Germany, Marijuana, Trade War: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning.

Compromises in Europe, a rethink on medical marijuana in Britain and trade tensions roil markets. Here’s the latest:

 The leaders of Germany and France are scrambling to save the European Union — and themselves — amid a growing number of populist fires over migration on the Continent.

President Emmanuel Macron of France agreed to take back asylum seekers who were first registered in France, a boon for Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany as she seeks to forge an accord on limiting migration in the bloc. In return, Mr. Macron squeezed concessions from Germany on his economic reform plans that he could sell at home (where he is facing criticism for reprimanding a high school student).

Meanwhile, European officials are eager to paint Greece as a comeback story as they prepare to end financial bailouts for the country. But much depends on how Greece’s recovery unfolds.

And Italy’s new interior minister called for counting and expelling Roma people, angering allies and evoking memories of fascist racial laws.

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CreditStefan Rousseau/Press Association, via Associated Press

 The British government ordered a review of the nation’s policy on the medical use of marijuana, after a 12-year-old’s cannabis-based epilepsy medicine was confiscated, eventually landing him in a hospital with severe seizures. Above, the boy, Billy Caldwell, with his mother.

The spectacle of his agonizing battle against an inflexible bureaucracy prompted a national debate about legalizing the drug itself for recreational use (an idea firmly opposed by the government of Prime Minister Theresa May).

But the government’s move underlined a growing consensus about Britain’s zero-tolerance marijuana policy: “Any war has been comprehensively and irreversibly lost,” a former leader of Mrs. May’s Conservative Party wrote.

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CreditRichard Drew/Associated Press

 Global markets are shaking.

President Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on as much as $450 billion worth of Chinese imports — almost every Chinese product that comes into the U.S. — sent stocks lower across the globe. Above, a broker at the New York Stock Exchange.

In a conference call with reporters, Peter Navarro, a White House trade adviser, asserted that China had more to lose from a trade war than the U.S. He again faulted China for unfair trade practices and said Mr. Trump had given China “every chance to change its aggressive behavior.”

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are trying to defuse an escalating crisis over Mr. Trump’s policy of separating immigrant children from parents who cross illegally into the United States. But they can’t agree on how.

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CreditPaulo Nunes dos Santos for The New York Times

 Archiving history as it happens: That’s the goal of “rapid response collecting,” which is being practiced by museums across Europe and America.

A curator at the National Museum of Ireland woke up early the day after her country’s abortion referendum, grabbing campaign posters and putting out a call for flags, banners and signs — anything that could be preserved.

“My job is to research this moment in history,” she said.

Business

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CreditJoshua Lott/Getty Images

 Elon Musk, above, Tesla’s chief executive, said in an email that a disgruntled employee sabotaged the company’s computer system. Tesla shares fell after word of the email was reported in the news media.

• Now with two deep-pocketed suitors for 21st Century Fox — Disney and Comcast — the Murdoch family is weighing its options. Here’s what to expect.

• The U.S. commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, shorted stock in a Kremlin-linked shipping firm after learning that reporters were preparing a potentially negative story about his dealings with the company.

• IBM unveiled an artificial intelligence program that “debates” with humans. (It led to an unlikely question for the tech industry: Can a machine talk too much?)

• Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

In the News

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CreditAli Dia/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• The United Nations refugee agency reported that the total number of forcibly displaced people rose by almost three million people in 2017, to 68.5 million. It was the sixth consecutive year that the figure hit a post-World War II record. [The New York Times]

• The U.S. withdrew from the U.N. Human Rights Council — the world’s most important human rights body — in protest of its frequent criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. [The New York Times]

• Intense fighting in Yemen. Arab coalition troops pounded targets in the main port city in an effort to drive out Iran-aligned rebels, while dock workers unloaded aid to feed six million people for a month. [The New York Times]

• World Cup: Russia essentially knocked Egypt out of the tournament with a 3-1 victory. (Russia scored all three of its goals in just 16 minutes.) [The New York Times]

• A top European Union court ruled that the French far-right leader Marine le Pen must repay to the European Parliament 300,000 euros incorrectly paid to an assistant. [Associated Press]

• A Syrian migrant admitted in a German court that he attacked an Israeli man wearing a skullcap in Berlin. The assault, captured on video, has prompted widespread alarm about rising anti-Semitism in Germany. [Deutsche Welle]

Smarter Living

Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.

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CreditLars Leetaru

• Four simple tips for staying healthy on your next trip.

• Sometimes, quitting is the best way to open the door to new opportunities.

• Recipe of the day: Stock your freezer with this stir-fry sauce for easy and delicious meals.

Noteworthy

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CreditTara Todras-Whitehill for The New York Times

• A deadly taboo: In Nepal, women and girls are banished from their homes when they get their periods each month. They are considered polluted, and many die as a result. Above, a menstruating girl sent to a hut built for the ritual in Dhungani, Nepal.

• In memoriam: Myrtle Allen, 94, who defined modern Irish cuisine by using local ingredients at a restaurant she created in an imposing Georgian house on a 300-acre farm in County Cork.

• The elusive noises of narwhals: Scientists are rushing to study the sounds made by the deep-diving, long-tusked whales as melting ice opens up their once inaccessible east Greenland habitat.

Back Story

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CreditUniversal Studios, via Associated Press

Steven Spielberg’s genre-defining film “Jaws” was released on this day in 1975. It was his first big-budget film, and it ushered in one of the industry’s most successful careers.

But the production was troubled with delays and budget-busting costs. Crew members called it “Flaws,” and Mr. Spielberg — not yet 30 years old — worried he might never work in Hollywood again. “No one had ever taken a film 100 days over schedule,” he said.

Especially problematic were three animatronic sharks meant to serve as the focal predator. Collectively known as Bruce (after Mr. Spielberg’s lawyer), they proved disappointingly unmenacing. And they corroded and malfunctioned because the young director insisted on the realism of filming in the ocean, not in a tank.

Unable to show more than a few scenes of the film’s linchpin, Mr. Spielberg improvised. He filmed some scenes from the shark’s point of view and signaled its presence with John Williams’ now-iconic theme song. The result: a Hitchcockian buildup of tension and suspense. (The Times reviewwas a bit dismissive.)

Even the production delays ended up helping. “Jaws” missed the traditional Christmas window, and a later release (and a marketing blitz) made it one of the first summer blockbusters.

Emma McAleavy wrote today’s Back Story.

 

By: Dan Levin, NY Times

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