EU Extends Refugee Protection for Ukrainians Until 2026;Tartan Army Takes Over Munich for Euro 2024;BTS Mania Sweeps Seoul with Jin's Return:Defense Briefing20240614

Welcome to our 《Defense Briefing》 show, I’m your host: Liang Jun. EU justice and home affairs ministers have decided to extend the emergency rules that allow Ukrainian war refugees to stay in the European Union until at least March 2026. This extension comes in light of ongoing Russian attacks that make it unsafe for refugees to return home. Nearly 4.2 million Ukrainians are currently benefiting from these protections, which provide social benefits, housing, education, and work permits. Meanwhile, the streets of Munich are buzzing with excitement as thousands of Scotland fans, known as the Tartan Army, flood the city ahead of their Euro 2024 opener against Germany. The Scots are not just there for the game; they’re soaking up the local culture with historical walking tours and pub visits, much to the delight of the welcoming locals. Over in Seoul, the BTS mania is in full swing as Jin, the eldest member of the globally renowned K-pop group, has been discharged from his military service. His return coincides with the annual BTS FESTA, drawing tens of thousands of fans to the city to celebrate. Last year’s event saw a whopping 400,000 attendees, and this year’s festivities are expected to be just as grand. Please stay tuned for more details.

Yahoo US: War refugees from Ukraine will be able to remain in the European Union until at least March 2026, as per emergency rules extended by EU justice and home affairs ministers on Thursday. Ukrainians who fled to the European Union after the full-scale invasion of their country by Russia in 2022 were granted immediate protection under a temporary regime designed for mass influxes of people. This avoids the lengthy national asylum-seeking procedures required to process large numbers of displaced people. Extensions of the temporary rules are possible for up to one year, and those under protection are entitled to social benefits, housing, access to education, and work permits. The European Commission proposed the extension, citing unsafe conditions in Ukraine due to ongoing Russian attacks. Currently, almost 4.2 million Ukrainians reside in the EU under these rules, with Germany hosting the most at 1.2 million. The ministers, meeting in Luxembourg, also examined a strategy to implement new migration and asylum rules in the EU by mid-2026, including a large IT system called Eurodac to monitor asylum applicants.

BBC: No Scotland, No Party is the tagline, and the Tartan Army has certainly brought the party to Munich’s Old Town ahead of Euro 2024. After a 26-year wait, Scotland supporters have taken over the streets, celebrating their team’s participation in a major men’s tournament overseas. Fiona McGinty from Oban, who has followed Scotland since 2003, reflects on the painful journey leading to this moment. Scots have traveled from places like Wellington, Melbourne, and Rio de Janeiro, with more than 150,000 expected in Munich. Some fans have gone to extraordinary lengths, like Craig Ferguson, who marched 1,000 miles from Hampden Park, and Derek Marner, who completed a 55km ultramarathon around Munich in a kilt. Despite some mishaps, such as fans falling off e-bikes and beer hall tables, locals in Munich have welcomed the Scots, appreciating their good behavior and love for a good time. The Tartan Army is making the most of cultural opportunities, and their presence has been a joyful addition to the city’s celebrations, coinciding with Munich’s 866th anniversary.

Japan Times: Seoul is buzzing with excitement as BTS ARMY members flock to the city for a special event. The timing of Jin’s discharge from South Korean military service has been perfect for fans of the world’s biggest boyband. Just 24 hours after Jin’s return, tens of thousands of BTS fans have taken over the South Korean capital to join the group’s annual party organized by HYBE, the band’s agency. Last year’s BTS FESTA saw an attendance of 400,000 fans, and this year promises to be just as spectacular, with fans eager to celebrate and connect with their idols.

Yahoo US: The U.S. Department of Defense has selected Blue Origin, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) for national security space missions under a $5.6 billion program. This marks the initial phase of the Pentagon’s National Security Space Launch Phase 3 procurement program, aimed at launching sensitive military and intelligence satellites over the next decade. SpaceX and ULA have been the primary launch providers since 2020, but the Pentagon is now encouraging more competition. Blue Origin, known for its New Glenn rocket, joins this competitive arena, while SpaceX continues to dominate with its Falcon 9 rocket and is testing its next-generation Starship. ULA is transitioning from its Atlas 5 rocket to the Vulcan rocket. The Pentagon’s program is divided into two categories, with the current announcement focusing on Lane 1, which allows for more specialized rockets. Blue Origin received $5 million for an assessment, while SpaceX and ULA each got $1.5 million. Lane 2, expected to be awarded in autumn, will involve rockets capable of meeting broader mission requirements.

South China Morning Post: Last month, China and the US held a groundbreaking intergovernmental dialogue in Geneva to manage AI risks, led by top officials from both countries. This dialogue signifies a commitment to addressing the geopolitical and societal impacts of AI. Despite the technological competition, there are areas for cooperation, such as mitigating the effects of AI-induced automation on employment and socioeconomic inequality. Both nations can learn from each other’s regulatory approaches to AI use, particularly in content generation and data privacy. Additionally, establishing guardrails for the deployment of AI in military settings is crucial to prevent unbridled AI-powered warfare. Historical precedents in nuclear non-proliferation suggest that transparency and mutual regulation are possible. Lastly, the issue of AI alignment with human values is a universal challenge. Both countries must ensure their AI developments do not produce unintended consequences. Collaborative efforts in ethical tech governance can benefit both nations, with Hong Kong potentially serving as a neutral ground for dialogues involving private-sector players.

Washington Post: OpenAI has appointed former NSA director Paul M. Nakasone to its board of directors, following CEO Sam Altman’s temporary ousting. Nakasone will join the Safety and Security Committee to enhance OpenAI’s policies on model testing and abuse prevention. His appointment comes amid criticism of OpenAI’s security practices, with some employees alleging that the company prioritizes profits over safety. OpenAI is under scrutiny for its vulnerability to cyber threats, including “prompt injection” attacks on chatbots. The company is hiring more security engineers and increasing transparency. Nakasone’s military expertise is expected to bolster OpenAI’s government relations strategy, emphasizing the role of U.S. AI companies in countering China’s technological rise. OpenAI had previously banned military use of its products but has since lifted this prohibition for uses aligned with its values, such as disaster relief and veteran support. Nakasone’s experience in Washington is seen as an asset in navigating the complex regulatory environment and promoting the responsible use of AI technology.

Yahoo US reports that Emily Blunt is in early discussions to star in Steven Spielberg’s next film, an “event film” shrouded in secrecy but expected to be a grand production with special effects and a vast scope. The screenplay is penned by David Koepp, known for his work on “Jurassic Park” and “War of the Worlds.” Universal Pictures plans to release the film on May 15, 2026. Blunt, who recently garnered an Oscar nomination for her role in “Oppenheimer” and starred in “The Fall Guy,” is no stranger to high-profile projects, having appeared in “Edge of Tomorrow” and “A Quiet Place.” Spielberg, a three-time Oscar winner, recently directed “The Fabelmans,” which received seven Oscar nominations.

BBC recounts the commemoration of the first British women officially flown into a war zone 80 years ago, known as the Flying Nightingales. On June 13, 1944, three Women’s Auxiliary Air Force nursing orderlies, including Corporal Lydia Alford, flew from RAF Blakehill Farm in Wiltshire to Normandy, delivering supplies and evacuating injured soldiers under enemy fire. The event was attended by family members of the original Flying Nightingales, who expressed pride and awe at their relatives’ bravery. The ceremony took place at RAF Blakehill Farm, now a nature reserve, and included personal recollections and tributes to the women’s contributions during World War II.

Associated Press reveals that the EPA will disband the Red Hill Community Representation Initiative (CRI) amid conflicts with the Navy. Formed to provide public oversight of the Navy’s Red Hill fuel facility after a fuel leak contaminated Pearl Harbor’s drinking water, the CRI has faced tension with the military over control of meetings. The EPA has decided to eliminate the forum after failing to reach a consensus on ground rules, leading to outrage from community members. The Navy has proposed changes to take control of the meetings, which the CRI members rejected, leading to the shutdown of the forum. The decision comes as the Navy seeks to improve its public image and secure state land leases.

NY Times reports that the quest for a Gaza cease-fire remains elusive as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls Hamas’s reaction to the latest peace proposal “negative,” while Hamas claims to be engaging “positively.” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, speaking from Qatar, noted that Hamas had requested changes, some of which were “workable,” though a Hamas official accused Blinken of viewing matters through an “Israeli lens.” The Biden administration continues to work with Qatari and Egyptian mediators to bridge the gaps, but after extensive diplomacy, the conflict remains at an impasse. Each side clings to maximalist demands: Hamas seeks an immediate permanent cease-fire and Israeli troop withdrawal before releasing hostages, whereas Israel insists on dismantling Hamas’s military and governing capabilities first. President Biden remains hopeful yet acknowledges the difficulty of reaching an agreement, highlighting the entrenched positions that hinder progress towards peace.

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