Wagner Group and close air cover because of the proximity to the Russian border. They can also rely on separatist fighters and a well-financed network of citizen-spies who relay secret information to the invaders, often with devastating consequences.

Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s pro-Russia president, out of office. Mr. Yanukovych came from a Donbas steel town. In one stroke, Russia lost its ally and the Donbas elite its godfather. That is when the trouble started.

People flooded into the Donbas streets waving Russian flags. At first, said Alisa Sopova, a journalist for a Donbas newspaper at the time, “We were sure they were fake people brought in from Russia to pose for Russian TV.”

to speak so much Russian. A critical aspect of Ukrainian independence was reviving the Ukrainian language, marginalized during Soviet times. But those arguments were typically confined to social media posts or intellectual debates, until this moment.

“I’d go into the supermarket to buy some meat, and the shopkeeper tells me, ‘If you don’t speak Ukrainian, I’m not going to sell you any meat,’” Mr. Tsyhankov said. “I’ve been speaking Russian my whole life. How do you think that made me feel?”

done something similar in 2008 in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two regions of Georgia, and before that the Russians had meddled in Moldova, backing the breakaway Transnistria region. The tools were generally the same: bankrolling pro-Russia political parties; deploying intelligence agents to foment protests; sowing disinformation through Russian TV.

Mr. Putin’s strategy was to turn strategic slices of the former Soviet Union into separatist hotbeds to hobble young nations like Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, all struggling to break free from Moscow and move closer to Europe.

Under the Kremlin’s wing, Donbas’s separatists killed Ukrainian officials, took territory and declared the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. When Ukrainian forces rolled in to quell the rebellion, some residents saw them as occupiers. They spoke a different language, hailed from a different region, embraced a different culture — or so went the pro-Russia narrative. In some villages, babushkas lay down in the roads blocking Ukrainian tanks, officers said, and in one, an especially cunning babushka kept stealing the soldiers’ helmets.

“It was frustrating,” said Anatolii Mohyla, a Ukrainian military commander. “We’d come to liberate them and they’d give us the finger.”

Mr. Putin dispatched thousands of Russian troops to support the separatists, later saying he had been “forced to protect” the Russian-speaking population. Towns like Chasiv Yar were occupied by separatist fighters, then liberated by Ukrainian troops a few months later. By 2015, the heavy fighting had died down. But it was not like Mr. Putin forgot about the Donbas.

He upped the ante in 2021, saying, “Kyiv simply does not need the Donbas.” And on Feb. 21 of this year, three days before he invaded Ukraine, Mr. Putin accused the Ukrainian government of perpetrating a “genocide.” He justified the most cataclysmic war in decades by citing the very tensions he himself stoked.

In early April, the agricultural land around Chasiv Yar began to thaw. Mr. Khainus, the pro-Ukraine farmer, drove out to check a sunflower field. A Ukrainian military vehicle raced up. A soldier leaned out the window and fired an assault rifle, the bullets skipping up in the dirt. Mr. Khainus slammed on the brakes.

A Ukrainian commander he recognized, a man whom Mr. Khainus said he had complained about before, jumped out. The commander greeted him with a punch to the head, Mr. Khainus said, and then smashed him in the face with a rifle butt.

He does not remember much after that. He shared photographs of himself lying in a hospital bed with two black eyes. Military and law enforcement officials declined to comment.

Mr. Khainus remains a supporter of the military, saying, “One stupid person doesn’t represent the army.”

But, he added wryly: “It’s one thing to be a patriot in Kyiv. It’s another to be a patriot in the Donbas.”

At 9 p.m. on July 9, four cruise missiles slammed into a dormitory at the old ceramic plant. The buildings crumbled as if they were made out of sand. Viacheslav Boitsov, an emergency services official, said there were “no military facilities nearby.”

But according to Mr. Mohyla and Oleksandr Nevydomskyi, another Ukrainian military officer, Ukrainian soldiers were staying in that building. The night before, they said, a mysterious man was seen standing outside flashing light signals, most likely pinpointing the position.

The military calls such spies “correctors,” and they relay navigational information to the Russians to make missile and artillery strikes more precise. Ukrainian officials have arrested more than 20 and say correctors are often paid several hundred dollars after a target is hit. The strike in Chasiv Yar was one of the deadliest: 48 killed, including 18 soldiers, the officers said.

“For sure there are Russian agents in this town,” Mr. Mohyla said. “There might even be spies in our unit.”

Few in Chasiv Yar are confident that the town will stay in government hands.

Mr. Khainus said the Russians were steadily moving closer to his sunflower fields. About a week ago, a friend’s house was shelled. A day later, in an online messaging channel, separatist supporters said Mr. Khainus should be next, calling him a “hero” — adding an epithet.

Is he scared?

“Why should I be?” he said. “They’re nobodies.”

Mr. Tsyhankov, the retired dump truck driver nostalgic for the Soviet times, seemed pained by all of the bloodshed but did not blame the Russians or the separatists. “They’re doing the right thing,” he said. “They’re fighting for the Russian language and their territory.”

As he said goodbye, insisting that his guests take with them a jug of his homemade apple juice and some fresh green grapes, he shook his head at the enormity of it. “Why can’t we be friends with you guys, the Americans?” he asked. “Politics are keeping all of us hostage.”

Every night, the horizon in Chasiv Yar lights up with explosions. Ukrainian soldiers operate here almost as if they are on enemy territory, hiving themselves off from the public, watching their backs, traveling by night in long convoys of cars with the lights blacked out, the drivers wearing night vision goggles. According to separatist messaging channels, the Wagner mercenaries have reached the outskirts of Bakhmut, a major Donbas town. As for Soledar, it is now off limits to journalists, but volunteers there trying to rescue civilians say it is as deadly as ever.

People here used to describe the Donbas in simple terms like “beautiful,” “honest,” “unbreakable” and “free.”

Now it is destroyed, depopulated, sad and empty.

“It’s like the Rust Belt,” Ms. Sopova said. “It’s not needed anymore. All that industry is obsolete.”

Countless communities have risen in the Donbas. Many are now falling. Ms. Sopova glimpses a perhaps not so faraway future where the Donbas goes back to what it once was: a wild field.

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn contributed reporting.

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Disgraced Prince Andrew, back in the spotlight but still out in the cold

Britain’s Prince Andrew and Prince Edward march during a procession where the coffin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is transported from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament for her lying in state, in London, Britain, September 14, 2022. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

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  • Presence at funeral events a reminder of his fall
  • Barred from wearing uniform, heckled in Edinburgh
  • Still eighth in the line of succession to throne

LONDON, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Amid the displays of emotion and deference since the death of Queen Elizabeth, the presence of one figure has added a discordant note to the solemn rituals leading up to her funeral – that of her disgraced son Prince Andrew.

Reputedly the queen’s favourite son, Andrew was stripped of most of his titles and removed from royal duties due to a scandal over his friendship with U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender, and a related sex assault allegation.

He has not been charged with any criminal offence and has denied any wrongdoing.

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After a period where he has been out of the public eye, the sight of Andrew, 62, in the global spotlight following his mother’s death has served as a reminder of his fall from grace.

A Royal Navy veteran of the Falklands War, he has not been allowed to wear a military uniform during two solemn processions, one in Edinburgh and one in London, when he and his three siblings walked behind the queen’s coffin.

King Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Edward wore full dress uniforms while Andrew was in a morning suit, drawing attention to his peculiar status. He will be allowed to wear uniform as a special mark of respect for the queen during a final vigil the siblings will hold as her body lies in state.

In Edinburgh on Monday, one heckler shouted out: “Andrew, you’re a sick old man”.

The man was bundled away and has been charged with a breach of the peace. But if that was a rare instance of loud public protest, the sentiment seems to be more widely shared.

“There’s no place for Andrew in the future of the family or country, but I think the queen did right to sideline him. He’s brought shame, but I think his family knows what the British people think of him,” said Mary Burke, a 47-year-old from the south coast town of Brighton, as she waited in the long line to view the queen’s coffin in London’s Westminster Hall.

Andrew has not taken part in events at which royals have greeted members of the public, other than a brief appearance outside Balmoral Castle two days after the queen’s death.

Eyebrows have been raised over his continued position as a Counsellor of State, a formal position.

“If this isn’t changed, the monarchy is going to lose many who currently might support them,” wrote Sheila Le Mottee in a comment on an article in the pro-independence Scottish newspaper The National.

“The only reason he is tolerated just now is because he is a son who has just lost his mother.”

PLAYBOY PRINCE TO PARIAH

Once upon a time, Andrew was a popular figure.

Tabloids nicknamed him the “Playboy Prince” as they cheerfully reported on his love life, and he won respect for his service as a helicopter pilot in the Falklands.

His marriage in 1986 to Sarah Ferguson was seen at the time as bringing a breath of fresh air to a stuffy institution.

It all went wrong gradually and then suddenly.

As a roving trade ambassador, he gained the nickname “Air Miles Andy” for his frequent travels, which often involved rounds of golf. His marriage ended in divorce in 1996. The media criticised him for what was described as high-handed behaviour and an overly lavish lifestyle.

But it was the Epstein affair that brought true ignominy upon Andrew.

He stayed at Epstein’s various homes and one video from 2010 showed him inside Epstein’s New York townhouse, waving to a woman from the door. Epstein had been jailed in 2008 for child sex offences.

A photograph circulated picturing him with his arm around a young woman named Virginia Roberts – who accused Epstein of grooming her as a “sex slave”. Also in the picture is socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who in June this year was sentenced by a U.S. court to 20 years imprisonment for child sex trafficking.

Roberts, now called Virginia Giuffre, said as a teenager she had been forced to have sex with Andrew in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island between 1999 and 2002.

In an effort to clear the air, Andrew sat down for an interview with the BBC in November 2019.

He said he did not regret his friendship with Epstein, denied having sex with Roberts and said he had no recollection of even meeting her.

But his justifications, for example saying that her account of dancing with him in a nightclub where he sweated profusely could not be true because he was unable to sweat following an overdose of adrenalin during the Falklands War, were widely ridiculed.

Giuffre eventually sued Andrew alleging he sexually assaulted her when she was aged 17. In March this year, he settled the suit without admitting any liability. The settlement included an undisclosed payment.

Andrew remains eighth in the order of succession to the throne, and British media have speculated that he may still hold the hope of making a full return to public life.

But royal observers think that is highly unlikely, not least as Charles has already spoken of having a slimmed-down monarchy with fewer working royals.

Andrew has, however, assumed one new role. A spokesperson said he would take over care of his late mother’s two corgi dogs.

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Additional reporting by Humza Jilani; Editing by Estelle Shirbon and Andrew Heavens

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Ukraine’s Youngest Parliament Member Fights in The Trenches

Sviatoslav Yurash is the youngest member of Ukraine’s parliament. He sat down with Newsy’s Jason Bellini to discuss his experience in combat.

Private Sviatoslav Yurash is a frontline soldier trying to hold the line against the Russians.  

“As a private, you await your orders,” said Yurash.  

Yurash is one of tens of thousands of young Ukrainians who have answered the call of duty. But it’s not his only duty to Ukraine.

At 26 he is also the youngest ever member of his country’s parliament.  

With shells exploding around his trench he’s multitasking, doing international diplomacy or recording a message to a British lawmaker. 

“We are thankful as we can be for all that you have done for us,” he said.  

In between trips to the front, Yurash sat down with Newsy in the capital, Kyiv. 

NEWSY’S JASON BELLINI: Did you have military experience before this?   

SVIATOSLAV YURASH: No. You learn pretty fast when you just survive. When you are fighting for your life, you have no other choice.   

BELLINI: What’s your function when you’re right there in a trench? What are you trying to do?  

YURASH: You patrol, dig and shoot. You carry a great deal. You support. You try and bring the wounded away from the frontlines. You are there to defend against the Russian onslaught. 

Yurash joined a battalion in the early days of the invasion, a part of the bloody defense of the capital. 

He then fought this summer holding the line against the Russian army in the heavily contested eastern Donbas region. 

BELLINI: Don’t you have wartime duties as a member of parliament that you can’t fulfill while you’re out on the front line?   

YURASH: That’s why I’m here now, to fulfill those duties. We have the ability to communicate. We thank Elon Musk as well.  

BELLINI: Starlink.   

YURASH: Indeed.  

Yurash’s break from fighting is no break from reminders of war, like the air raid sirens that suddenly interrupted the conversation. 

YURASH: The chance of a missile hitting you right here is pretty negligible. 

BELLINI: The risk factor is a bit higher on the front line than it is here in Kiev.  

YURASH: Well, you have no reason to ignore what warnings come. 

As Ukraine tries to build on the success of its surprise lightning strike in the north, the president who Yurash helped get elected warns that the most deadly days of the war may be yet to come.  

BELLINI: Have you made peace with the very real possibility of dying on the front line? 

YURASH: Every single Ukrainian you meet has already taken one way or the other a great loss, and because of that, your desire to get justice for all of them is bigger than whatever your concern for your own life is. And when I’m there, that desire and need to get justice is realized in no other way. It’s justice that we need for all those people who have perished in the struggle for our country’s existence.  

BELLINI: And you’re prepared to die for that?  

YURASH: Well, I don’t want to die, but when you join the army, that is a very real possibility. 

BELLINI: Have you had any close calls yourself?   

YURASH: Yes, plenty. Plenty. You get used to shelling. You get used to the horror of it pretty quickly. You have no choice. Humans are very malleable to whatever horror or joy comes to them. But what sticks out is camaraderie. One of my comrades has been hit pretty hard. Shrapnel hit him basically in the leg, torso, arm and face. And we were essentially carrying him out of there. And you had all these people basically tending to him and trying to take him into safety. One of the most honorable things I can think of doing is saving a man’s life like that. And to try to be useful in saving somebody from hell on the battlefield and giving him a new lease of life, because that’s what I would hope would happen to me if I would have gotten hit.  

Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have already died in the more than 200 days since Russia invaded Ukraine. 

BELLINI: You’re going to be going back to the front? 

YURASH: Of course. Absolutely. I cannot wait, to be honest with you. Because it makes much more sense out there. You feel directly the possibilities of your country beating back the Russians there. We don’t get to choose the times we live in. We get to choose what we do for the times we live in. 

Source: newsy.com

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Former MLB Pitcher Turned Police Officer Varvaro Dies In Car Crash

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
September 12, 2022

37-year-old Anthony Varvaro was an officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey after a career with the Mariners, Braves and Red Sox.

Anthony Varvaro, a former Major League Baseball pitcher who retired in 2016 to become a police officer in the New York City area, was killed in a car crash Sunday morning on his way to work at the Sept. 11 memorial ceremony in Manhattan, according to police officials and his former teams.

Varvaro, 37, was an officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He played baseball at St. John’s University in New York City before a career in the majors as a relief pitcher with the Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox from 2010 to 2015.

“We are deeply saddened on the passing of former Braves pitcher Anthony Varvaro,” the Braves said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and colleagues.”

The crash happened Sunday morning in New Jersey. Messages seeking details about the crash were left with New Jersey state police.

St. John’s head baseball coach Mike Hampton said he was “at a loss for words” over Varvaro’s death.

“Not only was he everything you could want out of a ball player, he was everything you could want in a person,” said Hampton, who was an assistant coach at St. John’s during all three of Varvaro’s seasons there. “My heart goes out to his family, friends, teammates and fellow officers.”

Port Authority officials said in a statement that Varvaro “represented the very best of this agency, and will be remembered for his courage and commitment to service.”

“On this solemn occasion as the Port Authority mourns the loss of 84 employees in the attacks on the World Trade Center — including 37 members of the Port Authority Police Department — our grief only deepens today with the passing of Officer Varvaro,” said the statement by Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole and Executive Director Rick Cotton.

Raised in Staten Island in New York City, Varvaro was drafted by Seattle in the 12th round in 2005. He played for the Mariners in 2010 and Atlanta from 2011 to 2014.

Varvaro was traded to the Red Sox in late 2014 and pitched 11 innings for Boston early in the 2015 season. In May 2015, the Chicago Cubs claimed him off waivers from Boston, but returned him to the Red Sox after testing showed he had an elbow injury in his right pitching arm, which resulted in season-ending surgery.

For his major league career, he pitched 183 innings in 166 games, compiling a 3.23 earned run average, 150 strikeouts and one save.

In 2016, he appeared in 18 games for Boston’s top minor league affiliate before retiring in June and beginning his police training.

Varvaro, who studied criminal justice at St. John’s and graduated in 2005, told the student newspaper, The Torch, in December 2016 that he inquired about police jobs at the Port Authority while pitching in the majors.

“I figured that I had a pretty successful career in baseball, I had played a number of seasons, and I was fine moving on to the next step of my life,” he told the newspaper.

Port Authority officials said Varvaro became a police officer in December 2016 and was assigned to patrol for nearly five years before transferring to the Port Authority Police Academy to become an instructor.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Serena Williams Beats Anett Kontaveit At U.S. Open To Reach 3rd Round

Williams has ensured she will play at least one more singles match at what she’s hinted will be the last tournament of her illustrious career.

Serena Williams can call it “evolving” or “retiring” or whatever she wants. And she can be coy about whether or not this U.S. Open will actually mark the end of her playing days. Those 23 Grand Slam titles earned that right.

If she keeps playing like this, who knows how long this farewell will last?

No matter what happens once her trip to Flushing Meadows is over, here is what is important to know after Wednesday night: The 40-year-old Williams is still around, she’s still capable of terrific tennis, she’s still winning — and, like the adoring spectators whose roars filled Arthur Ashe Stadium again — she’s ready for more.

Williams eliminated No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2 in the U.S. Open’s second round to ensure that she will play at least one more singles match at what she’s hinted will be the last tournament of her illustrious career.

“There’s still a little left in me,” Williams said with a smile during her on-court interview, then acknowledged during her post-match news conference: “These moments are clearly fleeting.”

After beating 80th-ranked Danka Kovinic in straight sets Monday, then collecting her 23rd victory in her past 25 matches against someone ranked Nos. 1 or 2 against Kontaveit on Wednesday, the six-time champion at Flushing Meadows will play Friday for a spot in the fourth round.

Her opponent will be Ajla Tomljanovic, a 29-year-old Australian who is ranked 46th. They’ve never met, but Tomljanovic, who said she considers herself a Williams fan, figures she knows what to anticipate from the American — and from those in the seats.

“I was playing on Court 7 both of my matches so far at the same time as her, and I could hear the crowd. I’m like, ‘Court 7 isn’t that close.’ I kept thinking, ‘Oh, my God, that’s annoying me and I’m not even playing against her,'” Tomljanovic said. “I don’t know how I’m going to do it.”

Making Williams’ potential path possibly simpler if she can get past Tomljanovic: 2021 U.S. Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez and 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova both lost.

On Wednesday, Williams hit serves at up to 119 mph, stayed with Kontaveit during lengthy exchanges of big swings from the baselines and conjured up some of her trademark brilliance when it was needed most.

After pulling out a tight first set, then faltering in the second, Williams headed to the locker room for a bathroom break before the third.

Something had to give, someone had to blink.

When they resumed, it was Williams who lifted her level and emerged as the better player.

Just as she’s done so many times, on so many stages, with so much at stake.

“I’m just Serena. After I lost the second set, I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness, I better give my best effort because this could be it,'” Williams said, surely echoing the thoughts of everyone paying any attention.

“I never get to play like this — since ’98, really,” she said. “Literally, I’ve had an ‘X’ on my back since ’99,” the year she claimed her first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open at age 17.

Whatever rust accumulated when Williams missed about a year of action before returning to the tour in late June appears to have vanished. She was 1-3 in 2022 entering the U.S. Open.

“Now it’s kind of coming together,” Williams said. “I mean, it had to come together today.”

Williams has doubles to play, too. She and her sister, Venus, have won 14 major championships as a team and will begin that event Thursday night.

Kontaveit, a 26-year-old from Estonia, is a powerful hitter in her own right, the sort that spread across women’s tennis over the past two decades after a pair of siblings from Compton, California, changed the game.

But there’s a caveat attached to Kontaveit’s ranking: She has never won so much as one quarterfinal match at any Grand Slam tournament in 30 career appearances.

So maybe that’s why, much like with Kovinic 48 hours earlier, Williams’ opponent was introduced just by her name, and Kontaveit walked out to a smattering of applause. Williams, in contrast, got the full treatment: highlight video, a listing of her many accolades and a loud greeting from folks part of the largest U.S. Open attendance ever at a night session, 29,959, eclipsing the record set Monday.

“It was her moment,” said Kontaveit, who began crying during the Estonian portion of her news conference and cut it short. “Of course, this is totally about her.”

As strident a competitor as tennis, or any sport, has seen, as rightly self-confident in her abilities as any athlete, Williams was not about to think of this whole exercise as merely a celebration of her career.

She came to New York wanting to win, of course.

Wearing the same glittery crystal-encrusted top and diamond-accented sneakers — replete with solid gold shoelace tags and the word “Queen” on the right one, “Mama” on the left — that she sported Monday, Williams was ready for prime time.

The match began with Kontaveit grabbing the first five points, Williams the next five. And on they went, back and forth. Kontaveit’s mistakes were cheered — even faults, drawing an admonishment for the crowd from chair umpire Alison Hughes about making noise between serves.

Early in the third set, Kontaveit hit a cross-court forehand that caught the outermost edge of a sideline. A video on the stadium screens showed just how close it was, confirming that the ball did, indeed, land in. That brought out boos from the stands. Williams raised her arm and wagged a finger, telling her backers not to cause a fuss.

If anything, Kontaveit received more acknowledgment from the player trying to defeat her than anyone else, as Williams would respond to great shots with a nod or a racket clap.

“They were not rooting against me. They just wanted Serena to win so bad,” Kontaveit said, calling the treatment she received “fair,” even if it was “something I never experienced before.”

Williams broke for a 5-4 edge when Kontaveit pushed a backhand long, spurring yelling spectators to rise to their feet — and Williams’ husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, jumped right in, too, waving his arms in her direction, in front of where Venus and Tiger Woods were two seats apart.

Eventually they went to a tiebreaker, and at 3-3, a chant of “Let’s go, Serena!” broke out, accompanied by rhythmic clapping. Soon, Williams delivered a 101 mph service winner and a 91 mph ace to seal that set.

To Kontaveit’s credit, she raced to a 3-0 edge in the second with 10 winners and zero unforced errors.

In the third, after a swinging forehand volley winner put Williams a game from victory, she raised both arms, then clenched her left fist.

One game, and five minutes later, it was over — and her stay at the U.S. Open could proceed.

Asked whether she’s a title contender, Williams answered: “I cannot think that far. I’m having fun and I’m enjoying it.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Coming To A Theater Near You: $3 Movie Tickets For One Day

By Associated Press
August 28, 2022

Sept. 3 will be a nationwide discount day in more than 3,000 theaters and on more than 30,000 screens. Major chains and film studios are participating

For one day, movie tickets will be just $3 in the vast majority of American theaters as part of a newly launched “National Cinema Day” to lure moviegoers during a quiet spell at the box office.

The Cinema Foundation, a non-profit arm of the National Association of Theater Owners, on Sunday announced that Sept. 3 will be a nationwide discount day in more than 3,000 theaters and on more than 30,000 screens. Major chains, including AMC and Regal Cinemas, are participating, as are all major film studios. In participating theaters, tickets will be no more than $3 for every showing, in every format.

Labor Day weekend is traditionally one of the slowest weekends in theaters. This year, the August lull has been especially acute for exhibitors. Cineworld, which owns Regal Cinemas, cited the scant supply of major new releases in its recent plans to fill for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

But, if successful, National Cinema Day could flood theaters with moviegoers and potentially prompt them to return in the fall. Before each showing, ticket buyers will be shown a sizzle reel of upcoming films from A24, Amazon Studios, Disney, Focus Features, Lionsgate, Neon, Paramount, Sony Pictures Classics, Sony, United Artists Releasing, Universal, and Warner Bros.

“After this summer’s record-breaking return to cinemas, we wanted to do something to celebrate moviegoing,” said Jackie Brenneman, Cinema Foundation president, in a statement. “We’re doing it by offering a ‘thank you’ to the moviegoers that made this summer happen, and by offering an extra enticement for those who haven’t made it back yet.”

After more than two years of pandemic, movie theaters rebounded significantly over the summer, seeing business return to nearly pre-pandemic levels. Films like “Top Gun: Maverick,””Minions: Rise of Gru,””Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and “Jurassic World Dominion” pushed the domestic summer box office to $3.3 billion in ticket sales as of Aug. 21, according to data firm Comscore. That trails 2019 totals by about 20% but exhibitors have had about 30% fewer wide releases this year.

Organizers of National Cinema Day described the event as a trial that could become an annual fixture. While some other countries have experimented with a similar day of cheap movie tickets, the initiative is the first of its kind on such a large scale in the U.S.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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2 New York Democrats Ousted From U.S. House In Primary Losses

In addition to the primary races, New Yorkers elected two new House members to fill vacancies for the rest of the year.

In a cluster of contentious Democratic primaries Tuesday, two New York incumbents were ousted from the U.S. House after redistricting shuffled congressional districts in one of the nation’s largest liberal states.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a 15-term incumbent who chairs a powerful House committee, lost to longtime colleague Rep. Jerry Nadler, while Rep. Mondaire Jones, a first-term progressive who was one of the first openly gay Black members of Congress, was defeated by Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who served as counsel to House Democrats in the first impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump.

In other races in the state, the chair of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, Sean Patrick Maloney, survived a primary challenge of his own from a progressive. Democrats held on to a swing district in a special election — at least for a few more months.

Some of the top elections:

END OF AN ERA

Nadler and Carolyn Maloney each chair powerful committees and had spent 30 years representing Manhattan’s Upper West Side and Upper East Side, respectively. But they ended up in the same race after new redistricting maps merged much of their longtime congressional districts.

The race for New York’s 12th District, between Maloney, 76, and Nadler, 75, became contentious. The two stopped speaking after deciding to run against each other, Nadler said, and the campaign became barbed, with Maloney questioning his mental acuity.

Nadler, who was endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, has talked up his role overseeing Trump’s impeachments while serving as chair of the House Judiciary Committee. Maloney has touted her own check on the former president while serving as chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee and positioned herself as a feminist champion.

Challenging them both was 38-year-old lawyer Suraj Patel, who argued it was time for a new face in Congress.

A CROWDED FIELD FOR AN OPEN SEAT

With Nadler and Maloney running in the district immediately north, a congressional seat covering southern Manhattan, including Wall Street, and Brooklyn, was a rare open contest in one of the most liberal and influential areas of the country.

Goldman, a Democratic attorney who built his reputation as a federal mob and securities fraud prosecutor but made a national name for himself as House Democrats’ lead counsel in Trump’s first impeachment hearing, won a crowded primary for New York’s 10th District, which attracted a bevy of progressive candidates. Among the contenders was Jones, a congressman from the New York City suburbs, who moved to the area to run and finished third in the primary.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS’ CAMPAIGN CHIEF WINS PRIMARY

Sean Patrick Maloney, who became New York’s first openly gay congressman when he was elected a decade ago, survived a primary challenge from state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi in New York’s new 17th District, home to idyllic towns along the historic Hudson River Valley.

Maloney, who had the backing of former President Bill Clinton, campaigned on Democrats’ recent legislative wins in Congress and warned that the congressional seat could fall to Republicans in November if the Democratic nominee is too liberal.

Biaggi, a 36-year-old progressive endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is a granddaughter of former Bronx congressman Mario Biaggi. She had sought to portray Maloney as out of touch and part of the establishment.

STATE GOP CHAIR DEFEATS CONTROVERSIAL CANDIDATE

New York’s Republican Party chair, Nick Langworthy, won a primary in western New York by defeating controversial Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino in New York’s redrawn 23rd District.

Paladino, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010, has a long history of inflammatory and offensive remarks, including recent comments that praised Adolf Hitler and circulated conspiracy theories around mass shootings.

The heated primary came as Langworthy and Paladino sought to replace GOP Rep. Chris Jacobs, who decided not to seek reelection after facing backlash from his own party for voicing support for an assault weapons ban following a racist mass shooting in his hometown of Buffalo in May.

A WIN FOR REPUBLICANS, A WIN FOR DEMOCRATS IN SPECIAL ELECTIONS

In addition to the primary races, New Yorkers elected two new House members to fill vacancies for the rest of the year.

Democrat Pat Ryan won one of the special elections, a battleground race in southern and central New York to replace Democrat Antonio Delgado, who became New York’s lieutenant governor. Ryan defeated Republican Marc Molinaro in what is currently New York’s 19th Congressional District.

In western New York, Republican Joe Sempolinski defeated Democrat Max Della Pia in a special general election to serve out the rest of the year in what is currently New York’s 23rd District. Sempolinski will replace Republican Rep. Tom Reed, who resigned in May after being accused of sexual misconduct.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Prince William Charity Invests With Bank Tied To Dirty Fuels

Financial experts say investments like those of the prince’s conservation foundation can be blind spots for charities and philanthropies.

The conservation charity founded by Prince William, second in line to the British throne and who launched the Earthshot Prize, keeps its investments in a bank that is one of the world’s biggest backers of fossil fuels, The Associated Press has learned.

The Royal Foundation also places more than half of its investments in a fund advertised as green that owns shares in large food companies that buy palm oil from companies linked to deforestation.

“The earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice,” the prince, a well-known environmentalist, is quoted saying on the websites of the Earthshot Prize and Royal Foundation.

Yet in 2021, the charity kept more than $1.3 million with JPMorgan Chase, according to the most recent filings, and still invests with the corporation today. The foundation also held $2 million in a fund run by British firm Cazenove Capital Management, according to the 2021 filing. As with JPMorgan, it still keeps funds with Cazenove, which in May had securities linked to deforestation through their use of palm oil. The foundation invested similar amounts in both funds in 2020, its older filings show. As of December 2021, the charity also held more than $12.1 million in cash.

The investments, which the Royal Foundation didn’t dispute when contacted by the AP, come as top scientists repeatedly warn that the world must shift away from fossil fuels to sharply reduce emissions and avoid more and increasingly intense extreme weather events.

Financial experts say investments like those of the foundation can be blind spots for charities and philanthropies. As climate change is an increasing area of attention for foundations and others, organizations have sometimes struggled to recognize where their own investments lie and align them with more environmentally friendly choices, despite growing numbers of ways to steer clear of funds linked to fossil fuels.

Like the Royal Foundation, in recent years other foundations, including high profile British charities like the National Trust and Wellcome Trust, also have faced criticism for investments with strong connections to fossil fuels or environmentally harmful practices. Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates announced that he divested his foundation’s direct oil and gas holdings in 2019.

Charities that are talking the talk “also need to walk the walk,” said Andreas Hoepner, professor of Operational Risk, Banking and Finance at University College Dublin, who helped design several European Union climate benchmarks and has sat on its sustainable finance group.

“There are funds that are more sustainably oriented,” Hoepner added, pointing to a dozen alternatives to the JPMorgan product that are marketed as sustainable.

There are also alternatives to Cazenove’s sustainability fund. For example, funds manager CCLA caters to churches and charities and does not invest in businesses that get more than 10% of their revenue from oil and gas. Another option is Generation Investment Management, founded in part by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

The Royal Foundation said by email that it had followed Church of England guidelines on ethical investment since 2015, and goes beyond them.

“We take our investment policies extremely seriously and review them regularly,” the statement said.

The foundation said management fees paid to JPMorgan were small, but declined to provide a figure.

It’s not clear what role, if any, Prince William had in investment decisions, as he did not respond to AP requests for comment. JPMorgan Asset Management in an email declined to comment on questions about charities investing in their products despite its record of financing fossil fuels.

Bloomberg data show JPMorgan has underwritten more bonds and loans for the fossil fuel industry and earned greater fees than its competitors in the five years up to 2021.

Environmental NGO Rainforest Action Network looked at direct loans and stock ownership along with bonds and estimated that between 2016 and 2021, JPMorgan’s banking arm financed fossil fuel companies with some $382 billion. This was more than any other bank.

“Major investors have their pick of companies to manage their assets, and mission-driven institutions have options well beyond the world’s worst fossil fuel bank,” said Jason Disterhoft, senior energy campaigner with Rainforest Action Network.

As one of the world’s biggest banks, JPMorgan is also a leading financier of green projects, and has set a target of investing $1 trillion in these over the next decade. However, it made about $985 million in revenue from fossil fuels compared to $310 million from green projects since the Paris Agreement in 2015, about three times more, according to Bloomberg Data.

Compared to some other charities, the Royal Foundation’s investments are small, with little impact on climate change. But they are not in line with the ethos of the foundation, which lists conservation and mental health as main points of emphasis, or Prince William’s public statements. His Earthshot Prize, a “global search for solutions to save our planet,” awards grants of up  to $1.2 million each year to projects confronting environmental challenges, according to the charity’s website, which suggests banks as among potential recipients. In July, the Royal Foundation announced that the Earthshot Prize had become an independent charity and Prince William would be its president.

Through launching and awarding the prize and in other public appearances, Prince William has been outspoken on the environment for years. He has argued that entrepreneurs should focus their energies on saving the Earth before investing in space tourism, encouraged parents to consider how their children don’t have the same outdoor opportunities they had and urged conservation.

“Today, in 2022, as the queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee, the pressing need to protect and restore our planet has never been more urgent,” the prince said in June during Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.

The policies of the Royal Foundation do not allow ownership of stock in oil companies, tobacco or alcohol. But profits from the Royal Foundation’s account could enable JPMorgan to loan more money to the many oil companies it backs, allowing their expansion. In the same way, investing in companies tied to problems with palm oil supply could help fund unsustainable practices.

While the Cazenove fund is marketed as “sustainable,” as of May 31 the fund held almost $6 million of shares in Nestlé, and shares worth $8.1 million in Reckitt Benckiser, according to Morningstar Direct data. Both Nestlé and Reckitt Benckiser have faced controversy over their palm oil supply. Clearing rainforests to make way for palm oil plantations is one of Southeast Asia’s biggest drivers of deforestation.

Nestlé is the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturer, while Reckitt manufactures popular U.S. brands including Lysol and Woolite, and Vanish and Dettol, familiar in the U.K.

A 2021 investigation by the environmental NGO Global Witness said both companies were sourcing palm oil via intermediaries from illegally deforested areas in Papua New Guinea. The plantations responsible were also accused of corruption, use of child labor and paying police to attack protesters.

Another 2021 report, by sustainability analysts Chain Reaction Research, said both companies purchased palm oil from an Indonesian firm that has an affiliated mining project accused of deforestation in an orangutan habitat.

An investigation in 2020 by Chain Reaction Research found that more than 1,235 acres — over 1,000 American football fields — of rainforest in Indonesia’s Papua province were felled by a supplier to Wilmar, a giant food and oils producer, from which both source their palm oil.

David Croft, head of sustainability at Reckitt, said no tainted palm oil entered its products from the Papua New Guinea properties, while conceding their mills were previously in its supplier list. An intermediary company linked Reckitt to the Indonesian mining conglomerate in its supply chain, he said, and it was investigating. Croft said they have had “active discussions” with Wilmar, which stopped sourcing from the Papua plantation in January 2022. In a public statement published in response to Chain Reaction’s investigation, Wilmar disputed the cleared area was high conservation value forest.

Despite being a “relatively small user of palm oil,” Reckitt knows there is more to do, said Croft, and is accelerating its progress. Croft said Reckitt could not get all the product it needs from certified producers before 2026.

Emma Keller, head of sustainability at Nestlé U.K. and Ireland, said the Wilmar case was to be investigated. Nestlé engages with suppliers that fall short to help them change and monitors performance, she said.

Sixty percent of Nestlé’s palm oil supply was certified as sustainable by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, an industry-organized effort, in 2021, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. For Reckitt, that figure was 15.3%.

Keller said that by winter 2021, more than 90% of Nestlé palm oil was deforestation-free and it will achieve zero-deforestation status by the end of 2022. It uses supply chain maps, on-the-ground verification and satellite monitoring for verification. Nestlé was moving toward “a model for conserving and restoring the world’s forests,” Keller said.

Lily Tomson, of the responsible investment charity ShareAction, said Cazenove had shown some leadership on sustainable investing, but there “remain areas charities such as the Royal Foundation can push them on.”

Investors can vote on key environmental issues in companies where they hold shares, for example setting targets to align with the Paris Agreement, or on climate lobbying. Yet Cazenove’s parent company, Schroders, voted against 22% of environmental resolutions last year, ShareAction research has found.

Kate Rogers, head of sustainability at Cazenove Capital, said the company engaged with Nestlé and Reckitt, and has seen progress on deforestation.

Environmental factors are ingrained in the company’s decision-making, she said, every investment assessed for sustainability. Cazenove has committed to eliminating commodity-driven deforestation from its investments by 2025 and said a new voting policy meant that as of June 2022, the firm had voted against 60 directors of companies it invests in over a lack of climate action.

Dr. Raj Thamotheram, former head of responsible investing at both a $109 billion British university pension fund and AXA Investment Managers, said foundations should be better regulated, with annual reports made to detail how well their investment strategy aligns with their mission.

Thamotheram, now an independent adviser, called unsustainable investments a “cultural and governance blind spot of huge proportions,” and said they were endemic in the charity sector.

“It’s the status quo approach and it needs shaking up,” he said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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