Europe Edition

Donald Trump, Japan, Brexit: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning. President Trump makes a U-turn, the E.U. signs a major trade deal and Brexit inches closer to reality.

Here’s the latest:

CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

“I have full faith in our intelligence agencies.”

That was President Trump, making an abrupt about-face after coming under widespread criticism for his embrace of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Mr. Trump said he “accepts” the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election and would fight any such interference in November’s midterms.

The president said he had misspoken at a news conference a day earlier in Helsinki, Finland, after appearing to accept Mr. Putin’s word that Russia had not interfered in the election.

But will his shift quell the howls of protest from within the U.S.? Among some of Mr. Trump’s critics, including some Republicans, even the word “treason” is not too strong.

In Russia, the summit meeting is being described as a triumph for Mr. Putin. He also may have notched a victory before the meeting even began: The Estonian military says the Russian leader’s plane entered NATO airspace without clearance on its way to Helsinki.



CreditMartin Bureau/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• The European Union signed its largest trade deal ever, a pact with Japan.

The new deal will slash customs duties on products like European wine and cheese, while gradually reducing tariffs on cars.

With President Trump inciting a trade war, and Britain’s pending withdrawal from the bloc, the E.U. is hunting for free trade deals in Asia and Latin America to help compensate for lost business with the United States.

But the U.S. is still the Continent’s largest trading partner, and there’s no escaping the damage from Mr. Trump’s campaign against imports like cars and steel.



CreditMatt Cardy/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Stuck between a rock and a hard-line Brexit.

For months, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain has walked the fine line between a soft Brexit that would maintain some ties to the E.U. and a clean break from the bloc.

On Tuesday, pro-European conservatives in her party put her to the test as she narrowly averted defeat in a parliamentary vote on a customs bill. Mrs. May faced a similar challenge from hard-liners just the day before.

Her wafer-thin victories suggest that Parliament is close to an impasse over Britain’s withdrawal.



CreditSaumya Khandelwal for The New York Times

• “A silent killer.”

Many of the biggest, fastest-growing cities in India are already scorching hot in the summer, easily reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or almost 38 degrees Celsius. And they’re getting hotter.

If global greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace, researchers say some cities could approach temperatures that are literally unbearable for people who live and work without air-conditioning.

In India, a country of more than 1.3 billion, that’s tens of millions of people, mostly the poor. Scientists and economists warn that extreme heat is already making them sicker and poorer. Above, a heat stroke patient in New Delhi after traveling 26 hours in a hot oven of a bus.



CreditCameron Spencer/Getty Images

• Home prices in Australian cities like Sydney, above, and Melbourne — which one survey ranked as more expensive than New York and London — are finally dropping, thanks in part to new restrictions on foreign buyers.

• Goldman Sachs picked David Solomon as its next chief executive, but the change probably won’t alter the bank’s course. Here’s the letter Lloyd Blankfein, the departing chief executive, sent to employees.

Are you ready to fly without a human pilot? Plane parts are getting a second life, luxury lounge wars are heating up and more from our special report on aviation.

Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

In the News


CreditSiphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

• Former President Barack Obama, above, in his highest-profile speech since leaving office, warned against the global rise of “strongman politics.” He was at an event in South Africa marking the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth. [The New York Times]

• Pakistani courts have cleared a number of candidates to run in national elections this month, despite their ties to extremism and their inclusion on terrorism watch lists. [The New York Times]

• Pedro Sánchez, the prime minister of Spain, plans to introduce a bill that would classify sex without explicit consent as rape. [BBC]

• Israel has allocated hundreds of thousands of acres in the West Bank as public land, but data shows that only 400 acres are for use by Palestinians, who make up about 88 percent of the population there. [The New York Times]

• “Saturday Night Live China,” an NBCUniversal show that made its debut just weeks ago, faces an uncertain future after existing episodes were removed from the platform that was hosting it. [The New York Times]

• A new medical scanner that captures three-dimensional color X-rays of the human body may eventually help diagnose cancers and blood diseases without invasive surgery. [The New York Times]

Smarter Living

Tips for a more fulfilling life.


CreditAndy Isaacson for The New York Times

Take a walk in the woods. Doctor’s orders.

At these hotels and spas, cancer is no obstacle to quality care.

Recipe of the day: Make swordfish piccata in a buttery pan sauce whenever you need a quick, tasty dinner.



CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

• Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, George Soros has spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting liberal democracy around the world. His enemies paint him as all-powerful, but the billionaire philanthropist tells The New York Times Magazine that his political legacy has never been in greater jeopardy.

• How do you take on 19th-century opera stereotypes in the #MeToo era? One director’s tack is to amplify the characters in a Rossini piece, making them all equally ridiculous, and equally human.

• Ballet students in a poor district of Rio de Janeiro, led by an indomitable teacher, didn’t let the closing of their school stop them from dancing — or from delivering a pointed message to government officials.

Back Story


CreditLaura Pedrick for The New York Times

The riders on the Tour de France entered the 11th stage today, having already suffered some spectacular crashes.

Imagine if they tried it with the bikes of the past.

Bicycle makers of yore — meaning those of the 1800s — had yet to discover gearing. In the hunt for speed, “velocipedes” came to rely on one huge wheel, with a second wheel for whatever stability and balance they could claim.

That was the style Britain dubbed the Penny-Farthing, because it looked like a giant penny paired with the much smaller farthing coin. They offered a thrilling, but forbiddingly dangerous, ride.

But the 1800s were a time of invention. An Englishman named John Kemp Starley introduced a radical improvement in 1885: the “Rover safety bicycle,” with two same-size wheels.

A few innovations later, he had the basics of what has been called “the most influential piece of product design ever” — a bike with a triangular frame, pedals that power the even-sized wheels with a chain and gearing.

The bicycle has become the most popular personal transport in the world. Estimates of the number of bikes in use around the globe run upward of two billion.

Andrea Kannapell wrote today’s Back Story.


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