Fewer than half the people in England and Wales consider themselves Christian, according to the most recent census — the first time the country's official religion has been followed by a minority of the population. Britain has become less religious — and less white — in the decade since the last census, figures from the 2021 census released Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics revealed. Read more: Europe’s inflation likely hasn’t peaked, says central bank chief Lagarde Some 46.2% of the population of England and Wales described themselves as Christian on the day of the 2021 census, down from 59.3% a decade earlier. The Muslim population grew from 4.9% to 6.5% of the population, while 1.7% identified as Hindu, up from 1.5%. More than 1 in 3 people — 37% — said they had no religion, up from 25% in 2011. The other parts of the U.K., Scotland and Northern Ireland, report their census results separately. Secularism campaigners said the shift should trigger a rethink of the way religion is entrenched in British society. The U.K. has state-funded Church of England schools, Anglican bishops sit in Parliament’s upper chamber, and the monarch is “defender of the faith” and supreme governor of the church. Andrew Copson, chief executive of the charity Humanists U.K., said “the dramatic growth of the non-religious” had made the U.K. “almost certainly one of the least religious countries on Earth.” “One of the most striking things about these results is how at odds the population is from the state itself,” he said. “No state in Europe has such a religious set-up as we do in terms of law and public policy, while at the same time having such a non-religious population.” Read more: Riots in Belgium, Netherlands after Morocco win at World Cup Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, one of the most senior clerics in the Church of England, said the data was “not a great surprise,” but was a challenge to Christians to work harder to promote their faith. “We have left behind the era when many people almost automatically identified as Christian, but other surveys consistently show how the same people still seek spiritual truth and wisdom and a set of values to live by,” he said. Almost 82% of people in England and Wales identified as white in the census, down from 86% in 2011. Some 9% said they were Asian, 4% Black and 3% from “mixed or multiple” ethnic backgrounds, while 2% identified with another ethnic group.
The head of the European Central Bank said Monday she does not believe inflation has peaked after reaching the highest levels on record. ECB President Christine Lagarde also told European lawmakers that the bank isn't through raising interest rates to combat those price spikes. There is too much uncertainty to know whether inflation, which hit 10.6% in October, would come down soon in the 19 countries that use the euro currency, Lagarde said. When looking at what is driving inflation, “whether it is food and commodities at large, or whether it is energy, we do not see the components or the direction that would lead me to believe that we have reached peak inflation and that it is going to decline in short order," she said. That means the central bank will “continue to tame inflation with all the tools that we have," primarily interest rate hikes, Lagarde told the European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. Read more: European leader calls on world, China to pressure Russia Following the bank's third major rate hike in October, marking its fastest pace of increases ever, the ECB expects "to raise rates further to the levels needed to ensure that inflation returns to our 2% medium-term target in a timely manner," she said. The ECB has joined the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world in rapidly raising rates to combat inflation that spiked as the global economy recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, then got worse after Russia invaded Ukraine. Central banks risk tipping economies into recession as the world copes with an energy crisis, higher food costs and currencies weakening against the U.S. dollar. The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicted the international economy would expand only 2.2% next year. Most economists expect a recession in places like Europe, the U.S. and the United Kingdom next year, with ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos saying this month that risk “has become more likely" in the eurozone. Russia's war hit Europe particularly hard, “given our proximity to the conflict and our dependence on energy imports" from Russia, Lagarde said Monday. Read more: Record inflation puts the squeeze on Eurozone economies After Russia cut back most natural gas to Europe, sending energy prices soaring, governments have provided aid to help households and businesses with their bills. Lagarde warned officials not to worsen inflation by ensuring support is “targeted, tailored and temporary" to those most at need and avoids weakening the push to cut energy use.
The white gunman who massacred 10 Black shoppers and workers at a Buffalo supermarket pleaded guilty Monday to murder and hate-motivated terrorism charges, guaranteeing he will spend the rest of his life in prison. Payton Gendron, 19, entered the plea Monday in a courthouse roughly two miles from the grocery store where he used a semiautomatic rifle and body armor to carry out a racist assault he hoped would help preserve white power in the U.S. Gendron, who was handcuffed and wore an orange jumpsuit, occasionally licked and clenched his lips as he pleaded guilty to all of the most serious charges in the grand jury indictment, including murder, murder as a hate crime and hate-motivated domestic terrorism, which carries an automatic sentence of life without parole. He answered “yes” and “guilty" as Judge Susan Eagan referred to each victim by name and asked whether he killed them because of their race. Gendron also pleaded guilty to wounding three people who survived the May attack. Many of the relatives of those victims sat and watched, some dabbing their eyes and sniffling. Speaking to reporters later, several said the plea left them cold. It didn’t address the bigger problem, which they said is racism in America. Read more: Youngest of 10 Buffalo shooting victims being laid to rest “His voice made me feel sick, but it showed me I was right,” said Zeneta Everhart, whose 20-year-old son was shot in the neck but survived. “This country has a problem. This country is inherently violent. It is racist. And his voice showed that to me.” After the roughly 45-minute proceeding ended, Gendron's lawyers suggested that he now regrets his crimes, but they didn't elaborate or take questions. “This critical step represents a condemnation of the racist ideology that fueled his horrific actions on May 14,” said Gendron’s lawyer, Brian Parker. “It is our hope that a final resolution of the state charges will help in some small way to keep the focus on the needs of the victims and the community.” Gendron's parents, in their first public statement, said the guilty plea ensures their son will be held accountable. Paul and Pamela Gendron said they “pray for healing for everyone affected." They thanked law enforcement authorities who investigated the case, adding they will “continue to provide any assistance we can." “We remain shocked and shattered to learn that our son was responsible for the hideous attack at the Tops grocery store on May 14, 2022,” said the emailed statement, which was provided to The Associated Press by their attorney. Gendron has pleaded not guilty to separate federal hate crime charges that could result in a death sentence if he is convicted. The U.S. Justice Department has not said whether it will seek capital punishment. Acknowledgement of guilt and a claim of repentance could potentially help Gendron in a penalty phase of a death penalty trial. The plea comes at a time when many Americans have become nearly desensitized to mass shootings. In recent weeks, there have been deadly attacks at a Walmart in Virginia, at a gay club in Colorado and at the University of Virginia. Read more: Buffalo shooting latest example of targeted racial violence Just days after Gendron’s rampage in Buffalo, a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at a school in Uvalde, Texas. Gendron wore body armor and used a legally purchased AR-15 style rifle in his attack on the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo. Those killed ranged in age from 32 to 86 and included an armed security guard died trying to protect customers, a church deacon and the mother of a former Buffalo fire commissioner. Gendron surrendered when police confronted him as he emerged from the store. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, who was in the courtroom for Gendron’s guilty plea, told reporters afterwards that “It was important to hear why these precious lives were snatched from us for no other reason than the color of their skin.” The mayor, a Democrat, called for a ban on assault weapons, as did Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia. Relatives of the victims reiterated their calls for Congress and the FBI to address white supremacy and gun violence. "We are literally begging for those in power to do something about it," said Garnell Whitfield, whose 86-year-old mother, Ruth Whitfield, was killed." White supremacy was Gendron’s motive. He said in documents posted online just before the attack that he’d picked the store, about a three hour drive from his home in Conklin, New York, because it was in a predominantly Black neighborhood. He said he was motivated by a belief in a massive conspiracy to dilute the power of white people by “replacing” them in the U.S. with people of color. “Swift justice,” is how Erie County District Attorney John Flynn described Monday’s result, noting that it’s the first time anyone in the state of New York has been convicted of the hate-motivated terrorism charge. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 15. Attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents several of the victims’ families, said they remain baffled that the gunman survived. They want harsh punishment, he said: “We want him to be treated as the heinous, cold blooded vicious murderer that he was for killing all these innocent Black people. It is emotional and we are angry.” Mark Talley, the son of Geraldine Talley, who was killed, called on authorities to incarcerate him in Erie County, in the same community where he caused so much pain, so that he might face the same horror experienced by his victims. “I want that pain to eat at him every second of every day for the rest of his life,” Talley said. Talley and Everhart said they were offended by Gendron's tone and cleaned-up appearance in court. They said a Black defendant would have been treated differently. Gendron is a “thug,” they said. “We show them in a way that doesn’t make them threatening, and it’s disgusting,” Everhart said. “Am I happy he’s gong to jail for life?" Talley said. “What would make me happy is if America acknowledged its history of racism.”
Russia held back Monday from launching a new round of strikes that have been expected against power stations and other key infrastructure in Ukraine, as officials warned a lingering energy and water crisis from earlier attacks could prompt more evacuations from the capital. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, hosting the largest delegation of top foreign officials since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a Russian invasion of Ukraine over nine months ago, insisted that better air defenses were needed from allies “to break this vicious cycle" of Russian air strikes followed by Ukrainian rebuilding of damaged infrastructure. "Every time we will be restoring it, the Russians will be destroying it,” he told counterparts from seven Baltic and Nordic countries. The foreign ministers from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Finland pledged more military, economic and humanitarian aid as an energy crisis deepens and Ukrainian forces seek to move on with a counteroffensive against Russian troops. Sweden said it had provided a 270-million-euro ($279 million) package of air defense systems, ammunition, all-terrain vehicles and personal winter gear for troops. Finland pledged to take in more Ukrainian refugees. In Washington, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. is working with partners and allies to provide energy and water replacement equipment to Ukraine. Read more: Pockets of shelling across Ukraine as wintry warfare looms In Israel — which has straddled a fine political line in the conflict — Channel 13 reported that a high-level Ukrainian delegation recently visited to discuss an Israeli pledge to provide a system that detects incoming missiles. Israel’s Defense Ministry declined comment. Israel has voiced support for Ukraine but has refused so far to provide it arms or impose sanctions against Moscow because of its sensitive ties with Russia. Israel's and Russia's militaries communicate to avoid conflict in Syria. Israel also does not want to endanger the large Jewish community in Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned late Sunday that Russian troops “are preparing new strikes, and as long as they have missiles, they won’t stop.” He met Monday with senior government officials to discuss what actions to take. “The upcoming week can be as hard as the one that passed,” he predicted NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg insisted Putin was intent on using frost, snow and ice to his advantage, not only on the battleground but against Ukrainian civilians. “President Putin is now trying to use the winter as a weapon of war against Ukraine, and this is horrific and we need to be prepared for more attacks,” he said on the eve of a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers — including those who visited Kyiv on Monday — in Bucharest, Romania. “That’s the reason why NATO’s allies have stepped up their support to Ukraine.” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said some of the city's 3 million people might have to be evacuated to where essential services would be less prone to shutdowns caused by missile attacks. For weeks, Russia has been pounding energy facilities around Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities with missile strikes, usually on Mondays at the work week's beginning, resulting in outages of power and water supplies. Based on the pattern of infrastructure attacks and the Russian military's preparation time, an advisor to Ukraine's interior minister said on national TV that the next strikes could occur in another week. A Ukrainian military spokesman also said on national TV that Russian aircraft had intensified their activity over Ukraine on Monday. Read more: Civilians escape Kherson after Russian strikes on freed city With temperatures hovering around freezing, and expected to dip as low as minus 11C (12 Fahrenheit) in little more than a week, international help was increasingly focused on items like generators and transformers, to make sure blackouts that affect everything from kitchens to operating rooms are as limited and short as possible. The power situation was so dire that Ukraine's energy trader — in normal times an exporter — tested importing electricity from neighboring Romania. Putin “continues trying to make Ukraine a black hole — no light, no electricity, no heating to put the Ukrainians into the darkness and the cold,” said European foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who is leading a meeting of EU ministers in Bucharest to help Ukraine with its humanitarian crisis. “So we have to continue our support providing more material for the Ukrainians to face the winter without electricity.” Ukraine’s energy provider Ukrenergo said Monday it is still short 27% of output and that “the scale and complexity of the damage are high, and repair works have continued around the clock." Power supply was restored to 17% of residents in the southern city of Kherson, which Ukraine reclaimed earlier this month. The Russians have continued pounding the city with artillery barrages from newly consolidated positions across the Dnieper River. Britain's Defense Ministry reported that the strikes reached a record high, 54, on Sunday. Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address Monday that Russian forces had fired 258 times on 30 settlements of in the Kherson region over the past week, and had damaged a water pumping station for Mykolaiv. Ukraine’s presidential office said Monday that at least four civilians were killed and 11 others wounded in the latest Russian attacks. It said intense fighting is continuing in the east, with the Russians shelling Bakhmut and Toretsk. “People are sheltering in the basements, many of which are filled by water,” said Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko. “They have been living in catastrophic conditions without power or heating.” Also Monday, Russia denied that it plans to withdraw from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, which it has occupied since the early days of the war. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a call with reporters that it was pointless to look for signs of a pullback from the plant “when there are none and there can’t be.” Peskov's comments were in response to Ukrainian claims that Russian forces were bound to retreat from the plant as they face a Ukrainian counteroffensive. The plant was shut down because of repeated shelling, for which Russia and Ukraine have traded blame. The U.N. nuclear watchdog and international leaders have urged Russia to demilitarize the plant to avoid a nuclear disaster, but Moscow has rejected the demands, arguing that it needs to maintain troops there to ensure its safety. Also Monday, a Russian official told the Tass news agency that nuclear workers who have refused to sign contracts with a Russian company claiming to have take over the plant's operations are barred from entry.
Russian forces struck eastern and southern Ukraine early Sunday as utility crews scrambled to restore power, water and heating with the onset of snow and frigid temperatures, while civilians continued to leave the southern city of Kherson because of the devastation wreaked by recent attacks and their fears of more ahead. With persistent snowfall blanketing the capital, Kyiv, Sunday, analysts predicted that wintry weather — bringing with it frozen terrain and grueling fighting conditions — could have an increasing impact on the conflict that has raged since Russian forces invaded Ukraine more than nine months ago. Both sides were already bogged down by heavy rain and muddy battlefield conditions, experts said. After a blistering series of Russian artillery strikes on infrastructure that started last month, workers were fanning out in around-the-clock deployments to restore key basic services as many Ukrainians were forced to cope with only a few hours of electricity per day — if any. Ukrenergo, the state power grid operator, said Sunday that electricity producers are now supplying about 80% of demand, compared to 75% the previous day. Read more: Civilians escape Kherson after Russian strikes on freed city The deprivations have revived jousting between Ukraine’s president and Kyiv’s mayor. Mayor Vitali Klitschko on Sunday defended himself against allegations levelled by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that too many Kyiv residents were still without power and that insufficient centers had been set up for them to stock up on food, water, battery power and other essentials. Kitschko wrote on Telegram that hundreds of such centers are in operation, as well as hundreds of emergency generators, adding that “I do not want, especially in the current situation, to enter into political battles. It’s ridiculous.” The president and the mayor have sporadically sparred since Zelenskyy took office in 2019. Zelenskyy has accused Klitschko and officials around him of corruption, while Klitschko contends the president’s office has put him under political pressure. The Institute for the Study of War, a think tank that has been closely monitoring developments in Ukraine, said reporting from both sides indicated that heavy rain and mud have had an impact — along with wider freezing expected along the front lines in the coming days. “It is unclear if either side is actively planning or preparing to resume major offensive or counter-offensive operations at that time, but the meteorological factors that have been hindering such operations will begin lifting,” it said in a note published Saturday. ISW said Russian forces were digging in further east of the city of Kherson, from which Ukrainian forces expelled them more than two weeks ago, and continued “routine artillery fire” across the Dnieper River. The think tank also cited reports that Russian forces were moving multiple launch rocket and ground-to-air missile systems into positions closer to the city as part of a possible plan to step up “the tempo of rocket and anti-air missile strikes against ground targets north of the Dnieper River in the coming days.” Read more: Russia rains missiles on recaptured Ukrainian city Kherson city, which was liberated more than two weeks ago — a development that Zelenskyy called a turning point in the war — has faced intense shelling in recent days by Russian forces nearby. The top U.N. official in Ukraine said civilians, many of whom lamented unlivable conditions and feared more strikes to come, continued to pour out of Kherson on Sunday. “The level of destruction, the scope of the destruction, what’s required in the city and in the oblast — it’s massive,” said U.N. resident coordinator Denise Brown, referring to the region. U.N. teams were ferrying in supplies like food, water, shelter materials, medicines, and blankets and mattresses, she said. “Time is of the essence, of course, before it becomes an absolute catastrophe,” Brown told The Associated Press in Kherson. Galina Lugova, head of the city’s military administration, said in an interview that evacuation trains had been lined up and bomb shelters set up in all city districts with stoves, beds, first aid kits and fire extinguishers. “We are preparing for a winter in difficult conditions, but we will do everything to make people safe,” Lugova said. Her biggest worry, she said, was “shelling that intensifies every day. Shelling, shelling and shelling again.” On the roads out of the city, some residents felt they had no choice but to leave. “The day before yesterday, artillery hit our house. Four flats burned down. Windows shattered,” said Vitaliy Nadochiy, driving out with a terrier on his lap and a Ukrainian flag dangling from a sun visor. “We can’t be there. There is no electricity, no water, heating. So we are leaving to go to my brother.” In the eastern Donetsk region, five people were killed in shelling over the past day, governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said. Overnight shelling was reported by regional leaders in the Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk areas to the west. In addition, he said two people were killed in artillery firing on the town of Kurakhove. Kharkiv governor Oleh Syniehubov said one person was killed and three wounded in the northeastern region. Russian rockets hit unspecified railroad facilities in Kryvyi Rih, Zelenskyy’s hometown, on Sunday, according to a regional official. No injuries were immediately reported.
Search teams have recovered seven dead, including a 3-week-old infant and a pair of young siblings, buried in mud and debris that hurtled down a mountainside and through a densely populated port city on the resort island of Ischia, officials said Sunday. The Naples prefect confirmed that five people remained missing, and feared buried under the debris of an enormous landslide that struck Casamicciola before dawn on Saturday. Its force collapsed buildings and pushed vehicles into the sea. The other victims were identified as the infant boy’s parents, a 5-year-old girl and her 11-year-old brother, a 31-year-old island resident and a Bulgarian tourist. Read more: 1 dead, up to 12 missing in landslide on Italian island “Mud and water tend to fill every space,'' Luca Cari, the spokesman for Italian firefighters, told RAI state TV. ”Our teams are searching with hope, even if it is very difficult." “Our biggest hope is that people identified as missing have found refuge with relatives and friends and have not advised of their position,” he added. The risks of landslides remained in the highest part of the town, near where heavy rainfall loosened a chunk of mountainside, requiring search teams to enter by foot, he said. Small bulldozers first focused on clearing roads to allow rescue vehicles to pass, while dive teams were brought in to check cars that had been pushed into the sea. “We are continuing the search with our hearts broken, because among the missing are also minors," Giacomo Pascale, the mayor of the neighboring town of Lacco Ameno, told RAI. Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the people of Ischia during the traditional Sunday blessing in St. Peter's Square. “I am praying for the victims, for those who are suffering and for those who are involved in the rescue,” he said. The Naples prefect, Claudio Palomba, said on Sunday that 30 homes had been inundated and more than 200 people had been displaced. Five people were injured. The massive landslide before dawn on Saturday was triggered by exceptional rainfall, and sent a mass of mud and debris hurtling through the port of Casamicciola, collapsing buildings and sweeping vehicles into the sea. One widely circulated video showed a man, covered with mud, clinging to a shutter, chest-deep in muddy water. Another family escaped a home on the mountainside that appeared Sunday to teeter over a precipice, the daily Corriere della Sera reported. The island received 126 millimeters (nearly five inches) of rain in six hours, the heaviest rainfall in 20 years, according to officials. Experts said the disaster was exacerbated by building in areas of high risk on the mountainous island, which is also in an seismically active zone. Two people were killed in 2017 when a 4.0-magnitude quake struck Casamicciola and Lacco Ameno. Read more: At least 31 dead in south Philippines floods, landslides “There is territory that cannot be occupied. You cannot change the use of a zone where there is water. The course of the water created this disaster," geologist Riccardo Caniparoli told RAI. “There are norms and laws that were not respected.” Vincenzo De Luca, president of the Campagna region where Ischia is located, said houses in areas at risk must be demolished, suggesting they had been built without necessary permits. “People need to understand that you cannot live in some areas. There is no such thing as the necessity (to build) illegally," De Luca told RAI. ”Buildings in fragile zones should be demolished." The Italian government declared a state of emergency for the island during an urgent Cabinet meeting Sunday, earmarking 2 million euros (nearly $2.1 million) for the rescue and to restore public services. “The government expresses its closeness to the citizens, mayors and towns of the island of Ischia, and thanks the rescue workers searching for the victims," Premier Giorgia Meloni said in a statement.
Riots broke out in several Belgian and Dutch cities after Morocco’s 2-0 upset win over Belgium at the World Cup Sunday. Police detained about a dozen people after they deployed water cannons and fire tear gas to disperse crowds in Brussels and eight more in the Northern city of Antwerp. Two police officials were injured in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam. By late evening Sunday, an uneasy calm had returned to most of the cities involved. Dozens of rioters overturned and torched cars, set electric scooters on fire and pelted cars with bricks. Police moved in after one person suffered facial injuries, said Brussels police spokeswoman Ilse Van de Keere. Read more: What happened to Morocco's first-choice GK before kickoff v Belgium? Brussels mayor Philippe Close urged people to stay away from the city center and said authorities were doing their utmost to keep order in the streets. Even subway and tram traffic had to be interrupted on police orders. “Those are not fans, they are rioters. Moroccan fans are there to celebrate,” Close said. There were also disturbances in the city of Antwerp and Liege. “Sad to see how a few individuals abuse a situation to run amok,” said Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden. Police in the neighboring Netherlands said violence erupted in the port city of Rotterdam, with riot officers attempting to break up a group of 500 soccer supporters who pelted police with fireworks and glass. Media reported unrest in the capital Amsterdam and The Hague. Read more: Morocco beat Belgium 2-0 pulling off another shock at World Cup Morocco’s victory was a major upset at the World Cup and was enthusiastically celebrated by fans with Moroccan immigrant roots in many Belgian and Dutch cities.
Fleeing shelling, civilians on Saturday streamed out of the southern Ukrainian city whose recapture they had celebrated just weeks earlier. The exodus from Kherson came as Ukraine solemnly remembered a Stalin-era famine and sought to ensure that Russia's war in Ukraine doesn’t deprive others worldwide of its vital food exports. A line of trucks, vans and cars, some towing trailers or ferrying out pets and other belongings, stretched a kilometer or more on the outskirts of the city of Kherson. Days of intensive shelling by Russian forces prompted a bittersweet exodus: Many civilians were happy that their city had been won back, but lamented that they couldn't stay. “It is sad that we are leaving our home,” said Yevhen Yankov, as a van he was in inched forward. "Now we are free, but we have to leave, because there is shelling, and there are dead among the population.” Read more: NATO vows to aid Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes’ Poking her head out from the back, Svitlana Romanivna added: “We went through real hell. Our neighborhood was burning, it was a nightmare. Everything was in flames.” Emilie Fourrey, emergency project coordinator for aid group Doctors Without Borders in Ukraine, said an evacuation of 400 patients of Kherson's psychiatric hospital, which is situated near both an electrical plant and the frontline, had begun on Thursday and was set to continue in the coming days. Ukraine in recent days has faced a blistering onslaught of Russian artillery fire and drone attacks, with the shelling especially intense in Kherson. Often the barrage has largely targeted infrastructure, though civilian casualties have been reported. Repair crews across the country were scrambling to restore heat, electricity and water services that were blasted into disrepair. Russia has ratcheted up its attacks on critical infrastructure after suffering battlefield setbacks. A prominent Russian nationalist said Saturday the Russian military doesn't have enough doctors, in what was a rare public admission of problems within the military. In the capital Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy oversaw a busy day of diplomacy, welcoming several European Union leaders for meetings and hosting an “International Summit on Food Security” to discuss food security and agricultural exports from the country. A deal brokered by the U.N. and Turkey has allowed for safe exports of Ukrainian grain in the Black Sea amid wartime disruptions that have affected traffic. “The total amount we have raised for ‘Grain from Ukraine’ is already about $150 million. The work continues," Zelenskyy said in his nightly TV address. “We are preparing up to 60 ships. All of us together do not just send Ukrainian agricultural products to those countries that suffer the most from the food crisis. We reaffirm that hunger should never again be used as a weapon.” Read more: Bombed, not beaten: Ukraine’s capital flips to survival mode The prime ministers of Belgium, Poland and Lithuania and the president of Hungary were on hand, many others participated by video. Zelenskyy said more than 20 countries supported the summit. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Ukraine — despite its own financial straits — has allocated 900 million hryvna ($24 million) to purchase corn for countries including Yemen, Sudan, Kenya and Nigeria. Our food security summit was supported by more than 20 countries. The total amount we have raised for ‘Grain from Ukraine’ is already about 150 million US dollars. The work continues. We are preparing up to 60 ships. All of us together do not just send Ukrainian agricultural products to those countries that suffer the most from the food crisis. We reaffirm that hunger should never again be used as a weapon. The reminder about food supplies was timely: Ukrainians were marking the 90th anniversary of the start of the “Holodomor,” or Great Famine, which killed more than 3 million people over two years as the Soviet government under dictator Josef Stalin confiscated food and grain supplies and deported many Ukrainians. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz marked the commemoration by drawing parallels with the impact of the war on Ukraine on world markets. Exports from Ukraine have resumed under a U.N.-brokered deal but have still been far short of pre-war levels, driving up global prices. “Today, we stand united in stating that hunger must never again be used as a weapon,” Scholz said in a video message. “That is why we cannot tolerate what we are witnessing: The worst global food crisis in years with abhorrent consequences for millions of people – from Afghanistan to Madagascar, from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa.” He said Germany, with the U.N.'s World Food Program, will provide an additional 15 million euros for further grain shipments from Ukraine. Scholz spokes as a cross-party group of lawmakers in Germany are seeking to pass a parliamentary resolution next week that would recognize the 1930s famine as “genocide.” Last year Ukraine and Russia provided around 30% of the world’s exported wheat and barley, 20% of its corn, and over 50% of its sunflower oil, the U.N. has said. In a post on the Telegram social network on Saturday, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said more than 3,000 specialists for a local utility continued to work “around the clock” and had succeeded in restoring heat to more than more than 90% of residential buildings. While about one-quarter of Kyiv residents remained without electricity, he said water serviced had been returned to all in the city. The scramble to restore power came as Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo met Saturday with Zelenskyy in Kyiv. “This might be a difficult winter,” he said, alluding to Belgium's contributions of generators, and support for schools and hospitals in Ukraine, as well as military aid such as “fuel, machine guns, propelled artillery and so on.” “And by standing here, we hope that we provide you hope and resilience in fighting through this difficult period.”
Heavy rainfall triggered a massive landslide early Saturday on the southern Italian resort island of Ischia that destroyed buildings and swept parked cars into the sea, leaving at least one person dead and up to 12 missing. The body of a woman was pulled from the mud, the Naples prefect Claudio Palomba, told a news conference. With raining continuing to fall, rescuers were working gingerly with small bulldozers to pick through some six to seven meters (yards) of mud and detritus in the search for possible victims. Reinforcements arrived by ferry, including teams of sniffer dogs to help the search efforts. The force of the mud sliding down the mountainside just before dawn was strong enough to send cars and buses onto beaches and into the sea at the port of Casamicciola, on the north end of the island, which lies off Naples. Read more: 252 dead as Indonesia earthquake topples homes, buildings, roads The island received 126 millimeters (nearly five inches) of rain in six hours, the heaviest rainfall in 20 years, according to officials. Streets were impassable and mayors on the island urged people to stay home. At least 100 people were reported stranded without electricity and water, and about 70 were housed in a community gymnasium. There was early confusion over the death toll. Vice Premier Matteo Salvini initially said eight people were confirmed dead, followed by the interior minister saying that no deaths were confirmed, while 10 to 12 were missing. Read more: At least 31 dead in south Philippines floods, landslides “The situation is very complicated and very serious because probably some of those people are under the mud,” Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi told RAI state TV from an emergency command center in Rome. ANSA reported that at least 10 buildings collapsed. One family with a newborn that was previously reported missing was located and was receiving medical care, according to the Naples prefect. Video from the island showed small bulldozers clearing roads, while residents used hoses to try to get mud out of their homes. One man, identified as Benjamin Iacono, told Sky TG24 that mud overwhelmed three adjacent shops that he owns, completely wiping out his inventory. He estimated damage at 100,000 euros to 150,000 euros ($104,000 to $156,000) Firefighters and the Coast Guard were conducting search and rescues, initially hampered by strong winds that prevented helicopters and boats from reaching the island. The densely populated mountainous island is a popular tourist destination for both its beaches and spas. A 4.0-magnitude quake on the island in 2017 killed two people, causing significant damage to the towns of Casamicciola and neighboring Lacco Ameno.
NATO is determined to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia for “as long as it takes” and will help the war-wracked country transform its armed forces into a modern army up to Western standards, the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg vowed on Friday. Speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Romania next week, Stoltenberg urged countries that want to, either individually or in groups, to keep providing air defense systems and other weapons to Ukraine. NATO as an organization does not supply weapons. “NATO will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. We will not back down,” the former Norwegian prime minister said. “Allies are providing unprecedented military support, and I expect foreign ministers will also agree to step up non-lethal support.” Stoltenberg said that members of the 30-nation security organization have been delivering fuel, generators, medical supplies, winter equipment and drone jamming devices, but that more will be needed as winter closes in, particularly as Russia attacks Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Read more: Poland, NATO say missile strike wasn't a Russian attack “At our meeting in Bucharest, I will call for more,” he said. “Over the longer term we will help Ukraine transition from Soviet era equipment to modern NATO standards, doctrine and training.” Stoltenberg said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba would join the ministers to discuss his country’s most pressing needs but also what kind of long-term support that NATO can provide. NATO’s top civilian official said the support will help Ukraine move toward joining the alliance one day. The Nov 29-30 meeting in Bucharest is being held almost 15 years after NATO promised that Ukraine and Georgia would one day become members of the organization, a pledge that deeply angered Russia. Also attending the meeting will be the foreign ministers of Bosnia, Georgia and Moldova – three partners that NATO says are coming under increasing Russian pressure. Stoltenberg said the meeting would see NATO “take further steps to help them protect their independence, and strengthen their ability to defend themselves.” Read more: Deadly missile strike adds to Ukraine war fears in Poland Since President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion 10 months ago, NATO has bolstered the defenses of allies neighboring Ukraine and Russia but has carefully sought to avoid being dragged into a wider war with a major nuclear power. But Stoltenberg put no pressure on Ukraine to enter peace talks with Russia, and indeed NATO and European diplomats have said that Putin does not appear willing to come to the table. “Most wars end with negotiations,” he said. “But what happens at the negotiating table depends on what happens on the battlefield. Therefore, the best way to increase the chances for a peaceful solution is to support Ukraine.”