• China’s projection of power is evident online, as well.
Beijing spends hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to buy ads on Facebook, a platform it blocks within China’s borders, and propaganda videos produced by Xinhua, the state news agency, target English-speaking audiences and aim to influence opinion overseas.
But rather than the divisive content Russia spread to influence the U.S. presidential election, the content contrasts a prosperous China and chaos and violence in the rest of the world. Our reporter’s conclusion: China is offering itself as an alternative to the Western media for a more global audience.
• The latest revelations from the “Paradise Papers,” a leaked trove of documents from an offshore firm: American universities are also using secretive overseas investments.
Lucrative tax breaks have enabled college endowments to amass more than $500 billion nationwide. The wealth is concentrated in a small group of highly selective schools, including Columbia and Duke.
• New Delhi’s air quality worsened yet again, prompting the Indian authorities to close schools for nearly a week. A toxic cloud has lingered over the capital since Tuesday.
“The health of children cannot be compromised,” a shocked official wrote on Twitter after seeing two children throwing up from the window of a school bus.
• A suburb of western Sydney, Australia, has shed its violent image, thanks to aggressive policing, government intervention and, not least, the vibrant Vietnamese food scene, much of it created by people who arrived in the 1970s as Vietnam War refugees.
“Cabramatta has always been a good place for me,” one said. “I feel very homey here.”
• Workers at an American auto-glass plant owned by Fuyao Glass of China are voting on whether to unionize, a test of transnational labor relations and a personal challenge to the paternalism of Fuyao’s billionaire owner, the philanthropist Cao Dewang, above.
• Tencent, the Chinese internet giant that owns WeChat, increased its stake in Snap, the parent of Snapchat. The boost came after Snap posted losses that pushed its shares down as much as 20 percent.
• Takata Corporation owes creditors more than $30 billion after the recall over its faulty airbags — many times more than the company can repay, according to a court filing seen by Reuters.
• Amazon taught Alexa, its digital assistant, the hybrid of Hindi and English known as Hinglish. Here’s how the device fared with Bollywood lingo and Indian humor.
In the News
• The massacre at a Texas church was captured on video. The images, according to an official briefed on the contents, show the gunman methodically shooting his victims in the head, including children, over seven minutes. [The New York Times]
• Papua New Guinea warned the leaders of a standoff at the shuttered Manus Island detention center that they would be “apprehended” and dismissed calls to reopen the site. [SBS]
• In Catalonia, protests and a general strike shut down roads and services as leaders of the Spanish region’s secessionist movement sought to regain political momentum. [Reuters]
• In Japan, a 21-year-old woman believed to be the first victim of a self-described serial killer helped him rent the apartment where she and others were killed. [The Asahi Shimbun]
• An Australian television journalist is winning praise for standing up to a heckler who hurled profane abuse while she was preparing a live report. [News.com.au]
• Italian officials approved, after years of debate, a plan to divert large cruise ships farther from Venice’s landmarks like St. Mark’s Square, the Grand Canal and the Ducal Palace. [The New York Times]
• Zookeepers in Australia were amazed to find two jelly-bean-size “puggles,” or infant echidnas. The indigenous egg-laying mammals have extremely secretive sex lives. [ABC]
Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.
• Recipe of the day: Forget the usual side dishes and make sweet-and-sour cauliflower.
• Want to give to charity? Do your research.
• Here’s our guide to this holiday season’s biggest video games and consoles.
• The Louvre Abu Dhabi, opening this week, is meant to promote the Emirati capital as tolerant and work as a bridge between civilizations. Check it out in this Daily 360 video, above.
• The Vuong family was found at sea after escaping postwar Vietnam on a rickety fishing boat. Decades later, they finally got the chance to thank the merchant seamen who rescued them on the South China Sea.
• New research shows that there is a seventh great ape species, the Tapanuli orangutan. Scientists say it may be the most endangered, with only about 800 left in Indonesia.
News of a butter shortage in France spurred newsroom chatter about one of the country’s signature treats: the croissant (kwah-SAHN if you want to be French about it).
The last time we discussed the subject at such length may have been 2013, when the Cronut burst onto the scene, fresh from the New York bakery of Dominique Ansel. (It’s a “Frankenpastry” hybrid that is half croissant, half doughnut.)
But the croissant, it turns out, was always a hybrid. According to local lore and “Larousse Gastronomique,” it was created in Budapest in 1686, or Vienna in 1683, to celebrate the defeat of the Ottomans, and was later adopted by the French. The crescent shape, the story goes, was inspired by the Ottoman flag.
We asked the head of our Cooking department, Sam Sifton, for a recipe — but it turns out, we’re still working on one. “We haven’t yet developed one that’s really, truly accessible to the home cook,” he told us. “Croissants are hard!”
Here’s his advice: “We find the best ones we can at the bakery, eat a few and let the rest go a little stale, so we can use them in Melissa Clark’s incredible recipe for a buttery breakfast casserole. It may be the highest use of a croissant in the world.”
Karen Zraick contributed reporting.
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