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ICC seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Hamas leader Sinwar over alleged war crimes

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Karim A.A. Khan, said on May 20, 2024 that he is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the October 7 attacks on Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza.

Khan said he has “reasonable grounds to believe” these five men bear “criminal responsibility” for war crimes and crimes against humanity in relation to Hamas’s October 7 attack in Israel and the war in the Gaza Strip.

The full statement of ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC » Applications for arrest warrants in the situation in the State of Palestine

A panel of six experts in international law – Lord Justice Fulford, Judge Theodor Meron CMG, Amal Clooney, Danny Friedman KC, Baroness Helena Kennedy LT KC, and Elizabeth Wilmshurst CMG KC – authored Why we support ICC prosecutions for crimes in Israel and Gaza, published in the Financial Times. In it they state »

The attacks by Hamas in Israel on October 7 and the military response by Israeli forces in Gaza have tested the system of international law to its limits. This is why, as international lawyers, we felt compelled to assist …

In our legal report published today, we unanimously agree that the prosecutor’s work was rigorous, fair and grounded in the law and the facts. And we unanimously agree that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the suspects he identifies have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC.

More » CNN / The Guardian / BBC / Le Monde / Euronews / Radio Free Europe / DW / France 24 / NYT / The East African / Al Jazeera / CBC

US Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. flew an upside down American flag outside his home, a MAGA symbol of insurrection, after Trump lost the 2020 election

Jodi Kantor, writing in the NY Times »

After the 2020 presidential election, as some Trump supporters falsely claimed that President Biden had stolen the office, many of them displayed a startling symbol outside their homes, on their cars and in online posts: an upside-down American flag.

One of the homes flying an inverted flag during that time was the residence of Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., in Alexandria, Va., according to photographs and interviews with neighbors.

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China’s spy threat is growing, and the West has struggled to keep up

Gordon Corera, writing for the BBC »

What concerns Western officials is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s determination that Beijing will shape a new international order. “Ultimately it aspires to displace the United States as the foremost power,” the chief of MI6, Sir Richard Moore, told me in a rare interview in his office for a new BBC series on China and the West.

Meanwhile » Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS) director warns China can use TikTok to spy on them.

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OpenAI pays Reddit to gain access to authentic and real-time Reddit posts that feed into ChatGPT

Another AI deal that doesn’t pass the smell test.

Emilia David writing in The Verge »

Redditors have been vocal about how Reddit’s executives manage the platform before, and it remains to be seen how they’ll react to this announcement. More than 7,000 subreddits went dark in June 2023 after users protested Reddit’s changes to its API pricing. Recently, following news of a partnership between OpenAI and the programming messaging board Stack Overflow, people were suspended after trying to delete their posts.

“Reddit has become one of the internet’s largest open archives of authentic, relevant, and always up-to-date human conversations about anything and everything. Including it in ChatGPT upholds our belief in a connected internet, helps people find more of what they’re looking for, and helps new audiences find community on Reddit,” Reddit CEO Steve Huffman says.

Proteins in the blood could warn people of cancer more than seven years before it is diagnosed

Anna Bawden, writing in The Guardian »

Scientists at the University of Oxford studied blood samples from more than 44,000 people in the UK Biobank, including over 4,900 people who subsequently had a cancer diagnosis.

They compared the proteins of people who did and did not go on to be diagnosed with cancer and identified 618 proteins linked to 19 types of cancer, including colon, lung, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and liver.

The study, funded by Cancer Research UK and published in Nature Communications, also found 107 proteins associated with cancers diagnosed more than seven years after the patient’s blood sample was collected and 182 proteins that were strongly associated with a cancer diagnosis within three years.

50 countries have confirmed they will attend the Ukraine peace conference, due to be held in Switzerland in June

Thus far, 50 countries out 160 invited delegations have confirmed they will attend.

Swiss Broadcasting Corporation »

They include the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, Germany’s Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, the head of the Italian government, Giorgia Meloni, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The Swiss foreign ministry says it is satisfied with the replies but expects more.

“The major European countries are there, but we would also like to have, as much as possible, countries from the South, because we want an open discussion on all the possibilities and reflections for peace in Ukraine. We therefore want numbers, but also North-South representativeness,” said Bideau.

University of Oxford study of over 2.4M people across 168 countries, finds Internet use statistically associated with higher wellbeing

Study finds that, despite popular concerns to the contrary, links between internet adoption and wellbeing are likely to be positive,

The study encompassed more than two million participants psychological wellbeing from 2006-2021 across 168 countries, in relation to internet use and psychological well-being across 33,792 different statistical models and subsets of data, 84.9% of associations between internet connectivity and wellbeing were positive and statistically significant.

The study analysed data from two million individuals aged 15 to 99 in 168 countries, including Latin America, Asia, and Africa and found internet access and use was consistently associated with positive wellbeing.

The paper ‘A multiverse analysis of the associations between internet use and well-being’ published in the journal Technology, Mind and Behaviour, American Psychological Association is available for download.

Summer 2023 was the hottest in 2,000 years

Doyle Rice, writing in USA Today »

Based on an analysis of ancient tree rings that date back to the year 1, last summer was the hottest in the past 2,000 years, a new study released Tuesday suggests. Study authors described the warmth during the summer of 2023 across much of the Northern Hemisphere as “unparalleled.”

Of even more concern, study authors note, is that the 2015 Paris Agreement to keep warming globally to 2.7 degrees “has already been superseded at this limited spatial scale.” The Paris Agreement seeks to keep warming below that level to stave off the worst impacts of human-caused climate change.

Georgia approves controversial ‘foreign agent’ law – dubbed the “Russian Law” by protesters

Rayhan Demytrie and Emily Atkinson writing for BBC News »

Under the bill – which passed its third and final reading with 84 votes against 30 on Tuesday – NGOs and independent media that receive more than 20% of their funding from foreign donors would have to register as organisations “bearing the interests of a foreign power”.

They would also be monitored by the Justice Ministry and could be forced to share sensitive information – or face hefty fines of up to 25,000 GEL ($9,400; £7,500).

Protesters are concerned that the legislation would be used by the government to suppress its opponents. Parallels have also been drawn with an authoritarian bill which came into force in Russia in 2012, and which the Kremlin has since used to clamp down on dissidents.

Coalition of Canadian Advocacy Groups and Labour Unions are Renewing Calls For Full Israel Arms Embargo

The signatories of the coalition represent some two million people across Canada.

Alex Cosh writing in The Maple »

The newly launched “Arms Embargo Now” statement notes that Canada’s own laws require that the government stop military exports if there is a substantial risk that such goods could be used to “facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law, or commit serious acts of violence against women and children.”

It further notes that under the 1948 Genocide Convention, of which Canada is a signatory, the federal government must “prevent and punish” the crime of genocide. Israel is currently on trial for committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which ruled in January that South Africa’s case against Israel was “plausible.”

Israel’s war on Gaza has killed more than 35,091 people since last October, damaged or destroyed more than 60 per cent of the enclave’s residential properties, and plunged it into a humanitarian catastrophe.

Students – once again – are leading the way. Now we must all join them and stand up for Palestinians

Osita Nwanevu in the Guardian writes »

The student left is the most reliably correct constituency in America. Over the past 60 years, it has passed every great moral test American foreign policy has forced upon the public, including the Vietnam war, the question of relations with apartheid South Africa, and the Iraq war. Student activists were at the heart of the black civil rights movement from the very beginning. To much derision and abuse, they pushed for more rights, protections and respect for women and queer people on their campuses than the wider world was long willing to provide. And over the past 20 years in particular, policymakers have arrived belatedly to stances on economic inequality, climate change, drug policy and criminal justice that putative radicals on campus took up long before them.


Book banning is one of the first signs that a democracy is losing

Michael Harris writing in The Tyee »

Shortly after Adolf Hitler passed legislation in 1933 that put him above the law, even if he violated the German Constitution, the National Socialists began compiling their first list of books “deserving to be burned.”

In May 1933, Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels organized a huge bonfire of books at Berlin University. The books were deemed to be “unacceptable to the party.” Students danced around the fire as they tossed books into the flames: great works by Thomas Mann and Einstein, H.G. Wells, Freud, Zola and Proust. Book burnings took place in 34 university towns and cities in Germany. The regime also raided bookstores and libraries to confiscate “un-German” material.

Andrej Karpathy’s introduction to Large Language Models (LLM)

This is a 1 hour introduction to Large Language Models (LLM), the core technical component behind systems like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, and Google’s Bard.

What they are, where they are headed, comparisons and analogies to present-day operating systems, and some of the security-related challenges of this new computing paradigm.

[1hr Talk] Intro to Large Language Models

Note: Clicking the above image will load and play the video from YouTube.

How a small plane’s 16-day trip from Vermont to Florida might foreshadow a new era of battery-powered air

NY Times »

Chris Caputo stood on the tarmac at Burlington International Airport in Vermont in early October and looked to the clouds in the distance. He had piloted military and commercial aircraft over a long career, racking up thousands of flight hours, but the trip he was about to take would be very different.

That’s because the airplane Mr. Caputo would fly runs on batteries. Over the next 16 days, he and his colleagues flew the plane, a CX300 built by their employer, Beta Technologies, down the East Coast. They would make nearly two dozen stops to rest and recharge, flying through congested airspace over Boston, New York, Washington and other cities.

U.S. dietary guidelines may soon warn against ultraprocessed foods

Washington Post »

In recent years, dozens of studies have found that people who consume a lot of ultra-processed foods have higher rates of weight gain, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

Nutrition experts say that highlighting ultra-processed foods in the upcoming guidelines could have a significant effect on the country’s diet and national food programs. The dietary guidelines help determine which foods can be served to the approximately 30 million American children who participate in the National School Lunch Program. The guidelines influence the food industry, food assistance programs, and agricultural production.

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