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Asia and Australia Edition: Donald Trump, Rex Tillerson, Rodrigo Duterte: Your Morning Briefing

Asia and Australia Edition

Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:

• Serious disagreements emerged between President-elect Donald J. Trump and some of his nominees in the third day of confirmation hearings.

Mr. Trump’s choice for defense secretary, Gen. James N. Mattis, said Russia was trying to break NATO. Here’s where General Mattis stands on other issues.

Rex W. Tillerson, the choice for secretary of state, faces a second round of questions — Wednesday, he called for China to be denied access to its artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Follow our live coverage of the hearings, including those of Mr. Trump’s picks for housing secretary and C.I.A. director.


The intrigue over a sensational but entirely unverified dossier on Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia deepened. The ex-spy who compiled the information disappeared from his home in Britain, saying he feared for his safety.

Mr. Trump discussed the dossier with James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence. They had radically different takeaways from the conversation.

And the Justice Department said it would investigate the decision by James B. Comey, above, the F.B.I. chief, to inform Congress about a new review in the Hillary Clinton email investigation ahead of the election.


Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, ended a two-day visit with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines in which he promised the country about $8.7 billion worth of business deals, investments and equipment.

Mr. Abe is on four-nation diplomatic push that will continue with stops in Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Separately, Mr. Duterte ordered government agencies to provide free contraception to women, especially the poor, in a move that is likely to face strong resistance from Catholic leadership in the country.


Prosecutors in South Korea are planning to use revelations about a cultural blacklist to strengthen the impeachment charges against President Park Geun-hye.

So far, two versions of the blacklist have been reported by the news media, citing anonymous sources. One version listed more than 9,000 people, including some of the country’s most beloved filmmakers, actors and writers.

Above, Hong Sung-dam, one of the artists who was reportedly blacklisted.


And we look at Aceh Province, Indonesia, which began enforcing Shariah law in 2001. Women are required to wear head scarves, alcohol is prohibited, and many offenses — from adultery to homosexuality to selling alcohol — are punishable by public whipping.

The Muslim-majority nation has drifted in a conservative direction, but one local politician says that “a silent majority” thinks the local government has gone too far.



• India’s largest conglomerate, the Tata Group, named Natarajan Chandrasekaran, 53, to be chairman of its holding company, Tata Sons, ending months of turmoil after the previous chief, Cyrus Mistry, was ousted.

• Health care stocks tumbled after Mr. Trump denounced pharmaceutical companies for shifting manufacturing abroad. But many of the imports are generic drugs — a large percentage of which are manufactured in India — that help keep costs down.

• The Environmental Protection Agency accused Fiat Chrysler of cheating on emissions tests on at least 104,000 diesel vehicles, a case with echoes of the Volkswagen scandal.

• Vietnam’s industrial policy will take a hit if Mr. Trump follows through on his pledge to scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but companies have their own plans for going global.

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

In the News

• A U.S. military investigation found that 33 civilians were killed and 27 others wounded during a firefight and airstrike in northern Kunduz Province in November. [The New York Times]

• A renewed push by Iraqi forces brought them closer to controlling the eastern half of Mosul, the Islamic State’s last major stronghold in the country. [Reuters]

• An Australian Supreme Court jury found a Sydney man, Robert Xie, guilty of bludgeoning to death five members of his extended family. [ABC]

• Hong Kong’s chief secretary, Carrie Lam, leaves her post today. She submitted her resignation and, if approved, will run for chief executive. [Hong Kong Free Press]

• In Bangladesh, a popular restaurant in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter reopened after a terrorist attack in July that killed 22 people. [The New York Times]

• Wilbur Ross, the billionaire chosen by Mr. Trump to manage trade with China, once volunteered to be part of project by a famous Chinese artist. [South China Morning Post]

• “Star Wars” was the inspiration for the common name scientists gave to the world’s newest primate — the Skywalker hoolock gibbon — which was discovered in China’s Yunnan Province. [BBC]

Smarter Living: Morning Edition

(In this new section, we’ll help you start your day right.)

• We’re not saying you will need this tomorrow, we’re simply presenting it for your consideration: Here’s how to nurse a hangover (and how to head one off). Have a great weekend!

• An inspiring story of weight loss and its aftermath: Brooklyn’s borough president reversed his Type 2 diabetes through diet and exercise, without taking medication.

• Recipe of the day: Give baked sweet potato fries a shot.


• Portraits of addiction. A German photographer spent a year traveling in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines to explore the region’s underworld of “ice,” or crystal methamphetamine.

• “The Handmaiden,” an erotic period drama from South Korea, earned six nominations for the Asian Film Awards. “I Am Not Madame Bovary,” from the Chinese director Feng Xiao Gang, earned five. Here’s the list.

• The newly expanded World Cup may have the biggest impact in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, where it will offer a chance for smaller teams to reach the global stage.

Back Story

If you’re superstitious, today isn’t your day.

But Friday the 13th isn’t universally feared. Many countries disregard it. In Greece and some Spanish-speaking countries, Tuesday the 13th is the dreaded day. It’s Friday the 17th in Italy.

The number 4 is unlucky in parts of Asia — it’s Chinese pronunciation is close to the word “death” making April 4 (4/4) a day to stay inside.

A maneki-neko, a cute charm showing a cat with a raised paw, is used to ward off the bad luck.

Other animals believed to combat bad omens include pigs. In Germany, marzipan pigs are given as gifts on New Year’s Eve.

And if a cricket is chirping in your house, don’t kill it. Across Asia, Africa and Europe, the insects are viewed as harbingers of wealth.

Magpies have great significance in Britain. Seeing a single magpie can be bad luck, it is believed, though saluting one can ward off ill fortune. But if you spot a group, you may be in luck, according to an old nursery rhyme that goes:

One for sorrow,

Two for joy,

Three for a girl,

Four for a boy,

Five for silver,

Six for gold,

Seven for a secret never to be told.


Des Shoe contributed reporting.

Your Morning Briefing is published weekday mornings.

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