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Your Wednesday briefing: Ukraine cracks down on corruption

Several senior Ukrainian officials were fired yesterday amid a burgeoning corruption scandal, in the biggest upheaval in President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government since the start of the Russian invasion.

There was no indication that the scandal involved the diversion of Western military aid, essential to Ukraine’s survival. But even a whiff of malevolence could slow help. The move suggested an effort by Zelensky to clean house and reassure his allies that his government would show zero tolerance for corruption.

The dismissals followed a number of allegations of corruption – including reports that the Ukrainian army had agreed to pay inflated prices for food for its troops – and general bad behaviour. But the Ukrainian ministry, which announced the layoffs on Telegram, did not provide any details on the specific reasons.

Zelensky said he hoped the punishment would be seen as a “signal to anyone whose actions or behavior violates the principle of justice”, and added: “There will be no going back to what was in the past”.

Details: A deputy defense minister was fired, as was a deputy attorney general who took a war vacation in Spain. A senior official in Zelensky’s office also resigned after being criticized for using an SUV that was donated for humanitarian missions.

Other updates:

A gunman killed at least seven people near San Francisco on Monday, less than 48 hours after a gunman killed 11 people in Los Angeles. The back-to-back shootings have shocked California, which has one of the lowest gun death rates in the United States, as well as some of its toughest gun laws.

The cases, which put the Lunar New Year celebration on hold, claimed the lives largely of immigrant victims: Asian Americans in their 50s, 60s and 60s in Monterey Park, a Chinese-American suburb prosperous Los Angeles, and Asian and Latino farm workers around half Moon Bay, near San Francisco.

The suspects were immigrant Asian men in their 60s and 60s – a rare age range for assailants in mass shootings. In Half Moon Bay, officials said the 66-year-old suspect, who was taken into custody “without incident”, may have been targeting his colleagues. And in Monterey Park, the police are still looking for a motive. The shooter aimed at a dance hall he knew well.

Reaction: The White House said it was renewing an effort for sweeping gun control measures that would renew an expired assault weapons ban.

United States: In the first 24 days of this year, at least 69 people have been killed in at least 39 separate mass shootings. Just yesterday, a gunman in Washington State killed three people at a convenience store.

Chris Hipkins, who is due to be sworn in as New Zealand leader today, is making a respectful but focused effort to create space between himself and Jacinda Ardern ahead of October’s national election.

He is trying to rebrand the Labor Party and appeal to middle-class, centrist voters who have grown cold on Ardern and his leftist policies. In one example, he seems to prefer calling the country New Zealand, as opposed to Aotearoa, the Maori name favored by Ardern.

“I supported Jacinda Ardern as prime minister, I think she did an amazing job,” he said. “But look: we are different people, and we will have a different style.”

Analysis: Hipkins was a key architect of the Ardern government’s key policies and tough Covid response. But he has a scrappy, more combative style. Those traits, and his reputation as a practical character who can work hard, could resonate with voters outside the cities.

From Review: Ardern put New Zealand on the geopolitical map, but it failed to deliver on many of its promises, Josie Pagani argue.

  • The United States sued Google, accusing it of unlawfully abusing a monopoly on the technology behind online advertising.

  • Aides to Mike Pence found classified documents at his Indiana home last week, one of his advisers said.

  • Health officials have proposed offering new Covid-19 boosters each fall, a strategy long employed against the flu.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese have invested their savings in apartments still under construction. But then the decades-long Chinese property boom came to an abrupt halt.

Today, the unfinished structures that dot the country are ugly reminders of dashed dreams and broken promises. “It was just a dream,” said one man, “to have a home, a family.”

In a year where moviegoers have returned to big-budget shows in droves – and skipped almost everything else – Oscar voters yesterday streamed nominations remarkably far.

The sci-fi film, “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” led with 11 nominations overall. Some of its stars, including Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu, also got nods.

“The Banshees of Inisherin” and “All Quiet on the Western Front” tied for second, with nine nominations each. Drama “Tár” received a Best Picture nod, while hit sequels “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Avatar: Way of the Water” were also recognized in the category.

In some ways, the spread reflected the confused state of Hollywood. Movies from streaming services were hot in recent years, then not. Studios don’t know how many movies will hit theaters, and no one knows if anything other than superheroes, sequels, or horror can pull off. Widening the opening of films nominated for best picture could also help the Oscars, which needs a real boost after years of sluggish ratings.

Here’s a full list of the nominees, the biggest snubs and surprises, and our critics’ picks for their top Oscar nominations. The 95th Academy Awards will take place on March 12 in Los Angeles.

nytimes Gt

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