Asia and Australia Edition: North Korea, Mumbai, Texas: Your Friday Briefing

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Above, Mr. Xi and the president of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, who was in Beijing for official meetings ahead of the BRICS summit meeting that begins Sunday in the coastal city of Xiaomen.

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Credit Andrew Burton for The New York Times

New dangers are emerging as floodwaters recede in Texas and dwinding Harvey storm system moves through Louisiana and into Mississippi.

Explosions were reported overnight at a damaged chemical plant near Houston, a hub for chemical and petrochemical plants. More blasts are feared. And much of the city is still covered in a toxic stew of chemicals, sewage, debris and waste.

Here’s a quick guide to our full coverage — access is free. Check here for the latest.

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Pakistan’s most controversial murder trial ended in a verdict that stunned many.

A terrorism court acquitted five suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in the 2007 assassination of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and declared the former ruler Pervez Musharraf, who is living in exile, a fugitive in the case.

He rejects any involvement in her death, and her party intends to appeal. The long-running case has been dogged by intimidation and threats to the judiciary from militants.

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Credit David Parker for The New York Times

You’ve heard of Brexit. What about “WAxit”?

That’s what some are calling a proposal for the state of Western Australia to secede over a long-running grievance about tax revenues.

It’s not the first time politicians in Perth, above, have considered such a move. Our team in Sydney takes a look at the reasons behind the campaign, and what comes next.

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Credit Andy Rain/European Pressphoto Agency

The 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death on Thursday stirred emotions and memories around the world.

Our correspondent in London at the time examines how, two decades on, her influence is still felt in unexpected ways. We also looked at Diana’s life in photographs and headlines from The Times.

And a journalist who was at the Paris hospital when Prince Charles arrived to take Diana’s body home answered readers’ questions in a Facebook Live segment.

Business

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Credit Kimimasa Mayama/European Pressphoto Agency

• Toshiba missed a second self-imposed deadline to choose an investor for its $18 billion microchip business. It continues to veer among offers from Bain Capital, Western Digital and Foxconn.

Qantas rerouted its “Kangaroo Route” from Sydney to London through Singapore, handing it a victory over its aviation-hub rival Dubai.

• Emerging camera technologies — like facial scanning, augmented reality and 3-D scanning — are reshaping the future of the smartphone.

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

In the News

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Credit Divyakant Solanki/European Pressphoto Agency

A building collapsed in rain-ravaged Mumbai, killing at least 14 people, according to a local official. Rescuers scrabbled through the rubble hunting for survivors. [The New York Times]

• Nearly two million Muslims have arrived in Saudi Arabia for the hajj, including Iranian Shiites, who did not participate last year. [Reuters]

• The Trump administration ordered Russia to close several diplomatic sites, in San Francisco, New York and Washington, in retaliation for Moscow’s limits on U.S. embassy staffing in Russia. [The New York Times]

• Iraq’s prime minister claimed victory in Tal Afar, one of the last Iraqi cities held by the Islamic State, after an 11-day battle. [The New York Times]

• Casualties from cluster bombs more than doubled in 2016. The vast majority of victims were in Syria. Other countries reporting casualties were Laos, Yemen, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Serbia, South Sudan and Vietnam. [The New York Times]

An Australian lawmaker, Gareth Ward, said he escaped a blackmail scam after he ordered a massage in his New York hotel and found “that more was on offer.” [The Guardian]

• A man in Melbourne was charged with destroying wildlife after a video taken by a laughing friend showed him brutally killing an injured kangaroo that he addressed in Chinese. The video caught Australian authorities’ attention after it went viral on Chinese social media. [Shanghaiist]

• Japanese scientists believe they are on the verge of a breakthrough in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Their tests on monkeys show that transplanting dopamine-producing nerve cells created from human stem cells can reduce symptoms. [The Asahi Shimbun]

Smarter Living

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

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Credit Marcus Nilsson for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Brian Preston-Campbell. Prop Stylist: Angharad Bailey.

• Recipe of the day: Some days, you just want to relax on the couch with a cheese-steak sub.

• Exercise can have contradictory effects on appetite.

• There’s a simple method to expedite creativity: Gather tools, remove distractions.

Noteworthy

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Credit Hilary Swift for The New York Times

• There’s been royalty, tennis and otherwise, at the U.S. Open: Nick Kyrgios, a 22-year-old Australian known for his talent and temper, is always accompanied by his mother, Norlaila, a Malaysian princess.

In memoriam: Michael Cockerill, 56, a former Sydney Morning Herald chief soccer writer and Fox Sports commentator who reported on the sport for more than 30 years.

• In Myanmar, river dolphins help fishermen herd fish into nets on the Irrawaddy River, but overfishing, pollution and a lack of interest among the young threaten that relationship.

Back Story

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Credit Attila Kisbenedek/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On Sunday, Princess Mako, the eldest grandchild of Emperor Akihito of Japan, and Kei Komuro, her college boyfriend, are set to officially announce their engagement.

Law and tradition dictate that the princess, by marrying a commoner, will become a commoner herself. (Above, the princess with her father.)

Although this has happened before, the engagement has fanned a debate about whether the Imperial Household Law, which regulates Japan’s first family, needs changing.

To the Japanese public, the tradition appears increasingly anachronistic. Opinion polls find large majorities favor allowing women to remain in the imperial family after marriage, and allowing them to become sovereign.

After all, the wife of Akihito was a commoner before their marriage. Akihito’s successor, Crown Prince Naruhito, also married a commoner.

Even conservatives who oppose such changes see the threat of a potential succession crisis. The family now has only five men, including Akihito.

Japan has the oldest continuous monarchy in the world, but only eight women have ruled in the nearly 2,700-year history of the Chrysanthemum Throne.

People close to the emperor say that he agrees women should be allowed to succeed him.

“I don’t think he sticks to the narrow idea that only a male on the throne is acceptable,” a friend of the emperor recently told our correspondent.

Patrick Boehler contributed reporting.

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Source: New York Times

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