Oil Tankers, Hong Kong, Germany: Your Friday Briefing Express News
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We’re covering escalating tensions over an attack on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, continuing protests in Hong Kong and Boris Johnson’s chance at becoming Britain’s prime minister.
He did not present any evidence to back up that claim, which is certain to further heighten tensions between the Trump administration and Iranian leaders. The United Nations secretary general expressed “deep concern” that the new episode might lead to a military escalation.
What happened: Crews abandoned both ships, one of which caught fire, early in the morning, but other details remained murky. The attack came a month after four tankers were damaged in the same area.
Footage: A U.S. Navy surveillance plane flying over the two tankers on Thursday spotted an unexploded mine attached to the hull of one of the ships. It resembled the kind of explosive that investigators believe was used against the four ships in the attacks last month, an official said.
Industry impact: Oil prices rose more than 3 percent after the ships were struck just outside the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow conduit for about a third of the world’s crude oil.
Hong Kong protests will continue into the weekend
A leading pro-democracy organization called on residents to take to the streets again this weekend, in the wake of clashes that have put the government on the defensive and delayed by at least two days a debate on a contentious extradition bill.
Opponents see the measure, which would allow extraditions to mainland China, as accelerating the erosion of Hong Kong’s civil liberties. The city’s Legislative Council is dominated by pro-Beijing members, who see the bill as closing a loophole that enabled mainland criminals to shelter in the territory.
Xi Jinping’s perspective: For the Chinese president, the battle reflects the risks of such a domineering approach to rule.
Options for moving forward: Could Taiwan come into play? Our Interpreter newsletter looks at four ways that pro-democracy forces could prevail over Beijing’s authoritarianism.
The online battleground: A Chinese cyberattack hit the messaging app Telegram, which protesters use to muster their ranks, share safety tips and organize food and water. The Hong Kong police also arrested the administrator of a Telegram chat group with 20,000 members.
Boris Johnson advances in bid to succeed Theresa May
The former British foreign secretary and now front-runner for the premiership finished well ahead of his rivals in the first round of balloting among Conservative lawmakers in the race to replace Theresa May as the party’s leader, taking a significant step toward becoming the next prime minister.
Mr. Johnson secured 114 votes from the 313 Conservative lawmakers. His closest competitor, Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, had 43.
Who is Boris Johnson? His career has been marked by a succession of gaffes, including homophobic and sexist remarks, and he failed to make an impact during his time as foreign secretary. But he has a good record as a vote-getter, and Conservative lawmakers see him as their best chance. Watch our video profile.
Next steps: If he can maintain the current level of support — which is likely — he will be guaranteed a spot in the final list of two candidates. It’s unclear who will emerge as his strongest rival. The next ballot, which will force out at least one more contender, is set for Tuesday.
Wild cards: The position of front-runner is historically treacherous in Conservative Party leadership races that, over the decades, have invariably produced upset winners.
‘The Daily’: Nationalism in Germany
Today, “The Daily” is in Germany for the end of its five-part series on the rise of nationalism and populism in Europe. We’re giving you a first look at the episode.
Wrapping up her journey around Europe to better understand its rising populist movements, our Berlin bureau chief, Katrin Bennhold, went to Germany.
At an AfD election-watch party, she met with populists who argued that the rise of nationalism and populism across the continent, far from being a threat to democracy, was actually a sign of a healthy, vibrant one.
“But when you give all the power to the majority, you also take protections away from minorities,” she said. She wondered: “At what point, especially given our history in this country, is this a problem?”
One young party supporter said something that she had heard from young people across Europe during her trip.
“We do have a certain history,” the young man said, “but we are not the same people as at that time.”
More: The full episode will be published around noon CEST. You can also listen to previous episodes of the series, “The Battle for Europe.”
If you have seven minutes, this is worth it
Two years after Grenfell
Snapshot: Above in Austria, pieces of 3,000-year-old charred bread that look suspiciously like the remains of little bagels. Researchers found them while exploring an archaeological site near the Slovakian border.
Natural healing: Scientists know that spending time outside, especially in green spaces, can lower stress, improve mental health and reduce the risk for several diseases. New research has quantified how much time it takes to reap those benefits: about 120 minutes each week.
World Cup: Australia beat Brazil, 3-2, on Thursday in France, and China beat South Africa, 1-0. Japan plays Scotland today. We took a special look at the Brazilian midfielder Formiga, playing in her seventh World Cup.
What we’re watching: For the 50th anniversary of “Sesame Street,” Big Bird, Cookie Monster and the gang performed on NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert series. “Their six-song show is a delight for all ages,” writes Anna Holland, an editor in London.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Spend the weekend enjoying an Atlantic beach pie — a mash-up of Key lime and lemon meringue pies.
Go: In Crystal Skillman’s new play, “Open,” a woman in the wake of tragedy resorts to magic and misdirection.
Listen: With seven Grammys, an Oscar and a host of megahits under his belt, Mark Ronson returns with “Late Night Feelings,” a more left-field divorce album.
Smarter Living: For those entering barbecue season, there are ways to make grilling out more climate-friendly. If you have the option, cooking with gas produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions — partly because you can turn it off when the food is done. Try compostable or reusable plates and cups, and reduce food waste by planning ahead and favoring grilled vegetables over meat.
And now for the Back Story on …
In 1935, the country then known as Persia sent a message to the world: Call us Iran.
Reza Shah Pahlavi’s government promptly ordered its embassies renamed, letterhead changed and map makers and dictionary publishers informed of the update, according to the historian David Motadel.