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No fly: US to effectively ground 100 aircraft that flew to Russia | Russia-Ukraine war News



US lists Russian aircraft it says may have violated export controls, including one used by businessman Roman Abramovich.

The United States has moved to effectively ground 100 aircraft that it says recently flew to Russia, including a plane used by Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, and may have violated US export controls.

The US Department of Commerce on Friday published a list of 99 Boeing aeroplanes operated by Russian passenger and cargo carriers – including Aeroflot, AirBridge Cargo, Utair, Nordwind, Azur Air and Aviastar-TU – as well as Abramovich’s Gulfstream G650.

Providing any service to these aircraft without authorisation risks violating US export regulations, the department said in a statement, and could incur “substantial jail time, fines, loss of export privileges, or other restrictions”.

“By preventing these aircraft from receiving any service, for example including from abroad, international flights from Russia on these aircraft are effectively grounded,” the statement said.

The move came as US President Joe Biden’s administration continues to impose restrictions on Russian officials, companies and other entities as part of an effort to pressure President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine.

Russia launched an all-out invasion of the country in late February, and its weeks-long bombardment of Ukrainian cities and towns has internally displaced millions of people and forced millions more to flee Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pushed the country’s western allies to do more to help amid continuing Russian attacks, including by providing more weapons and establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine. But the US and NATO have rejected that latter demand, saying it would lead to a direct confrontation between Washington and Moscow.

This week, after Zelenskyy addressed the US Congress, Biden announced his administration would provide an additional $800m in military assistance to Ukraine, including 800 anti-aircraft systems, thousands of shoulder-mounted missiles and other equipment, such as drones.

The US earlier this month also launched what it dubbed “KleptoCapture” – an initiative seeking to hold accountable Russia’s wealthy elite and ensure US sanctions imposed amid the war in Ukraine are being enforced.

On Friday, the Department of Commerce released specific tail numbers of the targeted planes, including 33 Boeing planes operated by Aeroflot AFLT.MM, and 12 Boeing 747 cargo planes operated by AirBridge Cargo, a unit of Russia’s biggest cargo airline Volga-Dnepr Group.

Aeroflot and a spokesperson for Abramovich, who owns the English football club Chelsea, did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Reuters news agency. Abramovich said this month that he plans to sell the club and donate money from the sale to victims of the Ukraine war.

Volga-Dnepr declined to immediately comment but said Friday it has suspended all flights using Boeing aircraft, citing sanctions and a decision by Bermuda’s Civil Aviation Authority to terminate their safety certificates.

The US, Canada and much of Europe have barred Russian planes from flying over their airspace, which has forced the cancellation of many of Russia’s international flights.

The rules apply to any US-manufactured aircraft or any with more than 25 percent US-origin controlled content that were re-exported to Russia after the new stringent controls on aviation-related items for Russia took effect on February 24.

Moscow took a first step this week towards keeping its commercial fleet flying by allowing its airlines to re-register leased planes in Russia, giving local authorities direct control over the certificates of airworthiness needed for each jet.

In Friday’s statement, US Secretary of Commerce Gina M Raimondo said the department was “demonstrating the power and reach of the actions we took over the past few weeks in response to Russia’s brutal war of choice against Ukraine”.

“We are publishing this list to put the world on notice – we will not allow Russian and Belarusian companies and oligarchs to travel with impunity in violation of our laws,” Raimondo said.

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Kim Jong Un warns of ‘great turmoil’; 21 new ‘fever’ deaths | Coronavirus pandemic News



Limited testing capabilities suggest the numbers released are likely to represent only a tiny fraction of total cases.

North Korea on Saturday reported 21 deaths and tens of thousands more people with fever symptoms as leader Kim Jong Un said the outbreak of COVID-19 had put the country in “great turmoil”.

The isolated nation made an unprecedented admission of its first COVID outbreak earlier this week, after claiming no infections since the start of the pandemic more than two years ago.

State media announced the first suspected deaths from the virus on Friday.

The new deaths and cases increased the total numbers to 27 deaths and 524,440 illnesses amid a rapid spread of fever since late April. North Korea said 243,630 people had recovered and 280,810 remained in quarantine.

State media did not elaborate on how many of the fever cases and deaths were confirmed as COVID-19.

North Korea, one of only two countries in the world not to have had a COVID vaccination campaign, has limited testing capabilities suggesting the numbers released probably represent only a small fraction of total infections.

Amid the outbreak, the country’s ruling Workers’ Party met for an emergency meeting on the situation, according to KCNA.

“The spread of the malignant epidemic is a great turmoil to fall on our country since the founding,” the state news agency quoted Kim as telling the meeting.

He expressed optimism, however, that officials would be able to bring the outbreak under control, saying most transmissions were occurring within communities that had been isolated from one another and not spreading from region to region.

The country has imposed stronger preventive measures aimed at restricting the movement of people and supplies between cities and counties since Thursday, but state media’s descriptions of the steps suggest people are not being confined to their homes.

Experts say a failure to control the spread of COVID-19 could have devastating consequences in North Korea, given the state of its healthcare system and that its 26 million people are largely unvaccinated.

North Korea has been testing about 1,400 people a week, Harvard Medical School’s Kee Park who has worked on healthcare projects in the country, told Reuters news agency.

Since late April, 524,440 people have shown signs of fever, KCNA said.

Epidemic control officials told the Workers’ Party meeting that “in most cases, human casualties were caused by negligence including drug overdose due to lack of knowledge of treatment methods”, state media said.

North Korea previously rejected offers of COVID-19 vaccinations, and while South Korea, China and the WHO have all offered assistance to help deal with the outbreak, Pyongyang has yet to indicate whether it will accept their assistance.

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Pope to visit Canada in July to meet residential school survivors | Indigenous Rights News



Visit from July 24 to 30 comes after Pope Francis apologised for Catholic Church’s role in abuse of Indigenous children.

Warning: The story below contains details of residential schools that may be upsetting. Canada’s Indian Residential School Survivors and Family Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.

Pope Francis will travel to Canada at the end of July, the Vatican has announced, as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church is expected to meet Indigenous survivors of abuse committed at so-called residential schools.

The 85-year-old will travel to Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit, the Vatican said on Friday, adding that more details on the July 24 to 30 visit will be published in the coming weeks.

The announcement comes after the pope last month apologised for abuses that members of the church committed against Indigenous children at residential schools.

Speaking to Indigenous delegates at the Vatican, Pope Francis said he felt “sorrow and shame” for the role Catholics played in the many harms that Indigenous children suffered while attending the forced-assimilation institutions.

“For the deplorable conduct of these members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness and I want to say to you with all my heart, I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon,” he said.

A map of former residential schools in Canada

Canada forced more than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children to attend residential schools between the late 1800s and 1990s. The children were stripped of their languages and culture, separated from siblings, and subjected to psychological, physical and sexual abuse.

Thousands are believed to have died while attending the institutions, most of which were run by the Roman Catholic Church. A federal commission of inquiry into Canada’s residential schools, known as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), concluded in 2015 that the system amounted to “cultural genocide”.

The discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential school sites across Canada over the past year spurred renewed calls for accountability – and an apology from the Catholic Church in particular.

The pope’s apology last month was welcomed by Indigenous leaders, but they called on him to visit Canada to deliver the apology on Indigenous lands.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that “a formal in-person apology” from the head of the Roman Catholic Church to survivors and their families would be an important step “to advance meaningful reconciliation for Indigenous Peoples in our country”.

Edmonton is home to the second-largest number of Indigenous people living in urban Canadian centres, and approximately 25 residential schools were located in Alberta, the most of any province or territory in Canada, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said.

Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith, who is coordinating the papal visit on behalf of the Canadian bishops, said the pontiff will visit a former residential school site “and other locations of significance”.

Quebec is home to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, one of the oldest and most popular pilgrimage sites in North America, while Iqaluit, on vast Baffin Island, is the capital of the Nunavut territory, home to many Inuit.

Bishop Raymond Poisson said Canada’s bishops were “immensely grateful” the pope will visit to “continue the journey of healing and reconciliation”.

Francis is expected to repeat his apology to school abuse survivors and relatives of victims.

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US states argue to keep contentious border policy in place | Migration News



US court is hearing challenge to Biden administration’s plan to end Title 42 restriction at US-Mexico border this month.

A group of 21 US states have argued that the Biden administration’s plan to lift a contentious border restriction that barred most asylum seekers from seeking protection at the US-Mexico border was made without sufficient consideration of the effects it would have.

Drew Ensign, a lawyer representing the states involved in the legal challenge, told US District Judge Robert Summerhays on Friday that their lawsuit was “not about the policy wisdom” behind the announcement to end the policy on May 23.

Rather, Ensign argued that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did not follow proper administrative procedures requiring public notice and the gathering of comments on the decision to end the restrictions imposed under what is known as Title 42.

More than 1.8 million Title 42 expulsions have been carried out since March 2020, when the policy was first invoked under former President Donald Trump’s administration as the nation was going into lockdown due to COVID-19.

Rights groups have said the move was made largely to deter asylum at the border, however.

Title 42 has allowed US authorities to quickly expel most asylum seekers who arrived at the border without giving them chance to request protection in the country, which rights groups said violated US and international law.

Migrants being returned
The US states that sued are alleging that proper consideration was not given to increases in border crossings and their possible effects [File: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters]

The lawsuit came after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on April 1 that the restriction would be lifted by May 23 after the CDC said it was no longer needed.

Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri quickly sued and were later joined by 18 other states in the legal challenge being heard on Friday. Texas sued independently.

The states have alleged that proper consideration was not given to the resulting increases in border crossings and their possible effects, including pressure on state healthcare systems and the diversion of border law enforcement resources from drug interdiction to controlling illegal crossings.

Jean Lin, with the Department of Justice, argued on Friday that the CDC was within its authority to lift an emergency health restriction it felt was no longer needed. She said the CDC order was a matter of health policy, not immigration policy.

“There is no basis to use Title 42 as a safety valve,” Lin told Summerhays.

Several migrant advocacy groups have asked Summerhays to at least allow Title 42 to be lifted as planned in California and New Mexico, two border states that have not challenged the administration’s decision.

But the effort to end the policy came just months before crucial US midterm elections in November, and it appeared to have emboldened some Republicans who want to make immigration an issue before the vote.

Migrants being returned to Mexico
Rights groups say Title 42 violates US and international law [File: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters]

“Ending refugee protection for those fleeing violence and human rights violations is a betrayal of the Democrats’ supposed values and our nation’s identity,” Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a group that advocates for immigration reform, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“It will do nothing to stop Republican attacks and falsehoods over the border, and it will do nothing to modernize our immigration system so that it serves our interests and reflects our values,” Sharry said in a statement.

US authorities stopped asylum seekers more than 221,000 times at the Mexican border in March, a 22-year high. Many of those were repeat crossers.

Title 42 authority has been applied unevenly across nationalities. Mexico has agreed to take back migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico — but largely refused to take back people from other countries.

Under Title 42, the US has flown Haitian asylum seekers, including those who had not lived in the country for years, to the crisis-stricken nation on board deportation flights.

Earlier this year, however, US border officials exempted Ukrainians fleeing the war from Title 42 expulsions and allowed them to enter the US through the US-Mexico border.

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