Your Thursday News Briefing: North Korea, Pakistan, Taiwan

Your Thursday News Briefing: North Korea, Pakistan, Taiwan


Asia and Australia Edition

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Good morning. A significant promise from North Korea, a new economic Cold War, an unsettling temple in Taiwan. Here’s what you need to know:

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CreditReuters

• Limited pledges from North Korea.

Kim Jong-un promised some concrete steps toward denuclearization, including dismantling facilities central to the production of fuel for nuclear warheads.

On Day 2 of a three-day summit meeting with South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, Mr. Kim also vowed to visit Seoul. He would be the first North Korean leader to visit the South’s capital.

But Mr. Kim stopped short of agreeing to denuclearize, saying that would only happen if the U.S. took “corresponding” measures, including formally declaring an end to the Korean War.

Today’s word is “warhead”: the part of the missile that actually explodes. North Korea’s weapons program is shrouded in secrecy, but experts believe it has fewer than 10 nuclear warheads.

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CreditFaisal Mahmood/Reuters

Freedom for Nawaz Sharif, for now.

The Islamabad High Court released the former prime minister of Pakistan and his daughter, above, from prison on bail as they appeal their corruption convictions.

In July, a lower anticorruption court sentenced the two to prison over the family’s luxury properties in London, which were disclosed in the so-called Panama Papers. They were also barred from seeking public office.

Their conviction rattled Pakistan and dented Mr. Sharif’s political party in general elections that his rival, Imran Khan, ended up winning.

If the Sharifs win their appeal, the political landscape could be upended again.

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CreditBilly H.C. Kwok for The New York Times

In Taiwan, a shrine to China.

Bit by bit, the century-old Buddhist temple pictured above in western Changhua county has been converted into a shrine for the Chinese Communist Party. Buddhist nuns were forced out. Propaganda posters and party symbols replaced calligraphy scrolls and ritual drums.

“I am determined to lead the people of Taiwan province to reunify with out motherland,” said the builder responsible for the transformation.

But his pro-Beijing position is stoking unease among locals, many of whom are suspicious of China’s territorial claims over the island.

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CreditOre Huiying/Getty Images

• Najib Razak faces more charges.

The former prime minister of Malaysia was arrested and will be charged over a $681 million transfer into his personal account in 2013.

Prosecutors said the money was stolen from the state-owned investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, known as 1MDB. The U.S. Justice Department has said billions of dollars were siphoned from it into officials’ pockets.

Mr. Razak is scheduled to appear in court today.

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CreditMario Tama/Getty Images

• A new economic Cold War? President Trump’s trade fight with China could last for years to come — and it’s not clear what either side stands to gain.

• Facebook is building a hub to monitor false news and is deleting fake accounts that may be trying to influence voters around the world. Our reporters got exclusive access to the so-called War Room.

• The European Union has opened an antitrust investigation into whether Amazon used merchant data from its platform to inform decisions about its own in-house products.

Ola, India’s homegrown Uber rival, announced it would start operations in New Zealand, following its forays into Australia and England.

CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

• A professor in Hong Kong, above, was convicted of murdering his wife and daughter using a yoga ball filled with carbon monoxide. [The New York Times]

• President Trump said that the furor surrounding sexual assault allegations against his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, were “very unfair” and that he would like to hear from his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. [The New York Times]

• Human actions, including using fossil fuels or building in coastal areas, are making natural disasters more dangerous, according to climate experts. [The New York Times]

The authorities in London are investigating a possible hate crime after a car rammed into a crowd outside a mosque, injuring three people. [The Guardian]

• British police are also investigating a new allegation of sexual assault against the disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein. [The New York Times]

• Justice served cold: The Marchant Glacier in Antarctica was renamed the Matataua Glacier after the person it was named for, the geologist David Marchant, was sanctioned for sexual harassment. [Science]

• Whoops: Cathay Pacific, a Hong Kong-based airline, misspelled its own name on a plane. [BBC]

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

CreditMatthew Williams
CreditJada Yuan/The New York Times

• Lucerne is so beautiful that it seems Photoshopped, our 52 Places Traveler said. But after a helpful stranger returned her lost laptop, she found the “hospitality and human kindness” the most remarkable thing about this city in the Swiss Alps.

• The N.H.L. held some preseason games in China and even brought in the hockey great Wayne Gretzky in a bid to expand its audience ahead of the 2022 Beijing Olympics. But the league is decades — and millions of fans — behind the N.B.A.

• Are Bert and Ernie gay? A writer for “Sesame Street” seemed to say so in an interview that rippled across the internet. But the Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind the popular children’s show, said they’re just “best friends.” The mystery prevails.

CreditDavid Karp for The New York Times

The typhoon that has been battering parts of Asia in the past week is named Mangkhut. What does the name mean, and why did the Philippines call the storm Ompong instead?

“Mangkhut” is Thai for mangosteen, a reddish-purple fruit native to Southeast Asia, pictured above. The longtime New York Times journalist and food writer R.W. Apple Jr. once wrote that he would “rather eat one than a hot fudge sundae.”

“Words can no more describe how mangosteens taste than explain why I love my wife and children,” he wrote in 2003.

The mangosteen, which has a hard shell with white flesh inside, is cheap and plentiful in Asia but rarer and more expensive in the West, where it is nonetheless growing in popularity.

The task of naming typhoons falls to the Japan Meteorological Agency, which uses names sequentially from a list suggested by different countries. But when typhoons enter the Philippines’s “area of responsibility” for monitoring storms, they are assigned a different name by the national meteorological agency, which has issued its own list each year since it was established in 1972. Thus, Mangkhut becomes Ompong.

Local names, the agency reasons, are easier to remember in rural areas and make the storms feel more immediate, increasing the chance that people will take them seriously.

Jennifer Jett wrote today’s Back Story.

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