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September 18, 2019
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Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

Your Thursday Briefing - The New York Times
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Antigovernment demonstrators apologized on Wednesday for their increasingly confrontational tactics, which a Chinese government spokesman denounced as “conduct close to terrorism.” Two days of protests plunged the city’s international airport into chaos and caused hundreds of flight cancellations.

“We apologize for our behavior but we are just too scared,” read one post that was widely distributed on social media. “Our police shot us, government betrayed us, social institutions failed us. Please help us.”

The airport said it would limit access only to employees and ticketed passengers.

Bigger picture: A major undercurrent of the protests in Hong Kong is an identity struggle over what the city means as a place, a culture and a political entity.

“The Daily”: Today’s episode is about the protests.

Related: The clashes at one of the world’s busiest transportation hubs could cast further doubt on Hong Kong’s future as a business capital on China’s doorstep.

Analysis: Under President Trump’s “America First” strategy, Washington has largely stayed on the sidelines during recent disputes in Asia, our correspondent writes.

In an effort to address deadly traffic jams on the mountain, a major tourism draw, officials formally proposed new safety rules on Wednesday.

Under the new regulations, climbers would have to prove that they had scaled another peak and might need to go through mandatory health checkups. Tourism companies would be required to prove they have the experience and the budget to lead the expeditions.

Context: The past climbing season was one of the most deadly in recent years. Eleven climbers died, and at one point hundreds of climbers waited precariously for hours to reach the summit.

What’s next: The new rules will be put before Parliament before the start of next spring’s climbing season.

Parliament is set to reconvene in September, a month before the country is scheduled to leave the E.U. on Oct. 31, and some lawmakers have suggested passing a vote of no confidence in the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

By tradition, lawmakers would then have 14 days to try to pull together a new government. If that effort failed, the prime minister would be expected to call a general election.

But there have been reports that Mr. Johnson would simply refuse to step down, setting off a heated debate about the limits of the British Constitution, which is not a document but rather a medley of laws and customs, some unwritten.

Quotable: “I think this is an entirely new constitutional situation,” one scholar said. “The British haven’t thought it necessary to think seriously about the Constitution for quite a long time.”

Theories: Armchair constitutional theorizing is suddenly in vogue, with some suggesting that Queen Elizabeth II could step in and fire Mr. Johnson, if needed — an unlikely, but not impossible, scenario.

A yearlong camping protest against a highway-widening project in southeastern Australia has been given less than two weeks to disband, raising questions about the extent to which the country follows through on its promises to Indigenous Australians.

The protesters are members of the Djab Wurrung people, whose women deliver babies in the hollows of the majestic birthing trees in the area marked for destruction.

The government had consulted two Aboriginal organizations about the plan, and it was altered to spare 15 trees, including two birthing trees. The protesters say that the groups did not represent them, and that the destruction of thousands of other trees will mean, as one elder put it, “the end of many things for us culturally.”

Context: Landscape is central to the identity of Aboriginal Australians, one of the world’s oldest continuous populations. But in the era of white settlement, racist policies denied them land rights and left them victim to massacres by white settlers.

In August of 1619, a ship appeared near Point Comfort, a port in the British colony of Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans, who were sold to the colonists. America was not yet America, but this, The Times Magazine argues, was the moment that it began.

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The Times about how slavery shaped the United States in the 400 years since. An essay by Nikole Hannah-Jones anchors the project: “Our founding ideals of liberty and equality were false when they were written,” she says. “Black Americans fought to make them true.”

New Zealand: Prison officials acknowledged that they had mistakenly allowed the man charged in the Christchurch mosque attacks to send at least one letter from jail calling for racial violence.

ASAP Rocky: The American rapper was found guilty of assault, but will not return to jail, in a case that had drawn the attention of President Trump.

WeWork: The real estate firm, which leases shared office space, took a key step in the process of becoming a publicly traded company — and a test of investors’ appetite for fast-growing but unprofitable start-ups. The company, currently valued at nearly $50 billion, lost more than $1.6 billion last year on just $1.8 billion in revenue, according to a financial prospectus.

Jeffrey Epstein: A New York woman who said Mr. Epstein groomed her for sex starting when she was 14 and then raped her a year later sued his estate, one of many possible lawsuits that his estate may face after his death by an apparent suicide. She tells her own story in an Op-Ed.

Snapshot: Above, Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, aboard a racing yacht in Plymouth, England. In an effort to reduce her carbon footprint, she began a two-week journey across the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday to attend a U.N. climate summit in New York.

Gay penguins: Skip and Ping, two male king penguins who bonded at Zoo Berlin, have adopted an egg and could hatch Germany’s first penguin chick in almost two decades.

Virtual restaurants: The rise of food-delivery apps is reshaping the American restaurant industry, popularizing restaurants that have no retail or physical presence and serve just as meal preparation hubs for deliveries.

Priyanka Chopra: At a cosmetic industry event in Los Angeles, a Pakistani-American “beauty influencer” from Alaska confronted the Indian actress about her endorsement of the Indian Armed Forces.

What we’re reading: This article in The Texas Tribune about livestock deaths linked to plastic bags. Mark Getzfred, a News Desk editor, says that “on a very practical level, it shows the difficulty we have as a country understanding and dealing with how problematic stray plastic bags can be.”

Cook: Corn, bacon and Cheddar pie with pickled jalapeños is worth making all year.

Watch: The second season of the popular Netflix original “Sacred Games,” which returns today, features a Mumbai detective as he investigates a mysterious cult.

Read: “The Memory Police,” a dystopian novel by Yoko Ogawa, which has been translated into English, in which an authoritarian government makes whole categories of objects or animals disappear overnight.

Listen: Alessia Cara’s “Rooting for You” is lilting and pleasant, a light vamp with some Huey Lewis-era digitized saxophone jammed in the middle.

Smarter Living: Are you driving your child’s day care workers crazy? Our Parenting site collected six things they really wish parents would not do. For starters, make the drop-off ritualized and rapid — nix the long, tearful goodbyes. And if there are major disruptions going on at home, let them know — it will help them understand if your child is acting out.

And if your device is seized by ransomware, Europol, the E.U.’s law enforcement agency, has free tools to help you reclaim your data.

Seventy-two years ago today, India was freed from British rule.

Many people know Mahatma Gandhi played a major role in the country’s struggle for independence. But so did Queen Laxmibai of Jhansi in the 19th century, who is far better known in India than beyond.

The queen, or rani, was an unconventional leader. She could read and write — very rare for a woman in that era — and she refused to abide by the norms of purdah, which concealed women behind curtains or veils when speaking with her advisers and British officials.

She was widowed without a natural-born heir, and the East India Company used that as pretext to annex her kingdom. She fled to the nearby state of Gwalior, trained an army and led it into battle against the British. She was killed in action in 1858.

In India, she is immortalized in history books, movies, songs and even nursery rhymes. And in the 1940s, the Indian National Army formed an all-female unit to help in the battle for freedom: the Rani of Jhansi regiment.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Alisha

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

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the Hong Kong protests.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Rapper on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Artists” list (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Jeffrey Gettleman, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for international reporting, is The Times’s South Asia bureau chief, based in New Delhi.

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