Your Tuesday Briefing – The New York Times

More than eight months into Russia’s war on Ukraine, Europe is holding firm on maintaining support for Ukraine and tough sanctions on Russia — even amid an escalating cost-of-living crisis that has precipitated strikes, protests and gloom. Most of those pushing for immediate peace or a re-embrace of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, are for now sequestered in the political opposition.

In France, for instance, many people have accepted the depiction of the war by Emmanuel Macron, their president, as an existential battle that threatens peace and democracy. Some also worry that Russia’s targets will expand, bringing the war closer to their own doorsteps. It has helped that the French government, like Germany’s, has spent massively to blunt some of the effects of inflation and higher energy prices.

Analysts believe that commitment to Ukraine will last as long as the U.S. holds the line. Gains in today’s midterm elections by Republicans, some of whom have questioned the cost of the war, could alter those expectations. And doubts over whether that resolve can endure through a tough winter and beyond continue to linger, as Europeans face new security threats and economic uncertainty.

In other news from the war:

World leaders are gathering this week in Egypt for the 27th annual United Nations climate talks, known as COP27, to wrestle with the climate crisis, amid other pressing challenges that threaten to set back already inadequate steps to pivot the global economy away from fossil fuels.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, itself financed by the sale of Russian gas, has unsettled the global energy market and spurred inflation and calls for more oil and gas drilling. Poor countries suffering from climate effects are increasingly frustrated with wealthy countries whose emissions are driving global warming. And relations between the two biggest polluters, the U.S. and China, have fallen to a new low.

Rishi Sunak, Britain’s new prime minister, told delegates that the Russian invasion of Ukraine should prompt developed countries to invest more heavily in renewable energy. “Putin’s abhorrent war in Ukraine and rising energy prices across the world are not a reason to go slow on climate change,” he said. “They are a reason to act faster.”

Quotable: “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator,” said António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general. He underscored that climate change was not a separate issue that could be deferred but one linked to the crises of war, unrest and hunger.

Americans will vote today in consequential midterm elections that could change the balance of power in state and federal legislative bodies, influence foreign policy and foreshadow the 2024 presidential race. Republicans are expected to take control of the House and possibly the Senate. Here are four potential election outcomes.

Republican and Democratic candidates yesterday made their final pitches to voters, trying fervently to bring out their party faithful amid what looks like record-shattering turnout and remarkable uncertainty. With election conspiracy theorists running for key posts, the outcome could shape the nation’s representative democracy for years to come. Here’s when to expect results.

Republican candidates stuck to their central campaign themes of inflation, crime and immigration. Democrats also nodded to rising prices, insisting they were the party that was trying to do something about inflation, but they also appealed to the rights of women to end a pregnancy and the fate of democracy itself.

Cost: These midterms have shattered all spending records for federal and state elections in a nonpresidential year, surpassing $16.7 billion.

The U.S. National Park Service has a request for visitors: Please don’t lick the toads.

Officials made the plea to help protect the Sonoran desert toad. It is found in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico and secretes a toxin that some call the “God molecule,” a hallucinogenic so potent it is often compared to a religious experience.

How last weekend’s soccer affected the World Cup: Who’s now in contention? Whose chances are fading? What injury scares were there? Here’s what you need to know.

An intriguing rematch in the Champions League last-16 draw: Defending champion Real Madrid versus runner-up Liverpool stands out among some juicy matchups.

From The Times: A group of American cryptocurrency investors is trying to turn the obscure English soccer club of Crawley Town into “the internet’s team,” with a global following of crypto enthusiasts.

Bob Dylan’s new book, “The Philosophy of Modern Song,” riffs on 66 songs, from Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife” and Webb Pierce’s “There Stands the Glass” to Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and the Clash’s “London Calling.”

Of Mose Allison’s “Everybody Cryin’ Mercy,” for instance, he writes:

This song is all about hypocrisy. Hitting and running, butchering and exterminating, taking the grand prize and finishing in front. Then being big hearted, burying the hatchet, apologizing, kissing and making up. It’s about the hustle.

To Dwight Garner, who reviewed the book for The Times, these riffs “sound a lot like his own song lyrics, so much so that part of me wanted this to be a new record instead, wanted to hear these lines come croaking up from Dylan’s 81-year-old lungs and past his buckshot, barb-wired uvula.”

The book, Dwight writes, is “sly,” “devious,” by turns “helplessly epigrammatic” and “completely great, except for when it isn’t.” He concludes: “This book is about a genius recognizing unfiltered genius in others, when he can find it. Often enough it’s an argument for simplicity.”

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