Welcome to Friday, where Vladimir Putin has harsh words for the Wagner Group, Hollywood actors join screenwriters on the picket line and a dramatic video emerges of the largest Burmese python ever captured. We also look at the social media trend of “deinfluencers” who give advice to their followers about what not to buy.
[*Salem - Kazakh]
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•Putin says Wagner Group "simply does not exist": Russian President Vladimir Putin has made his first public comments about the Wagner Group since the mercenary outfit’s attempted insurrection. Responding to a Russian journalist’s question, Putin said: "Well, the Wagner PMC does not exist! We do not have a law for private military organizations! Legally it does not exist!" The comments come among continued uncertainty about, and even public criticism from, Russia’s top military brass about the war in Ukraine.
• Canada ends freeze on talks with Turkey on export controls after NATO accord: Canada has reopened talks with Turkey on lifting export controls on drone parts after Ankara gave its nod for Sweden to join NATO, a person familiar with the talks said. The move is seen as one of several concessions won in exchange for the Turkish support for Sweden’s entry in the alliance.
• Modi is guest of honor at France’s Bastille Day celebrations: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi received one of France's highest (and most public) honors recognitions on Friday as guest of honor at the Bastille Day military parade, part of a visit that has sealed high-profile defense deals between the two countries that continue to deepen ties in the face of the U.S.-China superpower duel.
• India launches new Moon mission: Chandrayaan-3, India’s third Moon mission, launched this morning with the aim to be the first to land near its little-explored south pole. If successful, India will be only the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon, following the U.S., the former Soviet Union and China.
• UN uncovers 87 bodies in Darfur mass grave: The head of a United Nations agency has called for an investigation into the killing of at least 87 people who were discovered in a mass grave in Sudan’s West Darfur region. Inside the mass grave were bodies of ethnic Masalit who along with other non-Arab communities are often targeted by Arab militias. West Darfur remains one of the most violence-prone areas in the Sudanese Darfur region.
• Hollywood actors walk out over pay and AI worries: Hollywood actors have joined the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA) to mark the largest labor action in the entertainment industry of the past 60 years. The WGA has been striking since May, demanding better pay and working conditions. Writers and actors alike have also shared concerns about the use of artificial intelligence in the industry, worried that big studios will use it to create content, rather than hiring them. While the strike lasts, actors cannot appear in films or even promote movies that they have already made.
• A record-breaking Burmese python caught in Florida: A 19-foot-long Burmese python — the longest ever recorded — was caught by local hunters in South Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve this week. It was caught (and caught on video!) by 22-year-old Jake Waleri, who brought the python to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, where it was measured, weighed, and killed.
Leading Thai business daily Krungthep Turakij features the political uncertainty in Thailand as the sole nominee to be the next prime minister of Thailand, Pita Limjaroenrat, failed to secure enough parliamentary votes (324 votes out of the 376 needed) to form a government. The reformist candidate said his Move Forward party won't give up the bid to form a government, seeking a new strategy to gather the required support to win the next vote.
At least 78 pilot whales were killed in front of cruise ship passengers in the Faroe Islands, as part of the annual traditional hunt. The common practice of hunting whales and dolphins in this semi-autonomous region of Denmark is part of Faroese food culture as described by the local government. An average of 600 pilot whales are caught and killed annually, with the meat distributed to island residents for free.
"Ciao Tutti, Don't Buy That!" #Deinfluencing Is Social Media's Top Global Trend For 2023
We all know about influencers — those who post online and accumulate a following that trusts their opinion on what products to buy. The new trend online is just the opposite: “deinfluencing.” The growing ranks of deinfluencers advise their followers not to consume things to reduce excessive purchasing habits and avoid useless or overhyped products.
💄 In the past year, the hashtag #deinfluencing has amassed over 584 million views on the video-sharing platform Tiktok.
🌍 Some Tiktokers have taken up the deinfluencing trend for environmental reasons. Mari Teran @marianateranr is a lawyer and environmental activist, offering “tips for conscious and responsible consumption.” She suggests buying just what you need instead of following trends, buying locally and ethically and repairing or reusing things you already own.
💵 Not every deinfluencer is in it for benevolent reasons. Most TikTokers with any clout know how to manipulate the app's algorithm to their advantage, tailoring their videos to their audiences. So, certain influencers used the deinfluencer trend to push their own or their sponsors' products. Many content creators get a commission for pushing productions, so by saying “don't buy this, buy that instead,” they can play into the trustworthy nature of deinfluencing to generate views and money.
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➡️ Watch the video: THIS HAPPENED
“We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us.”
— Fran Drescher, a veteran actress and head of Sag-Aftra (Hollywood’s biggest union), delivered an impassioned speech criticizing Hollywood studios after failed negotiations to avert an actors’ strike, denouncing their actions as "disgusting." Drescher, a long-time advocate against corporate greed in the industry, highlighted the studios' contradiction of claiming financial losses while generously compensating their CEOs with hundreds of millions of dollars. Yesterday, it was announced that 160,000 Sag-Aftra members, ranging from prominent stars to struggling actors, will be joining the Writers Guild of America in a strike, resulting in the largest Hollywood shutdown since their joint strike in 1960. Both unions are advocating for improved terms with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents major studios and streaming platforms.
✍️ Newsletter by Katarzyna Skiba, Michelle Courtois and Marine Béguin
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