Monday . 18 March . 2019
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Your Thursday News Briefing: Child Poverty, Brett Kavanaugh, United Nations

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Good morning. Child poverty rises in Britain, Judge Brett Kavanaugh and an accuser prepare to testify and President Trump rails against China and Iran.

Here’s the latest:

• Britain is facing a child poverty crisis.

In the past six years, the number of children living in poverty in Britain has jumped drastically. About a third of British minors will be poor by 2021, some forecasts say.

Before the 2008 financial crisis, successive British governments had reduced by 800,000 the number of minors living in “relative poverty.” But much of that progress has been wiped out as the Conservative-led government has slashed welfare benefits, and no change to that is in sight.

Conservative Party leaders dispute that its cuts are responsible, but the head teacher at Morecambe Bay Primary School, above, sees the impact firsthand on students. “It became clear that for many of them, it was caused by changes to the benefit system rolled out in recent years, which were forcing families into crisis,” she said.

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Judge Brett Kavanaugh and an accuser will testify.

The Supreme Court nominee is expected to tell a Senate committee today that he “was not perfect” in high school while denying the sexual assault allegations against him. One of his accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, will testify separately.

Republicans and Democrats are setting different standards by which to judge the hearing, with the former framing it as a legal proceeding and the latter as a job interview.

On Wednesday, a third woman came forward to accuse Judge Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. The accuser, Julie Swetnick, said in a statement that she had seen him “engage in abusive and physically aggressive behavior toward girls” at house parties in high school.

• Germany’s far right branches out.

People who preach an anti-immigrant, pro-white gospel in Germany have been spreading their views through festivals and other open-air family events in small towns.

Alongside children’s games and guitar-strumming folk singers, one such event, in central Germany, above, featured unwelcoming messages like “Stop the asylum flood” on brochures and “Asylum traitors not welcome” on a T-shirt.

Meanwhile, amid a spike in anti-Semitic attacks in Germany, some coming from Muslims, a number of Jews have tried to form their own group within the Alternative for Germany, a far-right party. Many of the country’s traditional Jewish organizations have criticized that. “We consider membership in such a party to pose a great danger to our security,” one publication’s editorial read.

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• Trump takes aim at Iran.

In his opening remarks to the U.N. Security Council, President Trump attacked Iran, calling it “the world’s leading sponsor of terror,” and affirmed support for Israel while working toward a Middle East peace deal.

More unexpected, however, was his accusation that China is meddling in U.S. midterm elections. Later he pointed to ads placed by China in American newspapers highlighting the economic costs of a trade war.

P.S.: The 15-member Security Council is the U.N.’s most important arm, with the power to impose sanctions and authorize military interventions. Here’s more about what the U.N. does and how it works.

USAReally, founded by the Russian journalist Alexander Malkevich, above, may look like any other fledgling news organization vying for attention. But some cybersecurity experts say it may be part of a retooled Russian propaganda operation.

Google has pretty much avoided the official scrutiny faced by its internet peers. Now lawmakers in Washington are asking: Does it have too much influence?

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the third time this year, to a range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent, and indicated plans to do so again in December. Rate increases are one reason the U.S. government could soon be spending more on interest than on the military.

Fox agreed to sell its 39 percent stake in the British broadcaster Sky to Comcast in a deal worth $15 billion.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, shown above with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany last year, is seeking support from her as he arrives for a state visit. He had shunned her as recently as last year. [The New York Times]

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, may have united it on left-wing economic plans, but at an annual conference, members remained divided over Brexit. [The New York Times]

Poland’s top judge, Malgorzata Gersdorf, 65, swore that she would remain at her post until 2020, defying a controversial government overhaul lowering the retirement age. [CNN]

China-Sweden relations were strained further by a satirical Swedish skit making fun of Chinese tourists, which China called a “gross insult” and a “vicious attack.” [The New York Times]

Venice is considering fining anyone found carrying alcohol at night even if it’s sealed in shopping bags. [BBC]

The “distracted boyfriend,” a popular meme of a man eyeing another woman, is sexist, a Swedish regulator ruled. [The New York Times]

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

The Orkney Islands in Scotland, above, are home to some of the oldest structures in the world, dating back 5,000 years. Now, climate change is threatening to wipe out many of the islands’ 3,000 archaeological sites.

Pop-up “experiences” like the Rosé Mansion are primed for Instagram and offer room after room of interactive, brightly hued activities. But the reality is relentlessly vapid, our critic Amanda Hess says.

In the Mezensky District of Russia, residents are repurposing space junk from rockets to make hunting sleds, tools and boats.

The illustrations that appear on Google’s home page to celebrate special occasions, like its 20th birthday today, began as a sly out-of-office message.

When the company’s founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, left for Burning Man in 1998, they added a drawing of the annual festival’s logo to their home page as a wink that they’d gone. The first Google Doodle was a hit.

Google now employs a team of more than a dozen “Doodlers” to keep up with global demand for designs.

A few of the thousands of Doodles have caused controversy, including one honoring the Japanese-American activist Yuri Kochiyama, who expressed support for terrorists, including Osama bin Laden.

But other Doodles have stirred creativity.

Ryan Germick, whose title is principal designer, Doodleland, said users created 40 million songs with an interactive guitar Doodle celebrating Les Paul’s 96th birthday. And the Birth of Hip-Hop Doodle allowed visitors to mix samples from classic breakbeats, which he called the Doodles’ high-water mark.

Living in Doodleland, however, comes with a cost for Mr. Germick.

“Like at the supermarket,” he said in 2016, “the cucumbers and tomatoes are arranged a certain way and I’m like, ‘You know what, if I had a watermelon, that could work as a G.’ ”


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