North Korea, Texas, Afghanistan: Your Wednesday Briefing


At least 13 people have been killed, and more than 30,000 have taken refuge in shelters. Damages for homeowners could cost as much as $30 billion.

The Times is providing free digital access to coverage of the storm. Check here for the latest.

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Shailesh Andrade/Reuters

While flooding in the U.S. has grabbed more attention, aid officials say a catastrophe is unfolding in South Asia.

More than 1,000 people have died in floods across South Asia in recent weeks, according to the U.N., and at least 41 million people in Bangladesh, India and Nepal have been affected by flooding and landslides. Above, Mumbai on Tuesday.

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Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis, via Getty Images

In Afghanistan, airstrikes in Herat Province killed more than a dozen civilians, adding to the record number of civilians who have died this year as violence has intensified.

The new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan, announced by President Trump last week, includes plans to increase air support to Afghan forces fighting a resurgent Taliban.

Foreign powers have tried to control Afghanistan for 300 hundred years, our Kabul bureau chief writes, and it has not gone well for them. Above, Afghan fighters in 1910.

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Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters

• As fighting in Myanmar intesifies, the top U.N. human rights official urged the military to show restraint and accused the office of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace laureate and the country’s de facto leader, of issuing “irresponsible” statements that could endanger aid groups.

More than 8,700 Rohingya Muslims had fled to Bangladesh since Saturday, like those above, after clashes last week between security forces and a Rohingya militant group killed more than 100 people.

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William West/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In Australia, the state of Queensland removed the names of a handful of mountains and creeks containing racial slurs, citing “community concern.”

In recent years, groups across Australia have voiced anger at names and monuments that they say are overtly racist, or because of their portrayal of painful historical events.

A statue of Captain James Cook, above, was defaced in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Tuesday.

Business

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Olivia Rondonuwu/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Indonesia will be granted a majority stake in Grasberg, the world’s largest gold mine and second-largest copper mine, by Freeport-McMoRan, the American firm that owns the mine.

• Betting on the “fear gauge.” A new generation of day traders, using Wall Street’s high-risk, high-return tactics, is pouring into one of the market’s most arcane corners.

• The Renault-Nissan alliance is teaming up with Dongfeng Motor to build electric cars in China.

Tim Cook is using his platform as chief executive of Apple to wade into social issues and fill a void left by Washington’s gridlock.

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

In the News

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Karim Sahib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• Today is the first day of the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca taken each year by millions of Muslims. Above, pilgrims at the Grand Mosque in Mecca this week before the start of the hajj. [Al Jazeera]

• In Iran, an appeals court upheld the convictions of a prominent Iranian-American father and son who were accused of “collaborating with an enemy state” — meaning the U.S. [The New York Times]

Sea Shepherd, the self-described “eco-vigilante” group, called off its annual pursuit of Japanese whaling ships in the Southern Ocean, saying they were unable to get around surveillance technology. [The New York Times]

• President Rodrigo Duterte said the heirs of the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos had offered to return some of the family’s disputed wealth, including “gold bars.” [Agence France-Presse]

• Ed Skrein backed out of the movie “Hellboy,” saying that criticism of his casting as a partially Asian character was “understandable.” [The New York Times]

• At the U.S. Open, hopes are high that Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will play each other in New York for the first time — even if it is not in the final. [The New York Times]

Smarter Living

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

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Michael Kraus for The New York Times

• Tracing your family history? Our product testers rated five DNA testing services. And our science reporter looked at how surprising the results can be.

• Can psychedelics be used therapeutically?

• Recipe of the day: For a light meal, go with Mark Bittman’s spicy shrimp salad.

Noteworthy

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John Salangsang/Invision,via Associated Press

• First, Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” obliterated Spotify’s record for most plays in a single day, and now the video has become the biggest 24-hour debut ever on YouTube. Our critics discussed the song and where it positions Ms. Swift after a bumpy few years.

• Here are 10 tours that are aimed at turning travelers into photographers. And an adventure photographer, Jimmy Chin, offers advice for taking great travel pictures.

• Sydney hosted the Stanford-Rice football game over the weekend, and the N.C.A.A. president is in Japan to consult on athletic systems: It’s clear that interest in U.S. college sports is resonating beyond the United States.

Back Story

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Biel Alino/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

What’s billed as the world’s biggest food fight gets underway today in Buñol, Spain: La Tomatina.

Thousands of people from all over the world travel to the town, near Valencia, to throw more than 100 metric tons of overripe tomatoes at each other, on the last Wednesday of August each year. Since 2013, organizers limited the event to 20,000 people, because of its popularity.

According to local lore, it started at the end of World War II, when a street brawl broke out near a vegetable store. So much fun was had that it became an annual event. It was banned for a time in the 1950s, under the Franco dictatorship, but it was eventually declared an official festival after residents protested by holding a “tomato funeral.”

The one-hour food fight won’t start until a competitor climbs a greased pole to retrieve a ham, amid hooting and cheers from the crowd. Trucks bring in low-quality tomatoes from the province of Extremadura, and water cannons are fired to start the battle. (Participants are encouraged to squish the tomatoes to lessen their impact.)

Afterward, the cobble streets are hosed down, and the acidity of the tomatoes is said to leave them shining.

Karen Zraick contributed reporting.

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