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U.S.-China Trade, Brexit, Benjamin Netanyahu: Your Tuesday Briefing

Category: Europe,World

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Good morning. Doubts about the U.S.-China trade truce, bracing for the Brexit vote and exploring Europe on the Interrail.

Here’s the latest:

Despite trade truce, doubts persist.

Markets breathed a sigh of relief on Monday after the U.S. and China declared a temporary truce in their trade war. Both President Trump and the Chinese government claimed the cease-fire as a success, but little is known about the deal beyond vague official statements.

Conflicting signals and a lack of specific commitments from both sides have cast doubt on whether the world’s two largest economies can put their dispute to rest. And Mr. Trump’s choice of Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative and a longtime critic of China’s trade practices, to lead the negotiations could rattle the Chinese.

Damage control as Brexit vote nears.

Prime Minister Theresa May could face a crushing defeat in Parliament on Dec. 11, when British lawmakers are to vote on her plan for leaving the E.U. Analysts expect her to lose, the only question being by how much, and her allies are trying to manage expectations.

Losing by a wide margin could force Mrs. May to abandon her deal, crash her government or even see her ousted her from office. A narrower loss could allow her to renegotiate parts of her agreement in Brussels and return for a second parliamentary vote.

Mrs. May has argued that a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous, and that her plan, while not perfect, is superior to any alternate approach. But many Conservative critics say it presents the worst of all worlds, leaving Britain neither in nor fully out of the E.U., with no say in its rule making and without a clear exit.

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France and the Yellow Vests.

In France, three weekends of protests over tough economic conditions have left at least three people dead and 260 wounded, and the Arc de Triomphe alone may have sustained a million euros in damage. Self-selected representatives of the Yellow Vests, the grass-roots movement leading the demonstrations, were supposed to meet with Prime Minister Édouard Philippe on Monday, but they backed away after threats and protests from other movement members.

The government had kept an aloof stance toward the protests until late last week, hoping they would peter out. But now its approach is changing. Here’s a look at where things stand, and what travelers to Paris should consider.

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Qatar announced it would withdraw from OPEC in January, after nearly six decades in the oil cartel, and focus on its natural gas business. Above, a gas production facility at Ras Laffan, Qatar.

Ted Baker’s founder and chief executive, Ray Kelvin, has been accused of sexual harassment by current and former employees. Employees say the British fashion chain’s human resources department ignored complaints about his behavior.

TikTok, the video-sharing app from the Chinese company ByteDance, might be “the only truly pleasant social network in existence,” writes our columnist. (In China, there’s a domestic version called Douyin.)

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, pictured above, joked about using marijuana to stay awake at official events, a comment that critics called insensitive in light of his bloody war on drugs. [The New York Times]

Denmark plans to house unwanted migrants on a tiny, hard-to-reach island. [The New York Times]

Saudi Arabia has been disqualified from hosting a prominent chess tournament by the international chess governing body. A legal advocacy group representing Israeli players, who were banned by the Saudis in 2017, said it had pressured the organization to act. [The New York Times]

Sri Lanka will lower its tax on sugary drinks by 40 percent, the latest populist gesture from the government as it tries to shore up support for the disputed prime minister. Experts fear the move will drive up diabetes and obesity. [The New York Times]

Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has created a truth commission to re-examine the case of 43 students who disappeared after being attacked by police officers in 2014. [The New York Times]

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

South Africa is celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela, above, who died five years ago this Wednesday.

One highlight: Beyoncé and Jay-Z headlined the Global Citizen Festival, a fund-raiser in his honor in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Mandela himself was a passionate fan of music who believed in its transformative powers. “Music is a great blessing,” he said. “It has the power to elevate and liberate us. It sets people free to dream.”

His musical tastes were far-reaching. He loved traditional Xhosa music; South African artists, including Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Miriam Makeba; opera; and jazz. When he was jailed in 1964, he sang songs of freedom and protest in prison. In 1997, he professed his love for the Spice Girls.

Mandela inspired countless musicians to write their own tributes, including Brenda Fassie’s “Black President” and Hugh Masekela’s “Mandela (Bring Him Back Home).” In 2010, the Cape Town Opera held the premiere of “Mandela Trilogy,” an opera based on his life.

Andrew R. Chow wrote today’s Back Story.

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Your Morning Briefing is published weekday mornings and updated online.


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