Asia and Australia Edition: White House, Jeff Sessions, North Korea: Your Thursday Briefing

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Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:

President Trump announced on Twitter that the United States will no longer “accept or allow” transgender people in the American military. Mr. Trump’s sweeping policy decision was met with surprise at the Pentagon, outrage from advocacy groups and praise from social conservatives.

The president’s hounding of Attorney General Jeff Sessions continued for a third consecutive day. This time, he questioned why Mr. Sessions had not fired the acting F.B.I director over his wife’s political ties to Hillary Clinton.

Above, Mr. Trump in Ohio on Tuesday.

The Senate rejected a proposal to repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act without providing a replacement. Here’s where the debate stands now and what happens next.

Graphic | Local Weather See the forecast for your area.


In Afghanistan, the Taliban routed an Afghan Army outpost in Kandahar Province, killing dozens of soldiers and raising fears of a major insurgent offensive in the former seat of Taliban power that took years for coalition and Afghan forces to secure.

Mr. Trump, who is deeply skeptical about sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, may have found one justification for staying engaged in the country: vast mineral wealth.


China and India are engaged in one of their worst border disputes in more than 30 years — over an unpaved road through a remote Himalayan pass.

The road stands on territory at the point where China, India and Bhutan meet, and the dispute dates to a 1890 border agreement.

Now, our correspondents write, the conflict reflects the swelling ambition — and nationalism — of both countries, and their growing competition over Asia’s future.


“You can think of California as a giant laboratory.”

That was a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, as Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law expanding the state’s cap-and-trade program to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The state now plans to rethink every corner of its economy, from urban planning to dairy farms. If California prevails, it could provide a model the world.

If it fails? “Other states and countries will be watching that, too,” the professor said.


A lawyer for Cardinal George Pell, one of Pope Francis’ top advisers who made his first court appearance on Wednesday, said the prelate would plead not guilty to all charges of sexual offenses. The first hearing lasted six minutes.

The start of Cardinal Pell’s court battle in Melbourne revisits a troubled past for his hometown, Ballarat, about 75 miles west of there, which experts say was among the towns with the worst cases of abuse by church clerics.

The next court proceeding will be Oct. 6.


And Amazon is hiring Aussie speakers.

The Breakdown explains why the American tech giant may be seeking to tailor the voice recognition system in its Echo device to an Australian audience. Are you qualified? Take our quiz to find out if you speak Australian.

Above, the Amazon Echo.

Interactive Feature | Sign Up for the Morning Briefing What you need to know to start your day in Australia, delivered to your inbox.


• The fate of Legendary Entertainment is uncertain after a series of box office flops and as Beijing clamps down on its owner, Dalian Wanda, and other Chinese conglomerates. “Kong: Skull Island,” above, was a bright spot for Legendary.

• End of the road: Britain will ban the sales of new diesel and gas cars by 2040.

A group of investors, most based in Asia, are creating a rival to Bitcoin, called Bitcoin Cash. It will be available Aug. 1.

• Elon Musk called Mark Zuckerberg’s knowledge of artificial intelligence “limited” in an escalating feud over the risk of killer robots.

• Employers in the U.S. say they are having trouble filling jobs because too many applicants can’t pass drug tests.

Japan’s Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp. agreed to buy Neuroderm, the Israeli drug maker, for $1.1 billion in cash.

Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

Graphic | What the Markets Are Doing

In the News

• The Mumbai police charged a man with culpable homicide over the building collapse on Tuesday that killed at least 17 people. [The New York Times]

• In Southern France, at least 10,000 people were evacuated from homes and vacation sites as wildfires raged across the region. [The New York Times]

• North Korea is likely to develop a missile capable of reaching the continental U.S. within a year, U.S. intelligence agencies said. [The New York Times]

• Kenedy, a Brazilian soccer player for Chelsea, was sent home from an Asian tour after posting derogatory online comments about China. [The Guardian]

• Panama opened an embassy in Beijing, deepening its links with China after cutting diplomatic ties with Taiwan, its longtime ally, in June. [Reuters]

• Sperm counts among men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand seem to have halved in less than 40 years, alarming researchers who can’t explain the decline. [BBC]

• Our golf columnist compares Jordan Spieth, the technician, with Rory McIlroy, the freewheeler. Their rivalry is one of the best in sports. [The New York Times]

Smarter Living

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

• Recipe of the day: Feeding a crew? Smothered pork chops is the dish you need.

• Air-conditioners can make some people’s noses clog or run for several reasons.

• Ask Well: Is sweating good?


• In memoriam: Dr. G. Yunupingu, the blind, largely self-taught Australian Aboriginal musician who produced the country’s best-selling indigenous album, died at 46.

• Bombay became Mumbai, Calcutta is now Kolkata and Bangalore is Bengaluru. In India, as the novelist Aatish Taseer explains, a name is rarely just a name.

• And Minecraft, the insanely popular video game, now has its own novel: “Minecraft: The Island.” The novel is set in a game, that can itself be played within the game.

Back Story

In a terse ceremony 64 years ago today at the border between North and South Korea, an armistice agreement ended the lengthy and devastating Korean War.

The signing ceremony, above, took 11 minutes, The Times reported. “Expressionless” signatories agreed to a cease-fire, but, the report noted, real peace remained elusive.

Under the deal, tens of thousands of American troops stayed in South Korea, many in the sprawling military base near Itaewon in central Seoul. These soldiers, who for decades brought American food to the country, have come to influence its cuisine.

This impact was most felt after the war, when food was scarce. Shrewd cooks mixed U.S. Army surplus supplies, such as Spam and hot dogs, with traditional ingredients, like kimchi — spicy, pickled cabbage.

The product has since become the ultimate comfort food dish: Budae Jjigae (pronounced BUH-day CHEE-gay), or “military stew.”

Some say the spicy, hearty soup can help cure anything from a cold to a hangover. Recipes vary, but it generally requires little preparation: Add slices of Spam, hot dogs, mushrooms, tofu, instant ramen and cheese into a pot of stock and boil.

Flavor with chili paste, sugar, garlic and, of course, kimchi.

Patrick Boehler contributed reporting.


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