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In The News

FTX Founder Arrested, EU Offices Searched, Fusion Breakthrough

Disgraced crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested by U.S. federal authorities in the Bahamas after criminal charges were filed against him in the wake of his crypto exchange platform FTX鈥檚 collapse.

Disgraced crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested by U.S. federal authorities in the Bahamas after criminal charges were filed against him in the wake of his crypto exchange platform FTX鈥檚 collapse.

Bertrand Hauger, Laure Gautherin, Emma Albright and Hugo Perrin

馃憢 Y谩始谩t始茅茅h!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where disgraced crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried is arrested in the Bahamas, the EU parliament faces its worst corruption scandal in decades, and U.S. scientists are expected to announce a nuclear fusion breakthrough with huge clean energy implications. Meanwhile, Warsaw-based daily Gazeta Wyborcza unpacks the new law that sees Poland try to slap blasphemers with jail time.

[*Navajo]

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馃寧聽 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

鈥 Hungary lifts veto on EU aid to Ukraine: Hungary has agreed to lift its veto on 鈧18 billion of European aid to Ukraine, in exchange for Brussels unfreezing some of the country鈥檚 EU funds and approving a post-COVID recovery package. Last month, Brussels recommended blocking 鈧7.5 billion in funds to Hungary over rule of law concerns.

鈥 FTX founder arrested in Bahamas: Federal authorities arrested disgraced crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried in the Bahamas after criminal charges were filed against him. Last month, the dramatic collapse of his FTX exchange platform sent shockwaves through the crypto world.

鈥 Peru protests escalate: Anti-government demonstrations have intensified across Peru, with protesters setting up blockades and storming Arequipa鈥檚 international airport, despite newly-appointed President Dina Boluarte鈥檚 pledge to hold early elections in 2024. Violent clashes, sparked by the removal of President Pedro Castillo from office, have already killed seven.

鈥 Australia shooting kills six: Six people, including two police officers, were killed in a shooting at a remote property in Australia's northeastern state of Queensland. Police had been dispatched to the home to investigate a missing person when two individuals opened fire; a siege and a gunfight ensued, during which the two officers were killed, together with a 46-year-old man, a 47-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman.

鈥 First clashes in a year at India-China mountain border: The Indian army is reporting clashes with Chinese soldiers in a disputed area between the two countries, in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Only minor injuries have been reported so far, in the first such flare-up of tensions in the region since 24 troops were killed in a clash back in 2020.

鈥 Nuclear fusion breakthrough: U.S. scientists at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California successfully produced 鈥渁 nuclear fusion reaction resulting in a net energy gain鈥, according to the Financial Times. The U.S. Department of Energy is expected to officially announce the breakthrough today, which could be a milestone in producing clean energy.

鈥 BTS鈥檚 Jin reporting for duty: Jin, the oldest member of K-pop supergroup BTS, has started his 18-month of mandatory military service at a South Korean boot camp. The 30-year-old singer flaunted his new buzz cut on social media, with the caption: 鈥淐uter than expected.鈥

馃棡锔徛 FRONT PAGE

"Democracy, yes. Terrorism, no." Brazilian daily Correio Braziliense dedicates its front page to the violence that followed the certification ceremony during which Luiz Inacio 鈥淟ula鈥 da Silva was confirmed as winner of the presidential election by the federal electoral court in Brasilia. Supporters of his rival, far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro, attempted to invade the federal police headquarters in the capital. Buses and cars were set on fire and the police had to shoot stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Others blocked highways and gathered outside the presidential residence, calling for military intervention to stop Lula being sworn in.

馃挰聽 LEXICON

閫氫俊琛岀▼鍗

China announced its decision to retire its country-wide COVID-19 tracking app (閫氫俊琛岀▼鍗, pronounced T艒ngx矛n x铆ngch茅ng k菐, meaning Communication Itinerary Card), a major step in Beijing鈥檚 recent U-turn on its strict zero-COVID policy.

馃摪聽 STORY OF THE DAY

Poland鈥檚 ruling party seeks tough new blasphemy law, jail for mocking church

Poland鈥檚 legislature is in the process of passing new 鈥渂lasphemy鈥 restrictions that would impose jail sentences for denigrating the Catholic Church, Warsaw-based daily Gazeta Wyborcza reported Monday.

馃嚨馃嚤 Parliament鈥檚 lower house has approved an amendment that 鈥 if passed into law 鈥 would impose 鈥渁 fine, a penalty of restriction of liberty, or imprisonment up to two years,鈥 on anyone who 鈥減ublicly lies or makes fun of the Church or other religious association with official legal standing, or dogmas or rites.鈥 According to Gazeta Wyborcza, the move to impose such blasphemy restrictions began in October when Marcin Warcho艂, the former Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of Justice, began collecting the signatures required to introduce new legislation.

馃鈿栵笍 Stricter penalties for anti-religious activities or statements follow in line with promises made by Polish President Andrzej Duda of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) to reinforce traditionalist religious practices in public life, and simultaneously restrict the freedoms of LGBTQ+ people.

Poland鈥檚 parliament has recently passed various legislation restricting the right to abortion, instituting mandatory religious curriculum in schools, and banning LGBTQ+ 鈥減ropaganda.鈥

馃寛 In addition to the direct restrictions on and penalties for blasphemy, the proposed law 鈥 an amendment to a rarely used section of the criminal code dating back to 1932 鈥 would prevent critics of LGBTQ+ issues from being sued for libel or slander. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2019, 79 countries had laws or policies banning blasphemy. These laws are most common in the Middle East and North Africa, where the majority of the population is Muslim. Poland, where 87% of the population identifies as Roman Catholic, is an exception on the list.

鉃★笍 Read more on Worldcrunch.com

馃摚 VERBATIM

European democracy is under attack.

鈥 At the opening of the European Parliament鈥檚 December's plenary session, the body鈥檚 President Roberta Metsola, warned Monday that 鈥淓uropean democracy is under attack鈥 and that there would be "no impunity" for those involved in the worst bribery scandal in memory to hit the EU鈥檚 institutions. Belgian investigators conducted fresh searches of European Parliament offices in Brussels in an effort to find evidence of bribes from Qatar. One of the accused members of parliament, Greece鈥檚 Eva Kaili, was stripped of her position as vice president and remanded in custody after the probe led to the discovery of "bags of cash" in her home.

鉁嶏笍 Newsletter by Bertrand Hauger, Laure Gautherin, Emma Albright and Hugo Perrin


Let us know what鈥檚 happening in your corner of the world!

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Economy

Lex Tusk? How Poland鈥檚 Controversial "Russian Influence" Law Will Subvert Democracy

The new 鈥渓ex Tusk鈥 includes language about companies and their management. But is this likely to be a fair investigation into breaking sanctions on Russia, or a political witch-hunt in the business sphere?

Photo of President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda

Polish President Andrzej Duda

Piotr Miaczynski, Leszek Kostrzewski

-Analysis-

WARSAW 鈥 Poland鈥檚 new Commission for investigating Russian influence, which President Andrzej Duda signed into law on Monday, will be able to summon representatives of any company for inquiry. It has sparked a major controversy in Polish politics, as political opponents of the government warn that the Commission has been given near absolute power to investigate and punish any citizen, business or organization.

And opposition politicians are expected to be high on the list of would-be suspects, starting with Donald Tusk, who is challenging the ruling PiS government to return to the presidency next fall. For that reason, it has been sardonically dubbed: Lex Tusk.

University of Warsaw law professor Michal Romanowski notes that the interests of any firm can be considered favorable to Russia. 鈥淭hese are instruments which the likes of Putin and Orban would not be ashamed of," Romanowski said.

The law on the Commission for examining Russian influences has "atomic" prerogatives sewn into it. Nine members of the Commission with the rank of secretary of state will be able to summon virtually anyone, with the powers of severe punishment.

Under the new law, these Commissioners will become arbiters of nearly absolute power, and will be able to use the resources of nearly any organ of the state, including the secret services, in order to demand access to every available document. They will be able to prosecute people for acts which were not prohibited at the time they were committed.

Their prerogatives are broader than that of the President or the Prime Minister, wider than those of any court. And there is virtually no oversight over their actions.

Nobody can feel safe. This includes companies, their management, lawyers, journalists, and trade unionists.

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