Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

European Union leaders agreed to push the deadline for Britain’s departure from the bloc back to Oct. 31, staving off a chaotic, no-deal exit that was set for Friday.

It was longer than Prime Minister Theresa May had hoped for — she proposed June 30, which many found unrealistic. European leaders agreed to review the arrangement at the end of June.

At a news conference after a long night of negotiations, Donald Tusk, the European Council president, said the two sides had agreed to what he called “a flexible extension.”

What it means: Britain will almost certainly have to hold elections for the European Parliament on May 23 — something Mrs. May once argued would be absurd, given that Britons voted to leave almost three years ago. That prospect will likely anger hard-line Brexit supporters.

The path ahead, as you’ve probably guessed, remains a minefield.

Benjamin Netanyahu is on course to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

With nearly all of the votes from Tuesday’s election counted, the centrist Blue and White alliance led by his rival Benny Gantz conceded, all but confirming that the country will stay on its conservative course.

Mr. Netanyahu is widely credited with having built a strong economy and kept Israel secure. He has also delivered long-sought diplomatic victories, several of them with the help of President Trump.

What’s next: Mr. Netanyahu, who is likely to be indicted on bribery and fraud charges, is expected to try to persuade his coalition partners to pass a law granting him immunity from prosecution.

Signs of division: More than a million Israelis voted for Blue and White, a record for a new party, making it the main alternative to Israel’s right wing.

Arab perspective: The election underscored that the dream of a Palestinian state is more remote than ever — as is the chance that the United States will help create it.

The Treasury Department said on Wednesday evening that it would not immediately comply with a congressional request to hand over President Trump’s tax returns, setting up a protracted legal battle between two branches of government.

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, said in a letter that lawyers needed more time to assess the lawfulness of the request, expressing concern that it would violate taxpayer privacy. It wasn’t clear how long the review would take.

Mr. Trump has declined to release his returns on the grounds that the I.R.S. was auditing him — even though no law prevents a taxpayer from releasing returns while under audit.

Points of contention: Mr. Mnuchin and many Republicans believe that furnishing the returns could open the floodgates to weaponizing the Internal Revenue Service. Some Democrats say the language in the formal request for the returns does not give Mr. Trump the leeway to refuse it.

Astronomers captured the first image of one of the most mysterious entities in the cosmos.

A black hole is a cosmic abyss so deep that not even light can escape it. This one was found in the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy, roughly 55 million light-years away.

The image, showing a dark circle surrounded by a lopsided ring of light, illustrated a finding that shocked Albert Einstein when his equations predicted it in the early 20th century: that space-time can collapse when too much matter or energy is concentrated in one place.

How they did it: Eight radio observatories, spanning six mountains and four continents, observed the galaxy on and off for 10 days in April 2017. The image emerged after two years of computer analysis.

Black hole cinema: If you can’t get enough, we rounded up some of the best streamable movies in the black hole canon.

Huaraz, a Peruvian city of 130,000, sits about 14 miles below this swelling glacial lake. Many of its residents live in fear that a flood, caused by an avalanche at the lake, could wipe away their homes.

Our Sunday magazine’s climate issue looks at how and why a Peruvian farmer has sued a German utility company over global warming — and what the effort might teach us about litigating a problem so enormously complex.

Uber: The ride-hailing giant told some investors that its stock sale might value it at up to $100 billion, people briefed on the matter said — below a $120 billion valuation that investment bankers had floated. Its shares are expected to go public next month.

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would remove two paintings by Emil Nolde from her office. The true nature of the artist’s Nazi past is now coming to light.

New Zealand: Parliament passed a law banning most semiautomatic weapons less than a month after the mass killings in Christchurch. Just one lawmaker opposed it.

Travel: JetBlue Airways, the New York-based low-cost carrier, announced that it would begin flying across the Atlantic Ocean, between London and the East Coast of the U.S., in 2021.

Holy stairs: The marble of a stairwell in Rome said to have been used by Jesus will be revealed to the public for the first time in 300 years. Many who visit the steps ascend on their knees, as an act of penance.

Snapshot: A smartphone snap from Sudanese protests against the repressive regime of President Omar al-Bashir has gone viral. The speaker has since been identified as Alaa Salah, a 22-year-old student, above. Some people have dubbed her the Sudanese Statue of Liberty. “Her picture has had resonance far beyond its place of origin,” our chief fashion critic writes.

2020: Pete Buttigieg, the gay, Christian mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a Democratic candidate for president, is using the language of faith to confront the Christian right on territory they have long claimed as their own.

Spoken word: One of our Opinion columnists recorded voice memos to remember column ideas and turns of phrase — even full paragraphs and outlines of his articles. He said it revolutionized the way he worked, letting him write the way street photographers shoot — “out in the world, whenever the muse strikes me.”

What we’re reading: Comic strips on Instagram. Michael Roston, a science editor, writes: “If you really miss the funny pages in newspapers of yore, try Instagram. For months my feed has been dominated by comics made for the medium, and I couldn’t be happier. Once you follow a few, Instagram’s algorithm will serve up more. Here’s a starter pack of three: Strange Planet, Rubyetc and They Can Talk.”

Cook: Lemony whipped feta and charred scallions make a perfect spread for pita chips or buttery crackers.

Watch: If you recently signed up for a Hulu streaming subscription thanks to your Spotify Premium account, you may be wondering what to watch. We’re here to help.

Read: “Normal People,” Sally Rooney’s hugely anticipated second novel, is finally out in the U.S. “There is, in the pointed dialogue, a reminder of why we call it a punch line,” our critic writes.

Eat: The chef Jenny Kwak has been turning New Yorkers on to Korean food for 25 years. Our critic reviews her newest restaurant, Haenyeo, in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Smarter Living: A computer science professor researched his latest book, “Digital Minimalism,” by signing up 1,600 people for a monthlong divorce from the optional online world. He came away with clear guidance on digital decluttering: Remove most apps from your phone, leaving them only on your browser. And the going may get rough, so only the most satisfying analog activities will keep you inspired. Win-win.

And we’ve collected five cheap(ish) things for freeing yourself from smartphone dependence.

Every two years, “Star Wars” aficionados, some in Wookiee fur, gather for Celebration.

It’s a giant marketing stunt in galactic disguise, organized by Disney’s Lucasfilm. The 13th installment begins in Chicago on Thursday.

Disney wants to rally the faithful for the December release of the next “Star Wars” episode. The title is to be announced on Friday.

Billions of dollars in movie tickets, merchandise and video-on-demand rentals are on the line.

Safe to say it will not be “Episode IX — We Will Keep This Going Until Tatooine Freezes Over.”

“Make Alderaan Great Again?” Or a musical? “A Death Star Is Born.”

Fans have spent months guessing. A Reddit user floated “Balance of the Force,” citing coding buried on The subtitles do tend to be something of the something — “Return of the Jedi,” “Attack of the Clones,” “Revenge of the Sith.”

The promotion can either help fans to move past their grouchiness over the eighth movie, “The Last Jedi,” or prompt another rebellion that will send Disney marketers to battle positions.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Melina

Thank you
To Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and James K. Williamson for the break from the news. Brooks Barnes, our reporter for all things Hollywood, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about recent power failures in Venezuela.
• Here’s today’s mini crossword puzzle, and a clue: Swirl of water (4 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The New York Times Company named a vice president of corporate security this week, Jason Reich, the former director of global security for BuzzFeed Inc.

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