North Korea, Google, Jacob Zuma: Your Wednesday Briefing


Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:

Video

Trump Threatens North Korea With ‘Fire and Fury’

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” President Trump said after the isolated nuclear-armed country criticized the United States earlier in the day.


By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS.


Photo by Al Drago for The New York Times.

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“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” President Trump said. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

The North’s increasing defiance over its nuclear program drew not only Mr. Trump’s extraordinary threat, but also the prospect of a complicated regional arms race. Politicians in Japan and South Korea are warming to more powerful weapons.

Experts say it is unclear whether newly enacted U.N. sanctions will hinder the North’s nuclear militarization, or even crimp its economy.

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Branden Camp/Associated Press

Our reporter obtained an alarming draft U.S. government report on climate change, in which scientists say global warming is already severely affecting the country.

The question is whether the Trump administration will permit it to be released. So far, the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency have not commented — but more than 2,100 readers have.

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“I can’t decide which is more worrying: the report’s findings, or the fact that scientists felt compelled to ‘leak’ the report,” wrote one. “Either way, the news isn’t good.”

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Peter Parks/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Australia’s struggle over same-sex marriage has yielded a two-step approach: If a bill to hold a national referendum in September does not pass the Senate this week, then Australians will vote on the issue by mail.

The compromise was worked out within the governing Liberal Party, which met for hours on Tuesday behind closed doors.

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Carl De Souza/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Jacob Zuma survived a no-confidence motion after South Africa’s Parliament held its first secret vote on whether to remove him after eight years in office and after rampant charges of graft and mismanagement.

And votes are being counted after millions of Kenyans went to the polls in a tightly contested presidential election. There are still fears of violence once the winner is announced.

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Mike Blake/Reuters

Google set off a Silicon Valley debate over free speech and sexism after firing a software engineer for arguing that women are biologically less suited to the tech world and that the company’s efforts to balance their numbers were “unfair, divisive and bad for business.”

Anita Hill, the lawyer who became an icon for harassed women by raising accusations against the Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991, argues in an Op-Ed that women should take the tech industry’s sexism to court.

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The Founding of an Army

• Let’s expand your vocabulary. Are you familiar with the Chinese term “xiao xian rou,” or “little fresh meat”?

It refers to the kind of good-looking young men all too present in a film commemorating the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army.

“Someone is trying to make a fortune off these important historical events” with “shameful” casting decisions, complained the descendant of a military commander.

Business

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Ng Han Guan/Associated Press

• Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, addressed the threat of cord-cutting with multi-billion-dollar plans for Netflix-style streaming services carrying sports programming from ESPN and Disney movies.

• The plunge of the dollar has created room for China to relax some of its currency curbs.

• Australian lawmakers called on the Reserve Bank to embrace bitcoin as an official currency, and hackers posted stolen files, including a coming “Game of Thrones” episode, to back its demand that HBO pay millions in bitcoin to stop it from releasing more.

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

In the News

Video

Military Attack in Venezuela

A growing number of Venezuelan officers are openly breaking ranks with the president and taking up weapons.


By DEBORAH ACOSTA on Publish Date August 8, 2017.


Photo by Ronaldo Schemidt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images.

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• In Venezuela, a growing number of military officers are taking up weapons against President Nicolás Maduro — a development that could ultimately determine the nation’s fate. [The New York Times]

A magnitude-6.5 earthquake struck a remote area of China’s southwestern Sichuan Province, causing four deaths and some building damage. [Reuters]

• Three missing U.S. marines were officially declared dead two days after their aircraft crashed off Australia’s eastern coast. [The New York Times]

• A French farmer pledged to continue helping migrants “because it must be done” after being sentenced to a suspended four-month prison term for smuggling them across the Italian border. [The New York Times]

• An Australian opposition leader, Matthew Guy, said he would refer himself to an anti-corruption watchdog over a lobster dinner with an accused mafia boss. [ABC]

The Malaysian authorities made more than 400 arrests in Operation Joker, a campaign to weed out potential terror threats in Kuala Lumpur ahead of this month’s Southeast Asia Games. [The Straits Times]

• A journalist in Thailand was charged with sedition and violation of the country’s computer law for online comments about politics. [Associated Press]

• Thieves broke into Australian’s National Dinosaur Museum and cut off and stole the heads of three fiberglass raptors. Police described the robbers as “idiots.” [ABC]

Smarter Living

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

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Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

• Recipe of the day: Try Craig Claiborne’s comforting smothered chicken recipe, a hit since 1983.

• Researchers are tracking a single hormone as the possible culprit in postmenopausal weight gain. And readers share their tales of dieting and weight in an era of anti-diet culture.

• We rigorously tested coffee brewing and grinding gear. Here are the results.

Noteworthy

Video

Why Do Bees Buzz?

Jim Gorman, science reporter for The New York Times, finds out why bumblebees make all that racket.


By JAMES GORMAN and JASON JAACKS on Publish Date August 8, 2017.


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• Why do bees buzz? Our ScienceTake video offers a quick answer: Bees “sonicate,” or use high-frequency sound waves to disrupt things.

• In memoriam: Haruo Nakajima, 88, the actor who was the first to play Godzilla, and who had a bit part in another major 1954 film, Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece “Seven Samurai.”

And “Game of Thrones” fans get background on the Catspaw dagger and the ominous cave paintings in the latest edition of our weekly newsletter. And the director of the latest episode, Matt Shakman, said his dragon battle was inspired by “Apocalypse Now” and “Saving Private Ryan.”

Back Story

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Singapore Press, via Associated Press

Research shows that most prospective countries, given the option, tend to favor national sovereignty. Singapore, which became independent of Malaysia on this day in 1965, may be the only modern exception.

Colonized by Britain in the 19th century, the island city-state achieved self-governance in 1959.

A few years later, in 1963, Singapore merged with a federation of Malay states to establish Malaysia.

But amid political, ethnic and economic tensions, Malaysia’s prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, declared Singapore’s separation in 1965.

Singapore’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, tearfully described the city-state’s independence as “a moment of anguish.”

He went on to pursue a neutral foreign policy, careful not to upset the much more populous neighbors.

“I am not here to play somebody else’s game,” he once said. “I have a few million people’s lives to account for. And Singapore will survive.”

Survive it did, and prosper. Singapore often appears near the top of quality-of-life rankings in Asia.

If you’re interested in Singapore, a recent highly popular cartoon provides an alternative history of the city-state. And here are five places to visit.

Sara Aridi contributed reporting.

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