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Zelensky visits war-torn Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine



LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky paid an unannounced visit Saturday morning to Mykolaiv, a war-torn city in southern Ukraine that has been held back by Kyiv in a show of fierce resistance.

Mr. Zelensky’s visit, his first to the city, came a day after Russian President Vladimir V. Putin in a defiant speech sought to rally support and blame the West for the continued fallout from the war, as the two leaders battle to convince their audiences and the world that they have the upper hand in the fighting.

In the early weeks of the war, Mr Zelensky had been a fixture in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, often delivering addresses to the nation from easily identifiable locations as he sought to stabilize his shocked citizens.

But increasingly he has ventured closer to the front lines, proof that his forces have a firm enough grip on these volatile areas to allow him to move safely. The trips became a tool to boost the morale of the troops and the public, and to divert attention from the terrible casualties inflicted as the fierce fighting continued.

Mr Zelensky made his first trip outside the Kyiv region in late May, when he visited Kharkiv, the country’s second city, which had just repelled a determined Russian assault.

While in the city, which he described as having “suffered terrible blows”, he met with troops, handed out rewards to fighters and described a chance for areas devastated by Russian attacks to “have a new face” during their reconstruction.

Mykolaiv, a strategically important river port between Mariupol and Odessa, was seen as a key Russian target when the conflict erupted in February. Now it is only miles away from a Ukrainian counter-offensive aimed at retaking the nearby city of Kherson, lost at the start of the war.

At the time, with Russian forces on the outskirts of the city, it seemed only a matter of time before Mykolaiv was also forced to capitulate. But despite a long siege by Russian forces who left the city beaten and broken, the resistance stiffened.

Even as bodies piled up in the city morgue, residents remained defiant. A few weeks after the siege began, Ukrainian forces succeeded in regaining full control of the city, pushing Russian forces to the southeast.

Footage of Saturday’s visit posted on the official Telegram channel from Mr Zelensky’s office showed the president looking at the shell of a nine-story building. government building which was hit by a missile at the end of Marchkilling dozens.

During a visit to a city hospital, Mr. Zelensky thanked the staff for their work and for treating patients as they would their own families.

“Because you are heroic people, you saved everyone’s life – military and civilians alike,” Zelensky said in a statement released by his office after the visit. “I want to wish you and your family and friends good health!”

But despite Mr Zelensky’s efforts to project the idea that all is well, Russian forces continued to fire on Ukrainian positions along the border between the Mykolaiv region and the neighboring city of Kherson, according to an assessment carried out Friday by the Institute for the Study of War. The relentless artillery onslaught is likely to deter Ukrainian counterattacks in the area, the institute said.

And the human toll of the war cannot be desired, with funerals taking place daily in all corners of the country for soldiers who died on the eastern front lines. Even in the relative safety of the western city of Lviv, a cemetery for the war dead is filled beyond capacity, with new graves being dug outside its original perimeter every day.

It has also become clear that foreign fighters and others who have joined the war effort in Ukraine face a similar peril.

On Saturday, the family of Grady Kurpasi, 49, a former US Marine Corps officer, confirmed he was the third American to disappear in the country.

“Grady went there not to fight but to help Ukrainian civilians, unfortunately he fell into that,” said George Heath, a friend who acted as a spokesman for Mr Kurpasi’s family.

After locating his phone in an area occupied by Russian forces, they believe he is being held prisoner.

Earlier in the week, the families of Alex Drueke, 39, a former US Army staff sergeant who served two tours in Iraq, and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, also said that both had disappeared in Ukraine.

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Supreme Court to hear case about power of state legislatures over elections




WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court announced Thursday that it will hear a case that could radically reshape the conduct of federal elections by giving state legislatures independent power, free from review by state courts, to set election rules in conflict with state constitutions.

The case has the potential to affect many aspects of the 2024 election, including giving judges the power to influence the presidential race in the event of a dispute over how state courts interpret state election laws. .

By taking up the case, the court could upend nearly every facet of the U.S. electoral process, allowing state legislatures to establish new rules, regulations, and districts for federal elections with few checks against excesses, and potentially to create a chaotic system with different rules and votes. eligibility for presidential elections.

“The Supreme Court’s decision will be extremely important to presidential elections, congressional elections and the constituency of congressional districts,” said J. Michael Luttig, a former Federal Court of Appeals judge. “And so, for American democracy.”

Protections against partisan gerrymandering established by state courts could essentially disappear. The ability to challenge new election laws at the state level may be reduced. And the theory behind the case could open the door to state legislatures sending their own voter lists.

It’s one thing to agree to hear a case, of course, and quite another to decide it. But four judges have already expressed at least tentative support for the doctrine, rendering a decision accepting it more than plausibly. The court will likely hear arguments in the fall and issue its decision next year.

Currently, Republicans have full control of 30 state legislatures, according to at the National Conference of State Legislatures, and were behind a wave of new voting restrictions passed last year. And Republican legislatures in key battleground states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina have used their control over redistricting to effectively lock in power for a decade.

The Democrats, in turn, control only 17 state legislatures.

The case involves an electoral map drawn by the North Carolina legislature that was dismissed as a partisan gerrymander by the state Supreme Court. Republicans seeking to restore the legislative map argued that the state court was powerless to act under the so-called doctrine of the independent state legislature.

The doctrine is based on a reading of two similar provisions of the US Constitution. The one involved in the North Carolina case, the Election clausesays, “The times, places, and manner of holding the elections of Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.”

This means, North Carolina Republicans argued, that the state legislature has exclusive responsibility among state institutions to draw congressional districts and that state courts have no role to play. to play.

The North Carolina Supreme Court rejected the argument that he was not authorized to review the actions of the state legislature, claiming that it would be “contrary to the sovereignty of the states, the authority of state constitutions, and the independence of state courts, and would produce absurd and dangerous consequences”.

In a previous encounter with the case in March, when the unsuccessful challengers requested emergency assistancethree members of the United States Supreme Court have said they would have granted the request.

“This case presents an exceptionally important and recurring question of constitutional law, namely the scope of the power of a state court to overrule rules adopted by a state legislature for the conduct of federal elections,” wrote Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., joined by Judges Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch.

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh agreed that the issue was important. “The problem is almost certain to continue to arise until the court resolves it definitively,” he wrote.

But the court should consider it in an orderly fashion, he wrote, outside the context of an impending election. He wrote that the court should grant a motion for review on the merits “in an appropriate case – either in this case from North Carolina or in a similar case from another state.”

The court has now granted the motion in the North Carolina case, Moore v. Harperno. 21-1271.

Some US Supreme Court precedents tend to undermine the doctrine of independent state legislatures.

When the court closed the doors of the federal courts to allegations of partisan gerrymandering in Rucho c. Common cause in 2019, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the five most conservative members of the court, said state courts could continue to hear such cases, including in the context of congressional redistricting .

Lawyers defend the North Carolina Supreme Court’s decision in the new case said it was a bad way to resolve the scope of the state’s independent legislature doctrine, because the legislature it It even had allowed state courts to review redistricting legislation.

During the last redistricting round, state courts in North Carolina, Ohio, and New York dismissed the newly drawn maps as partisan gerrymanders. In 2018, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court rejected Republican-drawn congressional districts.

But if the Supreme Court adopted the doctrine, “it would completely eliminate the possibility of undoing redistricting maps based on the proposition that they are some sort of partisan gerrymander,” said David Rivkin, a federal constitutional law expert. who served in the Reagan. and George HW Bush and supported the doctrine of an independent state legislature.

It would also leave little recourse in the courts to challenge the Congressional maps as unconstitutional. Partisan gerrymandering would be essentially legal, and a racial gerrymander would be the only way to file a challenge.

Adopting the doctrine could also end up gutting independent redistricting commissions that have been established by voters through a ballot initiative, such as in Michigan and Arizona, and limiting their reach to state legislative districts only.

But a decision favoring the doctrine of the independent state legislature has consequences that could extend far beyond the maps of Congress. Such a move, legal experts say, could limit a state court’s ability to strike down any new election laws regarding federal elections and could restrict its ability to make Election Day changes, such as extending voting hours. in a place that opened late due to bad weather or technical difficulties.

“I just can’t overstate how consequential, sweeping and consequential this could be,” said Wendy Weiser, vice president for democracy at the Brennan Center for Justice. “Essentially, no one but Congress would be allowed to curb some of the abuses of state legislatures.”

The decision to hear the case comes as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have sought to grab more authority on the administration of elections by election officials and nonpartisan secretaries of state. In Georgia, for example, a law passed last year stripped the secretary of state of significant powers, including as chairman of the state Board of Elections.

Such efforts to gain more partisan control over election administration have worried some voting rights organizations that state legislatures are moving towards more extreme measures in elections that do not go as planned, such as plans hatched by former President Donald J. Trump’s legal team in the last days of his presidency.

“The Nightmare Scenario”, The Brennan Center written in june“is that a legislature, dissatisfied with the way an election official on the ground has interpreted his state’s election laws, would invoke the theory as a pretext for refuse to certify the results of a presidential election and instead selects its own list of voters.

Legal experts note that there are federal constitutional checks that would prevent a legislature from simply declaring after an election that it will ignore the popular vote and send an alternative list of voters. But if the legislature passed a law before an election, say, setting the parameters under which a legislature could support an election and send its voters list, that could be upheld under the independent legislature doctrine of the ‘State.

“If this theory is adopted, then the red state legislatures will be smart and start putting these things in place before 2024,” said Vikram D. Amar, dean of the University of Illinois Law School. . “So the rules are in place for them to do whatever they want.”

Adam Liptack reported from Washington, and Nick Corasaniti from New York.

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HexClad, Tushy and Wild One: the best online sales of the moment




Today you will find an offer on the Eero 6 Mesh Wi-Fi Routera discount classic tushy and savings on A savage pet equipment. All this and more below.

The manufacturer of our choice for the best restaurant quality nonstick skillet offer up to 40% off sitewide. You can score the Hexclad 10-inch Hybrid Skillet for $109.99 and shop the rest of the site for cookware, knives, mixing bowls and more, through July 5.

Win the title of our favorite bidet accessory, the Tushy Classic is a fantastic bidet for beginners and great value at just under $100. In our testing, this attachment had by far the most comfortable spray, and its adjustable nozzle made deep cleaning much easier than others. No other bidet attachment matches this one from Tushy gentle but effective flow, simple installation and easy to use controls plus adjustable pressure and direction. Right now, get the Tushy Classic 3.0 at a new low price from Nordstrom.

Treat your furry friend to stylish pet accessories from Wild One’s offerings – think minimalist design and chic jewel tones, all built with utility and comfort in mind. Whether you need a durable new leash for daily walks, a carry bag for the upcoming vacation, or treats to show your pup your love, this summer sale is giving you up to 40% off discount on top selling pet gear.

If you haven’t tried sous vide yet, now is your chance to jump on the culinary trend. An Anova Precision Cooker, complete with a Precision Base Kit that allows the unit to stand on its own, is on sale for $149 on Amazon for one day only. For the unindoctrinated, this cooker circulates water at the exact temperature needed for perfectly cooked meals, plus it offers fast heat-up times and Wi-Fi so you can set the timer and temperature with the associated application, all in a small, durable format. body.

Eero Mesh Wi-Fi System

We’ve named the mesh router Eero 6, with its foolproof setup process and nearly unmatched speeds and coverage areas, just like your best bet by opting for a mesh router. Now over $100 off, the router is at the lowest price we’ve ever seen.

• A good night’s sleep is key, and right now you can save big on green, vegan, and latex Avocado mattress during the brand’s 4th of July sale.

• It’s the time of year for the cooling powers of Dyson Pure Cool Link Fan, which also acts as an air purifier. Right now it’s $120 off at

Neutrogen makeup remover wipes are mega branded at Woot!, with eight 25-packs for $21.49.

The beautifully designed outdoor furniture from Haysofas, lamps and much more are marked down during the brand’s summer sales.

• The Alps Mountaineering Rendezvous Camping Chair is more than half at REI right now.

• The premium cashmere brand naadam is offering shoppers 30% off its summer shop, meaning you can top off your seasonal wardrobe at a discount now all weekend long.

• The 11 Piece NutriBullet Set from Magic Bullet has everything you need for your morning smoothie, and it’s 25% off at Amazon right now.

• Coleman makes reliable (and affordable) outdoor gear, and it’s become more economical with Walmart’s sale on Coleman 50 Quart Rolling Coolersnow under $40.

Calpak travel bags and suitcases are up to 55% off until the 4th of July weekend, just in time for the upcoming summer holidays.

Pet portraits of West and Willow and the rest of the site are at -20% right now with the code SUMMER20.

Right now, thanks to a 4th of July sale at Drybar, you can save on high-end hair care – from shampoo, conditioner and styling products to tools like hair dryer, curling irons and straighteners. Everything is 20% off, and blistering discounts will appear every day until July 7th.

Save on the internet’s favorite linens, bedding, loungewear and more with this summer savings event at Brooklinen. Until July 6, you can get 15% off nearly everything on the site, including everything you need for maximum convenience. Swap out your stuffy winter bedding and relax in the softest linen sheets or lay your head on a pillow we love.

Outdoor Voices has long been one of our top picks for activewear, loungewear, and even outdoor gear. It’s the perfect time to shop the beloved brand – some summer favorites are 30% off for a limited time. Until July 5, shop best-selling styles like the Workout Dress, Hudson Skort, Doing Things Bra and more at discounted prices.

Looking to reduce your kitchen waste? The Vitamix FoodCycler is a countertop device that breaks down food scraps (including chicken bones!) in just hours. Like magic, you’ll have nutrient-rich fertilizer that mixes into the soil to nourish your garden. Quiet, compact and odorless, the FoodCycler is a great investment, especially at this low price.

There is no doubt about it: the ice nugget is the best type of ice cream. And you can get that coveted type of ice cream at home with the GE Opal Nugget Ice Maker, which is now $50 off. Yes, it’s quite a sum to pour on an ice maker, but ice cream lovers say it’s worth it. Not to mention that this machine offers everything from a compact and portable size to Bluetooth connectivity.

Girlfriend Collective’s activewear is sustainably made, size inclusive and ultra chic – what’s not to love? Until July 4, the brand is hosting its annual anniversary sale, so you can save up to 60% on select styles, from best-selling workout gear to swimwear, lounge sets and more. Moreover.

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Cubs’ Christopher Morel adapts to a league that took notice




Right now, all of Major League Baseball has access to information on what kind of damage Cubs rookie Christopher Morel can do with a fastball. And Morel knows even better.

“Sometimes he wants to hit 600-foot homers,” Cubs assistant coach Juan Cabreja told the Sun-Times, “instead of 400-foot homers — that’s OK.”

What about 429 foot circuits? That’s how far Morel homered in the sixth inning in the Cubs’ 8-3 win over the Reds on Wednesday at Wrigley Field.

Morel’s multi-hit game has shown how effective he can be even as he adapts at home plate to the changing approach of opposing pitchers against him.

On Wednesday, Cubs manager David Ross moved Morel to 9th in the batting order as he adjusts. For more than a month, Morel had been the Cubs’ leading hitter in every game he played, but he had posted a batting average below .200 for the past two and a half weeks.

“That nine holes can sometimes be a leading second,” Ross said. “And, one, just taking out one of those at bats in an area where he puts a lot of pressure on himself, swinging and missing. Try to find his timing, let the game come to him a little more.

Struggles are relative, and even before Wednesday, Morel had recorded hits in six of his last seven games. But the Cubs — and the rest of MlB — witnessed what Morel is capable of with a hot bat when he started his career on a 22-game streak.

“He’s just your typical guy coming into the big leagues, being successful, and especially at the top of the roster, he’s on the radar,” Ross said last week.

The higher a batter is on opposing teams’ radars, the more he pays attention to potential weaknesses.

“Especially on the first pitch, people are a little more cautious with him,” Cubs batting coach Greg Brown said, “because they know he’s ready to hit right out of the box. .”

So they don’t challenge him with a fastball in the strike zone.

The Cubs’ streak against the Cardinals last weekend was an overstated example of how pitchers adapted to the rookie as he began to establish himself in the majors. Over three games, Morel saw 36 breaking balls, compared to 22 fastballs, according to Statcast.

With that approach, the Cardinals limited Morel to two hits in all three games, both singles. The first was out of a fastball and the second out of a slider.

“They’re definitely more focused on throwing breaking stuff at the start of the accounts against me,” Morel said through team interpreter Will Nadal. “I’m going to keep working on that, just practicing, making sure that every time they throw breakable stuff at me, I’m able to identify it, adjust it and make it pay.”

It’s not that Morel can’t hit breaking balls. Entering Wednesday, he was batting .207 on that group of shots, according to Statcast. But he did more damage on fastballs.

“The goal would be that as he grows,” Brown said, “he’s going to recognize which sliders he wants to hit versus which ones he doesn’t. Or which lane he wants the radiator. These are just things that I think will come with time.

Morel battled to get his pitch against Reds reliever Ross Detwiler in the sixth inning. Detwiler mainly threw cutters at Morel. And Morel, showing patience, watched the first five pitches to come up with a 3-2 count.

He fouled another cutter to hold the stick.

Next, Morel fired a low, inside cutter to send a towering home run into the left-field stands.

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