Your Thursday Briefing
A photograph released by the Polish police showing forensic experts investigating the site where a missile hit.Credit…Polish Police, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Deadly explosion in Poland was an ‘accident’
The NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, and Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, said that a Ukrainian air-defense missile, not a Russian weapon, had most likely caused a deadly explosion on Polish territory, easing fears that the military alliance would become more deeply embroiled in the war. “Let me be clear: This is not Ukraine’s fault,” Stoltenberg said.
Both men took pains to say that Ukraine was not to blame, noting that it had been fending off a major Russian aerial assault when the missile struck a Polish grain plant just over the border on Tuesday, killing two people.
Officials said that what had struck the grain-processing plant was an S-300 missile, a type of munition that was built for air defenses but had also been used by Russia to attack Ukraine, which might have contributed to early confusion over who was responsible for the blast. Duda called the missile strike an “unfortunate accident.”
What’s next: After a night of intense fear over whether Russia had somehow attacked a NATO ally, the results of the investigation so far seemed to lower the temperature. But the initial reaction was a sobering reminder — if one were needed — of the risks that the conflict could escalate into a wider war.
In other news from the war:
Russia’s strikes on infrastructure have continued, leaving more Ukrainians without utilities or the internet.
At the G20 summit, China said it wanted to “deepen practical cooperation” with Russia but signaled that Beijing was becoming more guarded about the war.
Residents of a Polish village near the border say the missile explosion has reignited fears that had largely calmed since the war’s early weeks.
Republicans scrape back control of the House
Republicans secured a slender majority in the House of Representatives, a consequential finish to midterm elections that were an overall disappointment for Republicans,who had anticipated a “red wave” in the face of the hottest inflation in 40 years. Their victory will effectively give the party a veto on President Biden’s agenda for the next two years.
“The era of one-party Democrat rule in Washington is over,” Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader and the House speaker nominee, said this week. But with Democrats maintaining control of the Senate, the final results did not show the unalloyed repudiation of Biden that many Republicans had predicted.
Democrats instead enjoyed the strongest showing in a presidential midterm in the last two decades, after Biden repeatedly cast the 2022 campaign not as a referendum on Democratic rule but as a choice between his party and Republican extremism.
Vote counting: More than a week after the elections, the Republican Party formally captured the 218 House seats needed to claim the majority after just four years out of power. Seven undecided races will determine the final size of a Republican majority that will be narrower than party leaders had expected. Democrats are leading in four of those races.
The Senate advanced a bipartisan bill providing federal protections for equal marriage, delivering a firm signal that the legislation was on track to become law.
Donald Trump’s campaign for president received a handful of endorsements, including one from Marjorie Taylor Greene. But many Republicans remained silent.
Britain’s soaring mortgage rates
Sharp increases in interest rates are set to upend Britain’s housing market and rock the country’s already weak economy. Britain’s homeowners are especially vulnerable because most mortgages have short-term fixed rates, which renew every few years. And the impact of Liz Truss’s tumultuous stint as Britain’s prime minister is still being felt in the mortgage market.
An era of easy money and ultralow interest rates allowed British homeowners to hop from one low rate to another. Now, as the central bank attempts to tackle inflation, millions of homeowners are facing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of pounds in extra payments each year. Already, the reverberations are spreading through the economy.
By the end of next year, two million mortgages in Britain will have reached the end of their fixed terms. The change is even harsher for the 1.6 million borrowers with variable mortgages that tend to move with each change in the central bank’s interest rate, which is currently at 3 percent, the highest since November 2008, and is likely to rise further.
Politics: Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s chancellor of the Exchequer, is known for his competence and his sober demeanor, which he will most likely need as he outlines tax increases and public spending cuts.
By the numbers: Inflation in Britain reached 11.1 percent last month, the highest in more than 40 years.
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the World
Iran’s crackdown on antigovernment protests is showing no signs of easing: On Tuesday, the security forces fired into a crowd at a Tehran metro station.
As Benjamin Netanyahu attempts to form a new government in Israel, one ultranationalist lawmaker is angling to lead the powerful Defense Ministry.
A video of a brief scolding by Xi Jinping of Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has offered a glimpse into the Chinese leader’s personal diplomacy.
Other Big Stories
After several attempts, NASA launched its uncrewed Artemis rocket. The launch begins a new era of spaceflight amid a debate over how to finance rocket development.
The head of Britain’s domestic intelligence service cited myriad domestic threats, mainly from Iran, Russia and China.
Climate scientists have long warned that nations must limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or risk catastrophe. But at COP27, there are hints of backsliding.
Twitter employees must decide today whether they want to work for Elon Musk — or leave their jobs.
What Else Is Happening
Ireland is mourning Vicky Phelan, who died this week. She became an advocate for women after a botched Pap smear that exposed one of the biggest medical scandals in Irish history.
The cryptocurrency exchange FTX could owe money to more than one million creditors, according to a court filing.
Researchers studying the effects of feeding dairy cows THC, via hemp, found that in some cases the psychoactive compound had made its way into their milk. (The cows also got a little goofy.)
A Morning Read
Ademola Adedeji, 18, was accused of conspiring with nine others to murder and maim people. But the prosecutors knew that he had not attacked anyone, nor had he owned a weapon, thrown gang signs or dealt drugs. He had helped with the investigation, told detectives what he knew and volunteered his phone. And he certainly had not killed anyone — in fact, there was no murder victim.
But six texts, sent within 20 minutes when he was 17, have plunged him into the depths of a criminal justice system in Britain that, by several measures, disproportionately prosecutes and jails Black people, amid a national crackdown on gangs.
SPORTS NEWS FROM THE ATHLETIC
What can Manchester United do about Ronaldo? After he accused his employers of betrayal and disrespect, we spoke to experts to unpack the legal options available to terminate his contract.
How The Athletic will be covering the World Cup: We have wrestled with how, morally, to cover the tournament in Qatar. This is our answer.
What are fans allowed to do in Qatar? Fans are wondering whether more frivolous moments of celebration and joy could be threatened by local laws.
From The Times: Since being selected to hold the World Cup, Qatar has spent $220 billion redrawing its entire landscape. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers were tasked with dangerous work in searing heat. To this day, no one agrees on how many died in the process.
ARTS AND IDEAS
A forgotten Jewish artist
Jews in 17th-century Florence were confined to a ghetto about the size of a football field, and could work only in certain professions, like rag-picking. They were also prohibited from joining professional guilds or corporations, which would have opened the door to fields like architecture.
This is why scholars are puzzling over the life of the Jewish painter Jona Ostiglio, a professional painter working in Florence for some of the city’s most powerful families at a time when Jews were not normally given such opportunities. Until very recently, his existence was practically unknown.
“Was he an exception to the rules or was it more commonplace at the time than we know?” said Piergabriele Mancuso of the Medici Archive Project. “That’s this question that remains open.”
Learn more about Ostiglio’s work.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
This creamy fettuccine honors Bronte, a Sicilian town renowned for its pistachios.
What to Read
Andy Greenberg’s “Tracers in the Dark” chronicles the hunt for crypto-criminals.
Autumn is upon us. Here’s how to read the tree leaves.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Danish concept of cozy contentment (five letters).
And here are today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha
P.S. Jane Gross, a Times journalist who in 1975 became the first woman to report from the locker room of a professional basketball team, died last week at 75.
“The Daily” is on the Republican Party. And “Still Processing” discusses returning to the office.
Reach Natasha and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.