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Ukraine’s offensive, Russian broadcaster canceled, oil prices rise on China hopes, Narendra Modi’s h͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
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December 6, 2022


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Prashant Rao
Prashant Rao

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The World Today

  1. Ukraine’s offensive
  2. Russian broadcaster canceled
  3. Oil prices rise on China hopes
  4. Modi’s home state win
  5. Democrats eye Senate seat
  6. Ex-Chinese leader reappears
  7. Mexico to reform elections
  8. Ugandan Twitter plea
  9. Working from home is working
  10. Turning off airplane mode

PLUS: An inhuman guest columnist, and Latin music is having a moment.


Ukraine strikes back

The National Philharmonic of Kyiv. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Moscow blamed Ukraine for a drone attack on a Russian airfield today, a day after a similar strike killed three of its security forces. Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for either incident, but appears to be readying a new offensive after calling for the evacuation of Russian-controlled territory. Its apparent drone strikes show that Ukraine is “adopting more active measures to reduce and prevent Russian missile strikes on its citizens and its civilian infrastructure,” the retired Australian general Mick Ryan wrote in his newsletter. Russia, for its part, fired a series of missiles targeting Ukraine’s energy grid yesterday.


Riga strips Russian TV’s license

Latvia revoked the media license for TV Rain, a pro-democracy Russian broadcaster, over the channel’s purported support for Moscow. TV Rain, which left Russia following the Ukraine invasion, described the decision as “unfair and absurd.” One of the channel’s presenters last week suggested the broadcaster sent aid to Russian soldiers. Latvia, which hosts several exiled Russian journalists, has taken a hard line against any perceived support for Moscow, but that may be counterproductive: If Russian independent outlets are forced to “cancel” Moscow, “their work loses all meaning back home,” the Russian political scientist Kirill Rogov wrote on Telegram, according to Meduza.


China reopening hopes fuel oil prices

A couple rest at a park in Beijing. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

Oil prices rose, mostly on hopes that China’s easing of zero-COVID restrictions could bolster global economic growth and, consequently, energy demand. Though Chinese authorities have not officially declared zero-COVID dead, Beijing and several major cities have begun lifting restrictions. China will also reportedly soon announce further easing measures in response to the pandemic that has exerted a huge toll on the economy. Bloomberg reported that traders were also still weighing what impact Western restrictions on the sale of Russia crude would have on prices, noting that there had so far been no major disruptions to oil supplies.


Modi’s party dominates state poll

PM Modi arrives to vote in Gujarat. REUTERS/Amit Dave

Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s ruling BJP is headed for a thumping victory in his home state of Gujarat, exit polls show. The Congress party — whose former leader Rahul Gandhi has been the subject of salutary pieces in the international press for undertaking a nationwide walk to unify the country and bolster his own electoral prospects — appeared set for its worst ever result, The Indian Express reported. A smaller opposition movement, the AAP, looks to have made electoral inroads in Gujarat, signaling it is “the rising new pan-national power, and the Congress a declining one,” writes Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of ThePrint.


Democrats gain Georgia momentum

Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker. REUTERS/Bob Strong/Alyssa Pointer

The Democrats are the frontrunners to win today’s U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia, though the race remained tight. The party’s candidate and incumbent, Raphael Warnock, pleaded with supporters to ignore polls suggesting he was a shoe-in, fearful of reduced turnout costing him victory. His Republican challenger Herschel Walker, a former American football star who campaigned on an anti-abortion platform, has been dogged by reports that he paid for a former girlfriend’s abortion. Support for Walker seemed to be petering out, with Politico describing him as “somewhat subdued” and lacking high-profile backers for the final push. A Democrat victory would pad the party’s Senate majority.


Ex-leader reappears at memorial

Li Xueren/Xinhua via REUTERS

Former Chinese leader Hu Jintao attended his predecessor Jiang Zemin’s memorial, undermining speculation that he had been purged by Xi Jinping. Hu was dragged out of October’s Communist Party congress in full view of the international press. Chinese media at the time claimed that he was ill, and his appearance alongside Xi on Monday, supports that telling. At the memorial, Xi hailed Jiang for guiding China through the “serious political storm” of the Tiananmen protests. Stock trading and online gaming was suspended for a three-minute silence in his honor.


AMLO pushes for election control

”I defend INE”. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

Mexico’s legislature votes today on electoral reform proposals backed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador that critics say undermine the country’s democracy. The plans would turn Mexico’s independent electoral commission — established in 1990 to combat state control of elections, leading to one party rule for more than 70 years — into an agency controlled by the government in power. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets last month to signal their support for INE, the electoral body, and 72% of Mexicans are pleased with the way it works. Human Rights Watch has said the current proposal “undermines human rights” in Mexico, reports El Universal.


Uganda’s tweeter-in-chief

WikimediaCommons/Uganda People's Defence Forces

The son of Uganda’s president says he will succeed his father if he gets enough likes on Twitter. Muhoozi Kainerugaba is a general in the armed forces and a prolific tweeter. “[If you] want me to be President after my father retweet and like,” he posted. He has previously offered to give Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni 100 cows — “in our culture you give a girl you like a cow” — and mused about invading Kenya. A prominent Ugandan author says he was tortured in detention after he wrote a series of tweets insulting Kainerugaba and his father, Yoweri Museveni, who has been Uganda’s ruler since 1986.


Working from (someone else’s) home

WikimediaCommons/Mike McBey

Spain is offering British citizens visas and tax breaks to work remotely. The “digital nomads” program is intended to attract software engineers and other high-skilled professionals, offering lower taxes, affordable housing, and warm weather. Remote working is rebuilding economies around the world: rural New York State is seeing a housing boom as people flee cities to work from smaller towns, The Buffalo News reports. And a wave of remote-working North Americans has brought money to Mexico City, but also driven some rents beyond the reach of many locals, according to El Pais.


The internet, coming to a plane near you


Travelers in the European Union will soon be able to use the internet and make calls while in the air. From next year, airlines will not require passengers to put their phones in airplane mode, and will instead allow them to enjoy movies or music via 5G. The concern was that mobile technology would interfere with aircraft navigation, but a flight safety executive told Gizmodo that experience has shown the risk is “very small.” The end is in sight for agonizingly slow in-flight wifi, although, on the downside, experts predict a significant increase in people yelling, “NO I’M ON THE PLANE.”

  • The suspect in a mass shooting at a LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs is due to appear in court to face formal charges.
  • South African President Cyril Ramaphosa — under fire over a report into huge amounts of cash stuffed into his sofa cushions — hosts Venezuela’s leader Nicolas Maduro for a state visit.
  • World premiere of Avatar: The Way of Water in London.
Guest Column

An inhuman column

The following is an unedited response by OpenAI’s ChatGPT tool, an artificial intelligence platform. The prompt was, “Write a Semafor-style article about the potential and pitfalls of artificial intelligence.”

The potential of artificial intelligence (AI) is vast and exciting, but it also presents significant challenges and pitfalls that must be addressed.

On the positive side, AI has the potential to revolutionize a wide range of industries, from healthcare and transportation to finance and retail. By automating many tasks and making them more efficient, AI has the potential to improve our quality of life and help us tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges.

However, there are also significant challenges and pitfalls associated with AI. One of the biggest concerns is the potential for AI to displace human workers and lead to job loss. As AI algorithms become more advanced, they may be able to perform tasks that were previously performed by humans, which could result in job losses in certain industries.

Another potential pitfall of AI is the ethical concerns surrounding its development and use. AI algorithms are only as good as the data they are trained on, and if the data is biased, the algorithms may produce biased results. This can lead to unfair treatment of certain individuals or groups, which raises significant ethical concerns.

Overall, while the potential of AI is vast, it is important to carefully consider the challenges and pitfalls associated with its development and use. It is essential that we address these challenges and work to ensure that AI is used in a responsible and ethical manner.


Year of the rabbit


Puerto Rican superstar Bad Bunny was the world’s most-streamed artist on Spotify in 2022, topping the list for the third year in a row. His album Un Verano Sin Ti (A Summer Without You), was also the most-streamed worldwide album in this year’s Spotify Wrapped, an annual report of what users are listening to. The success of the 28-year-old musician, born Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio, crowns a year of explosive growth for Latin music, writes The New York Times. “Latin music is having a moment,” a longtime music executive told the paper. “The doors have been blown off.”

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