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Europe’s election begins, Nvidia’s share value hits $3 trillion, and Boeing’s Starliner takes off at͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
thunderstorms Amsterdam
cloudy Brasilia
sunny Khartoum
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June 6, 2024


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The World Today

  1. EU election begins
  2. Kyiv’s Euro funding boost
  3. Gazprom exports slump
  4. Brazil dengue crisis
  5. Pakistan PM in China
  6. Sudan massacre claims
  7. London health care hack
  8. Nvidia hits $3 trillion
  9. AI weather forecasting
  10. Starliner launches at last

A prehistoric giant goose, and a present-day walking tree.


EU elections begin

Piroschka Van De Wouw/Reuters

Dutch voters went to the polls to begin a four-day vote across 27 countries for the European Parliament elections, which is projected to see big gains for populist and far-right parties. The vote to elect the 720 members of the Parliament could reshape the political landscape across the continent. However the campaign also exposed the divisions within the far-right bloc: While parties have found common ground in vowing to curb immigration and hit back at climate policies, they have clashed over consequential decisions including the EU’s sanctions on Russia. “There was definitely no common agenda,” a longtime leader of a German far-right party told The Wall Street Journal. “And I’m quite sure that it will not exist in future.


EU moves to boost Kyiv backing

Gleb Garanich/Reuters

The European Union could scale up its backing of Ukraine by using interest payments from frozen Russian assets to pay off its loans to Kyiv. The loan would also use the EU’s own $1.2 trillion budget as collateral. The plan is similar to a proposed joint US-EU deal suggested by the US treasury secretary, but would see the EU acting alone, Politico reported. Using the interest on the assets directly would give Kyiv about $3 billion a year, but the new proposal could mean an upfront loan of around $50 billion. Hurdles remain: All 27 EU countries, including Russia-friendly Hungary, would have to agree to change the budget, and the European Parliament would have to approve it.


Ukraine war hits Gazprom profits

Gazprom, the Russian energy company, is unlikely to return to pre-war gas sales levels for at least a decade, an internal report said. Western sanctions on Russian fossil fuels have hugely reduced Gazprom’s sales, with European exports at barely a third of pre-war levels. The firm hopes a new pipeline to China will make up some of the shortfall, but its capacity will be small, and Asian gas prices are low. Gazprom’s role in the Russian economy is “expected to decrease,” the report said, as pipeline gas is hit especially hard by sanctions and it cannot produce liquid natural gas which can be exported by sea. “Gazprom is at a dead end, and they’re very much aware of it,” one analyst told the Financial Times.


Brazil’s growing dengue crisis

Brazil surpassed its worst-case forecast for dengue cases this year. In January, the health ministry warned cases could in extreme circumstances exceed 5 million in 2024: They have reached 5.5 million already. Climate change and El Niño — a warm weather pattern — have helped mosquitoes, which transmit the disease, to thrive. Dengue has spread throughout much of South America over the past year, and regions once beyond the reach of mosquitoes, such as North America and Europe, have become potential hotbeds for the disease: Ahead of next month’s Paris Olympic Games, the French capital has enlisted a team of “dengue detectives” to survey for cases.


Pakistan PM seeks China funds

Shehbaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan. Wikimedia Commons

Pakistan’s prime minister is in Beijing on a trip to boost economic and diplomatic ties between the two nations. Shehbaz Sharif, who began a second term as PM in March, will meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping and other top officials during his visit. Pakistan is facing another series of economic crises for which it is seeking a bailout from the International Monetary Fund: Sharif hopes to gain investment from China, including a boost to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. He also moved to reassure Chinese firms that their workers would be protected: Five were killed in March, the latest in a series of terrorist attacks targeting Chinese nationals.


Sudan’s RSF accused of massacre

Robert Oxley/DFID

Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces paramilitary was accused of committing a massacre in a village close to the capital. According to the BBC, the RSF — which experts say is largely funded by the UAE — raided the village after its residents sought help from the rival Sudanese Army. The death toll could surpass 150, making it one of the worst catastrophes so far in the year-long war that has devastated the economy and raised fears of widespread famine. According to a Dutch think tank, as many as 2.5 million people in Sudan could die from hunger by September. “One of the most horrific situations on Earth is on a trajectory to get far, far worse,” the US envoy to Sudan told The New York Times.


Cyberattacks hit health care providers

David McKelvey/Flickr

A ransomware attack forced London hospitals to cancel surgeries and appointments. Hospitals in six boroughs declared an emergency after Synnovis, a diagnostics company, was hit: Procedures involving blood transfusions, including transplant surgeries, had to be canceled. Ars Technica reported that cyberattacks against health care providers almost doubled last year — the largest US health care payment system was shut down this year — and information attacks generally are on the rise: Palau, one of just 12 nations to recognize Taiwan, said it suffered a major attack this week, which it blamed on China, while last week a massive hack stole the records of 70 million US citizens, including their criminal records.

Live Journalism

According to Gallup, 62% of the global workforce is either not engaged or actively disengaged at work, costing the global economy an estimated $8.9 trillion per year. How will global leaders respond? On Wednesday, June 12, guided by new survey data from Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2024 Report, Semafor’s editors will provide a pulse check on how workers around the world are feeling.

You’ll hear policymakers, business leaders, and Gallup experts discuss topics including rising loneliness, work-life balance, competition in the labor market, the mental health crisis in the office, and why Gen Z is looking at trade schools over traditional degrees.

RSVP for in-person or livestream


Nvidia passes $3 trillion value

Nvidia’s market value soared past $3 trillion, surpassing Apple to become the second-most valuable company in the world, behind Microsoft. The chip giant has seen a rapid climb since last year, as investors bet on the continued growth of artificial intelligence: It has gained 50% in value since February. Also doing well from the ongoing AI boom is ASML, the Dutch company which makes the equipment to produce semiconductors. An industry analyst report said it expected strong sales, partly driven by government subsidies, and little competition in coming years, sending the firm’s shares up 6% overnight.


How AI is changing weather forecasts

Artificial intelligence has sent shockwaves through the field of meteorology in the last 18 months by making huge progress in predicting the weather. Traditional weather forecasting simulates atmospheric physics and requires enormous computing power. But since 2022 meteorologists have stepped up the use of deep-learning techniques that do not explicitly model the atmosphere, and instead use existing data to predict weather changes much like ChatGPT predicts the next word in a sentence. These AI systems were expected to reduce computing demand — they can run on an ordinary desktop — but, Ars Technica reported, to meteorologists’ surprise, some are now “performing better than traditional, physics-based models” in predicting the weather.


Starliner takes off at last

Steve Nesius/Reuters

At the third attempt, Boeing’s Starliner took off carrying astronauts to the International Space Station. The spacecraft’s first two attempts were canceled over safety concerns. The launch went “swimmingly,” one of the two veteran astronauts on board reported, although once in space two small helium leaks were detected. The capsule should reach the ISS today. NASA wants Boeing to compete with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon craft, which has been flying astronauts since 2010. SpaceX’s own Starship, the most powerful rocket ever launched, is aiming for its fourth mission today after US authorities gave it the green light. The company hopes to return the spacecraft safely to Earth via splashdown.

  • South Korea marks its 69th Memorial Day, commemorating soldiers who died in battle.
  • The NATO secretary-general and Finnish president hold a press conference in Helsinki.
  • The Heart in Winter, a novel set in 19th century Montana, is published.
Semafor Stat

The weight in pounds of the extinct “thunder bird” Genyornis newtoni, recently shown to look like a “giant goose.” The seven-foot-tall bird, once native to Australia, was first described in 1896, but the only skull — itself discovered in 1913 — was badly damaged. Around 10 years ago several fragments of its skull were discovered, and have now been reconstructed. To scientists’ surprise, it has a goose-like beak, suggesting that it fed on underwater plants. The so-called thunder birds went extinct around 45,000 years ago, soon after humans first reached Australia: They are also known as mihirungs, from an Australian Aboriginal word meaning “giant bird.”

A northern rata and its dead host tree. Jon Sullivan/Flickr

An ancient “walking tree” in New Zealand won a tree of the year contest. The 32-meter tall rātā on the west coast of South Island was named for its resemblance to the tree-like Ents in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The lone tree “captivated the hearts and imaginations” of voters, said The New Zealand Arboricultural Association. The rātā begins life as a plant perched on a host tree before its roots grow to the ground and envelop the original host. It’s unclear exactly how old the winning tree is, reported The Guardian, but it was known about as far back as 1875.

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