U.S. Senate, Jerusalem, Jeff Bezos: Your Friday Briefing

The context, experts emphasized, was the American principle of civilian control over the military, but the effect was chilling, particularly at a time when North Korea’s nuclear threat is increasing and trust that mutually assured destruction would forestall any nuclear attack appears to be decreasing.



Kimimasa Mayama/European Pressphoto Agency

The Japanese Ministry of Defense delivers its conclusions today about whether Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government deliberately withheld information about the safety of Japanese troops at a U.N. compound in South Sudan.

Reports are circulating that the defense minister, above center, and a top military officers are preparing to resign. That would spell more trouble for Mr. Abe, whose approval ratings have plunged to less than 30 percent.



Alex Potter for The New York Times

As the Islamic State is driven out of its strongholds, the human toll it exacted is becoming ever more evident.

Our reporter spoke to a doctor in Iraq who has treated over 1,000 women subjected to repeated rape under ISIS rule, and visited a camp where the scene of barely conscious women and girls underscored the cost of sexual enslavement to the militants.

In Pakistan, the police arrested 25 Punjabi villagers after a man was reported to have publicly raped a teenage girl on the orders of a local council to avenge the sexual assault of his sister.



David Mcnew/Getty Images

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, was briefly the world’s wealthiest person, with holdings worth more than $90 billion — until his stock price dropped him back behind Bill Gates of Microsoft. Asia’s wealthiest man is No. 18, Jack Ma.

The online shopping that propelled Mr. Bezos, above, has helped sideline America’s shopping malls, those pleasure palaces of days past.



David Maurice Smith for The New York Times

Our Australia bureau chief is at the Great Barrier Reef, reporting on scientists’ efforts to save it. He says he’s been struck by the stunning scale and variety of life there, and the global interest and passion for all that the reef represents.



Adam Tan, HNA’s chief executive, told The Financial Times on Monday that a Chinese man who donated $18 billion in ownership of HNA had only temporarily held the stake for the company.

Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg

• Questions are mounting over a Chinese donor’s transfer of more than 29 percent of HNA Group, worth about $18 billion, to a New York charity. Above, Adam Tan, the chairman of HNA, who disclosed the donation.

• Libor, the scandal-plagued benchmark for interbank loans, could be phased out by British regulators by 2021.

SpaceX, the rocket maker founded by Elon Musk, raised up to $350 million and is now valued at around $21 billion, making it one of the world’s most valuable privately held companies.

• Apple was the innovative force in personal computers for years. Now, our tech columnist writes, it’s Microsoft.

• A record price: The Hong Kong-based LKK Group bought the London skyscraper known as the Walkie Talkie for $1.7 billion — the most ever paid for a single British property.

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

In the News


Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• Muslims resumed praying at the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem after Israel removed the last traces of security structures near the entrances at the close of a two-week standoff. [The New York Times]

• In South Korea, six former top aides to the ousted president, Park Geun-hye, were sentenced to prison for blacklisting thousands of cultural figures. [The New York Times]

• Charlie Gard, the chronically ill British infant, will spend his last moments in a hospice before he is taken off life support, according to a ruling by the British High Court. [The New York Times]

China is closing off a 15,444-square-mile swath of the Yellow Sea for military exercises coinciding with the People’s Liberation Army’s 90th anniversary. [CNN]

• Rise of the care-bots. China is developing millions of companion robots for its growing population of older people.[Quartz]

• New Zealand was once home to a “hulking, semi-flightless” black swan, known in Maori legend as a Pouwa. Fossil record shows the Pouwa went extinct around 1450. [New Scientist]

Smarter Living

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


Andrew Boyers/Reuters

• Tattoos may change the way you sweat.

• It’s probably wiser to spend money to save time than spend time to save money.

• Recipe of the day: Keep tonight’s dinner meatless with hot and sour seared tofu.



Karsten Moran for The New York Times

• How fungi — including some you know, like portobello and shiitake mushrooms — shoot their spores has long been a scientific enigma. Ultrahigh-speed video helped explain how they aim.

Waleed Aly, our contributing opinion writer from Australia, examines Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s creation of a “super ministry” of Home Affairs and sees more relevance to domestic politics than national security.

• On the Forever Happy Princess, a Chinese cruise ship, you can play mah-jongg, sing karaoke and snorkel in waters as “pure as a baby’s soul.” Unfortunately, you’ll be sailing through an international power struggle.

And The Times bids farewell to our chief book critic, Michiko Kakutani, who has guided readers through literature’s changing landscape for 38 years. Here are highlights of her tenure.

Back Story


Enrico Nawrath/Bayreuth Festspiele

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was joined by the king and queen of Sweden this week for the opening of the Bayreuth Festival, a tradition The Times once called “the Woodstock of the opera set.”

The festival was started in 1876 by Richard Wagner, the German composer. It is still managed by his descendants and devoted exclusively to his operas, such as the “Ring” cycle and “Tristan und Isolde.” They are performed in the theater he designed and built, and some fans wait decades for tickets.

Bayreuth has something of an operatic history of its own. Wagner, who died in 1883, was a notorious anti-Semite, and in the 1920s and ’30s the festival became associated with the Nazis. The opera “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” was a favorite of Hitler’s.

“Die Meistersinger” was also the opening performance this year, led by Barrie Kosky, the first Jewish director in the festival’s history. Above, a scene from Mr. Kosky’s “Die Meistersinger.”

Next year’s festival will feature another milestone: Yuval Sharon will become the first American to direct a production.

“For me, Bayreuth has always been this very holy place,” Mr. Sharon told us earlier this month. “I’ve already had five anxiety dreams about it, so that means I’m on the right track.”


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