Iran, European Central Bank, Climate: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering Europe’s place stuck in the middle of U.S.-Iran tensions, a surprise challenger to Boris Johnson and a $200,000 ticket to nowhere.

ImagePresident Hassan Rouhani of Iran near Tehran on Tuesday.
CreditIranian Presidential Office

As tensions between Washington and Tehran ramp up, each has been pressuring Europe to side with it.

Iran wants Europe to help solve its economic crisis brought on by American sanctions, and the U.S. wants Europe to press Iran into new negotiations to shut down its nuclear program.

Stuck in the middle, the Europeans have been reduced to calling for restraint. While they have tried to help bolster Iran’s economy, they are basically powerless in the face of American military and financial clout.

Related: President Trump pulled the nomination of the acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, leaving the Pentagon without a permanent leader at a time of escalating tensions with Iran.

Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president, said in a speech that “additional stimulus will be required” to help Europe withstand the economic challenges it faced, including mounting protectionist threats stemming from President Trump’s trade war.

American response: Mr. Trump accused the bank of trying to prop up Europe’s economy and push down the value of its currency to gain a competitive edge over the U.S.

Those comments caused European financial markets to rally and the euro to decline sharply against the dollar.

Reversal: Mr. Draghi had previously indicated that the central bank would act if the economic situation worsened, but the reverse is now true: The central bank will act unless the situation gets better.

Ahead of his October departure, his words could be seen as a kind of pre-emptive strike in case his successor turns out to be a conservative less likely to combat a slowdown.

Related: Global economic growth is already slowing, and America’s trade war is chilling business investment, confidence and trade flows across the world.

CreditBBC, via Reuters

As Britain’s former foreign secretary widened his lead among Conservative lawmakers in the second of several ballots to become prime minister, his most vocal critic survived the ballot.

The international development secretary, Rory Stewart — who is against a no-deal Brexit and for Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan — had been written off. But now he is the challenger with momentum, thanks to an unorthodox campaign that has reached out to some centrists.

Next: The top two contenders will be chosen by 313 Conservative lawmakers by the end of Thursday at the latest, with the final decision being made by the party’s 150,000 or so activists, who are mainly right wing and disproportionately aging and pro-Brexit.

Chances for upset: Mr. Stewart appears to be picking up votes from those who, like him, doubt Mr. Johnson’s suitability for the post of prime minister. His prospects are growing, according to the bookmakers.

Latest ballot numbers: Mr. Johnson finished with 126 votes; Jeremy Hunt, the current foreign secretary, with 46; Michael Gove, the environment secretary, with 41; and Mr. Stewart with 37.

Related: The man who threw a milkshake at Nigel Farage last month must pay him 350 pounds. His supporters have used crowdfunding to raise money to compensate him.

CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

The lawsuit sheds new light on efforts to accommodate foreign politicians and business executives who sought to attend Mr. Trump’s inauguration to press their agendas or make influential connections.

Egypt: Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was buried at dawn on Tuesday in a furtive and closely guarded ceremony attended by his wife and two sons. Only one major newspaper there reported his death on its front page, under a headline that failed to mention he was a former president.

Congo: Hundreds of thousands of people have fled an explosion of ethnic violence in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo in the past two weeks, creating a new humanitarian emergency.

World soccer: Investigators in France detained Michel Platini, the former European soccer federation president, to question him about the awarding of the 2022 men’s World Cup to Qatar, a decision made almost a decade ago that continues to roil the sport.

Climate change: New York lawmakers have agreed to pass a sweeping climate plan that calls for the state to all but eliminate its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It would set one of the world’s most ambitious climate plans.

China: A family of Uighurs, a Muslim minority group in China, sought protection at the Belgian Embassy in Beijing. They were forcibly removed by the police, and the incident raises questions about the group’s very limited protections — even from Western democracies — against persecution by the Chinese government.

U.S. politics: President Trump kicked off his 2020 campaign in Florida. He railed against the Russia inquiry and pledged to complete the wall across the southwestern border.

CreditSebastian Modak/The New York Times

Snapshot: Above, Aberdeen, Scotland, where some see grayness as a blank canvas. Our 52 Places columnist took the midnight train there and found an explosion of creativity.

Women’s World Cup: Phil Neville, England’s coach, never applied for his job, and he got off to an inauspicious start coaching women. But after two wins, expectations are rising.

What we’re reading: This investigation from Reveal. Mike Isaac, one of our technology reporters, calls it “a deeply reported look at the sheer number of hate groups harbored by Facebook — and the many members of law enforcement across the country who are active participants in them.”

CreditMichael Kraus for The New York Times

Cook: There’s nothing complicated about this potato salad with a Dijon vinaigrette.

Go: New stagings of “Don Giovanni” and “Rigoletto” recently premiered in Europe; they are co-productions with the Metropolitan Opera. Both are improvements over what’s currently on offer in New York, our critic writes.

Watch: Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die,” starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton and a bunch of other interesting people, respects the zombie genre without committing to it.

Smarter Living: New research shows that breast-fed milk may nourish an infant’s microbiome in ways that bottled breast milk can’t, possibly setting the course for the baby’s growing immune system and metabolism. In some ways, pediatric experts say, it’s a signal to society to make breast-feeding a real option for many more women.

And try our seven-day money challenge, one simple task each day for a week to strengthen your financial well-being.

Today, the U.S. celebrates a day that has come to be known for the end of slavery.

In actuality, June 19, 1865, was the day that enslaved Texans got the news that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It declared the freedom of the enslaved in rebelling states — a full two and a half years after its signing, and a few months before the 13th Amendment abolished slavery.

Juneteenth is now celebrated around the country with cookouts, music and dancing.

CreditJake May/The Flint Journal, via Associated Press

But when African-Americans in Houston wanted to commemorate the occasion shortly after emancipation, they ran into a problem: There were few, if any, public spaces where they could gather.

So a group led by the Rev. Jack Yates, a formerly enslaved Baptist minister, pooled together $1,000 in 1872 to purchase 10 acres of land for annual Juneteenth celebrations.

Today, those 10 acres in Houston’s historic Third Ward are known as Emancipation Park. The park, which had a $33 million renovation completed two years ago, is considered the city’s oldest.

You might say it is the spiritual epicenter of Juneteenth festivities.

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. John Eligon, a national correspondent covering race, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the U.S. infiltration of Russia’s power grid.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: British prime minister who recently announced her resignation (3 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Michael Barbaro, the host of “The Daily,” appeared last week on the BBC podcast “Beyond Today.”

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