While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Feb 1

A self-propelled howitzer is towed near the front line in Ukraine's Donbas region, on Jan 31, 2023. PHOTO: NYTIMES

US funds not misused in Ukraine, US Treasury says

The United States Treasury Department on Tuesday said it had no indication that US funds had been misused in Ukraine, but would continue to work closely with Ukrainian authorities to ensure appropriate safeguards were in place to avert corruption.

It was the Treasury’s first comment on the issue after Ukraine’s government last week dismissed a slew of senior officials in the country’s biggest political shake-up of the war following corruption allegations.

“We have no indication that US funds have been misused in Ukraine,” Treasury spokesman Megan Apper said in response to a query from Reuters.

“We welcome the ongoing efforts by the Ukrainian authorities to work with us to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place so that US assistance reaches those for whom it is intended.”


Poland aims to get Leopard training time down to 5 weeks

Poland aims to get training time on Leopard 2 battle tanks down to five weeks at a centre where Ukrainian soldiers are likely to be taught how to operate the Western battlefield workhorse against Russia’s invasion.

The village of Swietoszow in western Poland, near the German border, hosts one of just three Leopard training centres in Europe - the others are in Germany and Switzerland.

The Polish military declined to confirm where Ukrainian soldiers would be trained, but military experts said Swietoszow was the most likely location.


‘Hands off Africa,’ Pope Francis tells rich world on Congo trip

Pope Francis denounced the “poison of greed” driving conflicts in Africa as he began a visit to Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday, saying the rich world had to realise that people were more precious than the minerals in the earth beneath them.

Many tens of thousands of people cheered as he travelled from the airport into the capital Kinshasa in his popemobile, with some breaking away to chase it while others chanted and waved flags.

But the joyous mood, one of the most vibrant welcomes of his foreign trips, turned sombre when the 86-year-old pope spoke to dignitaries at the presidential palace. He condemned “terrible forms of exploitation, unworthy of humanity” in Congo, where vast mineral wealth has fuelled war, displacement and hunger.”


‘Farewell to a wonderful beast’: Branson’s homage to Boeing 747

British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, who was inspired to start an airline with a single Boeing 747 after getting stuck on a delayed flight, paid tribute to the Queen of the Skies on Tuesday as Boeing delivered its final jumbo jet.

“It gave America and Boeing the leadership role in aviation,” said Mr Branson, the son of a flight attendant who founded Virgin Atlantic in 1984 after cold-calling Boeing as a successful record publisher to ask about a second-hand 747.

The first aircraft, named Maiden Voyager, became part of a fleet of 30 Boeing 747s that challenged British Airways and US carriers for a slice of the lucrative transatlantic market.


Alec Baldwin, armourer charged over Rust movie set shooting

Actor Alec Baldwin and set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were charged with involuntary manslaughter on Tuesday for the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Western movie Rust in 2021, according to court documents.

District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies filed charges following months of speculation as to whether she had evidence that Baldwin showed criminal disregard for safety when a revolver with which he was rehearsing fired a live round that killed Hutchins.

A probable cause statement accompanying the charges names Baldwin as both an actor and producer on the movie and says: “On the day of the shooting alone, evidence shows that no less than a dozen acts, or omissions of recklessness, occurred in the short time prior to lunch and the time of the shooting, and this does not include the reckless handling of the firearm by Baldwin.”


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