Monday . 18 March . 2019
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Your Friday News Briefing: Russia, Brexit, Puerto Rico

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Good morning. Russia’s plot to subvert an election, E.U. leaders’ united front on Brexit and Puerto Rico’s remaining damage.

Here’s the latest:

The Russian plot.

Over the past two years, the world has tried to absorb the details of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

But the narrative is a confusing tangle of unfamiliar names and cyberjargon, further obscured by the shout-fest of partisan politics.

• President Trump will meet with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and other leaders early next week at the United Nations General Assembly, where he will face tensions with allies in Asia and Europe.

This week, Mr. Moon attended a three-day summit meeting in Pyongyang with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, and requested that the U.S. declare an official end to the Korean War as an incentive for North Korea to denuclearize. There is a growing risk of a split between the U.S. and South Korea over the pace of diplomacy with the North.

The White House also hopes to reinforce its message that the Iranian nuclear deal was a failure and that European companies are largely complying with reimposed sanctions that compel them to cut their ties to Iran.

• Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh, above, of sexual assault, reopened discussions for testifying before the Senate.

Her lawyers said she would be prepared to testify next week if the Senate Judiciary Committee offered “terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.” Dr. Blasey has received death threats and her family has had to relocate since she publicly accused Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, of sexually assaulting her when the two were in high school.

Meanwhile, evangelical leaders are frustrated that Republicans are not protecting Judge Kavanaugh more forcefully — and warning that conservative voters may stay home in November if his nomination falls apart.

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• Donald Tusk, the European Council president, and European leaders made clear at an informal summit meeting in Salzburg, Austria, that Prime Minister Theresa May’s “Chequers” plan for Brexit “will not work.”

Although Mrs. May presented the proposal as the only plausible option, E.U. leaders were united on the view that the customs arrangements proposed between Ireland and Northern Ireland were unacceptable.

Separately, local councils in Britain will be forced to slash more than $1 billion from their budgets next year, affecting services like trash collection, public transport and caring for people in need.

Councils have been struggling to make ends meet mainly because of a sharp reduction in central government funding, and the dire financial situation risks creating “a sort of a world of increasingly private affluence with public squalor.”

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• As school begins around Italy this week, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and its coalition partner, the League, have loosened vaccine requirements, no longer requiring a doctor’s note as proof of vaccination.

For years, the Five Star Movement has spread confusion about vaccines, raising links with autism and campaigning against a law making them obligatory. Above, a demonstration against the law last summer in Rome.

The vaccine law was introduced amid an alarming increase in measles cases, but now that they are in power, Five Star lawmakers say they will next seek to undo it altogether.

The Netherlands has a reputation for allowing multinational companies like Nike, above, to lower their tax payments, but that could be changing.

Leslie Moonves was forced out as CBS’s chairman and chief executive, but that doesn’t mean he is going to quietly walk away from $120 million, our columnist writes.

The actors Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine and Chris Pratt are cumulatively worth $150 million, according to Google results. But how accurate are these estimates of net worth when rich people themselves are often unsure?

“Made in Italy” conjures images of highly skilled artisans. But Italian garment labels, facing global competition, are using thousands of low-paid home workers without contracts or insurance.

Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

Benedict XVI, above left, the pope emeritus, wrote in private letters that critics of Pope Francis, above right, risk tarnishing his own legacy by promoting a rival power center around him. [The New York Times]

The World Anti-Doping Agency voted to let Russia resume testing its own athletes for performance-enhancing drugs, despite an outcry from athletes and watchdogs. [The New York Times]

In Tanzania, officials fear the death toll from a ferry sinking in Lake Victoria could exceed 200. [Reuters]

The French government has banned smartphones in schools through ninth grade so students will pay more attention in class and talk to one another more. But some teachers and experts are skeptical. [The New York Times]

The London police have found the notorious cat killer of Croydon: foxes. [The New York Times]

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

Prince — whose posthumous album is being released today — repeatedly shook up the music industry with his infectious, genre-bending songs and daring personality.

But there’s a less colorful way in which he helped change music: the black-and-white “Parental Advisory” labels on albums containing explicit lyrics.

The song “Darling Nikki” appeared on his 1984 album, “Purple Rain,” and describes a girl pleasuring herself. When Tipper Gore, the wife of then-Senator Al Gore, heard the song while listening to the album with her 11-year-old daughter, she began a fight against explicit album lyrics.

Ms. Gore and several other women in Washington formed the Parents Music Resource Center, urging the music industry and Congress to create a rating system for songs based on their content.

The group’s campaign culminated in a Senate hearing in 1985, in which the artist Frank Zappa derided the center’s proposal because it would reduce “all American music, recorded and live, to the intellectual level of a Saturday morning cartoon show.”

In the end, record labels agreed to add “Parental Advisory” stickers to albums, a compromise that became infamous enough to match the neon electric swagger of the man who inspired them.

Alisha Haridasani Gupta wrote today’s Back Story.

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