Conflcit Weekly

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Conflcit Weekly
The Fukushima Waste Water Controversy, Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal, Stalemate of aid extension in Syria, and Extreme weather anomalies across US Europe and Asia

  IPRI Team

Conflict Weekly #185, 20 July 2023, Vol.4, No.29
An initiative by NIAS-IPRI and India Office of the KAS

Sneha Surendran, Rishika Yadav, Akriti Sharma and Mohaimeen Khan

Japan and the Fukushima Power Plant: The controversy over releasing the wastewater
Sneha Surendran

In the news
On 14 July, along the sidelines of an ASEAN meeting, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi held a discussion with Chinese diplomat Wang Yi on Japan releasing the Fukushima wastewater. Hayashi suggested China to analyse the situation in a "scientific manner," which was dismissed by the Chinese diplomat. Yi reiterated China's position, terming the decision "irresponsible, unpopular and unilateral," raising concerns on the impact of radiation on the environment and people. He called on Japan to focus on the concerns expressed by others, and to clearly communicate with its neighbours before proceeding with the decision. Yi remarked: "This is as much an issue about attitude as it is about science."  

Issues at large
First, the opposition from neighbouring countries. China has been at the forefront opposing Japan's plan of releasing the stored water at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. South Korea, despite initial apprehension, have endorsed it after having its team conducting tests at Fukushima. However, South Korea’s opposition - the Democratic Party, have called for the issue to be taken to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, siding with the people who have held demonstrations against the decision. Meanwhile, the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), a regional grouping of islands in the Pacific, said that the plan was a "major nuclear contamination disaster," stressing the need for more adequate testing, data collection and analysis before proceeding. PIF also reiterated their concerns on using the Pacific as the dumping site for the nuclear waste, given that the people of the islands are dependent on the ocean for food and livelihood. 

Second, the distrust with the International Agency for Atomic Energy (IAEA). The plan has IAEA’s consent, which conducted a two-year-long review at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. They concluded that the contamination remaining in the treated water was in line with the IAEA safety standards and the release would have "negligible radiological impact to people and the environment." The IAEA head also travelled to Japan, South Korea, and the Pacific Islands to reassure governments and people about the decision. Although the IAEA report was accepted by Japan, it has been criticized by other governments, environmental groups, and scientists. China called the report "one-sided." South Korea's opposition parties also doubt the scientific stance of the IAEA on the issue, saying their report seemed more political and "tailored to Japan."

Third, a mixed response from the Japanese public. In a poll by Kyodo News in June, 45 per cent of the population agreed to the decision, while 40 per cent were not in favour. People living in and around the city of Fukushima have been the largest critics; they are concerned that releasing the wastewater will undo the progress over the years, raising concerns of the radiation levels increasing again. Fishing communities have voiced out how consumers lost confidence in the fish and food exports from Fukushima following the disaster. Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida who is aware of these concerns, had stated: "Japan will continue to provide explanations to the Japanese people and to the international community in a sincere manner based on scientific evidence and with a high level of transparency."  

In perspective 
First, the economic fallouts. Following fears of radiation contamination in sea-based products, there have been cases of panic-buying of large amounts of salt in South Korea. Seoul, despite supporting the decision to release the wastewater, have continued the ban on products from Fukushima. To allay the public fears, authorities are conducting random radiation screening tests in the markets. The Hong Kong government stated that they would impose a ban on food and seafood products from ten Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima and Tokyo. Restaurant-owners in Hong Kong have begun looking at substitutes for Japanese-based cuisine and alternate suppliers of seafood. Meanwhile, China has banned imports from ten Japanese prefectures, including the long-time ban on food products from Fukushima. China and Hong Kong are Japan's largest markets for exporting fisheries. Restrictions from these countries will have a significant impact on the Japanese fisheries' industry. 

Second, call for more studies. The IAEA's analysis on the safety of releasing Fukushima wastewater has failed to gain the trust of all countries in the region. More comprehensive and accountable studies and transparency from the Japanese side regarding the health impact of radiation is essential to carry out a successful and peaceful release of the waste water.  

Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative: Uncertainty on global food security
Rishika Yadav

In the news
On 18 July, Russia withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal allowing grain exports from Ukraine through the Black Sea. This move comes despite the UN's final attempt to persuade Putin to extend the deal through a proposal connecting a subsidiary of Russia's agricultural bank, Rosselkhozbank, to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) international payment system. The EU aims to increase the transportation of Ukrainian grains through the road and rail of neighbouring countries to offset Russia's withdrawal from the Black Sea exports deal. 

Also on 18 July, Russia attacked the Odessa port, causing damage to the Black Sea port city's infrastructure. In response, Ukraine activated its aerial defences.

On 17 July, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, stated: "Despite the statement today, I believe the president of the Russian Federation, my friend Putin, wants the continuation of this humanitarian bridge." The latest extension of the deal expired on 17 July after being extended three times the previous year. Kremlin's spokesperson, Dmitri S Peskov, commented: "As soon as the Russian part is fulfilled, the Russian side will immediately return to the implementation of that deal." 

Issues at large
First, a complicated deal and diverging objectives. In July 2022, brokered by the UN and Turkey, the Black Sea Grain Initiative stabilized global food prices and eased shortages in Africa and the Middle East following the war in Ukraine. To renew the deal, Russia demanded reconnecting the Russian Agricultural Bank to SWIFT, and lifting restrictions on maritime insurance and agricultural machinery spare parts. Russia asserts that the institutions are crucial for its food and fertilizer sectors should be exempt from sanctions. However, Ukraine's allies are concerned about the potential misuse of these institutions for non-food exports, such as crude oil, leading to reluctance in granting the requested sanctions' relief. Similarly, Moscow claims the deal has not adequately benefited poor countries, while the UN argues it lowered global food prices by over 20 per cent. 

Second, the disruption of Ukraine's grain exports. The trade flow in the Black Sea region has been declining steadily since May, triggered by Russia preventing ships from accessing the port of Pivdennyi in the Ukrainian city of Yuzhne near Odessa. This particular port had been a crucial route for Ukraine's seaborne food exports since the inception of the grain deal. The disruption in Black Sea trade poses significant challenges for Ukraine's food export capabilities. 

Third, global food prices and threat of food insecurity. Suspending the deal had immediate effects on wheat markets, causing price fluctuations and raising food security concerns in developing countries. Nearly 14 African countries depend on Ukrainian and Russian wheat imports. According to the UN, under the deal, 32 million tonnes of food commodities have been exported from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports to 45 countries across three continents; 46 per cent to Asia, 40 per cent to Western Europe, 12 per cent to Africa and one per cent to Eastern Europe. The deal allowed Ukraine to export nearly 33 million metric tonnes of grains, contributing to a 23 per cent drop in food prices. The WFP has shipped about 725,000 metric tonnes of Ukrainian wheat to Afghanistan, Sudan, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Yemen to fight hunger. 

In perspective
Russia's withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative has major implications on global food security and commodity markets, particularly in Ukraine. Restarting shipments is challenging due to limited and time-consuming alternative routes. Ukrainian farmers may have to lower prices, potentially causing tensions with neighbouring countries. Utilizing the EU's new transportation strategy becomes crucial for stabilizing food prices. The withdrawal also raises security concerns for Ukrainian ports involved in grain exports. The attack on Odessa port indicates that other ports, such as Yuzhny and Chornomorsk, could also be at risk. Russia's withdrawal may be perceived as a political move to correct military fallouts to the Wagner mutiny.

Syria: Stalemate over Aid extension
Mohaimeen Khan

In the News
On 11 July, at the UNSC, Russia rejected a nine-month extension of the aid route to Syria, putting the viability of the system in jeopardy. The UN mediated deal that permits aid to be sent over land from Turkey into rebel-held regions in Syria expired on 10 July; the vote to renew the authorisation was postponed. Meanwhile, Russia used its veto to block a nine-month extension and recommended a six-month extension instead. However, the UNSC rejected the proposal, with Russia and China voting in favour and the United States, the United Kingdom, and France voting against. 

On 12 July, refugees in Northern Syria accused Russia of cutting off vital help. 

On 14 July, after the UNSC declined to renew its sanction for the operation, the Syrian government granted permission to the UN to utilise a border crossing from Turkey to transfer aid to the northwest region, which is controlled by the opposition. The Syrian government stated that the UN would need to be “in full cooperation and coordination” with them. 

On 15 July, the conditions set by the Syrian government on aid deliveries from Turkey to the country’s north-western region were deemed “unacceptable” by the UN. 

Issues at large
First, the humanitarian importance of aid in Syria. According to UNICEF, more than 50 per cent of families in Syria face food insecurity, and around 90 per cent of households live in poverty. In Syria, 13.4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, of which 5.9 million are in acute need. Owing to a deteriorating economic crisis, ongoing hostilities, widespread population displacement, and severely damaged public infrastructure, about two-thirds of the population need aid. More than 80 per cent of the requirements of residents in rebel-held regions are met by the aid, including everything from food to diapers and blankets, and medicines. Aid distributions are routinely criticised by the government in Damascus as a breach of its sovereignty. The earthquakes exposed the weakness of the cross-border system and raised questions about the UN's humanitarian mission in Syria. Russia has been undermining the aid system for years. 

Second, the intensity of the crisis. After 12 years of conflict, the humanitarian situation in Syria is still dire and has only become worse due to severe economic crises, including decrease in the value of Syrian currency. Syrian farmers have been forced to leave their farms; their fields have been destroyed by missile attacks. The recent assessment of the Syrian human rights situation by the German Foreign Office was "catastrophic." The civilians are being targeted; hospitals and schools are being bombed; continued forced recruitment, arbitrary arrests, torture, and death sentences are handed down without a trial. There has been a rise in cholera outbreaks, measles, diphtheria, dengue along with medicine and food shortages. Although officially, there is a truce between Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, localised ceasefires are yet to result in a more comprehensive peace process. 

Third, donor fatigue. Syria's humanitarian services suffer from declining funding and donor fatigue. The UN's assistance appeal for Syria was USD three billion in 2016, the amount increased gradually each year, reaching USD 4.4 billion in 2022 before the devastating earthquake in February. Despite this increase, humanitarian organisations have seen a steady decline in funding. According to the UN, 64 per cent of the humanitarian response was funded in 2019 compared to 49 per cent in 2022. 

Fourth, Russia's veto. Several political events provoked Russia to use its veto power. These include Turkey's approval of Sweden's NATO membership, the transfer of Azov Battalion personnel to Ukraine, Turkey's insistence on Ukraine joining NATO, and the reiteration that the Crimean Peninsula is Ukrainian territory. There has also been an improvement in security coordination between Turkey and the United States with regard to Syria. 

In perspective
First, challenges to international norms. Russia's recurrent use of veto has raised concerns about the UNSC's capability to respond to the humanitarian needs of the Syrian population. Additionally, it has sparked discussions on how geopolitical concerns affect the distribution of humanitarian relief and the broader implications for international humanitarian laws and norms. 

Second, the need for alternatives. Alternative funding sources separate from the UN and collaborating more closely with regional humanitarian organisations inside Syria is required. The US and its Arab allies should pressure Assad and his northern adversaries into adopting an agreement to restore control over important state institutions in north Syria.

Climate change: Extreme weather events across the US, Europe, and Asia
Akriti Sharma

In the news
On 18 July, Arizona recorded 42 degree Celsius temperature for the 19th consecutive day. On 16 July, Death Valley in the US recorded 53 degree Celsius temperature. On 18 July, smoke from the Canadian wildfires continued to spread across California, Conway, and New Hampshire. In Hawaii's Big Island, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a tropical storm warning forecasting it to bring significant rainfall, after which many states were kept under alert for floods. Meanwhile, in Bucks County in Pennsylvania, flash floods killed at least five people. 

On 18 July, Greece recorded more than 43 degree Celsius temperature. Greece also recorded wildfires due to extremely dry conditions. The EU announced that it will send amphibious aircraft to the country to douse the wildfires. According to the European Space Agency, countries including Italy, France, Spain, Germany, and Poland are witnessing heatwaves, and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia recorded the highest-ever temperature of 48 degrees Celsius in Europe.  

On 13 July, in India, the Yamuna river reached its highest level in 45 years due to high rainfall. Hundreds of people were evacuated to relief camps and the government issued a flood alert. In the state of Himachal Pradesh, 88 people died due to flash floods that swept away bridges, cars, and homes. 

On 12 July, at least 40,000 people were evacuated from China's Sichuan province due to unusual heavy rains and floods.

On 19 July, the death toll in South Korea's Cheongju region due to floods reached 44. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol blamed the authorities for their failure to follow disaster response.

On 14 July, the COP28 president, Sultan al-Jaber, while laying out a plan for the climate summit, urged countries to be "brutally honest about the gaps that need to be filled." The same day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said "that climate change is out of control."

Issues at large
First, the complex meteorological causes. The cause of the heatwave in the US is the formation of a heat dome over the Mediterranean basin. A heat dome occurs when the atmosphere traps hot ocean air like a cap. Additionally, a double jet stream is one of the reasons for extreme heat. After a split in the jet stream, a part of it travels to the North and another one to the South, leaving parts of Western Europe without the wind and resulting in the formation of small heat caps over the region. El Niño is a natural climate phenomenon that lasts for 16 to 18 months. The warm band of ocean wind developed in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific increased temperatures around the globe, resulting in drought-like conditions and extreme flood situations due to erratic rainfall.

Second, the increasing frequency of extreme weather events and links with anthropogenic climate change. According to the IPCC AR6 Report, climate change is one of the major driving forces behind the increasing frequency of extreme weather events across the globe. Heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, and floods have become frequent in recent years and this is attributed to anthropogenic climate change. 

Third, increase in compound events. Compound events are extreme weather events of a similar kind that lead to one another. According to the IPCC AR6 Report, unusual hot temperatures can cause heatwaves, wildfires, and droughts. This can be observed across the globe, where one extreme weather event leads to various other extreme weather events of a similar kind. In Europe and the US, the hot temperatures have resulted in heatwaves and wildfires. 

In perspective
First, the loss and damage fund. The loss and damage fund was decided in COP 27 which aims at aiding countries who are most vulnerable to the impact of climate change. Although the countries are yet to develop a framework for the fund, it can be useful for the least developed and developing countries that might have inadequate capacity to address extreme weather events.

Second, the need for efficient disaster management. With the rise in extreme weather events and disasters, countries need to have effective disaster management strategies. Efficient early warning is crucial to reduce economic crisis and human losses and help countries in better disaster preparedness.

Third, the need to ramp up climate action. Given the drastic shift in the frequency and intensity, countries have little choice but to ramp up climate action. Most of the developed countries are still falling short of achieving their climate commitments. With a significant lag in the commitments, the 2030 target set by the Paris Agreement might not be achieved and can have serious fallouts. 

Issues in Peace and Conflict This Week:
Regional Roundups

Rishika Yadav, Sneha Surendran, Anu Maria Joseph, Sandra D Costa, Ryan Marcus, Femy Francis, Rashmi Ramesh, Harini Madhusudan, Padmashree Anandan and Akriti Sharma

East and Southeast Asia
China: Joint military drill with Russia in the Sea of Japan
On 16 July, a Chinese flotilla joined the Russian naval and air forces for a joint-military exercise in the Sea of Japan. The Chinese Ministry of National Defence stated that the exercise aimed at "safeguarding the security of strategic waterways." The flotilla consisted of five warships and four ship-borne helicopters. This is the first time both naval and air forces of Russia participated in the drill at the Sea of Japan. 

North Korea: Testing a new ICBM 
On 13 July, North Korea tested a new Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Hwasong-18, a new prototype of solid fuel ballistic missile. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the launch was supported and guided by North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un and called it a, "grand explosion that shook the whole planet." Additionally, the news agency reported that Kim Jong Un commented that the country plans to launch a "Series of stronger military offensives."

Myanmar: Escalating clashes in the Kachin region
On 14 July, Myanmar Now reported on clashes near the Laiza region in the state of Kachin. The Myitkyina-Bhamo highway is partially closed amid ongoing hostilities, and martial law was imposed in Bhamo Township in the state of Kachin. Troops from various battalions allegedly sent by the Myanmar military, and pro-junta groups claimed four army divisions attacking Laiza. Additionally, fighting was reported in Waingmaw and Hpakant regions in the state of Kachin. In a separate incident, five junta soldiers and one civilian were killed near Kamaing region in the same state.

Thailand: Move Forward Party leader suspended by the constitutional court
On 19 July, Bangkok Post reported that the prime ministerial candidate of the Move Forward Party (MFP), Pita Limjaroenrat, was suspended from his membership in the House of Representatives following his inherited shareholding in a defunct media company, iTV Plc. The constitution prohibits members of Parliament (MPs) from holding media organization stocks. Pita claims that the shares were part of his late father's estate, managed as executor, and transferred to relatives. Pita is yet to submit an explanation within 15 days of the ruling receipt.

South Asia
Pakistan: Senior commander exits terrorist group TTP to join Hafiz Gul Bahadar
On 13 July, the Friday Times reported that a senior Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander, Mukhlis Yar Mehsud, has defected from the terror group to join the Hafiz Gul Bahadar (HGB) network. The HGB was once called the "good Taliban" and considered an ally of Pakistan. According to reports, Mehsud has been appointed as a commander in South Waziristan, heading the Mehsud tribe. Currently, the HGB is concentrated in North Waziristan. The TTP has officially denied the news of Mehsud leaving.

India: Violence continues in Manipur
On 15 July, two people were killed in two separate incidents in Manipur. One woman was killed; in another incident, a man was killed. In another incident, more than 40 people barged into a Kuki village, which resulted in violent clashes. On 17 July, Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) demanded a separate state or Union Territory from the state of Manipur. The Indigenous Tribal Leaders' Forum (ITLF) also decided to seek a separate state for Kuki and Zo communities.

Central Asia, The Middle East, and Africa
Iraq: Talks between Iraq and Syria
On 16 July, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani held talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This has been the first between the two leaders ever since the Syrian war in 2011. The two leaders stressed on securing the 600 kilometres of border from security threats, especially regarding the Islamic State. They also agreed to counter drug smuggling. Al-Sudani also iterated on ways to address droughts in both countries, which are caused by upstream damming by Turkey, low rate of rainfall and climate change.

Israel: Protests against judicial reforms continue
On 15 July, thousands of protestors rallied in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Herzliya and Netanya, against the planned judicial reforms by Netanyahu's government. This marked the 28th week of protests, as the government gave its initial approval to a bill that would reduce the power of the judiciary to strike down government decisions and give it more power in appointing judges. Several opposition parties threatened to call for a general strike, a move which was withdrawn when the government paused the reforms temporarily. 

Lebanon: Complaint in the UNSC against Israeli occupation
On 12 July, the Daijiworld reported that Lebanon's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is prepared to file a complaint in the United Nations Security Council against "Israel's annexation" of the northern part of Ghajar which is on the border with Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Lebanon accused Israel of erecting a wire fence and building a cement wall surrounding the village of Ghajar. According to the UNSC resolution that ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, the former was required to withdraw from Ghajar.

Tunisia: EU signs deal to prevent illegal migration
On 16 July, Africanews reported on the EU and Tunisia signing a deal to prevent illegal migrants from crossing Tunisia to EU countries and curb smuggling. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Tunisian President Kais Saied, Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte facilitated the deal in Tunis. The deal focused on macroeconomic stability, economy and trade, the green transition, people-to-people contacts, and migration. The EU will provide aid of EUR 105 million for search and rescue of migrants and patrolling along the sea routes. From EUR 105 million, EUR 15 million will be utilized for the voluntary return of Sub-Saharan African migrants, to their origin countries from Tunisia. 

Kenya: Increasing anti-government protest
On 19 July, the Kenyan opposition leader, Raila Odinga, announced the commencement of another three-day anti-government protests. The ongoing series of demonstrations are against the tax hikes, followed by the country's surging cost of living. According to the United Nations Human Rights Office, at least 23 people were killed during violent demonstrations in the previous week. The UN Human Rights Spokesperson, Jeremy Laurence, stated: "The UN is very concerned by the widespread violence and allegations of disproportionate use of force, including the use of firearms by the police during protests in Kenya." 

Cameroon: Open fire kills about 10 people
On 17 July, Cameroon's regional governor Debben Tchoffo reported on the death of ten people in the city of Bamenda in northwestern Cameroon in a separatist attack. The government has blamed the Ambazonia Defence Forces (ADF) for the attack. However, the ADF has denied responsibility for the incident. Additionally, Tchoffo declared the possible launch of a man-hunt for separatists behind the massacre and announced further investigation. Amnesty International slammed government troops, separatists, and militias for the atrocities in Cameroon's English-speaking regions. 

Europe and the Americas
Ukraine: G7 proposes to provide long term security commitment 
On 12 July, G7 proposed a plan to organize bilateral and long-term security commitments to help Kyiv in its war against Russia. According to Politico, the US, the UK, France and Germany have been discussing with Kyiv how to create a common framework for all countries willing to provide financial and military aid to Ukraine. CNN outlined the three goals of the declaration. The first goal is to ensure a "sustainable force capable of defending Ukraine now and deterring Russian aggression in the future." The proposal would look forward to strengthening Ukraine's "economic stability and resilience and providing technical and financial support for Ukraine's immediate needs." Additionally, the declaration would enable Kyiv to implement an effective reform agenda to advance the good governance necessary for its Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

Russia: Attack on the Crimean bridge
On 17 July, Russian Times reported on the press secretary for Russian president Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov's comments on the attack on the Crimean bridge. Russian Times quoted Peskov: "We know the reasons and those behind this terrorist act. This will require further composure and additional measures and work from all of us. No other measures have been discussed at the moment." He also stated that although he could not provide any specific details about Moscow's response to the attack, its ultimate answer would be the achievement of all the goals behind the "military operation" in Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Transportation noted that the bridge's support remains intact while the surface is damaged.

Greece: Wildfires erupt after continued heatwave
On 18 July, in the coastal town of Loutraki, west of Athens, 1,200 children were evacuated following the devastating wildfires. Greece Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, reassured that the state was doing everything possible to address the concern. The reports from the weather watchers indicate no signs of ease in the intense regional heatwave. Greece has recently experienced temperatures of at least 40 Celsius (104F). The Hellenic National Meteorological Service (HNMS), Greek meteorological office, has issued a warning that the possibility of more wildfires is still high. Spain and Italy, two neighbours, have also been suffering exceptionally high temperatures. 

Mexico: Roadside bombings kill security officers; drug cartels suspected
On 11 July, roadside bomb explosions in Jalisco killed six security officers and injured 12 others. On 12 July, Jalisco's Governor Enrique Alfaro commented that a drug trafficking group was behind the explosions, calling it a "brutal act of terror" and "an unprecedented act that shows what these drug cartels are capable of." The governor has called a temporary halt to police forces assisting volunteer organizations composed of the relatives of the victims, which has invited criticism from people and volunteer groups.  

Mexico: Migrants move together to reach US borders
On 15 July, over a thousand migrants, predominantly Venezuelans, gathered in Mexico to move northwards to the southern borders of the US. They moved under a Venezuela flag and were followed by patrols of the Mexican National Guard. The migrants stated that they had banded together as they had run out of money, alleging that immigration authorities in Mexico were not supporting them with resources or information regarding asylum procedures in the US. Since May, the US has recorded nearly 2.5 million migrants arriving at its southern borders. 

The US: Author's guild pleads CEO of AI companies over intellectual property problem
On 18 July, Margaret Atwood and Suzanne Collins among other prominent authors signed their names in the letter urging the CEOs of big tech companies engaged in the AI revolution to stop training AI platforms using their original works. Publishers, actors and creative writers have demanded to be paid if their work has been used to train large language models. Until recently, the big tech companies have shared the data characteristics used to train its AI models.

The US: DeSantis says West Bank is not occupied territory
On 17 July, Florida governor and frontrunner for presidential elections, Ron DeSantis, while speaking to Christians United for Israel (CUFI) said: "Judea and Samaria are not occupied territory," while referring to Biblical names of the West Bank. He asserted that Israelis have "the strongest claim of right" to the West Bank. 

About the authors
Akriti Sharma, Rashmi Ramesh and Ankit Singh are PhD Scholars at NIAS. Mohaimeen Khan is an Independent Scholar based in Manipal. Anu Maria Joseph, Femy Francis and Rishika Yadav are Research Assistants at NIAS. Padmashree Anandhan is a Research Associate at NIAS. Ryan Marcus is an Undergraduate Scholar at the Kristu Jayanti College, Bangalore. Sneha Surendran is a Postgraduate Scholar from OP Jindal University, Haryana. Prerana P is a Postgraduate Scholar at the Christ (Deemed To Be) University, Bangalore.

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