Your Tuesday Briefing: Marcos at the White House
President Biden greeted President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines at the White House.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
Marcos at the White House
The president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., began a four-day visit to the U.S. with a meeting with President Biden in Washington yesterday. The trip is intended to send a message to China that Marcos plans to deepen his country’s relationship with the U.S.
“We are facing new challenges and I couldn’t think of a better partner to have than you,” Biden told Marcos in the Oval Office. Biden added that the U.S. will “continue to support the Philippines’ military modernization.”
Marcos’s trip comes days after the U.S. and the Philippines held their largest joint military exercises yet in the South China Sea, aimed at curbing China’s influence. The two countries signed a deal in February to allow the U.S. military to expand its presence in the Philippines.
“It is only natural,” Marcos said in the Oval Office, that the Philippines “look to its sole treaty partner in the world to strengthen, to redefine, the relationship that we have and the roles that we play in the face of those rising tensions that we see now around the South China Sea and Asia Pacific.”
U.S. outlook: The White House has been focusing on cultivating Marcos, the son of a dictator, as a regional ally since he took office 10 months ago. His predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, was more conciliatory toward China than his predecessors, and, at times, more confrontational with the U.S.
Taiwan: The Philippines’ northernmost island is less than 100 miles from the self-governed island. An increased U.S. military presence could allow for a quick troop response in a war with China.
China’s position: When the Chinese foreign minister visited the Philippines last month, he had a stern message: It was vital that the government in Manila, the capital, “properly handle issues” related to Taiwan and the South China Sea, and follow through on its earlier commitment not to choose sides.
Fighting intensifies in Ukraine
Both Russia and Ukraine reported escalating attacks in recent days, a sign that fighting was intensifying ahead of an anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Russia launched a broad, predawn aerial assault across Ukraine yesterday, its second wide-ranging attack in just four days. Two people were killed and 40 wounded in Russian strikes on the central city of Pavlograd, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address.
Ukraine said yesterday that it had launched four strikes on concentrations of Russian troops over the preceding 24 hours. Yesterday, a blast derailed a freight train in Russia, near the border, though a Russian official did not say who was responsible. Over the weekend, a series of explosions also occurred behind Russian lines.
Timing: Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said on national television that the military was “reaching the finish line” in counteroffensive preparations.
One complicating factor: Mud. It’s been raining for weeks in the region, and the ground is unusually wet. Ukraine’s new advanced weaponry is no match for the black, soupy soil.
A British spy in Iran
He was a senior official in Iran, a trusted keeper of its defense secrets — and a British spy. A Times investigation shows how information shared by the official, Alireza Akbari, upended the world’s view of Iran’s nuclear program and led to his execution in January.
Akbari, who was a senior military commander of the Revolutionary Guards, had open access to Iran’s inner circles of power and advised on key state policies. He also spied for Britain for nearly 16 years, according to Western intelligence officials. Intelligence sources told my colleagues Ronen Bergman and Farnaz Fassihi that Akbari revealed, among other things, the existence of Fordo, a uranium enrichment site hidden near Tehran.
The revelations, which Britain shared with Israel and other Western intelligence agencies, shocked even those who closely monitored Iran. Fordo’s discovery proved critical in eliminating any doubt that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons and redrew the West’s military and cyber plans for countering the program. It also proved critical in persuading the world to impose sweeping sanctions against Iran.
Details: Akbari was an unlikely spy. He displayed a fanatical allegiance to the ideals of the Islamic Republic and an unwavering support of Iran’s leaders, according to interviews with people who knew him.
Other revelations: Iran also said he disclosed the identities of over 100 officials, most significantly Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the chief nuclear scientist whom Israel assassinated in 2020.
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Around the World
On May Day, some 800,000 French workers took to the streets across the country to protest the new pension plan.
Paraguay elected Santiago Peña, a conservative economist, as president, resisting Latin America’s recent leftward shift.
Thousands of people fleeing the war in Sudan have overwhelmed Port Sudan, a city on the Red Sea, in their efforts to get to Saudi Arabia.
Other Big Stories
U.S. regulators seized First Republic Bank and sold it to JPMorgan Chase. The sale has echoes of the recent banking crisis, but First Republic’s problems seem to be contained.
“The Godfather of A.I.” left Google and warned of the technology’s risks: “It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things.”
A bronze sculpture was erected in Oslo’s harbor to honor Freya, the walrus who was killed there last year.
A Morning Read
More young men are getting perms. The hairstyle has changed since its 1980s heyday: Instead of ringlets and hair spray, the modern male perm — inspired by K-pop and TikTok — is tender and softer.
ARTS AND IDEAS
A Met Gala preview
Celebrities are lining up to walk the red carpet at the Met Gala in New York. (It is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. in New York, which is 5:30 a.m. in Hong Kong; 7:30 a.m. in Sydney.)
The party is usually themed to the annual blockbuster show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. This year’s show, “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” pays homage to the imagination and creativity of the longtime designer of Chanel, Fendi and his namesake line. (Lagerfeld died in 2019.)
Given the theme, you can expect to see a lot of vintage designer dresses on the runway this year, which could make this the most sustainable Met Gala ever. Vanessa Friedman, our fashion editor, told us that she hoped it would be “a return to more toned-down elegance after years when guests’ clothes have gotten more and more costumey, the better to go more and more viral.”
Among the many celebrities attending the celebration, Gala watchers will be on the lookout for one in particular: There’s speculation that Lagerfeld’s white Birman cat (and rumored heir), Choupette, who has her own nanny and Instagram account, may make an appearance.
For more: Take our Lagerfeld quiz.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
Air-fryer sweet potatoes are faster and less oily than their deep-fried counterparts.
What to Read
The first issue of “It Happened Online,” our new newsletter about the internet, looks at the fate of Twitter’s check marks.
What to Watch
“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” which adapts Judy Blume’s groundbreaking novel about puberty, is a Times critics pick.
Now Time to Play
Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Very (five letters).
Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia
P.S. My colleagues won the top environmental journalism prize in the Fetisov Journalism Awards for coverage of Congo’s peatlands.
“The Daily” is on the fight over the U.S. debt ceiling.
I always love hearing from you. Please write to me at [email protected] with any thoughts.