From the attack on a POW facility in Donbas to Taylor Swift’s carbon footprint – Here’s your August 1 news briefing

From the attack on a POW facility in Donbas to Taylor Swift’s carbon footprint – Here’s your August 1 news briefing
FILE PHOTO: A satellite image shows a closer view of a prison in Olenivka, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine July 27, 2022. Satellite image 2022 Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS

To start off, we’re looking into:

Confusion following POW deaths in Ukraine

Last Thursday, a detention camp in Olenivka in the Russian-held territory of Donetsk, Ukraine, was attacked via a missile strike, killing at least 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war (POW) and injuring 75 others. So now, Russia and Ukraine are pointing fingers at each other for the strike.

Ukraine’s General Staff accused Russia of attacking the facility to hide the torture of POWs and to accuse Ukraine of war crimes by framing it for the strike. Ukraine later on Friday blamed the Russian Wagner Group for the attack, saying the mercenary group was acting under the personal direction of Yevgeny Prigozhin and the strike wasn’t coordinated with the Russian Defense Ministry. Meanwhile, Russia said that Ukraine used US-supplied rocket launchers to attack the prison to discourage Ukrainian soldiers from surrendering or giving information.

As both countries go through investigations, Ukraine is calling for Russia to be recognized as a state sponsor of terrorism. Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs has also requested the EU to adopt this label for Russia. Yesterday, Ukrainian President Zelenskiy urged hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to evacuate the region of Donetsk, saying, “the more people leave Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill.”

Iran-Taliban border clash

Taliban Iran
A Taliban fighter walks as he and others take a day off to visit the amusement park at Kabul’s Qargha reservoir, at the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan October 8, 2021. Picture taken October 8, 2021. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Since the US withdrew from Afghanistan last summer, the Taliban has had control over the country and its borders. This has meant that there have been some disputes between Afghanistan and bordering neighbors, like Iran and Pakistan.

With that, on Sunday, the Taliban reported that one of its soldiers was killed in a fight that broke out between Taliban forces and Iranian border guards on the southern part of their shared border. Iran said that there were no Iranian casualties. Both sides are blaming the other for starting the confrontation – Iranian news outlets are saying Iran responded to the Taliban raising a flag in an area that was Iranian territory. Still, it isn’t totally clear what exactly happened. Last month, Iran said one of its border guards was killed after another incident in the same area.

This is all part of the bigger picture of the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. On top of frequent border clashes, the country is going through a major food crisis, and human rights in the country are being threatened despite the Taliban’s initial promises to keep them intact.

Chinese rocket debris lands in the Philippines

Chinese rocket
FILE PHOTO: A Long March-5B Y3 rocket, carrying the Wentian lab module for China’s space station under construction, takes off from Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Hainan province, China July 24, 2022. China Daily via REUTERS/File Photo

On July 24, China launched a rocket with a new capsule for Tiangong, the country’s space station currently under construction. A launch into space is energy-intensive, and rocket boosters can use up all of their fuel in the process, which is exactly what happened with China’s latest launch vehicle. This is the third time that a Chinese rocket has come back to Earth in what’s called an “uncontrolled reentry.” Now, the agency is facing international criticism for its space debris disposal practices.

Without thrusters, a rocket booster will fall back to Earth uncontrolled and on its own, which is how the Long March 5B became lawless space trash. Before reentry, China Manned Space Agency said the rocket would fall unguided. Beijing said it was closely tracking the rocket, and it posed “little risk” to anyone on the ground. But no one really knew where it would land … or when.

On Saturday, the rocket fell into the sea in the Philippines, according to the Chinese government. While China says most of the debris burned up entering the atmosphere, some of it remained intact and landed in the ocean.

To end, we’ll look into:

Is TikTok getting into music?

When TikTok came on the social media scene, its rise was meteoric. It changed the game as far as social media content is concerned, and now several platforms have implemented some copycat style of TikTok’s signature vertical video reel format, which includes the ability to sync audio (including, but not limited to, music) over that video.

But a recent filing shows that its aspirations in the music space might not be taking the backseat. ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, recently filed a trademark application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for “TikTok Music,” and it did the same in Australia last November. According to the filing, this theoretical service would let users do everything they do on traditional streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music.

This isn’t ByteDance’s first tango with a music platform either – it launched a music streaming platform a couple of years ago in Brazil, India and Indonesia called Resso, which has some of those same features. The company even uses TikTok to bring users over to Resso, allowing users to listen to full versions of a song they hear on TikTok, which keeps people in the ByteDance ecosystem.

It’s not totally clear if ByteDance is looking to do the same thing it did with Resso elsewhere in the world, if it’s looking to start something new entirely or if it’s just making sure it secures patents before other companies get to them. But what is clear is that if the company enters the music space, it has the potential to disrupt it in the same way it disrupted social media.

In other news …

🛩Celebs and their private jets: Flying releases carbon dioxide emissions and is not great for the environment. With that out of the way, there’s this thing, especially in the US, about how much celebrities use their private jets and for how short of trips. For example, Kylie Jenner posted an Instagram of her and Travis Scott with their priva🛩te jets, which infuriated climate activists and was called out by fans. The controversy only got worse when a report came out that Jenner used her private jet for a trip that lasted a grand total of three minutes, or an otherwise 40-minute drive.

But, apparently, she’s not the worst. Yard, a sustainable marketing agency, has said that our favorite break-up artist Tay Tay produced the most CO2 this year by taking 170 flights. One of her shortest flights took 36 minutes, and her total flight CO2 emissions were 8,293.54 tons. The singer’s rep has hit back at the backlash, saying that Tay lends her plane to other people, so the flights weren’t all for her. Behind Tay was Floyd Mayweather, then Jay Z.

🌏US House Speaker Pelosi’s Asia trip: Nancy Pelosi is doing an Asia trip to see how the US and the region can strengthen their ties. This is “including visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.” There is no mention of Taiwan in her itinerary, though, an island that Beijing considers a part of China. This comes after speculation over a possible stopover at the island drove Beijing mad. On Saturday, as Pelosi was set to arrive in Asia, China held live-fire military drills, the first announced by the agency in at least a year.

🏉Sevens is back, baby! Organizers of The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens have been given the go-ahead for the November 4-6 event. This sports match is the city’s first major event since COVID started. Meanwhile, the city’s health chief has said they’re thinking about cutting down quarantine for travelers to five days or less. Right now, it’s a week.

😷Biden has tested positive for COVID again: According to President Biden’s doctor, Biden has tested positive again for COVID. He has what’s called a “rebound” case and isn’t experiencing any major symptoms but will stay in iso.

💰Sri Lanka’s IMF deal delayed: According to AP News, because of the current unrest in Sri Lanka, the deal between the troubled South Asian nation and the IMF, which was meant to help with its bailout package, has been delayed a month.

🤝A joint response to North Korea’s threats: After one of North Korea’s strongest threats to “eliminate” South Korea and to fight the US, Washington and Seoul have agreed to expand military drills in the second half of this year and to “resolutely and jointly respond” to the North.

😲Italy’s outrage: There has been a widely circulated video in Italy of a Nigerian migrant being attacked and murdered by another man in broad daylight. The video was captured by onlookers who didn’t try to intervene during the recording. It’s sparked outrage across the country.

🚙Uber’s redesign: In an announcement, Uber has said that it has “completely reimagined the way drivers accept rides” and will now show drivers exactly how much they’ll make on a trip and exactly where they’ll drop passengers off.

Written and put together by Jake Shropshire, Vanessa Wolosz, Christine Dulion and Krystal Lai