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Good morning. World Cup news, invasion at a Yemeni port, and a visit with Tim Hinton. Here’s what you need to know:
• The World Cup is here.
Matches start today in Russia. We have a guide to all 32 teams.
China figures heavily in the estimated $ 6.1 billion in revenue the event is expected to generate:
Seven of the 20 companies sponsoring the tournament are Chinese, up from just one at the last World Cup.
To get updates and analysis in your Inbox twice a week, sign up for our Offsides newsletter. And to receive direct messages from Times journalists on the ground in Russia, sign up for World Cup Messenger.
And there’s longer-range news: The U.S., Mexico and Canada will host the 2026 World Cup, North America’s first since 1994. Their successful joint proposal promised record crowds and revenues, and $ 11 billion in profits for FIFA, soccer’s governing body.
Morocco, whose rival bit pledged a profit less than half as large, criticized the focus on money until the bitter end.
• Spin mode on North Korea.
Pyongyang declared a victory of sorts after the Singapore summit meeting with the U.S., claiming it had won major concessions.
The North’s state-run news media said that President Trump had not only promised to end joint military drills with South Korea, but also to lift sanctions and allow a “step-by-step” denuclearization process, rather than the immediate dismantling of its nuclear program.
For his part, Mr. Trump landed back in the U.S. tweeting that “…everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”
But for U.S. allies in Asia, the outcome has been decidedly mixed. Some question whether Mr. Trump’s outreach to the North actually signaled a broader American retreat from the region.
• Why offend allies and cozy up to adversaries?
That’s the question raised by President Trump’s embrace of North Korea, on the heels of a bitter falling-out with Canada.
A White House correspondent who covered the Singapore meeting writes: “It may be that he disregards the traditional preoccupations of American foreign policy — power and values — in favor of a more narrow worldview shaped by his experience as a businessman.” In other words: considerations of profit and cost might outweigh virtually any other consideration.
Separately, we looked at Mr.Trump’s billionaire friend Tom Barrack, above, “a fellow tycoon and a flattering courtier, a confidant and a power broker” who has helped Mr. Trump become seen as perhaps the best friend in the White House that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have ever had.
• Saudis and U.A.E. are leading an invasion in Yemen.
The attack on a vital port city is expected to worsen misery in the war-ravaged country, already the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.
The effort seemed aimed at tipping the balance in Yemen’s long-running civil war against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, but sustained fighting and cutting the pathway for foreign aid could kill hundreds of thousands of people and threaten millions with famine.
• Australia’s mea culpa.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he would issue a formal apology in October to thousands of survivors of child sexual abuse that went on for decades at schools, religious organizations and other institutions.
His government has accepted most of the recommendations of a 2017 report by the Royal Commission, the country’s highest investigative body, including compensating victims and establishing a national office for child safety.
“Now that we’ve uncovered the shocking truth,” Mr. Turnbull said, “we must do everything in our power to honor the bravery of the thousands of people who came forward.”
On the international front, officials in Vanuatu, meanwhile, are insisting that China’s growing influence on the island, via loans and infrastructure projects, is no threat to Australia.
• ZTE isn’t out of the woods. The Chinese tech giant’s shares fell by 40 percent on Wednesday, shaving nearly $ 3 billion from the company’s value. Wary investors fear that the Trump administration will yield to political pressure to back off the deal to save it.
• AT&T may soon control a mammoth portfolio — CNN, HBO, Warner Bros. and much else. Here’s our breakdown of the impact of the ruling allowing the company’s $ 85.4 billion merger with Time Warner.
• The AT&T-Time Warner ruling could also intensify a battle between Comcast and Disney for control of 21st Century Fox, a big chunk of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. (Shares of 21st Century Fox jumped more than seven percentage points in early trading Wednesday.)
• Rampant price manipulation may have accounted for at least half of the tremendous increase in the price of Bitcoin last year, researchers said.
In the News
• In Iran, newly empowered hard-liners are clamping down on dissent. The human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, above, was arrested by security forces and taken to the notorious Evin Prison. [The New York Times]
• Dimitrious Gargasoulas faces a hearing in Australia to determine if he is fit to stand trial over the 2017 rampage on Bourke Street in Melbourne that killed six people, including two children. A psychiatrist said that Mr. Gargasoulas believes “he is the second coming of Christ.” [The Guardian]
• In Old Delhi, the original city center of India’s capital, we followed one of the last “town criers” — those who wake their neighbors for morning prayers and a final meal before sunrise during the holy month of Ramadan. [The New York Times]
• Vietnam’s worst flare-up of anti-China sentiment since 2014 threatens to aggravate the already tense relations between Beijing and Hanoi. [South China Moring Post]
• Air quality in New Delhi entered the danger zone, mainly because of dust storms from western India, according to the pollution control board. [Reuters]
• Liz Cambage, the 6-foot-8 Australian basketball star, left America’s W.N.B.A. and spent four seasons playing professionally in China and Australia. Her return has changed the trajectory of the Dallas Wings. [The New York Times]
Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.
• Do you have the right stuff to be a stool donor?
• Embracing and creating art can be a powerful way to deal with trauma.
• Recipe of the day: Make up a creamy, chunky and zesty mashed potato salad.
• Tim Winton is a surfer, environmentalist and one of Australia’s most beloved writers. (He was declared a “living treasure” in 1997.) Our reporter spent time with him ahead of the U.S. debut of his novel “The Shepherd’s Hut,” which touches on a persistent Winton theme: “the terror generated by toxic masculinity.”
• Africa’s “wooden elephants” are dying. Scientists believe “an unprecedented combination of temperature increase and drought” has left the oldest and largest baobab trees unable to support their massive trunks.
• Australia Diary: A reader muses on how Indigenous Australians choose spiritual and poetic names for roads and lakes, but the rest of Australians, not so much.
When the American writer Harriet Beecher Stowe died in 1896, The Times minced no words about her antislavery book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly,” the century’s best-selling American novel.
“In the English language, the Bible and Shakespeare’s works are its only rivals,” The Times noted.
Rapidly translated into at least 20 languages, including Russian, Spanish and Finnish, it was also an overnight international phenomenon.
Stowe lived for years across the Ohio River from Kentucky, meeting fugitive slaves and seeing Southern plantations firsthand. But her novel had another inspiration as well: the loss of an adored son to cholera.
She once wrote, “It was at his dying bed and at his grave that I learned what a poor slave mother may feel when her child is torn away from her.”
The book began as a newspaper serial in 1851. With evocative characters — saintly Uncle Tom, the slave child Topsy, the villainous master Simon Legree — it sparked outrage about slavery.
“No book in American history molded public opinion more powerfully,” the critic David Reynolds wrote in “Mightier Than the Sword,” a book about the novel’s writing, reception and modern reputation.
Nancy Wartik wrote today’s Back Story.
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