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G-20, Yemen, South Korea: Your Friday Briefing

Category: Asia,World

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Good morning. A look ahead at the G-20 meeting, Michael Cohen’s surprise revelation and the rise of “dark tourism.” Here’s the latest:

High stakes at the G-20 meeting

President Trump is set to have dinner with President Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires this weekend at the summit meeting of the Group of 20 industrialized nations. Above, Mr. Trump heading to Argentina.

Hanging over the closely watched encounter is the escalating trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Both Beijing and Washington have lobbed tit-for-tat tariffs at each other, on everything from American soybeans to Chinese-made Christmas lights.

One core American grievance is Chinese cyberespionage against the U.S., which has accelerated sharply over the past year.

At the last minute, Mr. Trump canceled a planned meeting with President Vladimir Putin, citing an unresolved naval standoff between Russia and Ukraine.

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But Australia sees opportunity in the U.S.-China trade war

As China’s retaliatory taxes make American goods more expensive there, some Australian producers see an opening.

“Australia is one of the best-placed countries in the world to reap the gains of the trade war,” said one analyst. Above, a farm in Australia hoping to capitalize on the trade spat.

But there’s a big caveat: If the trade war ends up slowing China’s economy, Beijing could reduce its purchases of Australian natural resources.

→ Speaking of natural resources: The Indian mining giant Adani announced it would proceed with a scaled-back version of a coal mine project in Australia that has been criticized for its environmental impact.

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A South Korean train heads North

The train is scheduled to roll into North Korea today for the first time in a decade, kicking off a joint study on connecting the two railway systems.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has presented the joint railway system as an incentive to nudge the North toward abandoning its nuclear weapons.

The U.S. has resisted the plans because of concerns that they might violate U.N. sanctions against the North. And Washington doesn’t want South Korea to give too much, too quickly, without concrete progress toward denuclearization.

But last week, the U.N. gave the joint study a go-ahead.

The latest development comes as talks between the U.S. and North Korea have stalled and concerns about the regime's human rights record continue to mount.

In Yemen, our reporter reckons with his role

In the capital city of Sana, a reporter can eat a lavish restaurant meal of slow-cooked lamb with mounds of rice, then visit a hospital filled with malnourished children just a few hundred yards away.

The jarring juxtapositions carry with them a dilemma, writes one of our foreign bureau chiefs who covers the Middle East. Above, the conditions that war victims are living in.

“Journalists travel with bundles of hard currency, usually dollars, to pay for hotels, transport and translation,” he writes. “A small fraction of that cash might go a long way for a starving family. Should I pause, put down my notebook and offer to help?”

→ Go deeper: U.S. senators from both parties voted to consider ending military support for the Saudi-led conflict in Yemen, a rebuke to the Trump administration and its response to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.

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• Deutsche Bank’s headquarters in Frankfurt, pictured above, were raided as part of a money-laundering investigation involving more than $350 million, prosecutors said. The company said the probe was related to the Panama Papers.

• Indian authorities raided 16 fake tech-support centers this week that they said had fleeced thousands of computer users, mostly in America and Canada, by sending scam pop-up warnings of a virus and urging the victims to call an operator, who offered to “fix” the problem for a fee.

• Oil prices have plunged by 25 percent in the last month, and President Trump is pushing for even lower prices. But that could hurt the American economy.

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

• Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, above, admitted that he had engaged in negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow well into the 2016 presidential campaign, far later than previously known. The revelation came as Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. [The New York Times]

• South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered the Japanese company Mitsubishi to compensate South Koreans forced to work at its factories during World War II, the second such ruling in a month that has hurt relations between the two countries. [The New York Times]

• Wildfires continued to burn across the eastern Australian state of Queensland, prompting mass evacuations amid a sweltering heat wave that is expected to continue for days. [The New York Times]

• Chinese authorities suspended the work of He Jiankui, the scientist who claimed to have created the world’s first genetically edited babies, calling his conduct “unacceptable.” [The New York Times]

• Indian authorities say they have no plans to recover the body of the American missionary killed by an isolated tribe on a remote island, to avoid further provoking the tribe. [The Guardian]

• An award-winning Chinese photojournalist has disappeared in Xinjiang province, according to his wife, and is feared detained by the authorities for unknown reasons. [CNN]

• A Philippine court convicted three police officers for the murder of a 17-year-old boy and sentenced them to up to 40 years in prison, the first such ruling in President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs. [The New York Times]

• Analysis: Here’s how early voting in Australia, which spiked in last week’s Victorian state election, is changing the country’s political landscape. [Crikey, article is paywall free for Times readers]

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

• Want to spend your vacation sleeping in a bunker, listening to gunfire and explosions? The War Hostel Sarajevo in the Bosnian capital, pictured above, offers just that experience, feeding into a global niche market that the industry calls “dark tourism.”

• Australia has been late to the space party: It only officially created a space agency this year. And Megan Clark, its first chief executive, is in charge of steering the country into the galaxy.

• Here are the 10 best books of the year, both fiction and nonfiction, picked by our Book Review editors.

Details of the last minutes of a doomed Lion Air flight emerged this week, thanks to data from the Boeing jet’s so-called black boxes.

Planes did not always have these data recorders. During the first half of aviation’s history, crashes went mostly unsolved.

Enter David Warren, an Australian who lost his father in an air crash. In the mid-1950s, after helping investigate a plane wreck, he came up with a way to capture information from any plane’s last minutes.

His idea: embed recording devices that, in case of impact, would cease overwriting old data with new. He prototyped his Flight Memory Unit in 1957.

Flight-data recorders and cockpit voice recorders are now standard, and have helped explain crashes and improve airline safety.

Why are these bright orange units, pictured above, called “black boxes?”

Some think the first one was black, but others point to the term’s meaning in science: a complex entity whose result is known, even if its inner workings are not.

Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, in our Australia bureau, wrote today’s Back Story.

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