Ukraine and Russia exchange prisoners
Ukraine announced the largest prisoner exchange since Russia invaded and said 144 soldiers had been returned to Ukraine, including dozens who had fought during the siege of Mariupol. The same number of Russian and pro-Russian personnel were returned.
The exchange took place as NATO formally extended membership invitations to Finland and Sweden yesterday, paving the way for what would become one of the alliance’s most significant expansions in decades. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin toned down the importance of enlargement at a summit in Central Asia.
At yesterday’s summit in Madrid, NATO leaders also outlined a muscular new vision, positioning Moscow as its main adversary. NATO’s secretary general also announced plans to re-deploy thousands of troops to eight countries on the alliance’s eastern flank.
Details: The fate of Mariupol’s last fighters has long been one of the most sensitive subjects of the war. Last month, when the Ukrainian government issued a surrender directive to more than 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers hiding under a steel mill, it promised to do everything possible to ensure that they were returned home.
To fight: Russia is systematically gaining ground in eastern Ukraine as it sends more troops in an attempt to capture the last patch of sovereign Ukrainian territory — some 20 miles — in Luhansk province. The UN has documented at least 3,924 Ukrainian civilian deaths in the war.
Analysis: For the first time, NATO also declared China a strategic “challenge”. The plan marks a fundamental shift from the post-Cold War era, when the alliance saw Russia as a potential ally.
Convictions in Paris attacks
Twenty men were convicted yesterday for their role in a coordinated series of shootings and bombings in November 2015 that killed 130 people in and near Paris.
The only living attacker, Salah Abdeslam, was sentenced to life in prison. Other defendants, accused of wanting to participate in the attacks or providing logistical assistance to varying degrees to the attackers, were found guilty of nearly all of the charges against them.
Abdeslam was one of 10 Islamic State extremists who targeted the Bataclan concert hall, an area outside France’s national football stadium and the terraces of cafes and restaurants in central Paris. The massacre was the worst Islamic terrorist attack in French history.
Questions remain after the 10-month trial, but the victims’ relatives and survivors praised the justice system. “I’ve made peace with the fact that I don’t have the truth,” said a teacher who escaped the Bataclan.
context: The trial served as a catharsis for some survivors and victims’ families, many of whom spent five emotional weeks testifying about the devastating physical and psychological aftermath and the difficult road to recovery.
Analysis: The massacre has deeply traumatized France. It continues to shape national debates about French identity, the place of Muslims in a country that identifies itself as secular, and the balance between individual freedom and collective security.
A murder in India causes unrest
Religious unrest spreads in India after two Muslim men filmed themselves killing a Hindu, whom they believe had insulted the prophet Mohammed. The men then filmed themselves threatening Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The video quickly spread across India, raising concerns about violence as the Hindu-Muslim schism in India deepens. Yesterday, the incident sparked protests in the state of Rajasthanwhere the attack took place.
In response, authorities arrested the men on terrorism charges and shut down Rajasthan’s internet. The government also deployed its counter-terrorist forces, saying it was “extremely concerned” that the men had threatened Modi.
Background: The events leading up to the murder of Kanhaiya Lal Teli, a Hindu tailor, started last month when a spokeswoman for Modi’s party made insulting remarks about the prophet Mohammed. Two Muslim men were killed in a protest calling for the spokeswoman to be arrested.
Details: Teli had posted a WhatsApp status in support of the spokeswoman, which police say prompted Muslims to file a complaint against him. Teli then filed his own complaint, citing death threats. He was murdered a few days later.
THE LAST NEWS
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ART AND IDEAS
Taika Waititi is arguably the busiest man in Hollywood.
He directed and co-wrote the new Marvel movie “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which kicks off July 8. He played Blackbeard in the new HBO Max pirate comedy series “Our Flag Means Death.” He plays a character in the new Pixar film ‘Lightyear’.
He also creates two Roald Dahl projects for Netflix, works on a handful of TV series, and is writing a new “Star Wars” movie for Lucasfilm, among others. And that, Waititi, 46, told the Times, “not even mentioning the other five things that haven’t been reported yet.”
In just a few years, he has become one of the most ingenious and reliable suppliers of escapist food in the industry. His style is so distinctive that it still shines through in monolithic and increasingly well-known Marvel films.
But Waititi’s runaway resume is also a sign of how hard it is for him to say no. “Sometimes you’re angry at life,” he said, “and you think, ‘Why did I say yes to everything? I don’t have a social life—I’m just working.’ But then the thing comes out, you see where the hard work is going and it’s really worth it.”
Read Dave Itzkoff’s full profile of the New Zealand filmmaker.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT, READ
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