So much has happened in the last two weeks while I was traveling. Ukraine and Moldova got European Union candidate status. Turkey lifted its objections to allowing Sweden and Finland to join NATO. The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving it up to U.S. states to determine whether abortion is legal. Bulgaria and North Macedonia might come to an agreement on the latter's path to EU membership, maybe. Russia launched a missile at a packed shopping mall, killing or wounding dozens of civilians. U.S. federal agents seized the phone of John Eastman, a lawyer who advised former President Donald Trump during his effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. And, of course, we had some wild testimony in front of the January 6 commission.
And that was before British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned and former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated.
I was in Texas when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and the January 6th committee held its surprise hearing. I interviewed Afghan refugees who resettled in Austin, the state's most left-leaning city. The people I spoke to are the ones we saw crowded into the Hamid Karzai International Airport last August, desperate to get on the first plane out of their country as it fell under Taliban control once again. I wanted to know how their transition into the U.S. was going.
I sat in their living rooms and drank tea and ate almonds. One woman was so adamant that I eat something while reporting that she shoved a handful of plums and grapes into my purse as I left her apartment. When I returned to my AirB&B, the inside of my bag was caked in gooey purple plumb pulp. I was touched that they would even think of my well-being despite all they were going through.
I'm now spending my week re-listening to hours and hours of interviews and distilling them into stories. More to come on that soon.
During the visit, I interviewed Afghan singer Wahab Rasooli, whose music you can check out here while waiting to read my dispatches from Texas. Rasooli was evacuated from Afghanistan quickly because, as he told me, "the Taliban doesn't like music."
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Now, let's catch up with all of the news:
What I'm reading:
• Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe died in the hospital after he was shot twice at a political campaign event, the BBC reports.
• British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned Thursday after a historic party revolt forced him to step down, CNN reports. He plans to continue in a caretaker role until the autumn.
• Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region, urged the roughly 350,000 residents there to flee as fighting moves into the area, the Associated Press reports.
• More than 40 countries and multilateral organizations pledged technical, financial, and political support for Ukraine’s postwar recovery. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told signatories of the Lugano Declaration that the country could require $750 billion to recover fully, the Washington Post reports.
• Unlike Russian Orthodox leader Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, Jewish religious figures are more critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine. Russian Jews are now worried they’ll be targeted by the Kremlin, Politico Europe reports.
• Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov threatened to retaliate against Bulgaria after 70 Russian diplomats were expelled from the country, the Washington Post reports.
• Bulgaria’s outgoing government is sounding the alarm over how mobsters seized control of the Kapitan Andreevo checkpoint at Bulgaria’s border with Turkey, Lili Bayer reports for Politico Europe. The checkpoint has become a notorious entry point for drugs into the European Union.
• European Council President Charles Michel urged North Macedonia to agree to a French-proposed compromise that would end the dispute with Bulgaria blocking Skopje's long-delayed European Union accession bid, the Associated Press reports.
• North Macedonian Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski told Charles Michel on Tuesday that his country can live with the concessions that Bulgaria has already formally accepted, Al Jazeera reports. But the nationalist opposition party VMRO-DPMNE called for protests over the issue, and they quickly turned violent.
• Around 18 people were killed and 243 wounded during unrest in Uzbekistan's autonomous province of Karakalpakstan, Reuters reports. These are the official numbers from Uzbek authorities.
• The United States and UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called for an independent investigation into the deadly crackdown on protesters in Uzbekistan's autonomous Karakalpakstan region, Radio Free Europe reports.
• A Russian court ordered the “temporary closure” of the Novorossiysk oil terminal, key for exporting Kazakh oil, just two days after President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev told EU Council President Charles Michel his country is ready to send more oil to the European Union, Euractiv reports.
• The British government announced that it would impose new sanctions on Belarus for supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
• The United Kingdom plans to send military specialists to Bosnia and Herzegovina to counter Russian influence in the country, Reuters reports.
• NATO approved Sweden and Finland's membership in the security alliance, Reuters reports. Ratification now moves to national governments.
• George Degiorgio, one of the men accused of killing Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, confessed to the crime and said he wouldn’t be “going down alone," Politico Europe reports. Reuters has an interview with Degiorgio from his jail cell.
• At least 23 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa died on June 24 on the border between the Spanish enclave of Melilla and Morocco, Politico Europe reports. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez was criticized for praising how Morocco handled the situation before eventually back-tracking.
• French President Emmanuel Macron reshuffled his government for the second time in six weeks after losing his parliamentary majority in elections in June, the Guardian reports.
• Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa asked Russia's Vladimir Putin to help his country import fuel as it faces its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948, the BBC reports.
• Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa announced he will step down next week after angry protesters swarmed his official residence and offices, Bloomberg reports.
• Police in Nicaragua raided five town halls governed by the opposition Citizens for Freedom party in the latest crackdown on opponents of President Daniel Ortega, the BBC reports.
• Israeli lawmakers voted to dissolve parliament, setting the stage for the country’s fifth general election in less than four years, the Wall Street Journal reports.
• Iran added a new set of demands unrelated to its nuclear program to the negotiations, according to the U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley. Reuters has an exclusive piece entitled Chances for Iran Nuclear Deal Worse After Doha Talks.
What the State Department says:
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