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“Keep the nuclear codes away from that robot”

The United States has issued a warning to two fellow nuclear powers, in so many words telling China and Russia,Keep your nuclear weapons firmly in human control.”

In a May 2 press briefing, US State Department official Paul Dean said that the government has explicitly told France and the United Kingdom that the decision to deploy nuclear weapons must stay out of reach of autonomous artificial intelligence systems — and said it welcomes China and Russia to make the same pronouncement.

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FILE PHOTO: Chinese Coast Guard vessels fire water cannons towards a Philippine resupply vessel Unaizah May 4 on its way to a resupply mission at Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea, March 5, 2024.

REUTERS/Adrian Portugal/File Photo

Is the South China Sea the next Sarajevo?

The US, Japan, Australia, and the Philippines banded together Sunday for their first joint naval exercises in the South China Sea to push back against Beijing’s aggression and territorial claims in the region. A recent op-ed published in the state-owned China Daily drew parallels between current tensions with the Philippines over the disputed maritime zone and the “Sarajevo gunshot” that preceded World War I. This view is echoed by China expert Gordon Chang, who told Fox News that “it’s more likely that the fight starts over the Philippines than it starts over Taiwan or Japan.”

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Jess Frampton

The free world comes out swinging

As the Davos jet set arrived in the Swiss Alps earlier this week, the weather matched the mood: gloomy, with much to be gloomy about.

A barometer on global cooperation released by the World Economic Forum suggested that in almost every category – trade, innovation, health, and security – the picture is as turbulent as a brooding J.M.W. Turner seascape.

The study suggested cooperation is being eroded by conflict and competition from autocracies around the world. In the WEF’s Chief Economists Outlook, 56% of the respondents said they expect the global economy to weaken this year, in part because of geopolitical uncertainty.

Events in Ukraine, Gaza, and the Red Sea are precarious, and the Western response is half-hearted, appearing to confirm Russian President Vladimir Putin’s view that democracies are weak and hamstrung by the need to win votes.

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British PM Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen shake hands at Windsor Guildhall, Britain, February 27, 2023.

Dan Kitwood/Pool via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: Post-Brexit trade, West Bank chaos, Nigeria’s vote count, Teddies for Turkey

A historic post-Brexit breakthrough

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveiled a plan on Monday they say will finally resolve the complex problem of post-Brexit trade involving Northern Ireland. In the coming days, skeptics (and opponents) of the deal within Sunak’s Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland will read the proposal closely to decide whether to approve it. The deal is intended to ease the flow of trade between Britain and Northern Ireland, some of which will flow across the UK’s border with the Republic of Ireland and into the EU. The deal creates two lanes for trade: a faster-flowing green lane for goods transiting only between Britain and Northern Ireland and a red lane with more rigorous customs checks for goods bound for the EU. The two biggest (of many) issues that will now be debated in Britain’s parliament: How to determine which lane each shipment of goods will travel through and what role the European Court of Justice will play in resolving trade disputes that involve Northern Ireland. Sunak appears to believe that his plan will pass parliament, but the scale of this important political victory for the embattled PM will depend on how much opposition from his own party and the DUP force him to rely on the opposition Labour Party for the votes needed to get it done. Sunak was in Belfast on Tuesday to sell the deal to the DUP.

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People work at the site of a mudslide after pouring rains in Petropolis, Brazil.

REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Hard Numbers: Deadly mudslides in Brazil, Israel strikes Syria, Saudi women seek bullets, problem parrots in New Zealand

105: At least 105 people have been killed in mudslides and floods in Brazil. The disaster saw streets “turned into rivers” in the city of Petropolis, 40 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. Hundreds are now expected to be facing homelessness in the wake of the floods.

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Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, attends a ceremony to mark the second anniversary of the killing of senior Iranian military commander General Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. attack, in Tehran, Iran January 3, 2022.

Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

Hard Numbers: Iranian revenge for Suleimani, China back in Nicaragua, German bleats for vaccines, Turkish inflation explodes

2: On the second anniversary of the US assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Suleimani in Baghdad, Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi vowed to avenge his death unless former president Donald Trump and other American officials are tried in court. At the time, Tehran hit back by attacking US military bases in Iraq.

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Inequity and conflict in Yemen: interview with UN's David Gressly
Inequity and Conflict in Yemen | UN's David Gressly | GZERO World

Inequity and conflict in Yemen: interview with UN's David Gressly

Why you should remember Yemen’s forgotten war In Yemen, the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis you’ve probably never heard of, 80 percent of people need international aid just to survive.

Two-thirds are hungry, and half don’t know where their next meal will come from.

Life is very hard in Yemen, UN Resident Coordinator David Gressly tells Ian Bremmer. Most infrastructure is destroyed, few can access clean water or health care, and many Yemenis are afraid to go outside because of landmines.

Meanwhile, 1.2 civil servants continue to show up to work, with little or no pay. If they stayed home, the state would cease to exist. The UN is asking for $3.6 billion simply to feed Yemenis and keep the lights on through 2022, but is now still short $1.6 billion. Gressly says that means many Yemenis will go hungry next year.

Regional powers Iran and Saudi Arabia have turned Yemen into a seven-year proxy war, with civilians paying the price. The country is divided between the Houthis, an Iran-backed Shia militant group, and the internationally recognized government with Saudi Arabia on its side.

It’s unlikely the conflict will end anytime soon. The Biden administration has delisted the Houthis as a terrorist organization and stopped selling weapons to the Saudis. Gressly thinks that’s a step in the right direction, but not enough.

Watch the episode of GZERO World on Yemen's forgotten war:

A woman sits with children on a rubble from damaged buildings in Kobani, Syria.

REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

Syria before and after

This week, we mark the 10-year anniversary of the beginning of Syria's catastrophic civil war.

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