Russia, Syria, Robots: Your Tuesday Briefing

Russia, Syria, Robots: Your Tuesday Briefing


And U.S.-led attacks over the weekend, which hit three targets in Syria, were intended to keep the West from being dragged further into the seven-year war. But our correspondent says the airstrikes didn’t alter the overall dynamics of the conflict.

Meanwhile, British lawmakers criticized Prime Minister Theresa May over her ordering of military action in Syria, saying she was accountable to them, not the “whims of the U.S. president.”

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Milan Bures for The New York Times

• Robots to the rescue?

Fast-growing economies in Eastern Europe have led to severe labor shortages, so companies are installing machines.

Automation is helping countries like the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland adapt to aging societies, shifting industries and rising wages.

But critics say the robots will pose a risk to workers when recessions hit.

“You won’t switch off the robots and bring back people,” a Czech artificial intelligence researcher said.

(Above, an assembly line in the Czech city of Slany in March.)

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Zephyr/Science Source

Lung cancer researchers have made a major discovery: Patients can survive much longer if they receive immunotherapy alongside chemotherapy.

The drugs — including an immunotherapy agent made by Merck (which paid for the study) — cost more than $100,000 a year and help only some patients.

But they’re seen as a potential key in the fight against lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths globally. Above right, a scan of a malignant tumor in a lung.

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Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

• President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, above, lost his bid to block prosecutors from reviewing a trove of materials the F.B.I. seized from his office, home, hotel room and safe deposit box last week.

And the judge ordered that the name of another Cohen client be divulged: Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, one of Mr. Trump’s most ardent defenders.

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Business

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Olivier Alexandre/Short Edition

Put away that smartphone! A French company has created stand-alone kiosks that deliver printed short stories to patrons of libraries, airports and cafes, like the one above in San Francisco.

The Trump administration blocked ZTE, China’s second-largest maker of telecommunications equipment, from buying American components over its failure to punish employees who violated American sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

With Dropbox and Spotify successfully going public, tech investors are confident that a bonanza of initial public offerings lies ahead.

Signing off: Credit card signatures are (finally) going extinct in the U.S.

Paris. Milan. Riyadh? Saudi Arabia had its first fashion week — with female-only audiences and no social media — but as one observer said, “Women here have been waiting for years for a time to shine.”

Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

In the News

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Joao Silva/The New York Times

“They eat money.” Since apartheid ended in South Africa in 1994, tens of billions of dollars in public funds has been siphoned off by leaders of the governing African National Congress, the political party that had promised an equal and just nation. Above, a dairy farm used to launder money for corrupt officials in Vrede, South Africa, in March. [The New York Times]

Conchita Wurst: The winner of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, who performed in drag, announced that he is H.I.V. positive, saying a threat of blackmail prompted him to reveal the diagnosis. [The New York Times]

German prosecutors charged a 94-year-old former Nazi death camp guard with assisting in the murders of more than 13,000 people. [BBC]

Barbara Bush, 92, the wife of the 41st U.S. president and mother of the 43rd, is seriously ill and has decided to stop seeking medical treatment to prolong her life. [The New York Times]

In Sweden, a rise in violent crime and gang-related murders is shattering the country’s peaceful self-image. [Politico]

Quel fromage! For the first time, a cheese from France was the grand-prize winner at the World Cheese Championships in Madison, Wis. [The New York Times]

Smarter Living

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

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Karsten Moran for The New York Times

• How to make mac and cheese.

Forgive yourself.

Recipe of the day: Tonight, try a riff on the classic banh mi sandwich with crab cakes.

Noteworthy

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The New York Times

Talk about fight club: In India, hundreds of women and girls, above, are taking free self-defense courses taught by the New Delhi police, as the country combats sexual assault.

The Margravial Opera House in Bayreuth, Germany, built in 1748, is reopening after a six-year renovation that has revived its dazzling details.

Friends forever. Scientists have found that the brains of close friends respond so similarly that they could predict the strength of two people’s social bond based on their brain scans alone.

Pulitzer Prizes: Applause rang out in The Times newsroom as we celebrated three awards. They included the Pulitzer for public service (shared with The New Yorker) for reporting on sexual harassment that ushered in a reckoning about the treatment of women by powerful men in the uppermost ranks of Hollywood, politics, the media and technology.

And the search for alien worlds (and perhaps alien life) will take another step outward this week when TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is launched by NASA into orbit around the Earth. The satellite will spend at least two years scrutinizing the sky for exoplanets — planets around other stars — within about 300 light years of our own.

Back Story

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Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Each week, The Times’s crossword column, Wordplay, highlights the answer to one of the most difficult clues from the previous week’s puzzles.

This week’s word: babas.

“Baba au rhum” are rich, rum-flavored cakes that are largely popular in France and Italy. Babas is the plural.

The baba originated in France and was supposedly inspired by the Polish king Stanislaw I, whose daughter Marie married King Louis XV. It is said that Stanislaw was partial to the Alsatian Gugelhupf cake, though he discovered that the dry dough tasted better when dipped in liquor.

The Parisian baker Nicolas Stohrer went on to popularize this combination, and one of his descendants eventually established rum as the alcohol of choice. Stohrer’s patisserie is still around today.

Babas have continued to be a staple of French baking, and the success of the cake has carried over to Italy and the United States. Babas are now often made with raisins in their dough, and they usually resemble Bundt cakes or doughnuts in shape. Variations may use sweet wine or liqueur in place of rum.

Deb Amlen contributed reporting.

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