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Biden to speak on Ukraine war amid expectation of new military aid

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U.S. President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden will deliver an update on the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Thursday as he works to complete a new arms package for its military.

Biden is to address Americans from the White House Roosevelt Room at 9.45 a.m. (1345 GMT) and a source familiar with the planning said he is “expected to provide an update on our efforts to support Ukraine and the assistance we are providing.”

The new arms package was likely to be roughly the same size as an $800 million one announced last week but details were still being worked out, another U.S. official told Reuters earlier.

On Wednesday, Biden convened U.S. military leaders in an annual White House gathering that took on special significance as the war enters a risky new phase.

Opening the meeting, Biden touted the toughness of the Ukrainian military and said that NATO’s unity had shocked Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Russia has said it has entered a new stage of its operation and is methodically seeking to “liberate” the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Western allies anticipate Russia’s campaign could last many months, grind to a stalemate and test the battlefield capabilities of Ukrainian fighters.

Russia says it launched what it calls a “special military operation” on Feb. 24 to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine. Kyiv and its Western allies reject that as a false pretext.

U.S. forces are not fighting in Ukraine but are indirectly engaged, arming, training and financing its forces.

The U.S. aid announced last week included artillery systems, artillery rounds, armored personnel carriers and unmanned coastal defense boats, broadening the scope of materiel sent to Kyiv to include new types of heavy equipment.

If this week’s aid package is as large as expected, it would bring total U.S. military aid to Ukraine since Russia invaded in to well over $3 billion.

After Biden’s announcement, he is to fly to the Pacific Northwest on a two-day trip to promote his domestic agenda.

Reuters

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Over 100 injured in Spanish train collision

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At least 150 people have been injured after two trains collided in the Catalonia region of north-eastern Spain, emergency services have said.

The crash, which occurred around 07:50 (06:50 GMT), took place at a station on the outskirts of Barcelona.

Local media reported that the trains had been travelling in the same direction and collided while one was parked at the station.

It is unclear how the accident happened and officials have yet to comment.

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Emergency officials wrote on Twitter that the crash happened at the Montcada i Reixac – Manresa station, about 12km (7 miles) from the city centre.

Writing on Twitter, emergency services said that 150 people were “in a mild condition” and five others had been left with “in a less serious condition”.

They added that three people had been transferred to hospital.

Train traffic was briefly disrupted on several lines due to the accident, the national rail service Renfe said.

One passenger told RAC1, a local radio station, that “train was full and my carriage, which was the last one, was completely full” at the time of the collision.

BBC News
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23 years old Nigerian accused of raping Australian tourist in Indonesia

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A 23-year-old Nigerian tourist risks 12 years in prison after an alleged sexual crime against a 31-year-old tourist in Kuta, Indonesia.

report by Daily Mail revealed that the woman, who is an Australian, was raped after she met up with the Nigerian man on Friday, December 2.

The report also noted that the duo met on a dating app on December 1 and agreed to meet at a bar in Kuta the following day.

Although the Indonesian police are still searching for the Nigerian man, they alleged that he hurriedly took the woman to his hotel after drinking at the bar.

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The woman was sexually abused at the hotel and had cuts and bruises to her arms, hands and waist.

Witnesses said they saw the Australian staggering after drinking at the bar in Kuta.

FIJ gathered online that the Indonesian law provides a maximum of 12-year sentence for anyone convicted of physical sexual abuse.

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Comoros ex-president Sambi jailed for life for ‘high treason’

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Former Comorian President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi (2nd R), escorted by Gendarmes, arrives at the courthouse in Moroni on November 21, 2022. – Sambi, who served as president from 2006-2011 and is the main opponent of current leader Azali Assoumani, has been held under house arrest since May 2018.
Sambi was originally placed under house arrest for disturbing public order.
Three months later he was placed under pre-trial detention for embezzlement, corruption and forgery, over a scandal involving the sale of Comorian passports to stateless people living in Gulf nations. (Photo by Ibrahim YOUSSOUF / AFP)

A court in the Comoros on Monday handed down a life sentence for high treason to ex-president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, who was convicted of selling passports to stateless people living in the Gulf.

Sambi, 64, an arch-rival of President Azali Assoumani, was sentenced by the State Security Court, a special judicial body whose rulings cannot be appealed.

“He betrayed the mission entrusted to him by the Comorians,” public prosecutor Ali Mohamed Djounaid told the court last week as he requested a life sentence.

Sambi, who led the small Indian Ocean archipelago between 2006 and 2011, pushed through a law in 2008 allowing the sale of passports for high fees.

The scheme aimed at the so-called bidoon — an Arab minority numbering in the tens of thousands who cannot obtain citizenship.

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The former president was accused of embezzling millions of dollars under the scheme.

The prosecution said the cost was more than $1.8 billion — more than the impoverished nation’s GDP.

“They gave thugs the right to sell Comorian nationality as if they were selling peanuts,” said Eric Emmanuel Sossa, a lawyer for civilian plaintiffs.

But Sambi’s French lawyer Jean-Gilles Halimi said “no evidence” of missing money or bank accounts had been put forward to suggest a crime.

Sambi refused to attend the trial after a brief appearance at the first hearing, as his lawyers said there were no guarantees he would be judged fairly.

He was originally prosecuted for corruption, but the charges were reclassified as high treason, a crime that “does not exist in Comorian law,” Halimi said.

Sambi had already spent four years behind bars before he faced trial, far exceeding the maximum eight months. He was originally placed under house arrest for disturbing public order.

Guardian

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