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Belarus clears migrant camps at EU border, but crisis not yet over

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Belarus clears migrant camps at EU border, but crisis not yet over
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view from a migrants’ camp shows Polish law enforcement officers, who stand guard behind a fence on the Belarusian-Polish border in the Grodno region, Belarus November 17, 2021. Maxim Guchek/BelTA/Handout via REUTERS

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By Kacper Pempel and Joanna Plucinska

BRUZGI, Belarus (Reuters) -Belarus authorities on Thursday cleared the main camps where migrants had huddled at the border with Poland, in a change of tack that could lower the temperature in a crisis that has spiralled in recent weeks into a major East-West confrontation.

The European Commission and Germany poured cold water on a proposal by Belarus that European Union countries take in 2,000 of the migrants currently on its territory, however, and the United States accused Minsk of making migrants “pawns in its efforts to be disruptive”, signalling the tensions with the West were far from over.

European countries have for months accused Belarus of deliberately creating the crisis by flying in migrants from the Middle East and pushing them to attempt to illegally cross its borders into Poland and Lithuania.

Minsk, backed by Moscow, rejected those accusations in a stand-off that had left thousands of migrants trapped in freezing woods at the border.

A spokesperson for the Polish border guards said the camps on the border in western Belarus were completely empty on Thursday, which a Belarusian press officer confirmed. Belarus state news agency Belta said the migrants had been brought to a warehouse in Belarus away from the frontier.

“These camps are now empty, the migrants have been taken most likely to the transport-logistics centre, which is not far from the Bruzgi border crossing,” the Polish spokesperson said.

“There were no other such camps … but there were groups appearing in other places trying to cross the border. We’ll see what happens in the next hours.”

In recent weeks, migrants have tried, mostly at night, to cross the frontier, sometimes clashing with Polish troops.

In a cruel illustration of the harsh conditions for those camped out, a couple, both injured, told the Polish Centre for International Aid, an NGO, early on Thursday that their one-year-old child had died in the forest. At least eight more people are believed to have died at the border in recent months.

U.S. Secretary of State State Antony Blinken said the United States would remain very focuses on the migrant crisis.

“It is profoundly unconscionable that Lukashenko and Belarus have sought to weaponize migration,” Blinken told reporters during a visit to Nigeria, adding the United States had the authority to as necessary add to sanctions.

INTENSIFIED DIPLOMACY

The move to clear the camps came during a week of intensified diplomacy. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by telephone twice in three days to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, normally shunned by European leaders.

And Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called on Lukashenko to start a dialogue with his opponents – who swiftly rejected the idea unless Lukashenko freed political prisoners first.

Belarus said earlier on Thursday that Lukashenko had proposed a plan to Merkel to resolve the crisis, under which the EU would take in 2,000 people while Minsk would send another 5,000 back home.

But German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer rejected the proposal and talked of misinformation.

“If we took in refugees, if we bowed to the pressure and said ‘we are taking refugees into European countries’, then this would mean implementing the very basis of this perfidious strategy”,” Seehofer told a news conference in Warsaw.

A German government source added that Germany had not agreed to any deal, stressing that this was a European problem in which Germany was not acting alone.

Shortly before the plan was announced, the European Commission had said there could be no negotiation with Belarus over the plight of the migrants.

It declined to comment on the proposal, with a spokesperson saying: “We made our position very clear – this is an artificially created, state-orchestrated crisis and it is a responsibility of Lukashenko’s regime to stop it and to solve it.”

‘REALLY BAD PLACE’

Earlier on Thursday, in what was potentially another sign of easing of the crisis, hundreds of Iraqis checked in at a Minsk airport for flight back to Iraq, the first repatriation flight since August.

“I would not go back if it wasn’t for my wife,” a 30-year-old Iraqi Kurd, who declined to give his name, toldReuters on the eve of the evacuation flight. “She does not wantto go back with me to the border, because she saw too manyhorrors over there.” The couple attempted to cross at leasteight times from Belarus to Lithuania and Poland.

Meanwhile, Belarusian state airline Belavia has stoppedallowing citizens from Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syriaand Yemen to board flights from Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent toMinsk, Belta reported.

The EU has launched a diplomatic effort to ease the crisisby putting pressure on regional countries not to allow migrantsto board flights for Belarus.

Before the border camp was cleared, migrants told Reuters how harsh the conditions were there.

“Here it’s a really bad place for life, we are really cold, and we all are sick, especially the children. It is worst place for life,” Nermin, from Iraq, said.

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Why are modern video games an art form?

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ed dead redemption 2 steam key

Has anyone ever wondered why games are not art? After all, making games is not such an easy job. Creating a game is a thousand times harder than writing a book.

Video games are like movies

We all love to watch movies. We worry about heroes; we can love or hate, the villain or the hero; we watch TV series without missing a single episode.

Games are essentially the same as movies or TV series. Take RD2, for example. A game that made you shed a tear at some points, get nervous, get scared. We feel the same way when we watch our favorite films or TV series. Red Dead Redemption 2 key today you can get at a nice price. 

Let’s remember the nineties. A time when games had a minimal emphasis on story. For example: Mario. At the very beginning of the game the Princess is kidnapped and that’s it, the rest of the time we just run, jump, collect coins, and only at the end we finish the game by killing the boss. The plot was, at a minimum. Now the big companies have screenwriters working for them. It depends on them what kind of story the game will have. Therefore, games can be perceived as movies.

Video games are like fine art

Many have been to art galleries. Everyone has seen many famous works of art on the covers of books, whether it’s Mona Lisa or Claude Monet’s The Poppy Field near Vetheuil. We have marveled at the beauty of these paintings.

The same could be said of games. Dozens of artists in companies work hard to make their world look really picturesque. For example, RD2 is a really beautiful game. The landscapes are very mesmerizing. The game wanted to go through many times to enjoy these landscapes. If you still haven’t managed to do it, use the Red Dead Redemption 2 Steam key

Also Ori and The Blind Forest game can be referred to as this example. The visual style is made on high. You will not see such landscapes in real life. Not a single element is duplicated. The artists did a great job. Such would be the envy of any modern artist.

Games as architecture

When we come to rest in any country, we necessarily visit historic monuments, created by great masters of architecture. The creation of urban locations in modern video games involved the same architects, but instead of a ruler and pencil in their hands using the mouse, graphics tablets and other tools.

Video games as literature

Everyone has read books and in the course of reading imagined what was happening in the story in their imagination. Some games are just like a book, but you don’t have to use your imagination: the developers did it for you. Many of the games were developed based on the books of the same name. The developers managed to convey the atmosphere that we are immersed in while reading the books.

Maybe now a lot of people have a different view on video games. A lot of people think games are something bad, they try to ban them, but you know, you are trying to ban the same art.

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U.S. Capitol riot panel promises new evidence at surprise Tuesday hearing

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A video of former U.S President Donald Trump speaking is shown on a screen during the fifth public hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S.

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By Richard Cowan and Moira Warburton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A U.S. congressional committee plans to reveal new evidence about the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol by Donald Trump’s supporters at a public hearing on Tuesday it hastily announced a mere 24 hours earlier.

The House of Representatives committee, investigating the first attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power in U.S. history, declined to answer questions about who might testify or what evidence would be presented.

Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to then-President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, is expected to testify, several media outlets reported. Representatives of the panel did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reports.

The meeting, announced on Monday, is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET (1700 GMT) on Tuesday.

Testimony at five prior hearings has shown how Trump, a Republican, riled thousands of supporters with false claims that he lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden because of massive voter fraud.

British filmmaker Alex Holder, who spent time filming Trump and his family in the weeks after the election, has in recent days testified before the committee behind closed doors and shared video of his interviews with Trump and his family, according to media reports.

The committee has said it intends to interview Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, following reports she may have been involved in efforts to stop Biden’s victory certification at the Capitol on Jan. 6. She has said she intended to speak to the panel.

U.S. law enforcement last week raided the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, who was an enthusiastic supporter of Trump’s false fraud claims.

This month’s hearings featured videotaped testimony from figures including Trump’s oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his former attorney general, Bill Barr. They and other witnesses testified that they did not believe Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud and tried to dissuade him of them.

Dozens of courts, state election officials and reviews by Trump’s own administration rejected his claims of fraud, some of which included outlandish stories about an Italian security firm or the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tampering with U.S. ballots.

Trump, who is publicly flirting with another White House run in 2024, has denied wrongdoing and accused the committee of engaging in a political witch hunt. He has leveled harsh criticism particularly at Representative Liz Cheney, one of just two Republicans on the nine-member committee.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll early this month found that about two-thirds of U.S. Republicans believe Trump’s false election fraud claims.

The committee, sometime next month, is expected to hold one or two hearings on possible coordination of the Jan. 6 attack by right-wing extremist groups.

During the assault on the Capitol, thousands of Trump supporters smashed windows, fought with police and sent lawmakers, including Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, fleeing for their lives.

Four people died the day of the attack, one fatally shot by police and the others of natural causes. More than 100 police officers were injured, and one died the next day. Four officers later died by suicide.

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Rescuers dig for survivors after Russian missiles demolish Ukrainian shopping mall

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© Reuters. Rescuers work at a site of a shopping mall hit by a Russian missile strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kremenchuk, in Poltava region, Ukraine June 27, 2022. Picture taken June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Anna Voitenko

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By Simon Lewis

KREMENCHUK, Ukraine (Reuters) -Firefighters and soldiers searched on Tuesday for survivors in the rubble of a shopping mall in central Ukraine after a Russian missile strike killed at least 18 people in an attack condemned by the United Nations and the West.

More than 1,000 people were inside when two Russian missiles slammed into the mall in Kremenchuk, about 300 km (200 miles) southeast of the capital Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.

At least 18 people were killed and 25 hospitalised, while about 36 were missing, Poltava region governor Dmytro Lunin said.

Zelenskiy, in an overnight video address, called the attack deliberate, saying it was “a calculated Russian strike exactly onto this shopping centre”.

Russia said the incident was caused by a strike on a legitimate military target. Its defence ministry, quoted by the RIA state news agency, said it had fired missiles at a storage depot for Western weapons in Kremenchuk, and the detonation of stored ammunition there had caused the fire at the nearby mall.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova told Reuters a missile had also struck a nearby factory, but it was closed and not a military target.

“It’s a question about crimes against humanity,” she said. “I think it’s like systematical shelling of civilian infrastructure – with what aim? To scare people, to kill people to make terror in our cities and villages.”

Relatives of the missing lined up at a hotel across the street where rescue workers set up a base after Monday’s strike.

A survivor receiving treatment at Kremenchuk’s public hospital, Ludmyla Mykhailets, 43, said she was shopping with her husband when the blast threw her into the air.

“I flew head first and splinters hit my body. The whole place was collapsing,” she said.

“It was hell,” said her husband, Mykola, 45, blood seeping through a bandage around his head.

At the scene of the blaze on Tuesday morning, exhausted-looking firefighters sat on a kerb. Oleksandr, wetting his face from a water bottle on a bench, said his team had worked all night picking through the rubble.

“We pulled out five bodies. We didn’t find anybody alive,” he said.

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) major democracies, at a summit in Germany, said the attack was “abominable”.

“Russian President Putin and those responsible will be held to account,” they said in a joint statement.

BATTLE FOR LYSYCHANSK

Russia denies intentionally targetting civilians in its “special military operation” which has destroyed cities, killed thousands of people and driven millions from their homes.

The U.N. Security Council, where Moscow wields a veto, will meet on Tuesday at Ukraine’s request following the attack. U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said the missile strike was deplorable.

Elsewhere on the battlefield, Ukraine endured another difficult day following the loss of the now-ruined city of Sievierodonetsk.

Russian artillery pounded Lysychansk, Sievierodonetsk’s twin city across the Siverskyi Donets River. Ukraine said the Russians attempted to storm it.

Lysychansk is the last big city held by Ukraine in eastern Luhansk province, a main target for the Kremlin after Russian troops failed to take Kyiv early in the war.

Eight residents including a child were killed and 21 wounded by shelling when they gathered to get drinking water in Lysychansk on Monday, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said.

Ukrainian forces controlled the city but its loss was possible as Russia poured resources into the fight, he added.

“They really want this and a lot of reserves are being thrown just for this…We do not need to lose an army for the sake of one city,” he told Reuters in an interview.

Rodion Miroshnik, the ambassador to Moscow of the separatist Luhansk People’s Republic, said Russian troops and their Luhansk Republic allies were advancing westward into Lysychansk and street battles had erupted around the city stadium.

Fighting was going on in several surrounding villages, and Russian and allied troops had entered the Lysychansk oil refinery where Ukrainian troops were concentrated, Miroshnik said on Telegram.

Russia also shelled the city of Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine on Monday, hitting apartment buildings and a primary school, the regional governor said.

The shelling killed five people and wounded 22. There were children among the wounded, the governor said.

During their summit in Germany, G7 leaders vowed to stand with Ukraine “for as long as it takes” and tighten the squeeze on Russia’s finances with new sanctions that include a proposal to cap the price of Russian oil.

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