Google, Pope Francis, Duterte: Your Wednesday Briefing


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Good morning. A power struggle at the Vatican, a revised trade deal for Washington and a new way to detect breast cancer. Here’s what you need to know:

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CreditHenry Romero/Reuters

• New turmoil in trade.

Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland (pictured above in Mexico last month), rushed to Washington to meet with the U.S. trade representative.

A day earlier, the Trump administration announced it had revised the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico — and top Trump advisers warned that the new deal could leave Canada out.

So far, the biggest changes deal with how to avert automobile tariffs, a topic closely watched around the world. We’ll update our story as soon as possible with a readout from the meeting.

And President Trump attacked Google because search results turn up news stories from mainstream news organizations, which tend to be critical, rather than supportive views from lesser-known organizations. He hinted that he might take action.

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CreditPool photo by Gregorio Borgia

• Power struggle.

Vatican intrigues usually remain behind the walls. But the current battle over the direction of the church, our Rome bureau chief, Jason Horowitz, writes, is being waged in an exceptionally open and brutal manner.

Some traditionalists have been horrified by the pope’s welcome to gay and divorced Catholics. Those tensions burst into the open with a caustic letter by a prominent critic, published during Francis’ tense visit to Ireland, blaming a “homosexual current” in the Vatican hierarchy for sexual abuse.

Above, the pope sidestepped when asked about the letter on the plane returning home.

Listen to Mr. Horowitz explain the story on “The Daily” podcast.

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CreditSaul Martinez for The New York Times

• “The suspect clearly targeted other gamers.”

That’s what the sheriff in Jacksonville said of the gunman who unleashed a fatal rampage at an e-sports tournament in Florida on Sunday. Two players were killed. Eleven other people were injured. The gunman, 24-year-old David B. Katz from Baltimore, fatally shot himself.

The attack has cast a light on the rites and rigors of competitive e-sports, a close-knit, screen-named world of streaming and sponsorships, supersized rewards and swollen egos that forms an industry nearing $1 billion in value.

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CreditTed Aljibe/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
CreditGluekit

• Brakes? Just for cars.

From his management style to his personal life, Elon Musk seems comfortable with chaos, often of his own creation.

Associates, including several people interviewed over the past week inside Tesla, his electric car company, portray him as a workaholic who zeros in on the smallest details. His deep involvement suggests that the company can’t do without him.

“Yet these days,” our reporter finds, “it’s not always clear that he knows what’s best.”

Business

• Toyota takes an Uber. The Japanese automaker is investing $500 million in Uber, and the ride-hailing company plans to reciprocate with autonomous technology.

• SkyRyse, a Silicon Valley start-up, intends to augment small helicopters and other passenger aircraft with hardware and software that allow for autonomous flight.

CreditKhaled Abdullah/Reuters

• “None have clean hands.” A U.N. panel found evidence of torture, rape and other war crimes in Yemen, singling out Saudi and Emirati airstrikes for causing the most civilian casualties but also suggesting that Houthi rebels may be at fault. [The New York Times]

Hurricane Maria’s toll: The first official outside evaluation put the number of deaths in Puerto Rico at nearly 3,000 more than usual after the storm, far higher than the government’s initial and widely disputed toll was 64. [The New York Times]

• In Queensland, the authorities rounded up the last of 17 migrants who were caught illegally entering Australia by sea this week, after surviving a shipwreck and several days in crocodile-infested waters. [The New York Times]

• Russia boasted that its war games next month would be the biggest military exercises since the fall of the Soviet Union. They will include the Chinese and Mongolian armies. [Reuters]

• China has reportedly started building a training camp in a border area of Afghanistan, its first military presence there in modern history. [South China Morning Post]

• Born in a country at war. A clinic in South Sudan lacks even the most basic equipment. Breast-feeding mothers have nowhere to sleep but outside. But the country’s only public neonatal clinic saves those babies it can. [The New York Times]

Smarter Living

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

CreditCraig Lee for The New York Times
CreditUniversity of Delaware

And a breakthrough on breast cancer? The “Fixes” column in our Opinion section highlights a battery-operated wireless machine invented by a computer engineer that has been shown to detect breast cancer without radiation — a particular boon to India, where mammography is lacking.

Back Story

CreditDavid McNew/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

It’s arguably the world’s most famous sidewalk.

Since 1960, the Hollywood Walk of Fame has welcomed tourists to walk over brass stars of their favorite celebrities. Today, there are more than 2,600 stars along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street.

The Walk of Fame was created by a group of business leaders as part of a beautification project. The site would “maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world.”

One design proposal included a caricature of the honoree, but that was nixed in favor of bronze stars inlaid in black-and-pink terrazzo.

Anyone can nominate a candidate for the Walk of Fame. About 20 new stars are awarded annually; Weird Al Yankovic received his star this week. (Find a complete list here.)

But the walk has not been without difficulties. In 2005, vandals used a concrete saw to steal Gregory Peck’s star, and President Trump’s has been attacked several times, including as recently as July.

About 500 stars on the walk are left blank for future honorees. The 2019 class includes Alvin and the Chipmunks, Julia Child, Robert De Niro and Dolly Parton.

Remy Tumin wrote today’s Back Story.

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