Thursday Briefing: A hard U.S. choice on Russia attacks

Plus, New Delhi’s hottest day
Morning Briefing: Asia Pacific Edition

May 30, 2024

Good morning. We’re covering a push to allow U.S. weapons in strikes within Russia and New Delhi’s record heat.

Plus, a hit Japanese nostalgia trip.

A blue minibus and a person outside a small home are shrouded in darkness by black clouds of smoke immediately behind them.
Smoke from a Russian attack on industrial buildings in Kharkiv, Ukraine, this month. Finbarr O'Reilly for The New York Times

Pressure grows to allow attacks on Russia with U.S. weapons

Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggested today that the Biden administration could be open to tolerating strikes by the Ukrainian military inside Russia using American-made weapons. He said the U.S., which has so far opposed such attacks, would “adapt and adjust” its stance based on battlefield conditions.

Several European leaders have called on President Biden to remove limits on Ukraine attacking Russia, including Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, and Emmanuel Macron, the president of France.

Blinken made his remarks in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, the first stop in a trip aimed at showing U.S. support for nations facing a hostile Russia.

In the U.S, a plant still under construction in Texas will soon turn out 30,000 artillery shells each month for the 155-millimeter howitzers that have become crucial to Kyiv’s war effort, roughly doubling current U.S. output. Here’s a look inside.

Water pours from a pipe onto a person in a sunny, open area.
Trying to find refuge from the heat in New Delhi yesterday.  Arun Sankar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

New Delhi sweats through its hottest day in recorded history

It was 52.3 degrees Celsius, or 126 degrees Fahrenheit, in India’s capital yesterday, amid a heat wave that has kept temperatures in several Indian states well above 43 degrees Celsius (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit) for weeks.

The previous record for the highest temperature, of about 48 degrees Celsius, was repeatedly crossed in recent days. Officials feared that the electricity grid was being overwhelmed. Hospitals have been reporting an uptick in cases of heatstroke.

“Ninety percent of Indians work in the informal sector, many of whom have to be outdoors,” Somini Sengupta, The Times’s international climate reporter, told me. “They can’t work at the same pace in these punishing temperatures. The Delhi government today said they’d pay construction workers for lost wages when temperatures reach a certain threshold, though exactly how that’s going to be administered remains unclear.”

A man on crutches in a sandy area covered with debris.
A camp for displaced people in Rafah, Gaza. Hatem Khaled/Reuters

Israel’s Gaza offensive will last all year, a top official said

Israel’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, said yesterday that he expected “another seven months of combat” in Gaza, casting doubt on the idea that the war could come to an end after the offensive against Hamas in Rafah.

Israel has faced increased international pressure since its bombardment sparked a fire that killed at least 45 people in an area in Rafah where displaced Palestinians were sheltering. A Times visual investigation found that the U.S. made the bombs used in the strike.

MORE TOP NEWS

Donald Trump, wearing a yellow tie and a dark blue suit, walks out of court.
It could be days, or even weeks, before a verdict is delivered. Doug Mills/The New York Times

South Africa Election

  • A.N.C.: Black elites have soured on the African National Congress, which could receive less than 50 percent of the vote for the first time since 1994.
  • Opposition: Fifty-one parties are seeking to dethrone the A.N.C. But for all the ruling party’s struggles, trust in the alternatives is low.
  • What’s next: Results from yesterday’s election are expected to be announced this weekend. Pollsters predict that the A.N.C. will be forced to ally with other parties to form a government.

Science

MORNING READ

A crowded modern restaurant at night.
La Coupole brasserie in Paris. Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

The Olympic athlete dining hall in Paris this summer, a 700-foot-long former electrical power plant that will serve 45,000 meals a day, is being called the biggest restaurant in the world. But it won’t serve French fries or foie gras, in an attempt to refresh the global image of French cuisine.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

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ARTS AND IDEAS

A still of Sadao Abe wearing a tracksuit and sitting at a table in a classroom, with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. A lighter is in his right hand.
Sadao Abe as Ichiro, the show’s time-traveling teacher. TBS

Nostalgia for a bygone era

The TV show “Extremely Inappropriate!” features a foulmouthed, crotchety physical education teacher who boards a public bus in 1986 Japan and finds himself whisked to 2024. He leaves an era where it was perfectly acceptable to spank students with baseball bats, and arrives in one where managers obsessively monitor employees for harassment.

A surprise hit, the comedic drama was made by 50-something Generation Xers nostalgic for the more freewheeling bubble years of their youth, and features characters who occasionally break into madcap musical numbers.

Such portrayals strike a chord in Japan, where there have been complaints that “political correctness” is being used as a “club” to restrict expression or to water down television programs or films. While critics have called the series retrograde, some younger viewers say the show has made them question social norms they once took for granted.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Pizza squares topped with cheese and arugula.
Kelly Marshall for The New York Times

Cook: This sheet-pan pizza is the fastest version you can make from scratch.

Travel: Check out five new hotels and spas that are built for bathing.

Read: An investigative journalist goes looking for pure evil in “The Devil’s Best Trick.”

Play: Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku. Find all our games here.

That’s it for today. See you tomorrow. — Whet

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