Hard Numbers: Russia's deadly hit in central Ukraine, pandemic money vanishes, AI comes to Jesus, DRC refugee camp attacked, Russian birds on “strike”
10: At least 10 people were killed Tuesday when Russian forces hit a number of civilian buildings in the central Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih. An industrial hub, Kryvyi Rih had already been impacted by last week’s dam breach, prompting authorities to instruct residents to consume less water because of a drop in supplies.
400 billion: Did the pandemic lead to the biggest grift in US history? An Associated Press analysis found that at least $400 billion in US federal COVID relief funds were either stolen or lost. That’s about 10% of all US federal pandemic funds, and it’s about equal to the GDP of Hungary or Greece. As Washington scrambled to pump cash to vulnerable businesses and individuals, oversight fell apart – fraudsters posing as dead people even got some of the money.
45: At least 45 people were killed in an attack on an internally displaced persons camp in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Local officials blamed CODECO, a coalition of militias that has frequently attacked IDP camps. The country, wracked by numerous civil conflicts since the 1990s, is home to more than 5 million IDPs, the largest number in Africa.
300: Can there be Deus IN Machina? More than 300 churchgoers in Germany recently attended a sermon – replete with biblical quotes and prayers – led by an AI that was personified by four humanoid avatar “priests” projected on a screen. The AI priests’ creator, a 29-year old Viennese theologian who used ChatGPT, says he wants AI to help human clerics expand their reach and scholarship, not replace them.
82: Incidents in which Russian airliners were damaged by bird strikes have soared 82% so far this year. That’s according to a leaked letter from the head of Russia’s civil aviation service, which warns of “serious problems” in airport functioning (source in Russian). Some experts have suggested war-related shortages of funding, manpower, or equipment could be to blame. But what if the birds are just very pro-Ukrainian?