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Iran targets celebrities, media over Mahsa Amini protests

Iran stepped up pressure on celebrities and journalists Thursday over the wave of women-led protests sparked by outrage over the death of Mahsa Amini after she was arrested by the Islamic republic's morality police.

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Kremlin will annex 4 regions of Ukraine on Friday

Russia confirmed on Thursday it will formally annex parts of Ukraine where occupied areas held Kremlin-orchestrated "referendums" on living under Moscow's rule that the Ukrainian government and the West denounced as illegal and rigged.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend a ceremony on Friday in the Kremlin when four regions of Ukraine will be officially folded into Russia, spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

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US announces $1.1 billion more in military aid for Ukraine

The U.S. will provide an additional $1.1 billion in aid to Ukraine, with funding for 18 more advanced rocket systems and other weapons to counter drones that Russia has been using against Ukrainian troops, the Biden administration announced.

The latest package is being provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which funds contracts to purchase weapons and equipment. And it brings the total of U.S. aid to Ukraine to nearly $17 billion since the Biden administration took office.

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Moscow tries to draft fleeing Russian men at the borders

Long lines of Russians trying to escape being called up to fight in Ukraine continued to clog highways out of the country on Wednesday, and Moscow reportedly set up draft offices at borders to intercept some of them.

North Ossetia, a Russian region that borders Georgia, declared a state of "high alert" and said that food, water, warming stations and other aid should be brought in for those who have spent days in queues. Volunteers on the Georgian side of the border also have brought water, blankets and other assistance.

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People trapped, hospital damaged after Ian swamps SW Florida

Hurricane Ian left a path of destruction in southwest Florida, trapping people in flooded homes, damaging the roof of a hospital intensive care unit and knocking out power to 2 million people before aiming for the Atlantic Coast.

One of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the United States barreled across the Florida peninsula overnight Wednesday, threatening catastrophic flooding inland, the National Hurricane Center warned.

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Kremlin says 'absurd' to accuse Russia of Nord Stream gas leaks

The Kremlin said Wednesday it was "stupid and absurd" to suspect that Russia was behind gas leaks on the Nord Stream pipelines to Europe, deemed to be a "deliberate act" by the EU.

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Iran police to oppose protests with 'all their might'

Iran's police command warned on Wednesday that the force would come down hard on protests that erupted nearly two weeks ago over the death of a young woman in custody.

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One killed in Belgium anti-terror operation against far-right

One person was killed in Belgium Wednesday in a shootout with police during raids on a suspected extreme-right group, prosecutors said in a statement.

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Iranian lawmaker slams protesters; cleric appeals for calm

A hard-line Iranian lawmaker on Tuesday slammed female protesters who have taken off mandatory headscarves as prostitutes, doubling down on the government stance amid the dramatic demonstrations following the death of a 22-year-old woman detained by the country's morality police.

The harsh language by Mahmoud Nabavian, a legislator from Tehran, was in sharp contrast to the appeal by a top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamadani, who on Sunday urged the government to listen to the people's demands.

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Japanese former leader Abe honored at divisive state funeral

Japan's assassinated hawkish former leader, Shinzo Abe, was given a rare state funeral Tuesday that was full of military pomp and surrounded by throngs of mourners as well as by widespread protests, with thousands taking to the streets in opposition.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the publicly financed ceremony was a well-deserved honor for Japan's longest-serving modern political leader, but it has deeply split public opinion.

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