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NATO, Trade War, World Cup: Your Wednesday Briefing

July 11,2018 12:07

NATO, forged after World War II to counter Soviet aggression, is more than an abstraction for Baltic States like Estonia and Latvia, which have large ethnic Russian populations. In the annexation of Crimea and its actions in Ukraine, Moscow has used ...and more »

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Good morning.
Here’s what you need to know:
Trump versus NATO
• At the start of the military alliance’s annual summit meeting today in Brussels, President Trump called allies “delinquent” for failing to spend enough on their own defense, and he said Germany was a “captive” of Russia because of its energy dealings.
Here are the latest updates from the start of Mr. Trump’s three-nation European trip, which will include a meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
On Tuesday, Mr. Trump’s criticism of NATO drew a rebuke from Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council. “Appreciate your allies,” Mr. Tusk said. “After all, you don’t have that many.”

• NATO, forged after World War II to counter Soviet aggression, is more than an abstraction for Baltic States like Estonia and Latvia, which have large ethnic Russian populations. In the annexation of Crimea and its actions in Ukraine, Moscow has used protecting the rights of ethnic Russians as a pretext for intervention.

Supreme Court fight begins
• Senate Democrats came out swinging on Tuesday in what is likely to be a long-shot fight to block the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, an experienced jurist whom they characterized as a threat to abortion rights, health care protections and gun restrictions.
On one side: “If you are a young woman in America or you care about a young woman in America, pay attention to this,” said Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California. “Because it will forever change your life.”
On the other: “We’re less than 24 hours into this, and folks are already declaring that if you can’t see that Brett Kavanaugh is a cross between Lex Luthor and Darth Vader, then you apparently aren’t paying enough attention,” said Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska.

We answered some frequently asked questions about Judge Kavanaugh, and looked at his record on abortion, guns, climate and more.
• Judge Kavanaugh has been deeply skeptical about forcing a sitting president to answer questions in criminal cases. Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating President Trump and his associates, has raised the prospect of subpoenaing the president.
Migrant families are reunited
• There were tearful reunions on Tuesday after a court-ordered deadline for children under 5 to be returned to their parents, although government officials said only about one-third of 102 children would be reunited on time.
“He didn’t recognize me,” one woman said of her 3-year-old. “My joy turned temporarily to sadness.”
The government said hundreds of families wearing ankle bracelets would be set free, effectively restoring the “catch and release” policy that President Trump had promised to eliminate.
• Officials face a July 26 deadline to reunite all separated migrant children with their parents.
An extraordinary survival story
• At age 6, Adul Sam-on escaped a territory in Myanmar known for guerrilla warfare, opium cultivation and methamphetamine trafficking.
Eight years later, he found himself in a cave in Thailand.
Adul was one of the 12 boys who were freed this week, along with their soccer coach, from the cave complex where they had been trapped. He played a crucial role in the rescue, serving as an interpreter for divers. Here’s how the rescuers pulled it off.
• “It was 18 days but it felt like years,” said a resident of the town where the coach works.

• Fish, petroleum, chemicals, handbags and textiles are among the roughly $200 billion worth of additional Chinese products on which the Trump administration plans to impose tariffs.
The trade dispute that started in January with tariffs on solar panels and washing machines now encompasses about 10,000 products.
• Facebook was hit with the maximum possible fine in Britain, equivalent to about $660,000, for allowing the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to harvest the information of millions of people without their consent.
• Alrosa isn’t a household name, but it’s a dominant force in diamond mining that wants to increase its sales in the U.S. But its diamonds come from Russia, and Brand Russia has an image problem.
• U.S. stocks were up on Tuesday. Here’s a snapshot of global markets today.

• How one tweet spiraled into chaos
A hip-hop writer had ideas about how Nicki Minaj might improve. The rapper’s fans, and Ms. Minaj herself, returned fire.
• France edges closer to World Cup success
The French will make their third appearance in the final in 20 years on Sunday, after defeating Belgium, 1-0.
France will face the winner of today’s England vs. Croatia match. We’ll have live coverage beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern.

• Best of late-night TV
Conan O’Brien noted the interest in the rescue of the boys’ soccer team in Thailand: “This is actually the most Americans have ever cared about any soccer team, ever.”
• Quotation of the day
“The Turkish lira is like ice in hot weather. The second you take it out, it starts to melt.”
— Zeki Uckardes, a scarf vendor at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, where merchants complain that they must pay rent in dollars or euros while their sales are in a fast-devaluing lira.
• The Times, in other words
Here’s an image of today’s front page, and links to our Opinion content and crossword puzzles.
• What we’re reading
Michael Roston, an editor on our Science desk, recommends this piece from The Baffler: “Most of us are aware of the burdens placed on many young Americans by seemingly intractable student loan payments. This essay by M. H. Miller drives home with great poignancy how the effects of these debts can span generations, imperiling the finances and later lives of parents who backed loans.”
Back Story
“It’s coming home.”
Those words can often be heard chanted in an increasingly giddy England, whose national soccer team has exceeded expectations at the World Cup. The team plays a semifinal against Croatia today.

Bobby Moore and the rest of England’s team celebrated their victory over West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final.CreditAssociated Press

The phrase comes from “Three Lions,” a song released in 1996 to celebrate England’s hosting of the European Championship. It was the first major soccer tournament to be played in the country since the 1966 World Cup (the only time England has won the global trophy). The phrase also refers to England’s claim to being the birthplace of modern soccer, in the 1800s.
Despite its rich soccer tradition, England didn’t participate in the earliest World Cups, including the inaugural tournament in 1930. A dispute in the 1920s had prompted the Football Association, the sport’s governing body in England, to resign from FIFA, the organization that runs the World Cup.
For the English at that time, “international soccer” meant playing against Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
England made its first appearance at the World Cup in 1950 in Brazil. Sixty-eight years later — and 52 after its only success — the team has fans dreaming again.
As the manager, Gareth Southgate, said after his players beat Sweden in the quarterfinal: “None of us fancied going home.”
At least, not without the trophy.
Chris Stanford wrote today’s Back Story.
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