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Before this week, few outside of France knew his face. But no doubt, millions have been busy Google-Image-searching the name "Guillaume Canet." Yup, bel homme. He is also an accomplished actor and director, and happens to be the husband of the already internationally known French actress, Marion Cotillard. And that, as you are disturbingly likely to know, is how Canet has now made it onto our collective radar. For those just tuning in, Cotillard has been the chief collateral damage of the Hollywood mega-divorce of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Having just filmed a movie with Pitt, the famously private Cotillard was forced late last night to publicly deny rumors she was the cause of the "Brangelina" breakup. She wrote it in French and in English — and she put it on Instagram.


Gossip of course dates back to ancient times, and the modern cult of celebrity is very much a 20th-century creation. But the current digital information revolution is upping the stakes, on both truth and decorum: Just look at the U.S. presidential elections. Typically, in the face of the Internet maelstrom, we blame the forces beyond our control, the fame seekers and media personalities, or even the technology itself. But a recent essay by former superblogger Andrew Sullivan suggests we look at ourselves. Here's a snippet of a piece entitled "I Used To Be A Human Being".


"I tried reading books, but that skill now began to elude me. After a couple of pages, my fingers twitched for a keyboard. I tried meditation, but my mind bucked and bridled as I tried to still it," he writes. "But over time in this pervasive virtual world, the online clamor grew louder and louder. Although I spent hours each day, alone and silent, attached to a laptop, it felt as if I were in a constant cacophonous crowd of words and images, sounds and ideas, emotions and tirades — a wind tunnel of deafening, deadening noise. So much of it was irresistible, as I fully understood. So much of the technology was irreversible, as I also knew. But I'd begun to fear that this new way of living was actually becoming a way of not-living." The entire essay is very much worth a read, if you can keep your fingers from twitching toward the next Brangelina link on your screen.



WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY



BAHAMAS TAX HAVEN LEAKS REVEALED

Five months after the Panama Papers leaks, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has revealed a list of directors of 175,000 Bahamas offshore firms, which included the European Commission's former antitrust chief Neelie Kroes and UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd. More from The Guardian.


SECOND NIGHT OF CHARLOTTE RIOTS

The governor of North Carolina declared a state of emergency after clashes with police erupted for a second night in Charlotte, with one protester was critically injured. CNN reports that the person is in critical condition and on life support. One police officer was transported to the hospital, but the severity of his injuries is currently unknown. The protests come in the wake of the fatal shooting of a black man by a police officer on Tuesday.


— ON THIS DAY

From Haiti to Switzerland, here's your 57-second shot of history.


LANDSLIDES, FLOODS LEAVE 26 DEAD IN INDONESIA

At least 26 people died and 19 are still missing after torrential rain and fast-rising floods swept through West Java, Indonesia, the Times of India reports. According to the national disaster agency, more than a dozen children below the age of 12 have lost their lives, and many are yet to be formally identified.


43 DEAD AFTER MIGRANT BOAT CAPSIZES OFF EGYPT

At least 43 people died after a boat carrying some 600 Egyptian, Syrian and African migrants capsized off the coast of Egypt. Another 154 people have been rescued so far. More 300,000 refugees and migrants have made the Mediterranean sea crossing so far this year, the UN Refugee Agency reported Tuesday.


— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Two months after the coup attempt in Turkey, questions linger: Writing for asks for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, Aydın Engin asks: Who knew what, and when? "President Erdogan, as if he is mocking us all, later says that he heard of the coup attempt from his brother-in-law. If he was hearing about the coup from his brother-in-law, six or eight hours after the intelligence had reached to the officials, then the responsible parties should be at the at the center of this coup. … The strange nature of all these facts are apparent to everybody; but each of these people — from those who transmitted the intelligence, to the president and prime minister, to those who went to the wedding, to politicians and high officials with or without uniform whose whereabouts or what they were doing during that six (or four) hours is yet unknown — all still have their positions."

Read the full article, Turkey's Failed Coup, Why The Official Line Doesn't Add Up.


MARKETS REACT TO FED'S DECISION

World shares and bonds rallied this morning, after the Federal Reserve decided not to increase its interest rates. This is how Reuters put it: "Soothing Fed gives stocks their mojo."


IS APPLE BUYING F1 MCLAREN GROUP?

"We can confirm that McLaren is not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment," McLaren spokesman said yesterday after the Financial Times reported that a potential deal would see Apple pay up to £1.5 billion for McLaren, the BBC reports.


— MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD

RIP Valley Of Tombs — Palmyra, 1996


MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH

BONDS, JAMES BONDS

MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service of James Bond fame, is expected to hire about 40% more employees by 2020, according to the BBC quoting government sources — bumping the number of people working for the spy agency to a little under 3,500. Get those martinis shaking.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Notes From The Front: How The Russian Army Is Rotting From Within

The deteriorating conditions among Russia’s front line troops, chronicled by a handful of foot soldiers who have spoken out, may explain why Ukraine’s recent counter-assault has been so successful.

Military school cadets of the Russian army in Moscow

Anna Akage

Russia’s ongoing loss of territory in Ukraine can be explained by tactical errors on the part of Moscow’s generals, and the outsized ambitions of Vladimir Putin. But no less important — and evidently related — is the collapse of rank-and-file Russian soldiers.

The sudden collapse of Moscow’s units, having ceded a total of more than 3,000 square miles from both the northeastern region near Kharkiv and southern areas around Kherson, comes amid growing disaffection among Russian soldiers who went to war in Ukraine. Much of it has been chronicled through confessions and critiques that have begun to appear in the media and on social networks.

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To be sure, these are isolated voices among the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of those who for various reasons decided to abandon the army. But they are no doubt an expression of a much wider set of circumstances and sentiments among foot soldiers fighting on behalf of Moscow.

By far the best known of the soldiers speaking out is paratrooper Pavel Filatiev, who wrote a 140-page book-length chronicle of the two months of the war he spent as part of the battalion that had crossed over from Crimea to launch an assault on Kherson on February 24.

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Writing contest - My pandemic story
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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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