NATO, Trade War, North Korea: Your Friday Briefing

NATO, Trade War, North Korea: Your Friday Briefing


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Good morning. Protests in Britain, a no-show in North Korea and the world’s oldest tools. Here’s what you need to know:

• President Trump arrived in Britain after two days of haphazard deal making with NATO allies and throwing some of America’s closest diplomatic relationships into disarray. Here’s the latest from his European trip.

We examined the tight smiles, stiff handshakes and averted gazes that told the story of the NATO meeting.

Mr. Trump left on a surprisingly conciliatory note, saying that the U.S. commitment to NATO “remains very strong” and that the allies had agreed to increase levels of military spending “like they never have before.” (That claim was nearly immediately undercut by European leaders.)

In Britain, anti-Trump demonstrations are planned for every stage of his visit. Supporters of Mr. Trump are hoping to stage their own “Welcome Trump” procession on Saturday.

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• Lanthanum, cerium and praseodymium.

Those are some of the special minerals — known as rare earths — that are crucial components of a long list of products: personal electronics like smartphones, televisions and hair dryers, and electric and hybrid cars.

They actually aren’t rare, but only two places on earth refine them at large scale: China and the plant shown above, in Kuantan, Malaysia. And they could be one of China’s most powerful weapons in the trade war.

If China shut off its own refining, the Malaysian plant could never fill the gap, according to the C.E.O. of its owner, the Australian company Lynas. The shortage could bring factories around the world to a grinding halt.

• A North Korean no-show?

In June, Kim Jong-un, the North’s leader, committed to repatriating American soldiers’ remains in his summit meeting with President Trump.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his most recent trip to Pyongyang, above, had secured talks on the matter to be held on or around Thursday in Panmunjom, the so-called truce village between North and South Korea.

When the moment to meet arrived, North Korean officials did not, according to U.S. officials. American officials have suggested trying again on Sunday.

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• Student power in China.

Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou barred a professor from teaching after female students went public with sexual harassment allegations against him. As in a scattering of such cases in China, the students had become incensed by official inaction.

The school received complaints against the professor at least as early as April, when the #MeToo movement was rippling into China, but for months, the university used only low-key, internal discipline.

• Inside the Thai cave rescue.

The Times’s John Ismay, a former Navy diver, narrates newly released footage of the rescue operation, revealing the daring of the rescuers and the terrifying conditions the 13 trapped soccer team members faced.

“It seemed like a really impossible situation, so I was absolutely amazed that they got everybody out,” he said.

And no one is suggesting that climate change itself was responsible for trapping the boys in the cave, but our climate reporter notes that, in recent years, wet periods in South Asia have been wetter.

• Scars of ISIS: One of our Middle East correspondents traveled with a photographer to Raqqa, the Syrian city that was liberated from the Islamic State last year, to see how residents are trying to recover. [The New York Times]

• The government of Cameroon is investigating an online video that appears to show men in military uniform shooting dead two women and two children for being suspected members of Boko Haram. [Reuters]

Emmett Till inquiry resumes. The U.S. government has revived its investigation into the killing of the 14-year-old African-American boy in 1955, one of the most searing examples of racial violence in the South. [The New York Times]

• The leader of Shambhala Buddhism, one of the biggest Buddhist organizations in the West, has stepped aside after allegations of sexual abuse. [The New York Times]

• A new gene-editing method may revolutionize medical treatments for an array of diseases and infections, including cancer and H.I.V. [The New York Times]

• Rats! A performance of the Australian Ballet in Adelaide was thrown into darkness and canceled after a rat caused a power failure. [ABC]

Smarter Living

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

• Hua Qu is fighting to save her husband, a Princeton graduate student who was taken prisoner in Iran in 2016. He is one of at least seven U.S. captives being used as pawns in a nearly 40-year secret history of hostage taking in the Islamic Republic.

• The oldest stone tools outside Africa, estimated to be more than 2.1 million years old, have been discovered in western China. The find indicates that human ancestors ventured from Africa earlier than previously believed.

• And how do wildfires in the U.S. end up with names like Witch, Not Creative or 416? The clue, unlike for hurricanes, is often in the location. But sometimes the task falls to fire personnel, and what they name it — well, that’s up to them.

Back Story

One of the articles we included in the briefing last week focused on Wimbledon’s tradition of using “Mrs.” and “Miss” — but not the marital-status-neutral “Ms.” — to refer to female players. (The tennis tournament also uses courtesy titles only for women, not for men.)

That made us think about some other places where honorifics for women have come under similar scrutiny.

Just as Ms. became popular in the U.S. in the 1970s, there was a reckoning in Germany over honorifics, too. In 1972, West Germany’s interior minister barred legislators from using “Fräulein” (the German equivalent of “Miss”) in government documents. The term has largely become taboo among German speakers because of its derogatory connotations; as a diminutive, it implies that an unmarried woman isn’t a full adult.

More recently, the European Parliament issued guidelines in 2009 that frowned on the use of “Miss,” “Mrs.” and their equivalents in other languages in the body’s official documents, and that recommended using gender-neutral terms in place of words like sportsmen and statesmen. (“Political correctness gone mad,” one lawmaker said.)

In 2012, Prime Minister François Fillon of France ordered “mademoiselle” banished from government forms and registries after a public campaign highlighting that the term suggested female subjugation.

Matthew Sedacca wrote today’s Back Story.

For more gender-related news, we offer a weekly newsletter, Gender Letter. Sign up here or follow us on Instagram.

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