Asia and Australia Edition: Winter Olympics, Volatility, Taiwan: Your Friday Briefing

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Check back for the latest on the 47 Russian athletes who are still caught in limbo.

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Credit Christopher Jue/European Pressphoto Agency

• More volatility: U.S. stocks were falling again at midday.

Our analysis of the cause: fears that the American economy could be showing the initial signs of overheating (here’s how the logic goes), as well as the Bank of England’s hint at an interest-rate increase.

One of our senior economics correspondents examines whether investors are right to be so worried about inflation.

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Credit Tom Brenner/The New York Times

In Washington, Congress moved toward a last-minute vote on a far-reaching budget deal that to avert a government shutdown.

President Trump delivered a subdued message of faith and nationalist values at a gathering of religious leaders, a keystone of his political base. “We praise God for how truly blessed we are to be American,” he said.

But trouble swirled at his offices. The White House staff secretary is resigning after reports that two ex-wives accuse him of physical abuse.

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Credit Philippine Daily Inquirer

In a first, new photos offer the clearest views yet of China’s military buildup in the South China Sea.

And we look at the increasing number of countries seeking to improve the range and accuracy of their missiles, across Asia and the Middle East.

Our correspondents note several major risks: an increased likelihood of war, a reliance in some cases on obsolete technologies and the possibility that the weaponry could fall into the hands of terrorist groups.

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Credit Tourism Australia

“Ad-driven nostalgia is a sticky wicket.”

That’s our Australia bureau chief, riffing on the success of Tourism Australia’s Super Bowl ad for a nonexistent sequel to Paul Hogan’s 1986 film “Crocodile Dundee.”

And he ponders this question: “Assuming we can cast Chris or Liam Hemsworth — or perhaps the role belongs to Russell Crowe or Hugh Jackman, who are roughly the same age as Hogan was for Dundee — what would a tale of Australia and the world tell us about the country today?

(Our review of the original film is a hoot.)

Business

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Credit Craig Lee for The New York Times

Extreme weather is increasingly affecting global food prices. In the latest case, a drought in India has damaged chickpea harvests, sending prices of hummus soaring in import markets like Britain.

Twitter reported its first profit as a public company.

• Calls for Australia to manage its own waste are building as recyclables pile up at businesses that can no longer ship the material to China.

• U.S. stocks are having a rough day. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

In the News

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Credit Anthony Wallace/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• Taiwan remains on edge as aftershocks continue in the area hit by Tuesday’s powerful earthquake. At least 10 deaths have been reported. [Taiwan News]

• Questions swirled over a ship that had been scouring the southern Indian Ocean for debris from MH370, a Malaysian airliner that vanished from the skies in 2014. The ship docked in Perth, Australia, after turning off its transponder at sea. [ABC]

• Lawmakers in Australia should be forbidden to have sex with their staff, the independent lawmaker Cathy McGowan said. The suggestion came amid revelations that Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is expecting a child with a former staff member. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

• Advocacy groups in Australia accused Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government of “effectively abandoning” a 10-year-old strategy to improve the health and education of Indigenous citizens. Mr. Turnbull defended the program, but added that there was “much more to be done.” [The Australian]

A judge in Melbourne prohibited a woman from wearing a burqa in court. A local Islamic council called the move “unreasonable.” [ABC]

• Yolks on them. Chefs for Norway’s Olympic team mistakenly ordered 15,000 eggs for their kitchen in Pyeongchang, South Korea. They had meant to say 1,500. [The Guardian]

Smarter Living

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

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Credit Illustration by Tara Jacoby

• Our guide to Snapchat (for people who don’t really get the whole Snapchat thing).

• Looking to gain strength and stay healthy? Lift weights and eat more protein, a new review of research says, especially if you’re over 40.

• Use these recipes to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Noteworthy

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Credit BENJAMIN RASMUSSEN for The New York Times

• “Digital nomadism” is all the rage among millennial workers indifferent to fixed offices. One start-up aims to take the concept mainstream — starting in Miami, Tokyo, London and Bali, Indonesia.

• South Korea has produced a trove of innovative films in the past few decades, many of which defy any single subgenre. Catch up by streaming these 10 recent works.

• A memoir about sex-and-porn addiction is, our reviewer says, inspirational but “still pretty kinky.” (And, while we’re at it, how do you think porn affects the way teenagers think about sex? Take our quiz.)

Back Story

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Credit Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

“Alligator Found in Uptown Sewer.” It’s a story that would have gone viral, had there been an internet at the time.

On this day in 1935, as recorded in The Times, a teenager named Salvatore Condulucci looked down a manhole while shoveling snow in East Harlem and saw an 8-foot alligator, thrashing in the icy water.

The story ignited the public’s imagination and spawned what Anna Quindlen, the author who was then a Times reporter, called “the most durable urban myth in the history of cities, reptiles or waste disposal.”

A Manhattan historian became so entranced with the idea that he has long observed Feb. 9 as Alligators in the Sewers Day. “I want it to be true,” he told us last year.

Big beasts have been found in sewers around the world. In Sydney, it took six people to drag a 55-pound snapping turtle from a drain in 2000, and in China, a full-grown cow was pulled from a sewer pipe in rural Guangxi Province.

The New York alligator is still a puzzle. The theory at the time was that it had fallen off a boat in the Harlem River.

John T. Flaherty, the former chief of design in the Bureau of Sewers, had a trademark reply:

“No, Virginia, there are no alligators in the New York City sewer system.”

Inyoung Kang contributed reporting.

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