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Your Friday Briefing – The New York Times



In 448 pages, the special counsel, Robert Mueller, cataloged attempts by President Trump to thwart the investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference, and laid bare how Mr. Trump was elected with the help of a foreign power.

The special counsel’s team decided not to charge Mr. Trump, citing numerous legal and factual constraints, but it pointedly declined to exonerate him. Mr. Mueller concluded that there was “insufficient evidence” to establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, but that Russia did interfere in the U.S. election.

Takeaways: President Trump tried to sabotage the investigation. In instance after instance, his staff defied his orders and acted as a bulwark against Mr. Trump’s most destructive impulses. Read our other takeaways. We also have a cheat sheet to the report.

On obstruction: President Trump’s lawyers have argued that it was impossible for him to illegally obstruct the Russia investigation because he has full authority over federal law enforcement. Mr. Mueller rejected that sweeping view of executive power.

See for yourself: One of our most-read stories in the last day was the report itself. Many readers wanted to comb through the 400-plus pages.

American-led sanctions against North Korea are hurting its leader, Kim Jong-un, in a new way: by targeting the party and military elite who support his totalitarian rule.

Previous international sanctions were aimed at preventing North Korea from acquiring weapons, but newer penalties have hit its lucrative exports — the regime’s main source of income.

North Korea’s test of a “guided tactical weapon” on Wednesday might be both a sign of Mr. Kim’s frustration and a warning to Washington that there will be no progress on nuclear disarmament unless the sanctions are eased.

What’s next: Mr. Kim said recently that he would give the U.S. until the end of the year to come up with proposals around the deadlock, an implicit warning that North Korea might resume nuclear and intercontinental missile testing. Wednesday’s test suggested he might raise the stakes sooner.

An outwardly cordial meeting this week between Pope Francis and his predecessor, the pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, masked a growing concern within the Vatican and far beyond: that having two popes can be confusing to the faithful — and can risk creating schisms within the Roman Catholic Church.

Francis and Benedict are vastly different in their style, substance and visions of the church. Benedict has remained an icon to traditionalists who feel threatened by Francis, a pope they consider a dictator, a liberal radical and an existential threat to church doctrine.

The background: In 2013, Benedict became the first pontiff in centuries to resign, but he hasn’t disappeared completely from view. Last week, he released a 6,000-word letter explaining his views on the church’s clerical sex abuse crisis, effectively undercutting Francis on the issue.

The Indian elections are an unruly behemoth, not only to administer but also to monitor. Thousands of candidates deliver campaign speeches and post on social media at the same time.

The Sisyphean task of keeping an eye on it all falls to the Election Commission.

Already, it has temporarily banned two candidates from campaigning for making incendiary remarks, postponed the release of a Bollywood biopic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and canceled voting in one district after uncovering a cash-for-votes scheme.

The commission faces perhaps its greatest test of legitimacy in trying to rein in disinformation in a country with more than 600 million internet users.

In the past year, rumors on social media have led to fatal lynch mobs across the country. Two phases into a seven-stage election, there has already been an explosion of fake poll results, doctored news clippings and other election-related falsehoods, according to a fact-checking website.

The commission can count some successes. WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms have taken down posts that violate the commission’s rules, and developed tools to curb the spread of falsehoods. But concerns remain. — Alisha Haridasani Gupta

Send us your feedback or questions on this series here.

France: There is already a growing debate about how the Notre-Dame cathedral should be rebuilt. How closely should the planned reconstruction adhere to the original design and materials?

Pinterest: Shares in the digital pin board jumped more than 28 percent on its first day of trading as a public company. The company’s stock began trading at $23.75, above the initial public offering price of $19, and finished the day at $24.40. It is more valuable than the retail chains Macy’s or Nordstrom.

Germany: After a bus plunged off a road on the Portuguese island of Madeira and killed 29 tourists, possibly all Germans, Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “saddened and distressed” by the crash, as her nation awaited word of the victims’ identities.

Health: Two new studies confirm there are biological reasons that some people struggle with their weight and others do not. Some people have a gene alteration that suppresses appetite and makes them feel full.

Amazon: The world’s largest retailer and eight South American countries that contain the world’s largest rain forest are in a battle over who owns the name Amazon. At stake is the domain name .amazon — for the company, it means marketing opportunities, and for the countries, it’s a question of heritage and symbolism.

Snapshot: Gardens, like the Montreal Botanical Garden, above, have healing power, according to Oliver Sacks, a neurologist and author who died in 2015. In a collection of essays being published posthumously next week, he wrote that in 40 years of medical practice, “I have seen in my patients the restorative and healing powers of nature and gardens.”

Britain: We spoke with David Miliband, the former British politician who is now the chief executive of the International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit humanitarian group. “I sort of came to the conclusion that, if you can make a difference, you should,” he said.

Music: Our reviewer said “Homecoming,” the highly anticipated Netflix documentary made by Beyoncé, reinforces the idea that Beyoncé the performer is also Beyoncé the creator.

Cook: This ultra-tangy tart is somewhere between a lemon tart and a lemon pie.

Go: Lucian Freud’s nudes from the ’90s, a Gretchen Bender retrospective and more are among what you should see in New York art galleries.

Watch: What is remarkable about “Ramy,” Hulu’s new show about a young American Muslim, isn’t that it significantly differs from other millennial coming-of-age stories. It’s that it doesn’t.

Read: Far-right nationalists are now in power in governments across Europe. How surprised should supporters of liberal democracy in Europe be? Not very, according to Sheri Berman’s “Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe.

Smarter Living: Checking to see if something can be repaired before you replace it is a simple way to save money and the Earth. YouTube has plenty of instructional videos, and iFixit offers how-to guides and repair discussion forums. In Europe, repair parties and cafes are starting to spring up. There’s also a movement to support “right to repair” laws that would require companies to make their products easier to fix.

And we have guidance on the right way to use a public bathroom.

As we’ve been covering the fire that tore through the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, we’ve often wondered why it’s not just Notre Dame. Why would Our Lady Cathedral need extra punctuation?

We got the answer from the national commission that preserves and guides France’s conventions of official names. (The French have earned their reputation for being literate, logical and bureaucratic.)

Elisabeth Calvarin, who helps lead that agency, the Commission Nationale de Toponymie, explained that the hyphen differentiates place names from proper nouns.

The mother of God who is worshiped at the cathedral is Notre Dame. The cathedral named for her must have a hyphen. Part of the landmark’s address is named after a pope: Place Jean-Paul II. Saint Denis is the martyr; Saint-Denis is the name of the Paris suburb.

But it’s Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. Why do the hyphens stop halfway through?

Because France has many churches and cathedrals listed as Notre-Dame, adding the name of the location is helpful — but not registered officially.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Melina

Thank you
Katie Van Syckle helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Kenneth R. Rosen provided the break from the news. Daphné Anglès, in our Paris Bureau, reported today’s Back Story, and we also received guidance from the French Studies Program at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. You can reach the team at [email protected].

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is the second of a two-part series on abortion.
• Here’s today’s mini crossword puzzle, and a clue: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc. (5 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The New York Times takes great care with its use of hyphens. For instance, we use the hyphen in compounds denoting national origin, like Japanese-American, but not when the phrase denotes current group membership rather than origin, as in French Canadian.

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