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Sudan Evacuation, Kenya Cult Mass Grave, Russia’s ChatGPT

Sudan Evacuation, Kenya Cult Mass Grave, Russia’s ChatGPT
Ginevra Falciani, Sophie Jacquier, Inès Mermat and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Häj ą̊ dig!*

Welcome to Monday, where countries are trying to evacuate their diplomats and citizens from Sudan as violence continues into a second week, a grisly scene is revealed in Kenya of an apparent mass suicide of a Christian cult, and Gigabot, Russia’s answer to ChatGPT, is revealed. Meanwhile, Yury Panchenko and Nadia Koval in Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda unpack what's driving Poland's new hard line on Russia.

[*Elfdalian, Sweden]


This is our daily newsletter Worldcrunch Today, a rapid tour of the news of the day from the world's best journalism sources, regardless of language or geography.

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Diplomats and foreign nationals evacuated from Sudan: A growing list of countries have evacuated diplomats and citizens from Sudan’s capital as fierce fighting continues to rage in Khartoum. U.S. authorities said they had airlifted fewer than 100 people with three Chinook helicopters on Sunday morning in a "fast and clean" operation, but the U.S. embassy says it is not safe enough for the government to evacuate private U.S. citizens. The same has been done by the UK, while more than 1,000 European Union citizens had been taken out of Sudan by a coordinated operation between France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Russia claims progress in Bakhmut, Putin spokesman's son “joins Wagner”: Russia said its forces had advanced in Bakhmut while a top Ukrainian commander said his troops were holding the frontline through the city, all but destroyed in some of the bloodiest combat of the 14-month war. Among the Russian military fighting in the city is the 33-year-old son of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who said he has served with the Wagner mercenary group in Ukraine for nearly six months.

More than 40 bodies found at Kenya Christian cult graves site: Kenyan police have exhumed dozens of bodies from shallow graves in the east of the country amid an investigation into followers of a Christian cult who believed they would go to heaven if they starved themselves to death. Information provided by officials put the number of bodies exhumed so far as high as 47.

Australia unveils biggest defense overhaul since World War II: Australia has said the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines, long-range strike capabilities and its northern bases will be among the country’s six priority areas after a major review of its defense strategy found the armed forces were not “fully fit for purpose.” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese initiated the Defence Strategic Review shortly after he was elected in May last year.

Spain to exhume fascist leader Primo de Rivera: Spain is poised to exhume the remains of a fascist leader who inspired the Franco dictatorship. José Antonio Primo de Rivera founded the Falange movement and his remains lie at a giant mausoleum created by the former fascist regime outside Madrid. His body will be moved to Madrid's San Isidro cemetery — part of a government drive to remove symbols of fascism.

$68.6bn withdrawn from Credit Suisse before rescue: Credit Suisse has revealed the scale of the bank run that triggered its state-backed rescue last month. The Swiss banking giant said 61.2 billion Swiss francs ($68.6bn) left the bank in the first three months of the year. It came as the lender reported what are expected to be its last ever financial results. Its forced sale to rival Swiss bank UBS is expected to be completed soon.

Russia's Sberbank releases ChatGPT rival GigaChat: Russian lender Sberbank has announced the release of GigaChat as a rival to ChatGPT, initially in an invite-only testing mode, joining the artificial intelligence chatbot race. The release last year of ChatGPT has caused a sprint in the technology sector to put AI into more users’ hands and the hope is to reshape how people work and win business in the process.


“Out of Khartoum,” titles Munich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, as Germany joins the list of countries that have started evacuating diplomats and nationals from Sudan's capital. On Monday, the EU's foreign policy chief provided an update indicating that over 1,000 citizens of the European Union had been evacuated from the northeastern African country, as clashes between the army and paramilitary forces rage on for the second week straight.


$2.24 trillion

Global military spending hit a record high of $2.24 trillion in 2022, with Europe witnessing the largest increase in at least 30 years, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The surge in military spending was largely driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, which raised concern among ex-Soviet neighboring countries and led them to allocate additional military funds toward increased protection. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military spending increased to $44 billion in 2022, marking the highest single year increase in a country ever recorded in SIPRI data.


No compromise: What's driving Poland's new hard line on Russia

"We are realists, and therefore we do not believe in the possibility of a compromise between freedom and slavery..." Poland's foreign minister has outlined what the country's foreign strategy will look like in the coming years, built on support of Ukraine and steadfast resistance to the Russian aggressors, report Yury Panchenko and Nadia Koval in Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda.

🇵🇱🇺🇦 Supporting Ukraine until its victory is clearly the priority of Poland's foreign policy. Polish foreign minister Zbigniew Rau has strong words on that topic: "We support Ukraine in the fight against the Russian invasion, because the principle of sovereign equality of states for us in practice means the right of the Ukrainian people to choose their own identity, political system, political affiliation and military alliances, as well as to decide how long to fight and when to start negotiations with Russia."

🤝 More than just improving bilateral relations between Ukraine and Poland, Warsaw sees the war as a means to overcome historic hostilities between Poland and Ukraine. "Russian aggression brought our nations so close together and created a huge mutual social capital of sympathy and trust, we have a unique chance to recreate Polish-Ukrainian unity, destroyed in recent centuries by German and Russian invaders, as well as Bolshevik totalitarianism," the report reads.

🇭🇺 Until recently, Hungary was considered a key ally of Warsaw in the EU, and oftentimes the two countries worked together to veto European institutions they saw as bad. As a result of the war, however, Polish-Hungarian relations are going through a fundamental transformation. "We regret the fact that Poland and Hungary have fundamentally different perceptions of Russian aggression against Ukraine — both its causes and the desired end scenario," says Rau.

➡️ Read more onWorldcrunch.com


"If you want to be a major political player, do not parrot the propaganda of Russian outsiders."

— Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s Presidential Administration, reacted on Twitter to comments from China’s ambassador to France Lu Shaye who questioned the sovereignty of former Soviet republics, saying they don’t have “effective status in international law.” The remarks — made on French TV, in response to a question on whether Crimea was part of Ukraine — have sparked widespread criticism and condemnation, including from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia which will summon Chinese representatives to ask for clarification.

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

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Zambia Questions Its Harrowing Puberty Rites Of Passage For Girls

Zambia’s traditional counselors are rethinking the country’s puberty rites, which some argue are detrimental to girls’ well-being.

Photograph of young girls in Zambia standing behind a vegetable stand.

October 5, 2018, Lusaka, Zambia: Children standing behind a vegatable stand.

Lou Jones/ZUMA
Prudence Phiri

LUSAKA — On a sunny afternoon in Chipungu, a clean-swept hamlet in Rufunsa, a rural district east of Lusaka, three girls who have recently reached puberty sit on the floor of a thatched roof hut in the center of the village. The girls, wearing only their underpants, are seated on a reed mat, their legs stretched out and heads bowed. Around them, women take turns performing sexually suggestive dances, aimed at teaching the teenagers how to engage in sexual acts.

This is an essential part of the traditional female initiation ceremony into adulthood, known as Chinamwali in Zambia’s Eastern province and Chisungu in the country’s Northern province. Here, for the next few weeks, the girls will learn how to serve and sexually please their future husbands.

Margaret Banda, a 54-year-old woman who serves as the community’s apungu — a local term that refers to the ritual’s mistress of ceremony — raises the girls’ heads, forcing them to watch the women and demonstrate what they’ve learned. It is then the teenagers’ turn to repeat the dances.

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