Europe Edition: Donald Trump, Syria, Champions League: Your Thursday Briefing

And we went back to the 1930s for this: Maribel Vinson was The Times’s first female sportswriter. At the same time, she was an Olympic figure skater.

Here’s our full coverage of the Games, plus the medals table, results and schedule.



Credit Bassam Khabieh/Reuters

All of eastern Ghouta is underground.

That is how one aid worker described the situation in the rebel-held enclave in Syria, which is under a brutal aerial assault by Syrian government forces.

We collected footage from local activists that shows the despair of civilians trying to survive in basements amid the heavy shelling.



• Sexual harassment is even more pervasive than previously known, a new survey in the U.S. suggests. And some men are targets, too.

About 81 percent of women and 43 percent of men said they had experienced sexual harassment or assault over their lifetimes.

We want to hear from college students worldwide about their experiences with sexual intimacy and consent in relationships and encounters.



Credit Matthew Childs/Reuters

The inflated budgets of top soccer teams have turned all but the final stages of the Champions League into an increasingly predictable contest between runaway leaders.

(Above, that’s Liverpool trouncing Porto last week, 5-0.)

Perhaps all the drama for future iterations will be packed into the last few rounds, our soccer correspondent writes. But there’s also a risk that the competition becomes too stale and fans start to switch off.



Credit Minh Uong/The New York Times

Researchers believe they can improve conversational A.I. systems by letting them talk to people on the internet. But sometimes these systems say things that reflect the worst of human nature.

• Social media companies often fail to enforce their own policies against impersonation, allowing a global black market in social identities to thrive on their platforms.

Amazon’s Alexa has the best shot at becoming the third great consumer computing platform of this decade.

Here’s one (not entirely flawless) economic forecast for the U.S.: Companies are rushing to increase productivity to meet growing demand. This in turn will make it easier to justify higher wages, creating a self-reinforcing cycle of higher growth.

Much of China’s economy may soon be managed by Liu He, a Harvard-educated Politburo member expected to be promoted to vice premier next month.

Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

In the News


Credit William E. Sauro/The New York Times

The Rev. Billy Graham died at the age of 99. He was a farmer’s son from North Carolina who became a pastor to U.S. presidents and America’s best-known Christian evangelist. [The New York Times]

Nigerians feared that another mass abduction of girls occurred when militants raided a school. Some girls remain missing. [The New York Times]

• In Montenegro, a man attacked the U.S. Embassy with an explosive device, but succeeded only in killing himself. [The New York Times]

• In Israel, a close aide of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared ready to incriminate him in graft inquiries. [The New York Times]

• In Britain, hard-line Brexit supporters are dismayed by a government paper’s suggestion that the transition after leaving the E.U. could be longer than two years. [The New York Times]

• An art fair in Madrid removed an exhibit that denounced the political prosecution of Catalan separatists in Spain. [The New York Times]

• In Lebanon, a surge of lawsuits against entertainers and journalists has raised concerns about one of the Arab world’s freest environments. [The New York Times]

Ireland directed its state-run secondary schools to offer alternatives to religious classes. [The New York Times]

• To curb human trafficking to Europe, Germany has opened a job center in Ghana. [Der Spiegel]

In Greece, lawmakers voted in favor of investigating top politicians in an alleged drug bribery case linked to Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant. [Reuters]

Our correspondent’s journal on how migration has changed the Italian town she grew up in was so well received, she took the time to translate it into Italian. [The New York Times / in Italian]

Smarter Living

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


Credit Melina Hammer for The New York Times

• Recipe of the day: Pasta with bacon, cheese, lemon and pine nuts feeds many tastes with a single dish.

• “All natural” sounds great on a food label, but it doesn’t always mean what you think it means — and it’s not necessarily better for you, either.

How to fit in some exercise while you travel.



Arctic Boyhood

Coming of age on the Greenland tundra.

By SAMUEL COLLARDEY on Publish Date February 20, 2018. Photo by Samuel Collardey. Watch in Times Video »

Our latest Op-Doc video, by a French filmmaker, offers an intimate portrait of an Inuit child, who is torn between his native identity and a modern education.

• Mario Vargas Llosa is a literary and political colossus across the Spanish-speaking world. His words, according to our Magazine, have never felt more relevant than in our era of populism.

Russian meddling in the race for the Oscars sounds like a bad joke, but there are suspicious social-media campaigns against two documentaries that the Kremlin is not fond of.

The Broadway theater that will house the eighth (and the only theatrical) installment of the Harry Potter franchise has been rebuilt in the hope that it will run there for many years. J.K. Rowling said she was worried about the competition.

• Asia’s only legal greyhound racetrack closes this year. It’s unclear what will happen to its 650 greyhounds, but there’s a plan to fly them to Portugal.

Behind an old door on a quiet street in Paris, Philippe Anthonioz creates his increasingly monumental sculptures (and furniture).

“If there is no romance in the environment,” he said, “it’s hard to make good things.”

Back Story


Credit Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times

It’s easy to spot members of the Dutch delegation at the Winter Olympics as they travel around on orange bicycles, 132 of which were shipped to South Korea by boat.

The bikes are helping athletes feel at home. In the Netherlands, bikes outnumber people, 22.5 million to 18 million.

But the Netherlands wasn’t always a biker’s haven. In the 1950s and ’60s, as people started buying more cars, two-wheelers were beginning to be pushed off the road.

Literally. Bicycle deaths, like traffic deaths as a whole, increased.

In 1971, about 3,300 people died in traffic accidents, including 400 children. Activist groups sprang up. Stop de Kindermoord (Stop the Child Murder) was among the most prominent.

The number of traffic deaths has dropped since that period. In 2016, the Netherlands saw 629 traffic deaths, about a third of which were bike deaths. Only 12 were children.

Part of the success story: the country’s bike lanes, a network now measured at about 22,000 miles (or 35,000 kilometers).

Claire Moses contributed reporting.


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