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Sunak Eyes 10 Downing, Battle For Kherson, Cheating Hats

Photo of Filipio students wearing fun "anti-cheating" hats during an exam.

Students in Legazpi City, Philippines, were asked by their teachers to create DIY “anti cheating” hats.

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Laure Gautherin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Salaam alaykum!*

Welcome to Monday, where Boris Johnson pulls out of the race to replace Liz Truss, China’s leader Xi Jinping gets reelected for a third time, and the fight against cheating at exams gets creative in the Philippines. Meanwhile, London-based, Persian-language daily Kayhan spoke with a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards who is undermining the regime’s crackdown of the month-long protest movement.



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• Russian troops dig in to defend Kherson: Though Russia has been evacuating citizens from Kherson, there are reports that new military units are arriving in preparation of defending the strategic southern city. Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu warned the war risked moving towards “uncontrolled escalation.”

• Johnson pulls out of UK PM race, Sunak becomes favorite: Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak looks set to become the next UK Prime Minister after Boris Johnson withdrew from the race on Sunday night. The former prime minister, who was forced out of office just three months ago by several scandals, said that it was not “the right time” to return to 10 Downing Street after his successor Liz Truss’ reign lasted just 44 days. Sunak would be Britain’s first Hindu prime minister.

• Xi Jinping secures historic third term: China’s leader Xi Jinping has cemented his place as the country’s most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong by securing an unprecedented third term at the end of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing.

• North and South Korea exchange warning shots: North and South Korea have traded warning shots off their western coast, accusing each other of breaching their maritime border amid heightened tensions following Pyongyang’s recent missile tests.

• Salman Rushdie health update: Salman Rushdie’s agent announced that the author has lost sight in one eye and the use of a hand following an attack at a literary event in New York last August. The man accused of stabbing Rushdie is being held without bail and has pleaded not guilty to second-degree attempted murder and assault charges.

• Lebanon fails to elect president for fourth time: Lebanon’s parliament has failed for the fourth time to elect a successor to President Michel Aoun, due to divisions among lawmakers over a candidate opposed by Hezbollah.

• Student “anti-cheating” exam hats go viral in Philippines: Images of students wearing DIY “anti-cheating” hats made out of egg boxes, paper and other recycled materials during mid-term exams at a college in Legazpi City, Philippines, have gone viral on social media. Teachers said nobody was caught cheating this year.


The People's Daily (Rénmín Rìbào), a daily newspaper run by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), devotes its front page to Xi Jinping, who was confirmed as leader of China for an unprecedented third term at the end of the week-long 20th Party National Congress. The CCP also named a new Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) made out of seven key Xi loyalists.


€238 million

A French court approved an agreement between Credit Suisse Group and the French financial prosecution office to settle a tax fraud and money laundering case with a payment of 238 million euros from the Swiss bank to the state. This concludes an investigation over whether Credit Suisse Group had helped customers avoid paying tax on their wealth, causing a fiscal damage of over 100 millions euros to the French state.


Iran protests, dissent in the ranks: interview with a mole inside the Revolutionary Guard

A member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards tells Kayhan-London that while they must stay hidden, "many" policemen, soldiers and officials sympathize with the mass protests against the Islamist regime. He also shares information about Iran's role in the Ukraine war.

🇮🇷 You said you and your brother oppose the Islamic Republic. Why haven't you left the Revolutionary Guard?
“It is not as easy as you think. We are engaged in this from a young age. It might be easy to leave the Sepah after a two-year service, but after 10 to 12 years, it is extremely difficult and dangerous. So like the other protesters, we try to help the overthrow. I myself am in charge of a group of plainclothes agents (used to put down the protests). I've told them, ‘if you catch any protesters don't harm them, just take them to a side street a bit further on and let them go.’”

🇱🇧🇮🇶 They say forces from Lebanon have been brought in to crack down on the protests.
“Yes. The Islamic Republic has brought in members of the Hashd al-shaabi and the Hizballah and is keeping more in Iraq and Lebanon. Which is why Hizbollah has been slightly flexible with Israel (over the Karish gas field and maritime border with Lebanon). They're short of forces... and have recently trained (convicts) and pardoned them, but they are not to flee. They have been told they must suppress the people. They've even been forced to shave the back of their heads.. to make them recognizable, because as I say, they're short of manpower.”

✊ What do you know about reported desertions among Revolutionary Guard forces?
“Yes, there has been a lot. They're so short of forces that they're now officially using minors. My brother says some of his colleagues are not happy with the situation... If the Islamic Republic doesn't pay the wages of these remaining forces, there will be more dissent... People just have to make an effort and give that final kick. If people want (regime change), this is the best time. Russia as (the regime's) permanent backer is stuck in Ukraine. It's now or never. The Islamic Republic is in its weakest position to date.”

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


This would simply not be the right thing to do.

— Boris Johnson issued a statement last night announcing he was dropping out of the race to succeed Liz Truss as Britain’s leader. The former prime minister, who left the position four months ago amid various scandals, clears the path for his rival Rishi Sunak, who could be declared the new Conservative Party leader as early as this afternoon.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Laure Gautherin and Bertrand Hauger

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My Wife, My Boyfriend — And Grandkids: A Careful Coming Out For China's Gay Seniors

A series of interviews in Wuhan with aging gay men — all currently or formerly married to women — reveals a hidden story of how Chinese LGBTQ culture is gradually emerging from the shadows.

Image of two senior men playing chinese Checkers.

A friendly game of Checkers in Dongcheng, Beijing, China.

Wang Er

WUHAN — " What do you think of that guy sitting there, across from us? He's good looking."

" Then you should go and talk to him."

“ Too bad that I am old..."

Grandpa Shen was born in 1933. He says that for the past 40 years, he's been "repackaged," a Chinese expression for having come out as gay. Before his wife died when he was 50, Grandpa Shen says he was was a "standard" straight Chinese man. After serving in the army, he began working in a factory, and dated many women and evenutually got married.

"Becoming gay is nothing special, I found it very natural." Grandpa Shen says he discovered his homosexuality at the Martyrs' Square in Wuhan, a well-known gay men's gathering place.

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

Wuhan used to have different such ways for LGBTQ+ to meet: newspaper columns, riversides, public toilets, bridges and baths to name but a few. With urbanization, many of these locations have disappeared. The transformation of Martyrs' Square into a park has gradually become a place frequented by middle-aged and older gay people in Wuhan, where they play cards and chat and make friends. There are also "comrades" (Chinese slang for gay) from outside the city who come to visit.

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