Zients to be chief of staff
President Joe Biden was yesterday expected to name Jeff Zients as his next White House chief of staff. Zients, 56, a former business executive who was one of the chief architects of Biden’s initial COVID-19 team, was to replace Ron Klain, who is leaving the post in coming the weeks, people familiar with the matter said. The White House chief of staff is among the most powerful figures in Washington, and plays a crucial role in shaping the president’s agenda, liaising with Congress and acting as a gatekeeper. Zients left government in April last year, but returned to the White House in the fall, as Biden faces two years of a divided Congress and prepares for an expected re-election bid. White House spokespeople declined to comment on Sunday.
No START talks date
Moscow yesterday said that no new date had been set for talks with the US on the New START nuclear pact, accusing Washington of ramping up tensions between the two sides. Talks on resuming inspections under the New START were due to take place in November in Egypt, but Moscow postponed them and neither side has set a new date for a meeting. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Ryabkov said the conditions were not right for new talks on the treaty, which caps the number of each side’s strategic nuclear warheads. “The situation does not, frankly speaking, allow for setting a new date ... taking into account this escalation trend in both rhetoric and actions by the United States,” Ryabkov was quoted by Interfax as saying. Moscow in November said that it had “no other choice,” but to cancel talks with the US over inspections under the New START treaty, which is set to expire in February 2026.
Elections set for May 14
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced May 14 as the date for the country’s next parliamentary and presidential elections. Erdogan, who plans to seek re-election, made the announcement during a Saturday youth conference in Bursa Province. A video of the event was released on Sunday. “I thank God that we are destined to share our path with you, our valued youth, who will vote for the first time in the elections that will be held on May 14,” said Erdogan, who had hinted at the date last week. He said he would make the formal call on March 10, after which the Supreme Election Council would prepare for the elections. If no candidate secures more than 50 percent of the vote, a second round of voting would be held on May 28. A six-party opposition alliance has yet to put forth a presidential candidate. A pro-Kurdish party that is the third-largest in parliament has so far been excluded from the alliance and said it might field its own candidate.
Lawyers end strike
Members of the Egyptian Bar Association on Sunday called off a days-long strike held in protest against the jailing of six colleagues, a statement said. The association had announced on Thursday an open-ended strike to condemn their colleagues’ sentencing to two years in jail over a court brawl earlier this month. It said in a statement that it had decided “to cancel the suspension of work.” The move came after an appeals court on Sunday ordered the six be released and scheduled a verdict for Feb. 5. The lawyers had been sentenced on Wednesday for their part in the fight with three clerks during a court session on Jan. 5 in Marsa Matrouh, the state-run daily al-Ahram said.
Apps and Web sites that use artificial intelligence (AI) to undress women in photos are soaring in popularity, researchers said. In September alone, 24 million people visited undressing Web sites, the social network analysis company Graphika said. Many of these undressing, or “nudify,” services use popular social networks for marketing, Graphika said. For instance, since the beginning of this year, the number of links advertising undressing apps increased more than 2,400 percent on social media, including on X and Reddit, the researchers said. The services use AI to recreate an image so that the person is nude. Many of the services only
IN ABSOLUTE CONTROL: About 80 percent of Russians approve of Putin, a survey shows, but that might be misleading due to his intolerance to criticism Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday moved to prolong his repressive and unyielding grip on Russia for at least another six years, announcing his candidacy in the presidential election in March that he is all but certain to win. Putin still commands wide support after nearly a quarter-century in power, despite starting an immensely costly war in Ukraine that has taken thousands of his people’s lives, provoked repeated attacks inside Russia — including one on the Kremlin itself — and corroded its aura of invincibility. A short-lived rebellion in June by mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin raised widespread speculation that Putin could be
JUMPING BAIL: The democracy advocate said made the decision after ‘considering the situation in Hong Kong, my personal safety, my physical and mental health’ Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow (周庭), who was jailed over her role in massive 2019 protests, on Sunday said she had moved to Canada and would not return to meet her bail conditions. Chow was one of the best-known young faces of the 2012, 2014 and 2019 protest movements against Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian rule in Hong Kong. She spent about seven months behind bars for her role in a protest outside Hong Kong police headquarters in 2019, when huge crowds rallied week after week in the most serious challenge to China’s rule since Hong Kong’s 1997 handover. On Sunday
TAKING STOCK: It was not yet clear how damaging the espionage, dating to 1981, has been, as authorities are still assessing the situation, the State Department said A former US ambassador to Bolivia has been arrested and charged with spying for Cuba over a 40-year span, the US Department of Justice announced on Monday, detailing a shock betrayal by a suspect who called the US “the enemy.” US Attorney General Merrick Garland laid out the allegations against Victor Manuel Rocha, a onetime member of the White House’s National Security Council now accused of using his positions within the government to support Cuba’s “clandestine intelligence-gathering mission” against the US. The charges against Rocha, 73, expose “one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the United States government by a foreign