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The Download: Russia may resort to even more desperate tactics in Ukraine, Biden has warned

Also: Experts are baffled by the deadly airplane crash in China yesterday

March 22, 2022
Associated Press

This is today's edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what's going on in the world of technology.

Russia may resort to even more desperate tactics in Ukraine, Biden has warned

Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons is a “clear sign” Russia is considering using its own against the country, US President Joe Biden has warned.

“His back is against the wall,” President Biden said during an event on Monday. “He’s already used chemical weapons in the past, and we should be careful of what about—of what’s about to come,” he added.  

The President also advised businesses to brace themselves for potential cyber attacks from Russia in retaliation for the economic penalties imposed on Moscow. While there is no evidence that Russia is preparing a concentrated attack against the US, “preparatory activity” against critical infrastructure has been observed, Anne Neuberger, the deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, confirmed. Thus far, the worst fears of cyberwar have failed to materialize, but that could change as Russia comes under growing pressure amid huge, and mounting, losses in Ukraine.

Relations between Russia and the US continue to worsen. The Pentagon said it has “clear evidence” of Russia committing war crimes and that it was helping to collect further proof during a news briefing yesterday, days after President Biden called the Russian president a war criminal and “murderous dictator”. Putin has threatened to cut ties with the US over the comments, which the Russian ministry said “put Russian-American relations on the verge of a breach.”

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

Experts are baffled by the deadly airplane crash in China yesterday
The plane was flying normally then it suddenly nosedived, killing all 132 people on board. (Bloomberg $)
  + It’s yet more bad news for Boeing. (Quartz $)
  + China’s recent air safety record is strong. (NYT $) 

2 Russians are racing to download Wikipedia before it gets banned
Those who are trying to get their news from sources that aren’t Kremlin-approved, at least. (Slate $)
  + Why WhatsApp has survived the crackdown. (Wired $) 
  + A Russian court upheld the ban on Facebook and Instagram. (NPR)
  + Airbnb cracked down on listings in Ukraine, thwarting outsiders’ efforts to help fund stays for people fleeing their homes. (Wired $) 

3 New SEC rules would require companies to disclose their emissions 🏭
The devil will be in the detail here, as climate accounting is no stranger to chicanery. (TechCrunch)
  + How a new global carbon market could exaggerate climate progress. (TR)
  + We already have what we need to rapidly ditch fossil fuels. (New Yorker $) 

4 Facebook failed to detect hate speech against Rohyinga Muslims
Yet again, after it was found to have played a determining role in the genocide against them in Myanmar in 2016. (AP
  + How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation. (TR)

5 Cryptocurrency trading is mostly just gambling 🤑
Trouble is, the house (almost) always wins. (The Guardian)
  + You still need to understand crypto. (NYT $)
  + Someone’s launching a restaurant based on the Bored Ape NFT collection. (Nation’s Restaurant News)
  + Bitcoin miners are trying to rebrand themselves as environmentally-friendly. (NYT $)
  + More details emerged on India’s plan to tax crypto trades. (TechCrunch

6 Big Tech fought Europe. Europe won. 
It lobbied hard against stringent new antitrust and data rules, but they’re all but guaranteed to go ahead. (FT $)
  + Toronto’s tech sector is booming. (NYT $) 

7 NASA has confirmed 5,000 exoplanets beyond our solar system
And we might be on the cusp of finding many more, as the James Webb Space Telescope gets started. (Space)

8 Are we nearing peak metaverse already?
While virtual worlds have been around for decades, it took Mark Zuckerbeg to drag the metaverse into the mainstream—even if we don’t fully understand what it is (CNET)
  + Is the metaverse even technically feasible? (IEEE Spectrum

9 Video game preservationists are fighting to save older titles
When game makers shut down digital storefronts, preservationists rush to keep games accessible (Verge)
  + Video games are a welcome distraction, but also a source of guilt for Ukrainians. (Wired $)
  + Saudi Arabia is eyeing up esports and gaming as a way to bolster its reputation. (The Guardian

10 What does our desire to see people publicly shamed say about us? 
Online shaming appears to be not only relentless, but unavoidable. (New Yorker $)

Quote of the day

“Keeping 1.5 alive requires a 45% reduction in global emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by mid-century. That problem was not solved in Glasgow. In fact, the problem is getting worse.”

—UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warns us of the still-worsening crisis of climate change.

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these weird times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet 'em at me.)

  + This gorgeous drone footage of San Francisco is making me desperate to go back. 
  + I love these pavement mosaics.
  + An interview with indie icon Chloë Sevigny.
  + iPhone user? You’ll want to learn this trick for selecting multiple items. 
  + Yearning for travel? These destinations have just opened up to fully vaccinated travelers.
  + The Eiffel Tower has grown
  + Increasingly convinced that Caroline Calloway’s life is just an elaborate piece of performance art.
  + The world’s southernmost bar.
  + These newly-discovered ancient Egyptian tombs are amazing.

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