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In The News

All Eyes On Southern Ukraine, Baghdad Clashes, Pumpkin Ride

👋 Da'anzho!*


Welcome to Tuesday, where Ukraine launches a counteroffensive to retake Kherson in the south of the country, deadly clashes rock Iraq after cleric al-Sadr resigns, and the world record for pumpkin paddling (you read that right) gets broken. We also turn to Ukraine’s news platform Livy Bereg to see how Russian propaganda plays out across European countries.



[*Eastern Apache]

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How Rich Western Countries Pay To Send Refugees Away

Western countries are shipping refugees to poorer nations in exchange for cash.

The UK government was due to begin its first deportation flight to remove asylum-seekers to the East African country of Rwanda on June 14, 2022, exactly two months after signing the UK-Rwanda agreement. The asylum-seekers were from several war-torn and politically unstable countries, including Syria, Sudan and Iran.

Each year, thousands of people – many fleeing repressive governments or poverty – attempt to cross the English Channel in fragile boats in the hope of starting a new life in the UK.

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How Airbnb Created A Homeless Crisis In An Idyllic Australian Town

In the bohemian Australian seaside town of Byron Bay, rents are now higher than Sydney or Melbourne. And as Airbnb takes its toll, this small town has almost as many homeless people as Sydney.

BYRON BAY — It's a scene that is repeated almost every evening. Small groups form on the seafront, some take out a guitar around an improvised campfire among the rocks, a few acrobats hypnotize passers-by by twirling fiery bolas, and most clink glasses over a few beers, modestly covered by paper bags. They are all there to admire the sun setting behind the mountains bordering the northern tip of the beach, which stretches for about 30 kilometers, tinting the sky with shades ranging from pale pink to scarlet red.

Located at the eastern tip of Australia, an ideal geographical position where very beautiful waves are formed, Byron Bay, in New South Wales, is one of the most popular destinations for surfers. It is also home to one of the oldest surf clubs in the country, created more than a century ago, in 1907.

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The Laugh Frontier: Can AI Understand Irony?

Bot did you get it?

What was your first reaction when you heard about Blake Lemoine, the Google engineer who announced last month the AI program he was working on had developed consciousness?

If, like me, you’re instinctively suspicious, it might have been something like: Is this guy serious? Does he honestly believe what he is saying? Or is this an elaborate hoax?

Put the answers to those questions to one side. Focus instead on the questions themselves. Is it not true that even to ask them is to presuppose something crucial about Blake Lemoine: specifically, he is conscious?

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Migrant Lives
Jamal Barnes

Not My Problem: Individual Responsibility And Government Abuse Of Asylum Seekers

Denial and indifference drive the way ordinary Australians face the mistreatment of refugees.

-OpEd-

As one of its first acts in government, the newly elected Labor government turned back a boat of Sri Lankan asylum seekers trying to enter Australia.

Labor has vowed to continue Operation Sovereign Borders, including boat turnbacks and offshore detention. This is concerning. Not only do turnbacks violate international law, but offshore detention has resulted in torture and cruel and inhuman treatment of refugees.

Even more concerning is the lack of criticism Labor has received for continuing offshore detention and turnbacks. Apart from being condemned by human rights groups and minor political parties, Labor’s refugee policies appear to have gone without much comment from a large part of the Australian public.

As I found in my new research paper, the Australian government has used three forms of denial, creating physical and psychological distance between itself and refugees.

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Coronavirus
John Donne Potter

Risks Of Reinfection And Long COVID: The Pandemic Is Not Over

Too many people no longer follow basic protocol: mask wearing, physical distancing and avoiding crowded events. The consequences are an increase in both daily case numbers and long COVID.

The latest Omicron variant BA.5 is fast becoming dominant worldwide, including in New Zealand and Australia. As it continues to surge, reinfection will become increasingly common and this in turn means more people will develop long COVID.

The two most concerning aspects of long COVID are its high prevalence (up to 30% of those infected) and a link between reinfection and a higher risk of harmful outcomes.

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Future
Katarina Zimmer*

Less Than A Rat? The Case For Treating Insects More Humanely In Lab Research

Opening bee skulls. Electric shocks for cockroaches. Some researchers want to grant more invertebrates ethical consideration, questioning long-held assumptions on consciousness.

-Analysis-

Bees have long impressed behavioral scientist Lars Chittka. In his lab at Queen Mary University of London, the pollinators have proven themselves capable of counting, using simple tools, and learning from nestmates. What really surprised Chittka, however, were the nuances of the insects’ behavior.

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Coronavirus
Irene Caselli

How Courts Around The World Are Stripping No-Vaxxers Of Parental Rights

The question of who gets to decide questions around a child's health when vaccines are at play is complicated, and keeps popping up from Italy to Costa Rica to France and the U.S.

It is a parent’s worst nightmare to find out their child needs heart surgery. When it happened to the parents of a two-year-old child in the central Italian city of Modena, there was something extra to worry about: The blood transfusion required for the operation could include traces of the COVID-19 vaccine, which they opposed for religious reasons.

The parents asked the Sant'Orsola clinic in Bologna if they could vet the blood for the transfusion to make sure it hadn’t come from vaccinated donors. When the hospital refused, the parents took it to court, putting their child’s surgery on hold.

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Geopolitics
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Games Of The Absurd: Beijing’s Olympics Of Politics And Pandemic

With both fans and diplomatic dignitaries missing, it’s an Olympics that recalls politically combustible Games of the past. COVID-19, like it did for the Summer Games in Tokyo, will also help haunt the premises. The good news is that the athletes will most likely take over our attention as soon as they hit the ice and snow.

-Analysis-

The Olympic script includes the invoking of the spirit of friendly competition as a respite from geopolitics.

Yet the global sporting event has long struggled to separate itself from the biggest social and political events of the day: from the 1936 Berlin Games during Hitler's rise to power to the Black Power salute at the 1968 Mexico City Games to the PLO killings of Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972. There were also major tit-for-tat U.S. and Soviet boycotts of the 1980 Moscow and 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games.

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Coronavirus
Irene Caselli and Carl-Johan Karlsson

COVID School Chaos, Snapshots From 10 Countries Around The World

Teachers, students, parents and society as a whole have suffered through the various attempts at educating through the pandemic. Here’s how it looks now: from teacher strikes in France to rising drop-out rates in Argentina to Uganda finally ending the world’s longest shutdown.

School, they say, is where the future is built. The next generation’s classroom learning is crucial, but schools also represent an opportunity for children to socialize, get help for special needs … and in some villages and neighborhoods, get their one decent meal a day.

COVID-19 has of course put all of that at risk. At the peak of the pandemic, classrooms were closed for 1.6 billion schoolchildren worldwide, with the crisis forcing many to experiment on the fly for the first time in remote learning, and shutting down learning completely for many millions more — exacerbating worldwide inequality in education.

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Society
Sam Carr

Can You Be Old And Ageist?

New research, which included 80 in-depth interviews with older people, found that a surprising number look down on their fellow seniors.

“We don’t want to be tripping over Zimmer frames all the time,” said John*, 73. He clearly felt frustrated and had a strong objection to the older, more frail residents in his retirement village. John and his wife, Jean, had moved to the retirement village about a year ago. They were clearly not expecting to encounter really elderly people when they moved in. “It’s depressing,” he continued, “to see these people, who really ought to be in a nursing home, or in care.”

In our research – published in The Gerontologist – we carried out 80 in-depth interviews with older people about their experiences of living in retirement villages across the UK and Australia. We were particularly interested in why people sought out retirement living and how their needs matched or contradicted those of other residents. We did not expect to find such high levels of resentment among residents – but we did.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Hannah Steinkopf-Frank and Jane Herbelin

Omicron Origins, Barbados Reborn, Messi’s 7th

👋 Tashi delek!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Barbados is finally fully independent, we learn more about the origins of the Omicron variant and Santa gets a boyfriend in Norway. Chilean-based business magazine America Economia also looks at how airlines are reconfiguring cabins and enlarging seats in hopes of boosting a recovery in air travel.

[*TIbetan]

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