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The DOJ is to launch an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, China’s economic struggles cause a steel gl͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
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March 21, 2024


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The World Today

  1. DOJ to sue Apple
  2. China’s steel glut
  3. EU aims to boost Kyiv aid
  4. Niger ejects US military
  5. Deep-sea mining race
  6. Fed expected to cut rates
  7. Caracas political arrests
  8. Diverse UK leaders
  9. Pigs’ liver transplants
  10. Mountain on Mars

The world’s least happy country, and a baffling German mystery-thriller is a Netflix hit.


DOJ to sue Apple over antitrust

REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

The U.S. Department of Justice is expected to sue Apple over antitrust violations as soon as today, Bloomberg reported. The precise charges are unknown but rival companies have complained that they are blocked from accessing iPhone features while Apple makes competing products that use those features: For instance, Tile, which makes smart trackers, complains that Apple’s AirTags have access to sensors which its trackers are denied, and credit cards can only be used via Apple’s own Apple Pay service. Other federal lawsuits against Google and Meta are already under way. The Federal Trade Commission’s chair, Lina Khan, wrote in Foreign Policy that monopolies create vulnerabilities and risk. “There’s a simple lesson here,” she wrote. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”


Europe worries over Chinese dumping

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

Europe is becoming increasingly concerned about Chinese oversupply hitting global markets — including its own — as a result of the country’s domestic economic slowdown. A new European Union Chamber of Commerce in China report warned that lagging growth in China was driving Chinese companies to look abroad, particularly to Europe, which was distorting competition in the EU and harming the continent’s domestic businesses. “Something will need to change,” the lobby group’s president told the South China Morning Post. His warning came as new data showed Chinese steel exports were at an eight-year high, in part thanks to a moribund domestic property sector, and with Chinese leader Xi Jinping due to visit Europe in May, a trip where trade will be high on the agenda.


EU looks to step up Ukraine aid

REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

European Union leaders sought to step up military aid to Ukraine, while lawmakers in Washington looked set to begin their recess with questions over helping the country unresolved. A Brussels summit today will focus on the bloc potentially issuing bonds to arm Ukraine, with French President Emmanuel Macron a vocal backer of the idea. The meeting comes a day after the European Commission outlined a plan to use frozen Russian assets held on the continent to pay for military support. The U.S. Congress, meanwhile, is unlikely to consider aid to Ukraine until next month: Ukraine’s foreign minister said this week that Kyiv was shocked a package had not yet been approved.


Niger kicks out US military

AFP via Getty Images

Niger’s military junta ended an agreement allowing U.S. troops to operate in the country. Washington has two bases in Niger to monitor Islamic extremist groups, which have killed thousands in the Sahel region in recent years. But the junta, which seized power last July, took offense to America’s “condescending attitude” and objections to its choice of allies, a reference to Niamey’s deepening ties with Moscow, Semafor’s Alexis Akwagyiram reported. New military governments in Niger’s neighbors Mali and Burkina Faso have similarly aligned themselves with Russia. It’s a concern for Western governments — Niger has some of the world’s largest uranium deposits — but also for the countries themselves: Unrest is on the rise, and with Russia focused on Ukraine its ability to provide security is in doubt.

For more from Africa, sign up to Semafor’s thrice-weekly newsletter. →


Deep-sea metals race hots up

Courtesy The Metals Company

India applied for two deep-sea mining licenses for metals vital to the green energy transition. Huge reserves of cobalt, copper, manganese, and nickel lie on the sea floor, and countries are increasingly racing to access them: The U.N.’s International Seabed Authority has issued 31 exploration licenses so far, and is meeting in Jamaica this week to discuss future rules on the practice. Many countries, including the U.S., China, and Russia, are keen to expand mining, arguing that renewable technologies will need large amounts of the metals, but activists say it could disrupt fragile ecosystems. In Washington, lobbyists are arguing that deep-sea mining could reduce U.S. reliance on China for crucial raw materials, Semafor’s Net Zero reported.


Fed projects three rate cuts

REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

The U.S. Federal Reserve expects to cut interest rates three times this year, despite strong economic growth and persistent inflation. Some investors had bet policymakers would curtail projections for rate cuts because of the improved economic outlook, and so the central bank holding firm on its outlook sent stock markets higher. The Fed’s choices have huge implications, both within the U.S. — interest payments on domestic credit card debt, for example, have surged since the pandemic in part because of higher Fed rates — and beyond: The World Bank has warned that developing countries, many of which borrow in dollars to better access global markets, face record debt burdens that could curtail growth.


Venezuela arrests opposition aides

REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

Venezuelan authorities arrested two aides of the main opposition candidate challenging the country’s leader in elections this year. The move is the latest issue to mar July’s presidential contest: Maria Corina Machado herself has been barred from officially registering for the election, one which analysts say she would win in a landslide were it to be free and fair, and Caracas has been criticized for a wide-ranging crackdown on civil society. The opposition has few choices, an expert wrote in Americas Quarterly. It could insist on voters backing Machado, or it could “try to outsmart the government” and put forward a proxy candidate.

For more coverage of the world’s elections, check out our Global Election Hub. →

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UK’s diverse leadership

PA Images via Reuters Connect

The election of Vaughan Gething as the first minister of Wales means that, for the first time, none of the four U.K. nations are led by a white man. Gething, the son of a Zambian mother and a Welsh father, joins the U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, of Indian heritage, Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf, the son of Pakistani immigrants, and Michelle O’Neill and Emma Little-Pengelly, the joint — and both female — leaders of the Northern Irish government. Gething is also Europe’s first Black head of government. The regional governments control education, health, and similar budgets, while the central British government is responsible for defense, foreign affairs, and other U.K.-wide issues.


GM pig liver used in transplant

Wikimedia Commons

A genetically engineered pig liver was transplanted into a human for the first time. Chinese scientists introduced the liver, from a pig genetically edited to remove proteins that can cause organ rejection, into the body of a brain-dead patient. After 96 hours, no sign of rejection was seen. Pigs have long been seen as a candidate for “xenotransplantation,” of organs from one species into another, because they are physiologically similar to humans. There is a global shortage of livers for transplants, despite it being possible to take them from living humans — 500,000 people face liver failure, which can only be treated with a transplant, each year in China alone. U.S. researchers have previously demonstrated xenotransplantation of kidneys and hearts.


Mars volcano is bigger than Everest

SETI Institute

A volcano taller than Mount Everest was detected on the surface of Mars. Images from several Mars orbiters were pieced together to establish the existence of the tentatively named Noctis Mons — “night mountain” — on the edge of a huge canyon system, five times deeper than the Grand Canyon. Noctis Mons is huge, but only Mars’ seventh tallest known mountain: The largest, Olympus Mons, is nearly three times as high. Noctis, though, does have what appear to be glaciers near the surface, which would make it an appealing site for future human exploration: Producing useable water, as well as food, fuel, and air, will be one of the key challenges for crewed missions which are, perhaps optimistically, planned for the 2030s.

  • Fiji is expected to sign a ports deal with Australia in a shipbuilding boost.
  • WindEurope, an annual wind energy event, is under way in the Spanish city of Bilbao.
  • The U.S. actor Matthew Broderick turns 62.
World Happiness Report

Afghanistan has continuously placed near the bottom of Gallup’s ranking of the world’s “happiest” countries, and residents’ evaluations of their own lives have only become worse in the last year. Asked to rate their lives on a scale of one to 10, Afghans answered an average of 1.7, the lowest of 143 countries, according to Gallup’s 2024 World Happiness Report. Happiness across all age groups in the Middle East fell in the last 15 years, according to the report, while sub-Saharan African countries registered especially low happiness levels for people under 30.

Read more highlights from the World Happiness Report, from our insights partner, Gallup. →


A German mystery-thriller topped a most-watched list on Netflix. Das Signal (The Signal) is a four-part series about a husband’s search for answers when his astronaut wife goes missing. He is not the only one with questions. One reviewer in Zeit Online, who said he “basically didn’t understand anything” about the show, put together a list of 33 questions for the streamer. “Maybe someone at Netflix will read the following catalog and can help not only me, but all of us.”

Live Journalism

Sen. Michael Bennet; Sen. Ron Wyden; Kevin Scott, CTO, Microsoft; John Waldron, President & COO, Goldman Sachs; Tom Lue, General Counsel, Google DeepMind; Nicolas Kazadi, Finance Minister, DR Congo and Jeetu Patel, EVP and General Manager, Security & Collaboration, Cisco have joined the world class line-up of global economic leaders for the 2024 World Economy Summit, taking place in Washington, D.C. on April 17-18. See all speakers and sessions, and RSVP here.

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