Russia, Iran, Winter Olympics: Your Tuesday Briefing



David Maurice Smith for The New York Times

“Is Taiwan part of China?”

The question is becoming something of a litmus test in Australia, where members of the Chinese diaspora appear to have taken up Beijing’s insistence on “yes” — on a personal scale.

Winnie Tuan, above, said “no” and was fired. We gathered accounts of other job losses and pressure that run counter to Australia’s fair work laws.



Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle

How did unwitting Americans get duped by Russian trolls? The lessons may be useful everywhere.

Posing as activists, Russians organized rallies in U.S. cities, like the protest and counterprotest above in Houston, and played on political divisions on social media. Two ex-employees told our Moscow bureau chief about life inside the troll factory of the Internet Research Agency, one of the entities indicted last week over meddling in the 2016 election.

The indictments make clear that Russia backed Donald Trump, but whether that was decisive remains unclear — in part, because U.S. political polarization was already so bitter, our Interpreter columnists write.



Satellite images by Bing

Hopes that the war in Syria might be ending has shifted to concern that Iran is entrenching there.

Iran is training thousands of militiamen in Syria and bringing in new technologies like drones, growing its network of proxies to redraw the strategic map of the Middle East — and possibly present a regional united front against Israel. Above, satellite images of Iranian bases in Syria.

Separately, an Australian citizen spoke to the “Four Corners” program about why he went to Syria to fight the Islamic State: to kill fellow Australians who had joined the group.



Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios-Disney, via Associated Press

More for the “Black Panther” moment:

Kendrick Lamar’s “Black Panther the Album” — songs “from and inspired by” the film — is as densely packed and ambitious as one of the rapper’s own LPs, our critic says.

Our Style reporter looked at how the film’s Afrocentric hair punctuates character and plot. (“There was not a pressing comb or relaxer on set.”)

And we took some Brooklyn 12-year-olds to see the movie. Here’s what they said.




Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• Big holders of Bitcoin and its brethren have become alluring marks for criminals, with abductions for virtual-currency ransoms occurring from Thailand to Ukraine. And less dangerous scams are rampant: In Australia alone, almost 1,300 complaints were lodged with the national consumer watchdog. (Above, a cryptocurrency hardware wallet.)

• “The Quad” — Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. — reportedly began considering a regional plan to balance China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative.

• WeWork, the global network of shared office spaces, has an audacious, possibly delusional plan to transform not just the way we work and live, but also the very world we live in.

• Markets were closed in Hong Kong, Shanghai and the U.S. on Monday; Shanghai remains closed through Wednesday. Here’s a snapshot of where global markets stand.

In the News


Sarianto/Associated Press

• Mount Sinabung on the Indonesian island of Sumatra erupted, shooting columns of ash more than three miles high. The volcanic advisory center in Darwin, Australia, issued a “red notice” to airlines. [A.P.]

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordered an investigation into a series of burglaries that targeted Anne-Marie Brady, an academic who detailed China’s influence campaigns in New Zealand. [NZ Herald]

• “The level of excessive behavior was unprecedented.” Carnival, the U.S.-British cruise operator, said it was investigating “all aspects” of a days-long brawl on a cruise off the coast of Australia. [Reuters]

• Oxfam, one of the largest British charities, said three employees who were the subject of a 2011 inquiry into sexual misconduct in Haiti physically threatened a witness. [The New York Times]

• Swastikas were scrawled on the Polish Embassy in Israel, after Poland’s prime minister suggested there were “Jewish perpetrators” of World War II atrocities. [The New York Times]

Smarter Living

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


Ed Alcock for The New York Times

• What to do with a day off? Nothing is one of our newsletter’s (best!) suggestions.

• At any age, hangovers are trying to tell you something.

• A Paris-style hamburger respects, but doesn’t replicate, steak tartare.



Sunset at Sefton Bivvy.

Jeremy Cronon

• “In a hut, you face simple choices.” That’s what one writer discovered while staying in some of the public huts that dot New Zealand’s Tolkienesque backcountry.

Symphonic table tennis: “Ricochet,” a work first performed in Shanghai in 2015, premieres today at the New York Philharmonic’s Lunar New Year gala. Check out the Olympic-level Ping-Pong percussion.

• Flower power: Adorning ourselves with flora is an impulse as old as civilization. Here, three floral artists offer new takes on the most atavistic — and enduring — of traditions.

Back Story


Mary Lou Foy/The Miami Herald, via Reuters

The Florida high school that was the site of last week’s mass shooting is named for her.

But Marjory Stoneman Douglas, pictured above in 1987, has a much longer legacy in the history of Florida and the fight to preserve the Everglades, the tropical wetlands that once covered the southern part of the state.

Born in Minnesota in 1890, she graduated from Wellesley College and for a period worked as a newspaper reporter for her father, the editor of The Miami Herald.

She was later asked to contribute to a book series about U.S. rivers. In researching the Miami River, she became interested in the Everglades and persuaded her publisher to let her write about them instead.

“The Everglades: River of Grass” was published in 1947. An environmental classic, the book changed the way the U.S. viewed its wetlands, as important ecosystems and surge buffers rather than worthless swamps more useful when drained.

But despite Mrs. Douglas’s warning that “There are no other Everglades in the world,” development has continued to encroach.

The school now in the news was named in her honor in 1990, commemorating her 100th birthday. She died eight years later, in the same Miami cottage in which she’d lived since 1926.

Chris Stanford contributed reporting.


Your Morning Briefing is published weekday mornings and updated online. Sign up here to get it by email in the Australian, Asian, European or American morning, or to receive an Evening Briefing on U.S. weeknights.

And our Australia bureau chief offers a weekly letter adding analysis and conversations with readers.

Browse our full range of Times newsletters here.

What would you like to see here? Contact us at

Source link

Leave a Reply