Your Tuesday Briefing: Auto Tariffs, Russia-Brexit, Medical Marijuana – The New York Times

Good morning.

We’re covering promises by European carmakers to head off U.S. tariffs, flak over Boris Johnson’s decision to shield a report on Russian meddling in Brexit, and a limited approval for cannabis drugs in England and Wales.

Credit…Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

The Trump administration, in a move that could forestall potentially devastating tariffs on American auto imports, is in discussions with European carmakers about increasing their investment and employment in the U.S.

The talks come ahead of a Wednesday deadline for President Trump to decide whether to impose tariffs on foreign cars and car parts, which his administration has declared a national security threat.

While neither side called it a deal, the carmakers have worked out an understanding with American officials in an effort to delay the tariffs for several months, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

German pledge: The car industry in Germany, which is on the brink of recession, is promising to create 25,000 jobs at U.S. factories, according to a senior American official. BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen have large operations in the U.S. that have already been hit by fallout from Mr. Trump’s trade war.

The British prime minister is under fire for withholding a parliamentary report on Russia’s involvement in the Brexit referendum until after British voters go to the polls next month.

Unsavory details have been leaking out about how Russian oligarchs funneled money to Conservative Party politicians, spawning conspiracy theories as well as criticism that it deprives British voters of vital information about Russian meddling before another election.

Hillary Clinton, in London on a book tour with her daughter, Chelsea, criticized Mr. Johnson’s decision in an interview with The Guardian.

Separately, Russia also intervened in elections in Madagascar, a Times investigation found, but the motive appeared simpler: profit.

Cannabis-based medicines were approved on Monday for use in three treatments by the National Health Service in England and Wales, a milestone decision that could change the lives of thousands of patients.

Laws on cannabis are generally stricter in Britain than in the rest of Europe. Several countries have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, and others allow medicinal cannabis.

Context: The change in the British guidance comes after two highly publicized cases of young epileptic patients who were dependent on the treatments.

The marijuana-based medicines are restricted to a relatively rare form of childhood epilepsy, multiple sclerosis or chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea.

The timeworn art of marionette theater continues to capture minds and hearts in France, where 600 puppet companies operate, some dating to the 1800s.

“You can’t get this from an iPhone,” said one man who took his grandchildren to the Théâtre des Marionnettes du Luxembourg, above, one of the oldest in Paris.

Nigel Farage: The leader of Britain’s populist Brexit Party on Monday promised not to run candidates in areas held by the ruling Conservatives. The tactical retreat was expected to bolster Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s prospects in the general election next month. The Brexit Party still plans to fight for seats held by the opposition Labour Party.

Hong Kong: The city was on edge after escalating violence on Monday. A demonstrator was shot point-blank by a police officer, and one man was doused with a flammable liquid and set aflame after scolding rowdy protesters. The two were in critical condition.

Australia: Fires raged north of Sydney in what officials called some of the worst fire conditions the country has ever seen. An emergency was declared on Monday for all of New South Wales, where the threat is expected to remain high for days. Homes from Sydney’s outer suburbs up the southeastern coast to Byron Bay, 500 miles away, were at risk.

White Helmets: James Le Mesurier, a British man who was a crucial player in creating and sustaining the Syrian civil defense group known as the White Helmets, was found dead in Istanbul on Monday, a group official said. The circumstances of the death were unclear. Turkish news outlets reported that the police suspected he had died from a fall.

Bolivia: Evo Morales, the former president, accepted asylum in Mexico, saying he had been forced out in a “coup.” He leaves Bolivia in a power vacuum, with politicians scrambling to form a caretaker government.

Science and public policy: The Trump administration is preparing to significantly limit the scientific and medical research that the government can use to determine public health regulations, a draft obtained by The Times shows.

Snapshot: Above, the silver-backed chevrotain, a little deer-like animal with a pointed face and grizzled back. Only five have ever been documented, the last one 30 years ago. A hidden camera in a forest in Vietnam captured evidence that the mammal is still alive and well.

SpaceX: Elon Musk’s company launched a rocket on Monday from Cape Canaveral, Fla., with 60 satellites, some of the 42,000 it wants in place for internet service. Some astronomers worry that the string of transmitters, which could be visible from the ground, will affect their research and, as one said, “it will look as if the whole sky is crawling with stars.”

Sub discovery: A U.S. Navy submarine missing for 75 years was found off Okinawa. Private explorers discovered the U.S.S. Grayback beneath 1,400 feet of water after realizing that a mistranslated Japanese war record had pointed searchers in the wrong direction.

What we’re reading: This essay from the Brookings Institution. “Constanze Stelzenmüller is one of the best analysts of Germany we have,” says Steven Erlanger, our chief diplomatic correspondent for Europe. “Here she explores what 1989 means to her, to Germany and to us.”

Cook: Lighter than traditional stew, this lemony chicken soup includes fennel and dill. (Our Five Weeknight Dishes newsletter has more recommendations.)

Watch: Melina Matsoukas, who has directed music videos for Beyoncé, now has a feature film to her credit.

Go: Akhnaten,” a work by the composer Philip Glass, is a “spellbinding 1984 meditation on the tumultuous rule of the Egyptian pharaoh,” our critic writes. It’s at the Metropolitan Opera, where we went behind the scenes of the production.

Smarter Living: Streaming services are multiplying. Here’s a guide, in six questions.

The planet Mercury just made news by traversing the sun — at least from the point of view of the Americas.

It’s the closest planet to the sun, orbiting in a zippy 88 days. Ancient Romans named it after the speedy messenger of the gods (Hermes to the Greeks). The word “planet” is drawn from the ancient Greek for “wandering star.”

But the Greeks and Romans weren’t the only ancient cultures fascinated with that planet and the four others we now call the “naked-eye planets,” those visible without magnification.

For instance, the Chinese named the five after their primary elements. Jupiter is the wood star (木星), Mars the fire star (火星), Saturn the earth star (土星), Venus the metal star (金星) and Mercury the water star (水星).

Eventually, humans realized that what they were standing on was also a planet. What the West ended up calling Earth, the Chinese called Dìqiú (地球), meaning “ball of earth” — or as some jokers put it, “dirt ball.”

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Victoria

Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Andrea Kannapell, the Briefings editor, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about American military aid to Ukraine.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Egg-beating utensil (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• James Dao, our Op-Ed editor, answered reader questions in September of last year about how we decided to publish the anonymous Op-Ed describing resistance within the Trump administration. We’re resurfacing it ahead of the publication of a book by the writer on the same topic.