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Spin mode on North Korea, the World Cup begins and European tensions rise. Here’s the latest:
• “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”
That was President Trump upon his return from Singapore. In Pyongyang, the state-controlled news media also celebrated the meeting’s outcome, declaring that Kim Jong-un had won major concessions. But the contours of the agreement the two leaders reached remain vague and open to divergent interpretations.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in Seoul to meet with South Korean officials, said the Trump administration hoped to complete “major disarmament” of North Korea within the next two and a half years.
Mr. Trump’s eager embrace of North Korea this week on the heels of a bitter falling-out with Canada raised a confounding question: Why would an American president offend allies and cozy up to adversaries? (Hint: It’s all about the money.)
On the latest episode of our podcast “The Daily,” we discuss North Korea’s promises with our Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof.
• The World Cup is here.
Matches start today in Russia. We have a guide to all 32 teams.
The soccer competition gives President Vladimir Putin the chance to cast Russia in the role of a global power, aided by President Trump’s strains with Europe. Above, supporters of the Morocco team in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.
China figures heavily in the estimated $6.1 billion in revenue the event is expected to generate: Seven of the 20 companies sponsoring the tournament are Chinese, up from just one at the last World Cup.
To get updates and analysis in your inbox twice a week, sign up for our Offsides newsletter. And to receive direct messages from Times journalists on the ground in Russia, sign up for World Cup Messenger.
And there’s longer-range news: The U.S., Mexico and Canada will host the 2026 World Cup, North America’s first since 1994. Their successful joint proposal promised record crowds and revenues, and $11 billion in profits for FIFA, soccer’s governing body.
• Italy’s refusal to offer safe harbor to a ship loaded with 629 migrants has exposed anew divisions in Europe’s approach to the migrant crisis, our Rome correspondent writes.
The Italians have long bridled that they have been left alone by their E.U. partners to deal with an unmanageable migration burden. But Rome’s decision to pull up the welcome mat set off a full-blown sniping match with France and other bloc members (none of which offered to accept the migrants).
The scorned ship, above, highlights a major risk for European leaders: The longer they fail to agree on a common migration policy, the wider the opening for the far right and populist forces to exploit the issue.
• “Nothing has changed.”
On the first anniversary of London’s deadly Grenfell Tower fire, emotions are still raw over the tragedy and the class divisions it exposed, while little seems to have been done to prevent another cataclysm, our correspondent writes.
Meanwhile, the British police arrested a man on suspicion of sending letters that called for a violent “Punish a Muslim Day,” which had prompted widespread fear across the country.
And when an anonymous letter writer tried to shame a woman in England for hanging her laundry outside to dry, the town’s residents draped their clothes outside, too.
• Volkswagen agreed to pay a $1.2 billion German fine for not properly supervising workers who devised and deployed illegal software in diesel vehicles to evade pollution controls.
• Comcast offered $65 billion for the bulk of 21st Century Fox’s businesses, setting up a showdown with Disney for Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
• The U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point, and signaled it would raise rates two more times this year.
• Rampant price manipulation may have accounted for at least half of the tremendous increase in the price of Bitcoin last year, researchers said.
• Here’s a snapshot of global markets.
In the News
• Ireland will vote in a referendum on whether to strike a ban on blasphemy from the Constitution. A reference to women belonging in the home may also bite the dust. [The New York Times]
• The prime minister of Georgia resigned in the wake of protests and disagreements with his party’s patron, the country’s richest man. [The New York Times]
• Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are leading an invasion in Yemen, worsening the world’s most severe humanitarian disaster. The United Nations said the assault could lead hundreds of thousands to starve. [The New York Times]
• Spain’s minister of culture resigned after just under a week in office over reports that he was fined for evading thousands of euros in taxes a decade ago. [Associated Press]
• France’s National Assembly approved President Emmanuel Macron’s overhaul of the state railway company, over fierce union opposition. The bill will end generous benefits and pensions for future employees. [Reuters]
Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.
• The Mediterranean diet: A landmark trial found that the region’s habit of eating fruits, nuts and olive oil protects against heart disease. Now the original work has been retracted and reanalyzed, with the same result. But not everyone is convinced.
• In memoriam: Gena Turgel, 95, a Holocaust survivor who met Anne Frank in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, which was liberated by British soldiers, one of whom she later married.
• Africa’s “wooden elephants” are dying. Scientists believe “an unprecedented combination of temperature increase and drought” has left the oldest and largest baobab trees unable to support their massive trunks.
When the American writer Harriet Beecher Stowe died on this day in 1896, The Times minced no words about her antislavery book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly,” the century’s best-selling American novel.
“In the English language, the Bible and Shakespeare’s works are its only rivals,” The Times noted.
Rapidly translated into at least 20 languages, including Russian, Spanish and Finnish, it was also an overnight international phenomenon.
Stowe lived for years across the Ohio River from Kentucky, meeting fugitive slaves and seeing Southern plantations firsthand. But her novel had another inspiration as well: the loss of an adored son to cholera.
She once wrote, “It was at his dying bed and at his grave that I learned what a poor slave mother may feel when her child is torn away from her.”
The book began as a newspaper serial in 1851. With evocative characters — saintly Uncle Tom, the slave child Topsy, the villainous master Simon Legree — it stirred outrage about slavery.
“No book in American history molded public opinion more powerfully,” the critic David Reynolds wrote in “Mightier Than the Sword,” a book about the novel’s writing, reception and modern reputation.
Nancy Wartik wrote today’s Back Story.
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