Your Tuesday Briefing – The New York Times


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Thousands of people watched in shock from the banks of the Seine, and many more were riveted to television screens, as flames tore through the beloved medieval landmark’s wooden roof, collapsing part of its iconic spire. Gray smoke filled the Paris sky. French firefighters are still unsure if they can contain the blaze. Here’s the latest.

Cause: None had been identified as of this writing. The cathedral had been undergoing extensive renovation work, and several statues were lifted by crane from the spire last week.

Go deeper: We have photos and video of the disaster, and a short history of this scarred jewel of Gothic architecture.

Ahead of the presidential election on Wednesday, candidates are polishing their religious credentials to appeal to growing conservatism.

The incumbent is Joko Widodo. His victory in 2014 was seen as a triumph for moderate Islam, but he’s veering right as he runs for re-election. His opponent, Prabowo Subianto — a European-educated son of a Christian — has also embraced the language of hard-line Islam.

Background: Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, has long been considered a shining example of how Islam and democracy can coexist.

But in the past few years, the country’s Muslim majority has embraced stricter interpretations of the religion, including Wahhabism, which dominates in Saudi Arabia. Hundreds of Indonesians went to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State, and more cheer on the group on social media.

With the 2020 election over a year away, President Trump is turning back to a strategy that resonated with his older, white voting base — playing on fears of Muslims.

This time, he has a specific target: Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

Last week, Mr. Trump posted a video on Twitter of a speech by Ms. Omar interspersed with video of the Sept. 11 attacks. And his advisers describe her as an ideal foil who could be used to paint the entire Democratic Party as extreme.

Anti-immigration agenda: Our reporters have the back story behind the Trump administration’s recent purge of high-ranking immigration officials.

The key ingredient: the fury of Stephen Miller, the 33-year-old White House senior adviser. He clashed for months with the officials, pushing for policies they saw as legally questionable, impractical, unethical or unreasonable.

Prosecutors brought criminal charges of aggravated fraud against the executive, Martin Winterkorn, for his role in the automaker’s yearslong effort to deceive regulators about its vehicles’ diesel emissions.

If convicted, Mr. Winterkorn could receive up to 10 years in prison.

Details: German prosecutors said the charges were linked to events from 2006, when the deception was initially conceived, to 2015, when it first came to light. Prosecutors say that Mr. Winterkorn tried to conceal the emissions fraud even after he was told that it was beginning to raise some questions.

Reminder: Last May, the U.S. Justice Department also charged Mr. Winterkorn with fraud, placing the scandal within the upper echelons of the company for the first time.

Bangladesh is responsible for just 0.3 percent of global carbon emissions, yet it is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. Already, cyclones are stronger and more frequent.

Survival takes many forms. In one area, people scavenge the debris left after storm surges devastated their village to sell to those rebuilding, making enough money to feed their children and send them to school.

New Zealand: A rift emerged on Monday between the country’s government and the Red Cross over the humanitarian organization’s decision to identify a New Zealand nurse who was kidnapped by the Islamic State five years ago — and who her employer believes could still be alive.

Japan: The operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant has begun removing radioactive fuel rods at one of the reactors that melted down after an earthquake and a tsunami in 2011, a major milestone in the long-delayed cleanup effort.

South Korea: President Moon Jae-in said that he wanted to meet again with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, even after Mr. Kim dismissed Mr. Moon’s mediating efforts between the North and the United States as “officious.”

Canada: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose cabinet by design has equal numbers of men and women, has been fighting to salvage his feminist credentials after the country’s first Indigenous female attorney general quit accusing Mr. Trudeau of inappropriately pressuring her in a criminal case.

“Game of Thrones”: Here’s a recap of the first episode of the HBO show’s last ever season. Don’t read this if you haven’t watched it yet — or at least don’t tell us we didn’t warn you about the spoilers.

Snapshot: Above, “Game of Thrones” tourists in Ballintoy Harbour, Northern Ireland, which has stood in for several locations in Westeros. The hit HBO series has transformed the tourism industry in Northern Island, generating $65 million a year.

What we’re reading: This essay in The Atlantic. Tom Jolly, who oversees production of our daily print edition, writes: “This is a nice distillation of the joys of reading the newspaper, at your own pace, uninterrupted by texts, calls and general attention-deficit issues. And you can even model your robe for your neighbors!”

Cook: With some advance preparation, you can cook buttermilk-marinated roast chicken. (Our Five Weeknight Dishes newsletter has more recommendations.)

Listen: “Boy With Luv,” the new song by the K-pop stars BTS, features the American singer Halsey singing in Korean, exactly the sort of bilingual exchange that’s all too rare, Jon Caramanica writes.

Watch: The new TV adaptation of “Les Misérables” hews much more closely to Victor Hugo’s often tragic novel than to the musical version.

Go: The musical “Beetlejuice” is now in previews on Broadway. Here’s how the eye-popping set came together.

Smarter Living: Simone Davies, an author and Montessori teacher, took our writer through a calming makeover of her children’s playroom. The main idea: Kids play more when there’s less to play with. So toys and books went into a closet, to be rotated out a few at a time. A quilt with pillows marked out a reading corner. Older children’s crafts went into accessible bins. And the baby got a ground-level, stocked play space.

Experts at Wirecutter have recommendations to affordably make your flight less dismal and more enjoyable.

In smaller cities and rural areas of the U.S., demographic decline is a painful reality. Hungary is stressing about its declining population. Same with Japan. Even China.

It’s an economic truism: Growing populations drive economies.

But in this era of climate change, is it wiser to have fewer people to house, feed and provide power for?

Globally, a smaller population would “make a difference, certainly,” said Joseph Chamie, a former U.N. population official. “Fewer people means fewer items consumed, and fewer resources used, so your carbon footprint would be less.”

But limiting population growth, he said, can’t solve the environmental problems caused by mass production and consumption, especially in wealthier parts of the world.

And companies whose business models rely on constant growth have little incentive to change. More customers and more consumption mean more profits.

“We can try to maintain the quality of the environment,” Mr. Chamie said. “But we have to change our mind-set regarding how the economy moves.”

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

— Alisha

Thank you
To Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and James K. Williamson for the break from the news. James also wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

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