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Trade War, U.S. Shootings, Toni Morrison: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering global reaction to U.S. shootings, Chinese businesses’ lack of cash and a village in Poland without baby boys.

ImageCreditCalla Kessler/The New York TimesU.S. shootings bring global shock and domestic debate

The massacre on Saturday of 22 people in El Paso — an attack announced in a hate-filled manifesto about an immigrant “invasion” — has revived debate about the limits of free speech, protected by the First Amendment in the U.S.

In Europe, where history has proved that domestic threats can be devastating, freedom of speech comes with certain caveats.

Key differences: “Incitement to hatred” is a crime in Germany, and in France, the act of publicly denying the Holocaust or other crimes against humanity is an offense.

In the U.S., on the other hand, hate speech is not regulated, and is not routinely removed from social media. There are some speech restrictions — journalists, for instance, must routinely work within the bounds of libel and defamation laws. But tragedies like the one in El Paso have reopened a debate around those limits.

Global reaction: The world responded with shock to not only the ubiquity of guns in America but also the rise of white nationalism. For example, the newspaper El País in Spain framed the El Paso shooting as the “greatest racist crime against Hispanics in modern United States history.”

Some nations, like Uruguay and Venezuela, even issued travel warnings for the country.

Gilroy shooting: The F.B.I. has opened a domestic terrorism investigation into the shooting last month in Gilroy, Calif., in which three people were killed.

ImageCreditSajjad Hussain/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesIndian lawmakers agree to end Kashmir’s special status

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party announced it would unilaterally scrap a constitutional provision meant to give the disputed region a high degree of autonomy, the Indian Parliament approved the plan, as was widely expected.

The measure was welcomed by many Indians but drew mounting criticism from some analysts, who called it an attack on India’s secular identity.

Officials in Pakistan also condemned the move and vowed to “go to any extent” to help Kashmiris, but with a slowing economy at home, it was unclear how far they could go.

On the ground: Communication services in Kashmir remained suspended, tens of thousands of Indian soldiers were patrolling the streets and a curfew was in place, making it difficult to discern the reaction there.

ImageCreditThe New York TimesA quarter of humanity is running out of water

Seventeen countries, home to one-fourth of the world’s population, use almost all the water they have, according to a new report.

Many are arid. Some of them have big cities, like London, Madrid and Mexico City, that are squandering their supplies, the World Resources Institute says. Climate change, which makes the days hotter and rainfall more erratic, heightens the risks.

The fix: The report noted that a lot can be done to improve water management, including plugging leaks in distribution systems. Also, wastewater can be recycled and farmers can switch to less water-intensive crops — from rice to millet, for instance.

ImageCreditBobby Yip/ReutersChinese businesses rely on i.o.u.s amid trade war

Many of China’s private businesses are short of cash, turning to i.o.u.s — known in the dry world of finance as commercial acceptance bills — to pay their suppliers. More than $200 billion in i.o.u.s are floating around the Chinese financial system, according to government data.

China is not running out of money. But Chinese banks are reluctant to lend to private businesses because they consider big, state-owned enterprises more reliable in paying off their debts.

Context: By allowing the Chinese currency to weaken past a key level this week, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, is adopting a hard-line stance, in what is turning into a long-lasting duel between two economic superpowers that could create dangerous ripple effects for the world economy.

The Trump administration has responded by labeling China a currency manipulator. President Trump has said the United States should weaken its own currency, but that is easier said than done.

If you have 6 minutes, this is worth itThe bride, the groom and the Greek sunsetImageCreditLaura Boushnak for The New York Times

Many Chinese couples who plan to have traditional ceremonies back home turn to exotic, foreign settings for their pre-wedding photo shoots — from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the English countryside — creating a multibillion-dollar business suited for the Instagram age.

Santorini, in particular, has become a sought-after backdrop, drawing entire teams of photographers, makeup crews and stylists.

Here’s what else is happening

British Airways: The cabin of a flight this week from London to Valencia, Spain, filled with what appeared to be white smoke as it prepared for landing, leading to the evacuation of more than 170 passengers. The airline said it was investigating what happened.

Attempted murder at the Tate: A teenager who is accused of throwing a 6-year-old boy off a balcony at the Tate Modern museum in London appeared in court on a charge of attempted murder.

Russia: Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador in Moscow who served during a turbulent period of sanctions and investigations into Russian electoral interference, resigned.

Toni Morrison: The Nobel laureate in literature, whose best-selling novels explored black identity in America, has died at 88. She was remembered as “the greatest chronicler of the American experience that we have ever known.” Find some of her most powerful work here.

ImageCreditKasia Strek for The New York Times

Snapshot: Above, an all-girl team of volunteer firefighters in the Polish village of Miejsce Odrzanskie. No boys have been born there in almost a decade, an anomaly that no one can quite explain.

Tinder: The dating app, which lets users pay for ways to improve their search for love, said it added more than 500,000 paying subscribers worldwide in the last quarter, for a total of more than five million. According to one analytics firm, it has become the top-grossing nongaming app in the world.

What we’re reading: This column in The Irish Times. “Fintan O’Toole offers a modest proposal — involving Sinn Fein’s unfilled parliamentary seats — that could upend Boris Johnson’s tenure as Britain’s prime minister and head off Brexit,” writes Kevin McKenna, a deputy business editor. “It’s taken on a life of its own in Ireland, which has a vital stake in the Brexit question.”

Now, a break from the newsImageCreditAndrew Purcell for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne.

Cook: Hearty farro replaces rice in this risotto with sweet corn and tomatoes.

Listen: In “Boyfriend,” Ariana Grande, thoughtfully undersinging, delivers wounded Instagram-caption lyrics for the friends-with-benefits era, our critic writes.

Watch: Two best friends spend their summer roller skating through Missouri in this charming installment in our most recent “Surfacing” column.

Smarter Living: Limiting children’s screen time is easier said than done — especially in the face of screaming kids when it’s time to stop. Our Parenting site suggests setting a predictable time slot for screens, one early enough before bed so that a different fun activity can follow. And set a timer the kids can see.

Also, our “Be a Better Reader Challenge” can help you find the right book and read it deeply this week.

And now for the Back Story on …Beverly Hills, 90210

Almost two decades after its initial run, “Beverly Hills, 90210” is back.

The popular drama, which chronicled teenagers living in the glossy L.A. ZIP code, tackled gritty subjects like drug abuse and teen pregnancy, and paved the way for angst-ridden teen dramas like “The O.C.” and “Gossip Girl.”

ImageCreditShane Harvey/FOX

The series, created by Darren Starr and produced by the Hollywood legend Aaron Spelling, has spawned its own mini-universe: two spinoffs, two reboots and now the meta-revival of the first series.

In “BH90210,” many of the show’s original actors will play “heightened versions of themselves” as they band together to update the series that launched their careers. (The entire main cast is returning except for Luke Perry, who played the bad boy, Dylan McKay, and died in March.)

The original show was infamous for its offscreen drama. The actress Jennie Garth, who played Kelly Taylor, said the working environment was sometimes “worse than high school,” because of tensions and rivalries on set.

But don’t book your table at the Peach Pit just yet. “I’m a lifelong fan,” our critic, Margaret Lyons, writes in her “Watching” newsletter, “but this supposed-to-be-winky reincarnation just bummed me out.”

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

— Melina

Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Sanam Yar of the Styles desk wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about 8chan, the online message board linked to several mass shootings.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Stood completely still (5 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Choire Sicha, the Styles editor at The New York Times, describes his section’s purview as “social and generational change, money, gender, wealth, power, hairdos and hair do nots, self-care and beauty.”


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