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Good morning. President Trump extends an invitation, Europe prepares for Brexit and climate change threatens a national symbol.
Here’s the latest:
• “Say that again? Did I hear you right? O.K., that’s going to be special.”
That was Dan Coats, the director of U.S. national intelligence, being blindsided by a reporter’s statement that President Trump planned to invite President Vladimir Putin of Russia to the White House this fall.
Yielding to intense criticism, the White House rejected Mr. Putin’s proposal that Russia question U.S. citizens, including a former ambassador, in return for American access to Russian intelligence officers indicted for election-meddling. A day earlier, it had said that Mr. Trump was still open to the idea.
For his part, Mr. Putin, above, said that unspecified forces in the U.S. were trying to undermine the results of his summit meeting with Mr. Trump this week.
• With Brexit looming, deal or no deal, governments around the European Union are creating backup plans for a variety of chaotic possibilities.
Banks are moving staff out of Britain. Belgium is considering drones to beef up post-Brexit customs surveillance. The Dutch government is hiring nearly 1,000 new customs officials. Above, the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
The European Commission, the E.U.’s executive arm, issued an urgent advisory on Thursday, saying that getting ready for Brexit immediately “is of paramount importance.”
• A global strongman gets even stronger.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has wasted no time in using the levers of democracy to expand his authority. Since his second term began last week, several lengthy decrees and presidential decisions have enabled him to exert control with almost unchecked authority.
The changes include abolishing the prime minister’s office, bringing the military under firmer civilian control and giving Mr. Erdogan, pictured in a banner above, the ability to dismiss Parliament and call new elections at will.
As one Turkish columnist put it, “The state is being reorganized around Tayyip Erdogan.”
• The cedars of Lebanon, a national symbol, have outlived empires and survived modern wars.
But they are facing their greatest threat yet: Climate change could wipe out most of Lebanon’s remaining cedar forests by the end of the century. Conservation groups are trying to diversify their locations and expand their populations.
“It offers majesty, for a tiny, vulnerable country,” our Beirut bureau chief writes of the cedars. “Rootedness, for generations scattered by famine and conflict. Ancient history, for a state carved out by colonial powers.”
• BMW has become the No. 1 exporter of American-made cars, transforming Spartanburg, South Carolina, home to the automaker’s biggest plant in the world. Now, the city is bracing for the effects of President Trump’s trade fight. Above, BMW vehicles at a South Carolina port.
• President Trump continued his criticism of the European Union, assailing it for the antitrust fine it imposed on Google, “one of our great companies.” Here’s what the fine — a record 4.34 billion euros — means for Android phone users.
• Facebook was once the most nimble company of its generation. But from Mark Zuckerberg on down, its executives have been comically tripped up by questions about misinformation and conspiracy theories on the platform, our tech columnist writes.
• Here’s a snapshot of global markets.
In the News
• Israel’s Parliament narrowly passed a contentious law that declares the country a Jewish nation-state. The law downgrades the official status of the Arabic language, promotes the development of Jewish communities and says the right of national self-determination is “unique to the Jewish people.” Above, a protest against the bill in Tel Aviv. [The New York Times]
• Wildfires continued to scorch Sweden, prompting the authorities to evacuate some villages. Rainfall for the year has been the lowest since record-keeping began in the late 19th century. [The New York Times]
• Hungary pulled out of a United Nations global agreement on migration just days after the accord was reached. The United States is the only other U.N. member that is not committing to the agreement. [The New York Times]
• Morrisons, the British supermarket, will have a weekly “quieter hour” for people with autism, dimming the lights and silencing piped-in music. [The New York Times]
• A Spanish judge withdrew a European arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont, the ex-leader of Catalonia, after a German court ruled he could be extradited only for fraud, not rebellion. [The New York Times]
• Ryanair, the budget airline, canceled up to 600 flights next week because of a strike by cabin crews in Belgium, Portugal and Spain. [BBC]
• A 30-ton sarcophagus found last week in Alexandria, Egypt, was opened after much speculation over who (or what) was inside. So far, no curses have been unleashed. [The New York Times]
Tips for a more fulfilling life.
• Tiger Woods thinks he can win the British Open. And he may have a point. The conditions of Carnoustie in Scotland, and a recent history of older players succeeding, could open the door for Woods’s first major championship win in 10 years.
• Quietly, in the shadow of fights against better-known diseases like Ebola, AIDS and malaria, the 20-year battle against trachoma is chalking up impressive victories. The bacterial infection, which can cause blindness, has been eliminated as a public health menace in at least seven poor countries.
• Beatrice Tinsley was known as the world’s leading expert on the aging and evolution of galaxies. An insurgent who challenged the academic establishment, she never received a proper obituary in The Times. We’ve fixed that.
“We know that drinking, plus driving, spell death and disaster.”
At a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden 34 years ago this week, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation designed to force states to raise their minimum drinking age to 21 by linking it to federal highway aid.
Until 1919, there was no national drinking age in the U.S. After the end of Prohibition in 1933, most states set their drinking age at 21, where it remained until the Vietnam War. The argument that if you were old enough to be drafted for military service, you were old enough to drink led many states to drop their drinking age to 18. As a result, drunken driving among young people surged in the early 1970s.
By 1988, all states had adopted age 21 as the minimum legal drinking age (although Louisiana was an outlier for a time). As a result, alcohol-related traffic deaths among young drivers declined, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Today, the U.S. has the highest drinking age in the Western Hemisphere. In most of the world, it is 18.
“Raising that drinking age is not a fad or an experiment,” Mr. Reagan said at the ceremony. “It’s a proven success.”
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