Sunday, May 19, 2019

Vox Sentences: The far-right White House guest

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions. Trump meets with Hungary’s far-right prime minister; Sri Lanka imposes its third social media ban following the Easter bombings. Trump welcomes Hungary’s authoritarian leader AFP/Getty Images President Trump welcomed Hungary’s far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to the White House today, and some are worried that the president is adding another...

The rapid development of AI has benefits — and poses serious...

Investing in AI safety could help ward off a big threat to humanity.  In the past decade, the AI revolution has kicked into high gear. Artificial intelligence is playing strategy games, writing news articles, folding proteins, and teaching grandmasters new moves in Go. AI systems determine what you’ll see in a Google search or in your Facebook Newsfeed. They are being developed to improve drone targeting and detect missiles. But there’s another way the field of artificial intelligence has been transformed in...

4 winners and 10 losers from Game of Thrones’ next-to-last episode,...

As the fifth and penultimate episode of Game of Thrones’ final season, “The Bells,” finished airing, everybody at my viewing party erupted in lusty boos. For many of them, the episode had betrayed any love they had once felt for the show. That’s because “The Bells” is almost the entire final season of Game of Thrones in a microcosm — some interesting ideas, some cool moments, and some great acting, but if you think about most of what happened for more than a couple of seconds, it starts to implode. It’s better in theory than it is in execution,...

Attack on Catholic church kills six people in Burkina Faso

An attack on a Catholic church in Burkina Faso, potentially linked to extreme Islamist violence in the country, has killed six people. Al Jazeera reports that a group of between 20 and 30 armed attackers killed a priest and five worshippers on Sunday, in the northeastern town of Dablo. The assailants also burned down the church itself as well as several local buildings, including a medical facility. According to a government spokesman, they also destroyed businesses that served alcohol. This marks the third such attack in recent weeks. In April, religious centers in Dori and Silgadji, two other northern towns, were...

French special forces rescue hostages in a deadly Burkina Faso raid

French special forces freed four hostages in Burkina Faso late last week in a raid that left two of the elite soldiers dead. Cedric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello were killed in the nighttime raid to free two French citizens, Laurent Lassimouillas and Patrick Picque. During the operation, two additional hostages not identified by initial intelligence reports were discovered in the enemy encampment; these hostages, an American woman and a South Korean woman, were also freed. French authorities said the hostage-takers were terrorists who kidnapped Lassimouillas and Picque, two French tourists, on May 1. The two music teachers were...

Rudy Giuliani cancels Ukraine trip amid criticism he’s courting election interference 

Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney, has called off a trip to Ukraine during which he planned to ask the country’s prosecutors to investigate the origins of the Mueller investigation and to look into ties between Hunter Biden, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, and a Ukrainian oligarch. With respect to Biden, Giuliani was particularly interested in a phone call Joe Biden made while serving as vice president in which he requested Ukraine’s top prosecutor, who had once been tasked with investigating a company Hunter Biden worked for, be removed from office. Giuliani’s decision came amid growing criticism that he...

How Cersei’s hired army, the Golden Company, could make or break...

At the end of Game of Thrones’ seventh season, Cersei Lannister revealed to her brother and lover Jaime that she’d secured a massive loan from the Iron Bank to hire the Golden Company, a massive army-for-hire from Essos. In season eight, it’s become increasingly clear that Cersei has literally bet everything she has on this legion of mercenaries to help her keep the Iron Throne. But what is the Golden Company, and was it really worth staking the Lannister family fortune — and the lives of the citizens of King’s Landing — on their ability to defeat Daenerys and...

Delta told its workers to buy video games instead of unionizing

For years, Delta flight attendants and ramp service workers — the employees who, among other things, load and unload the airline’s passenger planes and push them back from the gate — have been trying to unionize. And for years, Delta has tried to dissuade them from doing so, workers claim. A series of anti-union posters distributed by the company went viral this week after journalist Eoin Higgins posted a photo of one of the flyers on Twitter, sparking outrage about the company’s ongoing efforts to prevent workers from unionizing. “Union dues cost around $700 a year,” one flyer reads....

Millions of women take folic acid for a healthier pregnancy. Thank...

Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that every woman of reproductive age get at least 400 milligrams of folic acid, a B vitamin, every day. The CDC can make this recommendation because of the groundbreaking work of scientist Lucy Wills. In the 1920s, her work in India led to the discovery of the substance. Friday would be her 131st birthday, and it’s being celebrated with a Google Doodle. Wills was born in 1888, near Birmingham England, and in 1911 became one of the first women in the country to get degrees in botany and geology from Cambridge...

Spider-Man: Far From Home is teasing alternate universes. But there’s a...

Fans always knew Spider-Man: Far From Home was going to take place in a post-Avengers: Endgame world. They just didn’t know what exactly that world would look like until, well, Endgame hit theaters — and even then, that movie offered more of an endpoint for this phase of the MCU following the death of Tony Stark, the retirement of Steve Rogers, and Thor’s new adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy than a hint at how the world changed after the Avengers undid Thanos’s snap. But this week, we finally got the first glimpse of that post-Endgame Earth in...