November 17, 2018

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Pipe Bombs, Plastics, Jamal Khashoggi: Your Friday Briefing

Pipe Bombs, Plastics, Jamal Khashoggi: Your Friday Briefing
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Good morning. More bombs in America’s mail, Denmark’s fence against swine, and a sexual misconduct accusation against a former Google executive.

Here’s the latest:

• At least 10 bombs. One common thread.

Law enforcement officials found three new explosive devices, two addressed to former Vice President Joe Biden and the other to the actor Robert De Niro, a day after similar devices were sent to other prominent critics of President Trump. Above, Mr. De Niro’s production studio in New York.

None of the explosives have harmed anyone so far, and it’s unclear who is behind them. But they have sent shock through the nation’s political and news media establishments.

Investigators are focusing on southern Florida, where it is believed some of the packages originated.

Here’s what we know and don’t know so far.

Mr. Trump first condemned the attempted attacks and called for unity. But he was soon back to attacking the “fake news.”

And a conspiracy theory blaming leftists for the bombs jumped to the mainstream from the fringe with unusual speed, our columnist writes.

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• A democratic institution forced out of Hungary.

Central European University, founded in 1991 as a bastion for liberal values, says it has stopped accepting students at its Budapest campus, after it could not resolve a legal dispute with the increasingly authoritarian Hungarian government.

The government has made the university a symbol of one of the men who helped build it, the Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros, who was also a target of the U.S. pipe bombs this week. Viktor Orban, Hungary’s far-right prime minister, has long vilified Mr. Soros and his efforts to promote democracy.

Above, an anti-Soros campaign poster in Budapest.

The university says it still hopes for a last-minute deal but otherwise will have to shut down the campus.

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• “We have to enter the imagination of a pig.”

That’s the task of Bent Rasmussen, who’s in charge of building a fence along Denmark’s border with Germany to keep out that country’s wild boars. It’s part of a $20 million campaign in Denmark, a pork exporter, to combat African swine fever. Above, a Danish pig farmer.

The disease is harmless to people but potentially devastating in domestic pigs and the wild boars that might spread it.

Critics say the fence could hurt wildlife, be misused against refugees or violate the E.U. ethos of free movement. There are also questions about whether the fence would even work.

In other pig news, a rare breed of swine in China could be saved by a Rockefeller scion after the pigs’ farm was threatened by a modernization drive.

Ninety percent of the world’s plastic waste ends up in the ocean, according to the World Economic Forum.

Reflecting growing environmental concerns, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to ban single-use plastics like straws, plates and cutlery by 2021.

The ban must still be approved by the E.U.’s member states. Above, volunteers cleaning up waste in London.

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• Almost 200 years after his death, a bare-knuckle boxer is back in the limelight.

Bill Richmond, who was born a slave in the U.S. in 1763 but spent most of his life in Britain, has been called the world’s first black sporting superstar. Archaeologists are searching for his remains beneath Euston Station in London, where a burial ground is being excavated as part of the station’s redevelopment, above.

For Mr. Richmond’s fans, this is a big moment. “I want more people to know his story,” his biographer said.

• Google protected three male executives accused of sexual misconduct over the past decade. One — Andy Rubin, above, the creator of Android — was paid a $90 million exit package. Read our investigation.

• And in the face of local opposition in Berlin, Google abandoned a plan to convert an old building into an incubator for tech start-ups.

• Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, said that the bloc’s economy was fundamentally solid and not on the verge of recession. Here are some takeaways from his remarks.

• Earnings: Twitter posted another profit, but user numbers continued to drop; Snap, the maker of Snapchat, continued to lose money and struggle to gain users. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, and Amazon both missed estimates.

• Don’t forget! Daylight saving time in most European countries ends early Sunday — although the E.U. is considering whether to end the practice.

• Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was “premeditated,” yet another shift in the country’s explanation for his death. Above, a demonstration in front of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. [The New York Times]

An embarrassment for Russia: The European Parliament gave a prestigious human rights prize to the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg G. Sentsov, who is serving a 20-year term in a penal colony in Siberia. [The New York Times]

• The Scottish government is reviewing its animal culling laws after a photograph of an American hunter posing with the carcass of a black-faced goat set off a furor on social media. [The New York Times]

• Pakistan’s cash-strapped government is trying to raise $14 billion for two new dams through a crowdsourcing campaign. [The New York Times]

• Alain Robert, a French extreme free climber who calls himself Spider-Man, scaled the 750-foot Heron Tower in the City of London, before being arrested and charged with causing a public nuisance. [The New York Times]

• FIFA said that Saudi state-owned funds would not invest in two new global soccer tournaments, ending months of speculation. The FIFA Council is in Kigali, Rwanda, today for a meeting that could turn explosive, with European officials threatening to walk out over the proposed tournaments. [The New York Times]

• A package of curbs on the use of antibiotics in healthy farm animals passed the European Parliament and will become law in 2022. [The Guardian]

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

When Fisnik Ismaili’s sculpture, above, celebrating Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia, was unveiled in 2008 in the capital, Pristina, more than 150,000 people signed it. Since then, he has repainted it every year to reflect the nation’s development.

• Dr. Frankenstein’s monster turns 200 this year. Mary Shelley’s enduring novel has made the rare journey from literature into common myth, becoming an allegory for everything from gender equality to racism.

• As a Polish Jew during World War II, Rose Zar survived the Holocaust by hiding where those pursuing her would never look — the home of a Nazi commander in Krakow. She never got a New York Times obituary, until now.

• In memoriam: Tom Jago, 93, a British liquor executive who was part of the team that developed Baileys Irish Cream; and Wanda Ferragamo, 96, who oversaw the expansion of her husband Salvatore Ferragamo’s Italian shoemaking business into a global luxury brand.

• Opinion would like to know how you feel about Brexit.

So is Mrs. Post still relevant? Philip Galanes, the Social Q’s columnist for The Times since 2008, says she is.

Her advice was meant to help people be comfortable behaving in a social sphere that wasn’t their own, something we can still use in today’s world, Mr. Galanes said.

“She was holding out the fantasy of a lot more social mobility. It was important to her that we be armed with a way to behave,” he said. “A lot of the things she’s writing about seem so antique, because the Duchess of Sussex is not inviting us to tea.”

But if you do find yourself invited by royalty, don’t worry about accidentally picking up the wrong piece of cutlery. Mrs. Post said it best herself: “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”

Claire Moses wrote today’s Back Story.

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