Kirsten Gillibrand, Boris Johnson, Hurricane Dorian: Your Thursday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering a Trump administration plan to weaken rules on methane emissions, Kirsten Gillibrand’s withdrawal from the 2020 presidential race, and Boris Johnson’s surprise Brexit move.

The Environmental Protection Agency is set to announce today that it intends to sharply curtail rules on methane emissions, a major contributor to climate change, according to an industry official with knowledge of the plan.

Major oil and gas companies have opposed the proposed rollback, which would eliminate federal requirements to limit methane leaks from wells, pipelines and storage facilities. After a period of review, the plan would probably be finalized early next year, analysts said.

Background: Carbon dioxide is the most significant greenhouse gas, but methane is a close second. It makes up nearly 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, a significant portion of which comes from the oil and gas sector.

Another angle: The growing intensity of wildfires and their spread to regions that have rarely burned have raised fears that climate change is exacerbating the dangers.

A secret operation in June wiped out a database used by Tehran to plan attacks on shipping traffic in the Persian Gulf, according to senior American officials.

The cyberattack came on the same day that President Trump called off a strike after Iran shot down an American drone. The U.S. has blamed Iran for attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf.

Senior officials discussed the strike in part to quell doubts within the Trump administration about whether its benefits outweighed the cost, including the loss of access to intelligence that the U.S. gained by exploiting Iran’s vulnerability.

Another angle: Israel has carried out a series of attacks in recent weeks to prevent Iran from equipping its Arab allies with sophisticated weapons that could challenge Israel’s defenses. Iranian officials said the Israeli attacks would not go unanswered.

The presidential hopefuls had until midnight to qualify for the next debate, a deadline that significantly reduced a group that once included two dozen candidates.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who had based her candidacy on issues of women’s equality, said on Wednesday that she was withdrawing from the race after failing to make the cut.

Ms. Gillibrand said she would endorse another candidate but had not yet picked a favorite. She added: “I think that women have a unique ability to bring people together and heal this country. I think a woman nominee would be inspiring and exciting.”

What’s next: After two rounds of back-to-back debate nights, the next contest will be only one night. Here are the 10 candidates who will be onstage on Sept. 12.

The details: New polls showed Joe Biden with a significant lead in the Democratic race, a contrast to a poll on Monday that showed a virtual three-way tie among the former vice president, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The director of the earlier poll said on Wednesday that its results were an outlier.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was confronted today by a growing outcry after he reduced the amount of time that lawmakers have to debate and deflect his plans to take Britain out of the European Union in nine weeks.

His decision on Wednesday was denounced by the opposition as undemocratic and strained relations within Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party. Queen Elizabeth II approved the move, in what was largely considered a formality.

What’s next: Lawmakers will now have a little over two weeks to fashion an agreement with the European Union to soften Britain’s exit, which economists have said would be chaotic without a deal. Mr. Johnson has promised a withdrawal on Oct. 31, with or without an agreement.

Closer look: Mr. Johnson rose to the top of British politics with an air of disarrayed befuddlement, but his move on Wednesday showed that he is a ruthless tactician.

Quiz time: The current session of Britain’s Parliament is the longest since when? (The answer appears at the bottom of this briefing.)

Snapshot: Above, a portrait of the Communist leader Mao Zedong in Beijing in 1973, painted by Wang Guodong. Mr. Wang, who created what one art historian called “the most important painting in China,” died last week at 88.

Sailing into New York: Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, arrived in New York after a 15-day boat trip. She is scheduled to speak at a United Nations climate summit next month.

Gridlock at La Guardia: Construction at the airport in Queens hit its most disruptive phase this summer. Here’s what it looked like.

U.S. Open results: Serena Williams defeated Caty McNally, a 17-year-old American, in three sets on Wednesday. Here are today’s matchups for the women and the men.

52 Places traveler: In his latest dispatch, our columnist found Puglia, Italy, to be an ideal place to go with the flow.

Late-night comedy: Most shows are in reruns, so our column is on hiatus.

What we’re reading: This Harper’s article. Stephen Hiltner, an editor on the Travel desk, calls it “a fascinating look at the politics of archaeology — often a ‘handmaiden of nationalism’ and a source of historical legitimacy — in Jerusalem.”

Cook: Use your ripest tomatoes for this summertime risotto.

Listen:Naeem” appears on “i,i,” the fourth album that Justin Vernon has made as Bon Iver. It’s a bundle of disparate emotions and connotations. Read our critic’s review.

Read: “Anthony Bourdain: The Last Interview and Other Conversations,” a collection of discussions with the chef, features on our inaugural paperback nonfiction and combined print and e-book nonfiction best-seller lists.

Watch: Leslie Jones is leaving “Saturday Night Live” after five years. Here are 10 of her funniest moments.

Smarter Living: People who look different because of a health condition or an injury know they attract attention. Our Crowdwise column collected advice about handling a child’s natural curiosity. In short, give a straightforward, kind explanation. Adults should simply smile and move on.

The U.S.-China trade war has left China spurning U.S. crops and turning to Brazil to feed its livestock, especially pigs. That in turn has created incentives for Brazilian farmers to expand soybean fields on the changing margins of the Amazon, including setting fires to clear land.

“Brazil has turned certain states like Mato Grosso into Iowa,” one satellite analyst told The Times. “You’ve got rainforest, and then there’s just an ocean of soybean.”

That’s it for this briefing. The answer to our question about Britain’s Parliament is that its current session, which began in June 2017, is the longest since the English civil war of 1642-51.

See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
Melina Delkic helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Chris Harcum provided the break from the news. Adam Pasick, on the briefings team, wrote the Back Story. You can reach us at [email protected].

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