Thursday 10 August 2023

Links 10/8/23


Russia is turning food into a weapon in its war against Ukraine: it has announced a naval blockade of the countries ports, destroyed tons of cereals awaiting export in silos, and has likely destroyed the Nova Kakhovka dam, thereby disrupting water supply to Ukraine's breadbasket.

Ukraine provided half the wheat the World Food Programme (WFP) bought on global markets, which it shipped to people most in need in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. It was good quality, cheap and quick to ship from Odesa through the Bosphorus into the Mediterranean, then through the Suez Canal to Yemen and the Horn of Africa. The WFP now has to buy grain at a higher price and transport it from ports much further away.

The Guardian: Turning food into a weapon: how Russia resorted to one of the oldest forms of warfare, August 10, 2023 

Just Security has a tracker for all the legal cases currently pending against the front-runner for the Republican presidential ticket, Donald Trump and NPR has a summary of all the cases here. A recently published memo received by the New York Times documents the Trump team "coordinating with Republican electors and campaign attorneys in six states, as well as Mike Pence" to overturn the election result. 

A coup by former UN peacekeeper General Abdourahmane Tchiani in Niger has overthrown President Bazoum. This follows coups in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea. The Foreign Policy Research Institute attributes this wave of coups to specific reasons in each country, and lists corruption, weak local governance and lack of confidence in democratic institutions. This UN Dispatch also mentions COVID and policies resulting from an attempt to contain it as a reason. The Wagner group has also been active in parts of Africa, and has "financial and political interests" in the region. 

The World Bank has halted new public financing for Uganda after the passing of draconian anti-LGBTQIA+ laws that include the death penalty for what Uganda calls "aggravated cases" and lifelong imprisonment. 

AIs are designing new human antibodies "that humans can't even imagine".

Pop Culture: 

For the first time since 1960 (when Ronald Reagan was President of the Screen Actors Guild!), both screenwriters and actors are striking for better working conditions, especially in light of how much the industry has changed through streaming and the rise of utilising AI (here's a particularly haunting story about what happened to the cast of Snowpiercer). Fran Drescher, current President of the SAG, gave a rousing speech to announce the strike. Variety has a a guide on what actions non-members can take (notably, they do not include stopping to watch or review films and TV series).  

Foundation and Only Murders in the Building are back with new seasons. 

G/O Media, which purchased long-established and highly regarding review site The AV Club in 2019, is now using AI to write articles (this is becoming reality). 

No comments: