Asia and Australia Edition: Istanbul, Donald Trump, Baghdad: Your Morning Briefing


Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:

Turkish authorities are hunting for the gunman who opened fire at an Istanbul nightclub on New Year’s Day, killing at least 39 people from no fewer than 12 countries.

The Islamic State claimed him as “a hero soldier of the caliphate” and appeared to refer to Turkey’s role in the Syrian war.

In Iraq, the group claimed a suicide bombing in central Baghdad that killed dozens, even as it makes a brutal last-ditch effort to hang onto its only remaining Iraqi stronghold, Mosul.


South Korea’s full Constitutional Court begins formal hearings on the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

Public outrage — initially aimed at influence by Choi Soon-sil, the daughter of a religious sect leader — has turned to broader concerns about the power of the presidency and the influence of family-controlled conglomerates like Samsung.

The country is seeking the extradition of Ms. Choi’s daughter, who was arrested in Denmark after months of hiding.


• The most powerful Republican-led Congress in 20 years goes into session in Washington today, promising to roll back many of President Obama’s signature policies, including his health care law and environmental regulations.

And President-elect Donald J. Trump promised that “on Tuesday or Wednesday,” he would reveal “things that other people don’t know” about American intelligence assessments that Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election.


“We need to fight black money, even though it is hurting little people like me.”

Many Indians agree with that sentiment, voiced by a Delhi taxi driver, saying they are more concerned about reining in corruption than the immediate hardships caused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ban on large-currency bills.


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• SpaceX traced the explosion of its Falcon 9 rocket in September to the unexpected interplay of supercold helium and oxygen with carbon fibers and aluminum. The company said it would resume launches as early as Sunday.

• American tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook are on a collision course with European regulators over issues including privacy and taxes.

Korean-style saunas, or jjimjilbangs, are doing a brisk business in parts of the United States.

• Ads from a slew of major U.S. companies prominently feature Muslims as part of an inclusive marketing strategy.

• Thinking about asking for a raise, or changing jobs? Or just want to be happier at work? Here’s a roundup of advice on retuning your career.

• Most major markets reopen after the New Year’s holiday. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

Graphic | What the Markets Are Doing

In the News

• China’s pledge to shut down its commercial ivory trade is galvanizing support among African trading partners and could boost its international standing. [The New York Times]

• Indonesia rescue teams are searching for 17 people missing after a ferry fire off the coast near Jakarta killed at least 23 dead. [The Associated Press]

• Suicide bombers struck at the international airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, killing at least three security officers. [Al Jazeera]

• A prison battle in Brazil between gangs fighting for control of the cocaine trade left about 60 inmates dead — some decapitated. [The New York Times]

• Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was questioned by police investigators, indicating that a graft inquiry has become a criminal investigation. [The New York Times]

• A cache of notes left by Richard Nixon’s closest aide shows that Nixon, for domestic political reasons, sabotaged a 1968 peace initiative that could have brought the Vietnam war to an early end. [The New York Times Sunday Review]

• Pakistan began a five-day polio immunization campaign in the city of Quetta after a strain of the virus was found in sewage samples. [Reuters]

• “Poo in all its luxurious forms,” as one Australian official put it, tainted at least 21 beaches near Melbourne after heavy rains. [The New York Times]

• A Mongolian official’s apology for allowing the Dalai Lama to visit is the latest sign that Chinese pressure is outweighing the country’s deep ties to the Tibetan leader. [The New York Times]

• A court in China ruled that a transgender man was illegally fired, a case seen as a milestone in the country’s transgender rights movement. [The New York Times]

• Pan Pan, a 31-year-old panda who fathered nearly a quarter of the world’s captive pandas,, died last week at a conservation center in China’s Sichuan Province. [The New York Times]


• A museum in Yan’an, China, honors a group of American diplomats who in 1944 gave Washington a positive assessment of Mao Zedong, and had their careers destroyed for it.

• J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of “The Lord of the Rings,” was born 125 years ago today. Fans around the world plan to toast “The Professor” at 9 p.m. local time.

• Tyrus Wong, who endured racial bias to become one of the most celebrated Chinese-American artists of the 20th century and whose influence was crucial to the animated film “Bambi,” died at 106.

• A British magazine asked readers to share pictures of “the worst and most dangerous examples of electrical wiring from around the world.” India, Pakistan and Vietnam provided the most examples.

• Finally, our Asia correspondents don’t limit themselves to traditional news stories. Sometimes, they’re just taken with a subject, like Myanmar’s unemployed elephants or President Xi Jinping’s favorite jacket.

Here are some of our favorites. Enjoy.

Back Story

“I Can’t Drive 55,” the rocker Sammy Hagar once famously wailed, but 43 years ago this week, he and every other American driver were faced with obeying the first federal speed limit.

Setting speed limits had been the states’ responsibility. But in 1973, OPEC cut oil shipments to the United States for supporting Israel in a war with its Arab neighbors.

The embargo hit the American economy hard. In 1974, President Richard M. Nixon signed the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act, lowering the speed limit to reduce consumption.

And American car buyers sought out more fuel-efficient vehicles, turning to a country that had not yet been celebrated for automaking: Japan.

The debate over road safety and speed limits continued for decades, and in 1995, President Bill Clinton repealed the federal limit, returning the power to the states. In parts of Texas, drivers can legally go 85 m.p.h.

That’s the fastest in the country, though it’s slower than a few places in the world. Stretches of Germany’s autobahn have no maximum limit.

It’s a far cry from one of the earliest speed restrictions. In 1901, Connecticut limited some drivers to 12 miles per hour.

Chris Stanford contributed reporting.


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