National Politics

US, banks, unveil plan to ease food crisis from Russia's war

Ahead of the G7 finance ministers’ meetings, the U.S. Treasury, several global development banks and other groups have unveiled a multi-billion dollar plan meant to address a worldwide food security crisis exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Treasury announced Wednesday that several global development banks are “working swiftly to bring to bear their financing, policy engagement, technical assistance” to prevent starvation prompted by the war, rising food costs and climate damage to crops. Tens of billions will be spent supporting farmers, addressing the fertilizer supply crisis, and developing land for food production, among other issues. 

Takeaways: Election denier wins, bad behavior dooms Cawthorn

Former President Donald Trump’s support was enough to elevate his Senate candidate to victory in North Carolina on Tuesday. His pick in Pennsylvania remained in a tough fight in that state’s Senate primary. In a key congressional race, a Republican congressman’s bad behavior finally caught up with him. And in the Pennsylvania governor’s race, a Trump-backed candidate who has spread lies about the 2020 vote count won the GOP nomination, putting an election denier within striking distance of running a presidential battleground state in 2024. But in Idaho, with incumbency on his side, the sitting governor weathered a primary challenge from his far-right lieutenant governor.

Buffalo is latest mass shooting by gunman wearing body armor

When a shooter attacked a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, over the weekend, its security guard tried to stop him. At least one of the guard's shots hit the gunman, but it didn’t stop the deadly rampage because the gunman was wearing body armor. The racist massacre that killed 10 Black people is the latest mass shooting in which the gunman apparently came prepared for anyone trying to stop him with a gun. A database maintained by The Violence Project shows at least 21 mass shooters over the last four decades have worn body armor, most of those within the last decade.

EU rushes out $300 billion roadmap to ditch Russian energy

The European Union’s executive arm is moving to jump-start plans for the EU to abandon Russian energy amid the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine. The European Commission proposed Wednesday a nearly 300 billion-euro package that includes more efficient use of fuels and faster deployment of renewable power. Russia is the EU’s main supplier of oil, natural gas and coal, accounting for around a quarter of the bloc’s total energy. The investment initiative is meant to help EU countries start weaning themselves off Russian fossil fuels this year. The goal is to deprive Russia of tens of billions in revenue and strengthen EU climate policies.

Harris to tell Coast Guard grads rule of law is under attack

Vice President Kamala Harris will tell the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s graduating cadets that they are starting their service at a crucial moment for the world. In prepared remarks for Wednesday's ceremony in Connecticut, Harris calls it a period in history when the “rule of law is strained” and “fundamental principles are under threat.” Harris also reflects on the state of a world in which long-standing rules and norms are more frequently coming under attack, noting the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Democrat will tell the graduates that upholding the international rules-based order is one of the nation's “defining missions.”

Tight Pennsylvania GOP Senate race; Mastriano wins gov nod

Donald Trump’s choice for Pennsylvania governor has won his primary, and his Senate pick is locked in an exceedingly close contest as the former president works to expand his hold on the Republican Party. Trump’s late endorsement helped put the already surging far-right state senator Doug Mastriano over the top Tuesday in the GOP governor’s primary in one of the nation’s premier battleground states. But Mehmet Oz, the celebrity heart surgeon endorsed by Trump, is locked with former hedge fund manager David McCormick in a race that is too early to call. On the Democratic side, progressive Lt. Gov. John Fetterman easily secured his party's Senate nomination. 

Live updates | Russia insists Mariupol troops surrendering

The Kremlin says the Ukrainian soldiers at a giant steel mill in the port of Mariupol are surrendering. The Russian Defense Ministry said 959 Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered since Monday. Ukrainian authorities say they ordered the fighters to save their lives and said the mission to tie up Russian forces by defending the Azovstal plant is complete. But they have have avoided describing the action of the ones who left the plant as a surrender. Asked about the conflicting Russian and Ukrainian narratives, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday, “There can be just one interpretation: the troops holed up at Azovstal are laying down their weapons and surrendering.”

Mayorkas tours border to prepare for asylum limits to end

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says authorities are prepared for an expected increase in migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border amid plans to lift a public health order that has been used to turn away migrants nearly 2 million times without a chance to seek asylum. Mayorkas spoke Tuesday on a visit to South Texas, where he saw a new processing center for about 1,200 people. The department has surged personnel and equipment to the border and erected temporary facilities to prepare for next week's end of pandemic-related limits on seeking asylum at the border.

Will Turkey upend NATO expansion? US officials seek clarity

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is taking an increasingly tough line against the NATO membership bids of Finland and Sweden despite far less strident statements from some of his top aides. U.S. officials are trying to determine how serious the often mercurial leader is and what it might take to get him to back down. In the meantime, the Biden administration is focusing not on Erdogan's comments but those made in closed-door meetings by lower-ranking Turkish officials. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to meet his Turkish counterpart on Wednesday in New York in a new effort to clarify Ankara’s position. Finland and Sweden submitted formal NATO applications Wednesday.

UK inflation hits 40-year high amid Russia's war in Ukraine

Britain’s inflation rate has risen to the highest level in 40 years as Russia's war in Ukraine fueled further increases in food and fuel prices. The Office of National Statistics says consumer price inflation accelerated to 9% in the 12 months through April. The agency says that's the highest rate since 1982, when inflation reached 11%. Millions of households across Britain were hit with a 54% jump in gas and electricity bills last month after regulators boosted the energy price cap to reflect increases in wholesale prices. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put further pressure on food and energy prices.

In Ukraine, limbs lost and lives devastated in an instant

There is a cost to war. To the countries that wage it. To the soldiers who fight it. To the civilians who endure it. Territory is gained and lost. And sometimes regained and lost again. But some losses are permanent for the people embroiled in conflict. Lives lost can never be regained. Nor can limbs. So it is in Ukraine. For soldiers wounded while defending their country their sense of purpose and belief in the cause they were fighting for can sometimes help them cope psychologically with amputation. The struggle can be much harder for some civilians who are maimed while going about their lives in a war that already terrified them.

EXPLAINER: What's behind difficult Taiwan-China relations?

U.S. authorities say the gunman behind an attack on a church in southern California in which one person was killed and five injured was motivated by a hatred for Taiwan. Although born in Taiwan, David Chou nurtured a resentment toward the Taiwanese and allegedly had ties to a China-backed organization dedicated to furthering Beijing's goal of annexing the self-governing island, by force if necessary. That has revived questions about the complex and sometimes antagonistic relationship between the two sides, which separated amid civil war in 1949 and have followed different paths since then — the one toward liberal democracy, the other toward increasingly repressive authoritarian rule under the Chinese Communist Party, which claims Taiwan, despite never having governed the island.

Bad Kitty: German town grounds cats to save rare birds

What a cat-astrophe! Authorities in the southwest German town of Walldorf have ordered some cat owners to keep their pets indoors until the end of August to protect a rare bird during its breeding season. The decree is designed to help save the crested lark which makes its nest on the ground and is therefore easy prey for feline hunters. The bird’s population in Western Europe has declined sharply in recent decades. The decree has reportedly prompted meows of anguish from pet owners. Regional daily Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung reported Wednesday that the head of the local animal protection association plans to take legal steps to challenge the decree.

German ex-leader Schroeder loses privileges over Russia ties

Germany’s three governing parties plan to strip former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of his office and staff after he maintained and defended his long-standing ties with Russia despite the war in Ukraine. Schroeder’s own Social Democratic Party said Wednesday that lawmakers on the parliamentary budget committee had agreed to link some of the former German leader’s privileges to actual duties, rather than his status as former chancellor. They planned to submit a proposal to lawmakers on Thursday. Schroeder has become increasingly isolated in recent months due to his work for Russian state-controlled energy companies. The 78-year-old is chairman of the supervisory board of Russian state energy company Rosneft and also has been involved with gas pipeline projects.

Sri Lankan protesters include Tamil victims in war memorial

Sri Lankan protesters lit flames and offered prayers Wednesday remembering thousands — including ethnic Tamil civilians — killed in the final stages of the country’s decadeslong civil war. It was the first-ever event where mostly majority ethnic Sinhalese openly memorialized the minority group. Since Sri Lankan troops defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, Sri Lankan authorities had widely prohibited Tamils from publicly remembering their family members and have denied allegations that Tamil civilians were killed. Protesters gathered outside the president’s office floated flowers in the nearby sea and prayed for all those who died in the civil war, including Tamil civilians, Tamil rebels and government soldiers. The civil war killed at least 100,000 people.

Ukraine hopes to swap steel mill fighters for Russian POWs

Ukrainian fighters extracted from the last bastion of resistance in Mariupol were taken to a former penal colony in enemy-controlled territory, and a top military official hoped they could be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war. But a Moscow lawmaker said they should be brought to “justice.” , Russian news agencies report the Russian parliament planned to take up a resolution Wednesday to prevent the exchange of Azov Regiment fighters. They have held out for months inside the Azovstal steelworks plant while Mariupol was under siege. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, nearly 1,000 Ukrainian troops holed up at Azovstal have handed themselves over this week.

Australian leader won't say who might attend Tokyo summit

Australia’s opposition leader Anthony Albanese says he will begin rebuilding trust in his nation if he wins weekend elections and attends a summit with U.S., Indian and Japanese leaders in Tokyo just three days later. Albanese says he would be “completely consistent” with the current administration on Chinese strategic competition in the region if he travels to the summit of the Indo-Pacific strategic alliance known as the Quad. Prime Minister Scott Morrison will not say who might represent Australia in Tokyo. Morrison said there were “conventions in place” to deal with the election but it's not clear what happens if the results are close. Albanese said he'd want to take office as soon as Sunday or Monday in order to attend the summit.

North Korea hails recovery as WHO worries over missing data

North Korea says a million people have already recovered from suspected COVID-19 a week after disclosing an outbreak it appears to be trying to manage in isolation. Experts express deep concern about the public health threat of North Korea's outbreak. State media said another 230,000 people had fevers and six more died. The cause is suspected to be COVID-19 but North Korea lacks tests to confirm so many. It's unclear how a million people recovered so quickly when limited medicine and health facilities exist to treat the country’s impoverished, unvaccinated population. North Korean officials expressed confidence the country could overcome the crisis on its own. WHO officials say they're powerless to help without more information.

Europe's push to cut Russian gas faces a race against winter

Europeans are basking in the warmth of spring, but their governments are in a race against winter. Europe is trying to cut use of Russian natural gas because of the war in Ukraine but still find enough fuel to keep the lights on and homes warm before it gets cold again. It’s a big job because there’s little or no spare gas available in a tight global market. Europe has signed gas deals abroad, but they offer long-term help rather than a boost for this winter. Any supply that a country manages to get comes at the expense of someone else, and the competition further raises already high prices.

NATO chief hails 'historic moment' as Finland, Sweden apply

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says that Finland and Sweden have applied for membership amid concerns over Russia’s war on Ukraine. Stoltenberg says NATO allies agree "that this is an historic moment which we must seize.” The applications submitted Wednesday must now be weighed by the 30 member countries. That process is expected to take about two weeks. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed reservations about Finland and Sweden joining. The two could officially become members once their accession protocols are ratified if Erdogan's objections are overcome, That could take a few months. The process usually takes eight to 12 months. But NATO wants to move quickly given the threat from Russia hanging over the Nordic countries’ heads.

Printing errors mar mailed ballots in Oregon, Pennsylvania

Printing mistakes will force local election officials in Pennsylvania and Oregon to redo thousands of mailed ballots, a laborious process that could delay results for some closely contested races in Tuesday’s primaries. In Pennsylvania, where GOP primaries for governor and U.S. Senate are drawing national attention, officials in Republican-leaning Lancaster County said the company that printed its mailed ballots included the wrong ID code. That is preventing scanning machines from being able to read them. In Clackamas County, Oregon, about half the ballots sent to voters included a blurry bar code that cannot be read by ballot-scanning machines. Oregon and Pennsylvania are among five states holding primaries this week.

Ballot counting issues delay results in OR House primary

Issues with counting ballots in Oregon’s third-largest county could delay for days a definitive result in a key U.S. House primary where Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader was facing a strong challenge from a progressive candidate. Schrader was trailing in early returns Tuesday in the 5th District race against Jamie McLeod-Skinner. The race was too close to call in part because of a printing issue with ballots in Clackamas County. Meanwhile a cryptocurrency billionaire-backed political newcomer conceded to a longtime state lawmaker in Oregon’s now 6th District, which was one of the nation’s most expensive Democratic congressional primaries. 

Kotek wins Democratic nod in Oregon governor's race

Former Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek has won the Democratic gubernatorial primary governor, beating state Treasurer Tobias Read in a victory for the party’s progressive wing. Current Gov. Kate Brown, a progressive Democrat, cannot run for the position again due to term limits. The Portland-based Kotek has collected endorsements from a third of Oregon lawmakers, nationally elected leaders, unions and organizations. But as someone who held power during a tumultuous time in Oregon, Kotek must convince voters she can improve the state while avoiding blame for its problems.

Midterm updates | Idaho Gov. Little defeats Trump-backed foe

Idaho Gov. Brad Little has survived a Republican primary challenge from his lieutenant governor, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump. In Idaho, the governor and lieutenant governor in Idaho run on separate tickets, so the two were not aligned when they won their races in 2018. Little had a long string of endorsements, including from the Idaho Fraternal Order of Police. Little and Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin had feuded frequently over coronavirus precautions and the role of government. Last year, McGeachin twice attempted a power grab when Little was out of state on business. She has also promoted Trump’s lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him through mass voter fraud.