John M. Starcher Jr., made about $6 million in 2020, according to the most recent tax filings.

“Our mission is clear — to extend the compassionate ministry of Jesus by improving the health and well-being of our communities and bring good help to those in need, especially people who are poor, dying and underserved,” the spokeswoman, Maureen Richmond, said. Bon Secours did not comment on Mr. Otey’s case.

In interviews, doctors, nurses and former executives said the hospital had been given short shrift, and pointed to a decade-old development deal with the city of Richmond as another example.

In 2012, the city agreed to lease land to Bon Secours at far below market value on the condition that the chain expand Richmond Community’s facilities. Instead, Bon Secours focused on building a luxury apartment and office complex. The hospital system waited a decade to build the promised medical offices next to Richmond Community, breaking ground only this year.

founded in 1907 by Black doctors who were not allowed to work at the white hospitals across town. In the 1930s, Dr. Jackson’s grandfather, Dr. Isaiah Jackson, mortgaged his house to help pay for an expansion of the hospital. His father, also a doctor, would take his children to the hospital’s fund-raising telethons.

Cassandra Newby-Alexander at Norfolk State University.

got its first supermarket.

according to research done by Virginia Commonwealth University. The public bus route to St. Mary’s, a large Bon Secours facility in the northwest part of the city, takes more than an hour. There is no public transportation from the East End to Memorial Regional, nine miles away.

“It became impossible for me to send people to the advanced heart valve clinic at St. Mary’s,” said Dr. Michael Kelly, a cardiologist who worked at Richmond Community until Bon Secours scaled back the specialty service in 2019. He said he had driven some patients to the clinic in his own car.

Richmond Community has the feel of an urgent-care clinic, with a small waiting room and a tan brick facade. The contrast with Bon Secours’s nearby hospitals is striking.

At the chain’s St. Francis Medical Center, an Italianate-style compound in a suburb 18 miles from Community, golf carts shuttle patients from the lobby entrance, past a marble fountain, to their cars.

after the section of the federal law that authorized it, allows hospitals to buy drugs from manufacturers at a discount — roughly half the average sales price. The hospitals are then allowed to charge patients’ insurers a much higher price for the same drugs.

The theory behind the law was that nonprofit hospitals would invest the savings in their communities. But the 340B program came with few rules. Hospitals did not have to disclose how much money they made from sales of the discounted drugs. And they were not required to use the revenues to help the underserved patients who qualified them for the program in the first place.

In 2019, more than 2,500 nonprofit and government-owned hospitals participated in the program, or more than half of all hospitals in the country, according to the independent Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

in wealthier neighborhoods, where patients with generous private insurance could receive expensive drugs, but on paper make the clinics extensions of poor hospitals to take advantage of 340B.

to a price list that hospitals are required to publish. That is nearly $22,000 profit on a single vial. Adults need two vials per treatment course.

work has shown that hospitals participating in the 340B program have increasingly opened clinics in wealthier areas since the mid-2000s.

were unveiling a major economic deal that would bring $40 million to Richmond, add 200 jobs and keep the Washington team — now known as the Commanders — in the state for summer training.

The deal had three main parts. Bon Secours would get naming rights and help the team build a training camp and medical offices on a lot next to Richmond’s science museum.

The city would lease Bon Secours a prime piece of real estate that the chain had long coveted for $5,000 a year. The parcel was on the city’s west side, next to St. Mary’s, where Bon Secours wanted to build medical offices and a nursing school.

Finally, the nonprofit’s executives promised city leaders that they would build a 25,000-square-foot medical office building next to Richmond Community Hospital. Bon Secours also said it would hire 75 local workers and build a fitness center.

“It’s going to be a quick timetable, but I think we can accomplish it,” the mayor at the time, Dwight C. Jones, said at the news conference.

Today, physical therapy and doctors’ offices overlook the football field at the training center.

On the west side of Richmond, Bon Secours dropped its plans to build a nursing school. Instead, it worked with a real estate developer to build luxury apartments on the site, and delayed its plans to build medical offices. Residents at The Crest at Westhampton Commons, part of the $73 million project, can swim in a saltwater pool and work out on communal Peloton bicycles. On the ground floor, an upscale Mexican restaurant serves cucumber jalapeño margaritas and a Drybar offers salon blowouts.

have said they plan to house mental health, hospice and other services there.

a cardiologist and an expert on racial disparities in amputation, said many people in poor, nonwhite communities faced similar delays in getting the procedure. “I am not surprised by what’s transpired with this patient at all,” he said.

Because Ms. Scarborough does not drive, her nephew must take time off work every time she visits the vascular surgeon, whose office is 10 miles from her home. Richmond Community would have been a five-minute walk. Bon Secours did not comment on her case.

“They have good doctors over there,” Ms. Scarborough said of the neighborhood hospital. “But there does need to be more facilities and services over there for our community, for us.”

Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

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Putin Orders Partial Military Call-Up, Sparking Protests

The Kremlin has struggled to replenish its troops in Ukraine. There even have been reports of widespread recruitment in prisons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization of reservists Wednesday, taking a risky and deeply unpopular step that follows humiliating setbacks for his troops nearly seven months after invading Ukraine.

The first such call-up in Russia since World War II is sure to further fuel tensions with the Western backers of Ukraine, who derided it as an act of weakness and desperation. The move also sent some Russians scrambling to buy plane tickets out of the country and reportedly sparked some demonstrations.

The Kremlin has struggled to replenish its troops in Ukraine, reaching out for volunteers. There even have been reports of widespread recruitment in prisons.

In his seven-minute nationally televised address, Putin also warned the West that he isn’t bluffing over using everything at his disposal to protect Russia — an apparent reference to his nuclear arsenal. He has previously told the West not to back Russia against the wall and has rebuked NATO countries for supplying weapons to Ukraine.

The total number of reservists to be called up could be as high as 300,000, officials said. However, Putin’s decree authorizing the partial mobilization that took effect immediately offered few details, raising suspicions that the draft could be broadened at any moment. Notably, one clause was kept secret.

Even a partial mobilization is likely to increase dismay or doubt among Russians about the war. Shortly after Putin’s address, Russian media reported a spike in demand for plane tickets abroad amid an apparent scramble to leave despite exorbitant prices.

The Vesna opposition movement called for nationwide protests, although it was unclear how many would act, given Russia’s harsh laws against criticizing the military and the war.

“Thousands of Russian men — our fathers, brothers and husbands — will be thrown into the meat grinder of the war. What will they be dying for? What will mothers and children be crying for?” the group said.

As protest calls circulated online, the Moscow prosecutor’s office warned that organizing or participating in such actions could lead to up to 15 years in prison. Authorities issued similar warnings ahead of other protests recently. The state communication watchdog Roskomnadzor also warned media that access to their websites would be blocked for transmitting “false information” about the mobilization. It was unclear exactly what that meant.

Within hours, police arrested scores of people at antiwar protests across Russia, including at least a dozen in Moscow. An Associated Press crew in Moscow witnessed at least dozen of arrests in the first 15 minutes of a protest.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked what had changed since he and others previously said no mobilization was planned, said Russia is effectively fighting NATO because the alliance’s members have supplied weapons to Kyiv.

The partial mobilization order came a day after Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans for referendums on becoming integral parts of Russia — a move that could eventually allow Moscow to escalate the war. The referendums will start Friday in the Luhansk, Kherson and partly Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions.

The balloting is all but certain to go Moscow’s way. Foreign leaders are already calling the votes illegitimate and nonbinding. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said they were a “sham” and “noise” to distract the public.

U.S. national security council spokesperson John Kirby said Putin’s speech is “definitely a sign that he’s struggling, and we know that.”

Added White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on MSNBC: “It’s all because Russia is losing ground on the battlefield.”

Kirby told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that Russia has suffered tens of thousands of casualties, has command and control issues, terrible troop morale, desertion problems and is “forcing the wounded back (into) the fight.”

But Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who also spoke on Russian TV, said 5,937 Russian soldiers have died in the conflict, far lower than Western estimates.

Shoigu also said that only those with relevant combat and service experience will be mobilized, adding that about 25 million people fit this criteria but only about 1% of them will be mobilized.

Neither Shoigu nor Putin offered any other criteria for the call-up, so it wasn’t clear how many years of combat experience or what level of training those to be mobilized must have. The decree, signed by Putin and released on the Kremlin website, provided even less clarity, stipulating only that “citizens of the Russian Federation” will be drafted in the partial mobilization.

Another key clause in the decree prevents most professional soldiers from terminating their contracts and leaving service until the partial mobilization is no longer in place.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been the target of broad international criticism at the U.N. General Assembly that has kept up intense diplomatic pressure on Moscow. Zelenskyy is due to speak to the gathering in a prerecorded address later Wednesday. Putin is not attending.

U.S. President Joe Biden used the global forum to say Russia has “shamelessly violated the core tenets” of the U.N with its “brutal, needless war” in Ukraine. He said Putin’s new nuclear threats against Europe showed “reckless disregard” for Russia’s responsibilities as a signer of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Putin’s mobilization gambit has a strong element of risk: It could backfire by making the war unpopular at home and hurting his own standing. It also concedes Russia’s underlying military shortcomings.

A Ukraine counteroffensive this month has seized the military initiative from Russia, as well as capturing large areas in Ukraine that the Russians once held. Its speed saw Russian troops abandon armored vehicles and other weapons as they retreated.

A spokesman for Zelenskyy called the mobilization a “big tragedy” for the Russian people.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Ukrainian presidential spokesman Sergii Nikiforov said conscripts sent to Ukraine would face the same fate as ill-prepared Russian forces who unsuccessfully tried to take Kyiv early in the war.

“This is a recognition of the incapacity of the Russian professional army, which has failed in all its tasks,” Nikiforov said.

The Russian mobilization is unlikely to produce any consequences on the battlefield for months because of a lack of training facilities and equipment.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace described Putin’s move as “an admission that his invasion is failing.”

Russian political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin said it seemed “an act of desperation.” He predicted that Russians will resist the mobilization through “passive sabotage.”

“People will evade this mobilization in every possible way, bribe their way out of this mobilization, leave the country,” Oreshkin told the AP.

The announcement will be unpopular, he said, describing it as “a huge personal blow to Russian citizens, who until recently (took part in the hostilities) with pleasure, sitting on their couches, (watching) TV. And now the war has come into their home.”

The war in Ukraine, which has killed thousands of people, has driven up food prices worldwide and caused energy costs to soar. It has also brought fears of a potential nuclear catastrophe at Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Ukraine’s now Russia-occupied southeast. Investigations are also underway into possible war crimes atrocities committed by Moscow’s forces.

In his address, which was far shorter than previous speeches on the war, Putin accused the West of engaging in “nuclear blackmail” and noted “statements of some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO states about the possibility of using nuclear weapons of mass destruction against Russia.”

He didn’t elaborate.

“To those who allow themselves such statements regarding Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction … and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal,” Putin said, adding: “It’s not a bluff.”

In a speech hours later in Novgorod marking 1,160 years of Russian statehood, Putin hailed the “heroes” fighting in Ukraine and stressed the “colossal responsibility” of protecting the nation’s sovereignty.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Why Do Some People Live So Long?

The CDC predicts life expectancy to grow for Americans in the next few years from 76 years old to about 85 years old.

The U.S. life expectancy is 76 years according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Others are living beyond that benchmark. Government numbers show there are more than 72,000 centenarians in the U.S., or those who’ve reached the age of 100.  

The CDC predicts life expectancy for all Americans grow to 85.6 years by 2060.  They credit current patterns in mortality caused by an more vaccinations, fewer infectious diseases, and alcohol and smoking prevention programs.   

Jan Gantz is already past that. She celebrated her 90th birthday in April surrounded by friends and family at her home in Sarasota, Florida.  

“I’m almost 5-6 months from my 91st year and I still don’t know how I got to be 90. And as I told somebody, it happens one day at a time. And then all of a sudden, it’s like what?” said Gantz. “The party was beautiful, they put so much planning into it.”

You’re probably wondering what her secret is to staying happy and healthy. 

“I play mahjong several times a week, I go to the gym twice a week — that doesn’t mean it’s fun necessarily, I try and do water aerobics, entertain at least once a week and I go out socially,” said Gantz. 

The number of Americans 90-and-older has nearly tripled since the 1980s. 

But Jan still has some ways to go to reach the bar set by these two: Jeanne Louise Calment of France and Jiroemon Kimura of Japan. 

The oldest female and male ever lived to 122 years and 116 years, respectively, according to Guinness World Records. 

Family members say Calment had a good diet, but had a sweet tooth and ate about two pounds of chocolate a week. 

Kimura’s life motto was reportedly “eat light to live long.” 

There might be some truth to the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” 

A study out this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed obesity and diabetes can deter how long we live. Researchers recommended a Mediterranean diet focused on seafood and veggies and went light on meat and sugar. 

Regular exercise can slow down father time and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. 

German researchers analyzed a handful of studies and determined regular exercise can add almost four years to some people’s life span. Good genes also factor in. It’s estimated about a quarter of the variation in life span is dictated by genetics. 

Yet the science to all the specific genes and how they help longevity is still in the works. And then there’s lifestyle. 

The more seniors stay mentally active, the more it can prevent Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Institute on Aging. 

It’s something Jan Gantz at 90 has been able to do, even through isolation during the pandemic. 

“I spent time reading, interacting on the computer with people playing mahjong and games, and it was just a different time. And I feel very blessed to have gotten through that and not feeling scarred by a lot of it,” said Gantz.  

When asked what advice Gantz has for others looking to live a long and happy life, she gave an answer that’s reflective of how she’s lived hers.  

“Be kind. And smile. You go out with a smile, you’re always going to meet somebody. And kindness I think in today’s world is going to go so far,” she said. 

Source: newsy.com

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New Model To Enlist Regular Americans To Resettle Refugees

Neighbors, co-workers, faith groups and friends have banded together in “sponsor circles” to help Afghans get settled in their communities.

When nearly 80,000 Afghans arrived in the United States, refugee resettlement agencies quickly became overwhelmed, still scrambling to rehire staff and reopen offices after being gutted as the Trump administration dropped refugee admissions to a record low.

So the U.S. State Department, working with humanitarian organizations, turned to ordinary Americans to fill the gap. Neighbors, co-workers, faith groups and friends banded together in “sponsor circles” to help Afghans get settled in their communities.

They raised money and found the newcomers homes to rent, enrolled their children in schools, taught them how to open bank accounts and located the nearest mosques and stores selling halal meat.

Since the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Kabul last year, the Sponsor Circle Program for Afghans has helped over 600 Afghans restart their lives. When Russia invaded Ukraine, a similar effort was undertaken for Ukrainians.

Now the Biden administration is preparing to turn the experiment into a private-sponsorship program for refugees admitted through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and is asking organizations to team up with it to launch a pilot program by the end of 2022.

The move comes amid increasing pressure on President Joe Biden, who vowed in a 2021 executive order to increase opportunities for Americans to resettle refugees and restore the U.S. as the world’s safe haven. The Trump administration decimated the refugee program, which traditionally tasks nine resettlement agencies with placing refugees in communities.

Experts say the private sponsorship model could transform the way America resettles refugees and ensure a door remains open no matter who is elected.

“I think there is a real revolution right now that is happening in terms of American communities and communities around the world that are raising their hands and saying, `We want to bring in refugees,'” said Sasha Chanoff, founder and CEO of RefugePoint, a Boston–based nonprofit that helped jumpstart the effort.

It comes as the number of people forced to flee their homes topped 100 million this year, the first time on record, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The pilot program will incorporate lessons learned from the Sponsor Circle Program for Afghans, which was developed as an emergency measure to accelerate the resettlement of Afghans, with many languishing on U.S. bases. But the pilot program will differ because it is intended to be “an enduring element of U.S. refugee resettlement,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson said in an email to The Associated Press.

The pilot program will match regular Americans with refugees overseas who have already been approved for admission to the U.S., the spokesperson said. Later, the plan will let Americans identify a refugee overseas and apply to resettle them.

Canada has used private sponsorship for decades to augment its government program.

Chanoff said the new model should also be in addition to the traditional U.S. government refugee program, which has admitted only about 15% of the 125,000 cap Biden set for the budget year that ends Sept. 30. The Biden administration has been slow to beef up staff and overcome the huge backlog, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to advocates.

Those numbers exclude the roughly 180,000 Afghans and Ukrainians who were mostly admitted through humanitarian parole, a temporary legal option that was intended to get them in quicker but left them with less government support.

Regular Americans helped fill that need, Afghan families say.

Under the Sponsor Circle Program for Afghans, participants underwent background checks, received training and developed a three-month plan. Each group had to raise at least $2,275 for each person who was resettled, the same allocation the U.S. government gives agencies for each refugee.

Mohammad Walizada, who fled Kabul with his family, said five days after he was connected to a sponsor circle with the Four Rivers Church in New Hampshire, his family moved into a furnished home in Epping, a town of about 7,000 residents.

Meanwhile, Afghan friends and relatives spent months on U.S. bases waiting to be placed by a resettlement agency, he said. Many ended up in California, staying in hotels because of the lack of affordable housing, and with just three months of government assistance.

He said his sponsor circle gave his family 10 months worth of rent and a car, and someone still checks on him, his wife and six children daily. Each circle gets a mentor who coaches them from WelcomeNST, an organization created in 2021 to help Americans resettle Afghans and now Ukrainians. The organization offers a Slack channel for circles and partners with the resettlement agency, HIAS, which connects them to caseworkers when needed.

The New Hampshire team has more than 60 members helping people like Walizada.

“I feel like I have a lot of family here now,” Walizada said.

To be sure, regular Americans have always helped resettle refugees, but not at this scale since the 1980 U.S. Refugee Act created the formal program, experts say.

A similar outpouring of goodwill happened when the Biden administration launched Uniting for Ukraine, which allows Ukrainians fleeing the war into the U.S. for two years with a private sponsor. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the program, received more than 117,000 applications through August.

Hundreds of Americans have formed teams to resettle Ukrainians, including in Wyoming — the only state that has never allowed an official refugee resettlement program.

“We just wanted to be able to do something and we have such a beautiful community here,″ said Darren Adwalpalker, pastor at Highland Park Community Church in Casper, who formed a group that sponsored three Ukrainians who arrived to the city of 60,000 in June.

Adwalpalker got support from humanitarian group Samaritan’s Purse.

“Without private sponsorship, this would not have been possible for a lot of these communities with tremendous resources and goodwill to do this,” said Krista Kartson, who directs its refugee programs.

With $3,000, the pastor said his group provided an apartment for six months for the one Ukrainian who stayed in Casper. Just about everything else — grocery store gift cards, furniture — was donated.

“One of the things I’ve learned is that the whole idea of a resettlement office isn’t that significant” if there are people on the ground willing to help, said Adwalpalker.

“We’ve got dentists working on their teeth. We have doctors seeing them. We have lawyers helping with their immigration paperwork.”

Rudi Berkelhamer, a retired biology professor, wanted to help because her grandparents fled attacks on Jews in the early 20th century in what is now Ukraine.

She was connected to a sponsor circle in Irvine, California, through HIAS, which requires a six-month commitment. Circle members had a week to get to know each other and draft a plan before they were matched to an Afghan family — a young couple and their 3-year-old son — in February.

Berkelhamer shuttled furniture to the family’s home and got them set up with computers and cellphones. Others got them bus passes.

The father — a mechanical engineer who worked with the U.S. military in Afghanistan — found work at a parachute factory. The mother is taking English classes, and their son is attending preschool.

Berkelhamer sees the family every two weeks. This summer, she went to a museum with the mom and another circle member to paint parasols and have lunch. She plans to keep helping.

“It is not just the necessities; it is doing those kinds of things that make it so meaningful,” she said.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Americans Face Tough Decisions As Food Prices Continue To Soar

The price of bread and milk is up about 16% and 17% respectively, while eggs cost nearly 40% more than they did last year.

The prices of food at the grocery store have skyrocketed in recent months and some consumers say the high prices have led them to make tough decisions.

Consumers are spending much more than they used to and Oliva Yocum says she’s started stockpiling food because of it.

“I’ve actually started pickling and cannning stuff because I think it’s going to get a lot worse,” she said.

Not only are people spending more, but the higher price tags are also making it harder for people to eat healthier.

Nashville resident Vidal Garrett says it’s sometimes cheaper to pick up fast food.

“I can go get a cheeseburger and fries at McDonalds and spend about five or six bucks,” he said. “I come in here [grocery store] and try to get a grilled chicken salad, but buying the chicken alone is going to cost me ten to 12 bucks.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, home food prices were up 13.5% in August compared to a year earlier.

The price of bread and milk is up about 16% and 17% respectively. Eggs, on the other hand, cost nearly 40% more than last year.

Colorado farmer Eric Hanagan says the increasing cost of fertilizer — which hit a record high this year and at one point more than doubled in price — is one of the many reasons driving prices up.

“Our revenues are way, way down,” Hanagan said. “We’re running 50% of our sales because farmers are affected by the drought, fertilizer and fuel prices.”

Those price increases trickle down to the consumer and the USDA expects grocery store food prices to increase by up to 11% this year — with meat being the primary driver.

“It’s kind of sad that you’re better off financially buying greasy hamburger meat and fries rather than buying the salad and fruit for your kids,” Garrett said.

Source: newsy.com

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Ukraine’s Donbas, Where Putin Sowed the Seeds of War

CHASIV YAR, Ukraine — On a clear spring morning eight years ago, Oleksandr Khainus stepped outside his house to go to work at the town factory when he spotted new graffiti scrawled across his fence. “Glory to Russia,” vandals had written in angry black spray paint. “Putin,” another message said.

Mr. Khainus was perplexed. It was true that Chasiv Yar, the Rust Belt-like town where he has spent his entire life in a region called the Donbas, had long contained many conflicting opinions on its identity. Geographically, the Donbas was part of Ukraine, no question, but it was so close to Russia and so tied to it historically that many maintained that their true home really lay eastward.

“It was the type of stuff you’d argue about over the dinner table,” he said. “But nothing that anyone would get violent over.”

protests exploded. Armed separatists seized chunks of the Donbas right under the authorities’ noses. Two so-called People’s Republics were declared. Russian troops stormed in.

the most far-reaching war in generations. It was the Donbas that became Mr. Putin’s pretext for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. And now it is heating up again.

masterful offensive in the Kharkiv region, in Ukraine’s northeast, where town after town fell without a shot. Now they are heading south. Columns of dark green military trucks and American-made rocket launchers are thundering down the long, straight highways into the Donbas. But they will have a much harder fight on their hands.

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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U.S. Inflation Falls For 2nd Straight Month But Remains High At 8.3%

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
September 13, 2022

Consumer prices were up 8.3% in August compared with a year earlier, but that was down from an 8.5% jump in July and a 40-year high of 9.1% in June.

Sharply lower prices for gas and cheaper used cars slowed U.S. inflation in August for a second straight month, though many other items rose in price, indicating that inflation remains a heavy burden for American households.

Consumer prices surged 8.3% in August compared with a year earlier, the government said Tuesday. Though still painfully high, that was down from an 8.5% jump in July and a four-decade high of 9.1% in June. On a monthly basis, prices rose 0.1%, after a flat reading in July.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, so-called core prices jumped 0.6% from July to August, higher than many economists had expected and a sign of inflation’s persistence.

Inflation remains far higher than many Americans have ever experienced and is keeping pressure on the Federal Reserve, the agency tasked with keeping prices stable. The Fed is expected to announce another big increase in its benchmark interest rate next week, which will lead to higher costs for many consumer and business loans.

Inflation has escalated families’ grocery bills, rents and utility costs, among other expenses, inflicting hardships on many households and deepening gloom about the economy despite strong job growth and low unemployment.

Even if inflation peaks, economists expect it could take two years or more to fall back to something close to the Fed’s annual 2% target. The cost of rental apartments and other services, such as health care, are likely to keep rising in the months ahead.

Republicans have sought to make inflation a central issue in the midterm congressional elections. They blame President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package passed last year for much of the increase. Many economists generally agree, though they also say that snarled supply chains, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and widespread shortages of items like semiconductors have been key factors in the inflation surge.

Yet the signs that inflation might have peaked — or will soon — could bolster Democrats’ prospects in the midterm elections and may already have contributed to slightly higher public approval ratings for President Biden. In his speeches, the president has generally stopped referring to the impact of high prices on family budgets. He has instead highlighted his administration’s recent legislative accomplishments, including a law enacted last month that’s intended to reduce pharmaceutical prices and fight climate change.

Nationally, the average cost of a gallon of gas has dropped to $3.71, down from just above $5 in mid-June. Many businesses are also reporting signs that supply backlogs and inflation are beginning to fade.

Over the past year, prices of meat, milk and fruits and vegetables have soared by double-digits. But executives at Kroger, the nation’s largest grocery chain, said that falling prices for farm commodities like wheat and corn could slow cost increases for food.

Next week, most Fed watchers expect the central bank to announce a third straight three-quarter-point hike, to a range of 3% to 3.25%. The Fed’s rapid rate increases — the fastest since the early 1980s — typically lead to higher costs for mortgages, auto loans and business loans, with the goal of slowing growth and reducing inflation. The average 30-year mortgage rate jumped to nearly 5.9% last week, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac, the highest figure in nearly 14 years.

Chair Jerome Powell has said the Fed will need to see several months of low inflation readings that suggest price increases are falling back toward its 2% target before it might suspend its rate hikes.

Wages are still rising at a strong pace — before adjusting for inflation — which has elevated demand for apartments as more people move out on their own. A shortage of available houses has also forced more people to keep renting, thereby intensifying competition for apartments.

Rising rents and more expensive services, such as medical care, are also keeping inflation high.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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What Makes Nutrition Advice Confusing?

Newsy’s Heath and Science correspondent Lindsey Theis looks into whether nutrition advice is helpful or confusing.

The first lesson in diet and nutrition 101 is to forget everything you think you know about diet and nutrition.  

Because chances are as soon as you’ve got it down, more advice or another diet pops up.  

Take cholesterol and fats, for example: until 2015, the USDA recommended no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol daily.  

For some perspective, a single egg has 186 milligrams. 

But the government removed the limit in 2015. 

Officials couldn’t prove the link between dietary cholesterol and cholesterol in the blood.  

You may remember the food pyramid from your grade school days.

It suggested a diet of six to 11 servings of breads, cereal, rice and pasta, three to five servings of vegetables and even fewer servings of meat, dairy, fruit and fats.  

The USDA scrapped that dietary guide over a decade ago and replaced it with “My Plate” showing a new way of how to section and balance your meals. 

Your food choices add up, and they all matter. So where do you start? 

The USDA recommends fruits and vegetables should now make up half of your plate with less protein, dairy and grains. 

But this year over half of Americans said they’d never seen “My Plate” before, or knew little about it. 

Then there’s calorie confusion: how many calories should we put on our plates?   

“Calories are important outside of weight loss for overall health, especially for longevity. So we want to take care of our body with really good quality calories,”said Grey.  

Some food-tracking apps like “My Fitness Pal” are based on a minimum 1,200 calorie daily diet for the quickest weight loss results. 

Historians trace this number back to one of the first modern diet books ever released in 1918.  

At the time the author Lulu Hunt Peters suggested 1,200 calories a day would keep someone’s weight controlled. It was also unpatriotic to “be fat” while thousands were starving during the WWI era. 

Certified Nutritionist Liana Warner Grey is among a chorus of food experts who say eating 1,200 calories a day is not only unhealthy, it’s the amount a toddler should eat.  

“The 1,200 calories a day is definitely a myth. We need need more fuel, more clean calories to get us through the day,” said Grey. 

Current USDA guidelines say adult women need between 1,600 to 2,400 calories a day, depending on their height, weight and activity level. 

Adult men need 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day.  

And one approach doesn’t fit all.  

A 2019 study found even identical twins don’t react to food the same way, suggesting no single diet exists that works for everyone. 

Doctors say there are many other lesser-known factors like stress. 

“The more stress people that people were experiencing, the more weight they were gaining,” said Dr. Arthur Evans, the CEO of the American Psychological Association.

Out-of-whack hormones like cortisol or leptin also contribute to weight gain.  

Even what type of sugar we eat.  

“The brain responds differently to different sugars. So corn syrup hits very differently in the body than what monk fruit or honey will do because those sugars actually provide nutritional value,” said Grey.  

Researchers say celebrity influence also plays a major role in what we eat.  

A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association this year looked at some of the most followed celebrity accounts on Instagram.   

They found an overwhelming number of posts about food and drinks that were unhealthy by U.S. nutritional standards. 

One of the studies authors says celebrities and social media have the kind of influence that can help sustain eating trends and set norms. 

“This can really contribute to followers’ perception of what is common what is valued in society right now,” said Bradley Turnwald, a behavioral scientist at The University of Chicago.

On TikTok, videos tagged “nutrition” have amassed nearly eight billion views, and posts about diet hit over 20 billion views.  

Many contradict one another .  

Dr. Idrees Mughal told the New York Times viewers tag him in 100 to 200 videos every day for help. 

The British doctor, who has a Master’s in nutrition, dedicates his entire TikTok to scientifically debunking hundreds of claims.  

For example someone said on TikTok, “eggs are one of the worst foods you can eat, full of fat and cholesterol.” 

Mughal says “eggs are one of the most nutrient rich foods we could eat, as well as being a well high quality protein and digestible amino acids. Eggs are top of the list.”

TikTok says it has measures to address harmful diet and nutrition advice.  

The company says it removes creators who violate their disordered eating policies and flags potentially harmful searches. 

But even research that experts cite isn’t always cut and dried. And variables or research blindspots can get lost in a catchy headline. 

Nutritionists say the perfect diet study is unachievable. 

They emphasize a “healthy” diet isn’t one size fits everybody. 

And that drowning out the noise and listening your own body is best.

Source: newsy.com

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Climate Change Threatens Endangered Whale Sharks

August 30 is International Whale Shark Day. While they’re among the biggest creatures in the sea, they are now endangered.

There’s a problem growing in the planet’s oceans.   

And it starts on the land. Rising greenhouse gases from man-made sources like coal plants and cars are changing the salinity, temperature and food chain in the oceans.  

A new study predicts 90% of marine species will go extinct by the end of the century, without deep emission cuts.  

And one of the most vulnerable is one of the largest in the seas: the whale shark.  

They grow up to 40 feet long and weigh more than 21 tons. They’re the size of a school bus with about 3,000 teeth. They filter 1,500 gallons of water per hour and reach mating maturing at 30 years old. They can live to the ripe old age of 150 years.  

Unlike their relative, the great white, they’re harmless. 

Whale sharks play a critical role in the ocean. Just like a whale, they eat a large amount of plankton, regulating it so it doesn’t generate dangerous algae blooms that can create ocean dead zones.  

But the endangered whale shark is fighting for its survival.  

Over the last 75 years the global population has been cut in half, and it’s even worse in the Indian and Pacific oceans. They are home to the most whale sharks. There’s been a 63% kill off there.   

Because of their size they don’t have any natural predators. It’s humans that are killing them and overfishing them for their fins and meat, and changing their environment by increasing the water temperature. They can only live in water between 70 and 77 degrees. Their habitats are being destroyed and their food source is being disturbed.  

This, added to their late mating maturity, is why the species is dying off. They don’t live long enough to breed.  

There are less than a quarter million whale sharks left in the world.   

Source: newsy.com

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