Pope Francis, Trade War, Apple: Your Friday Briefing

Pope Francis, Trade War, Apple: Your Friday Briefing


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Good morning. A policy change for the pope, the prospect of dirtier cars in the U.S., and economic uncertainty in Europe.

Here’s the latest:

In a monumental shift in Roman Catholic teaching, Pope Francis declared the death penalty wrong in all cases, calling it “an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.”

The ruling could put pressure on Catholic judges and politicians around the world. So how should they interpret it?

A theology professor said it was “part of the regular teaching of the church” and “binding.” But, he added, Catholics who believe differently won’t face penalties or be denied the sacraments.

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• The Trump administration revealed a plan to ease rules on auto fuel efficiency, which would unravel one of President Barack Obama’s signature policies to fight greenhouse gas emissions.

What happens next? Opponents — an unusual mix of environmentalists, automakers, consumer groups and state governments — are racing to temper the plan before it is finalized this year.

Also out of Washington: Top national security officials pledged to help ward off Russia’s attempts to influence U.S. elections. “We acknowledge the threat. It is real. It is continuing,” said Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence.

• “A cloud of uncertainty” hangs over Europe’s economy.

That’s the mood among European businesses as companies feel the impact of President Trump’s trade war. High prices, disrupted supply chains and wavering exports offer a preview of how global tensions could ripple through the European economy.

Beyond its own issues with the U.S., the E.U. is caught in the crossfire of a worsening trade dispute between the U.S. and China. European companies like BMW and Volkswagen, above, say that global trade tensions could act as a drag on growth.

“The global supply chains are deeply interconnected,” said Ralf P. Thomas, the chief financial officer of Siemens. Stable conditions are “of utmost importance.”

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• “My friend is gone forever.”

On a rare trip to Rakhine State in Myanmar, our reporters gathered evidence that the Myanmar government’s claim that it is repatriating Rohingya Muslims from Bangladesh doesn’t match the reality on the ground. A sanctioned narrative on a government-led tour of repatriation centers grew sticky with contradictions as witnesses spoke up.

One girl told our reporters that she missed a Muslim friend who had lived a few houses down. “The Rakhine burned their houses down,” she said, referring to civilians from the Buddhist ethnic group that gives the state its name.

A man corrected her quickly. “You’re supposed to say the reverse,” he admonished. “You should say they burned their own houses down.”

Business

Emmerson Mnangagwa, seen in the poster above, who seized power from Robert Mugabe in a coup last year, has been declared the winner of Zimbabwe’s disputed presidential election. [The New York Times]

A Muslim woman can have a British court dissolve her religious marriage even if the union was not registered with the civil authorities, a judge said, in a ruling with potential implications for the rights of thousands of women. [The New York Times]

Sweden’s highest peak lost its title after a week of record heat. A month ago, the southern peak on the Kebnekaise mountain soared to 2,101 meters, or 6,893 feet, above sea level. By Tuesday, it had dropped to 2,097 meters. [The New York Times]

An Ernest Hemingway story is in print for the first time. In 1956, Hemingway wrote five short stories about World War II, only one of which had been published — until now. [The New York Times]

Extreme heat is expected for large parts of Southern and Western Europe this weekend, with temperatures in Spain expected to reach up to 48 degrees Celsius, or 118 Fahrenheit. [The Guardian]

Archaeologists in Cologne, Germany, have discovered the foundations of the oldest known library in the country, dating to A.D. 2. It probably housed as many as 20,000 scrolls. [BBC]

Smarter Living

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

Every year, bulls charge through Pamplona, Spain, and wrestle with the country’s toughest fighters during the festival of San Fermín. When they die, the festival’s taxidermist, above, turns them into trophies.

Matti, a socially awkward Finnish cartoon character who hates small talk, is gaining popularity among young people in China. “Essentially the Chinese do have a shy, introverted and bashful side, like the Finnish,” said one professor, explaining Matti’s fame.

In memoriam: Jacques Wirtz, 93, an acclaimed Belgian landscape architect who believed a garden was for all seasons. “A garden that is not beautiful in winter is not a beautiful garden,” he often said.

Back Story

If anyone could prove that age is nothing but a number, it was Maggie Kuhn.

The activist and founder of the Gray Panthers, an American advocacy organization for the elderly, was born on this day in Buffalo in 1905.

In 1970, after working for the Presbyterian Church in New York for a quarter of a century, Miss Kuhn retired, having reached the mandatory retirement age of 65.

As a result, she worked with fellow retirees to start a group that would be called the Gray Panthers (a reference to the Black Panthers), which worked to bridge the gap between the young and the old and addressed other social issues.

Miss Kuhn remained involved with the organization until her death at age 89 in 1995.

“I’m an old woman,” she told The Times in 1972. “I have gray hair, many wrinkles and arthritis in both hands. And I celebrate my freedom from bureaucratic restraints that once held me.”

She embraced her age and was unapologetic about it.

On her 85th birthday in 1991, she told a group of seniors in Vermont: “I made a sacred vow that I would do something outrageous, at least once a week.”

Claire Moses wrote today’s Back Story.

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