U.S. abortion fight shifts to new battlegrounds
A Supreme Court ruling on Friday that overturned the constitutional right to abortion has unleashed a frenzy of activity. Anti-abortion forces plan to push for near-total bans in every state in the U.S., while abortion rights groups have vowed to fight back in the courts and push the Biden administration to do more to protect abortion rights.
The court said its ruling on Friday was needed because of what it called a half-century of bitter national controversy sparked by Roe v. Wade, but its decision set off more immediate and widespread rancor and mobilizing than the original ruling — and guaranteed pitched battles and extraordinary division ahead.
Demand for medical abortion is rising, as abortion pills, already used in more than half of recent abortions in the U.S., are becoming even more sought-after in the aftermath of the ruling. They will most likely be at the center of the legal battles that are expected to unfold as about half the states ban abortion and others take steps to increase access.
G7 leaders discuss more sanctions for Russia
Meeting in Germany this weekend, leaders of G7 nations said they would stop buying gold from Moscow and discussed a new American proposal to undercut its oil revenues. U.S. officials see the measures as ways to shrink key sources of revenue for Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine and further isolate it from the international financial system. Follow the latest updates from the war.
The session came as Russian forces rained missiles on Kyiv for the first time in weeks, hitting an apartment building and killing at least one person. The top three floors of the nine-story building were reported destroyed. Russia also escalated its use of cruise missiles across the country over the weekend, launching dozens of strikes. Track where the strikes were reported.
Speaking last night, Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, made a plea to the people of Belarus, whose military forces are conducting military drills near the Ukrainian border. “A lot now depends on the ordinary people of Belarus,” he said. “And I know that you can refuse to participate in this war. Your lives belong only to you, not to someone in the Kremlin.”
Gold: The metal is Russia’s second-most valuable export after energy products. Most of those exports go to G7 countries, particularly Britain, through the gold trading hub of London. Russia did nearly $19 billion in gold exports in 2020, almost all of it going to Britain.
Related: The war has hampered the fight against climate change as countries focus on finding fossil fuels — even coal — to make up for lost Russian oil.
France’s far right surges in parliamentary elections
A far-right party, the National Rally, triumphed in last week’s parliamentary elections in France, with a record 89 lawmakers elected. It came after Marine Le Pen, the party’s leader, was defeated in a second-round runoff in the presidential race by Emmanuel Macron, the incumbent.
Fueled by anger against Macron and enabled by the collapse of the traditional mainstream right, the results came as a shock even within the National Rally’s own ranks. “I would be lying if I told you that I wasn’t surprised,” said Philippe Olivier, a special adviser to Le Pen, who described the results as “a tidal wave.”
For years, Le Pen has tried to sanitize her party’s image, project competence and put a softer face on her resolutely nationalist and anti-immigrant platform. The results now make it the second largest party in Parliament behind Macron’s party, which does not have an absolute majority.
Effects: For the first time since the 1980s, Le Pen’s party has enough seats to form a parliamentary group — the only way to get leverage in the lower house. National Rally lawmakers can now bring a no-confidence vote and use their speaking time and amending power to affect the legislative process, among a host of other new capabilities.
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Mansaf, the Jordanian national dish, is a milky mountain of mutton and rice traditionally eaten by hand from a large communal platter. A restaurant in Amman that sells servings to go a paper cup is now facing imitators — and critique from traditionalists.
“Destruction begins with small details,” warned one foreboding newspaper column, which accused the restaurant of debasing the national dish and eroding the cultural foundations of the nation itself.
Anatomy of a product placement
Perrier sparkling water, boxes of Cheerios, Apple laptops: Product placement has long been a feature of Hollywood, writes the critic Sophie Haigney for The Times. Now, amid the rise of streaming — and as customers skip ads — brands are aiming to be everywhere all at once. Product placement is now a $23 billion industry, up an estimated 14 percent since 2020.
In 1896, the Lumière brothers, often credited as the earliest filmmakers, agreed to feature soap in their film “Washing Day in Switzerland.” These days, product placement must walk a thin line between showing off the product and fading seamlessly into the background.
Agencies now connect brands with scriptwriters, producers, set decorators and prop-masters, who might in turn work them into story lines. A Montblanc pen might communicate a character’s wealth or status; a female whiskey drinker often has a “badass” edge, said Erin Schmidt, who works at the agency BEN, where the product helps further the narrative.
Read more about the secret world of product placement.