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In The News

Sudan Prison Break, Taliban Kill ISIS Leader, Bye Bye Belafonte

Black and White image of Henry Belafonte

Belafonte was a prolific gospel, folk and jazz singer-songwriter, actor and committed civil rights activist who worked toward ending segregation alongside Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

Emma Albright, Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Allegra!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where a war crime suspect has been freed in Sudan after a prison break-out, the Taliban report the killing of the Islamic State leader believed to be behind the 2021 Kabul airport bombing, and we mourn the death of “Calypso King” Harry Belafonte. Meanwhile, in Ukrainian news website Livy Bereg, Oleksandr Kalinichenko looks at Ukraine’s expectations ahead of the July NATO summit.

[*Romansh, Switzerland]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Sudan latest: Ahmed Haroun, a former Sudanese politician wanted for alleged crimes against humanity has said that he and other former officials are no longer in jail. Haroun and others reportedly escaped from Kober prison, where former president Omar al-Bashir is also held. Haroun faces charges in the International Criminal Court. Meanwhile, a ceasefire in Sudan seems to be holding.

• Putin signs decree to control two foreign firms’ assets: President Vladimir Putinhas signed a decree taking temporary control of Russian subsidiaries of two foreign energy firms – Germany’s Uniper and Finland’s Fortum Oyj – signaling that Moscow could take similar action against other international companies if Russian assets abroad are seized.

• Taliban kill IS leader behind Kabul airport bombing: Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban have killed an Islamic State leader believed to have planned the 2021 Kabul airport bombing, which killed 170 civilians and 13 U.S. soldiers as people fled the Taliban advance into Kabul. The killing happened weeks ago, but U.S. officials said it took time to confirm his death.

• Singapore executes man for trafficking cannabis: Singapore executed Tangaraju Suppiah, 46, on Wednesday over a plot to smuggle 1kg (35oz) of cannabis, despite pleas for clemency from his family, activists and the United Nations. Activists said the evidence against Suppiah was poor, and that he had limited legal counsel during the trial.

• British American Tobacco to pay $635m for North Korea sanctions breaches: British American Tobacco will pay $635m (£512m) plus interest to U.S. authorities after a subsidiary admitted to selling cigarettes to North Korea, in violation of international sanctions imposed on the country over its nuclear and ballistic missile activities.

• Japan’s Moon lander goes MIA: Flight controllers lost contact on Tuesday with a Japanese lunar lander carrying a rover developed in the United Arab Emirates. It would have been the first time a commercially developed spacecraft landed on the Moon, but the company says the craft is believed to have been lost.

• Harry Belafonte dies at 96: Harry Belafonte, the singer, songwriter and actor who started his entertainment career belting "Day O" in his 1950s hit song "Banana Boat," before turning to political activism, has died in New York at age 96. Belafonte worked with Martin Luther King Jr. during the U.S. civil rights movement in the 1960s, and was the driving force behind the celebrity-studded, famine-fighting 1980’s hit song "We Are the World.”

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Spanish-language California-based daily La Opinión devotes its front page to Joe Biden’s “second round” after the U.S. president announced yesterday he will run for re-election in 2024, setting off a campaign that could result in a rematch of the 2020 clash with Donald Trump.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

When will Ukraine join NATO? All eyes on Vilnius, and the frontline

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accepted an invitation to attend the next NATO summit in July. But he will arrive with expectations that the alliance is ready to pave the way for the country's accession to the military alliance, even as the state of the war itself remains crucial to the decision, writes Oleksandr Kalinichenko for Ukrainian news website Livy Bereg.

🌐📄 For more than 20 years, no NATO candidate nation has avoided the alliance’s standard Membership Action Plan application procedure. That all changed last year when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and Finland and Sweden abandoned their neutrality and applied for NATO membership. This set a precedent: the alliance decided that the two Scandinavian countries could skip the procedure. Now, Ukraine hopes to follow suit.

🇺🇦 Many parallels can be drawn between Ukraine and NATO’s Scandinavian newcomers. But there is one significant difference: the war, which has undermined Ukraine’s political and diplomatic efforts to get NATO membership in the short term. Despite support from member states, the alliance cannot afford to become a party to the war by providing Ukraine with guarantees during active hostilities.

❌ Some NATO members say Ukraine's accession cannot be seriously discussed during the war. At the same time, the number of countries supporting a "political path" to membership for Ukraine is growing among Central and Eastern European states. But according to The Financial Times, the U.S., Germany and Hungary are against providing a roadmap for Ukraine's membership in the alliance.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS

$260,000

John Travolta’s iconic white three-piece suit from the movie Saturday Night Fever sold for $260,000 at auction in California. The event was organized by Julien’s Auctions and Turner Classic Movies as part of a “Hollywood: Classic and Contemporary” special sale.

📣 VERBATIM

“Apologizing is sometimes the easiest thing to do.”

— Portuguese President Rebelo de Sousa has suggested that his country should issue a formal apology for Portugal’s role in the transatlantic slave trade, which would make him the first Portuguese leader to do so. Sousa’s comments came as Brazilian President Lula addressed the Portuguese parliament during his first visit to Europe since he was re-elected to the presidency this year. From the 15th to the 19th century, Portugal forcibly transported an estimated 6 million Africans across the Atlantic and sold them into slavery.

✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat and Anne-Sophie Goninet


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Society

After Gay Sex Tape, Iran Regime Now Faces "State Of Intimacy" Revelations Of Woman In Hijab

A scandal of the secret gay life of a senior Tehran official set off ricocheting accusations in the regime. Now compromising photos have emerged of a top state broadcasting manager with a female employee, who nonetheless kept her hair covered. The piousness of the Islamic Republic is ever more called into question.

Photo purportedly showing a director of Iran's state broadcasting body in a "state of intimacy" with a female employee of the organization.

Photo purportedly showing a director of Iran's state broadcasting body in a "state of intimacy" with a female employee of the organization.

Kayhan London

This article was updated August 21, 2023 at 5:35 p.m.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, a state that touts itself as a defender of morality, is facing more revelations about the sexual shenanigans of its officials. Like the circulation of a gay sex tape earlier this summer, an Instagram profile named as Radio Gilan is behind the X-rated disclosures, meant above all to show the vile hypocrisy of a regime that beats, imprisons and even executes ordinary folks for deviating from Islamic moral norms.

In the latest incident, Radio Gilan has published pictures, purportedly showing a director of the state broadcasting body in a "state of intimacy" with a female employee of the organization. Whatever else might have happened, as the pictures show, at least she kept her Islamic headscarf hijab on!

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