Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

The ouster of Kevin McCarthy as House speaker has left an entire branch of the U.S. government paralyzed, putting its legislative work on hold until a successor is chosen. President Biden said he was worried that the chaos could disrupt the flow of U.S. aid to Ukraine, promising to give a major speech “soon” to make the case for aid to Kyiv.

There could be “another means” by which the U.S. could fund uninterrupted aid to Ukraine, Biden said, but he did not provide further details. He also emphasized the bipartisan support for backing Ukraine.

Biden’s comments marked a departure from the confidence he expressed to world leaders earlier this week. He had spoken by phone with allies to reassure them, and the world at large, that U.S. support would not be interrupted after House Republicans blocked new funds for Ukraine from a 45-day stopgap funding bill that passed over the weekend.

Next steps: The rush to fill the speaker post is underway, setting the stage for a bruising struggle among some of the most conservative Republican leaders. Rep. Jim Jordan, a close ally of Donald Trump, and Rep. Steve Scalise, currently the No. 2 House Republican, announced that they would run.

As lawlessness in Haiti spirals out of control, Kenya has stepped forward to lead a multinational security force aimed at loosening the grip of gangs. The mission will be led by Kenyan police officers who have a checkered history at home, accused of killing more than 100 people this year and of using excessive force to combat political protests and enforce Covid lockdowns.

Kenyan police officers have shot and beaten hundreds of protesters this year, human rights groups said, raising concerns about what level of force will be used to combat organized criminal groups in Haiti, and whether such force will put civilians in harm’s way.

The mission, which was approved by the U.N. Security Council this week, comes after a 13-year peacekeeping operation in Haiti that was marred by a deadly cholera outbreak and sexual exploitation ended in 2017.

Quotable: As Haiti’s security situation deteriorated, international leaders have looked to a Black nation to help. “We consider them to be our brothers and sisters,” Kenya’s foreign minister, Alfred Mutua, said. “We are doing it as we would for another African country.”

At his first Conservative Party conference as leader, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain canceled a plan for a high-speed rail line that had been a cornerstone of his party’s pledge to “level up” the north of England.

Sunak said the curtailment of part of the project, called HS2, was less a retreat than a redistribution of resources. He promised that the saved money would be used to better connect cities in England’s north with each other, rather than with London, pledging to build light-rail networks and tram systems and to upgrade highways across the north.

The announcement provoked a backlash even among Conservatives. David Cameron, the former Conservative prime minister who championed HS2, described the decision as “the wrong one,” adding, “In years to come I suspect many will look back at today’s announcement and wonder how this once-in-a-generation opportunity was lost.”

An 8-year-old Tibetan boy, believed to be the 10th reincarnation of a Buddhist spiritual leader, is at the heart of a struggle between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese Communist Party.

His U.S.-educated parents are coming to grips with giving up their hopes and dreams, for their son to serve a religious calling they did not choose.

Soccer’s biggest event: The 2030 World Cup will be staged in six countries on three continents. Most of the games will be in Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

Alicia Keys has led an extraordinary life: She is a classically trained pianist, wrote her first song around 11, signed a recording contract at 15 and became a bona fide R&B superstar.

For the last 12 years, she has been developing “Hell’s Kitchen,” an Off Broadway musical based on her adolescence in a then-gritty New York neighborhood. And though Keys does not appear in the show, which opens later this month, tickets are snatched up as soon as they go on sale.

That’s it for today’s briefing. And a correction: Tuesday’s briefing misspelled the surname of Otto Hahn.

See you tomorrow. — Natasha

P.S. Matina Stevis-Gridneff wrote about her reporting on a group of asylum seekers who were killed in the wildfires in Greece.

You can reach Natasha and the team at

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