Le Weekend: Black Cleopatra, AI Photo Prize, Bouncing Bears
- Russians against Russia
- Auschwitz selfies
- Robot surgeon
- … and much more.
🎲 OUR WEEKLY NEWS QUIZ
What do you remember from the news this week?
1. In which east African country has intense fighting broken out between the country’s army and rival paramilitary forces?
2. After his talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which world leader said the U.S. should stop “encouraging” war in Ukraine?
3. What U.S. TV channel has settled a $787.5 million defamation lawsuit over its coverage of the 2020 presidential election?
4. Sydney is no longer Australia’s biggest city ... Who’s taken the top spot? Melbourne / Canberra / Brisbane / Perth
[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]
“Today I had one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. Regrettably it didn’t seem everyone there found it quite so poignant”: That is how Maria Murphy, a British columnist for GB News, commented on a photo she took of a woman posing on the tracks leading to the Auschwitz concentration camp. This is not the first time people have been caught taking inappropriate snaps at Memorial sites: In the past, several tourists and teenagers have been reprimanded for taking selfies in Auschwitz.
🎭 5 CULTURE THINGS TO KNOW
• Rust production resumes 18 months after deadly shooting: Filming of the western movie Rustis resuming this week at Yellowstone Film Ranch in Montana, 18 months after the accidental fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal with actor Alec Baldwin, who was holding the gun. Baldwin will return to the project as both actor and co-producer. All criminal charges against the actor were dropped, prosecutors announced, citing “new facts” in the case but adding that the decision “does not absolve Mr. Baldwin of criminal culpability” and that “charges may be refiled.”
• Photographer declines prize after revealing AI creation: German artist Boris Eldagsen refused a prize at the Sony world photography awards, after he admitted his photograph entitled “The Electrician” was actually generated by AI, using DALL-E 2. Eldagsen said his entry was designed to provoke debate about “what we want to consider photography and what not.”
• Senegal music icon named UN goodwill ambassador: Senegalese musicien Baaba Maal has been appointed as goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), in recognition of his long standing activism in climate change and refugee issues and his work with different UN family organizations since 2003.
• In memoriam: The world of culture has mourned this week the deaths of K-pop star Moonbin, a member of the boy band Astro, who died at 25 in a suspected suicide; 92-year-old American jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, known to have inspired Miles Davis; and prominent Israeli songwriter, author and journalist Yehonatan Geffen, who died at the age of 76.
• Egyptian lawyer sues Netflix for depicting Cleopatra as black in new show: Egyptian lawyer Mahmoud al-Semary has filed a complaint against Netflix for depicting Cleopatra as a Black woman in its new docudrama series African Queens: Queen Cleopatra. The release of its trailer has drawn negative reactions, including from Egypt's former Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass who said: “Cleopatra was Greek, meaning that she was blonde, not Black.” The show’s producer responded that the last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty’s heritage “is highly debated.”
🇷🇺 🇺🇦 The “double life” of the Russian soldiers who defected to Ukraine
Meet the Freedom of Russia Legion, a group of Russian army defectors who are fighting against their homeland, outraged that Vladimir Putin has destroyed the moral standing of Russia by invading its neighbor. Independent Russian news outlet Vazhnye istorii/Important Stories spoke with “Tikhiy” and “Caesar”, two members of the Legion, about the delicate "double-life" they lead on the front line.
Read the full story: "And If We Must Kill Our Countrymen" — Meet The Russian Defectors Fighting For Ukraine
🇯🇵 🏭 Fukushima's radioactive soil
Facing 14 million cubic meters of contaminated soil collected during the cleanup of fields and villages near the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant, the Japanese government promised residents it would remove the radioactive dirt. But now the country finds itself in a deadlock, despite the tens of billions of dollars spent.
Read the full story: How Japan Wound Up Stuck With Tons Of Fukushima's Radioactive Soil
💻 👩🏾💻 How African Tech is bouncing back
After a slowdown during the pandemic, the African tech ecosystem is bouncing back – with local innovation fueled by increasing investment from foreign tech giants. There are high hopes for the African digital world, despite the many obstacles that still need to be overcome, as persistent difficulties in accessing financing, sometimes faulty internet connectivity or insufficient support from governments still undermine the full deployment of the continental digital sector.
Read the full story: Foreign Cash, Women Founders: How African Tech Is Bouncing Back, Post-COVID
🤖😷 BRIGHT IDEA
This week, a team of surgeons in Barcelona successfully performed the world's first robot-assisted lung transplant. The whole surgery was performed without opening the patient's chest, with the diseased organ being removed through the side of the rib cage, a much less invasive procedure. This operation was performed using the Da Vinci robot from U.S. company Intuitive Surgical: doctors remotely commanded the four arms of the robot through a console located outside the operating room. This new technique could make lung transplantations — traditionally regarded as complex operations — much easier and safer.
🐻⬆️⬇️ SMILE OF THE WEEK
A resident of Farmington, Connecticut, caught on video a family of black bears having fun on a trampoline in the backyard. Sighting of the wild animal is not uncommon in the U.S. state, which registers more than 1,200 bears (although not all are that bouncy).
📹 THIS HAPPENED VIDEO — TODAY IN HISTORY, IN ONE ICONIC PHOTO
➡️ Watch the video: THIS HAPPENED
⏩ LOOKING AHEAD
• Joe Biden is expected to announce he will run for a second term as U.S. president.
• South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will head to Washington for a meeting with his U.S. counterpart on Wednesday, to mark the 70th anniversary of the U.S.-South Korea alliance.
• Israel is expected to impose a three-day lockdown on the Palestinian Territories, starting Monday, for the upcoming celebrations of Memorial Day, which commemorates all military personnel killed during Israeli military operations, and Independence Day.
• Disney plans to cut thousands of jobs in every region the company operates, as part of cost-cutting measures.
News quiz answers:
1. Fighting broke out in Sudan, after weeks of tension between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). In 2021, both factions joined forces and took control through a coup, but disagreements escalated over the suggested merger of the RSF with the military. At least 185 people have been killed and thousands injured so far. A new 72-hour ceasefire was agreed to, although earlier this week another truce was quickly broken.
2. On the last leg of his visit to Asia, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva reiterated to reporters in Abu Dhabi, UAE, his proposal to gather a coalition of external leaders to help broker peace between Ukraine and Russia. “The United States needs to stop encouraging war and start talking about peace,” he said.
3. As the trial was approaching its opening arguments, U.S. news channel Fox News reached a last-minute agreement with Dominion Voting Systems on Tuesday, putting an end to their massive two-year legal dispute over its coverage of the 2020 U.S. election. Fox News paid over $787 million to settle the case, which had severely damaged the reputation of the conservative network.
4. Following a boundary adjustment, Melbourne has become Australia's most populous city, surpassing Sydney for the first time since the gold-rush era in the 19th century. For over a century, Sydney had proudly held the distinction of being the country's most populous city. According to the most recent government statistics released in June 2021, Melbourne's population stood at 4,875,400.
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Photo: Boris Eldagsen