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In The News

Khartoum Shelling, Cyclone Mocha Aftermath, “Smile Training”

Khartoum Shelling, Cyclone Mocha Aftermath, “Smile Training”

A woman stands in front of her destroyed house after Cyclone Mochas' landfall in Shah Pori Island, Bangladesh.

Emma Albright, Yannick Champion-Osselin, Sophie Jacquier and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Aссалом!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where airstrikes and artillery fire intensify across Sudan’s capital, rescue operations are underway in cyclone-hit Myanmar and Bangladesh, and post-COVID Japan learns to smile again. Meanwhile, in German daily Die Welt, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek looks at how advanced AI and the explosion of automated trade on the stock exchange may spell the end of capitalism as we know it.

[*Assalom - Tajik, Tajikistan]

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This is our daily newsletter Worldcrunch Today, a rapid tour of the news of the day from the world's best journalism sources, regardless of language or geography.

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Ukraine missile attack, EU leaders meet in Iceland: Russia launched an intense air attack on Kyiv early on Tuesday but the Ukrainian air defenses have shot down all 18 missiles. No casualties were reported. Meanwhile, leaders from across the continent were heading towards Iceland early Tuesday for a rare summit of the 46-nation Council of Europe that will once more step up support for Ukraine and condemn its since expelled member Russia for invading its neighbor.

• Airstrikes intensify in Sudan: Airstrikes and artillery fire intensified across Sudan’s capital early on Tuesday as the army continued to defend key bases from rivals it has now been fighting for more than a month. The airstrikes, explosions and clashes could be heard in the south of Khartoum, with heavy shelling across the Nile in parts of the adjoining cities of Bahri and Omdurman.

• Rudy Giuliani accused of sexual harassment: Donald Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani is being sued for sexual harassment by a former employee. Noelle Dunphy, who says she was hired by Giuliani's firm in 2019 when he was working as Trump's personal lawyer, filed the legal case in New York state on Monday.

• New Mexico shooting kills three: At least three people have been killed and multiple people injured after a shooting in Farmington, New Mexico, where police killed the suspected 18-year-old gunman.

• New Zealand hostel fire: At least six people were killed after a fire broke out at a hostel in New Zealand’s capital Wellington and forcing others to flee the four-story building in the middle of the night. Officials said 52 people had made it out of the building alive but the search is ongoing.

• Taiwan grants right of adoption to same-sex couples: Taiwan’s legislature passed a bill on Tuesday granting adoption to same-sex couples, clearing one of the final obstacles in achieving full marriage equality. Taiwan in 2019 became the first juridiction in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

• Festival de Cannes kicks off with Johnny Depp: The 76th Cannes Film Festival starts today with the premier of the Louis XV period drama Jeanne du Barry, starring Johnny Depp. Meanwhile, France has been protesting President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform for months and despite the local authorities banning demonstrations near the festival, opponents to the reform are still planning to use the Festival as a platform for their cause.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Dubai-based newspaper Gulf Today reports on the Syrian delegation attending the meeting of the Arab League in Saudi Arabia. The 32nd Arab League summit is being held in Saudi Arabia on May 19, and marks a significant development as Syria's participation is reinstated after years of suspension and isolation.

💬  LEXICON

笑顔トレ

After three years of COVID-era masking and the lifting of pandemic restrictions, some Japanese people are finding it hard to readjust to life without face coverings. Newspapers report on those turning to coaches for “smile training” (笑顔トレ, pronounced egao tore) to re-learn the art of breaking into a beaming grin in front of others. “With mask wearing having become the norm, people have had fewer opportunities to smile, and more and more people have developed a complex about it,” says Keiko Kawano, a coach working for the “smile education” company Egaoiku.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

The AI capitalists don't realize they're about to kill capitalism

The threats posed by advanced AI are serious and varied. It will change capitalism so much that in the end we will be faced with a choice between two systems: a new form of communism or unchecked chaos, writes Slavoj Zizek in German daily Die Welt.

🧠💻 An open letter published by the Future of Life Institute at the end of March called for all labs working on artificial intelligence systems more powerful than GPT-4 to “immediately pause” their work for at least six months. The idea was that humanity should use this time to take stock of the risks posed by these advanced systems. Thousands of people have already signed the letter, including big names such as Elon Musk.

⚠️ The panic expressed in the open letter is motivated by a fear that those “driving forward progress” will no longer be able to control what they create — in short, it is expressing our fear of our new, digital overlords. Clearly what the open letter is aiming for is not a wide-ranging public debate — it is more like cooperation between governments and companies. The threat posed by advanced AI is very serious, and it affects those in power and those currently involved in developing, owning and controlling AI.

🤖 The future waiting on the horizon is nothing less than the end of capitalism as we know it: the prospect of a self-reproducing AI system that requires less and less human involvement — the explosion of automated trade on the stock exchange is the first step in this direction. So the true choice facing us is clear: a new form of communism or unchecked chaos, in which machines interact with us as pseudo-human partners.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

- 550 million

Due to intensive agriculture, an estimated 550 million fewer birds are flying over Europe, as compared to a generation ago. Researchers blame the use of pesticides and fertilizers in farming, and their detrimental effects on insects, and therefore the impact on other wildlife. The number of wild birds across 28 countries has reportedly fallen by a quarter, with farmland birds hit the hardest.

✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Yannick Champion-Osselin, Sophie Jacquier and Anne-Sophie Goninet


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Society

Italy's Right-Wing Government Turns Up The Heat On 'Gastronationalism'

Rome has been strongly opposed to synthetic foods, insect-based flours and health warnings on alcohol, and aggressive lobbying by Giorgia Meloni's right-wing government against nutritional labeling has prompted accusations in Brussels of "gastronationalism."

Dough is run through a press to make pasta

Creation of home made pasta

Karl De Meyer et Olivier Tosseri

ROME — On March 23, the Italian Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, Francesco Lollobrigida, announced that Rome would ask UNESCO to recognize Italian cuisine as a piece of intangible cultural heritage.

On March 28, Lollobrigida, who is also Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's brother-in-law, promised that Italy would ban the production, import and marketing of food made in labs, especially artificial meat — despite the fact that there is still no official request to market it in Europe.

Days later, Italian Eurodeputy Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of fascist leader Benito Mussolini and member of the Forza Italia party, which is part of the governing coalition in Rome, caused a sensation in the European Parliament. On the sidelines of the plenary session, Sophia Loren's niece organized a wine tasting, under the slogan "In Vino Veritas," to show her strong opposition (and that of her government) to an Irish proposal to put health warnings on alcohol bottles. At the end of the press conference, around 11am, she showed her determination by drinking from the neck of a bottle of wine, to great applause.

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