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We’re covering the imminent leadership change in Britain, the renewed tensions between Iran and the West, and an unusual childhood ritual in the Netherlands.
Britain braces for a leadership change
Prime Minister Theresa May is scheduled to step down on Wednesday, and she will most likely be replaced by Boris Johnson, according to recent polls.
There are already signs that the change could set off political turbulence. Several cabinet ministers who are opposed to Mr. Johnson’s abrupt, no-deal Brexit plan — including Philip Hammond, the head of the country’s Treasury — are expected to resign if he becomes prime minister.
Voters are also frustrated, feeling shut out of the process to select who will steer the country through Brexit. Only 160,000 members of the Conservative Party can vote for the next leader, sidelining 99 percent of registered voters.
Go deeper: Mr. Johnson’s political philosophies have not been easy for some of his family members.
Analysis: Despite Mr. Johnson’s charm, many of his colleagues and some political analysts question his competence, especially given his spotty record in previous roles as London’s mayor and the country’s foreign secretary.
The capture of the tanker is the latest episode in escalating tensions between Iran and the West and comes at a particularly vulnerable time for Britain, where the contest to replace Prime Minister Theresa May has all but paralyzed the government.
The U.S. has offered to share intelligence and coordination to help other nations protect their vessels in the Gulf, but it made clear that its role would be limited.
What’s next: Boris Johnson, who will most likely be the next British prime minister, has said he wants to avoid a confrontation with Iran. But he is famously unpredictable and has sought closer ties with President Trump, who set off the current confrontation by withdrawing the U.S. from the global nuclear deal with Iran last year.
Go deeper: Both an audio recording of the exchange between a British warship and Iran’s forces and a video of the seizure were released on Sunday.
Mueller hearings loom over Washington
Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is heading to Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
Democrats hope that during five hours of nationally broadcast testimony, Mr. Mueller will focus the public’s attention on the findings of his 22-month investigation — either to jump-start a stalled impeachment push, or to severely damage President Trump’s re-election prospects.
Go deeper: Some Republicans are advocating a gentler approach to close the door on his inquiry. Here’s how they’re preparing for the showdown.
Details: Since 1990, Mueller has spent dozens of hours testifying on Capitol Hill. A review of those 88 appearances shows that he had little patience for politics and often left lawmakers frustrated.
Field workers speak out on abuse in Spain
Ten Moroccan women who worked as pickers on a strawberry farm in Andalusia have filed lawsuits arising from events there, complaining of sexual harassment and assault, rape, human trafficking and labor violations.
Strawberries are known as red gold in Spain, the largest exporter of the fruit in Europe, and farmers have been recruiting poor mothers from Morocco’s countryside as cheap seasonal workers under a 2001 bilateral agreement. For years, academic researchers and activists have complained about the working conditions at the isolated farms, but the authorities in Spain and Morocco have been accused of taking little or no action in response.
Voices: “I felt like a slave. Like an animal,” one Moroccan laborer said about the working conditions. “They brought us to exploit us and then to send us back. I wish I drowned in the sea and died before arriving in Spain.”
If you have 7 minutes, this is worth it
A Dutch ritual: Abandoning children
The Dutch do childhood differently, with a keen emphasis on independence — children are taught not to depend on adults too much, and adults are taught to let children solve their own problems.
One summer rite of passage, known as dropping, is a scouting tradition that embodies these principles in extreme form — leaving children to get lost and navigate the woods at night. “Of course, you make sure they don’t die,” one parent said, “but other than that, they have to find their own way.”
Here’s what else is happening
Ukraine: On Sunday, Ukrainians voted in a snap parliamentary election called by President Volodymyr Zelensky, a former comedian who was elected in April, as he sought to strengthen his position by leading his party to control of the country’s Parliament.
Belarus: Shunned by European investors and wary of becoming too dependent on Russia, Belarus has turned to China for an economic lifeline, which has financed new roads, power plants, a luxury hotel and a lead-acid battery factory.
Italy: Leaders of the government’s two main governing factions, who have been increasingly at odds and even traded personal barbs, pledged to meet and discuss their differences in a bid to hold their coalition together.
Cairo: British Airways canceled all flights to the Egyptian capital for a week because of security reasons after the British government warned of a heightened risk of terrorist attacks. Lufthansa also suspended flights there on Saturday but resumed them on Sunday.
Puerto Rico: Defying protesters who have gathered outside his official residence every day for more than a week, Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló announced on Sunday that he would not seek re-election and would step down as president of his political party, but would not resign.
Snapshot: Above, Brighton Beach in New York. Large parts of the U.S. were blanketed by a “heat dome” over the weekend with temperatures soaring to almost 40 degrees Celsius (more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit) in the hardest-hit places.
Food delivery: Our reporter spent 27 frantic hours as a food deliveryman, cycling up and down New York City to get an inside peek at how technology is changing some of the lowest-status occupations.
India: Last week, rocket scientists abruptly called off a moon mission right before liftoff because of a “technical snag.” Now they say they have fixed the problem and are ready to try again.
Netflix: With its enormous library of international series and movies, the company is hoping that by improving the quality of the English versions of foreign hits, more Americans will watch them.
Venice: Two German visitors who set up a travel stove to make coffee on the steps of the 400-year-old Rialto Bridge were fined $1,000 and ordered to leave the city, which for decades has been inundated with tourists, under new rules designed to preserve “decorum.”
What we’re reading: This article in The Anchorage Daily News. Dodai Stewart, a deputy metro editor, calls it “a harrowing piece of local journalism that quickly transports you into the struggle of hiring a police force in a small town in Alaska, where low pay and poor appeal mean that sometimes the only applicants are convicted criminals.”
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Good toasted bread with garlic and tomato is a perfect snack.
Listen: Our latest “Popcast” focuses on the father of bossa nova, João Gilberto, whose death at 88 was announced this month.
Go: The British intelligence and security agency known as GCHQ is celebrating its centenary (and looking for recruits) with “Top Secret: From Ciphers to Cyber Security,” an exhibition of 100 objects at the Science Museum in London.
Watch: “Cities of Last Things,” Wi Ding Ho’s delicate and allusive film, follows the life of a violent and vengeful cop in three parts — backward.
Smarter Living: Older dogs and cats require extra love and care. Since they can’t tell you when something is wrong, use a notebook to track any changes in behavior — including appetite, thirst and sleeping patterns — and share it with your vet. (Increase those visits to at least twice a year.) And if your aging animal has bouts of anxiety, it’s possible that alternative therapies, like CBD oil, might help.
And we collected the seven most important supplies for a starter earthquake kit.
And now for the Back Story on …
This really is Christmas in July, at least in Denmark.
For the 62nd year, the World Santa Claus Congress is convening at an amusement park north of Copenhagen.
The festival draws the red-suited and white-bearded — along with Mrs. Clauses and elves — from about a dozen countries.
The four-day affair typically includes a Santa obstacle course race, a mass visit to the Little Mermaid statue and a parade, as well as discussions about how to be a good Santa.
It was the idea of the Danish entertainer Christian Jorgen Nielsen. As “Professor Tribini,” he performed as a street singer, juggler, clown, magician and actor before his death in 1973.
To be well trained, well clad and snowy bearded, performers these days can spend thousands of dollars on Santa school, outfits and beard salon appointments.
But the best-paid Santas can recoup that quickly. The wage tracking site PayScale, citing 2017 data, said high earners could make more than $20,000 during the 40 or so days of the Christmas shopping season.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Victoria Shannon, on the briefings team, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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