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German intelligence reportedly intercepted radio exchanges between Russian soldiers who discussed killing Ukrainian civilians outside Kyiv, potentially leveling a powerful retort to widely dismissed Russian claims that massacres in Bucha and elsewhere were “staged.” The German information indicated that Russia’s Wagner Group, a mercenary firm tied to the Kremlin, may have been involved in the atrocities. Some eyewitnesses claimed Chechens were among them as well, Der Spiegel magazine reported. German officials, who presented the intelligence to lawmakers in Berlin Wednesday, say the intercepts indicate that the murder of civilians in the town of Bucha was not an act by rogue forces, but may have been part of a deliberate strategy to foment terror.

Hans Kluge, Europe Director General for the World Health Organization Photographer: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization is preparing for potential chemical attacks or accidents in the war in Ukraine, according to the agency’s European head. NATO officials have warned that Vladimir Putin may resort to weapons of mass destruction to turn the tide following the loss of what may be thousands of soldiers in his botched invasion. “WHO is considering all scenarios and making contingencies for different situations that could afflict the people of Ukraine, from the continued treatment of mass casualties, to chemical assaults,” Hans Kluge, Europe Director General for the WHO said at a media briefing in Lviv. Outside Ukraine, some in NATO countries and especially the U.S. have been scratching their heads over why Russia’s vaunted cyber arsenal hasn’t been more of a force to be reckoned with since the war began. Well, according to the New York Times, U.S. officials knew where a lot of Kremlin malware had been planted all over the world, and decided to remove it.  

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As Europe joins the U.S. in hitting the Kremlin with tighter sanctions, there are plenty of signs Russia is finding ways to prop up its economy. Cargoes of Russian Sokol crude from the Far East have sold out for next month. Gas flows from Russia to Europe have, if anything, increased since the invasion. Indeed, Russian coal and oil paid for in yuan is about to start flowing into China as the two countries try to maintain their energy trade.

The next economic jolt to Russia may arrive by way of its labor market. Joblessness this year is set to more than double from the first quarter and exceed 9% for the first time in more than a decade.

Globally, JPMorgan warned that commodities could surge by a record 40% should investors boost their allocation to raw materials at a time of rising inflation.

Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, making history as the first Black woman to ever join its ranks while leaving the balance on the nine-member court—controlled by a six member Republican-appointed majority—unchanged. The 53-47 vote affirming the elevation of the 51-year-old federal appellate judge saw her garner backing of all 50 Senate Democrats and only three Republicans.

Ketanji Brown Jackson Photographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg

The risk of developing serious bleeding or potentially deadly blood clots is elevated for months after experiencing even a mild Covid-19 infection, Swedish researchers found. In Africa, only one in almost 100 coronavirus cases may have been detected and about two-thirds of the continent’s inhabitants may have been infected with the disease. Globally, just one in 16 cases have been picked up on average. In Asia, Thailand will consider scrapping a mandatory PCR test on arrival for foreign visitors as the Southeast Asian nation further relaxes its visa rules to attract tourists.  

Canada will ban most foreigners from buying homes for two years and provide billions of dollars to spur construction activity in an attempt to cool off a surging real-estate market. 

Pakistan’s Supreme Court rejected a parliamentary ruling that canceled a no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Imran Khan, a major blow to the former cricket star’s plans to hold fresh national elections. Khan will now have to face the no-confidence vote on Saturday.

Imran Khan Photographer: Asad Zaidi/Bloomberg

What you’ll need to know tomorrow

In Richer Burbs, Home Prices Don’t Rise as Fast 

Across most of the U.S., housing markets are exuberant. But in some of the country’s priciest neighborhoods, they’re actually pretty subdued. Upscale suburbs of Washington D.C. and wealthy New York City enclaves are among the markets with the slowest price appreciation.

Rye, New York  Photographer: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg

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