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Xi Jinping, Rohingya, Islamic State: Your Thursday Briefing

October 18, 2017 7:09 PM
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Cold War attitudes may have motivated U.S. diplomats to simply watch as mass extrajudicial executions spread beyond suspected Communists to target ethnic Chinese, students and union members.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was harsh in condemning reported atrocities against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s border area with Bangladesh. Mr. Tillerson demanded access to the strife-hit region to allow a “full accounting” of the circumstances.

Counterterrorism experts say the Islamic State is down, but not out. The U.S.-led coalition fighting the group says it still has 6,000 to 10,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria; branches in North Africa and Asia; a large online network; and — possibly — sleeper cells abroad.

North Korea’s economy grew 3.9 percent last year, and the country annually generates about a billion dollars in invisible income.

Our magazine details how, despite being blocked from international financial institutions, the North manages to sells arms, coal, seafood, textiles and, not least, the labor of exported workers. And our writer asks: How long will China continue to be its love-hate enabler?

A Times investigation uncovered a secretive organization that lured in women with promises of empowerment, demanded they turn over naked photographs or other compromising material — and then held them down and branded them below the hip, searing a symbol into their skin.

The group, Nxivm (pronounced Nex-e-um), has been operating across the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

What you need to know to start your day in Australia, delivered to your inbox.

• More trouble for Samsung: The South Korean police raided its construction arm’s head office in an inquiry into whether Lee Kun-hee, the conglomerate’s patriarch and the father of its jailed crown prince, above, misappropriated funds to renovate his family home. [The New York Times]

• U.S. threats to send in SEAL Team 6 prompted Pakistan’s operation to free an American woman, her Canadian husband and their children from the Taliban-linked Haqqani network. [The New York Times]

• The mother of a U.S. soldier killed Niger said that President Trump disrespected her family during a call with the soldier’s widow by saying “knew what he signed up for.” [The New York Times]

• The U.N. refugee agency demanded that Australia step in to avert a humanitarian emergency over the pending, abrupt closure of the Manus Island immigration detention center. Papua New Guinea is threatening to cut off food supplies and forcibly move refugees. [AAP via SBS]

• “Not looking real promising”: Bad weather threatens Australia’s search for six fishermen missing off the coast of Queensland. [The Australian]

• Japan and the European Union should stop funding Cambodia’s elections if the ruling party succeeds in dissolving the main opposition party, rights groups say. [Reuters]

• China Daily, hit with fierce criticism, removed an editorial that claimed sexual harassment was a problem only in the West. [Shanghaiist]

• A new line of condoms available in 60 sizes for the U.S. market was a tough story to tackle seriously, our reporter recalls. [The New York Times]

• Recipe of the day: A yogurt marinade tenderizes and caramelizes sheet-pan chicken.

• Don’t get too comfortable at that desk. Some offices are moving to a “palette of places.”

• Basketball’s global fans can rejoice: The N.B.A. regular season is here. In the Western Conference, the Warriors face a refueled Rockets squad. In the Eastern, where Cavaliers and Celtics have stockpiled stars. But opening night was surprising, and painful.

• When Japanese phonemakers introduced emojis in the late 1990s, they likely didn’t foresee the chaos that would be unleashed on the mission to standardize the world’s alphabets.

• The latest edition of “The Interpreter” comes from South Korea, where concern over the North is mostly viewed through decisions made in Washginton. If President Trump scraps the Iran nuclear deal, for instance, many South Koreans think a deal with Pyongyang will be impossible.

For visitors to Madrid, the starting point is often Plaza Mayor, which is 400 years old this year.

The plaza was created as a city center for the new capital of Madrid, where the Spanish royal court relocated from Toledo in the mid-16th century. Construction began in 1617, during the reign of King Philip III, who is memorialized by an equestrian statue in the center.

The square was built on the site of the market at Plaza del Arrabal, and was later called Plaza de la Constitución, Plaza Real, Plaza de la República and finally Plaza Mayor.

The plaza has seen almost as many fires as it has names. It had to be rebuilt after blazes in 1631, 1670 and 1790. It now consists of three stories, nine archways and 237 balconies.

The site of bullfights, coronations and executions during the Spanish Inquisition, the plaza is now home to shops, restaurants and an annual Christmas market.

Madrid has marked this year’s anniversary with lectures, screenings and music and dance performances. For a few days recently, the plaza was also covered with grass. “I wanted to recover the spirit of that green space,” the artist behind the project, SpY, told El País, citing the plaza’s history as earth and garden.

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