Your Monday Briefing: Australia’s New Leader


Good morning. We’re covering a change of power in Australia, President Biden’s trip to Asia and catastrophic floods in India and Bangladesh.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison conceded defeat to Anthony Albanese, the incoming Labor prime minister, ending nine years of conservative leadership.

The opposition Labor party made the election a referendum on Morrison’s conduct. Albanese, whose campaign was gaffe-prone and light on policy, promised a more decent form of politics, running as a modest Mr. Fix-It who promised to seek “renewal, not revolution.”

Voters were most focused on cost-of-living issues, but the election was also about climate change, Damien Cave, our bureau chief in Sydney, writes in an analysis. Australians rejected Morrison’s deny-and-delay approach, which has made the country a global laggard on emission cuts, for Albanese’s vision of a future built on renewable energy.

Details: In Australia, where mandatory voting means unusually high turnout, voters did not just grant Labor a clear victory. They delivered a larger share of their support to minor parties and independents who demanded more action on climate change — a shift away from major party dominance.

Food: Elections in Australia come with a side of “democracy sausage” hot off the barbecue, a beloved tradition that acts as a fund-raiser for local groups and makes the compulsory trip to the voting booth feel less like a chore and more like a block party.

On his first trip to Asia as president, Joe Biden attempted to strengthen ties with allies rattled by Donald Trump’s erratic diplomacy and wary of Beijing’s growing influence.

In Seoul on Saturday, he met with President Yoon Suk-yeol, who was inaugurated 11 days prior, and criticized Trump’s attempts to cozy up to Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s dictator. Biden and Yoon will explore ways to expand joint military exercises that Trump sought to curtail in a concession to Kim.

Today in Tokyo, Biden will unveil an updated trade agreement that seeks to coordinate policies but without the market access or tariff reductions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump abandoned five years ago. The less sweeping framework has some in the region skeptical about its value.

Context: Russia’s war in Ukraine snarled Biden’s original strategy of pivoting foreign policy attention to Asia. The trip is an effort to reaffirm that commitment and demonstrate a focus on countering China.

More than 60 people were killed, and millions more were rendered homeless as heavy pre-monsoon rains washed away train stations, towns and villages.

Extreme weather is growing more common across South Asia, which has recently suffered devastating heat waves, as the effects of climate change intensify.

This year, parts of northern and central India recorded their highest average temperatures for April. Last year, extreme rainfall and landslides washed away sprawling Rohingya refugee camps overnight in Bangladesh, and in 2020, torrential rains submerged at least a quarter of the country.

Context: India and Bangladesh are particularly vulnerable to climate change because of their proximity to the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. The tropical waters are increasingly experiencing heat waves, which have led to dry conditions in some places and “a significant increase in rainfall” in others, according to a recent study.

Details: The Brahmaputra, one of the world’s largest rivers, has inundated vast areas of agricultural land, villages and towns in India’s remote, hard-hit northeast.

For decades, young Filipinos have left rural areas in pursuit of economic success, leading to overcrowded cities. The pandemic temporarily reversed that pattern, and many enjoy rural life. If the government makes good on stated efforts to reinvigorate the hinterlands, the shift may stick.

When the world looks at Haiti, sympathy for its endless suffering is often overshadowed by scolding about corruption and mismanagement.

But many of its problems trace back to France, which demanded ransom after Haitians led a successful slave rebellion in 1791 and established an independent nation in 1804. France forced Haiti to take out a loan from French banks to make the payments.

Because of this “double debt” — the demand and the loan to pay it off — Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas. The Times calculated that the payments to France cost Haiti from $21 billion to $115 billion in lost economic growth over time, as much as eight times the size of Haiti’s entire economy in 2020.

That debt hamstrung Haiti’s economy for decades, eventually luring Wall Street and delivering big margins for the institution that ultimately became Citigroup.

France’s betrayal also led to political upheaval. In 2003, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the country’s first democratically elected president after decades of dictatorship, tried press France for reparations. The U.S. and France quickly ousted him from power.

Here are six takeaways from The Times series and an explanation of how journalists conducted their research.

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