Saudi Arabia, #MeToo in India, Skripal: Your Wednesday Briefing


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Good morning. A U.S. official resigns, India’s #MeToo takes off, Google unveils new hardware. Here’s what you need to know:

A high-profile departure.

Nikki Haley, the U.N. ambassador, said she would resign at the end of the year, catching the White House staff off guard.

“It was a blessing to go into the U.N. with body armor every day and defend America,” she said, seated next to President Trump in the Oval Office, above. Mr. Trump said she had let him know months ago, and that he’d name her replacement in coming weeks.

Ms. Haley, who was one of the few women in the cabinet, was an outspoken envoy for the U.S., overseeing its shifting relationship with the global body. She has also long been considered a potential presidential candidate — but she insists she isn’t running in 2020.

• The chilling case of Jamal Khashoggi.

Investigators in Turkey are poring over the movements of Saudi officials who flew in and out of Istanbul the day the dissident journalist disappeared. And the authorities have been given permission to search the Saudi consulate where he was last seen.

Turkish authorities believe Mr. Khashoggi was killed at the consulate, or abducted from it. Saudi Arabia denies the claims, but international pressure to explain his disappearance is mounting. Above, a protest at the consulate on Monday drew international rights figures.

For Saudi dissidents living abroad, the case carries a frightening message: The Saudi leadership “can reach you wherever you are.”

But the episode also poses risks for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who cultivates an image as a liberal reformer abroad but quashes dissent at home.

• Traction for #MeToo in India.

After a year of fits and starts, India’s fight against sexual misconduct has leapt forward over the past week with concrete action in the entertainment industry and the news media.

First, Tanushree Dutta, a former Miss India, above right, filed a new complaint accusing the veteran actor Nana Patekar of sexually harassing her on a film set 10 years ago. That was followed by accusations against other men that led to the sudden dissolution of a production company and left a comedy troupe teetering on the brink of collapse.

Inspired by the impact in Bollywood, dozens of women in journalism came forward about inappropriate behavior by male colleagues, felling influential editors at The Hindustan Times and The Times of India.

But in a deeply patriarchal society with entrenched views of gender, it is unclear how far the movement will spread.


Another name in the Skripal case.

A group of researchers and journalists identified a Russian military doctor, Alexander Yevgenyevich Mishkin, as one of the two men suspected of poisoning the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Britain earlier this year.

The report, based on “multiple open sources, testimony from people familiar with the person, as well as copies of personally identifying documents,” found that Mr. Mishkin was a graduate of an elite medical academy and was recruited by the military intelligence agency known as the G.R.U.

Last month, the group behind the report identified the other man suspected in the poisoning: Col. Anatoly Chepiga, a highly decorated member of the Russian military.

Russia has denied any involvement in Mr. Skripal’s poisoning.

• Google’s new gadgets: glass-bodied Pixel smartphones, a smart speaker with a built-in screen and a tablet that doubles as a personal computer.

• China holds more than a trillion dollars in U.S. debt. Economists are quietly asking whether an escalating trade war could tempt the country to wield its so-called nuclear option.

• European leaders are actively working to help Iran get around new sanctions, widening a rift with the U.S.

• Kim Jong-un invited Pope Francis to visit North Korea. It is unlikely the pope will accept, given the country’s suppression of religious freedom. [The New York Times]

• A Bulgarian journalist who hosted an anticorruption TV show, Viktoria Marinova, was raped and killed, stunning the country and adding to European concerns on press freedom. [The New York Times]

• Hurricane Michael is on track to hit Florida over the next few days with powerful winds, torrential rains and potentially devastating storm surge. [The New York Times]

• A decades-old plastic bottle washed up on a beach in Britain almost unscathed, illustrating the lasting impact of plastic pollution. [The Guardian]

• Richard Branson said that his company Virgin Galactic would “be in space within weeks,” that he would go in “months” and that others would “not too long after that.” [BBC]

• Congestion in Sydney and Melbourne is growing so intense that the Australian government is considering barring immigrants from settling in either for five years after arrival. [ABC]

• Guilty plea in Darwin: The highest ranking U.S. Marine Corps officer stationed in Australia acknowledged driving at twice the legal blood-alcohol limit. Officials said he had been relieved of his command after he was arrested in the case last month. [The New York Times]

• Rick Gates, a top Trump campaign official, requested proposals in 2016 from an Israeli company for using fake online identities and social media manipulation to win the election. [The New York Times]

• Peter Conran, an adviser to the Howard government known as “Mr. Fix It,” has returned as Scott Morrison’s new cabinet secretary. So who is he? [Crikey, article paywall free for Times readers]

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

• Should you tip your Uber driver? If so, how much?

• An American engineer, Mason Cox, gave up a job at Exxon Mobil to play in the Australian Football League. He’s proved to be a sensation.

• On São Tomé and Príncipe, the dual-island nation that punctuates the Atlantic off Africa’s west coast, nature beats mankind. The sparse human population lives among rain forests, volcanoes and beaches — but our 52 Places traveler found that makes for a tight-knit community.

• Dr. Neri Oxman, a professor at the M.I.T. Media Lab, weaves together science, technology and art to create startling structures — from a mask made of facial tissue to 3D-printed glass. Her strange and wonderful discipline has captured the attention of Bjӧrk and Brad Pitt.

Print isn’t dead.

In fact, it’s throwing its most significant annual party.

The Frankfurt Book Fair kicks off today, bringing hundreds of thousands of people in publishing and related fields together for days of wheeling, dealing, seeing and being seen.

The tradition dates back some 800 years — long before Johannes Gutenberg turned out Europe’s first printed page in 1454.

Frankfurt was a flourishing medieval commercial crossroads. In 1240, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II decreed that no one should harass travelers to its autumn fair, where wine, gold, horses and more were bought and sold.

Handwritten manuscripts began selling there, a forerunner to the book trade. Frankfurt held its earliest recorded book fair in 1462.

Then as now, it was a place where people mingled and ideas flowed.

Henri Estienne, a French man of letters, praised the fair in 1574 for bringing together so many scholars.

The effect, he said, was a modern-day Athens: “In reality, it should be happening in that city where once bloomed the most celebrated intellectual life in all of Greece.”

The Frankfurter Buchmesse’s 2018 guest of honor? The nation of Georgia, which saw more than 150 of its books translated into German this year.

Nancy Wartik wrote today’s Back Story.


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