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Zelenskyy urges global rallies for Ukraine: Live news | Russia-Ukraine war News

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  • The United States has determined that Russian forces committed war crimes in Ukraine.
  • More than 4,500 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities on Wednesday through humanitarian corridors, a Ukrainian official has said.
  • Russia says it will expel US diplomats in a tit-for-tat move, state media TASS has reported.
  • Joe Biden has landed in Brussels ahead of NATO, G7 and EU summits.
  • US President is expected to unveil further sanctions against Russia while on European trip.
  • The first shipment from an $800m US arms package to Ukraine will be sent this week, a senior US defence official has said.
INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War map Who controls what Day 28
(Al Jazeera)

Here are the latest updates:

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy urges global protests against invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for global protests against the invasion, saying that Russia is trying to defeat the freedom of “all the people in the world” and show that only crude force matters.

“I ask you to stand against the war starting from March 24 – exactly one month after the Russian invasion, from this day and after then,” Zelenskyy said in a video message in English.

“Show your standing; come from your offices, your homes, your schools and universities. Come in the name of peace. Come with Ukrainian symbols to support Ukraine, to sport freedom, to support life. Come to your squares, your streets. Make yourselves visible and heard.”

Protesters rally in Bern, Switzerland in solidarity with Ukraine
Demonstrators rally for peace in front of the seat of the Swiss federal parliament, Bundeshaus, in Bern [File: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters]

Renault suspends operations at Moscow plant

The French automobile manufacturer Renault has said it suspended operations at its plant in Moscow while it assesses options on its majority stake in Avtovaz, Russia’s top carmaker.

The move came amid mounting pressure over the French company’s continued presence in Russia. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, had called for a global boycott of Renault.

“Renault Group reminds that it already implements the necessary measures to comply with international sanctions,” the company said in a statement.

“Regarding its stake in AVTOVAZ, Renault Group is assessing the available options, taking into account the current environment, while acting responsibly towards its 45,000 employees in Russia,” the company added.


Russia ‘does not care’ about humanitarian crisis in Ukraine: US envoy

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United States ambassador to the United Nations, has slammed Russia for introducing a humanitarian resolution on Ukraine, which was defeated at the Security Council.

“Russia does not care about the deteriorating humanitarian conditions or the millions of lives and dreams the war has shattered,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “If they cared, they would stop fighting. Russia is the aggressor, the attacker, the invader, the sole party in Ukraine engaged in a campaign of brutality against the people of Ukraine.”


Serious questions on war crimes in Ukraine: Expert

James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Foundation’s Justice Initiative, has said there seems to be ample evidence that at least raises serious questions of war crimes being committed in Ukraine.

“We are seeing more and more reports of indiscriminate attacks — and attacks that are deliberately targeting civilians,” Goldston told Al Jazeera from New York City.

He said while the International Criminal Court (ICC) is looking into the situation, the challenge lies in linking “responsibility to those highest authorities”.

“It is possible for the court to address the responsibility of any actor including and up to the head of state. The question is whether they can make the case,” Goldston said.


Russian-drafted proposal on aid to Ukraine fails at UN Security Council

A Russian-drafted UN Security Council proposal calling for humanitarian aid access in Ukraine has been defeated with two “yes” votes and 13 abstentions.

Only Russia and China voted in favour of the draft resolution. The United States and its Allies had voiced opposition to the measure because it does not assign blame for the crisis.


Biden thanks Belgium for supporting Russia sanctions: White House

United States President Joe Biden has thanked Belgium for its role in supporting sanctions against Russia, a White House official has said.

“Prime Minister Alexander de Croo of Belgium welcomed President Biden upon his arrival in Brussels,” the official said in a statement.

“President Biden thanked the Prime Minister for Belgium’s robust support in the EU for sanctions against Russia and for ongoing coordination in providing security assistance to Ukraine.”


First shipment from $800m US arms package to Ukraine to be sent this week

The first shipment from a new $800m United States arms package for Ukraine will be shipped in the next day or so, and will not take long to reach Ukraine, a senior US defence official has said.

The official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, did not specify which systems would be included in the first shipments to Ukraine but said priority would be given to the kinds of defensive weapons already being used by Ukrainian troops.

“We are already aggregating stocks in the United States and we’re getting ready to ship them over there,” the official said.


Biden lands in Brussels ahead of key meetings with European allies

Joe Biden has landed in Brussels ahead of NATO, G7 and European Union summits on Thursday.

The US president is expected to announce fresh sanctions on Russia while on his European tour, while shoring up support for Ukraine among Washington’s allies.

Before he departed for Belgium, Biden told reporters as he boarded the Marine One helicopter at the White House that he sees “a real threat” of Russian chemical warfare against Ukraine.


More than 4,550 people evacuated from Ukrainian cities on Wednesday

A total of 4,554 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Wednesday, a senior official has said.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, said in an online post that 2,912 people had left the besieged city of Mariupol in private vehicles.

A day earlier, Tymoshenko said 8,057 people had escaped from cities across the country.


US says it determined Russian forces committed ‘war crimes’ in Ukraine

The United States has determined that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, stressing that Washington’s assessment is based on information drawn from “public and intelligence sources”.

In a statement on Wednesday, Blinken said there have been numerous credible reports of “indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians” in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began.

“Today, I can announce that, based on information currently available, the US government assesses that members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine,” he said.

Read more here.


Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Read all the updates from Wednesday, March 23 here.





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Grand jury indicts Buffalo man accused of killing 10 Black people | Gun Violence News

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Payton Gendron, an 18-year-old white man, livestreamed the attack from a helmet camera, 13 people in total were shot.

Payton Gendron, the white man charged with murdering 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York has appeared briefly in court after a grand jury indicted him on a first-degree murder charge.

Gendron, 18, wore an orange jail uniform and a mask, and was silent throughout the one-minute proceeding on Thursday, attended by some relatives of the victims.

Assistant District Attorney Gary Hackbush said the indictment of Payton Gendron was handed down on Wednesday.

Someone shouted “Payton, you’re a coward!” as he was led out. He is being held in jail without bail.

The latest US racist mass shooting – at a supermarket on Saturday – has revived a national debate about guns, domestic terrorism, hate and the internet’s role in spreading it.

Thirteen people in all were shot at the Tops Friendly Market in a predominantly Black neighbourhood of Buffalo. Authorities are continuing to investigate the possibility of hate crime and terrorism charges.

Gendron, livestreamed the attack from a helmet camera before surrendering to police outside the store. Shortly before the attack, he posted hundreds of pages of writings to online discussion groups where he detailed his plans for the assault and his racist motivation.

Investigators have been examining those documents, which included a private diary he kept on the chat platform Discord.

In New York, prosecutors can charge a defendant with first-degree murder only under special circumstances, including when multiple people are killed in a single incident, like in the Buffalo shooting. The single count against Gendron covered all 10 deaths at the supermarket.

At his initial court appearance last week, Gendron’s court-appointed lawyer entered a plea of “not guilty” on his behalf. Gendron is due back in court on June 9.

The massacre at the Tops supermarket was unsettling even in a nation that has become almost numb to mass shootings. All but two of the 13 people shot during the attack were Black. Gendron’s online writings said he planned the assault after becoming infatuated with white supremacist ideology that he encountered online.

The diary said Gendron planned his attack in secret, with no outside help, but Discord confirmed Wednesday that an invitation to access his private writings was sent to a small group of people about 30 minutes before the assault began.

Some of them accepted the invitation. It was unclear how many read what he had written or logged on to view the assault live. It also was not clear whether anyone tried to alert law enforcement.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia has said investigators were working to obtain, verify and review Gendron’s online postings.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday authorised the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, to investigate social media platforms used by Gendron to determine if they were liable for “providing a platform to plan and promote violence”.

President Joe Biden, in a visit to Buffalo on Tuesday, condemned white nationalists, as well as online platforms, media outlets and political rhetoric he criticised for spreading racist conspiracy theories.

“What happened here is simple and straightforward: terrorism, terrorism, domestic terrorism,” Biden said.



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Not going to fly: Spirit Airlines again rejects JetBlue’s bid | Aviation News

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Spirit shareholders will decide the issue during a June 10 special meeting.

By Bloomberg

Spirit Airlines Inc. rebuffed a hostile $3.3 billion takeover offer from JetBlue Airways Corp., setting the stage for a potentially contentious vote by shareholders on whether to back a JetBlue bid or stand by a pending combination with rival deep discounter Frontier Group Holdings Inc.

Spirit said its board unanimously determined that the JetBlue proposal is not in the best interests of the carrier or its shareholders. The potential transaction “faces substantial regulatory hurdles” and is unlikely to be successfully completed, Spirit said Thursday in a statement. Spirit again recommended shareholders vote in favor of Frontier’s bid.

JetBlue didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Frontier also didn’t immediately respond.

It was the second rejection of a JetBlue bid by Spirit’s board, which stood by Frontier’s $2.9 billion cash-and-stock deal agreed to in February. After an unsuccessful $3.6 billion cash offer, JetBlue on May 16 went hostile, offering the reduced proposal directly to Spirit shareholders in a tender offer.

Spirit shareholders will decide the issue during a June 10 special meeting.

The no-frills carrier stuck by its earlier reasoning that the Frontier offer has a better chance of closing. Market overlap in the eastern US between JetBlue and Spirit could raise antitrust questions at the same time JetBlue battles a federal lawsuit over a business alliance with American Airlines Group Inc.

Spirit shares fell 1.9% to $19.05 as of 7:29 a.m. before regular trading in New York, while JetBlue and Frontier each slipped less than 1%.

With the pursuit of Spirit, JetBlue is seeking a burst of growth it can’t otherwise attain. The rival bid by Frontier would combine similarly focused deep-discounter carriers offering bare-bones low fares while charging for extras like coffee, bottled water and printed boarding passes. Either combination would pass Alaska Air Group Inc. to become the fifth-largest US airline by capacity.

Domestic, Leisure Travel

Spirit’s allure stems in part from an industrywide turn toward domestic markets and leisure travelers — the bread-and-butter of ultra-low-cost airlines — as it’s recovered from a pandemic slump. Bigger carriers have moved more heavily onto that turf amid the slow return of overseas travel demand.

Under the Frontier deal, investors in Miramar, Florida-based Spirit would receive 1.9126 in Frontier stock and $2.13 in cash for each Spirit share. The deal implies a value of $25.83 a share for Spirit. Assumption of net debt and operating lease liabilities push the total value to $6.6 billion. Holders of Denver-based Frontier would own 51.5% of the combined company and name seven of the twelve directors. The agreement includes a $94.2 million breakup fee.

JetBlue has said its offer isn’t subject to approval by its shareholders or to a financing contingency, and includes a $200 million “reverse breakup fee” payable to Spirit if a deal is blocked for antitrust reasons. The proposed deal would generate as much as $700 million in annual synergies, the carrier has said.

A Spirit deal would give JetBlue, hounded by Wall Street analysts for much of its 23-year history over cost creep, access to an organization and management team highly focused on keeping operating expenses in check. JetBlue lost out in its only other takeover attempt when it was outbid by Alaska for Virgin America in 2016.

(Updates with additional details beginning in second paragraph)

–With assistance from Justin Bachman.



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Germany school shooting injures one, suspect arrested | Crime News

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The shooting in a secondary school in Bremerhaven injured one person, who is not a pupil, police say.

Police in Germany’s northern city of Bremerhaven have arrested a suspected attacker after a shooting in a school injured one person.

The incident happened on Thursday at the Lloyd Gymnasium, a secondary school in the centre of Bremerhaven, local police said in a statement.

“The armed person has been arrested and is in police custody,” they said, adding the injured person, who has been taken to hospital, was not a pupil.

“Students are in their classrooms with their teachers. The police have the situation on the ground under control,” the statement said.

German paper Bild said the injured person was a woman.

It also reported that a second suspect appeared to be on the run. It earlier reported they were armed with a crossbow.

Police said they were ascertaining whether more than one person was involved.

School shootings are relatively rare in Germany, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in Europe. But a recent spate has rattled the population.

Bremerhaven police said on Twitter that a large deployment was under way in the city centre and asked residents to avoid the Mayor-Martin-Donandt square and surrounding streets, in the vicinity of the Lloyd secondary school.

Previous incidents

Last week, investigators in Germany’s city of Essen said they foiled a school bomb assault, as they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected to have been planning a “Nazi terror attack”.

Police in Essen stormed the teen’s room overnight, taking him into custody and uncovering 16 “pipe bombs”, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material.

In January, an 18-year-old student opened fire in a lecture hall at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany, killing a young woman and injuring three others before fleeing the scene and turning the weapon on himself.

In 2009, a former pupil killed nine students, three teachers and three passersby in a school shooting at Winnenden, in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. The attacker then killed himself.

In 2002, a 19-year-old former student, apparently in revenge for having been expelled, shot dead 16 people, including 12 teachers and two students, at a school in the central German city of Erfurt. He then killed himself.

The Winnenden and Erfurt massacres were carried out with legal weapons and spurred Germany to tighten gun laws.

The country currently requires anyone below 25 to pass a psychiatric exam before applying for a gun licence.



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