2019年12月29日 星期日

Your Monday Briefing

Monday, Dec 30, 2019 | View in browser
Good morning.
We’re covering the questions surrounding a deadly bombing in Somalia this weekend and the way China is targeting Xinjiang’s children. And we’re reflecting on some of the lives that shaped us.
By Melina Delkic
Medical personnel carry a wounded child to be airlifted to Turkey for treatment on Sunday after a bombing in Mogadishu.  Farah Abdi Warsameh/Associated Press

Deadly Somalia blast highlights Al Shabab’s resilience

The terror group Al Shabab was suspected after at least 79 people were killed by a truck explosion at a busy intersection in Mogadishu, the country’s capital, over the weekend. It was the worst attack there in years.
Al Shabab, which is linked to Al Qaeda, was kicked out of Somalia a decade ago. But while it has lost territory, suffered defections and been targeted by U.S. airstrikes, it has become deft in handling its operations, versatile in using guerrilla tactics and prolific in manufacturing bombs.
It has killed hundreds of people in Somalia and in neighboring Kenya.
The attack: A bus carrying university students to their campus was struck by the blast, which also injured 149 people. Among the victims were parents going to work, students heading to university, foreign engineers building roads, and shop owners.
Video: Images from the aftermath show destroyed vehicles and some of the wounded.
Children heading to school in Hotan, where Beijing is seeking to assimilate and indoctrinate Muslim children.  Giulia Marchi for The New York Times

China targets Xinjiang’s children, too

Even as China faces global outrage over its detention of as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others in the Xinjiang region to weaken their ties to Islam, it is pressing ahead regarding children there — even some as young as 4.
Nearly a half-million children have been separated from their families and placed in boarding schools designed to indoctrinate them, according to a planning document published on a government website. And the Communist Party wants to expand that.
How it works:
The children are only allowed visits with family once every week or two. They are taught in Chinese instead of Uighur, and they learn songs praising the party. Tens of thousands of teachers have been recruited from across China, while many Uighur educators have been imprisoned.

A U.S. bank’s role in Iran’s turmoil

A newly disclosed secret history shows in vivid detail how Chase Manhattan Bank and its chairman worked behind the scenes four decades ago to persuade the Carter administration to admit the deposed Iranian shah, one of the bank’s most profitable clients, into the U.S.
The move changed history, setting off a chain of events that enabled Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to consolidate his theocratic rule and starting a four-decade conflict between Washington and Tehran that still roils the region.
Details: In what the bank called Project Eagle, the chairman, David Rockefeller, mobilized a phalanx of elder statesmen to lobby the White House. The bank also arranged visas for Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s entourage, searched out private schools and mansions for his family and helped arrange a jet to deliver him.
Less than two weeks later, revolutionary students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. More than 50 Americans hostage were held for 444 days.
Quotable: The operation was “smooth, smooth, smooth and almost entirely invisible,” said Charles Francis, a veteran of corporate public affairs who worked for Chase at the time and who brought the documents that revealed the story to the attention of The Times.

If you have some time, this is worth it

Lives that changed us

Bettmann Archive/Getty Images; NASA/JPL-Caltech; Danny Lyon/Magnum Photos; The Helmut Newton Estate/Maconochie Photography
This week’s Times Magazine is dedicated to 23 of the artists, innovators and thinkers who died in 2019.
They include, above, counterclockwise from top left, the writer Toni Morrison, the designer Karl Lagerfeld and the photographer Robert Frank. We stretched the category to include NASA’s Opportunity Rover, top right, which astounded scientists with its longevity and productivity on Mars.
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Here’s what else is happening

Ukraine aid timeline: A Times investigation found that President Trump’s withholding of military help for Ukraine sent shock waves through the White House and the Pentagon, created deep rifts within the senior ranks of his administration, left key aides like Mr. Mulvaney under intensifying scrutiny — and ended only after Mr. Trump learned of a damning whistle-blower report.
Samoa measles crisis: The Pacific island nation is reopening schools after a measles outbreak killed 81 people, many of them children, declaring its six-week state of emergency over. Officials said 95 percent of those eligible have been vaccinated.
New York knife attack: The state’s governor called the stabbing of five Hasidic Jews during a Hanukkah celebration “domestic terrorism.” The attack came amid a surge of anti-Semitic violence in the region.
Thai cave rescue: A Thai Navy SEAL who was part of the dramatic diving rescue of 12 boys and their coach has died of a blood infection he contracted during the risky operation. He is the second navy diver to lose his life as a result of the operation.
North Korea: Top officials with the ruling Workers’ Party convened over the weekend, raising fears of new nuclear weapons tests as a self-imposed Dec. 31 deadline to end nuclear talks approaches.
Iraq: The U.S. military struck five targets in Iraq and Syria controlled by an Iranian-backed paramilitary group, in response to a rocket attack on Friday that killed a U.S. contractor, the Pentagon said.
Pickup artists: Our New New World columnist, Li Yuan, explores what the case of a young woman who attempted suicide reveals about a big business in China: teaching young men cruel and manipulative dating techniques borrowed from the U.S.
Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times
Snapshot: Above, a diver with a net full of China’s sea cucumbers, which are being consumed so voraciously that some species are depleted or endangered. Farmed sea cucumbers are filling the gap, and reshaping the Liaodong Peninsula.
‘The Weekly’: Our TV show obtained combat video, text messages and confidential interviews in which members of SEAL Team 7 tell Navy investigators of their platoon leader’s disturbing hunger for violence, for which they reported him. The Special Operations chief, Edward Gallagher, was acquitted of the most severe charges and has been welcomed to the White House.
From Opinion: Has it felt like a bleak year? Our Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof points out that by many measures — literacy, disease, poverty, child mortality — 2019 was humanity’s best year ever.
News quiz: Revisit the toughest questions from 2019 in a special year-end quiz.
What we’re reading: Variety’s list of the 10 most overrated films of 2019. “Fodder for some excellent party arguments,” writes the Briefings editor, Andrea Kannapell. “I mean, ‘Paddington 2’???”

Now, a break from the news

Julia Gartland for The New York Times
Cook: Start the week with something spiced and spicy: lentils diavolo.
Read: Among the things to look forward to in 2020 are a host of new books coming in January — we compiled 10 of them.
Watch: Taylor Swift showed us how she writes a love song in the latest episode of The Times’s “Diary of a Song” series.
Smarter Living: Whether you’re into New Year’s resolutions or not, there are a few ways our Styles desk recommends heading into 2020. Among them: Sleep until at least 6 a.m.

And now for the Back Story on …


We’re at peak fireworks. Giant displays are planned for New Year’s in Dubai, New York, London, Moscow and uncounted other cities.
The booms and starbursts have often prompted your Back Story writer to wonder: What if wars were decided by fireworks shows? Plenty of awe, and, if handled carefully, no deaths. My assumption was that fireworks had evolved from weaponry. But I had it backward.
Bamboo fireworks are still around. This was fired off at a Shinto shrine in central Japan in 2018.   Yasuyoshi Chiba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The Chinese are credited with the first fireworks, discovering that roasting bamboo caused its closed cells to explode. The early use was to ward off evil spirits, an enduring idea.
China is also thought to be where the first gunpowder was mixed, upping bamboo’s explosive power with a blend of mainly potassium nitrate (a food preservative also known as Chinese snow or saltpeter), charcoal and sulfur. Military use followed within a few centuries.
When the technology spread into Europe, development accelerated. Germany took the lead on arms, Italy on fireworks.
China is still the world’s leading producer of fireworks, but its own biggest displays come at the Lunar New Year. That’ll be in a few weeks: Jan. 25, 2020.
That’s it for this briefing. Happy Hogmanay to Scots, and see you next time.
— Melina
Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Andrea Kannapell, the Briefings editor, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode revisits how family history websites have been used by U.S. law enforcement to track down suspects and win convictions.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Libra, Leo, etc. (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Our list of the most-read Times stories of 2019 has options to exclude politics or focus only on fun reads.
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