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Elections, Singapore Hawkers, Soybeans: Your Tuesday Briefing

Category: Asia,World

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Good morning. Americans vote with the future in sight, Singapore and Malaysia get into a food fight and India’s pollution reaches dizzying heights. Here’s what you need to know:

A fierce fight to the last.

Voting in a dizzying array of congressional and statehouse races will still be underway when you get tomorrow’s briefing, and the tide could break red, blue or who knows. Our polling expert explains why even modest late shifts among undecided voters or slightly unexpected turnout numbers could significantly affect results.

Here’s the latest from the reporters and photographers we’ve spread out across the country. Some are attending Republican rallies in President Trump’s final three-state swing, closing out what our White House correspondent describes as “an us-against-them midterm campaign built on dark themes of fear, anger, division, nationalism and racial animosity.”

Our Abroad in America writer looks at an election that for many is “nothing less than an epic battle for the soul and future of the country.” One proof: Some Americans have quit jobs, delayed school or moved across the country — to work without pay for a campaign.

U.S. soybeans pile up.

Mounds of yellowish white soybeans are littering the American Midwest.

China, the largest buyer of the U.S. crop, shut its doors in retaliation for U.S. tariffs. Sales have dropped by 94 percent from last year’s harvest.

The farmers — among President Trump’s staunchest supporters — can only hope that trade tensions ease before the stockpiled beans rot.

Meanwhile, President Xi Jinping kicked off a six-day import expo in Shanghai with a speech that cast China as a big buyer of foreign goods and a positive force for trade, a bid to win over new allies as the trade war with the U.S. intensifies.

One Russian oligarch tries to charm D.C.

Oleg Deripaska, above, who controls the world’s second largest aluminum company, is one of the most prominent Russian billionaires targeted by U.S. sanctions.

Facing possible ruin and extreme sensitivity over Russian activity within the U.S., Mr. Deripaska has corralled an army to help him fight back: lobbyists, law firms, public relations experts, a British emissary, a former U.S. senator and a former Trump campaign official.

If Mr. Deripaska manages to muscle his way off the sanctions list, he would undermine the overall effectiveness of one of the U.S.’s most important diplomatic tools.


Singapore and Malaysia get into a food fight.

Singapore has pulled out all the stops in a bid to get its food vendors on the U.N.’s “intangible cultural” registry. It’s national museum has created a traveling exhibition about the hawkers, and a government-led online petition has about 38,000 signatures. Above, one of the country’s hawker food centers.

The Unesco register currently includes Belgium’s beer culture, France’s “gastronomic meal,” and North and South Korea’s kimchi.

But many foodies in Malaysia, which shares aspects of its heritage with its neighbor, are stirring up trouble, insisting that Singapore’s street food can’t compare with theirs.

Here’s a taste of their approach: “Malaysia should be the one trying to save our hawker scene & not have it turned into the sanitized, for lack of a better word, like Singapore.”


• Masayoshi Son of SoftBank, Saudi Arabia’s biggest business partner, said he would maintain financial ties with the kingdom despite what he called the “horrible” killing of a journalist at the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

• China’s tech industry is both impressive and alienating, fueled by an unrivaled work ethic and a ruthless focus on growth, a group of Silicon Valley executives told our New New World columnist, Li Yuan, after a weeklong immersion.

• Booksellers around the world have pulled millions of secondhand and rare books off the Amazon-owned site AbeBooks to protest its abrupt decision to ban sellers from several countries, including South Korea, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Russia.

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

• Pollution in New Delhi reached levels 20 times the World Health Organization’s recommended limit and is expected to worsen in the coming days with the use of firecrackers during Diwali. [BBC]

• Saudi Arabia sent an expert cleanup team to its consulate in Istanbul to clear evidence of the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Turkish officials said. [The New York Times]

• Maj. Brent Taylor, who was on leave as mayor of a town in Utah during his deployment to Afghanistan, was killed in an insider attack. [The New York Times]

• The Axios reporter Jonathan Swan — who is from Australia and broke the story that President Trump is considering revoking birthright citizenship — is being heavily criticized for favoring access over accountability. [The New York Times]

• Sri Lanka’s president, Maithripala Sirisena, ordered Parliament to reconvene next week and hold a confidence vote on the country’s former strongman whom he abruptly named the new prime minister. [The South China Morning Post]

• “Thanks, but no thanks”: Virgin Australia announced it would provide priority boarding for Australian veterans. But the veterans derided the move for contradicting the country’s egalitarian ethos. [The New York Times]

• The author Haruki Murakami is planning to donate drafts of his novels, his translation works and his collection of music to his Japanese alma mater, Waseda University. [The Japan Times]

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

• Ballet point shoes have always been shades of pink, to match the skin tones of European dancers. Now brown and bronze point shoes have arrived for dancers of color, underscoring the art’s slow pace of change.

• Welcome to the Future Library: It’s nothing more than a forest in Norway. But in about a century, the trees will be turned into 100 unpublished books donated by today’s most celebrated writers, a gift to the readers of tomorrow.

• The Church of Santiago Apóstal, perched high in the Andes Mountains, was built in 1681 out of mud. And it has managed to survive its fair share of earthquakes over the centuries. What can modern architecture learn from the ancient building technique?

Inspired by today’s midterm elections in the U.S., we’re looking at how newspapers published results in the past.

The presidential election of 1896 between William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan was hotly contested. The competition between newspapers to provide results to the crowds gathered outside their offices was similarly intense.

In New York, The Tribune built a display of lights, alternating green and red with different numbers of white lights to signal each state’s result. The paper first tried to send the display aloft on a kite, but the wind died, so the display was instead hung on the spire of the building.

The World projected massive bulletins over nearly its entire 20-story building across from City Hall, and The Herald shone a beacon from atop its building.

At The Times, the new owner, Adolph Ochs, thought his paper’s own efforts — projections on two screens in town — fell short.

So when Mr. Ochs commissioned a new building in what would be renamed Times Square, he insisted that a searchlight be installed at the top. When the tower opened, just before the 1904 election, it was the city’s second tallest. That night, and for election nights almost until the building was sold in 1961, a needle of light pointed out the winners.

Albert Sun wrote today’s Back Story.


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