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What led to the downfall of Peru’s Pedro Castillo? | International

Pedro Castillo – the recently-impeached president of Peru – during a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Pedro Castillo – the recently-impeached president of Peru – during a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, December 7, 2022– (AFP)

On the morning of Wednesday, December 7, Peruvian President Pedro Castillo announced five measures in a televised address. The first was that he was going to “temporarily dissolve” his country’s Congress, so as to install an “emergency government.”

Shortly afterwards, Castillo’s cabinet resigned and he was denounced by the country’s judiciary. He is currently under arrest.

The same day he announced his plans, a vote was set to be held in Congress over whether or not the president should be impeached. This was the third attempt by the legislative branch to remove the highly unpopular Castillo since he began his term in July of 2021.

In his address to the country – just hours before the vote – Castillo accused the parliamentarians of “destroying the rule of law” and trying to “establish a congressional dictatorship.”

Over the past 16 months, the political tensions in the Andean country have been high. After winning the 2021 presidential elections by a margin of less than half-a-percent, Castillo – a former union leader – has constantly clashed with the Congress, which is dominated by centrist and center-right parties who oppose his Marxist “Free Peru” party. This has led to political gridlock, with hardly any legislation being passed.

During his Wednesday address, Castillo claimed that, because of the Peruvian Congress – which has an approval rating of about 20%, almost as low as his – the situation in the country had become “intolerable” and that the people were demanding exceptional measures to preserve democracy and the rule of law.

In addition to announcing the closure of the Congress, Castillo noted his intention of holding new legislative elections “as soon as possible.” This constituent assembly, he explained, would be responsible for drafting a new federal constitution within a period of no more than nine months.

“From today onwards, until the inauguration of a new national Congress, [I] will govern by decree,” he added.

Castillo also announced a curfew across the country, which would have come into effect at 10PM and lasted until 4AM.

“Everyone who possesses illegal weapons should turn them over to the National Police within a period of 72 hours. Whoever doesn’t comply will be subject to punishment consisting of prison time – a measure which will be established by decree,” he added, in a nod to high crime rates. This was in an attempt to get popular support for his shuttering of the legislature.

Another measure mentioned was in relation to the total reorganization of the justice system, the judiciary, the Attorney General’s office, the National Board of Justice and the Constitutional Court. However, Castillo did not offer further details on the scope of this planned unilateral reform, which caused widespread fear among much of the population.

Castillo called on the National Police – with the help of the Armed Forces – to dedicate all their efforts to a “real and effective fight” against crime, corruption and drug trafficking. Within this same point, he stressed that private property and freedom of commerce would be guaranteed and respected within the framework of a social market economy. Given that most of Castillo’s family is under investigation for corruption, while his party leadership expresses support for nationalization policies, none of these promises generated public confidence.

During his address, Castillo also asked civil society institutions and associations to support his decisions to “set Peru on course.” He specifically mentioned the “rondas campesinas” – the lightly-armed rural peasant militias that have been existence since the war against the Shining Path terrorist group (1980-92). Although Castillo was once a rondero, these groups also broke with Castillo, refusing to endorse his attempt to rule by decree and demanding that new elections be held immediately.

Castillo said that he had informed the Organization of American States about his decision, bizarrely linking it to the American Convention on Human Rights. The document mentions that “in case of war, public danger or other emergencies that threaten the independence or security of the state, [the executive] may adopt measures that, for the time strictly limited to the exigencies of the situation, suspend the obligations contracted by virtue of this Convention.” As Peru is facing no public emergency, this justification was rejected unanimously by all ministers, congresspeople and judges – including those from Castillo’s political bloc – who were supported by the police and army.

Castillo was arrested by the Peruvian National Police in the afternoon following his address, while en route to the Mexican Embassy to seek asylum.

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China plans to send San Diego Zoo more pandas this year, reintroducing panda diplomacy | International

China plans to send a new pair of giant pandas to the San Diego Zoo, renewing its longstanding gesture of friendship toward the United States after a recalling nearly all the iconic bears on loan to U.S. zoos as relations soured between the two nations.

The China Wildlife Conservation Association has signed cooperation agreements with zoos in San Diego and Madrid, the Spanish capital, and is in talks with zoos in Washington, D.C. and Vienna, the Chinese organization said, describing the deals as a new round of collaboration on panda conservation.

San Diego Zoo officials told The Associated Press that if all permits and other requirements are approved, two bears, a male and a female, are expected to arrive as early as the end of summer, about five years after the zoo sent its last pandas back to China.

“We’re very excited and hopeful,” said Megan Owen of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and vice president of Wildlife Conservation Science. “They’ve expressed a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to re-initiate panda cooperation starting with the San Diego Zoo.”

Zoos typically pay a fee of $1 million a year for two pandas, with the money earmarked for China’s conservation efforts, according to a 2022 report by America’s Congressional Research Service.

In November, Chinese President Xi Jinping raised hopes his country would start sending pandas to the U.S. again after he and President Joe Biden convened in Northern California for their first face-to-face meeting in a year and pledged to try to reduce tensions.

China is considering a pair that includes a female descendent of Bai Yun and Gao Gao, two of the zoo’s former residents, said Owen, an expert in panda behavior who has worked in San Diego and China.

Bai Yun, who was born in captivity in China, lived at the zoo for more than 20 years and gave birth to six cubs there. She and her son were the zoo’s last pandas and returned to China in 2019.

Gao Gao was born in the wild in China and lived at the San Diego Zoo from 2003 to 2018 before being sent back.

Decades of conservation efforts in the wild and study in captivity saved the giant panda species from extinction, increasing its population from fewer than 1,000 at one time to more than 1,800 in the wild and captivity.

The black-and-white bears have long been the symbol of the U.S.-China friendship since Beijing gifted a pair of pandas to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., in 1972, ahead of the normalization of bilateral relations. China later loaned pandas to zoos to help breed cubs and boost the population.

The U.S., Spain and Austria were among the first countries to work with China on panda conservation, and 28 pandas have been born in those countries, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said. The latest collaboration will include research on disease prevention and habitat protection, and contribute to China’s national panda park construction, it said.

“We look forward to further expanding the research outcomes on the conservation of endangered species such as giant pandas, and promoting mutual understanding and friendship among peoples through the new round of international cooperation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said in Beijing.

Demands for the return of giant pandas, known as China’s “national treasure,” grew among the Chinese public as unproven allegations that U.S. zoos mistreated the pandas flooded Chinese social media.

Fears over the future of so-called panda diplomacy escalated last year when zoos in Memphis, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C., returned their pandas to China, leaving only four pandas in the United States, all at the zoo in Atlanta. That loan agreement expires later this year.

Many loan agreements were for 10 years and often were extended well beyond. But negotiations last year to extend the agreements with U.S. zoos or send more pandas did not produce results. China watchers speculated that Beijing was gradually pulling its pandas from Western nations due to deteriorating diplomatic relations with the U.S. and other countries.

Then on Nov. 15, 2023, a week after the National Zoo’s pandas departed for China, Xi spoke at a dinner in downtown San Francisco with American business executives and signaled that more pandas might be sent. He said he learned the San Diego Zoo and people in California “very much look forward to welcoming pandas back.”

“I was told that many American people, especially children, were really reluctant to say goodbye to the pandas and went to the zoo to see them off,” Xi said.

The San Diego Zoo continued to work with their Chinese counterparts even after it no longer had any pandas.

Owen said China is particularly interested in exchanging information on the zoo’s successful breeding of pandas in captivity. Giant pandas are difficult to breed in part because the female’s reproductive window is extremely narrow, lasting only 48 to 72 hours each year.

Bai Yun’s first cub, Hua Mei, was also the first panda born through artificial insemination to survive into adulthood outside of China, and would go on to produce 12 cubs on her own after she was sent to China.

Bai Yun, meanwhile, remained at the zoo where she gave birth to two more females and three males. With cameras in her den, researchers monitored her, contributing to the understanding of maternal care behavior, Owen said.

“We have a lot of institutional knowledge and capacity from our last cooperative agreement, which we will be able to parlay into this next chapter, as well as training the next generation of panda conservationists,” she said.

Chinese experts would travel with the bears and spend months in San Diego, Owen said.

She said the return of the bears is not only good for San Diego but the giant panda’s recovery as a species.

“We do talk about panda diplomacy all the time,” Owen said. “Diplomacy is a critical part of conservation in any number of contexts. …. If we can’t learn to work together, you know, in sometimes difficult situations or situations that are completely out of the control of conservationists, then we’re not going to succeed.”

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Cardinal Filoni: ‘Gaza is on the way to becoming a cemetery’ | International

Cardinal Fernando Filoni (Manduria, Italy; 1946) has served as the grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem since 2019. The church official is also a high-level diplomat for the Holy See, with whose structure and inner workings he is intimately familiar, due to his work as substitute for the Vatican’s Secretary of State under Benedict XVI. He was also the nuncio, or diplomatic representative for the Pope, in Jordan and Iraq, where he would later return as a special envoy during difficult years of the conflict with the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Today, he is keeping a close eye on the conflict in Gaza.

Question. You just came back from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. What did you find and how would you describe the current climate there?

Answer. The situation is dramatic now that, in addition to Gaza and the part of Israel in north that are under attacks, there are many families who don’t know how to survive, and who are currently in an extremely difficult situation.

Q. After the declarations of the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, who referred to Israel’s response to the attack by Hamas as “disproportionate”, we have seen an unprecedented rise in tension with some sectors of Israeli diplomacy. Although the tone has since softened somewhat, how should this diplomatic phase be understood?

A. It’s important to keep in mind that, during tense situations, both sides tend to develop opinions and lean towards one direction or another, whether that’s individuals, governments or institutions. I don’t think that Cardinal Parolin gave a “disproportionate” response [Parolin used the word “carnage” to refer to Israel’s actions], and delivered a calm and serene statement. An incorrect interpretation will only take into account one side. I also believe that diplomacy must learn to exist amid contradictions, and I believe that the Holy See, just like Israeli diplomacy, will understand that it is necessary to avoid polemics in order to adopt a more realistic vision and build relations that seek the common good.

Q. We know that the Pope is extremely concerned about the situation in Gaza and that he regularly connects by videoconference with a Christian church there. How is the Vatican’s diplomacy working on this front?

A. That goes beyond diplomacy, it’s a way of participating in the lives of that population. The Pope is especially sensitive to all those suffering from war. I think that the Vatican’s diplomacy is always open to contributing to peace: Cardinal Parolin has said on various occasions that we are open to contributing our grain of sand. But one has to want peace, work towards it and establish it based on criteria like justice and truth. If that will is lacking, even the most venerable diplomacy will prove impotent. I think that, regarding the tendency to always remain open, those who desire it, whether that be Israel, the Palestinians or any other reality that is in conflict, will benefit from it.

Q. What could be one possibility for a short-term ceasefire, with the potential to be a long-term solution to the conflict? The Pope believes in a two-state solution, how can the Holy See work and provide assistance toward that?

A. An immediate ceasefire is essential. We run the risk of turning it into a cemetery; the reality is, in Gaza there are children, elders, sick people, men and women; right now there is a massive shortage of water and food. A ceasefire means bringing back hope to these people’s lives. And then, there’s the long-term solution. In the long term, one must not stop thinking of the need to establish, as has already been said, a coexistence based on the principles of truth and justice. The truth concerns both Israel and Palestine. And justice must encompass both Israel’s right to exist and live in its land in peace and security, and Palestine’s right to remain in the territories that belong to it, in equal security. The logic of mutual destruction must be renounced. Hamas cannot say that Israel must be destroyed. And Israel cannot demand the destruction of the Palestinian reality; everyone has the right to live in their territory without violent and illegal expropriation.

Q. What would justice mean in this case?

A. Justice would mean recognizing everyone’s rights and renouncing all forms of violence. As head of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, which has shown special attention to the Holy Land since the time of Pope Pius IV (1850), with the knights and dames, members of the order, we work for peace, caring for the lives of the people and supporting, through the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, more than 45 schools, the University of Bethlehem, many poor families and numerous social projects. All this means working concretely, as humble laborers, for peace.

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Congratulations, Privacy Just Took A Great Leap Out the Window!

Your Data Is Being Used Without Your Permission And Knowledge

The Voice Of EU | In the heart of technological innovation, the collision between intellectual property rights and the development of cutting-edge AI technologies has sparked a significant legal battle. The New York Times has taken legal action against OpenAI and Microsoft, filing a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court. This legal maneuver aims to address concerns surrounding the unauthorized use of the Times’ content for the training of AI models, alleging copyright infringements that could potentially result in billions of dollars in damages.

READ: HOW YOUR DATA IS BEING USED TO TRAIN A.I.

This legal tussle underlines the escalating tension between technological advancements and the protection of intellectual property. The crux of the lawsuit revolves around OpenAI and Microsoft allegedly utilizing the Times’ proprietary content to advance their own AI technology, directly competing with the publication’s services. The lawsuit suggests that this unauthorized utilization threatens the Times’ ability to offer its distinctive service and impacts its AI innovation, creating a competitive landscape that challenges the publication’s proprietary content.

Amidst the growing digital landscape, media organizations like the Times are confronting a myriad of challenges. The migration of readers to online platforms has significantly impacted traditional media, and the advent of artificial intelligence technology has added another layer of complexity. The legal dispute brings to the forefront the contentious practice of AI companies scraping copyrighted information from online sources, including articles from media organizations, to train their generative AI chatbots. This strategy has attracted substantial investments, rapidly transforming the AI landscape.

Exhibit presented by the New York Times’ legal team of ChatGPT replicating a article after being prompted

The lawsuit highlights instances where OpenAI’s technology, specifically GPT-4, replicated significant portions of Times articles, including in-depth investigative reports. These outputs, alleged by the Times to contain verbatim excerpts from their content, raise concerns about the ethical and legal boundaries of using copyrighted material for AI model training without proper authorization or compensation.

The legal action taken by the Times follows attempts to engage in discussions with Microsoft and OpenAI, aiming to address concerns about the use of its intellectual property. Despite these efforts, negotiations failed to reach a resolution that would ensure fair compensation for the use of the Times’ content while promoting responsible AI development that benefits society.

In the midst of this legal battle, the broader questions surrounding the responsible and ethical utilization of copyrighted material in advancing technological innovations come to the forefront.

The dispute between the Times, OpenAI, and Microsoft serves as a significant case study in navigating the intricate intersection of technological progress and safeguarding intellectual property rights in the digital age.


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