Asia and Australia Edition

John McCain, China, Narendra Modi: Your Friday Briefing

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Good morning. Washington and Beijing trade barbs, America honors John McCain and Asian-Americans get help against Harvard. Here’s what you need to know:

CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

• The blame game.

China slapped back after President Trump tried to make it the scapegoat for his administration’s stalled negotiations with Pyongyang.

In a series of tweets labeled “Statement From the White House,” Mr. Trump had said China was shipping “money, fuel, fertilizer and various other commodities” to North Korea.

A spokeswoman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tartly dismissed the comments on Thursday, saying, “Sorry, we cannot accept, and will not accept, all the fancy buck-passing by the U.S. side.” She added that the U.S. was using “irresponsible ‘magical logic’ that distorts facts.”

As he was criticizing China, Mr. Trump reaffirmed his decision in June to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea, contradicting comments earlier this week by his defense secretary, Jim Mattis.



CreditCaitlin O’Hara for The New York Times

• A rival’s last move.

Senator John McCain spent eight months planning what would happen the week after his death. He obsessed over the music, and choreographed the movement of his coffin. He also made it very clear that President Trump was not welcome at the services.

Thousands of Arizonans gathered Thursday for a memorial service with tributes from sports stars, family members and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Mr. McCain will lie in state in Washington on Friday before a memorial service on Saturday at the National Cathedral. He will be buried near his alma mater, the Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Md., on Sunday. Here is a look at how he has been honored across the country.



CreditLars Hagberg/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• Who gets a visa?

The Australian government is under scrutiny for what one opposition lawmaker called its “inconsistent” decision making on issuing visas.

News that officials intended to refuse a visa to Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. military analyst jailed for sharing classified U.S. documents with WikiLeaks, came on the heels of reports that Peter Dutton, the former minister of immigration, used his discretionary powers to grant a tourist visa to an au pair on the verge of being deported.

Ms. Manning was scheduled for a speaking tour of Australia through September, beginning with an appearance this Sunday at the Sydney Opera House with the American journalists Ronan Farrow, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Maureen Dowd.



CreditGretchen Ertl for The New York Times

• “Unlawful racial balancing.”

The U.S. Justice Department lent its support to students who are suing Harvard University over affirmative action policies that they say discriminate against Asian-American applicants.

The filing said that Harvard “uses a vague ‘personal rating’ that harms Asian-American applicants’ chances for admission and may be infected with racial bias; engages in unlawful racial balancing; and has never seriously considered race-neutral alternatives in its more than 45 years of using race to make admissions decisions.”

The case could have far-reaching consequences for the use of affirmative action in college admissions. A trial has been scheduled for October.



CreditIsabella Kwai/The New York Times

• For sale: a 55-foot-tall lobster.

In Kingston, Australia, a giant lobster named Larry is at the center of the small town’s identity. Now, an offer has arrived that would send Larry thousands of miles away to Western Australia.

Larry is one of Australia’s “Big Things,” one of roughly 350 oversize objects sprinkled across the country. Some are tributes to a local industry (the Big Banana). Others are tributes to national passions (the Big Beer Can).

Many Australians admire them, and for some, the thought of Kingston without Larry is unthinkable. “I think there’d be a revolution,” a local butcher said.



CreditPrakash Mathema/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• Bank data released in India this week show that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s painful, disruptive moves against “black money” two years ago did not achieve his goal.

• Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire media executive and former mayor of New York City, is moving an elite global business forum from Beijing to Singapore amid fallout from the trade war between the U.S. and China.

• Trouble in emerging markets: The Turkish lira and the South African rand dropped against the dollar, but the Argentine peso experienced the most extreme fall, driven by fears the country would not be able to make debt payments.

• Shifting gears: Whether Canada will remain in the North American Free Trade Agreement should become clear today. Adding to the flux involving the auto trade, the E.U.’s top trade official said Thursday that the bloc was ready to reduce “car tariffs to zero, all tariffs to zero, if the U.S. does the same.”

• China’s most downloaded app this week was Bullet Messaging, a sleek messenger service that is challenging WeChat.

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

Market Snapshot View Full Overview

    In the News

    • “Activists in shackles": Indians are protesting against police raids on the homes of activists, writers and lawyers. All were known for speaking out against the government, five have been arrested. [The New York Times]

    • In Myanmar, more than 50,000 people evacuated their homes after part of a dam failed, inundating communities and damaging a bridge on a major highway. [Reuters]

    • Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s civilian leader, should have resigned over the military’s violent campaign against Rohingya Muslims last year, said Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the outgoing U.N. human rights chief. [BBC]

    • “It’s like cocaine in Latin America": With prices reaching hundreds of dollars a pound, Madagascar’s vanilla-growing region is in the midst of an economic boom. The windfall, however, has come at a steep cost. [The New York Times]

    • Prince Harry joined the cast of “Hamilton” onstage, and sang a line from the hit musical at the end of a charity performance in London on Wednesday. [The New York Times]

    Serena Williams and her sister Venus will face each other for the 30th time in their pro careers on Friday in the third round of the U.S. Open. [The New York Times]



    Creditvia Peter Hall

    • Overlooked no more: In the 1940s, Ruby Payne-Scott helped lay the foundation for a new field of science called radio astronomy. She fought for the rights of women in her native Australia, but ultimately left science to raise her children.

    • Home again. In Seoul, one housing development offers new versions of hanok, traditional Korean tiled-roof residences, and with them, a less frenetic lifestyle. Could this be the secret to slow living?

    And if you’re looking for something to read over Labor Day weekend, check out our combined print and e-book best-seller list. You can find all of our best-seller lists here.

    Back Story


    CreditRobert Walker/The New York Times

    Tennis tournaments can lead to debates about gear, and this year’s have been no exception (see: Serena Williams, catsuit). But few controversies can compare to the furor at the U.S. Open in 1977 over the so-called spaghetti racket (pictured here).

    Michael Fishbach, a player from Long Island, qualified for the U.S. Open with a racket described by The Times as “doublestrung and reinforced with fishnet line, adhesive tape and plastic tubing, creating the spaghetti effect.” That made the ball spin and bounce in unpredictable ways.

    Fishbach, ranked 200th, upset his first- and second-round opponents. He lost in the third round, though even his opponent, John Feaver, was confounded by the bounce off Fishbach’s racket: “You don’t know what’s going on with the bloody thing.”

    Talk of a ban gained traction a few weeks later at another tournament, after a player walked off the court in protest during a match against Ilie Nastase, who was using a spaghetti racket.

    The United States Tennis Association banned the racket soon after, and the International Tennis Federation followed the next year, adopting a rule that defined a tennis racket for the first time. “The purpose, of course, is to get rid of the spaghetti racquet,” The Times wrote.

    Jillian Rayfield wrote today’s Back Story.


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