(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)
Good morning. Protests and counterprotests in Washington, Turkey’s lira in danger and a murder mystery in northern Australia. Here’s what you need to know:
• The U.S. capital is braced for violence.
White nationalists have a permit to gather in a few hours just north of the White House to mark the anniversary of their divisive Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. Thousands of counterprotesters are poised to oppose their message.
In Charlottesville, a rally and march opposing white supremacy on the University of Virginia campus was accompanied by an intense police deployment that infuriated participants.
“Why are you in riot gear?” some chanted. “We don’t see no riot here.”
• China has been funneling business deals and political capital into Eastern and Central Europe, regions less likely than the West to challenge China on human rights or expanding territorial claims.
• There was a secret weapon in the fight to oust the Islamic State from Iraq and Syria: a spy, perhaps Iraq’s greatest.
Capt. Harith al-Sudani infiltrated the terror group, foiling 30 vehicle-bomb attacks and 18 suicide bombers, according to the director of his counterintelligence unit, Al Suquor, or the Falcons — itself one of the most important but least known organizations on the front lines of the war on terrorism.
Our Baghdad bureau chief tells the story of his heroism, for which he paid with his life.
• What happened to Paddy?
It’s a murder mystery that’s riveting Australians. In Larrimah, a tiny, dusty town in the Northern Territory, rumors and acrimony are rebounding among the residents — all 11 of them.
Was Paddy Moriarty, a crotchety 70-year-old, fed to a pet crocodile? Or could he have been baked into a meat pie? And where is his dog?
• “Wow, here we go.”
In the next seven years, it will skim the sun’s outer atmosphere and, hopefully, fill in many of the blanks in human understanding of our star.
One particularly urgent area of study is the solar wind, the stream of charged particles Dr. Parker was the first to predict. Solar explosions can send the particles in a deluge to Earth, with the potential to devastate electrical systems.
• Caspian Sea deal: The five bordering countries — Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan — agreed to a formula for dividing up the world’s largest inland body of water and its potentially vast oil and gas resources.
• Australia’s energy policy is facing uncertainty as Parliament resumes this week. Here’s our look at the NEG, a policy meant to curb emissions while stabilizing the energy market.
• “The Meg,” a brassy, computer-generated mishmash of a film that was co-financed and co-produced by Warner Bros. and China’s Gravity Pictures, pulled in a stunning $141.5 million on its opening weekend.
• Here’s a snapshot of global markets.
• “More and more wounded and dead every hour.” A hospital official in the southeastern Afghan city of Ghazni reported that more than 100 officers and soldiers had been killed in three days of fighting. Taliban forces appear to have taken most of the province’s 18 districts, potentially cutting the country in half. [The New York Times]
• A 23-year-old Australian tourist was killed while bicycling in New York City when she was forced out of a bike lane and hit by a truck. [Gothamist]
• Two cave divers, one of whom had helped rescue a Thai soccer team last month, had to be rescued from a flash flood in Phuket. [Straits Times]
• Indonesia’s next presidential race will be a lot like the last one. President Joko Widodo and his 2014 opponent, the former army general Prabowo Subianto, are running, and some analysts expect more smear campaigns and appeals to sectarian sentiment. [The New York Times]
• The indicted U.S. lawmaker Christopher Collins had a hand in other biotech companies besides Australia’s Innate Immunotherapeutics. [The New York Times]
• The 10th Gay Games: The gathering of athletes, for events ranging from basketball to dancesport, came to a close in Paris. Here are photos of the self-declared “most inclusive” sporting event.
Tips for a more fulfilling life.
• V.S. Naipaul: an appraisal. The writer — Indian by descent, Trinidadian by birth, educated in England — died on Saturday at the age of 85. His unsympathetic views of postcolonial life in Africa and the Caribbean made him among the most controversial writers of his time. “When I talk about being an exile or a refugee I’m not just using a metaphor,” he said. “I’m speaking literally.”
• Can a park help mend a city with a legacy of segregation? The visionary Gathering Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a test case.
• “Still sharp, even 25 million years later.” An amateur fossil hunter made a series of amazing finds on a Victoria beach in 2015: teeth from a long-extinct mammoth variety of shark.
The twin brothers were hired to settle a bet.
Ross and Norris McWhirter, who were born on Aug. 12, 1925, ran an agency that supplied facts and figures to London newspapers in the 1950s, when they were approached to compile what became the Guinness Book of Records.
A few years before, Sir Hugh Beaver, a managing director of the Guinness Brewery, was on a hunting trip in Ireland and got into an argument with friends about whether the golden plover was the fastest game bird in Europe.
No reference book could prove him right (he wasn’t), but Sir Hugh saw a marketing opportunity: Surely, these sorts of debates were happening in pubs throughout Ireland and Britain.
A Guinness employee recommended the McWhirter twins, and, after a little more than 13 weeks of writing around the clock, they finished the first edition in 1955. Six months after publication, it was Britain’s best-selling book.
Two decades later, Ross McWhirter told an interviewer, “We have a pen-pal relationship with libraries, museums, record keepers of all sorts in about 150 countries.”
In 1974, Guinness set a world record of its own, becoming the best-selling copyrighted book. It has sold more than 140 million copies and been translated into more than 20 languages.
Aodhan Beirne wrote today’s Back Story.
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. You can also 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.