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In The News

Wagner Still Recruiting, Supreme Court Nixes Affirmative Action, Hong Kong Slow Clap

Wagner Still Recruiting, Supreme Court Nixes Affirmative Action, Hong Kong Slow Clap

Without anti-Beijing protests of recent years, the 26th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return from Britain to Chinese sovereignty was a very ordinary and peaceful affair. Director of the Hong Kong Liaison Office Zheng Yan Xiong (left) and Chief Executive of Hong Kong John Lee (right) capture the mood.

Valeria Berghinz, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Marine Béguin and Sara Kahn

👋 Salamalekum!*

Welcome to Friday, where the Wagner Group reportedly continues to recruit new fighters, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that race cannot be a factor in university admissions and the simultaneous release of two very different movies leads to the creation of a new word. Meanwhile, Kyiv-based Ukrainska Pravda talks to a battle-hardened veteran with nine years of experience in the Ukraine war, who sheds light on why the battle for Bakhmut is still very much on.

[*Wolof, West Africa]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Reports: Wagner Group back to hiring, top Russian general was Wagner member: Intrigue continues to swirl in the wake of the Wagner Group’s aborted coup in Russia last weekend. CNN says it has obtained documents showing that top Russian General Sergey Surovikin was a secret VIP member of Wagner. Also, the BBC is reporting from multiple sources that the Wagner Group’s recruitment centers are still accepting fighters across Russia, even after Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted that Wagner fighters sign a contract with the Russian Defense Ministry.

• Third night of violent French protests: A third night of clashes with police, burning of property and looting of stores spread across French cities, following Monday’s police shooting of an unarmed teen motorist. At least 667 arrests have been made with 40,000 officers dispatched to contain the riots in virtually every major city after a video circulated of the shooting of 17-year-old Nahel M.

• U.S. Supreme Court rules that colleges must stop considering race in admissions: In a setback to affirmative action efforts to enroll more Black and Latino students at top universities, the Supreme Court has deemed it unconstitutional to factor race during the admission process. The ruling is a response to lawsuits against Harvard and the University of North Carolina, which claimed race-conscious admissions discriminate against white and Asian-American applicants. President Joe Biden decried this ruling: “We cannot let this decision be the last word on the matter.”

• Pentagon confirms Chinese spy balloon did not collect any information: The Chinese spy balloon shot down by U.S. forces in February, which heightened America-China tensions, was not collecting intelligence material at the time. A Pentagon spokesperson said on Thursday that the U.S. was “aware that it had intelligence collection capabilities,” but has since determined that they were not active when the balloon was over American soil.

• Swedish embassy in Baghdad stormed by protestors: Dozens of people broke into Sweden’s embassy in the Iraqi capital, to protest Stockholm’s decision to allow a demonstration where participants burned the Koran. The crowd entered the building for about 15 minutes, until law enforcement reached the scene, the latest in a series of protests around the world during the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Adha.

• Pakistan strikes a $3 billion funding deal: Pakistan has reached a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $3 billion bailout deal after it agreed to raise interest rates to a record high of 22%. Pakistan’s economy, which has been in crisis for years, was pushed to the brink following devastating floods and the effects of the global energy crisis. The deal now awaits IMF board approval.

• Influencers caught up in controversial Shein partnership: American social media personality Dani Carbonari and U.S. designer Kenya Freeman are among a group of influencers facing backlash after participating in a PR junket at the “innovation center” of controversial Chinese fast-fashion brand Shein. The high-tech facility in China was touted for its environmental standards in a blatant attempt to “greenwash” Shein’s reputation as a major polluter with links to child-labor practices and other forced employment controversies.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Mexico daily Reforma devotes its front page to the death of Hipólito Mora, one of the founders of Mexico “self defense” movement, whose ambush murder by unidentified gunmen was confirmed Thursday. Mora’s armed civilian movement was born in 2013 to take up arms against narco cartels. A lime farmer turned vigilante crusader, Mora gained popularity when he, along with other farmers and ranchers, drove the Knights Templar cartel out of the western Mexico state of Michoacan.

💬 LEXICON

Barbenheimer

The shared release date of two highly contrasting films — Greta Gerwig’s movie Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, a biopic about the father of the atomic bomb — has prompted the coining of a new portmanteau word: Barbenheimer. The neologism is used by movie-goers with eclectic tastes who plan on seeing both features on the same day.

📰 STORY OF THE DAY

Why Bakhmut still matters — from Ukraine's frontline, an iconic battle is back in play

For Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda, Yevhen Mezhevikin, a battle-hardened veteran with nine years of experience in the Ukraine war, sheds light on why the area around the war's longest battle still matters in the ongoing counteroffensive.

🇷🇺 After its capture of Bakhmut, Wagner proclaimed that it would withdraw its troops from the city and allow it to be occupied by the regular Russian army. This came as feuds between Wagner chief Prigozhin and the Russian military high command were heating up. According to Mezhevikin, the mercenary company did indeed withdraw its forces, as previously stated. “Right now, there are no "Wagnerites" among the prisoners, and interrogations of other prisoners show that they are not here,” he says.

💥 He adds that Wagner troops and other Russian forces suffered major casualties in Bakhmut, which helps to justify the territorial defeat. “Every battle, even if it does not end with us raising a flag over a certain position, height, or settlement, achieves its goal,” the commander says. “We withdrew from the position but inflicted maximum casualties on the enemy. This type of warfare is quite efficient, so all the battles that occurred here can be considered victories.”

✊ Mezhevikin believes that if the Ukrainian army advances prudently and combines arms and politics, it will ultimately expel the Russian forces from occupied territories and reach its 1991 borders. “We will not reach them immediately. But gradually, yes” he says. “If we continue to be successful and the enemy suffers losses, this will force him to make political decisions and negotiate at the end of the war.”

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

“A weaker Putin is a greater danger.”

— As the EU-27 met for a European summit to discuss security and defense in the context of the war in Ukraine, EU representatives expressed concern about Russia following the Wagner mutiny. While Zelensky asserted that Putin's position could be advantageous to the West, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he feared that Putin would seek to assert his power, threatened by the mutiny of the Wagner fighters, and that Russia should always be considered a risk.

✍️ Newsletter by Valeria Berghinz, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Marine Béguin and Sara Kahn


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Society

How Parenthood Reinvented My Sex Life — Confessions Of A Swinging Mom

Between breastfeeding, playdates, postpartum fatigue, birthday fatigues and the countless other aspects of mother- and fatherhood, a Cuban couple tries to find new ways to explore something that is often lost in the middle of the parenting storm: sex.

red tinted photo of feet on a bed

Parenting v. intimacy, a delicate balance

Silvana Heredia

HAVANA — It was Summer, 2015. Nine months later, our daughter would be born. It wasn't planned, but I was sure I wouldn't end my first pregnancy. I was 22 years old, had a degree, my dream job and my own house — something unthinkable at that age in Cuba — plus a three-year relationship, and the summer heat.

I remember those months as the most fun, crazy and experimental of my pre-motherhood life. It was the time of my first kiss with a girl, and our first threesome.

Every weekend, we went to the Cuban art factory and ended up at the CornerCafé until 7:00 a.m. That September morning, we were very drunk, and in that second-floor room of my house, it was unbearably hot. The sex was otherworldly. A few days later, the symptoms began.

She arrived when and how she wished. That's how rebellious she is.

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