Your Monday Briefing: Europe’s Energy Protections

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Europe tries to protect its economy

The war in Ukraine has roiled Europe’s economy. Now, as energy costs surge, countries are scrambling to prepare for winter.

This weekend, Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic moved to introduce measures aimed at tackling soaring energy costs and inflation; France is also embarking on its biggest conservation effort since the 1970s oil crisis.

Concerns that rising prices could stoke social unrest are growing. Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Prague on Saturday, and other protests are being planned in Germany.

The moves came days after Gazprom, the Kremlin-controlled energy giant, announced an indefinite halt to the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which ends in Germany and provides gas to much of Europe. On the same day, finance ministers for the Group of 7 countries had agreed to impose a price cap on Russian oil in an effort to cut some of Moscow’s energy revenue. Here are live updates.

What’s next: E.U. energy ministers are preparing for an emergency meeting this week.

Other stories:

Chile votes on a new constitution

Chile voted yesterday on whether to adopt a new constitution that would enshrine over 100 rights, more than any other nation’s charter.

In a single ballot yesterday, Chileans decided whether they wanted universal public health care; the right to legal abortion; gender parity in government; empowered labor unions; greater autonomy for Indigenous groups; rights for animals and nature; and constitutional rights to housing, education, retirement benefits, internet access, clean air, water, sanitation and care “from birth to death.”

The results of the vote have not yet been released. If approved, the new constitution could transform what has long been one of Latin America’s most conservative countries into one of the world’s most left-leaning societies.

What’s next: Polls suggest that Chileans will reject the new charter. Many Chileans worry that it would change their country too drastically, and the country’s leftist president, Gabriel Boric, has faced plummeting approval ratings.

Details: The national vote was mandatory and followed three years of protests, campaigning and debate over the new constitution, which was written from scratch. The current constitution has roots in the brutal dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who ruled from 1973 to 1990.

Indigenous rights: The most contentious proposal would define Chile as a “plurinational” state representing some of the most expansive rights for Indigenous people anywhere.

India’s electric rickshaws

In India, low-cost mopeds and rickshaw taxis are leading the transition to electric vehicles.

The two- and three-wheeled vehicles sell for as little as $1,000, a far cry from the electric car market in the U.S., where Teslas can cost more than $60,000. Even relatively cheap models can cost more than $25,000.

In India, where the median income is just $2,400, competition and subsidies have made electric mopeds and rickshaws as cheap as or cheaper than internal-combustion models. The market is growing: Indian automakers sold 430,000 electric vehicles in the 12 months that ended in March, more than three times as many as they sold a year earlier. Most were two- and three-wheeled vehicles.

Environmentalists and the government are celebrating the scooters as a way to clear oppressive smog. Their success could serve as a template for other developing countries — supplied, perhaps, by Indian manufacturers.

Details: Rickshaw drivers in New Delhi can trade depleted batteries for fully charged ones at swapping stations. Fresh batteries cost about half as much as a full tank on a conventional vehicle.

THE LATEST NEWS

Asia

When India was under British rule, the colonizers led a huge deforestation drive in the mountains of the state of Karnataka, in southern India. One woman, Tulsi Gowind Gowda, has devoted her life to transforming the vast swaths of barren land into dense forests.

United We Shein

Shein, the supercheap fast-fashion megagiant, is continuing its rise in America.

The craze is real: TikTok is awash with “haul” clips of people showing off their large orders. The Chinese company recently surpassed Amazon as the most downloaded shopping app in the U.S., according to a recent analysis. One couple even got engaged at a pop-up store in Texas.

But the brand has also faced many controversies. Shein has been accused by critics of contributing to overconsumption and waste; selling a $2.50 swastika necklace; copying the work of designers; and offering a toddler’s jacket and tiny purse with elevated levels of lead. It has also been accused of working with suppliers that violate labor laws.

It’s not enough to deter devotees. One budding fashion influencer said she saw comments about the controversies on videos “all the time,” but suggested that Shein had become a target for being an “underdog.” A video she made about her Shein wedding dress, which cost $39 Canadian, has been liked more than 900,000 times.

PLAY, WATCH, EAT

What to Cook

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia

Note: Friday’s newsletter was addressed as “Your Thursday Briefing.”

P.S. Natalie Kitroeff will take over as Mexico City bureau chief from Maria Abi-Habib, who’s becoming an investigative correspondent.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about Vancouver’s approach to its fentanyl crisis.

You can reach Amelia and the team at [email protected].

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