Your Weekend Briefing

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White House, North Korea, United Airlines
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Sunday, April 16, 2017

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Your Weekend Briefing
By DANIEL VICTOR AND ANDREW HINDERAKER
Here are the week’s top stories, and a look ahead.
Wong Maye-E/Associated Press
1. The United States is flexing its military muscle.
With a U.S. naval strike force off the Korean Peninsula, North Korea conducted a missile test rather than a nuclear one. It fizzled, but military analysts took note of three types of long-range ballistic missiles at a military parade, above, in the North.
Vice President Mike Pence is in Seoul.
In Afghanistan, the American use of the “mother of all bombs” signaled a strategic turn under President Trump — and stirred Afghan political trouble.
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Al Drago/The New York Times
2. One thing the week made clear: President Trump’s steep learning curve. He has reversed some policy positions, though not some of his most polarizing ones.
His supporters have plenty of other things to focus on, including his more aggressive military stance abroad and legislation aimed at cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood. His Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, takes his seat on the bench for the first time on Monday.
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Mary Altaffer/Associated Press
3. April 15 fell on a Saturday, delaying tax day and providing an organizing principle for marches around the country to demand that President Trump release his tax returns.
Calls for transparency are not new to the administration. The White House faced a backlash after saying it would no longer share visitors logs, effectively barring the public from knowing about the access offered to activists, lobbyists and political donors, even as Mr. Trump fills top jobs with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants.
Mr. Trump’s most powerful advisers now appear to be his daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
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Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
4. A mountain of evidence documents war crimes in Syria, including reams of documents and countless smartphone images.
Our team of Mideast correspondents looks at how the Syrian government has been able to operate with impunity through years of torture, abductions, siege warfare and indiscriminate bombing.
President Trump said relations with Russia, Syria’s backer despite a recent chemical attack, were at an “all-time low.”
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Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times
5. Arkansas said it would appeal a federal judge’s ruling that halted the state’s plans for an extraordinary series of executions that had been set to start Monday.
At issue is the use of midazolam, a sedative that does not always fully block consciousness. A 2014 execution in Arizona that used the drug lasted two hours.
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Jessica Hill for The New York Times
6. Administrators at Choate Rosemary Hall, the prestigious Connecticut boarding school, allowed sexual misconduct by teachers to persist for decades, allowing many abusers to remain on campus.
Investigators found a culture that made it “difficult to report” abuse, detailing a pattern of officials’ inaction dating to the 1960s.
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Joshua Lott/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
7. It was a rough week for United Airlines, and a rougher week for David Dao, the 69-year-old passenger who was dragged off a flight last Sunday in Chicago. His lawyer, threatening to sue, listed injuries including a broken nose, a concussion, two knocked-out teeth and sinus problems that may require surgery.
A timeline of United’s evolving statements shows how the airline fumbled to contain a public relations disaster that incensed people around the world — including in China.
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Andrew Cullen for The New York Times
8. Tesla, the electric car company, put General Motors in its rearview mirror last week, becoming America’s most valuable auto company.
And not everyone shares the optimism that a company with limited production and unsteady profits can turn battery-powered cars into a mass-market product. Even the Tesla owner above conceded, “They really need to deliver, and that has me concerned.”
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Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters
9. Within hours, we may know the outcome of a referendum in Turkey on whether to expand the constitutional powers of the presidency and scrap the post of prime minister.
Critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan consider the proposed changes a democracy-destroying power grab, while supporters say they are necessary to deal with the country’s many crises.
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Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm, via Associated Press
10. In less momentous news, an official trailer for “The Last Jedi” was released, offering the first glimpses of Rey, Kylo Ren, BB-8, and a certain bearded man. Now we just wait eight months.
In case you’d like to see a movie a little sooner than December, out this weekend are “The Fate of the Furious,” “Norman” and “The Lost City of Z.” Here are some suggestions on what to cook, watch and listen to this weekend — and even a little help if you’re still doing your taxes.
On “Saturday Night Live: Alec Baldwin’s President Trump and a Bannon-Kushner showdown. Plus Sean Spicer (Melissa McCarthy) as the Easter bunny.
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Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
11. If you’d like to see how the other side thinks, here’s the week’s best partisan writing from the left and the right. Or maybe you’d prefer 15 great stories from around the web that have nothing to do with politics, including one about the 19 different types of smiles.
If you have a little longer: A historian of conservatism explains why President Trump proved him wrong, and our former London correspondent looks at whether the city can remain an international crossroad.
Or check out Match Book, our new advice column for book lovers.
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NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
12. Finally, if you’ve heard enough about life on this planet, how about life elsewhere?
Scientists found that plumes of gas erupting out of a small, icy moon of Saturn contain hydrogen, suggesting that “ocean worlds” in the outer reaches of the solar system could be habitable for microbial life.
“That’s just going to be a tremendous opportunity to test our theories and see if there’s life there,” a NASA scientist said.
Thanks for reading, and may the cosmos treat you well this week.
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Photographs may appear out of order for some readers. Viewing this version of the briefing should help.
Your Weekend Briefing is published Sundays at 6 a.m. Eastern.
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