World this week
Mercenaries of the Wagner Group are completing the handover of their weapons to the Russian military, the Russian Defence Ministry said, a move that follows the private army's brief rebellion last month that challenged the Kremlin's authority. The disarming of Wagner reflects efforts by authorities to defuse the threat it posed and also appears to herald an end to the mercenary group's operations on the battlefield in Ukraine.
The actions come amid continued uncertainty about the fate of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and the terms of a deal that ended the armed rebellion by offering amnesty for him and his mercenaries along with permission to move to Belarus.Among the weapons turned over were more than 2,000 pieces of equipment, such as tanks, rocket launchers, heavy artillery and air defence systems, along with over 2,500 metric tons of munitions and more than 20,000 firearms, the Defense Ministry said.
Squeezed by painfully high prices for two years, Americans have gained some much-needed relief with inflation reaching its lowest point since early 2021 - 3% in June compared with a year earlier - thanks in part to easing prices for gasoline, airline fares, used cars and groceries. The inflation figure the government reported was down sharply from a 4% annual rate in May, though still above the Federal Reserve's 2% target. From May to June, overall prices rose 0.2%, up from just 0.1% in the previous month but still comparatively mild.
Even with Wednesday's better-than-expected inflation data, the Fed is considered all but sure to raise its benchmark rate when it meets in two weeks. But with price increases slowing - or even falling outright - across a range of goods and services, many economists say they think the central bank could hold off on what had been expected to be another rate hike in September, should inflation continue to cool.
South Korean opposition lawmakers sharply criticised the head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog for its approval of Japanese plans to release treated wastewater from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant. They met with Rafael Grossi in a tense meeting in Seoul that took place while protesters screamed outside the door. Grossi, the International Atomic Energy Agency's director general, arrived in South Korea to engage with government officials and critics and help reduce public concerns about food safety.
The IAEA last week approved the Japanese discharge plans, saying the process would meet international safety standards and pose negligible environmental and health impacts. South Korea's government has also endorsed the safety of the Japanese plans. In his meeting with members of the liberal Democratic Party, which controls a majority in South Korea's parliament, Grossi said the IAEA's review of the Japanese plans was based on "transparent" and "scientific" research, but acknowledged concerns over how the Japanese plans would play out in reality.
A Romanian man who was part of an international human smuggling ring was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for the deaths of 39 migrants from Vietnam who suffocated in a truck trailer on their way to England in 2019. Marius Mihai Draghici was the ringleader's right-hand man and an "essential cog" in an operation that made huge profits exploiting people desperate to get to the U.K., Justice Neil Garnham said in the Central Criminal Court, known as the Old Bailey.
Victims, who paid about 13,000 pounds ($16,770) for so-called VIP service, died after trying in vain to punch a hole in the container with a metal pole as the temperature inside exceeded 100 degrees F (38.5 C). Their desperation as they struggled to breathe was captured in messages they tried to send loved ones and recordings that showed "a growing recognition they were going to die there," Garnham said.
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