Your Thursday Briefing
Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the House of Commons yesterday.Credit…:Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament, via AP
Pressure mounts on Boris Johnson to resign
Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, has resisted calls to resign, even as a delegation of cabinet members yesterday went to Downing Street to plead with him to step down. More than 30 government ministers and aides have so far quit — yet Johnson has vowed to fight on, insisting he has a mandate from voters to steer Britain into its post-Brexit future.
British lawmakers yesterday considered — and then postponed, for a few days at least — a change in party rules that would allow another confidence vote, possibly next week, against the prime minister, who survived such a vote just a month ago. But consensus is growing that Johnson’s time in power is most likely drawing to a close.
Given the speed with which Johnson’s government is unraveling, many Tory lawmakers believe that he should be replaced quickly to mitigate the electoral damage to the party. Johnson has not ruled out calling a snap election to throw his fate to British voters. Such a move would need the assent of Queen Elizabeth II and could precipitate a political crisis.
Departures: Johnson last night fired one of his closest advisers, Michael Gove, from a powerful economic post after Gove urged him to resign. That moment of drama was followed by the late-night resignation of another cabinet minister, Simon Hart, the Welsh secretary.
Tory contenders: See the lawmakers who are the favorites to take over the party’s top job.
Millions displaced by the war in Ukraine
More than 11 million Ukrainians — a third of the population — are estimated to have been forced from their homes since Russia invaded in February, including more than 6.27 million who are still in the country, according to official data. Almost 5 million people have fled into Europe as refugees, according to the U.N.
Most of Ukraine’s displaced persons are now coming from the east, as that region becomes the center of the conflict. The majority are women and children, and many face shortages of food, water and basic necessities, according to U.N. experts. Five months into the war, many have started to fear that they will never return home. The few who remain typically have ailing family members, are too poor to move or have stayed to protect property.
Helping the displaced return to their homes — or find new ones — looms as one of Ukraine’s greatest challenges, whatever the outcome of the war. Some of their hometowns may not return to Ukrainian control. Others have been pulverized by the Russian Army’s scorched-earth tactics.
Foreign fighters: Months into the war, combat veterans who answered the Ukrainian president’s call to fight are grappling with the grueling reality of a war unlike any they have seen.
In other news from the war:
Yandex, the Russian version of Google, at its peak was valued at more than $31 billion with more than 18,000 employees. Then Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, and the company all but collapsed.
Pushing back against the U.S. government’s assessment that the W.N.B.A. star Brittney Griner is being “wrongfully detained,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Griner could appeal her sentence or ask for clemency once the court delivers its verdict.
Global hunger and the chronic inability to access food skyrocketed in 2021, with 2.3 billion people facing moderate or severe food insecurity around the world, according to the U.N.
Europe deems gas and nuclear energy projects ‘green’
In a landmark vote, the European Parliament yesterday endorsed labeling some gas and nuclear energy projects “green,” allowing them access to hundreds of billions of euros in cheap loans and even state subsidies. It immediately proved controversial, prompting boos from opponents inside and outside the parliamentary building in Strasbourg, France.
Critics said it would lock in and prolong Europe’s reliance on fossil fuels, while the measure’s proponents, including members of the European Commission, said it was part of a pragmatic approach to the transition to renewable energy, especially as Europe seeks to wean itself off Russian fuel imports in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The war is forcing European countries to get gas from anywhere other than Russia, or double down on renewable sources like wind and solar. The vote signaled an intention to prolong their reliance on gas — the principal component of which is methane, a greenhouse gas. Europe is aiming to more than halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Quotable: “This will delay a desperately needed real sustainable transition and deepen our dependency on Russian fuels,” said Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate activist. “The hypocrisy is striking, but unfortunately not surprising.”
Energy crisis: France intends to renationalize EDF, its state-backed electricity giant, to help ensure the country’s energy sovereignty, its government said yesterday. And in Berlin, lawmakers hope to pave the way for Germany to bail out the country’s largest importer of Russian gas.
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the World
Twenty-one teenagers mysteriously perished at a party in a tavern in East London, South Africa, last month. Survivors recall a mysterious gas and then a crush to escape.
Ethnic violence is escalating in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, where hundreds of Amhara civilians are said to have been killed in massacres in recent weeks.
Facing a demographic crisis, China is aiming to incentivize would-be parents to have more children. Single women are not eligible.
From the U.S.
The Federal Reserve is planning another interest rate increase this month, even as the economy shows early signs of slowing and recession fears mount.
Joe Rogan said he rejected offers to have Donald Trump on his podcast, calling him “an existential threat to democracy.”
A California jury found a man guilty of murder in the 2019 shooting of the rapper Nipsey Hussle.
A Morning Read
Over the years, the Claddagh ring has been a love token and a friendship ring. In modern times, it has become a symbol of Ireland itself.
ARTS AND IDEAS
The rise of Minions
Minions — anarchic yellow “subterranean mole men-type creatures,” as one of their creators put it — are everywhere. Online, they lead TikTok trends and star in Boomer-beloved memes. Offline, their merchandise is ubiquitous.
While some of this cultural saturation may be related to Universal’s lenient attitude toward copyright enforcement, no less important is Minions’ joyous brand of simple, streamlined comedy, writes the critic Calum Marsh. “In its slapstick zest and nonverbal brio,” he writes, it “achieves a kind of borderless comic nirvana.”
Minions communicate in a mellifluous gibberish, Minionese, that is both indecipherable and strangely coherent. With few punch lines, they instead make use of slapstick action for comic effect. “What the Minion movies end up resembling most is silent-era comedies,” Calum writes.
Perhaps because of this, they have a kind of timelessness — one that does not require incisive pop culture references, celebrity voice artists or even human-oriented subplots. “The Minions just hit gag after gag: pure physical comedy without borders,” as Calum puts it. “And that’s how the Minions took over the world.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
For an Italian-style tuna sandwich, use the best tuna you can find, and be liberal with the olive oil.
What to Read
The German author Daniel Kehlmann suggests books to guide you through Berlin.
What to Watch
The documentary “Fire of Love” chronicles the French scientist couple who devoted their lives to the study of volcanoes.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Magazine staffers, for short (three letters).
And here’s today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha
P.S. David Fahrenthold, an investigative reporter for The Times, talked to Times Insider about investigating charities.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is about Brittney Griner, the W.N.B.A. star detained in Russia.
You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].