Mocks Russia exposed to C.I.A. spy
The Kremlin's propaganda machine fired at high speed to counter reports that a Russian informant helped the CIA. discover President Vladimir Putin's interference in the 2016 US elections.
Russian authorities and state-controlled media named the informant Oleg B. Smolenkov and dismissed him as a drunken man who had no contact with President Vladimir Putin.
This picture contrasts sharply with what US intelligence officials said about the spy, who was extracted from Russia: that he saw Putin regularly and became "one of the CIA's most valuable assets."
The C.I.A. declined to comment and the New York Times could not independently confirm that Smolenkov was the US-extracted spy.
Pinch of Salt: Russia wants to make it appear that C.I.A. invested in a low-level diplomat, but downplaying a rival's recruits is as much a part of the spaceship as inflating them.
Trump aims at fentanyl by mail
The president drafted an executive order that enable the US Postal Service to increase inspections of sent packages, which now carry deadly drugs from foreign countries, not to mention counterfeit goods.
China is a major source of both, and would feel the weight of order.
Context: Fentanyl shipments have become a central issue in the intermittent trade talks between Beijing and Washington. The next round is in October.
Earlier this week, Beijing offered a kind of olive branch, exempting a handful of goods made in the United States from retaliatory tariffs. But the list omits some expensive items, probably needed to redeem a trade deal.
A tale of two stock exchanges
The Hong Kong Stock Exchange trader offered nearly $ 37 billion to buy its counterpart in London in an attempt to create a global shopping center that could withstand competition with the wealth of new electronic trading platforms.
The London Stock Exchange said it would consider the offer unsolicited, but any such deal faces obstacles. The London Stock Exchange would have to abandon its own deal to buy a data company, Refinitiv.
And the recent anti-government protests in Hong Kong have raised concerns about China's growing involvement in city affairs, questioning its long-term role as a global shopping center.
Related: China has threatened to block Cathay Pacific from its airspace unless it eliminates officials who sympathize with anti-government demonstrations, creating an atmosphere of fear and distrust among its workers.
Iran is holding three Australians
The Australian Government has confirmed that three citizens were detained in Iran. Authorities said consular assistance was being provided to their families, but did not provide further details.
The London Times, which first reported the arrests, said the three are British-Australian bloggers, their Australian boyfriend and a British-Australian scholar.
The British government said Wednesday that its foreign secretary met with the Iranian ambassador to discuss the matter.
Reminder: The arrests increase tensions between Iran and the West, which increased after President Trump abandoned a global nuclear pact last year and sparked seizures of oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. Last month, Australia joined a US-led mission to police the shipping channel.
Related: On Wednesday, President Trump left open the possibility of easing economic sanctions against Iran before starting new nuclear talks, a departure from his government's current approach.
If you have eight minutes, it's worth it
Refugees and Global Order
After World War II, the US and its allies reinstalled hundreds of thousands of people. There were moral reasons, but there was also the fear that leaving millions of displaced people in the vast fields of Europe or in urban misery would cause unrest.
Here's what else is going on
Hurricane Dorian: About 2,500 people have disappeared after the storms in the Bahamas, but the names have not yet been verified against those seeking shelter or evacuated, the government said on Wednesday, and the death toll is now 50.
Australia: A new law criminalizing violent content online has been seen as a model for creating a safer Internet, but enforcement so far is largely passive and reactive, highlighting the limits of the approach.
Great Britain: A Scottish court ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend Parliament was illegal. The ruling set up a clash next week at the London Supreme Court, which had said it would look into the case.
China: A Taiwanese man who disappeared during a visit to China is being investigated on suspicions of activities that "threaten national security," Chinese officials said.
India: The country's efforts to revive the The lost lunar module of Chandrayaan-2, which fell silent last week as it drove to the moon's surface, could be pointless, the scientists said.
Snapshot: Above, a humpback whale near Raoul Island, 700 miles from the northeast coast of New Zealand. A new study found that South Pacific whales usually stay in this area for a few days each year and share music with each other. In other words, It is a place of humpback karaoke.
From the archives: Two months after the September 11 attacks, novelist Colson Whitehead wrote a tribute to New York City and The Times Magazine's World Trade Center. "When buildings fall, so do we fall" he said.
What we are reading: This piece in The New Atlantis. Charles Homans, policy editor of The Times Magazine, recommends: "Laurence Scott's wonderfully probing exploration of the nostalgia and melancholy of watching old videos on YouTube – the unexpected emotional places these rabbit-hole expeditions can take us" .
Now a break in the news
Smarter life: Getting enough vitamin D is critical to having healthy bones. But it seems a little helps: high doses of vitamin D It can actually lower bone density in healthy adults, a clinical study found. The good news is that the study found no increased risk of serious health problems such as cancer or kidney stones.
Not all dogs are well-trained pets (even though they are still very good). Here are some tips for finding the right coach for Fido.
And now for the backstory in…
Garlic the cat (s)
This summer, China launched its first indigenous test carrier at sea and launched its first commercial rocket in space.
But some pet lovers may be more interested in another milestone: China's first cloned cat.
He was born in July with DNA from a deceased British shorthair, Chinese state media reported. The heartbroken owner, a 22-year-old Chinese businessman, kept the corpse in his fridge while waiting for a technician to extract some of his skin cells.
The clone was named after the original cat: Da Suan (大蒜), which means garlic. The owner told our colleague, Sui-Lee Wee, that the name came to him. Garlic is obviously an indispensable part of Chinese cuisine.
The birth of the new Garlic solidifies China's position among major cloning countries, including Britain, South Korea and the US cloning company Sinogene, has cloned more than 40 dogs and is working on a horse.
But Sinogene's chief executive says he has never had a pet.
"Cats and dogs need a lot of care," he told Wee.
That's it in this briefing. DoooOOO yoOOuuu speeeAAkk WhaaAAlle?
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the news break. Mike Ives, a reporter from Hong Kong, wrote today's Back Story. You can contact the team at email@example.com.
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