Russia’s growing international reach was also evident in emerging news that at least four Russian nationals, and perhaps dozens, were killed in fighting in Syria. (The Kremlin suggested they were merely mercenaries.)
At 11 a.m. in Sydney, you can live-stream a discussion of the U.S. special counsel’s Russia inquiry with Mark Mazzetti, our Washington investigations editor; the reporters Michael Schmidt and Scott Shane; and Nina Khrushcheva, a professor of international affairs in New York.
• More on China.
This is a timely look at the White House’s silence as China marches forward on A.I.
And an essayist in our magazine sees China’s rise as proof of an uncomfortable fact: No one who preaches “free trade” really practices it.
• President Jacob Zuma of South Africa was ordered to step down by his own party.
If Mr. Zuma rejects the order, the African National Congress could try to remove him through a no-confidence vote in Parliament, an option that risks deepening party divisions.
• Pressure builds on Barnaby Joyce.
Australia’s embattled deputy prime minister apologized to his wife, their daughters and the former staff member he is expecting a child with.
But new questions are swirling about why he billed taxpayers to stay in Canberra for 50 nights last year when Parliament was not in session.
Members of the National Party are said to be close to asking Mr. Joyce to step down. If so, Michael McCormack of New South Wales looks like the front-runner to replace him.
• You know what day it is.
To mark Valentine’s Day, our reporter mined a California library’s collection of about 12,000 paper valentines that span three centuries. She found lots of “optimism about romance,” but also spotted the card above, a bit of trolling from 1855.
And our “Modern Love” column tells the story of a couple who decided to enliven the holiday by acting like strangers at a bar.
His task was to pretend to pick her up — but then she struck up a conversation with a smart and well-read fellow at a nearby bar stool. … Read on.
• MGM Resorts opened a $3.4 billion property in Macau, just ahead of the Lunar New Year on Friday. It’s a major bet on the Chinese gambling enclave at a time when sexual misconduct allegations against the casino magnate Steve Wynn are shadowing the industry.
• Credit Suisse reports earnings today, less than a week after Hong Kong’s securities regulator fined the bank’s local units $5 million.
• General Motors says it will close a factory in South Korea, a setback for President Moon Jae-in’s economic agenda.
In the News
• Tonga is reeling after a Category 4 cyclone — the most powerful storm to strike the Pacific island nation in at least 60 years — flattened its Parliament building, damaged houses and left thousands without power. Winds worsened as it reached Fiji. [The New York Times]
• Israeli police appear ready to recommend that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be charged with corruption. Mr. Netanyau, addressing the nation before the police released their findings, said he wouldl not step down. [The New York Times]
• An arrest warrant for Julian Assange was upheld for the second time in a week. [The New York Times]
• The F.B.I. director said that a report on Rob Porter, the president’s former staff secretary who was forced out over allegations of spousal abuse, was delivered to the White House months earlier than the administration has admitted. [The New York Times]
• An “environmental crisis”: More than 1,800 ecological communities and species of plants and animals in Australia face extinction. [The Guardian]
• A suspect arrested at Sydney’s international airport was charged with the January shooting of a lawyer, Ho Le Dinh, at a cafe. The suspect had been trying to catch a flight to Indonesia, but his passport triggered an alert. [ABC]
• Mount Agung erupted again — days after warnings for local residents in Bali were eased. [The Jakarta Post]
• The glass milk bottle is making a comeback in Australia as a way to deal with its backlogs of waste. One enthusiastic buyer praised that “lovely kind of retro thing about opening the top and having the cream on top.” [ABC]
Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.
• Roman egg drop soup is a simple recipe for midweek.
• Here’s how to order room service the right way.
• Sex shouldn’t be painful. If it is for you, try these tips.
• “The thing you’re doing now, reading prose on a screen, is going out of fashion.” Our magazine’s special tech issue looks at how the “text-based internet” is being eclipsed by the rising power of audio and video.
• The New Noir: Horror filmmakers are hitting the raw nerves exposed by social movements like #MeToo. Our reporter visited a New York film institute that’s promoting what he called the “golden age of horror.”
• Prabal Gurung, a fashion designer who grew up in Nepal, talked about his latest collection during New York Fashion Week. He was inspired by the Mosuo, a small matriarchal tribe in far-western China. “What I really loved was the absolute celebration of the femininity and empowerment,” he said.
Valentine’s Day is widely thought to mark a wine-fueled festival for courting couples in ancient Rome.
But in North Korea, it marks a different kind of affection. On this day in 2012, Kim Jong-il, who ruled the country from 1994 until his death in 2011, was posthumously named a “generalissimo.”
The announcement came two days before what would have been Mr. Kim’s 70th birthday, which is still celebrated in the country as “The Day of the Shining Star.”
The only other North Korean “generalissimo” is Mr. Kim’s father, Kim Il-sung, who began ruling the country in 1945 and received the title in 1992, two years before his death. The term is a clear cut above the “marshal” title held by North Korea’s third and current leader, Kim Jong-un.
The younger Mr. Kim may stay in power for decades, though, and he already has several titles: “Dear respected comrade,” for one, as well as “supreme commander” of the Korean People’s Army.
Your Morning Briefing is published weekday mornings and updated online. Sign up here to get it by email in the Australian, Asian, European or American morning, or to receive an Evening Briefing on U.S. weeknights.
And our Australia bureau chief offers a weekly letter adding analysis and conversations with readers.
Browse our full range of Times newsletters here.
What would you like to see here? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.