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Putin's regime is 'running out of fuel,' a Russian opposition activist tells NPR

Putin's regime running out of fuel

Vladimir Putin's regime is "running out of fuel," and if the Russian president continues to burn through his reserves of oil and gas money, ordinary people will become a threat to his power, according to one outspoken activist.

Aleksei Miniailo is a Russian opposition activist based in Moscow who argues that Putin's grip on power is less steadfast than it seems.

In an article for Foreign Affairs in December headlined, "Don't Give Up on a Better Russia," Miniailo makes the case that there are groups in the country that want a more democratic future.

This week, in the wake of the death of prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Miniailo tells All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly that democracy is still achievable for Russia, and that Putin's crackdown on dissent won't change that.

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French recycling plant on fire housing 900 tonnes of lithium batteries

French lithium recycling plant on fireSome 900 tonnes of lithium batteries were on fire at a battery recycling plant in southern France, authorities said on Sunday, sending a cloud of thick black smoke into the sky above the site.

The fire broke out on Saturday in a warehouse owned by French recycling group SNAM in Viviez, north of Toulouse, local councillor Pascal Mazet said in a statement on X.
Lithium batteries are vital in electrical devices from phones to electric cars, but contain combustible materials which, combined with the energy they store, can make them vulnerable to catching fire when exposed to heat - a potential danger given the toxic materials their burning can emit.
In January 2023, a large fire broke out in a Normandy warehouse storing car components and thousands of lithium batteries, which was brought under control without causing any casualties. Firefighters said there were no indications of the release of dangerous air pollution.

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U.N. court to hold hearings on legality of the occupation of Palestinian-claimed lands

Peace PalaceThe United Nations' highest court opens historic hearings Monday into the legality of Israel's 57-year occupation of lands sought for a Palestinian state, plunging the 15 international judges back into the heart of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Six days of hearings are scheduled at the International Court of Justice, during which an unprecedented number of countries will participate, as Israel continues its devastating assault on Gaza.

Though the case occurs against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war, it focuses instead on Israel's open-ended occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

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Top foreign policy voice wants Biden to go over Bibi’s head

Top foreign policy voice wants Biden to go over Bibi's head

Last month, Richard Haass, the former longtime head of the Council on Foreign Relations, approached top officials in the Biden administration, including Vice President Kamala Harris, with an audacious plan for changing the politics around the Israel-Hamas war.

Haass believed that Joe Biden needed to separate himself from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose military campaign was hurting U.S. credibility abroad and the president’s popularity at home. And he proposed that Biden do so by going to Israel to deliver a speech — possibly to the Knesset, the nation’s parliament — where he’d lay out his vision directly to the Israeli people.

Haass, who previously worked in the State Departments for both Bush administrations, had come to the idea after growing increasingly dismayed by Israel’s defiance of Washington’s warnings that its bombardment of Gaza was causing widespread civilian casualties and threatened to destabilize the Middle East. And he first floated it from his perch as a panelist on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the cable news show Biden closely watches.

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DOJ to give Ukraine $500K worth of forfeited Russian funds

Dept.of JusticeDepartment of Justice (DOJ) is set to give $500,000 worth of forfeited Russian funds to Ukraine as the embattled country tries to fend off the Kremlin’s invasion.

The U.S. will transfer nearly half of a million dollars in confiscated Russian funds to Estonia, which will be then transferred to Ukraine, according to a Saturday DOJ press release. Estonia is receiving the funds first, since “under current authorities, the facts of this case do not allow for a direct transfer to Ukraine.”

The funds were forfeited by the U.S. “following the breakup of an illegal procurement network attempting to import into Russia a high-precision, U.S.-origin machine tool with uses in the defense and nuclear proliferation sectors.”

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Palestinian ambassador to UK says eight relatives killed in Israeli strikes in Rafah

Paletinian ambassador to UK loses 10 family members in Gaza

The Palestinian ambassador to the UK has said eight of his relatives who were sheltering in the southern Gaza town of Rafah have been killed in an Israeli strike.

Husam Zomlot identified a girl in a distressing photo that has been widely shared online as his wife’s seven-year-old cousin Sidra Hassouna. In the image that has been posted on social media, Sidra’s body can be seen dangling from the ruins of a building after attacks on Rafah on Monday.

Sharing a blurred version of the image, alongside pictures of his other relatives, Zomlot posted on X on Wednesday: “This is seven-year-old Sidra, the cousin of my wife. The impact of the Israeli missile was so powerful it flung her out, leaving her mutilated body dangling from the ruins of the destroyed building in Rafah 48 hours ago.”

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Alexei Navalny, long a thorn in Russian leader Vladimir Putin's side, dies in prison

Alexei Navalny dies in prison

Alexei Navalny, a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin who survived a poisoning and spent months in isolation, died in an Arctic Circle maximum-security prison, the country's state media reported Friday.

The Federal Penitentiary Service of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, where he was being held, said Navalny, 47, "felt unwell" after he went on a walk and "almost immediately lost consciousness."

No cause of death was detailed. The prison service said it tried to resuscitate him without success. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he had no information about how Navalny died.

Russian dissidents and Western opponents were quick to blame the Kremlin for Navalny's death.

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