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6 June

In the headlines

A 30-metre-high dam across Ukraine’s Dnieper river was blown up this morning, flooding territory held by both Moscow and Kyiv. The two sides have blamed each other for the explosions at Kakhovka, in the southern Kherson region – with Ukraine thought to be launching a major counter-offensive, the deluge will complicate any plans for an amphibious assault. AI systems could be powerful enough to “kill many humans” within two years, the UK government’s advisor on the technology, Matt Clifford, tells TalkTV. Countries need to work on cross-border regulation, he says, to mitigate this “existential risk”. Apple is upgrading its autocorrect feature to let people swear more easily. The updated software will recognise words that iPhone users repeat, and therefore stop correcting one common expletive to “ducking”.

Gone viral

Web designer Rianna Suen has created an emoji-based version of Where’s Wally? In each round, players have to find a specified cartoon face amid a sea of others. Give it a try here.


Primary schools in the conservative US state of Utah have been forced to ban the Bible because its “vulgarity and violence” falls foul of new censorship laws. Book bans in schools, largely drawn up by Republicans trying to reduce access to literature about sexuality and gender issues, have been “sweeping America”, says The Daily Telegraph. But when a liberal parent pointed out that the Bible was “one of the most sex-ridden books around”, the state’s second largest school district – responsible for some 74,000 children – agreed to limit access to older pupils only.

Inside politics

Hoping to refute allegations that her party harboured pro-Putin sympathies, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen last year ordered a parliamentary inquiry to investigate foreign influence in French politics. A leaked draft of the probe’s conclusion suggests the move has “backfired spectacularly”, says France 24: it has found that Le Pen’s party served as a “communication channel” for Russian power, and that its policy stances sometimes echo the “official language of Putin’s regime”. Zut alors! 🇷🇺😬


Some country’s flags are subtle in their references to armed struggle, says International Intrigue. “Mozambique chose another route.” Its national standard features an AK-47 assault rifle (to symbolise defence), a hoe (agriculture) and a book (education). It’s “the only UN-recognised flag with a modern firearm”.


Spanish-language music is “having a moment”, says The Economist. Of YouTube’s top 20 most-streamed songs worldwide three weeks ago, nine were in Spanish. The Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny has become Spotify’s most-streamed artist for the third year in a row, the first time anyone has dominated its charts for so long. In the US last year, Latin music generated $1bn in revenues – a 24% increase on 2021. It’s a sign of how streaming services can introduce different genres to previously untapped markets, and of how Latin American migrants are “moving abroad and bringing their cultures with them”.


It’s Apple’s long-awaited “mixed reality” headset, Vision Pro. The $3,499 gadget is the tech company’s “most anticipated hardware product launch” since Steve Jobs revealed the iPad in 2010, says the FT. It has two modes: one is a “fully immersive virtual reality space” for gaming and movies; the other, an “augmented reality” that lets you scroll through apps, search the internet and send messages using your eyes and voice. The goggles will usually show an image of the user’s eyes on the front screen, simulating transparent glass, but blur over when you’re in VR mode so others know you’re off exploring the metaverse. The product hits the market early next year.


quoted 6.6.23

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

HL Mencken