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When the Nobel Peace Prize is announced on Friday, it could provide a boost for a grassroots activist or international group working for peace and human rights. But it doesn’t always work out that way. For the two journalists who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021, the past year has not been easy. Dmitry Muratov of Russia and Maria Ressa of the Philippines have been fighting for the survival of their news organizations, defying government efforts to silence them. Muratov saw the situation for independent media in Russia turn from bad to worse following the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. In the Philippines, the legal travails of Ressa and her news website Rappler have not eased.

AP
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Ukraine's southern military command says its forces have retaken 400 square kilometers (155 square miles) of territory in the southern Kherson region this month as they continue to push Russian troops back in the south and east. Spokesperson Natalia Humeniuk of the Ukrainian military’s Operational Command South said the situation along the southern front was rapidly changing and remained complicated. Ukraine has recaptured 29 settlements in the region since Oct. 1, according to Oleksii Hromov in the Ukrainian army’s General Staff. Also Thursday, the European Union froze the assets of an additional 37 people and entities tied to Russia’s war in Ukraine, bringing the total of EU blacklist targets to over 1,350.

A New York City man is facing federal charges after prosecutors said he smuggled three Burmese pythons in his pants at a U.S-Canadian border crossing. Thirty-six-year-old Calvin Bautista of Queens is accused of bringing the hidden snakes on a bus that crossed the border into northern New York on July 15, 2018. Federal prosecutors say he was arraigned in Albany on Tuesday on the smuggling charge and released pending trial. An email seeking comment was sent to Bautista’s lawyer.

AP
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The family of the victim in the murder case chronicled in the first season of the “Serial” podcast has asked Maryland’s intermediate appellate court to halt Adnan Syed’s court case pending the family’s appeal of a judge’s overturning of Syed’s murder conviction. Young Lee, the brother of victim Hae Min Lee, asked the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in a six-page motion filed late last month to suspend further proceedings, including an Oct. 18 deadline by which prosecutors must decide whether to drop the charges against Syed or retry him for the killing. He contends that the family was not given enough notice about a court hearing last month.