Europe Edition

Your Wednesday News Briefing: Storm Ali, Chemnitz, Trade War

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Good morning.

Another challenge for Angela Merkel, doubts on the Kavanaugh hearing and echoes of Cold War tactics. Here’s the latest:

CreditAxel Schmidt/Reuters

• Germany’s security director is out.

Hans-Georg Maassen, Germany’s chief of domestic intelligence, was ejected from his post on Tuesday after a rift with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

He had questioned the authenticity of a video showing an immigrant being chased by far-right protesters in Chemnitz, directly contradicting her and raising concerns that the country’s security apparatus had leaned too far right, impeding its ability to monitor neo-Nazi groups effectively.

Mr. Maassen’s removal is another test for the ever-more-embattled chancellor.



CreditPool photo

New steps in Korean diplomacy.

Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, will visit Seoul “in the near future,” he said after meeting Wednesday in Pyongyang with the South’s president, Moon Jae-in. It would be the first trip to South Korea by any North Korean leader. Mr. Kim also agreed, at least on paper, to take additional steps to dismantle some ballistic missile and nuclear facilities.

President Trump called the North Korean commitments “very exciting” on Twitter. Mr. Moon is expected to brief him on the developments next week during a trip to the United Nations.



CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Not Duda’s day.

President Andrzej Duda of Poland offered a permanent base for U.S. forces in his country during a meeting with President Trump at the White House. He suggested calling it Fort Trump.

But the questions at their joint news conference focused on Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Mr. Trump insisted that a woman’s accusations that Mr. Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her decades ago were part of a Democratic bid to derail his confirmation.

A Senate hearing next Monday at which both Judge Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the California psychologist accusing him, have been invited to appear has been thrown into doubt. Dr. Ford has said that she believes some senators doubt her claim and that she wants the F.B.I. to investigate first.

In an Op-Ed, the university professor Anita Hill urged the Senate Judiciary Panel to “do better” than in 1991, when she was grilled after accusing another Supreme Court nominee, Clarence Thomas, of sexual harassment.



CreditCinemaforpeace, via Reuters

• Poisoning cases raise fears.

The anti-Kremlin Pussy Riot activist above, who lost his sight, speech and mobility in Moscow, is expected to recover fully, according to the medical team treating him in Berlin. The doctors said it was “highly plausible” that he had been poisoned.

The case is the latest to inflame concerns about the return of Cold War tactics to silence critics.

Last week, two Russians made a much-ridiculed appearance on state television, denying guilt for a nerve-agent attack on the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and saying they were mere tourists in Salisbury, England, at the time. Some analysts say the interview amounted to a masterpiece of in-your-face defiance against the West.



CreditTomas Munita for The New York Times

Myanmar’s “gravest crimes.”

The country’s military killed at least 750 people in one village and at least 10,000 in its broader operations in the western state of Rakhine, according to a U.N. inquiry into atrocities against Rohingya Muslims. Above, survivors.

The report describes the military’s brutal actions in detail, from throwing infants into a fire to systematically raping women and girls. It called for constitutional changes and an overhaul of the military and named army officials who should stand trial.



CreditOdd Andersen/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen are being investigated by the European Commission for possible collusion to prevent development of clean emissions technology. The German auto industry, the country’s biggest employer, hasn’t fully recovered from Volkswagen’s diesel deception.

Chinese officials retaliated against President Trump’s vast expansion of tariffs, saying they would impose a tax on $60 billion in American goods. Global markets appeared sanguine.

Danske Bank will release a report today — eagerly awaited by regulators — on how billions of euros from Russia and ex-Soviet states flowed through its accounts in Estonia.

Tesla shares dropped when the company said the Justice Department asked it for information after Elon Musk tweeted in August that he might take the company private, suggesting an open investigation.

Bigger is definitely better, at least for the newest iPhones, our columnist writes.

Market Snapshot View Full Overview

    In the News


    CreditNikita Shchyukin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Friendly fire in Syria: Kremlin officials said that Syrian forces had shot down a Russian military plane like the one pictured above, initially blaming Israeli planes flying behind it for drawing the fire. President Vladimir Putin of Russia eased tensions by blaming not just Israel, but “a chain of tragic accidental circumstances.” [The New York Times]

    A Catholic diocese in New York made one of the largest settlements to individual victims of sex abuse in the church. Four men repeatedly raped as boys by a religion teacher were awarded $27.5 million. [The New York Times]

    France’s interior minister, Gérard Collomb, said he would step down to run for mayor of Lyon in 2020, adding to concerns over the stability of the Macron government. [L’Express/Reuters]

    Reading this in a windstorm? You may be in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland, where high winds and rain from Storm Ali were predicted for today. [The Guardian]

    Hurricane Florence: In North Carolina, rivers continued to rise in the wake of the storm’s record rainfall. [The New York Times]

    Let him eat steak? The Turkish steakhouse chef known as Salt Bae served a meal to Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s president, during his visit to Istanbul. Social media erupted with fury, pointing to malnutrition in Venezuela. [The New York Times]

    Ireland officially repealed its constitutional ban on abortion. [The]

    Fortnite, the wildly popular video game, has been cited in at least 200 divorce filings in England this year. [GQ]

    Smarter Living

    Tips for a more fulfilling life.


    CreditEvan Sung for The New York Times

    Recipe of the day: Don’t give in to the weeknight cooking slump. Make a simple pasta with pantry staples.

    On a tight schedule? Try a shorter, harder workout.

    Interlinked short stories provide continuity while allowing you to take a pause.



    CreditJada Yuan/The New York Times

    People as nice as the views: Our 52 Places traveler reports from Lucerne, Switzerland.

    Ready for their close-up: The British film director Steve McQueen will take photos of 115,000 London schoolchildren for a Tate Britain exhibition next year.

    Robert Galbraith, a mystery writer better known by another name, has released “Lethal White,” the fourth book in the Cormoran Strike detective series.

    “Captain Marvel,” the first solo female-superhero vehicle in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, released its new trailer today.

    Back Story


    “We believe that a very large number of women do not desire to vote. They shrink from having to go to the polling booths on election days. They would much prefer staying at home and attending to their household duties.”

    So said The Press in Christchurch, New Zealand, after the country became the world’s first to give women the right to vote on this day in 1893.

    When women cast ballots later that year, The Press grudgingly admitted it happened without “any very remarkably disastrous consequences having become apparent.”

    The victory (which enfranchised Maori women, too) was hard won.

    New Zealand men liked their liquor. The leading causes of death were said to be “drink, drowning, and drowning while drunk.” With alcoholism taking a toll on family life, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union — fiercely opposed by the liquor industry — spearheaded the suffrage effort, hoping that enfranchised women could get alcohol banned. (They could not.)

    Kate Sheppard, New Zealand’s most famous suffragist, above, noted wryly when the Electoral Act passed that “it does not seem a great thing to be thankful for” that the government has “declared us to be ‘persons.’”

    Other countries gradually followed suit: the U.S. in 1920, India in 1947, Switzerland in 1971.

    The latest country to enfranchise women? Saudi Arabia in 2011.

    Nancy Wartik wrote today’s Back Story.


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