Tuesday . 26 March . 2019
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Brett Kavanaugh, India, the Philippines: Your Friday Briefing

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Good morning. Gripping testimony in the U.S., the Indian Supreme Court’s adultery ruling, the Philippines president’s stunning admission. Here’s what you need to know:

American history in real time.

In emotional testimony before a Senate panel, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford detailed the night she said the Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school.

The hearing seemed at times to resemble a trial, with a prosecutor carefully questioning Dr. Blasey on behalf of Republican senators. Dr. Blasey remained steadfast, and insisted on her clarity of memory, and her sincerity. “I am a fiercely independent person, and I am no one’s pawn,” she said.

Mr. Kavanaugh tearfully and angrily denied the allegations and accused Democrats of acting in bad faith: “You have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy.”

Follow our live coverage here.

And today’s word is “sequelae”: the harmful or unexpected aftereffects of a disease or trauma. Dr. Blasey used the word in her testimony to describe the lingering consequences of the alleged sexual assault.

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Adultery is no longer a crime in India.

The country’s Supreme Court ruled that a 158-year-old law criminalizing adultery discriminated against women and was therefore unconstitutional.

The law made it illegal for a man to have sex with a married woman without her husband’s consent.

The ruling comes just weeks after the court decriminalized gay sex. Indeed, it often makes dramatic statements on politically and culturally sensitive matters.

Our reporters in New Delhi and Mumbai took a look at how one of the country’s most vital institutions, pictured above, works as it rules on up to 700 legal matters a day.

Chinese “propaganda ads” in the U.S.

When President Trump accused China of meddling with U.S. elections, he didn’t offer evidence at first. Then on Twitter, he pointed to a four-page advertorial in The Des Moines Register, paid for by an English-language news organization that usually toes the Communist Party line. The ad highlighted negative impacts of the U.S.-China trade war in a state that is politically significant for Republicans.

China’s foreign ministry pushed back on Mr. Trump’s accusations, saying it had a right to publish in American newspapers. Above, foreign minister Wang Yi.

But some Chinese analysts said the ad showed a lack of judgment. “China should not do this – it’s legal but wrong,” said one.

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“My only sin is the extrajudicial killings.”

That was President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, above, apparently defending his brutal crackdown on drugs that has left an estimated 12,000 people dead.

His explosive statement, which seemed to confirm what human rights groups have long accused him of, could add momentum to two cases filed against him at the International Criminal Court. Angered by the charges, he pulled the Philippines out of the court in March.

The president didn’t elaborate on what he meant, but went on to reiterate that he wasn’t planning on halting the drug war any time soon.

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At the U.N.: The world leaders speaking in New York on Thursday included the New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, Israel prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, above, and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. Our briefing on the General Assembly has the highlights and you can watch speeches here.

Mike Pompeo, the U.S. secretary of state, said the world is at “the dawn of a new day” with North Korea — but warned that sanctions against the country must continue for now.

And in Geneva, the U.N. Human Rights Council voted to gather and analyze evidence of war crimes against Rohingya Muslims, one of its strongest moves to date on the conflict.

KFC ran an ad on Chinese state-run TV celebrating the 40 years since the country opened up its economy to the outside world — even as most foreign brands in China choose to steer clear of politics.

Japan agreed to enter bilateral trade talks with the U.S. The move gives President Trump a short-term win, but could be a delaying tactic to put off looming auto tariffs.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, is in Washington speaking to lawmakers. After largely avoiding the scrutiny faced by its internet peers, the search giant is being grilled on whether it’s living up to its promise to be a neutral arbiter of online information.

Venture capitalists, including Japan’s SoftBank, are racing to pour money into technology for real estate — or what Silicon Valley is now calling proptech.

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

The Chinese TV star Zhu Jun, above, is suing the former CCTV intern who accused him of sexual harassment, as well as another woman whose reposting of the account went viral on Weibo, and Weibo itself. [Sixth Tone]

France’s new law against sexist catcalling got its first conviction when a court fined a man for lewd comments to a woman on a bus. The man was also jailed, for slapping her behind and hitting the bus driver. [The New York Times]

South Sudan’s civil war has claimed 383,000 lives over the last five years, a stark increase from earlier estimates, according to a new report financed by the U.S. State Department. [The New York Times]

J.K. Rowling defended casting the South Korean actress Claudia Kim as an evil snake in the new “Fantastic Beasts” film. The franchise has a largely white cast. [The Guardian]

Heinz Salad Cream it is, and will remain. A wave of ridicule and threats of boycotts persuaded the company to withdraw plans to rename its mayonnaise-like condiment Sandwich Cream. [Sky News]

In this week’s Letter: What should The New York Times in Australia sound like? Our bureau chief is all ears.

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

• Australia Fare: The salad sandwich was once ubiquitous in the country, occupying as significant a place as PB & J sandwiches do in America. They’ve all but slipped away into obscurity but, our food critic writes, deserve to make a comeback.

• Roller skates are making a comeback in the U.S. as a feminist uniform, our Styles section reports. Women on wheels ride “in a gorgeous opalescent bubble, floating along, or stunting, or racing in a world void of unfair tennis umpires, sexist politicians and assaulting network C.E.O.s.”

• In case you missed it: A seal slapped a New Zealand kayaker in the face with an octopus. Yes, you read that correctly. That “moment of yuck,” as the kayaker described it, was caught in a video that has gone viral.

Appointed in 1791 to design what would become the city of Washington, Pierre L’Enfant was said to have been inspired by the design of the gardens at Versailles, the royal palace in his homeland of France.

As part of his plan for the federal city, he envisioned “a great church for national purposes.”

The final stone at the Washington National Cathedral was placed almost 200 years later, on Sept. 29, 1990, 83 years after the building’s foundation stone was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt.

The cathedral is the sixth largest in the world and has been the site of state funerals for three presidents: Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his final Sunday sermon there, four days before he was assassinated in 1968.

The gothic building features more than 100 gargoyles (including one of the “Star Wars” baddie Darth Vader) and more than 200 stained-glass windows, one of which contains a piece of lunar rock.

Speaking at the dedication ceremony in 1990, President George H.W. Bush noted that the cathedral, which does not receive direct funding from the federal government, was built with the gifts of “the people who were its congregation: the millions across America.”

Chris Stanford wrote today’s Back Story.

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Your Morning Briefing is published weekday mornings and updated online. Sign up here to get it by email in the Australian, Asian, European or American morning. You can also receive an Evening Briefing on U.S. weeknights.

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