Damascus, Trump Tax Cut, North Korea: Your Morning Briefing

April 28, 2017

By STEPHEN HILTNER New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/27/briefing/damascus-trump-tax-cut-north-korea-your-morning-briefing.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share

Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:

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Credit Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times        

China reacted harshly to news that the Thaad antimissile system the U.S. set up in South Korea is nearly operational.

“This will further tighten the Asia-Pacific antimissile barrier enclosing China and Russia, and will weaken their strategic capacities — something we adamantly oppose,” a top Chinese military official said.

The Pentagon’s Pacific commander said the crisis over North Korea was “the worst” he’d seen, but experts on the region say despite recent American military moves, war is not imminent.

Our reporter found the mood in Seoul, above, essentially nonchalant.

Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

President Trump said he yielded to pleas from the leaders of Canada and Mexico and agreed not to withdraw immediately from North American Free Trade Agreement, which he has repeatedly called “a disaster.”

Economists told our business columnist that Mr. Trump’s proposal to radically reorder the tax code could vastly expand the country’s budget deficit and national debt.

And the U.S. State Department is likely to remain understaffed and largely leaderless until well into 2018.

Credit Amr Nabil/Associated Press

Pope Francis begins a politically delicate trip to Egypt today.

The visit comes just weeks after the Palm Sunday terrorist attacks on two Coptic churches in Egypt, the deadliest acts of violence against Christians in the country in decades.

Credit Sameer Al-Doumy/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Explosions at warehouses rocked the Damascus airport, in what Syrian and rebel officials say was a strike carried out by Israel to target weapons bound for Hezbollah.

Britain’s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, suggested that his country would likely agree to any American request to assist in strikes on Syria.

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Credit Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

An American visa program expiring today could leave wealthy non-Americans with one less avenue for access to a U.S. green card.

The EB-5 program, which is likely to be overhauled in Washington, has allowed foreigners and their immediate relatives — most often Chinese — to apply for permanent residency if they invested $500,000 in job-creating projects in areas with high unemployment, or $1 million in projects in other areas.

Above, a Beijing lawyer who specializes in the EB-5 process.

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Credit Sergei Zelensky/The Russian Academy of Sciences

• And a big surprise in science: Archaeologists no longer need to be thrown a bone.

Using methods that took years to develop, scientists in Germany recovered ancient DNA from cave dirt, opening the door to new insights on human prehistory.

“It’s a bit like discovering that you can extract gold dust from the air,” a researcher commented.

Business

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Credit Jes Aznar for The New York Times

• A crackdown on polluting mines in the Philippines could sharply reduce the country’s world-leading export of nickel ore.

• After many years spent battling legions of counterfeit manufacturers, New Balance won an intellectual property dispute in China.

• United Airlines will offer passengers who volunteer to change flights up to $10,000 in travel certificates. The company is seeking to recover from several public relations disasters. The latest involved a giant dead rabbit.

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

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Credit Alper Boler/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• All 78 crew members were rescued from a Russian naval ship after it collided with a private livestock vessel and sank in heavy fog near the Bosporus. [The New York Times]

• Leaders of the 10 Asean nations begin two days of meetings in Manila that appear likely to focus more on economic issues than China’s growing dominance. [Bloomberg]

Nine pro-democracy activists were arrested in Hong Kong, where the authorities appear to be cracking down on dissent two months before a scheduled visit by China’s president, Xi Jinping. [The New York Times]

• A court in Senegal upheld the war-crimes conviction of Hissène Habré, the former leader of a murderous regime in Chad. [The New York Times]

• An Israeli-American teenager accused of making hundreds of false bomb threats against schools, airlines, hospitals and Jewish centers in the U.S., Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Israel may have been selling his disruptive services. [Sydney Morning Herald]

• A German soldier with a “xenophobic background” is suspected of posing as a Syrian asylum seeker and planning a violent attack. [The New York Times]

• Three refugees on Manus Island contested allegations made by Peter Dutton, Australia’s immigration minister, that they triggered a shooting rampage by giving fruit to a hungry child. [The Guardian]

• The Shanghai Auto Show, which closes today, showcases a range of electrified vehicles. [Hybrid Cars]

Smarter Living

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Credit Bob Miller for The New York Times

• Skip the college tour. Research on decision-making suggests that talking to former students is likely to offer a better guide.

• Plug in and turn up the volume on your workout. Music is a simple and effective way to make exercise less daunting.

• Recipe of the day: Treat yourself to a deluxe dinner of shrimp tossed in a butter and chili sauce.

Noteworthy

Spend 36 hours in Tokyo and try unique fashion trends, stroll through neighborhoods in full bloom and and catch a Yomiuri Giants game.

By ABIGAIL LEONARD, MAUREEN TOWEY and KAITLYN MULLIN on Publish Date April 27, 2017. Photo by Andrew Faulk for The New York Times. Technology by Samsung. . Watch in Times Video »

• The mechanism that allows certain caterpillars to break down plastic could transform the fight against one of the world’s most stubborn pollutants.

• The scouting of football players has given rise to a new language, and in honor of today’s N.F.L. draft we put together a quiz to test your ability to comprehend it.

• Our Travel section’s latest “36 Hours in …” series focuses on Tokyo, whose physical sprawl includes gorgeous neighborhoods, shopping districts buzzing with neon frenzy, superlative cuisine and purikura photo booths for Snapchatty group shots.

Back Story

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Credit Universal Pictures, via Associated Press

Today, “The Fate of the Furious,” the eighth installment of the action movie franchise starring Vin Diesel, opens in theaters across Japan. But if you happen to be there, you’ll be forgiven for not finding it on cinema schedules.

That’s because, in Japan, the movie is called “Wild Speed: Ice Break.”

This is not the first time that films in the franchise have been promoted under different names in Japan or elsewhere. Movie titles are frequently changed to resonate better with local audiences.

In Japan, the sixth movie in the franchise, which focused on Europe, was advertised as “Wild Speed: Euro Mission.” The seventh, “Wild Speed: Sky Mission,” included a scene featuring cars falling from a plane.

If the latest film’s performance in China (where it was called “Speed and Passion”) is any guide, changing movie titles can help boost ticket sales. Of the $432 million the movie made overseas on its opening weekend, $190 million came from China.

In Hong Kong, the movie was advertised as “Wild Speed” and in Taiwan as “The Moment You Play with Death.” (In Europe, the title was far more literal: “Fast and Furious 8.”)

Regardless of where you are, if you haven’t seen the film, here’s our review.

Patrick Boehler contributed reporting.

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