Start your day smarter with the most important world news, plus intriguing and offbeat stories. OZY
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Start your day smarter with a dossier on the most important world news, rounded off with a shot of intriguing and offbeat stories. Like the president, you deserve no less.
Sep 28, 2022
Ukrainians in four occupied regions of Ukraine have voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining Russia, but few outside the Kremlin believe the results of the Russian-backed referendums. Liz Truss’s unpopular tax cuts have drawn criticism from the International Monetary Fund over inequality fears. Suspected sabotage of the two Nord Stream pipelines leaves few in Europe wondering which state may be behind it. And Florida prepares for a battering today as Hurricane Ian tears across the state. All this and more in today’s PDB.
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Russian Annex Vote Wins, But Ukraine United: Zelenskyy
“We will act to protect our people,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video on Telegram shortly after the results were announced. In ballots NATO deemed a “sham,” four occupied regions voted overwhelmingly in favor of annexation by Russia. Zelenskyy earlier told the U.N. Ukrainians had been forced to vote at gunpoint. Still, officials in the regions — appointed by the Kremlin — confirmed Wednesday that they would ask President Vladimir Putin to be incorporated into Russia “in the coming days.” The annexation vote has all but destroyed any potential for peace talks as mobilization efforts portend renewed Russian efforts in Ukraine. (Sources: AP, The Guardian)
IMF Slams UK Tax Cut Plan as Moody’s Offers Dark Warnings
“The U.K. measures will likely increase inequality,” the International Monetary Fund warned in a blunt statement. The $47 billion in tax cuts — financed by government borrowing — are aimed at boosting growth; but any gains will be offset by rising prices, it added. Criticism hasn’t been welcomed by allies of Prime Minister Liz Truss. Former Brexit minister Lord Frost lashed back at the statement, saying the economic orthodoxy pushed by institutions like the IMF has “produced years of slow growth and weak productivity.” Meanwhile, global rating agency Moody’s cautioned that a potential “sustained confidence shock” would damage the economy long term. (Sources: BBC, The Guardian)
Nord Stream ‘Sabotage’ Sends Chills Across Europe
“It is an international incident,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said, downplaying domestic concerns that the suspected sabotage is an attack on Sweden. Major leaks appeared in the two Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea inside Sweden and Denmark’s exclusive economic zones — but outside of either country’s territorial waters. The EU and NATO have offered investigative support, but already fears of sabotage are haunting the continent. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stopped short of naming Russia as the culprit but said the leaks are likely “related to the next step of escalation of the situation in Ukraine.” (Sources: Reuters, Politico)
Florida Braces for ‘Large and Destructive’ Ian to Hit Wednesday
It’s coming. Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc across Cuba — leaving the island completely without electricity — and authorities in Florida warn it could be the Sunshine State’s turn next. Officials announced evacuation orders earlier in the week but have expanded the areas for what Gov. Ron De Santis has called “historic storm surge and flood potential.” South Florida had a taste of Ian on Tuesday with heavy rains and wind and disruptions to electricity. Ian is expected to move over central Florida Wednesday night, while the National Hurricane Center warns that “avoiding a large and destructive hurricane for Florida seems very unlikely.” (Sources: WaPo, Sun Sentinel)
Here are some things you should know about today:
It’s official. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is Saudi Arabia’s prime minister after a cabinet reshuffle from King Salman. The crown prince is already the de facto ruler but the new role will formalize his leadership. (Source: Al Jazeera) Stand up. Kazakhstan will shelter Russian nationals fleeing President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization in its Ukraine offensive, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said Tuesday. (Source: UPI) Jailed. Former Guinean dictator Moussa Dadis Camara has been detained alongside several co-defendants, and will be held for the length of their trial beginning Wednesday for the 2009 stadium massacre. The pro-Camara violence left 150 people dead and 109 women were raped. (Source: AFP)
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Why Hurricane Ian Is Harder to Predict Than a Typical Hurricane
Call it the “cone of uncertainty.” That’s the wide expanse emanating from the eye of the hurricane on a weather map. It’s an important indicator for any hurricane: It tells locals the potential trajectory of a storm and whether they need to evacuate. It’s difficult to predict where any storm is heading, but Hurricane Ian — which is heading for Florida — has been harder than most. A combination of drifting from the tropics into the mid-latitude region, where weather patterns act differently, and being picked up in a trough heading all the way to Newfoundland means a potential path could be anywhere on the east coast ... (Source: NPR)
Cooking the Books
Did Warner Bros. Mislead With HBO Max Figures? One Suit Thinks So
A class-action lawsuit Friday claims that Warner Bros. duped shareholders — inflating HBO Max subscriber numbers by up to 10 million by “including as subscribers AT&T customers who had received bundled access to HBO Max, but had not signed onto the service.” This accompanies other allegations that’d see the studio breach the Securities Act in its upcoming merger with Discovery. The lawsuit was filed in New York Friday by a police pension fund that purchased shares at over double the current trading price. The fund says any buyer of Warner Bros. Discovery shares after the merger could be eligible to join the suit. (Source: The Wrap)
Apple App Store Removes Russia’s Most Popular Social Network
VKontakte, Russia’s version of Facebook, disappeared from the store along with other apps owned by the tech conglomerate VK. A statement by Russia’s Ministry for Digital Affairs said it was investigating the deletion, which underlined “the social significance and scale of use of the services provided by the Russian company.” Apple is yet to make its own statement but did suspend retail services in Russia earlier this year following the invasion of Ukraine. VKontakte advised users with an iPhone have been told the app may still work, but there will be issues. At this stage, the app is still available on Android. (Source: The Verge)
Bunch of Baloney
This NJ Deli Was Publicly Valued at $100 Million. Now SEC Is Coming.
A Paulsboro deli made headlines last year after it was valued at $100 million on the stock market. But, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleges, that’s less to do with great sandwiches and more with market manipulation. The three owners were “orchestrating fraudulent manipulative securities trading schemes” by inflating the share price of an umbrella company from around $1 a share in 2019 to almost $14 per share by 2021. The SEC says the trio established a shell company to be used to buy other companies and then dump those inflated shares. The owners face large penalties and serious criminal charges. (Source: Vice)
Qatar Calls Up Diplomats, Civilians for World Cup Shifts
Qataris have been enlisted into mandatory military service to operate security checkpoints at World Cup venues when matches kick off in November. Qatar has a small population — 2.8 million, with just 380,000 Qatari nationals — compared to other recent hosts Russia and Brazil, and has drawn on conscripts in the past for National Day celebrations and sporting events. This time, call-ups included those usually exempt from national service, such as diplomats — underlining the manpower issues the country faces. An estimated 1.2 million visitors are expected to descend on the tiny Gulf state. Turkey has already pledged help with 3,000 riot police. (Source: Reuters)
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