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Russia, the Obamas, Donald Trump: Your Tuesday Briefing
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Russia, the Obamas, Donald Trump: Your Tuesday Briefing

And one of our most popular stories today is a throwback: In 1982, the Norwegian cross-country skier Oddvar Bra collided with a skier from the Soviet Union. Somehow, a national myth was born. So far, Norway is leading the medal count.

Above, Mr. Bra skiing in Norway last month.

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Ted Aljibe/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Philippines barred its citizens from traveling to Kuwait for employment and began flying workers home after reports that the body of an abused Filipino domestic worker was found in a Kuwaiti apartment freezer.

About half a million Filipinos live in Kuwait, most employed as domestic workers, and President Rodrigo Duterte said they were subject to a “repugnant” level of abuse. The Philippine economy is heavily dependent on remittances, with 10 percent of the population working overseas.

Separately, Mr. Duterte was criticized for having boasted of ordering soldiers to shoot female communist guerrillas in the genitals.

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Tom Brenner/The New York Times

• President Trump is unveiling a $1.5 trillion plan for what he’s called “gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways and waterways all across our land.”

The White House also announced its budget request, including large increases for the military, deep cuts in domestic programs and entitlements, and money for a return to the moon.

Our Washington correspondent says the budget has “little to no chance of being enacted as written.”

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Abedin Taherkenareh/European Pressphoto Agency

In Iran, a bitter feud between President Hassan Rouhani, above, and establishment hard-liners has exploded into the open with the arrest of a top environmental official and the prison death of a prominent Iranian-Canadian environmental activist who was arrested last month.

The activists, some critical of the government for long-term mismanagement of water supplies, have been accused by Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards of spying.

The escalation comes as the government confronts growing fears of water shortages this summer.

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Jason Reed/AFP/Getty Images

“Look forward to seeing you in Canberra, Harry.”

That was Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, on news that President Trump plans to nominate Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., the top U.S. military commander in the Pacific, as his ambassador to Australia. The post hasn’t been occupied since 2016.

The news may be less welcome in Beijing. Admiral Harris has taken a hard line against Beijing’s “provocative and expansionist” base-building in the South China Sea.

Business

• Honda said it would recall roughly 350,000 vehicles in China to resolve a mechanical problem. And the U.S. unit of Takata, which issued the largest recall in automotive history for airbags linked to a dozen deaths, reached an agreement that eases its path out of bankruptcy.

• The old American Stock Exchange building in New York briefly took on a new life — as a fashion runway. Our chief fashion critic took the opportunity to meditate on finance and style.

Funds that track financial indexes, now a dominant force on Wall Street, acted as accelerants in recent turmoil.

• Many markets in Asia and Europe rose Monday, but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped. U.S. stocks were up sharply. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

In the News

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Anuwar Hazarika/Reuters

• In northeast India, a speeding train plowed into a herd of elephants, killing five and adding to building criticism of the railways over the painful number of such collisions. [The New York Times]

• A rash of gas poisonings in southern China this year has left at least 104 people dead and hundreds hospitalized. Officials blame poorly ventilated or faulty water heaters and cooking stoves. [The New York Times]

Cyclone Gita battered Tonga, and kept New Zealand on alert. [Radio New Zealand]

• A South Korean court’s verdict is expected today in the corruption case against Choi Soon-sil, the confidante at the center of the scandal that ousted President Park Geun-hye. [Yonhap]

• Opposition candidates, led by the former strongman President Mahinda Rajapaksa, are ascendant in Sri Lanka. [The New York Times]

• “Half-paradise, half-hell”: The Maldives is in a power struggle that could pull India and China into conflict. [The New York Times Editorial Board]

• A female pilot’s split-second aeronautical maneuver “saved the day,” a newspaper said, when two planes carrying a total of 261 passengers nearly collided above India. [Times of India]

Smarter Living

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

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Josh Cochran

• Want a more perfect union? Act (within limits) like you’re single.

• Studies on saturated fats often failed to consider what people ate in their place.

• For Mardi Gras, you can’t go wrong with a chicken and sausage gumbo.

Noteworthy

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Jada Yuan/The New York Times

• She’s off! Our 52 places travel columnist — who beat out more than 13,000 other applicants for the job — has started her whirlwind world tour in the Big Easy. She found plenty to celebrate in New Orleans.

• Portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama were unveiled, mixing paint and politics.

• In memoriam: Asma Jahangir, 66, a rights activist in Pakistan who defended the rule of law and criticized the military’s interference in politics.

Back Story

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Getty Images

As the end of a particularly bad flu season approaches in many parts of the world, you’re probably accustomed to hearing “achoo!”

But there’s not actually a global consensus on how to react to a sneeze or the derivation of customary responses.

While it’s unnecessary in Japan and parts of China to comment, many countries use a version of “(God) bless you.”

The sneezer’s welfare is the main concern. Germans say “gesundheit” (health), while Turks say “çok yaşa” (may you live long).

Sometimes the response is dictated by the number of sneezes. In parts of Latin America, the first sneeze is met with “health,” the second with “money,” and the third with “love.” The Dutch wish you “health” for your first two sneezes before the third time turns into “good weather tomorrow.”

Health-based wishes seem self-explanatory, but the origin of “God bless you” is uncertain.

The most popular theory is that Pope Gregory I started it by blessing a person infected with the plague. But it’s probably not true.

Academics believe saying “bless you” to a sneezer can be traced back even earlier — some say to 77 A.D., others to Greek mythology.

Anna Schaverien contributed reporting.

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