Xi Jinping, National Rifle Association, Syria: Your Monday Briefing
Here’s what you need to know:
• “Essentially, he has become emperor for life.”
That’s how a biographer described Xi Jinping after China’s Communist Party floated a momentous proposal to lift the two-term limit on the presidency. It’s almost certain to pass during the annual session of China’s congress, which begins next Monday.
Mr. Xi has been increasingly wielding his power. The government’s takeover of the debt-ridden Anbang Insurance Group sent a blunt warning against corporate debt, and he is sending his top economic policymaker to Washington this week to address trade frictions.
• The 23rd Winter Olympicswrapped up in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with a rousing closing ceremony that included K-pop and a conga line. (Here’s the medal count: Norway claimed the most, South Korea was first among Asian nations, and Australia came away with three.)
These Games are likely to be most remembered for the scandal over Russian doping and for the brief unity of the Koreas — an extraordinary diplomatic moment that raised the possibility of renewed international talks with the North.
Our correspondents look at whether South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, can turn the Olympic truce into a lasting peace, a challenge made tougher by new U.S. sanctions targeting the North’s clandestine shipping fleet.
• In the U.S., classes resume on Monday at the Florida school where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting nearly two weeks ago. Many survivors are publicly pushing for gun control, and privately suffering through the emotional aftermath of the massacre.
A growing number of businesses are cutting ties with the National Rifle Association, the country’s chief gun lobby. President Trump remains focused on shifting the discussion to “hardening” schools by arming teachers, and expressing fury at the F.B.I. for ignoring reports that the suspect was “going to explode.”
Amid rage over revelations that a deputy took cover instead of entering the school during the shooting, the county sheriff defended his own actions as “amazing leadership.”
•Questions are swirling over if and when President Trump might answer questions from Robert Mueller, the special counsel. His investigation seems to be racing, our correspondent writes, but toward an as-yet-undefined goal.
After the former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates pleaded guilty to a variety of charges, speculation is rife about the nature of his cooperation with Mr. Mueller.
And new charges accuse Paul Manafort, a one-time Trump campaign chairman, of paying off prominent Europeans to serve as boosters for an autocratic Ukrainian client.
• Airstrikes continued against a rebel-held suburb of Damascus where more than 500 civilians have been killed, despite the U.N. Security Council’s resolution calling for a 30-day cease-fire.
Our correspondents examined two phenomena in the regional turmoil: a Russian effort to repatriate women and children from territory held by the crumbling Islamic State, and a wave of feminist power that’s swelling in Kurdish-controlled areas.
• Against the grain: Opposition figures in Malaysia pounced after Prime Minister Najib Razak said he preferred quinoa to rice.
The former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad tweeted, “I only eat local rice” — a statement one-upped by another opposition leader, who announced that he didn’t know what quinoa was.
The prime minister’s carbo-loading is hardly his main focus. Enmeshed in a graft scandal, he is likely to hold on to power in a general election expected by August.
• Exotic baby animals separated from their mothers can get something better than cow’s milk. Wombaroo, an Australian company, started with powdered milk formula for koalas, but now has a vibrant international niche market that helps nurture pandas and lions. (Getting milk samples can be a challenge.)
• Fast-food fixes: In Britain, KFC made a cheeky apology to fans furious over its shortage of chicken. And McDonald’s “szechuan sauce,” a popular ’90s condiment, goes back in wide circulation in the U.S. Its rarity in a limited return in October incensed customers.
• Samsung is expected to unveil its latest Galaxy S-class smartphone at the GSMA World Congress in Barcelona. The mobile industry’s annual showcase is branching out to include speakers on drones, blockchain and artificial intelligence.
•Here’s a snapshot of global markets.
In the News
• A testy phone call with President Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Peña Nieto, may have foiled plans for a White House visit. [Associated Press]
• Australian National University canceled classes for today after Sunday’s flash floods. [Straits Times]
• Sydney has a net influx of immigrants, but a net outflow of Australians. [Sydney Morning Herald]
• An opinion column in China’s Global Times called the U.S. hypocritical for condemning other countries over human rights violations while failing to stem gun violence. [The New York Times]
Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.
• You can weathera turbulent stock market.
• Traveling? Here are some simple tips to get by if you don’t know the language.
• Try a meatless meal of Sri Lankan dal with coconut and lime kale.
• In memoriam: Sridevi Kapoor, the widely beloved Bollywood superstar, died at the age of 54 in Dubai, where she was visiting for a wedding. The cause was given as cardiac arrest. (Watch a trailer for her film “Vinglish.”)
• We like good news as much as anybody. Here’s a roundup of positive stories we wrote about last week.
• And check out your fellow readers’ answers to the question, What are you most proud of? (Even some of our journalists piled in.)
“Was it really that bad?”
That’s what Arthur Bicknell asked years after his play, a mystery-farce called “Moose Murders,” opened and closed on the same night this month in 1983 — setting a punishing new standard for Broadway flops.
“The simple answer,” he conceded to The Times, “is yes.”
Reviews at the time were brutal. Brendan Gill of The New Yorker said it “would insult the intelligence of an audience consisting entirely of amoebas.” Dennis Cunningham of CBS advised, “If your name is Arthur Bicknell, change it.” (In one account, a woman leaving the theater shouted to a policeman, “Arrest this play!”)
Here’s the Times review by Frank Rich, who years later would call it “the worst play I’ve ever seen on a Broadway stage.”
In the years since its ill-fated Feb. 22 debut, “Moose Murders” has gained notoriety, if not respect. In 2011, Mr. Bicknell published “Moose Murdered: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Broadway Bomb.”)
In fact, there have been “revivals” of “Moose Murders” around the world — and at least one comical twist. In 2007, the Repertory Philippines misidentified the author of the play in its posters and playbills around Manila. Instead of Mr. Bicknell, it credited The Times’s critic, Mr. Rich.
Charles McDermid contributed reporting.
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