Your Tuesday Briefing: Boris Johnson, NATO, China

(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)

Good morning.

We’re covering a wild card in the British election, potential tariffs on French wine and cheese, and a puppy that was stuck in the mud for centuries.

ImagePrime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain with Mayor Sadiq Khan of London at a vigil on Monday for victims of the London Bridge terrorist attack.
Credit…Daniel Leal-Olivas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The British prime minister’s Conservative Party is favored to win the Dec. 12 election, and its members hoped that campaigning this week would be devoted to security, an area in which they typically have an advantage over the Labour Party. But two complications stand in the way.

The Trump administration said on Monday that a new French tax on technology companies like Facebook and Google was “unusually burdensome for affected U.S. companies.” In retaliation, it recommended tariffs as high as 100 percent on French imports valued at $2.4 billion, including wine, cheese and handbags.

The United States may also open investigations into similar legislation proposed by Italy, Austria and Turkey — moves that would jeopardize international efforts to negotiate a truce on so-called digital taxes.

Background: In October, the U.S. slapped tariffs on French aircraft, wine and cheese, among other European products, after the World Trade Organization gave it permission to retaliate against E.U. subsidies to the plane maker Airbus. The W.T.O. said on Monday that the Airbus subsidies still ran afoul of global trade rules.

Another angle: President Trump said on Monday that he would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from Brazil and Argentina, South America’s two biggest economies. The tariffs would do considerable damage.

Iran: American sanctions on Iran may have fueled recent protests there, our national security correspondent writes, but that hasn’t helped the U.S. renegotiate the 2015 agreement that President Trump discarded.

In Washington today, Democratic Party lawmakers from the House Intelligence Committee are expected to close more than two months of investigation into President Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine to announce inquiries into his political rivals.

The House Judiciary Committee will then begin considering articles of impeachment, and the full House could potentially vote to impeach Mr. Trump days before Christmas.

Republicans: Lawmakers from the president’s party say his actions in the Ukraine matter were fueled by concerns about corruption, not political self-interest. Mr. Trump’s lawyers have turned down an offer to appear tomorrow before the Judiciary Committee.

Lebanon: The Trump administration told Congress that it had lifted a monthslong hold on $105 million of military aid to the country. Analysts say the mysterious hold could give Iran and Russia greater leverage over the Lebanese military.

The Minford High School Class of 2000 in Ohio began its freshman year just as Purdue Pharma was introducing OxyContin — the drug widely seen as igniting the opioid crisis in the United States.

In a few years, opioid painkillers were everywhere — in classrooms, school bathrooms and parties. “All of my close friends, we all turned into drug addicts,” said a former member of the school’s golf team.

Some members of the class are now among the more than 400,000 Americans who have died from opioid overdoses. The Times talked to dozens of their classmates to understand the scope of the national crisis.

Far corners: China’s Communist government is taking steps to stop the flood of fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid, into the United States. But don’t expect an end to overdoses.

A year after the state-directed assassination of the dissident Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia is embracing Western sports and entertainment in an effort to boost its economy and rehabilitate its image.

The sports include golf, tennis, Formula E racing and women’s wrestling — all in a kingdom where Islamic laws force women to be segregated, wear full-body coverings and have a male guardian.

Is Saudi Arabia changing or just glossing over its flaws? Our reporter flew to Riyadh to find out.

Prince Andrew: A lawyer representing five women who say they were abused by the convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein plans to serve subpoenas to force the prince to testify as a witness in their cases, the BBC reported.

Snapshot: Dogor, above, an 18,000-year-old puppy that was buried for centuries in a lump of frozen mud in Russia, was unveiled on Monday in Siberia. Scientists are studying its DNA to understand whether it’s a dog or a wolf.

“The Weekly”: Our reporters chased elusive evidence that was supposed to implicate the world’s most powerful people in an epic cover-up of sexual misconduct tied to Jeffrey Epstein. What they found instead: top lawyers willing to leverage such information against powerful people. Read the article, and watch the show on AMC Iberia tonight at 11 p.m.

In memoriam: Robert K. Massie, who wrote monumental biographies of giants of Russian history, died on Monday. He was 90.

Turner Prize: The winner of British art’s highest accolade will be announced today. Here’s the shortlist.

What we’re watching: This BBC Breakfast video, in which the head of Fishmonger’s Hall, where the London Bridge stabbing attack began, recounts the bravery of his staff. “Amazing,” writes our reporter Sarah Lyall, who lived in London for years.

Go: An exhibition at the Louvre will celebrate the 100th birthday of the French painter Pierre Soulages.

Read: An interview withthe London playwright Inua Ellams, whose stage hit “Barber Shop Chronicles” makes its New York debut today.

Smarter Living: Including whole fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils in your daily diet can protect against debilitating infections in your digestive system.

Millions of people have read “The Jungle Prince of Delhi” since it was published on Nov. 22, and many more have listened to the three-part podcast.

The tale of an eccentric family of deposed aristocrats who lived in a ruined palace was well known to foreign correspondents posted to India. But our reporter Ellen Barry kept returning to the story after her tenure as The Times’s Delhi bureau chief — and found an entirely new narrative.

Her account reaches deep into the tumult of Britain’s partition of India and Pakistan, and explores how dislocation reshaped one family into an enduring legend.

We asked Ellen, who is now our New England bureau chief, why she couldn’t stop until she found the real story.

“It never entered my mind that I would be working on it for years,” she said. “But I was not able to answer the question of what the family’s history had been to my satisfaction.”

Ellen said the story would have been impossible without the backing of her editor, Jim Yardley. A former Times Delhi bureau chief himself, he had met the prince and encouraged her as she dug beyond the family’s fabled history.

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

— Mike

Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the aggressive methods some hospitals in the U.S. use to force patients to pay.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Fermented honey drink (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• J. Kenji López-Alt, a California-based food writer for The Times, recently answered questions on Reddit, including advice for those who want to write their own cookbooks.

Leave a Reply