Jacob Zuma, Stormy Daniels, Year of the Dog: Your Thursday Briefing

Jacob Zuma, Stormy Daniels, Year of the Dog: Your Thursday Briefing

Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:

CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times

• The slap shots heard ’round the world?

Even in a Winter Olympics rife with geopolitics, no event carried more political implications than the hockey game between a unified Korea team and Japan, the region’s former colonial occupier.

In the end it was a 4-1 victory for Japan and, given the circumstances, it was civil. When Japan scored, Korean fans didn’t boo, but chanted “It’s O.K.!”

Other stories from Pyeongchang: North Korea’s skaters made it into today’s long program. Shaun White “put it down” for another gold medal.

Here’s our full coverage of the Games, and the schedule, live results and medal count.


CreditMatt Sayles/Sayles, via Associated Press

• Our White House correspondent broke the story that President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid $130,000 out of his own pocket to Stormy Daniels, above, the pornographic-film actress who once claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen said he was not reimbursed, and declined to answer follow-up questions.

(The same correspondent, Maggie Haberman — known in some quarters as “the Trump whisperer” — discusses the art of interviewing and forecasts the year’s top story lines here.)

The White House is also under increasing pressure over its handling of Rob Porter, the aide who resigned after two former wives accused him of physical abuse. Here’s our video profile of Mr. Porter.


CreditNir Elias/Reuters

• Two world leaders are fighting for their political lives.

In Israel, a defiant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a damning corruption case against him “full of holes, like Swiss cheese” and vowed to serve to the end of his term.

Here are highlights from the police investigation that found he should be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

And in South Africa, President Jacob Zuma claimed he had been “victimized” by the leaders of his own party, who have ordered him to step down after nine scandal-plagued years.


CreditAmanda Lucier for The New York Times

• Methed up.

Crystal meth has been flooding across Australia and Asia. Now it’s doing the same in the U.S.

Our investigative reporter took a hard look at the American meth epidemic, now fed by Mexican drug cartels instead of homegrown labs. Experts say the drug has never been purer, cheaper — or deadlier.

OZ: We’ve also explored how meth use dovetailed with a mining boom in Western Australia, and how China became a leading producer and exporter of meth and other synthetic drugs.


CreditMichael Masters/Getty Images

• #barnababy.

Barnaby Joyce is no stranger to scandal: He once made global headlines for threatening to euthanize Johnny Depp’s dogs.

But the Australian deputy prime minister’s affair with a former staff member who is now pregnant has left his political future in doubt and raised deeper questions about a political culture that, as one analyst put it, “runs on alcohol and gossip and fumes and power.”

In our opinion section, a writer ponders why so many Australian reporters were reluctant to tackle the Joyce affair. Amid charged debates over workplace gender dynamics, she asks, how well is the media serving the public interest?


CreditFred Dufour/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• Farewell, Year of the Rooster …

Today is Lunar New Year’s Eve, and the arrival of the Year of the Dog tomorrow is a major event in Asia.

The holiday can be serious and poignant, and also funny. During a recent New Year’s travel rush in southern China, for example, a woman climbed into an X-ray scanner because she could not bear to part with her handbag.

And astrologers in China were quick to forecast the highs and lows ahead for President Trump, who was born in 1946, a Fire Dog year.



CreditIndranil Mukherjee/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• Punjab National Bank, one of India’s largest state-run commercial lenders, revealed fraudulent transactions worth $1.77 billion — at one branch. The scandal risks drying up the loans small- and medium-size businesses need to power the country’s growth. Shares in PNB closed down 10 percent, erasing nearly one-third of its market value.

• President Trump, who has vowed to pressure China on trade, said the U.S. was likely to impose restrictions on imported metals. But a group of American manufacturers warned that such moves could undermine their competitiveness.

• The Commonwealth Bank, Australia’s largest lender, banned customers from buying Bitcoin with its credit cards, citing swings in value and a lack of regulation. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

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

In the News

CreditChaideer Mahyuddin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• “You can’t ban love.” Some Pakistanis defied a government ban on Valentine’s Day celebrations by buying flowers or going on “virtual dates.” [The New York Times]

• In Bangladesh, makeshift camps that house more than 100,000 Rohingya refugees sit in areas prone to flooding and landslides. The U.N. said tens of thousands will need to be relocated before the monsoon season. [The New York Times]

• The Australian Football League will, for the first time, allow a transgender athlete to play state-level women’s football. [BBC]

• A United Airlines flight lost an engine casing over the Pacific Ocean, hours after leaving San Francisco. It landed safely in Honolulu. [The New York Times]

• The last video store closed in Brisbane, highlighting a string of such closings in Australia since 2001. The store’s movies, worth $150,000 Australian ($118,056 U.S.), will be sold. [news.com.au]

Smarter Living

Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.

CreditMelina Hammer for The New York Times

• We’ve shown you how to make pizza. Here’s how to make it better.

• To handle a partner’s depression, seek outside help.

• A Korean braised short-rib stew might be just the thing tonight.


CreditKirill Bichutsky/Netflix

• Chris Rock’s first new filmed hour in a decade, “Tamborine,” is now streaming. Our reviewer calls it “triumphant.”

• Australia Diary: Missing a blue-tongued friend, and finding a new one.

• Two new books explore how marriages in China and India cope with social change, rapid economic growth and the rising financial independence of women. A common thread: “Marriage is changing because women are changing.”

Back Story

CreditNatacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

Canada has one of the world’s most recognizable flags, but the banner is only 53 years old and took far longer to create.

The red-and-white flag, featuring a silhouette of a maple leaf, was raised for the first time on this day in 1965.

Previously, Canada had flown the Union Jack as a member of the British Commonwealth. An unofficial flag known as the Canadian Red Ensign, bearing the Union Jack and the Royal Coat of Arms of Canada, had been used on government buildings.

A national maple leaf flag was first suggested in 1895, but it wasn’t until 1964 that the Canadian Parliament approved it.

Prime Minister Lester Pearson had proposed a “truly distinctive” flag that represented all the cultures in Canada, not just its French or British colonial identity. A committee evaluated thousands of designs featuring national symbols (a beaver wearing a Mountie hat was among those rejected).

The flag was bitterly debated, especially by Mr. Pearson and his predecessor, the opposition leader John Diefenbaker. (Mr. Diefenbaker called the maple leaf motif “a flag without a past” and wept when it was inaugurated.)

But even though its tree doesn’t grow nationwide, the maple leaf was considered a neutral symbol.

“It was the perfect, perhaps the prototypical, Canadian compromise,” the historian Rick Archbold wrote.

Jennifer Jett contributed reporting.


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