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Iran, FIFA, Chocolate: Your Thursday Briefing

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Good morning.

Trump humiliates Europe, North Korea frees U.S. prisoners and Poland has a chocolate calamity. Here’s the latest:

Mr. Trump said he planned to meet the detainees, above, all American citizens of Korean descent, when they land in the U.S. He also announced that the time and location had been set for the summit meeting with Mr. Kim, giving only one detail: It will not be at the DMZ.

But a new question is dogging the preparations: Will Mr. Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal send the wrong message to North Korea?

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• Gina Haspel, President Trump’s nominee to lead the C.I.A., told senators at her confirmation hearing that she would not allow the agency to restart an interrogation program that employed torture techniques.

She gave her first account of her role in the destruction of interrogation videotapes that showed the torture of Qaeda detainees at a secret C.I.A. prison in Thailand she briefly oversaw. The Trump administration is conveying confidence that Ms. Haspel, above, who would be the first woman to run the agency, will be confirmed.

In our Opinion section, Fatima Boudchar, a Moroccan now living in Istanbul, describes being tortured in a secret C.I.A. prison while she was pregnant: “Some of what they did to me in that prison was so awful I can’t talk about it. They hit me in the abdomen just where the baby was. To move me, they bound me to a stretcher from head to toe, like a mummy. I was sure I would shortly be killed.”

• Blessings not included.

In Rome, tourists and locals were baffled by a throng of Roman Catholic cardinals who seemed to take over the streets, above. (Unlike priests and nuns, the eminences tend to avoid being seen in public.)

But it turned out they were extras in a Netflix production about the relationship between Pope Francis and Benedict XVI, during the papal transition of 2013.

“For a moment I tried to see if I could recognize any of them,” a Vatican official said.

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Representatives from seven of Europe’s richest soccer teams met with FIFA to discuss proposals for an expanded world club championship, but a much-circulated $25 billion windfall might not be accurate. Above, FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, in April.

President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal could roil global oil markets. Saudi Arabia and Russia may offset any reduction in Iranian exports, but if prices rise, one of the beneficiaries could be Iran itself.

The first casualty of the high-tech cold war between the U.S. and China might be ZTE, a Chinese technology supplier that does business in 160 countries. The company has ceased operations after the Trump administration banned it from using American-made components.

Walmart’s big bet: The retail giant’s $16 billion deal to buy Flipkart, India’s leading e-commerce platform, puts it in direct competition with Amazon.

Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

The Spanish Constitutional Court suspended a law that would have allowed separatist legislators in Catalonia to re-elect Carles Puigdemont, above, as the region’s leader, even as he fights extradition from Germany. [The New York Times]

The movie directors Kirill Serebrennikov of Russia and Jafar Panahi of Iran are in the running for the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize. But they won’t be attending: Both are barred from travel by their governments and had to make their movies surreptitiously.

Iranian forces fired about 20 rockets into the Golan Heights, the first rocket attack carried out directly by Iran, rather than by one of its proxies, against Israel. [The New York Times]

A court in Berlin ruled that the state’s law prohibiting public servants from wearing religious clothing was constitutional, a defeat for a Muslim teacher who had fought to wear a head scarf in school. [BBC]

Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former prime minister, promised not to veto a coalition government between the country’s populist parties, easing a political deadlock that followed elections in March. [The Guardian]

India’s Supreme Court denounced the country’s official archaeological conservationists for failing to protect the Taj Mahal from dirty feet and green slime. [The New York Times]

Smarter Living

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

Shop like a queen: About 800 British companies hold a royal warrant, the seal of approval to provide goods and services to the royal family (vetting is fierce). Here’s a road map of the prestigious brands (and not all cost a king’s ransom).

From 15 sets of ancient skeletons, researchers have recovered DNA from the oldest viruses known to have infected humans — and have resurrected some of them in the laboratory. The viruses were all strains of hepatitis B.

Childish Gambino’s provocative new music video for “This Is America” is dense with allusions and messages. Here’s what some of them mean.

Back Story

Today, we’re revisiting The Times’s crossword column, Wordplay, and a word — OED — that was one of the most difficult clues from the previous week’s puzzles.

The Oxford English Dictionary, a.k.a. the OED, is one of the best-known references on the English language. Yet a devious clue — “It ends with ‘zyzzyva,’ in brief” — stumped many of our solvers in the May 3 puzzle. It has appeared in The Times Crossword a total of 139 times.

The OED was the 1857 brainchild of the Philological Society of London, which decided that existing English language dictionaries were incomplete and deficient.

It was a slow and laborious process, as their attempt was to “include all English language vocabulary from the Early Middle English period (1150 AD) onward, plus some earlier words if they had continued to be used into Middle English.” The first part, or “fascicle,” was published in 1884.

The “complete” dictionary — entries are always being added — was published in 1928, and the OED, which is published by the Oxford University Press, just celebrated its 90th birthday.

By the way: A zyzzyva is “A genus of tropical weevils (family Curculionidae) native to South America and typically found on or near palm trees.”

Deb Amlen wrote today’s Back Story.

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Your Morning Briefing is published weekday mornings and updated online.

Check out this page to find a Morning Briefing for your region. (In addition to our European edition, we have Australian, Asian and U.S. editions.)

Follow Dan Levin on Twitter: @globaldan.


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