The World Today for July 11, 2023

Listen to Today's Edition
Voiced by Amazon Polly


Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop


The Wagner Group, the Russian military contractor, arrived in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2018 to help President Faustin-Archange Touadéra fight off a rebellion. Since then, the group has deployed thousands of soldiers to Libya, Mali, Sudan, and elsewhere in Africa.

After Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin recently launched a failed coup against Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, a cloud has hung over the organization’s forces on the continent, reported Al Jazeera.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently said that Wagner troops would remain at their posts. He claimed they were private contractors who have signed contracts with foreign governments, the Moscow Times wrote – but the fact that Lavrov was discussing the group proved to many that Wagner fighters are not private contractors but extensions of Russia’s foreign and defense policies.

Of course, because folks like Lavrov insist that Wagner is a private company, Putin and other Kremlin leaders can claim plausible deniability for Wagner’s actions abroad, added the New York Times.

Nathalia Dukhan, an investigator for the Sentry, a non-governmental organization that recently published a report about Wagner entitled “Architects of Terror”, foresaw more Wagner deployments in Africa. “It is like a virus that spreads,” Dukhan told the Guardian. “They do not appear to be planning to leave. They are planning to continue.”

Wagner’s operations are too important for Putin and Russia for them to end anytime soon, the Asia Times contended. For starters, the financial benefits are great.

In the CAR, for example, where Wagner is essentially Touadéra’s security force, a company with ties to the group purchases gold and diamonds, then a second company in Russia buys the gold, providing Wagner with funding and Russia with a precious commodity that it can trade, evading sanctions.

Wagner allies in the CAR, incidentally, committed two of the group’s many alleged atrocities: the massacre of 15 civilians in 2021 in Boyo as well as the decapitation of the ex-mayor of Bambari and his family, according to La Marea, a Spanish newspaper, as reprinted in Worldcrunch.

Diplomatically, noted the Defense Post, Wagner is also presenting itself as an alternative to Western agents who send troops and equipment to developing countries to prop up or topple governments and grease the skids for business deals. Such actions evoke Soviet-era policies from the Cold War, when East and West sought to influence governments from Algeria to South Africa.

Wagner is a very dangerous tool. But it’s a Russian tool, so Putin will continue to use it.


Changing Orbit


China and the Solomon Islands signed a new agreement on police cooperation Monday, the latest deal underscoring the deepening relationship between the two nations amid worries about Beijing’s increasing influence in the Pacific region, Agence France-Presse reported.

The new agreement came as Solomon Island Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare visits China this week to meet with leaders in Beijing and open his country’s embassy in the capital.

The “implementation plan” on policing – effective through 2025 – was one of nine deals signed on Monday following talks between Sogavare and Chinese Premier Li Qiang.

Another agreement also included a deal on a “Sports Technical Assistance Project” for this year’s Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara, for which Beijing is building the host stadium.

The recent deals came four years after the Pacific nation officially switched diplomatic ties to China from Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing claims as its own territory.

It also follows ongoing tensions in the Pacific as China and the United States vie for influence in the vast region. Observers noted that this competition has been a boon for many Pacific countries, which have received millions of dollars in aid, loans, and construction project windfalls from both rivals.

Even so, Sogavare’s visit has fueled concerns that Honiara is drifting closer to China’s orbit: Late last month, the prime minister called for a “review” of a long-standing defense pact with Australia, although he said he was not seeking to downgrade relations with Canberra.

Concerning Pattern


A Zimbabwean court upheld a ban on a planned campaign rally by the country’s main opposition party, a ruling that could raise political tensions as the southern African nation prepares for an intense election next month, Africanews reported.

Over the weekend, police banned the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party from holding its campaign launch in the town of Bindura, around 60 miles north of the capital Harare.

Authorities cited problems with the venue and a “high risk of threat to the spread” of communicable diseases.

The party challenged the matter at Zimbabwe’s High Court, but a judge referred the case back to the lower court Sunday. The Bindura court then upheld the ban, saying the CCC had failed to notify the police on time, Reuters noted.

The decision prompted criticism from CCC supporters and marked the fourth party meeting to be banned nationwide within a week.

The recent ban comes as the long-ruling ZANU-PF party faces a tense race in the August 23 polls. The party has governed Zimbabwe for 43 years since the country’s independence from the United Kingdom.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa – who replaced former strongman President Robert Mugabe in 2017 after a military-led coup – is seeking re-election.

Even so, political analysts and opposition lawmakers warned that the recent bans could reduce the credibility of next month’s polls.

Fingers in Every Pie


Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will transfer control of the capital’s main airport to the armed forces as part of his efforts to combat corruption and mismanagement, amid concerns about the military’s increased involvement in civilian affairs, the Associated Press reported.

The plan will see the navy take full control of Mexico City International Airport, the country’s oldest and busiest airport. The move comes more than a year after the navy took charge of airport security.

Meanwhile, the military will continue running a newly-built airport outside the capital and is scheduled to begin operating its own commercial airline by the end of the year.

Officials explained that the changes seek to address burgeoning problems arising at the airport, such as drug shipments, illegal migration, infrastructure problems and stolen luggage. Corruption within the airport has been a serious issue, including instances where coded messages were sent using the airport’s internal communications to hold up baggage inspections so narcotic shipments could pass untouched.

The conditions have prompted the US Federal Aviation Administration to downgrade Mexico’s aviation safety rating, which has hindered Mexican airlines from expanding flights to its neighbor.

While the navy’s operational control at the airport may address a number of security issues, analysts doubt that it will resolve other problems. They suggested that Mexican aviation requires more funding, training, and inspections to enhance its competitiveness globally.

Even so, López Obrador has planned to give the military control of dozens of airports throughout the country by the end of his term which expires next year.

Since he took office in 2018, the president has frequently relied on the armed forces for assistance in non-traditional tasks, such as entrusting them with immigration duties, control of ports and customs, and infrastructure projects.

Critics noted that the decision to give the armed forces more control contradicts international aviation recommendations that separate military and civilian operations.



Scientists recently discovered a far-away planet that appears to have survived being engulfed by the rapid expansion of its dying star, Cosmos Magazine reported.

Some 520 light-years from Earth, astronomers found that the Baekdu star in the Ursa Minor constellation was burning helium rather than hydrogen.

They explained that as the star was approaching its end-of-life cycle it was expanding into a red giant that could threaten nearby planets orbiting it.

However, researchers wrote in their study that the Jupiter-like gas giant planet known as “Halla” did not get engulfed by the red giant, despite closely orbiting its host star.

“As it exhausted its core hydrogen fuel, the star would have inflated up to 1.5 times the planet’s current orbital distance – engulfing (Halla) completely in the process – before shrinking to its current size,” said co-author Daniel Huber.

Huber and his colleagues had conducted observations in 2021 and 2022, suggesting that Baekdu would at one point have been larger than Halla’s orbit. But the data confirmed the planet’s 93-day orbit has been stable for more than 10 years.

Now the question that Huber and others are asking is how did Halla survive this cataclysmic event.

Among their theories, they suggested that the Baekdu system was originally made up of two stars that “fed” off each other during the transition. This scenario prevented one of the celestial bodies “from expanding sufficiently to engulf the planet.”

Another possibility is that Halla is a new planet created when the two stars collided.

Whichever the case, it’s not certain if Earth will have the same luck when our sun becomes a red giant in five billion years.

Thank you for reading or listening to DailyChatter. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can become one by going to

Not already a subscriber?

If you would like to receive DailyChatter directly to your inbox each morning, subscribe below with a free two-week trial.

Subscribe today

Support journalism that’s independent, non-partisan, and fair.

If you are a student or faculty with a valid school email, you can sign up for a FREE student subscription or faculty subscription.

Questions? Write to us at

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.