Your Thursday Briefing

Sacks of wheat flour at the Hamar-Weyne market in Mogadishu, Somalia, last month.Credit…Farah Abdi Warsameh/Associated Press

Zelensky to Africa: It’s your war, too

Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, lobbied the African Union for support this week. He faced an uphill battle, addressing leaders who have close ties to Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin.

Many African governments have shied away from denouncing Russia, abstained from U.N. votes condemning the invasion of Ukraine and characterized the war as having no direct effect on the continent. Zelensky zeroed in on the conflict’s economic ramifications for Africa: high food prices caused by a war between two of the world’s largest grain producers, which have worsened food insecurity.

“Africa is actually taken hostage,” Zelensky said.

The background: Drought in Somalia and growing food insecurity in the Sahel region have brought into stark focus the consequences of rising prices for food, particularly wheat. The cost of fuel is also climbing, further squeezing the continent’s nascent middle class and urban poor.

The response: Overall, it was subdued. Moussa Faki Mahamat, the African Union chairman, called again for dialogue to end the war, a stark contrast to the enthusiastic audience he afforded to Putin earlier this month. Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, speaking as the rotating political head of the African Union, said this month that sanctions against Russia should end, referring to Putin as his “dear friend Vladimir.”

More news from the war in Ukraine:

  • A pivotal showdown is approaching in eastern Ukraine as more villages fall to Russia.

  • Although Russian forces have pummeled the Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv since the beginning of the war, the city has become a linchpin of Ukrainian defiance on the southern front.

  • The arrival of Western weapons has begun to reshape the battle off Ukraine’s coast.

  • Here’s an updated map of the Russian invasion.

  • Finland and Sweden, which applied to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, expected quick admission to the alliance. Turkey had other ideas.

Searching for survivors on Wednesday in Gyan, a village in Paktika Province in Afghanistan.Credit…Ebrahim Noroozi/Associated Press

At least 1,000 killed by earthquake in Afghanistan

An earthquake struck a remote and mountainous part of Afghanistan yesterday, killing more than 1,000 people and injuring at least 1,600 others.

The quake, which had a magnitude of 5.9, struck about 28 miles southwest of the city of Khost. However, the worst damage was in the neighboring province of Paktika, which lies along the border with Pakistan and where some residents live in houses made of clay and straw. The earthquake was the deadliest to hit Afghanistan in more than two decades, and the number of casualties was expected to rise, a U.N. agency said.

Search-and-rescue efforts, led by the Afghan Ministry of Defense, were hampered by wind and heavy rain, which prevented helicopters from landing safely. A U.N. representative for Afghanistan reported that nearly 2,000 homes were destroyed. Afghan families are typically large and sometimes live together, the representative said, so the earthquake is likely to have displaced many people.

Eyewitness: Sarhadi Khosti, 26, who lives in the Sperah district of Khost Province, said that he was awakened by the earthquake after 1 a.m. and that a number of houses — many made of earth or wood — had been destroyed. “For now, we still are busy pulling the dead or injured from under the rubble,” he said.

Pakistan: The earthquake was felt in several parts of Pakistan, but the country was spared the kind of damage seen in Afghanistan.

Government: The earthquake is just the latest challenge to confront the fledgling Taliban government.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, and Joni Ernst, like most of the other Republican senators backing the gun bill, are years away from their next election. Credit…Shawn Thew/EPA, via Shutterstock

Rare progress for a U.S. gun bill

Galvanized by the horror of two high-profile mass shootings in one month, 14 Republican senators joined Democrats on Tuesday in voting to advance what could be the most significant move to overhaul U.S. gun laws in years.

The 64-34 vote to take up the legislation suggested that it had more than enough support to break a Republican filibuster, a barrier that has repeatedly stalled more ambitious efforts to address gun violence. Lawmakers hope to push the measure through the Senate by the end of the week, with the House expected to take it up and send it to President Biden’s desk soon afterward.

The details: The legislation would expand background checks and, for the first time, include serious dating partners in a law that prevents domestic abusers from purchasing firearms. The measure would also pour millions of dollars into supporting mental health resources and shoring up school safety.

Debate: There’s a popular saying in the U.S. among gun rights advocates, recently espoused by Senator Ted Cruz after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas: “What stops armed bad guys is armed good guys.” But a review of data reveals how hard active shooter events are to stop once they have begun.


World News

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
  • A new U.S. law aimed at goods produced with forced labor in China could have significant — and unanticipated — ramifications for billions of dollars’ worth of imports.

  • Namibian investigators tracing money transfers by men suspected of stealing cash from a farm belonging to President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa say their cross-border calls for help were met with silence.

  • The Saudi crown prince visited Turkey for the first time since Saudi agents murdered the journalist Jamal Khashoggi there in 2018.

Other Big Stories

Credit…Andrew Testa for The New York Times
  • Scandals, economic pain and an uproar over lockdown parties have left Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party at risk of losing two seats in British by-elections today.

  • A Chinese businessman tied to a notorious #MeToo case was found guilty of “forcible indecency” and sentenced to 18 months in prison — one of the few high-profile instances of men in China being held accountable after assault allegations.

  • President Biden called on Congress to temporarily suspend the federal gas tax, an effort to give Americans “just a little bit of breathing room” as fuel prices soar.

What Else Is Happening

  • Prices in Britain climbed 9.1 percent — reaching a 40-year high — in the 12 months from May 2021 to May 2022.

  • Britain declared a national incident after finding evidence suggesting local spread of poliovirus in London, although no cases have been identified so far.

  • Families whose relatives have been abducted or imprisoned by North Korea are suing the country to hold it financially accountable, despite the long odds of collecting money.

  • Trumpet, a bloodhound, was named Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show in New York.

A Morning Read

Credit…Zishaan A Latif for The New York Times

Sabyasachi Mukherjee is India’s most famous designer and arguably the world’s most influential creator of wedding wear. Throughout an era of oppressive minimalism, his clothes remained refreshingly maximalist — a celebration of Indian decorative arts. He made the sari haute and persuaded Indians to see the luxury in their fashion heritage, but can he persuade Americans too?


Cooking for beginners

Credit…Julia Gartland for The New York Times

When it comes to cooking, we all have to start somewhere — and for some of us, that begins with slicing an onion or cracking an egg into a pan. Maybe you’ve just graduated from college and are on your own for the first time, or perhaps you’ve never quite gotten the hang of cooking. Either way, there’s hope.

Nikita Richardson, an editor for The Times’s Food section, has compiled these 10 recipes for can-hardly-boil-water beginners. Arranged from easiest to hardest, they include a no-cook tuna mayo rice bowl at the easier end and oven-roasted chicken thighs with potatoes and lemons for those seeking more of a challenge.

With practice, repetition and patience, you’ll not only develop a set of skills that you can apply to other kitchen exploits, but you’ll also have 10 delicious dishes under your belt worth cooking on repeat. Bon appétit! — Natasha Frost, a Briefings writer


What to Cook

Credit…Grant Cornett for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Amy Wilson.

Try pork chops in pipian, a nutty, complex sauce that’s a perfect partner for the meat.

What to Read

Lars Kepler, the pen name of a husband-and-wife crime fiction-writing team, recommend books that take readers beyond fictitious murders to the soul of Stockholm.

Q. and A.

John Grisham is still battling his Southern demons.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and a clue: Sea creature that sings (five letters).

And here’s today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Jonathan

P.S. Tiffany Hsu, a media reporter at The Times, is joining the team covering misinformation.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about Biden’s approval rating.

You can reach Jonathan and the team at

Lynsey Chutel and Matthew Cullen contributed to this briefing.

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