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Curated top stories
- Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was indicted by a grand jury on criminal charges, including money laundering, after a near five-month investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Manafort and business associate Richard Gates surrendered themselves to the Justice Department, according to CNN. These are the first criminal charges over alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
- The indictment, which was initially sealed, charges Manafort with laundering roughly $18 million dollars, which he accrued while working as an unregistered agent for Ukrainian politicians.
- In January, several U.S intelligence agencies said that Russian actors meddled in the election to help Donald J. Trump defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The Director of National Intelligence also released a report outlining Russian hacking and dissemination of propaganda through social media to discredit Clinton’s campaign.
- Mueller was appointed by outgoing acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May, and given a broad remit to investigate any links between the Trump campaign and Russia. (Read the full story from WikiTribune.)
- Also today: CNN reports that George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy advisor to then candidate Trump, pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his communication with individuals connected with the Russian government.
- Catalonian separatist leader, former President Carles Puigdemont, was seen in Brussels today, according to Spanish media. Meanwhile in Madrid, charges of rebellion were being laid against Puigdemont and senior members of his government (see WikiTribune’s latest report). Tensions continued in Catalonia as the “twin administrations” of the sacked Generalitat (Catalan government) and the central Spanish government both prepared to run the region.
- The President of Iraqi Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani, resigned after the independence referendum that he backed was met with a backlash from Baghdad. Iraqi paramilitaries took control of strategic oil assets in the Kurdish region of Iraq in the weeks following the unauthorized referendum on September 25. Barzani’s resignation was approved by the Kurdish region’s parliament, but was met with opposition from protesters on the streets.
- Suicide attackers struck Somalia’s capital for the second time in two weeks, killing at least 29 people. The truck bomb exploded outside a hotel in Mogadishu on Saturday. This was followed by another attacker detonating a suicide vest. Captain Mohamed Hussein told the Associated Press that 30 people were rescued from the Nasa-Hablod hotel as extremists and security forces exchanged gunfire in a standoff which lasted more than 12 hours. Saturday’s blasts come two weeks after more than 350 people were killed in another truck bombing on a busy Mogadishu street in the country’s worst-ever attack.
- Claims of sexual misconduct by high-profile individuals continue to emerge in the fallout from the Harvey Weinstein affair with actor Anthony Rapp telling Buzzfeed that Kevin Spacey approached him when Rapp was only 14. Spacey apologized and revealed that he is gay, but was criticized for trying to deflect attention from the reports of his misconduct. Meanwhile, UK political gossip blog Guido Fawkes says it has obtained a list of 36 Conservative MPs, compiled by their own party, who have been accused of sexually inappropriate behaviour.
What we’re reading
- In little more than a decade, a shadowy arm of the Chinese state has established a foothold in hundreds of university campuses across the world. The Financial Times examines the rise of Confucius Institutes. The language program is directly administered by Beijing and is now offered in 500 classrooms worldwide. As the paper reports, the expansion is “causing fears that Beijing is subverting traditional values of academic freedom as part of China’s global soft power push.” – Charles Anderson
- The Economist analyses the rise of Vladimir Putin 100 years after the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II in the Communist revolution, describing him playfully as “Tsar Vladimir” – Peter Bale
- The Washington Post looks at how voice actors, a crucial part of the $25 billion video game industry, face an uphill battle for recognition and secure working conditions. Following the longest strike in the history of Hollywood’s largest actors’ union, the tech firms that make the games are pushing back against voice actors’ demands for better labour rights. They fear that if they cave in to actors’ demands, others in the industry will start pushing for more recognition too – George Engels
- Russia is expanding the use of oil giant Rosneft – run by a close Putin ally – as a vehicle for international strategy, says one analyst interviewed by the New York Times. The Kremlin is currently strengthening its push into debt-ridden Venezuela, the Times reports: “Russia is the only country that can give Venezuela a lifeline to survive through the rest of the year.” – Angela Long
- Richard Barrett, director of counter-extremism thinktank the Global Strategy Network, questions if killing UK citizens who returned after fighting for the Islamic State is right. His Guardian piece came in response to minister Rory Stewart who suggested last week that returning British IS fighters should be killed – Linh Nguyen