Semafor Flagship: Solar power, lunar landings – Semafor

9 minutes, 38 seconds Read

The World Today

  1. Ukraine declares losses
  2. Sweden set to join NATO
  3. Biden’s shutdown meeting
  4. Israel: No Hezbollah peace
  5. Ryanair’s Boeing problem
  6. War crimes in Sudan
  7. Bolsonaro supporters rally
  8. Texas steps up solar
  9. EV in-car entertainment
  10. Contrasting moon landings

image

The London Review of Substacks, and an exhibition showcases the Harlem Renaissance.

Zelenskyy: 31,000 soldiers killed

image
REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since Russia’s full-scale invasion of his country two years ago. It’s the first time Kyiv has given a figure for its losses, although Western estimates are higher: U.S. officials have suggested 70,000 soldiers killed. Zelenskyy would not reveal how many troops had been wounded, saying the information would help Russia. He also called for more support from allies, saying that ammunition shortages meant that at one point Ukrainian soldiers were firing one artillery shell for every 12 fired by Russians. French President Emmanuel Macron hosts a meeting today in Paris to strengthen Western support for Ukraine: 20 European leaders will attend in an attempt to dispel “doom and gloom” and reaffirm the continent’s unity.

Sweden set to join NATO

image
REUTERS/Tom Little

Hungary’s Parliament is expected to ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO today, the last hurdle in a fraught process that has pitted Budapest against the military alliance for months. Stockholm abandoned its decades-long non-alignment policy in a bid for greater safety after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. However, opposition from Turkey and Hungary, both of which maintain close ties to Moscow, has held the ratification up. Sweden’s accession will follow Finland’s, in what is widely seen as the most significant expansion for the alliance since its move into Eastern Europe three decades ago.

Biden summons Congress chiefs

image
REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

U.S. President Joe Biden will meet with the top four congressional leaders to press them to pass bills that will support Ukraine and Israel and stave off a looming government shutdown. The minority and majority leaders of both Houses of Congress will visit the White House tomorrow. An earlier deal agreed to continue government spending at existing levels, but it runs out on March 1. It’s the fourth such deadline since September, and each time lawmakers have kicked the can down the road. Biden hopes that a more permanent spending bill could avoid continued brinkmanship, while a separate bill could provide $95 billion in support for allies which has been held up by congressional Republicans.

Israel will not apply truce to Hezbollah

image
REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel will continue to target Hezbollah in Lebanon even if a ceasefire is agreed with Hamas in Gaza, its defense minister Yoav Gallant warned. The Iran-backed Hezbollah has clashed with the Israel Defense Forces on Israel’s northern border since the start of the war, and the militant group said it would halt attacks only if a ceasefire was reached. But Gallant said the northern front would continue “independently from the south” to push Hezbollah away from the border. Hopes for a ceasefire rose over the weekend, after both Israel and Hamas expressed cautious interest in a Qatari-led proposal for a six-week pause in exchange for the release of 40 hostages, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a planned assault on the Gazan city of Rafah would take place regardless.

Passengers face fare hikes over Boeing

image

Boeing’s ongoing problems mean passengers on the budget airline Ryanair will face 10% higher fares this summer. A delivery of dozens of Boeing 737 Max 9 airliners was due by March but Boeing is under scrutiny since part of the fuselage of one of its jets blew out in midair in January, meaning the order is unlikely to be completed. Ryanair’s chief executive said Boeing’s problems had regulators “crawling all over them” and demanded compensation for what he called a “shit show,” saying the reduced delivery would lead to capacity constraints. Boeing removed the head of its 737 Max program last week: As well as last month’s incident, the 737 saw two major crashes in 2019 and 2020 that killed 346 people.

Sudan’s escalating and forgotten war

image
REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

A new U.N. report detailed “horrific violations and abuses” in the Sudan war as fighting spread to more areas of the country. Both the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary have committed indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including mass rape, the U.N. human rights office found. However, the war in Sudan — which has led to thousands of civilian deaths and millions displaced — has been overshadowed by the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, meaning desperate pleas for aid have largely gone unanswered. A U.N.-backed drive for humanitarian funding for Sudan yielded less than 4% of the funds required, The New York Times reported.

Bolsonaro supporters rally against charges

image
REUTERS/Carla Carniel

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro rallied tens of thousands of supporters in Sao Paulo in a show of strength against legal challenges that could put him in jail. Brazilian police are investigating Bolsonaro — who had his passport seized and is barred from running for office until 2030 — over his role in the attacks against government buildings following his electoral defeat in 2022. Documents revealed by police this year allege that Bolsonaro’s aides, along with the head of the country’s navy, openly discussed a coup attempt that included putting “troops on the ground” to prevent President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from taking power.

Texas looks to the solar future

image
Creative Commons

A 5,000-acre, 452-megawatt solar farm was completed in Texas. The $600 million Solar Nova installation in Kent County, with 1.1 million panels, should generate enough electricity for 190,000 homes. Texas has the second-largest solar capacity of any U.S. state, and is expected to overtake the leader California within five years, industry analysts say. Republican-held states are also dominating wind power: The five states with the largest share of wind power are all red. They’re building renewable energy, the environmental scientist Hannah Ritchie noted last month, not for climate reasons but because it’s cheaper and they have “extremely large wind and solar resources.” The Financial Times noted that Texas also has more permissive planning laws than most progressive-held cities.

China cinema maker turns to EVs

image

China’s biggest cinema projector manufacturer is adapting its equipment for entertainment displays in electric vehicles, highlighting carmakers’ drive to make their models stand out as demand flags. Appotronics’ new cinematic experiences for back-seat passengers come as Chinese carmakers have flooded the market with “a glut of new vehicles” that have brought down prices, the Financial Times reported. China’s rapid uptake of EVs has surpassed most estimates: According to the International Energy Agency, the country accounts for almost 60% of global electric car sales, having already exceeded its 2025 target. Beijing has vowed to help the industry expand beyond the country’s borders despite threats of sanctions from both the U.S. and the EU.

Ups and downs for moon missions

image
JAXA via REUTERS

Two recent moon landings saw contrasting fortunes both upon touchdown and beyond. Odysseus, the first privately built robot to land on the moon and the first U.S. craft to do so in 50 years, landed softly on Thursday, but its operators say it seems to have toppled over. Its instruments are pointing up, however, so it is still able to do scientific work. Meanwhile, Japan’s Moon Sniper lander, which was feared lost after it also tipped over, regained power for a second time. It briefly revived when the sun reached its solar panels a week after landing, but then the long lunar night began, and it was not designed to survive its fierce cold. Unexpectedly, though, it re-established communication with Earth this morning.

image

  • The sixth session of the U.N. Environment Assembly begins in Nairobi.
  • Public transport workers start a six-day strike across Germany.
  • U.S. singer-songwriter Erykah Badu turns 53.
London Review of Substacks
image

Information theory

Information goods are hard to make but cheap to copy. Developing a drug requires huge investment from one firm, but once it’s made, it’s cheap for any company to reproduce. A book might take an author hundreds of hours to write, but once it’s stored digitally it can be copied millions of times for free. That is information’s “greatest advantage and its central challenge”: An idea once made can benefit millions, but that means there’s little incentive to come up with new ideas, since you get little benefit over copying them.

Copyright law is intended to address that: By raising the cost of copying, it “taxes information’s greatest advantage to subsidize its central challenge.” As information becomes ever cheaper to copy, copyright law has become ever more stringent. Maxwell Tabarrok, on his Substack Maximum Progress, asks: What is the optimal level of protection to allow the spread of ideas while incentivizing creators to make up new ones? And “should text on the internet have longer or shorter copyright than text in books in the 16th century?”

Final destination

“Somewhere out in the North Atlantic,” writes Ned Donovan on his Substack Terra Nullius, “a lone submarine glides through the ocean with no real destination.” It is one of the four boats of the U.K.’s Continuous At-Sea Submarine Deterrent. Even most of its crew don’t know where it is, and almost no one on land does. The submarines carry Britain’s nuclear arsenal, and each contains a safe within a safe. That inner safe contains a letter: The letter of last resort.

Every new prime minister, upon being appointed by the monarch, writes and signs their own letter. Tony Blair, Donovan writes, was said to have gone “quite white” when he was told about it. The letter dictates what the submarine should do if the government is destroyed in a nuclear attack: Either to place the boat under the command of an ally, to allow the commander discretion, to do nothing, or to launch a full nuclear retaliation. If war does not break out, each prime minister’s letters are burnt without opening.

Moscow rules

The former Fox News host Tucker Carlson went to Russia recently, to interview President Vladimir Putin. He came home gushing about it: “It’s radicalizing for an American to go to Moscow,” he said, seeing that it “is so much nicer than any city in my country.” The economics writer Noah Smith, on Noahpinion, responded: There certainly are cities that are radicalizing to visit as an American — “Compared to most of the developed world, American cities are run-down, dirty, and dangerous, with worse public transit systems and higher crime rates.” But Moscow is not one of them.

Despite booming oil revenues, the city still has “a grim post-Soviet feel,” gray tenements surrounding a small business district. And while the official crime rate in Russia might have dropped from its startling rates 20 years ago — in 2001, Russians were murdered at five times the rate of Americans — that’s partly because under Putin, the police stopped reporting so many murders. The number of “unidentified bodies” recorded has doubled in that time, matching the decline in murders.

image
New York Metropolitan Museum

A new exhibition exploring the Harlem Renaissance opened at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The show looks at how Black artists depicted everyday life in the new neighborhoods that took root in New York City and nationwide from the 1920s to the 1940s, a period known as the Great Migration as millions of African Americans moved away from the segregated rural South. The exhibition’s curator hopes the artworks on display will highlight the renaissance’s lesser-known but key role in American and European modernism, CBS News reported: “This can help to complete New Yorkers’ sense of the history of the city,” she said.

This post was originally published on 3rd party site mentioned in the title of this site

Similar Posts