Weekly News

Trade War, Kim Jong-un, World Cup: Your Wednesday Briefing

June 20,2018 00:20

The world's population of forcibly displaced people keeps rising. The U.N. refugee agency reported almost three million more for 2017, bringing the global total to 68.5 million. It was the sixth consecutive year that the figure hit a post-World War II ...



Asia and Australia Edition

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Good morning. Trade tension, trouble in Kashmir, and a big win for Japan. Here’s what you need to know:

Image
CreditDrew Angerer/Getty Images

• Global markets are shaking.
A rapidly escalating trade war between the U.S. and China — the world’s two largest economies — sent stocks lower in the U.S., Frankfurt, London, Paris, Australia, Hong Kong, Tokyo and mainland China.
The latest threats from President Trump raised the possibility of trade restrictions on as much as $450 billion worth of imports from China — meaning almost every Chinese product that crosses the U.S. border.
Peter Navarro, a top White House trade adviser, insisted that China had “much more to lose” in the standoff, while a Chinese government spokesman said that the U.S. was “changing its mind constantly.”

CreditAndy Wong/Associated Press

• Back to Beijing.
The U.S.-China trade conflict may have provided an opening for North Korea’s leader, Kim Jung-un. He is making his third visit to the Chinese capital since March.
China’s state news media gave no details of the agenda for Mr. Kim’s surprise two-day visit. But he was likely to deliver a personal briefing on his private talks with Mr. Trump last week.
Analysts saw a deeper motive: “He wants to further disrupt the united China-U.S. front, which somewhat surprisingly emerged last year but now is in critical condition due to the trade war.”

CreditMike Blake/Reuters

• The world’s population of forcibly displaced people keeps rising.
The U.N. refugee agency reported almost three million more for 2017, bringing the global total to 68.5 million. It was the sixth consecutive year that the figure hit a post-World War II record, in a phenomenon fueling political struggles around the world
In the U.S., the backlash against the Trump administration’s practice of separating families at the border with Mexico intensified further, clouding the prospects for immigration legislation.
All four living former first ladies joined the chorus of public critique, derided the policy variously as “immoral,” “disgraceful” and a “humanitarian crisis.” Above, tents housing immigrant children in Texas.
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CreditTauseef Mustafa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• Turmoil in Kashmir.
India’s governing party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, pulled out of an coalition with a powerful Muslim-majority party in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, saying the three-year alliance had become “untenable.”
“Terrorism, violence and radicalization have risen, and the fundamental rights of the citizens are under danger in the Kashmir Valley,” a B.J.P. official said.

The top official in Jammu and Kashmir then resigned, throwing the region’s leadership into chaos. India may impose a governor’s rule for the eighth time in four decades.
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CreditJason Cairnduff/Reuters

• A World Cup first.
Japan wore down a Colombian team reduced to 10 men and won, 2-1, becoming the first Asian team to defeat a South American side in 17 World Cup matches. The victory was particularly unexpected because Japan changed coaches shortly before the tournament.
“That’s an enormous result for Japan,” our reporter observed, “and it really scrambles the group — and perceptions.”
Here’s the full schedule. (Our Offsides newsletter offers updates and analysis, and you can also sign up to get direct messages from our team.)
Business
• Australia fined Apple 9 million Australian dollars over the “error 53” scandal, when the company refused to offer refunds on devices that locked up when repairs were attempted at shops unlicensed by Apple.
• Now with two deep-pocketed suitors for 21st Century Fox — Disney and Comcast — the Murdoch family is weighing its options. Here’s what to expect.

• Wealthy Asians got richer faster than anyone else in the world last year, a new report shows. Assets held by the richest in the Asia-Pacific region jumped almost 15 percent in value, to $21.6 trillion in 2017.
• IBM unveiled an artificial intelligence program that “debates” with humans. (It led to an unlikely question for the tech industry: Can a machine talk too much?)
• U.S. stocks were down. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

In the News

CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

• #FreeWilly. The family of Will Nguyen, 32, an American graduate student arrested and beaten at an anti-China demonstration in Vietnam, has started a campaign for his release. He said on state television that he regretted breaking the law, raising questions about possible coercion. [The New York Times]
• Rescuers in Indonesia were still searching for dozens of missing people a day after a ferry sank in Lake Toba, a popular sightseeing spot on Sumatra Island, during the Eid al-Fitr holiday. [The New York Times]
• Intense fighting in Yemen. Arab coalition troops stormed the airport in the main port city and captured other areas in battles with Iran-aligned Houthis. Residents said the coalition’s Apache gunships controlled the air. [Reuters]

• The U.S. withdrew from the U.N. Human Rights Council, a frequent critic of Israel. [The New York Times]
• The rapper XXXTentacion, 20, was shot and killed in an apparent robbery in front of a motor sports store in Florida. [The New York Times]
• "May you climb happily in the jungles of the sky.” A keeper at the Perth Zoo wrote a teary tribute to Puan, the world’s oldest Sumatran orangutan, after she died at the age of 62. Her 54 descendants make up nearly 10 percent of the global captive population. [The West Australian]
Smarter Living
Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.
• Four simple tips to stay healthy on your next trip.
• Sometimes quitting is the best way to open the door to new opportunities.
• Recipe of the day: Stock your freezer with this stir-fry sauce for easy and delicious meals.
Noteworthy

CreditKevin Mazur/Getty Images

• Our music critic reviewed Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s surprise album, “Everything Is Love.” “Triumphant in business and reaffirmed in love,” he writes, “the Carters know they have another battle: against sounding complacent.”

• The elusive noises of narwhals. Scientists are rushing to study the sounds made by the deep-diving, long-tusked whales as melting ice opens up their once inaccessible east Greenland habitat.
• Australia, unconstrained. Two books by Gerald Murnane, “Border Districts” and “Stream System,” reflect the author’s forays into the inner reaches of his own mind.
Back Story

CreditSteven Spielberg, via Associated Press

Steven Spielberg’s genre-defining film “Jaws” was released on this day in 1975. It was his first big-budget film, and it launched one of the industry’s most successful careers.
But the production was troubled with delays and budget-busting costs. Crew members called it “Flaws,” and Mr. Spielberg — not yet 30 years old — worried he might never work in Hollywood again. “No one had ever taken a film 100 days over schedule,” he said.
Especially problematic were three animatronic sharks meant to serve as the focal predator. Collectively known as Bruce (after Mr. Spielberg’s lawyer), they proved disappointingly unmenacing. And they corroded and malfunctioned because the young director insisted on the realism of filming in the ocean, not in a tank.
Unable to show more than a few scenes of the film’s linchpin, Mr. Spielberg improvised. He filmed some scenes from the shark’s point of view and signaled its presence with John Williams’ now-iconic theme song. The result: a Hitchcockian buildup of tension and suspense. (The Times review was a bit dismissive.)

Even the production delays ended up helping. “Jaws” missed the traditional Christmas window, and a later release (and a marketing blitz) made it one of the first summer blockbusters.
Emma McAleavy wrote today’s Back Story.
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