Theresa May to set timetable for stepping down
After months of shrugging off parliamentary defeats, negotiating failures and calls from her own lawmakers to resign, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain promised to set a date to step down as the country’s leader.
Mrs. May made the agreement after a lengthy meeting with senior lawmakers in her governing Conservative Party on Thursday, according to a party statement. It said she would act after another parliamentary vote on her plan to remove Britain from the European Union.
What’s next: The statement has intensified jostling among her rivals. Boris Johnson said he would run for prime minister when the post becomes available.
War with Iran? ‘I hope not.’
Twice this week, President Trump has made clear that he does not want to go to war with Iran, pushing back against two of his most hawkish aides — the national security adviser, John Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — who have been at the vanguard of rising tensions.
On Wednesday, during a morning meeting in the White House Situation Room, Mr. Trump told his acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, he did not want war, according to several administration officials. Mr. Trump repeated the sentiment on Thursday, during a visit by the Swiss president, Ueli Maurer.
U.S. intelligence: Three officials told our reporters that it was photos of missiles on small boats in the Persian Gulf that raised U.S. concerns about rising threats from Iran. The idea is that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps could fire the missiles at U.S. ships.
Reaction: The White House, the Pentagon, the C.I.A. and America’s allies are divided over how seriously to take the intelligence. Those in the Middle East are watching with “a mixture of disdain and weary exasperation,” our correspondent in Cairo writes.
Catch up: Our explainer covers where we are and how we got here.
Trump announces new immigration plan
President Trump announced a new proposal in a speech in the Rose Garden that would scale back family-based immigration.
The new focus would be a merit-based proposal, which he said would rely on a points system that would reward immigrants with skills and education.
He also criticized Democrats as advocates of “open borders, lower wages and frankly lawless chaos” and insisted on the importance of building a border wall.
Response: Resistance from Republicans, and derision from Democrats. “It ain’t happening,” said the Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer
Our toothbrushes are littering the ocean
A new study found that a chain of islands near Australia was covered with mountains of plastic — some 414 million pieces that added up roughly to the weight of a blue whale.
The ocean’s plastic problem is twofold: There’s a lot of it — the study’s authors estimate that there are more pieces of plastic in the ocean than there are stars in the Milky Way — and it kills marine life.
By the numbers: Single-use plastics made up roughly 25 percent of the material the researchers found. But some 60 percent were microplastics, or bits that break off when a piece of plastic is buffeted.
If you’re following the Indian elections …
Shortly after voting in India comes to a close on Sunday, the curtain will inch up the last act of the largest election in history.
The official results won’t be announced until next Thursday, but local news media will immediately begin to talk about the exit polls conducted over the weeks of voting.
Expect lots of predictions. And here are a few things to look out for in the tangle of headlines.
First, watch for results from Valsad, Gujarat, and West Delhi. These two constituencies have voted for the overall winner in every election since 1977, according to “The Verdict: Decoding India’s Elections.”
“Interestingly, there is not one bellwether constituency among the southern states of India,” write the co-authors, Prannoy Roy and Dorab Sopariwala. That exemplifies the south’s political difference from the rest of the country.
Second, look at voter turnout figures. Mr. Roy and Mr. Sopariwala found that the governing Bharatiya Janata Party performs better in constituencies where turnout dips below 60 percent.
That may reflect the B.J.P.’s focus on organization. The party has large numbers of ground-level volunteers who mobilize supporters on voting day. — Alisha Haridasani Gupta
Send us your feedback or questions on this series here.
Here’s what else is happening
Australia: Bill Shorten, Labor’s front-runner to become prime minister after Saturday’s elections, sees trade with China as crucial to fulfilling his economic promises. Critics fear he could make concessions that increase China’s sway.
Hong Kong: An appeals court ruling sends the pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong to prison for two months, rather than three, for his role in the 2014 protests known as the Umbrella Movement.
China: The authorities brought spying charges against two Canadian men detained since December, a move that is likely to increase tensions with Canada.
Venezuela: The U.S. has banned all air transport between it and Venezuela over security concerns, severing one of the South American nation’s last links to the world’s largest economy.
Snapshot: Above, Thich Nhat Hanh receiving visitors in Hue, Vietnam, in March. After living in exile for more than five decades and suffering the effects of a major stroke, the Zen Buddhist monk, 92, has quietly returned to his home temple to end his days.
U.S. presidential race: Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York announced his candidacy, becoming the 23rd Democrat to enter the race. He faces major deficits in polls and fund-raising, and the daunting fact that the country has never lifted a sitting mayor to the presidency.
Bob Hawke: Australia’s popular prime minister from 1983 to 1991 has died at the age of 89. He presided over wrenching changes that integrated his nation into the global economy and strengthened ties with Asia and America.
No joke: A China dog breeder was arrested after posting on social media that he had named his lazy, thieving animals after local police officials — City Officer and Traffic Warden.
What we’re reading: This book review in The Atlantic. “Laura Shapiro, a respected food historian and advocate of home cooking who believes cake mixes should be treated like controlled substances, discusses a shocking idea,” writes our national food correspondent, Kim Severson. “It might be time to jettison a long-held belief that the best way to counter the food industry is to actually cook meals from scratch.”
Now, a break from the news
Cook: This lightened-up Ina Garten recipe for cheesy cauliflower toasts makes a perfect vegetarian dinner.
Watch: Season 2 of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s horribly funny show “Fleabag” returns on Amazon Prime Video on Friday. Here’s where we left off.
Go: Merciless comedy shades to delicate tragedy in the Off Broadway show “BLKS,” by the poet and performer Aziza Barnes.
Smarter Living: There are easy ways to green your housecleaning. In the U.S., you can look for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice label, and other countries may have similar signals of safe ingredients and sustainable production and packaging. Or make your own cleaners. A spray bottle of vinegar and water can take care of most of the house, and for the shower, mix baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and liquid soap. And biodegradable sponges can replace disposables.
And these baking tools can help perfect your culinary techniques.
And now for the Back Story on …
In the U.S., it’s Bike to Work Day, an annual challenge to get people out of cars and onto human-powered wheels. In its honor, we’re republishing a cycle-centric Back Story from our archives.
Bicycle makers of yore — meaning in the 1800s — had yet to discover gearing. In the hunt for speed, “velocipedes” came to rely on one huge wheel, with a second wheel for stability and balance.
That was the style Britain dubbed the penny-farthing, because it looked like a giant penny paired with the much smaller farthing coin. It offered a thrilling but forbiddingly dangerous ride.
But the 1800s were a time of invention. An Englishman named John Kemp Starley introduced a radical improvement in 1885: the “Rover safety bicycle,” with two same-sized wheels.
A few innovations later, he had the basics of what has been called “the most influential piece of product design ever” — a bike with a triangular frame, and pedals that power the even-sized wheels with a chain and gearing.
The bicycle has become the most popular personal transport in the world. Estimates of the number of bikes in use around the globe run upward of two billion.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford, Chris Harcum and Kenneth R. Rosen for the break from the news. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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