Tuesday, August 2018
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China, Nuclear Weapons, Spotify: Your Friday Briefing
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China, Nuclear Weapons, Spotify: Your Friday Briefing

And Republican lawmakers were stunned by his embrace of elements of gun control: expanded background checks, keeping guns from the mentally ill and restricting sales to some young adults.



Wu Hong/European Pressphoto Agency

China’s National People’s Congress is set to convene..

Communist Party censors are scouring the internet to suppress criticism of a proposal, expected to pass, allowing President Xi Jinping to remain in power indefinitely. Among the unlikely targets: the letter N and images of Winnie the Pooh (a frequently used Xi avatar).

A few years ago at this time, the Shanghai-based Hurun Report said that the net worth of the richest delegates to the National People’s Congress and its advisory body amounted to $463.8 billion. We’ll find out how much that number has grown in this year’s report, due out today.



Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

• Climate update: The Beast from the East” is lashing Britain with such heavy snow and high winds that the national weather service warned of “risk to life.” Europe has been locked in a Siberian weather pattern since last Friday.

In the U.S., state leaders have been signaling to the world that they intend to act on climate change with or without the Trump administration. Washington State, in particular, is drawing attention as a major global economy that is willing to buck conventional wisdom by considering a carbon tax.

The State Senate is expected to vote on the tax today.



Asanka Brendon Ratnayake for The New York Times

There’s no homework, classrooms, uniforms or traditional grades. Instead, there are “creator spaces” and “pitch desks.”

That’s Luminaria in Williamstown, Australia, a school opened by Susan Wu, an American entrepreneur who’s been called “one of the most influential women in technology.”

But can Silicon Valley’s approach — which certainly works to churn out apps — turn out successful children?




Mike Blake/Reuters

• Daimler, the German carmaker, will buy a partner’s 25 percent stake in Car2Go, paving the way for Mercedes and BMW to develop driverless taxis. That could, eventually, allow them to expand into a business segment currently dominated by Uber in the U.S. and Didi Chuxing in China.

• Cellphones on the moon? Vodafone and Nokia plan to build a high-speed cellular network in space to support what would be the first privately funded moon landing, planned for next year. (Don’t expect everything to go according to plan.)

Spotify’s prospectus values the music streaming service as high as $23 billion.

The energy, time and money spent to make digital products like Bitcoin could be diverting resources from pathways to real economic growth. Our economics reporter examines whether that’s the case in the U.S.

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

In the News


Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press

President Vladimir Putin of Russia used his annual state of the nation speech to threaten Western nations with a new generation of nuclear weapons, including an “invincible” intercontinental cruise missile. It remains unclear whether that actually exists. [The New York Times]

• The U.S. is banking on diplomacy with North Korea — but moving ahead with war planning. [The New York Times]

• The Chinese authorities have detained relatives of Radio Free Asia reporters who work for the broadcaster’s Uighur service. [The New York Times]

• Speaking at South Korea’s commemoration of the March 1 independence movement, President Moon Jae-in berated Japan for its stance on “comfort women” and its territorial claims. [The Korea Herald]

• China and Saudi Arabia have withdrawn their support of Pakistan, making it inevitable that the country will return to a global terrorism watchlist. [The New York Times]

• Some 100 Iranian Christians remain stranded in Austria after the U.S. denied their applications for refugee status. [The New York Times]

• An Indian magazine that published a cover of a breast-feeding model has sharply divided public opinion. [BBC]

• Researchers in Indonesia have discovered rare saltwater lakes filled with jellyfish. (The embedded videos are fascinating.) [National Geographic]

Smarter Living

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


Karsten Moran for The New York Times

• Learn how to make flawless rice, every time.

• Is that bump a spider bite? Probably not — most spiders only bite defensively.

• Natural cleaning can go beyond baking soda and vinegar. Ketchup, vodka and other household items can help with stains and spills.



Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

“David Bowie Is,” a record-setting exhibition of the rock icon’s complete artistry, opens today at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Let us give you a virtual tour.

• Astronomers using a small telescope in Australia said they had glimpsed farther back in time than the Hubble Telescope had managed. Here’s what they learned about when the first stars were forming.

• A sleepy Malaysian village that once grew into a hotbed of cabarets and night life is staging a comeback as the country’s hippest destination.

Back Story


Christopher Polk/Getty Images

He’s 13.5 inches tall and weighs a (relatively) hefty 8.5 pounds. More than 3,000 of him have been handed out since 1929. And he’s one of the world’s most famous statuettes. You’ll probably know him as Oscar.

The winners of Sunday’s 90th Academy Awards will proudly take home the bronze, 24-karat gold-plated figure of a knight holding a crusader’s sword, which is officially called the Academy Award of Merit. (Bone up on the Best Picture nominees here. And here’s how to watch around the world.)

So where did the name Oscar come from?

One explanation is that Margaret Herrick, the librarian for the Academy who would later become its executive director, saw the statue in 1931 and said it reminded her of her uncle Oscar.

Others say the nickname came from the actress Bette Davis, who said the statue reminded her of her first husband, Harmon Oscar Nelson Jr.

A third version has it that the Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky coined the term when he referred to an old vaudeville joke “Will you have a cigar, Oscar?” in a 1934 column.

No matter who was responsible, it clearly stuck. In 1939, the Academy officially adopted the name.

Claire Moses contributed reporting.


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Correction: March 1, 2018

An earlier version of this briefing wrongly identified a political meeting that is set to convene in China. It’s the National People’s Congress, not the Party Congress.

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