A fugitive suspected of killing a nurse in Boston was captured last month in Kenya. Now he’s escaped from police

Kevin Kangethe, a suspect in the killing of a nurse in Boston, appeared before a judge last week in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where he was arrested.

Kevin Kangethe, a suspect in the killing of a nurse in Boston, appeared before a judge last week in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where he was arrested. Office of the Director of Public ProsecutionsCNN — 

A man accused of killing his girlfriend in Boston before fleeing to Kenya has escaped from a Nairobi jail, where he was awaiting extradition after his capture last week.

Kevin Kangethe, 42, was being held without bail after officials in the United States filed an extradition request for him to be returned to the US to face a murder charge.

He’s accused of killing his girlfriend, Maggie Mbitu, whose body was found in his SUV in a parking garage at Boston Logan International Airport on November 1, two days after she was reported missing. Mbitu, 31, had slash wounds on her face and neck, Massachusetts State Police said.

Authorities searched for Kangethe for three months before he was arrested January 29, when an undercover officer spotted him at a nightclub in Nairobi.

On Wednesday evening local time, a man claiming to be Kangethe’s attorney appeared at the law enforcement complex where he was being held and asked to speak to him, Kenyan authorities said in a statement. They were given a private room in which to talk, and Kangethe took off shortly afterward, police said.

Police said Kangethe slipped out of the police station and boarded a matutu, or public transportation bus, according to Nation, an African news outlet.

At the time of his escape, the station’s commander was in a meeting with the anti-crime unit in her office, police said.

The body of Maggie Mbitu, 31, was found in an SUV in a parking garage at Boston Logan International Airport on November 1.

The body of Maggie Mbitu, 31, was found in an SUV in a parking garage at Boston Logan International Airport on November 1. Ann Mbitu/GoFundMe

“She was alerted by a loud noise of officers who were chasing the prisoner along Thika Super Highway but they did not manage to rearrest him,” the statement said, referring to a busy eight-lane freeway bustling with cars in the capital.

The man who claimed to be Kangethe’s attorney has been detained, along with four officers at the station, police said.

Attorneys who represented Kangethe in court at his extradition hearing last week told CNN they have not been in contact with him since his escape and don’t know where he is.

He was arrested 3 months after he boarded a flight from Boston

Kangethe was arrested in Nairobi after an undercover officer spotted someone who looked like him at a nightclub in the Kenyan capital and struck up a conversation with him, a police official told CNN.

Within hours, authorities identified him as the Boston-area fugitive who US investigators said boarded a plane to Kenya shortly after killing his girlfriend. Authorities in Massachusetts had obtained a warrant for his arrest on a murder charge.

Kangethe arrived in Kenya last fall through Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the nation’s director of public prosecutions said in a statement. He went into hiding in the city’s suburbs but stayed in touch via phone with his friends and relatives, including those in the United States, the statement said.

Kenya has an extradition treaty with the United States. The nation’s director of public prosecutions said Kenya has received a formal extradition request from the US and determined there’s “sufficient evidence” against him.

Mbitu lived in a Boston suburb and was the youngest in a family of health care workers. Her two older sisters and her mother are all nurses.

She was reported missing in late October after she didn’t show up for work. Her family notified the police and called nearby hospitals to check if she was a patient. The next evening, police made a gruesome discovery: her bloodied body, in the SUV inside a parking garage at the airport.

In a criminal complaint from https://gorenganpedas.com the Massachusetts State Police, authorities say they “were led to Mbitu’s boyfriend” after she went missing.

The day before her body was found, Kangethe boarded flights from Boston to Kenya. Surveillance footage showed him leaving the parking garage and entering an airport terminal, police said.

Canadian police apologize to woman for taking 6 years to bring charges in sexual assault investigation involving hockey stars

Hockey players Dillon Dube, Cal Foote, Michael McLeod, Alex Formenton and Carter Hart are facing sexual assault charges in Canada in connection with allegations from 2018.

From left, hockey players Dillon Dube, Cal Foote, Michael McLeod, Alex Formenton and Carter Hart, shown with their professional teams. Getty ImagesCNN — 

New information uncovered during a reopened investigation led to sexual assault charges being brought last week against five professional hockey players, four of whom are playing in the NHL, Canadian police said Monday, six years after the offense was allegedly committed.

The case against the players, who were members of the Canada world junior hockey team at the time of the alleged incident, was closed in early 2019 and reopened in July 2022 after an outcry from the Canadian public.

The charges relate to an unnamed woman’s accusation that multiple members of Canada’s world junior hockey team sexually assaulted her in London, Ontario, in 2018. The five men facing charges were members of that team.

Hockey players Dillon Dube, Cal Foote, Michael McLeod, Alex Formenton and Carter Hart are facing sexual assault charges in Canada in connection with allegations from 2018.

RELATED ARTICLE5 hockey pros face sexual assault charges in 2018 case from when they were on Canada’s world junior team

The players, New Jersey Devils center Mike McLeod; Devils defenseman Cal Foote; Philadelphia Flyers goalie Carter Hart; Calgary Flames center Dillon Dube; and former Ottawa Senator forward Alex Formenton are each charged with one count of sexual assault, according to an official police charge sheet released by Hockey Canada.

McLeod is charged with an additional count of sexual assault for “being a party to the offence,” which relates to “aiding the behaviour of someone else,” Detective Sgt. Katherine Dann said during a news conference in London on Monday. The players have all been released with undertakings, which are used when police feel confident the conditions placed on the accused will sufficiently protect the safety of the victim and witnesses, according to Dann.

London Police Chief Thai Truong apologized to the victim for the length of time it has taken to file charges. “I want to extend on behalf of the London Police Service to the victim and her family for the amount of time that it has taken to reach this point,” he told reporters.

Earlier Monday, lawyers for the accused appeared in a London court for the first time via video link for a procedural hearing. None of the players were seen on video, according to CNN news partner CTV News, and no pleas were entered, though they are all expected to plead not guilty.

In previous statements by their lawyers, the players have all denied any wrongdoing and said they plan to defend their innocence in court.

CTV News reported the prosecution presented its case and said a “significant” amount of “disclosure,” which refers to forms of evidence, would be sent to defense attorneys in the coming days. The next court date is set for April 30, CTV reported.

The current NHL players have been told to surrender to authorities, London police have said.

How the case came to light

The case garnered widespread attention in May 2022 when Canadian broadcaster TSN reported the woman had settled a lawsuit she’d filed against Hockey Canada – the nation’s governing body for the sport – and members of the junior team over the assault allegations.

A cascade of developments followed, including parliamentary hearings in June 2022 over Hockey Canada’s handling of the case and announcements in July 2022 that London police and Hockey Canada would reopen their investigations.

Formenton, who was playing professionally in Switzerland, “will vigorously defend his innocence and asks that people not rush to judgment without hearing all of the evidence,” his attorneys Daniel Brown and Lindsay Board said in a statement. Formenton, who played for the Senators in 2017, has taken an indefinite leave of absence from Swiss hockey club Ambri-Piotta.

McLeod “denies any criminal wrongdoing,” his attorneys David Humphrey and Seth Weinstein said in a statement. “He will be pleading not guilty and will vigorously defend the case.”

Foote “is innocent of the charge and will defend himself against this allegation to clear his name,” his attorney said. “What is most critical at this time is the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial that everyone in Canada is entitled to.”

Hart “is innocent and will provide a full response to this false allegation in the proper forum, a court of law,” his attorneys Riaz Sayani and Megan Savard said in a joint release.

Dube “will plead not guilty and maintains his innocence,” and “will defend the allegations in court,” his attorneys Louis P. Strezos and Kaleigh Davidson said in a statement.

The Flames are “aware of the charge of sexual assault that has been laid against Dillon Dube,” the club said. “We take this matter very seriously. Because the matter is now pending legal proceedings, we will have no further comment at this time.”

The Flames had said January 21 that Dube was “granted an indefinite leave of absence from the team while he attends to his mental health.” Last week, the club said it had “no knowledge of pending charges at the time Dillon’s request for a leave of absence was granted.”

The Devils, for whom McLeod and Foote play, are “aware of the reports” and have “been told to refer all inquiries regarding this to the league,” the team told CNN.

The NHL declined to comment last week when reached by CNN. CNN also has sought comment from the woman’s lawyer and Hockey Canada.

Hockey Canada apologized for its handing of the case

A month after the TSN report, the Canadian government announced in June 2022 that it was freezing federal, public funding for Hockey Canada until the organization had submitted the complete results of its original, two-year investigation and plans for implementing change within Hockey Canada.

During parliamentary hearings in June 2022, executives for Hockey Canada disclosed that it was notified of the incident the day after it was alleged to have taken place in 2018.

“We immediately initiated a process to investigate, beginning by contacting police.
We commissioned an independent investigation and appointed an independent adjudication panel of judges to review the findings of that investigation,” testified Tom Renney, Hockey Canada’s former CEO.

Renney confirmed during the hearings that Hockey Canada had settled a civil lawsuit that the woman filed in https://gorenganpedas.com April 2022, but he did not reveal the settlement amount.

In July 2022, Hockey Canada published a letter apologizing for it said was inadequate action regarding the assault allegations, and said it was reopening an internal investigation. Three months later, the organization announced its CEO and board of directors were being replaced.

Look of the Week: Is Demi Moore bringing back the handbag dog?

Lately, Demi Moore is seldom seen without her micro dog, Pilaf.

Lately, Demi Moore is seldom seen without her micro dog, Pilaf. James Devaney/GC Images/Getty Images

Editor’s Note: Featuring the good, the bad and the ugly, ‘Look of the Week’ is a regular series dedicated to unpacking the most talked about outfit of the last seven days.CNN — 

The human-canine bond is widely regarded as special. But the union between celebrities and chihuahuas? Sacred.

This week, while completing a press tour around New York for the FX series, “Feud: Capote vs. the Swans,” Demi Moore was hardly seen without her 1.5 pound dog, Pilaf, nestled in her elbow. From talk show tapings, autograph signings and even the Saturday Night Live afterparty, Pilaf was practically part of the furniture — or at least part of the outfit.

In the daytime, when Moore was snapped wearing an oversized wool coat and slacks, or wide leg jeans and a graphic tee, her chihuahua was tucked casually into a sleek black sling. But when the occasion called for a little more glamor — as was the case on Wednesday evening, when Moore donned a Versace lace cut-out blazer dress to appear on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert — Pilaf was held proudly in her owner’s palm like a fluffy tan clutch bag. “My little teeny tiny companion,” she told Colbert on air. “She is a treasure, she’s like my little extra heart.”

On Monday, Moore was spotted again with her dog, Pilaf, this time in Tribeca.

On Monday, Moore was spotted again with her dog, Pilaf, this time in Tribeca. Gotham/GC Images/Getty Images

Of course, Moore isn’t the first A-lister to partner-up with a petite pooch.

In the 2000s, miniature dogs were considered a must-have fashion accessory. During the height of her influence, Paris Hilton was regularly seen with a fleet of chihuahuas in tow. Tinkerbell, Diamond Baby and Harajuku Bitch (who passed away just last year) were often dressed in complementary outfits and considered extensions of Hilton’s hyper feminine fashion identity. Elle Woods from “Legally Blonde,” whose on-screen look was widely regarded to be inspired by Hilton, is not only constantly color-blocked in pink, but also never without her chihuahua, Bruiser. Lindsay Lohan named her micro-mini maltese Gucci, after the pup ate her first ever luxury fashion purchase; while in the 2010s, a caramel-colored maltipoo (a maltese-poodle cross) was permanently wedged under Blake Lively’s armpit.

Paris Hilton photographed with one of her chihuahuas at an SNL afterparty in 2005.

Paris Hilton photographed with one of her chihuahuas at an SNL afterparty in 2005. James Devaney/WireImage/Getty Images

But many animal rights groups and shelters thought the idea of designer dogs was degrading — specifically that forcing animals to wear clothes, or exist for lengths of time inside a Louis Vuitton handbag was “harmful.”

America Ferrera attends the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' 14th Annual Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom on January 9, 2024 in Hollywood, California.

Look of the Week: Bye, Barbie! America Ferrera ditches pink for a black tux

Certain miniature breeds, too, came with serious health issues that were often overlooked for their cutesy appearance. In 2015, a report from UK animal welfare charity Blue Cross revealed chihuahuas and other previously fashionable teacup-sized dogs were being abandoned across the country at record numbers.

Wearing a Versace lace tailored blazer dress, Moore held Pilaf like a tiny fluffy clutch bag.

Wearing a Versace lace tailored blazer dress, Moore held Pilaf like a tiny fluffy clutch bag. James Devaney/GC Images/Getty Images

Thankfully, Pilaf is likely a rescue dog. Moore is known to adopt and foster abandoned puppies (she currently has 10 at her home in Idaho) and is staunchly anti-puppy farms. Now, not only does Pilaf get to accompany her famous owner to glitzy engagements, she regularly rubs shoulders with Hollywood’s finest — from Pedro Pascal to Jeremy Allen White. https://gorenganpedas.com The dog’s escapades (including sitting front row at the Spring-Summer 2024 Versace show) are chronicled, naturally, on her own personal Instagram account with 13k followers — in which Moore barely features.

“The truth is, she’s the star and I’m her accessory,” she told Colbert.

Liverpool striker Darwin Núñez continues to split opinion after setting unwanted Premier League record

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 31: Diogo Jota of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's first goal with Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield on January 31, 2024 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Darwin Núñez has proved to be a polarizing figure since joining Liverpool in 2022. Clive Brunskill/Getty ImagesCNN — 

Since joining Liverpool in 2022, Darwin Núñez has continued to be an entertaining, yet polarizing presence in the English Premier League.

On one hand, the 24-year-old has all the physical attributes to be a world-class striker. He’s fast, strong and has shown signs he can score from almost anywhere when in the mood.

But the Uruguayan is also raw and many question whether he has the technical ability to be a consistent threat at the very top of the sport.

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29: (THE SUN OIT. THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool during a training session at AXA Training Centre on December 29, 2023 in Kirkby, England. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

RELATED ARTICLEJürgen Klopp to step down as Liverpool manager at the end of the season

This juxtaposition was on full display in Livepool’s league win against Chelsea on Wednesday, where Núñez missed a penalty, made a wonderful assist and then set an unwanted record.

While the Reds won 4-1, the scoreline could have been even more emphatic had Núñez not hit the woodwork on four occasions – a Premier League record for a single game.

Two of those missed chances were brilliant efforts from the striker, but the other two were opportunities he really should have converted.

The first was a missed penalty just before half-time which, despite hitting well, he directed against the post. The second was a stooping header in the second half which really should have been a goal.

Despite the missed chances, Núñez did pop up with a brilliant assist for Luis Díaz who made it 4-1 to the six-time European champions.

When asked about his striker’s performance after the game, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp tried to put a positive spin on it.

“Think you are in his boots, how that feels. Missing a penalty, you could see it at half-time, he was really upset with himself. Then missing the header from close range, but then setting up a goal. He stays in the game,” Klopp told reporters.

“It is just crazy that he creates that many [chances]. Imagine for a second he would take them all, the numbers would be absolutely insane to the extent where you wouldn’t understand it anymore.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 31: Darwin Nunez of Liverpool shoots whilst under pressure from Axel Disasi of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield on January 31, 2024 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Núñez proved to be a handful against Chelsea but couldn’t get on the scoresheet. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

According to the Premier League, Núñez now leads the way in big chances missed this season (20), three more than Manchester City’s Erling Haaland, who sits in second.

The Liverpool forward also taken the most shots, been caught offside the most times and hit the woodwork more than any other player in the league this season.

Agent of chaos

Despite his lack of cutting edge in front of goal, Liverpool fans have seemingly taken to the striker, serenading him with chants throughout the game against Chelsea.

“I thought he did everything but score a goal. He will be a nightmare for [defenders] to play against, whether he scores or not,” pundit and former Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand told TNT Sports after the match.

“He runs you into bad places, he’s aggressive, he ricochets everything […] he’s a handful who will end up getting goals at this club.”

With seven league goals to his name so far this season, Núñez has undoubtedly been a pivotal part of his team’s rise to the top of the Premier League – it now sits five places ahead of Manchester City in second, having played one game more.

If Liverpool is going to see off the title challenge from the reigning league champion, it will need to rely on https://gorenganpedas.com the likes of Núñez to keep finding the back of the net.

Whether he can do that is yet to be seen, but Liverpool fans will certainly enjoy their agent of chaos either way.

First on CNN: House Ethics Committee reached out to Rep. Matt Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend amid ongoing investigation

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, is seen at a news conference at the US Capitol on January 18 2024.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, is seen at a news conference at the US Capitol on January 18 2024. Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA

The House Ethics Committee investigating Rep. Matt Gaetz has reached out to an ex-girlfriend who was a key witness in the federal investigation into the Florida lawmaker, according to a source familiar with the ethics probe.

The outreach, which has not previously been reported, is a sign that the GOP-led committee’s investigation into the Florida Republican has recently expanded to include questioning around allegations of sex crimes, drug use and illicit benefits.

Gaetz said in a statement to CNN that the Ethics Committee investigation is “payback” for Gaetz’s efforts to oust Kevin McCarthy, the former speaker of the house, and that he sees “through this sham and the American people will too.”

The Ethics Committee declined to comment.

“I can confirm that I have filed a Notice Of Representation of a potential witness with the US House Ethic’s Committee pertaining to an ongoing investigation by the committee,” Florida defense attorney Tim Jansen, who is the ex-girlfriend’s lawyer, told CNN in a statement.

The woman, a former Capitol Hill staffer, has been linked to Gaetz as far back as the summer of 2017. Investigators were interested in that time because that is when the congressman is accused of having sexual contact with another woman, who was 17 years old at the time. That federal probe concluded in 2023 with no charges brought against the congressman. Gaetz has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, including ever having sex with a minor or paying for sex.

The ex-girlfriend was granted immunity in the federal criminal probe and testified before a grand jury in January 2022. She is not expected to voluntarily cooperate with the Ethics probe.

CNN previously reported that the committee also recently reached out to that woman who was still 17 when she allegedly had sex with the congressman as part of its investigation.

They have also asked the Justice Department for materials related to its years long investigation, which included allegations he had sex with a minor.

Gaetz, who led the charge to oust former McCarthy, has privately blamed McCarthy for the committee restarting its probe under the California Republican’s watch.

But McCarthy has repeatedly denounced those accusations and has said Gaetz worked to oust the former speaker because of the ethics probe.

“I don’t believe them to be conservatives,” McCarthy said in November, referring to the eight Republicans who voted to https://gorenganpedas.com oust him. “It’s driven by Gaetz, and it was all based upon an ethics complaint that happened in the last Congress. He would throw his country away to try to protect himself for what would come out as the truth.”

Russia boasts it is beating sanctions, but its longer-term prospects are bleak

Russian President Vladimir Putin speeches during a communication session with the Vostok Station, a Russian research station in Antarctica, at the Konstantin Palace on January 28, 2024, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Belarusian President Lukashenko arrived in Saint Petersburg to take part in events marking the 80th anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad.

While Western sanctions have not yet totally crippled Russia’s economy, the longer-term outlook for President Vladimir Putin is far from rosy.Contributor/Getty ImagesCNN — 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken to gloating about Russia’s resistance to international sanctions and its supposed economic resilience, despite the best efforts of the United States and its G7 partners to choke off Moscow’s oil revenues and starve it of military technology.

Scoffing at Europe’s economies, Putin said at a recent event: “We have growth, and they have decline… They all have problems through the roof, not even comparable to our problems.”

It’s true that, as the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine approaches, the Russian state is earning billions from oil and diamond exports, its military factories are working flat out, and many Russian banks can still access the international financial system.

Russia has adapted to the wide range of sanctions imposed by Western nations. Far from buckling under their weight, the Russian economy is in fact 1% larger than it was on the eve of the invasion.

But the longer-term outlook is far less rosy. War is distorting the economy and sucking resources into military production at an unsustainable pace.

Rostec, a Russian state-owned defense company, increased the production of armored vehicles nearly fivefold in the year to November, according to its chairman Sergei Chemezov. There have been similar vast increases in the production of munitions and drones.

“We boosted the production of munitions for firearms and MLRS [multi-launch rocket systems] by 50 times,” Chemezov told Putin at a Kremlin meeting in December.

But building things in order for them to be destroyed on the battlefield is not a path to economic success.

A cyclist passes a destroyed Russian tank that lies near the Cathedral of Saints Vera, Nadeshda and Liubov, an Orthodox Church loyal to the Moscow Patriarchate, as Ukrainians in a monastery town once occupied by Russian troops strive to restore normal life and unify their community in Sviatohirsk, Ukraine, on April 22, 2023. Three months of Russian occupation left the city severely damaged and with just 550 members of its pre-war population of 4,000-plus, but Ukrainian officials say they are working to restore services and trust to overcome deep divisions caused by the war and by residual pro-Russia sentiment.

A destroyed Russia tank near a cathedral in the city of Sviatohirsk in Donetsk region, Ukraine, April 2023.Scott Peterson/Getty Images

A game of cat and mouse

Since February 2022, Western governments have sought to reduce Russia’s revenues from exports of energy and minerals, and starve it of technology and finance, impairing its ability to wage war.

In the process they have imposed sanctions on more than 15,000 Russian entities and individuals, according to a database created by the Atlantic Council.

But sanctions take time to have an effect. There are still plenty of customers for what Russia does best – selling oil and other commodities. Much of Asia has not signed up to sanctions, providing Russia with ready markets for its oil, as well as with high-technology equipment once bought from the West. India and China now account for 90% of Russian oil exports, according to Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak.

This pool photograph distributed by Russian state owned agency Sputnik shows Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Chinese President Xi Jinping shaking hands prior to their meeting in Beijing on December 20, 2023.

RELATED ARTICLEChina’s largest oil supplier in 2023 was Russia

And as the war has evolved, so have Russian techniques for evading sanctions.

In trying to limit Russian profits from oil, the G7 nations announced that Western vessels and insurers could only be used when the oil is priced at less than $60 a barrel. So Russia developed a new network of shippers to get round the restrictions and keep selling to India and China.

As global crude prices declined toward the end of 2023, so did Russian revenues, but they were still $15.2 billion in November alone.

The Atlantic Council think tank, which tracks the impact of sanctions, reckons Russia is moving 71% of its oil exports through a growing ghost fleet, whose ownership and registration details are camouflaged.

Shipping analysts Windward estimated in September that as many as 1,400 vessels had been used to move Russian oil in defiance of western sanctions, many of them sailing without insurance.

Christine Abely, author of “The Russia Sanctions: The Economic Response to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine,” says the oil price cap “has become subject to more widespread evasion over time, both due to direct violation of the terms of the cap and by Russia building out its own shadow fleet to transport oil.”

A general view shows the oil refinery of the Lukoil company in Volgograd, Russia, on April 22, 2022.

Russia has continued to export oil, pictured here in production at the Lukoil refinery in Volgograd, but has had to sell some at a significant discount.Reuters

Western officials are looking at ways to tackle this evasion. In October, the US Treasury Department sanctioned companies registered in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates for carrying Russian crude sold above the price cap.

But clamping down on the evasion is difficult in the opaque world of merchant shipping.

In addition, the Atlantic Council notes, most Russian banks maintain access to SWIFT – a messaging service that connects https://gorenganpedas.com financial institutions around the world – enabling them to conduct international transactions and settle cross-border payments. Only some banks have been disconnected from the platform as part of sanctions.

The think tank also calculates that Russia imported over $900 million worth of battlefield and dual-use  technology per month in the first half of 2023.

The UK National Crime Agency said recently: “Russia is trying to procure UK sanctioned goods through intermediary countries… using complex supply chains and alternative supply routes to acquire sanctioned products.”

OPTION 1: With the temperature far below freezing, the Soviet rockets operated by one Omega Special Forces team outside Avdiivka wouldn't launch on one early morning fire mission.
 
OPTION 2: Reliant on the Soviet kit they have, not the Western arms they crave, Ukrainian troops have learned to be more creative with their weapons in battle.

RELATED ARTICLERussia’s relentless ‘meat assaults’ are wearing down outmanned and outgunned Ukrainian forces

A Financial Times analysis of official Russian data found that, as access to precision tools from the West has been closed off, Russia increased imports of advanced machine tools known as computer numerical control (CNC) from China tenfold. Taiwanese and South Korean enterprises have also sold such tools, which can be used in military industries, the FT found.

Russia has used intermediaries that conceal the ultimate destination and end-use of items of everything from ball bearings to navigational equipment with growing confidence. The US Treasury is trying to keep up, says Abely, by going after these intermediaries. Last month it sanctioned several Turkish companies; Chinese and UAE companies have also been sanctioned.

It’s a painstaking process, but it raises the costs to Russia. “Sanctions have restricted the access of Russia’s military industry to sophisticated technology and Russia has been forced to pay a premium for substitutes from other markets,” the Bank of Finland says in a recent report. It estimates that the cost to Russia of Chinese goods useful to its war effort rose 78% from 2021 to 2023.

Sanctions against individuals, including the freezing of their assets and the confiscation of superyachts, have not led to a groundswell of opposition to the Kremlin or even the war amongst the elite, though a couple of oligarchs have voiced their opposition (from relatively safe foreign shores.) Very few of their assets have been confiscated by Western countries – and the Kremlin has given them a stark choice: support the motherland or lose everything.

The superyacht "Nord," believed to belong to sanctioned Russian oligarch Alexei Mordashov, is seen in Hong Kong, October 2022.

The superyacht “Nord,” believed to belong to sanctioned Russian oligarch Alexei Mordashov is seen in Hong Kong on October 7, 2022.Noemi Cassanelli/CNN

There’s little sign that ordinary Russians have been drastically impacted by Western sanctions.

While it is much more difficult for Russians to visit Europe, hundreds of thousands take vacations in Turkey, Egypt and Thailand. The Russian travel industry reported that Russian tourists made 7 million foreign trips in the first nine months of last year, up 50% from the same period in 2022.

Luxury goods stores in Moscow are full of Western goods, many of which come via third countries like Kazakhstan.

A display of diamonds shows coloured, fancy brownish greenish yellow oval diamond, 50,21 carats (C), among other stones at Alrosa Diamond Cutting Division in Moscow on July 3, 2019. - Russian Alrosa gets its diamonds in the permafrost abyssal holes dug with explosives in the permanently frozen ground of Yakutia, an isolated region in East Siberia, the home to the huge diamond deposits that ensure Russia's supremacy in world production. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)

RELATED ARTICLENew sanctions on Russian diamonds will change the global trade in gems

Some sanctions are already having an impact on consumers. The Russian airline S7 said in December that about 20% of its  aircraft grounded because their US-made engines cannot be repaired, leading to fewer flights and staff cuts.

Sanctions will have a long-term impact on the Russian economy, according to the European Commission. In an assessment published in mid-2023, the European Union’s executive arm said the effects  “will further intensify over time, as the measures have a structural, long-term impact on Russia’s budget, financial markets, foreign investment and its industrial and technological base.”

One senior US official, Geoffrey Pyatt, told the Financial Times recently: “This is something that we’re going to have to stick to for years to come, as long as Putin persists in this war.”

According to Rachel Lyngaas, chief sanctions economist at the US Treasury, Russia’s leaders “face increasingly painful trade-offs that will sacrifice long-term prospects — as underinvestment, slow productivity growth, and labor shortages will only deepen.”

So while Russia may have so far subverted the impact of sanctions, they will contribute to a gloomy long-term prognosis.

A bleak future

The cost of the war in Ukraine is already having a profound effect. Russia is likely to devote a staggering 40% of its budget to the military in 2024 – 8% of national income.

Sectors like education and healthcare suffer accordingly as more resources are poured into the war effort.

The Bank of Finland says the economic growth touted by Putin is coming from “relatively low-technology branches such as manufacturing of fabricated metals, where Russia is less reliant on imports and thereby less affected by Western sanctions.”

“The current focus on military production has diverted resources from Russia’s civilian industries, making it more difficult to rely on branches that typically form the backbone of advanced economies to provide long-term growth.”

In turn this has worsened problems such as labor shortages and inflation.

The result is that Russia’s economy is overheating. Unemployment is less than 3%, according to official figures, a record low in post-Soviet Russia.

A police officer guards the entrance of the Russian Central Bank headquarters in downtown Moscow on July 21, 2023. The Russian Central Bank on July 21, 2023 hiked its key rate to 8.5 percent, a first since September last year, amid fears that a weakening ruble will drive up inflation in the country. "Inflation expectations have risen. Domestic demand trends and the depreciation of the ruble since the beginning of 2023 significantly amplify proinflationary risks," the central bank said in a statement. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP) (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)

A police officer guards the entrance to the Russian Central Bank headquarters in Moscow, July 2023.Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images

Officially, inflation is at about 7%, but the head of Russia’s central bank, Elvira Nabiullina, suggested in December that it was rising again, stoked by cash hand-outs to soldiers and their families as well as high consumer borrowing. In September 2023, consumer borrowing for subsidized mortgages was nearly 50% higher than a year earlier.

In response, the central bank has raised its key interest rate from 7.5% to 16% in just six months. Nabiullina said the Russian economy was like a car trying to go too fast. “It can go, it might even be quick, but not for long,” she said.

One-third of Russian businesses surveyed last autumn said they could no longer afford new loans because of the rise in borrowing costs. Meanwhile, the government has provided subsidized loans worth billions to big state companies and consumers who want to buy property, further aggravating inflation.

These problems are exacerbated by a chronic skills shortage caused by the human cost of the war and the emigration of tens of thousands of young professionals. According to staffing agencies, more than 80% of Russian companies are struggling to find and retain skilled workers. That in turn has reduced productivity.

Russia’s great egg shortage is one consequence of this suddenly warped economy. The price of eggs has risen 40% in a year, prompting complaints on social media and one meme in which a man on bended knee offers his beloved a box of eggs instead of a ring. She declines, saying it’s much too expensive.

Producers are unable to finance imports of chickens and are also short of labor, while their costs are rocketing. Putin was asked about the price of eggs at his recent end-of-year news conference, but offered only vague assurances that the problem was being addressed.

A woman shops at a supermarket in Moscow on January 30, 2023.

The price of a number of basic items, including eggs, has risen markedly, to the consternation of many citizens in Russian.Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images

The economy is further distorted by Russia’s growing reliance on China for technology and as a customer for its oil and gas. Nearly half of Russia’s imports now come from China. To Putin it’s a blossoming partnership; Beijing may relish it as growing dependence. But if selling components to Russia puts at risk access to much bigger markets in the West, Beijing might change its mind.

Despite Putin’s boasts, the Russian state has a primitive reliance on raw materials, especially oil, for its revenues. Russian consumer brands are years behind those in the West and China. Who, for example, would buy a Russian-made laptop or fridge?

The long-term impact of international sanctions will aggravate these distortions.

The International Energy Agency has forecast that Russian oil and gas exports could fall 40% to 50% over the next seven years as equipment goes unreplaced and foreign investment is stymied. To this end, the United States recently announced sanctions on a Russian liquefied natural gas project, Arctic LNG-2, essentially putting on notice any entity that might buy gas produced there.

“Sanctions by their nature are unlikely to trigger regime change or upset Russia’s military strategy entirely,” Abely told CNN, but they have the “longer-term potential to change the trajectory of Russia’s economy by limiting foreign direct investment and affecting technological development.”

Sanctions are about gnawing away at Moscow’s capabilities. They will hurt, over time.

But in the meantime Russia has the advantage of mass over its much smaller neighbor Ukraine, in everything from the production of artillery shells (and now drones) to reservoirs of labor. The best that Ukraine can do (and only so long as the pipeline of Western technology keeps pumping) is to fight the Kremlin’s war machine to a standstill. And hope that Russia’s economic faultlines worsen faster than most expect.

‘I am absolutely Japanese’: Ukrainian-born model sparks debate by winning Miss Japan pageant

Miss Nippon contestants at the beauty pageant final.

Miss Nippon contestants at the beauty pageant’s finale in Tokyo.Miss NipponCNN — 

The face of Japanese beauty is now a Ukrainian-born model — at least according to pageant judges who sparked a debate on cultural identity by naming 26-year-old Karolina Shiino as Miss Japan on Monday.

The annual Miss Nippon contest, which takes its title from the country’s Japanese name, awards the tiara to the contestant representing the “Foremost Beauty of All Japanese Women,” according to the organizers’ website. The decision to pick a winner with European heritage has raised questions about beauty standards and what it means to be Japanese.

“I wanted to be recognized as a Japanese person,” Shiino, a naturalized citizen who has lived in Nagoya since she was 5 years old and speaks fluent Japanese, told CNN in Tokyo.

Ukrainian-born model Karolina Shiino was crowned Miss Nippon this year.

Ukrainian-born model Karolina Shiino was crowned Miss Nippon on Monday.Kazuki Oishi/Sipa USA

Shiino said she has faced difficulties being accepted as a local because of her appearance, and hoped her win would change minds about who can be considered Japanese.

“After all, we live in an era of diversity — where diversity is needed,” she said. “There are many people like me who are worried about the gap between their appearance and (who they are).” She added: “I kept being told that I’m not Japanese, but I am absolutely Japanese, so I entered Miss Japan genuinely believing in myself. I was really happy to be recognized like this.”

US Air Force officer crowned as 2024 Miss America

Japan is an ethnically homogenous country with comparatively low levels of immigration, which in recent years has prompted authorities to push for more foreign residents and workers to plug gaps left by an aging population. The country has struggled to balance its conservative views on immigration with the need for new and younger workers, though a 2018 Pew survey showed that 59% of Japanese people believed immigrants would make the country stronger.

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Ukrainian-born model makes history at Miss Japan pageant

02:59 – Source: CNN

“Karolina is Japanese by nationality, so there is nothing wrong with (her victory),” wrote one commentor on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, comparing her to various overseas-born athletes who have represented Japan in international sports competitions. “They are Japanese, and so is Karolina.”

Others commended her love for the country. “Many Japanese people do not value Japan, so why is there a problem that she has cherished Japan, where she has lived since she was a child, so much that she became a naturalized Japanese citizen, took on the challenge of becoming Miss Nippon and was crowned Miss Nippon?” asked one X user, while another said: “I thought her Instagram posts were polite and well-written, and she has not only beauty, but also ‘Japanese spirit of harmony.’ This is Miss Japan.”

But others questioned whether someone without Japanese ancestry could represent the country’s beauty ideals.

Karolina Shiino accepts the Miss Nippon award.

Karolina Shiino accepts the Miss Nippon trophy.Miss Nippon

“Racial discrimination is absolutely unacceptable,” wrote historian Hiroe Yamashita on X, “but if the Miss Nippon contest is based on the concept of beauty, I personally wish that it would be based on standards of Japanese beauty. With Karolina Shiino’s appearance, an (ethnically) Japanese girl has no chance of winning under the modern values of beauty.”

Shiino’s win comes almost 10 years after Ariana Miyamoto became the first biracial contestant to be crowned Miss Universe Japan, one of several other national-level pageant titles. Miyamoto went on to represent Japan at the 2015 Miss Universe contest.

Miss Nippon is not part of the international beauty pageant circuit and is unaffiliated with global competitions like Miss World and Miss Universe.

Karolina Shiino (center), the winner of Miss Nippon 2024, poses with other contestants at the pageant in Tokyo, Japan, on Jan, 22, 2024.

Karolina Shiino (center), the winner of Miss Nippon 2024, poses with other contestants at the pageant in Tokyo, Japan, on Jan, 22, 2024.Miss Japan Association/Handout via Reuters

The first Miss Nippon contest, held in 1950, was sponsored by one of Japan’s largest newspapers, the Yomiuri Shimbun. It was originally established to select a goodwill ambassador to the United States who would express Japan’s thanks for American humanitarian aid after World War II.

Highlights from the 2023 Miss Universe pageant’s national costume competition

The inaugural competition was won by Fujiko Yamamoto, who went on to become a successful actor. Her “dignified elegance” became the new standard of beauty for Japanese women in years to come, according to the Miss Nippon contest’s official website.

After a 15-year hiatus, the pageant was revived in 1967 by Shizuo Wada, who went on to become a well-known television health and beauty exercise instructor.

The contest is now operated by his https://gorenganpedas.com granddaughter Ai Wada, who told CNN that Shiino was awarded the title of Miss Nippon because she is a “hard-working, yet humble, Japanese woman with a very strong sense of consideration for others.”

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Biden seizes on tougher border measures as he tries to fend off Trump attacks

Migrants wait in front of barbed wire as hundreds of migrants are attempting to reach the United States border to seek humanitarian asylum in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on December 29, 2023. Despite the efforts of the Texan National Guard, the migrants managed to traverse the river and overcome obstacles, including the barbed wire installed by the authorities.

Migrants wait in front of barbed wire in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on December 29, 2023.David Peinado/Anadolu/Getty ImagesCNN — 

President Joe Biden is embracing tougher border measures, including shutting down the US-Mexico border, marking a stark shift from his early days in office as he tries to fend off former President Donald Trump’s attacks on immigration policy ahead of the election.

Hours after House Speaker Mike Johnson warned on Friday that the emerging border deal in the Senate is “dead on arrival,” Biden offered this message to House Republicans: “Securing the border through these negotiations is a win for America. For everyone who is demanding tougher border control, this is the way to do it. If you’re serious about the border crisis, pass a bipartisan bill and I will sign it.”

Biden took office pledging to restore asylum and manage the border in a “humane” way. But his administration has faced the harsh realities and challenges at the US-Mexico border amid record migration across the Western Hemisphere — making it a political vulnerability seized on by Republicans.

In recent weeks, Trump has lobbied Republicans to oppose the border compromise being delicately hashed out in the Senate because he wants to campaign on the issue this November.

Over the course of his administration, Biden has leaned on more restrictive measures to try to stem the flow of migration, but Friday’s statement revealed a tougher stance as the president tries to control an issue that’s dogged him, while risking putting him at odds with some allies.

“(The compromise) would give me, as President, a new emergency authority to shut down the border when it becomes overwhelmed. And if given that authority, I would use it the day I sign the bill into law,” Biden’s statement said.

Biden’s embrace of an authority that would allow him to shut down the border in the event of a migrant surge was striking to current and former administration officials, as well as to immigrant advocates.

Johnson on Saturday attacked Biden over his endorsement of the potential border deal, arguing the president can take executive action without Congress to clamp down on migrant crossings.

And in his first statement on the Senate deal, Johnson claimed that it would force the US to surrender to illegal migration. “According to reports, the Senate’s pending proposal would expressly allow as many as 150,000 illegal crossings each month (1.8 million per year) before any new ‘shutdown’ authority could be used. At that point, America will have already been surrendered,” Johnson said in the statement.

A source familiar with the Senate deal, however, said Johnson is providing a false interpretation of the proposal. The source said that once border crossings reach a level requiring the Department of Homeland Security to take emergency measures, federal authorities would be required to significantly restrict illegal border crossings until the US sees fewer than 2,000 migrants approach the border per day over a two-week span.

Under the soon-to-be-released package, the Department of Homeland Security would be granted new emergency authority to shut down the border if daily average migrants crossing unlawfully reach 4,000 over a one-week span. Certain migrants would be allowed to stay if they proved to be fleeing torture or persecution in their countries.

The details remain unclear. But the authority is reminiscent of a Covid-era border restriction invoked by Trump in 2020 that allowed authorities to turn migrants away at the border. It resulted in more repeat border crossers and still placed a strain on the immigration system. 

Current and former Homeland Security officials have raised alarm over the deal, casting doubt over the effectiveness of the authority to shut down the border.

It’s impossible to close the border to asylum seekers because of current law, despite multiple attempts by Trump to do so while he was in office.

ically to put down a marker now that Johnson said no.”

Officials are concerned that the new emergency authority would come with the same headaches that accompanied Title 42, a Covid-era restriction.

Title 42, a public health authority invoked by Trump during the pandemic, allowed authorities to turn migrants encountered at the US-Mexico border back to Mexico or their origin country.

But authorities still contended with a high number of border crossings, and thousands of people gathered in northern Mexico waiting to cross.

While Title 42 was in place, officials also grappled with a jump in repeat crossers because there was little in the way of legal consequences or buy-in from Mexico, where thousands of migrants were pushed back.

Immigrant advocates quickly slammed Biden over his statement — revealing the deepening rift between the president and the advocacy community.

For weeks, immigrant advocates and progressives fretted about the parameters of a border deal that includes punitive measures for migrants crossing the US-Mexico border, including those seeking asylum, and raised alarm over White House concessions in the ongoing talks.

Migrants take part in a caravan towards the border with the United States in Arriaga community, Chiapas State, Mexico, on January 8, 2024. More than a thousand migrants of different nationalities have resumed their passage in the caravan after not receiving a favorable response to their demands to receive humanitarian visas from the National Migration Institute.

Migrants take part in a caravan toward the border with the United States in Chiapas State, Mexico, on January 8, 2024.Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Robyn Barnard, senior director of refugee advocacy for Human Rights First, called the situation disappointing.

“This president is laying bare his callous disregard for and willingness to play politics with the lives of Black and brown migrants, many of whom come to our Southern border in order to exercise their legal right to seek asylum,” Barnard said.

“If he listened to any of the immigration experts in his administration, he would know that these proposals — shutting down the border, expelling migrants, making it harder to access asylum protection — are not ‘fair’ and will not ‘secure the border,’ they will however cause chaos and human suffering,” she added.

Kerri Talbot, executive director at Immigration Hub, decried the politicization of the border.

“I hope that the leaders of both parties can step back and think through real solutions that would lead to a controlled border,” she told CNN. “Shutting down the border has never been possible. What is possible is a well-resourced secure and humane border if Congress would pass the necessary funds.”

Earlier in the week, Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of California warned of progressive backlash against the administration over the potential immigration deal.

“There’s the substance and there’s the process. The frustration about the process is, frankly, the lack of transparency. It’s been months now and there’s still no language, no text floating around to be able to review and say, ‘I agree with this’ or https://berdasarkanapa.com ‘I don’t agree with that,’” Padilla told CNN’s Manu Raju.

“Returning to Trump’s playbook, you know, Trump’s greatest hits when it comes to border security is not the answer to the problem.”

Biden is ready to turn the page toward a face-off with Trump. His path to reelection won’t be an easy one.

President Joe Biden speaks to United Auto Workers members at the UAW's Community Action Program legislative conference in Washington, DC, on January 24.

President Joe Biden speaks to United Auto Workers members at the UAW’s Community Action Program legislative conference in Washington, DC, on January 24.Leah Millis/ReutersWashingtonCNN — 

President Joe Biden officially turned the page Wednesday to the general election, looking ahead to a race against former President Donald Trump that will test his ability to reenergize key corners of his winning coalition in a race his team views as nothing less than a fight for democracy itself.

The campaign believes results from New Hampshire’s primary were enough to indicate Trump would be the Republican nominee. As the starting gun fired, the contours of Biden’s efforts and challenges in reconvening critical voting blocs that helped propel him into office were coming into sharper view.

Biden’s path to victory will not be an easy one. His campaign advisers readily acknowledge the race this year will be exceedingly close and say their efforts will accelerate over the coming weeks. He faces a party that, according to polls, would have preferred a different candidate. And divisions within his coalition, most visibly over the war in Gaza, have increasingly spilled into public view.

On Tuesday, those ruptures were on vivid display during a speech in Virginia about abortion rights – otherwise a galvanizing issue for Democrats. Biden was interrupted more than a dozen times by people protesting the war in Gaza, who were eventually drowned out by supporters cheering Biden on. Hours after, he was projected to win the New Hampshire primary race even though his name wasn’t on the ballot.

On Wednesday, he secured the key backing of the United Auto Workers, which had initially held off endorsing Biden amid concerns about his push toward electric vehicles. The backing was vindication after Biden’s appeals to union members and working-class voters – including a visit to a UAW picket line last year. The announcement could have its biggest effect in Michigan, which Biden won by 3 points in 2020.

And on Thursday, a pair of events will be aimed at bolstering Biden’s standing on economic issues, which have proven frustratingly difficult for the president to gain traction on over the past year. He will travel to battleground Wisconsin to tout infrastructure investments while his Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will draw a rare contrast with Trump in a major address.

The series of engagements illustrate the opportunities and challenges Biden faces as he enters a contest against an opponent he has openly labeled a threat to democracy, yet whom some polls show with a small nationwide lead.

As the campaign begins in earnest, the president’s team says they are braced for battle.

“In politics, you run like you’re down when you’re winning or when you’re losing,” Biden campaign co-chair Cedric Richmond said Wednesday. “We’re going to run like we’re behind.”

Biden’s advisers had been itching for a one-on-one contest with Trump, believing their choice argument is easier to make when he is seen as having tied up the nomination.

They viewed Trump’s grievance-laden speech Tuesday evening – in which he complained about Nikki Haley’s decision to remain in the race, and insulted her choice of dress – as a perfect example of the split-screen they hope will be on display frequently over the coming months, as the former president vows to run a campaign of retribution. Campaign officials have also parsed the results from Iowa and New Hampshire, finding signs of unease among independents about Trump and facing an enthusiasm deficit among some Republicans.

“He is struggling to make himself palatable to these key constituencies that will ultimately decide the election this November,” deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks said.

Deep divisions in Biden’s coalition over Gaza

Biden appears to face a similar issue with some groups of Democrats who remain furious with his handling of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The protesters at Tuesday’s event in Northern Virginia shouted, “Genocide Joe” and unfurled Palestinian flags, reflecting unease among some progressives at how the president has handled the conflict. It has now become routine for Biden’s public events to be interrupted by similar protests – including as he was accepting the UAW’s endorsement Wednesday – though the volume of demonstrators at the abortion speech was higher than previously seen.

Last year, Biden met with Arab-American leaders at the White House who called on him to endorse a ceasefire in Gaza. His advisers say he is not viewing the Gaza war through a political lens, but as commander in chief.

On Wednesday, he held a “very respectful conversation” with UAW members who raised the Gaza issue, according to Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who said Biden and fellow Democrats would have to grapple with the topic.

“I know he knows how to talk to people. It’s an issue we’re going to have to talk about and deal with. It’s going to be a contrast and we need to remind people of the facts,” she said on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” pointing to Trump’s pledge to reinstate a entry ban on people from Muslim-majority countries.

Dingell said Biden would ultimately be a help to fellow Democrats, including in Michigan. But she said there was a long road ahead.

“I think President Biden’s going to help people win, in the end. We’ve got to roll up our sleeves, we’ve got to do a lot of hard work, we’ve got to educate people about what the issues are,” she said. “It’s a long time between now and November.”

Democratic jitters about Biden’s reelection prospects have been smoldering for months, leading to anxious conversations among party leaders and donors about his campaign’s strength and structure heading into the general election.

That is part of what influenced the decision, announced Tuesday, to shift two key West Wing advisers from the White House to Biden’s campaign. Jen O’Malley Dillon and Mike Donilon were long expected to play critical roles in Biden’s reelect effort no matter where they were sitting, and the moves were hardly surprising. But there had been increasing concern among strategists and donors that the president’s political firepower was centered at the White House and not at his campaign headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware.

“A lot of folks, Democratic operatives and so on, would say these are really good moves. This is going to be a really tough campaign. And it’s hard to do two jobs at once,” said David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama and a CNN senior political analyst. “They need their 100% presence, in that campaign, and interacting with the various elements of the campaign.”

Getting the message out

Leading Democrats have been vocal that many of Biden’s accomplishments — including new laws on infrastructure and manufacturing, student debt relief and Covid-19 relief — haven’t yet broken through to voters, leading to depressed approval ratings and voter dissatisfaction.

“All of these things make up legislative successes that’s been unrivaled by anything. You have to go all way back to Lyndon Johnson to find anything close to it,” said Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, a top Biden ally whose endorsement helped revive Biden’s 2020 primary bid. “We have got do a better job of penetrating this because the misinformation is great.”

Biden’s allies see signs of a coming shift. Consumer sentiment is improving, inflation is easing and wages are rising, all providing optimism inside the West Wing and campaign headquarters that Americans’ views of the economy could soon catch up to indicators that have long been trending positive.

How or whether the president can move the needle with Americans on the economy remains to be seen. After months of travel, policy announcements and campaign advertisements, voters still have negative perceptions about Biden’s handling of the economy with less than a third of voters saying they approve of his approach.

Biden has privately voiced frustration that some of the infrastructure improvements he’s trying to sell to voters have been slow to physically materialize.

But one thing Biden’s teams believe will help center their arguments is a clearer race between Biden and Trump. The emergence of Trump as the likely Republican nominee has led to a surge in confidence among Biden’s campaign team that once voters see the choice in front of them, they will be reminded of the tumult and divisiveness that helped lead to Trump’s defeat in 2020.

Like all incumbents, Biden has struggled at moments to break from the White House bubble. The concluding months of 2023 were consumed by Israel’s war against Hamas. At one point, Biden was telling fellow Democrats that he was spending as much as 75% of his time dealing with foreign issues.

The president’s team has been experimenting with new ways to utilize his time. In addition to podium speeches about https://gorenganpedas.com his policies, he’s begun ramping up his retail politicking, visiting milkshake stands and coffee houses to meet people in more intimate settings.

He’ll be campaign in South Carolina this weekend ahead of the state’s primary, the first official contest in the DNC’s primary process. Democratic contests in Nevada and Michigan will follow.

With his name on a ballot for the first time this election season, those states will provide early clues of Biden’s strengths and weaknesses ahead of the uphill climb ahead.

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South African police arrest suspect in connection with building fire that killed 77

Smoke rises from a burning building amid a deadly fire, in Johannesburg, South Africa, August 31, 2023, in this image obtained from social media. X/@odirileram/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT

Smoke rises from the deadly fire in Johannesburg, South Africa, that broke out on August 31, 2023.odirileram/X/ReutersCNN — 

Police in Gauteng have arrested a suspect in connection with the fire that tore through a five-story building in central Johannesburg last year and killed 77 people, South African public broadcaster SABC reported Tuesday.

Gauteng police spokesperson Dimakatso Nevhuhlwi said the suspect was arrested after he confessed before the Commission of Inquiry into the building fire, and that the 29-year-old man will appear in court soon on charges of arson, 76 counts of murder and 120 counts of attempted murder, according to SABC.

The exact cause of the fire is “yet to be determined,” it added.

At least 12 children were among those killed in the blaze last year. More than 50 people were injured.

The fire affected some of the country’s most vulnerable people while also highlighting a long-standing problem regarding abandoned buildings in South Africa.

The blaze took place in what is known locally as a “hijacked building” – a property abandoned by landlords and taken over by gangs or other groups and leased out mostly to migrants and South Africans lacking the means to afford other forms of housing.

Workers seal off the perimeter of a burned apartment block in Johannesburg on September 6, 2023. At least 76 people including 12 children died as fire ripped through the five-storey building in the early hours on August 31, 2023. (Photo by Michele Spatari / AFP) (Photo by MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty Images)

Workers seal off the perimeter of the burned apartment block in Johannesburg on September 6, 2023. More than 70 people, including 12 children, died as fire ripped through the five-story building on August 31, 2023.Michele Spatari/AFP/Getty Images

Hijacked buildings often fail to meet basic safety regulations. CNN reported at the time that local authorities said the apartments in the building, intended to house only two or https://gorenganpedas.com three people, were partitioned into sleeping areas to accommodate multiple inhabitants.

While South Africa has seen fires devastate informal settlements before, the Johannesburg fire is widely seen as the worst in recent memory.