We’re covering world markets shaken by an escalating trade war, India’s stripping of Kashmir’s special status and a bold prison escape attempt in Brazil.
Currency actions rattle world markets
President Trump’s global trade war intensified as Beijing allowed its currency to weaken and the U.S. responded by designating China a currency manipulator.
The escalation shook world markets as nervous investors looked for safe places to park their money. Wall Street suffered its worst day of the year, with the S&P 500 closing down nearly 3 percent.
Details: Yields on U.S. Treasuries, which fall as prices rise, dropped as investors sought safety in government-backed bonds. Benchmark indexes in Asia and Europe also fell.
Explainer: A weaker currency can make goods cheaper to sell abroad, allowing businesses and consumers to help offset the additional tariffs planned by the U.S. for September.
Context: In a tweet in July, Mr. Trump accused China and Europe of playing a “big currency manipulation game and pumping money into their system” in order to compete with the U.S.
India strips Kashmir’s limited autonomy
The mountainous valley, which is sliced up between Indian and Pakistani control, is bracing for rioting and unrest after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government moved to revoke a constitutional provision, Article 370, that had granted Kashmir a high degree of autonomy.
Government authorities severed internet connections, mobile phone lines and even land lines, casting Kashmir into an information black hole that made it very difficult to discern what was unfolding.
Weeks ahead of the announcement, tens of thousands of extra troops had been deployed across Kashmir, and many Kashmiris had been expecting some sort of big action.
Explainer: When India and Pakistan won independence in 1947, the Muslim-majority princely state of Kashmir opted to remain independent. But militants from Pakistan soon invaded, prompting Kashmir to seek protection from India. It agreed to become part of India under certain conditions set out in Article 370.
Reaction: Pakistan, opposition lawmakers in India and some analysts denounced the move as potentially illegal and likely to end up before India’s Supreme Court.
Hong Kong protesters mount their fiercest challenge
Protesters from all walks of society fanned out across the semiautonomous city, occupying roads and malls, closing down businesses, and disrupting flights and rail services in the most dramatic day of demonstrations since the movement began in June.
The demonstrations, as with previous ones, devolved into violent clashes as officers fired tear gas at protest sites across the city and protesters surrounded and vandalized several police stations.
The city’s leader, Carrie Lam, in her first public remarks in two weeks, accused protesters of trying to “topple Hong Kong” and of challenging Chinese sovereignty — a statement that analysts said was predictably uncompromising and offered nothing new.
Here’s how the day unfolded, by the numbers:
82: Protesters arrested, bringing the total since demonstrations began in early June to 420
200: Flights canceled
7: Railway lines with service partially or entirely suspended
Unknown: Tear gas canisters fired. A police spokesman put the total since early June at 1,000.
Trump stops short of calling for gun control
President Trump condemned white supremacy after two mass shootings this weekend, citing the threat of “racist hate” and calling for national unity.
He did not express support for broad gun control, but called for action on mental illness, video games and “the perils of the internet and social media.”
He also took no responsibility for the atmosphere of division, nor did he recognize his own reluctance to warn of the rise of white nationalism until now.
Video games: Some Republicans argue that there is a causal link between video games and violent behavior. But there is broad agreement among researchers that no such link exists. “The data on bananas causing suicide is about as conclusive,” said one psychology professor. “Literally. The numbers work out about the same.”
Changing dangers: Since the Sept. 11 attacks, more Americans have died in domestic terrorist attacks than in international terrorist attacks. And the F.B.I. says domestic attacks are increasingly motivated by white supremacist ideology.
Lives lost: Among the victims in El Paso — who now number 22, after two of the wounded died in a hospital — were Jordan and Andre Anchondo. They were shopping with their 2-month-old baby, relatives said. The baby survived; his mother shielded him with her body.
In Dayton, one of the nine victims had recently given birth and was finally leaving the house.
If you have 12 minutes, this is worth it
Global warming thaws Siberia
Warming temperatures are shrinking the permafrost — permanently frozen earth — that covers roughly two-thirds of Russia, reshaping the Siberian landscape, flooding entire villages and changing animal migration patterns.
And indigenous peoples are more threatened than ever.
Here’s what else is happening
Britain: The country joined an American-led mission to protect ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz from Iranian threats, signaling a greater openness to working with the U.S. to shore up maritime security and acknowledging that its efforts to create a European-led task force have proved difficult.
Cesar Sayoc: The fervent supporter of President Trump who sent homemade pipe bombs to former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democrats was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Colombia: The country will grant citizenship to more than 24,000 undocumented children of Venezuelan refugees born in Colombia, a rare humanitarian measure amid tightening migration policies elsewhere in the hemisphere.
Japan: Organizers of an international art fair closed an exhibition that had featured a statue symbolizing one of the so-called comfort women who were forced into sexual servitude for Japanese soldiers during World War II — a move that further escalates resurging tensions with South Korea.
New Zealand: The government proposed decriminalizing abortions in the country and removing all current requirements placed on women seeking the procedure who are up to 20 weeks pregnant. The bill will be introduced to Parliament for a preliminary vote on Thursday, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she expected the vote to be close.
Snapshot: Above, people in Paris seeking respite from the brutal heat. Last month was the hottest July on record — and thus the hottest month ever recorded, slightly eclipsing the previous record-holder, July 2016.
Brazil: A gang leader tried to escape from prison by impersonating his teenage daughter, complete with a silicone mask and a wig, but was thwarted by prison guards who noticed his nervousness as he tried to walk out the front door in disguise.
What we’re reading: This article in The Christian Science Monitor. “This colorful story challenges the stereotype of rural America as a place of exodus,” says our Colorado-based national correspondent, Jack Healy, “by portraying young farmers moving back to start small farms and small businesses.”
Now, a break from the news
Watch: Every month, subscription streaming services add a new batch of titles to their libraries. Here are the ones we think are most interesting for August.
Read: Sarah Elaine Smith’s debut novel, “Marilou Is Everywhere,” is a coming-of-age mystery that’s also about what it’s like to be an outsider.
Smarter Living: After you have minor surgery or sustain an injury, getting around and doing everyday tasks can be hard. A pack or pouch to carry things while you’re on crutches and a comfortable lap desk can help. And a portable charger for your devices means you can sit wherever you’re most comfortable, regardless of your nook’s proximity to an outlet.
And if you’re investing in the stock market, know that self-serving bias can lead you astray.
And now for the Back Story on …
Panning for gold
Twenty years after the California Gold Rush of the 1850s, Finland had its own gold-inspired migration. Only fitting, then, that the Finnish village of Tankavaara is hosting this year’s World Gold Panning Championships, which run through Saturday.
Using an actual pan to hunt for nuggets isn’t especially efficient, and is a technique that’s rarely used commercially. But it has become an inexpensive outdoor hobby around the world.
The incentive? Gold prices are surging. On Monday, trade-war fears pushed the per-ounce price to as much as $1,468.31, not terribly far from the all-time high of $1,917.90.
Panning works just like it does in old Westerns: You scoop some of the alluvial deposits into an angled pan and gently agitate it in the water. The gold sinks to the bottom of the pan.
Pros say that because of its density, gold is usually found behind a rock where water eddies in a stream.
Before you jump in, find out where panning is legal or get the landowner’s permission. And keep in mind that you’re most likely to turn up flakes, not nuggets.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Victoria Shannon, on the Briefings team, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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