For Russia’s Putin, military and diplomatic pressures mount
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin mounted on the battlefield and in the halls of global power as Ukrainian troops pushed their counteroffensive Saturday to advance farther into Ukraine’s partly recaptured northeast.
Western officials and analysts said Russian forces were apparently setting up a new defensive line in Ukraine’s northeast after the counteroffensive punched through the previous one, allowing Kyiv’s soldiers to recapture large swaths of land in the northeastern Kharkiv region that borders Russia.
Putin, at a high-level summit in Uzbekistan this week, vowed to press his attack on Ukraine despite the recent military setbacks but also faced concerns by India and China over the drawn-out conflict.
“I know that today’s era is not of war,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the Russian leader in televised comments as they met Friday in Uzbekistan. “We discussed this with you on the phone several times, that democracy and dialogue touch the entire world.”
At the same summit a day earlier, Putin acknowledged China’s unspecified “questions and concerns” about the war in Ukraine while thanking President Xi Jinping for Beijing’s “balanced position” on the conflict.
Queen’s 8 grandchildren hold silent vigil beside her coffin
LONDON (AP) — All eight of Queen Elizabeth II’s grandchildren stood in silent vigil beside her coffin Saturday, capping another huge day in which thousands came to pay their respects. Mourners huddled in a line that snaked across London, enduring the city’s coldest night in months and waits that stretched up to 16 hours.
Authorities warned that more chilly weather was expected Saturday night. “Tonight’s forecast is cold. Warm clothing is recommended,” the ministry in charge of the line tweeted.
As U.S. President Joe Biden and other world leaders and dignitaries flew into London ahead of the queen’s state funeral on Monday, a tide of people wanting to say goodbye streamed into Parliament’s Westminster Hall for another day Saturday. That’s where the queen’s coffin is lying in state, draped in her Royal Standard and capped with a diamond-studded crown.
The numbers of mourners have grown steadily since the public was first admitted on Wednesday, with a queue that snakes around Southwark Park and stretches for at least 5 miles (8 kilometers).
Honoring their patience, King Charles III and his eldest son Prince William made an unannounced visit Saturday to greet people waiting to file past Elizabeth’s coffin, shaking hands and thanking mourners in the queue near Lambeth Bridge.
Hungary faces reckoning with EU that could cost it billions
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — After his headline performance at Hungary’s Sziget Festival last month, pop star Justin Bieber held a grandiose party for his staff in a luxurious countryside setting — a 19th century castle owned by the son-in-law of the country’s prime minister.
The castle, to the critics of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, is emblematic of the corruption, nepotism and largesse of which the populist leader and his government have been accused for years — the kinds of behavior which now threaten to cost Hungary billions in European Union funding.
Standing beside the iron gates of Schossberger Castle this week, an independent Hungarian lawmaker who has made a name for himself as an anti-corruption crusader snapped pictures of the structure and its expansive manicured grounds.
A former member of Orban’s ruling Fidesz party, Akos Hadhazy left the nationalist-populist party in 2013 after becoming aware of what he describes as a clientelistic system of unchecked corruption taking shape in the Central European nation.
“When Fidesz came to power, I saw more and more that a very serious organization was beginning to develop throughout the country, whose main task was to steal as much of the European Union’s money as possible,” Hadhazy told The Associated Press.
Ukraine pays tribute to Russian woman who fought on its side
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — An honor guard fired a three-gun salute toward cloudy skies as friends and comrades-in-arms gathered in Kyiv to bid farewell to a Russian woman who was killed while fighting on Ukraine’s side in the war with her native country.
Olga Simonova, 34, was remembered for her courage and kindness at a funeral in the Ukrainian capital on Friday.
Simonova’s coffin was draped in the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag, with a cuddly toy lion on top. Her nom de guerre was “Simba,” like the main character in the Disney cartoon “The Lion King.”
Just a few days before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, Simonova spoke to The Associated Press in a trench in the Donbas region, where she had served for years alongside Ukrainian soldiers fighting against Russian-backed separatists.
Born in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, Simonova had a keen interest in sports and excelled in both mountain climbing and karate. She said she was always proud to compete for Russia.
Puerto Rico girds for possible hurricane as TS Fiona nears
HAVANA (AP) — Tropical Storm Fiona headed for Puerto Rico on Saturday, with forecasters warning it likely would grow into a hurricane before hitting on Sunday with extremely heavy rains with the potential to cause landslides, severe flooding and power outages.
The storm already lashed several eastern Caribbean islands, with one death reported in the French territory of Guadeloupe. Regional prefect Alexandre Rochatte said the body was found on a roadside after a home washed away in the capital of Basse-Terre. More than 20 other people were rescued amid heavy wind and rain that left 13,000 customers without power, with the storm tearing up roads, downing trees and destroying at least one bridge.
Fiona was centered 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of St. Croix on Saturday evening with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph). It was moving west at 8 mph (13 kph) on a path forecast to pass near or over Puerto Rico on Sunday night. Fiona was expected to become a hurricane before reaching Puerto Rico’s southern coast.
“We are already starting to feel its effects,” Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said at a news conference in which the lights briefly went out as he spoke, prompting groans and laughs across the island. “We should not underestimate this storm.”
Officials said the heavy rains anticipated would be dangerous because the island’s soil is already saturated.
25 years after Kentucky school shooting, a chance at parole
When 14-year-old Michael Carneal opened fire on his fellow students during a before-school prayer meeting in 1997, school shootings were not yet a part of the national consciousness. The carnage that left three students dead and five more injured at Heath High School, near Paducah, Kentucky, ended when Carneal put down his weapon and the principal walked him to the school office — a scene that seems unimaginable today.
Also stretching today’s imagination — Carneal’s life sentence guaranteed an opportunity for parole after 25 years, the maximum sentence permissible at the time given his age.
A quarter century later, Carneal is 39 with a parole hearing next week that comes at a very different time in American life — after Sandy Hook, after Uvalde. Today police officers and metal detectors are an accepted presence in many schools, and even kindergartners are drilled to prepare for active shooters.
“Twenty-five years seemed like so long, so far away,” Missy Jenkins Smith recalls thinking at the time of the sentencing. Jenkins Smith was 15 when she was shot by Carneal, someone she considered a friend. The bullet left her paralyzed, and she uses a wheelchair to get around. Over the years, she has counted down the time until Carneal would be eligible for parole.
“I would think, ‘It’s been 10 years. How many more years?’ At the 20-year anniversary memorial, I thought, ‘It’s coming up.’”
Storm battering western Alaska causes widespread flooding
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A powerful storm traveling north through the Bering Strait on Saturday caused widespread flooding in several western Alaska coastal communities, knocking out power and sending residents fleeing for higher ground.
The force of the water moved some homes off their foundations, and one house in Nome was floating down a river until it got caught at a bridge.
The storm is what remains of Typhoon Merbok, a storm that is also influencing weather patterns as far away as California, where strong winds and a rare late-summer rainstorm were expected.
In Alaska, there have been no reports of injuries or deaths from the storm, said Jeremy Zidek, spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Officials had warned communities that some places could see the worst flooding in 50 years and water could take up to 14 hours to recede.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Saturday issued a disaster declaration for impacted communities.
Pelosi, other US lawmakers visit Armenia as cease-fire holds
YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — A U.S. congressional delegation headed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi arrived Saturday in Armenia, where a cease-fire has held for three days after an outburst of fighting with neighboring Azerbaijan that killed more than 200 troops from both sides.
The U.S. Embassy said the visit will include a meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
On Friday, Pelosi told reporters in Berlin that the trip “is all about human rights and the respecting the dignity and worth of every person.”
Other members of the U.S. delegation include Rep. Frank Pallone, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and congresswomen Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo.
A cease-fire took effect on Wednesday evening following two days of heavy fighting that marked the largest outbreak of hostilities in nearly two years.
Henry Silva, known for many tough-guy roles, dies at 95
NEW YORK (AP) — Henry Silva, a prolific character actor best known for playing villains and tough guys in “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Ocean’s Eleven” and other films, has died at age 95.
Silva’s son Scott Silva told Variety that his father died Wednesday of natural causes at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California.
Silva was a New York City native who dropped out of school as a teenager, in the 1940s. He was accepted the following decade into the Actors Studio, where fellow students included Shelley Winters and Ben Gazzara. He went on to have a long and busy career in film and television, with hundreds of credits before retiring from acting in 2001.
He had a breakthrough role on stage and screen in the 1950s as a drug dealer in “A Hatful of Rain” and supporting parts in two of Frank Sinatra’s best known movies, both from the early 1960s: “Ocean’s Eleven,” the Las Vegas heist film that was a showcase for Sinatra, Dean Martin and other “Rat Pack” members; and “The Manchurian Candidate,” the Cold War thriller about brainwashing and the attempted assassination of a presidential nominee that starred Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Janet Leigh. (In his last film appearance, Silva was cast in the “Ocean’s Eleven” remake from 2000 that starred George Clooney and Brad Pitt).
“Our hearts are broken at the loss of our dear friend Henry Silva, one of the nicest, kindest and most talented men I’ve had the pleasure of calling my friend,” Dean Martin’s daughter, Deana Martin, tweeted. “He was the last surviving star of the original Oceans 11 Movie.”
No. 1 Georgia dominates South Carolina 48-7 to go to 3-0
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Stetson Bennett went 16 for 23 for 284 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score as No. 1 Georgia routed South Carolina 48-7 on Saturday.
The Bulldogs (3-0) nearly had a second shutout of the season in their Southeastern Conference opener, but the backups allowed a touchdown pass with 53 seconds to go.
Georgia has allowed just 10 points this season and the garbage-time score was the first offensive touchdown it gave up in its past five regular-season games.
South Carolina (1-2) started 0-2 in the SEC for the fourth straight year.
NO. 2 ALABAMA 63, LOUSIANA-MONROE 7
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