Russia Accuses U.S. Of Enabling “Terrorists”, N. Korea Satellite Fail, NZ Air Weight
👋 Grüss Gott!*
Welcome to Wednesday, where Russia accuses the U.S. of encouraging cross-border "terrorist" attacks, a North Korean military reconnaissance satellite launch fails and New Zealand air travels must weigh in. Meanwhile, Hannelore Crolly and Ricarda Breyton in Berlin-based daily Die Welt unpack reports that Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko may be trying to create another migrant crisis in the EU, with Russia’s help.
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• Russia accuses U.S. of encouraging terrorism: Russia accuses the U.S. of encouraging Ukraine to launch cross-border "terrorist" attacks, according to a Russian official after the series of drone strikes launched in Russia's Bryansk region. President Vladimir Putin described the attack as an attempt to intimidate Moscow residents, and in response announced that the capital's air defenses would be reinforced.
• Qatar and Taliban secret talks: Qatar's Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and reclusive Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhunzada have reportedly met secretly to discuss Afghanistan and the resolution of tensions with the international community. Among the topics discussed were the need to end the Taliban's ban on girls' education and women's employment and humanitarian crisis.
• Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes goes to prison: Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes has entered Bryan Federal Prison in Texas to serve an 11-year sentence for fraud related to the failure of her blood-testing start-up. Holmes had promised a medical technology that never worked, leading to the collapse of her company and numerous false diagnoses.
• U.S. penalizes Kosovo after troubles: The U.S. has announced measures against Kosovo following violent unrest, accusing the Balkan country of "forcibly" placing ethnic Albanian mayors in Serb-majority northern regions. Among the measures is Kosovo’s exclusion from American-led military exercises in Europe.
• North Korea spy satellite launch fail: North Korea has failed to launch a military reconnaissance satellite into space as, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the rocket's second-stage engine failed to start as expected. An urgent investigation has been launched to determine what led to the mission failure, with a second launch is planned as soon as possible.
• Saudi, U.S. astronauts splash down: The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule with Saudi and American astronauts on board splashed down safely in Florida's Gulf of Mexico on their return to the space station, after a 12-hour re-entry flight and 10 days in orbit. The landing was broadcast live by the Axiom Space webcast.
• Step on the scale: Air New Zealand will now weigh passengers before boarding at the request of New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority as part of an investigation into passenger weight, which will run until July 2.
German daily newspaper Die Tageszeitung reports on the clashes in North Kosovo between police, NATO troops and Serb protesters. Ethnic Serb minority boycotted the local elections in April, and are now demanding the removal of Kosovo special police forces, and rejecting Albanian mayors as their true representatives.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced plans for the country to set aside close to 3.5 trillion yen ($26 billion) for its child care annual budget, in an effort to tackle Japan's diminishing birth rate. This exceeds Kishida’s previous announcement of doubling the amount allocated to childcare.
Belarus may be pushing migrants into the EU again — this time with Russian help
In 2021, Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko triggered a migration crisis when he actively drove asylum seekers to the European Union. According to the German government, those numbers are on the rise again, write Hannelore Crolly and Ricarda Breyton in Berlin-based daily Die Welt.
🇧🇾 In the nine months between July 2022 and March 2023 alone, Germany's Federal Police registered 8,687 people who entered Germany undocumented after a Belarus connection. The migration pressure on the Belarus route — which was now supposedly closed after a huge crisis in 2021 that saw Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko threatening to "flood" the EU with drugs and migrants — has thus increased significantly again.
🛃 “Apparently, about half of the people who enter the EU illegally every month via the German-Polish border enter the EU via Belarus,” MP Andrea Lindholz told Die Welt. In an autocratic state like this, border crossings on this scale are certainly no coincidence, she said. “It is obvious that these illegal entries are part of a strategy to destabilize the EU.”
✈️ A particularly large number of people are apparently arriving in Belarus by plane from Egypt in order to move to the EU by land. According to Germany's Federal Police, among the nearly 8,700 undocumented migrants who entered Germany via Belarus, 1,330 alone are said to have Egyptian citizenship. This was the third largest group after Syria (3,000) and Afghanistan (1,632).
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“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”
— Artificial intelligence poses a “risk of extinction” that calls for global action, leading computer scientists and technologists have warned in a brief statement released Tuesday by the Center for AI Safety, a San Francisco-based research and advocacy group. The warnings come after an open letter signed by Elon Musk and other high-profile figures earlier in March that called for a six-month pause on the development of AI more advanced than OpenAI’s GPT-4.
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