December 14, 2018

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Climate Change, Saudi Consulate, Bulgaria: Your Tuesday Briefing

Climate Change, Saudi Consulate, Bulgaria: Your Tuesday Briefing
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Good morning.

Turkey demands proof, journalists name a Novichok suspect, carbon taxes get a Nobel boost. Here’s the latest.

For Saudi dissidents, a terrifying pattern.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey demanded that the Saudis prove their claim that a missing Saudi critic, Jamal Khashoggi, left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul soon after he arrived last week. Turkish officials say he was killed by Saudi agents there.

Above, a protest at the consulate on Monday attended by the Yemeni Nobel Peace winner Tawakkol Karman, founder of Women Journalists Without Chains.

Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance hardly surprised other Saudi dissidents. Critics and human rights groups say that as the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, expands his power, his government has increasingly reached across borders to keep expatriates in line.

“It’s a message, very clear, that ‘Our hands can reach you where ever you are,’” said Ghanem al-Dosary, a longtime dissident in London.

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• Another name in Novichok attack.

Researchers and journalists with the groups Bellingcat and The Insider say Dr. Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin was one of the two Russians who poisoned a former Russian spy in Britain seven months ago.

Using an identification process that “included multiple open sources, testimony from people familiar with the person, as well as copies of personally identifying documents,” they found that he was a graduate of an elite military medical academy and was recruited by the military intelligence agency known as the G.R.U.

The investigators had already identified the other suspect: Col. Anatoly Chepiga, a 2014 recipient of the title Hero of the Russian Federation, a rare honor typically given personally by President Vladimir Putin.

Today: Bellingcat says it will reveal a fuller report about Dr. Mishkin when it presents its findings to the House of Commons today, together with a member of Parliament.

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• The price of emissions.

The case for using cost to reduce greenhouse gases got an implicit nod from the Nobel Prize in economics. William Nordhaus, one of the two American winners on Monday, was cited for making the case for “a global scheme of carbon taxes that are uniformly imposed on all countries.”

Scientists who produced the U.N.’s landmark new report, which warns of just a 12-year window to limit climate-change catastrophe, saluted his work. “It’s really a way of getting the true impacts of emissions into the economy,” one said. Above, a red-alert pollution day in China.

More than 40 governments around the world, including the E.U. and California, have put a price on carbon, with direct taxes on fossil fuels or cap-and-trade programs. The challenge: widening the practices (President Trump has remained silent on the U.N. report), and setting prices high enough to deeply dent emissions.

• In Washington, Justice Brett Kavanaugh will take his seat on the Supreme Court today, three days after a confirmation colored by national bitterness, distrust and raw partisanship.

On Monday, President Trump extended his dismissal of the sexual misconduct allegations against the justice as politically motivated, calling them “a hoax” and “fabricated.” And he made a point of showcasing his support with a nationally televised swearing-in ceremony, above.

Our chief White House correspondent writes that Mr. Trump is trying a risky strategy for the midterm elections: “With the world’s loudest megaphone, he hopes to make the issue not the treatment of women in the #MeToo era but the treatment of men who deserve due process.”

• Orsted, the Danish offshore wind-energy giant, is acquiring Deepwater Wind of Rhode Island for $510 million, a sign of the U.S. market’s growing appeal to clean-energy developers. Above, an Orsted installation off Blackpool, England.

• The Finnish steel maker Outokumpu has access to mineral deposits that give it a clear advantage over U.S. rivals. But tariffs are raising prices for American customers.

• Bulgaria’s shock over the rape and murder of the host of an investigative talk show has spread into international concern, given that two reporters who exposed graft in the E.U. have been killed in the past year. Above, a vigil in Sofia. [The New York Times]

• U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traded harsh words in a meeting in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart, who chided the Trump administration for “ceaselessly elevating” trade tensions and meddling in China’s affairs. [The New York Times]

• “Imagine if China were to somehow, someday, get a U.N. secretary general, and then he too one day disappeared.” The detention of Meng Hongwei, the Interpol chief, could undermine China’s legitimacy on the international stage. [The New York Times]

• Britain’s National Crime Agency warned that sexual predators were paying for images and live video of child victims in countries like the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. [The Guardian]

• A Spanish court found that an 85-year-old doctor had participated in one of the infamous “stolen baby” cases of the Franco dictatorship, but absolved him because his crime fell under a statute of limitations. [The New York Times]

• Forest rangers in India are trying a new tack to trap a man-eating tigress: luring her with men’s cologne (Calvin Klein Obsession, if you must know). [The New York Times]

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

Marrakesh retains its timeless charms. But a travel editor, who first visited 20 years ago, found the ancient Moroccan city is being reinvigorated by local entrepreneurs who are opening their own cafes, bars and riads while embracing tradition.

• In 1968, the top American military commander in Saigon activated a plan to bring nuclear weapons into South Vietnam. The plan, discovered by a historian, was forcefully shut down by President Lyndon Johnson.

Margaret Kivelson, a space physicist who turns 90 this month, has been part of nearly every major NASA voyage beyond the asteroid belt for four decades. She transformed the way the space agency hunts for signs of alien oceans.

On this day in 1930, Laura Ingalls broke the record for the fastest transcontinental flight by a woman, making it to Los Angeles from New York in 30 hours and 27 minutes.

That was just one of Ms. Ingalls’s many aerial achievements. The same year, the aviatrix, pictured above, completed 714 barrel rolls — a stunt combining a roll and a loop — breaking the world record. In 1934, she became the first American woman to fly around South America.

“I wish someone would wake me up and tell me it’s true,” she said after cruising over the Andes.

But her fame started to sour after she sprinkled antiwar pamphlets around the White House from her plane in 1939, prompting the Civil Aviation Authority to suspend her license.

In the thick of World War II, it emerged that she was a Nazi sympathizer and a German agent; witnesses said she took money from a German official and called Hitler a “marvelous man.”



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