• D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG
rotating globe
  • D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
Semafor Logo
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG

The UN Security Council backs the US Gaza ceasefire proposal, Chinese researchers feel pressured int͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
sunny New York
sunny Astana
sunny Miranda
rotating globe
June 11, 2024


newsletter audience icon
Americas Morning Edition
Sign up for our free newsletters

The World Today

  1. UNSC backs Gaza deal
  2. Alito’s ‘godliness’ recording
  3. Dollar dominance erodes
  4. US stabbings in China
  5. China pressure for fake data
  6. Moderna’s COVID-flu jab
  7. Nigeria abuse accusations
  8. Pantanal fires surge
  9. Bad weather hits OJ
  10. Wild horses return home

The US murder rate is falling, and a literary recommendation from 1962.


UN backs Gaza ceasefire

Stephanie Keith/Reuters

The UN Security Council voted to support a US resolution backing a ceasefire in Gaza. Fourteen of the 15 Security Council members supported the plan, with Russia abstaining. The resolution said Israel backed the plan, but the country’s prime minister has not said so publicly and has previously insisted that he would only accept temporary humanitarian pauses until Hamas is defeated. Hamas welcomed the vote, though a separate ceasefire deal outlined by US President Joe Biden last month remains in limbo: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on a visit to the region urged Arab states and Israeli politicians to press for a truce in a war that has left more than 37,000 people dead since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks in Israel.


Alito ‘godliness’ recording reported

Erin Schaff/Reuters

Conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito appeared to back the sentiment of the US returning to “a place of godliness” in a recording made public by a liberal activist. The comments came after it was revealed that an upside-down US flag flew over Alito’s home after the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. Alito has rejected calls to recuse himself from Jan. 6-related cases that the Supreme Court began hearing in April, claiming his wife was responsible for the flags. “Flying the flag, upside down … irrefutably calls into question impartiality and bias toward the former president,” a law professor who clerked for Alito said.


Dollar dominance erodes

The US dollar’s dominance is eroding, new data showed. The currency now accounts for less than 60% of worldwide foreign exchange reserves, down from over 70% in 2000, having been replaced mostly by “nontraditional reserve currencies” such as those of Australia, Canada, and China. Beijing’s yuan in particular has been responsible for about a quarter of the dollar’s replacement, but its internationalization “shows signs of stalling out,” International Monetary Fund economists said. China has sought to increase its currency’s prominence — it is playing a far bigger role in trade with Russia, for example — to erode the US’ sway over the global financial system, but a recent survey found that Beijing’s trading partners are unwilling to use the yuan.


US instructors stabbed in China

Beishan Park in Jilin, where the instructors were stabbed. Wikimedia Commons.

Four US college instructors were stabbed at a park in northeast China. Beijing said the attack was an isolated incident and would not “affect normal exchanges” with Washington, but it comes with the US and China seeking to increase academic exchanges as part of efforts to reduce tensions. In a sign of the issue’s sensitivity, nearly all media and discussion online of the attack was censored by Chinese authorities, the South China Morning Post noted. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has called for 50,000 Americans to study in China as part of increased people-to-people exchanges, but fewer than 1,000 are currently there and the US State Department maintains a high-level warning against Americans traveling to China.


Pressure on Chinese scientists to fake data

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Library. Wikimedia Commons.

Government pressure pushes Chinese scientists to engage in unethical research practices, a study found. Interviews with researchers at elite institutions involved in a program intended to create world-leading Chinese universities found they felt “compelled, and even encouraged, to engage in misconduct to protect their jobs,” Nature reported. The 2015 “Double First-Class Scheme” called on universities to boost their global ranking: Scientists said they engaged in “falsifying data, plagiarizing, exploiting students without offering authorship and bribing journal editors” to meet targets. One faculty head told researchers they should “leave as soon as possible” if they could not meet publication targets. Other Chinese scientists, though, said the paper was “not the whole picture” and that its authors only spoke to a small number of academics.


Good results for flu-COVID jab

A combined COVID-and-flu vaccine passed advanced checks. Moderna said the jab produced better immune responses against both diseases than comparable single-target vaccines. The trial is still ongoing — Moderna needs to show that it actually reduces disease, and doesn’t just improve lab results — but these early findings are reassuring. Reducing the number of shots required should boost vaccine coverage, by making it easier for patients to get all the jabs they need. The two-in-one vaccine should be available by 2026, likely for older people at first, who are most at risk from both diseases, but eventually for younger patients as well.


Nigerian army accused of abuse


Amnesty International accused the Nigerian army of unlawfully detaining and abusing dozens of women and girls who escaped captivity from Islamist extremists. It said troops held more than 100 female former captives for a period of days to years, fearing they were supporters of Boko Haram, an Islamist militia. Their escape comes as swaths of Nigeria, especially the north, have been hit by an “epidemic of lawlessness,” part of an array of issues — including a slowing economy and high inflation — facing the government. Nigeria has sought to lean on the West African bloc ECOWAS for intelligence on the extremists, but the union’s capabilities have been diminished by a series of recent coups.

Live Journalism

Join us on June 18 in Washington, DC, for newsmaking conversations with Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D), and Google Cloud’s Director of Risk and Compliance Jeannette Manfra. Semafor’s editors will lead crucial conversations on underlying security issues, explore innovative cyber resilience solutions, navigate the complex regulatory landscape governing cybersecurity, discuss trends across threat vectors, and highlight the education necessary to equip individuals with effective defense tools.

RSVP for in-person attendance or livestream access here


Extreme weather hits Brazil

Fires in Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland, increased almost 1,000% in the first five months of the year compared to the same period in 2023, raising risks ahead of wildfire season, which commonly starts around July. Brazil has been beset by increasingly erratic weather — including floods across the south of the country that killed hundreds and displaced thousands — that is fueled in part by El Niño, a warm weather pattern. Scientists are now forecasting that La Niña, a cold weather pattern that usually leads to droughts across much of South America, is expected to return by July. “We’ve really been swinging back and forth between one extreme to the other,” a meteorologist told the Financial Times.


Orange juice prices up

Global orange juice prices are up 20% after bad weather and disease hit farming. Harvests in Brazil, which produces nearly 70% of the world’s orange juice, are expected to be down 24% year on year, the third difficult harvest in a row, thanks to the incurable citrus greening disease, spread by sap-sucking insects. Florida, another major producer, has seen the same disease and a sequence of hurricanes. Short-term solutions such as mixing fresh juice with frozen will not fix the problem, an academic wrote in The Conversation: The industry needs to diversify supply, looking to untapped places such as Egypt, and develop more resilient varieties of orange.


Wild horses return to Kazakh steppes

Petr Josek/Reuters

The world’s only true wild horses returned to Kazakhstan after two centuries. Przewalski’s horses are native to the grasslands of Central Asia, but were driven extinct in Kazakhstan in the 19th century and in the wild in general a century later. Other “wild” horses, such as the North American mustang, are descended from domesticated horses which escaped. Six mares and a stallion were flown from zoos in Prague and Berlin to the Kazakh steppes, the first of a planned 40 horses over the next five years. An earlier reintroduction program in Mongolia has been successful: The country now has a thriving population of about 1,500 of the short, muscular horses.

  • Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to address Germany’s Parliament.
  • New Zealand’s foreign minister visits East Timor.
  • US actor Peter Dinklage turns 55.
Semafor Stat

The year-on-year drop in violent crime recorded in the US. The first five months of 2024 saw 26.4% fewer murders, 25.7% fewer reported rapes, 17.8% fewer robberies, and 12.5% fewer aggravated assaults than the same period last year, continuing a precipitous decline from the pandemic-era peak. The data has some limitations — it relies on police reports, rather than more accurate crime surveys — and may overstate the magnitude of the decline, but “other data sources … point to the same trends,” a criminal justice analyst told CNN.

Flagship Recommends

The novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. First published in 1962, it’s an unsettling piece of American Gothic, about two sisters who live with their disabled uncle in an old house. They are despised by the residents of the nearby small town, and one of them may or may not be a murderer. Atmospheric, creepy, funny, and pleasingly short. Buy it from your local bookstore.

Hot on Semafor