Europe Edition: Marine Le Pen, Russia, Champions League: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Mr. Putin is set to host Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, today. Diplomats from both countries, among others, will meet in Kazakhstan today for cease-fire talks on Syria.

And in a phone call, Mr. Putin and President Trump agreed to move past weeks of tension after the recent Syrian chemical attack on civilians and retaliatory U.S. missile strike.

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Credit Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• The United States needs “a good ‘shutdown’” of the government to force a partisan fight over federal spending, President Trump said on Twitter.

His posts indicate the degree to which bipartisan negotiations in Congress have bedeviled his presidency. But on health care, it was a Republican who dealt a blow to the latest bill. Meanwhile, a comedian’s late-night monologue about his baby’s struggle to survive stirred public emotion about health care coverage.

Ivanka Trump wants to be a moderating force in the White House, she told us. Here’s a look at her West Wing agenda.

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Credit Pool photo by Eric Feferberg

France’s two presidential candidates, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, will meet for a televised debate this evening ahead of the final round of voting on Sunday.

Tuesday brought bad news for both candidates. A majority of far-left voters appear set to abstain or cast blank ballots, which could hurt Mr. Macron’s chances. And Ms. Le Pen sought to deflect accusations of plagiarizing a rival’s speech, as reports highlighted her party’s ties to Russian lenders.

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Credit Paul Hanna/Reuters

Champions League semifinals: Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick to lead host Real Madrid to a commanding 3-0 win over Atlético Madrid. The teams meet again next week.

A.S. Monaco faces Juventus tonight. Here’s a recent take on how the Monegasque club has become a hub for soccer prodigies.

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Business

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Credit George Georgiou for The New York Times

Few African countries have benefited more than Namibia from recent Chinese investments. But critics see a new form of colonialism.

• Apple’s quarterly earnings rose, but disappointed. Analysts say customers are saving their cash for the 10th-anniversary iPhones in September.

• Alitalia filed for bankruptcy. Special administrators have 180 days to turn around, sell or liquidate Europe’s most troubled airline.

• Amazon is trying to reinvent apparel sales. We took a closer look at an intriguing patent it received for “on demand” apparel manufacturing.

Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

In the News

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Credit Mohammed Badra/European Pressphoto Agency

• Islamic State militants killed more than three dozen people in an attack on a checkpoint at the Iraq-Syria border. Separately, an aid convoy, above, reached the besieged town of Douma for the first time since October. [The New York Times]

• Ahead of President Trump’s meeting today with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, Republicans want him to demand an end to payments to families of Palestinians who commit violence. [The New York Times]

• Khaled Meshal, the leader of Hamas for 21 years, gave us a rare interview as he prepares to step down. His parting act is an attempt to cast the militant group in a more moderate image. [The New York Times]

• Aleksei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, said he had lost most of his sight in one eye after a recent assault. [The New York Times]

• Bohuslav Sobotka, the Czech Republic’s prime minister, offered to resign. He clashed with his finance minister, a populist billionaire whose party is favored in elections this fall. [The New York Times]

• The European Commission said it would not start requiring Americans to obtain visas for travel to the E.U., at least for now. [The New York Times]

Hillary Clinton said that Russian-backed hackers were in part to blame for her loss in the presidential election. [The New York Times]

Smarter Living

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Credit Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

• Working past the age of retirement may offer wellness and sociability beyond the workday routine.

• Not popping any vitamin D? You may be in the minority.

• Recipe of the day: Gather spring vegetables and cook a lovely pesto soup.

Noteworthy

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Credit Gordon Welters for The New York Times

• Rosa Parks’s house in Detroit has found a new home — in Berlin. Visitors are flocking there.

• A Norwegian lawyer who moonlights as a crime novelist will lead the committee that awards the Nobel Peace Prize.

• Our Warsaw bureau chief recalls the uplifting and troubling experience of watching the German city of Weimar adapt to an influx of refugees – and vice versa.

• Machines will soon be able to smell when you’re sick. “My estimate is it’s a three- to five-year time frame” before such tools are available, one biomedical engineer said.

Back Story

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Credit Kacper Pempel/Reuters

On this day almost 40 years ago, Gary Thuerk, a marketer for Digital Equipment Corporation, sent a message advertising new VAX systems to over 400 users of the Arpanet, the precursor to the internet. Spam was born.

Complaints about the unsolicited email came in almost immediately.

“This was a clear and flagrant abuse of the directory!” wrote one of the recipients.

One Arpanet user, Richard M. Stallman, who did not receive Mr. Thuerk’s message, claimed he would not have minded receiving it. Then one of the recipients shared it with him.

“I eat my words,” Mr. Stallman wrote. “I sure would have minded it!”

Mr. Thuerk has since been dubbed the “father of spam,” though he prefers another moniker.

“I think of myself as the father of e-marketing,” he said. “There’s a difference.”

In 2012, two academics estimated that spammers earned about $200 million annually, which was dwarfed by the $20 billion spent in the U.S. to fight it.

These days Mr. Thuerk draws mixed reviews when people discover his past.

“People either say, ‘Wow! You sent the first spam!’ ” he said. “Or they act like I gave them cooties.”

Evan Gershkovich contributed reporting.

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Source: New York Times

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