A new report says the war in Ukraine, chaos in Haiti and criminal groups in Mexico contributed to a sharp spike in the number of journalists killed in 2022 over the previous year. The International Federation of Journalists says 67 journalists and media staff have been killed around the world so far in 2022, up from 47 last year. The Brussels-based group also tallied 375 journalists currently imprisoned for their work, notably in China, Myanmar and Turkey. The group called on governments to take more concrete action to protect journalists and free journalism. More media workers were killed covering the war in Ukraine than in any other country this year.
Brazil soccer fans have been shocked into silence back home after the national team was eliminated by Croatia from the World Cup. The mood in Sao Paolo and Rio Janeiro was festive at first after Neymar put Brazil ahead in extra time. But then it quickly turned somber after the Croatians equalized and then won a penalty shootout in Qatar on Friday.
Brittney Griner has returned to the United States, nearly 10 months after the basketball star’s detention in Russia made her the most high-profile American jailed abroad and set off a political firestorm. Griner’s status as an openly gay Black woman, her prominence in women’s basketball and her imprisonment in a country where authorities have been hostile to the LGBTQ community brought tremendous attention to her case. Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine after her arrest complicated matters further. The deal saw Griner exchanged Thursday for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout. But the U.S. failed to win freedom for another American. Asked if more such swaps could happen, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that “everything is possible.”
Peru’s first female president appeared in a military ceremony on national television on Friday in her first official event as head of state, an attempt to cement her power and buck the national trend of early presidential departures. Some politicians already were calling for early elections, however, in an indication of continued political rancor. Dina Boluarte was elevated from vice president to replace ousted leftist Pedro Castillo as the country’s leader Wednesday after he angered many by trying to dissolve the legislature before an impeachment vote. She said she should be allowed to hold the office for the remaining 3 1/2 years of his term.
The head of NATO has expressed worry that the fighting in Ukraine could spin out of control and become a war between Russia and NATO. According to an interview released by Norwegian broadcaster NRK, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: "If things go wrong, they can go horribly wrong.” He said that “it is a terrible war in Ukraine and it can become a war that spread into a major war between NATO and Russia.” He added NATO is working to avoid that. The Kremlin has accused NATO allies of effectively becoming a party to the conflict by giving Ukraine weapons, training its troops and feeding military intelligence to attack Russian forces.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that Moscow might think about adopting what he described as a U.S. concept of a preemptive military strike, noting that it has the weapons to do the job. Putin's blunt statement comes amid soaring Russia-NATO tensions over Ukraine. He said Russia is “thinking about it," adding that the U.S. wasn't shy to talk about the policy openly in the past. For years, the Kremlin has expressed concern about U.S. efforts to develop the so-called Conventional Prompt Global Strike capability that envisions hitting an adversary’s strategic targets with precision-guided conventional weapons anywhere in the world within one hour.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says more U.S.-Russian prisoner exchanges are possible. Putin spoke Friday, a day after Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was swapped for WNBA star and two-time Olympian Brittney Griner. Asked whether other prisoners could be swapped, Putin replied that “everything is possible.” He noted that “compromises have been found” that cleared the way for Thursday’s exchange of Griner for Bout and added: “We aren’t refusing to continue this work in the future.,” The U.S. hopes to win freedom for another American, Paul Whelan. The Michigan corporate security executive has been imprisoned in Russia since December 2018 on espionage charges that his family and the U.S. government have said are baseless.
For many in Africa, Morocco’s underdog performance is the best story in the World Cup so far, with the hopes of the continent soaring ahead of the match on Saturday against Portugal. Across the continent of more than 1.3 billion people, African fans are excited that Morocco has become the fourth team from an African country to ever qualify for the World Cup quarterfinals, and the first in a dozen years. Morocco’s advance also has cast rays of hope for other teams on the continent, with some like South Sudan Football Association president saying African teams can be World Cup champions.
A prominent Russian opposition figure has been sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison after being convicted on charges stemming from his criticism of the Kremlin’s action in Ukraine. Friday's sentencing of Ilya Yashin, one of the few Kremlin critics who stayed in Russia, offers the latest indication of an intensified crackdown on dissent. In a statement conveyed through his lawyers, Yashin said that “with that hysterical sentence, the authorities want to scare us all but it effectively shows their weakness.” Yashin was charged with spreading false information about the military — a new offense added to the country’s criminal law after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine. He rejected the charges as politically motivated.
Bulgarian lawmakers have approved the country’s first military aid package to Ukraine involving a classified list of weapons prepared by the government. The National Assembly voted 148-46 with one abstention on Friday in favor of the weapons to Kyiv following months-long disputes on the issue between the political parties in the Balkan NATO member state. Bulgaria previously agreed to repair Ukrainian military equipment at its factories but refused to send weapons directly due to opposition from President Rumen Radev and the country’s Moscow-friendly political parties.
An international conservation organization says populations of a vulnerable species of marine mammal, numerous species of abalone and a type of Caribbean coral are now threatened with extinction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature announced the update Friday during the UN Convention on Biological Diversity conference in Montreal. The IUCN uses its Red List of Threatened Species to categorize which animals are approaching extinction. This year, the union is sounding the alarm about the dugong, which is a large and docile marine mammal that lives from the eastern coast of Africa to the western Pacific Ocean.
A representative of one of the organizations sharing this year’s Nobel Peace Prize says Russian President Vladimir Putin should face an international tribunal for the fighting in Ukraine. Oleksandra Matviychuk of Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties said during a news conference in Oslo, Norway, on Friday that such a tribunal is needed to hold Putin, President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus and other alleged “war criminals” accountable. In October, the Ukrainian group was named a co-winner of the 2022 peace prize along with Russian human rights group Memorial and the jailed head of the Belarusian human rights group Viasna. The prize is due to be formally presented on Saturday.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has vowed to import more oil and natural gas from energy-rich Gulf Arab states while not interfering in their affairs. His remarks on Friday likely seek to cast Beijing starkly different from Washington as America's attention in the region wanes. Xi also urged the Arab states to conduct energy sales in the yuan currency, potentially divorcing the U.S. dollar from transactions in a region where the U.S. still stations thousands of troops across a network of local bases as a hedge against Iran. China’s hands-off approach could appeal to leaders such as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has faced widespread international criticism over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and the still-raging war in Yemen.
German authorities say judges have confirmed the arrest of 23 people suspected of planning to topple the government, while the extradition of two others detained abroad is being sought. Prosecutors said Friday that 22 German citizens and a Russian woman detained from across Germany on Wednesday have appeared before a federal court for their arraignment and will remain in custody as the investigation proceeds. Extradition proceedings have been initiated in the case of two others detained in Italy and Austria. German authorities described the suspects as being part of the far-right Reich Citizens movement. Its adherents deny the legitimacy of the present-day German constitution and government, claiming instead that the German empire, or Reich, of 1871 still exists.