Europe is struggling to supply ammunition to Ukraine
European Union states agreed in March to a $2.1 billion plan that would deliver a million rounds of 155-millimeter ammunition to Ukraine within a year. Now, at a critical moment in the war and with Ukraine running short of artillery shells to drive its counteroffensive, experts say Europe may not be able to ramp up production fast enough to achieve the million-shell goal.
Governments across Europe have become more aggressive about assessing and replenishing ammunition needs since the announcement last year, not just for Ukraine, but also for their own military stockpiles. Manufacturers are building rounds even before being fully paid, and E.U. officials have fast-tracked contracts with producers to supply and reimburse states that procure artillery ammunition.
But for all of the efforts to increase supplies, weapons makers are running into a familiar problem: After atrophying badly in the 30 years since the end of the Cold War, they have too few resources and too many supply chain bottlenecks to deliver the one million rounds by the deadline.
Details: The most recent available numbers showed that E.U. states and Norway sent Ukraine at least 223,800 artillery shells from February to May — about one-quarter of the goal. But that was the relatively easy part, as most of the munitions came from military stockpiles. Now those stocks have run too low for most militaries to give more, experts said.
Screenwriters reach a tentative deal with studios
The Writers Guild of America, which represents more than 11,000 screenwriters, reached a tentative deal on a new contract with entertainment companies last night, all but ending a 146-day strike that has contributed to a shutdown of television and film production.
In the coming days, guild members will vote on whether to accept the deal, which includes most of what they had demanded from studios, including increases in royalty payments for streaming content and guarantees that artificial intelligence will not encroach on writers’ credits and compensation.
How it came together: The tentative deal was reached after several senior company leaders — including Disney’s chief executive, the chair of the NBCUniversal Studio Group, Netflix’s co-chief executive, and an executive who runs Warner Bros. Discovery — got directly involved.
What’s next? The strike’s end doesn’t mean Hollywood is back at work. Tens of thousands of actors remain on strike, and the only shows that could restart production in short order are those without actors, such as late-night and daytime talk shows.
Refugees are fleeing to Armenia
More than 1,000 ethnic Armenians fleeing the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh crossed the border into Armenia yesterday, days after a military offensive brought the enclave firmly back under Azerbaijan’s control. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia said last week that the country was prepared to welcome 40,000 families, but there was no clarity about where they would live.
Many of the refugees had endured days at Russian military bases with little certainty of what was awaiting them. At the mercy of the Azerbaijani government, many ethnic Armenians said they believed they had no choice but to flee to Armenia.
Context: Azerbaijan was emboldened to take military action last week because of the region’s shifting geopolitics as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia, Armenia’s traditional security guarantor, appeared less inclined to intervene this time, given its increasing reliance on trade with Turkey, Azerbaijan’s principal ally.
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Can A.I. make inspiring art?
For nearly a year, David Salle, one of America’s most thoughtful painters, has worked with technologists to test an artificial intelligence program’s capacity to become a sophisticated creator of art, by having it mimic his style.
The New York Times observed some of the work sessions, tracking the algorithm’s progress over several months as it adopted more of Salle’s techniques and abandoned the bland photorealism that often limits other generative programs.
There were hiccups, but there were always surprises that caught Salle’s imagination. Eventually, the artist arrived at his favorite image, one that thwarted easy interpretation. It was not a perfect clone, Salle said, but after 50 years of making art, it surprised him.