World Cup, NATO, Trade War: Your Thursday Briefing

World Cup, NATO, Trade War: Your Thursday Briefing

Asia and Australia Edition

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Good morning. Ill will among allies, itemizing the trade war and a sacred river in India.

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CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump disrupts NATO.

At the military alliance’s annual summit meeting in Brussels, Mr. Trump called its members “delinquent” for not spending more on their own defense. He also portrayed Germany as a “captive” of Russia for importing so much of that country’s natural gas. We fact-checked his assertions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in Soviet-controlled East Germany, offered a polite but firm rejoinder to that second point. Now “united in freedom,” she said, Germans “can make our own policies and make our own decisions.”

Here’s what happened on Day 1 of the NATO meeting, which wraps up later today. Mr. Trump goes on to Britain, where his agenda includes meeting Queen Elizabeth on Friday. On Monday, he’ll be in Helsinki to meet with President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

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CreditThe New York Times

• It started with solar panels and washing machines.

Now, the trade dispute that began in January encompasses about 10,000 products. Here’s an interactive report on how it escalated into a global tit-for-tat targeting billions of dollars worth of goods.

The U.S. has threatened to add tariffs on $200 billion worth of additional Chinese products.

“The American side’s behavior harms China, harms the world and also harms itself,” China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.

Deals are being cut as the trade war intensifies: Tesla said it would build a factory in Shanghai that would eventually be capable of producing 500,000 electric vehicles a year, and Volkswagen and BMW signed up to help China make high-tech cars.

CreditMatt Rourke/Associated Press

• Check the numbers.

Twitter will remove tens of millions of suspicious accounts from users’ followers starting today, signaling a major new effort to restore trust on the popular but embattled platform.

Many users, including those who have bought fake followers and any others who are followed by suspicious accounts, will see their follower numbers fall. We’ll keep watch for interesting cases.

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CreditThailand Government Spokesman Bureau, via Associated Press

“They took care of each other well.”

A day after the successful end of a daring, difficult rescue operation at a flooded Thai cave, a public health official praised the 12 saved boys and especially their coach for their fortitude and resilience.

Their physical health is rebounding, and they’re sleeping normally, but medical specialists are watching for panic attacks, recurrent nightmares, or other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

CreditDarren Staples/Reuters
CreditDaniel Leal-Olivas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
CreditKota Endo/Kyodo News, via Associated Press

• The death toll from torrential rains in Japan reached at least 169, with 79 people still missing. Concerns are mounting over heat stroke, clean water and damaged infrastructure. [The Asahi Shimbun]

• In Afghanistan, suicide bombers targeted an Education Department building in Jalalabad, killing at least 12 people. [The New York Times]

• How did Germany win the freedom of Liu Xia, the widow of China’s most famous dissident, Liu Xiaobo? Angela Merkel’s personal touch was a factor, our correspondents explain. [The New York Times]

• Qin Yongmin, one of China’s most influential pro-democracy campaigners, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for “subversion of state power.” Mr. Qin, 64, has already spent 22 years behind bars. [BBC]

• Cambodia’s national elections this month will present some 20 political parties. But Prime Minister Hun Sen’s party is the only one most voters will have heard of. [The New York Times]

• Sarah Palin, the former U.S. vice-presidential candidate, admitted she was “duped” by the comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who has been preparing a new show. A trailer shows Dick Cheney, the former vice president, autographing a “waterboard kit.” [The New York Times]

Smarter Living

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

Playa Los Cerritos just south of Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico.CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times
CreditShirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya
CreditDaniel Munoz/EPA-Shutterstock

The history of Aboriginal Australians stretches back more than 40,000 years, but a flag representing them was first flown on this day in 1971.

In the late 1960s, Aboriginal Australians were in a battle over land rights. Protests and demonstrations were accompanied with banners and posters, but for Harold Thomas, an Indigenous artist and activist, representation of Aboriginal identity was missing.

He designed a flag to correct that: A yellow circle, representing the sun, divides horizontal areas of black, representing the Aboriginal Australians, and red, representing their relationship to the land.

It was first raised in Victoria Square in the city of Adelaide and adopted officially as a flag of Australia in 1995. The Aboriginal athlete Cathy Freeman made waves the next year when she took a victory lap at the Summer Olympics with both the Australian national flag as well as the Aboriginal flag.

Last year, the flag earned a small measure of digital recognition when Twitter added an emoji for it. (The emoji also includes the flag of the Torres Strait Islanders, another group of Indigenous Australians.)

“The Aboriginal flag is central to our national identity,” Mr. Thomas told The Times when the emoji was released. “We are the first people here, for a very long time, and we’ll stay here until eternity.”

Remy Tumin wrote today’s Back Story.

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