Thursday Briefing: Prigozhin Listed Aboard Crashed Plane

by Pelican Press
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Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner mercenary group who led a brief mutiny against Russia’s military leadership in June, was listed as a passenger on a plane that crashed yesterday, killing all 10 people aboard, according to Russian aviation authorities.

His fate remains unclear. Several Russian news outlets reported, citing anonymous sources, that he was indeed on the plane that crashed. But Grey Zone, a Telegram account associated with the Wagner group, posted that it remained uncertain whether Prigozhin was dead or alive. U.S. officials also said they were unable to confirm his death. Dmitri Utkin, Wagner’s most prominent commander, was also on the passenger manifest.

Frustrated over the country’s military leadership, Prigozhin instigated a short rebellion two months ago with his Wagner forces that posed a threat to President Vladimir Putin. Despite his actions, he appeared to move about freely in the mutiny’s aftermath, including meeting with the president on June 29.

A falling out: After years of supporting Putin, Prigozhin began to openly criticize the Russian government. Here’s what changed and when.

Elsewhere in Russia: Gen. Sergei Surovikin, a former commander of Russia’s forces in Ukraine believed to be close to Prigozhin, was removed from his post as chief of the Russian Air Force. He reportedly knew about the mutiny in advance.

India has become the first country to reach the southern polar region of the moon in one piece and only the fourth country ever to land on the moon.

A lander named Vikram and a rover named Pragyan landed safely yesterday on the surface of the moon. India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission will explore an area of the moon that has yet to be visited and has frozen water that could be a resource for future missions.

The landing, which came just days after a failed Russian mission, was broadcast live to tens of millions of people on Indian news channels. “This is an unprecedented moment,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. “This is the moment for new, developing India.”

More lunar adventures: After Russia and India, Japan is set to launch its Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, on Saturday, to orbit the moon and attempt a landing near Shioli Crater.

More than eight hours before a fire swept through the Hawaiian town of Lahaina on Aug. 8, a small brush fire broke out on the edge of a residential neighborhood. Firefighters spent hours dousing the fire and managed to contain it. Then came a key turning point: The firefighters left the scene to help handle calls from other locations.

Within an hour, residents and authorities said, the initial brush fire flared up again into what became the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century, destroying nearly everything in its path. The death toll has reached at least 115, and more than 2,000 structures were destroyed.

A stroke paralyzed Ann Johnson at 30, robbing her of the ability to speak. Nearly twenty years later, in a milestone of neuroscience and artificial intelligence, her brain activity is being translated into words spoken by an avatar. The breakthrough could help others who have lost speech.

“It let me feel like I was a whole person again,” wrote Johnson, who lives in Canada and is now 48.

In his book, “Capital in the Anthropocene,” Kohei Saito argues that Japan should seize this moment of demographic and economic challenges to reinvent itself through “degrowth communism.”

When Saito decided to write about it, his editors were skeptical. Communism is unpopular in Japan. Economic growth is gospel. The book would be a tough sell. Except it wasn’t.

Since its release in 2020, it has sold more than 500,000 copies and is about to be translated into English. Saito has tapped into what he describes as a growing disillusionment in Japan with capitalism’s ability to solve problems, whether it’s caring for the nation’s growing older population, stemming its rising inequality or mitigating climate change.

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