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July 15 - July 21: Week in Review

Tech Firms Agree to Voluntary Artificial Intelligence Safeguards: President Biden announced that seven tech firms that are leading the way in artificial intelligence have agreed to a series of voluntary safeguards that are designed to manage some of the risks that come with artificial intelligence.

The safeguards are intended to achieve the following:

  • Ensure that the products are safe before releasing them through third-party oversight. The safeguards have not yet defined who or what that third-party oversight committee might entail.

  • Examine potential society harms, such as bias, discrimination and other theoretical dangers such as gaining control of physical systems or self-replication.

  • Report vulnerabilities to their systems.

  • Use digital watermarking to help distinguish between real content and artificial intelligence-generated content.

The following seven companies agreed to these safeguards: Amazon, Google, Meta, Microsoft, OpenAI, Anthropic and Inflection. Read more at Associated Press.

FDA Approves New Antibody Drug to Prevent RSV in Babies: The Food and Drug Administration approved AstraZeneca and Sanofi's partnership vaccine, nirsevimab, which is a single shot of antibodies that was shown in clinical trials to lower the need for medical care by 70-75% by mitigating many of the harmful effects of RSV.

RSV is a viral infection that can cause serious lung disease and puts between 58,000 and 80,000 children in the hospital each year, making it the number one cause for hospitalization among infants in the U.S. and the second leading cause of death among infants in the U.S.

Infants and children up to 24 months old are expected to become eligible for the vaccine prior to the anticipated upcoming RSV season this fall. Read more at NPR.

Russia Withdraws from Black Sea Grain Initiative: The Black Sea Grain Initiative, which was signed July of 2022, was an agreement to reopen blockaded Ukrainian ports and allow grain exports to begin to flow after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. The deal, which was brokered by the United Nations with the help of Turkey, helped to stabilize food prices, as Ukraine and Russia provided more than 1/4 of the world's wheat supply prior to the invasion.

On Monday, Russia stated that it would suspend its participation in the deal until Russian demands were met. Moscow has complained that the deal has benefited Ukraine while Western sanctions continued to restrict the flow of Russian fertilizer and wheat to foreign markets.

Humanitarian aid organizations have warned that the world's most vulnerable will suffer the biggest consequences from Russia's decision to withdraw. Read more at Axios.

Michael Cohen Settles Lawsuit With Trump Organization's Unpaid Legal Fees: Michael Cohen, a former lawyer for the Trump Organization from 2006 to 2018, settled his lawsuit with the Trump Organization over claims that the business owed him over $1 million in unpaid legal fees. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount. Read more at Axios.

FBI Document Details Alleged 2013 Biden Family Bribery by Ukraine Company: U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa released an unclassified memo from a June 2020 FBI report outlining claims by a foreign informant. The unverified memo claims that Hunter Biden was hired by a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, in 2013 as a way to gain support from Joe Biden, who was vice president at the time.

The memo alleges that Burisma made two $5 million payments to the Bidens as part of the company's efforts to remove Viktor Shokin, Ukraine's prosecutor general at the time. Included in the evidence were audio recordings of both Hunter and Joe Biden that support these allegations.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who wrote the report with Grassley, stated during a radio talk show interview that the unverified allegations could be coming from a very corrupt oligarch who is making things up. Thus, the claims remain very largely in question at this time. Read more at BBC News.

Mass Shootings in US: This week, Gun Violence Archive reported a total of 13 mass shootings resulting in 50 victims injured and 13 victims dead.

Amazon Deforestation Declines in Colombia & Brazil: Both Colombia and Brazil have reported significant recent declines in deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in their respective countries. Last week, Brazil reported that deforestation in their portion of the Amazon has decreased by 34% since this time last year. This week, the Colombian government announced that deforestation of its portion of the Amazon has decreased by 25%. Figures also show a 29% downturn in deforestation countrywide in Colombia. Read more at Positive News Magazine.

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