Street fighting begins in Kyiv; people urged to seek shelter
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Kyiv officials are warning residents that street fighting is underway against Russian forces, and they are urging people to seek shelter.
The warning issued Saturday advised residents to remain in shelters, to avoid going near windows or on balconies, and to take precautions against being hit by debris or bullets.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian troops stormed toward Ukraine’s capital early Saturday as explosions reverberated through the city and the president urged the country to “stand firm” against the siege that could determine its future. He refused American help to evacuate, saying: “The fight is here.”
Hundreds of casualties were reported in the fighting, which included shelling that sliced through a Kyiv apartment building and pummeled bridges and schools. There also were growing signs that Russia may be seeking to overthrow Ukraine’s government, which US officials have described as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ultimate objective.
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US, Europe step up Russia sanctions to target Putin directly
BRUSSELS (AP) — The United States and European allies said Friday they were stepping up sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by adding measures directly targeting President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister, putting diplomatic appeals to one side as Russia’s forces closed on Ukraine’s capital.
The move by the US, the European Union and Britain sends “a clear message about the strength of the opposition to the actions” by Putin, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. On a day when explosions and gunfire were sounding in Kyiv’s capital, and Pope Francis went to Russia’s embassy in Rome to personally appeal for an end, the sanctions were part of growing global condemnation of the offensive.
Asked by reporters if US President Joe Biden has planned any more direct diplomatic overtures toward Putin, whose ground and air forces are pushing an offensive on Ukraine’s key cities, Psaki said no.
“I would say that a moment where a leader is … in the middle of invading a sovereign country is not the moment where diplomacy feels appropriate,” Psaki reporter told at a White House briefing. “It does not mean we have ruled out diplomacy forever.”
PSAKI said the US was preparing individual sanctions on Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, likely to include travel bans. The announcement came hours after the European Union announced it intended to freeze Putin’s assets, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told NATO leaders his country would also sanction Putin and Lavrov.
Biden nominates Jackson, first Black woman, to Supreme Court
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Friday nominated federal appeals court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, the first Black woman selected to serve on a court that once declared her race unworthy of citizenship and endorsed American segregation.
Introducing Jackson at the White House, Biden declared, “I believe it’s time that we have a court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation.”
With his nominee standing alongside, the president praised her as having “a pragmatic understanding that the law must work for the American people.” He said, “She strives to be fair, to get it right, to do justice.”
In Jackson, Biden delivered on a campaign promised to make the historic appointment and further diversify a court that was made up entirely of white men for almost two centuries.
He also chose an attorney who would be the high court’s first former public defender, though she possesses the elite legal background of other justices as well.
CDC: Many healthy Americans can take a break from masks
Most Americans live in places where healthy people, including students in schools, can safely take a break from wearing masks under new US guidelines released Friday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlined the new set of measures for communities where COVID-19 is easing its grip, with less of a focus on positive test results and more on what’s happening at hospitals.
The new system greatly changes the look of the CDC’s risk map and puts more than 70% of the US population in counties where the coronavirus is posing a low or medium threat to hospitals. Those are the people who can stop wearing masks, the agency said.
The agency is still advising people, including schoolchildren, to wear masks where the risk of COVID-19 is high. That’s the situation in about 37% of US counties, where about 28% of Americans live.
The new recommendations do not change the requirement to wear masks on public transportation and indoors in airports, train stations and bus stations. The CDC guidelines for other indoor spaces aren’t binding, meaning cities and institutions even in areas of low risk may set their own rules. And the agency says people with COVID-19 symptoms or who test positive shouldn’t stop wearing masks.
US sanctions on Russian oligarchs miss richest of rich
WASHINGTON (AP) — The term Russian oligarch conjures images of posh London mansions, gold-plated Bentleys and sleek superyachts in the Mediterranean, their decks draped with partiers dripping in jewels.
But the raft of sanctions on oligarchs announced by President Joe Biden this week in response to the invasion of Ukraine may do little to dim the jet-setting lifestyles of Russia’s ultra-rich and infamous – much less force a withdrawal of tanks and troops.
US sanctions target Russian President Vladmir Putin and a handful of individuals believed to be among his closest security advisers, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. But the list is just as notable for who isn’t on it — most of the top names from Forbes’ list of the richest Russians whose multi-billion-dollar fortunes are now largely intertwined with the West, from investments in Silicon Valley start -ups to British Premier League soccer teams.
Citing the concerns of European allies, the US also didn’t impose what was seen as the harshest punishment at its disposal, banning Russia from SWIFT, the international financial system that banks use to move money around the world.
Biden said Thursday the new US sanctions would nevertheless cripple Russia’s financial system and stymie its economic growth by targeting Russia’s biggest banks, which the Treasury Department said holds nearly 80% of all the country’s banking assets.
Live updates: Zelenskyy declines US offer to evacuate Kyiv
The latest on the Russia-Ukraine crisis:
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was asked to evacuate Kyiv at the behest of the US government but turned down the offer.
Zelenskyy said in response: “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,” according to a senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of the conversation, who described Zelenskyy as upbeat.
Invading Russian forces closed in on Ukraine’s capital on Saturday, in an apparent encircling movement after a barrage of airstrikes on cities and military bases around the country.
Sentence, state trial loom for ex-cops in Floyd’s killing
MINNEAPOLIS, AP — Three former Minneapolis police officers convicted of violating George Floyd’s civil rights face federal sentences that one expert says could range from less than five years in prison to as much as the 25 years prosecutors are seeking for their former colleague Derek Chauvin.
A comprehensive process to determine that could take months. Meanwhile, the officers have a right to appeal their convictions, and they face a state trial in June for allegedly aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. A federal investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department is also ongoing.
Here’s a look at what’s next:
After a monthlong trial, a federal jury on Thursday found former Minneapolis officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane of violating Floyd’s civil rights.
EXPLAINER: What does Texas’ data on abortions say about law?
DALLAS (AP) — Texas has released data showing a marked drop in abortions at clinics in the state in the first month under the nation’s strictest abortion law, but that only tells part of the story.
A study released Friday showing a jump in requests from Texans for abortion pills by mail is helping complete the picture, as will learning more about the number of women who went to clinics outside the state, and how many who were unable to get abortions ended up giving birth.
“I think a big question is: What’s the new composition of how people are accessing abortion care?” said Abigail Aiken, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin who studies reproductive health and who led the study looking at requests for abortion medication by mail.
Here’s a look at what the numbers that have been released so far do — and don’t — tell us:
WHAT DO THE RECENTLY RELEASED NUMBERS SHOW?
California reps ask US for new water study at former base
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — Two California congressmembers are asking the federal government to study whether there’s evidence that potential toxic and contaminated drinking water at Fort Ord can be tied to specific cancers and other diseases.
“Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to our servicemembers and their families,” said Reps. Katie Porter and Jimmy Panetta in a letter to the director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. “By conducting a new study at Fort Ord, we may guarantee that those harmed while serving our country get the medical care they need.”
The request follows an Associated Press report earlier this week about hundreds of people who lived and served near the Army base who are concerned that their health problems might be tied to chemicals there.
In 1990, four years before it began the process of closing as an active military training base, Fort Ord was added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the most polluted places in the nation. Included in that pollution were dozens of chemicals, some now known to cause cancer, found in the base’s drinking water and soil.
The AP interviewed nearly two dozen of these veterans and reviewed thousands of pages of documents, and interviewed military, medical and environmental scientists.
John Landy, pursuer of Bannister’s 4-minute mile, dies at 91
John Landy, an Australian runner who dueled with Roger Bannister to be the first person to run a four-minute mile, has died. He was 91.
Landy’s family on Saturday said the former athlete, who also became governor of Australia’s Victoria state, had died at his home in Castlemaine after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
“Dad passed away peacefully on Thursday surrounded by what he loved most: his family and the Australian bush,” Landy’s son Matthew Landy said. “We are going to really miss him. He was not only a wonderful husband, but a wonderful father and he lived a wonderful life.”
Landy took up competitive running to help him get fit to play Australian rules football, only becoming serious about it after making a state track and field squad in 1951.
Later he was to make world headlines as he vied with Englishman Bannister to become the first man to run under four minutes for the mile.
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