New Zealand, Deutsche Bank, Japan: Your Wednesday Briefing


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Good morning.

New Zealand prepares for funeral services, Deutsche Bank’s ties to President Trump come under greater scrutiny and Afghanistan receives a rare bit of good news. Here’s the latest:

As victims’ families prepare for funeral services in Christchurch, we take a look at their stories.

Among those killed at the two mosques were students, engineers, a dairy farmer, a new father and an aspiring pilot. Some were born in New Zealand and others had moved there.

Today: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to return to Christchurch. A day earlier, she delivered an impassioned speech to Parliament, saying she would do everything she could to deny the gunman attention.

“He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist,” she said. “But he will, when I speak, be nameless.”

Before Mr. Trump was elected, the German bank gave him more than $2 billion in loans to finance skyscrapers and other high-end properties, despite pushback from some at the bank.

For Deutsche Bank, Mr. Trump’s projects helped fund its investment-banking unit and his celebrity was used to lure more clients.

Now, as investigators in New York and Washington scrutinize their financial ties, we examined their long and, at times, troubled bond.

How we know: Deutsche Bank officials have said that the lending was the work of a single, obscure division. But interviews with more than 20 current and former executives and board members contradict that narrative. Read four takeaways from our investigation.

Response: A Deutsche Bank spokeswoman said the company was “committed to cooperating with authorized investigations.” The White House referred questions to the Trump Organization, which declined to comment.

The head of the country’s Olympic Committee, Tsunekazu Takeda, said he would resign at the end of his term in June amid a French corruption investigation into the bidding process for next year’s Summer Games.

In December, French investigators indicted Mr. Takeda — a former Olympic equestrian and chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s marketing commission — as part of a broad criminal investigation that further taints the scandal-ridden reputation of the sporting event.

Details: France suspects that the process of Tokyo’s win was tainted. They say that hopeful officials representing potential host cities paid bribes to African Olympic committee members to win support.

Reminder: The Tokyo Olympics in 2020 will be Japan’s second time hosting the Summer Games and fourth games overall.

The plan would also expose Iraqi Shiite militias — some of which were trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and several of which are legitimate players in Iraqi politics — to economic sanctions and travel restrictions.

Pushback: American officials said that the plan would put U.S. troops and intelligence officers at risk of similar actions from foreign governments.

ISIS: The spokesman of the terrorist group broke his monthslong silence to mock America’s assertion it had defeated the group, and to call for retaliation over last week’s mosque attacks in New Zealand. Separately, Iraqi truffle hunters have become the latest victims of the Islamic State kidnappings and killings.

Cambodia: A government-controlled court issued arrest warrants for eight opposition leaders who have been living in exile but who say they have been trying to return. It’s the latest effort by Prime Minister Hun Sen to sideline opposition and maintain his decades-long grip on power.

PG&E: California’s largest utility company has been linked to wildfires that destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres and killed dozens of people. Regulators found that in many fires, the company violated state law or could have done more. Here’s how it overlooked the risks.

Levi’s: On Thursday, for the second time in its 165-year history, the company that invented the blue jean will start trading on public markets. Levi’s has overhauled its image, operations and products in the past decade.

Afghanistan: The country’s beloved cricket team won its first-ever Test match, against Ireland, providing a rare bit of good news for the war-torn nation.

Australia: An artist has proposed building a giant wooden bong to draw tourists to the town of Woodenbong in New South Wales. “Hundreds and thousands of people share the same dream as soon as they hear the town’s name,” he said. Other residents, though, are unamused.

Tips for a more fulfilling life.

In 1924, at the dawn of America’s love affair with automobiles, a businessman named Gordon Strong worked with Wright on an attraction at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland that would “serve as an objective for short motor trips” from nearby Washington and Baltimore.

Wright designed a circular building with drivable ramps that wound around the outside like a ribbon. Strong hated it, likening the design to the Tower of Babel, and the project was later abandoned.

But Wright believed in his vision enough to return to it decades later, in an inverted form, when he was asked by the Guggenheim to design a “temple of the spirit, a monument.”

Karen Thorne, a content strategist, wrote today’s Back Story.

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