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Europe Edition: Davos, Donald Trump, Syria: Your Thursday Briefing

Separately, new campaign filings and news reports suggest that two pro-Trump groups are raising millions, then channeling the money into the Trump Organization and to Trump loyalists._____PhotoCredit Ludovic Marin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images• The terrorist cell behind the Barcelona attack that killed 16 people and wounded 140 others in August had an even more deadly plan, according to new research. The group may have targeted the Eiffel Tower in Paris.In Syria, there are concerns that camps holding people suspected of supporting the Islamic State could help extremists spread their ideology.As many as 1,500 of the more than 5,000 Europeans amid its ranks have returned home. Most of the rest are believed to be dead or still fighting._____PhotoCredit Carlos Osorio/Associated Press• “I just signed your death warrant.”That was a judge noting that her sentencing of Larry Nassar, the former doctor for the American gymnastics team, would far exceed his life span.She added 40 to 175 years for various sex crimes against athletes, on top of 60 years on child pornography charges.We collected some of the powerful statements from the more than 150 victims._____PhotoCredit Giulia Marchi for The New York Times• In Britain, an all-male charity event is shutting down after an undercover investigation by The Financial Times revealed that participants harassed female servers. The ensuing uproar reflected intensifying public anger over issues of harassment.Continue reading the main storyMeanwhile in the U.S., our cultural critic writes about how Hollywood, ever nimble, has absorbed critiques of sexual exploitation and begun converting them into inspirational messaging.And we talked to some women in China, including the student above, who are trying to forge a #MeToo movement. They are grappling with a male-dominated culture, censors and officials who accuse them of colluding with foreigners._____VideoZhong Zhong and Hua Hua, the Cloned MonkeysThe two monkeys were cloned using the same technique as Dolly the sheep.By CHINESE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES on Publish Date January 24, 2018.Photo by Sun Qiang and Poo Muming/Chinese Academy of Sciences, via Associated Press.• Researchers in Shanghai have successfully created two cloned monkeys.It is the first time that primates have been cloned with the technique that produced Dolly the sheep in 1996 in Scotland.The technique is still a long way from producing human babies, even if that were ethically permissible.BusinessPhotoCredit Doug Chayka• U.S. start-ups are trying to rebrand marijuana as a “wellness” drug to be vaped, eaten, dipped or dabbed. They see great promise in turning it into the drug of the future, our columnist writes.• The E.U.’s steep fine against Qualcomm, the chip maker, reflects how Margrethe Vestager, the bloc’s antitrust chief, has become the world’s most aggressive technology regulator.• Strong economic growth is adding to pressure on the European Central Bank to end its stimulus program sooner than it planned.• England’s loneliest railway station, where a train arrives just once a week, symbolizes the dysfunctions of Britain’s transportation network.Continue reading the main story• Here’s a snapshot of global markets.In the NewsPhotoCredit Osman Orsal/Reuters• Simmering tensions between Turkey and the United States over a Turkish offensive against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria spilled into the open in a phone call between the two countries’ presidents. [The New York Times]• Save the Children, the aid agency, suspended all of its operations in Afghanistan after Islamic State militants stormed its office in Jalalabad, killing five people. [The New York Times]• At least two people were killed when a commuter train derailed near Milan […]

Who Are Sufi Muslims and Why Do Some Extremists Hate Them?

“It is nothing more than the spiritual dimension” of Islam, the cleric, who goes by Imam Feisal, said in a phone interview. “It is Islam, but we focus on meditation, on chanting sessions, which enable the Muslim to have his or her heart open. The myths people have about Sufis are analogous to the myths people have about Muslims.”For a time, beginning in the 12th century, Sufism was a mainstay of the social order for Islamic civilization, and since that time it has spread throughout the Muslim world, and to China, West Africa and the United States. As Sufism spread, it adapted elements of local culture and belief, making it a popular practice.Alexander D. Knysh, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Michigan and expert in modern Sufism, describes it as a “very wide, amorphous movement” practiced within both the Sunni and Shiite traditions.Sufism has shaped literature and art for centuries, and is associated with many of the most resonant pieces of Islam’s “golden age,” lasting from roughly the eighth through 13th centuries, including the poetry of Rumi.In modern times, the predominant view of Sufi Islam is one of “love, peace, tolerance,” Mr. […]

Asia and Australia Edition: Rex Tillerson, Xi Jinping, Rohingya: Your Wednesday Briefing

#briefing-market-module.interactive-embedded .interactive-caption { display: none; } Market Snapshot View Full Overview In the News Photo Credit Adam Dean for The New York Times • Thousands are gathering in Bangkok for a five-day royal funeral and cremation ceremony for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, following a year of mourning. [Bangkok Post] Continue reading the main story • In Malaysia, the two women accused of murdering the half brother of North Korea’s leader were taken, handcuffed and in wheelchairs, to the crime scene. [Reuters] • Australia is investigating a disturbing Facebook page devoted to rape memes and “liked” by more than 100 active and former members of the Australian Defense Force. • Four Australian men who swam inside a baited crocodile trap “are vying for the idiots of the century award,” the local mayor said. [The New York Times] • “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” comes to Melbourne’s Princess Theater in 2019 after setting records in London. […]

Asia and Australia Edition: Rohingya, Marawi, Xi Jinping: Your Tuesday Briefing

#briefing-market-module.interactive-embedded .interactive-caption { display: none; } Market Snapshot View Full Overview In the News Photo Credit Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times • China’s Olympic medals in the 1980s and ’90s “were showered in doping,” a former Chinese team doctor, above with her son, seeking political asylum told a German broadcaster. The World Anti-Doping Agency is investigating […]

Conflicting Accounts in Niger Ambush Are Subject of Pentagon Investigation

The inconsistencies are at the heart of why the Pentagon has not been forthcoming with details about what happened in Niger, according to American military officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a continuing investigation. Four Americans were killed in the attack, including three Green Berets, as well as four Nigerien soldiers. Two Americans and six Nigeriens were wounded.The contradictions added to the major questions emerging about the attack: Had the soldiers acted beyond their planned mission without first gaining approval? And if they were given permission, who granted it?Military officials have said that the troops were on a reconnaissance patrol, which means they almost certainly were out to collect information on the Qaeda and Islamic State groups operating in the area; the American military has a list of Islamic State leaders they are targeting. For that mission, the commander of the American team would have needed approval from at least one or two higher levels — a subcommand in Chad and a task force commander in Germany, where the United States Africa Command is based.Once in the field, if the team wanted to change the mission to pursue a suspected Qaeda or Islamic State leader, the team leader would need to conduct a risk assessment and call for permission from his higher headquarters, according to current and former senior officials at the Africa Command who described how its soldiers conduct operations.PhotoThe four soldiers killed in Niger, from left, Staff Sgt. Bryan C. […]

4 Ways Trump Has Moved to Undo His Predecessors’ Legacies

The most recent actions — allowing insurance companies to sell less expensive plans with fewer benefits and ending subsidies to insurance companies that help low-income consumers pay out-of-pocket costs — are the latest in a series of initiatives that strike at the heart of the insurance marketplaces set up under the law. Earlier moves included cuts to advertising and services that help consumers sign up for plans on the marketplaces, as well as an effort to weaken enforcement of the individual mandate.GraphicWe’re Tracking the Ways Trump Is Scaling Back Obamacare. Here Are 12.What the administration has done to weaken the health law.OPEN GraphicWhere Things Stand Now: Congress tried on multiple occasions this year to pass a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, but was never able to muster the votes needed in the Senate, even after the House passed a plan on its second attempt in May.Efforts to pass a repeal in Congress appeared to die at the end of September with the expiration of a procedural deadline that would have allowed changes to pass with only 50 votes.PhotoCredit Brian Powers for The New York TimesFor now, the law’s provisions remain in effect, but many people will be closely watching whether the Trump administration’s executive actions drive insurance companies to withdraw from the federal health care exchanges, or, if they stay, whether premiums will rise uncontrollably._____The Iran Nuclear DealPhotoCredit Islamic Republic of Iran, via Associated PressThe United States and five other world powers reached a deal with Iran in July 2015 to limit that country’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting crippling international sanctions […]

Trump Disavows Nuclear Deal, but Doesn’t Scrap It

Mr. Trump, in declaring his intention not to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal, essentially kicked to Congress a decision about whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran and blow up the agreement. His aides, however, insisted that was not the goal, and that they instead wanted Congress to enact legislation defining what would incite the United States to reimpose sanctions.The president listed three such triggers — the deployment of an intercontinental ballistic missile by Iran, Iran’s refusal to negotiate an extension of the deal’s existing constraint on its nuclear activities and evidence that Iran could manufacture a bomb in less than 12 months. Any of those could prompt the United States to walk away from the deal.“In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies,” he said, “then the agreement will be terminated.”Persuading the allies to renegotiate the deal is a far-fetched goal. The leaders of Britain, France and Germany quickly issued a joint statement urging the United States to adhere to the agreement, which they hailed as “the culmination of 13 years of diplomacy.” Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, said his country would consider “no amendment whatsoever” to the deal.And enacting new legislation on Iran would require 60 votes in the Senate, meaning Republicans would need to pick up the support of at least eight Democrats. Senate Democrats had urged Mr. Trump not to withhold certification, and they are unlikely to agree to legislation without assurances that the deal will remain intact.Mr. Trump’s scalding critique of the nuclear deal as “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into” echoed the language he used during his presidential campaign. But he also acknowledged the obstacles to ripping it up.“What’s done is done,” Mr […]