Welcome to Friday, where the FBI has arrested a 21-year-old member of the U.S. Air National Guard for the recent military leaks, Algeria tightens control over the country’s journalists, and as of today, China is no longer the world’s most populous country. Meanwhile, Russian-language news website Agency looks at Moscow’s new method for cracking down on draft dodgers, which comes as Ukraine is believed to be planning a major counter-offensive.
[*Nǐhǎo - Cantonese]
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• FBI arrests 21-year-old National Guardsman for online intelligence leaks: The FBI on Thursday arrested Jack Douglas Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the U.S. Air National Guard, over the leaks online of classified documents that has embarrassed Washington with allies around the world, including Ukraine. Teixeira is accused of having sent the documents on a Discord group chat of around 30 young men and teens united by their love of guns, video games, military gear and God.
• Major prisoner swap to start in Yemen: About 900 prisoners are expected to be released and swapped over the next three days, after an agreement was reached between Houthi rebels and pro-government Saudi-led forces, the two warring sides of the Yemen war.
• Algeria approves law tightening control over media: Algeria’s parliament has approved a new law that tightens control over the work of journalists, banning media from receiving any funding or material assistance from any “foreign entity” and de facto excluding dual nationals from owning or contributing to the ownership of a media outlet in the country.
• Florida’s six-weeks abortion ban: Florida lawmakers voted to prohibit abortions after six weeks of pregnancy on Thursday, culminating a rapid effort by elected Republicans and Gov. Ron DeSantis to transform the state to one of the most restrictive in the country. The ban will end Florida’s long-held role as a destination for women from across the Deep South seeking abortions.
• France’s Constitutional Court to rule on controversial pension reform: France's top Constitutional Court is to rule Friday on whether to approve President Emmanuel Macron's deeply unpopular pensions reform which would raise the retirement age to 64 from 62. After three months of strikes and mass protests, the Constitutional Council's green light is the final hurdle before Macron can sign the changes into law and ensure they are implemented.
• South Korea is paying “lonely young people” $500 a month to re-enter society: The South Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family announced this week that it will provide up to 650,000 Korean won (about $500) per month to isolated social recluses, in a bid to support their “psychological and emotional stability and healthy growth.” About 338,000 Koreans aged 19 to 39 (3.1%) have been identified as “reclusive lonely young people.”
• Japan approves $13.5 bln Osaka resort, country's first casino: Japan has approved a plan to build the country's first casino in the western city of Osaka, paving the way for a 1.8 trillion yen ($13.5 billion) giant resort on Yumeshima, an island in Osaka Bay, set to open in 2029. Until a change in legislation in 2016, Japan was the only major economy to ban casinos.
Brazilian daily Folha de São Paulo features a picture of president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva wearing a virtual reality headset during a visit to Huawei’s research and development center in Shanghai. The Brazilian president meets with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Friday, as part of a state visit aimed at setting the relations between the two countries back on track.
A United Nations forecast predicts that India will surpass China’s population today, making it the most populous country in the world with nearly 1.43 billion inhabitants as of today. Meanwhile, the Chinese population is gradually declining from when it reached its peak of 1.42 billion in 2021.
With Ukraine's counter-offensive looming, Russia cracks down on draft dodgers
The law gives authorities unlimited opportunities to impose travel bans, prohibit foreign travel, grant loans, execute real estate transactions and block driver licenses of those who don't show up for conscription. But will it be enough to supply Moscow's military with the trained forces it needs? asks independent Russian-language news website Agency.
🎖️ A new Russian law will overhaul the country's Soviet-era conscription system and make it harder for Russians to dodge a new draft — but some observers say it may not even work, and will likely create opportunities for corruption and abuse. The government insists the changes are needed to avoid a repeat of the chaos last year when thousands were recruited for the front in Ukraine, but as a rumored Ukrainian counteroffensive looms, many Russians fear a second wave of mobilization is imminent.
📱 Under the new law, notices can be sent digitally through the Russian government's online portal Gosuslugi. Recipients have seven days to report to a recruitment center before they can face legal penalties. Deleting a Gosuslugi account won't help: the summons is considered to have been served seven days after it is registered in a government database that collects the data of people eligible for military service.
🚫 People called up for the draft are banned from leaving Russia as soon as they receive a summons. If a person summoned for military service fails to appear at the military registration and enlistment office within 20 days, they can face other penalties: their driver's license can be restricted, and they can be barred from getting bank loans, buying property, registering a business or being self-employed.
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➡️ Watch the video: THIS HAPPENED
“It’s important to keep Peng Shuai’s case in the public eye. What she did initially was extraordinary.”
— After 16 months of suspending tennis competition in China, the Women's Tennis Association decided to bring its events back to the country. The WTA had instituted a boycott in late 2021, after former tennis player Peng Shuai had accused a high-ranking government official of sexual assault. After her allegations, Peng Shuai's social media accounts were deleted, and she disappeared from public view. WTA expressed alarm and called for a transparent investigation into Peng Shuai's allegations, but in February 2022, Shuai recanted the allegations and said she was well and safe.
✍️ Newsletter by Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat, Sophie Jacquier and Anne-Sophie Goninet
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