Facebook, Uber, Weinstein Company: Your Tuesday Briefing

Students and parents were told to stay away, as the school was locked down.

A pall is cast on driverless cars

• Last year, we wrote about how Arizona’s promise to keep the self-driving car industry free of regulations attracted dozens of companies, including Lyft, Uber and Waymo.

That lack of oversight is among the factors under scrutiny after an autonomous car operated by Uber killed a woman in Tempe, Ariz. It is believed to be the first pedestrian death associated with self-driving technology on a public road.

Supporters say the cars will ultimately be safer than regular vehicles because they take easily distracted humans out of the equation. But the relatively new technology is only starting to experience the unpredictable situations that drivers can face.

New package explosion in Texas

• The authorities are trying to determine whether a package that exploded early today at a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio was linked to four recent bombings in Austin.

The latest explosion, in Schertz, Tex., lightly injured one employee, law enforcement officials said. The package was addressed to an Austin destination, according to local news reports.

A “serial bomber” is being sought in Austin after a string of explosions that have killed two people and wounded four.

Syria’s war, through Assad’s eyes

• For weeks, the international news media has shown images of wounded children and throngs of refugees fleeing the Syrian military’s offensive in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus.

This week, the government hit back with videos showing President Bashar al-Assad visiting the area to congratulate his forces and to greet cheering residents.

Our correspondent reports: “Mr. Assad delivered an alternative view of the war, one in which he is assured and in charge, casually cruising past bombed-out buildings, often driving with just two fingers, an elbow propped casually out the window. It is a world in which his opponents are all terrorists and his troops all heroes.”

Video

Assad Takes Driving Tour of Eastern Ghouta

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria appeared in a series of videos driving from Damascus to eastern Ghouta, the suburb that has been under siege for almost five years.

By BARBARA MARCOLINI on Publish Date March 19, 2018. Photo by Syrian Arab News Agency. Watch in Times Video »

The Daily

Listen to ‘The Daily’: Putin’s Grip on Russia

President Vladimir V. Putin has been elected to a fourth term, drawing support from more than three-quarters of voters. How is the most powerful man in Russia staying that way?

Audio

Business

The chaotic five-month effort to keep the Weinstein Company afloat has ended.

The Hollywood studio filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, and said it released anyone “who suffered or witnessed any form of sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein” from nondisclosure agreements.

Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, is facing requests from several countries for exemptions from steel and aluminum tariffs.

After we published an article on tipping and the power imbalance it creates between customers and servers, hundreds of readers wrote in with their own experiences — on both sides of the equation.

U.S. stocks were down on Monday. Here’s a snapshot of global markets today.

Smarter Living

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

Fun fact: The shape of your ear affects the way you hear.

Why it’s so hard to invest with a social conscience.

Recipe of the day: Fried chicken on a weeknight? Yes, you can.

What We’re Reading

“You don’t have to be tech savvy to understand how much information Facebook has about you, everything you like, everything you share, and everyone you know. This BuzzFeed piece is a fast, easy primer, with a headline that says it all: ‘3 Simple Ways We Give Up a Ton of Very Personal Information to Facebook and Random Apps.’ ” — Alan Henry, Smarter Living editor

“How does it feel to be a problem?” W. E. B. Du Bois asked. Our briefings and What We’re Reading editor, Andrea Kannapell, recommends The Atlantic’s revival of the civil rights activist’s meditations on the question in 1897. (The animation is accompanied by a computer voice that, strangely, adds to its eloquence.)

Noteworthy

Warning before ambush in Niger

The leader of an ill-fated team of American soldiers had said they were unprepared to carry out a mission that turned into a deadly ambush last fall, according to preliminary findings of a Defense Department investigation.

Video

How the Ambush of U.S. Soldiers in Niger Unfolded

One of the American soldiers ambushed by militants in Niger was wearing a helmet camera – we analyzed the footage to understand what happened.

By DAVID BOTTI, CHRISTOPH KOETTL, THOMAS GIBBONS-NEFF and MALACHY BROWNE on Publish Date March 19, 2018. . Watch in Times Video »

Back to the Caribbean

Six months on, how are the islands recovering from the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Irma and Maria?

To find out, our Travel writers spent time in Dominica, St. John, St. Martin and Puerto Rico, including San Juan.

Photo

Cynthia Nixon, best known for her role on “Sex and the City,” in Manhattan in January. The actress announced on Monday that she was challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York in this year’s Democratic primary. Credit Darren Ornitz/Reuters

Subway gets a flunking grade

New York City’s system slid to a new low point in January, with just 58.1 percent of all weekday trains arriving at stations on time.

Women’s N.C.A.A. basketball

Central Michigan, a No. 11 seed, stunned No. 3 Ohio State to earn a first trip to the round of 16. Here are Monday’s scores.

Best of late-night TV

Stephen Colbert reacted to the news that 50 million Facebook users weren’t notified that their personal information had been retrieved by a political-data firm: “Really? The one time I actually would have wanted a Facebook alert.”

Quotation of the day

“Tuberculosis is the shadow of misery. If there’s a disease that is a marker of poverty, it’s tuberculosis.”

Dr. José Félix Oletta, a former health minister in Venezuela, on the disease’s aggressive comeback in the country.

The Times, in other words

Here’s an image of today’s front page, and links to our Opinion content and crossword puzzles.

Photo

Wrestlers in Khasavyurt, Russia. Men from Dagestan in southern Russia have long competed in bouts between mountain villages. Today, the region embraces the sport as an alternative to Islamist terrorism. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

Back Story

Today, we end with a note from the departing writer of our European briefing, Patrick Boehler:

Since the European briefings’ inception over a year ago, this has been the question I have been asked the most: “How do you know what Europeans want to read?”

Photo

St. Pancras station in London. They’re all reading the European briefing. Probably. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

That’s a fair question for a journalist, albeit a European one, who has spent most of his adult life in Asia, and still is there.

It is also a legitimate question for a U.S. newspaper at a time in which American news cycles are focused on the twists and turns of a tumultuous presidency.

So, here’s what we do:

Every day, we spend hours poring over correspondents’ dispatches and news reports from across Europe, from Iceland to Turkey.

In conversations with editors, we seek to distill wider trends from the day-to-day politics and give you what you need to know to start your day.

Of course, the result has often been a compromise. Is it flawed? Always.

But that’s the rule for all early drafts of history.

My last briefing is today’s. I’d like to invite you to keep reading, keep debating and keep challenging assumptions. Thank you for your time! Now enjoy your morning coffee.

_____

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