Brexit, Trump, Nissan: Your Friday Briefing

(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)

Good morning.

A seemingly endless Brexit twists along, a triumphant President Trump points fingers, and a portrait of a seething Nissan offers a backdrop to the fall of Carlos Ghosn. Here’s the latest:

It seems Prime Minister Theresa May’s sacrificial promise to resign in exchange for support for her withdrawal plan has made little difference.

Parliament remains deadlocked. A third vote on her twice-rejected plan will take place in Parliament today, but a third rejection is entirely possible.

To add to the complications, none of the eight alternative Brexit plans on which lawmakers voted on Wednesday mustered a majority, setting the stage for yet another round of debates in Parliament next week.

Analysis: Mrs. May’s resignation offer was a surprising move for a woman who, over the last two years, has bounced back from crises with unflappable resolve. “The sight of this proud, rigid woman admitting that she could not finish the job, giving up her hopes of ever being remembered as anything but Brexit roadkill, was a somber one,” writes our London correspondent Ellen Barry.

The next prime minister: British bookmakers are already offering odds on who they think will step up when Mrs. May steps down.

“After three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead,” Mr. Trump declared. “The collusion delusion is over.”

There were greater-than-usual concerns about trouble at the rally, with security personnel more visible and sturdier barriers between the news media and the audience. But the mood in the crowd seemed no more intense, our reporters found, than at previous Trump rallies.

The Mueller report: The Justice Department acknowledged that the report by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, was more than 300 pages long, raising questions about what was left out of Attorney General William Barr’s four-page summary of Mr. Mueller’s findings.

Congress: The House Intelligence Committee’s first hearing since the completion of the report devolved into tumult. Republican members called on the chairman, Adam Schiff, an outspoken Trump critic, to resign. He accused them of turning a blind eye to President Trump’s wrongdoing.

Hezbollah fighters directed by Iran to fight the Islamic State have missed paychecks. Promised funds and support to help Syria rebuild have failed to materialize.

The Trump administration says the punitive sanctions on Iran are working as they were meant to: undermining Iranian support for militant groups and political allies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Context: Iran has long used its patronage of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria, the Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen to boost its influence and counter the powers of Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Caution: Analysts question whether the lack of Iranian support will change the behavior of these groups, which remain ideologically committed to Iran’s agenda and can promote it through local politics.

“When you try to push Iran out of the region by sanctioning it,” said one expert, “you are forcing it to get involved in the region even more.”

Two rifts on the Brunt Ice Shelf, in West Antarctica, are close to calving, or breaking off, creating an iceberg over 560 square miles (1,450 square kilometers) in size — about twice the size of New York City.

The rifts were stable for 30 years, but in 2016, an image showed the two advancing toward each other. Scientists say the break could trigger the further retreat of the entire shelf. We’ve mapped the timeline of the split.

From the archives: In 2017, we published an in-depth look into the risk of Antarctica’s ice sheets collapsing as a result of global warming. Last year, we reported that the region was melting three times as fast as it was a decade earlier.

Lyft: The ride-hailing app priced its shares at $72 a pop at its I.P.O., putting its value at $24.3 billion. Its market debut was the biggest so far this year. Uber — its main rival in North America — is expected to have an even bigger I.P.O., reflecting investors’ demand for a new generation of Silicon Valley darlings that have created the gig economy.

Nissan: Once seen as a model of global cooperation, the Nissan-Renault alliance seethed with fear and rivalries. Our reporter reconstructs an environment ripe for exactly the kind of back-stabbing that Carlos Ghosn, the company’s former chairman, says brought him down.

Huawei: A British review found “significant” security problems with the Chinese company’s telecommunications equipment that governments and independent hackers could exploit, posing risks to national security. But the report stopped short of banning the company’s equipment in the country.

U.S.-China tension: The Trump administration is pushing a Chinese firm, Beijing Kunlun, to relinquish its ownership of Grinder over concerns that Beijing could use personal information on the U.S.-based app — like sexual orientation or dating habits — to blackmail or influence American officials.

France: An outburst of attacks against Roma this week was fueled by false reports of child kidnappings that circulated on social media. It’s the latest example of the platforms being used to fan prejudice, with dangerous, or even deadly, consequences.

Brunei: Beginning April 3, the country will implement Islamic laws that would punish adultery and gay sex with death by stoning, despite immense international pushback. The laws would apply to Muslims, non-Muslims and foreigners alike.

Saudi Arabia: Three women who were among the activists arrested last spring as they campaigned for an expansion of Saudi women’s rights were granted release, though the case against them and their fellow activists will proceed.

Frogs: The first global analysis of a fungus that has been wiping out frogs for decades demonstrates that it is, in the words of one researcher, “the most deadly pathogen known to science.” It has caused major declines in more than 500 species of frogs around the world, and at least 90 are presumed to have gone extinct.

Wow Airlines: The Icelandic budget airline ceased operations after talks over financing fell apart. All its flights have been canceled.

New Zealand: The country’s immigration agency said that registrations of interest to live and work there — the first step toward applying for a visa — had increased in the 10 days after this month’s mosque attacks, compared with the 10 days leading up to it. Much of the interest came from Americans and people in predominantly Muslim countries.

[NASA’s website will have live coverage starting at 6:30 a.m. Eastern.]

One of the two, Christina Koch, was originally paired with Anne McClain for what was supposed to be the first all-female spacewalk. It was canceled after Ms. McClain found that the available spacesuit was a bit too roomy, a safety issue that raised questions of sexism.

That made us think about the media coverage of women in space. In 1963, the cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, 26, became the first, orbiting the Earth aboard the Vostok 6. She is now 82 and a member of Russia’s Parliament.

“Soviet Blonde Orbiting as First Woman in Space” was the headline in The New York Herald Tribune’s European edition, which reported: “Valentina — or Valya, by which she is known to her friends — seemed to wipe away the gloom of Moscow’s gray skies.”

Karen Zraick, a reporter, wrote today’s Back Story.

Your Morning Briefing is published weekday mornings.

Check out this page to find a Morning Briefing for your region. (In addition to our European edition, we have Australian, Asian and U.S. editions.)

Sign up here to receive an Evening Briefing on U.S. weeknights, and here’s our full range of free newsletters.

What would you like to see here? Contact us at

Source link