Los Angeles’ suburban Chinatown grows with new waves of immigrants

Los Angeles’ Chinatown has undergone many changes, as immigrants from mainland China join those from Hong Kong, Taiwan and other parts of Southeast Asia. As Mike O’Sullivan reports, the growing community has also expanded to the suburbs, where recent arrivals find much that is familiar. Mo Yu contributed. …

Major retailers are offering summer deals to entice inflation-weary shoppers

NEW YORK — Americans who spend Memorial Day scouting sales online and in stores may find more reasons to celebrate the return of warmer weather. Major retailers are stepping up discounts heading into the summer months, hoping to entice inflation-weary shoppers into opening their wallets. Target, Walmart and other chains have rolled out price cuts — some permanent, others temporary — with the stated aim of giving their customers some relief. The reductions, which mostly involve groceries, are getting introduced as inflation showed its first sign of easing this year but not enough for consumers who are struggling to pay for basic necessities as well as rent and car insurance. The latest quarterly earnings reported by Walmart, Macy’s and Ralph Lauren underscored that consumers have not stopped spending. But multiple CE0s, including the heads of McDonald’s, Starbucks and home improvement retailer Home Depot, have observed that people are becoming more price-conscious and choosy. They’re delaying purchases, focusing on store brands compared to typically more expensive national brands, and looking for deals. “Retailers recognize that unless they pull out some stops on pricing, they are going to have difficulty holding on to the customers they got,” Neil Saunders, managing director of consulting and data analysis firm GlobalData, said. “The consumer really has had enough of inflation, and they’re starting to take action in terms of where they shop, how they shop, the amount they buy.” While discounts are an everyday tool in retail, Saunders said these aggressive price cuts that cover thousands of items announced by a number of retailers represent a “major shift” in recent strategy. He noted most companies talked about price increases in the past two or three years, and the cut mark the first big “price war” since before inflation started taking hold. Where can shoppers find lower prices? Higher-income shoppers looking to save money have helped Walmart maintain strong sales in recent quarters. But earlier this month, the nation’s largest retailer expanded its price rollbacks — temporary discounts that can last a few months — to nearly 7,000 grocery items, a 45% increase. Items include a 28-ounce can of Bush’s baked beans marked down to $2.22, from $2.48, and a 24-pack of 12-ounce Diet Coke priced at $12.78 from $14.28. Company executives said the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer is seeing more people eating at home versus eating out. Walmart believes its discounts will help the business over the … “Major retailers are offering summer deals to entice inflation-weary shoppers”

Poland fleshes out details of plan to beef up eastern border

Warsaw, Poland — Poland fleshed out details on Monday of “East Shield,” a 10 billion zloty ($2.55 billion) program to beef up defenses along its eastern border with Belarus and Russia, saying it hoped to complete the plans by 2028. The border has been a flashpoint since migrants started flocking there in 2021, after Belarus, a close Russian ally, opened travel agencies in the Middle East offering a new unofficial route into Europe — a move the European Union said was designed to create a crisis. The Polish defense ministry presented details of the program, including plans to build fortifications, hubs and telecommunication systems in coordination with other eastern front-line NATO allies — Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. “This makes up one complex system of defensive and deterrent actions. It connects access systems, but we will also purchase and implement modern anti-drone and reconnaissance systems,” Defense Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz said. “This is the largest operation to strengthen Poland’s eastern border, NATO’s eastern flank, since 1945,” he told a news conference. Deputy Defense Minister Cezary Tomczyk said the investments would start in the first quarter of 2025 and were expected to be completed by 2028. Poland hopes to tap EU funds for some of the projects. Poland’s previous government built a fence on the Polish-Belarusian border that is more than 180 km long (112 miles) and 5.5 meters (18 feet) high to protect against illegal migration. It is complemented by a system of cameras and sensors monitoring the frontier. Relations between Poland and Russia have also deteriorated sharply since Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into neighboring Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. Warsaw has ramped up defense spending in response. …

Military labs do the detective work to identify soldiers decades after they died in World War II

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. — Generations of American families have grown up not knowing exactly what happened to their loved ones who died while serving their country in World War II and other conflicts. But a federal lab tucked away above the bowling alley at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha and a sister lab in Hawaii are steadily answering those lingering questions, aiming to offer 200 families per year the chance to honor their relatives with a proper burial. “They may not even have been alive when that service member was alive, but that story gets carried down through the generations,” said Carrie Brown, a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency lab manager at Offutt. “They may have seen on the mantle a picture of that person when they were little and not really understood or known who they were.” Memorial Day and the upcoming 80th anniversary of D-Day on June 6 are reminders of the urgency of Brown’s work. The forensic anthropologists, medical examiners and historians who work together to identify lost soldiers are in a race against time as remains buried on battlefields around the globe deteriorate. But advances in DNA technology, combined with innovative techniques including comparing bones to chest X-rays taken by the military, mean the labs can identify more of the missing soldiers every year. Some 72,000 World War II soldiers remain unaccounted for, along with roughly 10,000 more from all the conflicts since. The experts believe about half of those are recoverable. The agency identified 59 servicemembers in 2013, when the Offutt lab first opened. That number has steadily risen — 159 service members last year, up from 134 in 2022 — and the labs have a goal of 200 identifications annually. The labs’ work allowed Donna Kennedy to bury her cousin, Cpl. Charles Ray Patten, with full military honors this month in the same Lawson, Missouri, cemetery where his father and grandfather are buried. Patten died 74 years ago during the Korean War, but spent decades buried as an unknown in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. “I just I ached. I mean, it hurt. You know, I just felt so bad. Even though I didn’t know him, I loved him,” Kennedy said. Patten’s funeral was a simple affair with just a few family members. But often when veterans who fought decades earlier are identified, people waving flags and holding signs … “Military labs do the detective work to identify soldiers decades after they died in World War II”

Life expectancy bouncing back globally after COVID pandemic

Life expectancy in Europe has returned to the level it reached before the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, while the U.S. is still trying to regain lost ground. Overall, new numbers show life expectancy has increased in most parts of the world, with eastern sub-Saharan Africa showing the biggest gains over the past three decades. Henry Ridgwell reports. …

U.S. lawmakers vow to help Taiwan strengthen defense against growing Chinese aggression

Taipei, Taiwan — A bipartisan congressional delegation from the United States met Taiwan’s new president in Taipei Monday, and reiterated Washington’s strong support for the democratic island.  During the meeting with the U.S. delegation Lai Ching-te, who took office on May 20, promised to keep pushing for defense reform in Taiwan and show the world that “Taiwanese people are determined to defend their homeland.”  He hopes that “the U.S. Congress will continue to help strengthen Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities and increase exchanges and cooperation between Taiwan and the U.S. through a variety of legislative actions.”  At a news briefing following the meeting with Lai, Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the U.S. remains committed to supporting Taiwan’s efforts to strengthen its defense capabilities as China increases military pressure on the island.  “We will support you, and we will get the weapons you purchased to you as soon as possible,” he told dozens of journalists, adding that strength and deterrence are key to ensuring the Taiwan Strait remains peaceful and prosperous.  The visit comes three days after the Chinese military staged a two-day, large-scale military exercise encircling Taiwan. Describing the Chinese war game around Taiwan as “an intimidation tactic to punish democracy,” McCaul said there is more urgency to ensure Taiwan receives the weapons that it has bought from the United States.  “We are moving forward on [the delivery] of these weapons systems, but I’d like to see it faster,” he said during the news conference, noting that the $95 billion foreign aid package that the U.S. passed last month, which includes a $8 billion package for the Indo-Pacific region and Taiwan, is a sign of Washington’s support for Taiwan.  While he promises to help accelerate the pace of weapons delivery to Taiwan, McCaul admitted that the backlog of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, which is about $19 billion, is partially caused by the limited military industrial capacity in the U.S.  “We have to wait a period of two to five years for the weapons to go into the country and that is way too long,” he said, vowing to push U.S. defense contractors and the Biden administration to address the issue.  Since China focused on simulating a maritime blockade around Taiwan through its latest military exercise, McCaul said Taipei and Washington should focus on helping the island acquire more maritime assets to deal with a potential … “U.S. lawmakers vow to help Taiwan strengthen defense against growing Chinese aggression”

US philanthropist builds homes for displaced Ukrainians

Since the spring 2022, Dell Loy Hansen has spent over $70 million to build homes for internally displaced Ukrainians. The U.S. philanthropist says he has been to Ukraine four times and is just getting started. Anna Kosstutschenko met him in the Kyiv region and has more in this report. …

Josef Newgarden repeats as Indy 500 winner

INDIANAPOLIS — Josef Newgarden put his cheating scandal behind him to become the first back-to-back winner of the Indianapolis 500 since Helio Castroneves 22 years ago and give Roger Penske a record-extending 20th win in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” The Tennessean passed Pato O’Ward on the final lap of Sunday’s rain-delayed race to become the first driver to win consecutive 500s since Castroneves did it for Penske in 2001 and 2002. And just like last year, Newgarden stopped his Chevrolet-powered car on the track and climbed through a hole in the fence to celebrate with fans in the grandstands. “I love this crowd. I’ve got to always go in the crowd if we win here, I am always doing that,” Newgarden said. O’Ward slumped his head over his steering wheel in bitter disappointment. He was trying to become the first Mexican in 108 runnings to win the Indy 500. It looked as if he had been crying when he finally removed his helmet. He finished sixth in his Indy 500 debut, then fourth and then second in 2022 when he was accused of not being aggressive enough to race Marcus Ericsson for the win. He refused to back down last year and wound up crashing as he raced for the win. As O’Ward bided his time in the closing laps — he and Newgarden traded the lead several times — he waited to make the winning pass on the final lap. Newgarden got it right back two turns later. “It is hard to put it into words — we went back, we went forward, we went back, some people were driving like maniacs,” O’Ward said. “We had so many near-race enders. Just so close again. … I put that car through things I never thought it was going to be able to do. It is always a heartbreak when you’re so close, especially when it’s not the first time and you don’t know how many opportunities you have.” The win was an incredible bounceback for Newgarden, who last month had his March season-opening victory disqualified because Team Penske had illegal push-to-pass software on its cars. Newgarden used the additional horsepower three times in the win and it took IndyCar nearly six weeks to discover the Penske manipulation. Roger Penske, who owns the race team, IndyCar, the Indy 500 and the speedway, suspended four crew members, including Team President Tim Cindric. … “Josef Newgarden repeats as Indy 500 winner”

Georgian PM, president trade criticism over media freedom law

Tbilisi, Georgia — The president and prime minister of Georgia on Sunday lashed out at each other at a ceremony marking the country’s independence day as strong tensions persist over a law that critics say will obstruct media freedom and damage Georgia’s bid to join the European Union. The measure would require media and nongovernmental organizations to register as “carrying out the interests of a foreign power” if they receive more than 20% of their budget from abroad. Opponents denounce it as “the Russian law” because of similar regulations there. Large protests have repeatedly been held in the capital Tbilisi as the measure made its way through parliament. After the legislature passed the bill, President Salome Zourabichvili vetoed it on May 18, but the Georgian Dream party of Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze and its backers have enough votes in parliament to override the veto. “As the specter of Russia looms over us, partnership and rapprochement with Europe are the true path to preserving and strengthening our independence and peace. Those who sabotage and undermine this path trample upon and damage the peaceful and secure future of our country, hindering the path towards becoming a full member of the free and democratic world,” Zourabichvili said at the ceremony celebrating the 106th anniversary of Georgia’s declaration of independence from Russia. At the same ceremony, Kobakhidze lauded Georgia’s development and sharply criticized Zourabichvili. “It was the unity and reasonable steps of the people and their elected government that gave us the opportunity to maintain peace in the country for the past two years despite existential threats and multiple betrayals, including the betrayal of the president of Georgia,” he said. In the evening, thousands of opponents of the measure marched along one of the main avenues of the capital. Some previous demonstrations against the law have brought clashes between protesters and police. The European Union’s foreign policy arm has said “the adoption of this law negatively impacts Georgia’s progress on the EU path.” Critics say it may have been driven by Russia to thwart Georgia’s chances of further integrating with the West. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday that travel bans would be imposed on Georgian officials “who are responsible for or complicit in undermining democracy in Georgia” and “it remains our hope that Georgia’s leaders will reconsider the draft law and take steps to move forward with their nation’s democratic and Euro-Atlantic … “Georgian PM, president trade criticism over media freedom law”

Lithuania’s Nauseda calls victory in presidential election

Vilnius, Lithuania — Lithuania’s Gitanas Nauseda announced his reelection in a presidential ballot on Sunday, following a campaign dominated by security concerns in the European Union and NATO member next door to Russia. The Baltic nation of 2.8 million people has been a staunch ally of Ukraine since Russia’s 2022 invasion. Like other countries in the region, it worries it could be Moscow’s next target. Ballots from nearly 90% of polling stations showed Nauseda, 60, winning roughly three quarters of the vote, followed by Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, 49, from the ruling center-right Homeland Union party. If confirmed by final results, Nauseda’s backing in his bid for a second term will be highest in the country since it split from the Soviet Union in 1991. A former senior economist with Swedish banking group SEB who is not affiliated with any party, Nauseda won the first round of the election on May 12 with 44% of the votes, short of the 50% he needed for an outright victory. Just over half of Lithuanians believe a Russian attack is possible or even very likely, according to a ELTA/Baltijos Tyrimai poll conducted between February and March. Russia has regularly dismissed concerns that it might attack a NATO member. Nauseda told jubilant supporters in the capital Vilnius that he will continue working on the country’s defense capabilities. “Lithuanian independence and freedom is like a fragile vessel which we need to cherish and keep from cracking,” he said. Both Nauseda and Simonyte support increasing defense spending to at least 3% of Lithuania’s gross domestic product, from the 2.75% planned for this year. But Nauseda, who is a social conservative, has clashed with Simonyte on other issues, including whether to give a legal recognition to same-sex civil partnerships, which Nauseda opposes. He has said it would make such unions too similar to marriage, which Lithuania’s constitution only allows between a man and a woman. Simonyte, a former finance minister and a fiscal hawk, said on Thursday that if she won, “the direction for the country – pro-European, pro-Western – would not change.” “But I would like quicker progress, more openness and understanding, larger tolerance to people who are different from us,” she said. Lithuania’s president has a semi-executive role, which includes heading the armed forces, chairing the supreme defense and national security policy body and representing the country at EU and NATO summits. The president sets foreign … “Lithuania’s Nauseda calls victory in presidential election”

Putin arrives in Uzbekistan on 3rd foreign trip of his new term

Moscow — Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived Sunday in the capital of Uzbekistan where he is to hold talks with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev that are expected to focus on deepening the countries’ relations. Putin laid a wreath at a monument to Uzbekistan’s independence in Tashkent and held what the Kremlin said were informal talks with Mirziyoyev. The formal meeting of the presidents is to take place Monday. The visit is Putin’s third foreign trip since being inaugurated for a fifth term in May. He first went to China, where he expressed appreciation for China’s proposals for talks to end the conflict in Ukraine, and later to Belarus where Russia has deployed tactical nuclear weapons. Ahead of the Uzbekistan trip, Putin and Mirziyoyev discussed an array of bilateral cooperation issues, including trade and economic relations, the Kremlin said. …

Libertarians boo, cheer Trump; Biden encourages graduating cadets to defend freedom

Former President Donald Trump faced sharp skepticism on his presidential bid when addressing Libertarians on Saturday. President Joe Biden’s weekend remarks focused on encouraging graduating cadets to “be the guardians of American democracy.” VOA’s Veronica Balderas Iglesias has the details. …

Thousands rally in Armenia against Azerbaijan land transfer 

Yerevan — Thousands of Armenians staged an anti-government protest on Sunday, demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation over territorial concessions to arch foe neighbor Azerbaijan. Protests erupted in the Caucasus nation last month after the government agreed to hand over to Baku territory it had controlled since the 1990s. The ceded area is strategically important for landlocked Armenia because it controls sections of a vital highway to Georgia. Armenian residents of nearby settlements say the move cuts them off from the rest of the country and accuse Pashinyan of giving away territory without getting anything in return. On Friday, in a key step toward normalizing ties between the rivals — who fought two wars over then-disputed Nagorno Karabakh region — Yerevan returned to Azerbaijan four border villages it seized decades ago. An AFP reporter said several thousand people flooded Yerevan’s central Republic Square in a fresh protest spearheaded by charismatic archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, a church leader from the Tavush region, where villages were handed over to Azerbaijan. “Our people want to change the bitter reality which was imposed on us,” Galstanyan told the crowd, adding that fixing the volatile border with Azerbaijan “must only be carried out after a peace treaty is signed” with Baku. One of the demonstrators, 67-year-old Artur Sargsyan, said: “We demand an immediate resignation of Nikol [Pashinyan].” “I had fought in two wars with Azerbaijan and will not let him give away our lands.” Pashinyan defended the territorial concessions as aimed at securing peace with Baku. But they sparked weeks of protests and demonstrators blocked major roads in an attempt to force him to change course. In a televised statement on Friday evening, he said resolving border disputes with Azerbaijan “is a sole guarantee for the very existence of the Armenian republic within its internationally recognized and legitimate frontier.” Galstanyan is seeking to launch an impeachment process against Pashinyan, a former journalist who was propelled to power in the wake of peaceful street protests he led in 2018. The archbishop said on Sunday that he would renounce his clerical office to run for prime ministerial post, and called for snap parliamentary elections. “My spiritual service is above all possible posts, but I am ready to sacrifice it for the sake of change in this country,” he told the cheering crowd. He then called on protesters to march toward Pashinyan’s residence. Opposition parties would require the support of at least … “Thousands rally in Armenia against Azerbaijan land transfer “

Macron begins the first state visit to Germany by a French president in 24 years

Berlin — President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Germany Sunday for the first state visit by a French head of state in 24 years, a three-day trip meant to underline the strong ties between the European Union’s traditional leading powers.  The visit was originally meant to take place last July but was postponed at the last minute due to rioting in France following the killing of a 17-year-old by police.  While Macron is a frequent visitor to Germany as Paris and Berlin try to coordinate their positions on EU and foreign policy, this is the first state visit with full pomp since Jacques Chirac came in 2000. Macron and his wife, Brigitte, are being hosted by Germany’s largely ceremonial president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The visit comes as Germany celebrates the 75th anniversary of its post-World War II constitution.  Steinmeier is holding a state banquet for Macron at his Bellevue palace in Berlin on Sunday evening before the two presidents travel on Monday to the eastern city of Dresden, where Macron will make a speech, and on Tuesday to Muenster in western Germany. The state visit will be followed later Tuesday by a meeting between Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and ministers from both countries at a government guest house outside Berlin.  Germany and France, which have the EU’s biggest economies, have long been viewed as the motor of European integration though there have often been differences in policy and emphasis between the two neighbors on a range of matters.  That was evident earlier this year in different positions on whether Western countries should rule out sending ground troops to Ukraine. Both nations are strong backers of Kyiv. …

At least 5 dead in Texas after severe weather sweeps across Texas and Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY — Powerful storms across Texas and Oklahoma obliterated homes and struck a highway travel center where drivers had rushed to take shelter, leaving thousands of people without power and a wide trail of damage Sunday. A sheriff said at least five people were dead in one rural community in Texas and many more were injured.  The destructive storms began Saturday night and included a tornado that overturned heavy recreational vehicles and shut down an interstate near Dallas. Officials said multiple people were transported to hospitals by ambulance and helicopter in the Texas county of Denton but did not immediately know the full extent of injuries.  In neighboring Cooke County, Sheriff Ray Sappington told The Associated Press that the five dead included three family members who were found in one home near Valley View, a rural community near the border with Oklahoma.  “We do have five confirmed [dead], but sadly, we think that that number is probably going to go up,” Sappington said. “There’s nothing left of this house. It’s just a trail of debris left. The devastation is pretty severe.”  Forecasters had issued tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings for parts of both states, as some heat records were broken during the day in South Texas and residents received triple-digit temperature warnings over the long holiday weekend.  A tornado crossed into northern Denton County in Texas late Saturday and overturned tractor-trailer trucks, stopping traffic on Interstate 35, Denton County Community Relations Director Dawn Cobb said in a statement.  The tornado was confirmed near Valley View, moving east at 64 kph, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a tornado warning for northern Denton County, Cobb said.  The storm damaged homes, overturned motorhomes and knocked down power lines and trees throughout the area including points in Sanger, Pilot Point, Ray Roberts Lake and Isle du Bois State Park, Cobb said.  People who suffered injuries in the storm were transported to area hospitals by ground and air ambulances, but the number of injuries in the county was not immediately known, Cobb said, while a shelter was opened in Sanger.  The fire department in the city of Denton, about 59.5 kilometers north of Forth Worth, Texas, posted on X that emergency personnel were responding to a marina “for multiple victims, some reported trapped.”  The Claremore, Oklahoma, police announced on social media that the city about 28 miles (45 kilometers) east of Tulsa was … “At least 5 dead in Texas after severe weather sweeps across Texas and Oklahoma”

Globe-trotting archeologist who drew comparisons to Indiana Jones has died

MADISON, Wis. — Schuylar Jones, a globe-trotting American adventurer whose exploits drew comparisons to iconic movie character Indiana Jones, has died. He was 94. Jones’ stepdaughter, Cassandra Da’Luz Vieira-Manion, posted on her Facebook page that Jones died on May 17. She said she had been taking care of him for the last six years and “truly thought he might live forever.” “He was a fascinating man who lived a lot of life around the world,” she wrote. Da’Luz Vieira-Manion didn’t immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press on Saturday. Jones grew up around Wichita, Kansas. His younger sister, Sharon Jones Laverentz, told the Wichita Eagle that her brother had visited every U.S. state before he was in first grade thanks to their father’s job supplying Army bases with boots. He wrote in an autobiography posted on Edinburgh University’s website that he moved to Paris after World War II, where he worked as a photographer. He also spent four years in Africa as a freelance photographer. In his 1956 book “Under the African Sun,” he tells of surviving a helicopter crash in a marketplace in In Salah, Algeria, the Wichita Eagle reported. After the helicopter crashed he discovered he was on fire; gale-force winds had reignited the ashes in his pipe. “Camels bawled and ran, scattering loads of firewood in all directions,” Jones wrote. “Children, Arabs and veiled women either fled or fell full length in the dust. Goats and donkeys went wild as the whirling, roaring monster landed in their mist … weak with relief, the pilot and I sat in the wreckage of In Salah’s market place and roared with laughter.” He later moved to Greece, where he supported himself by translating books from German and French to English. He decided to drive through India and Nepal in 1958. He said he fell in love with Afghanistan during the trip and later enrolled at Edinburgh to study anthropology. “He was more interested in the people and cultures he was finding than he was in photography and selling those,” his son, archeologist Peter Jones, told the Wichita Eagle. After graduating he returned to Afghanistan and began study natives living in the country’s remote eastern valleys. He parlayed that research into a doctorate at Oxford University and went on to become a curator and later director at that university’s Pitt Rivers Museum. Upon retirement, he was awarded the Commander of the … “Globe-trotting archeologist who drew comparisons to Indiana Jones has died”

Russian attack on Ukraine’s Kharkiv kills 12, injures dozens

KHARKIV, Ukraine — A Russian strike on a crowded DIY hardware store in Kharkiv killed 12 people and wounded dozens more, Ukrainian prosecutors said on Sunday morning, the death toll rising as the country’s second-largest city reeled from two attacks a day earlier. Two guided bombs hit the Epicentr DIY hypermarket in a residential area of the city on Saturday afternoon, Regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov said on national television. The strikes caused a massive fire which sent a column of thick, black smoke billowing hundreds of meters into the air. Forty-three people were injured, the local prosecutors’ office said, adding that 10 of the 12 dead had still not been identified. Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said about 120 people had been in the hardware store when the bombs struck. “The attack targeted the shopping center, where there were many people – this is clearly terrorism,” Terekhov said. In a post on the Telegram app, Ukraine’s Interior Minister, Ihor Klymenko, said 16 people were still missing after the strike. The past week has seen an uptick in strikes on the city after Russian troops stormed across the border, opening a new front north of the city. Russia has bombarded Kharkiv, which lies less than 30 kilometers from its border, throughout the war, having reached its outskirts in a failed bid to capture it in 2022. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a plea to Ukraine’s Western allies to help boost air defenses to keep the country’s cities safe. French President Emmanuel Macron, writing on social media platform X, denounced the attack on the store as “unacceptable.” A separate early evening missile strike hit a residential building in the center of the city of 1.3 million. The number of people wounded by that strike had climbed to 25 by Sunday morning. The missile left a crater several meters deep in the pavement at the foot of the building, which also housed a post office, a beauty salon and a cafe. Emergency workers ushered away residents of nearby apartment buildings. Some of the injured had blood on their faces. Just over the border, in Russia’s Belgorod region, the regional governor said four residents died in Ukrainian attacks on Saturday. Firefighters battle blaze Andriy Kudinov, director of the suburban shopping center, told local media the hardware store was full of shoppers buying items for their summer cottages. It took 16 hours to fully extinguish the fire at … “Russian attack on Ukraine’s Kharkiv kills 12, injures dozens”

Average US vehicle age hits record of 12.6 years 

detroit — Cars, trucks and SUVs in the U.S. keep getting older, hitting a record average age of 12.6 years in 2024 as people hang on to their vehicles largely because new ones cost so much.  S&P Global Mobility, which tracks state vehicle registration data nationwide, said Wednesday that the average vehicle age grew about two months from last year’s record.  But the growth in average age is starting to slow as new vehicle sales start to recover from pandemic-related shortages of parts, including computer chips. The average increased by three months in 2023.  Still, with an average U.S. new-vehicle selling price of just over $45,000 last month, many can’t afford to buy new — even though prices are down more than $2,000 from the peak in December of 2022, according to J.D. Power.  “It’s prohibitively high for a lot of households now,” said Todd Campau, aftermarket leader for S&P Global Mobility. “So I think consumers are being painted into the corner of having to keep the vehicle on the road longer.”  Other factors include people waiting to see if they want to buy an electric vehicle or go with a gas-electric hybrid or a gasoline vehicle. Many, he said, are worried about the charging network being built up so they can travel without worrying about running out of battery power. Also, he said, vehicles are made better these days and simply are lasting a long time.  New vehicle sales in the U.S. are starting to return to pre-pandemic levels, with prices and interest rates the big influencing factors rather than illness and supply-chain problems, Campau said. He said he expects sales to hit around 16 million this year, up from 15.6 million last year and 13.9 million in 2022.  As more new vehicles are sold and replace aging vehicles in the nation’s fleet of 286 million passenger vehicles, the average age should stop growing and stabilize, Campau said. And unlike immediately after the pandemic, more lower-cost vehicles are being sold, which likely will bring down the average price, he said.  People keeping vehicles longer is good news for the local auto repair shop. About 70% of vehicles on the road are six or more years old, he said, beyond manufacturer warranties.  Those who are able to keep their rides for multiple years usually get the oil changed regularly and follow manufacturer maintenance schedules, Campau noted. …

US independent booksellers continued to expand in 2023

NEW YORK — Three years ago, Erin Decker was a middle school librarian in Kissimmee, Florida, increasingly frustrated by the state’s book bans and worried that she couldn’t make a difference remaining in her job. So, she and fellow librarian Tania Galiñanes thought of a way to fight back. “We just put our heads together and decided a bookstore would help make sure students could get to books that were being pulled from shelves,” says Decker, whose White Rose Books & More opened last fall in Kissimmee. The store is named for a resistance group in Nazi Germany and features a section — ringed by yellow “caution” tape — dedicated to such banned works as Maia Kabobe’s Gender Queer, Jonathan Evison’s Lawn Boy and John Green’s Looking for Alaska. White Rose Books is part of the ever-expanding and diversifying world of independent bookstores. Even as industry sales were slow in 2023, membership in the American Booksellers Association continued its years-long revival. It now stands at 2,433, more than 200 over the previous year and nearly double since 2016. Around 190 more stores are in the process of opening over the next two years, according to the ABA. “Our numbers are really strong, and we have a solid, diverse pipeline of new stores to come,” says Allison Hill, the book association’s CEO. She cites a range of reasons for people opening stores, from opposing bans to championing diversity to pursuing new careers after the pandemic. “Some are opening to give back to their community. And some still just love books,” she said during a phone interview this week. Recent members include everyone from the romance-oriented That’s What She Read in Mount Ayr, Iowa; to Seven Stories in Shawnee, Kansas, managed by 15-year-old Halley Vincent; to more than 20 Black-owned shops. In Pasadena, California, Octavia’s Bookshelf is named for the late Black science fiction author Octavia Butler and bills itself as “a space to find community, enjoy a cup of coffee, read, relax, find unique and specially curated products from artisans from around the world and in our neighborhood.” Leah Johnson, author of the prize-winning young adult novel You Should See Me In a Crown, was troubled by the surge in book bans and by what she saw as a shortage of outlets for diverse voices. Last year, she founded Loudmouth Books, one of several independent sellers to open in Indianapolis. “I’m not … “US independent booksellers continued to expand in 2023”

New cars in California could alert drivers for breaking the speed limit

SACRAMENTO, California — California could eventually join the European Union in requiring all new cars to alert drivers when they break the speed limit, a proposal aimed at reducing traffic deaths that would likely impact motorists across the country should it become law. The federal government sets safety standards for vehicles nationwide, which is why most cars now beep at drivers if their seat belt isn’t fastened. A bill in the California Legislature — which passed its first vote in the state Senate on Tuesday — would go further by requiring all new cars sold in the state by 2032 to beep at drivers when they exceed the speed limit by at least 16 kph. “Research has shown that this does have an impact in getting people to slow down, particularly since some people don’t realize how fast that their car is going,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco and the bill’s author. The bill narrowly passed Tuesday, an indication of the tough road it could face. Republican state Sen. Brian Dahle said he voted against it in part because he said sometimes people need to drive faster than the speed limit in an emergency. “It’s just a nanny state that we’re causing here,” he said. While the goal is to reduce traffic deaths, the legislation would likely impact all new car sales in the U.S. That’s because California’s auto market is so large that car makers would likely just make all of their vehicles comply with the state’s law. California often throws its weight around to influence national — and international — policy. California has set its own emission standards for cars for decades, rules that more than a dozen other states have also adopted. And when California announced it would eventually ban the sale of new gas-powered cars, major automakers soon followed with their own announcement to phase out fossil-fuel vehicles. The technology, known as intelligent speed assistance, uses GPS technology to compare a vehicle’s speed with a dataset of posted speed limits. Once the car is at least 16 kph over the speed limit, the system would emit “a brief, one-time visual and audio signal to alert the driver.” It would not require California to maintain a list of posted speed limits. That would be left to manufacturers. It’s likely these maps would not include local roads or recent changes in speed limits, resulting … “New cars in California could alert drivers for breaking the speed limit”

Lithuanians vote in presidential election overshadowed by Russia

VILNIUS, Lithuania — Lithuania holds presidential elections Sunday, with incumbent Gitanas Nauseda expected to win after a campaign dominated by security concerns in the post-Soviet state. The Baltic nation of 2.8 million people has been a staunch ally of Ukraine since Russia’s 2022 invasion. Like other countries in the region, the NATO and EU member worries it could be Moscow’s next target. Nauseda, 60, a former senior economist with Swedish banking group SEB who is not affiliated with any party, won the first round of the election on May 12 with 44% of the votes, short of the 50% he needed for an outright victory. He is running against Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, 49, from the ruling center-right Homeland Union party that has been trailing in opinion polls. She was the only woman out of eight candidates in the first round and came second with 20%. Just over half of Lithuanians believe a Russian attack is possible or even very likely, according to a ELTA/Baltijos Tyrimai poll conducted between February and March. Russia has regularly dismissed the idea that it might attack a NATO member. Nauseda told a debate on Tuesday he sees Russia as an enemy. “Our enemies — who even call themselves our enemies, who are enemies of us and all the democratic world — are attempting to destablilize our politics, and we must do all to resist.” Both Nauseda and Simonyte support increasing defense spending to at least 3% of Lithuania’s gross domestic product, from the 2.75% planned for this year. But Nauseda, who is a social conservative, has clashed with Simonyte on other issues, including whether to give a legal recognition to same-sex civil partnerships, which Nauseda opposes. He has said it would make such unions too similar to marriage, which Lithuania’s constitution only allows for a man and a woman. Simonyte, a former finance minister and a fiscal hawk, said on Thursday that if she won, “the direction for the country — pro-European, pro-Western — would not change.” “But I would like quicker progress, more openness and understanding, larger tolerance to people who are different from us,” she added. Lithuania’s president has a semi-executive role, which includes heading the armed forces, chairing the supreme defense and national security policy body and representing the country at European Union and NATO summits. The president sets foreign and security policy in tandem with the government, can veto laws and … “Lithuanians vote in presidential election overshadowed by Russia”

Richard Sherman, who with his brother penned classic Disney tunes, dies

NEW YORK — Richard M. Sherman, one half of the prolific, award-winning pair of brothers who helped form millions of childhoods by penning the instantly memorable songs for Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang — as well as the most-played tune on Earth, It’s a Small World (After All) — has died. He was 95. Sherman, together with his late brother Robert, won two Academy Awards for Walt Disney’s 1964 smash Mary Poppins — best score and best song, Chim Chim Cher-ee. They also picked up a Grammy for best movie or TV score. Robert Sherman died in London at age 86 in 2012. The Walt Disney Co. announced that Sherman died Saturday in a Los Angeles hospital of an age-related illness. “Generations of moviegoers and theme park guests have been introduced to the world of Disney through the Sherman brothers’ magnificent and timeless songs. Even today, the duo’s work remains the quintessential lyrical voice of Walt Disney,” the company said in a remembrance posted on its website. Their hundreds of credits as joint lyricist and composer also include the films Winnie the Pooh, The Slipper and the Rose, Snoopy Come Home, Charlotte’s Web and The Magic of Lassie. Their Broadway musicals included 1974’s Over Here! and stagings of Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the mid-2000s. “Something good happens when we sit down together and work,” Richard Sherman told The Associated Press in a 2005 joint interview. “We’ve been doing it all our lives. Practically since college we’ve been working together.” Their awards include 23 gold and platinum albums and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They became the only Americans ever to win first prize at the Moscow Film Festival for Tom Sawyer in 1973 and were inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 2005. President George W. Bush awarded them the National Medal of Arts in 2008, commended for music that “has helped bring joy to millions.” Most of the songs the Shermans wrote — in addition to being catchy and playful — work on multiple levels for different ages, something they learned from Disney. “He once told us, early on in our career, ‘Don’t insult the kid — don’t write down to the kid. And don’t write just for the adult.’ So we write for Grandpa and the 4-year-old — and everyone in between — and all see … “Richard Sherman, who with his brother penned classic Disney tunes, dies”