Synagogue Shooting, India, South Korea: Your Wednesday Briefing


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Good morning. The U.S. mourns shooting victims, a thick smog creeps over India, a South Korean court revisits historic wounds. Here’s what you need to know:

The aftermath of hatred.

The man charged with killing 11 congregants at an American synagogue posted about his hatred of Jews on social media. And in the wake of the killings, our reporters found a flood of new anti-Semitic posts on Instagram.

It’s the latest evidence that social network companies never quite understood the negative consequences of their influence nor what to do about it — and that they cannot put the genie back in the bottle.

→ On the ground: Pittsburgh prepared for the first funerals. Above, a victim’s coffin. President Trump is visiting the city with the first lady and his Jewish daughter and son-in-law, despite critics saying he should stay away unless he changes his divisive tone.

Elections update: Mr. Trump also said he would deploy thousands of troops to the Mexico border to hold back a caravan of migrants that is still weeks away. And our political reporter explained how conspiracy theories around that caravan intersect with the deadly hatred traumatizing the country.


India is choking.

It’s pollution season in India, when the air can become so toxic that experts say it could lead to permanent brain damage in children. And data show that air pollution continues to rise in major cities, many of which are among the world’s most polluted, according to recent rankings.

Some progress is being made: The government, for the first time, is spending more than $150 million to dissuade farmers from burning their fields — a major polluter.

But the country is still struggling to balance economic growth against environmental damage.


South Korean court orders wartime compensation.

The country’s Supreme Court ordered a Japanese steel maker to pay a South Korean man, pictured above center, who said he was forced to work at its factory during World War II.

If the Japanese company refuses to pay, local courts could seize its assets in South Korea.

The ruling risks intensifying decades-old friction between the two Asian countries.

Here’s why: Korea was a Japanese colony from 1910 until 1945.

Hundreds of thousands of Koreans were forced to toil away for Japan’s war efforts, according to South Korean historians. This ruling could encourage others to seek redress.

The Japanese government denounced the ruling, insisting that all forced labor allegations were settled in 1965 when the two countries restored bilateral ties.


Trying to explain the Lion Air crash.

As teams search for clues to explain how an Indonesian flight crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 189 people onboard, experts speculated about a possible cause: faulty pitot tubes.

The tubes, named after their 18th-century French inventor, measure airspeed and altitude.

Experts pointed to the flight’s erratic path moments before it fell out of the sky as potential evidence of a malfunctioning pitot system — which also contributed to the infamous disappearance of Air France Flight 447 over the Atlantic in 2009.

But experts also cautioned that it’s too early to tell. Above, the plane’s wreckage.


• China’s currency has been losing value since April and now hovers around 7 renminbi to the dollar, its weakest point since the financial crisis. Further depreciation could give Chinese exporters a price advantage and undermine U.S. tariffs.

• Fujian Jinhua, a Chinese state-owned semiconductor manufacturer, was blocked from buying American components because it posed a threat to national security, U.S. officials said, escalating trade tensions.

Apple unveiled new, faster, more expensive products, including an iPad that the company wants to position as a primary work computer.

• General Electric announced it would slash its quarterly dividend to 1 cent a share from 12 cents a share next year, a move that would save the company $3.9 billion a year as it tries to fix its ailing power business.

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

• The Chinese government reversed a 25-year ban on using rhino and tiger parts in medicine, a move that environmentalists warned could lead to more poaching and threaten efforts to save the animals from extinction. [The New York Times]

• Sixty percent of animal populations have been wiped since 1970, according to a report from the WWF. [The Guardian]

• The Chinese military may be gaining an edge by sending scientists and engineers to Western universities where they collaborate on strategically important research, sometimes while concealing their military ties, according to a new Australian report. [The New York Times]

• Storms in Italy left at least 11 people dead and plunged much of Venice underwater in one of the city’s worst floods. [The New York Times]

• Cathay Pacific could face its first collective legal action after a massive data leak as 200 customers expressed their intention to sue. [The South China Morning Post]

The notorious American mobster and F.B.I. informant Whitey Bulger, 89, was found dead in prison. [The New York Times]

• Analysis: Vandals attacked a Hindu temple in Sydney this month. Here’s why the incident wasn’t characterized as a hate crime. [Crikey, article is paywall free for Times readers]

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

• Our 52 Places traveler visited Australia — hopping from its northern tip, pictured above, to Tasmania in the south — where she found ancient Aboriginal rock art, crocodiles and delicious asparagus.

• What are “dwarsliggers”? Tiny pocket-size books that can be read with one hand. If they catch on in the U.S. like they have in the Netherlands, they could reshape publishing and even change the way people read.

• In memoriam: Rico Puno, a pop singer from the Philippines who shot to fame in the 1970s by covering American hits in his distinctive soul style. He was 65.

India is set to unveil the world’s tallest statue today, a bronze figure of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who played an important role in the country’s independence from Britain in 1947. It’s also Patel’s birthday.

At 597 feet (182 meters) tall, the statue, above, is almost twice the total height of the Statue of Liberty, including the pedestal, in New York City.

At the time of his death in 1950, Patel was described by The Times as part of “India’s idolized triumvirate” alongside Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.

After independence, he became India’s first deputy prime minister and faced the outsize task of weaving together all of India’s disparate parts.

As sectarian violence exploded and one of the greatest migrations in history unfolded at India’s borders, the fate of more than 500 princely states hung in the balance.

Those states were never fully under British control, ruled instead by indigenous monarchs. Had they decided to remain autonomous, the newly independent country could have been further divided.

Patel negotiated with the different rulers and, within two years, persuaded all but a few to join the Indian union.

The states that initially resisted eventually gave in to pressure, although one, Jammu and Kashmir, is still contentious today.

The statue dedicated to Patel is called the Statue of Unity.


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