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Hong Kong, North Korea, U.S.-China Trade: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning.

Hong Kong’s illicit flora and fauna industry, North Korea’s bizarre — and addictive — Lunar New Year items, and a deeply troubling Bonsai robbery. Here’s the most recent:

House and Senate negotiators say they reached an “agreement in principle” to avert any other authorities shutdown on the finish of the week.

President Trump mentioned he used to be “not happy” with the deal, despite the fact that he didn’t sign whether or not he would signal it or veto it.

Details: The deal would offer $1.375 billion for bodily limitations on the southern border with Mexico, some distance less than the $five.7 billion Mr. Trump had demanded. And it could permit for 55 miles of recent fencing, a fragment of the 200-mile steel-and-concrete wall the president had envisioned.

The deal gave the impression to be a win for Democrats, who had been ready to weave in a discount of the collection of migrants and undocumented immigrants who can also be held in detention facilities.

What’s subsequent? The deal may well be finalized swiftly, however would nonetheless wish to be authorized by way of each the House and Senate, in addition to Mr. Trump.

Today’s phrase is “bollard”: That’s a thick, quick submit, in most cases fabricated from iron or metal. The deal permits for best bollard fencing. Here are the different forms of limitations already on the border.


Every yr, huge quantities of unique animal merchandise, like shark fins and elephant ivory, glide thru Hong Kong. Most of it’s headed for China, the arena’s greatest flora and fauna marketplace.

The newest sufferers of the industry are pangolins from Africa, Southeast Asia and somewhere else. Their meat is regarded as a delicacy in southern China and their scales are a prized element in conventional Chinese drugs. Four of the 8 species are actually endangered.

By the numbers: Hong Kong officers estimate that they’ve seized greater than $71 million value of flora and fauna contraband prior to now 5 years, a determine that implies the opportunity of a bigger, billion-dollar business that is still underneath the radar.

Enforcement: The government declare they’re cracking down at the unlawful industry, however few circumstances have ended in prosecutions and particular person smugglers have got away with only a few weeks in jail. It could also be a Sisyphean activity to check out each and every parcel going out and in of town, house to one of the crucial international’s maximum voluminous ports and airports.

Alternative: Officials have steered specializing in the call for aspect of the equation as a substitute.

“I think the community has begun to accept that if something is not good for the environment, it should be phased out,” mentioned one legit. “The world is changing.”


Parliament’s decrease area narrowly handed law that will let asylum seekers held in offshore detention facilities fly to Australia for clinical remedies.

Two or extra docs would wish to request clinical evacuations, to be reviewed by way of an unbiased clinical panel. The house affairs minister may just in the end reject the switch.

What’s subsequent? The measure now heads to the Senate, which handed an previous model of the law closing yr.

Background: Australia’s immigration coverage, aimed toward deterring unhealthy sea crossings, assists in keeping asylum seekers who take a look at to go into the rustic by way of boat from environment foot within the nation. Many were detained at the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus for years in prerequisites of accelerating fear for human rights teams and clinical mavens.

Political implications: The vote used to be a blow for Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who strongly hostile the measure. It seems to be the primary time since 1941 that the federal government had misplaced a key vote within the decrease area.

Like many of us throughout Asia, North Koreans trade items all over the vacation, however, as a substitute of the standard tea or goodies, some reviews counsel that crystal meth is the most well liked reward.

The drug, which has fueled dependancy crises world wide, is easily established within the nation. People giggle it as casually as they may smoke a cigarette, in all probability ignorant of its destructive qualities. A loss of get admission to to well being care and clinical provides has additionally contributed to its reputation.

Background: In the 1990s, North Korea’s cash-poor authorities began production meth to export and, about twenty years later, native manufacturing of opiates. The meth used to be then most often sneaked around the border into China or passed off to legal organizations, just like the Japanese yakuza.

In the mid-2000s, government-controlled manufacturing ebbed, so its professional makers started supplying native markets.


Myanmar: A French vacationer who used to be arrested and accused of flying a drone close to the Parliament development within the capital, Naypyidaw, may just face as much as 3 years in jail, a neighborhood police legit mentioned.

El Chapo: The Mexican drug kingpin used to be discovered accountable after a three-month trial in New York that revealed the interior workings of his brutal and corrupt cartel. He faces existence in jail.

Hungary: Prime Minister Viktor Orban introduced that ladies with 4 or extra youngsters will not pay source of revenue taxes, the most recent incentive he’s presented to extend the rustic’s dwindling inhabitants and paintings drive with out permitting in immigrants.

Canada: The parliamentary ethics commissioner opened an inquiry into allegations that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attempted to steer the legal investigation of a Montreal-based engineering corporate, a case that might dent his recognition in an election yr.

France: Anti-Semitic incidents have risen sharply, leaping 74 p.c in 2018 to 541, authorities officers mentioned. The figures illustrate the upward push of the far-right, particularly on-line, elevating outrage and fear.

Bonsai robbery: A prized 400-year-old tree used to be amongst seven stolen from a shop close to Tokyo, unsettling the landlord so deeply that he begged the thieves to go back them, and to water them within the period in-between. Bonsai timber are notoriously tricky to stay, requiring meticulous shaping, watering and being concerned that creates a deep connection for his or her homeowners.

Playing mum and dad: Successful new online game, Chinese Parents, has avid gamers elevating a kid from cradle to university. It’s spurring heated discussions on-line, hundreds of evaluations and sparking avid gamers’ emotions of empathy for his or her folks.


Tips for a extra gratifying existence.

Recipe of the day: Looking for a mild meal? Serve simmered kabocha squash over rice with a fried egg.

Activities requiring you to face as a substitute of take a seat, akin to tai chi, can cut back falls.

South Asians have top charges of center illness, and mavens are starting to perceive why.

The wintry storms raging across the U.S. this week aren’t, fortunately, bringing the plunging temperatures of the new polar vortex. That brutal blast of chilly presented a reminder of the only temperature the place the Fahrenheit scale is of the same opinion with Celsius: minus 40.

The scales each cope with two main calibration issues (freezing and boiling), however divide the temperature vary between them in in a different way sized levels. There are much more in Fahrenheit, and the 2 intersect at simply that one level.

Daniel Fahrenheit, an 18th-century physicist and inventor, made his scale for a mercury-in-glass thermometer that used to be the primary correct and sensible strategy to measure temperature.

He used a frigid mixture of ice, water and salt to outline 0 levels. Then he borrowed and subtle different reference issues from an current scale, which is how different usually used issues ended up with untidy values like 32 for water’s freezing level and 212 for its boiling level.

Anders Celsius, whose lifetime overlapped Fahrenheit’s, set the ones reference issues at zero and 100.

Kenneth Chang, a science reporter who says he “hates the Fahrenheit scale — and miles and ounces and those other British units that even the British dropped decades ago,” wrote nowadays’s Back Story.


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