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Israel tentatively agrees to US President Joe Biden’s ceasefire plan, Indian exit polls suggest a Mo͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
sunny Seoul
thunderstorms Singapore
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June 3, 2024


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The World Today

  1. Biden’s ceasefire proposal
  2. Modi on track to win
  3. Diverging US-China visions
  4. China lands on moon
  5. Balloon barrage ends
  6. Trump joins TikTok
  7. South Africa coalition talks
  8. Cybergang claims bank hack
  9. Nvidia announces new chips
  10. Asian youth fuel art market

A researcher’s quest to preserve maritime music and sea shanties as a window into the history of labor.


Biden’s Gaza pitch heightens pressure

REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Israel agreed to the contours of a ceasefire proposal laid out by US President Joe Biden, an aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. Hamas also responded positively to the three-phase plan, a US gambit analysts said was meant to publicly heighten the pressure to reach an agreement to end hostilities. It includes concessions for both sides, but Biden’s deal framework — which is similar to an Israeli proposal already on the table — still faces roadblocks: Ultranationalist ministers in Netanyahu’s cabinet threatened to bring down the government if he agreed to the deal, and the proposal doesn’t specify how Gaza would be governed after the fighting stops, a sticking point for both sides.


Exit polls point to Modi win

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party is set for a decisive victory in the country’s national elections, exit polls suggest. The extent of Modi’s win, including whether he achieved a supermajority, will only become clear when official results are released Tuesday, but it is payoff for Modi, who ratcheted up his rhetoric against Muslims in recent weeks to fire up his base. The polls have been wrong in the past, one political commentator said, but they could serve as a dental anesthetic for the opposition, numbing them before Tuesday, when they might receive “a hard punch on the jaw, demanding wholesale mouth surgery.”


US, China pitch Asia security visions

The defense chiefs of Japan, the US, and South Korea. REUTERS/Caroline Chia

The US and China championed opposing visions for the future of security in Asia at a summit in Singapore. Even as their defense chiefs met for talks in a sign of improving relations, China said the US was trying to build an “Asia-Pacific version of NATO,” accused Washington of inflaming tensions and meddling in the continent’s affairs, and said Taiwan’s independence movement would be “crushed to pieces.” The US, meanwhile, promoted its regional partnerships in what analysts said was a warning against Chinese military aggression. The differences were clear even in how officials described the region: The US used the term “Indo-Pacific,” while China said “Asia-Pacific,” a narrower label that excludes South Asia, USNI News wrote.


China makes history on the moon

The Chang'e 6 lunar probe and the Long March-5 Y8 carrier rocket. REUTERS/Eduardo Baptista

China successfully landed a spacecraft on the moon’s far side for the second time on Sunday. Chang’e 6 is designed to collect lunar dirt samples and return them to Earth by June 25. The mission is historic — no other country has landed on the moon’s far side — and it brings China closer to establishing a human base there, something the US wants, too. While moon bases open new opportunities for science, some are worried about the unintended consequences, particularly on the far side, which has near-perfect conditions for radio astronomy. “The rush to build bases on the Moon could interfere with the very conditions that make the Moon so attractive for research in the first place,” one astrophysicist cautioned.


NKorea ends balloon barrage

Yonhap via REUTERS

North Korea ended its balloon campaign after sending another round of waste into South Korea, prompting the South to vow an “unendurable” response. Balloons were found across Seoul over the weekend, four days after Pyongyang sent excrement-filled balloons, South Korean authorities said. The North may hope the balloons could “stoke an internal divide” in South Korea over its government’s policies against the North, the Associated Press reported, although the tactic of “propaganda balloons as psychological warfare” dates to the Cold War, The New York Times wrote. It comes as the North launched ballistic missiles into the sea last week in a show of strength against the South.


Trump joins TikTok

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Donald Trump joined TikTok, gaining 1.3 million followers within hours on a platform he once sought to ban as US president. The app gives both Trump and incumbent President Joe Biden, who joined in February, a new platform to woo voters — and particularly, young voters — ahead of the November election. But TikTok is “particularly attractive” to Trump’s campaign, analysts said, as there’s reportedly a two-to-one ratio of pro-Trump versus pro-Biden content on the app. Getting Trump and Biden on the app could also help save TikTok itself, Politico noted: The ByteDance-owned company faces a forced sale or a ban in the US over national security concerns.


South Africa set for coalition talks

REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

South Africa’s African National Congress lost its parliamentary majority for the first time, final results confirmed Sunday, setting up tense coalition negotiations. The ANC, which suffered its worst loss since it came to power after the end of apartheid 30 years ago, still holds the most seats in parliament, but will have to partner with a rival political party to secure a majority. But one opposition party told Semafor Africa it would not work with the ANC in a coalition government unless President Cyril Ramaphosa steps down — a move the ANC rejected. Ramaphosa is “wounded and has nothing to lose. His credibility is in tatters from the multiple controversies during his tumultuous nine-year presidency,” Semafor’s Sam Mkokeli wrote.

For more updates and analysis on the South African elections, subscribe to Semafor’s Africa newsletter. →


Bank is cybergang’s latest victim

REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura

A cyberattack on the bank Santander has compromised millions of customers’ and employee data. Hacking group ShinyHunters, which last week said it had hacked Ticketmaster, took credit for the hack. The group claimed to have millions of credit card numbers among other sensitive data that it now wants to sell; in the past, it has sold stolen data from AT&T, but experts cautioned that the hawked data may be nothing more than a “publicity stunt” and may not include anything of value. Both the hacks are linked to a cloud provider, Snowflake, which also provides support for Adobe, Canva, and Mastercard — if Snowflake is compromised, it may mean the wave of hacks may be just beginning, Wired wrote.


Nvidia announces new chips


Nvidia’s CEO Jensen Huang announced the company’s next generation of artificial intelligence chips, “Rubin,” and said it is “on a one-year rhythm” for new releases. Nvidia is the driving force of the AI boom, and announcing more chips are coming years before they will become available may help keep the boom times rolling, the Financial Times reported. Speaking in Taiwan, Huang also detailed plans for AI PCs and spoke about Nvidia’s ties to Taiwan and the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, including plans to build “AI factories.” Taiwanese manufacturers are critical for AI, and its place in the supply chain has become a growing “source of concern in capitals and boardrooms” amid rising tension with China, The Guardian reported.


Young Asian artists, buyers fuel market

Young Asian artists and collectors are fueling the contemporary art market. Contemporary Asian art did not garner much attention in the 1990s, but “is now being bought by art museums and collectors all over the world,” the director of Japan’s Fukuoka Asian Art Museum told Nikkei. Affluent Chinese people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, meanwhile, are becoming more interested in contemporary art, as are Vietnamese tech entrepreneurs. Auction houses are taking note: Sotheby’s is moving to a larger Hong Kong office and considering holding auctions year-round. More broadly, it’s a difficult time for the world’s art market: Sales fell globally last year, but rose in China after pandemic controls were lifted.


June 3:

  • The Japan Energy Summit & Exhibition takes place in Tokyo, focusing on future renewable energy development.
  • Tech CEOs give opening keynotes at Taiwan’s COMPUTEX conference.
  • Hunter Biden stands trial on felony gun charges in Delaware.
Wikimedia Commons

A music expert and researcher is working to keep the legacy of maritime music alive. Viral TikTok trends have fostered renewed interest in sea shanties, the songs of seamen that serve as historic artifacts and provide clues into how people once worked, Stephen Sanfilippo said. “Sometimes my students will say, ‘It’s just a song,’” he told Nautilus. “But there’s so such thing as ‘just a.’” But Sanfilippo is less confident about the future of “work songs,” which he defines as call-and-response singing designed to coordinate movement. “When was the last time you passed a worksite and heard the workmen singing?” Sanfilippo asked.

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