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Macron calls shocking snap election in France; AI models compete in pageant

Good morning. You're reading the Up First newsletter. Subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox, and listen to the Up First podcast for all the news you need to start your day.

Today's top stories

Benny Gantz, a key member of Israel's war cabinet and longtime rival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has resigned. Gantz gave Netanyahu an ultimatum three weeks ago to come up with a plan to replace Hamas, or he would resign. His announcement came one day after Israel rescued four hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7. The rescue operation killed more than 270 Palestinians and left around 700 wounded, according to Gaza's Health Ministry. Eyewitnesses where the operation took place described a scene of bloody chaos and confusion to NPR producer Anas Baba.

Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, is seen talking to the media after a meeting at the U.S. Capitol on March 4 in Washington, D.C.  He resigned from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's emergency government on Sunday.
Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images North America
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Getty Images North America
Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, is seen talking to the media after a meeting at the U.S. Capitol on March 4 in Washington, D.C. He resigned from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's emergency government on Sunday.

  • 🎧 Gantz's departure won't topple Israel's government. But it will make Netanyahu more dependent on his far-right allies, NPR's Hadeel Al-Shalchi tells Up First. She reports Gantz has accused Netanyahu of putting his own political survival above freeing the rest of the hostages in Gaza. At a rally held by families of these hostages, demonstrators told Al-Shalchi they were happy to have the four hostages back, but it wasn't enough.


The European Parliament elections have provoked a political earthquake in France. After losing to his right-wing rivals Marine le Pen and Jordan Bardella, President Emmanuel Macron dissolved the French parliament and called for new elections.

  • 🎧 NPR's Eleanor Beardsley calls the move a "huge shocker." She reports Macron hopes people were scared enough by the EU vote to head to the polls to support his party. But Beardsley says it's a huge risk. If the far right gets a majority, it could leave Macron as a “lame duck president with a prime minister from a hostile party.”


A clinical trial begins this month to test whether the anti-malaria drug tafenoquine can be used in combination with other drugs to treat babesiosis, a tick-borne disease. The disease is typically treated with a course of the antibiotic azithromycin combined with another drug. But, sometimes, this isn’t enough to kill off the parasite, and there’s a risk of relapse. Babesiosis was first identified in the U.S. on Nantucket Island in 1969 and was once called Nantucket fever. As deer ticks expand their reach, the CDC says there's been a significant increase in babesiosis cases over the last decade.

Deep Dive

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures to the gathering during the oath-taking ceremony at presidential palace Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Sunday.
Money Sharma / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures to the gathering during the oath-taking ceremony at presidential palace Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Sunday.

This Deep Dive was written by Vincent Ni, Asia editor.

Modi’s punctured invincibility is not a defeat — yet.

On Sunday, Narendra Modi was sworn in for the third time as India’s Prime Minister. This came days after Modi’s electoral performance stunned many analysts.

It is, however, too early to predict what this all means for Modi in his third term. There may indeed be more checks and balances on him. But Modi’s party, the BJP, remains the largest with 240 out of 543 seats in parliament. His allies will likely occupy some of the ministerial positions, too, according to local reports.

One thing to watch in the coming months is how Modi interacts with India’s institutions in the era of coalition politics. In the last decade, the BJP’s Hindu majoritarian vision alarmed those who see India as a diverse secular state. How the new Modi government handles the economy also matters to India’s perceived potential to become a dominant economic player.

At NPR, we will continue to report on these changes and interpret what they all mean for the world’s most populous nation. But our focus will also be on the experiences of its citizens. After all, they are the real story of modern India.

Throughout 2024, NPR’s international correspondents report on global elections — and provide an international perspective on the upcoming U.S. election. Read some of our recent reporting: 

Virginia Ponce searches around the Xaltepec volcano for any evidence of remains of human bodies that could have been buried there. on Tlahuac, Mexico City, May 28, 2024.
Israel Fuguemann for NPR /
Virginia Ponce searches around the Xaltepec volcano for any evidence of remains of human bodies that could have been buried there in Tlahuac, Mexico City, May 28, 2024.

In 2023, the number of disappearances in Mexico surpassed 110,00. The country’s outgoing president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, ordered a recount from the National Search Commission, claiming the number was “manipulated.” The database of missing people was then cut to around 12,000. Pushback from families led to most numbers being reinstated. The true number could be higher because people go missing in Mexico every day. Advocates and victims say they feel apathy from the government toward finding the country’s missing people. A group of mothers and volunteers have taken the search into their own hands, often with huge risks.

📷 See pictures of the group at work and read the story.

3 things to know before you go

U.S. World War II veteran Harold Terens, 100, left, and Jeanne Swerlin, 96, arrive to celebrate their wedding at the town hall of Carentan-les-Marais, in Normandy, northwestern France, on Saturday.
Jeremias Gonzalez / AP
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AP
US WWII veteran Harold Terens, 100, left, and Jeanne Swerlin, 96, arrive to celebrate their wedding at the town hall of Carentan-les-Marais, in Normandy, northwestern France, on Saturday.

  1. Harold Terens first traveled to Normandy 80 years ago when as a U.S. Army Air Forces corporal in the aftermath of D-Day. This weekend, he returned to the region to marry his sweetheart.
  2. AI-generated models are competing in the inaugural Miss AI pageant this month. The beautiful, photorealistic competitors showcase how AI can be used as a marketing tool.
  3. Corey Harris went viral last month for unlawfully driving during a virtual court hearing for charges related to driving with a suspended license. It turns out he never had a driver's license at all, adding a new twist to the story.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-WaheidiAnandita Bhalerao contributed.

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