Europe Edition: Donald Trump, Volkswagen, Israel: Your Thursday Briefing

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Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:

“I think it was Russia.” That was President-elect Donald J. Trump conceding for the first time that the Kremlin was behind the hacking of Democratic Party institutions during the campaign.

He lashed out at the media for publishing unverified accusations that Russia had compromising information about him. Russia has a long record of collecting compromising material on those it perceives as enemies. The Kremlin refuted the claims.

Other highlights: Mr. Trump will turn over his business to a trust controlled by his two oldest sons and an associate; he criticized the pharmaceutical industry and said he would seek to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act immediately.

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Cabinet confirmation hearings continue today, with a second round of questions for Rex W. Tillerson, the president-elect’s choice for secretary of state.

On his first day, senators confronted the former oil executive over his unwillingness to criticize President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and for his views on climate change.

Here’s the latest on the hearings.

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The recent cold snap in Europe has been blamed for at least 73 deaths and has brought the lowest temperatures in decades to the eastern parts of the Continent.

In Greece, wintry conditions have imperiled thousands of refugees in overcrowded migrant camps, prompting the E.U. to declare the situation “untenable.” The cold weather will extend into next week.

Istanbul saw its heaviest snowfall since 2009. For many, however, the snow acted as a balm for the chronic fear that had taken over amid terrorist attacks and the political purges that began after a failed coup last summer.

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• Talks over the reunification of Cyprus could gain further momentum today with the arrival of António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, and the foreign ministers of Greece, Turkey and Britain, the island’s former colonial ruler.

For the first time in more than a decade, Greek and Turkish Cypriots plan to submit maps to the U.N. for territorial swaps in what would become a federation.

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Findings at a cave in Gibraltar suggest that Neanderthals shared many behaviors that we long believed to be uniquely human. Thousands of years after Neanderthals left, modern humans occupied the same cave.

“Maybe there are special places in the world that have universal human appeal.”

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Interactive Feature | Morning Briefing What you need to know to start your day, delivered to your inbox. Coming soon.

Business

• U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges against six Volkswagen executives for their role in the company’s emissions scandal. One was arrested in Florida last week, but the others are believed to be in Germany, which does not normally extradite its citizens.

• The World Economic Forum warned that the reform of capitalism is needed to halt the growth of populist political movements around the world.

• Germany will release its first estimate of 2016 economic growth today. It could be the best in five years.

• Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

Graphic | What the Markets Are Doing

In the News

• About 280,000 new asylum seekers arrived in Germany last year, substantially down from the 890,000 migrants who entered the country in 2015. About 80,000 people either left voluntarily or were deported in 2016, twice as many as a year earlier. [The New York Times]

U.S. troops are expected to arrive at a Polish base today. They will be the first part of an American deterrence force aimed at reassuring Eastern European allies. [Radio Poland]

• The French government has asked hospitals to postpone non-urgent operations as a flu epidemic swamps emergency rooms. [France 24]

• Israel said Hamas has used flirtatious messages on social networks to persuade Israeli soldiers to download apps that turned their cellphones into tools for spying. [The New York Times]

• Morocco has banned the burqa, the full-body veil worn by some conservative Muslim women, according to local media reports. [The New York Times]

Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy is recovering from emergency heart surgery. [Reuters]

• Who is a gang member? The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Los Angeles over sweeping injunctions that prohibit suspected gang members from a variety of activities. [The New York Times]

Smarter Living: Morning Edition

(In this new section, we’ll help you start your day right.)

• A morning jolt of frigidity may be just what you need to start your day. A few potential benefits of cold-water therapy: weight-loss stimulation, increased circulation and stress reduction. Brrr.

• The pay-it-forward wedding: Couples are going beyond listing charities on their registry websites, instead having ceremonies that actively help their communities.

• Recipe of the day: Pick up some lingonberry jam and serve it with Swedish meatballs for a comforting weeknight meal.

Noteworthy

• In FIFA’s hinterlands — Africa, Asia and the Caribbean — the expansion of the World Cup is seen as an opportunity for smaller federations to play on the world stage someday.

• The British actress Harriet Walter plays Shakespeare’s heroes as heroines.

• A variety of apps allow users to sample films and games with 3-D imagery on their phones.

• The “Star Wars” filmmaker George Lucas finally decided that his $1 billion Museum of Narrative Art — showcasing his collection of fine and popular art and film memorabilia — will be in Los Angeles.

Back Story

Falconry, the ancient sport of hunting with birds of prey, is enjoying something of a renaissance.

We recently reported on a California winery that uses falcons to combat pests. In Europe, eagles are being trained to intercept potential terrorist drones.

And “The Eagle Huntress,” a film about a 13-year-old Kazakh girl living in Mongolia and trying to break into the male-dominated sport, could contend for best documentary at the Oscars.

The practice’s exact origins are unclear, but it may have originated thousands of years ago in the steppes near the Silk Road. It spread to the early empires of China, Egypt, India, Persia and Europe.

Besides falcons and eagles, falconers have used raptors such as hawks, kites and even owls.

Marco Polo said Kublai Khan had thousands of falconers. Charlemagne believed that real gentleman should be trained in falconry. And Henry VIII built fancy mews, or hawk cages, in what is now Trafalgar Square in London.

Even if you’ve never participated in the sport, you may have used terminology related to it.

“Fed up,” “hoodwinked” and “bated breath” are some examples in English. And birds that drink a lot share a name with humans who do the same: “boozer.”

Charles McDermid contributed reporting.

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