Your Tuesday Briefing
Ukraine bolsters its counteroffensive
Ukrainian forces launched ground assaults yesterday in multiple areas along the front in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, apparently stepping up a counteroffensive aimed at recapturing territory seized by Russia.
Fighting along a swath of the front line escalated sharply, according to Ukrainian officials. Kyiv said that its military had “breached the occupiers’ first line of defense near Kherson,” as part of a multipronged advance.
The reports of intensifying fighting came as U.N. nuclear experts prepared to visit the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which lies to the north of Kherson. The inspectors will arrive this week, tomorrow at the earliest.
Context: For months, Ukrainian officials have promised a broad counteroffensive in the Kherson region to push Russian forces from the western bank of the Dnipro River, a natural barrier. It was unclear if the fighting yesterday was the start of that larger effort.
In other updates:
Ukraine also claimed to have destroyed a large Russian military base behind Russian lines in the Kherson region. It was not possible to immediately verify the claims.
Ukraine’s railroads are offering vital connection now that skies and ports are closed.
Political chaos grips Iraq
Iraq’s political chaos deepened yesterday after Muqtada al-Sadr, a powerful Shiite cleric, said he was retiring from politics.
Sadr’s announcement could mark a more dangerous phase of Iraqi turmoil, and it raised fears that his followers would increasingly turn to street protests. Baghdad and most provinces were under curfew by yesterday evening.
The State of the War
It could also deepen a political stalemate: Iraq hasn’t had a new government since candidates loyal to Sadr won the biggest bloc of seats last October. In June, he ordered the new lawmakers to resign. His followers then set up a tent camp that has blockaded Parliament for more than a month, preventing lawmakers from meeting.
Analysis: The cleric has said he was leaving politics before, prompting questions about whether this could be a tactic to gain the upper hand in future negotiations to form a government.
Europe tries to deal with drought
Europe is confronting one its worst droughts in decades: Nearly 65 percent of E.U. territory is currently under some degree of drought warning, according to one estimate.
As droughts become more frequent, Britain is looking to reprocess its sewage into drinking water in the future. The head of Britain’s Environment Agency said that people would need to be “less squeamish” about the idea.
Analysis: Climate change will make extreme weather — like droughts, hurricanes and other large storms — more frequent and intense.
Context: Toilet-to-tap recycling is already in place in Australia, Singapore, Namibia and parts of the U.S. It’s cheaper than desalination and can be used in inland areas.
THE LATEST NEWS
Rome faces a garbage crisis: There’s trash, everywhere, almost all the time. But the mayor hasn’t given up hope of finding a solution, despite the stench, and the literal dumpster fires.
He’s looking to build a new incinerator for the city, even though such a plan emerged as the stated reason for a political mutiny that toppled Italy’s national unity government in July.
SPORTS NEWS FROM THE ATHLETIC
Transfer deadline guide: The final day of the summer transfer window is almost upon us. Could Chelsea sign Barcelona striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang? Will Arsenal pull off something improbable after a perfect start? Let The Athletic’s David Ornstein take you through the biggest moves still waiting to happen as the clock ticks down.
The key to Manchester United’s new $100 million signing: What does the Brazilian winger Antony do best? Plenty, it turns out. He is electric on the ball, scores goals and terrifies opponents with his pace. He is young and talented enough to be a key member of a United revival, so it’s no real surprise that Manager Erik ten Hag was pushing to seal the deal.
The weird world of soccer transfer add-on fees: Manchester United once paid $42.1 million for striker Anthony Martial. Except they didn’t. They’ve actually paid $60 million thus far. That’s because add-ons — clauses that depend on a player’s reaching certain landmarks that prompt payments — are becoming more common.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Is it time to BeReal?
It’s neither possible nor necessarily desirable to be authentic on social media. But a new app, BeReal, is trying. It invites users to share something intimate, mundane, maybe even boring.
Once a day, users are prompted to post a pair of simultaneous pictures: One from the front camera, and one from the back. Instead of curating vacation pictures or perfectly posed outfit shots, they’re at home, at work, commuting. It’s an unglamorous scroll, and it’s gotten popular: By mid-August, BeReal had become the No. 1 free iPhone app.
The normalcy, Sophie Haigney writes in The Times, is the point. “This is a version of social media that circles back toward its origins: oversharing, maybe, but the oversharing of minutia that will disappear the next day, instead of building a permanent record of some alternate self.”
Read more about one app’s push for a nostalgic internet.