Your Tuesday briefing: the new Chinese military exercises near Taiwan

China announces new military drills near Taiwan Just a day after completing his the largest military exercises ever held near Taiwan Ch...

Just a day after completing his the largest military exercises ever held near TaiwanChina announced new operations in the region.

It’s a sign that Beijing is going maintain military pressure on Taiwanand could normalize its presence around the island before gradually cutting off access to its airspace and waters.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it detected several Chinese warships involved in nearly 40 sorties near the island, including 21 that crossed the informal median line in the Taiwan Strait between the island and the mainland.

Background: Beijing presented the military drills as punishment for the visit last week by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But they also offered a warning to allied countries like Japan, and served as practice for a possible attack.

The context: Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader for generations, has made it clear that he sees the unification of Taiwan and China as a key goal. He is also keen to project an image of strength ahead of a Communist Party congress scheduled for the fall, where he is expected to be confirmed for a third term.

Related: When a Taiwanese democracy activist was imprisoned in China, his his wife drew international attention to his plight.

“There was a mass grave that contained 300 people, and I was standing at its edge”, writes Natalia Yermak, Ukrainian reporter and translator for The Times. “The chalky body bags were piled into the pit, exposed. A moment before, I was a different person, someone who had never known how bad the wind smelled after passing over the dead on a pleasant summer afternoon.

Yermak was reporting from Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, near the front lines of war with Russia, where the deaths are an “inescapable reality that feels like air even in your lungs”.

She thought such tragedies would not follow her west – but once Yermak returned to Kyiv she learned that her best friend’s cousin had been killed fighting in the east and she would soon stand on another grave.

“It was a familiar experience to many Ukrainians,” Yermak wrote. “Five months into the full-scale Russian invasion, the front lines of wars make little sense. Missile strikes and the news of dead and wounded blackened almost every part of the country like poison.

Other war news:

A year after the departure of the American army in Afghanistan, the country is in a situation of urgent need.

The the extent of the suffering there today is difficult to comprehend. Despite more than $100 billion in development spending by the West, Afghanistan has remained one of the poorest and most aid-dependent states in the world. The actions of the country’s fundamentalist Taliban government, such as widely denying education to young women and decreeing that women must wear the burqa, could undermine global goodwill and deplete the country’s workforce, especially in critical areas such as medicine.

Even members of the government have expressed frustration with the culture wars encouraged by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, especially those tasked with reviving a failing state.

“Why are we getting into trouble with these announcements? Just do your job,” a Taliban bureaucrat, a former military commander, told The Times Magazine. “People just hear these clothes ads – they don’t see any real work.”

When President Biden announced last week that an American drone strike in Kabul killed Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of al-Qaeda, he seemed to exaggerate al-Zawahri’s role in major attacks.

Current AI technology is not actually sentient and cannot create robots that can move, converse, or jam the main voice like a human. But it can mislead people, writes my colleague Cade Metz.

Olivia Newton John sang pop hits in the 1970s and 1980s and starred in “Grease”, one of the most popular musical films of its time. She died Monday at age 73.

Scientists say there’s only one option when you see a Mottled Lantern in the United States: kill it on sight.

For years, US officials urged people to crush the attractive but destructive insects, which scientists say arrived in the country in 2011 in a shipment of stones. But invasive insects, native to parts of Asia, are proliferate in New York and elsewhere.

Independent Bug Hunters cannot turn the Lantern Tide on their own. But the lanterns, an urban ecologist told The Times, “invite many to participate.” She hopes citizen exterminators will engage their reps on the pest and turn their attention to other invasive species as well.

Invasive pests are tenacious. Rabbits in Australia became an ecological and economic scourge after their introduction in the 19th century. Scientists have killed hundreds of millions by introducing the myxoma virus – the deadliest vertebrate virus – but as Carl Zimmer wrote in Junethe rabbits adapted and started an evolutionary arms race.

But while New Yorkers can’t control the lantern, there’s a silver lining: They feed on the Tree of Paradise, a tough, stinky invader that the townspeople have a love-hate relationship with.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Your Tuesday briefing: the new Chinese military exercises near Taiwan
Your Tuesday briefing: the new Chinese military exercises near Taiwan
Newsrust - US Top News
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