Wednesday Briefing: A Dangerous Rescue in Pakistan

All passengers were rescued from a cable car in Pakistan

Pakistani security forces said yesterday that they had rescued eight people, including several young students, from a stranded cable car that was left hanging above a mountain valley.

The students, including children ages 10 to 15, were headed to a nearby school in Allai, in the Battagram district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, in the morning when two of the car’s wires broke. Panic gripped the passengers and their families, who issued urgent pleas for assistance.

A video clip posted on social media showed one person being lifted to safety by a rope attached to a helicopter. But as darkness fell, helicopter operations were suspended, and a zip-line was used instead to rescue those who were still trapped, according to the Pakistani military.

The cable car is a regular mode of transportation for residents of the mountainous northern region. Around 400 to 500 people use it for commuting every day. But such locally built lifts, typically powered by petrol or diesel engines, are privately owned and tend toward relatively ad hoc construction.

Fear: One of the passengers told a local television news network that he and the others had been stuck for more than six hours without food or water. He said that one child with a heart condition had fainted after panicking. “My mobile phone battery is depleting fast,” he said.

A dramatic day in Thailand

After three months of uncertainty, Thailand’s Parliament named Srettha Thavisin as the country’s next prime minister. Srettha, 60, a real estate tycoon, is seen as amenable to royalists and the military-appointed Senate.

His selection wasn’t yesterday’s only big moment, however. Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted former premier who had been living in exile since 2006, returned to Thailand and was taken into custody over an earlier prison sentence. Analysts say his return reflects his confidence in Srettha, a close ally. There is speculation that Thaksin made a deal to have his jail term reduced in exchange for keeping the military and conservative establishment in power.

What’s next: Even with the political deadlock resolved for now, Srettha faces the immense challenge of meeting the demands of an electorate that voted for change and is disillusioned with his party, which once campaigned against the military but is now working with it. He will have to manage tensions that appear certain to continue for months or years to come.

Why China’s real estate crisis is so hard to fix

China is attempting to dig itself out of its current economic troubles with the same approach it used during a previous crisis in 2016: a spending blitz on infrastructure and real estate. But that playbook isn’t working anymore.

It has become considerably harder for China to borrow and invest its way back to economic strength. Heavy debt and economic strife have wilted the demand for borrowing in recent months, blunting the effectiveness of looser lending policies by the banks.

On the U.S.-China front, President Biden’s commerce secretary, Gina Raimondo, will travel to Beijing and Shanghai for a series of meetings next week.


Asia Pacific

Gen. Hun Manet took over as prime minister in Cambodia, replacing his father Hun Sen, who ruled for close to four decades.

Japan intends to begin discharging over a million tons of radioactive wastewater into the ocean tomorrow, despite regional objections to the plan.

A U.N. report said that hundreds of members of Afghanistan’s former government had been detained, tortured or killed since the Taliban took over two years ago.

The War in Ukraine

The Ukrainian military said that its troops had entered a small southern village, a sign that Kyiv’s counteroffensive is inching forward.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive is struggling because it has too many troops in the wrong places, U.S. and other Western officials say.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia did not travel to the BRICS summit in Johannesburg because he is wanted for war crimes, but he sent a prerecorded address.

Around the World

Greek firefighters recovered the charred bodies of 18 people believed to be migrants in a region where a major wildfire was burning.

At least 50 buildings were consumed by wildfires in and around Kelowna, British Columbia, over the past few days, officials said.

Microsoft offered British regulators changes to its proposed $69 billion merger with Activision Blizzard, in a bid to win approval by addressing concerns over cloud gaming.

Brazil’s former president, Jair Bolsonaro, is under investigation for embezzling expensive gifts he received as president from Saudi Arabia and other countries.

The field is set for the first Republican primary debate today: Eight candidates will participate. Donald Trump will not.

A Morning Read

Three Times reporters in San Francisco tested the new Waymo driverless taxis, which on Monday began taking regular passengers.

For one of our reporters, the ride was so smooth, that the novelty began to wear off and a trip to the future became just another journey across town. He nearly forgot he was in a driverless car until, as he was getting out, he turned to say thanks for the ride and saw only an empty seat.


Japan’s ‘gateway to Asia’

There’s a soothing hum to laid-back Fukuoka, the largest city on the Japanese island of Kyushu. With a sprawling commercial port offering links to China, Korea and other parts of the Pacific, Fukuoka has long been considered Japan’s “Gateway to Asia.” A popular destination for vacationing Japanese, the city is now drawing international tourists.

If you’re considering a visit, head for the nearest yatai, which often have open-air kitchens and specialize in local delicacies like motsunabe (beef tripe hot pot). One restaurant owner believes that “authentic yatai atmosphere can only be experienced in Fukuoka.” For a feast for the eyes, the city’s good rent and easy transportation — as well as museums, art schools and creative spaces — have made it a natural incubator for a thriving art scene.


Make this pasta with a luscious sauce made from puréed fresh corn and sweet sautéed scallions.

Watch “Ahsoka,” the new “Star Wars” mini-series, which looks for new energy in the old formulas.

Read about life among America’s most entrenched elite in “Quiet Street.”

Coping with the indignities of “vaginal atrophy” goes far beyond the terrible name.

Play the Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Justin

We’d like your feedback! You can reach us at [email protected].

Justin Porter is an editor on the Briefings newsletter team at The Times. More about Justin Porter

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