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Your Tuesday Briefing - The New York Times


First, a Houston Rockets official tweeted in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, inflaming officials and basketball fans in China. Then the N.B.A.’s apology enraged American fans.

The fracas spotlights the difficulties many businesses in China face. In this case, basketball has long been China’s most popular sport, with a huge base of fans and lucrative corporate deals that are growing each year.

American fans accused the league of hypocrisy for encouraging free speech on political matters in the U.S. but stifling it when its business interests were at stake. Joe Tsai, the owner of the Brooklyn Nets and a co-founder of Alibaba, wrote on Facebook that Hong Kong protests were a “third-rail” issue for the people of China, adding, “the hurt that this incident has caused will take a long time to repair.”

Immediate impact: Yao Ming, China’s biggest basketball star, played on the Rockets for years, boosting its status for the Chinese. He is now the president of the Chinese Basketball Association, which announced after the tweet that it was cutting ties with the Rockets.

Hong Kong: The growing ferocity of some antigovernment demonstrators risks alienating moderate supporters and plays to Beijing’s characterization of those protesting the mainland’s encroachments as riotous mobs.


President Trump threw Middle East policy into turmoil with a series of conflicting signals, as his abrupt decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria touched off an uprising among congressional Republicans and protests by U.S. allies.

Defending his Sunday night decision to clear the way for a Turkish military operation against America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria, Mr. Trump said on Monday that it was “time for us to get out” and let others “figure the situation out.” But after Republican allies condemned the move, he pivoted sharply and said he would restrain Turkey.

Quotable: “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” the president wrote on Twitter, without explaining what exactly he would consider off limits.

Background: Turkey considers the Kurds a terrorist insurgency, but they’ve been the most reliable partner for the U.S. in fighting the Islamic State in a strategic part of northern Syria. And the Pentagon views the U.S. presence as a critical counterweight to Iran and Russia. Here’s how the decision could affect the region.

Two months after India’s government revoked Kashmir’s autonomy, doctors and patients say the crackdown has taken many lives, in part because of a government-imposed communication blackout that includes shutting down the internet.

Saja Begum, above, spent hours navigating roadblocks as she went door to door at hospitals and pharmacies in a desperate search for an antidote after her son was bitten by a poisonous snake.

Britain: Prime Minister Boris Johnson publicly identified a U.S. diplomat’s wife involved in an August crash that killed a teenager and called for her to return to Britain. He said he would ask President Trump to intervene if the impasse was not resolved through diplomatic channels.

Japan: Dozens of North Korean fishermen were thrown overboard when a fishing trawler collided with a Japanese patrol ship in Japan’s waters. All the fisherman were believed to be rescued.

Afghanistan: Eleven Taliban commanders, including one who was caught escorting a shipment of nearly a ton of opium, have been released from prison in an apparent exchange for three Indian hostages.

Nobel Prizes: The award in physiology or medicine went to three scientists — William Kaelin Jr., Peter Ratcliffe and Gregg Semenza — for their work on how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability. The winner for the physics prize will be named on Tuesday.

Snapshot: Above, an attendee at Comic Con in New York on the opening weekend of “The Joker,” starring Joaquin Phoenix. The convention was packed with Jokers inspired by at least six movie or TV portrayals.

In memoriam: Rip Taylor, a flamboyant mainstay of the comedy circuit who made countless appearances on game shows like “Hollywood Squares,” “Match Game” and “Super Password.” He was 84.

Theater etiquette: Is it ever O.K. to record a performance? Actors and musicians have increasingly called out audience members holding up their phones, but some worry the scolding is a turnoff to a younger generation of fans.

What we’re reading: This article from the Anchorage Daily News, about a donation of 10 handmade electric guitars to an Alaska school district. “The story twists and turns like a great solo,” writes Gina Lamb, a Special Sections editor. “Don’t miss the video.”

Cook: Our food editor, Sam Sifton, says vinegar chicken with crushed olive dressing “may end up being the greatest sheet-pan recipe of the year.” (Our Five Weeknight Dishes newsletter has more recommendations.)

Listen: DaBaby, the year’s breakout rapper, has just released “Kirk,” his third project in 12 months. Now comes the hard part.

Read: Leigh Bardugo, the author of young adult fantasy fiction like “Shadow and Bone” and “Six of Crows,” has written “Ninth House,” which features occult versions of Yale’s secret societies.


Smarter Living: Nir Eyal literally wrote the Silicon Valley playbook for creating addictive apps, but now he’s reversing course with “Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.” He thinks that tech isn’t the problem — and that putting down our phones is about reclaiming responsibility, even just by silencing them. Besides, he asks, “Who says getting hooked to social media is a bad thing?”

Plus: Technology allows us to easily and secretly monitor our neighbors and family. But should we?

After the attacks last month on Saudi oil facilities, The Times wrote an article headlined “The Urgent Search for a Cyber Silver Bullet Against Iran.” That prompted a Briefings reader, Ariel Fromowitz, to ask us where the term “silver bullet” came from.

Silver itself has been known for its healing properties since at least the time of Hippocrates.

European legends that held that only a silver bullet could kill a werewolf or other supernatural malevolence (just as only a wooden stake to the heart kills a vampire) became common in the early 1800s.

And in the 1930s American radio show “The Lone Ranger,” the masked lawman would leave behind a silver bullet as his trademark, a symbol of justice.

By the mid-20th century, a “silver bullet” came to mean a miraculous or fail-safe solution to a problem.

More recently, the term “magic bullet” has been used to convey the same idea, though it started out referring more specifically to an undiscovered drug to cure a disease.

Thanks to Ariel for leading us to the silver bullet for the end of today’s Briefing.


That’s it for this briefing, but more great journalism is available beyond your inbox. Subscribe to The New York Times for unlimited access. See you next time.

— Tom


Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Victoria Shannon wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about how U.S. diplomats discussed the situation in Ukraine.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Kids can make money by losing them (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• “Caliphate,” by the Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi, has been named one of the 10 most influential nonfiction podcasts by Vulture, the pop culture website.


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