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Ghislaine Maxwell is on suicide watch but isn’t suicidal, may need to postpone sentencing, lawyer says

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Maxwell, 60, is set to be sentenced on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court after being found guilty of sex trafficking a minor and other charges related to a sprawling conspiracy to abuse young girls with the wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein. She is currently being held at a federal detention facility in Brooklyn.

Attorney Bobbi Sternheim said in the letter Maxwell was abruptly removed from the general population, sent to solitary confinement, and placed on suicide watch Friday without a psychological evaluation and “without justification.”

“I met with Ms. Maxwell today…” Sternheim said in the letter. “She is not suicidal.”

CNN has reached out to the Bureau of Prisons for comment on why Maxwell was placed on suicide watch.

It is unclear if Maxwell was placed on suicide watch because of her link with Epstein.

Sternheim said a psychologist evaluated Maxwell on Saturday morning and determined she is not suicidal. The attorney argues Maxwell is unable to properly prepare for sentencing. A spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment.

“If Ms. Maxwell remains on suicide watch, is prohibited from reviewing legal materials prior to sentencing, becomes sleep-deprived, and is denied sufficient time to meet with and confer with counsel, we will be formally moving on Monday for an adjournment,” Sternheim said.

Federal prosecutors asked a judge in a court filing Wednesday to sentence Maxwell to 30 to 55 years in prison, arguing she “made the choice to sexually exploit numerous underage girls.” Maxwell’s lawyers last week asked a judge to sentence her to between 4.25 and 5.25 years in prison, saying her difficult childhood made her vulnerable to Epstein and she should not face a harsh sentence because of his actions

Ghislaine Maxwell blames difficult childhood, asks for lighter sentence
Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to state prostitution charges, was indicted on federal sex trafficking charges in July 2019 but died by suicide in a Manhattan federal detention facility a month later. The facility has since been closed down, possibly temporarily, to address “issues.”

Maxwell, his confidante and former girlfriend, was arrested a year afterward and has been held in jail since. Prosecutors say Maxwell helped Epstein set up a scheme to lure young girls into sexual relationships between 1994 and 2004.

She was found guilty of five federal charges in December, including: sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three related counts of conspiracy. However, she will only be sentenced on three counts after the judge presiding over her case agreed two of the conspiracy counts she faced were repetitive.



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Russia to supply nuclear-capable missiles to Belarus

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Putin told Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at a meeting in St. Petersburg the missile systems “can use both ballistic and cruise missiles, both in conventional and nuclear versions,” according to the Kremlin.

Russia launched its February 24 invasion in part from Belarusian territory, which borders Ukraine to the north. Throughout the war, Moscow has used Minsk as a satellite base including for many of Russia’s air operations in Ukraine, according to intelligence collected by NATO surveillance planes.

On Saturday, Ukraine claimed Russian forces had fired multiple missiles on the Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions from Belarus.

In a transcript of the meeting, Lukashenko expressed to Putin his “stress” over what he alleged are flights by United States and NATO planes “training to carry nuclear warheads” close to Belarus’ border.

He asked Putin to consider “a mirrored response” to the flights or to convert Russian fighter jets, which are currently deployed to Belarus, to “carry nuclear warheads.”

Putin replied that “there is no need” to match the US flights and suggested Belarus could modify its own Su-25 aircraft to be nuclear-capable instead.

“This modernization should be carried out at aircraft factories in Russia, but we will agree with you on how to do this. And accordingly, start training the flight crew,” Putin said.

What is the Iskander-M?

The Iskander-M is a Russian-built short-range ballistic missile system that can carry conventional or nuclear warheads with a maximum range of up to 500 kilometers (310 miles), according to Janes Defense.

The weapon uses both optical and inertial guidance systems to strike its targets, hitting them with a range of warheads, such as cluster munitions, vacuum bombs, bunker-busters, and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) warheads, according to the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.

The Iskander-M was first used in 2008 during the Russia-Georgia conflict, when the Russian Army used it to hit targets in Gori, according to the Alliance.

CNN has reached out the Pentagon for comment on Lukashenko’s claims.

G7 and NATO summits

The meeting between the Russian and Belarusian strongmen came ahead of a week of summits in Europe, where the grinding war in Ukraine — entering its fifth month — will be front and center.

The leaders of Japan, Canada, the US, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, the European Union and host Germany will meet for the Group of 7 on Monday.

Biden arrives in Europe to keep allies united against Russia as a grinding war in Ukraine takes its toll
US President Joe Biden hopes to announce new sanctions and military assistance alongside European allies during his visits to Germany and Spain. Both the G7 and NATO summits will hear from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who continues to appeal to the US and other countries for more help.

During his nightly address on Saturday, Zelensky said, “sanctions packages against Russia are not enough” and called on the western partners to provide Ukraine with more “armed assistance.”

“The air defense systems — the modern systems that our partners have — should be not in training areas or storage facilities, but in Ukraine, where they are now needed,” he said.

Fall of Severodonetsk

On Saturday, the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk was “completely under Russian occupation,” the city’s head of military administration Oleksandr Striuk said, following months of grueling and bloody fighting. Severodonetsk was one of the last major Ukrainian strongholds in the area.

Regional military officials said Friday that the last troops in Severodonetsk had been ordered to leave, as it was impossible to keep defending their positions. This effectively ceded the city to Russia and put the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk almost fully under Russian control.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense on Saturday said its forces have now taken control of the entire left-bank of the Siverskyi Donets, the eastern side of the river, and all the borders of the Luhansk People’s Republic.

Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov, defense ministry spokesperson, said Russian forces have “completely liberated the cities of Severodonetsk and Borivske, the settlements of Voronove and Syrotyne of the Luhansk People’s Republic.”

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych contributed reporting.



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June 25 Roe v. Wade news

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Abortion rights activists are seen through a hole in an American flag as they protest outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on Saturday, June 25.
Abortion rights activists are seen through a hole in an American flag as they protest outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on Saturday, June 25. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Saturday is the first full day for outright bans on abortion in some states after the Supreme Court overturned the nearly half-century-old Roe v. Wade decision.

Three states – Kentucky, Louisiana and South Dakota – have so-called “trigger bans” that went into effect automatically. Ten other states have trigger bans with implementation mechanisms that occur after a set period or after a step taken by a state government entity.

Yesterday, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote separately to explicitly call for other rulings to be revisited.

“In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” Thomas wrote, referring to decisions on contraception, sodomy and same-sex marriage. Liberals said that those rulings are now at risk.

Here are the latest developments:

Biden says SCOTUS decision is “devastating:” President Joe Biden acknowledged his administration’s frustration with Friday’s ruling, calling this week’s Supreme Court decisions “terrible.”

“Jill and I know how painful and devastating a decision it is for so many Americans, and I mean so many Americans. The decision is implemented by states. My administration is going to focus on how they administer it, and whether or not they violate other laws, like deciding not to allow people across state lines to get public health services, and we’re going to take actions to protect women’s rights and reproductive health,” he said before departing for the G7 summit in Germany.

The White House said Biden “is going to continue to find solutions” to ensure abortion rights, but did not offer details on potential executive actions the administration is weighing to do so.

Protests largely peaceful, with some arrests: Demonstrators gathered in front of the Supreme Court and in cities around the US again to protest the decision. While the protests were largely peaceful, there were a few incidents Friday and early Saturday, including a tense situation with anti-abortion activists at the only Mississippi abortion clinic, tear gas used to disperse a crowd in front of the state capitol, and abortion rights supporters in Los Angeles marching onto a freeway.

Governors shore up resources: Minnesota’s governor issued an executive order Saturday providing protections for people coming to Minnesota for reproductive healthcare from states where abortion is illegal or criminalized, according to a release from Gov. Tim Walz’s office. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee vowed to make his state a “sanctuary state” for reproductive choice for people across the country, regardless of abortion bans existing in other states. He pledged a $1 million down payment to start subsidizing reproductive healthcare networks across the state ahead of an anticipated influx of patients. 



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WeatherTech shooting: One person killed, two injured in shooting at facility in Bolingbrook, Illinois

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One person was killed, while another shooting victim remains in critical condition, Bolingbrook Police Captain Anthony Columbus said. A third victim was released from the hospital.

All three victims were WeatherTech employees, police said in a news release.

The shooting suspect, identified as Charles C. McKnight Jr., 27, was with a temporary employment agency and had been assigned to the WeatherTech Facility earlier this month, police said.

CNN has not been able to identify an attorney for McKnight.

Bolingbrook Police were dispatched to the facility around 6:25 a.m. local time, according to police. The suspect was taken into custody about three hours later, authorities said.

A preliminary investigation indicated McKnight was confronted by other employees toward the end of the overnight shift after allegedly stealing a watch and a wallet at gunpoint from two co-workers, police said.

An argument took place during the confrontation and the suspect pulled out a gun and shot three co-workers, authorities said.

Authorities do not believe the shooting was premeditated.

At the time of the arrest, police recovered items connected to the robbery on McKnight and also found a handgun, according to the release.

CNN has contacted WeatherTech for comment. The company manufactures automotive products, including floor mats.

The village of Bolingbrook is a southwest suburb of Chicago, approximately 30 miles from the city center.

“Today, our community has been shattered by yet another act of senseless gun violence,” said Rep. Bill Foster, who represents the 11th Illinois congressional district, in a statement.

“Words cannot express the heartbreak the victims and their families are feeling right now. My thoughts are with them during these difficult times … No one should have to worry about random gun violence while going about their normal lives, and we cannot accept this as a new reality,” he added.

Police say they are working with the Will County State’s Attorney on formal charges.

Saturday’s deadly incident comes after a contentious week in Washington for legislation governing gun regulations. President Biden signed a bipartisan gun safety bill into law, the first major one in decades, while the Supreme Court struck down a New York gun law which places restrictions on carrying a concealed handgun outside the home, marking the widest expansion of gun rights in a decade.

Those developments follow on the heels of other gun violence, including a massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

CNN’s Hannah Sarisohn contributed to this report.



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Energy prices are causing chaos in Asia. The rest of the world should be worried

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CNN Business
 — 

In Sri Lanka, people queue for miles to fill a tank of fuel. In Bangladesh, shops shut at 8 p.m. to conserve energy. In India and Pakistan, power outages force schools to shut, businesses to close and residents to swelter without air conditioning through deadly heat waves in which temperatures top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius).

These are just some of the more eye-catching scenes playing out in the Asia Pacific region, where various countries are facing their worst energy crisis in years — and grappling with the growing discontent and instability caused by knock-on increases in the cost of living.

In Sri Lanka and Pakistan, the sense of crisis is palpable. Public anger has already caused a wave of ministers to resign in Colombo and contributed to Imran Khan’s downfall as prime minister in Islamabad.

Yet many suspect the political reckoning has only just begun; both countries have been forced into desperate measures, going cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund and introducing shorter working weeks in an effort to save energy. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the Sri Lankan economy had “completely collapsed.”

Elsewhere in the region, the signs of trouble may be less obvious but could yet have far reaching consequences. Even in comparatively rich countries, such as Australia, economic concerns are beginning to emerge as consumers feel the pinch of higher energy bills.

Wholesale electricity prices in the first quarter of 2022 were up 141% from last year; households are being urged to cut down usage and on June 15 – for the first time – the Australian government suspended indefinitely the national electricity market in a bid to bring prices down, ease pressure on the energy supply chain and prevent blackouts.

But it is the experience of India, where power demand recently hit record highs, that illustrates most clearly why this is a global — rather than regional — crisis.

Having suffered through widespread outages amid record temperatures, the world’s third-largest carbon emitter announced on May 28 that state-run Coal India will import coal for the first time since 2015.

South Kolkata District Congress members join a demonstration against rising fuel prices in Kolkata, India on June 2.

While each of these countries faces a unique set of circumstances, all have been hit by the twin effects of the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine — two unforeseeable events that have turned on their heads previously reasonable assumptions about supply lines and regional security and in the process plunged the world of economic planning into chaos.

At root, experts say, the problem lies in a growing mismatch between supply and demand.

Over the past couple of years, the pandemic kept demand for energy unusually low, with global electricity consumption dropping by more than 3% in the first quarter of 2020 as lockdowns and other restrictions kept workers at home, cars off the road, and ships stuck in ports.

But now, as nations begin to put the pandemic behind them, demand for fuel is spiking — and the sudden competition is pushing the prices of coal, oil and gas to record highs.

Turbo-charging this trend is the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the world’s third largest oil producer and second largest crude oil exporter. With the United States and many of its allies sanctioning Russian oil and gas, many countries have been left scrambling to find alternative sources — heating up the competition for limited supplies even further.

“Energy demand has rebounded quite quickly from the coronavirus and more quickly than supply,” said Samantha Gross, director of the Brookings Institute’s Energy Security and Climate Initiative.

“So we saw high prices even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (but then there was) really a shock to energy supply. Various actions taken in response to that are really a challenge for energy supply globally.”

While the price of energy imports has risen dramatically across the world, with international coal prices five times higher than a year ago and natural gas prices up to 10 times higher than last year, experts say there are reasons some Asian economies — particularly import-reliant, developing ones — have been hit hardest.

“If you’re a country, especially an emerging economy like a Sri Lanka that has to buy those commodities, has to buy oil, has to buy natural gas, this is a real struggle,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

“You’re paying a lot more for the things you need but the things you sell haven’t gone up in price. So you’re shelling out a lot more money to try to buy the same things to keep your economy running.”

Poorer countries that are still developing or newly industrialized are simply less able to compete with more deep pocketed rivals — and the more they need to import, the bigger their problem will be, said Antoine Halff, adjunct senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

“So Pakistan certainly fits there. Sri Lanka I think fits there as well,” he said. “They’re taking the price hit but they’re also taking the supply hit. They have to pay more for their energy supplies and in some countries like Pakistan, they actually have a hard time sourcing energy.”

This dynamic is behind the increasingly chaotic scenes playing out in those countries.

As recently as a week ago, Sri Lanka’s power and energy minister said it was a matter of days before the country ran out of fuel. That bleak warning came as lines at fuel stations in Colombo extended up to 3 kilometers (nearly 2 miles) and in many towns clashes between police and the public broke out.

It is almost as if everyday life itself is shutting down. On Monday, public sector offices, government schools and government-approved private schools were closed for at least two weeks. Public sector workers have been told to take Fridays off for the next three months — with the suggestion they use the time to grow their own food.

Pakistan too has had to reduce its working week — back down to five days from six — though that may only make the situation worse. Its six-day week, only recently introduced, was supposed to improve productivity and boost the economy.

Instead, daily hours-long power outages have plagued the country of 220 million for at least a month and malls and restaurants in Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi have been told to close early to save fuel.

The country’s energy supply is almost 5,000 megawatts below demand — a shortfall that could power between 2 million and 5 million homes on some estimates.

As Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb put it on June 7: “We are facing a severe crisis.”

A vendor sells fabrics under an emergency light connected to a motorcycle during a load-shedding power outage in Karachi, Pakistan on June 8.

And any notion that such problems are a matter only for poorer, less developed nations is dispelled by the experience of Australia — a country that has one of the world’s highest levels of global median wealth per adult.

Since May, the “Lucky Country” has been operating without 25% of its coal-based energy capacity — partly due to planned outages for maintenance, but also because supply disruptions and soaring prices have caused unplanned outages.

Like their counterparts in Pakistan and Bangladesh, Australians are now being urged to conserve, with Energy Minister Chris Bowen recently asking households in New South Wales, which includes Sydney, not to use electricity for two hours each evening.

How these nations respond may be stirring up an even greater problem than rising prices.

Under pressure from the public, governments and politicians may be tempted to turn back toward cheaper, dirtier forms of energy such as coal, regardless of the effect on climate change.

And there are signs this may already have started.

In Australia, the federal government’s Energy Security Board has proposed that all electricity generators, including coal-fired ones, be paid to keep extra capacity in the national grid in a bid to prevent power outages. And the government of New South Wales has used emergency powers to redirect coal from mines in the state to local generators rather than overseas.

Both measures have come in for criticism from those who accuse the government of betraying its commitment to renewable energy.

In India, a country of 1.3 billion people that relies on coal for about 70% of its energy generation, New Delhi’s decision to increase coal imports is likely to have even more profound environmental effects.

Scientists say a drastic reduction in coal mining is necessary to limit the worst effects of global warming, yet this will be hard to achieve without the buy-in of one of the world’s biggest carbon emitters.

“Any country, be it India, be it Germany, be it the US, if they double down on any kind of fossil fuel it will eat up the carbon budget. That’s a global problem,” said Sandeep Pai, senior research lead for the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Energy Program.

While Pai said that India’s decision might only be a temporary “reaction to the crisis,” if in one or two years’ time countries were continuing to rely on coal this would significantly affect the war on global warming.

“If these actions happen, it will eat up the carbon budget which is already shrinking in India and the target of 1.5 or 2 degrees will become increasingly hard,” Pai said, referring to the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of keeping the rise in global average temperature between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius.

If the rise in temperature exceeds that range, even temporarily, scientists suggest some of the resulting changes to the planet could be irreversible.

As Pai put it: “India’s scale and size and demand means that if it really doubles down on coal, then we’ll have a really serious problem from a climate point of view.”



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Some states move quickly to ban abortion after Supreme Court ruling

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In all, 26 states have laws that indicate they could outlaw or set extreme limits on abortions, effectively banning abortion in those states, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Three states — Kentucky, Louisiana and South Dakota — had so-called “trigger bans” that went into effect automatically with the Supreme Court’s reversal Friday of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling which established a constitutional right to an abortion. Other states have trigger bans with implementation mechanisms that occur after a set period or after a step taken by a state government entity.
Among the trigger-ban states in the latter category, Missouri has already made the move required to implement its ban on abortion, with state Attorney General Eric Schmitt announcing Friday he had taken the step of certification laid out by Missouri law.

Oklahoma, which had recently put in place a law banning most abortions, has also taken the step of implementing its trigger ban, according to the state attorney general’s office. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge also certified the state’s trigger ban, allowing it to take effect Friday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced.

Utah’s trigger ban went into effect Friday, according to a letter sent by John L. Fellows, the general counsel for the Utah Legislature, which was provided to CNN by KUTV. And on Saturday, Planned Parenthood of Utah filed a lawsuit seeking to block it.

Other states have prohibitions on abortion that had been blocked by courts that had cited Roe’s guarantee of a right to abortion. Those states may act quickly to have those court orders lifted so those restrictions can go into effect.

Ohio Attorney General David Yost announced Friday the injunction blocking the state’s so-called heartbeat bill, which bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected — as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant — was dissolved. In court documents, US District Judge Michael Barrett said he sided with Yost in dissolving the injunction, but noted the court “declines to dismiss this case at this juncture. Rather, a status conference will be set by separate notice to discuss further proceedings.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey referenced a court order which halted the state’s 2019 abortion ban and said in a statement Alabama “will immediately ask the court to strike down any legal barriers to enforcing this law.” A federal judge in Alabama on Friday granted an emergency motion to end an injunction against Alabama’s ban after the Supreme Court’s decision.

States including Wisconsin and West Virginia had abortion restrictions before the Roe ruling that had never been removed.

In Wisconsin, the Republican-controlled state legislature declined Wednesday to repeal an 1849 state law banning abortion during a special session called by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers — allowing it to take effect again after the high court overturned Roe.

“We will fight this decision in every way we can with every power we have,” Evers said in a written statement.

Wisconsin Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul told CNN affiliate WISN before the court’s decision came down he did not intend to enforce the abortion ban at the state level. However, following the decision Friday, his office issued a statement stopping short of that, saying, “Our office is reviewing today’s decision and will be providing further information about how we intend to move forward next week.”

At the same time, just across Wisconsin’s eastern border, the state of Minnesota is preparing for a potential influx of women seeking abortions as bans in other states go into effect. Minnesota’s Democratic Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order Saturday designed to shield women seeking abortions there from being subject to legal consequences in other states.

Bans expected soon

States with trigger laws expected to ban abortions in the upcoming days and weeks include Wyoming, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Idaho.

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III said in addition to implementing the trigger ban set to go into effect in 30 days, the state had asked an appeals court to lift a hold which had been placed on a measure banning abortion at around six weeks into pregnancy.

In Texas, where the trigger ban is to be implemented on the 30th day after the Supreme Court issues its judgment (a court move which will happen in the coming weeks), Attorney General Ken Paxton has announced local prosecutors may now begin enforcing an abortion ban passed by the state before the Roe ruling. (Texas had already effectively banned abortion when it enacted a six-week ban last year.)

It’s likely elsewhere in the country, state legislatures will soon be called back into session to pass strict abortion laws that previously would have run afoul of Roe.

Indiana’s Republican Gov. Eric J. Holcomb is calling for a return of the General Assembly on July 6, so legislators can consider anti-abortion legislation.

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to more clearly describe when Texas’ trigger ban will take effect. It’s the 30th day after the Supreme Court issues its judgment, a court move that comes after the ruling.

This story has also been updated for additional developments.

CNN’s Tami Luhby, Avery Lotz, Claudia Dominguez, Paradise Afshar, Monique Smith and Andy Rose contributed to this report.





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China’s new aircraft carrier: Never mind the Fujian, these are the ships the US should worry about

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The Fujian — by far China’s biggest, most modern and most powerful aircraft carrier to date — is the 80,000-ton jewel in the crown of a military expansion that has seen Beijing grow its navy into the world’s largest.

Its new combat systems — such as an electromagnetic catapult-assisted launch system — show China is fast catching up with the United States, experts say, and will give it the ability to launch more aircraft, more quickly, and with more ammunition.

Still, while the launch of the Fujian amid much fanfare was clearly meant as a message to Beijing’s rivals, analysts caution against swallowing too much of the hype just yet.

Firstly, the Fujian likely won’t be operational for another three to four years, said Carl Schuster, a former US Navy captain and former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center. And even when it is operational, its size will make it an obvious target — any enemy will be keenly aware that sinking such an iconic vessel would be as much of a morale blow as a military disaster for China.

The launch ceremony for China's third aircraft carrier, the Fujian, at Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, on June 17.

Then there is the simple fact that, impressive as they seem, aircraft carriers aren’t necessarily best suited to what experts see as the most plausible conflict scenarios in the near future — including clashes in the East and South China Seas and an invasion of Taiwan.

Essentially, experts say, the Fujian might be China’s biggest ship, but it’s probably not the biggest problem on the minds of US naval commanders right now.

Here are four types of ship at China’s disposal that arguably pose a far greater threat to US naval dominance.

China's type 055 guided-missile destroyer Nanchang in the Western Pacific on October 19, 2021.

Type 055 destroyer

Launched in 2017, these 13,000-ton stealth guided-missile destroyers are considered by many to be the most powerful surface combatants in the world.

The Type 055, big enough to be considered a cruiser by NATO standards, is equipped with 112 vertical launch tubes that can used to fire everything from anti-ship missiles to long-range land-attack missiles.

“This ship in particular has a sophisticated design, stealth features, radars, and a large missile inventory. It is larger and more powerful than most US, Japanese, and South Korean destroyers,” RAND Corp. senior analyst Timothy Heath told CNN in 2018, when Beijing launched two of the warships in a single day — a testament to China’s impressive shipbuilding capabilities.
A US Congressional Research Service report in March said at least 10 Type 055s are thought to have been launched or are under construction.
China's new destroyers: 'Power, prestige and majesty'
The deployment of the Lhasa, the second of Beijing’s five active Type 055s, to the Sea of Japan for drills amid growing tensions over Taiwan, was championed by China’s state-run Global Times tabloid last week.

“The ship has achieved full operational capability and demonstrated its capabilities in deterring possible foreign military interference in the Taiwan Strait at a time when the US and Japan have been repeatedly provoking China over the Taiwan question,” the Global Times reported.

The potency of the Type 055 was underlined in footage that emerged on social media in April. It showed one launching what naval analyst H I Sutton said was a hypersonic YJ-21 anti-ship ballistic missile — a weapon often referred to as a “carrier killer.”
Global Times played down the footage, describing the missiles as part of the country’s defensive strategy.

“If the US does not make military provocations against China, including over the Taiwan question, it does not need to worry about the missiles,” it said.

China's Liaoning aircraft carrier is accompanied by navy frigates and submarines during an exercise in the South China Sea.

Type 039 submarine

These Yuan-class submarines are almost silent diesel-electric-powered boats with capabilities that could prove tough for US military planners to deal with.

Beijing has built 17 of the Type 39A/B subs, with plans to increase that total to 25 in the next three years, according to the US Defense Department’s 2021 report to Congress on China’s military power.

“The Type 039 SSs provide formidable ‘defense in depth'” in waters close to China, “and they appear to be developing some capability to engage” US forces farther out to sea, Schuster said.

The subs are equipped with air independent propulsion (AIP), which means they do not need to surface as frequently to get the air required for diesel combustion, which can then power their batteries.

“When operating on batteries, AIP-equipped submarines are almost silent, with the only noise coming from the shaft bearings, propeller, and flow around the hull,” US Navy officers Michael Walker and Austin Krusz wrote in a 2018 report for the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine.
How did a $3 billion US Navy submarine hit an undersea mountain?

China is pushing to launch more of the super-quiet subs, which are armed with anti-ship cruise missiles, the Defense Department report said.

One potent method of attack used by the Type 039 is to fire a “wake-homing” torpedo across the stern, or back, of a target vessel. The torpedo then follows in the wake of the target ship before exploding near its propulsion and steering systems.

Because surface ships detect submarines and torpedoes by sound waves, wake-homing torpedoes are particularly tough to defend against.

The advances in Chinese submarines come just as the US Navy is experiencing trouble with its anti-submarine capabilities.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday told Congress last month that the service wants to scrap nine of its littoral combat ships, some of the newest ships in the US fleet, because their anti-submarine systems “did not work out technically.”
A merchant ferry at Yantai Port in Shandong province of China.

Merchant ferries

Merchant ferries might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think about deadly naval capabilities — but therein lies their power.

To invade Taiwan, China would likely need to transport an invading force of hundreds of thousands of men — some analysts have suggested more than a million would be needed.

Various analysts — and US government reports — have concluded the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) naval fleet is not up to that task.

But what China does have is a massive fleet of civilian ferries that could be swiftly converted for military use — and according to some, may even have been designed for just that possibility.

“China’s biggest ferry shipbuilder stated publicly in 2015 that one of its largest roll-on/roll-off ferries was built for dual military and civilian purposes, and one of China’s largest ferry operators has been similarly described as having a dual civil-military development philosophy,” Thomas Shugart, a former US Navy submarine commander now a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, wrote in a 2021 essay for War on the Rocks.

He added that civilian ferry companies operating in the Yellow and South China Seas have already been organized into PLA auxiliary units.

China has built the world's largest navy. Now what's Beijing going to do with it?

Crunching the numbers, said Shugart, was staggering. He estimated that using civilian ships would give China an extra 1.1 million displacement tonnes. That figure is more than three times the displacement tonnage of all of China’s amphibious assault ships put together. And if China tapped Hong Kong’s roll-on/roll-off vehicle carriers it could gain an extra 370,000 tonnes of sealift, according to Shugart.

Is that enough to take Taiwan by force?

That is hard to know. But Shugart said it did answer one question.

“How many transport (ships) does the Chinese military have? Very probably, more than you might think.”

Chinese vessels  moored at Whitsun Reef in the South China Sea in 2021.

Maritime militia

Ferries aren’t the only supposedly civilian vessels military planners have on their radars.

Experts also accuse China of creating a maritime militia, made up of more than a hundred vessels supposedly engaged in commercial fishing, to enforce its wishes in disputed seas.

The militia — which Beijing denies even exists — is made up of at least 122 vessels and likely as many as 174, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

But the actual number could be even greater. Various experts suspected the militia’s involvement when more than 200 Chinese fishing boats crowded the waters around Whitsun Reef in the South China Sea in early 2021. The reef is claimed by both China and the Philippines, which described the presence of the boats as a “clear provocative action.”
Beijing has a navy it doesn't even admit exists, experts say. And it's swarming parts of the South China Sea

“The People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia don’t fish,” Schuster told CNN last year. “They have automatic weapons aboard and reinforced hulls, making them very dangerous at close range. Also, they have a top speed of around 18-22 knots, making them faster than 90% of the world’s fishing boats.”

The militia has two main parts: professional militia boats and actual fishing boats employed by the Chinese military under a subsidy scheme, according to a November report from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

The professionals lead such activities as harassing foreign drilling ships or blocking foreign fishing boats, and the subsidized fishers bring pressure in numbers, the CSIS report said.

And with the world’s largest fishing fleet, China has plenty of reserves to call on.

About that carrier again

Still, none of this is to say that the launch of the Fujian is not a significant moment.

As in the US, aircraft carriers will in time become the centerpiece of the PLA’s navy — and a symbol of what the modern Chinese military is capable of, Schuster said.

“Fujian’s launch should be viewed for what it portends rather than its limited immediate impact,” Schuster said.

China launches third, most advanced aircraft carrier named 'Fujian'

“China has now launched three carriers and brought two into full operational status during a period where the US Navy has struggled to bring one new unit to full operational status,” he said.

Schuster was referring to the USS Gerald Ford, a supercarrier that has been plagued by problems since its commissioning in 2017 (by which time it was already three years late).

The supercarrier is yet to make its first operational deployment, though that is expected this fall.

Meanwhile, China forges ahead.

“They are building their navy at a faster rate than the US and all of its allies,” Schuster said.

“Imperfect, but a good foundation.”



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Roe v Wade: More protests expected this weekend amid fury and anguish over the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling

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On Friday, the Court overturned the 1973 ruling known as Roe v. Wade, sparking protests that are expected to extend throughout the weekend.

Smaller gatherings of people celebrating the ruling are also taking place.

As states started enacting abortion bans and some clinics stopped offering the procedure, abortion-rights advocates took to the streets in major cities.

“It’s like seeing the train coming toward you,” said Julia Kaluta, 24, one of many abortion-rights advocates gathered in New York City. “And you finally get hit by it. And it still hurts more than you ever thought.”

More demonstrations are expected Saturday and Sunday in cities big and small, including in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Texas, New Mexico, California and many others.

“It’s a betrayal against women … it’s a giant step backwards … It opens the door for other rights and freedoms to be threatened,” said Natasha Mitchell, 41, of Denver. “I’m fortunate that I live in a state that respects the reproductive rights of women but I fear for women who don’t.”

Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law in April, codifying the right to an abortion in the state.
Tear gas used to disperse protestors outside Arizona Capitol building, officials say

Police use tear gas to disperse crowds

President Joe Biden described it as a “sad day” for the US. He plans to “continue to find solutions” to ensure abortion rights, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Saturday. She declined to offer details on potential executive actions regarding abortion that the administration is weighing.
In Phoenix, law enforcement used tear gas late Friday to disperse a crowd of abortion-rights supporters after they “repeatedly pounded on the glass doors of the State Senate Building,” Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesperson Bart Graves told CNN.

In Eugene, Oregon, 10 people were arrested on Friday night during a demonstration dubbed a “Night of Rage” in response to the ruling, according to a release from Eugene police. Those arrested ranged in age from 18 to 29 years old, according to the release. Nine people were charged with disorderly conduct, one of whom was also charged with resisting arrest and another with harassment, police said.

Police said demonstrators started gathering Friday night just before 9:30 p.m. in front of a medical building in Eugene’s downtown. The crowd grew to more than 75 people who blocked roadways and vehicles, police said. Demonstrators at one point were seen throwing rocks or other objects and an unknown individual also threw smoke bombs at police officers, according to the release.

As news of the ruling emerged Friday morning, abortion-rights advocates and opponents also gathered outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

One man — standing amid placards including the messages “Roe is dead” and “I am the post-Roe generation” — sprayed champagne in the air above others who were celebrating.

US Capitol Police (USCP) arrested two people on Saturday afternoon for the destruction of property after they were accused of “throwing paint over the fence by the U.S. Supreme Court,” USCP tweeted.

USCP told CNN the two people arrested were Nicholas Salvador Saint Amour and Leah Johnson.

As abortion rights protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court on Saturday, USCP tweeted it was working to “help demonstrators with heat issues” by bringing in cooling buses and additional people to help. So far, roughly 12 people have been helped, they said.

In New York City, many demonstrators gathered in Washington Square Park to protest the ruling, even though New York state law will remain in place to protect abortion rights.

There were some anti-abortion activists on hand, but they kept a low profile and there were no confrontations seen by the CNN crew walking with the protesters. At least 20 people in the city were “taken into custody with charges pending,” after demonstrators marched in protest of the decision, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD).

No further details were provided on the arrests.

These are the states where abortion rights are still protected after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade

Mia Khatcherian, who lives in New York, said she felt guilty knowing that abortion is legal in her home state, while those living in other states will be subjected to anti-abortion laws.

“I want women in other states to see the swell of support — that the sheer number (of demonstrators) sends a message,” said Khatcherian, 32, the daughter of a Filipina mother and Armenian father. “Knowing that women of color are going to bear the brunt of this decision” made sitting home, raging on social media, an impossibility, she added.

Black women accounted for the highest percentage of abortions by women seeking the procedure in the US in 2019, receiving 38.4% of all abortions performed, according to data collected by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also had the highest abortion rate, 23.8 abortions per 1,000 women, the data shows. Hispanic women sought 21% of all abortions in 2019, the data indicates.
Further, Black women who are pregnant or who have just given birth in the US are three to four times likelier to die than their White counterparts, per the CDC.
The abortion ban is already in effect in at least six states: Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

And as of Saturday, 13 states have trigger laws banning abortions in light of the ruling. Those states are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.

In some instances, the laws go into effect immediately, while in other states they will become effective after a certain time period or by certification of state officials.

Abortion providers have canceled dozens of appointments

Already, abortion providers in Arizona and Arkansas have begun halting abortion services.

Family Planning Associates, Planned Parenthood Arizona and Tucson Choices in Arizona have at least temporarily suspended abortion services while the legal ramifications of the ruling are assessed, according to posts on their websites.

Dr. DeShawn Taylor, who operates Desert Star Family Planning in Phoenix, said her clinic canceled about 20 abortion appointments that were initially scheduled for Friday through next week.

“We’re committed to keeping our doors open if we can, to be able to provide abortion care, once it’s safe to do so. I believe we’ll be in some dark times for a while, hopefully for not too long, but I do believe the pendulum will swing back.”

Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade 

On Friday, the Arizona State Senate Republican Caucus issued a memo stating the state must immediately enforce the pre-Roe law, which bans most abortions unless the procedure is necessary to save the life of a mother.

In Arkansas, the Little Rock Planned Parenthood canceled between 60 and 100 appointments for people who had abortion procedures scheduled or were in the process of scheduling, Dr. Janet Cathey said told CNN.

“There were patients who said they were in their car and on their way and asked us, ‘It will be OK, won’t it?’ And we had to tell them, ‘No, we have to follow the law,” Cathey told CNN.

“Most patients were desperate or panicked,” she added.

Cathey said the patients were given contact information for the Planned Parenthood office in Overland Park, Kansas, adding that her office has “made arrangements for some to be transferred there.”

Little Rock is roughly a 7-hour drive from Overland Park. But for those patients in south Arkansas, the travel time is closer to 10 hours, Cathey said.

“We were seeing people from Louisiana and Texas who came to see us, too. Some called from Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. They’re going to be impacted as well,” she added.

Leaders respond quickly to protect abortion rights

In some states, local leaders have taken steps to protect as well as expand abortion rights, particularly in light of the potential influx of patients from states banning legal abortions.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law Friday that protects against any potential civil action originating outside the state for anyone performing, assisting or receiving an abortion in the state. It also protects non-California residents seeking reproductive health care in the state.

These US companies will cover travel costs for employees who need an abortion

In Mississippi — where the abortion ban is slated to take effect 10 days after its attorney general certifies the Supreme Court decision — the owner of the last abortion clinic in the state insisted on staying open during that period to provide services.

Diane Derzis, who runs the Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Jackson, Mississippi, said she’s not giving up and that her doors are open.

“I will tell you that any patient who contacts us, we’ll see them. We’ll make sure we see them during that 10 days,” Derzis said Friday during a news conference. “A woman should not have to leave the state to obtain medical care.”

Derzis said her team is planning to open a new clinic in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where they will continue to provide services.

CNN’s Gregory Krieg, Virginia Langmaid, Natasha Chen, Sara Smart, Claudia Dominguez, Cheri Mossburg, Kiely Westhoff, Alta Spells, Nick Valencia, Faith Karimi and Hannah Sarisohn contributed to this report.



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Ukraine: Severodonetsk ‘completely under Russian occupation’

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“The [Russians] appointed a commandant. But the city is so destroyed that it will be difficult for people to cope with this situation,” said military administration chief Oleksandr Striuk.

Regional military officials said Friday that the last troops in Severodonetsk had been ordered to leave, as it was impossible to keep defending their positions. This effectively ceded the city to Russia and put the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk almost fully under Russian control.

Severodonetsk was one of the last major Ukrainian strongholds in the area. Serhiy Hayday, a top military commander in east Ukraine, said the military made the decision to evacuate “because the number of dead in unfortified territories may grow every day.”

Russia’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) on Saturday confirmed its forces have taken control of the entire left bank of the Siverskyi Donets, the eastern side of the river, and all the borders of pro-Russian breakaway Luhansk People’s Republic.

Russian forces “as a result of successful offensive actions, completely liberated the cities of Severodonetsk and Borivske, the settlements of Voronove and Syrotyne of the Luhansk People’s Republic,” MOD spokesperson Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

“Currently, there is no possibility to leave the city, people can try to leave only in the direction of the occupied territory. We will facilitate the evacuation, but so far there is no such opportunity,” Striuk said.

Several hundred civilians had taken shelter at the Azot chemical plant and rejected pleas to leave. Earlier on Saturday, Hayday said Russian forces were still shelling the plant.

“Civilians are leaving the territory of the Azot plant, they [the Russians] shoot propaganda videos with them. People spent almost 3 months in basements, shelters. At the moment, they need physical and psychological help,” Striuk added.

Konashenkov said in the statement “the territory of the Azot plant in Severodonetsk is controlled by the LPR forces” and the attempt of Ukrainian forces to “turn the industrial zone of the Azot plant into a hotbed of resistance has been thwarted.”

Avalanche of missile strikes

Ukraine has been hit by an avalanche of missile strikes, with official accounts there estimating that Russia fired more than 40 missiles at targets in Ukraine in the past 24 hours.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian military said there was more shelling around Kharkiv, and the Russians had tried to launch an assault near the settlement of Uda, north of Kharkiv, but “were decisively suppressed by our soldiers.” 
Ukraine may have endured its worst week since the fall of Mariupol

North of Sloviansk, the Ukrainian military reported continuing battles in areas that have been on the front lines for months. The Russians used artillery and air strikes against Ukrainian positions some 20 kilometers north of the city. 

On the southern front, the Ukrainian military reported that a Russian assault to recover previously lost ground in Kherson had been repulsed. Ukrainian forces have been pushing into Kherson, with limited success, from Mykolaiv region.
The mayor of the city of Mykolaiv, Oleksandr Sienkevyck, reported explosions there overnight. On Friday, he urged “everyone who wants to stay alive to leave the city,” and said it was being “shelled every day,” with 111 people killed so far.

Explosions were also reported by the regional military administration in Zhytomyr in central Ukraine, killing one soldier and wounding another, although the city’s mayor said Zhytomyr itself was “not hit.” The head of the military administration said “about 10 missiles” had been shot down by Ukrainian defenders. Regional authorities in Lviv in western Ukraine also reported missile strikes against military facilities.

Offensive continues in eastern Ukraine

Two US officials with direct knowledge of US intelligence assessments told CNN Russian forces were gaining an advantage in eastern Ukraine as they learned from mistakes made during the earlier stages of their invasion of the country, including better coordination of air and ground attacks as well as improvements to logistics and supply lines.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops in the eastern city of Lysychansk are under growing pressure from Russian forces that have taken territory to the south of the city. Hayday said Russian forces tried to enter Lysychansk from the south and to surround the city — and had also carried out an airstrike on the city. 
A local resident walks in front of an apartment building destroyed in a missile strike, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Bakhmut, Ukraine, June 13, 2022.

The Ukrainian military’s General Staff said Saturday that Russian efforts to cut off the main route from Bakhmut to Lysychansk continued. It said Ukrainian soldiers had stopped the advance of Russian infantry near Volodymyrivka, which is 5 kilometers from the highway. But the General Staff acknowledged the Russians had advanced 1 kilometer as they close in on Bakhmut. 

The Russian goal appears to be to cut off Ukrainian forces in a pocket of Luhansk and Donetsk regions. If they capture Bakhmut they would be able to prevent most resupply efforts to Ukrainian defenders in Lysychansk and surrounding districts. 

Ukraine claims attacks launched from Belarus airspace

As Ukrainian authorities assessed the damage from dozens of missile strikes overnight, the Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate said that many of the missiles were fired from Belarusian airspace.

The Directorate said that “missile strikes from the territory of Belarus are a large-scale provocation of the Russian Federation in order to further involve Belarus in the war against Ukraine.”

It said ‘”Russian bombers hit directly from the territory of Belarus. Six Tu-22M3 aircraft were involved, which launched 12 Kh-22 cruise missiles.” The Directorate said the missiles had been launched from airspace above the district of Petrikov in southern Belarus. 

Belarusian military could 'soon' join war in Ukraine, US and NATO officials say

“After launching the missiles, they returned to Shaikovka airfield in Russia. The strike was launched on Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions.”

“This is the first case of an air strike on Ukraine directly from the territory of Belarus,” the Directorate said. CNN cannot confirm that allegation.

Ukraine’s air force command has echoed the Defense Ministry’s comments, saying on its Facebook page that “more than fifty missiles of various types were fired: air, sea and ground-based.”

There has been no word from the Belarus government on the alleged use of its airspace for the latest strikes against Ukraine.

Ukraine denies Russian claim of attack on Polish ‘mercenaries’

A Russian missile hit the town of Kostiantynivka in Donetsk Saturday, according to both local authorities and the Russian Ministry of Defense.

But the two sides’ versions of what was targeted differ. Oleksii Roslov, head of Kostiantynivka civil military administration, said an “object of critical infrastructure was hit,” affecting gas supply and killing one person.

The Russian Ministry of Defense published a short video of the missile attack, saying it targeted Polish mercenaries based at the Megatex plant in Kostiantynivka and had killed up to 80 of them, as well as rocket launchers. 

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov, said: “The enemy continues to suffer significant losses. Up to 80 Polish mercenaries, 20 armored combat vehicles and eight Grad multiple launch rocket systems were destroyed as a result of strikes with high-precision weapons of the Russian Aerospace Forces on the buildings of the Megatex zinc plant.”

Roslov denied the claim. “There weren’t any military there. Many people were there after the strike, everyone can confirm there were no military,” Roslov told CNN.

Around 45,000 people remain in the town, which is some distance from the front lines.

CNN’s Jim Sciutto, Sebastian Shukla and Joshua Berlinger contributed to this report.



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MLB’s Houston Astros throw combined no-hitter against New York Yankees

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Astros starter Cristian Javier pitched the first seven innings, notching 13 strikeouts and one walk on 115 pitches. The 25-year-old was pulled after the seventh inning and replaced by reliever Hector Neris, who allowed two-walks, in his lone inning of work.

Houston pitcher Ryan Pressly came out in the ninth inning and struck out Yankees sluggers Anthony Rizzo and Josh Donaldson before forcing Giancarlo Stanton into a ground out to seal the 3-0 victory.

In a post-game interview, Javier said he felt proud of the blessings he has received, and thanked his family for their support.

Celebrating the pitching staff’s accomplishment, Pressly added, “Especially to do it in New York. It’s the best feeling in the world.”

The no-hitter is the 14th in franchise history for the Astros and first since Justin Verlander did so on September 1, 2019. Houston is the only team to no-hit the Yankees since 1958.

The Yankees had not been no-hit since June 11, 2003, when the Astros used a then record six pitchers to do so. It is the eighth time in franchise history the Yankees have been no-hit.

The Yankees lost consecutive games for only the fourth time this season, but sport a Major League best 52-20 record.



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