Biden asks Congress for $33 billion for Ukraine
President Biden called on Congress to approve $33 billion more in aid to Ukraine, arguing that US weapons and humanitarian aid are helping Russian invaders retaliate in a conflict with global implications. “The cost of this fight is not cheap,” he said. “But giving in to aggression will be more expensive.” Follow the latest updates from the war.
The request marked an extraordinary escalation in US investment, with total emergency aid spending more than tripling, and the US this year on track to spend as much this year helping the Ukrainians as it does on average per year fighting in Afghanistan. if not anymore. There is broad bipartisan support for more help.
Biden also sent Congress a plan to increase the government’s power to seize the assets of oligarchs associated with Russian president Vladimir Putin. The proceeds could be used to help the Ukrainians. Hours later, Congress passed legislation that would allow Biden to use a World War II law to quickly lend Ukraine weapons.
In other news from the war:
Russian missiles hit Kiev a few miles from where UN Secretary General António Guterres was meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Officials from Ukraine and the UN continued to call for a ceasefire and humanitarian corridors from the besieged southern port city of Mariupol.
Russian intelligence was behind a chemical attack on Dmitri Muratov, the Nobel Prize-winning editor of Novaya Gazeta, an independent newspaper that criticizes the Kremlin, US officials said.
Plans for Sweden and Finland to join NATO
NATO is exploring ways to bolster security for Finland and Sweden should they ask to join the alliance, as they have said they likely will, even before the other 30 member states ratify their membership, officials from the NATO said. alliance.
In recent weeks, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland are on their way to formally applying for membership. But the ratification process takes time, and countries cannot count on NATO’s military assistance to come until it’s completed.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday that he had discussed ways to bridge the transition period before the countries fall under the group’s security guarantee. “It’s their decision, but if they decide to apply, Finland and Sweden will be warmly welcomed and expect the process to be swift,” he said.
US: While the Pentagon has not offered a formal security guarantee, officials in Washington said bilateral agreements with the countries should help deter Russian aggression aimed at hindering their NATO membership.
Are the traditional political parties in France dead?
Since the 1950s, two parties — the Socialists on the left and Les Républicains on the right — have supplied three-quarters of French presidents and nearly all of the country’s prime ministers. But in this month’s presidential election, candidates for both parties collapsed, each taking less than 5 percent of the vote.
The stark collapse hampered a years-long downward spiral for both parties, who struggle to convince voters they can handle concerns like security, inequality and climate change, experts say. Instead, the second round was fought between Emmanuel Macron, the center’s French president, and Marine Le Pen, of the far-right National Rally party.
The old left-right division has made way for a new landscape, divided into three large blocks. Macron’s broad, pro-globalization center is now flanked by more radical forces: on the right, Le Pen and her anti-immigrant nationalism; on the left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, an ardent proponent of state-led policies against EU rules and the free market.
Background: Macron’s centrist party, founded six years ago, dealt a first blow to the system in 2017, shattering the left. With the vote earlier this month, the right is feeling the damage.
Next steps: Macron will be in office until 2027; French law limits presidents to two consecutive terms in office. After that, it is unclear whether the traditional parties will be able to recover.
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Around the world
Hundreds of people gather on the banks of the Nile for iftar, the sunset meal that breaks the daily fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Once they have eaten, there is a palpable sense of relief.
“We come here to forget everything,” said a young musician. “The heat, the power cuts, the protests. At least here we can sing.”
ART AND IDEAS
Superstition of the stage
Don’t say “good luck”, don’t wear greenery, don’t give flowers, don’t whistle, always leave a light on. And sure, never say the name of the Scottish play, or you risk personal catastrophe.
Theaters are superstitious places. When the new Broadway revival of “Macbeth” canceled performances because its leader, Daniel Craig, tested positive for the coronavirus, it was once again a curse, Alexis Soloski reports for The Times.
The ‘Macbeth’ superstition is an invention of the critic and essayist Max Beerbohm. In 1898, Beerbohm wrote a column falsely claiming that a young male actor had died before the play’s debut. His words took hold and stories of Macbeth-adjacent injuries, accidents and deaths began to pour in.
A lot can go wrong during a live performance, emphasizes Anjna Chouhan, lecturer on Shakespeare’s work. Actors may subscribe to superstitions and various rituals before and after the show as a way to “enforce your control over things that cannot be controlled.”
The Times spoke with Broadway performers — including believers and skeptics — about whether they’d experienced supernatural moments in the theater.