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Good morning. The Khashoggi plot thickens, a tragedy shines a light on Chinese birth tourism, plants send tailored messages to animals. Here’s what you need to know:
• A top forensics expert. A special forces officer. A spy.
The men were among 15 Saudi operatives who Turkish authorities said flew to Istanbul to pursue the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Many on the list have close ties to Saudi leadership, including to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Turkish officials said the men killed Mr. Khashoggi, pictured above entering the Saudi Consulate, dismembered his body using a bone saw and carried him out of the building — all on the orders of the Saudi royal court. The Saudi government vehemently denies the allegations.
The men’s identities were the latest details to leak from Turkey’s investigation, adding to international pressure on Saudi Arabia.
• Rodrigo Duterte feels the price of rice.
The leader of the Philippines has always counted on strong support from the poor.
But faced with record inflation, which has driven up prices for rice and other staples, he is seeing his base start to turn on him.
Experts point to government mismanagement. But rising global oil prices, a weakening currency and last month’s typhoon haven’t helped.
Publicly, Mr. Duterte has been making threats and suggesting a conspiracy among rice dealers. But he also removed decades-old restrictions on rice imports, suddenly reversing course on his protectionist economic policies.
• Loosening the economic noose on North Korea.
South Korea said it was considering lifting its sanctions against the North in a bid to encourage its neighbor to denuclearize. Above, a textile factory in North Korea.
But South Korea would still abide by U.N. sanctions, making the move largely symbolic.
Any easing of restrictions could also risk undermining South Korea’s relationship with the U.S., which insists on maintaining economic pressure on Pyongyang.
• A tragedy puts birth tourism in the spotlight.
A Chinese nanny, pictured above, stabbed three babies, two adults and then herself last month at a maternity center in one of New York City’s biggest Chinese immigrant neighborhoods.
The episode illuminated an underground network of these centers providing two major services: helping mothers recuperate after childbirth, and hosting Chinese mothers who want to give birth in the U.S. so their children will have citizenship. Workers are typically paid off the books for harrowing hours.
Locals now worry that the crime could flame anti-immigrant sentiment.
• Chinese investments in American companies will now get greater scrutiny and can be rejected on national security grounds, the Trump administration said. The move is likely to exacerbate the trade war with Beijing.
• Howard Schultz, the retired Starbucks founder, is widely expected to challenge Donald Trump for the presidency in 2020. So what does mean for the company’s business?
• Tech workers, concerned about helping government surveillance or censorship, are asking their companies for more insight into how their work is used.
• Dyson is getting into the curling iron game. But its magical air currents will cost you.
• Another health care mega-merger of a pharmacy and an insurer has been approved by the U.S. Justice Department: a $ 69 billion deal between CVS Health and Aetna.
• California is now the fifth-largest economy in the world. But here’s why the state may be facing a financial reckoning.
In the News
• Hurricane Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm, the strongest to hit the Florida Panhandle in a century. [The New York Times]
• Authorities in China began a campaign against the “spread of halal” in the western province of Xinjiang, the latest crackdown on the region’s millions of Uighur Muslims. [The Guardian]
• Pigs in the city: Three wild boars were spotted on Hong Kong sidewalks and another attacked two people in a different part of town, highlighting the city’s swine problem. [The New York Times]
• Bulgarian authorities announced a man was arrested and charged with the rape and murder of the journalist Viktoria Marinova. They said there was no indication he had targeted her for her work, rebutting talk of a political motive. [The New York Times]
• Doctors in India urged organizers to postpone New Delhi’s coming half marathon because of unhealthy levels of air pollution. [Reuters]
• Britain’s highest court ruled that the Christian bakers who refused to make a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan were not being discriminatory. [BBC]
• Religious schools in Australia would be allowed to turn away gay students and teachers under proposed changes to federal anti-discrimination laws. So how do the changes compare with current laws? [Crikey, article paywall-free for Times readers]
Tips for a more fulfilling life.
• It’s difficult for plants to reproduce. So they’ve evolved clever advertising strategies to get specific animals to eat their fruits and spread their seeds. “When I first learned that plants, in a way, behaved — that they were actually communicating information to animals — my mind exploded,” said one researcher.
• A new biography of Gandhi delves into the more personal and raw elements of the iconic Indian leader’s life, including his controversial practice of sharing a bed with his teenage grandniece Manu Gandhi when he was 77. Despite concerns from his friends and followers, Gandhi insisted he was just testing his chastity vow.
• “Oscar Wilde Temple,” an art installation celebrating the playwright and poet, will open in a former chapel in London, shining a light on gay rights. Couples can even get married there. “He was the figure and forefather of the gay revolution,” said Peter McGough, one of the two artists behind the show.
How does 19 hours on a plane sound?
Singapore Airlines is bringing back the longest flight in the world this week, nonstop from Singapore to Newark on a brand new kind of Airbus A350.
(From 2004 to 2013, Singapore flew the route with a less efficient A340. Rising fuel prices ultimately made that operation uneconomical.)
While it may be the longest flight now, 19 hours is nothing compared with some of its predecessors.
In 1936, Pan American Airways started the first passenger service between San Francisco and Manila — via Honolulu, Midway, Wake Island and Guam. The first leg of that trip alone was originally more than 21 hours.
Just eight days after mail service began on that route a year earlier, The Times ran a headline exclaiming, “CLIPPER TRIMMED SCHEDULED TIME; Reached Manila From Alameda in 59 Hours 47 Mins., Instead of 60 Set, Musick Says.”
Even then, airlines wanted to provide as fast a trip as possible. Their passengers probably would have loved seat-back TVs with video on demand, too.
The ability of airlines to deliver fast, direct trips was — and is — constrained by fuel. As one analyst told The Times when Singapore retired its previous Newark-Singapore flights, “ultralong-haul flights like this are essentially flying jet fuel tankers.”
Zach Wichter wrote today’s Back Story.
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Morning Briefing, Asia and Australia Edition
Here’s what you need to know to start your day in Asia and Australia.
- Hurricane Michael Live Updates: Category 4 Storm Makes Landfall in Florida
- Hurricane Michael Made Landfall. We’re Tracking the Storm and Its Impact.
- Turkey Names Saudi Operatives It Says Killed Dissident Journalist
- Trapped by the ‘Walmart of Heroin’
- A Suicidal Nanny, an Underground Industry and 3 Babies Stabbed
- Turkish Officials Say Khashoggi Was Killed on Order of Saudi Leadership
- The Democrats Have an Immigration Problem
- Opinion: Donald Trump Versus the Jungle
- New York Limo Firm’s Operator Is Charged in Fatal Upstate Crash
- Major Climate Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040