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Italy

Italian Police Seize Trove Of Toxic Bubble Soap Toys Shaped Like Gelato

LA REPUBBLICA, CORIERRE DELLA SERA (Italy)

Worldcrunch

LA SPEZIA - Sounds like a classic recipe for summer fun: little kids, bubbles, ice cream cones....Chinese bacteria?

A huge stock of allegedly toxic made-in-China bubble soap toys has been seized by Italian Police, Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica report. Italian children, to whom the products were aimed, risked being exposed to infections from a so-called "opportunistic" bacterium hidden in the liquid, authorities say.

In late June, a container of 35,214 colorful bubble soap packages, for a total value of 100,000 euros, arrived from China in the northern Italian port of La Spezia. Police seized the toys, which are in the shapes of ice cream cones and billy clubs (see video), and sent them for testing to the Italian Environment Protection Agency.

Results show the bubble soap contained 380,000 times the tolerable upper intake level of the bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause serious infections, Corriere della Sera reports. Other, similar shipments may be in circulation, and Italian authorities recommend anyone who is in possession of objects in these shapes destroy them immediately, or have them tested. The Florentine businessman who'd ordered the toys has been arrested for importing illicit materials.

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Geopolitics

With The Chechen War Veterans Fighting For Ukraine — And For Revenge

They came to fight Russia, and to avenge the deaths of their loved ones and friends killed in Chechnya. Not wanting to sit in the trenches, they've found work in intelligence and sabotage.

Photo of members of the pro-Ukrainian Chechen group "Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalion" posing with weapons

Members of the pro-Ukrainian Chechen group "Dzhokhar Dudayev Battalion"

Lydia Mikhalchenko

At least five Chechen units are fighting for Ukraine, with more than 1,000 troops in each unit — and their number is growing.

Most of these Chechen fighters took part in the first and second Chechen wars with Russia, and were forced to flee to Ukraine or elsewhere in Europe after their defeat. Vazhnyye Istorii correspondent Lydia Mikhalchenko met with some of these fighters.

Four of the five Chechen battalions are part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and are paid the standard wages (about €4,000 per month for those on the front line) and receive equipment and supplies.

Chechen fighters say they appreciate that Ukrainian commanders don't order them to take unnecessary risks and attack objectives just to line up with an unrealistic schedule or important dates — something Russian generals are fond of doing.

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The experienced Chechen fighters have taken fewer losses than many other units. Unhappy sitting in trenches, they mostly engage in reconnaissance and sabotage, moving along the front lines. "The Russians wake up, and the commander is gone. Or he's dead," one of the fighters explains.

Some of the fighters say that the Ukrainian war is easier than their previous battles in Chechnya, when they had to sit in the mountains for weeks without supplies and make do with small stocks of arms and ammunition. Some call this a "five-star war."

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