Ukrainians displaced near Kyiv fear for war-damaged homes | Govt. & Politics

BORODYANKA, Ukraine (AP) — Valentyna Klymenko tries to return home as late as possible to avoid the darkness of her war-damaged home outside Ukraine’s capital. She visits friends, goes to the well for water or looks for a place to charge her phone.

The 70-year-old Klymenko then returns alone to an apartment that used to be noisy and full of life. She is now greeted by dim, damp rooms instead of the voices of her great-grandchildren.

Klymenko rarely cooks. She drinks fruit compote and eats canned tomatoes, which she prepared last year, so she doesn’t waste the gas in her portable stove. She goes to bed quickly, but can’t fall asleep for a long time.

Her thoughts revolve around one question: “What will happen to my home?”

Russian troops retreated from the area around Kyiv in late March. But they left behind 16,000 damaged residential buildings in the Bucha region, where Borodyanka is located, according to the head of the Kyiv regional administration, Oleksiy Kuleba.

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The most affected street in Borodyanka, a town with a population of more than 12,000, was Tsentralna, which was still called Lenin Street less than a decade ago. One of the homes on this street belongs to Klymenko.

The shockwave from a Russian airstrike that witnesses say struck the building across the street with two bombs caused a fire in Klymenko’s five-story apartment building.

The apartments on the upper floors of Klymenko’s building burned. Four months later, there is no electricity, water, or gas. Some residents lost everything and ended up on the street without any means to find a new home.

“I had a sofa here and armchairs here. But now there are just the springs,” said Tetiana Solohub, pointing to the blackened walls of her home. Nothing is left but a couple of small enamel cups and the suffocating smell of ashes.

Solohub’s scorched apartment is located a few floors above Klymenko’s. They moved into the building at the same time 36 years ago, when it had just been built.

“And now, at 64, I am forced to be homeless,” Solohub said. Unlike Klymenko, she even doesn’t have a damaged apartment to live in. Hers is completely gone.

Solohub now lives in a camp for displaced people made of shipping containers. It was established in Borodyanka with the support of the Polish and Ukrainian governments. There are other camps like this in the Kyiv and Lviv regions. It has become a popular way to offer a home to people who can’t return to their own abodes.

There are 257 people — 35% of them older residents — living in Borodyanka’s camp. Kostyantyn Morozko, a representative of the military administration in the Bucha region and coordinator of the shipping container camp, said that he expects two containers for 160 people to be added this month. But even this isn’t enough. He has 700 families waiting.

Morozko expects the temporary camp to endure for autumn, winter and spring. He thinks there is a 90% chance that people will remain until then. The first cold weather is expected in early September.

The camp’s residents are adjusting to the idea of a long stay. They bring a bouquet of fresh flowers to the shared kitchen every couple of days, the shelves are filled with their belongings, and the tables in their “private” rooms are covered with colorful tablecloths.

But living conditions for older people are challenging. Solohub shares a small, narrow room with plastic walls with two other people. There aren’t many things on her shelf. She didn’t have a chance to rescue her belongings.

Because of the summer heat, it is difficult for her to stay in her makeshift home all day. So she often goes to rest in a small garage with metal walls and no windows near her home.

“I have a private space in this garage, and no one bothers me. I can’t breathe in that plastic house,” Solohub said. ’We want our houses to be restored so we have a place to invite our children and grandchildren.”

Klymenko is glad that her apartment didn’t burn down completely. But she doesn’t know when her granddaughter and great-grandchildren will come again. They left for Lithuania in the first days of Russia’s invasion. There, Klymenko’s granddaughter managed to find housing and a job.

“It is complicated for children in Lithuania. They do not know the language. It’s hard for them at school. It’s hard for them in kindergarten. It is tough not to be in your own country. But where can they come back?” Klymenko asked, with tears in her eyes.

She was also in Lithuania for several months after being evacuated from her basement the day after the fire in her building. One of the few things she took with her was her great-grandson’s blanket, which she used to protect herself from the cold.

But Klymenko felt uncomfortable outside Ukraine, so she returned to the only place she could at least partially regain her past life.

Only she and a neighbor from the same floor now live in the five-story building. It’s bearable in summer, but the cold of autumn will be challenging. Her great-grandson’s blanket lies near her bed.

“I’m staying. And I will stay. And I don’t know what will happen next,” Klymenko said.

Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


Kremlin says death penalty possible for US fighters said held by pro-Russia separatists | International

DNIPRO, Ukraine — Fears mounted Tuesday over the fate of two Americans reportedly taken captive while fighting for Ukraine, as Russia declared that international protections for prisoners of war did not apply to foreign “mercenaries” and that capital punishment could not be ruled out if they were put on trial in separatist territory.

Those comments out of Moscow came as U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland visited Ukraine to meet with the country’s top prosecutor and offer U.S. assistance in investigating and prosecuting alleged war crimes committed by Russian troops during the nearly 4-month-old war.

The trip came against a backdrop of intense fighting for a pair of strategically important cities in eastern Ukraine, a bloody war of attrition in which Russian forces are trying to wear down outgunned Ukrainian troops with unrelenting artillery barrages.

Western countries including the United States are sending Ukraine more heavy weaponry to try to counter Moscow’s military superiority in the battle for the country’s industrial heartland, but Ukraine has repeatedly appealed for additional armaments.

In his latest overnight address to compatriots, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced Russia’s “brutal offensive” in the region, known as the Donbas. He acknowledged difficult fighting as Moscow presses its advance on the twin cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which are separated by a river.

Ukrainian defenders of Severodonetsk are concentrated in a besieged industrial complex, where civilians are sheltering as well under sustained Russian shellfire.

In the environs of both cities, there were signs that the Ukrainian defenses were crumbling.

A Ukrainian commander, who asked his name not be used so he could speak freely, described a Russian advance in the front-line village of Toshkivka, saying his battalion was forced to withdraw after losing too many fighters.

“There aren’t enough forces or weapons,” he said. “For every shot of ours, the Russians respond with 20.”

Later, the head of the district military administration, Roman Vlasenko, told Ukrainian television that the village was “controlled entirely by the Russians.”

Moscow’s threat against captives purportedly held by pro-Russian separatists was delivered by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in a call with reporters Tuesday. He said foreign fighters who have taken up arms for Ukraine are mercenaries, not prisoners of war, and thus are not entitled to protections under the Geneva Convention, which forbid prosecution of captured fighters for lawful participation in combat.

Two captured Britons and a Moroccan were sentenced to death earlier this month in what British authorities described as a show trial held in Russian-controlled separatist territory. The episode prompted speculation the captives would be used to try to extract concessions such as a prisoner swap.

The two Americans — Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27 — went missing this month while fighting near Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, 25 miles from the Russian border. Both are military veterans from Alabama.

Russia’s state-controlled RT network last week showed interviews with the pair at what it said was a detention center in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, or DPR, a separatist statelet recognized only by Russia. Russia has a moratorium on the death penalty, but the DPR does not.

The U.S. State Department says it still cannot confirm that two and possibly three U.S. citizens have been captured, as their families assert, nor the whereabouts of the men.

A senior State Department official, briefing reporters in Washington on the condition of anonymity, said Moscow had responded to official U.S. and British queries by saying it was not a Russian matter, because any such captives would have been in the hands of separatists.

U.S. officials said Tuesday the government has “vigorously” protested the Kremlin’s assertion that foreigners captured fighting in Ukraine, including Americans, would not be covered by the Geneva conventions.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said U.S. diplomats have made repeated inquiries to the Russian government, as well as to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Ukrainian officials and others, to get information on the missing men.

From the Russian government, Price said, “We have not received any formal or official response.”

U.S. officials said the Russian evasiveness is typical of how Moscow responds to all cases of captured, arrested or otherwise detained American citizens, including that of U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner. A planned telephone call from Griner to her wife in the United States failed to take place despite numerous attempts. The couple blamed the U.S. Embassy. The White House said Tuesday the call would be rescheduled.

Russian authorities have set up numerous obstacles for U.S. consular officers to meet with Griner, much as they have done for other detainees, the anonymous senior State Department official said. Arrested at the Moscow airport in February on drug charges, Griner has regular phone contact with her Russian lawyers, the official said, but U.S. consular personnel have not seen her since May 19.

Garland’s unannounced trip to Ukraine to meet with the country’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, came as Ukrainian authorities are attempting to deal with more than 15,000 war crimes complaints. Other countries, including France and Britain, have also stepped in to offer technical, forensic and legal assistance to Ukraine in investigating and prosecuting alleged atrocities.

After his visit, Garland vowed that “there is no place to hide” from accountability for war crimes.

Moscow says evidence of grisly crimes against civilians in previously occupied areas of Ukraine, including a string of towns and suburbs outside the capital Kyiv, is fabricated.

Reverberations from Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, meanwhile, continued to be felt worldwide, including looming food shortages caused by Ukraine’s inability to ship grain from Black Sea ports blockaded by Russia, and a fuel crunch in Europe triggered by Moscow’s reduction of natural gas supplies. The Kremlin blames both crises on the West.

Although Russian warships make it impossible for commercial shipping traffic to reach Ukrainian ports, Ukraine has staged attacks challenging Moscow’s maritime superiority in the Black Sea. British military intelligence said Tuesday that Ukraine’s claim last week to have successfully attacked a Russian naval tug with Harpoon anti-ship missiles was “almost certainly” accurate.

NATO has refrained from direct confrontation with Russia while supporting Ukraine. But a potential flashpoint has emerged in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, which borders alliance member Lithuania, a Baltic state that is accustomed to threats from Moscow.

Russia’s security chief on Tuesday threatened “significant negative consequences” over Lithuania’s refusal to allow land transit of some goods to the tiny patch of Russian territory. The remarks by Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s security council, came on a visit to Kaliningrad and were reported by the RIA-Novosti news agency.

Also Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the European Union’s envoy to Russia to press the issue, according to news reports. The ministry had already summoned Lithuania’s top diplomat to demand the reversal of what it called the “openly hostile” moves.

The government in Vilnius says the partial blockages are in line with European Union sanctions. Kaliningrad remains accessible by sea.

This is not the first time in the course of the war that Moscow has menaced NATO members on the alliance’s eastern flank, raising fears of a wider confrontation. It has previously aimed harsh rhetoric at Poland, which has been instrumental in shipping weaponry to Ukraine, and has taken in the largest number of Ukrainian refugees.

As fighting in the east grows fiercer, Zelenskyy said Russia’s offensive against Severodonetsk and other eastern areas was intensifying in part because of Moscow’s fears that Ukraine is advancing in its aspirations to join the EU. Although the process will likely take years, EU meetings later this week are expected to yield formal support for creating a path for Ukrainian membership in the bloc.

“Russia is very nervous about our activity,” Zelenskyy said.

In his overnight address to the nation, the president also extended thanks to Hollywood actor-director Ben Stiller, with whom he met on Monday.

Stiller, who has most recently garnered critical acclaim for the streaming TV series “Severance,” is a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. refugee agency. As part of a visit to the region, he met with refugees and officials, including U.S. Ambassador Bridget Brink, and visited a Kyiv suburb devastated during a Russian occupation early in the war.

“I am grateful to Ben for his constant attention to the needs of Ukrainians,” said Zelensky, who shares with Stiller a background as a comic actor. Stiller in turn described the Ukrainian leader as his “hero.”

(Bulos reported from Dnipro and King and Wilkinson from Washington.)

©2022 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Former Ohio prisons chief top contender to run US prisons

WASHINGTON — The former director of the Ohio state prison system has emerged as a leading contender to run the crisis-plagued federal Bureau of Prisons, three people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Friday.

Gary Mohr, who has also worked in the private prison industry, is at the top of the list of candidates to replace Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal, who submitted his resignation in January but said he would stay on until a successor was named, the people said.

A final decision has not been made and it’s unclear when an official announcement would be put forward, according to the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly and did so on condition of anonymity.

Mohr would become the 11th person to lead the Bureau of Prisons since its founding more than 90 years ago, and only the second director with no prior experience at the agency, the Justice Department’s largest.

The leadership change came in the wake of AP reporting that has uncovered widespread problems at the agency, including sexual abuse by correctional officers and critically low staffing levels that have hampered responses to emergencies.

A message seeking comment from Mohr was left with a criminal justice consulting firm where he’s worked since last October as a senior fellow.

Mohr has spent nearly 50 years working in corrections, starting as a teacher in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, the agency he led from 2011 to 2018. After his retirement, he served as president of the American Correctional Association, a nonprofit trade association and accrediting body.

Mohr has also been a prison warden and, between stints in the Ohio system, was a consultant and managing director for CoreCivic, formerly know as Corrections Corporation of America, an owner and operator of private prisons and detention facilities.

As head of Ohio’s prison system, Mohr oversaw more than 12,000 employees and close to 50,000 inmates at 28 facilities. The Bureau of Prisons is budgeted for around 37,500 employees, operates 122 facilities and has about 157,000 inmates.

In Ohio, Mohr made reducing the state’s prison population a priority and spearheaded efforts to reduce the number of first-time, nonviolent offenders behind bars. He managed to trim it by about 1,000 inmates in his tenure but, upon his retirement, said he was “extraordinarily disheartened” he couldn’t do more.

Mohr also oversaw 15 executions and dealt with various crises, including the 2013 prison suicide of notorious Cleveland women abductor Ariel Castro; the brief 2014 escape of school shooter T.J. Lane; and the 2017 killing of an inmate in a transport van by another prisoner.

The union representing Ohio’s state prison guards frequently clashed with Mohr, criticizing him and the agency for not doing enough to protect correctional officers and reduce violence.

Carvajal, 54, was appointed director of the federal Bureau of Prisons in February 2020 by then-Attorney General William Barr, just before the COVID-19 pandemic began raging in federal prisons nationwide, leaving tens of thousands of inmates infected with the virus and resulting in 295 deaths.

An agency insider who started as a correctional officer and worked his way up the ranks, Carvajal’s tumultuous tenure as director included a failed response to the pandemic, widespread criminal activity among employees, critically low staffing levels that have hampered responses to emergencies, inmate deaths and dozens of escapes.

Carvajal also oversaw an unprecedented run of federal executions in the waning months of the Trump presidency that were so poorly managed they became virus superspreader events.

The AP’s reporting exposing those problems compelled Congress to investigate and prompted increased calls from lawmakers for Carvajal to resign or be fired by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Carvajal “failed to address the mounting crises in our nation’s federal prison system, including failing to fully implement the landmark First Step Act,” a bipartisan criminal justice measure passed during the Trump administration that was meant to improve prison programs and reduce sentencing disparities.

Garland tasked Deputy Attorney Lisa Monaco with leading the search for Carvajal’s replacement. Officials went far and wide to try to find candidates outside of the typical profile of prior directors, even posting an advertisement on LinkedIn.

While many officials from inside the Bureau of Prisons applied for the post, the Biden administration was looking for someone who was focused on reforming an agency that has had cultural issues for decades.

Monaco personally conducted interviews and met with several of the candidates.

Biden administration officials had discussions about whether to remove Carvajal in spring 2021, after the AP reported that widespread correctional officer vacancies were forcing prisons to expand the use of cooks, teachers, nurses and other workers to guard inmates.

The Bureau of Prisons is the only Justice Department agency whose director isn’t subject to Senate confirmation. Currently, the attorney general can just appoint someone to the position.

A bill introduced in Congress days after Carvajal’s resignation would require Senate confirmation for future bureau directors — putting them under the same level of scrutiny as leaders of the FBI and other federal agencies — but, so far, the measure hasn’t come up for a vote.


Associated Press reporter Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio contributed to this report. ——

On Twitter, follow Michael Balsamo at twitter.com/mikebalsamo1 and Michael Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak. Read more of AP’s reporting on federal prisons at apnews.com and send confidential tips by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips/


Idaho Supreme Court considers death row clemency case | State and Regional


California lawmakers OK budget over governor’s objections | National News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers on Monday passed a $300 billion operating budget over the objections of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, highlighting disagreements among Democrats about how to spend a record-breaking surplus that, by itself, is more than most other states spend in a year.

While Newsom does not support the Legislature’s spending plan, lawmakers sent the bill to his desk anyway because the California Constitution requires them to pass a budget by Wednesday or else they don’t get paid. Unlike most states, California lawmakers are full-time and get paid $119,702 per year.

Newsom and legislative leaders will continue negotiating with the goal of coming up with a spending plan they can all agree on before the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

The Democratic-controlled Legislature wants to spend more money than Newsom does on education and housing. The lawmakers’ plan would cover college tuition for 150,000 more students than Newsom would.

And lawmakers want to borrow about $1 billion per year and use it to help about 8,000 first-time buyers purchase a home by covering 20% of the price. The plan could potentially lower mortgage payments by about $1,000 per month in a state where the median home price hit a record high of $849,080 in March.

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“This is the budget that you ran for office for,” Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, a Democrat from Sacramento, said Monday while urging lawmakers to vote for the bill.

Lawmakers say they can afford to do those things because California’s revenues have soared throughout the pandemic as the rich have gotten richer and pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes compared to other states. This year, California’s surplus — money left over once the state has fulfilled its existing commitments — is more than $97 billion.

But Newsom doesn’t like the Legislature’s plan because he says it would spend too much of the state’s surplus — money that is only available for one year — on things that must have more than one year of funding, mostly for schools and community colleges. The Legislature’s plan would spend $2.4 billion more for ongoing expenses than Newsom’s plan, a disparity that would grow to $5.6 billion by 2026.

While California has lots of money today, the Newsom administration fears the economy is showing signs of stress as stock prices fall and inflation keeps going up because of supply chain disruptions and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Given the financial storm clouds on the horizon, a final budget must be fiscally responsible,” said Anthony York, Newsom’s senior advisor for communications. “The Governor remains opposed to massive ongoing spending, and wants a budget that pays down more of the state’s long-term debts and puts more money into state reserves.”

Lawmakers disagree. They say the extra money they want to spend is small, accounting for less than 1% of total spending. Plus, legislative leaders noted Monday that their plan includes “record-high reserves” — about $700 million more than Newsom proposed — “to protect California during future economic slowdowns.”

This type of disagreement is typical in California, where governors usually see their role as stopping the progressive Legislature from spending too much money.

But Newsom’s plan has its own problems. It would leave the state about $25 billion over a constitutional limit on spending over the next two years, a situation the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says could push the state over a “fiscal cliff” that could force budget cuts even if state revenues continue to grow.

The Newsom administration has downplayed those concerns, noting their plan would spend 95% of the budget surplus on one-time expenses — money that could be pulled back in an emergency.

One thing Newsom and legislative leaders can agree on is they want to give a portion of the budget surplus back to taxpayers to help them pay for record-high gas prices. But they can’t agree who should get the money, and how much they should get.

Newsom wants to send checks of up to $800 to everyone who has a car registered in the state. The Legislature wants to send $200 checks to people who have taxable income below a certain level — $125,000 for single people and $250,000 for couples.

Newsom’s plan would cost $11.5 billion and taxpayers might get the checks a little faster because the money would come on a debit card. The Legislature’s plan would cost $8 billion, but it wouldn’t benefit the wealthy.

“We should be supporting those families and households, middle class and below, that would be really struggling from these costs versus those with incomes for whom this would not be as much of a problem,” said state Sen. Nancy Skinner, a Democrat from Berkeley and chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee.

Republicans don’t like either plan. Instead, they favor a suspension of the state’s gas tax, which at 51.1 cents-per-gallon is the second highest in the nation.

“There’s nothing in today’s proposal to bring immediate relief for Californians, said Assemblymember Vince Fong, a Republican from Bakersfield and vice chair of the Assembly Budget Committee. “As the state coffers grow, family bank accounts are shrinking and Californians consistently pay more and more to Sacramento and get pennies back temporarily. That is not relief.”

This story has been updated to correct that Assemblymember Vince Fong is from Bakersfield, not Fresno.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Israeli settlers at risk of losing special West Bank status | Politics

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank may soon get a taste of the military rule that Palestinians have been living under for 55 years.

If Israel’s parliament does not act, a special legal status accorded to the settlers will expire at the end of the month, with wide-ranging consequences. Lawyers who live in the settlements, including two members of Israel’s Supreme Court, will no longer be allowed to practice law. Settlers would be subject to military courts usually reserved for Palestinians and would lose access to some public services.

While few expect things to reach that point, the looming deadline has put Israel’s government on the brink of collapse and drawn dire warnings.

“Without this law, it would be a disaster,” said Israel Ganz, governor of the Benyamin Regional Council, a cluster of settlements just outside Jerusalem. “The Israeli government will lose any control here. No police, no taxes.”

For over half a century, Israel has repeatedly renewed regulations that today extend a legal umbrella to nearly 500,000 settlers — but not to the more than 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank. After failing to pass on Monday, the bill will be brought for another vote in the Knesset next week in a last-ditch effort to save the governing coalition — and the legal arrangement.

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The law underpins separate legal systems for Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank, a situation that three major human rights groups say amounts to apartheid. Israel rejects that allegation as an attack on its legitimacy.

“This is the piece of legislation that enables apartheid,” said Jessica Montell, director of the Israeli human rights group HaMoked, which provides legal aid to Palestinians.

“The whole settlement enterprise depends on them enjoying all the rights and benefits of being Israelis even though they are in occupied territory.”

An overwhelming majority in the Knesset support maintaining the separate systems. The main reason the bill didn’t pass was that the nationalist opposition — which strongly supports it — paradoxically refused to vote in favor in an attempt to bring down Israel’s broad-based but fragile coalition government. In a similar vein, anti-settlement lawmakers voted in favor of the legislation to keep the coalition afloat.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and has built more than 130 settlements there, many of which resemble small towns, with apartment blocks, shopping malls and industrial zones. The Palestinians want the West Bank to form the main part of their future state. Most countries view the settlements as a violation of international law.

Israel refers to the West Bank by its biblical name, Judea and Samaria, and considers it the heartland of the Jewish people. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett supports settlement expansion and is opposed to Palestinian statehood. Israel officially views the West Bank as disputed territory whose fate is subject to negotiations, which collapsed more than a decade ago.

The emergency regulations, first enacted in 1967 and regularly renewed, extend much of Israeli law to West Bank settlers — but not to the territory itself.

“Applying the law to the territory could be considered as annexing the territory, with all the political consequences that Israel did not want to have,” said Liron Libman, a research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute and a former top Israeli military prosecutor.

Failure to renew the bill by the end of this month would have far-reaching consequences.

The Israel Bar Association requires lawyers and judges to reside in the country. Without the law’s carve-out, settlers would not be able to practice law in Israeli courts. That would include two Supreme Court justices, one of whom recently upheld an order to forcibly relocate hundreds of Palestinians.

The bill’s lapse could also result in more settlers who run afoul of the law being tried in military courts — something Israel authorities have long tried to reserve for Palestinian suspects.

The settlers could lose their ability to use national health insurance for treatment inside the West Bank, and the ability to update their status in the population registry and get national ID cards — something routinely denied to Palestinians.

The law also provides a legal basis for Israel to jail thousands of Palestinians who have been convicted by military courts in prisons inside Israel, despite international law prohibiting the transfer of prisoners out of occupied territory. The law’s lapse could force Israel to move those prisoners back to the West Bank, where there is currently only one Israeli prison.

The various consequences are seen as so catastrophic that many Israelis expect the bill to pass or the government to be replaced. It’s also possible that Israeli authorities, who often bend to the settlers’ demands, will find workarounds to blunt the worst effects.

“I’m not worried,” said Ganz, the settler leader. “It’s like when you owe the bank 1 million dollars, you are worried about it, but when you owe 1 billion, the bank manager is worried.”

Asked if the separate legal systems amount to apartheid, Ganz said: “I agree with you, 100%.”

His preferred solution is that Israel annex what’s known as Area C, the 60% of the West Bank where, under interim peace accords, Israel already exercises complete control. Area C includes the settlements, as well as rural areas that are home to some 300,000 Palestinians, according to the U.N.

Most Palestinians live in Areas A and B — scattered, disconnected population centers where the Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule.

“It’s strange that different populations in the same area have different laws,” Ganz said. “So we have to bring Israeli law to everyone here in Area C.”

Two years ago, Israel’s then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu flirted with annexation before putting it on hold as part of an agreement with the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations.

The Palestinians, and much of the international community, view annexation as a violation of international law that would deal a fatal blow to any hope for a two-state solution, still widely seen internationally as the only way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu, now opposition leader, and his allies strongly support the West Bank bill but hope its defeat will speed his return to power. The coalition cannot pass it on its own because a handful of lawmakers — mainly Palestinian citizens of Israel — refuse to vote for it.

The law may have been designed with an eventual partition in mind. But many Palestinians see its longevity as proof that Israel was never serious about a two-state solution.

“They could have easily undone the occupation by just not passing this law, time and again,” said Diana Buttu, a Palestinian lawyer and former adviser to the Palestinian Authority. “It gets passed by the left and it gets passed by the right. That’s why this idea of two states is such a fiction.”

Associated Press reporter Alon Bernstein in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


Welfare prevents crime and saves money in the long run: report

Dropping children from cash welfare rolls when they turn 18 greatly increases the likelihood that they’ll face criminal justice charges in the coming years — potentially an even costlier development for the individuals, for society and the economy than the tax-provided services.

Those are the findings of a study published Tuesday in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, which dives into the longer-term effects of a 1996 overhaul to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for minor children.

That approach removes about 40% of recipients from the disability benefits ledger when they become “adults” at age 18. Minors of lower-income qualifying adult SSI participants can collect benefits, because their age is considered their disability.

But the age-based removal, the study finds, does little to capture lingering mental and behavioral conditions, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Those conditions, especially without care, can limit job potential and force individuals toward theft and sex work, which is currently unregulated and illegal in the U.S.

The report dates to February, but has since been peer reviewed for wider distribution. The topic also found traction on a popular Reddit channel looking at social issues. It drew more than 2,000 comments by Tuesday afternoon.

“Traditionally, economists talk about the income effects of welfare programs in the context of the formal labor market — that welfare discourages work,” said the paper’s authors, Manasi Deshpande and Michael Mueller-Smith.

“What we find is that the income effect of welfare benefits can also manifest as reductions in criminal activity. In fact, in the SSI context, cash welfare has a much larger discouragement effect on criminal activity than it does on formal work,” they wrote.

‘Cash welfare has a much larger discouragement effect on criminal activity than it does on formal work.’

Deshpande is an economics professor at the University of Chicago, whose recent research has focused on public assistance programs and labor economics. Mueller-Smith is an assistant professor in the department of economics at the University of Michigan, whose work includes population studies and criminal justice.

One such paper proposing that benefits discourage work, by Gene Steuerle of the Urban Institute, suggests phase-outs of programs like cash welfare, food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit and Obamacare subsidies mean households making roughly $10,000-$40,000 can lose almost as much in government benefits as they gain in added income by working additional hours, which he argues discourages work but also wrongly targets the working poor that the programs are most meant to help.

The new report disagrees.

Based on the authors’ calculations, the administrative costs of crime alone almost eliminated the cost savings of removing young adults from the program.

Twice as likely to be charged with a crime

Using data from the Social Security Administration and the Criminal Justice Administrative Records System, the study authors estimated the effect of losing SSI benefits at age 18 on criminal justice and employment outcomes over the next two decades.

They found that terminating the cash welfare benefits meant that youth are twice as likely to be charged with an illicit income-generating offense than they are to maintain steady employment at $15,000 a year in the labor market.

And, relative to those who stay on SSI in adulthood because they can prove a need, the dropped children lose nearly $10,000 in what would have been annual benefits in adulthood.

As a result of these early criminal charges, the annual likelihood of incarceration increases by a statistically significant 60% in the two decades following SSI removal.

Currently, just over 3 million children under the age of 18 receive Social Security benefits, accounting for 6.5% of all individuals receiving Social Security and $1.2 billion in monthly benefit payments, government data shows. But Deshpande and Mueller-Smith stress that the immediate need for income once someone is no longer receiving welfare too often leads to illicit means to attain it.

The increase in illegal activity was concentrated in what the authors call “income-generating crimes,” including theft, burglary, fraud/forgery and prostitution.

As is the case for men, the largest increase in crime for women is in theft charges. But women also have large and precise increases in fraud and forgery charges, including identity theft, and prostitution charges, the findings show.

‘Cash welfare has a much larger discouragement effect on criminal activity than it does on formal work.’

— Manasi Deshpande and Michael Mueller-Smith

And once crimes were committed, subsequent crimes carried harsher penalties and limited further legitimate earnings potential.

OpinionIf the Supreme Court’s plan to reverse Roe is pro-child, where’s the help to ease child-care costs?

Jail is expensive — for taxpayers

The study looked at the broader costs beyond an individual’s income security.

While each person removed from the program in 1996 saved the government some spending on SSI and Medicaid over the next two decades, each removal also created additional police, court and incarceration costs.

Based on the authors’ calculations, the administrative costs of crime alone almost eliminated the cost savings of removing young adults from the program.

Specifically, each individual removed from SSI in1996 saved the government $37,700 in SSI spending and $8,400 in Medicaid spending over the next two decades, plus an additional $3,000 in tax revenue from higher earnings. Each removal creates $10,800 in police and court costs and another $30,200 in incarceration costs.

Total U.S. government spending on public prisons and jails tops $80 billion annually, plus another $3.9 billion is spent on private prisons and jails, according to the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative.

Expand the discussion

The Reddit discussion expressed frustration with studies that look at decades of behavior, yet seem to spark little policy change. The discussion also moved into whether just maintaining SSI as recipients mature and attempt a workforce entry would be enough. Some responders suggested this topic dovetails with Universal Basic Income, which has gained traction in California and elsewhere.

Opinion: Why Universal Basic Income is a bad idea

A wide-ranging — and, its critics say, expensive — spending bill known as Build Back Better has stalled in a narrowly divided Congress. It had specific benefits for younger Americans. This Congressional inaction has also hit as many households grapple with a sharp price jumps in food and gasoline.

Read more: Beer, hair cuts, tools and pet food — inflation has spread everywhere

“Welfare payments help raise the socioeconomic status of people if done right,” one Reddit poster said. “Therefore, a robust welfare system will help reduce crime rates. A UBI would likely make a massive difference, too, if done properly.”


Animal-Testing Calls Threaten to Derail ‘Cruelty-Free’ Cosmetics

A legal tussle over animal testing in Europe is threatening to jeopardize what has become a key marketing tool for cosmetics companies: selling their shampoos and skin creams as “cruelty free.”

The European Union banned animal testing for cosmetics in 2013, a move that was cheered by activists and sparked a string of copycat legislation elsewhere. But the European Court of Justice is now considering a case in which the EU’s chemicals regulator asked a manufacturer to conduct animal tests on two cosmetics ingredients to address concerns about worker safety.

At the heart of the matter is a clash between the cosmetics law, which focuses on consumer safety, and chemicals regulations that aim to protect workers and the environment.

While the ECJ’s ruling—which could come as soon as this year—will only apply in Europe, it has global consequences for some cosmetics makers. That is because cruelty-free certification from animal-rights groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals requires brands to ensure their ingredients and final products aren’t tested on animals anywhere in the world.

In response, Dove and TRESemmé owner


PLC, which has PETA cruelty-free certification for 31 brands, is working with animal-rights organizations to lobby European lawmakers to retain the cosmetics-testing ban. It says science has advanced enough to obviate the need for animal testing.

A Unilever facility in the U.K. The company is working with animal-rights organizations to lobby European lawmakers to retain the cosmetics-testing ban.

“We do not need to do animal testing to ensure that our products and ingredients are safe,” said Julia Fentem, Unilever’s head of safety and environmental assurance.


Are governments taking the right steps to ban animal testing? Join the conversation below.

Body Shop owner Natura & Co. and

Procter & Gamble Co.

are among other companies that have spoken out against the European Chemicals Agency’s decision to require animal testing on some cosmetics ingredients, saying it could harm thousands of rats, rabbits and other animals.

The regulator, commonly referred to as ECHA, says it is looking out for workers who—unlike consumers—are sometimes in direct contact with chemicals for long periods and in large volumes.

“The way workers get in touch with the chemical is very different,” said Mike Rasenberg, the agency’s director for hazard assessment. ECHA says it has asked for extra tests on a handful of chemicals beyond the two involved in the case at the ECJ.

A researcher analyzing samples from a human cell culture at Unilever. Typically, human cell cultures are used in non-animal tests to measure any potential toxic effects.

Mr. Rasenberg said ECHA supports reducing animal testing but that the entire system for managing chemical risks and corresponding safety measures is currently based on animal studies. Where animal tests can easily be replaced, they have been, he said.

One commonly used alternative is observing how chemicals affect human corneas created from lab-cultured cells rather than putting chemicals into the eyes of rabbits.

For assessing long-term hazards, including organ damage, weakening of the immune system and birth defects, the regulator says animal tests are often essential.

Unilever’s Ms. Fentem said animal testing won’t ensure worker safety because it produces results that aren’t sufficiently relevant to humans.

In the U.S., several states ban animal testing for cosmetics and their ingredients. There isn’t a federal ban, although the Environmental Protection Agency has said it plans to phase out testing of chemicals in mammals by 2035.

The EPA and Unilever said last year they would work together on a project to determine how well non-animal methods could detect the risks posed by a minimum of 40 chemicals, building on previous joint research.

Anna Lowit, senior science adviser in the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, said there are still only a small number of approved in-vitro tests to replace many animal studies. In assessing whether certain chemicals can cause cancer, alternatives aren’t advanced enough to replace animal tests, she added.

Unilever says science has advanced enough to obviate the need for animal testing. A lab at the company’s Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre.

For Unilever, the business case for not testing on animals is clear. It says alternatives are quicker and that surveys of consumers across several key markets show most don’t want to buy cosmetics associated with animal testing.

A string of consumer-goods makers now make cruelty-free claims. Unilever’s PETA-certified brands include Dove, Suave, TRESemmé, Simple and St. Ives. P&G has 12 and


has five, according to PETA.

Unilever’s efforts come as the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, is working to overhaul its broader chemicals regulation to ensure safety, a move the company says could further jeopardize the existing ban specific to animal testing for cosmetics.

A scientist checking human cells. Unilever has PETA cruelty-free certification for 31 brands.

The commission’s proposed revisions to the regulations include asking for routine information on how chemicals might interfere with the body’s hormones, data that is currently only requested on a case-by-case basis. That change could lead to millions more tests on animals for chemicals already used in the EU, according to Cruelty Free International, a nonprofit.

The commission said it is committed to reducing animal testing to assess risks posed by chemicals but that there are still some areas in which alternatives can’t provide a comparable level of information and protection.

Unilever helped create and publicize a petition that—should it reach one million signatures by late August—would require the European Parliament to hear the ideas it contains and possibly adopt a resolution based on them.

In the petition, Unilever, the Body Shop and several nonprofits have asked the commission to change laws so that consumers, workers and the environment are protected from all cosmetics ingredients without testing on animals; pledge not to add additional animal-testing requirements to assess chemical safety; and outline a plan to phase out all animal testing in the EU.

Corrections & Amplifications
Unilever has PETA cruelty-free certification for 31 brands. A previous version of this article incorrectly said it had certification for 31 products. (Corrected on June 1)

Write to Saabira Chaudhuri at saabira.chaudhuri@wsj.com

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Feds to appeal reversal in North Dakota death penalty case | Local

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Federal prosecutors plan to appeal a ruling that overturned the death sentence for a Minnesota man convicted of kidnapping and killing a University of North Dakota student.

A jury in 2006 convicted Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., of Crookston, Minnesota, in the killing of 22-year-old Dru Sjodin, of Pequot Lakes, Minnesota. The same jury sentenced Rodriguez to death in the first and only federal capital punishment case in North Dakota.

Prosecutors filed a one-page notice Thursday with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that they were challenging the ruling by Judge Ralph Erickson, who oversaw Rodriguez’s trial and is now a member of the 8th Circuit.

Last year Erickson ordered a new sentencing phase for Rodriguez after ruling that misleading testimony from the coroner, the failure of lawyers to outline the possibility of an insanity defense, and evidence of severe post-traumatic stress disorder had violated Rodriguez’s constitutional rights.

Authorities said Rodriguez, a convicted sex offender, kidnapped Sjodin from the parking lot of a shopping mall in Grand Forks in 2003 and drove her to Minnesota, where he killed her and left her body in a field near Crookston.

Sjodin’s disappearance sparked days of massive searches, reshaped the way Minnesota handled sex offenders and led to the national sex offender registry being renamed for Sjodin. Rodriguez remains locked up at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

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