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China, Brexit, India Elections: Your Monday Briefing

November 19,2018 01:19

But with election season around the corner, local officials from the country's ruling party, the B.J.P., are using the phones to target voters. Contractors have been calling recipients of the phones to ask whether they plan to vote and which party they ...



Asia and Australia Edition

Nov. 18, 2018

(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)
Good morning. Another politically tumultuous week for Britain, an unprecedented ending to the APEC summit and a letter from our Asia editor. Here’s what you need to know:

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CreditAdrian Dennis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• Theresa May: ‘The next seven days are critical’
The British prime minister, after days of political turmoil, said in a TV interview that she would head back to Brussels this week and European leaders are scheduled to discuss a draft Brexit agreement on Sunday. But anything can happen before then to upend the process.
The deal, though reluctantly approved by her cabinet last week, prompted widespread criticism in Britain and looks unlikely to get a sign-off from Parliament. Above, anti-Brexit protests in London.
Mrs. May now faces a series of threats at home:
→ A leadership challenge: A secretive panel called the 1922 committee, helmed by Graham Brady, has been collecting letters from members of Mrs. May’s own party stating they’ve lost confidence in her. If the committee receives 48 letters, it can trigger a no-confidence vote.

→ More resignations: Two cabinet ministers have already quit over the deal, including Dominic Raab, the chief Brexit negotiator. If more step down, Mrs. May’s ability to carry on may be called into question.
→ A second referendum: A vote on the terms of the deal and the option to remain in the E.U. is gaining momentum.
And today’s phrase of the day is poison-pen letter: A malicious and usually anonymous statement, like the ones being collected by the 1922 committee.
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CreditAtul Loke for The New York Times

• Indian government hands out free phones for votes.
It seemed too good to be true: a smartphone in every home. Free.

The program, spearheaded by local governments, started in July and has so far handed out 2.9 million phones, in an effort to bridge the country’s yawning digital gap and connect more people to the internet. Above, a group gathers around a new smartphone.
But with election season around the corner, local officials from the country’s ruling party, the B.J.P., are using the phones to target voters.
Contractors have been calling recipients of the phones to ask whether they plan to vote and which party they intend to vote for, according to half a dozen people who made or received the calls. The phones even come pre-loaded with campaign apps.
“They are misusing state machinery for personal gains,” said one worker.
→ Also in India: Violence against the country’s Dalits, a class of Indians at the bottom of the country’s caste system, is rising.
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CreditCliff Owen/Associated Press

• C.I.A.: Saudi crown prince ordered Khashoggi killed.
The intelligence agency had always been hesitant to definitively point fingers in the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
But two sets of communications swayed the agency: intercepts of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s calls in the days before the killing, and calls by the kill team to a senior aide immediately after.

Based on that and the scope of the crown prince’s control of Saudi Arabia, the C.I.A. went from believing the crown prince, above, was culpable in the killing to believing he ordered the brutal hit job, according to American officials.
The agency’s new assessment adds pressure on the Trump administration to punish the kingdom, a longtime American ally and the centerpiece of its Middle East policy.
Our video team recreated how the killing unfolded at the Saudi consulate in Turkey last month.
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CreditBilly H.C. Kwok for The New York Times

• Developers circle a rural patch of Hong Kong.
The wetlands, hemmed by the skyscrapers in Hong Kong and the Chinese city of Shenzhen, are home to rare birds, traditional shrimp ponds and eucalyptus trees — a lush respite from the city’s bustle.
But in a city where land prices are among the highest in the world, it’s also a contentious battleground between environmentalists and property developers.
For decades, landowners have sought — and failed — to develop the area, as preservationists pushed back.
But the people who visit the area, often cyclists and nature lovers, fear that the development companies will eventually win out.

“People in Hong Kong only care about the economy,” said one cyclist.
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CreditSaeed Khan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• The U.S.-China trade dispute hung over the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting and world leaders left the gathering, pictured above, without a joint statement for the first time since the forum was founded in 1989.
• Disney’s theme parks have emerged as surprisingly strong cash cows. Faced with challenges in TV, the company is now focused on expanding each of its six parks and its cruise line.
• Coming this week: The post-Thanksgiving sales bonanza is expected to give U.S. retailers a big boost.
• U.S. stocks were mixed on Friday. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.
• North Korea announced it would deport an American citizen who was detained a month ago for trying to illegally enter the country, according to state media, an apparent gesture of good will. Above, the North Korea-China border. [The New York Times]
• The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, in his first publicized visit to a weapons test site in a year, witnessed the test of a new unspecified tactical weapon last week, a move that could further complicate stalled talks with the U.S. on the country’s denuclearization efforts. [The New York Times]

• Bangladesh’s plan to repatriate Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled Myanmar will likely be put on hold until after the country’s general election in December, said a top Bangladeshi official. [Reuters]
• Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined his Australian counterpart, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, to commemorate those killed in Darwin by Japanese bombs in World War II, an effort to enhance ties between the two countries as China’s influence in the region expands. [The New York Times]
• The Chinese city of Hangzhou, in an effort to restrict pet dogs, banned dog walking during the day and dozens of larger canine breeds after a publicized fight between a dog owner and a woman who kicked his pet. [The New York Times]
• The wreckage of an Argentine submarine that went missing last year with 44 sailors aboard has been found, Argentine officials said, ending one of the most confounding recent maritime mysteries. [The New York Times]
• The kilogram, which has been defined by a platinum-iridium cylinder stored in a vault in Paris since 1889, has been redefined in electromagnetic terms. [The New York Times]
Tips for a more fulfilling life.

CreditFrancesco Tonelli for The New York Times

• Recipe of the day: Start the week with something simple and rewarding — a perfectly cooked omelet. (Sign up for the Five Weeknight Dishes newsletter for more recipe recommendations.)

In the uncertain years after Mao’s death, China was just recovering from decades of political and economic turmoil. More than three-quarters of the population still lived in extreme poverty.
Today, China leads the world in its number of homeowners, internet users, college graduates and, by some counts, billionaires. Extreme poverty has fallen to less than 1 percent of the population. An isolated, impoverished backwater has evolved into the most significant rival to the United States since the fall of the Soviet Union.
To explain that drastic shift, we at The New York Times have put together an in-depth series of articles that will run this week and next here in the Briefing, online and in a special section in the Sunday newspaper.
This kind of reporting isn’t easy. It requires having people on the ground with the smarts and experience to ask the right questions, and the tenacity to keep asking until they get to the truth. That can be especially tough in a place like China, where the government is both secretive and thin-skinned.
So I hope you’ll enjoy this project and discuss it with your friends. You can also write in with your comments. A global conversation about what China’s rise means for the world is long overdue.

Sincerely,
Philip P. Pan

CreditDouglas C. Pizac/Associated Press

The Grammys have revoked an award only once.
That happened 28 years ago today, after the German duo Milli Vanilli, above, confessed they hadn’t actually sung on their debut album.
They also admitted to lip-syncing at their many shows, and blamed their producer for putting them up to it.
The scandal cost them the 1989 Grammy for Best New Artist — and their careers.
Since then, Milli Vanilli has become pop culture shorthand for fraud. Last month, Nicki Minaj referenced the group in a thinly veiled shot at her rival, Cardi B.
But the discussion around authenticity has shifted as well. Cardi B and Kanye West openly admit to receiving help with their lyrics, while Mariah Carey and Garth Brooks have survived high-profile lip-sync blunders.
In an era of C.G.I. and android pop stars, the truth behind art is almost beside the point.
We’ll never know if Milli Vanilli was actually years ahead of its time.
Andrew R. Chow wrote today’s Back Story.
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