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France, Juventus, Brexit: Your Thursday Briefing

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Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:

With four days to go until the vote, the two politicians vying to be France’s next president faced off in a heated TV debate.

The far-right candidate Marine Le Pen branded her centrist opponent, Emmanuel Macron, “the candidate of savage globalization” in her opening remarks.

“Your strategy is simply to say a lot of lies and say everything that is wrong in the country,” Mr. Macron countered. “But you are not proposing anything.”

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The odds of a victory by Ms. Le Pen are long, judging by the polls. But even if she does not prevail, she could remain a fixture of French politics for years to come, our Paris correspondent writes.

Far-right American internet users tried to influence the French election on Ms. Le Pen’s behalf, but our review of millions of Twitter messages suggests the effort fell flat.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, endorsed Mr. Macron in an interview with a German newspaper. And in a message directed at the U.S. and Britain, she railed against protectionism at a business forum.

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• Prime Minister Theresa May kicked off the British election campaign by accusing some in the European Union bureaucracy of misrepresenting her and trying to influence the vote.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour party, dismissed Mrs. May’s remarks as electioneering. Some local and mayoral elections are held today across Britain.

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• At Syrian cease-fire talks, Russia proposed the creation of safe “de-escalation zones,” with outside troops possibly acting as buffers between the government and insurgents unaffiliated with the Islamic State.

Turkey, Iran and the Syrian government endorsed the Russian proposal. A delegation of rebels walked out of the talks, citing violations of an earlier truce.

Our Moscow bureau chief parses the Kremlin’s overtures to President Trump. President Vladimir V. Putin has gotten just three measly phone calls from him, a disappointment after Mr. Trump’s warm words during the campaign.

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President Trump plunged into Middle East peace making in a meeting with the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, at the White House. “We will get it done,” Mr. Trump said.

And Rex W. Tillerson laid out his vision as secretary of state, saying the U.S. had been far too accommodating to emerging nations and longtime allies.

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Champions League semifinals: Juventus beat A.C. Monaco, 2-0, thanks in part to crucial saves by goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. The teams meet again next week.

RB Leipzig, the upstart German club, already hopes to compete in next year’s league, despite suggestions that its close ties to Red Bull Salzburg violated UEFA rules.

And a London-based Times reporter writes about getting an education in soccer spectatorship (and swearing) in visits to Tottenham’s home stadium, White Hart Lane.

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• A confluence of political and economic forces has prompted Airbus to set up an assembly line in the U.S., creating one of the world’s most gargantuan supply chains.

• The U.S. auto boom might be history, as sales decline faster than expected. Investors in Tesla apparently remain bullish, despite widening losses.

• Facebook recorded a 49 percent rise in revenue. It is hiring 3,000 additional people, acknowledging that it is struggling to monitor its trillions of posts for offensive content.

• HNA Group became the biggest shareholder in Deutsche Bank. Here’s what we know about the secretive Chinese conglomerate.

• Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

• British officials report a 24 percent increase in knife crimes. They are struggling to persuade young people not to carry the weapons for protection. [The New York Times]

• In Kabul, Afghanistan, at least eight civilians were killed and three U.S. soldiers wounded when a suicide bomber attacked an American military convoy. [The New York Times]

• In Washington, a revised health care bill is headed to a vote today in the House, where Republicans say they have the votes to pass it. And President Trump plans to sign an executive order easing limits on political action by tax-exempt religious groups. [The New York Times]

• Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s defense minister, is facing criticism over her handling of recent scandals in the military and over its tolerance of far-right sympathizers. [The Guardian]

• Feeling intellectually understimulated? Here’s how to foster great conversations.

• Fear gets in the way of finishing our pet projects, or pursuing our passions. Learn to work with it.

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

• Like quinoa before it, açaí has become a craze among the health-conscious, creating a bonanza in the Amazon.

Hackers targeted Google Doc users with sophisticated phishing emails, which try to gain access to contact lists. Here’s what you can do if you get a sketchy email.

• Is America’s new Mr. Right a Muslim immigrant? The actor Kumail Nanjiani breaks out with “The Big Sick,” which seeks to upend Hollywood’s traditional ideas about leading men.

• And the Turner Prize shortlist includes two artists over 50, made newly eligible by the removal of an age limit. “We want to acknowledge the fact that artists can experience a breakthrough in their work at any age,” said the head of the jury.

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 the Hudson River.

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 G. 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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