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In The News

Ukraine Dam Evacuation, Canada Wildfires Reach NYC, About Ducking Time

Smoke from multiple wildfires in Canada moved south, covering New York City in an orange haze

Smoke from multiple wildfires in Canada moved south, covering New York City in an orange haze.

Emma Albright, Yannick Champion-Osselin, Chloé Touchard, Marine Béguin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Bonġu!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where evacuations are underway in southern Ukraine following the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam, an earthquake strikes Haiti in the wake of deadly floods and Apple says goodbye to its “ducking” autocorrect feature. Meanwhile, Colombian daily El Espectador looks at the tension between teachers and the rising power of artificial intelligence.



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• Tens of thousands at risk from flooding after Ukraine dam collapse: After the Nova Kakhovka dam was destroyed in southern Ukraine, around 42,000 people are at risk from flooding. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that hundreds of thousands of people have been left without drinking water. Ukraine and Russia continue to blame each other for the dam collapse.

• UN Court rules Rwanda genocide suspect unfit for trial: A UN court has ruled that an 88-year-old man accused of being a major financier of the 1994 Rwandan genocide is unfit to stand trial. Félicien Kabuga's lawyers had argued that he suffered from dementia. He was arrested in Paris in 2020 after evading capture for 26 years, alleged to have financed ethnic Hutu militias who slaughtered about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

• Earthquake kills three in Haiti following deadly floods: At least three people have been killed in an earthquake in the Haitian city of Jérémie. The 4.9-magnitude quake struck in the early hours of the morning, the U.S. Geological Survey said. This comes days after torrential rains have killed at least 42 people and displaced more than 13,000.

• Rishi Sunak-Biden meeting: UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak started a two-day trip to Washington, with the war in Ukraine as a priority and carrying the message that post-Brexit Britain remains an essential American ally. The breaching of a major dam in southern Ukraine has given the subject more urgency. Neither Washington nor London has officially accused Russia of blowing up the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam.

• Pope Francis to undergo surgery: Pope Francis will undergo surgery on his abdomen on Wednesday afternoon at Rome's Gemelli hospital. He is expected to stay in hospital for "several days" to recover from the hernia operation, the Vatican said. The 86-year-old has faced a series of health issues in recent years.

• Shooting in Virginia kills two after high school graduation ceremony: A man armed with four handguns killed two people and injured five when he fired into a crowd after a high school graduation ceremony in the United States city of Richmond, Virginia.

• Say goodbye to “ducking hell”: Apple has announced it will no longer automatically change one of the most common swear words to “ducking.” The autocorrect feature, which has long frustrated users, will soon be able to use AI to detect when you really mean to use the curse word. "In those moments where you just want to type a ducking word, well, the keyboard will learn it, too," said software boss Craig Federighi.


“Is Moscow behind the destroyed dam?,” asks the Belgian daily DeMorgen on today’s front page. Yesterday, the dam of the Kakhovka power plant was breached in the Kherson region of Ukraine, unleashing massive floodwaters in the area. Ukraine and Russia are accusing each other of destroying the infrastructure, which supplies water to Crimea and is used to cool off the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.


12.91 million

In China, a record-breaking 12.91 million students began the “gaokao” college entrance exam today, 980,000 more than the previous year. Pressure to perform is intense as Chinese youth employment is high and scoring well in the two-day long exam is students’ one shot to get into the country’s top universities. In preparation for the infamous exam, cities have banned cars from honking and installed facial recognition technology against cheating.


AI is good for education — and bad for teachers who teach like machines

Despite fears of AI upending the education and the teaching profession, artificial education will be an extremely valuable tool to free up teachers from rote exercises to focus on the uniquely humanistic part of learning. Julián de Zubiría Samper for Colombian daily El Espectador.

💻 Early in 2023, Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates included teaching among the professions most threatened by Artificial Intelligence (AI), arguing that a robot could, in principle, instruct as well as any school-teacher. While Gates is an undoubted expert in his field, one wonders how much he knows about teaching.

👩🏫 The pandemic showed what some technological optimists like Gates could not understand: that good education is not about quantitative learning, but development. It involves teamwork, communication, interaction, and even emotion and artistry. That means people gathered in a classroom.

🤖 Feedback is a part of the educational process, which is a dialogue between teacher and pupil. Here, AI will act as a singular monitor of students' progress in learning and absorbing skills in reading, thinking and conceptualization. With this information at hand, the priority for teachers will be to guide, or better guide, mediate, communicate and consolidate the relevant concepts. Our focus will be to advance the developmental process.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“I don’t support war. I don’t support Lukashenko right now.”

— Belarusian tennis player Aryna Sabalenka declared she does not support the actions of President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. This is her strongest condemnation to date, having previously been called out for her reluctance to speak against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, dodging political questions in several press conferences. One of Belarus' most prominent athletes — currently ranked No. 2 in the world —Sabalenka has reached the semifinals of the French Open in Paris by defeating Ukraine's Elina Svitolina. Sabalenka made recent headlines when a photo of her hugging the Belarusian president resurfaced.

✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Yannick Champion-Osselin, Chloé Touchard, Marine Béguin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Russia's Wartime Manipulation Of Energy Prices Could Doom Its Economy

A complex compensation mechanism for fuel companies, currency devaluation, increased demand due to the war, logistics disruptions, and stuttering production growth have combined to trigger price rises and deepening shortages in the Russian energy market.

Photograph of Novatek's gravity-based structure platform for production of liquefied natural gas, floating on a body of water.

Russia, Murmansk Region - July 21, 2023: A view of Novatek's gravity-based structure platform for production of liquefied natural gas.

Ekaterina Mereminskaya

In Russia, reports of gasoline and diesel shortages have been making headlines in the country for several months, raising concerns about energy supply. The situation escalated in September when a major diesel shortage hit annexed Crimea. Even before that, farmers in the southern regions of Russia had raised concerns regarding fuel shortages for their combines.

“We’ll have to stop the harvest! It will be a total catastrophe!” agriculture minister Dmitry Patrushev had warned at the time. “We should temporarily halt the export of petroleum products now until we have stabilized the situation on the domestic market.”

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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As the crisis deepens, experts are highlighting the unintended consequences of government intervention in fuel pricing and distribution.

The Russian government has long sought to control the prices of essential commodities, including gasoline and diesel. These commodities are considered "signalling products", according to Sergei Vakulenko, an oil and gas expert and fellow at the Carnegie Endowment. Entrepreneurs often interpret rising gasoline prices as a signal to adjust their pricing strategies, reasoning that if even gasoline, a staple, is becoming more expensive, they too should raise their prices.

The specter of the 2018 fuel crisis, where gasoline prices in Russia surged at twice the rate of other commodities, haunts the authorities. As a result, they implemented a mechanism to control these prices and ensure a steady supply. Known as the "fuel damper," this mechanism seeks to balance the profitability of selling fuel in both domestic and foreign markets.

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