August 19, 2019

Global Markets, Israel, Gibraltar: Your Friday Briefing

Global Markets, Israel, Gibraltar: Your Friday Briefing


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Good morning.

We’re covering further global economic trouble, back-and-forth jabs in the Persian Gulf and a very tiny Instagram-star chef.

U.S. markets swerved up and down on Thursday after Beijing threatened to retaliate if President Trump carries out his threat to impose more tariffs starting Sept. 1.

China reiterated its previous stance in a statement that came shortly after Mr. Trump said he would hold off on some of the tariffs, and just a day after one of Wall Street’s worst days of the year.

Impact: The Trump administration’s decision to delay tariffs on toys for the holiday shopping season was a relief, but a brief one; manufacturers are already fretting about next year.

Concerns: More than 30 central banks around the world have cut interest rates this year amid rising fears of another global recession.

Analysis: Economists say Mr. Trump’s tariffs are causing damage unacknowledged by his administration. Sticking with the trade war could bet the health of the economy on the Federal Reserve’s ability to provide a sufficient buffer if a global downturn sets in.

They had planned to visit the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israel’s decision was widely criticized, including by prominent supporters of the country.

But President Trump, who had urged Israel to bar the two lawmakers, welcomed the move, writing on Twitter, “Representatives Omar and Tlaib are the face of the Democrat Party, and they HATE Israel!”

Context: Mr. Trump’s intervention was extraordinary. U.S. presidents have traditionally not enlisted the help of overseas allies to take action against domestic political adversaries.

Legal standpoint: Aimed at Israel’s critics, an anti-boycott law passed two years ago has been used to deny entry to outspoken foreign supporters of a global movement to boycott the country, which has significant support in Europe as well as the U.S.


Gibraltar released the Iranian tanker after Iran promised that its destination “would not be an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions.”

The decision came just hours after the U.S. applied to seize the ship, the latest of back-and-forth jabs between the U.S. and Iran that have raised fears of an all-out conflict in the Persian Gulf.

Gibraltar impounded the ship six weeks ago, saying it was carrying oil to Syria in violation of the embargo.

Iran gave no immediate signal about whether it would in turn release the British tanker it seized in retaliation, but Iranian officials had previously hinted at the possibility of a trade that would de-escalate a confrontation with the U.S. and Britain.


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Cordelia Scaife May, an heiress to the Mellon banking and industrial fortune, evolved from an environmental-minded socialite to an ardent nativist who helped create what would become the modern anti-immigration movement. And, 14 years after her death, her money is still funding that agenda.

The Times, through dozens of interviews and searches of court records, government filings and archives, has unearthed the most complete record of her thinking, and a story that helps explain the ascendance of once-fringe views in the immigration debate.

Brexit: A leading opposition lawmaker has thrown cold water on a proposal by the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, aimed at preventing Britain from leaving the European Union without a deal.

North Korea: The country launched two projectiles yet again off its east coast on Friday, a day after President Moon Jae-in of South Korea urged it to stop weapons tests and return to the negotiating table.

Novichok poisoning: A second police officer has been confirmed as a victim of the nerve-agent attack that nearly killed a Russian former spy and his daughter in England last year, the police said, bringing the number of those known to have been sickened in the episode to six.

Canada: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is entering his re-election campaign with a scandal, after a nonpartisan report found that he had committed ethics violations. It may end up influencing voters, political analysts said, if only by eroding enthusiasm.

Russia: A Russian passenger jet crash-landed into a cornfield shortly after taking off from Moscow, injuring 23 people, but, remarkably, no one was killed, according to Russian media reports and the national aviation regulator, Rosaviatsia.

Jeffrey Epstein: Findings from an autopsy show that the financier, who died by apparent suicide last week while facing sex trafficking charges, had broken neck bones, a person familiar with his preliminary autopsy report told our reporters. Such an injury can occur in a suicide by hanging. But it can also be found in cases of strangulation, experts said.

Snapshot: Above, the miniature protagonist of the stop-motion video series “The Tiny Chef” showing off his tree-stump home. The six-inch-tall character, who cooks up vegan recipes while chattering away, has become an Instagram star. The production team behind the videos has plans to develop the franchise across various platforms.

Tuberculosis: The Food and Drug Administration effectively endorsed a three-drug regimen that has shown a 90 percent success rate against the most lethal strain of the disease.

What we’re watching: This episode of the Vox series “Earworm.” Adam Pasick, editorial director of newsletters, writes: “It takes a fascinating look at the rise and fall and rise of male falsetto, the octave-busting, breathy voice associated with singers like D’Angelo and Curtis Mayfield. It really hits the high notes. (Plus there’s a playlist.)”

Go: On the London West End stage, hot priests and wayward libidos are running wild.

Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s “‘Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” is out in theaters across Europe. Our reviewer made it a Critic’s Pick.


Smarter Living: If you’re ready to open your wallet for climate concerns, our Climate Fwd: newsletter advises considering giving donations to grass-roots groups — particularly those led by young people — which may have the strongest chance of moving the needle of public opinion. There are also groups that have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions, like ones that focus on food waste, forest protection, restoration and even girls’ education.

And our consumer tech reporter, Brian X. Chen, discovered how much data hackers can get on you just from your mobile phone number.

This month, 20 Democratic presidential contenders turned up at the Iowa State Fair.

Between the corn dogs and Skee-Ball games, there was a prime attraction: the world’s most famous butter cow statue.

The tradition dates back to 1911, when J.K. Daniels created the first one using wood, metal, wire and steel mesh to give shape to 600 pounds of pure cream butter. The 8-foot-long, 5.5-foot-high creation — about the size of a real cow, and refrigerated against the late summer heat — became an annual fixture.

Since then, four successors have carried on the tradition.

The current sculptor, Sarah Pratt, took on the role in 2006 after a mere 15 years as an apprentice.

Every year when the fair ends, most of the butter (salted, to make it last longer) is reused for future sculptures. But if it were eaten, state fair officials say, it could butter about 19,200 slices of toast.


That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Melina


Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Emma Goldberg, a researcher for the Times editorial board, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the detention camps in Western China.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Burden (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• “Diagnosis,” a Netflix series based on Dr. Lisa Sanders’s popular column in The New York Times Magazine, debuts today.



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