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Hong Kong, Tariffs, Russia: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering the continuing protests at Hong Kong’s airport, the delay of some U.S. tariffs and the success of two treatments for Ebola.

ImageCreditLam Yik Fei for The New York TimesMore chaos at Hong Kong’s airport

Hours after antigovernment protests prompted Hong Kong’s airport to suspend check-ins on Tuesday, riot police moved in with batons and pepper spray, clashing with protesters overnight. The airport is expected to be partly closed through Wednesday.

With tensions and anxiety running high at the airport, at one point a police officer was attacked, retreating when he appeared to pull a gun, and a man they accused of being a mainland Chinese police officer but his identity couldn’t be immediately confirmed. Watch the video.

Earlier in the day, the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, urged protesters to obey the law, saying that the “stability and well-being of seven million people are in jeopardy.”

The famously sleek and efficient airport, long a symbol of Hong Kong pride, has in effect become a point of leverage for the protesters.

The mainland: China’s state-controlled news media is waging a disinformation war against the protesters, using manipulated images and videos of the demonstrations to stir up nationalist and anti-Western sentiment.

Takeaway: The recent unrest is exposing the inherent conflict in the political experiment that began when the semiautonomous city returned to Chinese rule in 1997: an effort to unite Beijing’s authoritarianism with Hong Kong’s civil liberties.

Trump delays China tariffs

The Trump administration, facing pressure from American businesses, delayed levies on some Chinese goods that were scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 1.

Many of the planned tariffs on cellphones, laptops, toys and other consumer goods will instead kick in on Dec. 15, giving retailers time to stock up for back-to-school and holiday shopping.

Markets: U.S. stocks rebounded, but Singapore slashed its annual economic growth expectations to between zero and 1 percent. And new data indicated that the prospects for the German economy, which is heavily reliant on global trade, had worsened.

Long view: Data from the government and other sources show that Mr. Trump’s tax cuts and tariffs have not achieved one of his goals: a significant return of factory activity.

ImageCreditKarim Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesOutlines of a deal for Afghanistan

After months of negotiations, both the U.S. and the Taliban have signaled that they are nearing an initial peace deal for Afghanistan, though the round of talks that ended on Monday seemed bogged down in the final details.

Both sides have gone back to their leadership to consult on next steps.

Our senior correspondent in Afghanistan says the final deal is likely to include a roughly two-year timeline for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops — a compromise that would allow the opening of the next crucial step: talks between the Taliban and other Afghans, including the government, over how power will be shared.

Video: We talked to Afghan women about their fears that the return of the Taliban would cost them hard-won freedoms.

Another angle: Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. raised the possibility that Islamabad might redeploy troops from the Afghan border to the Kashmir frontier, which could complicate the peace talks with the Taliban.

A new target for Maduro: Venezuela’s military

Over the past two years, as the oil-rich economy crumbled and a majority of Venezuelans were left without sufficient food and medicine, factions within the security forces staged at least five attempts to overthrow or assassinate President Nicolás Maduro.

So he and his embattled government turned a brutal apparatus of repression against the military. There are now 217 active and retired officers in Venezuelan jails, including 12 generals, according to a nonprofit based in Caracas that represents several of the men.

Case in point: A retired navy captain, Rafael Acosta, died a week after being detained. His autopsy report, which was leaked, listed blunt force trauma and electrocution, and the government admitted that excessive force had been used against him.

If you have 7 minutes, this is worth itImageCreditJoao Silva/The New York TimesA bloodied Cape Town welcomes the army

Troops have been patrolling the city’s townships for the past month, as they did in the days of apartheid. But this time residents are welcoming them, after being terrorized by gang violence that has pushed the homicide rate to about 66 killings per 100,000 people — a rate surpassed by only the most violent places in Latin America.

The violence largely stems from escalating turf battles between gangs that traffic in drugs, weapons and illicit goods like abalone, a shellfish prized by poachers.

Here’s what else is happening

Russia: The authorities evacuated the village nearest to the site of a nuclear accident last week in the country’s north. The move suggests that the dangers are more grave than initially reported from what U.S. officials say was the explosion of a prototype of a nuclear-propelled cruise missile.

Iran: An official in Tehran said that an Iranian tanker seized by the British off the coast of Gibraltar last month would be released soon, indicating a possible de-escalation of tensions between Tehran and the West.

Indonesia: In a visit to Jakarta to promote two Trump-branded resorts, Donald Trump Jr. defended his father, President Trump, and their family’s company against allegations that their global business presented conflicts of interest for the president.

Ebola: Two experimental therapies are working so well that they will be offered to all patients in the Democratic Republic of Congo, scientists said. The treatments saved about 90 percent of newly infected patients.

Jeffrey Epstein: In an interview with a Times business columnist last year, the financier said that sex with teenage girls should be acceptable, and that he had dirt on powerful people.

ImageCreditOwen Franken for The New York Times

Snapshot: Above, crowds at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre in Paris this week. The museum has moved the famous painting to a new room during renovations, causing a commotion.

Church of England: Some of England’s most imposing and ancient cathedrals have installed carnival rides, a mini golf course and a lunar landscape to try to rebuild dwindling attendance.

“Yellow Submarine”: Our culture reporter Dave Itzkoff unearths the many layers of the animated film about the Beatles, thanks to dozens of viewings with his fixated 4-year-old.

What we’re reading: This article from The Cut. Alexandria Symonds, a senior staff editor, recommends it for “empathetically representing the very real suffering of people with a constellation of symptoms that some label chronic Lyme disease, while also being appropriately rigorous about the uncertainties of the science behind it.”

Now, a break from the newsImageCreditLinda Xiao for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne.

Cook: This blueberry, almond and lemon cake keeps for a few days, so don’t forget to share. (Our Five Weeknight Dishes newsletter has more recommendations.)

Listen: In our monthly roundup of the best new podcasts, you’ll find “The Secret Lives of Black Women,” a 10-part series on incels (short for involuntary celibates) and “Tabloid: The Making of Ivanka Trump.”

Watch: Kia Stevens, the wrestler-turned-actor, portrays a bizarro version of her own life in Netflix’s “GLOW.”

Go: In his latest dispatch, our 52 Places columnist makes friends in Golfo Paradiso, a tiny stretch of Italian coastline claimed by the local residents.

Smarter Living: Addressing the problem of air pollution takes policy changes and enforcement, but you can take a few immediate steps to protect your health from bad air. For instance, moving your walking, running, biking and even driving route away from truck routes can reduce your exposure. And a HEPA air purifier can help at home — so long as it’s the right size for the room.

And we look at the ups and downs of making your residence an Instagram star.

And now for the Back Story on …Credit coins

A little-known 19th-century payment system using metal tokens paved the way for today’s credit cards, tap-to-pay and cryptocurrency, according to our friends at Wirecutter, a Times Company site that reviews products.

The tokens, called charge coins or credit coins, were embossed with an account number and given out by merchants. A customer presented the coin to a merchant, who charged the purchase to the associated account. Some coins had a specific monetary limit; others had floating ceilings.

ImageCreditAssociated Press

The first were issued just after the Civil War, and they grew increasingly popular until charge plates — metal rectangles with raised letters — took over around the Great Depression. Those gave way in the 1950s to the modern credit card.

Collectors, it turns out, are into all of them. But the coins, which are rarely worth more than $100, have the least competition. A founder of the American Credit Card Collectors Society, which was established in 1994, estimates that there are probably no more than 1,000 people worldwide who collect them.

Our Styles section is putting together a package on office culture and would love to hear your delightfully cringe-y true-life tales. Got one to share?

See you next time.

— Alisha

Thank you
Andrea Kannapell helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford contributed the break from the news. Victoria Shannon, on the briefings team, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the Jeffrey Epstein case.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: A fairy leaves you money for it (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The 1619 Project, The Times Magazine’s special report on slavery in the U.S., begins with an evening of conversation and performance, featuring Nikole Hannah-Jones, Wesley Morris and others. It is free to stream live at 7 p.m. Eastern (7 a.m. Hong Kong).


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