Baltimore Sun

Border fighting kills scores of troops from Armenia, Azerbaijan

- From news services

YEREVAN, Armenia — Fighting on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan has killed about 100 troops as attacks on both sides Tuesday fed fears of broader hostilitie­s breaking out between the longtime adversarie­s.

Armenia said at least 49 of its soldiers were killed; Azerbaijan said it lost 50.

The fighting erupted minutes after midnight with Azerbaijan­i forces unleashing an artillery barrage and drone attacks in many sections of Armenian territory, according to Armenia’s Defense Ministry.

The ministry said fighting continued during the day despite Russia’s attempt to broker a quick cease-fire.

The two countries have been locked in a decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is part of Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994.

Azerbaijan reclaimed swaths of Nagorno-Karabakh in a six-week war in 2020 that killed more than 6,600 people and ended with a Russia-brokered peace deal. Moscow, which deployed about 2,000 troops to the region to serve as peacekeepe­rs under the deal, has sought to maintain friendly ties with both ex-Soviet nations.

Russia has covertly spent more than $300 million since 2014 to try to influence politician­s and other officials in more than two dozen countries, the State Department alleges in a newly released cable.

The cable released Tuesday cites a new intelligen­ce assessment of Russia’s global covert efforts to support policies and parties sympatheti­c

Russian meddling:

to Moscow. The cable does not name specific Russian targets but says the U.S. is providing classified informatio­n to select individual countries.

It’s the latest effort by the Biden administra­tion to declassify intelligen­ce about Moscow’s military and political aims, dating back to ultimately correct assessment­s that Russia would launch a new war against Ukraine. Many of President Joe Biden’s top national security officials have extensive experience countering Moscow and served in government when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched wide-ranging campaigns to influence the 2016 and 2020 U.S. presidenti­al elections.

A senior administra­tion official declined to say how much money Russia is believed to have spent in Ukraine, where President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his top deputies have long accused Putin of meddling in domestic politics. The official noted allegation­s of Russian influence in recent elections in Albania, Bosnia and Montenegro, all Eastern European countries that have faced historical pressure from Moscow.

Unlike declared efforts by foreign government­s to lobby for preferred initiative­s, Russia’s covert influence involved using front organizati­ons to funnel money to preferred causes or politician­s, the cable alleges. That includes think tanks in Europe and state-owned enterprise­s in Central America, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

California mudslides:

Cleanup efforts and damage assessment­s were underway Tuesday east of Los Angeles after heavy rains unleashed mudslides in a mountain area scorched by a wildfire two

years ago, sending boulders across roads, carrying away cars and prompting evacuation­s and shelter-in-place orders.

Firefighte­rs went street by street to make sure no residents were trapped after mud flows began inundating roads Monday night near the community of Forest Falls.

Eric Sherwin, spokespers­on for the San Bernardino County Fire Department, said crews hadn’t found anyone who needed to be rescued and no one was reported missing.

Multiple homes and other structures had varying levels of damage, Sherwin said, including a commercial

building where the mud was so high it collapsed the roof. Rocks, dead trees and other debris surged down slopes in Forest Falls, Oak Glen and Yucaipa, he said.

Bump stocks: A federal appeals court was told Tuesday that there is no basis in federal law for a Trump administra­tion ban on bump stocks — devices that enable a shooter to fire multiple rounds from semi-automatic weapons with a single trigger pull.

The ban was instituted after a sniper using bump stock-equipped weapons massacred dozens in Las Vegas in 2017. Gun rights

advocates are challengin­g it in multiple federal courts.

At issue is not the Second Amendment but whether bump stocks qualify as illegal “machine guns” under federal law. The rule banning the devices issued by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said that they do — a reversal, attorneys said, of a position held prior to the Las Vegas killings.

Opponents of the ban say the ATF’s rule doesn’t comply with federal law, and that it would take an act of Congress to ban bump stocks nationally.

The ban, now being defended by the Biden administra­tion, has survived challenges at the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Denverbase­d 10th Circuit. Decisions on whether the Supreme Court will hear appeals in those cases are pending. It has also survived a challenge at the federal circuit court in Washington.

A panel of three judges at the 5th Circuit in New Orleans also issued a ruling in favor of the ban, but the full New Orleans-based court, currently with 16 active members, opted to hear new arguments.

Capitol riot: A central Illinois man pleaded guilty Friday to felony charges for assaulting a law enforcemen­t officer and a member of the news media during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, prosecutor­s said.

Shane Jason Woods, 44, of Auburn, Illinois, pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia to assaulting, resisting, or impeding law enforcemen­t officers and a related federal assault charge, prosecutor­s said.

Woods was arrested June 24, 2021, in Springfiel­d.

Euthanasia debate: French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday announced a national debate on end-oflife options that will include exploring the possibilit­y of legalizing assisted suicide.

A 2016 French law provides that doctors can keep terminally ill patients sedated before death but stops short of allowing assisted suicide.

Macron said a panel of citizens would work on the issue in coordinati­on with health care workers over the coming months, while local debates are organized in French regions.

The government plans to hold parallel discussion­s with lawmakers from all political parties to find the broadest consensus, with the aim of implementi­ng changes next year, the president’s statement said.

Some French patients travel to other European countries to seek further end-of-life options.

 ?? ANDREW MEDICHINI/AP ?? Pope Francis attends a welcoming ceremony Tuesday with Kazakhstan’s President KassymJoma­rt Tokayev in Nur-Sultan. Francis begged for an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine during the start of his three-day visit in the former Soviet republic. On Wednesday and Thursday, he participat­es in a government-sponsored triennial interfaith meeting.
ANDREW MEDICHINI/AP Pope Francis attends a welcoming ceremony Tuesday with Kazakhstan’s President KassymJoma­rt Tokayev in Nur-Sultan. Francis begged for an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine during the start of his three-day visit in the former Soviet republic. On Wednesday and Thursday, he participat­es in a government-sponsored triennial interfaith meeting.

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