Your Friday Briefing: Australia’s U.S. Nuclear Submarine Deal

Australia to buy U.S. nuclear subs

As part of an ambitious defense deal between Australia, Britain and the U.S., Australia will buy up to five U.S.-made nuclear-powered submarines, to be delivered in the 2030s. The deal deepens a three-way defense agreement aimed at reinforcing American-led military dominance of the Asia-Pacific region to counter China.

The arrangement adds to a 2021 security pact between the three countries known as AUKUS. It would also involve Australia buying a new class of submarines with British designs and American technology, and rotating U.S. attack submarines through Perth, in Western Australia, by 2027.

That would help cover a potential gap in Australia’s undersea abilities as its existing six diesel submarines age out of service. The deal also includes long-term plans to cooperate on artificial intelligence, quantum computing, cyberwarfare and missiles. President Biden plans to host the leaders of Australia and Britain in San Diego on Monday, where the three leaders plan to announce the next phase of their partnership.

Diplomacy: The arrangement would likely require Australia to heavily depend on the U.S. Navy, which could limit its margin for discretion. Australia pulled out of a deal to buy French-made submarines in 2021, which caused a diplomatic storm. And China could view the moves as a provocation.

Related: A top U.S. intelligence official warned that China thinks that it can only make itself the pre-eminent power in Asia, and a major power globally, by diminishing U.S. influence — one reason China is partnering with Russia.

A major Russian attack

Russia launched its biggest aerial attack in weeks yesterday. The assault included six of the country’s newest hypersonic missiles, which fly at more than five times the speed of sound and are almost impossible for Ukraine to shoot down. Russia said the strikes were retaliation for an incursion last week by a pro-Ukrainian group into its Bryansk region.

The use of hypersonic missiles and a higher than typical number of ballistic missiles helped Russia counter Ukraine’s increasingly effective air defense systems: Of the 81 Russian missiles, 47 hit targets, Ukraine said. That’s a far higher success rate than in other recent major missile attacks. The attack killed at least nine people across the country, knocked out power in several areas and damaged three electrical plants.

A Ukrainian Air Force spokesman said Russia fired the largest number of its hypersonic missiles to date — more than a tenth of what is believed to be its total arsenal. He suggested Russia turned to the weapons, which were developed to breach U.S. antimissile defense systems, because it needed guaranteed hits after Ukraine previously downed about 70 percent of Russia’s older cruise missiles.

The State of the War

Nuclear: The strikes temporarily forced the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to switch to diesel generators. “One day our luck will run out,” the head of the U.N.’s nuclear agency said in a plea, referring to the possibility of a nuclear accident.

The end of Filipino jeepneys?

The Philippine government wants to phase out jeepneys, the iconic open-air buses that have served commuters for decades, and replace them with minibuses. Drivers fear they can’t afford the transition and not having a vehicle would mean the end of their livelihood.

This week, transportation unions organized a brief work stoppage to resist the plan, which led schools to suspend in-person classes and businesses to plan for remote work. Drivers are angry that the government wants them to pay for the replacements, which cost $43,600 — and that the government wants them to do so through a profit-sharing cooperative, which they say would bury them in debt.

The plan was introduced in 2017 by former President Rodrigo Duterte, who said the phaseout would help improve Manila’s poor air quality and ease gridlocked traffic. He once announced that the phaseout would happen by 2018, but the country’s transportation department pushed back the deadline after drivers organized a strike.

Background: Jeepneys are named for their origins as U.S. military jeeps.


Around the World

A new wave of mass protests against Israel’s proposed judicial overhaul blocked the road to the main airport.

Georgia’s governing party withdrew its “foreign agents” bill, which critics said mimicked a Russian law, after widespread protests.

Mozambique is bracing for another deadly hit from Cyclone Freddy, which is on track to be the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record.

The rise of illnesses like diabetes and hypertension could erase African countries’ gains in life expectancy.

U.S. News

President Biden released his budget plan. It’s probably dead on arrival because Republicans control the House. But it will set the stakes for a debt default fight.

The military repatriated a Saudi engineer who was held without trial at Guantánamo Bay for more than 20 years.

“I hate him passionately”: Tucker Carlson’s texts show contempt for Donald Trump. Read the messages.

The Week in Culture

The World Baseball Classic, in Tokyo, features top players from around the globe. The Czech Republic’s roster is full of guys with regular jobs: A full-time firefighter will probably pitch to Shohei Ohtani tomorrow.

David Chipperfield, whose designs focus on environmental sustainability and social equity, won the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s top honor.

Cinemas are experimenting with charging more for better seats.

Alan Alda used ChatGPT to write a scene for his classic television show “M*A*S*H.” It wasn’t funny.

A Morning Read

In Japan, “sushi terrorism” videos, in which people lick soy sauce bottles or spit on sushi on a conveyor belt, are going viral.

Several popular chains have made changes in an effort to soothe customers’ concerns, like making customers order from a touch-screen. Recently, the police in Nagoya arrested three people who posted a “sushi terrorism” video and held them on suspicion of “forcible obstruction of business.”

Lives lived: The photographer Ans Westra created the most comprehensive record of New Zealand’s social history. She died at 86.


The Oscars favorites

Our expert, Kyle Buchanan, predicts that the oddball sci-fi film “Everything Everywhere All at Once” will win best picture at the top U.S. movie awards, which airs at 5 p.m. Sunday in Los Angeles (9 a.m. Monday in Hong Kong, noon in Sydney). Here’s how to watch the ceremony if you’re not in the U.S.

“Everything Everywhere” is a clear favorite. It has the most nominations, 11 total, and won all of Hollywood’s top guild prizes. (The four other films that have done so went on to win best picture.) Two of its stars, Michelle Yeoh, above, and Ke Huy Quan, are up for best actress and best supporting actor in a year when a record number of actors with Asian ancestry received nominations.

But “All Quiet on the Western Front,” an antiwar film in German, could be the surprise victor: It won best film at the BAFTAs, Britain’s equivalent of the Oscars, and there is a contingent of older voters in the Academy who remain baffled by “Everything Everywhere.”

If you want to make your own ballot, start by watching scenes from eight of the best picture nominees, narrated by their directors.


What to Cook

Doria, Japan’s answer to gratin, is filling and comforting. Here’s a recipe.

What to Read

Patricia Highsmith created psychopathic antiheroes. Browse a guide to her best books.

What to Listen to

Three new audiobooks explore life’s biggest questions.


Setting boundaries with a family member is tricky but doable.

Now Time to Play

Play the Mini Crossword, and here’s a clue: Ingredient in beer (four letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Have a lovely weekend! — Amelia

P.S. Congratulations to Lynn Lempel, who published her 100th Times crossword this week.

“The Daily” is about child migrants working dangerous jobs in the U.S.

Thank you all for your emails! You can always reach me at [email protected].

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