Your Monday Briefing: Europe’s Energy Protections
In Europe, natural gas costs about 10 times as much as it did a year ago.Credit…Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters
Europe tries to protect its economy
The war in Ukraine has roiled Europe’s economy. Now, as energy costs surge, countries are scrambling to prepare for winter.
This weekend, Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic moved to introduce measures aimed at tackling soaring energy costs and inflation; France is also embarking on its biggest conservation effort since the 1970s oil crisis.
Concerns that rising prices could stoke social unrest are growing. Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Prague on Saturday, and other protests are being planned in Germany.
The moves came days after Gazprom, the Kremlin-controlled energy giant, announced an indefinite halt to the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which ends in Germany and provides gas to much of Europe. On the same day, finance ministers for the Group of 7 countries had agreed to impose a price cap on Russian oil in an effort to cut some of Moscow’s energy revenue. Here are live updates.
What’s next: E.U. energy ministers are preparing for an emergency meeting this week.
The U.N. stationed two nuclear experts at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, hoping their presence would lower the risk of a catastrophic attack. But the plant lost the connection with its last remaining main external power line after shelling on Friday.
Thousands turned out for Mikhail Gorbachev’s funeral in Moscow on Saturday. Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, did not attend.
Ukraine’s southern counteroffensive has retaken several Russian-controlled villages. Deadly shelling continues in the east.
Chile votes on a new constitution
Chile voted yesterday on whether to adopt a new constitution that would enshrine over 100 rights, more than any other nation’s charter.
In a single ballot yesterday, Chileans decided whether they wanted universal public health care; the right to legal abortion; gender parity in government; empowered labor unions; greater autonomy for Indigenous groups; rights for animals and nature; and constitutional rights to housing, education, retirement benefits, internet access, clean air, water, sanitation and care “from birth to death.”
The results of the vote have not yet been released. If approved, the new constitution could transform what has long been one of Latin America’s most conservative countries into one of the world’s most left-leaning societies.
What’s next: Polls suggest that Chileans will reject the new charter. Many Chileans worry that it would change their country too drastically, and the country’s leftist president, Gabriel Boric, has faced plummeting approval ratings.
The State of the War
- Price Cap: Finance ministers from the Group of 7 nations agreed to form an international buyers’ cartel to cap the price of Russian oil, a move that could drain President Vladimir V. Putin’s war chest.
- U.N. Inspection: Amid fears of a possible nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhia power plant, a United Nations team braved shelling to conduct an inspection of the Russian-controlled station.
- Russia’s Military Expansion: Though Mr. Putin ordered a sharp increase in the size of Russia’s armed forces, he seems reluctant to declare a draft. Here is why.
- Unusual Approaches: Ukrainian troops, facing strained supply lines, are turning to jury-rigged weapons and equipment bartering among units.
Details: The national vote was mandatory and followed three years of protests, campaigning and debate over the new constitution, which was written from scratch. The current constitution has roots in the brutal dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who ruled from 1973 to 1990.
Indigenous rights: The most contentious proposal would define Chile as a “plurinational” state representing some of the most expansive rights for Indigenous people anywhere.
India’s electric rickshaws
In India, low-cost mopeds and rickshaw taxis are leading the transition to electric vehicles.
The two- and three-wheeled vehicles sell for as little as $1,000, a far cry from the electric car market in the U.S., where Teslas can cost more than $60,000. Even relatively cheap models can cost more than $25,000.
In India, where the median income is just $2,400, competition and subsidies have made electric mopeds and rickshaws as cheap as or cheaper than internal-combustion models. The market is growing: Indian automakers sold 430,000 electric vehicles in the 12 months that ended in March, more than three times as many as they sold a year earlier. Most were two- and three-wheeled vehicles.
Environmentalists and the government are celebrating the scooters as a way to clear oppressive smog. Their success could serve as a template for other developing countries — supplied, perhaps, by Indian manufacturers.
Details: Rickshaw drivers in New Delhi can trade depleted batteries for fully charged ones at swapping stations. Fresh batteries cost about half as much as a full tank on a conventional vehicle.
THE LATEST NEWS
The U.S. plans to sell more than $1.1 billion worth of arms to Taiwan that are designed to repel a seaborne invasion. Beijing threatened countermeasures.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was ousted as the president of Sri Lanka this summer, returned to the country on Friday.
Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s ousted civilian leader, was sentenced to three more years in prison, with hard labor, on Friday. She now faces 20 years.
An explosion at an Afghan mosque killed at least 18 people on Friday, including Mawlawi Mujib Rahman Ansari, a prominent cleric close to the Taliban.
News Coming Today
Britain is about to announce its new prime minister. Liz Truss, the fervently pro-Brexit foreign secretary, is the front-runner.
Kenya’s Supreme Court is expected to decide by today if the results of the country’s presidential election should stand.
Defense hearings are expected to begin in the corruption trial of Argentina’s vice president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, days after she survived an assassination attack.
The U.S. economy added 315,000 jobs in August, a sign that the labor market is slowing but staying strong.
Gazan officials announced the executions of five Palestinians. Two were accused of spying for Israel.
Investigators seized 27 artifacts from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, saying they had been looted.
What Else Is Happening
A picture generated by artificial intelligence incited controversy after winning an art prize at the Colorado State Fair.
NASA again postponed the launch of its moon rocket on Saturday, this time because of a hydrogen leak.
Serena Williams has likely played her final match. After a thrilling run through the early rounds of the U.S. Open, she lost to Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia.
New footage of the Titanic shows the ship in detail. It also highlights the next stage in deep-sea tourism: $250,000 for a seat on a submersible to see the wreck.
A Morning Read
When India was under British rule, the colonizers led a huge deforestation drive in the mountains of the state of Karnataka, in southern India. One woman, Tulsi Gowind Gowda, has devoted her life to transforming the vast swaths of barren land into dense forests.
ARTS AND IDEAS
United We Shein
Shein, the supercheap fast-fashion megagiant, is continuing its rise in America.
The craze is real: TikTok is awash with “haul” clips of people showing off their large orders. The Chinese company recently surpassed Amazon as the most downloaded shopping app in the U.S., according to a recent analysis. One couple even got engaged at a pop-up store in Texas.
But the brand has also faced many controversies. Shein has been accused by critics of contributing to overconsumption and waste; selling a $2.50 swastika necklace; copying the work of designers; and offering a toddler’s jacket and tiny purse with elevated levels of lead. It has also been accused of working with suppliers that violate labor laws.
It’s not enough to deter devotees. One budding fashion influencer said she saw comments about the controversies on videos “all the time,” but suggested that Shein had become a target for being an “underdog.” A video she made about her Shein wedding dress, which cost $39 Canadian, has been liked more than 900,000 times.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
This pad krapow gai, a one-pan stir-fry of chicken and basil, is a riff on Thai street food.
A Times climate reporter tested clothes designed for rising global temperatures.
Ask a flight attendant: Who gets which armrests?
Now Time to Play
Play today’s Mini Crossword.
Here are today’s Wordle and today’s Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia
Note: Friday’s newsletter was addressed as “Your Thursday Briefing.”
P.S. Natalie Kitroeff will take over as Mexico City bureau chief from Maria Abi-Habib, who’s becoming an investigative correspondent.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is about Vancouver’s approach to its fentanyl crisis.
You can reach Amelia and the team at [email protected].