Britain’s cost-of-living crisis hits families
In Britain, one of the world’s richest countries, growing numbers of workers are struggling to feed their children amid a devastating cost-of-living crisis. Prices for groceries and energy have hit record highs, and austerity measures from Conservative-led governments have eaten away at benefits paid to many low-income families, including working households.
In response to the crisis, the BBC has published dozens of online recipes costing less than a pound, or about $1.23, per portion. Some schools have turned down their heaters. And many communities have opened “warm spaces” — heated public rooms for people with cold homes.
Employment growth has left Britain with fewer out-of-work households, but many of those who found employment were still vulnerable when inflation hit a 41-year high a few months ago and wages failed to keep up. The incomes of low earners have grown more slowly in Britain than in other Western countries, including Germany and France.
By the numbers: In October, consumer prices surged 11.1 percent from a year earlier. In December, consumer prices were still up more than 10 percent compared with a year earlier.
first person: Aislinn Corey, a preschool teacher in London, has turned giving her two sons an orange or an apple into a game, slicing it into thirds and pretending they are picnicking. “We do it as an activity,” she said. “So they don’t know that mummy is struggling.” She sometimes skips a meal so there is more food for her children.
Tanks confirmed for Ukraine
President Biden announced yesterday that the US would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine to help it defend against Russian invaders and that Germany would follow through by contributing 14 Leopard 2 tanks, freeing other allies to send their own. He emphasized that the buildup was not meant to expand the war into Russia.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, who has pressed for the tanks to counter Russia’s advantage in arms and troops, expressed gratitude for the US decision. Writing on Twitter, he said, “Today the free world is united as never before for a common goal — liberation of Ukraine.” Zelensky has called for 300 tanks in total.
The Pentagon had been reluctant to send the Abrams tanks, in part because they are exceptionally complex machines that are challenging to operate and maintain. As it is, officials have said it could take a year or even longer for them to actually reach the battlefield in Ukraine. The pledges could unlock more aid ahead of an expected escalation of fighting in the spring.
Timing: The news came as Ukraine’s military acknowledged that it had retreated from Soledar, a strategic eastern city that Russian forces had been fighting to capture in months of brutal trench warfare and artillery battles.
Meta wants to reinstate Trump’s Facebook account
Just over two years after Donald Trump’s accounts were suspended from Facebook and Instagram, Meta, the owner of the platforms, said that it would reinstate the former president’s access to them. He previously had hundreds of millions of followers and was the most followed account on Facebook when he was barred.
Meta, along with other mainstream social media services, suspended Trump from its platforms in 2021 after hundreds of people stormed the Capitol in his name, saying his posts ran the risk of inciting more violence. The company said yesterday that it had decided to reverse the bans because the risk to public safety had “sufficiently receded.”
In November, Trump’s Twitter account was also reinstated, giving the former president more of a megaphone as he campaigns for the White House in 2024. But Trump has not posted on Twitter and is currently active only on the right-wing social network Truth Social. YouTube has not said whether it will allow the former president back on the platform.
Quotable: In a post on Truth Social, Trump said a “deplatforming” should “never happen again to a sitting President, or anybody else who is not deserving retribution!”
Related: Trump has long been averse to email and other communications that leave a record. But recently, associates say, he has gotten into sending text messages.
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the world
“The Modi Question,” a new BBC documentary about the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, focuses on his role during deadly Hindu-Muslim riots in the state of Gujarat in 2002. The government of India has denounced the film and taken steps to make it difficult to see inside the country.
“By doing this, they are making this documentary more popular,” one student activist said. “Now everyone wants to watch it.”
Balkrishna Doshi, the first Indian architect to receive the Pritzker Prize, helped develop Indian modernism. “We wanted to find our own identity,” he said. He died at 95.
SPORTS NEWS FROM THE ATHLETIC
A Champions League final in New York?: Jaume Roures, one of the most influential men in soccer, discusses Barcelona, the Super League and more.
Salah’s slump is a team failure: Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah’s numbers are bad this season, but it’s a reflection of the team.
Collin Morikawa and Adam Scott join a new golf league: Other players who have committed to play in Tiger Woods’s new league include Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas.
SPOTLIGHT ON AFRICA
A diplomatic contest
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, arrived in Africa this week for his second diplomatic tour in less than a year. He is expected to be back in the coming weeks for a planned visit to North Africa. While Russia has relied on a longstanding diplomatic network on the continent, Ukraine has far fewer embassies there.
Still, as the war in Ukraine nears the end of its first year, many African countries have remained neutral. Lavrov’s visit began in South Africa, with stops in Botswana and Eswatini, before he headed to Angola, an important oil producer. Along the way, he extended invitations to a Russia-Africa summit in July.
The trip overlaps with tours by two top US officials: the ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary.
Yellen, who was visiting Senegal, Zambia and South Africa, warned that Russia’s “barbaric aggression” was hurting African economies, particularly through rising food prices. And Thomas-Greenfield said, “Africa is key to pressing Russia because we need to send a strong, unified message to Russia that what they are doing in Ukraine is unacceptable.” — Lynsey Chutel, a Briefings writer in Johannesburg
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