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Russia says Ukraine shelling its own civilians as Moscow steps up assault in south

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Ukraine’s shelling killed and injured its own civilians in the southern region of Kherson, Russia said on Sunday, after pounding southern and eastern areas with missile strikes, while some civilians got away from a steel plant in besieged Mariupol.

US house of representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, became the latest Western official to visit Kyiv in a show of support for Ukraine. “We believe that we are visiting you to say thank you for your fight for freedom … Your fight is a fight for everyone.

“Our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done,” Ms Pelosi said in a video shared by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Twitter. Ms Pelosi, who was accompanied by several US lawmakers, said on Friday she hoped to pass a $33 billion aid package for Ukraine that President Joe Biden has requested “as soon as possible”.

Moscow has turned its focus to Ukraine’s south and east after failing to capture the capital Kyiv in a nine-week assault that has flattened cities, killed thousands of civilians and forced more than 5 million to flee abroad.

Its forces have captured the town of Kherson, giving them a foothold just 100 km north of Russian-annexed Crimea, and have mostly occupied Mariupol, the strategic eastern port city on the Azov Sea.

Russia’s defence ministry accused Ukraine’s forces of shelling a school, kindergarten and cemetery in the villages of Kyselivka and Shyroka Balka in the Kherson region, the Russian RIA news agency said on Sunday.

The ministry gave no further details. There was no immediate response from Ukraine to the report, which Reuters could not independently verify.

But Ukraine’s military said in a bulletin on Sunday that Russian forces were fighting to break beyond Kherson’s administrative borders and prepare the way for attacks on the cities of Mykolayiv and Kryvyi Rih.

Russia’s control of Kherson will help sustain its advances to the north and west and improve its control of Crimea, British military intelligence said in a Twitter update.

Russia declared victory in Mariupol on April 21st, even as hundreds of Ukrainian troops and civilians took shelter in the Azovstal steel works.

The United Nations has urged an evacuation deal. On Saturday a Ukrainian fighter inside said some 20 women and children had made it out.

“We are getting civilians out of the rubble with ropes – it’s the elderly, women and children,” said the fighter, Sviatoslav Palamar, referring to wreckage within the plant, which sprawls 4 sq km.

Mr Palamar said Russia and Ukraine were respecting a local ceasefire, and he hoped the evacuated civilians would be taken to the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia to the northwest.

There was no comment from Russia or the United Nations on the evacuations. Hundreds of Ukrainians remain inside the steel works, Ukrainian officials say.

Odesa strike

A Russian missile launched from Crimea destroyed the runway at the main airport in the city of Odesa to the west, said regional governor Maksym Marchenko, but no one was hurt.

The airport could no longer be used, Ukraine’s military said. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy vowed to rebuild it, saying in a late-night video speech, “Odesa will never forget Russia’s behaviour towards it.”

There was no comment on the strike from Moscow, whose forces have sporadically targeted Ukraine’s third-largest city, where eight people were killed in a recent Russian strike, Ukrainian officials said.

Moscow’s assault in the south aims in part to link the area with Crimea as it pushes for complete control of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, where Russian-backed separatists already controlled parts of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces before Moscow’s February 24th invasion.

In his speech, Mr Zelenskiy said Russia was “gathering additional forces for new attacks against our military in the east of the country” and “trying to increase pressure in the Donbas”.

Moscow calls its actions a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of anti-Russian nationalism fomented by the West. Ukraine and the West say Russia launched an unprovoked war of aggression.

Despite weeks of peace talks, both sides looked to be as far apart as ever on Saturday.

Ukraine accuses Russian troops of carrying out atrocities in areas near Kyiv in early April, a claim denied by Moscow. Negotiators last met face-to-face on March 29, and have since spoken by video link.

Humanitarian aid

The United States and its European allies have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia’s economy and supplied Ukraine with weapons and humanitarian aid.

US president Joe Biden is seeking a $33 billion aid package for Kyiv, including $20 billion for weapons.

Britain will continue “to give the Ukrainians the equipment they need to defend themselves”, British prime minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday.

Russia is using a troll factory to spread disinformation online, Britain’s foreign office warned on Sunday.

“We cannot allow the Kremlin and its shady troll farms to invade our online spaces with their lies about Putin?s illegal war,” British foreign secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.

In the town of Dobropillia in Donetsk, the shockwave from a strike on Saturday blew in the windows of an apartment building and left a large crater in the yard.

Standing in his living room, a resident who gave only his first name, Andriy, said his partner was knocked unconscious. “Thank God the four children were in the kitchen,” he said.

People sifted through belongings to salvage what they could.

“At around 9:20 a.m. this happiness flew to our house,” said another resident, Oleh, sarcastically. “Everything is destroyed.”

At least one person died as a result of Russia’s strikes on Ukraine’s Luhansk region, its governor, Serhiy Gaidai, wrote in a social media post. He said Russia launched 19 attacks on residential areas in its cities and towns on Saturday.

Russia reported more Ukrainian strikes on its territory.

Officials in the Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine and Belarus, said air defences had kept out a Ukrainian aircraft, but the resulting shelling hit parts of a Russian oil terminal.

South of Bryansk, in Kursk, another border region, several shells were fired from Ukraine toward a Russian checkpoint, said the regional governor, Roman Starovoit, but with no casualties or damage.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for such incidents but it described a series of blasts in Russia’s south on Wednesday as payback and “karma” for Moscow’s invasion. – Reuters

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Bluewater grows its entertainment offer (GB)

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Landsec has announced the opening of a third ‘UK first’ attraction at Bluewater, Kent as the destination expands its partnership with Hangloose Adventures. Skydive, a free-fall experience not found anywhere else in Europe, and the UK’s only outdoor skydive machine has opened at the centre. It follows on from Europe’s biggest purpose-built giant swing, standing at 46-metre tall, which opened at Bluewater earlier this month.  

 

The announcement builds on a successful first year for Hangloose’s initial attraction Skywire, the longest zip wire in England, which has welcomed 30,000 guests since launching at Bluewater last June. Landsec will continue to work with Hangloose to expand its offering, with up to five more experiences set to open at the centre by 2024: a bungee tower, giant slide, clip and climb, waterdrop boulding wall, and Via Ferrata, a route-marked climb using metal rails and rungs embedded in Bluewater’s cliff walls.

 

Mark Warne, Brand Account Director F&B and Leisure at Landsec commented: “Delivering new experiences which are unique to Bluewater is central to our overall offer for guests. Hangloose’s innovative concept raises the bar when it comes to leisure attractions and draws guests from across the UK to Kent. By partnering with Hangloose to grow their business and create shared value, we’ll be able to give guests even more exciting experiences every time they visit.”

 

Brian Phelps, MD of Hangloose Adventure, said: “Since the beginning, we’ve worked closely with Landsec to grow our leisure concept and drive performance, putting us in a unique position where we’re able to expand our offer after only a year. We’ve enjoyed great success at Bluewater so far and are already thinking about how we can provide even bigger and better experiences in the future.”

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Author with immaculate house offers ten tips for a clean home

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Is this the secret to NEVER having to clean? Houseproud author claims she saves hours by sticking to a ten-step mantra – including banning chairs in bedrooms, wiping as you cook and only ironing shirts and dresses

  • UK writer Natali Juste Simmonds says she’s cracked keeping a home clean, by sticking to a few simple ground rules – and making sure family members comply
  • She shared top ten tips for keeping a home spotless with her 20,000 followers
  • Among them are ditching a toilet brush in the bathroom, not having a chair in the bedroom and cleaning  the kitchen while you cook

A houseproud author has revealed her ten essential tips for keeping a house spotless – saying simple ground rules for family members and cleaning as you go means never wasting time on dull chores. 

Writer Natali Juste Simmonds, who was born in the UK but now lives in the Netherlands, penned her top ways to keep on top of cleaning on Twitter, saying she has time to focus on her writing because she follows her own advice about dodging ‘thankless’ cleaning tasks. 

The author of a series of paranormal romance novels told her 20,000 followers on Twitter: ‘I know so many people who spend hours cleaning up after their family every day, but I refuse to. 

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UK writer Natali Juste Simmonds says she's cracked keeping a home clean, by sticking to a few simple ground rules - and making sure family members comply

UK writer Natali Juste Simmonds says she’s cracked keeping a home clean, by sticking to a few simple ground rules – and making sure family members comply

‘It’s boring and thankless. I prefer to write. Yet my house is spotless. Here are 10 ways to keep on top of s*** so you don’t have to clean for hours.’ 

Sharing her ‘tough love’ mantra, she said that the key to keeping a home clean is making sure every family member is engaged, saying learning how to tidy is a lifeskill that everyone needs – and no-one should get away with not doing it. 

Natali wrote: ‘Train everyone in the house to do the following (cats are the exception). After a while these habits will become routine, but you MUST stick to them and make sure no one is let off the hook.’ 

Among the tips are filling a bag with things that are in the wrong place at the end of every day and placing them back where they belong. 

Tidy home, tidy mind: The Netherlands-based writer shared her top ten tips for keeping a home spotless with her 20,000 followers on Twitter - saying that making sure everyone in the house pulls their weight is key (Pictured: An office area in Simmonds' home)

Tidy home, tidy mind: The Netherlands-based writer shared her top ten tips for keeping a home spotless with her 20,000 followers on Twitter – saying that making sure everyone in the house pulls their weight is key (Pictured: An office area in Simmonds’ home)

The writer also claims having a toilet brush doesn’t help keep a loo clean and dousing it with bleach instead is a more reliable way to ensure it’s sparkling. 

And getting used to wiping down mirrors after using a sink also helps, she claims, writing: ‘Keep a dry cloth next to the bathroom sink. Every time someone uses the taps or brushes their teeth, wipe down the counter and mirror. Takes literally 2 seconds. No cleaning toothpaste stains off counters.’

Teaching kids to pull their weight around the house is key to success, and equality reigns supreme in the Simmonds house. 

Among her top tips are ditching a toilet brush in the bathroom - using just bleach instead; not having a chair in the bedroom - to prevent people leaving clothes on them - and cleaning the kitchen while you cook (Pictured: Simmonds' very tidy office)

Among her top tips are ditching a toilet brush in the bathroom – using just bleach instead; not having a chair in the bedroom – to prevent people leaving clothes on them – and cleaning the kitchen while you cook (Pictured: Simmonds’ very tidy office)

‘If one kid lays the table, the other clears. If one hangs out the washing, the other collects. I don’t say “I need help with dinner” I say “who will chop the veg and who will wash up?” Its called a presumed close. I have no option, why should others in my house?’

The author, who has written books including the Indigo Chronicles trilogy and the Blood Web series, admits that having a cleaner is still useful…because they can help keep on top of areas where grime quickly builds, including fridges and ovens – but she suggests ditching a takeaway a week to cover the cost. 

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DIA Group closes 25 Minipreco stores in Portugal

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DIA Group has closed 25 Minipreco stores in Portugal, resulting in the loss of approximately 159 jobs. The retailer said the closures are the result of ‘the effort to adapt, modernise and balance the operations of DIA Portugal, with the aim of better preparing the company for current and future challenges arising from the current economic situation in the country,’ according to media reports. In the last two years, the multinational company operating in Spain, Portugal, Brazil, and Argentina, accumulated losses of over €620m.

 

In Portugal, net sales reached €283.1m in the first half, 4.5% below the €296.3m generated in the same period last year, due to the reduction of stores and mobility restrictions. DIA Group confirmed its intention to continue to invest in Portugal. The company hopes to adjust its operation to the current reality in order to ensure the future success of the company.

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