Thursday, May 12, 2022

Wake-Up Call: Ukraine Suggests POW Exchange With Russia

Ukraine yesterday offered to release Russian prisoners of war in exchange for the safe evacuation of injured Ukrainian fighters trapped inside the sprawling steel mill in Mariupol that remains under siege by Russian forces as the last remaining resistance in the devastated city. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said negotiations were underway to release the injured fighters, saying there were different options, but, quote, "none of them is ideal." The fighters at the plant have refused to surrender to the Russians, saying they fear being tortured or killed.

In fighting elsewhere, the Ukrainian general staff said Russia was having, quote, "partial success" in its advance in the eastern Donetsk and Lunhansk regions, while also saying Ukrainian forces had repulsed nine attacks and destroyed several drone and military vehicles. In the Kherson region in the southern part of Ukraine, a Russian-appointed regional leader told Russia's RIA Novosti news agency that officials there want President Vladimir Putin to annex the area. That suggests Russia may try to annex Kherson they way it did Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in 2014 following a disputed referendum.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's top prosecutor said they were readying for the first war crimes trial of a captured Russian soldier. Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said her office charged 21-year-old Russian Sergeant Vadin Shyshimarin for allegedly shooting and killing an unarmed 62-year-old civilian who was riding a bicycle four days after Russia's February invasion. He's accused of firing through a car window at the man in the village of Chupakhivka. Venediktova didn't say when the trial would start. The prosecutor's office has said it's been investigating more than 10,700 allegations of war crimes by Russian forces and has identified over 600 suspects.

➤SENATE VOTE TO ENSHRINE ROE V. WADE IN FEDERAL LAW FALLS SHORT: A measure put forward by Senate Democrats to enshrine Roe v. Wade abortion access as federal law fell short 51-49 yesterday, with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia siding with all 50 Republicans, and also way short of the 60 votes that would be needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. Manchin said he supported keeping Roe v. Wade, but believed the bill put forward was too broad. The move came after last week's Supreme Court draft opinion leak showed the high court is poised to overturn Roe after nearly 50 years. President Biden charged Republicans, quote, "have chosen to stand in the way of Americans’ rights to make the most personal decisions about their own bodies, families and lives." He said the administration would explore other ways to secure abortion rights and urged voters to elect more pro-choice lawmakers in the midterm elections this fall.

🔥WIND-DRIVEN WILDFIRES RAGING IN CALIFORNIA: Around 20 homes in Southern California are feared burned in a wind-driven wildfire that raced up slopes near coast Wednesday, officials said. A vegetation fire that would become the Coastal Fire in the Laguna Niguel region was reported around 2:44 p.m. and was driven by strong winds toward homes, Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy said. The fire had burned 195 acres as of late Wednesday night, the agency said.  There had been no reports of any injuries, but officials estimated 20 or more homes could have been destroyed, Fennessy said at a Wednesday evening press conference.

➤NORTH KOREA CONFIRMS FIRST COVID OUTBREAK, IMPOSES NATIONWIDE LOCKDOWN: North Korea has confirmed its first acknowledged Covid-19 outbreak and imposed a nationwide lockdown Thursday to try to control it. North Korea has had strict anti-virus controls at its border since the start of the pandemic, but experts had still questioned its claims of not having any outbreaks until now. The official Korean Central News Agency said tests confirmed cases in the capital of Pyongyang. The scale of the outbreak isn't immediately known, and there are concerns because of North Korea's poor health care system and the belief that most of its people are unvaccinated. Some experts suggested the North's rare admission of an outbreak may be an effort to get outside aid. South Korea has said it's willing to provide medical assistance and other help to the North based on humanitarian considerations.
➤NEARLY $1 BILLION SETTLEMENT REPORTEDLY REACHED IN FLORIDA CONDO COLLAPSE: A nearly $1 billion tentative settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit brought by families of the 98 people killed and the survivors of last June's condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, attorney Harley S. Tropin announced yesterday (May 11th). Tropin revealed the $997 million settlement, which is still pending final approval, during a court hearing. It involves developers of an adjacent building, insurance companies, and other defendants. The main lawsuit on behalf of the Champlain Towers South victims and family members charges that work on the neighboring Eighty Seven Park tower damaged and destabilized the 12-story condo, which was in need of major structural repair.

NY Post Graphic

➤INFLATION SLIPPED IN APRIL, BUT UPWARD PRESSURES REMAIN:  U.S. inflation edged down to an 8.3% annual rate in April but remained close to the fastest pace in four decades as the economy continued to face upward price pressures. The Labor Department’s consumer-price index reading last month marked the first drop for inflation in eight months, down from an 8.5% annual rate in March. The decline came primarily from a slight easing in April gasoline prices, which have since reached a new high. Broadly, the report offered little evidence that inflation was cooling.

➤STUDY: COFFEE AFFECTS CHOLESTEROL LEVELS DIFFERENTLY IN MEN, WOMEN:  Coffee can affect cholesterol, but a study shows its link with higher cholesterol varies by the gender of the drinker, as well as how the coffee is brewed. Researchers found that consuming three to five cups of espresso per day resulted in higher total cholesterol, particularly in men, compared to non-coffee drinkers. They also found drinking six or more cups of plunger coffee daily raised cholesterol, to a similar degree in both men and women. In addition, drinking six or more cups of filtered coffee every day was associated with an increase in total cholesterol in women, but not in men. And although instant coffee consumption was linked to an increase in cholesterol in men and women, it didn’t rise in tandem with the number of cups consumed. The Cleveland Clinic says coffee contains naturally occurring chemicals, such as diterpenes, cafesrol and kahweol, which are known to raise levels of cholesterol in the blood.

➤STUDY: WOMEN ARE SEEN AS MORE ATTRACTIVE WHEN WEARING HIGH HEELS:  Some stereotypes will never go away. Bucknell University researchers surveyed nearly 500 participants, who were asked to rate a silhouette of a woman wearing high heels, and another of a woman without high heels. The majority of participants rated the woman in the heels as being more sexually attractive, physically attractive, feminine and of higher status. However, female participants rated both women as having a higher status regardless of the shoe she was wearing, and male participants rated the women as having higher short- and long-term mating potential regardless of the shoe she was wearing. Also, researchers note that the women in high heels were NOT rated as being more dominant, strong, warm, enthusiastic, trustworthy, nurturing, socially competent, healthy, intelligent, affectionate, friendly or successful. Researchers claim high heels do not seem to objectify and sexualize women as other articles of clothing and accessories do. They also added that the increased perception of attractiveness might have to do with changing the heel wearer’s lumbar (spinal) curve, which gives the breasts and buttocks a lift.

🏀NBA PLAYOFFS: Results from second-round games yesterday:
  • Milwaukee Bucks 110, Boston Celtics 107 - Milwaukee leads series 3-2
  • Memphis Grizzlies 134, Golden State Warriors 95 - Golden State leads series 3-2

🏒NHL PLAYOFFS: Results from first-round games yesterday:
  • New York Rangers 5, Pittsburgh Penguins 3 - Pittsburgh leads series 3-2
  • Florida Panthers 5, Washington Capitals 3 - Florida leads series 3-2
  • Calgary Flames 3, Dallas Stars 1 - Calgary leads series 3-2

🏀JOKIC ANNOUNCED AS NBA MVP WINNER FOR SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR: The NBA made official last night what had been reported earlier this week, that Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic had been voted the Most Valuable Player for a second straight year, become the 13th player to win back-to-back MVPs. Jokic had 65 first-place votes from the panel of writers and broadcasters, the Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid was second with 26 first-place votes, and the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo came in third with nine first-place votes. Jokic averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists, and became the first NBA player to pass 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a season.

🏒PENGUINS' CROSBY LEAVES GAME AFTER HIT, BEING EVALUATED FOR INJURY: Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby left in the second period of Game 5 of the Penguins' first-round NHL playoffs matchup against the New York Rangers last night after taking a high hit. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said after the game that Crosby was being evaluated for injury, so it's unclear if he'll be available for Game 6 on Friday. The Rangers won the game 5-3 to narrow Pittsburgh's series lead to 3-2. Crosby is second in the playoffs in scoring with nine points in five games.

⚾BREWERS' YELICH HITS FOR CYCLE FOR RECORD-TYING THIRD TIME: Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich hit for the cycle yesterday for a record-tying third time in his career, his feat coming in a 14-11 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Coincidentally, every time Yelich has hit for the cycle it's been against the Reds, with the previous two times coming within a span of three weeks in 2018. He is now the sixth player in MLB history to hit for the cycle three times, meaning he had at least one home run, triple, double, and single in the same game.


⚾GUARDIANS-WHITE SOX GAME POSTPONED DUE TO COVID OUTBREAK, FIRST IN MLB THIS SEASON: Yesterday's scheduled game between the Cleveland Guardians and the Chicago White Sox was postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak on the Guardians that has sidelined manager Terry Francona and several coaches. No players are known to have tested positive. It was the first Covid-caused postponement in MLB this season.

⚾PADRES MANAGER MELVIN HAS PROSTATE SURGERY: The San Diego Padres announced during the team's 7-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs yesterday that manager Bob Melvin had undergone prostate surgery. There were no further details released, and the Padres said they likely wouldn't have any updates until next week. Melvin had said Tuesday that he didn’t think he had prostate cancer, but that doctors wouldn’t know until the surgery. Bench coach Ryan Christenson took over as interim manager.

🎾TENNIS STAR NAOMI OSAKA TO START HER OWN SPORTS AGENCY: Tennis star Naomi Osaka left her previous agency, IMG, when her contract expired at the end of last year and is starting her own sports agency, called EVOLVE, according to Sportico, making her the first female athlete to do so. The four-time Grand Slam champion told Sportico, "I’ve spent my career doing things my way, even when people told me that it wasn’t what was expected or traditional. Evolve is the natural next step in my journey as both an athlete and businesswoman, as well as a way to continue being myself and doing things my way." Osaka is founding EVOLVE with former IMG agent Stuart Duguid. Osaka is ranked 20th on Sportico's 2022 list of the world's highest-paid athletes with prize money and endorsements totaling $53.2 million and is the top earner among women. She has equity in some 12 brands, founded a skin care company, and has her own swimwear and sleepwear lines.

➤MUCH OF U-S COULD SEE RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURES: Record high temperatures will be challenged across a 2,000-mile-long stretch of the U.S. this week thanks to an early season heat wave. The scorching heat that's already been in place for several days in Texas will be coming to the Midwest, the northeastern U.S. and part of southeastern Canada, AccuWeather said. "Highs near 100 degrees in the south-central states, the 90s in parts of the Midwest and the 80s in portions of the Northeast will challenge record highs set as far back as the late-1800s in some cases," said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. Along with the heat will be summerlike humidity, a sharp change from recent chilly weather in the Midwest, said.

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