Russia says the U.S. hasn’t contacted them over two Americans, both former servicemen, who are missing and may have been taken prisoner by Moscow during the conflict in Ukraine.
Unnamed soldiers who say they fought alongside the pair told British newspaper The Telegraph that Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, 27, who served in the Marines, and Alexander Drueke, 39, an Iraq War veteran, disappeared during a fierce battle outside Kharkiv, in Ukraine’s north-east.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told Russia’s Solovyov Live program that Washington is yet to contact Moscow regarding the reports, state-run news outlet RIA Novosti reported.
Zakharova also appeared to deflect the reports when pressed on the issue on air.
“I don’t have such information, I check every day, I’ll check it today. We make all the information about the fate of detained mercenaries or those sentenced to trial public… Once again, I want to say—I will double-check if there is any additional information in this regard,” Zakharova said.
The Telegraph reports that if confirmed, Drueke and Huynh, who had been living in the state of Alabama, could be the first U.S. servicemen to end up as Russian prisoners of war.
White House spokesperson John Kirby said Wednesday that he could not confirm that Drueke and Huynh are missing, but added that “if it’s true, we’ll do everything we can to get them safely back home.”
Kirby urged Americans against volunteering to fight in Ukraine.
“It is a war zone. It is combat. And if you feel passionate about supporting Ukraine, there’s any number of other ways to do that that are safer and just as effective,” Kirby said.
The State Department separately said that it is “aware of unconfirmed reports of two U.S. citizens captured in Ukraine.”
“We are closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with Ukrainian authorities. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment,” the department said in a statement to multiple news outlets.
Drueke’s mother, Lois, told CBS News she hasn’t received official word that her son has been taken prisoner.
The unnamed comrade claimed Drueke and Huynh were captured in the village of Izbytske, close to the Russian border.
“We were out on a mission and the whole thing went absolutely crazy, with bad intel,” he said, noting that they couldn’t be found during later search missions.
He said he grew concerned when he saw a message on a Russian Telegram channel l claiming that two U.S. servicemen had been taken as prisoners of war near Kharkiv—where they had been positioned.
“It is too much of a coincidence for that to have happened otherwise—we are the only Americans fighting in this area,” the comrade said.
“We are not mercenaries, or part of some militia. We are serving under the command of the Ukrainian armed forces. I am speaking out on my missing comrades’ behalf because I want it in the public domain that they are missing, so that the Russian high command is made aware too.
“That hopefully reduces the chances of them being quietly executed by whoever is holding them further down the chain.”
Last week, two British men and a Moroccan who were fighting in Ukraine were sentenced to death by a court in the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk after they were tried as “mercenaries.”
Newsweek has contacted the Biden administration and the U.S. defense department for comment.
‘Romney Republican’ now GOP primary attack…
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Mitt Romney isn’t up for reelection this year. But Trump-aligned Republicans hostile toward the Utah senator have made his name a recurring theme in this year’s primaries, using him as a foil and derisively branding their rivals “Mitt Romney Republicans.”
Republicans have used the concept to frame their primary opponents as enemies of the Trump-era GOP in southeast Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The anti-tax group Club For Growth, among the most active super PACs in this year’s primaries, used “Mitt Romney Republican” as the central premise of an attack ad in North Carolina’s Senate primary.
But nowhere are references to Romney Republicanism as common as they are in Utah. Despite his popularity with many residents here, candidates are repeatedly deploying “Mitt Romney Republican” as a campaign trail attack in the lead-up to Tuesday’s Republican primary.
“There are two different wings in the Republican Party,” Chris Herrod, a former state lawmaker running in suburban Utah’s 3rd Congressional District, said in a debate last month.
“If you’re more aligned with Mitt Romney and Spencer Cox,” he added, referring to Utah’s governor, “then I’m probably not your guy.”
The fact that his brand has become potent attack fodder reflect how singular Romney’s position is in U.S. politics: He’s the only senator with the nationwide name recognition that comes from running for president and the only Republican who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump twice.
“It’s kind of a puzzlement, actually,” said Becky Edwards, an anti-Trump Republican running in Utah’s Senate primary.
As one of the most famous members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Romney is revered by many in Utah, where the church is a dominant presence in politics and culture. He won praise for turning around Salt Lake City’s 2002 Winter Olympics after a bribery scandal. After moving to Utah full-time more than a decade ago, he breezed to victory in the state’s Senate race in 2018. He did not respond to requests for comment on this story.
Herrod, who went to Las Vegas to campaign for Romney in 2012, said in an interview that referring to Romney was effective shorthand — a way to tell voters about his own belief system as well as that of incumbent Republican Rep. John Curtis. Herrod has attacked Curtis for his positions on energy policy and for founding Congress’ Conservative Climate Caucus.
“In the midst of a campaign, it’s kind of tough to draw a line. I just put it in terms I thought people would understand,” Herrod said.
The Curtis campaign said the congressman was more focused on legislation and passing bills than branding. “Congressman Curtis doesn’t spend his time labeling himself or other Republicans,” his campaign manager, Adrielle Herring, said in a statement.
Much like Herrod, Andrew Badger, a candidate running in northern Utah’s 1st Congressional District, frames his primary campaign as a “tug of war” between two competing factions within the Republican Party. He describes one as the moderate, compromise-friendly wing embodied by Romney and the other as the conservative wing embodied by Utah Sen. Mike Lee, a frequent guest of FOX News who is often the Senate’s lone “no” vote.
Both Badger and Herrod acknowledge attacking Romney may turn off some voters, four years after he easily defeated a right-wing state lawmaker in Utah’s Republican primary and a Democrat in the general election. But they question the durability of his support given how the last six years have broadly transformed Republican politics.
“There’s a lot more frustration, and it’s only building. I don’t think he would win in a vote today, certainly not in a Republican primary,” Badger said.
Badger in his campaign has focused on simmering outrage stemming from the 2020 election and anger over coronavirus mandates and how race, gender and sexuality are taught in K-12 schools. He has attempted to draw a direct line between Romney and his opponent, incumbent Rep. Blake Moore, by attacking Moore for being one of 35 House Republicans to vote to create an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection.
In a district where support for Trump remains strong, he’s likened Moore’s vote to Romney’s two votes in favor of impeachment.
“These folks like Mitt Romney and Blake Moore, they always cave to the left when the pressure gets turned on them,” Badger said. “We’re not going to compromise for the sake of compromise.”
Moore did not vote for impeachment. After the Senate scuttled the commission, Moore, along with all but two House Republicans, voted against the creation of the Jan. 6 select committee that ultimately convened.
In response to Moore being labeled a “Mitt Romney Republican,” Caroline Tucker, the congressman’s campaign spokesperson, said he could be best described a “Big Tent Republican” who doesn’t think the process of lawmaking requires abandoning his conservative principles.
Jason Perry, director of University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, said the label “Mitt Romney Republican” may appeal to some Republican primary voters, but given Romney’s popularity, it likely won’t work in Utah, he said.
“They’re appealing to a segment of the Republican Party but probably do not have the numbers on that far-right side to be successful,” Perry said.
Pro-life is not just opposing abortion, Vatican says after U.S. ruling
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June 25 (Reuters) – Anti-abortion activists should be concerned with other issues that can threaten life, such as easy access to guns, poverty and rising maternity mortality rates, the Vatican’s editorial director said on Saturday.
In a media editorial on the United States Supreme Court’s ruling to end the constitutional right to abortion, Andrea Tornielli said those who oppose abortion could not pick and choose pro-life issues. read more
“Being for life, always, for example, means being concerned if the mortality rates of women due to motherhood increase,” he wrote.
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He cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing a rise in maternity mortality rates overall and that the rate was nearly three times higher for black women.
“Being for life, always, means asking how to help women welcome new life,” he wrote, citing an unsourced statistic that 75% of women who have abortions live in poverty or are low-wage earners.
He also cited statistics from the Harvard Review of Psychiatry showing that the United States has much lower rates of paid parental leave compared with other rich nations.
“Being for life, always, also means defending it against the threat of firearms, which unfortunately have become a leading cause of death of children and adolescents in the U.S.” he wrote.
The Roman Catholic church teaches that abortion is murder because life begins at the moment of conception and ends with natural death.
Pope Francis has compared having an abortion to “hiring a hit man” to eliminate a problematic person.
But he has tried to steer the U.S. Catholic Church away from seeing abortion as the single, overarching life issue in the country’s so-called culture wars.
The death penalty, gun control, support for families, and immigration are also life issues, he has said.
The Vatican’s Academy for Life praised Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling, saying it challenged the world to reflect on life issues, but also called for social changes to help women keep their children. read more
U.S. President Joe Biden, a lifelong Catholic, condemned the ruling, calling it a “sad day” for America and labelling the court’s conservatives as “extreme”.
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Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mike Harrison
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Supreme Court ‘Misleadingly Quotes Me’ in Abortion Ruling: Law Professor
Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor of constitutional law, accused the conservative Supreme Court majority of “misleadingly” utilizing his quotes in its controversial Friday decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Conservative Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The ruling in that case brought an end to nearly five decades of Supreme Court precedent—overturning the landmark 1973 Roe decision and bringing an end to woman’s constitutionally protected right to an abortion.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences,” Alito argued in his opinion.
Four of the top court’s justices concurred with Alito’s opinion, while Chief Justice John Roberts concurred with upholding the 15-week abortion ban of Dobbs, but took issue with fully overturning Roe. The Court’s three liberal justices together issued a dissenting opinion.
Tribe, who has been harshly critical of the Supreme Court’s decision, said the conservative majority opinion misused his quotes to justify its arguments overturning Roe.
“The Dobbs majority misleadingly quotes me on pages 50 and 54 in straining to justify a decision the dissent rightly calls an exercise in ‘power, not reason.’ Don’t be fooled. The writings from which the Court cherry-picked my quotes were totally supportive of the result in Roe,” the constitutional law expert wrote in a Friday evening Twitter post.
On page 50, the conservative majority opinion states: “As Professor Laurence Tribe has written, ‘[c]learly, this mistakes ‘a definition for a syllogism.’ Tribe 4 (quoting Ely 924). The definition of a ‘viable’ fetus is one that is capable of surviving outside the womb, but why is this the point at which the State’s interest becomes compelling?”
On page 54, it quotes Tribe again, stating: “Laurence Tribe wrote that ‘even if there is a need to divide pregnancy into several segments with lines that clearly identify the limits of governmental power, ‘interest-balancing’ of the form the Court pursues fails to justify any of the lines actually drawn.”
Newsweek reached out to the Supreme Court’s press office for comment.
“Three men — Presidents GHW Bush (Justice Thomas), GW Bush (Justices Alito, Roberts), Trump (Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Alito) — two of whom won with a minority of the popular vote — have done this to tens of millions of women and to the rule of law. This must be undone,” Tribe wrote in a follow-up Friday evening Twitter post.
Protests have broken out across the country in the wake of the controversial ruling. Multiple states quickly implemented so-called “trigger laws,” which were in place and ready to go the moment Roe was overturned. Meanwhile, states that have already protected legal abortions have taken steps to make them easier to access to women traveling across state lines.
Former President Donald Trump hailed the decision and took credit, describing the ruling as “the biggest WIN for LIFE in a generation” in a statement. He said it was “only made possible because I delivered everything as promised, including nominating and getting three highly respected and strong Constitutionalists confirmed to the United States Supreme Court.”
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden slammed the decision.
“Now, with Roe gone, let’s be very clear: The health and life of women in this nation are now at risk,” Biden said in a Friday address at the White House. The president went on to say that the nation’s top court “has done what it has never done before: expressly take away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans that had already been recognized.”
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