Your Tuesday Briefing

A grain deal turned ugly

A glut of Ukrainian cereals and other crops has nearly halved sale prices for farmers across Eastern and Central Europe, leaving them and their governments caught between solidarity with Ukraine and their own survival. The countries hit hardest — Poland, Romania and Slovakia — are among Ukraine’s most stalwart European allies.

The E.U. had sought to help Ukraine export its harvest and ease what the U.N. described last year as an “unprecedented global hunger crisis.” But market forces, turbocharged by profiteering, turned that ambitious effort into a source of political division and economic distress in Europe’s formerly Communist eastern lands.

The mess has created an opening for far-right groups that favor Russia, generated serious frictions within the European bloc and soured moods in a region that had been a bastion of mostly unflagging support for Ukraine. A proposal from the European Commission of 100 million euros to compensate farmers has done little to assuage the tensions.

Reaction: Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Bulgaria have imposed tight restrictions on importing Ukrainian grain, with only Romania stopping short of an outright ban. Moscow has threatened to not renew its own Black Sea grain deal if the G7 moves to block exports to Russia.

Civilians flee fighting in Sudan

Ten days into devastating fighting in Sudan, civilians are streaming into neighboring nations, including Chad, Egypt and South Sudan, raising concerns about a humanitarian crisis spreading to places already grappling with conflict, hunger and dire economic straits. Efforts to broker a cease-fire in Sudan have so far failed.

The huge movement of people risks overwhelming Sudan’s neighbors, some of which already host large numbers of refugees and internally displaced people. Sudan — a country of 45 million people, including about 1.1 million refugees and asylum seekers — is surrounded by seven countries racked by poverty and instability.

More than 400 people have been killed and 3,700 others wounded in the fighting in Sudan, according to the W.H.O. The clashes have left countless people in the country without food, water or electricity. Many hospitals in the capital, Khartoum, have closed, and several humanitarian organizations said that their warehouses and offices had been looted.

Arrivals: On Sudan’s southern border, nearly 3,000 people had traveled to the town of Renk in South Sudan, according to a U.N. agency. Most of those were South Sudanese returning home after having fled Khartoum in cars and on the backs of trucks, carrying whatever they could on the 280-mile journey south.

Biden’s bid for re-election

President Biden is set to ask for another four years in office as soon as today, four years after declaring his 2020 candidacy. He is expected to announce his re-election bid in a video, much the way he entered the last campaign, when he used the same format to urge Americans to embrace a different vision for the country and to “remember who we are.”

At 80, his mission will be more complicated the second time around, as he is forced to defend his record while warning about the dangers of Donald Trump’s return. While the former president remains the front-runner for the Republican nomination, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is also preparing for a likely bid.

Biden will argue that he has restored prosperity, with a focus on the passage of legislation to pump billions of dollars into infrastructure, climate and health care. And he will take credit for restoring alliances abroad at a time of global tensions. But he must also answer for rapid inflation and the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of war.


Around the World

Kenyan police uncovered dozens of bodies from graves, many of the victims connected to a Christian pastor, who is being investigated on allegations that he directed his congregants to starve themselves to death.

China moved quickly yesterday to limit damage to its relations with Europe, after the Chinese ambassador to France questioned the sovereignty of post-Soviet nations like Ukraine.

Prosecutors in the U.S. will seek the death penalty for the man who is accused of killing 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018.

The editor of the German magazine Die Aktuelle was fired over an interview with the retired Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher that had responses generated by artificial intelligence.

Other Big Stories

At least 60 people were killed in northern Burkina Faso last week by men wearing the uniforms of the national military, according to the authorities.

Clients withdrew nearly $69 billion from Credit Suisse in the first quarter, underscoring the bank’s spiraling troubles.

Donald Trump’s civil trial, in which he stands accused of rape nearly 25 years ago, begins today in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

Fox News dismissed Tucker Carlson, its most popular prime-time host, days after the network settled a high-profile defamation lawsuit. And at CNN, Don Lemon, a star anchor, was ousted. He had been under scrutiny after making remarks widely perceived to be sexist.

What Else Is Happening

A major study on remote work showed that employees, particularly young workers and women, may miss out on feedback, compared with those in the office.

European regulators destroyed thousands of cans of Miller High Life, saying its slogan, “the Champagne of Beers,” violated E.U. rules concerning the word “Champagne.”

Bright blue marks were found on a centuries-old statue at a conservation site in England after crayons were handed out to children at the property, officials said.

A Morning Read

Why is everyone suddenly playing chess? Casual observers may attribute the trend to pandemic lockdown and boredom. But quietly a grandmaster plan was also unfolding, carefully crafted by to broaden the appeal of the game and turn millennials and Gen Z into chess-playing pawns.


The impact of Leah Williamson’s absence: After Williamson suffered a season-ending ACL injury, the Lionesses will be a much weaker outfit without her.

Arsenal may be without a key player in the title race: Arsenal face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday in a potentially defining match for the Premier League title race. And William Saliba looks set to miss out.

Has a dominant car created a more patient Max Verstappen?: The reigning champion’s wheel-to-wheel fights with Lewis Hamilton don’t show the same urgency. Instead, Verstappen’s playing the long game.


The reinvention of Taylor Swift

So many clothes, so little time: The logistics alone of Taylor Swift’s wardrobe on her current Eras Tour are daunting. How do you change that much, and that fast, while in the middle of a performance?

Each musical era revisited in the show had — and has — its own look, all 10 or so of them. To watch her go through them in succession is to see not just fabulous clothes worn with purpose but also the hamster wheel of constant reinvention that has been the model for contemporary female pop stars since Madonna set the tone in the 1980s.

Are these Swiftian ensembles — from designers including Oscar de la Renta, Versace, Christian Louboutin and many, many others — simply a celebration of fashion? Or could they, as our critic Vanessa Friedman writes in this column, be something more sophisticated?

“It’s possible that they are, actually, not just a tour down memory lane but a more pointed piece of meta-commentary on the expectation that female pop stars unveil new versions of themselves for our viewing pleasure, one-upping their old image with new wardrobes ad infinitum,” Vanessa writes. “And a message that Ms. Swift is, perhaps, calling time on the whole thing.”


What to Cook

Stay cozy with homemade macaroni and cheese.

What to Read

Eight books to help you become more mindful.

What to Watch

See feminist gangsters, Brazilian style, in the drama “Dry Ground Burning.”

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Make coffee or beer (four letters).

And here are today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

P.S. Christina Goldbaum will be The Times’s new Afghanistan and Pakistan bureau chief.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the crisis in Sudan.

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

Source: Read Full Article