Tensions ripple across the Middle East region
The U.S. deployed an aircraft carrier and Air Force bombers to the Persian Gulf in response to what officials described as new threats by Iran against American troops in Iraq.
The move was intended “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force,” said the national security adviser, John Bolton.
The news came as Iran’s state media reported that Iran would be informing the other signatories of its nuclear deal that it would reduce compliance with the 2015 accord over sanctions imposed a year ago, when President Trump ordered the U.S. to withdraw from the deal.
Gaza: Israel and Palestinian militants agreed to a new, fragile cease-fire. At least 22 Palestinians, including children and militants, and four Israeli civilians died in the fighting over the weekend.
Violence disrupts Indian elections in Kashmir
Separatist militants in the disputed territory hurled grenades at two polling stations, the police said, and protesters threw stones at security forces. The police responded by firing pellet guns, injuring at least a dozen people.
Last week, the police arrested or detained hundreds of people in the region after separatist leaders called for a boycott of the polls.
Context: Kashmir has long been caught in a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. Growing local frustrations in the parts controlled by India and an aggressive crackdown on young Kashmiri fighters has increased antipathy toward Indian forces.
By the end of voting in the region, only 3 percent of Kashmiris had cast their ballots.
“We don’t want these sham elections,” said one local student. “We want India to deliver on its promise of a plebiscite and resolve the Kashmir dispute once and for all.”
Extinction risk is accelerating, report warns
As many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people depend on, according to a sweeping United Nations assessment.
The 1,500-page report, a summary of which was released on Monday, is the most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity around the world. As a result of global warming, biodiversity loss is projected to accelerate through 2050, particularly in the tropics, without drastic increases in conservation.
Quotable: “For a long time, people just thought of biodiversity as saving nature for its own sake,” said Robert Watson, chairman of the group that conducted the assessment at the request of national governments. “But this report makes clear the links between biodiversity and nature and things like food security and clean water in both rich and poor countries.”
It’s a boy!
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex — better known as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — welcomed their first child. He’s seventh in line to the British throne and the first interracial baby in the monarchy in recent history.
His name hasn’t been chosen yet, and it’s still unclear if he’ll receive a royal title like his cousins, the children of Prince William and his wife, Catherine: Princess Charlotte, Prince George and Prince Louis.
His arrival was already unconventional: Harry and Meghan canceled the traditional photo opportunity outside St. Mary’s Hospital.
Go deeper: Royal births, which draw immense public interest, come with a changing slate of customs and rituals, some dating back centuries. Our London-based correspondent Ellen Barry looks back at some, including the introduction of painkillers (once incredibly divisive) and the history of official witnesses to the birth.
Still have questions? We updated our F.A.Q.
If you have 10 minutes, this is worth it
A diesel whistle-blower’s fate
Six years ago, Hemanth Kappanna changed automotive history: He was part of a small team of engineering students in West Virginia that exposed Volkswagen’s conspiracy to lie about its cars’ diesel emissions.
In February this year, his employer, General Motors, let him go with two months’ pay and a one-way ticket back to India.
Here’s what else is happening
Myanmar: Two Reuters reporters were released after more than a year in detention for covering the country’s crackdown on the Rohingya minority group.
Moscow: Investigators looking into Sunday’s fiery Aeroflot crash, which killed at least 40 people, are focusing on pilot error, equipment failure and bad weather.
U.S.-China trade tensions: President Trump’s sudden threat on Sunday to widen tariffs on Chinese goods, aimed at forcing Beijing to agree to a trade deal, sent global markets reeling on Monday.
Mueller report: The House Judiciary Committee will vote on Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress after he appeared to miss a congressional subpoena’s Monday deadline to negotiate the delivery of the full report with key evidence.
Sri Lanka: Additional troops have been deployed to the city of Negombo, one of the sites of last month’s suicide attacks, where a traffic incident on Sunday escalated into violent clashes between Muslims and Sinhalese.
Brunei: The country has said that it will not carry out executions by stoning for people convicted of adultery and gay sex, after widespread protests over the brutality of Shariah-inspired measures that the sultanate put into place last month.
Indonesia: In 2002, Islamic extremists associated with Al Qaeda killed 202 people, mostly tourists, on the main resort island of Bali. A local family wants to revamp the site for business, but survivors are opposed.
Afghanistan: Women made up 30 percent of an assembly convened by President Ashraf Ghani to debate the country’s path to peace, but many of them said they had been ignored, marginalized and patronized, raising questions about women’s standing under future governments.
Snapshot: Above, the wreck of a fishing vessel that sank off the Libyan coast in 2015, killing hundreds of migrants onboard. It will be displayed at the Venice Biennale, which begins this week.
India: As Uber prepares to sell as much as $10 billion in stock to the public this week, a low-tech approach to the self-driving future is already emerging in Bangalore: motorbikes that customers rent and drive themselves.
What we’re reading: This consideration of John Singleton in The Atlantic. Caryn Wilson, a senior editor for politics, recommends its argument that Singleton’s film “Poetic Justice” was an answer to critics who said his portrayal of black women in the Oscar-nominated film “Boyz N the Hood” was one-note and reductive.
Now, a break from the news
And now for the Back Story on …
It was a cube-shaped puzzle that had been designed in 1974 by the Hungarian architect and professor Erno Rubik. It was sold in his country as Magic Cube.
The puzzle’s initial popularity fizzled. Then came the internet.
By the early 2000s, devoted cubers began to connect through online forums and YouTube to share the steps toward getting each of the nine “cubies” on all six faces to display the same color. The sport of speedcubing took off.
Among the Rubik’s Cube competitions now governed by the World Cube Association are solving cubes for the fastest times with a single hand (6.88 seconds), blindfolded (16.22 seconds) and, to some cubers’ dismay, with feet (16.96 seconds).
That’s it for this briefing. We hope you have a playful day.
Chris Stanford helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Kenneth R. Rosen provided the break from the news. Matthew Sedacca wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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