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We’re covering flaring tensions between Iran and the U.S. over the 2015 nuclear agreement, fraying economic ties between Venezuela and Russia, and the evolutionary science behind the confused look dogs give us.
U.S. to send 1,000 more troops to surveil Iran
Tensions flared between the two nations Monday, as Tehran said it was likely to breach a key part of the 2015 pact limiting its nuclear program, while President Trump ordered another 1,000 troops to the Middle East and vowed again that Iran would not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon.
The order came hours after Iran said it was within days of violating a central element of the landmark agreement — intended to curb its ability to develop a nuclear weapon — unless European nations agreed to help it circumvent the impact of tough American economic sanctions.
Context: The additional 1,000 troops come on top of 1,500 dispatched in May. The deployment, announced days after the U.S. blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, will be used primarily for additional surveillance of Iranian activities and protecting American forces.
Analysis: Europeans blame Mr. Trump for pushing Iran into breaking out of an agreement that was working, as do China and Russia. And despite some calls for military action, Iran is betting that Washington will find few allies willing to escalate the confrontation, writes our national security correspondent.
Russia, once a crucial supporter of Venezuela, pulls away
In his toughest moments, President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela has turned to Russia for support.
When rumors of an armed American intervention reached fever pitch in March, two airplanes with Russian military technicians landed in Caracas — a reminder that Russia was on Venezuela’s side.
Yet there is growing evidence that, beyond high-profile gestures with limited effect on the ground, economic ties between Venezuela and Russia are fraying.
Details: Russian banks, grain exporters and weapons manufacturers have curtailed business with Venezuela, protecting their bottom line and backing away from an economic collapse.
Context: The hesitation toward long-term investments in Venezuela is partly tied to Russia’s own economic woes, with its five-year stagnation leading to increased dissatisfaction among citizens.
Chinese president will visit North Korea
President Xi Jinping will travel to Pyongyang this week — the first visit to North Korea by a Chinese president in 14 years — in a surprise move that could rattle his relationship with President Trump.
Analysts believe that Mr. Xi will try to revive failed nuclear disarmament talks between Mr. Trump and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, which he could then use to ease U.S.-China tensions over trade.
Timing: Mr. Xi is set to arrive in Pyongyang on Thursday. If he wins Mr. Kim’s agreement, he could present the deal to Mr. Trump on the sideline of the global G-20 economic forum in Osaka, Japan, on June 28.
Vatican opens door to ordaining married men
In a potentially groundbreaking move, the Roman Catholic Church cracked open the door to ordaining married, elderly men to the priesthood to meet the pastoral needs of Catholics in remote areas of the Amazon.
A new proposal would respond to the dearth of priests in the region by ordaining “viri probati,” or men of proven character, as they are known in Latin. Catholics in the region often go months or longer without seeing a priest, preventing them from receiving the sacraments during Mass or going to confession.
Implications: It is the kind of exception to the celibacy requirement that church experts say could be a step toward the ordination of married men in other areas of the world. Next year, German bishops, who have a strong liberal strain, are set to hold a synod on the same topic.
If you have 12 minutes, this is worth it
The rise of virtual influencers
Brands from Calvin Klein to KFC are shifting their social media campaigns away from human influencers to lifelike computer-generated characters (see above) crafted to meet their creative visions.
Using virtual beings as brand ambassadors offers advantages (they never need a day off), but raises a crucial question: What happens to the idea of truth in advertising?
Here’s what else is happening
Toronto shooting: The police said two people had serious but not life-threatening injuries after a suspect opened fire near the Toronto Raptors’ victory parade, where thousands, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, were celebrating the team’s first N.B.A. championship.
Hong Kong: China is still backing the territory’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam, but it’s unclear how long she can continue to govern after her retreat on a contentious extradition bill.
Huawei: The chief executive of the Chinese technology giant cut his prediction of sales for the year to about $100 billion from $125 billion, citing the Trump administration’s clampdown on the company.
Germany: The attorney general’s office took over the investigation into the killing of an official in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right party, days after the authorities arrested a suspect with a history of violence and ties to far-right extremists.
Snapshot: Above, the result of evolution. Scientists studied the mysterious — potentially worried, hungry or anticipatory — look your dog gives you, and found that dogs, but not wolves, have a specific muscle that helps raise those brows.
Women’s World Cup: France, which finished round-robin play with a 3-0 record, benefited twice from the Video Assistant Referee system in a 1-0 win over Nigeria.
What we’re reading: This short essay in The Paris Review Daily. “Luc Sante ruminates on a series of family photographs,” writes Stephen Hiltner, a travel editor, “and on his role as the custodian of his family’s fragmented oral history.”
Now, a break from the news
Go: Julia Jarcho’s new play, “Pathetic,” is a squirmy, sinister meditation on female desire, with a whiff of ancient Greece. We made it a Critic’s Pick.
Read: The writing in Ariana Reines’s new collection, “A Sand Book,” is queer and raunchy, raw and occult and vulnerable.
Watch: Marin Alsop, the first woman to lead a major American orchestra and the coming leader of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, speaks with our classical music reporter, Michael Cooper.
Smarter Living: A wealth of research indicates that spending time in nature is good for you, reducing stress and the risk of many ailments while improving mental health. Researchers have now quantified the amount of time to aim for: two hours a week. And you needn’t schedule too much. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you build the time up little by little, or get it in one swoop.
And our Parenting site has a guide to what most babies and kids can do at each milestone, from birth to age 5.
The issue of counting the population can be so politically sensitive that some countries don’t even attempt it. Lebanon, for instance.
When the country gained independence from France in 1943, its new political system was built on data from a 1932 census in which Maronite Christians were the majority. The presidency was reserved for a Maronite, while other leadership roles went to Muslims: Sunni for prime minister and Shiite for speaker of Parliament. Parliamentary seats were divided between Muslims and Christians, and then sectioned off by sect.
To maintain the status quo, the government has never conducted another census, though the overall population of Muslims is widely understood to have outstripped that of Christians.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Will Dudding, an assistant in the standards department, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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