US defense head arrives
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin yesterday made an unannounced visit to Kyiv to reassure Ukraine that Washington would continue supporting its fight against invading Russian forces. The US has provided tens of billions of dollars in security aid for Ukraine and repeatedly pledged to back Kyiv for “as long as it takes,” but opposition from hardline Republican lawmakers has raised doubts about more US assistance. Austin “traveled to Ukraine today to meet with Ukrainian leaders and reinforce the staunch support of the United States for Ukraine’s fight for freedom,” the Pentagon said in a statement on the trip, which was not previously announced due to security concerns. “He will also underscore the continued US commitment to providing Ukraine with the security assistance it needs to defend itself from Russian aggression,” it said.
Quake death toll rises
The number of people killed in a magnitude 6.7 earthquake that struck the Mindanao region on Friday has risen to nine, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said yesterday, warning the toll could increase. At least 15 people were injured and more than 800 houses damaged or destroyed in the quake, the agency said in its latest update. The death toll steadily rose over the weekend as searchers found more bodies buried under rubble or soil. “I’m hoping to God that our death toll won’t go up anymore, but we’re still waiting for the information coming from the regions,” council spokesman Mark Timbal said.
Napoleon hat sold for US$2m
A faded and cracked felt bicorne hat worn by Napoleon Bonaparte sold for US$2.1 million at an auction on Sunday of the French emperor’s belongings. The signature broad, black hat — one of a handful still in existence that Napoleon wore when he ruled 19th-century France and waged war in Europe — was initially valued at 600,000 to 800,000 euros (US$655,956 to US$874,608). It was the centerpiece of Sunday’s auction in Fontainebleau of memorabilia collected by a French industrialist who died last year. The bidding quickly rose until a buyer was declared at 1.5 million euros, Osenat auction house said. The buyer, whose identity was not released, must pay a 28.8 percent commission, bringing the overall cost to 1.9 million euros, Osenat said.
Bolsonaro probed over whale
Federal police are investigating former president Jair Bolsonaro after a man who resembled him was filmed “harassing” a humpback whale while riding a personal watercraft near Sao Sebastiao. Bolsonaro’s anti-environmental policies earned him the nickname “Captain Chainsaw” during a four-year administration characterized by soaring destruction of the Amazon. In June a man fitting Bolsonaro’s description was filmed about 15m from a humpback whale that had surfaced. “The man, thought to be Bolsonaro, was shooting a video with a mobile phone as the whale performed aerial behaviors suggesting distress or discomfort,” the news Web site iG reported. The “deliberate harassment of any species of cetacean” is illegal in Brazil. The ex-president on Saturday dismissed the inquiry as political persecution. “Every day they accuse me of some kind of mischief. Yesterday it was hounding whales,” Bolsonaro told supporters, before making a disparaging remark about Minister of Justice Flavio Dino, whom he likened to a whale.
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