Turkey, North Korea, U.S. Congress: Your Tuesday Briefing

Turkey, North Korea, U.S. Congress: Your Tuesday Briefing

For South Korea’s scrappy women’s ice hockey team, solidarity has come with frustration: Some of the players are being forced to give up spots to North Koreans.

And in Tokyo, the authorities conducted the city’s first evacuation drill for a hypothetical North Korean missile.



Philippe Lopez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• The case of Hong Kong’s vanishing booksellers.

Gui Minhai was one of five booksellers who disappeared in 2015 and later resurfaced in China in police custody. Now Mr. Gui, who has Swedish citizenship, above right, has been snatched from a Beijing-bound train while traveling with two Swedish diplomats.

His daughter told our correspondent: “I just know that things have taken a very drastic turn for the worse.”



Tomas Munita for The New York Times

For much of the 20th century, Qatar was a barren Persian Gulf backwater.

Then, in 1971, the country struck gas. Its citizens quickly became rich, and it now has the highest average income in the world ($125,000). Above, a skating rink in Doha, the capital.

But since June, the upstart has been the target of a boycott led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Now, our correspondent explains, Qatar is in the fight of its life.



Glenn Campbell/European Pressphoto Agency

In Australia, 16 people were hospitalized after a train crash on the outskirts of Sydney, above.

The police said the train was “slowing to stop at the station” when it crashed into a barrier. A witness called the crash “horrifying,” but none of the injuries were reported as life-threatening.

At the Australian Open, meanwhile, the six-time champion Novak Djokovic was defeated by Hyeon Chung, a 21-year-old player from South Korea.

And what’s up with fans wanting athletes to battle extreme heat?



Atul Loke for The New York Times

A mud bath for the Taj Mahal?

For more than 350 years, monsoon rains in Agra were enough to keep the dirt off India’s 17th-century monument to eternal love. But worsening pollution has turned parts of the marble facade yellow and black.

To remove the discoloration, workers suspended on scaffolding are caking Fuller’s earth — a mud paste used in facials that absorbs dirt, grease and animal excrement — on the entire structure.



Giulia Marchi for The New York Times

• Finding a single Bitcoin token can take as much electricity as an average U.S. home consumes in two years. For some virtual currency enthusiasts, that’s a problem.

• Facebook says it wants to focus on “meaningful social interactions” instead of branded content. Could that be an opening for the social network’s nascent video section? And our columnist asks, is a healthier Facebook just … Instagram?

• Champagne may flow more freely at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this year amid waning fears about populism. This year’s most anticipated attendee is President Trump.

Do Airbnb reviews make us better versions of ourselves, or more neurotic ones? Our real estate columnist looked for evidence from her own life.

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

In the News


Dan Amaranto/Associated Press

• The Mayon volcano in the Philippines is spewing an ash plume more than 4,000 feet high in a spectacular show of power. Officials said a hazardous eruption could come at any time. [The New York Times]

Turkish troops began a ground assault against U.S.-allied Kurdish militias in northeast Syria. [The New York Times]

• The U.S. Embassy in Israel would move to Jerusalem before the end of 2019, Vice President Mike Pence told Israeli lawmakers. [The New York Times]

• Australia has spent millions of dollars to protect the Great Barrier Reef through tourism-related projects, but experts are deeply skeptical of the investment. [The Guardian]

The Australian Electoral Commission failed to ensure that it was not compromised during the 2016 federal election, according to an audit. [ABC]

• Germaine Greer, the Australian feminist, challenged the #MeToo movement, saying women facing sexual harassment should react immediately. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

• And Tonga’s flag-bearer from the Rio Olympics will be competing as a cross-country skier at the Winter Games. He switched after a disappointing loss in taekwondo in 2016. [BBC]

Smarter Living

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


Michael Kraus for The New York Times

• Recipe of the day: Tonight, make the best broccoli and Cheddar soup you’ve ever had.

• The trick to finishing any task: Slice it up into easily achievable micro-goals, and celebrate small wins.

• How can you maintain friendships?

broccoli and Cheddar soup you’ve ever had.



Nicole Kruspe

• Most people are bad at naming what they smell. But a group of hunter-gatherers on the Malay Peninsula appear to be an exception — and researchers worry that globalization may disrupt their vibrant odor lexicon.

Kangaroos get a lot of press. But did you know millions are slaughtered every year in Australia to provide meat for cats, dogs and humans? A new documentary looks at the practice.

And meet Mark Epstein, a psychotherapist who explains how Buddhism can enrich Western psychology. “No one really understands emptiness or ‘no-self’ the way they might,” he said.

Back Story


Bettmann, via Getty Images

“Remember the Maine!” was the rallying cry of the Spanish-American War. Many North Americans surely remember the Alamo. But has the world forgotten the U.S.S. Pueblo?

On this day in 1968, the Pueblo, a lightly armed Navy intelligence ship, was attacked and seized by North Korean patrol boats. Its crew of 83 servicemen was taken to Pyongyang and charged as spies. Washington denounced the seizure, but could do little: It soon became a tense Cold War standoff.

A Times editorial called the attack “humiliating,” and a prisoner drama — marked by fraught negotiations, forced confessions and propaganda ploys — dragged on for 11 months. Here’s more about the Pueblo incident.

The Americans told of beatings, torture and deprivation, but they still found ways to get back at their captors. They slipped outrageous puns into self-written confessions, such as this one by the ship’s commander, and surreptitiously raised their middle fingers in films and photographs. (The sailors said it was the Hawaiian good luck salute.)

In the end, Washington reluctantly apologized, and the Pueblo crew was home in time for Christmas. The Pueblo itself is still in Pyongyang, where it’s a tourist attraction at the Victorious War Museum.


Your Morning Briefing is published weekday mornings and updated online. Browse past briefings here.

We have briefings timed for the Australian, Asian, European and American mornings. And our Australia bureau chief offers a weekly letter adding analysis and conversations with readers. You can sign up for these and other Times newsletters here.

What would you like to see here? Contact us at asiabriefing@nytimes.com.

Good luck today.

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