AP News Brief at 6:04 a.m. EDT

Zelenskyy: the Russians create a “total disaster” with mines

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned his people early Saturday that retreating Russian forces were creating “a complete disaster” outside the capital as they left mines on “the entire territory”, including around houses and corpses.

He issued the warning as the humanitarian crisis in the beleaguered city of Mariupol worsened, with Russian forces blocking evacuation operations for the second day in a row. Meanwhile, the Kremlin accused the Ukrainians of launching a helicopter attack on a fuel depot on Russian soil.

Ukraine has denied responsibility for the blaze, but if Moscow’s claim is confirmed, it would be the first known attack of the war in which Ukrainian planes entered Russian airspace.

“Certainly, this is not something that can be perceived as creating comfortable conditions for the continuation of the talks,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said five weeks after Moscow began sending more than 150 000 of its own soldiers across the Ukrainian border.

Russia has continued to withdraw some of its ground forces from areas around kyiv after saying earlier this week that it would reduce military activity near the Ukrainian capital and the northern city of Chernihiv.

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EXPLAINER: What’s next for European natural gas during the war?

Russian President Vladimir Putin demands payment in rubles for natural gas – or whatever. Germany speaks of gas rationing in the event of a cut. Prices for fuel used to heat homes, generate electricity and generate electricity are on the rise.

There’s a lot of talk about natural gas in Europe in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, to say the least.

Here are the key things to know:

WHAT IS PUTIN OFFERING?

Putin said importers of Russian gas now had to pay in rubles. European leaders said no dice – contracts say euros or dollars and one party cannot change that abruptly.

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New radio station helps Ukrainian refugees adjust to Prague

PRAGUE (AP) – Radio Ukraine is calling.

A new Prague-based internet radio station has started broadcasting news, information and music tailored to the daily concerns of some 300,000 refugees who have arrived in the Czech Republic since Russia launched its military assault on Ukraine.

In a studio in the heart of the Czech capital, radio veterans work with absolute newbies to provide refugees with what they need to know to settle in a new country as easily as possible.

The 10-person staff combines people who have fled Ukraine in recent weeks with those who have lived abroad for years. No matter who they are, their common goal is to help their fellow Ukrainians and their homeland against the brutal Russian invasion.

Natalia Churikova, an experienced journalist with Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, said she couldn’t say no to an offer to become the channel’s editor-in-chief.

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Number of COVID patients in US hospitals hits record high

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has plunged to its lowest level since the early days of the pandemic, providing a well-deserved break for healthcare workers and patients after the surge in omicron.

The number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus has dropped by more than 90% in more than two months, and some hospitals are going days without a single COVID-19 patient in intensive care for the first time since early 2020.

The beds freed up should help US hospitals retain exhausted staff, treat non-COVID-19 patients faster and cut bloated costs. More family members can visit their loved ones. And doctors hope to see a downward correction in pediatric visits, annual exams and cancer screenings.

“We should all be smiling that the number of people sitting in hospital right now with COVID, and people in intensive care units with COVID, is at this low point,” said the University of South Florida Jason Salemi.

But, he said, the nation “has paid a high price to get to this point. … Many people got sick and many people died.

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Indian scholars and activists slam decision to ban hijab in schools

NEW DELHI (AP) — A recent court ruling upholding a ban on Muslim students wearing head coverings in schools has drawn criticism from constitutional scholars and rights activists who say the abuse judiciary threatens religious freedoms in officially secular India.

Even if the ban is only imposed in the southern state of Karnataka, critics fear it could serve as the basis for wider restrictions on Islamic expression in a country that is already experiencing a rise in Hindu nationalism under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

“With this judgment, the rule you issue can restrict the religious freedom of every religion,” said Faizan Mustafa, religious freedom scholar and vice-chancellor of Hyderabad-based Nalsar University of Law. “Courts should not decide what is essential to a religion. In doing so, you favor certain practices over others.

Proponents of the ruling say it is an assertion of schools’ authority to determine dress codes and govern student conduct, and it takes precedence over any religious practice.

“Institutional discipline must prevail over individual choices. Otherwise it will lead to chaos,” said Karnataka Attorney General Prabhuling Navadgi, who argued the state’s case in court.

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Russia targets Ukrainian disinformation against Spanish speakers

Washington (AP) — Although Russia was the country that invaded neighboring Ukraine, the Kremlin’s version is relentlessly warning social media users across Latin America that the United States is the biggest problem.

“Never forget who the real threat to the world is,” reads one headline, translated here from Spanish. The article, originally posted in late February on Twitter by RT en Español, is aimed at an audience halfway around the world from the fighting in Kyiv and Mariupol.

As this war rages, Russia is launching lies into the feeds of Spanish-speaking social media users in countries that already have a long history of distrust of the United States. The goal is to gain the support of these countries for the Kremlin war and to stir up opposition to the American response.

Although many of the claims have been discredited, they are spreading widely in Latin America and helping to make the Kremlin-controlled media one of the main sources of information in Spanish about the war. Russian news outlet RT en Español is now the third most shared site on Twitter for Spanish-language news about the Russian invasion.

“The success of RT should worry anyone who cares about the success of democracy,” said Samuel Woolley, a professor at the University of Texas who studies misinformation. “RT is oriented towards authoritarian control and, depending on the context, nationalism and xenophobia. What we risk is Russia taking control of a growing market share of eyeballs.

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January 6 panel puts Garland in a ‘precarious’ position and turns up the heat

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol are increasingly releasing critical statements, court documents and more to send a direct message to Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department. .

President Donald Trump and his allies likely committed crimes, they say. And it’s up to you to do something about it.

“Attorney General Garland, do your job so we can do ours,” urged Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia.

“We take responsibility. The Department of Justice must do the same,” echoed Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Their rhetoric, centered this week on two committee-approved dismissals of Congress, is just the latest example of lawmakers’ lobbying campaign. This reflects a harsh reality: while they can investigate Jan. 6 and issue subpoenas to gather information, only the Justice Department can initiate criminal charges.

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UConn tops Stanford 63-58 to advance to NCAA title game

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Geno Auriemma and the UConn Huskies are back in the NCAA title game for the first time in six years after going through one of the toughest seasons of the Temple coach’s career. of fame.

Paige Bueckers scored 14 points and UConn advanced to the national championship game with a 63-58 win over defending champion Stanford on Friday night.

“We didn’t play our A game on the attacking side, but we did the things we had to do when we had to do them,” Auriemma said. “We came in big. I don’t know what more I can say about this band than what we have said. quite remarkable to be honest with you.

The Huskies will face South Carolina for the national championship on Sunday night. The Gamecocks defeated Louisville 72-59 in Game 1 of the National Semifinals. UConn and South Carolina met in November in a tournament title game in the Bahamas, and the Gamecocks used a strong fourth quarter to win.

It’s UConn’s first trip to the championship game since 2016, when the Huskies won the last of four straight titles. Since then, the team has suffered heartbreaking defeats in the national semi-finals, losing twice in overtime.

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South Carolina Women Dominate Louisville, Advance to Title Game

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — This time, Aliyah Boston and the South Carolina Gamecocks were smiling as they strutted off the court during the Final Four.

The only cries came from relief and joy, a year after a painfully opposed final in the national semi-final.

Boston took over after halftime and finished with 23 points and 18 rebounds to back up their AP National Player of the Year award, carrying South Carolina to the NCAA Championship Game with a 72-59 victory over Louisville Friday night.

“You see tears of joy, tears of joy, right now,” Boston said in his postgame TV interview. “I just thank God we still have a game.”

Brea Beal matched her season high with 12 points and helped hold Cardinals star Hailey Van Lith to nine points on 4-for-11 shooting as the Gamecocks (34-2) delivered another stifling defensive performance and advanced to meet Connecticut, a 63-58 semi-final winner over Stanford on Sunday night.

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AP Week in Pictures: Worldwide

March 26-April 1, 2022

From the stunning beauty of St. Sophia’s Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, shown from a tower in the city wall in Kyiv, Ukraine, to a Sri Lankan street protest against economic hardship by the people, to actor Will Smith slapping presenter Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars, in Los Angeles, this photo gallery highlights some of the world’s most mesmerizing images made or published by The Associated Press in the past week .

The selection was curated by AP photo editor Pamela Hassell in New York.

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