Iran, Brexit, Justin Trudeau: Your Thursday Briefing

Iran, Brexit, Justin Trudeau: Your Thursday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering escalating rhetoric between Iran and the U.S., a legal battle around Brexit and the photo that might imperil Justin Trudeau’s re-election.

President Trump alternated between threatening “the ultimate option” of a strike on Iran over the attacks on Saudi oil facilities and ruminating about what a mistake it had been for the U.S. to get entangled in Middle East wars. He even welcomed the idea of a visit by Iran’s president.

A Scottish high court ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson did break the law; an English court ruled that he did not; and Britain’s highest court is hearing appeals of both cases. It is expected to rule sometime after three days of oral arguments end today.

Impact: If the court upholds the Scottish ruling, it would push the boundaries of the court’s purview to settle disputes in the British political system.

Some legal experts say it could open the door to a form of judicial review like that of the U.S. — except the U.S. has a codified constitution and a Supreme Court that actively interprets it (as opposed to Britain’s unwritten constitution).

Quotable: “We’re in uncharted territory,” said one law professor.

France vowed to protect its population from pesticides, but dozens of mayors who say the country is not doing enough are taking matters into their own hands and using local ordinances to ban them.

This has put them in a legal battle with the government, regional prefects and some farmers, who say the mayors have no right to do so.

On the ground: In many rural French areas, rolling fields of crops reach residents’ doorsteps — along with the chemicals sprayed on them. Especially in windy places, this can make it impossible to avoid any harmful effects.

Big picture: Climate change is a key issue among French voters. President Emmanuel Macron, who has made a show of new environmental initiatives, has voiced his cautious support for the mayors.

And the nation’s top pollster recently described rising environmentalism as possibly the “new matrix” underlying the nation’s cultural identity, replacing Catholicism.

For a special project, our At War column is following a Syrian refugee family as they rebuild their lives across Europe. In the latest installment, we hear from Souad, the family’s 27-year-old daughter, as she finds her sense of self in Amsterdam’s counterculture.

In Syria, she found herself feeling stifled. But now, at comedy shows that benefit queer refugees and in hidden subcultures, she has found a community generally free of xenophobia, homophobia and sexism.

Justin Trudeau: The Canadian prime minister apologized after Time magazine published a 2001 photograph of the him in brownface makeup at a party for a private school where he was a teacher.

What we’re reading: This Vice piece about a cooking legend. Our food writer Tejal Rao writes: “Cecilia Chiang immigrated to San Francisco in the 1960s and opened a restaurant that expanded the American understanding of Chinese cuisine with the super sophisticated dishes of her youth. I love that her big life lessons, at the age of 99, include drinking Champagne at lunch.”

Pack heavy items close to your back. Use both shoulder straps. And carry no more than 10 percent of your weight.

These are some of the ABC’s of school backpacks from the American Occupational Therapy Association, which declared yesterday to be National School Backpack Awareness Day.

(Don’t laugh — the group also has ergonomic advice for toting purses, briefcases and suitcases.)

The first lightweight nylon backpacks appeared around 1967, designed by JanSport and Gerry Outdoors for use by hikers and, uh, backpackers. Soon, college kids started to adopt them. By the 1980s, backpack companies were making them specifically for textbooks.

The packs filtered down through the grades and around the world, replacing the book straps, satchels and schoolbags of earlier eras as an indelible part of a student’s identity.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Melina

Thank you
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

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is the first of a two-part series about a new book about Harvey Weinstein by two Times reporters.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Game for which there are more possible iterations than atoms in the universe (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times’s Travel section has introduced a new column, Tripped Up, that offers advice on how to resolve travel disasters.

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