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Friday, April 14, 2017

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Europe Edition
Your Friday Briefing
Good morning.
Here’s what you need to know:
Delil Souleiman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
In Afghanistan, the U.S. military used its most powerful nonnuclear bomb for the first time, dropping it on an Islamic State tunnel complex.
In Syria, an airstrike by the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State killed 18 Syrian fighters allied with the United States.
Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The past restraint of American air power has helped Syria’s leader, Bashar al-Assad, cling to power.
But the U.S. approach has changed since the chemical weapons attack on civilians last week, and Mr. Assad has begun a counterpropaganda campaign, asserting that videos of victims, including dead and convulsing children, had been faked.
Our analyst looks at the forces prompting Mr. Assad to use chemical weapons.
VII for The New York Times
• In Turkey, some opinion polls this week show a slim majority of voters favor expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers in Sunday’s referendum. To Mr. Erdogan, the answer to all the country’s economic, military and political challenges appears to be an expansion of his mandate.
We asked Turkish overseas voters how they felt about the proposed changes. Their responses varied, but tying them together was a deep sense of concern about the country’s future.
Meanwhile, life in the fragile democracy is becoming stranger, as a purge of people suspected of supporting a coup has turned Orwellian.
Thomas Hornall/Press Association, via Associated Press
• United Nations experts demanded that the Russian region of Chechnya halt the abduction and killing of gay and bisexual men, after reports about violent repression there.
Above, a demonstration outside the Russian Embassy in London.
Separately, the European Court of Human Rights faulted Russia for its handling of the 2004 school siege in the North Caucasus town of Beslan, which resulted in the deaths of more than 330 hostages.
Gabriel Bouys/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
With France’s presidential election little more than a week away, Facebook said it shut down 30,000 accounts to rein in the spread of misinformation on the social media platform. Polls predict a tight race.
Marine Le Pen of the National Front remains a front-runner, in part thanks to her efforts to distance her far-right party from its anti-Semitic past. But associates and court documents raise fresh doubts about the sincerity of her efforts.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
• Good news, far away: Scientists say they may have found the conditions for life in the icy moons of the outer solar system.
Data collected by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft suggests that moons like Saturn’s Enceladus may allow hydrothermal chemical reactions that can give rise to microbial life.
Livio Anticoli/ANSA, via Associated Press
• Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister, sold A.C. Milan, a seven-time European soccer champion, to a Chinese businessman for 740 million euros. The team is set to take on Inter Milan, the city’s other Chinese-owned team, tomorrow.
On Wall Street, it’s “Charging Bull” versus “Fearless Girl.” The Italian-born sculptor who made the bull nearly 30 years ago says the statue of the defiant girl is an insult to his work. Supporters of the defiant girl are, well, standing firm.
Damage control: Bill O’Reilly left Fox News for vacation while Rupert Murdoch and his sons deal with the fallout from sexual harassment accusations against their star.
Here’s a snapshot of global markets.
In the News
Martin Meissner/Associated Press
• German prosecutors said they had insufficient evidence to link an Iraqi man they had arrested to the bombing in Dortmund on Tuesday but sought to keep holding him on suspicion of ties to the Islamic State. [The New York Times]
• At least 97 African migrants were believed to have drowned after their Europe-bound boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea, the Libyan Coast Guard said. [Associated Press]
• Russia said it would not participate in the Eurovision Song Contest in Ukraine in May after Kiev barred the Russian contestant from entering the country. [The Guardian]
Two lost front teeth and a broken nose: Those were among the injuries to the passenger who was dragged off a United Airlines plane last weekend, his lawyer said. [The New York Times]
• Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director who once applauded disclosures by WikiLeaks, called the group a “hostile intelligence service.” [The New York Times]
• Canada‘s government introduced a bill, which is expected to pass, that would make it the second country to completely legalize marijuana. [The New York Times]
• Less than a year after one of the strongest El Niños on record, forecasters see an increasing possibility that another may begin later this year. [The New York Times]
Smarter Living
David Duprey/Associated Press
How the grain in your cereal is processed makes a big difference in your body’s performance throughout the day.
Save time at the gym by learning all about really, really short workouts.
Recipe of the day: Roast a whole head of cauliflower and serve it with a rich romesco sauce.
Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times
• What’s it like to be a female fan of horror? “I believe it was a man’s world one time in horror,” said one horror convention attendee. “I do not believe that anymore.”
• Here’s our review of the latest installment of “The Fast and the Furious,” which opened in cinemas across Europe this week. And we sat down with Vin Diesel, the former bouncer who became the franchise’s improbable hero.
• How dare you! Our article exploring London’s future after “Brexit” generated a spirited trans-Atlantic discussion.
• And the revival of Beaujolais might be one of the most inspiring wine stories of the last decade.
Back Story
Stan Wayman/LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images
Over a dinner of crayfish in Stockholm in 1924, two men decided that Sweden needed its own car manufacturer, one that made vehicles suitable for the harsh local climate and whose guiding principle was safety.
From their idea came Volvo — a Latin translation of “I roll” — which rolled its first car off the assembly line 90 years ago today. The car, an ÖV 4, was affectionately called “Jakob.”
The Swedes were hardly the first to produce automobiles; people like Karl Benz and Henry Ford had already been at it for decades.
In 1999, Ford Motor bought Volvo, which was later sold in 2010 to Geely, a Chinese automaker, for $1.3 billion.
For the new owner, buying Volvo was momentous: “We are like a poor farm boy pursuing a famous movie star,” Li Shufu, Geely’s chairman, said.
By the end of next year, the company, which is still based in Sweden and owned by a Chinese conglomerate, says it will be producing up to 100,000 cars a year in South Carolina.
It’s a head-spinning tale of globalization that started over a humble meal almost a century ago.
This briefing was prepared for the European morning. We also have briefings timed for the Australian, Asian and American mornings. You can sign up for these and other Times newsletters here.
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