Monday . 18 March . 2019
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World Cup, Vladimir Putin, Pakistan: Your Monday Briefing

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Good morning. A victory for France, a U.S.-Russia summit meeting and election fears in Pakistan.

CreditDamir Sagolj/Reuters

• France!

With a potent mix of greatness, grit and good fortune, France ended an enthralling run by Croatia, 4-2, and claimed its first title since winning on home soil in 1998.

Above, President Emmanuel Macron of France and his wife, Brigitte Macron, celebrated after watching the match with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic of Croatia and President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

• President Trump said that he considered the European Union a trade “foe,” on the eve of talks with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in Finland.

“Now you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe,” Mr. Trump told CBS, days after a contentious NATO summit meeting. “Russia is a foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly a foe.” Above, Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, arriving in Finland on Sunday.

CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times

• No touching, no nicknames, no sharing food. And it’s better if you don’t cry.

Those are the rules for thousands of migrant children held in U.S. detention centers as they await reunification with their families after crossing the border with Mexico. Above, a 3-year-old after returning to his mother, after four months apart.

The centers range in austerity, from a 33-acre youth shelter to hastily converted motels. But most, our reporters write, are united by the aching uncertainty of children who have no idea when they will see their parents again.


CreditJamal Taraqai/EPA, via Shutterstock

• In Pakistan, the death toll in a suicide bombing that targeted an election campaign event in the province of Baluchistan last week has risen to at least 128.

CreditSmita Sharma for The New York Times

• A staggering amount of gold.

That’s what’s locked in India’s Hindu temples, often just steps from onlookers. The total amount could weigh as much as 8.8 million pounds, worth roughly $160 billion.

Despite their ancient riches, India’s temples are often poorly managed and lacking in security — tantalizing targets for thieves.

The tightly controlled Jagannath Temple, above, in Eastern India stood in contrast. So our reporters went there to find out what happened when the key to the treasure room went missing.


ZTE, the Chinese telecom firm that violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea, can resume buying components from U.S. suppliers. The Commerce Department said it had met stringent conditions, including paying a $1 billion fine and allowing compliance monitors to be installed inside the company for 10 years.

• HNA, the heavily indebted Chinese conglomerate, will transfer a minority stake owned by its recently deceased co-chairman to a Chinese charity. The move is unlikely to answer questions about who controls the company.

• Betting on Masayoshi Son. The company he founded, SoftBank, once known as a Japanese phone concern, is turning itself into what is essentially a gigantic, publicly traded venture capital firm.

• Ahead: China releases G.D.P. numbers shortly and Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, visits Tokyo on Tuesday to sign a free-trade agreement. Here are the headlines to watch for.

• “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” made $44.1 million in North American ticket sales over the weekend, easily besting Dwayne Johnson’s “Skyscraper.” All is not lost: “Skyscraper” opens in China next week, where the thriller is set and where Mr. Johnson is a megastar.

• Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

• Investigators in southwest China are examining what caused an explosion at a chemical plant last week that killed at least 19 people. [The New York Times]

• Australia’s home minister said that a drop in migration numbers was “positive” because more productive people were being brought in. Others argued that the government was “effectively throttling back the rate of migration by stealth.” [The Guardian]

• The Uniting Church in Australia agreed to give ministers the right to decide whether to marry same-sex couples. [ABC]

• Ng Lap Seng, a Chinese billionaire, has lived in self-financed home detention in New York since he was arrested in 2015 in a wide-ranging bribery case. Convicted two months ago, he’s on his third bid to delay prison. [The New York Times]

• William McBride, the Sydney doctor who was among the first to sound an alarm about thalidomide, died in June at the age of 91. [The New York Times]

• K.O. in Kuala Lumpur: Manny Pacquiao, the 39-year-old boxing legend from the Philippines, knocked out the defending champion Lucas Matthysse to win the World Boxing Association welterweight title. [The New York Times]

Smarter Living

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

CreditAndrew Scrivani for The New York Times
CreditKirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

• Four years after retiring from tennis, the Chinese superstar Li Na, 36, has retained her influence in the sport, and her power as a symbol of success in China is only growing. Ms. Li said that Chinese women are more confident: “They want to have their own personality.”

• “See You Again in Pyongyang,” a nonfiction book by an American novelist and art critic, looks what it is like to live in Kim Jong-un’s North Korea, where the “undercurrent of paranoia is woven into the fabric of daily life.”

• And Brother Nut, an artist and activist in Beijing, filled thousands of water bottles with filthy groundwater from a village in central China to draw attention to its pollution problem. Beijing banned the show, but some local authorities took action.

Back Story

CreditAssociated Press

President Trump and President Vladimir Putin of Russia are meeting today in Finland, a country with its own complicated relationship to Russia.

Finland became part of the Russian Empire in 1809 after being ruled by Sweden for almost 700 years. It gained independence in 1917 (the country celebrated its 100th anniversary last December with a national coffee break and patriotic karaoke).

Peace with the newly established Soviet Union did not last, with the two countries fighting two conflicts during World War II. The first was a Soviet invasion called the Winter War, which was fought in temperatures exceeding minus-40 degrees Fahrenheit. (That conflict inspired The Times to write about the Finnish cultural trait of sisu, calling it a “special kind of strong will.”)

Finland battled the Soviet Union again from 1941 to 1944.

As a neutral party in the Cold War, Finland hosted numerous meetings between U.S. and Soviet leaders. But it was careful not to risk its sovereignty by antagonizing its powerful neighbor, a policy Western scholars called “Finlandization.”

Today, Finland and Russia are major trade partners and share a 24/7 military hotline. But Finland still has mandatory military service for men, partly to defend its 833-mile border with Russia. Last year, it increased the size of its military, citing Russian aggression.

Jennifer Jett wrote today’s Back Story.


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