The “revolution from above” of Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday proposed radical constitutional changes that could extend his control over power indefinitely. That proposal led his faithful protégé, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, to resign, along with the rest of the government.
Putin, 67, has already been president or prime minister for 20 years, and the Russian Constitution requires him to resign after his current term ends in 2024. Most Russians expected Putin, a former K.G.B. spy, to stay in power anyway; The question was how to justify it.
Whats Next: Mr. Medvedev’s replacement is a practically unknown technocrat, and it is unclear whether Wednesday’s resignations indicate a break in Russia’s political elite or a coordinated plan to reshape the system. Here are six takeaways.
Quotable: “Why did all this happen in one day?” Asked a Russian journalist on Twitter. “It simply means that those in the Kremlin know the story well: the revolution must be made quickly, even if it is a revolution from above.”
Europe’s risky bet on Iran
While Iran is heading for a possible military escalation with the United States, the leaders of Britain, France and Germany are using risky tactics to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb, writes our chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe.
On Tuesday, the three European countries formally notified Iran for violating a 2015 nuclear agreement designed to limit uranium enrichment in Iran. They hope to induce the United States and Iran to agree on a new agreement that President Trump can call his own.
But the measure has angered Tehran, which considers its breaches as a justified response to the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration after withdrawing from the agreement. And Washington seems eager to sanction Iran even more.
Whats Next: It is very likely that any diplomacy will be complicated by the US presidential elections. UU. And the political unrest that has engulfed Iran after the murder of Major General Qassim Suleimani, a senior Iranian commander, and Tehran accidentally shot down a Ukrainian civil aircraft.
Iraq: The U.S. military resumed joint operations with Iraq on Wednesday, less than two weeks after the Iraqi parliament voted to expel all US forces from the country in the wake of the US drone attack that killed General Suleimani at the Baghdad airport.
United States and China put the trade war on hold
But critics said many key issues had been left unresolved, and that getting China to comply could be difficult. Our economics correspondent writes that the agreement, which leaves a record level of tariffs, “is more like a temporary ceasefire than a lasting peace.”
Details: China has agreed buy an additional $ 200 billion in goods and services from the US UU. by 2021, and provide greater protection for American technology and trade secrets. But the agreement does not address China’s pattern of subsidizing national industries, such as solar and steel, that compete with US companies.
Why this matters: Mr. Trump’s approach may be good for voters when the president is heading for a re-election campaign; The agreement guarantees an export boom, as China is committed to increasing agricultural and energy exports.
Great reading: This is how one of China’s richest magnates saved an abandoned American paper mill.
“Megxit” is the new Brexit
While Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, press for greater independence from the royal family, the divided reaction of the British public it reflects a cultural division about the imminent exit of the country from the European Union.
The young people and the liberals, who mostly voted to remain in the EU, see Harry and Meghan as a modern couple that escapes from a vindictive sensationalist press and a cloistered real existence. But older people and conservatives, who make up the majority of the “Leavers” of Brexit, see the couple as wanting the benefits of royalty without their responsibilities.
Today: Prince Harry is expected to make his last scheduled public appearance before he and Meghan make the transition to being part-time royalty members, a movement that a tabloid editor called “Megxit” a play in Brexit .
If you have 45 minutes, it’s worth it
A Hobbesian forecast for the Middle East
Mohammed bin Zayed, The enigmatic leader of the United Arab Emirates, leads an army that is better equipped and trained than any other in the region, apart from that of Israel. And he seems to believe that the only options in the region are a more repressive order or a total catastrophe.
M.B.Z., as he is widely known, is a socially liberal autocrat who has meddled in Egypt, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Some see him as a dangerous dishonest actor, but others respect his intuitions about the dangers of political Islam in general.
This is what is happening most.
Climate change: Last year was the second hottest recorded, closing the warmest decade in history, according to new research conducted by US government scientists. UU.
Lev Parnas speaks: The businessman born in the Soviet Union, who played a central role in the campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate the political rivals of President Trump, said Trump knew everything.
Paternity leave in Japan: When a powerful politician said it would take some time off after his partner gives birth later this month, he sent waves through social media in a country where many parents are addicted to work.
Snapshot: Above, the Democrats of the US House of Representatives UU. Filing charges against President Trump before the US Senate UU. On Wednesday, launch a trial that begins seriously next week.
He did not overlook more: Ana Orantes Ruiz was an activist against domestic violence, having suffered extensive abuse at a time when there was little protection for victims. Her murder by her husband in 1997 led to important legal reforms in Spain.
What we are answering in the form of a question: J! Archive, a compilation created by fans of over 380,000 tracks that have appeared on “Jeopardy!” After the “Best of all time” tournament of the game show, it’s a great way to test your knowledge against previous champions, says Richard Pérez-Peña, an editor in our London newsroom (and a former contestant ).
Now, a break from the news
Kumquat trees, which have bright orange fruits and belong to the genre Fortunella, are widely seen as heralds of good fortune. They are often displayed in houses and office halls, such as at The Times headquarters in Asia in Hong Kong.
Seeing the Hong Kong kumquats before this year’s Lunar New Year, which is celebrated on January 25, reminded his Back Story writer who lived in Vietnam, where swarms of motorcycle drivers deliver the trees through the streets of the city.
The moving tapestry image of orange orbs resembles a citrus variation of “The Gates,” an art installation in which Central Park in New York was filled with wavy sheets of saffron cloth in 2005.
That’s all for this informative session. I wish you good fortune.
– Mike and Sofia
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Mike wrote the Background Story today. You can contact the team at [email protected]
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