Asia and Australia Edition: James Comey, Syria, North Korea: Your Monday Briefing

The surprise announcement came last week, just hours after President Xi Jinping reviewed the biggest naval parade in the country’s history, above. More than 10,000 troops took part, along with 76 aircraft and 48 warships, including submarines and the aircraft carrier Liaoning.



Credit via Weibo

• “I am gay, not a pervert.”

Tens of thousands of people in China are protesting Sina Weibo.

The social media giant is deleting posts related to gay culture as part of a three-month “cleanup” effort. Its goal: a “clear and harmonious” online environment in line with President Xi’s new cybersecurity laws.

Incensed protesters say the campaign is yet another sign of discrimination more than 20 years after China decriminalized homosexuality.



Credit Pool photo by Andrew Harrer

James Comey’s war.

The former F.B.I. director, fired last May by President Trump, will be featured in a wide-ranging interview with ABC News set to air on Sunday at 10 p.m. Eastern (noon Monday in Sydney). Above, Mr. Comey and Mr. Trump in January 2017.

His memoir, “A Higher Loyalty,” comes out on Tuesday. Our former chief book critic, Michiko Kakutani, returned to review the book, which portrays Mr. Trump as unethical and dishonest.

For days, Mr. Trump has waged a ferocious counterattack against Mr. Comey, calling him a liar and a “slime ball.”



Credit Garry Andrew Lotulung/Pacific Press, via Getty Images

• In Indonesia, the 20 million people who follow traditional beliefs, or aliran kepercayaan, are still waiting for an end to decades of unofficial discrimination, despite a major court ruling in their favor in November.

Indonesia guarantees freedom of religion but the government recognizes only six: Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Protestantism, Catholicism and Confucianism. Above, a Baduy tribesman in Banten, Indonesia, in 2015.

“Why can these big global religions spread and be recognized,” one traditional believer said, “but the original religion of Indonesia cannot?”


• One hammer and sickle at a time: China’s newly empowered Communist Party has gained direct decision-making power over some of the international firms doing business in the country.

• Australia’s waste industry is pushing for a new national focus on domestic recycling, given that China stopped accepting waste and recycling imports.

• Facebook isn’t the only tech company under congressional scrutiny in the U.S. Google and Twitter have until April 25 to answer a senator’s questions about how they handle data collection and privacy, and other companies expect similar challenges soon.

• “Rampage,” a PG-13 cheesefest involving mutant animals marketed squarely around the actor Dwayne Johnson, led the weekend box office with a global take of $174.5 million.

• World leaders are heading to Washington for meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, meets with President Trump at his Florida resort on Tuesday. Here are other headlines to watch for this week.

Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

In the News


Credit Korean Central News Agency, via Reuters

• Mending fences with Beijing: Kim Jong-un of North Korea offered a warm welcome to the same senior Chinese envoy whom he had snubbed five months earlier. [The New York Times]

Rohingya supporters and human rights groups cast doubt on the announcement by Myanmar that it had repatriated the first Rohingya family from Bangladesh. “This is a deception,” said the Rohingya Blogger website. [Al Jazeera]

• A bushfire in southwest Sydney was downgraded to watch-and-act status. The fire burned 2,430 hectares and damaged homes in the suburbs of Holsworthy and Menai. [ABC]

• In India, national outrage over the rape and killing of an 8-year-old girl is creating a crisis for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. [The New York Times]

• An Air China flight from Hunan Province made an emergency landing en route to Beijing after a passenger described as mentally ill held a flight attendant hostage with a fountain pen. [South China Morning Post]

• The N.B.A. playoffs are underway, and our sports reporters had some bold predictions about who will prevail. (If Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors win, does that cement them as a dynasty?) [The New York Times]

Smarter Living

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

• Five cheap(ish) things you need in your bedroom

• Here are three steps to avoid giving biased, unfair feedback.

• Recipe of the day: Start the week strong, and make pasta with mint, basil and fresh mozzarella.



Credit Adam Ferguson for The New York Times

“Yes, there is still radiation here.” That’s Australia’s only nuclear tour guide at the deserted military installation of Maralinga, where the Australian and British governments dropped seven bombs between 1956 and 1963. Now it’s an unlikely — but safe — tourist destination.

• In memoriam. Milos Forman, 86, the Czech-born, Oscar-winning director of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus”; Rev. Daniel J. Berrigan, 94, a Jesuit priest and poet whose defiant protests against the Vietnam War landed him in prison.

• And meet Oussouby Sacko, who is believed to be the first African-born president of a Japanese university.

Back Story


Credit Associated Press

Hollywood has the Oscars, journalism has the Pulitzers.

There will be no red carpet or ball gowns, but newsrooms around the U.S. will gather this afternoon for the announcement of the Pulitzer Prizes, which honor the best journalism and arts of the previous year.

Established in 1917, the prizes are given in 21 categories, which include breaking news photography, fiction and editorial writing. (Here’s a look at how The Times selects the work it puts forward for consideration.)

The top prize, which wins a gold medal, is the public service award. Previous winners include The Arkansas Gazette’s coverage of school integration, The Boston Globe’s expose of sexual abuse by priests and The Times’s reporting of the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The awards were created by Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of The St. Louis Post Dispatch and The New York World at the turn of the 20th century, as an “incentive to excellence.” Hawkish, with an eye for rooting out public abuses, Pulitzer, above in 1962, is widely regarded as one of the founders of modern American journalism.

“It’s my duty to see that they get the truth,” he once said, “accurately so that they may be wisely guided by its light.”

Good luck to our colleagues around the world!

Remy Tumin contributed reporting.


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