups also fear Rome is dragging its feet in dealing with a deluge of claims that could weigh on state accounts.

“This is a very tormented issue, both from a political and a legal perspective,” said Giulio Disegni, the vice president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI), which has been following the issue on behalf of Jewish victims of Nazi horrors.

A study funded by the German government and published in 2016 estimated that 22,000 Italians were victims of Nazi war crimes, including up to 8,000 Jews deported to death camps. Thousands more Italians were forced to work as enslaved laborers in Germany, making them eligible for reparations.

The first people likely to benefit from the new government fund set up to deal with claims are descendants of the six Catholic Fornelli men, who were hanged as German soldiers played music on a gramophone stolen from a nearby house.

Their killing came a month after Italy had signed an armistice with the Allied forces, ending its participation in World War Two and abandoning the Nazis, who immediately started their occupation of the country.

‘Cupboard of shame’

In 1962, Germany signed a deal with Italy whereby it paid Rome 40 million Deutsche mark, worth just over 1 billion euros in today’s money, which the two nations agreed covered damages inflicted by Nazi forces on the Italian state and its citizens.

Italy gave pensions to those who had been politically or racially persecuted during the conflict, and to their surviving relatives. However, it did not offer reparations for war crimes.

“They didn’t look at war crimes and this was a mistake. Maybe at the time they thought everyone had committed war crimes, not just Germany, and didn’t want to go down that path,” said Lucio Olivieri, the lawyer who led the Fornelli litigation.

In 1994, a cupboard was found in the offices of Rome’s military prosecutors packed with files documenting hundreds of war crimes that had never been prosecuted.

Spurred on by the so-called “Cupboard of Shame”, Italy looked to bring Nazis to trial for their role in multiple massacres, while courts started to award victims reparations.

Germany refused to pay, arguing the 1962 accord prevented further claims. In 2012, the International Court of Justice backed Berlin, but Italian courts continued to hear compensation cases, saying no limit could be imposed on war crimes.

‘Question of pride’

The Fornelli suit, which opened in 2015, was levelled against both Germany and Italy, which tried, but failed, to shut down proceedings.

“I found it amazing that Italy took the side of Germany in the case against us. It was like they were (wartime) allies again,” said Petrarca, who is a workman in Fornelli.

With ever more cases hitting the courts, the then-prime minister Mario Draghi created a fund in April 2022 to cover the growing compensation costs, hoping to close a dark chapter in Italy’s history.

A deadline for presenting new legal claims expired on June 28 and the Italian Treasury, which is handling payouts, told Reuters that it had so far received notification of 1,228 legal suits, but said others might not yet have been forwarded to it.

Each suit is likely to involve multiple plaintiffs, meaning the 61 million euros earmarked for the reparations might not be nearly enough to cover all the expected payouts, lawyers say.

The fund has already been topped up from an original 55 million, but the Treasury said it was too soon to say if this would be sufficient.

The government also has given itself the right to review any court verdict before deciding whether to pay out – adding an additional bureaucratic hurdle to claimants, although the government denies creating obstacles for families.

“It is a mockery,” UCEI vice president Disegni said.

For Fornelli, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Under the terms of a government decree issued in July, the first disbursement should be made to locals by January, even though the town insists their case was about much more than cash.

“This wasn’t about the money. It was about seeking justice for a war crime, a question of pride,” said Fornelli mayor Giovanni Tedeschi.


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Міноборони затвердило нові беретні знаки для окремих родів військ

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У ДПСУ відреагували на інцидент з гелікоптером на кордоні Польщі та Білорусі

«Білорусь постійно нагнітає або маніпулює по різних напрямках кордону і з країнами, якими вона межує. Треба бути уважними до того, що говорить Білорусь, звинувачуючи різні країни»