Asia and Australia Edition: Rohingya, Unesco, Hamas: Your Friday Briefing

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• Kobe Steel’s expanded list of substandard products raised concerns over Japan’s high-speed rail network.

Two “bullet train” operators said their trains used the flawed parts, but one said that thy still met safety requirements.

“Trust in our company has fallen to zero,” Kobe Steel’s president, above right, said after meeting with government officials in Tokyo on Thursday.

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Video

Family Freed by Taliban Faction After 5 Years

An American woman, her Canadian husband and their three children have been freed after being held for five years by the Haqqani network, a faction of the Taliban.

By THE NEW YORK TIMES on Publish Date October 12, 2017.

Photo by SITE Intelligence Group, via Associated Press.

Watch in Times Video »

• An American woman, her Canadian husband and their children were freed by Afghan militants.

The couple was kidnapped while backpacking in 2012. She was pregnant at the time, gave birth and had two more children in captivity.

President Trump, who appeared to publicly allude to the development a day earlier, said his administration worked with Pakistan to free them from fighters linked to the Taliban’s Haqqani faction.

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• The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $36.5 billion aid package for hurricane and wildfire relief, even as President Trump warned Puerto Rico that federal troops and relief workers wouldn’t stay on the island “forever.”

The death toll from Northern California’s spreading wildfires has risen to more than 25. Exhausted firefighters are stretched to their limits.

In today’s 360 video, a family finds the remains of their home.

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Jacob Magraw and Rachell Sumpter

• “I break every rule under the sun.”

That was one reader’s response to last week’s Australia newsletter on the country’s rule-following ways. We collected many more; here are the most memorable.

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• China’s richest person: Xu Jiayin, above. The chairman of the property developer Evergrande Group is worth $43 billion. Pony Ma of Tencent and Jack Ma of Alibaba are next. A new survey of the country’s wealthiest reflects a dynamic economy fueled by consumption and a voracious appetite for real estate.

• HSBC appointed John Flint, the head of retail banking and wealth management, as chief executive. The London-based bank generates much of its profit in Asia.

• Toyota unveiled four U.S. ads for its new Camry, with different story lines, music and actors meant to resonate with Asian-American, African-American, Hispanic or “transcultural mainstream” audiences. “It’s not really a stereotype,” an ad executive said.

• Samsung is expected to forecast a record third-quarter profit, up an estimated $12.5 billion, as earnings recover from last year’s Note 7 fiasco.

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

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Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters..

• The heir to the Samsung empire, Lee Jae-yong, began his appeal of a five-year jail term for bribing the country’s former president and her confidante. A ruling is expected by February. [Reuters]

• Australia’s High Court will rule “as soon as possible” after three days of arguments on whether seven lawmakers found to have dual citizenship must resign. [SBS]

• The rival political Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal that paves the way for joint control of Gaza’s borders. [The New York Times]

• President Rodrigo Duterte, infuriated by European criticism of his drug war, gave European Union ambassadors 24 hours to leave the Philippines. It was not clear whether he was serious. [The New York Times]

• Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary, said he would seek an “urgent explanation” from Hong Kong and mainland authorities after a British rights activist was denied entry to Hong Kong. [BBC]

• Cambodia pulled “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” from theaters in objection to its portrayal of an Angkorian temple as a drug lord’s secret base. [Phnom Penh Post]

• Genes that influence pigmentation — some making skin darker, and others making it lighter — are shared across the globe, and have been for millennia. The new research “dispels a biological concept of race,” a geneticist said. [The New York Times]

• Ladakh, India, still hasn’t quite recovered after a Buddhist woman fell for a Muslim man. But for the young couple, love conquered all. [The New York Times]

Smarter Living

Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.

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Craig Lee for The New York Times

• What’s the best approach to negotiating your salary?

• Recipe of the day: Get ambitious over the weekend with a classic coconut cake.

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Studio Ghibli, Tokuma-Shoten, Nibariki via Kobal Collection

• Hayao Miyazaki’s legendary Japanese animation house, Studio Ghibli, is opposed to streaming, so it’s putting out a DVD series in the U.S. Our critic used the occasion to rank its influential anime films going back to 1985 (and yes, “Spirited Away” is No. 1).

• In our podcast “The Daily,” Nicholas Kristof, a Times Op-Ed columnist who writes about human rights and global affairs, reveals more about his recent trip to Pyongyang. And here’s his column on his troubling visit.

• To save her life, she jumped off a train bound for Auschwitz. Decades later, she got a message from the father she left behind. A Holocaust survivor tells her story in one of our editorial department’s short documentaries.

• And the latest online sensation: hands. From cooking to the unboxing of toys, hands videos have become a symbol of craftsmanship and entrepreneurial zeal.

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David Azia for The New York Times

On this day in 1884, delegates from 25 nations, who were gathered in Washington, voted on what the time was.

With 22 votes for, one against (San Domingo) and two abstentions (France and Brazil), the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, became the site of the prime meridian, the longitude separating Earth’s eastern and western hemispheres.

In the debate to standardize time around the world, France favored a site on neutral ground, like the Azores Islands in the Atlantic Ocean or the Bering Strait.

But business won the day. A majority of the world’s shipping at the time and the railroads heading to the Pacific Coast in the U.S. were already using Greenwich meridian, so the Royal Observatory was the obvious choice.

The observatory enforced such structure on the world that it became a target for anarchists, including one in 1894 who sought to blow it up. He succeeded in killing only himself.

More than a century later, GPS-equipped visitors to Greenwich will find, however, that they’re not standing at zero degrees longitude. In the 1980s, new satellite data helped reorient the prime meridian 334 feet to the east of the original line, where it now runs through a park.

Thomas Furse contributed reporting.

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