Theresa May, Bulgaria, Latvia: Your Thursday Briefing

Theresa May, Bulgaria, Latvia: Your Thursday Briefing


With just a week left in power, the British prime minister used a valedictory speech to denounce divisiveness and “absolutism” in domestic and international politics. She spoke as Brexit continued to tear apart her Conservative Party.

In a strong attack on populism and a defense of the postwar liberal order, Mrs. May called on the U.S. to accept the need for multilateral institutions. She also warned against the “politics of winners and losers, of absolutes and of perpetual strife” — a concept, she said, “that threatens us all.”

The opposition: Mrs. May’s critics believe that some of her own language has fueled an intolerant political climate in Britain. Her inflexibility on Brexit, they say, has left the nation polarized and without a road map out of the E.U.

The markets: Her likely successor, Boris Johnson, says he will keep the option of a no-deal withdrawal from the E.U. on the table. The pound fell to a two-year low over fears that Britain is hurtling toward a chaotic exit from the bloc at the end of October.

The names, addresses, incomes and social security information of as many as five million citizens and foreign residents in Bulgaria — a country of seven million — have been taken in a cyberattack on the national tax agency.

The breach was the largest theft of personal data ever reported in the Balkans. And it was the latest in a series of attacks that have drawn attention to the growing danger that governments and their citizens face in an increasingly digitized world.

Who’s responsible: A 20-year-old computer programmer has been arrested, but some officials suggested Russia might have been behind the attack, as retaliation for Bulgaria’s recent purchase of American-made fighter jets.

The response: Many nations have focused on defending energy and defense networks — a category that does not always include vast repositories of personal data. A cybersecurity expert said governments should broaden their view of what is vital to national security.


Relatives of foreign prisoners held in Iran are grappling with a lack of basic information about their cases as tensions between Washington and Tehran keep escalating.

At least four American citizens are known to be held in Iran. A British-Iranian woman who has been detained in Tehran since 2016 was recently moved to a hospital psychiatric unit, her family said. Most recently, a French-Iranian scholar was arrested without explanation, even as France is trying to save the nuclear agreement.

For their part, Iranian officials have said the U.S. is holding more than a dozen Iranians, often on charges of violating American sanctions.

What’s next? While each case is different, it’s unclear what might happen to the prisoners, as hard-line Iranian conservatives express fury over what they see as Europe’s subservience to the U.S.

For years, according to the authorities in Europe and the U.S., banks in Latvia’s capital, Riga, specialized in helping criminals wipe their fingerprints off dirty money before it was moved to offshore havens.

The bad publicity has driven honest investment away. That has prompted promises from Latvian officials to crack down on the corrupt banks that have made the country one of the world’s pre-eminent money-laundering centers, especially for money flowing out of Russia.

What’s at stake: If Latvia ends up on a list of money-laundering hubs, its access to the global financial system will be severely constrained. Foreign transactions would become more difficult, and Latvians would not be able to use their credit cards abroad.

The response: The Latvian government is so alarmed about the problem that it ranks it above other urgent tasks, like fixing the broken health care system and improving Latvia’s substandard schools and universities.

The nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan has taken a heavy toll on Afghan troops and police officers, 45,000 of whom have been killed in the past five years.

As the Taliban and the U.S. try to reach an agreement to withdraw Western troops, The Times talked to Afghan security forces. They spoke frankly about their leaders, the Taliban, the prospects for peace and the loss of comrades and loved ones.

France: The Louvre has removed the name of the Sackler family from a wing that houses Persian and Levantine artifacts. It is the first major museum to erase its public association with the philanthropist family, which has been linked to the opioid crisis in the U.S.

Amazon: The European Commission is scrutinizing how the retailing giant collects and uses data from third-party sellers on its website and whether that breaches antitrust rules.

U.S.: The House killed an attempt to impeach President Trump for statements about Democratic congresswomen that the chamber condemned as racist. The 332-to-95 vote to table the measure split Democrats, underscoring the divisions within the party.

El Chapo: The brutal and wily Mexican cartel leader, whose real name is Joaquín Guzmán Loera, was sentenced to life in prison. Mr. Guzmán smuggled more than $12 billion worth of drugs and plunged Mexico into a long-running spiral of bloodshed and corruption.

Iraq: A Turkish diplomat and two Iraqis were killed in a gun attack in a restaurant in the Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq. The Iraqis worked for the Turkish consulate. It was not immediately clear who carried out the shooting or why.

Netflix: The streaming giant said it added just 2.7 million subscribers in the last quarter, far short of the five million investors had expected, and lost 126,000 U.S. customers during the same period. Its stock dived by as much as 11 percent after the markets closed.

Kevin Spacey: Prosecutors in Massachusetts dropped a sexual assault charge against the actor, who had been accused of fondling a then-18-year-old man at a restaurant three years ago, bringing an abrupt end to one of the few criminal cases of the #MeToo era.

Snapshot: Misters keeping visitors cool at the Phoenix Zoo in Arizona on Tuesday. A heat wave is expected to spread through two-thirds of the U.S. over the weekend, with temperatures hovering near 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) in some places.

In memoriam: Andrea Camilleri, who created the Inspector Montalbano series of detective novels, died on Wednesday in Rome at 93. The books were wildly successful in Italy and were the basis for a TV series that has been running for 20 years.

Boris Johnson: With Mr. Johnson likely to become prime minister of Britain next week, his 2004 novel is getting a fresh look. “Seventy-Two Virgins” includes much talk of buxom women and has a bumbling, gaffe-prone member of Parliament as its hero.

What we’re reading: This National Geographic presentation. Michael Roston, an editor in the science department, writes: “Our solar system has so many remarkable moons. This interactive atlas full of spinning orbs lets you enjoy their fascinating diversity all in one place.”

Cook: There are few things better than a dinner of crisp, pan-roasted fish.

Listen: It Don’t Hinder Me” is a convincing Southern-rock stomper from Angelica Garcia, who has a ferociously quavering voice, our critic writes.

Read: “Orange Is the New Black” is coming to an end. Looking back on the show’s legacy, our critic calls it “the first ‘Netflix series’ in the sense we think of it now.”

Go: “A Call To Action,” an exhibition of colorful works by the 49-year-old Japanese visual artist known as Mr., recently opened at the Guimet Museum in Paris. The show was created at the invitation of the American singer and producer Pharrell Williams.


Smarter Living: It’s tough to be an introvert in a world that equates leadership and ambition with extroversion. But there are ways to create success on your own terms. Know your limits, and create boundaries to ensure that you aren’t constantly forced to test them. And when questioned at a meeting, don’t be afraid to say: “I need to think that over. Can I get back to you?”

And here’s what to expect from a meal-planning service.

Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing on Saturday, The Times has been revisiting Apollo 11 and its impact on history, science and culture.

But we haven’t mentioned Tang, the powdered orange drink that John Glenn and the astronauts who followed him took into space (in vacuum-sealed pouches) starting in 1962, on the Friendship and Gemini missions.

The credit — or blame — goes to a General Foods scientist, William Mitchell, who created the concoction in 1957. (A master of over-the-top sweetness, he also invented Cool Whip and Pop Rocks.)

But the company sure seized on the NASA connection in its marketing.

Years later, Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, finally confessed: “Tang sucks.

The product is still around. Mondelez, a snack company based in Deerfield, Ill., owns Tang, and its popularity in South America helped make it a billion-dollar brand. It comes in a variety of flavors besides orange, including guyabano and pomelo.



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

— William


Thank you
Chris Stanford and Alisha Haridasani Gupta helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford wrote the break from the news. Victoria Shannon wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the U.S. Justice Department’s decision not to seek charges in the 2014 death of Eric Garner, which helped galvanize the Black Lives Matter movement.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Saudi currency (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Over the last three years, the Opinion section of The New York Times has edited and published some 800 Spanish-language Op-Eds under the direction of Boris Muñoz, who just won an award from the Columbia Journalism School for outstanding coverage of the Americas. Leer en español.



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