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Missile strikes on Ukrainian cities as call-up causes chaos in Russia

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Russia launched renewed strikes on Ukrainian cities on Saturday, as Moscow’s mobilisation drive to refresh its struggling war effort continued to provide scenes of chaos across Russia.

Ukrainian officials said a Russian missile hit an apartment building in the city of Zaporizhzhia, killing one person and injuring seven others, and said a total of three people were killed and 19 injured in strikes across the south and east of the country.

In Russia, even Kremlin cheerleaders expressed unease at the progress of the mobilisation drive, announced by the president, Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday. Viral videos have shown mobilised men who appear variously to be confused, drunk or angry at receiving the call-up.

There are many reports of local authorities rounding up people who have not served before, have illnesses or are over 50, contradicting Putin’s announcement of a “partial mobilisation” that would only involve those with military experience. There are reports of men and women with young children being mobilised, and many videos of emotional family farewells.

Margarita Simonyan, the hawkish head of propaganda outlet RT, complained that military offices across the country were rounding up those who were not supposed to be called up. “It’s as if they were tasked by Kyiv to do that,” she said, in a rare criticism of authorities.

The mobilisation drive is a huge gamble by Putin after months in which the war in Ukraine has been portrayed as a “special operation” that would be completed without bloodshed. Now, the call-up brings the war closer to home for hundreds of thousands of families, and has prompted a race for the borders for many Russian men eager to avoid the draft.

There was a fresh wave of anti-war and anti-mobilisation protests in cities across Russia on Saturday, although the numbers were small as police have cracked down harshly on previous protests.

In the far-eastern city of Khabarovsk, one man was detained for a sign that read: “Mobilise yourself, you lice-infested rat.” Protests were expected in Moscow and St Petersburg late in the afternoon.

A further sign of problems in Moscow came as the defence ministry sacked Gen Dmitry Bulgakov, the deputy minister in charge of logistics. The ministry gave no reason for firing Bulgakov, who had worked in the role for many years.

“The top appears to be looking for people to blame at the moment. Someone had to be punished, and [minister of defence Sergei] Shoigu doesn’t want to put the blame on the generals, on the military,” said a former defence ministry official who has worked with Bulgakov.

“The mantra is: ‘We are fighting well but not just getting the logistics we need, we aren’t getting our breakfast on time,’ so to speak. It is not the fault of the guys fighting.”

Police break up an anti-war demonstration in Moscow on Wednesday

Police break up an anti-war demonstration in Moscow on Wednesday

The New York Times reported on Saturday that Putin has taken personal control of the war effort, citing US officials briefed on classified intelligence who suggest the Russian president has overruled military commanders, insisting, for example, that the Russian army should not prepare a retreat from the city of Kherson.

The mobilisation drive comes as Russia is holding “referendums” in areas of Ukraine it controls, in which the remaining residents are asked whether they favour their regions becoming independent states and then joining Russia.

The votes, which have been widely dismissed as illegitimate in Kyiv and the west, are a pretext for Russia to annex Ukrainian territory. Putin promised on Wednesday that Moscow would defend its new territories with all available means, including nuclear weapons.

The voting began on Friday and is due to continue until Tuesday in the Russia-controlled parts of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In some places, election officials set up mobile polling stations in courtyards, citing security concerns, and there were numerous videos showing people filling in ballots under the watchful eye of police.

There is little doubt that the Kremlin will announce an overwhelming decision to join Russia, but Ukrainian officials have said Russia declaring an annexation will not stop Kyiv’s attempts to win back the territories.

“Half of the population fled the Donetsk region because of Russian terror and constant shelling, voting against Russia with their feet, and the second half has been cheated and scared,” said the governor of Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko.

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Historic Firefighter pay settlement and new contract win city council approval

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Houston City Council has approved a historic pay settlement and a new five-year contract for the 4,000 dedicated men and women of the Houston Fire Department. The vote marks a long-awaited victory for Houston firefighters, ending the disrespect and legal challenges and beginning the process of returning the HFD to a world-class department with adequate staffing and equipment.

“This is a historic day! I urge Houston firefighters and their families to relish this well-deserved victory. For eight long years, you have persevered through immense challenges while continuing to protect and serve our community,” said Patrick M. ‘Marty’ Lancton, President of the HPFFA. “Today’s vote by City Council is not just a resolution of past grievances; it’s recognition of our sacrifices and a commitment to providing the resources needed to continue serving Houston with dedication and pride.”

Houston City Council stalls vote on Fire Department contract – Houston  Public Media

The settlement includes provisions for back pay owed to firefighters, addressing a contentious issue that has strained labor relations for nearly a decade. The new five-year collective bargaining agreement provides pay hikes, significant improvements in working conditions, enhanced benefits, a renewed focus on recruitment and retention, and mental health support — a crucial component given firefighting’s stressful and demanding nature. The landmark deal underscores the core tenets of what it means to be a Houston firefighter: delivering excellent service, being good stewards of city resources, and giving back to the community.

“We owe a profound debt of gratitude to Mayor Whitmire for his steadfast commitment to bringing this ordeal to a close,” said Lancton. “He made a promise, and he has fulfilled it. His support and public recognition of Houston firefighters and the job they do are bolstering morale and helping to mend years of distrust. We eagerly anticipate further collaboration as we strive to enhance firefighting and emergency services for Houstonians.”

Firefighters will receive their back pay in July. The new five-year contract is effective with the start of the city’s new fiscal year on July 1, 2024.

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Global Cyber Security Expert, Professor Ojo Emmanuel Ademola bags Most Outstanding Personality of the Year Award

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Professor Ojo Emmanuel Ademola has been recognized as the Outstanding Personality of the Year in Technology at the prestigious 4th Edition of the South West Advancement Award and Investment Summit. Professor Ademola is a Nigerian Cyber Security and Information Technology Management Professor and a Chartered Fellow of the Royal Chartered Management Institute.

This incredible achievement was celebrated at an exquisite event held on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at 5 pm at the esteemed Oriental Hotel in Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria. The event brought together esteemed technocrat political leaders and prominent personalities from diverse sectors, creating an exceptional gathering of influential figures.

 

The annual award ceremony is dedicated to acknowledging individuals for their remarkable contributions, with a special focus on those making significant impacts within the South West region of Nigeria. The esteemed recognition is a testament to Professor Ademola’s dedication and expertise in advancing technology, especially in Africa and Europe, particularly notable for his influential work in the United Kingdom.

Dr Smith Raymond, the Director General of The Institute for Enterprise Management and Analytics, commended Professor Ademola for this well-deserved award, acknowledging the professor’s unwavering commitment to technological progress. He emphasized the importance of Professor Ademola’s work. He encouraged him to continue his outstanding efforts, highlighting that this honor is a motivating call to action in further driving innovation.

 

In Professor Ademola’s absence at the event, his representation by S.A. on Media, Babatunde Adekanmbi, conveyed the professor’s heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for the nomination and award. It was seen as an inspiration for Professor Ademola to continue his impactful work in technology.

 

The event was graced by an array of distinguished personalities, including Dr. Reuben Abati, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Dele Momodu, the Chairman of Ovation Media Group, and His Imperial Majesty Oba Ogunwusi, the revered Ooni of Ife, alongside various other notable dignitaries. The gathering highlighted the significance of Professor Ademola’s contributions and celebrated the collective achievements in advancing technology and innovation within the region

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House Republicans vote to hold Garland in contempt over Biden interview audio

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House Republicans on Wednesday afternoon passed a resolution to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over audio of President Joe Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur on his handling of classified documents.

The final vote was 216 to 207. Rep. David Joyce of Ohio was the only Republican who voted against the contempt resolution.

Speaker Mike Johnson called the outcome “a significant step in maintaining the integrity of our oversight processes and responsibilities.”

“It is up to Congress – not the Executive Branch – to determine what materials it needs to conduct its own investigations, and there are consequences for refusing to comply with lawful Congressional subpoenas,” Johnson said in a statement.

MORE: Biden asserts executive privilege over audio of interview with special counsel Hur

Garland, in response, said it was “deeply disappointing that this House of Representatives has turned a serious congressional authority into a partisan weapon.”

“Today’s vote disregards the constitutional separation of powers, the Justice Department’s need to protect its investigations, and the substantial amount of information we have provided to the Committees,” Garland said in a statement. “I will always stand up for this Department, its employees, and its vital mission to defend our democracy.”

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