James Comey, Marine Le Pen, Prince Philip: Your Thursday Briefing

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Here are five key points from his remarks on Wednesday.

• An executive order on churches.

President Trump plans to ease restrictions on political activity by churches and charities, White House officials said, but he has backed away from a broader religious-liberty order that would have let faith-based organizations and companies avoid serving or hiring gay people.

The president is expected to sign an executive order today to mark the National Day of Prayer. (He’s also expected to return to New York City today for the first time since taking office.)

• Marine Le Pen heads to election finale.

The French populist was nourished by the National Front, the anti-immigrant party that her father once led.

Now, just days before the final round of the presidential election on Sunday, she is seeking to convince French voters that she has transcended her party’s legacy, our correspondent in Paris writes.

Ms. Le Pen and her opponent, the centrist Emmanuel Macron, had a televised debate on Wednesday night: It was an unusually vicious shoutfest.

• Prince Philip to end royal duties.

The 95-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II will no longer carry out public engagements starting this fall, Buckingham Palace said today. The role of Britain’s queen, 91, will be unchanged.

• “The Daily,” your audio news report.

As the F.B.I. director gave his first public remarks about his handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails, our reporter was in the room. On today’s show, he talks about Wednesday’s testimony.

Listen on a computer, an iOS device or an Android device.

Business

• Sinclair Broadcast Group has little name recognition but beams local television stations into a quarter of American homes. It also has a history of supporting Republican causes.

As it tries to buy more stations, Sinclair has locked horns with another broadcast giant known for a conservative bent: 21st Century Fox.

• Facebook plans to hire 3,000 people, acknowledging that it is struggling to monitor its trillions of posts for offensive content.

• Apple has announced plans for a $1 billion fund to invest in advanced manufacturing in the U.S.

• Puerto Rico sought what is essentially bankruptcy relief in federal court on Wednesday, the first time that an American state or territory had taken the measure.

• U.S. stocks were mixed on Wednesday. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

Smarter Living

• An email attack hit Google on Wednesday. Here’s what to do if you clicked on the spam message.

• Fear can get in the way of finishing pet projects or pursuing passions. Learn to work with it.

• Recipe of the day: For diner-style hamburgers, get out a sturdy spatula.

Noteworthy

• Standing out in a crowd.

A community of South Sudanese refugees in Australia has become a recruiting ground for top basketball prospects. In today’s 360 video, visit their gym and their local church.

• Abstract to the end.

An exhibition opening on Friday in New York makes clear that the painter Ellsworth Kelly, who died at 92 in 2015, steadfastly maintained a devotion to form, color and plane.

We visited the artist’s studio and spoke with his longtime partner.

• How slow can you throw?

In a study that might interest quarterbacks, people at dunking booths and anyone throwing wadded-up paper into a wastebasket, scientists found that slow throws are more accurate.

Best of late-night TV.

On “The Late Show,” Stephen Colbert briefly apologized for a joke this week that some have called homophobic.

And our television critic says that Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue on Monday about health care and nearly losing his newborn son shows the power of hearing a message from a usually apolitical host.

Back Story

When President Trump appears with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia to honor the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, they’ll be on the deck of the Intrepid.

Let’s take a moment to examine the battle and the ship, a former Navy aircraft carrier docked in New York City.

Photo

The Intrepid after a kamikaze attack on its flight deck on April 16, 1945. Credit U.S. Navy, via Associated Press

Intrepid fought in World War II — scars from Japanese kamikaze attacks led to its nickname, the U.S.S. Decrepit — but not in the battle being commemorated this week.

The ship later served in the Vietnam War, on NATO missions and as the recovery ship for the Gemini and Mercury space missions. It became a museum in 1982 and a national historic landmark in 1986.

In the Battle of the Coral Sea, fought this week in 1942, U.S. and Australian forces drove back the Japanese and stopped an invasion of Australia.

It was the first air-sea battle, and a strategic victory for Allied forces.

An American sailor, Otis Kight, described the fighting:

“Up to the time of Coral Sea, I had only read in Hemingway’s novels about ‘the sweet smell of death.’ The area was a full disaster, and I realized what the ‘sweet smell of death’ really was. There were parts and particles; some ship, some shipmate.”

Charles McDermid contributed reporting.

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Your Morning Briefing is published weekdays at 6 a.m. Eastern and updated on the web all morning.

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Source: New York Times

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