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Modi’s hopes of a landslide in India are slipping, the US calls on the UN to back its Gaza ceasefire͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
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June 4, 2024


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The World Today

  1. Concerns for Modi’s party
  2. Mexico stock market down
  3. Border crackdown in US
  4. US wants UN Gaza backing
  5. Europe buying Chinese EVs
  6. UK Tories facing wipeout
  7. Somalia warns Ethiopia
  8. D-Day vets’ last gathering
  9. AI is changing garbage
  10. Mbappé signs for Madrid

The world’s largest genome, and a novel set on the Mexico-US border.


Modi’s landslide hopes slipping

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May.
Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Early election results suggested that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party would win fewer seats than expected. His Bharatiya Janata Party is projected to win a third term in office, but its hopes of a dominant performance appear to be slipping. The opposition alliance, led by the Congress party, is overperforming expectations, and the BJP could end up with a smaller majority or even be forced to govern in coalition, making it reliant on smaller parties. The Indian stock market fell on the news: It had hit a record level on Monday after polling suggested a comfortable Modi win. The BBC reported that the mood at BJP headquarters was “sombre”, while Congress workers were “jubilant.”


Sheinbaum win hits Mexico markets

The Mexican stock market fell 6% and the peso dropped to its lowest level since November after the ruling party’s election success, reflecting fears that its congressional supermajority may erode checks and balances. Markets also reacted negatively to President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum’s proposals for the state to play a greater role in the economy. Sheinbaum has vowed to see through President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s constitutional reform plan that would allow Supreme Court judges to be elected, a move critics say would give the ruling party control over all three branches of government. “We’re now firmly in the territory of one-party rule in Mexico,” a senior adviser to the Wilson Center think tank told The Wall Street Journal.


Biden to announce border crackdown

US President Joe Biden is expected to announce tighter restrictions on undocumented migrants crossing into the country from Mexico. Under the new law, migrants who have previously crossed illegally will be restricted from claiming asylum in the US, speeding up their deportation. New provisions will also allow authorities to deny asylum altogether if crossings surpass a daily threshold. Critics, including members of Biden’s party, say the law puts migrants at risk. It is “just not the solution we need,” a Democratic senator said. Polling data by Gallup showed that immigration was the biggest issue for almost a third of US voters in March, although the figure fell to 18% last month as crossings dropped.


US calls on UN to back Gaza deal

Smoke and flames rise during an Israeli air strike in central Gaza Strip
Reuters/Ramadan Abed

The US sought United Nations backing for its Gaza ceasefire deal. On Friday, President Joe Biden outlined the proposal to end fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, involving the release of hostages in return for a cessation of Israeli attacks. Yesterday, the US circulated a draft of that proposal to the 15-member UN Security Council, and the US ambassador to the UN called upon the council to “speak with one voice” to support it. Leaders of the G7 group of rich countries have already backed the deal. At least nine members of the council would need to vote in favor for it to pass, and any of the permanent members — the US, Britain, France, China, and Russia — can veto it unilaterally.


China’s European EV boost

Sales of Chinese-built electric vehicles in Europe jumped by 23% in the first four months of 2024 compared to the same period a year before. A total of 119,300 Chinese EVs were registered in Western Europe, including the UK, between January and April, one in five of all EV imports. The European Union is the market of choice for Chinese manufacturers, the Financial Times reported, because its 10% tariff pales in comparison with the recently imposed 100% tariff in the US. EV prices elsewhere are falling: One salesman told The New York Times that EV buyers used to be well-heeled professionals, but they are now seeing younger and “more blue-collar and entry-level white-collar people” as the sticker price “has suddenly become in reach.”


Farage adds to UK Tories’ woes

Reuters/Maja Smiejkowska

Nigel Farage, the former leader of the pro-Brexit UK Independence Party, announced that he would stand as a candidate in the upcoming UK elections. Farage will stand for another Eurosceptic party, Reform UK, which is expected to take votes from the governing Conservative Party. The Tories are already facing electoral disaster as polls have them 20 points behind the opposition Labour Party and on course to take just 140 out of a possible 650 parliamentary seats. One pollster told the BBC that the addition of Farage into the electoral mix could add to what could already be an “extinction-level event” for the Conservatives.

Live Journalism

New cybersecurity threats are emerging regularly. With artificial intelligence and other advanced technology on the rise, bad actors have dangerously sophisticated tools at their disposal to carry out malicious attacks online. Yet, even in a technologically advanced environment, humans remain at the core of cybersecurity as both defenders and perpetrators of cyber threats. That has profound implications for cybersecurity policy in tackling the weakest links and what can be done to proactively address issues instead of reacting to problems that have already done some damage.

Join us on June 18, in Washington, D.C. when Semafor’s editors will lead crucial conversations on these underlying security issues while exploring innovative cyber resilience solutions, the complex regulatory landscape governing cybersecurity, trends across threat vectors and the education necessary to provide individuals with their own defense tools.


Somalia-Ethiopia tensions rise

Somalis march against the Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal along KM4 street in Mogadishu.
Reuters/Feisal Omar

Somalia vowed to expel all Ethiopian troops stationed in the country unless Addis Ababa scraps a port deal with the breakaway region of Somaliland. Landlocked Ethiopia claims the agreement to open a port in the disputed territory is critical for its commercial ambitions. Mogadishu, however, said the deal is a violation of its sovereignty. Analysts fear that a breakdown in the Ethiopian-Somali security pact could embolden al-Shabab and other Islamist groups, raising the risk of further destabilization in one of the world’s poorest regions. “Ethiopia cannot be an ally and at the same time an aggressor,” Somalia’s national security adviser said.


D-Day veterans gather for last time

Reuters/Benoit Tessier

This year will likely be the last significant D-Day anniversary with living veterans attending. Major commemorations of the June 6, 1944 landings in Normandy, France, are held every five years. But at the 80th anniversary this year, even the youngest veterans are almost 100. One, Jack Foy, a 99-year-old veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, told CNN that the emotional impact grows greater with each event: “We realize we’re getting to the end of our time.” Around 150 US veterans are expected to travel, around two dozen of whom fought at D-Day, along with 40 British service members and 15 Canadians, as well as 25 heads of state including US President Joe Biden.


How AI is changing recycling

Reuters/George Frey

Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the garbage industry. Huge amounts of waste currently go to landfill unnecessarily because of improper sorting, which involves humans “racing against time to scan and sort recyclables on a fast-moving conveyer belt,” Forbes reported. But automated sorting systems powered by AI image recognition and robotics can “accurately categorize waste and enhance efficiency,” the CEO of a waste management company said. One firm reduced labor costs by 59% in three years by employing robot sorters. Intelligent sorting systems with high-speed robot arms are allowing waste to be sorted into specific types, which can then be sold to buyers looking for that material. The new systems could help reach the US goal of 50% recycling by 2030.


Mbappé finally joins Madrid

Kylian Mbappé, the France soccer superstar hailed by some as the best player on the planet, signed for Real Madrid, the world’s most glamorous soccer team. Mbappé’s move was “the game’s, the world’s, worst-kept secret,” The Guardian reported. It had been mooted for seven years and had become a state issue: Madrid’s decision last month to lower wealthy foreigners’ tax rate by nearly 50% became known as the “Mbappé law,” as it was believed to be intended to lure him to Spain. Whether Madrid need Mbappé is perhaps questionable: On Saturday the team won its 15th European Cup, eight more than anyone else. But Madrid’s history of signing galacticos, the world’s most famous players, is a quarter-century old: Beckham, both Ronaldos, and Zidane paved Mbappé’s way.


The number of base pairs — DNA “letters” — in the genome of the “small, unassuming fern-like plant” Tmesipteris oblanceolata. It’s the largest genome ever discovered, more than 50 times the size of our human one, and 11 billion more than the previous record holder. Exactly why this unremarkable plant, found in the South Pacific island nation of New Caledonia, needs such an insanely large genome is unclear: One boring explanation may be that the size of the genome in a relatively stable environment is “neither detrimental nor particularly helpful for the plant’s ability to survive and reproduce,” Scientific American reported, so it’s pretty random whether it ends up with a big or small payload of DNA.

Penguin Random House

Malas, a novel set on the US-Mexico border, is published today. Debut author Marcela Fuentes follows the lives of one family and the curse that seems to pass through the generations in a story of love, revenge, and kinship. Kirkus Reviews described it as a “vibrant portrait of two strong women and their mixed feelings about home.

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