Russia's foreign ministry says a convoy that crossed into rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine has delivered its humanitarian cargo and is heading home.
Dozens of white trucks, which had been sitting near the border inside Russian territory for more than a week, suddenly got underway on Friday and moved across the border to Luhansk, despite strenuous objections from Kiev and the international community. U.S. officials called the unauthorized convoy a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty.
Kiev had been worried that the convoy was a ruse to resupply the separatists or a pretext for a Russian invasion.
The Ukrainian government spokesman tells Reuters that 184 vehicles were confirmed to have left Luhansk so far. Asked how many Russian vehicles still remained in Ukraine, he replied: "I don't know."
However, in a foreign ministry statement, Moscow said: "We confirm our intention to continue cooperation with the ICRC in attempts to provide humanitarian aid to the people of south-eastern Ukraine."
In a separate development, Reuters quotes NATO as saying the alliance has mounting evidence that Russian troops are operating inside Ukraine and launching artillery attacks from Ukrainian soil, an accusation rejected by Russia.
But Russia's United Nations Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, speaking at a Security Council session, accused Western powers of not being concerned "about the fact hundreds of civilians are dying."
"He said Russia had to act to save perishable goods and that he hoped the Red Cross would help distribute the aid.
"'We waited long enough. And it was time to move, and this is what we did,' he said."
Rodrigo Amarante has made the year's tenderest record. Cavalo is sonically rich and spare at the same time: Every instrument breathes and every sound blends, yet every moment is distinct. At Cavalo's core are heartfelt songs and Amarante's sweet, smoky voice.
Amarante is from Rio de Janeiro, and these days lives in Los Angeles. You may know him from a few other projects: Rio's Los Hermanos, as well as Little Joy, which included Binki Shapiro and Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti.
For his Tiny Desk Concert, Amarante brought his small Harmony parlor guitar from the '30s, known lovingly as "Butter." These songs are stripped to their essence, and what you'll encounter here — and what you can't hear on Cavalo — is the warm, approachable singer's physical presence. Prepare to be drawn close to this intimate music. You'll want to crawl in bed with it.
- "The Ribbon"
- "Mon Nom"
- "I'm Ready"
- "Nada Em Vão"
Producers: Bob Boilen, Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Colin Marshall, Nick Michael; Production Assistant: Sarah Tilotta; photo by Sarah Tilotta/NPR
I once told my Uncle Sheldon about what a day is like when you cover a war.
I'd just come back from Sarajevo or Kosovo, and described how the city had no trees, because they'd been chopped down for heat. How people had to eat grass because they had no food, and how artillery shells whistled and crashed all night, scorching the sky, and how a couple of times shots from snipers came close enough to our heads to sizzle in our ears as we raced through town to file our stories.
My uncle, who had been a U.S. Marine in World War II, just heard me through and asked, "What the hell would you want to do that for?"
The murder of James Foley by the Islamic State prompts that question for many people.
There are lots of jobs in journalism that don't involve risking your life, especially when these days any man or woman with a mobile phone can send news to millions of people. When a tornado strikes or a bomb explodes, people on the scene now bring word of it in words, images, and sounds before professional reporters can even reach for their shoes.
So why do journalists still go to dangerous places?
One reason (and no honest answer can avoid this) is professional reward. Covering wars can win attention, respect, and awards in a crowded, competitive field, and the reporters acquire a matchless experience that can stamp and propel their careers. This certainly happened to me.
War reporting is also enthralling, usually more involved than covering, say, a county zoning meeting. You see life illuminated in the glare of death, good and evil, fear and bravery, louts and heroes, all in the same place — often all in the same person. It can leave you depressed, but also elated.
As Jim Foley told an audience at the Medill School of Journalism in 2011, "When you see something really violent, it does a strange thing to you. It doesn't always repel you. Sometimes, as you know, it draws you close ... It's a strange sort of force."
But this may be a good week to remember that this human mix of motives can also lead to good and noble work. Foley was once a teacher who worked with juvenile offenders. As a freelance reporter, he fought to work in fierce, treacherous places to tell the stories of people who might otherwise not be seen or heard.
Work that throws light on dark places, and can open minds and reach into hearts, is worth the dedication of a human life.