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eyes on the U.S.

Eyes On U.S. — No 'Vague Rouge,' No Final Results: How The World Makes Sense Of Midterms

While some breathed sighs of relief that the Republicans' predicted "red wave" sweep didn't happen, others chuckle at how long it takes to count the votes. And then there's Senõr Musk...

President Joe Biden speaks on midterm elections results. Live broadcast on CNN TV channel from Clermont-Ferrand, France, November 9, 2022​.

President Joe Biden speaks on midterm elections results. Live broadcast on CNN TV channel from Clermont-Ferrand, France, November 9, 2022.

Adrien Fillon/ZUMA
Alex Hurst

PARIS — Three full days later, and there's still no real clarity on the U.S. midterms — but the world has gotten used to American elections dragging out for days or even weeks, for both political and technical reasons.

One French journalist wondered if there’s a simpler way.



But whatever the final tally, whoever winds up with majority control of the House of Representatives and Senate, readers learned that — after weeks of forecasts of huge Republican gains — the Democrats have avoided the vague rouge (Montreal)... onda rossa (Rome) ... chervona khvylya (Kyiv).

Elisabetta Grande of Italian magazine MicroMega noted that, while the midterms are not quite a win for the Democrats and President Joe Biden, voters rejected candidates in the "election denier" camp of the Republican party allied with former President Donald Trump.

France’s left-leaning Libération on Thursday was already looking ahead to the Republican battle royale shaping up between Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for the 2024 Republican nomination.

Portugal’s Publicozeros in on the Democrats man of the moment, John Fetterman, the newly elected Senator from Pennsylvania, who they describe as not having “supporters,” but rather “fans.” Publico sees particular relevance in the fact that Fetterman took down Trump’s handpicked candidate, Mehmet Oz.

Brazil’s O Globo gives Fetterman front page treatment, at least in part because he is married to a Brazilian, Gisele Barreto.


With DeSantis' midterms victory, "Trump already has a rival" for the 2024 presidential election, foresees Monterrey-based Mexican newspaper Milenio.

Global right-wing connections

European eyes remain concerned. From Germany, security and foreign policy watcher Marcel Dirsus quips, “it’d be a lot less unnerving to watch Americans vote from Europe if we weren’t so damn dependent on their choices.” No place is that more true today than the war in Ukraine, where Washington is by far the biggest contributor of military aid.

Kyiv-based news website Livy Beregnoted the results of exit polls that showed Americans are focused, above all, on the impact of a growing economic crisis and how it could affect U.S. support for Ukraine in the war against Russia. Notably, 81% of Democrats supported providing additional aid to Ukraine, compared to just 35% of Republicans.

For Jerusalem-based Haaretz, Moshe Gilad sees a dangerous connection between the U.S. far-right, the Israeli far-right, and “Birthright,” an organization that offers young American Jews a "discovery" trip to Israel.

Meanwhile observers from the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe), which typically monitors elections in countries with weak or no democratic institutions, deplored a state of “generalized disinformation” across the U.S. ahead of the elections.

Which brings us to our next topic, disinformation, and just what the heck is going to happen with Twitter.

📰 UP, FRONT PAGE AND CENTER

Korean daily Dong-a Ilbo

🐦 Monsieur Musk, alors?

Occupying almost just as much global attention this week as the U.S. midterms is Twitter under its new master, Elon Musk.

As An-Nahar sums up from Lebanon, Twitter is seeing a flood of users leaving for other pastures because it “became the place of a notable increase of speeches of hate and racist insults right after Elon Musk’s bought back the company.”

That’s unlikely to change anytime soon — as Germany’s Die Zeit reports, Musk sacked the Twitter team that discovered that Twitter’s algorithm tended to amplify far-right content. “Now that this team has been fired, it is even less likely that change will be possible — or even that these phenomenons could be better understood within the company,” Die Zeit writes.

As a result, many are threatening to leave Twitter (1 million accounts have already been deactivated), and the platform that’s in the running to replace it is not-U.S. based: Mastodon was created in 2016 by German software engineer Eugen Rochko, who is the company’s only employee.

The quirk of Mastodon is that everything is hosted on a series of independently run, decentralized servers; there is no central company, or central organization behind it.

Our continent, our rules.

This week, both Deutsche Welle and Le Monderan explainer pieces, giving readers the rundown on how Mastodon works, and how to create an account. But whether or not the platform shapes up as a true alternative remains to be seen — as Publico’s Karla Pequenino writes, Musk’s ultimate goal is to transform Twitter into a “superapp,” the likes of which exist in southeast Asia — like China’s WeChat or Singapore based Grab.

However, though he is now the sole owner of Twitter, Musk won't necessarily be able to do as he likes with the platform. Twitter’s global reach is a strength, and a constraint, as global regulators intend to make clear.

Stéphane Séjourné, the head of the Renew Europe group — the third largest in the European Parliament — is demanding that Musk come and testify before the EU’s legislative body. “Whatever Mr. Musk chooses to do, our refrain remains the same: our continent, our rules," he tweeted. "We must assure that Twitter continues to act against disinformation and hate speech."


A crashing bird is singing on the front page of French daily Libération.

​🇪🇬 IN BRIEF

COP 27 is happening in Egypt, and the U.S., Canada, and Australia are being called out for contributing far less towards climate finance than they should, considering their share of historic emissions.

But in the case of the US, it’s not just far less, it’s far, faaaaaaaar less. The U.S. is #1 … at doing the least, says Carbon Brief. And developing countries — who will bear the biggest burden despite their lack of responsibility for the problem, are upset.

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Future

Hey ChatGPT, Are You A Google Killer? That's The Wrong Prompt People

Reports that the new AI natural-language chatbot is a threat to Google's search business fails to see that the two machines serve very different functions.

Photo of bubbles exploding

Mind blowing power

DeepMind
Tristan Greene

Since OpenAI unveiled ChatGPT to the world last November, people have wasted little time finding imaginative uses for the eerily human-like chatbot. They have used it to generate code, create Dungeons & Dragons adventures and converse on a seemingly infinite array of topics.

Now some in Silicon Valley are speculating that the masses might come to adopt the ChatGPT-style bots as an alternative to traditional internet searches.

Microsoft, which made an early $1 billion investment in OpenAI, plans to release an implementation of its Bing search engine that incorporates ChatGPT before the end of March. According to a recent article in The New York Times, Google has declared “code red” over fears ChatGPT could pose a significant threat to its $149-billion-dollar-a-year search business.

Could ChatGPT really be on the verge of disrupting the global search engine industry?

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