By Maria Tsvetkova GRECHANAYA BALKA, Russia (Reuters) - The family of the first Russian soldier confirmed dead in Syria buried their son in a village graveyard on Wednesday, with his father saying there were no signs on the body to support the official account he had hanged himself. Russian defense officials say Vadim Kostenko, 19, hanged himself at a base on the Syrian coast on Saturday because of problems in his personal life. His body was handed over to his parents on Tuesday, making him the first confirmed military fatality of Russia's 4-week-old bombing campaign. "There were no marks on his body to suggest that he had hanged himself," Vadim's father, Alexander, told Reuters after his son's funeral in southern Russia. "Let's see what the prosecutor says." The circumstances of the air force technician's death have aroused suspicion in Russia, where Kremlin critics accuse the authorities of hiding the truth of military casualties in other conflicts, especially in Ukraine where Moscow denies its forces have fought despite what the West says is overwhelming evidence. Vadim's parents, Alexander and Svetlana, say their son had sounded cheerful over the phone when they spoke to him the day he died, which led them to doubt that he hanged himself. Four soldiers carried the coffin from the parents house on Wednesday to a small van, followed by a soldier carrying the blue, white and red Russian flag with a black ribbon attached. His mother, sobbing and wearing a black head scarf, walked with difficulty. She referred to her dead son as her "little one" before climbing into the van and stroking his face on the journey to the graveyard. The coffin was taken to the village cemetery, where the lid was removed before the burial, revealing the body in a dark blue air force uniform. The collar was turned up, concealing his neck, but a bruise was visible on his nose. Soldiers fired three shots into the air before the casket was closed. Neighbors said a local priest had visited the family home on Wednesday morning, but had refused to carry out a blessing because he had said suicide was a sin. Novaya Gazeta newspaper quoted an unidentified uncle as saying Kostenko's body bore wounds inconsistent with hanging. "He had a broken jaw and the back of his head was bashed in. And his neck was broken," the uncle was quoted as saying. He also said his nephew's nose was broken. The office of Russia's main military prosecutor said on Wednesday it was still looking into Kostenko's death, but its initial findings were that he had hanged himself. The official reason for his death was asphyxiation. Vadim's father played down a press report that he wanted a repeat autopsy, saying the family would first wait for the results of an official investigation. Vadim's grandmother said she opposed a second autopsy: "Nobody will disturb him". Kostenko flew to Syria on Sept. 14, two weeks before the Kremlin launched its air campaign to help President Bashar al-Assad's government. Russia says it is targeting militants from the Islamic State group although most of its strikes have hit areas held by other opponents of Assad. One military officer who agreed to speak about the circumstances of Kostenko's death on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the body had been found by fellow soldiers at his base in Syria and that it was obvious he had ended his own life. He said that Vadim's phone had 10 unreturned calls on it, which he said were probably to his girlfriend. Another officer said conditions at the Syrian base were comfortable. (Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Christian Lowe and Peter Graff)
- The Independent
Kayleigh McEnany leaves White House after final two-minute press briefing following deadly Capitol riot
Trump’s press secretary refused to take questions following the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol earlier this month
- The Telegraph
Scientists say Colombia must cull its so-called “cocaine hippos” that roam the Magdalena river basin as they are breeding voraciously and are an increasing menace. The marshlands of Colombia have been home to these giant mammals since they were illegally imported in the late 1980s by the notorious drug lord, Pablo Escobar. When he was shot dead in 1993, the Colombian government took control of his extravagant estate, including his personal zoo. Most of the animals were shipped away, but four hippos were left to fend for themselves in a pond, and now there are dozens of them living in the wild. Although nobody knows exactly how many there are, estimates put the total number between 80 and 100, making them the largest invasive species on the planet. Scientists forecast that the number of hippos will swell to almost 1,500 by 2040. They conclude, that at that point, environmental impacts will be irreversible and numbers impossible to control. “Nobody likes the idea of shooting a hippo, but we have to accept that no other strategy is going to work,” ecologist Nataly Castelblanco-Martínez told The Telegraph.
- Associated Press
From “emaciated” refugees to crops burned on the brink of harvest, starvation threatens the survivors of more than two months of fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. The first humanitarian workers to arrive after pleading with the Ethiopian government for access describe weakened children dying from diarrhea after drinking from rivers. A local official told a Jan. 1 crisis meeting of government and aid workers that hungry people had asked for “a single biscuit.”
Germany has given transcripts of interviews with Alexei Navalny to Russia as part of Moscow's probe into the poisoning of the Kremlin critic, a Justice Ministry spokesman said, demanding a thorough investigation into the crime. The ministry said Russia now had all the information needed to carry out a criminal investigation into Navalny's poisoning in August last year, including blood and tissue samples. "The German government assumes that the Russian government will now immediately take all necessary steps to clarify the crime against Mr. Navalny," the spokesman said.
- Miami Herald
“I thought, ‘This could be the end,’” the D.C. police officer said.
The white woman caught on tape getting into a physical altercation with a Black female security guard the evening before the Capitol riots lost her job at UMass Hospital. The termination occurred after her daughter went viral for exposing her identity on social media. On January 5th, Therese Duke and a group of pro-Trump protesters that included other family members were filmed harassing Ashanti Smith, a security guard working at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington D.C.
- Architectural Digest
You'll love the twist these designers have put on old-school entertainmentOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
Guatemalan security forces used sticks to beat back a migrant caravan early on Sunday after thousands of people set off from Honduras for the United States this week, just as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to enter the White House. Between 7,000 and 8,000 migrants have entered Guatemala since Friday, according to Guatemala's immigration authority, fleeing poverty and violence in a region hammered by the coronavirus pandemic and back-to-back hurricanes in November. However, around 3,000 Guatemalan security officials mustered in the village of Vado Hondo in eastern Guatemala to hold up the caravan, leading to the clashes on Sunday morning.
- The Independent
‘It was my pleasure to crush a white nationalist insurrection’: DC officer injured in Capitol riot speaks out
Daniel Hodges recounted pro-Trump mob’s attempt to crush him inside a doorway during siege on 6 January
- Associated Press
Damaged roads and bridges, power blackouts and lack of heavy equipment on Saturday hampered rescuers after a strong earthquake left at least 49 people dead and hundreds injured on Indonesia's Sulawesi island. Operations were focused on about eight locations in the hardest-hit city of Mamuju, where people were still believed trapped following the magnitude 6.2 quake that struck early Friday, said Saidar Rahmanjaya, who heads the local search and rescue agency.
- Yahoo News Video
A 16-year-old boy has admitted to fatally shooting his newborn daughter and leaving her body inside a fallen tree in the woods in Wisconsin, according to prosecutors.
- The Week
President Trump is known for going off script, but his premature presidential election victory declaration in the early hours of the morning on Nov. 4 wasn't a completely spur-of-the-moment decision, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports.In the first installment of a reported series on Trump's final two months in office, Swan writes that Trump began "choreographing election night in earnest" during the second week of October following a "toxic" debate with President-elect Joe Biden on Sept. 29 and a bout with COVID-19 that led to his hospitalization. At that point, Trump's internal poll numbers had reportedly taken a tumble, Swan notes.With that in mind, he reportedly called his first White House chief of staff, a stunned Reince Priebus, and "acted out his script, including walking up to a podium and prematurely declaring victory on election night if it looked like he was ahead." Indeed, in the lead up to Election Day, Trump reportedly kept his focus on the so-called "red mirage," the early vote counts that would show many swing states leaning red because mail-in ballots had yet to be counted. Trump, Swan reports, intended to "weaponize it for his vast base of followers," who would go to bed thinking he had secured a second-term, likely planting the seeds of a stolen election. Read more at Axios. > As I've been writing, the plan was to steal the election all along. Fantastic reporting here. https://t.co/k8C73o8vH7> > -- Jonah Goldberg (@JonahDispatch) January 16, 2021More stories from theweek.com 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious Biden's inaugural address expected to push unity, optimism
- NBC News
Lonnie Coffman, a Capitol protester from the backwoods of Alabama, represents the kind of threat that keeps crime fighters “up at night,” a former FBI profiler said.
- Associated Press
Egypt’s former antiquities minister and noted archaeologist Zahi Hawass on Sunday revealed details of an ancient funerary temple in a vast necropolis south of Cairo. Hawass told reporters at the Saqqara necropolis that archaeologists unearthed the temple of Queen Neit, wife of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty that ruled Egypt from 2323 B.C. till 2150 B.C. Archaeologists also found a 4-meter (13-foot) long papyrus that includes texts of the Book of the Dead, which is a collection of spells aimed at directing the dead through the underworld in ancient Egypt, he said.
Turkey will renew its offer to form a joint working group with the United States to look into the technical aspects of its acquisition of the Russian S-400 defence systems it acquired, once President-elect Joe Biden takes office, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was cited as saying on Friday. Cavusoglu made the comments to reporters on a flight home from Pakistan on Friday. Biden takes over from President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
- The Guardian
The majority of more than 140,000 tips sent to the FBI about the attack have come from friends and family of those involved A mob of Trump supporters breach the US Capitol on 6 January 2021. Photograph: Carol Guzy/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock Sign up for the Guardian Today US newsletter When Alison Lopez discovered her uncle’s sister had been part of the mob that breached the Capitol doors on 6 January, she immediately reported her to the FBI. “I had no second thoughts,” she said. Lopez found out about her in-law’s participation when the woman in question called her aunt from inside the Capitol to brag about “taking back the election”. Lopez, who is 42, said she had known the relative her whole life but had “no qualms” about reporting her. “If I saw my grandmother making bombs in her basement, or my aunt breaking into a home, I would have to intervene as well – it’s just about doing what’s right,” she said. In the week after the attacks on the Capitol, there has been a concerted effort to “unmask” rioters online, with self-styled detectives investigating who’s who in videos and photos posted from the attack. Outing family members – either online or to authorities – has marked a new frontier of the rift Trumpism has created in the US. Lopez said she was horrified but not surprised to see a loved one participate in the riot. Over the last four years she has watched helplessly as members of her family became increasingly entrenched in the world of hateful rightwing conspiracy theories. “These are people who never really identified with politics before, and now they have just let this consume their lives,” Lopez said, adding she does not consider herself a Democrat and has voted for Republican candidates in the past. If I saw my grandmother making bombs in her basement ... I would have to intervene as well – it’s about doing what’s right Alison Lopez More than 140,000 people have sent tips to the FBI reporting participants in the riots on the Capitol on 6 January, resulting in at least 200 arrests. The vast majority of those, according to the Department of Justice, come from friends, family, and other acquaintances of those involved in the attacks. The Massachusetts teen Helena Duke received a flood of support this week when she posted a video outing her own mother, aunt and uncle as having attended the Capitol protests. The 18-year-old said her mother, who appears to be harassing a Black woman in the video shared, previously condemned her for attending Black Lives Matter protests. “If I did nothing, I felt I was as bad as them,” Duke told Good Morning America. The decision to report a family member or publicly out them as espousing dangerous views can make a huge impact in stopping the spread of hate speech, said Talia Lavin, an expert in extremism and white supremacist groups and the author of Culture Warlords. “I applaud the bravery of people who have called out people in their own families for this kind of radicalization,” she said. “When people experience ostracization or disavowal from one’s own family, it can lead to a kind of cooling of extremist sentiment, because individuals are for the very first time experiencing a consequence for what they have so proudly engaged in for so long.” Online sleuthing is not new, especially among hate speech and extremism investigators, who have for years hunted down and outed racists and fascist agitators to employers in hopes to foster accountability. But in the aftermath of the insurrection, the practice has gone more mainstream, with journalists, activists and the FBI tweeting out photos and videos of the riot and encouraging followers to investigate them. Online sleuthing has its drawbacks: a Chicago firefighter faced harassment after being falsely identified as the killer of a Capitol police officer through a blurry video image. Another photo was falsely traced to a man pictured on an Antifa website, a tie that has been definitively disproven. But the chance of mistaken identity is much lower when the accusation comes from a family member or loved one. Leslie, a woman in Chicago who asked that her last name not be used in this story, said she and her sister both submitted screenshots of images their mother posted on social media from the steps of the Capitol during the riots to the FBI. More than 140,000 people have sent tips to the FBI reporting participants in the riots on the Capitol on 6 January. Photograph: Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/REX/Shutterstock Leslie, who considers herself far left politically, said she had watched in horror as vigilantes stormed the Capitol on 6 January, only to learn days later her estranged mother was one of them. “I almost passed out,” she said of the moment she saw the images. “I was really shocked, she was on the scaffolding we saw people climbing on TV. It was such a helpless, horrifying feeling.” Leslie said she and her three siblings all stopped speaking to their parents after they got sucked into QAnon, movement surrounding a disproven conspiracy theory that Donald Trump is saving the world from a secret cabal of child abusers. She said she watched her evangelical mother go from being a devout Christian to posting hate speech on Facebook and aligning herself with the far right. “I am really, really angry that I have essentially lost my family to a cult,” she said. “I am angry that people were not taking the rise of QAnon more seriously. People kept saying, ‘nobody is actually going to do anything, it is just a bunch of idiots online’.” “Well, the people at the Capitol are the people who were looking at this online,” she said. “This is what happens when you don’t do anything.” Leslie is not alone: support groups have emerged in recent years for the countless Americans who have lost loved ones to the conspiracy theory. Leslie said she is hoping a call from the FBI could serve as “kind of wake up call for them”, she said. “Maybe if she gets a call from the authorities she will realize this is not just a game, this is not just something playing out on Facebook. This is real and people got killed,” she said.
68 elected officials from Colorado have sent a letter to lawmakers requesting a probe into Rep. Lauren Boebert’s actions before and during the day of the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to multiple reports. The letter was addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Kevin McCarthy.
- Associated Press
At least two members of an Afghan militia opened fire on their fellow militiamen in the western Herat province, killing 12, in what provincial police on Saturday described as an insider attack. Herat police spokesman Abdul Ahad Walizada said the attackers fled with the slain militiamen's weapons and ammunition, adding that Afghan government forces had regained control of the area. A Taliban spokesman Yousaf Ahmadi in a tweet claimed responsibility for the insider attack, which took place late Friday.
- Miami Herald
Cindy Falco Dicorrado may have wanted a bagel at an Einstein Bros. Bagels near Boca Raton but she may have had to settle for eating one in a Palm Beach County jail the next morning.
Saudi Arabia expects to re-open its embassy in Qatar in the coming days, Saudi's foreign minister said on Saturday, following a U.S.-backed detente last week in a three-year-old dispute between Arab states. It is just a matter of logistics, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan told journalists in Riyadh when asked about embassy reopenings. Full diplomatic relations will resume, he added.