6.1.2024

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Saturday, June 1, and in this weekend edition, we're covering elections in India, a record-breaking genome, and much more. First time reading? Join over 3.5 million readers. Sign up here.

 

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One Big Headline
 

India's Elections Wrap Up

Voters in India have started casting their ballots in the last phase of the country's six-week general election process, which began April 19 and concludes today. The votes from the world's longest democratic elections will be tallied June 4. 

 

In this seventh and final phase of the election, the fate of 904 candidates is at stake, with voters determining those who will secure 57 open seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha (see visual breakdown). The Lok Sabha is India's lower house of parliament and is responsible for nominating a prime minister. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 73, and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party are seeking a third consecutive term against a coalition of parties called the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance. Modi maintains a 75% approval rating and is expected to win (see previous write-up). 

 

Voters have braved soaring temperatures amid a heat wave in India that has led to more than 50 deaths in one week alone, including election officials on duty. The capital New Delhi recorded potentially the highest-ever temperature of 127.22 degrees Fahrenheit this week. 

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Quick Hits
 

Joint British-US airstrikes in Yemen kill at least 16 people.

The airstrikes were targeting Yemen's Houthi rebels and wounded at least 42 others. The strikes were carried out in response to attacks on shipping vessels in the Red Sea by Iran-backed militant groups protesting the Israel-Hamas war. Iran has funded Houthi rebels in Yemen, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and other groups in Iraq and Syria. Separately, President Joe Biden endorsed an Israeli-led cease-fire proposal; Hamas has not responded as of this writing. 

 

Ukraine, Russia exchange 75 soldiers each in prisoner swap.

A total of 150 prisoners of war were exchanged under the deal brokered by the United Arab Emirates. The prisoner swap is the first exchange in nearly four months between the two warring nations. Ukrainian officials said Russia also returned the bodies of 212 Ukrainian military members. See updates on the war here

 

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia leaves Democratic Party.

Manchin officially switched his party affiliation to independent Friday, but will continue to caucus with Democrats. In explaining his decision, Manchin cited partisan rifts. Manchin has said he won't run for reelection in the Senate; however, the latest news raises questions about his next steps. Manchin now joins three other independent senators who caucus with Democrats. 

 

Vermont to require oil companies to pay for climate damage.

The state is the first in the US to enact a law requiring oil companies to contribute to a fund paying for damage from extreme weather fueled by the changing climate. The amount owed would take into account the total emissions of greenhouse gases a company generated between 1995 and 2024. The law is modeled after a federal law requiring companies to clean up pollution or reimburse the government to do so.

 

Largest-ever known genome discovered inside a tiny plant.

Researchers in Spain have identified a species of fern (T. oblanceolata) that has the largest amount of DNA stored in its nucleus compared to any other living organism on Earth. Each cell of the fern, found in the South Pacific island nation of New Caledonia, has DNA that is over 328 feet long if unraveled. The measurement is 50 times more than the size of the human genome, which is 6 feet long. 

 

Researchers link genetic mutation to neurodevelopmental disorders.

A range of intellectual disabilities appear to be related to rare mutations in a small noncoding gene called RNU4-2. Noncoding genes, also known as "junk DNA," do not encode proteins but often RNA molecules, which then translate into proteins or stand on their own. See an overview on RNA molecules here. Watch an explainer on junk DNA here. Roughly 6.5 million people in the US have an intellectual disability.

Humankind
 

Two Florida teens rescue driver whose car ended up submerged in a canal. (More

 

High schooler receives 20 college acceptances, earns over $1M in grants. (More

 

New York City ticket clerk and police help woman find lost engagement ring. (More)

 

Philadelphia Phillies baseball star helps a student secure a date to prom. (More)

 

Five-year-old boy believed to be world's youngest person to receive bionic "Iron Man"-themed prosthetic arm. (More

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Humankind(ness)
 

Today, we're sharing a story from reader Wyatt P. from Dallas, Texas.

 

"I am studying abroad in Italy and used a free weekend to visit a small town called Quercianella on the west coast. Upon arriving, my friends and I went to a cafe and I had some laundry in a duffel with me that I needed to dry. Upon asking the barista, Diana, where I might find a laundromat, she told me there was not one in town. Instead, she offered to welcome me to her home once she got off of work to help me dry my clothes. She was so kind, and I greatly appreciated her altruism."

 

What act(s) of kindness did you experience this week? Tell us here.

Etcetera
 

Bookkeeping

> Largest-ever botnet busted, responsible for $6B in COVID-19 insurance fraud.

John Lennon's "Help!" guitar sells for $2.9M, breaking Beatles auction record.

 

Browse 

The world's 20 best cities for foodies.

> Time's 100 most influential companies of 2024.

See a large washed-up crab with a mussel hair-do

> US Amazon Prime members now get free GrubHub+ delivery.

Can you find all the misspelled words

 

Listen 

> Why thugs from over 150 years ago smashed majestic dinosaur models intended for a New York City museum and buried them in Central Park

 

Watch 

A day in the life of working at a Smarties candy factory.

Beavers in Yellowstone National Park build a dam.

> How Google Translate uses math to translate 134 languages in real time.

 

Long Read 

> A visual dive into Papua New Guinea's devastating landslide

> Explaining the logic behind how animals get their patterns

 

Best of the Week: The possible origins of “eeny, meeny, miny, moe.”

 

Historybook: Marilyn Monroe born (1926); Morgan Freeman born (1937); Helen Keller dies (1968); CNN debuts as world’s first 24-hours news network (1980); General Motors Corp. files for bankruptcy, fourth-largest US bankruptcy in history at the time (2009).

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- Morgan Freeman

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