During their meeting, Francis gave the president a copy of his 2015 encyclical on climate change.
• Bomb scars, “hell cannons” and trash piles so high they block streets.
Our writer and photographer traveled to Aleppo, Syria, where they found abject destruction, pessimism and blame, but also resilience and a determination to rebuild.
Separately, a Times reporter was given access to the U.S. command center in Qatar for a rare glimpse into how the military keeps the air war in Syria going around the clock.
• Taiwan is on track to become the first place in Asia to recognize same-sex marriage — after its constitutional court ruled that Taiwan’s Civil Code illegally defines matrimony as between a man and a woman.
Other Asian governments are less receptive to same-sex relationships. In South Korea, an Army captain was sentenced to prison for having sex with another male soldier. And Indonesia this week detained 141 men in a raid at a sauna on suspicion of having a gay sex party.
• A day after he imposed martial law over the island of Mindanao to fight Islamist militants, President Rodrigo Duterte warned that the rest of Philippines might be next in order to “protect the people.”
The declaration came after Abu Sayyaf extremists backed by another insurgent group burned down buildings to prevent troops from arresting a top rebel commander.
The episode comes days after a transcript emerged of a phone call in which President Trump praised Mr. Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”
• “Erasing climate change may take place in Donald Trump’s mind, but nowhere else.”
Those are the words of Governor Jerry Brown of California, a state that is not only fighting to protect its legacy of sweeping environmental protection, but also holding itself out as a model to other states — and to nations — on how to fight climate change.
• Moody’s downgraded China’s credit rating, saying its “financial strength will erode somewhat over the coming years, with economywide debt continuing to rise.”
Our analysts explain the downgrade and why China has a debt problem.
• A Brazilian ride-hailing start-up, 99, raised $100 million from SoftBank of Japan, adding to its earlier backing by China’s Didi Chuxing.
• Unity Technologies, which makes software for Pokémon Go, agreed to $400 million in funding and is now valued at $2.6 billion.
• U.S. stocks were up for the fifth day. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.
In the News
• Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of Israel’s capture of the Western Wall, along with the rest of Jerusalem’s Old City — unrecognized by most nations — after the Six Day War in 1967. [The New York Times]
• A scientist has challenged China’s population figure of 1.38 billion people, suggesting India is more populous. [The New York Times]
• Another grisly scene on Mount Everest. Rescuers sent to the “death zone” for the body of a Slovak climber found four more dead bodies, bringing the year’s total to 10. [BBC]
• At least one million people will die in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, researchers warn, if funding cuts by the Trump administration to global health programs are enacted. [The New York Times]
• The “Xiamen gang.” A new generation of Chinese designers, whose aesthetics range from street wear to high-end fashion, are setting up shop in a city not known for its sense of chic. [The New York Times]
• Recipe of the day: Hot and sour seared tofu with sugar snap peas is a meatless dinner to save and cook often.
• Here are some legal, financial and practical things to keep in mind when moving in with your significant other.
• Although it can feel like your flaws and missteps can be the focus of everyone’s attention, research suggests otherwise.
• Australia’s “stolen generations.” A photojournalist documented the hellish fates of mixed-race children who were kidnapped for the nation’s disastrous experiment with forced assimilation.
• Hungry? Our T Magazine looked at the ways in which food has been photographed for over a century.
• Finally, “We need to change. And we need to change now.” The mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, gave a speech on race and history — after his removal of the city’s last Confederate monuments — that you need to hear.
“Star Wars” appeared in theaters for the first time on this day in 1977, unleashing one of the greatest pop culture explosions this galaxy has ever seen.
The Force drew us in as much as anyone: Over the last 40 years, The Times published thousands of articles about “Star Wars” and the universe that surrounds it.
Some now seem quaint: In a prerelease interview, George Lucas described Chewbacca as “a cross between a large bear, a dog and a monkey.” (Chewie, as we know now, is a 200-year-old Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk and one of the greatest sidekicks in the history of film.)
Other reports were serious: We covered President Reagan’s “Star Wars” antimissile system in the 1980s, the “piracy menace” of bootleg films in Hong Kong, and the obituaries of franchise stars like Sir Alec Guinness, in 2000, and Carrie Fisher, in December.
We also tried to be playful. We covered the recent campaign to make Jediism a religion, and the “Star Wars” socks worn by the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.
And maybe we got a little obsessed, too. Last year, we offered “Star Wars” teaching ideas — from “Tackle Shakespeare With Yoda, You Will” to an economics primer “The Death Star, Too Big to Fail?”
In any case, may The Force be with you.
This briefing was prepared for the Asian morning. We also have briefings timed for the Australian, European and American mornings. You can sign up for these and other Times newsletters here.
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