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G7 agrees to use Russian assets to fund Ukraine, Milei’s reforms go ahead despite protests, and the ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
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June 13, 2024


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The World Today

  1. G7 agrees Kyiv fund deal
  2. French right implodes
  3. Milei reforms go through
  4. ANC coalition government
  5. Garland held in contempt
  6. Droughts hit China
  7. AI boosts US agriculture
  8. Media deal for AI startup
  9. Gravity waves telescope
  10. NBA’s ‘Logo’ dies

The world’s oldest privately owned book, and Flagship recommends a documentary about a victim of the Paraguayan dictatorship of the 1980s.


G7 agrees Ukraine funds deal

Reuters/Guglielmo Mangiapane

G7 leaders reached a deal over using frozen Russian assets to loan $50 billion to Ukraine. Officials must still finalize the details of the agreement, according to Bloomberg and the Associated Press, but Western powers will likely separately lend money to Kyiv to cover its financing needs next year and potentially beyond. The financing mechanism is the latest move aimed at helping Ukraine repel Russia’s invasion: Kyiv is targeting a sale of state-owned companies, the US this year agreed a major aid package, and the European Union is also diverting materiel. The deal marks another success for the summit’s host, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, a rare European leader to emerge strengthened from recent bloc-wide elections.


France’s right in turmoil

Stephane Mahe/Reuters

France’s main center-right party voted to oust its leader on Wednesday after he agreed a deal with the far right. Éric Ciotti held “secret negotiations, without consulting our political party,” the political committee for Les Républicains said in a statement. Ciotti had said he would unite with Marine Le Pen’s National Rally to defeat sitting President Emmanuel Macron. He then locked the doors of his party’s HQ to prevent his colleagues meeting, but they gathered in a separate venue and voted to expel him. Ciotti tweeted that “I am and remain president of our political party” after the decision. Macron, meanwhile, called on political rivals to rally behind his centrist platform, to fight what he called an “extremist fever” at both ends of France’s political spectrum.

For more from the world's most consequential elections, check out Semafor's Global Election Hub. →


Milei’s plan gets Senate backing

Argentina’s Senate approved a liberalization package backed by President Javier Milei despite violent protests outside Congress. The laws, which include the privatization of several state-owned assets as well as incentives for investment, are the “cornerstone” of Milei’s economic agenda, La Nación reported. Experts had previously forecast Milei — who has called Congress a “nest of rats” — would struggle to gain legislative backing for his proposals, as his party controls a minority of seats in both chambers. However some have been heartened by positive economic signs in the first six months of his administration, including a cooling of the inflation growth rate. “We are going to change Argentina,” Milei said yesterday. “We’ll make a liberal Argentina.”


ANC tries to form unity government

Two smaller parties said they would join South Africa’s ruling African National Congress to form a unity government. The ANC was forced into building a coalition after it received only 40% of the vote in last month’s election, the first time it failed to win a majority since the end of apartheid in 1994. Although markets and corporate leaders would welcome the deal between the ANC and the pro-business Democratic Alliance — which won the second-highest share of the vote — some within the ruling party oppose the DA, which they see as a “defender of white privilege,” Reuters reported. Analysts speculated that the participation of the Inkatha Freedom Party, which has its roots in an ethnic Zulu base, could temper worries.


US House holds Garland in contempt

Reuters/Anna Rose Layden

The US House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. Garland refused to provide audio recordings of Joe Biden’s interviews in a case over the president’s handling of classified documents, saying Republicans did not give a legitimate legislative reason to support the tapes’ release. The 216-207 vote went almost completely along party lines: Only one Republican voted against the measure. House Speaker Mike Johnson praised the decision, saying Congress “did our job,” while Garland said Republicans were turning congressional oversight into a “partisan weapon.” The measure now goes to the US attorney, but there is almost no chance that prosecutors will take the case forward, Semafor’s Principals newsletter reported.

For more on the Garland vote, subscribe to our daily US politics newsletter. →


Drought hits China farms and dams

Weeks of scarce rainfall and record temperatures have led to droughts in China, sparking worries over the impact on agriculture and energy supplies. Officials expect the droughts to worsen, with temperatures in some provinces forecast to reach 111°F (44°C) next week. That may put pressure on the country’s grid, which increasingly relies on hydropower to meet demand. So far, drought has not affected Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, which are key to China’s hydropower supply and where so far this year water supply has been better than expected. The boom in clean power output has been part of a rapid nationwide adoption of renewable energy that has in turn pushed coal inventories near their highest level since at least 2019.


AI boosts farmers’ climate resilience

Artificial intelligence tools are helping food producers deal with a changing climate. Shifting weather patterns endanger crop yields around the world: One report last year said harvest failures could lead to hunger and conflict. A US flour firm is using AI weather forecasting to help its farmers decide when to plant and harvest wheat crops, while another is using an AI algorithm to help genetically modify plant varieties in order to make them more resilient. They have created a faster-growing broccoli that matures in 37 rather than 45 to 60 days, and are working on frost-resistant rice and drought-resistant potatoes. “We are creating new varieties … five times faster,” the company’s COO told the BBC.


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AI startup plans media revenue deal

Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The artificial intelligence startup Perplexity plans a revenue-sharing deal with media publishers. Perplexity, the first generative AI product to cite sources in its results, recently came under fire for alleged plagiarism: It created a page based on a paywalled Forbes scoop, with what Forbes said was an “easily ignored” credit. Semafor’s Reed Albergotti reported that the company plans to pay outlets for content it uses in its results, so future Forbeses would be reimbursed. Reed also noted that the outrage was “not really warranted … humans have plagiarized so many of my articles, I’ve lost count.” The Perplexity model could create a new revenue stream for journalism and the industry should be careful not to make “an enemy out of a potential ally.”

For more on the future of AI, subscribe to Semafor's twice-weekly Tech newsletter. →


Einstein Telescope to hunt gravity waves

Wikimedia Commons

Scientists in Europe are looking for a site for a next-generation gravitational wave detector. Gravitational waves — tiny distortions of spacetime caused by movements of massive objects — were predicted in Einstein’s general theory of relativity in 1915, but not detected for a century, when the “sound” of two black holes colliding was recorded using ultra-precise laser measurement. The discovery allows scientists to study bits of the universe not visible to electromagnetic waves, notably collisions of neutron stars in which heavy elements such as gold are believed to be made. The new triangular model detector, each side measuring 10 km (6 miles), will be buried underground, work alongside more traditional observatories, and, appropriately, be called the Einstein Telescope.


The Logo dies

Creative Commons, Getty.

The basketball legend Jerry West — whose silhouette is the official logo of the NBA — died, aged 86. The Los Angeles Laker was widely regarded as among the 10 or 15 greatest players of all time. He remains the only person to win an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award despite playing for the losing team, eventually winning his lone NBA title in 1972. He was runner-up to be Coach of the Year in 1977 before building dynasties as an executive, with the Lakers in the 1980s and 2000s, and the Golden State Warriors in the 2010s. “More than just The Logo,” the basketball reporter Neil Paine wrote, “West influenced the sport in every way as it entered its modern era.”

  • The UK’s opposition Labour Party is expected to launch its manifesto ahead of next month’s general election.
  • Skopje hosts the Southeast European Cooperation Process Summit.
  • One thousand BTS fans will queue up in Seoul for a hug with band member Jin in his first public event since his release from military service.
Semafor Stat

The age in years of the world’s oldest privately owned book, which was just sold at auction for $3.9 million. The Crosby-Schøyen Codex was originally copied by an early Christian monk in what is now Egypt: It contains the earliest complete copies of two texts from the Bible, the Book of Jonah and St Peter’s First Epistle. It is written on papyrus in Coptic script and represents what was a groundbreaking technology: At the time, most writing was still on single-sided scrolls rather than books. It’s not the most expensive old book by a long way, though. That title goes to the Codex Sassoon, a 1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible which sold last year for $38.1 million.


The documentary Guapo’y, directed by Sofía Paoli Thorne. The film follows Celsa, a Paraguayan woman in her 60s who was once imprisoned in the Emboscada prison during the rule of dictator Alfredo Stroessner. With a story that’s “at once understated and emotionally shattering,” as The Guardian put it, Paoli Thorne explores the enduring impact of Stroessner’s dictatorship, and also touches on the dangers of historical erasure through the image of the removal of a guapo’y tree, which once stood tall in the prison and was a gathering point for inmates.

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