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Pope Francis criticised for praising Russian imperialist heritage



Pope Francis has come under scrutiny after his recent remarks to Russian youths, urging them to remember their historical lineage as heirs of past Russian tsars, including figures like Peter the Great.

These comments have sparked controversy due to their potential alignment with President Vladimir Putin’s justifications for the Ukrainian invasion.

The Ukrainian government expressed deep regret over the remarks, calling them “deeply regrettable.”

During a live video address to Catholic youths in St. Petersburg, Pope Francis initially delivered a prepared speech in Spanish.

However, he spontaneously shifted to Italian towards the end, stating, “Don’t forget your heredity. You are heirs of the great Russia – the great Russia of the saints, of kings, the great Russia of Peter the Great, of Catherine II, the great Russian empire, cultured, so much culture, so much humanity. You are the heirs of the great mother Russia. Go forward.”

While the Vatican released the official text of the address without the impromptu Italian paragraph, religious websites shared a video of the pope’s complete remarks.

Oleg Nikolenko, spokesperson for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, took to Facebook to criticise the comments, linking them to the Kremlin’s imperialistic propaganda that has been used to justify the Ukrainian crisis.

Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Ukraine’s Eastern Rite Catholic Church expressed concern over the pope’s words, fearing they might embolden the ambitions of the aggressor country. He called for an explanation from the Vatican regarding the controversial statement.

Italian website Il Sismografo, which specialises in Catholic affairs, published an editorial characterising the pope’s words as “odd” given the delicate historical context.

The editorial highlighted the actions of Catherine the Great, who annexed Crimea in 1783, and her protection of Jesuits in Russian-controlled areas after the global suppression of the Jesuit order by Pope Clement XIV in 1773. Pope Francis himself is a Jesuit.

Notably, Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously praised Tsar Peter the Great, drawing parallels between his historical pursuits and Russia’s current actions. Putin has repeatedly employed historical narratives to justify the Ukrainian crisis, denying the nation’s distinct identity and history of statehood.

Former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Belarusian news site Nexta criticised the pope’s remarks, with Ilves calling them “revolting.” Nexta emphasised the historical resistance of Catholics in Poland, Lithuania, and Belarus against Russia’s influence.

While Pope Francis has condemned Russia’s brutal actions in Ukraine, emphasising the violation of a nation’s right to self-determination, he has also faced criticism for certain extemporaneous statements.

Last year, he upset Kyiv by referring to Russian ultra-nationalist Darya Dugina as an innocent victim of war, prompting Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to voice strong objections.

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BREAKING: Shots ring out at Trump rally



Donald Trump was whisked off the stage at a rally in Butler, Pennsylvania after loud noises rang through the crowd.

Trump was showing off a chart of border crossing numbers when bangs started ringing through the crowd. Trump could be seen reaching with his right hand toward his neck. There appeared to be blood on his face.

He quickly ducked behind the riser as agents from his protective detail rushed the stage and screams rang out from the crowd. The bangs continued as agents tended to him on stage.

His motorcade has left the venue.

In a statement, Trump says he is “fine” and says he is being checked at a medical facility.

Donald Trump was safe, the U.S. Secret Service and his campaign said on Saturday after multiple shots rang out at a rally by the Republican presidential candidate in Pennsylvania as video showed Trump grimacing and raising a hand to his right ear.
The former president had just started his speech when gunshots erupted and Trump and other rally attendees hit the deck. Secret Service agents swarmed around him and live video showed blood on the right side of Trump’s face and ear.
Trump repeatedly raised his fist in the air, with an American flag visible behind him, as security ushered him away.
“The Secret Service has implemented protective measures and the former president is safe,” a spokesperson for the agency said on X after what it called an incident.
“This is now an active Secret Service investigation and further information will be released when available.”

A map of the site, showing where the alleged gunman was situated compared to Donald Trump.

CNN reported that Trump was injured, but gave no other details. It was not clear how or what injuries he may have sustained.

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NASA astronauts phone home, confident Boeing’s Starliner will return to Earth safely



Stranded NASA astronauts express confidence in Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, assuring its capability to safely transport them back to Earth from the International Space Station.

The astronauts, over a video call to NASA, highlighted Starliner’s enhanced safety features and testing protocols as reassuring factors for their safe return.

“I have a real good feeling in my heart that this spacecraft will bring us home, no problem…”, said Sunita “Suni” Williams, one of the stranded NASA astronauts.

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Franchising vs. Independent: key differences to choosing the right SMB model



With latest Australian Federal budget, many SMB’s are weighing their options when selecting a suitable business model.

Franchising provides brand recognition, operational support, and economies of scale but involves ongoing fees.

Independent businesses offer full control and profit retention but face higher costs and regulatory challenges.

For risk and reward, the franchising model reduces risk through established practices and support but involves ongoing fees and profit-sharing with the franchisor.

On the alternative, independent businesses retain full control of profits but face higher risks and responsibilities in managing the business.

Sonia Shwabsky, CEO at Kwik Kopy Australia, joins to share her key insights on SMB’s. #featured

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