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


Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:

Frictions between American intelligence agencies and the incoming White House administration are worsening over findings that Russian interfered in the presidential election.

At a Senate committee hearing, the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., above, criticized the “disparagement” of the intelligence community over its conclusions and said “our assessment now is even more resolute.”

Mr. Clapper, who drew support from senators of both parties, also said that Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, had no credibility and that Russia was still planting “fake news.”


President-elect Donald J. Trump excoriated Democrats in a series of Twitter posts for trying to save President Obama’s health care law, which Republicans are bent on repealing.

A joint session of Congress today is to officially name Mr. Trump the 45th president of the United States.

Human rights experts worry that if he keeps his campaign promises to reinstate the sort of torture used in the Bush-era war on terrorism, authoritarian regimes around the world would see a green light to carry out abuses.


• The opening defense in the impeachment trial of President Park Geun-hye took a new tactic: suggesting that rallies against her were organized by communists who sympathize with North Korea.

Her lawyer also compared her trial to those of Christ and Socrates and called for “God’s blessings” to protect the court from the influences of communism.

Ms. Park’s longtime confidante, Choi Soon-sil, above, appeared in a separate trial and denied the corruption charges that are linked to Ms. Park.


A wave of attacks in Baghdad, including a suicide bombing at a bus station, killed at least 27 people, bringing the death toll from a week of bombings there to nearly 100.

The attacks were either claimed by the Islamic State or bore its hallmarks.


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• The exceptional rise of the offshore renminbi against the dollar this week came after Chinese regulators issued new rules to curb the outflow of capital.

• India is still counting the flood of large-denomination bills returned to banks, but officials are on the defensive over a Bloomberg report that nearly all are accounted for.

That would undercut the justification for banning the bank notes: that tens of millions of dollars’ worth used illegally in graft would be missing.

Wilbur Ross, Mr. Trump’s choice for commerce secretary, is talking tough on Beijing now, but he has a long history of admiration for China and its culture.

• A top Belgian official is in New Zealand to talk about the prospects of a future free-trade agreement with the European Union.

Government policies that help farmers may also have weakened Thailand’s crucial agricultural sector, which accounts for 40 percent of the country’s employment.

• The final U.S. jobs report for 2016, due today, is expected to extend the country’s longest streak of job growth on record.

• Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

Graphic | What the Markets Are Doing

In the News

• Turkey suffered yet another terrorist attack, this one attributed to Kurdish militants. Two attackers, as well as a policeman and a court worker, were killed in a car bomb and gun assault on a courthouse in city of Izmir. [The Associated Press]

• Turkey’s cascade of crises has pushed the country toward Russia and away from the West, marked by accusations in pro-government news media that the United States has helped engineer the violence and turmoil. [The New York Times]

• Australian and Indonesian leaders insisted that relations remained strong, minimizing a quarrel the Indonesian military picked over some Australian teaching materials it deemed offensive. [The Guardian]

• Bangalore’s police commissioner said a review of security-camera recordings found no evidence of the mass molestations women reported on New Year’s Eve. [BBC]

• China plans to increase tourism and “advance the toilet revolution” by fixing up 100,000 toilets. A state ranking of 10 exemplars was topped by Gubei Water Town, a resort near the Great Wall on the outskirts of Beijing. [The New York Times]

• A mystery player who won more than 50 straight games against some of the world’s best Go players identified itself as AlphaGo, Google’s artificial intelligence program. [Quartz]


• The career of artist Tyrus Wong, who died last week at 106, infused ancient Chinese painting techniques into many of Walt Disney’s animated classics, notably “Bambi” in 1942.

• Movie awards season kicks into high gear on Sunday with the Golden Globes, and Oscar voting is underway. Here is our podcast discussion of four films you should know about: “Fences,” “Passengers,” “La La Land” and “Patriots Day.”

• Some young Japanese men are dying their hair and wearing bright lipstick and heels, and calling themselves genderless.

• And we review “Selection Day” by Aravind Adiga, who won the 2008 Booker Prize for “The White Tiger.” His third novel is about cricket, and two teenage stars-to-be who live with their father, a luckless chutney peddler, in a Mumbai slum.

Back Story

We have begun the new year with political upheavals spreading across nearly every continent. But 100 years ago, several seismic shifts shaped our modern world.

As World War I raged, the monarchy in Russia was collapsing, leading to the formation of the Soviet Union a few years later.

Finland gained its independence as a result. It’s celebrating the anniversary with new passports and special blankets for newborns. The state of Israel wasn’t officially created then, but the British Foreign Secretary’s “Balfour Declaration” laid the diplomatic foundation for the state of Israel.

The United States entered the Great War, a milestone in its rise as a superpower. One lawmaker who voted against sending troops was a historical figure. Jeannette Rankin took office in 1917 as the country’s first woman in Congress. She later helped pass the 19th Amendment, giving women voting rights.

Not all of this year’s centennials, though, are tied to war and politics.

In 1917, the United States gave a Swedish immigrant a patent for his “separable fastener” also known as a zipper. And a Massachusetts resident tinkering in his kitchen concocted something that you might eat for dessert tonight, that includes sugar, egg whites and vanilla.

It’s known today as Marshmallow Fluff.

Patrick Boehler contributed reporting.


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