If exit polls are to be believed, India seems poised to bring back Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The official results, scheduled to be announced Thursday, will reveal what kind of government voters want for the country.
A victory for Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party would confirm that Indians want a strong national leader, a contrast to the weak, messy coalitions that have governed in the past.
Takeway: Mr. Modi fits the mold of the political strongman; many such figures have risen to power around the world, from the U.S. to Turkey. He stirs huge crowds, projects a macho image of his country abroad, speaks to voters directly via Twitter and has the ability to stoke nationalism.
Perspective: Voters hoping that Mr. Modi would be a Reaganesque figure who would shrink the government’s role in the Indian economy shouldn’t hold their breath, according to author Ruchir Sharma. “India’s political DNA is fundamentally socialist,” he writes in an Op-Ed.
U.S. order begins exacting toll on Huawei
Google’s decision to cut Huawei off from many Android hardware and software services is the first ripple effect from the Trump administration’s order last week to bar the Chinese telecom giant from buying American technology.
The move will have serious ramifications for Huawei’s international business, blocking it from future versions of the operating system that powers its smartphones and limiting the apps it has normally preloaded on Huawei devices sold around the world. International chip makers have also started stepping back from dealings with the Chinese firm.
Inside China: The country has already walled off one-fifth of the world’s internet users by restricting what users inside its borders can see. In isolating Huawei, the U.S. will only speed up China’s digital isolation.
Go deeper: “If China and the U.S. have begun a technological Cold War, then the Huawei order can best be seen as the beginnings of a digital Iron Curtain,” writes our New New World columnist, Li Yuan.
Former White House counsel directed to skip hearing
President Trump instructed Donald McGahn, his former White House counsel and a key witness in Robert Mueller’s investigation, to skip a congressional hearing scheduled for Tuesday in Washington.
The White House cited “constitutional immunity” as the reason for Mr. McGahn to defy the subpoena.
Since the release of the Mueller report, House Democrats have sought Mr. McGahn to publicly give his account of events.
Reminder: Mr. McGahn was cited frequently in passages where Mr. Mueller examined whether the president obstructed justice, detailing episodes in which Mr. Trump intended to use his position to protect himself from the Russia inquiry.
What’s next? House Democrats indicated that if Mr. McGahn skips the hearing, they would vote on whether to hold him in contempt of Congress. That could result in the House turning to a federal court to enforce the subpoena.
Australia’s China challenge
The country, which has a growing ethnic Chinese population and strong economic ties to China, has become a case study in Beijing’s attempts to steer debate and influence policy inside a democratic trading partner.
Representatives of Beijing routinely lobby Australian politicians behind closed doors, and supporters of the Chinese government have sought to suppress criticism in the Australian news media. It is a sophisticated campaign that has left the country debating how to respond.
New evidence: The Times obtained a recording of a closed-door gathering in Sydney in 2017, in which the Chinese consul general urged about 100 people — Australian residents and citizens of Chinese ancestry — to shape public opinion by coordinating rallies in support of a visit by China’s prime minister, Li Keqiang, and reporting on critics.
Global concern: China’s playbook is most evident in Australia, but many countries are grappling with Chinese efforts to boost its geopolitical standing and maintain its authoritarian power at home.
If you have 25 minutes, this is worth it
Rihanna, muse and creator
The Barbados-born pop star and fashion icon upended the barriers that black, immigrant women in the U.S. face to step into a fantasy of abundance few could imagine, confidently using her otherness to forge her own path.
In an exclusive interview, she opens up about becoming the first black woman to lead and create an LVMH luxury line, Fenty, as well as the future of fashion and her next album.
Here’s what else is happening
Middle East peace plan: President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have announced that the U.S. will hold an “economic workshop” in Bahrain next month, hoping that investment and financial incentives will encourage the Palestinians and other Arabs to resolve the conflict with Israel.
ISIS: Three guards and 29 inmates were killed after violence involving the Islamic State broke out at a high-security prison in Tajikistan, the country’s Justice Ministry said.
The Philippines: President Rodrigo Duterte has gone a week without appearing in public, igniting speculation that he could be seriously ill and in hospital.
Japan: The country’s economy surprisingly grew by 2.1 percent in the first quarter, despite weakened demand from China, but domestic consumption and exports fell, signaling underlying weaknesses.
Indonesia: The country’s election commission confirmed that President Joko Widodo succeeded in his bid for re-election, beating a former army general with connections to hard-line Islamists. The election was a repudiation of nationalist and faith politics that have brought strongmen to power around the world.
Amazon: Shareholders are expected to vote on two proposals this week aimed at restricting sales of Amazon’s facial recognition software to government agencies and investigating the extent to which the product might threaten civil, human and privacy rights.
France: After years of court battles, a 42-year-old man, who spent more than a decade in a vegetative state after a car accident, was taken off life support and was being given heavy doses of sedation, in keeping with the country’s acceptance of “passive euthanasia.”
Watch: Recent movie trailers like “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” and “Always Be My Maybe” seem to have something for everyone.
Go: Like so many good ideas, the Every Woman Biennial was born out of a joke. Now it’s in its third edition, displaying the work of over 600 female and nonbinary artists in New York, with a pop-up coming in Los Angeles.
Smarter Living: People want more of what they think is scarce. That’s a truism backed up by research — and you can use it to increase your own professional appeal. Don’t be too readily available for projects or offers, to avoid conveying that you’re in low demand. Holding your eagerness in check can show confidence. Trust in your self-worth, and try an “abundance” mind-set, meaning that if a particular offer doesn’t work out, something better will be around the corner.
And we’ve compiled a few pointers for shopping for outdoor accent tables.
And now for the Back Story on …
Tonight in London, the winner of this year’s Man Booker International Prize, the world’s most significant award for translated fiction, will be announced.
It is worth 50,000 British pounds, or about $64,000, split equally between author and translator , making it one of the few book prizes that puts the art of translating on the same level as writing itself.
This year’s shortlist is dominated by women. Five of the six authors and all of the translators are female.
Jen Calleja, whose translation of Marion Poschmann’s “The Pine Islands” from German is shortlisted, said in a telephone interview that translating had historically been seen as an administrative task, so as women’s work. But she said awards like tonight’s had helped change that, bringing awareness to the skill involved.
“There are hundreds of considerations that go into each page,” she said, pointing out that each word choice impacts the emotion of a novel. “I write too,” she said, “but translating is my big passion. It’s a real puzzle.”
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. Alex Marshall, our culture reporter in Europe, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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