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Good morning. Two sought-after Russians surface, American bishops meet with Pope Francis, and major storms loom.
Here’s the latest:
• Assassins? We’re just tourists.
The two Russians that Britain has charged with poisoning a former spy on its soil appeared on Russia’s state-funded RT television network, above. They denied any involvement in the attack on Sergei Skripal and said they’d been in England to see the “wonderful” city of Salisbury.
They said they’d been particularly interested in the city’s cathedral spire and its 14th-century clock.
It turns out Mr. Skripal was not the only defector in Russia’s sights. The F.B.I. was alarmed when a suspected hit man showed up years ago in Florida. American intelligence officials have begun to reassess the danger facing former spies living in the U.S. after the Salisbury poisoning in March.
• The ambassador from Burundi is used to being a chorus of one in The Hague.
Her government is accused of murder, rape and torture, and she has made the unpopular argument that the International Criminal Court, above, should butt out. But the ambassador, Vestine Nahimana, got a powerful voice of support this week when President Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, called the court “outright dangerous” and a threat to American sovereignty.
“We can only rejoice that another country has seen the same wrong,” Ms. Nahimana said. Mr. Bolton’s speech was the Trump administration’s latest example of disdain for global organizations, and it comes at a perilous time for the relatively young court.
• Catholic leaders from the U.S. arrived in Rome to discuss the spiraling sexual abuse crisis with Pope Francis, center. But before it could even begin, more news broke.
This time, it was the resignation of a bishop in West Virginia over allegations that he had sexually harassed adults.
The American bishops were in Rome seeking a robust inquiry into why a former cardinal accused of sexual abuse was allowed to climb the church hierarchy. The outcome of their meeting with Francis was not disclosed, but some said the most important thing about it was that it showed the American church was still in communion with Rome.
Separately, Vatican prosecutors are investigating whether top officials at the Sistine Chapel Choir, which says it is the world’s oldest, mishandled funds.
• Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut are expected to make landfall on opposite sides of the world today.
Rains from Florence lashed the Carolina coast, with the storm growing in size and packing sustained winds of up to 100 miles an hour, or about 160 kilometers an hour. The storm is forecast to crawl inland, drenching a wide area with extremely heavy rains. The Times is providing unlimited access to coverage of the storm for all readers. Keep up with the latest here. Above, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Typhoon Mangkhut shifted southward and is expected to start lashing the Philippines’ largest and most populous island with heavy rains and 127-mile-an-hour winds (about 200 kilometers an hour). Mangkhut is also forecast to strike the country’s agricultural center, raising fears for the rice and corn harvests.
Here’s more on what to expect from the storms.
• Turkey’s central bank, to stem a growing currency crisis, raised interest rates to 24 percent in defiance of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Above, a currency exchange in Istanbul.
• The European Central Bank lowered its projections for economic growth across the bloc, warning that any escalation of the trade dispute between the E.U. and the U.S. could create further headaches.
• Facebook is “better prepared” to resist election interference around the world, Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post. He said the company had “developed sophisticated systems that combine technology and people” to fight back.
• Here’s a snapshot of global markets.
In the News
• “A new genocide.” The destruction of indigenous artifacts and documents at Brazil’s National Museum was a personal blow for the descendants of the country’s earliest inhabitants. Above, a member of the Tenetehára-Guajajara tribe visited the museum after the fire. [The New York Times]
• The Spanish Parliament voted to exhume the remains of Francisco Franco, the former dictator, from the monument he built near Madrid. [The New York Times]
• President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged that the French Army tortured and killed Maurice Audin, a young Algerian intellectual, in 1957. It was France’s first official admission that it used torture during the Algerian War. [The New York Times]
• A top aide to Israel’s prime minister stepped aside after several women, including a New York State Senate candidate, accused him of sexual assault. [The New York Times]
• No planes or trains: A “no-deal Brexit” could bring Eurostar trains between France and Britain to a halt, a French diplomat said. Planes from Britain could also be banned from French airspace, she said. [The Guardian]
• The “Spider-Man” from Mali is now a Frenchman. Mamoudou Gassama, who scaled a Paris building to save a boy from falling off a balcony, was given French citizenship. [BBC]
Tips for a more fulfilling life.
• Lugano, in Ticino, Switzerland’s Italian-speaking canton, has its own distinctive culinary, wine and cultural scene, not to mention casinos and serene views across an alpine lake. Here’s how to see it in 36 hours.
• In Paris, boundary-pushing floral designers are taking a new approach to floral design. Baroque and Rococo are out; contrast is in.
• “You’ve got to think like a vegetable now.” Plants are much less passive than they seem: Scientists have revealed the secret workings of their threat communication systems. And yes, they will fight back.
The odds of their conception were about one in 50 million, their chances of living to adulthood even lower. America’s first surviving quintuplets were born today in 1963, in Aberdeen, South Dakota, to Mary Ann Fischer and Andrew Fischer, a grocery clerk.
Large multiple pregnancies, usually ending in premature birth, are quite risky. Previously, the only North American quints to survive infancy were Canada’s Dionne sisters, born in 1934. Their story was tragic, involving callous commercial exploitation.
The Fischers, despite an insatiable press, were determined to shun the limelight. The quints, four girls and a boy, had six other siblings. Today, many still live in or near Aberdeen, working in elder care, sales and other jobs.
They remain close. In 2013, all 11 gathered for the quints’ 50th birthday: “We’re just like anybody else,” Cathy Bales told a local paper. “Working and trying to make a living.”
The year 2013 was also a big birthday for the first surviving African-American quintuplets, who celebrated their 30th year at Disney World. The five children, three girls and two boys, believe they, too, benefited from parental protection.
“Why go on national TV and tell everything?” Rhealyn Gaither-Thomas once said. “You have to sell your soul.”
Otherwise, she added, “I don’t know if we would be as close, tight-knit and grounded as we are.”
Nancy Wartik wrote today’s Back Story.
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