Could Russia’s war kick-start a renewable-energy revolution? It depends where in the world you look

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week advocated for new oil and gas drilling in the North Sea in the name of energy security, and there are talks in the UK and in Germany of delaying the closure of some coal-fired power plants.
There’s also increased pressure on the oil- and natural gas-rich US to produce more to send to Europe, and US President Joe Biden is trying to get Middle Eastern countries to produce more oil to help bring sky-high gasoline prices down.
This is all bad news for the climate crisis — which is caused by the burning of fossil fuels — but they are short-term responses. There is also good reason to believe that the upheaval brought by Russia’s war will speed the transition to clean energy in the long run.

While Johnson wrote of more drilling, he also wrote of doubling down on renewable energy, such as solar or wind power. A UK government spokesperson told CNN that a new energy strategy to be revealed next week will “supercharge” its renewables and nuclear capacity.

In Germany, which is highly dependent on Russian gas, the government brought forward its deadline for a full transition to renewables in its power sector by at least five years, to 2035.
But in the US, the path toward a clean energy transition has stalled in the Congress.
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“The war will supercharge the European energy transition — most European leaders understand that diversifying from fossil fuels is a path to greater security,” Nikos Tsafos, an energy expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told CNN in an email interview. “The response in the United States has been more bifurcated — some calling for more oil and gas production, others for more investments in renewable energy.”

Ultimately, Europe and the US are on a different footing with their clean energy transitions. The European Union, for example, has a detailed emissions target in law and a road map to cut emissions 55% by 2030. Biden’s administration has undertaken a number of executive actions and federal regulations to work toward the US emissions goal to cut 50-52% of emissions by 2030. But his target is lacking legislative teeth.

“We must walk and chew gum — address supply in the short term because families need to take their kids to school, and go to work, get groceries and go about their lives — and often that requires gas,” a White House spokesperson told CNN. “But in the long term we must speed up — not slow down — our transition to a clean energy future.”

The Westlands Solar Park near Lemoore, California.

The EU road map still needs a vote, but it is backed by policies already underway. And many European countries have more developed clean energy infrastructure than the US, which is just starting to build out its offshore wind.

In 2020, the EU and UK had the capacity to produce around 49% of their electricity from renewables, almost twice that of the US’ 25%, according to the International Renewables Energy Agency. The EU and UK combined have about double the solar power capacity and wind capacity of the US, the agency has reported.

“It’s clear Europe has a game plan and the US has a target, which is not the same thing,” said John Larsen, a partner at the nonpartisan Rhodium Group.

The renewables race

In an interview with The Washington Post, International Energy Agency executive director Fatih Birol said Monday he believed the current situation in Europe was the first truly global energy crisis the world has faced — and could shape global energy for years to come.

“It can be a turning point,” Birol said, noting that governments responded to the oil shortage of the 1970s by making cars more fuel efficient and investing in nuclear energy. “I am also hopeful that at the end of the first global energy crisis, countries, not just states, will come up with new energy policies accelerating the clean energy transitions.”

Europe is already heading in that direction.

“It’s amazing how fast the Europeans have moved,” said Sam Ori, executive director of the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute. “They’re racing toward clean electricity.”

The Burbo Bank Offshore Wind Farm in Liverpool Bay on the west coast of the UK.

Biden’s administration has done several things on its own: proposing new regulations on vehicle emissions and methane; greenlighting offshore wind projects as well as onshore renewables; and taking executive actions on industrial emissions.

Still, Biden has been unable to get much of his clean energy and climate agenda through Congress so far, and experts say he doesn’t have much hope of reaching his emissions targets without it.

Fact check: Despite claims of Trump-era 'energy independence,' the US never stopped importing foreign oil
A recent Princeton University analysis showed that the clean-energy provisions in Biden’s now-shelved Build Back Better Act would have prevented 1.3 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere through 2035.

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm told CNN Wednesday that the current global energy crunch should spur action in Congress as soon as possible.

“This is a moment for Congress to be able to act,” Granholm told CNN at a clean energy event Wednesday. “There can be a compromise. There can be movement on this. The bottom line is this is a moment to have this happen; it’s an urgent moment.”

But there is no clear path in Congress to transition the US away from fossil fuels. Getting off Russian oil is one thing Democrats and Republicans can agree on; a bipartisan group recently came together to pass a House bill banning Russian oil imports to the US.

That’s where harmony on energy ends.

Instead of simply drilling for more oil and gas, officials in Biden’s administration and many Democrats in Congress have long argued that passing billions in tax credits for electric vehicles and renewable energy is a key way to relieve the US from its dependence on foreign oil, and will help insulate the country against future gas price shocks.

Traffic moves along Interstate 80 in Berkeley, California. As climate action in Congress stalls, the Biden administration has taken steps on its own, including proposing new regulations on vehicle emissions.
Republicans, on the other hand, argue this is a moment to get drilling.
In the middle of the two sides sits Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the Democrats’ swing vote on climate and clean energy legislation. Manchin has expressed support for Biden’s clean energy package, but he represents a coal state, and wants more drilling and fossil fuel infrastructure built.
Natural gas is expensive, dirty and financing war. Here are 5 ways to use less of it to heat your home

Beyond the future of the US clean energy legislation, more questions remain. Russia is also a major exporter of metals needed for electric vehicles and clean energy technology, which could hamper the transition to EVs.

The fate of Biden’s climate policy — and how quickly the US can transition to clean energy — largely depends on Manchin’s vote. There’s still no actual legislative package that’s been agreed upon, and Biden and congressional Democrats realistically have the spring and summer to get a Democrat-only bill through Congress before the midterm elections could upend the balance of power in Washington.

Larsen said that while market forces, like continued high oil prices, could nudge consumers away from gas cars and toward electric vehicles, massive federal investment in EVs and clean energy would still be needed.

“Should these higher prices last for a while, they’re going to help make the case for accelerating the transition we see with wind and solar, but it’s not the same as policy support to actually get there,” Larsen said. “Build Back Better and the [clean energy] tax credits, all of that would do 10 times more than these high prices would.”

CNN’s Angela Dewan contributed to this report.

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Powerful storms Friday could bring damaging winds and hail to Southeast

Nearly 45 million people are at risk of severe weather Friday as thunderstorms move east across the Gulf Coast, with caution urged for those along the coasts of Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.

An enhanced risk (level 3 of 5) for such storms remained early Friday morning across parts of southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi, according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.

“A threat for tornadoes, wind damage and isolated large hail will be possible in parts of southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi after midnight,” the prediction center warned Thursday night. “A strong tornado will be possible, mainly in southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi.”

The peak time for the storms in New Orleans is expected to be around rush hour between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. local time, Phil Grigsby, the lead forecaster at NWS in the city, told CNN.

And if a tornado were to occur during the overnight hours, it tends to be more than twice as deadly as tornadoes in other parts of the day — primarily because of the difficulty to warn the public while most are asleep.

The storms were forecast on Thursday to dump hail as large as 2 inches in diameter over Texas and Oklahoma. Reports of those conditions were seen southwest of Oklahoma City.

The storms are expected to continue eastward Friday, with areas from Columbus, Ohio, down to Wilmington, North Carolina, and south toward the Florida Panhandle and the Gulf Coast states affected.

The potential for strong thunderstorms may also impact the Cincinnati, Ohio, and Louisville, Kentucky, areas, where damaging winds and large hail are possible. The threats heighten around parts of the Gulf Coast, including Mobile and Dothan in Alabama and Pensacola, Florida.

“Some thunderstorms may also contain excessive rainfall rates, prompting the issuance of a marginal risk (level 1 of 4) for flash flooding in Alabama and western Georgia,” the prediction center said.

By Friday evening, rain will begin over much of the East Coast and continue through Saturday, the prediction center said.

“A broad area of 0.5 – 1” of rain, with locally higher amounts in thunderstorms, is expected throughout much of the Eastern US through Saturday before conditions begin to improve from west to east during the evening hours. the center said.

CNN’s Pedram Javaheri and Mike Saenz contributed to this report.

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US sets the stage for contentious call with China’s Xi

Biden and Xi are due to speak at 9 a.m. ET Friday, with the US setting the stage for a stern warning that Chinese firms would pay a serious price if the Beijing government heeds Russian President Vladimir Putin’s pleas for military and economic aid. The call will find the US surmounting one of its deepest-set foreign policy fears — risking an open clash with China while simultaneously facing down Russia — in another extraordinary geopolitical shuffle triggered by the Ukraine war. It also puts Biden in the odd position of seeking the tacit cooperation of the nation seen as America’s most powerful rising foe to suppress its historic Cold War rival of the second half of the 20th century.

Given that China is known for ruthlessly pursuing its own interests and has no interest in shoring up the Western-led world order that Putin is seeking to buckle, it seems fanciful that Xi will choose what the US sees as the right side of history on the Ukraine conflict — at least until its own economic self-interest dictates a change of course. And US-China relations are so toxic that many analysts had been predicting a new Cold War in the Pacific between the rivals, before the original version reignited in Europe with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine at the end of last month.

The theatrics of a call that will be closely watched around the world cannot be dismissed. Just by holding the conversation, and publicizing it heavily beforehand, Biden is sending a signal to Putin that his “no limits” friendship forged with Xi in Beijing shortly before the invasion may not be as significant as the Russian leader had hoped. The conversation also fosters an impression that Washington sees China as the key global power other than itself — instead of Moscow.

It comes as a surprisingly swift and effective Western and international front has clamped a devastating economic, banking, cultural, sporting and diplomatic boycott on Russia. Any significant help from China for Russia could, therefore, be hugely valuable to Putin, possibly allowing him to offset some of the isolation and economic blight in his country and sustain his brutal Ukraine war longer.

Two US officials told CNN this week that Russia had asked China for military support, including drones, as well as economic assistance following the invasion. The US also informed allies in Asia and Europe in a diplomatic cable that China has expressed some openness to offering such help. Both Russia and China have denied that there have been any such requests.

Any pledge from Xi not to break international sanctions on Russia would be seen as a major victory for Biden, though it’s possible the Chinese would seek concessions from the US for such a move — possibly over Trump-era tariffs.

A tough warning for China

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday offered a robust preview of the call, saying that “China will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russia’s aggression,” and that the US “will not hesitate to impose costs” on China if it does so.

His comments were a barely disguised hint that Chinese firms could face secondary sanctions if the government in Beijing offers aid to Moscow. That would be a concern for Xi’s government given the current slowing of China’s traditionally soaring growth rates and the economic consequences of the latest Covid-19 surge. The US President may have some leverage since Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares on Monday that China was not a party to the conflict and “still less wants to be affected by the sanctions,” according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

4 ways China is quietly making life harder for Russia

Xi’s government has attempted to adopt a delicate balance throughout the Ukraine crisis.

It has a clear interest in Putin’s attempt to use the conflict to weaken democracy, the West and the rule of international law. And if the United States is bogged down for years in Europe, it could frustrate Washington’s goal of pivoting military, intelligence and diplomatic resources to Asia to deal with broader consequences of China’s rise.

But China’s long-term economic interests are also at risk if the Ukraine war sends the global economy into reverse. So Beijing has sought to create a diplomatic middle ground, refraining from criticizing Putin but seeking to avoid going to a point of no return with the US — and its significant trading partners in the European Union.

While China has not formally condemned the invasion, Xi did stress the situation was “worrisome,” that China was “deeply grieved” by the war and that it would “work actively” to support a peaceful settlement. Those comments came in a video call with French and German leaders last week, Xinhua reported.

Beijing also endorsed comments made by its ambassador to Ukraine, Fan Xianrong, that were quoted in a press release from the Lviv regional government. “China will never attack Ukraine. We will help, especially economically,” Fan said in comments that appear incompatible with any possible Chinese military aid to Putin’s war effort.

But in line with a desire to discredit the US, China’s media has also amplified false Russian propaganda that Washington had funded biological weapons labs in Ukraine. The conspiracies are seen by Washington as a possible precursor to a “false flag” event that Moscow might use as a ruse to deploy such weapons.
China's promotion of Russian disinformation indicates where its loyalties lie
The Biden White House is making the case that China’s straddle on the war is unsustainable. The issue appeared to have been the subject of tough exchanges on Ukraine during a seven-hour meeting in Rome this week between US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Chinese foreign policy chief Yang Jiechi in Rome, which the US side describes as “intense.”

Biden’s call on Friday is expected to be equally frank.

“This is an opportunity for President Biden to assess where President Xi stands,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday, promising that her boss would be “candid” and “direct” on the call.

What could change China’s mind?

Robust US rhetoric running up to the telephone call, which almost verges on scolding of China, would not seem likely to improve the chances of a successful conversation. Xi, who has adopted an increasingly nationalistic and belligerent tone in foreign policy, is unlikely to want to seem to be bowing to US pressure. The American rhetoric might also reflect the tense nature of most of the contacts between the Biden administration and China so far in the US President’s term. And it may be indicative of low expectations in the White House of success on the call following Sullivan’s reception in Rome.

Beijing is showing every sign of trying to keep its options open and avoiding committing itself beyond its own area of interests.

This was supposed to be Xi Jinping's big year. Instead, he's dealing with Covid and war

“I think there is a mismatch in the views about what the optics are,” said Scott Kennedy, trustee chair in Chinese business and economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “Either you are with Russia or you are with Ukraine and the rest of the world” is one view, Scott said but, “I think China’s view is that there is a third path, an unaligned path.”

Still, the longer the war drags on, the harder China’s choices could get, and it might find itself forced to adopt a tougher stand toward Moscow — one that could make Xi’s new friendship with Putin look like a strategic error.

In the long term, China has little to gain from a prolonged economic crunch because of the war. While it has a strong trading relationship with Russia, the value of its exports to the United States and the European Union are worth may times more in dollar value. And Chinese growth prospects are intertwined with the American and European economies in a way that gives the West leverage if it were to sanction China for aiding Moscow’s war effort.

Years of higher crude prices could also hurt China’s oil-thirsty manufacturing sector. And the current year is also an important one for Xi, who is set to secure a third term at the Community Party’s National Congress in the fall, cementing his status as one of his country’s most historic leaders alongside Mao Zedong.

Economic disruption from Ukraine that worsens the knock-on effects of a new Covid-19 wave, which saw restrictions imposed in the crucial southern trading city of Shenzhen, could also disrupt Xi’s hopes for a smooth political year.

Kennedy suggested several possibilities that could prompt Xi to reconsider his current path regarding Russia. First, if the war starts to go even more poorly for Putin and it threatens his own rule. “They don’t want to back a loser,” Kennedy said of the Chinese. Then, if the so-far unified Western front against Russia is sustained — and might be turned on China if it seeks to breach the sanctions barricade against Moscow — Xi might shirk from a serious confrontation.

Dramatic course shifts are unlikely in Biden’s call. But if the President is able to pry China even a slight bit away from Putin — or give Russia the impression he has done so — he may be able to claim some progress.

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Texas wildfires: Evacuation orders in place as blazes burn through parts of central counties

The wildfires, which combined to form the Eastland Complex blaze, had charred at least 14,800 acres by nighttime, said Kari Hines, a spokesperson with the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Evacuation orders were in effect for portions of Eastland, Brown and Comanche counties, Hines said, adding that no injuries had been reported so far.

“Evacuations are being completed in multiple towns impacted, including Carbon, Lake Leon and Gorman,”according to Inciweb. “Highway 6 through Carbon is closed.”
At least four blazes that began this week make up the complex, the site said. The complex remained 0% contained, the forest service said Thursday night.
Parts of Texas are under 'extremely critical' fire weather risk today -- the highest threat level
The forest service also said another blaze in nearby Runnels and Coleman counties that had burned roughly 7,000 acres escaped containment lines late Thursday due to “high winds causing fire activity to pick up.” The fire was 50% contained, the service said.
“Highway 153 has been closed to non-emergency personnel incoming traffic,” the Coleman Fire Department said on Facebook Thursday evening. “Multiple homes have been lost and crews are attempting to hold the fire from jumping the roadways. Red Cross has been contacted to assist with shelter operations.”
In a later post Thursday night, the fire department said those living north of the highway were expected to be able to get back to their homes “in a couple hours.”
Nearby, an evacuation in Taylor County, which included parts of Abilene, was lifted late Thursday, the National Weather Service of Abilene/San Angelo said Thursday night, but urged residents to remain vigilant as critical fire weather conditions were expected to continue. The Storm Prediction Center had warned earlier in the day a “highly volatile fire environment” was expected to develop in the Edwards Plateau, issuing an “extremely critical” fire risk for that area and the Permian Basin, including San Angelo.
Separately, the forest service also responded to a request for assistance in Sterling County on Thursday for another blaze that was more than 3,800 acres and about 50% contained, it said.
A day earlier, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed the state’s emergency management division to activate more resources to combat “escalated fire weather conditions,” and urged residents across the state to “remain weather-aware and practice wildfire safety diligently through the rest of the week to keep their communities safe.”

CNN’s Amanda Musa contributed to this report.

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China Covid strategy: Xi Jinping vows to reduce the economic impact of surging cases

China must “strive to achieve the maximum prevention and control at the least cost, and minimize the impact of the epidemic on economic and social development,” President Xi Jinping said Thursday at a closed-door meeting of the politburo standing committee, China’s top decision-making body.

Xi’s statement may serve as a tacit acknowledgment of the impact of China’s zero-Covid strategy and its strict lockdowns on the world’s second largest economy.

China is facing its biggest Covid surge since the first major outbreak in Wuhan in early 2020, and its focus largely remains on containing a pandemic that other countries have decided to live with.
Authorities have imposed stringent measures to control the spread of the virus since cases surged across the country earlier this month. Tens of millions of people have been placed under various forms of lockdowns. Businesses were shuttered, and travel was restricted in several major industrial and technology hubs.

But those strict restrictions come at a price.

Economists have predicted a big hit to China’s economy by the widespread lockdowns. Goldman Sachs analysts estimated on Thursday that a four-week lockdown of 30% of China could reduce GDP by around 1 percentage point. Nomura analysts, meanwhile, believe that the zero-Covid strategy will make it quite hard for Beijing to achieve its 5.5% growth target for 2022.
China's new Covid lockdowns are another threat to the economy
Fears of the Covid crisis earlier this week helped trigger the worst sell-off in Chinese stocks in more than a decade, prompting the government to step in to reassure investors and stop the slide.

Even before Xi’s statement on Thursday, there were indications that the Chinese government no longer feels containing the pandemic can come at the cost of economic stability.

On Wednesday, China’s Vice Premier Liu He, Xi Jinping’s top economic advisor, said at a key government meeting that virus controls should be coordinated with economic development. He also pledged that the government will “substantially” boost economic growth and keep financial markets stable.

On Thursday, Shenzhen, the technology and manufacturing hub in southern China, said it will allow companies to resume work in an “orderly” manner, three days after it imposed a strict lockdown prompted by 66 new positive cases.

Foxconn, one of Apple’s key suppliers, said it has partially resumed production in Shenzhen after previously halting operations in the city due to the Covid outbreak.

A “closed loop” process has been implemented on campuses that adheres to policies issued by the Shenzhen government, the company said in a statement to CNN Business.

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Top auction houses cancel Russian art sales in London

Written by ReutersLondon, UK

Auction houses Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams have canceled sales of Russian art in London in June, part of the art market’s response to Western sanctions on Russia as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine.

The auction houses hold sales of Russian art in June and November in a period known as “Russian Art Week,” attracting wealthy Russian buyers.

Sotheby’s said it had called off its sale of Russian art in London in June.

“We are absolutely rigorous about following the present sanctions, and are monitoring closely for any updates to the lists,” it said in a statement.

Christie’s also said it had canceled its June sale of Russian art, citing factors including the uncertainty of the war and complex logistical and legal requirements related to sanctions.

“While the current sales market for Christie’s in Russia as a whole is relatively small, we have a responsibility to respond to our clients’ needs and to geopolitical events that are out of our control,” Christie’s said in a statement. The auction house added it is doing “enhanced due diligence” on politically exposed people and those with a connection to sanctioned jurisdictions.

Bonhams did not provide a reason for its decision.

Western countries have taken unprecedented steps to cut ties with Russia, including freezing bank accounts and placing sanctions on Russian billionaires following Russia’s Feb. 24 attack on Ukraine, which it calls a “special operation.”
Britain imposed sanctions on hundreds of Russian individuals and entities on Tuesday as it sought to catch up with the European Union and United States in targeting people accused of propping up Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A Christie's technician holds a Soviet porcelain propaganda platter at the auction house's London showroom in 2018.

A Christie’s technician holds a Soviet porcelain propaganda platter at the auction house’s London showroom in 2018. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Images/Getty Images

Putin said on Wednesday that the West was trying to punish Russia by persecuting Russians and by cracking down on Russian music, culture and literature.

“By attempting to cancel Russia, the West has lifted the mask of decency and is acting like louts, showing its true colors,” Putin said.

Some dealers and advisers told Reuters that the international art market as a whole is unlikely to take a hit, as Russian buyer numbers have fallen since the 2008 financial crash and represent a small part of the market.

Sales of Russian works of art totaled £37.7 million ($49.6 million) at Sotheby’s and Christie’s salerooms in London in 2021, less than 1% of turnover, according to Sebastian Duthy, CEO of Art Market Research. Sotheby’s and Christie’s did not immediately confirm the figure.

Deals off

But while the auction houses face little financial impact, doing business has been made trickier for collectors of Russian art — as well as those who work with them on deals — because of fears of accidentally transacting with Russians who may end up on sanctions lists, say art market advisers.

“It makes it harder for the Russians and it makes it harder for the buyers as well, because you don’t want to be caught buying something coming from a Russian at this point,” said Barbara Guggenheim, a partner at US-based art consultancy Guggenheim, Asher Associates.

New York art lawyer Thomas Danziger said that he was advising clients to be wary of doing deals with Russians who might land on the sanctions list in future.

“We advised one client who was considering making a loan to a Russian museum to step away from the table,” he said.

Related video: How do art auctions really work?

He said he was worried the artwork might get stuck there: “As Western sanctions multiply, we thought there was a real risk that the client’s artwork might make a one-way trip to Russia and end up being expropriated by the government there.”

Reuters has not identified any incidents of this occurring.


Some Russian art collectors and oligarchs are already keeping a low profile in order to not draw attention to themselves.

“There’ll always be a market for strong pieces so that hasn’t changed but the collectors that I know, some of which are in Russia and some of which are in the West, are just keeping their heads down,” said James Butterwick, a dealer of Ukrainian and Russian art in London, who has repositioned his business to focus more on Ukraine in recent years.

“I asked some Russians for loans, for exhibitions next year, and they were very happy to give them, just anonymously.”

A London spokesperson for Phillips auction house said that while it does not hold a Russia-specific sale, it had stepped up its due diligence: “We are on high alert all the time and right now we are of course being extra vigilant.”

Earlier this month, Matthew Girling, the former CEO of Bonhams, told the Art Newspaper that people should boycott Phillips, which is owned by Russians Leonid Friedland and Leonid Strunin. Friedland and Strunin also own the Mercury Retail Group, one of the largest luxury goods retailers in Russia.
Phillips, which posted a statement in support of Ukraine on Instagram, did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on the calls for a boycott.

Phillips’ London sale on March 3 showed no signs of a hit to demand and the auction house said it donated the £5.8 million ($7.59 million) it brought in from commission and buyer’s premium to the Ukrainian Red Cross.

Top image: A painting by Russian artist Oleg Tselkov, pictured at a Christie’s exhibition of Russian art in 2018.

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New details emerge in shootings of homeless men in NYC and DC

Court records released by Superior Court of the District of Columbia on Wednesday show evidence investigators have gathered on Brevard.

Investigators from DC Metropolitan Police have multiple surveillance videos of the man they believe is Brevard at each shooting scene. The investigators from each agency also have cell phone data confirming his location and a tipster who led police to Brevard, according to the court document.

When contacted by CNN, Brevard’s attorney declined to comment.

Surveillance recordings from H Street in Washington, DC, the sound of a gunshot, then a male voice saying “no, no, no” and “please don’t shoot” just before 1:30 a.m. on March 8.

A witness to the shooting told Metropolitan Police they saw Brevard allegedly fire one shot at the homeless victim, who was sitting in a lawn chair. The victim screamed and ran but Brevard followed, allegedly firing his weapon several more times, the witness told police.

When he was done shooting, surveillance footage caught audio of Brevard playing music from what appeared to be a mobile device, Metropolitan Police said, according to the court document.

The homeless victim suffered gunshot wounds to his head, face, chest, thigh, buttock and hand, according to court records. The unknown victim survived and still has not spoken to investigators because of the nature of his injuries.

Metropolitan Police believe this was Brevard’s second shooting. The first is believed to have taken place on March 3 in Washington, DC, where Brevard allegedly shot another homeless person twice in the lower back and the victim suffered a graze wound to the arm, according to the court document. That victim survived, DC Metropolitan Police say.

Then, on March 9, police responded to a fire on New York Avenue in Washington, DC just before 3 a.m., where they found a victim, Morgan Holmes, 54, dead with several burn injuries, according to the charging document.

The DC Medical Examiner later determined Holmes suffered multiple stab wounds, at least two gunshot wounds along with burns to most of his body and ruled his death a homicide.

New York City announces plan to increase safety, address homelessness in subway system

After canvassing the area for surveillance photos, Metropolitan Police spotted a man they say is Brevard in almost the same outfit as he wore in the previous shooting attacks: a black hood, a black face mask, a quilted black jacket, blue gloves, black pants and black sneakers with white markings on the toe and ankle area. He was holding a mobile device and a white cord, similar to those used for head phones.

Multiple cameras caught the man investigators suspect is Brevard walking around the area where Holmes was found. After a few minutes, a man police believe was Brevard left and was seen on another camera at a nearby gas station trying to pump gas into a cup.

The man police believe is Brevard was later seen back at the area where Holmes was found. After crouching down multiple times, the video shows a fire being lit, the court document shows.

Brevard then allegedly traveled to New York, first shooting a sleeping homeless victim in the arm just after 4:30 a.m. on March 12 on a street in lower Manhattan. He survived and described his attacker to police.

Later that day, the New York Police Department responded hours later to a homeless man who was found dead on Howard Street, less than a mile from where the first shooting took place, according to the court document. NYPD later determined, after analyzing the ballistic evidence and partnering with Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police, that both homeless men had been shot by Brevard, the court record shows.

After several photos of Brevard — whose identity was not known at the time — were released by law enforcement in New York and Washington, a tipster reached out to Metropolitan Police and said they recognized the man in the photo.

A detective scrolled through social media. What he noticed helped catch a person wanted for shooting homeless men in 2 cities

After Metropolitan Police showed the tipster multiple photos of Brevard, the tipster gave them Brevard’s Instagram handle, date of birth and phone number, according to the court document. That’s when investigators saw a recent post from Brevard, showing him in some of the same clothing he had been wearing in surveillance footage from the shooting scenes, and another photo with the caption “Feeling Devilish Feeling Godly,” which was taken in DC.

Investigators were also able to obtain Brevard’s cell phone number from a “social media provider” and then use the cell phone provider to get his location during the previous days. Investigators saw the cell phone data that showed he had been in Washington, DC and in New York. It coincided with the incidents they were investigating, the court document said.

Then, on March 15 at 2:30 a.m. investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spotted Brevard and, after his brief attempt to run, he was taken into custody near Pennsylvania Avenue.

Further microscopic testing was done on the shell casings that were found at the scene of each shooting, and it was determined that they all came from the same gun, according to the court document.

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Photographers document Ukraine’s destruction and ask: ‘How could this be happening in 2022?’

Nicholas Kristof said something prophetic on last Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” telecast: “I’m not sure people fully appreciate — it is the photographers and the TV journalists and video journalists who take so much of the risk” in war zones. “Those of us who have a notebook can hang back a little bit,” he said, but photographers “show so much raw courage.”

This week has been filled with examples.

Heidi Levine, a 30-year veteran of war zones like Iraq and Syria, told CNN’s John King on Thursday that fellow photographers in Ukraine are in shock that “what we’re seeing is actually happening. I mean, how could this be happening in 2022?” It just feels like “we have learned absolutely nothing from history,” she said.
Levine has been on assignment for The Washington Post in Kyiv. Here are some of her recent photos. She told King about waking up with nightmares. “I think I just can’t imagine being on the other side of my camera,” she said.

“I even saw a cemetery where the graves were destroyed from the shelling,” she added. “So even the dead are not allowed to rest in peace here.”

Other photojournalists are also sharing the stories behind their photos:

>> Maxim Dondyuk, who is Ukrainian, is documenting the war while “his mother has been forced to flee” and “his father lives in a town under Russian military occupation,” TIME’s Simon Shuster wrote. Dondyuk told Shuster that “I don’t stay here and do this because I am a masochist. I do it because sometimes a photo can change people, change societies.” View some of Dondyuk’s work here.
>> Marcus Yam of the Los Angeles Times is keeping a running log of photos that show the “methodical destruction of a country.” Some of the images are disturbing.
>> Yam, speaking with KCRW, said the world needs to see “the horrors of this violent chaos. I feel like if we saw this, we would understand and not be so quick to wage war.”
>> Lynsey Addario, who photographed a dead mother and two children in Irpin last week, “met with the surviving father of the slain family for a tearful conversation,” People magazine reports. Addario said “I had to say, ‘I’m so sorry I’m the one who took that photograph and I hope you understand why.’ There was no question from [them] — it had to be documented.”

Showing the truth in Mariupol

The siege of Mariupol, in southern Ukraine, has been one of the defining stories of the war to date. The city has been blockaded by Russian forces. Two Associated Press journalists, Evgeniy Maloletka and Mstyslav Chernov, have been the world’s eyes and ears. According to The AP, they are “the only international media present in Mariupol.”

“Their photographs are not only a record of the utter destruction, but a direct rebuttal to the Kremlin’s propaganda,” Vanity Fair’s Charlotte Klein wrote Thursday.
Maloletka’s haunting photos of a bombed maternity hospital were seen around the world. Chernov’s report that a mother and child later died was a further shock. The pair’s description of a mass grave for children was unforgettable. “More bodies will come,” they wrote, “from streets where they are everywhere and from the hospital basement where adults and children are laid out awaiting someone to pick them up. The youngest still has an umbilical stump attached.”

Both Maloletka and Chernov are Ukrainian. AP exec editor Julie Pace told me, “We are incredibly proud of our team in Mariupol and their commitment to ensuring the world knows what is happening in their home country. Not only have they produced some of the most searing and powerful images from the war, they are reporting crucial facts about the situation on the ground — for example, proving that the maternity hospital in Mariupol had not been emptied of patients as Russia claimed. They’ve also done this work under exceedingly difficult and dangerous conditions, but they feel strongly that this is a story that needs to be told.”

>> CNN Digital’s new special report, “Anatomy of the Mariupol hospital attack,” relies in part on Maloletka’s photos…

“Photographer recounts terrifying escape”

CNN published a harrowing first person piece on Thursday from Sergey Makarov, 34, a photographer from Mariupol who recounted surviving the Russian siege and his eventual evacuation from the city. View his black and white photos and read his words here…

It’s about the mission

Craig Renaud spoke about his brother Brent Renaud’s death in Ukraine for this new TIME magazine remembrance. (Brent was in Ukraine working on a documentary series involving TIME Studios.) “What gives me the greatest heart… is how specifically and genuinely the people honoring Brent acknowledge the mission that drove him,” Craig said. “A person who had devoted his life to telling the stories of overlooked people was slaughtered trying to reach them.”

>> Of note: Craig spoke to TIME while in Warsaw, Poland, “the first stop on the journey to collect my brother’s body…”

>> Brent’s production partner Juan Arredondo is still recovering. “He’s been through a few surgeries,” a friend said on Tuesday…

A unique POV about the Fox crew

Fox’s Greg Palkot wrote a lovely tribute for his slain colleague Pierre Zakrzewski on Thursday. “He was one of the best combat cameramen — all-around cameramen, for that matter — in the business,” Palkot wrote.
Zakrzewski and Oleksandra Kuvshynova were killed Monday in Ukraine and correspondent Benjamin Hall was severely injured. Hall is now recovering out of the country. Kimberly Dozier is one of the only people in the world who can relate to what Hall is going through. When Dozier was reporting for CBS in Baghdad in 2006, she survived a bomb blast that left two colleagues dead. Dozier and I started talking on Tuesday morning, when we were still hoping against hope that Hall’s crew might be alive, and I learned so much from her experience. Today I asked her to tape a podcast episode about the road to recovery for wounded war correspondents. She reflected on her own journey and described how journalists are mobilizing to help Hall right now. She also warned against letting “image fatigue” set in, arguing that “getting tired of the war helps Putin.” Tune in via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite app…

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Pete Davidson: SNL star will no longer fly to space after Blue Origin launch postponed

“Blue Origin’s 20th flight of New Shepard has shifted to Tuesday, March 29. Pete Davidson is no longer able to join the NS-20 crew on this mission. We will announce the sixth crew member in the coming days,” the tweet said.
After years of quiet development, Blue Origin’s space tourism rocket made its crewed launch debut last year with Bezos, flying alongside a heroine of the space community, Wally Funk, his brother Mark Bezos and a paying customer.
Since then, Blue Origin has been making headlines for flying other well-known names on two subsequent flights, including Star Trek star William Shatner and Good Morning America host Michael Strahan.

Blue Origin’s goal is to make these suborbital spaceflights a mainstay of pop culture, giving a 10-minute supersonic joy ride to welcomed guests — which thus far have mostly been celebrities — and anyone else who can afford it.

– Jackie Wattles contributed to this report.

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Cuba’s anti-government protesters sentenced up to 30 years behind bars

“The citizens are accused of committing and provoking serious disturbances and acts of vandalism, with the purpose of destabilizing public order, collective security and citizen tranquility,” the Supreme Court said.

Last July, hundreds of Cubans across the country defied the government and took to the streets against chronic shortages and lack of basic freedoms.

Despite widespread calls following the protests for amnesty, the Cuban government has come down hard on demonstrators — meting out lengthy prison sentences.

Shortly after the protests started, police and special forces went door to door looking for those who participated.

Protesters demonstrate in rare protests in Havana, Cuba, on July 11, 2021.

Cuban courts have since been trying hundreds of protestors in mass trials that have been criticized by international observers for their lack of transparency and due process.

“They threw stones and bottles at various officials, law enforcement officers National Revolutionary Police facilities, patrol cars; They overturned a motorcycle and cars…and caused injuries to other people and serious material damage,” reads the statement from the Supreme Court.

They dared to protest last July. Now these Cubans are facing years in jail

The protests, from July 11 to 12, rapidly spread across the island as Cubans openly defied the communist-run government — which blames Cuba’s economic woes on US sanctions — in a way not seen since the 1959 revolution.

Cubans chanted “freedom” at last year’s protests, showing their rage about food shortages, medicine, and electricity when Covid-19 cases had skyrocketed in the country.

In Havana, a CNN team witnessed demonstrators being forcibly arrested and thrown into the back of vans by police officers. There were also violent clashes, where protesters turned over a police car and threw rocks at officers.

Those protests — and now the trials — mark a before and after in the island’s history for many Cubans. Some of the protesters’ family members say regardless of the mass trials and harsh sentences, anti-government resentment will continue to simmer.

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