Asia and Australia Edition: Donald Trump, Taiwan, Meryl Streep: Your Morning Briefing

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Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:

• A barrage of Senate confirmation hearings opens today in what promises to be a frenzied week in Washington, but some of the public focus was on President-elect Donald J. Trump’s rejection of criticism from the actress Meryl Streep, and his derision of her as “one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood.”

Mr. Trump’s transition team confirmed that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is in the midst of a major real estate deal with the Chinese conglomerate Anbang, will be a senior presidential adviser.

And Mr. Trump and Jack Ma, the executive chairman of Alibaba were all smiles after meeting to discuss the Chinese e-commerce giant’s expansion into the U.S., the latest sign of Mr. Trump’s push-pull approach to China. His first formal news conference in months is set for tomorrow.

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• President Obama will offer a farewell address in a few hours from Chicago, his hometown and the city where he celebrated his presidential victory in 2008.

It is also his final chance to defend his legacy before Mr. Trump takes office.

Tickets to Mr. Obama’s speech, which were given away over weekend, have been listed online for as much as $5,000.

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• Russia’s air support for Turkey’s offensive against the Islamic State in northern Syria offers evidence of deepening ties that threaten to marginalize the United States in the struggle to shape Syria’s fate.

American military officials said a U.S. commando team that targets Islamic State leaders and fighters carried out a raid in eastern Syria over the weekend.

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• American wildlife officials identified human-driven climate change as the biggest threat to the survival of polar bears, saying that without decisive action to combat global warming, the bears would almost certainly disappear.

An estimated 26,000 polar bears range across the five countries ringing the Arctic: the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway and Greenland (a territory of Denmark).

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Business

• McDonald’s plan to sell its businesses in mainland China and Hong Kong for $2.08 billion will shift responsibility for modernizing in the hands of franchise holders.

The buyers, Citic, a state-owned conglomerate, and the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, will be tapping into rising disposable incomes by opening new stores in third- and fourth-tier cities.

• The price of Bitcoin, which had been driven up by demand in China, has been falling over fears that Beijing could tighten rules on the digital currency to prevent capital flight.

• Changes in how the United States taxes corporations are likely to come during this session of Congress, with huge consequences likely to be felt “in global financial markets and the aisles of your local Walmart.”

• Sales of virtual reality gear have been held back not only by sticker shock, but also by the persistent possibly of provoking nausea.

• Japan releases data on consumer confidence, as hopes of an economic upswing rise.

• China releases inflation data for December that could show what the government sees as a healthy increase in prices.

• U.S. stocks were mixed. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

Graphic | What the Markets Are Doing

In the News

• In Manila, about 1.5 million Catholic devotees joined the annual procession of the Black Nazarene, a charred wooden Christ statue thought to have been brought to the Philippines in 1606. [Reuters]

• Extreme cold sweeping Europe has killed more than 20 people, with temperatures in Greece reaching -15 Celsius, or 5 Fahrenheit, and Moscow experiencing its coldest Orthodox Christmas in 120 years. [BBC]

• Areas of southern China are smothered in dangerous levels of smog, and Hong Kong issued a “very high” health risk warning. By contrast, Beijing is having a slight reprieve. [The New York Times]

• China objected to a meeting the Taiwanese president, Tsai Ing-wen, held with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas as she passed through the United States on her way to visit to allies in Central America. [The New York Times]

• Pakistan fired its first submarine-launched cruise missile, one capable of carrying nuclear weapons, a show of force expected to raise tensions with India. [Reuters]

• Australia’s health minister, Sussan Ley, is on an abrupt leave without pay as the government investigates her purchase of a beachfront property during a taxpayer-funded trip to Brisbane. [The New York Times]

• Michael Chamberlain, who was exonerated along with his former wife in one of Australia’s most sensational legal cases after their infant daughter was snatched by a dingo, died at 72. [ABC]

• The French police arrested 17 suspects in the October robbery of Kim Kardashian West, a group they said included middle-aged members and even an elderly one. [The New York Times]

Smarter Living: Morning Edition

• Miss your morning meal? Don’t sweat it — the science around the importance of breakfast is still basically unproven.

• Modern Love: An aging woman’s dementia causes her to learn about her family all over again.

• Recipe of the day: If you have an hour to spare tonight, consider making chicken enchiladas with salsa verde. You won’t regret it.

Noteworthy

• “Controlled rage.” Eight seconds is an eternity when you’re on top of a bucking 1,700-pound beast. Our Daily 360 video takes you out of the chutes with professional bull riders.

• Attachment theory states that the quality of our early attachments deeply influences how we behave as adults. The theory resonates in an era when people seem more attached to smartphones than to others.

• Societies in parts of Australia, India and Africa restrict the words a person can say after marriage. This practice is known as avoidance speech, or “mother-in-law languages.”

Back Story

With the presidential inauguration day in the United States — and the Women’s March on Washington — approaching, it’s worth remembering a protest that began 100 years ago today.

Protesters descended on Lafayette Park, across from the White House.

These “silent sentinels” stayed for months, mounting a “Grand Picket” on the eve of Woodrow Wilson’s second inauguration that drew more than 1,000 people to circle the White House.

Some who were arrested went on hunger strikes, prompting brutal force-feedings that shocked the nation.

This was the National Woman’s Party, whose civil disobedience is cited a main force behind the 19th Amendment, which in 1920 gave women a national right to vote.

But the party suffered from some of the same segregationist tendencies circulating in society at the time. It took the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to finally secure black women’s full suffrage.

In 1912, W.E.B. Du Bois of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called out the party’s parent group for rejecting black members and associations.

The following year, when the anti-lynching journalist Ida B. Wells led a contingent of black suffragists from Chicago to a march in the capital, organizers told them to stay in the rear.

Wells declined. She quietly walked alongside two white supporters with the Illinois contingent.

Andrea Kannapell contributed reporting.

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Your Morning Briefing is published weekday mornings.

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