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Russia, World Cup, Espionage: Your Tuesday Briefing

July 17,2018 07:15

Russia, World Cup, Espionage: Your Tuesday Briefing. By Remy Tumin. July 17, 2018. (Want to get this briefing by email? Here's the sign-up.) Good morning. President Trump sides with Russia, France embraces multiculturalism and China steps up ...



(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)
Good morning. President Trump sides with Russia, France embraces multiculturalism and China steps up surveillance.
Here’s the latest:

• President Trump stood next to President Vladimir Putin of Russia and went somewhere completely devoid of precedent: He accepted the explanation of a foreign leader over the findings of his own intelligence agencies.
In a joint news conference in Helsinki, Finland, after a closed-door meeting between the two leaders, Mr. Trump pushed back at the notion that Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, directly contradicting the conclusion of U.S. investigations.

“They said they think it’s Russia,” Mr. Trump said. “I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia.”
Mr. Putin, for his part, said he had wanted Mr. Trump to win the election. He also said Russian law enforcement officials could potentially help Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Moscow’s election interference, in questioning the 12 Russian intelligence officers indicted in that case on Friday. Mr. Trump called it “an incredible offer.”
Mr. Trump condemned Mr. Mueller’s investigation as “a disaster for our country” and spoke of Mr. Putin with high regard. His comments were so divorced from American policy goals, our reporter writes in an analysis, that they raised a long-unanswered question: Does Russia have something on him?
For Mr. Putin, it was “the summit he has dreamed of for 18 years,” one analyst said.

The news conference left TV anchors agape and Republicans struggling to respond.
Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, declared, “No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant.”

Hours after Mr. Trump’s appearance with Mr. Putin, the U.S. Justice Department announced espionage charges against a Russian woman who tried to broker meetings between the two men during the 2016 campaign.
At the behest of a senior Russian government official, Mariia Butina, above, made connections through major U.S. policy groups to encourage pro-Russia policies, court records show.
The charges do not name Mr. Trump, but they make it clear that the woman’s overtures were part of a Russian intelligence operation.
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• A national relief.
As the bells of Notre Dame rang out across Paris, the jubilation from France’s World Cup win spoke as much to the country’s recent past as to the happiness of the moment.
The victory on Sunday ushered in an eager embrace of cross-cultural celebration, a departure from the racial divisions that were exacerbated by terrorist attacks in 2015 in Paris and 2016 in Nice.

The attacks had been forgotten, for now.
“There are people of all origins,” one fan said. “It’s in the image of France — a team that is representative of France today. We’re all kind of immigrants, when you get down to it.”
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• Surveillance cameras are everywhere in China. Now, they’re up close and personal.
In this dispatch from the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, our correspondent tried out one of the more dystopian tools of China’s growing surveillance-industrial complex: facial recognition glasses used by the police.
“Many critics call China’s surveillance ambitions Orwellian, and they are,” our correspondent, above, writes. “But for China today, the world imagined by Franz Kafka offers a closer vision: bureaucratic, unknowable and ruled by uncertainty as much as fear.”
Business
• Deals between big brands and viral online video performers are quickly becoming a business estimated to reach $10 billion in 2020. A Times reporter examined the complex rituals that advertisers and viral performers use to find the right match.
• Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest lender, surprised investors when it announced that it expected to report about 400 million euros, or around $467 million, in profit for its second quarter. That is more than double what analysts had been expecting.
• The chief executive of BlackRock, the world’s largest fund manager, warned that a sustained trade war could cause markets to tumble.

• Deep in a mountain in southern Russia, scientists at the Baksan Neutrino Observatory are tracking one of the universe’s most elusive particles, a subatomic particle called the neutrino. [The New York Times]
• Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination that Russia effectively outlawed last year, have been fleeing to Finland by the hundreds. [The New York Times]
• An Indigenous Australian who died in a Sydney prison told guards pinning him to his bed that he couldn’t breathe, video showed. [The New York Times]
• A British diver who helped rescue 12 boys trapped in a Thai cave is considering legal action after Elon Musk, the billionaire Tesla founder, called him a “pedo” on Twitter. [The Guardian]

Smarter Living
Tips for a more fulfilling life.

• How hard is it to identify the breeds that make up a mutt? In a recent research survey, neither experts nor dog lovers, including our reporter, did very well. (Want to try yourself? Here’s the quiz.)
• “Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind,” HBO’s documentary about the late comedian, offers a calm assessment of a mercurial, sometimes manic talent. The film “leaves you feeling that you know Robin Williams about as well as he’d let you,” our critic writes.
• “The Haunting of Hill House,” “The Collector,” “Oliver Twist.” We asked 13 authors to tell us which books terrified them the most.
Back Story

George H.W. Bush pronounced it “marvelous.” Bill Gates called it his favorite book. Green Day sings about it. More sinisterly, Mark David Chapman carried it when he shot John Lennon.
“The Catcher in the Rye,” by Jerome David Salinger, was published 67 years ago this week. (Read The Times’s 1951 review.) The tale of Holden Caulfield, a sensitive, failed prep-school student on the verge of a breakdown, ignited all of the passions of a cult classic, yet it has sold 65 million copies and been translated into some 30 languages.
J.D. Salinger — to whose name “reclusive” is invariably appended — gave few interviews before his death in 2010, but he once revealed, “My boyhood was very much the same as that of the boy in the book, and it was a great relief telling people about it.” Above, Salinger working on “Catcher in the Rye” during World War II.
The novel’s distinctive expression of teen agita rang true to countless readers: “Grand. There’s a word I really hate,” Holden thinks as someone talks. “It’s a phony. I could puke every time I hear it.”
If the book is less in favor today, champions remain. Salinger himself may not have cared: “I like to write,” he once said. “I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure.”
Nancy Wartik wrote today’s Back Story.
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Your Morning Briefing is published weekday mornings and updated online.
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