Narendra Modi, North Korea, Vladimir Putin: Your Wednesday Briefing

If the two can eventually reach agreement on the details, the deal could rival NAFTA as the world’s largest free trade zone — and threaten the U.S. with isolation in important industries like automobiles.



Edgar Su/Reuters

“We must all get back to work. This is not a soap opera.”

That was Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, seeking to quell the national crisis over governance that has emerged from his family’s feud over the musty, modest home above.

The prime minister’s brother and sister accuse him of abusing his power to try to preserve the estate of their father — the city-state’s revered founder, Lee Kuan Yew — as a bedrock for a future dynasty, instead of demolishing it as the unsentimental Mr. Lee wished.



Jes Aznar/Getty Images

• The Philippine military can continue to legally exert wide powers in its fight against Islamic State militants, including warrantless searches and roadblocks.

The country’s Supreme Court rejected challenges to President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law across the island of Mindanao, though the battle is focused on just one of its cities, the predominantly Muslim Marawi. Mr. Duterte had threatened to ignore and even arrest the judges if they ruled otherwise.

The military said it had retaken a crucial piece of territory in the city and found the body of a Singaporean fighter, a sign of reinforcements of extremists from around the region.



Pool photo by Abir Sultan

• India’s premiere, Narendra Modi, has become the country’s first leader to set foot in the Jewish state. “We’ve been waiting for you a long time,” the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said.

While the two look to expand trade and cooperation in areas like agriculture and water management, India is soft-pedaling its support for the Palestinian cause.

Back home, Mr. Modi faces a brewing Himalayan border crisis involving Bhutan that has China warning of possible war.



Andrew Testa for The New York Times

• The resistance Uber faces in Europe is exemplified by the cabby war with London’s iconic black taxis, which trace their lineage to 1634. A senior E.U. official advised that Uber be forced to operate under the same tough rules as taxi companies.

• A Shanghai court froze $182 million in assets tied to the tech mogul Jia Yueting, after an affiliate of his company LeEco missed loan payments.

• Slowing U.S. auto sales have hit even luxury models from BMW and Mercedes-Benz and are causing makers to cut jobs.

• Qatar, locked in a confrontation with four neighboring countries, said it would sharply increase its production of natural gas.

• India’s new simplified tax system for goods and services has already prompted companies to share the benefits with widespread discounting.

• U.S. markets reopen today. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

In the News


Luo Xiaoguang/Xinhua, via Associated Press

• A Chinese inventor’s dream of a “straddling bus” that would glide above traffic is effectively dead, with 32 arrests at the dubious investment company that backed it. [The New York Times]

• The U.N.’s human rights chief met with Chinese officials to discuss the case of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who is on medical parole from prison with late-stage cancer. [Reuters]

• A bipartisan group of U.S. senators spent Independence Day with American soldiers in Afghanistan and urged President Trump to fill vacant embassy and State Department positions there. [The New York Times]

• An exhaustive project has mapped where Aboriginal people were massacred in the colonial conquest of Australia. [ABC]

• Five million motorbikes clog the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam. By 2030, the city wants there to be none. [BBC News]

• In a rare victory for gay rights in China, a man won a lawsuit against a mental hospital that had subjected him to so-called conversion therapy. [Associated Press]

• A Chinese man laments that his striking resemblance to Vladimir Putin has not translated into success with the ladies. [South China Morning Post]

Smarter Living

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


Melina Hammer for The New York Times

• Here is our complete guide to saving for retirement.

• Should you be concerned about chlorine or skin lotions and the like in pools?

• Tonight, season chicken thighs with lemon, garlic and fresh herbs.



Jorge Blanco

• An extinct, giant llama-like creature, fossils of which were discovered by Charles Darwin in Patagonia, has defied scientists’ efforts to locate it on the tree of life for 180 years. Researchers have finally determined that the Macrauchenia was a distant relative of horses, rhinos and tapirs.

• And the story of human origins keeps getting more twists. Based on newly discovered fossil DNA, experts have concluded that a wave of early Homo sapiens — or close relatives — traveled from Africa to Europe and interbred with Neanderthals.

Back Story


Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On this day in 1946, a French designer made bathing suit history — and helped popularize a trend of linking beautiful women to the devastating power of nuclear fission.

Louis Réard named his tiny two-piece after Bikini Atoll, the Pacific outpost the U.S. was using to test the atom bomb’s effect on naval vessels.

Women’s images had been painted onto World War II aircraft, and the plane that carried the bomb that devastated Hiroshima the prior year was named after the pilot’s mother, Enola Gay.

The atomic tests kept up the tradition. You can listen to Orson Welles announce on his radio show that one bomb would be decorated with the likeness of his wife, the Hollywood star Rita Hayworth. It was stenciled onto the casing with the name of one of her roles, Gilda.

There are many other examples. A few years later, Las Vegas introduced the “Miss Atomic Bomb” competition, combining two of Nevada’s best-known qualities: its early nuclear tests and pinup girls.

And U.S. radio carried songs like “Atomic Baby” (1950) and “Radioactive Mama” (1960), whose lyrics suggest that a couple will “reach critical mass tonight.”

Evan Gershkovich contributed reporting.


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