Wire News

Saturday, April 01, 2023
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Costa Rica logged a record 657 homicides last year. Limon, a Caribbean port with a homicide rate five times the national average, was at the epicenter. The bloodshed in a country better known for a laid-back outlook and not having a standing army has stirred a public outcry as the administration of President Rodrigo Chaves scrambles for answers. Where Costa Rica had previously been just a pass-through for northbound cocaine shipments moved by Colombian and Mexican cartels, authorities say the country is now an important warehousing and transshipment point for drugs headed to Europe being moved by homegrown Costa Rican organized crime gangs.

Pakistani police say a Sikh and a Christian have been shot dead in separate targeted attacks in the northwest city of Peshawar. Religious minorities often face violence in Pakistan, even though the country’s Constitution guarantees them equal rights and the freedom to practice their faith. Police said Saturday that unknown assailants on a motorbike opened fire on the Sikh businessman while he was in his grocery store. The Christian cleaner was killed while he was returning from work. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Three current and former former executives of a shipbuilder that constructs vessels for the U.S. Navy have been indicted on accounting fraud charges. Federal prosecutors accuse the Austal USA LLC executives of falsely inflating the company’s reported earnings. Craig Perciavalle, Joseph Runkel, and William Adams are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud affecting a financial institution, five counts of wire fraud, and two counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution. Austal USA LLC is a subsidiary of Australia-based Austal Limited and builds littoral combat ships for the Navy. The ships are designed to operate in shallow coastal waters.

The Pakistani army says four of its soldiers were killed in a militant attack by Iran-based fighters. Saturday's attack took place in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan. The army said Saturday that necessary contact was being established with the Iranian side for “effective action against terrorists” to prevent such incidents in the future. A Pakistani soldier was also killed Friday in an exchange of fire with militants in North Waziristan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the army said. Nobody claimed immediate responsibility for either attack.

Syria’s chief diplomat is in Egypt today in a step toward normalizing ties between the two countries. It was the first trip to the capital of Cairo for a Syrian foreign minister in over a decade. Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad met Saturday with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry. Syria’s state-run SANA news agency reported that Mekdad would discuss bilateral ties and the latest developments in the region and the world. Mekdad’s visit comes as the two countries inch toward re-establishing ties. It’s been more than a decade since Syria was globally isolated after President Bashar Assad’s brutal crackdown on mass protests against his rule in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.

Analysts say gas prices have increased in New Jersey and around the nation at large amid increased demand as warmer spring weather lures motorists back out onto the roads. AAA Mid-Atlantic says the average price of a gallon of regular gas in New Jersey on Friday was $3.25, an increase of two cents from last week. The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.50, up six cents from last week. Analysts say tightening gasoline supplies and signs of slowing inflation have pushed oil prices above the $70 per barrel mark, and that and robust gas demand are likely to send prices at the pump higher.

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Control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and likely the future of abortion access, Republican-drawn legislative maps and years of GOP policies, rests with the outcome of Tuesday’s election in the key swing state. The race has shattered national spending records because of what’s at stake. The winner of the heated contest between Republican-backed Dan Kelly and Democratic-supported Janet Protasiewicz will determine majority control of the court headed into the 2024 presidential election. The court came within one vote of overturning President Joe Biden’s narrow win in 2020. Democrats are trying to flip control of the court, which has had a majority of conservative justices the past 15 years.

The first group of chaplains to join the Ukrainian military’s command structure has graduated. Although chaplains have ministered to Ukraine’s armed forces for years, they worked as embedded civilians rather than as officers. Now, they will undergo a six-week training program and get inducted. The first group of military chaplains to fall under this new system began training Feb. 20 and had their graduation ceremony on Saturday at Kyiv’s 11th century Saint Sophia Cathedral. With Ukraine entering its second year of war against Russia’s invasion, the need for chaplains to support its soldiers is greater than ever. In their new assignments, they won’t use weapons but are expected to know general military concepts and tactical medicine, according to Ukrainian authorities.