Biden and Putin trade warnings over Ukraine
US President Joe Biden has warned his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of a tough US response to any invasion of Ukraine, while the Kremlin leader said anti-Moscow sanctions would be a “colossal mistake”. After a 50-minute phone call – their second in just over three weeks – both presidents indicated support for further diplomacy on the tense stand-off between Russia and Western-backed Ukraine. Putin was “pleased” with the talks, foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov told reporters. A senior US official said the tone “was serious and substantive”.
Maxwell’s verdict ‘deeply unhelpful’ to Prince Andrew
The ‘i’ London newspaper quotes a lawyer representing victims of paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein saying that Prince Andrew should be “quaking in his boots” following the conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell on grooming and sex trafficking charges. While there was no direct connection between the trial of Maxwell, a longstanding friend of the Duke of York, and the civil claim being brought against him by another of Epstein’s victims, legal experts warned that the socialite’s conviction was “deeply unhelpful” for the Queen’s second son. Lawyers for Prince Andrew are preparing to go to court in Manhattan next week to argue for the dismissal of the damages claim being brought against him by Virginia Giuffre, who alleges she was made to have sex with the Duke on three occasions when she was a minor at the age of 17. He denies the allegations.
Maxwell cooperation hypothesis for penalty discount grow
According to ‘The Guardian’, the hypothesis is growing that Ghislaine Maxwell could try to obtain a reduction of sentence by becoming a witness to the US government in a wider investigation into the elite of persons involved in the sex trafficking of minors that she managed for the late financier Jeffrey Epstein. Experts argue that any agreement depends on how much information it believes the woman can provide that is not already in the possession of the investigators. Epstein’s patrons included Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Prince Andrew, Bill Gates and other prominent names.
World’s 10 richest people gained $402 billion in 2021
The world’s 10 richest people added $402 billion to their collective net worth in 2021, making it a banner year for the ultra-wealthy. The Daily Mail says Tesla CEO Elon Musk was the biggest winner, adding $121 billion to his fortune, which is now the largest in the world at $277 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who started the year in the top spot, sank to number two, adding a mere $4.54 billion to his net worth, which now stands at $195 billion. After Musk, French billionaire Bernard Arnault, founder of luxury goods company LVMH and currently the third richest man in the world, had the largest gains for the year, adding $61.3 billion to his fortune.
Thousands told to flee Colorado wildfires
Thousands of people have been told to flee fast-moving wildfires in the US state of Colorado as flames tore through areas desiccated by a historic drought. First reports say 500 homes have already been destroyed as the National Weather Service described the situation as “life-threatening”. Wind gusts of over 160 kilometres an hour have been reported, complicating firefighting efforts.
Italians to feel energy sting
As of tomorrow, Italian families will feel the sting of new energy bills – an increase of 55% for electricity and 41.8% for gas. Disseminating the update of the bills for the first quarter of 2022, the Regulatory Authority said raw material records “would have led to a 65% increase in the electricity bill and 59.2% in the gas bill”. Meanwhile, the Conf-cooperative study forecasts Italians will spend €1.7 billion for the New Year’s Eve dinner – €400 million less than in 2019, but €300 million more than last year. According to the forecast, three out of five families will still organise dinners at home with over 10 people, but one out of three have cancelled holidays for fear of contagion.