Your Thursday Briefing
We’re covering the rising U.S.tensions over Iran and the costs of the trade war and taking a close look at a purported cure-all.
U.S. tensions over Iran grow
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has been partially evacuated in response to what the Trump administration calls a threat linked to Iran.
The U.S. has also been accelerating its movement of ships and bombers into the Persian Gulf.
Skepticism: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that the Trump administration had received intelligence related to “Iranian activity” that put American facilities and service personnel at “substantial risk.” However, U.S. allies andIraqi officials have voiced skepticism, as has Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, the British deputy commander of the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State, or ISIS.
In Iraq: Some people in Baghdad told our reporter the tensions were “just talk,” but she found more concern in government and security circles. Iraqi officials say they are taking steps to avoid war.
Costs of the trade war increase
The Alibaba Group, China’s largest e-commerce company, topped Wall Street’s expectations, but still reported the second-slowest pace of revenue expansion since early 2016.
That appears to be because of China’s economic slowdown and the trade war with the U.S., though other factors may have played a role. Alibaba’s scale and breadth may protect it from the current choppiness.
Go deeper: The biggest threat to global fortunes is the intensifying conflict between the U.S. and China, the two largest economies on earth, our economics correspondent writes.
Related: The U.S., Mexico and Canada are nearing a deal on metal tariffs, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, potentially ending a standoff that has heightened tension among the three countries since President Trump imposed the duties last year. Mr. Trump is also expected to delay a decision to impose tariffs on automobile imports.
The U.S. fight over abortion escalates
Eyes are turning to the Supreme Court after the Southern state of Alabama approved a ban on almost all abortions.
The measure threatens doctors with nearly a century in prison for terminating a pregnancy unless the woman’s life is in serious danger. There is no exception for rape or incest.
What’s next: Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, may sign the bill into law, but if she does not, a simple majority in the state House and Senate could enact it. At the earliest, it would go into effect in six months, before which lower courts would probably block it.
Supreme Court: There is no guarantee that justices would hear a case involving the law, even though it was constructed to be a direct challenge to the court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which guarantees a woman’s right to end her pregnancy.
Our top legal correspondent says the court’s conservative majority will have many simpler opportunities to chip away at abortion rights.
Big picture: Alabama is the seventh U.S. state to pass abortion restrictions this year.
India’s women struggle to reach Parliament
Women have made it into leadership positions, drive social movements, thrive in local village governance and wield hundreds of millions of voters in India.
But the women running for Parliament in the current elections still face an uphill battle — especially those outside local or national dynasties. At campaign stops, they find themselves forced to play up the protection of male politicians.
The numbers: Female representation in Parliament is just over 11 percent and is unlikely to increase. By contrast, Nepal’s Parliament is 33 percent female, Pakistan’s is 21 percent and Afghanistan’s 28 percent.
Looking forward: Women are expected to vote in record numbers this year. Election results are due on May 23. And calls for finalizing legislation that would give women a minimum 33 percent quota of seats have picked up in recent weeks.
If you have a block of time, this is worth it ...
Can CBD do all that?
Cannabidiol is a molecule derived from the cannabis plant, and CBD-infused products that promise vague but powerful benefits seem to be everywhere in the U.S.
Plenty of legitimate research is being done on CBD, and many scientists are excited about its possibilities. The Times Magazine looks at how, in this unusual moment, it has come to be seen as a cure-all.
Here’s what else is happening
Facebook: The company put restrictions on live-streaming, in its strongest response yet to the live video of the mosque massacres in New Zealand in March.
Facial recognition: With a vote on Tuesday, San Francisco became the first major city to ban the use of the technology by the police and all other municipal agencies.
Airline safety: The acting head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration defended the agency’s certification procedures involving the now-grounded Boeing 737 Max airplane, telling the House Transportation Committee that having company-paid employees inspect their own aircraft was “a good system.”
Germany: Authorities raided 11 financial offices, including some local public-sector savings banks known as sparkassen, as part of a widening investigation into tax evasion that originated with Deutsche Bank.
Afghanistan: New details on a recent Taliban attack showed how insurgents infiltrated a vital Afghan army base, demonstrating the weaknesses of the Afghan army.
Metropolitan Museum of Art: The museum said it would stop accepting money from members of the Sackler family who are behind Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin.
Snapshot: The new Paris Cafe at the former T.W.A. terminal at Kennedy International Airport in New York. The swooping Eero Saarinen landmark has opened as a hotel.
Denmark: Joachim Olsen, a current member of the Danish Parliament, paid to have his face and slogan plastered on Pornhub, a pornographic website. The goal was to reach voters “where they are,” he said.
James Charles: The influential beauty blogger lost millions of followers after a fellow blogger posted an angry video accusing him of betrayal.
What we’re reading: This two-part series in The Washington Post. Erik Wemple, The Post’s media critic, scours the Mueller report for media mentions, and tells us the reporting was validated, as well as what the report says about the news media. (Spoiler: The Times tended to get it right.)
Now, a break from the news
Cook:Looking for a filling, meatless dinner? Herby noodles, chile oil and crisp tofu will satisfy.
Go: The choreographer and performance artist Ann Liv Young is using her Brooklyn apartment — and her daughters and animals — in her version of “Antigone.”
Listen: Colin Farrell narrates a new edition of James Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist” with coolness and restraint.
Eat: Del Posto, the stately Manhattan restaurant, has seen many changes, including the departure of Mario Batali, one of the owners. Our critic gives it three stars.
Smarter Living: The term “emotional labor” refers to the invisible and often undervalued work involved in keeping other people comfortable and happy. It’s more often used to describe the labor that takes place in the domestic sphere and keeps a household running smoothly. And the division of that labor often corresponds to traditional gender roles. Talking about that imbalance is the first step to overcoming it.
And now for the Back Story on …
This Sunday, HBO will show the final episode of the final season of “Game of Thrones” to audiences in more than 170 countries.
And while some viewers live in fear of running across a spoiler, others embrace the idea of getting a jump on the plot twists. They may be on to something.
In a 2011 study, psychologists at the University of California, San Diego, found spoilers could enhance enjoyment. They gave people various short stories with one of three presentations: a spoiler paragraph before the story, a spoiler edited into the beginning of the story, or unspoiled.
Subjects preferred the advance spoilers. A later study found that they help people to better understand the plot.
However, another study found that the medium mattered: People enjoyed spoiled episodes of “The Twilight Zone” less.
Then there’s anecdotal evidence. The Times’s Jenna Wortham got over having the “Game of Thrones” episode known as “The Red Wedding” ruined, and now relies on spoilers as “virtual Xanax.” She doesn’t, however, dish them out.
Wednesday’s briefing incorrectly identified the contagious virus affecting pig herds in Asia as swine flu. It’s swine fever. Apologies, and see you next time.
To Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Kenneth R. Rosen for the break from the news. Jake Lucas wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about the U.S.-China trade war.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Aerobics class with an elevated block (4 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• “The Weekly,” The New York Times’s first major foray into TV news, will premiere on Sunday, June 2 at 10 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on FX, and will be streamable on Hulu on June 3.
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