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Indonesia, China, President Trump: Your Wednesday Briefing

Indonesia, China, President Trump: Your Wednesday Briefing


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Good morning. Mass burials in Indonesia, a near-collision in the South China Sea, President Trump’s inheritance. Here’s what you need to know:

A mass burial every day in Indonesia.

The death toll on Sulawesi rose to at least 1,234 people, according to officials, as the island continued to reckon with a powerful earthquake and tsunami.

Thousands of government workers, including the military and the police, are pitching in to rescue survivors and evacuate them from disaster zones. Rescue workers are also burying truckloads of bodies, in what has become a daily ritual.

Before and after images show how the disaster flattened parts of the island. Here’s how you can help the survivors.

President Trump’s inherited fortune.

“I built what I built myself,” Mr. Trump has often said.

But a special Times investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, has found that his fortune is deeply connected to the riches of his father, the New York City builder Fred Trump. Above, father and son.

Mr. Trump was earning $200,000 a year from his father’s empire by age 3. He was a millionaire by age 8. He received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father in total.

Much of the money he received as an adult came from helping his parents dodge taxes — setting up sham corporations, filing improper deductions and even undervaluing real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars, records and interviews show. Some schemes were outright fraud, the investigation found. Here are 11 takeaways.

A lawyer for Mr. Trump called the findings “100 percent false, and highly defamatory.” Read his full statement.

China ruffles feathers overseas.

Warships from the U.S. and China came perilously close to colliding in the disputed South China Sea.

The near-accident occurred by a reef that Beijing has expanded and militarized. The Pentagon said the Chinese Navy used an “unsafe and unprofessional maneuver” to challenge the American ship; Chinese officials said the U.S. threatened “China’s sovereignty and security.”

Separately, a reporter from China’s state-run international broadcaster started shouting at a speaker criticizing China at Britain’s Conservative Party annual conference. She then slapped the people who were trying to escort her out.

At home, a snazzy TV quiz show is encouraging millennials to take an interest in the life and ideology of President Xi Jinping.

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The Kavanaugh inquiry expands.

The White House authorized the F.B.I. to expand its investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against the Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Here’s a list of who it might interview.

At the same time, Democrats trying to derail Mr. Kavanaugh’s nomination have a new avenue of attack: questioning the judge’s temperament and honesty.

What is going on in the U.S.? We’ve created a new newsletter — Abroad in America — to help foreign readers untangle what’s happening in the U.S. ahead of the midterm elections.

• Tesla nearly doubled production of its more affordable Model 3 cars in the third quarter. But the rare bit of good news wasn’t enough to please investors and its shares were down.

• President Trump claimed his new Nafta deal with Mexico and Canada vindicated his aggressive use of tariffs, and he vowed to keep playing hardball with Japan and the E.U. But the president stopped short of promising to reach a deal with China.

• Amazon will raise the minimum wage to $15 for all its U.S. workers, including part-time and holiday workers as well as employees of Whole Foods, the retailer announced today.

• The Nobel Prize in Physics went to three scientists for their work on laser technology, including the third woman to win the prize: Donna Strickland, above. [The New York Times]

• Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon of South Korea ordered the police and prosecutors to crack down on “fake news” and punish those producing it “with malicious intent.” [The New York Times]

• A suicide bomber in Afghanistan killed at least 14 people at a rally ahead of parliamentary elections this month. [The New York Times]

• The former Russian spy poisoned in England this spring, Sergei Skripal, had provided British intelligence with secrets about a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, according to a new book. [The New York Times]

• The toll of China’s pollution: A new study from the Chinese University of Hong Kong estimates that air pollution costs the economy $38 billion and causes over a million premature deaths — each year. [The South China Morning Post]

• Commentary: Why has so much of the world remained quiet in the face of China’s mass incarcerations of Muslims in Xinjiang? [Crikey, paywall free for Times readers]

• Foreigners and citizens entering New Zealand will now be fined more than $3,000 if they refuse to hand over the passwords to their digital devices during searches, border officials said. [The New York Times]

Multiple packages containing the poison ricin were found at the Pentagon this week, prompting a quarantine of the mail facility there. [The New York Times]

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

• The ancient Indian game of kabaddi, pictured above, is turning into a national spectator sport almost as popular as cricket, drawing hundreds of millions of viewers and expanding to other Asian countries. Here’s what it’s all about.

• David Hockney, arguably Britain’s most celebrated living artist, turned down a knighthood and declined to paint a portrait of the queen. But he couldn’t say no to making a stained-glass window for Westminster Abbey.

• Silicon Valley’s headline-grabbing scandals can be traced back to one problem: homogeneous thought. That’s according to Jessica Powell, a former Google employee whose novel, “The Big Disruption,” satirizes the industry.

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry will be announced today. In 1911, this honor went to Marie Curie, above, for her discovery of the elements radium and polonium. She was the first woman to receive an unshared Nobel Prize.

It was her second Nobel: In 1903 she shared the physics prize with her husband and another French scientist for their work on radioactivity.

Marie Curie came from humble beginnings. Born Maria Sklodowska in Poland in 1867, she was the youngest of five children.

She once summed up her biography in just 21 words: “I was born in Poland. I married Pierre Curie, and I have two daughters. I have done my work in France.”

Marie Curie died in 1934 as a result of exposure to radioactivity, some of it incurred while preparing radium for medical use.

She has been the topic of many books and movies. A recent BBC poll deemed her the most influential woman in history.

“Few persons contributed more to the general welfare of mankind and to the advancement of science than the modest, self-effacing woman whom the world knew as Mme. Curie,” The New York Times wrote after her death. Honors were heaped upon her, our obituary stated, but “she was indifferent to most.”

Claire Moses wrote today’s Back Story.

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Featured Crikey articles are paywall free for Times readers.

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