Thursday Briefing: A special report from Sudan

Also, the 80th anniversary of D-Day
Morning Briefing: Asia Pacific Edition

June 6, 2024

Good morning. We’re covering a special report from our chief Africa correspondent who traveled to Sudan and a secret Israeli influence campaign targeting the U.S.

Plus, the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

Women and children at a child malnutrition center in Sudan.
A child malnutrition center in Sudan. Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

War has pushed Sudan toward the abyss

My colleague Declan Walsh and the photographer Ivor Prickett spent three weeks in Sudan, where few foreign reporters have had access in the past year. Since the conflict erupted there in April 2023, millions of people have been displaced and a looming famine threatens the lives of hundreds of thousands of children.

Khartoum, the capital and one of the largest cities in Africa, has been reduced to a charred battleground. A feud between two generals has dragged Sudan into civil war and turned the city into ground zero for one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.

As many as 150,000 people have died since the start of the fighting, according to U.S. estimates. Nine million have been forced from their homes, making Sudan home to the largest displacement crisis on earth, the U.N. says. Another genocide now threatens Darfur, the region that became synonymous with war crimes two decades ago.

The U.N. warns that famine could kill more than 220,000 children in the coming months. If unchecked, it could rival the Ethiopian famine of the 1980s.

On the ground: In a hushed famine ward, starving babies fight for life. Every few days, one of them dies. Artillery shells soar over the Nile, smashing into hospitals and houses. The state TV station was used as a torture chamber.

What’s next: Peace talks led by the U.S. have stalled. The Sudanese state is collapsing, threatening to drag down a fragile region with it. Experts say it is a matter of time before one of its neighbors — like Chad, Eritrea or South Sudan — gets sucked in.

A cloud of smoke against a pink sky.
Smoke rose over Gaza after an Israeli airstrike yesterday. Amir Cohen/Reuters

Israel tried to influence U.S. opinion

Israel organized and paid for a campaign last year that used fake social media accounts and news sites to urge U.S. lawmakers to support the war in Gaza, a Times investigation found. The secretive effort signals the lengths Israel was willing to go to sway American opinion.

The campaign began in October and remains active on X. At its peak, it used hundreds of fake accounts that posed as real Americans to post pro-Israel comments. Even though the U.S. has long been one of Israel’s staunchest allies, the war in Gaza has been unpopular with many Americans, who have called for President Biden to withdraw support for Israel in the face of mounting civilian deaths.

Details: The campaign didn’t have a widespread impact, Meta and OpenAI said last week. X didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Gaza: The C.I.A. director held talks in Qatar, but Israel and Hamas appeared to remain far apart on the latest cease-fire proposal.

People walk past tall sprays from water fountains in a public park.
A heat wave in Pakistan this week. Arif Ali/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Global heat will continue to break records, U.N. said

Earth is already experiencing some of its highest temperatures in 100,000 years. Yet the U.N. weather agency announced today that there’s a nearly 90 percent chance that the planet will set yet another record for its warmest year by 2028.

The chances are almost as great that, between now and then, the average global temperature will be 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, higher than it was at the dawn of the industrial age — the level that countries set out to avoid under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

MORE TOP NEWS

A man stands in the middle of a crowd. He is wearing a white polo. Many people are pointing cameras at him.
For the past two years, Rahul Gandhi has tried to reverse the decline of the Indian National Congress. Altaf Qadri/Associated Press
  • India: Rahul Gandhi and his party, the Indian National Congress, are set for a comeback after their strong showing in the elections. Here are other takeaways.
  • Space: Two NASA astronauts finally headed to orbit yesterday in the Starliner capsule, built by Boeing. Two previous launch attempts had been called off.
  • New York: The governor shelved a congestion pricing plan in New York City — which would have been the first of its kind in the U.S. — weeks before it was to go into effect.
  • Germany: A municipal candidate for a far-right party was slashed with a box cutter, raising fears about violence before the E.U. elections.
  • Military: U.S. and allied intelligence officials warned former fighter pilots not to train Chinese military members after a report that Beijing was stepping up efforts to recruit them as instructors.
  • Lebanon: A gunman opened fire on the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon. He was shot and captured by the country’s security forces.
  • Amanda Knox: She was convicted of slander in a case related to the 2007 killing of her housemate in Italy, for which she was exonerated. She will not serve more jail time.
  • Ukraine: Officials ordered rolling power outages after Russian attacks weakened its electric grid. Many worry what will happen in the winter, when energy use is even higher.
  • France: The manhunt for the armed assailants who killed two prison guards and freed an inmate is in its third week. The suspects are still on the run.
  • Europe: Leaders are worried that the continent can’t keep up with the productivity of the U.S. and China.

Sports

MORNING READ

A man in a wheelchair waving an American flag is pushed by another man through a crowd of young people.
American veterans arriving in Normandy this month. Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times

Today is the 80th anniversary of D-Day, when the Allied forces invaded Normandy. Many of the remaining veterans are making what will likely be their last visit to the beaches of northern France. They number fewer than 200. Their average age is about 100.

One of those is Bill Becker, 98, who was an American top-turret gunner. “I made it,” he said, with a tired smile.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

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ARTS AND IDEAS

A giant boulder in the desert is partially carved into a makeshift tomb, complete with columns and an entryway.
Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. Stephen Hiltner/The New York Times

Saudi Arabia courts tourists

In the past few years, Saudi Arabia’s royal family has spent lavishly to improve the country’s reputation overseas — and reduce its economic dependence on oil. That has included an $800 billion investment in tourism.

But what is it like to travel through a country long off-limits to most Westerners? Can the Saudi government persuade would-be visitors to look past — or reconsider — its longstanding associations with religious extremism, ultraconservatism and human rights abuses?

To see the changes for himself, Stephen Hiltner, a journalist for our Travel section, photographed his monthlong trip across the kingdom. Read about his journey and see his pictures.

RECOMMENDATIONS

A toasted pita piled with hummus, vegetables, and cilantro leaves appears on a ceramic plate next to a bowl of shredded red cabbage.
Jenny Huang for The New York Times

Cook: For a vegetarian shawarma, this dish substitutes spiced lamb for portobello mushrooms.

Read: In “Catland,” Kathryn Hughes tries to explain our obsession with felines.

Protect: Spray sunscreen is convenient. But does it work?

Play: Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku. Find all our games here.

That’s it for today. See you tomorrow. — Amelia

Email us at briefing@nytimes.com.

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