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We’re covering a make-or-break week for Brexit, a potential breakthrough in a nuclear deal with Iran and the joys of being a nudist in Germany.
The threat of a snap election just before Brexit
The British Parliament reconvenes today for what will likely be a high-stakes showdown.
On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson threatened to call a snap general election if lawmakers from his Conservative Party back a legislative measure blocking a no-deal Brexit, which he says would rob him of leverage in last-gasp talks in Brussels.
A government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the election could be held as soon as Oct. 14. There is a debate over whether a general election, considered imminent, would make more sense before or after the Oct. 31 date set for Brexit.
Reality: Under a 2011 law, two-thirds of lawmakers would have to approve such a motion for the election to take place, so Mr. Johnson cannot be sure of success.
Continental impacts: Several European economies have weakened in the three years since Britain voted to leave the E.U., leaving the bloc increasingly vulnerable to the chaos of a no-deal Brexit.
France dangles $15 billion bailout for Iran
A senior Iranian delegation arrived in Paris on Monday to work out the details of a financial bailout package that France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, intends to use to compensate Iran for oil sales lost to American sanctions.
In return for the money, Iran would agree to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear accord.
Details: The core of the package is a $15 billion letter of credit that would allow Iran to receive hard currency, according to Iranian press reports and a senior U.S. official. It comes at a time when most of Iran’s oil money is frozen in banks around the world. Mr. Macron’s government has declined to provide any details of its negotiations with the Iranians.
Iran has said that if the talks fail, it will escalate its nuclear activity starting Friday.
Related: Iran acknowledged for the first time on Monday that an explosion had occurred at a satellite launch site in the country’s north after President Trump shared images of the aftermath of the blast last week. An official said the explosion had been caused by a technical error during a test launch.
North Korea advances its arsenal
President Trump has dismissed more than a dozen North Korean missile tests in recent months as “very standard.”
But American intelligence officials and outside experts believe the tests have allowed the country to develop missiles with a range and sophistication that could overwhelm U.S. defenses in the region.
The stakes: The rapid improvements in the short-range missiles put Japan and South Korea in increased danger, and also at least eight U.S. bases in those countries housing more than 30,000 troops, according to an analysis by The Times.
Taking stock of German election results
Governing in Germany could now require new alliances with possibly three or even four partners, as Sunday’s election results left roughly a quarter of the seats now held by a party consigned to opposition.
Details: Though Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party and one of her coalition partners won enough support to beat back the far-right Alternative for Germany, both governing parties suffered heavy losses to the AfD in two states that were once in the Communist East of Germany.
Meaning: The results highlight a deep division between what was once East Germany and the rest of the country, which the AfD both tapped into and exacerbated during the campaign. They also show the continuing fragmentation of the country’s postwar political system.
If you have 9 minutes, this is worth it
Italian politics at the beach
For decades, immigrant peddlers like Usman Dianj, above, have been part of the familiar fabric of the Italian summer vacation. Now, politics make that more difficult.
The country’s hard-right, populist government cracked down on the practice, earmarking millions to patrol beaches for unlicensed peddlers, particularly ones selling counterfeit goods.
Here’s what else is happening
Hurricane Dorian: Five people were confirmed dead as the powerful Category 5 storm pummeled the Bahamas before weakening to Category 4, and it is expected to move “dangerously close” to the Florida coast on Tuesday night. It was difficult to determine the extent of the damage caused by one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record.
Afghanistan: The U.S. would pull 5,400 troops and leave five military bases in about 20 weeks, according to the American special envoy, as part of a deal being finalized with the Taliban that awaits President Trump’s approval. Shortly after the envoy spoke, a huge explosion shook Kabul.
Russian arrests: The lawyer Lyubov Sobol, the public face of recent rallies, and two others were detained in Moscow in a sweep of opposition figures ahead of an election this Sunday.
Texas: The authorities are hunting for the motive of a 36-year-old gunman who opened fire in two West Texas towns with an assault-style rifle on Saturday, indiscriminately killing seven people and injuring 22 before the police shot him dead. The case intensified the national debate over gun control.
California: The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for more than 30 missing passengers after a scuba diving boat caught fire off the coast of Southern California early Monday. Eight people were confirmed dead. Five crew members who were awake and on deck were able to escape.
Snapshot: Above, members of a nudist group play badminton in Germany, where getting naked and doing some exercise has become part of a healthy, harmonious lifestyle. (Also, our reporter wondered whether she should partake to blend in.)
Hot take: The end of summer leaves many of us feeling a little gloomy — but for one writer, it provides relief from a romanticized season that cannot possibly live up to our expectations of it.
U.S. Open: Belinda Bencic beat Naomi Osaka, the No. 1 seed and defending champion. On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic was eliminated by Stan Wawrinka.
What we’re reading: The Public Domain Review. “This site calls itself ‘an ever-growing cabinet of curiosities for the digital age,’” writes our national correspondent Michael Wines, “and I can’t do better than that. Check out this collection of roadside-America photos, including a supper club disguised as a giant fish.”
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Looking for an easy-to-assemble Italian-American classic? Pasta alla vodka never disappoints.
(Re)watch: Our writer went from loving the chaotic movie “Spice World” as a kid to dismissing it in college to now loving it more than ever.
Go: Of Europe’s summertime arts festivals, the Ruhrtriennale is the most political. This year’s program deals with Europe’s loss of status and influence on the world stage.
Read: The sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which picks up 15 years after readers last saw Offred, is one of 17 new books we compiled to watch for in September.
Smarter Living: Apple, Samsung, Google and other companies will soon set off the annual tech frenzy, unveiling hot new gadgets. Our personal tech columnist, Brian X. Chen, advises becoming a late adopter. (His free weekly newsletter brings tech tips straight to your inbox.)
And we have six ideas for handling middle-of-the-night insomnia. (Wearing socks can have a surprisingly powerful effect.)
And now for the Back Story on …
If you’re familiar with French, you’ll recognize the first syllable of this month as “seven.” That makes “September” an odd name for the year’s ninth month.
But it made sense in ancient Rome.
There, the Greek-influenced calendar had only 10 months. A few were named for gods: March for Mars, April for Aphrodite, May for Maia and June for Juno. But the rest were numbered, and some are still with us. October was the eighth month, November the ninth and December the 10th.
According to tradition, around 713 B.C. a calendar reform introduced two new months to account for the 60 or so extra winter days. They were January, for the god Janus, and February, for the purification celebration known as Februa.
In later adjustments, the original fifth and sixth months (which had been pushed to seventh and eighth) were renamed for Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus: July and August.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Andrea Kannapell, the briefings editor, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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• On “The Daily,” our Berlin bureau chief, Katrin Bennhold, discusses the political mayhem in Britain and Italy.
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