British Tanker, Parliament, Russia: Your Friday Briefing
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We’re covering a face-off between the British Navy and Iran, abuse toward Parliament workers and the lobster tails provoking outrage across France.
Three Iranian boats briefly tried to block passage of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, Britain’s Defense Ministry said, in the latest sign that Tehran is seeking any possible pressure point it can exploit in its escalating confrontation with the West.
The tanker, British Heritage, was under escort by a warship, the Montrose, and after a brief standoff but no exchange of fire, the three Iranian boats complied with “verbal warnings” to retreat, the ministry said in a statement.
“We are concerned by this action and continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region,” the British government said. Iran denied any attempt to stop the tanker, according to official news agencies.
Big picture: The dispute is the latest complication in a three-way drama involving Iran, the U.S. and Europe that has played out since last year, when President Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and restored sanctions.
Among the European powers, Britain has been the most wary of Iran, diplomats say, making it a pivotal player in the deliberations over the future of the deal.
Reminder: Last week, British forces seized an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar bound for Syria, on suspicion that it was violating E.U. sanctions. Some Iranian officials spoke of retribution.
A blistering report on Britain’s Parliament offered lurid descriptions of abusive working conditions for the 3,200 staff members in the House of Commons.
The complaints: There were accounts of physical and sexual abuse, like lawmakers hurling heavy pieces of office equipment at aides, groping their breasts and slapping their backsides. One aide said enduring sexual harassment was a “necessary evil.” Others complained of racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic tirades.
Big picture: Ordered in October, as British officials picked through an avalanche of stories about misbehavior in Parliament, the report describes a universe in which lawmakers wielded virtually absolute power.
Recommendations: The author of the report, Gemma White, said true change required an end to the practice of lawmakers directly employing their own aides. Ms. White, a lawyer, said a centralized personnel department was needed to regulate recruitment and on-the-job treatment.
He beat her, she told them. He kidnapped her. He threatened to kill her.
But this was Russia, where domestic violence is both endemic and widely ignored. Every time Valeriya Volodina went to the police for protection from her ex-boyfriend, she got nowhere.
So Ms. Volodina turned her sights out of the country, and this week, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, ruled emphatically in her favor. The court awarded her 20,000 euros, about $22,500.
Scope: The ruling was the European court’s first on a domestic violence case from Russia — but it may be far from its last. Ten more Russian women have similar cases pending before the court.
Details: The European court determined that the Russian authorities had violated Ms. Volodina’s rights under the European Convention of Human Rights, which Russia has signed.
Europe outsourced an immigration problem to Libya, where a civil war is raging.
After 53 migrants were killed in an airstrike in an E.U.-financed shelter there, we analyzed photos, videos and satellite images of the shelter to find out what happened, and talked to former detainees and humanitarian workers in the area who told our team grim stories of lapses on many fronts.
Big picture: Thousands of migrants are now trapped in the cross hairs of a brutal civil war between the Libyan government and rebels.
Swedes have long been willing to pay high taxes for a generous social safety net hailed around the world as a cushion against capitalism. But the country’s sharp influx of immigrants — the largest of any European nation, as a share of the overall population — directly tests this proposition.
Public opinion surveys show that Swedes remain willing to accept their tax burden. But as citizens absorb the reality that many refugees will rely on welfare for years, some are balking at the cost while demanding limits on government aid for jobless people.
French digital tax: President Emmanuel Macron’s government waded into a potentially messy fight with the White House as French lawmakers voted to impose a tax on Facebook, Google and other American technology giants. The measure is likely to be signed into law by Mr. Macron within two weeks.
U.S. immigration: Thousands of members of undocumented families are being targeted as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency plans raids this Sunday. The operation, backed by President Trump, had been postponed, partly because of resistance among officials at his own immigration agency.
Philippines: The United Nations’ top human rights body voted to examine thousands of alleged extrajudicial police killings linked to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
Yemen: The United Arab Emirates is withdrawing its forces at a scale and speed that all but rules out further ground advances, a belated recognition that a grinding war that has killed thousands of civilians and turned Yemen into a humanitarian disaster is no longer winnable.
Italy: One of the country’s most enduring cold cases remains unsolved after a Vatican-appointed forensics expert exhumed two tombs to determine whether Emanuela Orlandi, who disappeared in 1983, was buried inside. The tombs were empty.
U.S. presidential race: Seeking to rise above the Democratic fray, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. delivered a sweeping foreign policy address that denounced President Trump as incapable of global leadership and called for a new commitment to international diplomacy.
Greek storms: At least seven people died and more than 100 were injured after intense thunderstorms hit the northern peninsula of Halkidiki.
France: Vincent Lambert, a former nurse who had been in a vegetative state for over a decade, died on Thursday at 42. An intense family dispute over his fate led to years of legal battles and put him at the center of right-to-die debates.
Wimbledon: The men’s singles semifinals are today, with a long-awaited Wimbledon rematch of one of tennis’s most celebrated rivalries: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Serena Williams and Simona Halep also both advanced to the Wimbledon final, on Saturday.
Snapshot: Above, the lavish meal hosted by France’s National Assembly president, at taxpayer expense, including five giant lobster tails and a $560 bottle of wine that provoked outrage across France. The picture surfaced after months of populist fury at the perceived overprivilege of France’s political and economic elite.
Transgender opera singers: Several transgender performers are making their mark in the tradition-bound world of opera. Some are getting higher-profile roles — and upending preconceptions about voice and gender.
What we’re reading: This article from The New Yorker’s archives. Jennifer Jett, a digital editor in Hong Kong, says, “The earthquakes in Southern California last week have renewed interest in this highly alarming 2015 article about ‘the really Big One’ — coming for the Pacific Northwest.”
Cook: Blackberry corn cobbler should be served warm with a splash of cream or a scoop of ice cream.
Watch: “Con Altura,” by the Catalonian singer Rosalía, is now approaching half a billion views for its music video. Our latest Diary of a Song explores how the track got made.
Smarter Living: One thing you can do for the climate is talk about it. Find out how your family, friends and colleagues feel about the issue, and tell them what you’re doing to limit your carbon footprint. As Connie Roser-Renouf, a specialist in science communication, puts it, “It’s the people we talk to and care about that persuade us.”
And if you’re taking off work for a few days, we have examples of some perfect out-of-office messages.
Migratory bird sanctuaries in China. A radio astronomy observatory in northwest England. Burial mounds in Japan. Eight Frank Lloyd Wright constructions.
These are just a handful of the 29 additions Unesco made this week to its World Heritage List of sites that have cultural, natural, scientific, historical or other significance. (The criteria for selection are quite broad.)
The list began in 1978 with 12 sites, including the Galápagos Islands and Yellowstone National Park. It now has 1,121.
Inclusion can spur preservation and protection. But it can also stimulate tourism, and some sites have struggled to manage the increase in visitors that comes with their newfound popularity.
Venice and its lagoon received the designation in the 1980s, enhancing its already extraordinary appeal. It’s now one of the most heavily toured cities in the world, with tens of millions of visitors annually, overwhelming the population of just 50,000 in the city’s historic center.
In fact, this year, Unesco almost added Venice to another list: endangered World Heritage sites.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
William Lamb helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford wrote the break from the news. Stephen Hiltner, an editor on the Travel desk, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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