Hurricane Irma, North Korea, Amazon: Your Friday Briefing

September 8, 2017


Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:


CreditKim Won-Jin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• North Korea appears to be preparing for another ICBM launch. South Korea’s prime minister says it’s likely to be Saturday, the North’s founding day holiday. Above, a mass celebration in Pyongyang this week honoring the scientists who carried out last Sunday’s powerful nuclear test.

The U.S. is pressing for a U.N. Security Council vote by Monday on tough, sweeping measures against the North, including an oil embargo, the authorization to board its ships, and a freeze on the assets of the leader, Kim Jong-un.

President Vladimir Putin condemned the North’s weapons tests after talks with Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, but Russia and China are likely to block the resolution.


CreditGerben Van Es/Dutch Defense Ministry, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• “Every Florida family must prepare to evacuate.”

That was Gov. Rick Scott as Hurricane Irma, now one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, left a path of devastation through the Caribbean and headed toward his state.

Continue reading the main story

The death toll — at least seven — is expected to rise. A local official said that “95 percent” of the island of St. Martin was destroyed. More than 70 percent of Puerto Rico households lost power.

Here’s a map of the storm’s projected path. Our live briefing has the latest.



CreditKrishna Murari Kishan/Reuters

• It’s been a severe season of storms and flooding around the world, and South Asia has seen some of the most devastating damage.

More than 1,200 people have lost their lives in India, Nepal and Bangladesh — and the monsoon rains aren’t over yet.

Our correspondents went to northern India, where many people said they had no warning when the floodwaters started coursing last month.



CreditAndrew Testa for The New York Times

• Guo Wengui, the Chinese billionaire who has accused some of Beijing’s most powerful officials of corruption — making him arguably China’s most-wanted man — has applied for political asylum in the U.S.

That’s a diplomatic quandary for the Trump administration, which wants China’s aid in isolating North Korea.

It’s no help that, aside from President Trump himself, it remains unclear who in the administration wields genuine influence on the relationship with Beijing.



CreditJeff Chiu/Associated Press

• Evidence of Russia’s efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election is building. Facebook revealed that Russians are suspected of using fake accounts to buy and circulate divisive ads during the presidential campaign.

And an investigation by The New York Times, along with new cybersecurity research, reveals some of the mechanisms Russian operators may have used to spread anti-Hillary Clinton messages on social media.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump Jr. told Senate investigators that his concerns about Mrs. Clinton’s “fitness” to be president prompted him to set up a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer he believed had damaging information on her.



CreditJoe Castro/European Pressphoto Agency

• Australia’s fierce national debate over same-sex marriage resumed swiftly after the High Court threw out challenges to the contentious postal vote on the issue, which will cost about $97 million.

“The rights of any group of Australians being subject to a public vote sends a terrible message to our community,” a rights advocate said.

In this week’s Australia Letter, a few Australians tell us their best anecdotes about daily life — and leave us asking for more.





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CreditRuth Fremson/The New York Times

• Amazon is looking to build a second headquarters in North America, costing as much as $5 billion to build and run, and employing as many as 50,000. Above, construction near its Seattle campus.

• Shares in Eicher Motors reached a record high on news that the Mumbai-based firm is set to offer up to $2 billion for Ducati, the Italian motorcycle company.

• Foxconn detailed its plan to buy Toshiba’s memory chip unit with help from Apple, SoftBank and Sharp Corp, making clear the deal is not dominated by China (or Taiwan). Toshiba is still negotiating with other groups.

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

  • S.& P. 500–0.04%
  • DOW+0.18%
  • NASDAQ–0.31%

In the News


CreditJalaa Marey/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• Syria accused Israel of conducting an airstrike on a military base that analysts say housed chemical weapons and advanced missiles. [The New York Times]

• President Rodrigo Duterte’s son and son-in-law appeared before the Senate to deny involvement in a drug smuggling case that has captivated the Philippines. [Bloomberg]

• An Indian court sentenced two men to death for their role in a 1993 attack that killed 257 people and forever changed Mumbai. [BBC]

• A senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan apologized for a “highly offensive” leaflet that showed a section of the Taliban flag, which contains an Islamic verse, superimposed onto the side of a dog. [Reuters]

• In the U.S, a data breach at Equifax, one of the country’s three major credit reporting agencies, left driver’s license numbers and other sensitive information for 143 million people vulnerable to hackers. [The New York Times]

• Mongolian lawmakers voted to dismiss the prime minister and his cabinet, citing incompetence and corruption related to the granting of government contracts. [Associated Press]

Smarter Living

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


CreditJames O’Brien

• Teens and tweens are glued to their phones. Here’s a primer on some of the apps they might be using, and the minefields that come with them.

• Relationship troubles? Try getting more sleep.

• Recipe of the day: Going meatless is easy with coconut red curry with tofu.



CreditDolly Faibyshev for The New York Times

• New York Fashion Week has started. Our chief fashion critic considers how “the balance of power seems to be shifting from aesthetic influencers to Instagram influencers. From fashion to fashertainment.”

And here’s an inside look at how Times journalists cover the shows, not just in New York, but also London, Milan and Paris.

• Researchers discovered how packs of African wild dogs decidewhether to go on a hunt: They sneeze to cast their vote.

• Finally, our chief movie critics, Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott, reflect on the state of Hollywood movies at a time of political disunion.

Back Story


CreditDiego Azubel/European Pressphoto Agency

Whether it’s browsing the internet, checking text messages or skimming a menu, reading is an essential part of our lives.

The United Nations recognized this back in 1966, when it designated Sept. 8 as International Literacy Day.

In line with this year’s theme — “literacy in a digital world” — educators and policy makers will convene at Unesco’s headquarters in Paris to discuss ways to help today’s 750 million illiterate adults (two-thirds of whom are women) catch up in a world where many are increasingly communicating online.

(One study suggests that smartphones will soon have stronger reading skills than the 15 percent of adults who are currently illiterate. Some software has already caught up.)

The U.N. will also distribute International Literacy Prizes to global projects that ingeniously develop literacy skills, like the Citizens Foundation, which runs more than 1,400 schools in poor slums and villages across Pakistan.

Some are celebrating the day in quirkier ways.

Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville has been requesting thousands of book donations to support its attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest line of books.

The donations will be given to children in local Head Start programs, a platform that helps youngsters from low-income families prepare for school.

Sara Aridi contributed reporting.


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