World roundup: May 3 2023
Stories from Ethiopia, Russia, Peru, and elsewhere
TODAY IN HISTORY
May 3, 1815: In a clash that offered a kind of foreshadowing of the later Battle of Waterloo, an army led by the Napoleon-installed king of Naples, Joachim Murat, is badly defeated by a smaller Austrian army at the Battle of Tolentino. Murat abandoned Naples altogether and fled to Corsica, leading to the end of the Neapolitan War and the restoration of Ferdinand I as king of Naples and Sicily.
May 3, 1978: Gary Thuerk, an employee of the Digital Equipment Corporation’s marketing department, sends a marketing email to hundreds of emails on the US Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). This was the first known instance of unsolicited bulk email, AKA “spam,” and as you might expect it drew a fairly hostile reaction from the recipients. Unfortunately, that negative response only delayed the spread of the tactic and today it is of course ubiquitous.
In today’s global news:
Worldometer is tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities.
The New York Times is tracking global vaccine distribution.
The World Bank executive board elected Ajay Banga, former CEO of MasterCard, as the Bank’s new president on Wednesday. He replaces the outgoing David Malpass, whose climate denialism was not particularly well-regarded within the institution and who decided to resign effective June 1, about a year before the end of his term. The US government still appoints the Bank’s president, despite calls for a more international approach to the process, so Banga’s election was a foregone conclusion.
US Central Command conducted a drone strike in northwestern Syria’s Idlib province on Wednesday targeting what it called “a senior Al Qaeda leader,” without going into further detail. The Syrian Civil Defense organization (AKA the “White Helmets”) later said the strike “killed a sheep herder.”
In Damascus, meanwhile, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi popped in for a visit with his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, on Wednesday, making him the first Iranian president to visit Syria since prior to the Syrian civil war. The two men signed a handful of “long-term cooperation agreements” covering broad areas like defense, energy, telecommunications, and potential reconstruction projects if/when that sort of thing ever becomes a reality in war-torn Syria. But those sorts of agreements are mostly empty except as statements of affinity. Raisi’s main purpose in going was almost certainly to emphasize the strength of the Iran-Syria bond at a time when Assad’s diplomatic activities are largely oriented around normalizing relations with other states in the Arab world.
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