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We start today with the looming departure of Theresa May, Matteo Salvini’s perpetual campaigning around Italy, and what happens when you watch all of “Game of Thrones” in five weeks.
Theresa May’s departure comes into focus
The British prime minister next month will set a date for her resignation.
She agreed to set the timetable after a looming parliamentary vote on her plan to remove Britain from the European Union, according to a statement from one of her Conservative Party’s leading figures. Previously, she had hinged her resignation on the approval of her plan, which has been rejected three times.
Now, she has essentially promised to leave no matter what.
Front-runners: Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary and a leader of the pro-Brexit campaign before the country’s 2016 referendum, said he would run for the leadership. He’s likeliest, but a number of cabinet members are also likely to throw their hats in the ring.
Trump does not want war with Iran
President Trump told his acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, that he did not want to go to war with Iran, according to several administration officials.
The officials said Mr. Trump was resolute. His response came during a briefing on rising tensions with Iran, and he also said Wednesday that he was confident Iran “will want to talk soon.”
Context: American intelligence indicated that Iran had placed missiles on small boats in the Persian Gulf, prompting fears that Tehran might strike at U.S. troops and assets or those of its allies.
No new information was presented at the meeting arguing for further engagement with Iran.
Middle East perspective: In interviews, many across the Arab world expressed fear of a potentially dire war between the U.S. and Iran. But they have grown accustomed to and even exasperated by an American president who blusters but ultimately backs down.
The architect I.M. Pei is dead at 102
Mr. Pei, the revered Chinese-born American architect, was probably best known for designing the glass pyramid that serves as an entry for the Louvre in Paris, and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
His gracious but firm air made him one of the few architects who were equally attractive to real estate developers, corporate chieftains and art museum boards.
His museum oeuvre culminated in the call to design the Museum of Islamic Art, in Doha, Qatar, in 2008, a challenge Mr. Pei accepted with relish. See it and five other important works from him in our roundup.
Philosophy: He maintained that he wanted not just to solve problems but also to produce “an architecture of ideas.” He worried, he added, “that ideas and professional practice do not intersect enough.”
Salvini’s campaign turns to European Parliament
Italy’s hard-line interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has conducted a perpetual campaign across the country — from the farm fair in the central city of Tarquinia on May 1 to the “Motorfest” in the northern city of Bra to meetings at Sicilian markets.
The most immediate reward is the European Parliament elections on May 26, which populists across the European Union see as an opportunity to test their strength.
But a victory there is simply a steppingstone to the big prize: the case for new elections at home, where he is already reshaping politics.
Stump issues: Mr. Salvini talked to crowds about migration, trade and security, saying Italy’s problems would be solved if Italian voters sent his League party to Brussels. He said Italians should receive benefits and housing before “Roma and asylum seekers.”
If you’re following the Indian elections …
Shortly after voting in India comes to a close on Sunday, the curtain will inch up on the last act of the largest election in history.
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 from 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,” wrote the 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
Ukraine: The return of an oligarch, Ihor Kolomoisky, who owned a TV station that aired a show featuring the new president as an actor raised fears that he may now ask for favors.
European Commission: The commission fined Barclays, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland a combined 1.07 billion euros, about $1.2 billion, for their roles in foreign exchange trading cartels.
France: Marine Le Pen denied making a white supremacist gesture in a selfie with an Estonian politician and accused the news media of trying to undermine her before European Parliament elections. She said it was a symbol for “O.K.” The sign has been appropriated by some white supremacists.
Khashoggi: Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of the slain columnist Jamal Khashoggi, implored American lawmakers in wrenching testimony to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for his death. “If Jamal’s murder passes with impunity, then me speaking here today puts me in danger,” Ms. Cengiz said. “It places everyone who shares these universal values in danger.”
Austria: Americans who lose their passports or cellphones will be able to stop into any McDonald’s location to use a phone and call a 24/7 hotline for the U.S. Embassy. It’s part of a new partnership between the embassy and the fast-food giant.
Czech Republic: The country’s culture minister resigned following rising opposition to his decision to fire the leaders of two museums, including of the country’s National Gallery.
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.
Comedy: The comedian Ahmed Ahmed poked fun at negative stereotypes of Middle Eastern people. An audience member in Florida called the police, who quickly realized the complaint was without merit. Mr. Ahmed said he forgave the man and was glad the episode had shined a light on Islamophobia.
“Game of Thrones”: Our critic avoided the hit HBO franchise for eight years. Then he watched every episode — 70 hours — in five weeks. He said it was “enough time to achieve familiarity but probably not enough to become a true fan.”
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
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 called 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 and Kenneth R. Rosen for the break from the news. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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