Asia and Australia Edition: Rohingya, Unesco, Hamas: Your Friday Briefing

Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:

President Trump is expected to disavow the Iran nuclear deal today, despite mounting opposition from European allies and fellow Republicans.

His administration announced that the U.S. would withdraw from Unesco at the end of 2018, citing the U.N. cultural organization’s “anti-Israel bias” and need for “fundamental reform.”

How do we cover the Trump administration? We’ll be livestreaming a TimesTalk with our executive editor, two White House correspondents and our media columnist. It will be on our site, YouTube and Facebook beginning at 9:30 a.m. Australian Eastern time.

Graphic | Local Weather See the forecast for your area.


Aung San Suu Kyi acknowledged in a nationally televised speech that Myanmar is facing fierce global criticism over the Rohingya refugee crisis.

She said her government is holding talks on the return of “those who are now in Bangladesh,” presumably referring to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled to there to escape a crackdown by Myanmar’s military.

She gave no details, but officials suggested that returnees would need residency documents, which few Rohingya have.


• Kobe Steel’s expanded list of substandard products raised concerns over Japan’s high-speed rail network.

Two “bullet train” operators said their trains used the flawed material, but one said that the parts still met safety requirements and would be replaced on a normal maintenance schedule.


An American woman, her Canadian husband and their children were freed by Afghan militants.

The couple was kidnapped while backpacking in 2012. She was pregnant at the time, gave birth and had two more children in captivity.

President Trump, who had alluded the development on Wednesday, said his administration worked with the Pakistani government to free the family from fighters linked to the Haqqani network, a Taliban faction.


The U.S. House of Representatives is weighing a $36.5 billion aid package for hurricane and wildfire relief, even as President Trump warned Puerto Rico that federal troops and relief workers wouldn’t stay on the island “forever.”

The wildfires in Northern California are still spreading. The death toll has risen to 24, and exhausted firefighters are stretched to their limits.

Experts explained why this year has been so bad for fires, and in today’s 360 video, join a family as they visit the remains of their home.


“I break every rule under the sun.”

That was one reader’s response to last week’s Australia newsletter on the country’s rule-following ways. We collected many more; here are the most memorable.

Interactive Feature | Sign Up for the Morning Briefing What you need to know to start your day in Australia, delivered to your inbox.


• China’s richest person is Xu Jiayin, above, the chairman of the property developer Evergrande Group, who is worth $43 billion. Pony Ma of Tencent and Jack Ma of Alibaba are second and third. A new survey of the country’s wealthiest reflects a dynamic economy fueled by consumption and a voracious appetite for real estate.

• Toyota unveiled four U.S. ads for its new Camry, each with different story lines, music and actors meant to resonate specifically with Asian-American, African-American, Hispanic or “transcultural mainstream” audiences. “It’s not really a stereotype,” an ad executive said.

HSBC appointed John Flint, the head of retail banking and wealth management, as chief executive, its latest move to reshape the leadership of the London-based bank, which generates much of its profit in Asia.

Samsung is expected to forecast a record third-quarter profit, up an estimated $12.5 billion, as earnings recover from last year’s Note 7 fiasco.

• U.S. stocks were lower. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

Graphic | What the Markets Are Doing

In the News

• The heir to the Samsung empire, Lee Jae-yong, began his appeal of a five-year jail term for bribing the country’s former president and her confidante. A ruling is expected by February. [Reuters]

Australia’s High Court will rule “as soon as possible” after three days of arguments on whether seven lawmakers found to have dual citizenship must resign. [SBS]

• The rival political Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal that aims to end their decade-old rivalry and paves the way for joint control of Gaza’s borders. [The New York Times]

• Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary, said he would seek an “urgent explanation” from Hong Kong and mainland authorities after a British rights activist was denied entry to Hong Kong. [BBC]

• Cambodia pulled Kingsman: The Golden Circle” from theaters, saying the portrayal of an Angkorian temple as a drug lord’s secret base was unacceptable. [Phnom Penh Post]

Ladakh, India, still hasn’t quite recovered after a Buddhist woman fell for a Muslim man. But for the young couple, love conquered all. [The New York Times]

President Rodrigo Duterte, infuriated by European criticism of his drug war, gave European Union ambassadors 24 hours to leave the Philippines. It was not clear whether he was serious. [The New York Times]

Smarter Living

Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.

• What’s the best approach to negotiating your salary?

• Recipe of the day: Get ambitious over the weekend with a classic coconut cake.


Hayao Miyazaki’s legendary Japanese animation house, Studio Ghibli, is opposed to streaming, so it’s putting out a DVD series in the U.S. Our critic used the occasion to rank its influential anime films going back to 1985 (and yes, “Spirited Away” is No. 1).

• In our podcast “The Daily,” Nicholas Kristof, a Times Op-Ed columnist who writes about human rights and global affairs, reveals more about his recent trip to Pyongyang. And here’s his column on his troubling visit.

To save her life, she jumped off a train bound for Auschwitz. Decades later, she got a message from the father she left behind. A Holocaust survivor tells her story in one of our editorial department’s short documentaries.

• And the latest online sensation: hands. From cooking to the unboxing of toys, hands videos have become a symbol of craftsmanship and entrepreneurial zeal.

Back Story

On this day in 1884, delegates from 25 nations, who were gathered in Washington, voted on what the time was.

With 22 votes for, one against (San Domingo) and two abstentions (France and Brazil), the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, became the site of the prime meridian, the longitude separating Earth’s eastern and western hemispheres.

In the debate to standardize time around the world, France favored a site on neutral ground, like the Azores Islands in the Atlantic Ocean or the Bering Strait.

But business won the day. A majority of the world’s shipping at the time and the railroads heading to the Pacific Coast in the U.S. were already using Greenwich meridian, so the Royal Observatory was the obvious choice.

The observatory enforced such structure on the world that it became a target for anarchists, including one in 1894 who sought to blow it up. He succeeded in killing only himself.

More than a century later, GPS-equipped visitors to Greenwich will find, however, that they’re not standing at zero degrees longitude. In the 1980s, new satellite data helped reorient the prime meridian 334 feet to the east of the original line, where it now runs through a park.

Thomas Furse contributed reporting.


Your Morning Briefing is published weekday mornings and updated online. Browse past briefings here.

We have briefings timed for the Australian, Asian, European and American mornings. You can sign up for these and other Times newsletters here.

If photographs appear out of order, please download the updated New York Times app from iTunes or Google Play.

What would you like to see here? Contact us at [email protected].

Join The Discussion