Your Thursday Briefing

Source: www.nytimes.com : 2022-07-07 04:55:50 : Natasha Frost

Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, has resisted calls to resign, even as a delegation of cabinet members yesterday went to Downing Street to plead with him to step down. More than 30 government ministers and aides have so far quit — yet Johnson has vowed to fight on, insisting he has a mandate from voters to steer Britain into its post-Brexit future.

British lawmakers yesterday considered — and then postponed, for a few days at least — a change in party rules that would allow another confidence vote, possibly next week, against the prime minister, who survived such a vote just a month ago. But consensus is growing that Johnson’s time in power is most likely drawing to a close.

Given the speed with which Johnson’s government is unraveling, many Tory lawmakers believe that he should be replaced quickly to mitigate the electoral damage to the party. Johnson has not ruled out calling a snap election to throw his fate to British voters. Such a move would need the assent of Queen Elizabeth II and could precipitate a political crisis.

Departures: Johnson last night fired one of his closest advisers, Michael Gove, from a powerful economic post after Gove urged him to resign. That moment of drama was followed by the late-night resignation of another cabinet minister, Simon Hart, the Welsh secretary.

More than 11 million Ukrainians — a third of the population — are estimated to have been forced from their homes since Russia invaded in February, including more than 6.27 million who are still in the country, according to official data. Almost 5 million people have fled into Europe as refugees, according to the U.N.

Most of Ukraine’s displaced persons are now coming from the east, as that region becomes the center of the conflict. The majority are women and children, and many face shortages of food, water and basic necessities, according to U.N. experts. Five months into the war, many have started to fear that they will never return home. The few who remain typically have ailing family members, are too poor to move or have stayed to protect property.

Helping the displaced return to their homes — or find new ones — looms as one of Ukraine’s greatest challenges, whatever the outcome of the war. Some of their hometowns may not return to Ukrainian control. Others have been pulverized by the Russian Army’s scorched-earth tactics.

In a landmark vote, the European Parliament yesterday endorsed labeling some gas and nuclear energy projects “green,” allowing them access to hundreds of billions of euros in cheap loans and even state subsidies. It immediately proved controversial, prompting boos from opponents inside and outside the parliamentary building in Strasbourg, France.

Critics said it would lock in and prolong Europe’s reliance on fossil fuels, while the measure’s proponents, including members of the European Commission, said it was part of a pragmatic approach to the transition to renewable energy, especially as Europe seeks to wean itself off Russian fuel imports in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The war is forcing European countries to get gas from anywhere other than Russia, or double down on renewable sources like wind and solar. The vote signaled an intention to prolong their reliance on gas — the principal component of which is methane, a greenhouse gas. Europe is aiming to more than halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Quotable: “This will delay a desperately needed real sustainable transition and deepen our dependency on Russian fuels,” said Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate activist. “The hypocrisy is striking, but unfortunately not surprising.”

Over the years, the Claddagh ring has been a love token and a friendship ring. In modern times, it has become a symbol of Ireland itself.

Minions — anarchic yellow “subterranean mole men-type creatures,” as one of their creators put it — are everywhere. Online, they lead TikTok trends and star in Boomer-beloved memes. Offline, their merchandise is ubiquitous.

While some of this cultural saturation may be related to Universal’s lenient attitude toward copyright enforcement, no less important is Minions’ joyous brand of simple, streamlined comedy, writes the critic Calum Marsh. “In its slapstick zest and nonverbal brio,” he writes, it “achieves a kind of borderless comic nirvana.”

Minions communicate in a mellifluous gibberish, Minionese, that is both indecipherable and strangely coherent. With few punch lines, they instead make use of slapstick action for comic effect. “What the Minion movies end up resembling most is silent-era comedies,” Calum writes.

Perhaps because of this, they have a kind of timelessness — one that does not require incisive pop culture references, celebrity voice artists or even human-oriented subplots. “The Minions just hit gag after gag: pure physical comedy without borders,” as Calum puts it. “And that’s how the Minions took over the world.”

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