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Brexit, Germany, Macron: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning,

We start today with a last-ditch Brexit plan that’s not promising, a new kind of anti-Semitism in Germany and what chocolate and cement have in common.

ImagePrime Minister Theresa May of Britain delivering a speech in London on Tuesday.CreditPool photo by Kirsty WigglesworthA last-ditch Brexit push

Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain dangled the prospect of a second referendum before lawmakers, in a desperate effort to win over those who have rejected her plan three times.

Her “new Brexit deal,” as she described it, would give Parliament a broader role in shaping her plan. But the part that drew the most attention was her vague offer to have lawmakers vote on whether to have a second referendum, something she had previously ruled out. It was unclear what questions any referendum would pose.

The plan seemed designed to entice pro-Brexit Labour Party lawmakers to support her Brexit blueprint.

Key issues: Her plan includes the opportunity for Parliament to decide whether to keep a type of customs union with Brussels, eliminating tariffs and reducing checks on goods at frontiers. Another issue is the Irish border, and the deal would commit the government to working on measures to track goods.

Response: The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said his party would not support the plan. Pro-Brexit Conservatives have also reacted angrily.

Reminder: Mrs. May essentially promised to step down no matter what lawmakers decide about her plan. The vote on Brexit legislation is set for the week beginning June 3.

ImageSolomon Michalski, a teenager who was bullied for being Jewish.CreditJoakim Eskildsen/Institute, for The New York TimesThe new German anti-Semitism

Some 200,000 Jews live in Germany, a nation of 82 million people, and many are increasingly fearful in the face of new forms of anti-Semitism.

The country’s culture of remembrance of the Holocaust has been held up as a model. But its ideals are not universally supported at home. Anti-Semitic crimes in Germany increased by nearly 20 percent last year, to 1,799. And in an E.U. survey of European Jews in 2018, 85 percent of respondents in Germany characterized anti-Semitism as a “very big” or “fairly big” problem.

Context: In the decades that followed the Holocaust, a desire among many Germans to deflect or repress their guilt led to a new form of antipathy toward Jews. That phenomenon came to be known as “secondary anti-Semitism,” in which Germans resent Jews for reminding them of their guilt, reversing the victim and perpetrator roles.

Complications: It can be difficult to determine the root of anti-Semitic crimes. When researchers looked at all reported anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin in 2018, they were unable to determine the ideological motivation in nearly half the cases.

Political stage: In 2017, the far-right Alternative for Germany became the German Parliament’s third-largest party. Its politicians have often relativized Nazi crimes to counteract what some of them call a national “guilt cult.”

ImagePresident Emmanuel Macron addressing the news media before a European Union summit meeting in Brussels last month.CreditFrancisco Seco/Associated PressMacron’s grand ambitions at stake

Since his election two years ago, President Emmanuel Macron of France has fashioned himself as the leader of Europe, laying out a grand vision of deeper integration that has turned off populists and even his allies.

Mr. Macron’s vision now faces its most critical test in elections for the European Parliament that start on Thursday. Polls in France show his party trailing Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National, or National Rally.

“We can’t let people think this is just an ordinary moment,” one of Mr. Macron’s advisers said. “Europe is at risk, and everyone has got to be conscious of it.”

Big picture: Defeat for Mr. Macron would be a stinging humiliation for him amid months of Yellow Vest protests. It could also kill his vision of a united Europe.

European elections: Have questions on how the dayslong elections for European Parliament work? Read our explainer.

If you have 8 minutes, this is worth itHow chocolate is like cementImageCreditAndrew Scrivani for The New York Times

When making chocolate or mixing cement, stirring tiny granules in a fluid results in a substance with very specific properties — for chocolate, it’s a meltingly smooth mouthfeel, and for cement, it’s a cohesive, consistent texture.

A team of physicists, funded in part by Mars, the confectionary company, published a paper last week showing just what happens as the ingredients of chocolate are given a stir on their way to becoming a delicious treat — what is known as chocolate conching.

Here’s what else is happening

Venezuela: Weakened and unable to bring the country’s political crisis to a quick resolution, the opposition leader Juan Guaidó has been forced to consider negotiations with President Nicolás Maduro. Both sides have sent representatives to Norway for talks.

Colombia: The army walked back part of a contentious policy to step up attacks in the country, saying it would change its pledge forms in which officers are required to list the number of criminals and militants they plan to kill, capture or force to surrender in battle.

U.S.: A State Department policy that has come under intense scrutiny requires a child born abroad to have a biological connection to an American parent in order to receive citizenship at birth. For those who use assisted reproductive technology, citizenship can get complicated, and critics say the policy discriminates against same-sex couples.

Trade war: As tensions between the U.S. and China escalate, President Xi Jinping called for the Chinese people to begin a modern “long march,” invoking a turning point in Communist Party history in an attempt to rally the nation.

Hungary: Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has caged and starved refugees, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner reported.

Britain: A man in northeastern England threw a banana and salted caramel milkshake at Nigel Farage, the prominent and divisive Brexit leader. It was the latest in a string of similar milkshake incidents.

Austria: Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called for an early election to recover from the scandal that struck his far-right coalition partners. But the situation may be out of his control after opposition parties proposed a vote of no confidence against Mr. Kurz.

Belgium: After refusing for months, King Albert II will soon give a DNA sample, his lawyer said this week, in a lawsuit brought by a woman who says she is his daughter, neglected and kept secret for decades. He will fight to keep it private.

ImageCreditSebastian Modak/The New York Times

Snapshot: Above, a hiking trail in the village of Stary Smokovec, Slovakia, where our 52 Places columnist found himself alone but happy.

Pop music: European music is about more than just Eurovision. Listen to 15 of the continent’s most important acts. To start, if you like Travis Scott, try the rapper Ezhel from Turkey.

What we’re reading: This article in Aeon. “A historian rewrites the narrative of early America to include a forgotten group: Muslims,” says the briefings editor, Andrea Kannapell.

Now, a break from the newsImageCreditRyan Liebe for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne.

Cook: Ragùs can simmer all day, but this quick version with ricotta and lemon is an excellent shortcut.

Go: David Binder, for his first Next Wave Festival as artistic director of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, has assembled a roster of newcomers.

Eat: Hanon, a new udon shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was produced by the union of a Tokyo video-production company and a Japanese manufacturer of unusually thin condoms. Our critic loves it.

Smarter Living: Hey, guys, Tim here. I’m the editor of Smarter Living and wanted to remind you about our weekly newsletter, which has more great stories and topics than we can get to you in your Morning Briefing. Every Monday, I email readers with tips and advice for living a better, more fulfilling life. Sign up here to get it in your inbox.

Today, we have guidance for booking an R.V. or camper for your next vacation.

And now for the Back Story on …Cellphones and weather forecasting

The mobile technology known as 5G is in the news for its promise of superfast smartphone connections, as well as concerns about national security.

But 5G networks may have unintended consequences for meteorology.

ImageThe Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma.CreditWilliam Widmer for The New York Times

The Federal Communications Commission has begun auctioning U.S. rights to radio frequencies for 5G use. And there is a concern, first raised in an internal memo by a U.S. Navy officer, that one of them will interfere with a nearby frequency that is crucial for meteorologists around the world: the natural frequency of water vapor.

Monitoring water vapor yields valuable data that can be fed into weather-modeling programs. Forecasters can’t just switch to another band — there would be no water-vapor data there.

In a letter to the Trump administration last week, two senators warned that the accuracy of forecasts could be set back 50 years, a big loss given that extreme weather events are on the rise.

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

— Melina

Thank youChris Stanford helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Kenneth R. Rosen provided the break from the news, and Kendra Pierre-Louis, a climate reporter, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. • Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Spreading around the internet (5 letters). You can find all our puzzles here. • Kathy Ryan, the director of photography for The New York Times Magazine, published a book of photographs in 2014 that capture the interplay of natural light and architecture within The New York Times Building.

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