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Korea, Volcano, Cuba: Your Friday Briefing

Korea, Volcano, Cuba: Your Friday Briefing

A robot conquered one of humanity’s most difficult tasks: assembling Ikea furniture. The researchers behind the technological marvel explain how they did it.

• Qualcomm, the American chip maker, is finding itself in the cross hairs of a looming U.S.-China trade war that threatens its operations and future growth in both markets.

• Advertisers have long had a symbiotic relationship with Facebook. But user concerns about privacy are forcing companies to re-examine how they work with the social network.

• The German authorities raided the offices of Porsche, one of Volkswagen’s most profitable units, in a widening investigation into an emissions-cheating scandal.

• Southwest’s fatal accident this week is renewing scrutiny of inspections. No problems were detected when the plane was checked two days before the explosion.

• U.S. stocks were down. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

In the News


Daphnee Cook/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, via Save the Children

Rohingya camps in Bangladesh have flooded, raising fears before the monsoon season. Nearly one million people arrived there fleeing violence in Myanmar. [Agence France-Presse]

• Marriage to a U.S. citizen used to be a virtual guarantee of legal residency. That is no longer the case under the Trump administration. [The New York Times]

A Chinese doctor was jailed for an essay criticizing a popular tonic liquor as quack medicine. Now he has been freed — and applauded. [The New York Times]

• A volcano in southern Japan erupted for the first time in 250 years, prompting the meteorological agency to raise the alert level to 3 out of 5. [Asahi Shimbun]

• A freak accident caused an islandwide blackout in Puerto Rico, seven months after Hurricane Maria plunged it into darkness. [The New York Times]

• Australia’s banking commission has uncovered disturbing stories of financial advisers charging fees to dead clients. [The Guardian]


Tasneem Alsultan for The New York Times

In Saudi Arabia, a V.I.P. screening of the Hollywood blockbuster “Black Panther” signified the end of a decades-old ban on movie theaters, part of a wider social opening in the kingdom. [The New York Times]

• A record number of Nepalese women are climbing Mount Everest this season. [BBC]

• Lost and found: An Indian man missing for 40 years will reunite with his family after a YouTube video of him singing on a Mumbai street went viral. [Agence France-Presse]

Smarter Living


Gentl and Hyers for The New York Times. Food stylist: Michelle Gatton. Prop stylist: Amy Wilson.

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

• Leftovers? Make a savory tart.

• Here’s how to help a resistant colleague.

• Recipe of the day: Close out the week with a sheet-pan meal of roasted chicken, potatoes, arugula and garlic yogurt.



Jonno Rattman for The New York Times

• Can dirt save the earth? Farming could pull carbon out of the air and into the soil, but that would mean a new way of thinking about how to tend the land.

• A hip-hop duo whose album features anti-Jewish lyrics won an award at the German equivalent of the Grammys, setting off a debate about the rise of anti-Semitism.

• The Times publishes nearly 30 film reviews a week. Here’s a selection of what to see (or skip) for Australian viewers.

Back Story


Hulton Archive, via Getty Images

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”

Gen. Douglas MacArthur, above center, took those words from an old Army ballad and made them famous 67 years ago this week in his farewell address to Congress.

Little did that five-star American general know that he had just given rise to an army of so-called snowclones, a relatively new linguistic phenomenon that’s tougher to explain than it is to use.

A snowclone, as defined by the linguistics professor Geoffrey K. Pullum in 2003, is a “customizable, instantly recognizable, timeworn, quoted or misquoted phrase or sentence that can be used in an entirely open array of different jokey variants.” (Mr. Pullum also called them “some-assembly-required adaptable cliché frames for lazy journalists.”)

Let’s try one. Using General MacArthur’s template, “Old golfers never die, they just lose their drive,” would be a snowclone. Using X and Y as stand-ins, snowclones are easy to spot: X is my middle name, a few Xs short of a Y, and so on.

It’s unclear who first said “pink is the new black,” but it is now one of the most popular snowclone templates, notably producing the title of the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black.”

Study of the subject appears half-serious: One article was titled “Snowclone Is the New Cliché.”

Charles McDermid wrote today’s Back Story.


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Correction: April 19, 2018

An earlier version of this briefing gave an incorrect location for a volcano that erupted in Japan. It is in southern Japan, not the north.

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