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Syria, United Airlines, North Korea: Your Morning Briefing

Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:

The United States and Russia hardened their division on last week’s chemical attack in Syria.

The White House accused Russia of engaging in a cover-up, while President Vladimir Putin compared American certainty that the Syrian government was responsible to flawed U.S. claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson is facing an icy day of talks in Moscow, after warning the Kremlin to drop its support of Syria’s leader, Bashar al-Assad.

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, walked into criticism by comparing Mr. Assad to Hitler and saying incorrectly that even Hitler had not used chemical weapons against his own people.

“The Daily” podcast explores how Mr. Assad went from mild-mannered ophthalmology student to brutal ruler.

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President Trump has been silent about Syria since the U.S. strike on Friday

But he addressed growing tensions in Asia on Twitter. “North Korea is looking for trouble,” Mr. Trump posted. “If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.”

The president’s posts left South Korean leaders scrambling to dispel fears of a pre-emptive U.S. military strike on the North.

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In China, fury against United Airlines erupted after state-run news outlets described a passenger who was dragged screaming from a plane as being of Chinese descent.

Our reporters are trying to confirm the man’s identity. United apologized on Tuesday and said it would review its policies.

The video has logged more than 330 million views on Sina Weibo. Shares in United dropped more than 4 percent, wiping out nearly $1 billion of its market value.

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London thrives on the idea that one city can be a global melting pot, trading house, media machine.

But with Britain’s pending departure from the European Union, such certainties are now in question. And Londoners, who voted overwhelmingly against “Brexit,” now face the challenge of adjusting to an uncertain future.

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• A Kazakh herder in northwest China is suing the government for rights to this 17.8-ton meteorite, pictured with his son, that he discovered on his land.

The case tests property law, asking whether objects from outer space are considered state-owned “natural resources.”

Tough decisions for Toshiba. Japan’s industrial icon said its disastrous foray into nuclear power had created “substantial uncertainty” over its ability stay in business.

• LeEco, the Chinese technology giant with a French-sounding name, is in retreat after stumbles including its failed $2 billion bid to buy Vizio, maker of big-screen TVs.

Chinese political activists sued Yahoo, accusing its executives of turning a blind eye to profligate, illegal spending by Harry Wu, the manager of a Yahoo fund meant to help China’s dissidents fight government persecution.

Coming up: China releases data on monthly inflation, foreign direct investment and other economic indicators; Singapore announces its first quarter gross domestic product figures, and the Reserve Bank of Australia publishes its half-yearly financial stability report.

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

Philippine soldiers clashed with Abu Sayyaf militants, leaving five rebels and four soldiers dead at a popular tourist destination. [The New York Times]

• At a migrant camp in northern France, a fire that erupted after a dispute between Afghan and Kurdish refugees devastated wooden barracks and forced 1,500 people to flee into surrounding fields. [The New York Times]

“Save Our Mandalay.” A public safety campaign in Myanmar’s former royal capital seeks to thwart a wave of crime attributed to motorcycle gangs armed with iron rods and bamboo sticks. [The Irrawaddy]

Computers can bluff. An artificial intelligence system, called Lengpudashi, won $290,000 by defeating a team of competitive poker players in a five-day competition in China. [BBC]

• The typical Australian is a 38-year-old married woman with two children and two cars. That’s according to the new census released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. [ABC]

“The 600 million years of life’s evolutionary history is being traded to help produce a bowl of rice.” A scientist says rampant mining for a mineral used in fertilizer is destroying a crucial fossil site in China. [South China Morning Post]

• Mao Asada, the 26-year-old Japanese figure skater and three-time world champion, announced her retirement from competitive skating. [The Japan News]

• The U.S., Canada and Mexico are planning a joint bid for the 2026 World Cup, a shift from tradition that will involve more cities, more teams and more profit. [The New York Times]

There are many types of meditation. Research shows the health benefits vary widely among individuals.

Excessive demands are leading to burnout everywhere. What would make things better? Start with work breaks.

Here are nine ways to cook your eggs this morning.

Marvel, the U.S. comic book giant, will discipline an Indonesian illustrator who sneaked political messages about the Jakarta governor into an X-Men comic.

In southern Laos, the restoration of Vat Phou, one of the most sacred temples of the vanished Khmer kingdoms, conjures notions of ancient ruins lost in eternal mists.

And fashion forward: Edward Enninful, born in Ghana, was named the first male editor of British Vogue since its founding in 1916. He’s the first black editor of any edition of Vogue.

President Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, was the setting for the most recent milestone in U.S.-China relations, but it was table tennis — a game intended for factory workers — that originally got the ball rolling.

It was 46 years ago this week that a 19-year-old American named Glenn Cowan, above, walked onto the Chinese team’s bus at the 1971 World Championships in Japan — and Ping-Pong diplomacy was born.

After an awkward moment, China’s best player, Zhuang Zedong, welcomed Mr. Cowan and gave him a Chinese silk screen. The next day, Mr. Cowan gave Mr. Zhuang a red, white and blue T-shirt emblazoned with a peace symbol and the Beatles’ lyrics “Let It Be.”

Photographers captured the moment, and Mao Zedong, China’s leader, invited the U.S. team for a tour.

Three months later, Henry Kissinger secretly visited Beijing, and President Nixon made his historic trip in 1972.

“I was as surprised as I was pleased,” Nixon later wrote. “I had never expected that the China initiative would come to fruition in the form of a Ping-Pong team.”

Mao, who had called table tennis China’s “spiritual nuclear weapon” as early as 1959, was more enigmatic.

“The little ball, he said, “moves the big ball.”

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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.

Your Morning Briefing is published weekday mornings and updated online.

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