Welcome to Wednesday, where Moscow blames its soldiers for using illegal phones that allowed Ukraine to locate them and kill scores in Makiivka, in eastern Ukraine, the U.S. House of Representatives fails to elect a leader for the first time in a century, and heat records are smashed across Europe. Meanwhile, Russian-language independent website Vazhnyye Istorii looks at the dangerous rise of Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the infamous Wagner paramilitary group.
[*Selam - Amharic, Ethiopia]
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• Russia blames mobile phones for Makiivka strike, raises death toll: Russia’s defense ministry blamed the illegal use of mobiles phones by its soldiers, which “allowed the enemy to track and determine the coordinates of the soldiers' location,” for a deadly Ukrainian missile strike on Makiivka that it claimed killed 89 servicemen. Moscow had previously said 63 soldiers were killed while Kyiv claims the death toll was much higher.
• U.S. House in limbo after no Speaker elected for first time in a century: Republican leader Kevin McCarthy failed in three consecutives votes to secure enough support to be elected speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, forcing the House to adjourn without a speaker on Tuesday night — a first since 1923.
• Myanmar frees thousands of prisoners on independence day: Myanmar’s junta will grant amnesty to 7,012 prisoners to mark the country’s 75th Independence Day, following a show of force in the capital of Nay Pyi Taw. The announcement comes days after democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi’s sentence was increased to 33 years in jail.
• Sam Bankman-Fried pleads “not guilty”: The former boss of collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded “not guilty” to criminal charges that he defrauded customers and investors. Bankman-Fried was released on a $250 million bail after his arrest last month and faces more than 100 years in jail if convicted.
• Two car bombs kill at least 10 in Somalia: Two car bombs detonated by militants of the al Shabaab extremist group in central Somalia’s Hiraan region have killed at least 10 people and flattened several houses.
• First execution of transgender in the U.S.: Missouri carried out the first known execution of an openly transgender person. Amber McLaughlin, 49, was put to death by lethal injection; She was found guilty in 2003 of murdering her ex-girlfriend Beverly Guenther.
• Last surviving Apollo 7 astronaut dies: U.S. astronaut Walter Cunningham, the last surviving member of the first crewed space mission in NASA’s Apollo program, has died at the age of 90.
“Farewell in the arms of Brazilians,” titles Brasilia-based daily Correio Braziliense as legendary soccer star Pelé was laid to rest in Santos where more than 200,000 people, including newly inaugurated President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, gathered to pay their respects. The three-time World Cup winner died of cancer last week at 82.
Temperatures were exceptionally high across Europe on the first day of 2023, breaking records by several degrees in more than ten regions and countries. In the city of Bilbao, Spain, the recorded temperature on Jan. 1 was 25.1 °C (77 °F), more than 10 °C (18 °F) above average for this period and equivalent to the average in July. In Warsaw, Poland, the temperature was 4 °C higher than the previous record. The Netherlands, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Latvia, Czech Republic, Denmark and Belarus also broke national records.
Putin's pet: how Wagner Group boss Prigozhin is gaining power — and enemies
Putin used to keep his respectable and criminal circles of friends separate. But the increasing power of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a former prisoner and head of the Wagner paramilitary group, has many inside and outside the Kremlin worried, writes Russian-language independent website Vazhnyye Istorii/Important Stories.
🇷🇺 Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the Russian paramilitary organization Wagner PMC, has complicated relations not only with the Russian Defense Ministry, but also with the inner circle of Vladimir Putin. But in both cases, his position is increasingly one of power, as Prigozhin's role in the war with Ukraine has become ever more crucial. Vazhnyye Istorii/Important Stories talked with inside sources close to Putin's old friends about Prigozhin's past and current standing.
🇺🇦💥 Wagner reached a whole new level of prominence with the beginning of the war in Ukraine, immediately moving to the frontlines. Feeling Wagner PMC’s importance, Prigozhin took advantage of this and began to intervene in political matters. According to the source, it is unacceptable for the old Petersburgers, who cannot stand the notion that a man with a criminal past can play on the same field. But they also can't confront him openly now because Putin values Prigozhin.
💰 Like the Kremlin insiders, military officials and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu have their hands tied when it comes to Prigozhin. Putin has been convinced that Prigozhin's paramilitary is ultimately more effective than the professional army — a perception of the Wagner PMC that is sustained through his media resources. In turn, the PMC enjoys unequal conditions in terms of supply, financing, and information support, which cannot but irritate the traditional military leadership.
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“They trusted Franco.”
— Tony Marinozzi, business manager for Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting who starred in Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet in 1968 comments on the lawsuit filed by both actors against Paramount Pictures for sexual abuse over a nude scene in the movie. Underage at the time and now in their 70s, Hussey and Whiting claim the now-deceased Italian director encouraged them to do nude scenes despite previously assuring them they would not have to be completely naked. Once on set, he allegedly told them they had to remove all clothes, threatening their career and making them responsible for the possible failure of the movie if they did not comply. "Franco was their friend, and frankly, at 16, what do they do?" asks Marinozzi. "There are no options. There was no #MeToo.”
• Why Zelensky Will Not Promise Victory In 2023 — WORLDCRUNCH
• Geopolitically, "Latin America" Does Not Exist — EL ESPECTADOR• In Mexico, Influencers Make Castoff Clothing Cool — GLOBAL PRESS JOURNAL
✍️ Newsletter by Laure Gautherin, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet
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