Hong Kong, Hungary Crash, Grenfell: Your Wednesday Briefing
- by NewYorkTimes
- June 12, 2019
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We’re covering protests in Hong Kong, warnings that were ignored in Hungary’s deadliest boating accident in decades, and an early look at an episode of “The Daily” about nationalism in Italy.
The territory’s legislature announced that its debate on a contentious bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China has been postponed after protesters surrounded the council’s complex. It did not specify when it would resume.
Dragging metal barriers, thousands of protesters poured onto roads around Hong Kong’s legislature building on Wednesday morning.
Police officers, equipped with riot gear, used pepper spray and water cannons to push back the crowds. Some demonstrators unfurled convenience-store umbrellas. Others seized traffic signs and hurled them to the ground. We have live updates.
The demonstrations today are expected to be smaller than the march held on Sunday, in which up to a million people, or one-seventh of the territory’s population, paraded through the city in an overwhelmingly peaceful protest.
Next: Lawmakers are likely to vote on the bill by the end of next week, the head of Hong Kong’s legislature said. The measure is likely to pass there, as pro-Beijing lawmakers hold 43 of 70 seats.
Long before Hungary’s worst boating accident in at least six decades, Hungarian officials had been warned that traffic on the Danube had soared to dangerous levels around Budapest. But the government did not curb the number of vessels.
The cause is still under investigation, but the accident has raised concerns that political calculations and the drive for profit outweighed safety concerns in a city where tourism has become a major source of revenue.
Reminder: Twenty-eight people, many from South Korea, were killed last month when two boats collided on the river.
Quote of note: “City officials were warned about the dangers of too much traffic,” said Gabor Demszky, the mayor of Budapest from 1990 to 2010. “But they failed to act. It is a very profitable business.”
Hundreds of survivors and relatives of victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in London have sued in an American court the makers of the flammable cladding and insulation that fed the blaze.
As the second anniversary of the disaster, which killed 72 people and injured hundreds, approaches, the plaintiffs are trying to hold the firms liable despite legal obstacles.
They were drawn to a Philadelphia court because of the plaintiff-friendly liability laws and the opportunity for big payouts. The cladding maker, Arconic, also has its headquarters in Pennsylvania.
Strategy: Lawyers said they intended to trace the deaths to design choices that were made in the U.S.
What happened: The public housing high-rise caught fire in June 2017 after a refrigerator exploded on a lower floor. The low-cost aluminum paneling that covered the tower ignited, sending flames bolting up the side of the building and trapping many residents.
The cladding had been banned in the U.S. and many European countries, but English buildings allowed it.
Today, “The Daily” is in Italy for a five-part series on the rise of nationalism and populism in Europe. We’re giving you a first look at the episode.
Italy is on the front lines of the continental wave of populism, and it’s where Katrin Bennhold, our Berlin bureau chief, met with Susanna Ceccardi, a rising far-right star and mayor in Cascina, to understand what is driving the movement.
Ms. Ceccardi said the migration issue helped her get elected in 2016, when she became Tuscany’s first far-right mayor in 70 years. Youth unemployment is at 30 percent in the country, and she cited a frustration among Italian parents who watched their children leave to find work as foreign-born populations moved in.
Ms. Bennhold followed young supporters of the party, asking one at a campaign event, “Are you proud to be European?”
“Yes,” he responded. “But not in the European Union.”
While many embraced anti-immigrant messaging, Ms. Bennhold explained that there was also something else going on. “Here were young people who never in their political life had felt in control of things,” she said. “They’d come of age in a time of austerity. That’s all they’d known — that they were now excited by a political option that promised to change everything and that promised to retake control.”
More: Watch for the full episode on Italy later today, and listen now to the first episode of the five-part series, “The Battle for Europe.” Thursday’s episode will focus on Poland.
A 2008 fire at Universal Studios Hollywood destroyed famous movie sets and a film and videotape archive. It was also the biggest disaster in the history of the music business — and almost nobody knew.
The Universal Music Group — the largest music company in the world — lost its entire West Coast archive. Hundreds of thousands of original recordings were lost, from musicians including Louis Armstrong, pictured above, Joan Baez and Eminem. The Times Magazine tells the story of the fire.
Botswana: The country’s high court overturned colonial-era laws that criminalized homosexuality, a decision hailed by activists as a significant step for gay rights in Africa.
Uganda: A 5-year-old Congolese boy who traveled with his family into the country received a diagnosis of Ebola — the first confirmed case of the highly contagious disease outside the Democratic Republic of Congo since an outbreak began there a year ago.
Russia: In an extraordinary reversal, the government dropped all charges against an investigative reporter whose arrest had sparked widening protests.
U.S. border: The case of an Arizona teacher who helped migrants resulted in a mistrial Tuesday, after jurors said for a second day that they were unable to reach a verdict. The trial had drawn worldwide attention and spurred 30 vigils across the U.S.
Women’s World Cup: The U.S. beat Thailand on Tuesday in a record 13-0 annihilation — the most goals ever scored in a World Cup match — that left some of the Thai players in tears. Today, France will play Norway in a highly anticipated game. We’ll have live coverage.
Snapshot: Above, the now-deceased tree that President Emmanuel Macron of France gave to President Trump as a sign of friendship. Some saw it as a symbol of the cooling relations between the two leaders, who have diverged greatly on issues like security and trade in recent months.
Europe’s night trains: With growing concern over the environmental impact of flying, sleeper train service, long considered old-fashioned and nostalgic, is becoming increasingly popular.
52 Places traveler: In his latest dispatch, our columnist visits the island of Texel, part of the Frisian archipelago just off the coast of the Netherlands, where he finds a place of quiet charms and a meal that sparks an obsession.
What we’re reading: These short essays in The Columbia Journalism Review. “These critiques of the international coverage of the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen are brutal,” writes Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer, a gender editor in the Opinion section.
Cook: Beet dip becomes a full meal with a dollop of labneh, warm pita and quartered Persian cucumbers for dipping.
Go: A new Off Broadway play aims to make sure Toni Stone, who played for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Leagues in 1953, is no longer a footnote to history.
Watch: In his new documentary, Martin Scorsese revisits a famous Bob Dylan tour that included Joan Baez and Allen Ginsberg. We made it a Critic’s Pick.
Smarter Living: More than a million women take medication while breast-feeding their babies each year, but we know little about the effect on their milk and infants. Some sedatives like Xanax or Valium should be used cautiously, and it’s a good idea to avoid over-the-counter allergy, cold and sleep medications.
And it’s looking like no single food regimen can work for everyone.
Former President George Bush will achieve a tiny sliver of immortality on Wednesday, when the United States Postal Service unveils his commemorative “Forever” stamp, on what would have been his 95th birthday.
But don’t cash out your retirement savings just yet: The speculative market for so-called first-day cover stamps “has all but collapsed,” according to Apfelbaum, a stamp sales and appraisal firm in Pennsylvania. Why? “There are just too many stamps to collect and not enough time or money.”
Modern stamp collectors view the first U.S. presidential stamp to be one featuring Abraham Lincoln that was released in 1866, a year after his assassination.
But Fred Baumann of The American Philatelist writes that the stamp, the first 15-center and chiefly used to send letters to France, has no inscription or dates marking it as commemorative. Well-preserved examples now sell for upward of $1,000.
“Forever” stamps, by the way, will always be valued at the first-class one-ounce letter rate, currently 55 cents.
A correction: A picture caption in Tuesday’s Morning Briefing misstated the status of Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain. She stepped down as the leader of the Conservative Party on Friday; she did not step down as prime minister. (She will remain as prime minister until a successor is chosen.)
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Kenneth R. Rosen for the break from the news. Victoria Shannon wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the Yellow Vest movement in France, part of our series about the rise of nationalism and populism in Europe.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Feeling of irritation (5 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times has added Tiles, a pattern-matching game, to its lineup of daily puzzles.