December 14, 2018

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U.S. Elections, Pakistan, China: Your Monday Briefing

U.S. Elections, Pakistan, China: Your Monday Briefing
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Good morning.

U.S. candidates deliver closing statements, Pakistan caves in to protesters, Afghan migrants take cricket to France. Here’s what you need to know:

U.S. election nears.

The tumultuous 2018 midterm campaign barreled through its final weekend and toward the day of decision, Tuesday.

The most prominent campaigners are on opposite sides of the country’s vast political divide. President Trump has been crisscrossing the country to deliver fear-based messages on immigration and other issues. Former President Barack Obama has been assailing him in a surprisingly sharp, systematic way.

Our live polling has many races too close to call, but there’s a consensus in both parties that Democrats could take control of the House — and that the outlook for the Senate is unclear.

Pakistan yields to protesters.

Asia Bibi, a Christian woman acquitted last week of blasphemy charges and ordered freed, remains in Pakistan. Above, her three daughters.

On Friday, the government made a deal to halt hard-line Islamist groups’ huge protests over the Supreme Court’s ruling, which had brought parts of the country to a standstill. The deal prevents Ms. Bibi from leaving the country while the case is reviewed and appealed, a process that could add years of detention to the eight she spent on death row.

“The biggest mistake the Hong Kong government has ever made.”

That was a legal expert, commenting on the decision last month to expel Victor Mallet, the Asia news editor of The Financial Times.

His work visa was rejected without explanation weeks after he presided over an event at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club with an activist who advocates independence from China, Andy Chan. Above, flags of Hong Kong and China.

The move — a first for the semiautonomous territory, which long prided itself for freedom of expression — refocused attention on the independence movement, drew sharp questions from diplomats and cast a dark shadow over Hong Kong’s reputation as an unfettered financial and commercial hub.

The private business community shares the alarm of foreign media organizations, and some see a reason to relocate operations to Singapore.

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Ozone-depleting gas traced.

An environmental group has found new evidence that rogue factories in China are behind the resurgence of a banned gas that destroys the ozone layer and contributes to global warming.

The ozone layer protects the earth from ultraviolet solar radiation. After a giant hole appeared in the layer in 1985, much of the world signed on to the Montreal Protocol outlawing CFC-11, used mostly in refrigerators and air-conditioners. Without that landmark treaty, the entire ozone layer would have collapsed by 2050, according to some studies.

But in May, scientists found atmospheric levels of the gas were falling more slowly than expected. A Times investigation pointed to scrappy, small-scale factories across China, findings confirmed by the new study.

Chinese authorities have pledged to stamp out the illicit production, but under-the-radar producers and a lack of measuring equipment are obstacles.

• Since President Trump took office, there has been a sharp decline in financial penalties against banks and big companies accused of malpractice, a Times investigation found.

• Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate run by Warren Buffett, bought back nearly $1 billion of its own stock during its blockbuster third quarter.

• Apple’s decision to limit disclosures — including how many iPhones, iPads and Macs it sells each quarter — and its disappointing forecast for fourth-quarter sales dragged down its stock.

• The latest U.S. jobs report painted an ideal picture of the economy. But there are three factors that will determine if the hot market will last.

• Coming this week: American sanctions against Iranian oil go into effect. But some of the country’s biggest importers — India, South Korea, Japan and China — are said to be exempted for six months.

• New York City Marathon: Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia pulled ahead late to win the men’s race in 2:05:59. Mary Keitany of Kenya, above, won the women’s race in 2:22:48. [The New York Times]

• A truck driver in northwestern China lost control, crashing into 31 cars, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 40. [CNN]

• Also in China: Many internet users expressed fury over a video showing a woman in Chongqing attacking the driver of a bus for skipping her stop just before it plunged into the Yangtze River, killing at least 13 people. [The New York Times]

• Amal Hussain, the emaciated 7-year-old Yemeni girl whose haunting portrait in The Times drew an impassioned response from readers, died, underscoring the immense human toll of the Saudi-led war. [The New York Times]

• An Australian nun, Sister Patricia Fox, who criticized the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, returned home six months after he ordered her arrest and deportation. [The New York Times]

• Most of Sri Lanka’s lawmakers refused to recognize the prime minister abruptly appointed by the president, and some said they had been offered bribes, amid an escalating political crisis on the island nation. [The New York Times]

• A man-eating tiger in India that had been blamed for the deaths of 13 people was killed after a monthslong hunt that involved drones, elephants and a bottle of cologne. [The New York Times]

• Novak Djokovic lost to the Russian player Karen Khachanov in the Paris Masters tennis tournament, ending a 22-game winning streak. [BBC]

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

Stickers can be surprisingly motivating, even for adults.

At least that’s the idea behind the “I Voted” stickers handed out on Election Day in the U.S. — that they’ll encourage voters to turn out, and inspire those who see them to vote themselves. (Election Day is Tuesday.)

The stickers first appeared in the 1980s, offered by businesses, unions and civic groups. State and local governments began making their own.

While some states keep it simple, others take the opportunity to express their identities. Some stickers, like Alabama’s, Ohio’s and Tennessee’s, incorporate the shape of the state. Georgia’s use the state’s famous peach, while California’s is in 13 languages.

Alaskans who voted early this year got stickers with cartoon versions of state animals. Louisiana’s stickers, which feature the Cajun artist George Rodrigue’s iconic “Blue Dog,” have appeared on eBay.

New York City has its own subway-themed sticker. Other cities are following Chicago’s lead and offering wristbands instead.

The stickers have also gone online. Instagram has “I Voted” and “Yo Voté” emblems, along with a “We Voted” story on Election Day that gathers posts by a user’s friends.

Do they actually make a difference? One study found that in 2010, Facebook’s “I Voted” button drove 340,000 Americans to the polls.

But either way, you still get a sticker.

Jennifer Jett wrote today’s Back Story.

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