Monday Sunrise Briefing: Renewed attacks on democracy in Asia

Monday Sunrise Briefing: Renewed attacks on democracy in Asia

Why We Wrote This

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, March 1, 2021, sunrise briefing. 

Here are three news events from this past weekend (while you may have been ice fishing, baking English saffron bread, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.


Protesters wear masks depicting ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and flash three-finger salutes of resistance as they seek her release after a military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, Feb. 28, 2021. Security forces killed 18 protesters on Sunday.


March 1, 2021

Authoritarian leaders moved to quash pro-democracy movements in Myanmar and Hong Kong this weekend. 

Myanmar security forces Sunday intensified their crackdown in the deadliest day of demonstrations since the Feb. 1 military coup. At least 18 people died and 30 others were wounded, reported the U.N. “Use of lethal force against non-violent demonstrators is never justifiable under international human rights norms,” the U.N. Human Rights Office said. Protests continued Monday.

In Hong Kong, 47 pro-democracy activists were charged on Sunday with “conspiracy to commit subversion” in the largest single crackdown on the political opposition under a China-imposed national security law. Every prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy leader is now either in jail or in exile, reported the Washington Post. “This is a very strong signal from President Xi (Jinping) that he wants to eradicate the whole pro-democracy camp in Hong Kong,” exiled activist Sunny Cheung, told Reuters by phone.

2. A party divided. Former President Donald Trump returned to the political stage Sunday for the first time since leaving office. In a speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference in Orlando, Florida, Mr. Trump attacked President Joe Biden, repeated the false claim of a rigged 2020 election, and crowned himself the future of the Republican Party, even as some GOP leaders argue they must move in a new direction after the party lost not only the White House but both chambers of Congress in the last elections. Mr. Trump insisted the only gulf in the party was “between a handful of Washington, D.C., establishment political hacks and everybody else, all over the country.” Some of the top Republicans absent from the event were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, former VP Mike Pence, and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney.

In other politics news, a second woman accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, reported The New York Times. The Democratic governor denied the allegation and issued  a statement Sunday that “some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.”

Third acts: Some older adults are rejecting lives of leisure – on purpose

3. Hollywood’s best. The 78th annual Golden Globe Awards began under a cloud Sunday: None of the 87 voting members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association are Black and none of the most acclaimed Black films were nominated for the best picture award. But amid apologies and criticism, the show went on. The top award, best picture drama, went to“Nomadland” by Chloé Zhao, who became the first woman of Asian descent to win best director. She’s only the second woman in the history of the Globes to win.

Streaming services dominated the Globes like never before. Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” won best film, comedy, or musical. Its star, Sacha Baron Cohen, also won best actor in a comedy. Netflix won the top TV awards. “The Crown,” took best drama series, along with acting wins for Josh O’Connor, Emma Corrin, and Gillian Anderson. “The Queen’s Gambit” won best limited series, and best actress in the category for Anya Taylor-Joy. “Schitt’s Creek” won best comedy series for its final season. Catherine O’Hara also took best actress in a comedy series.


AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

A rite of spring. Fans sit in social distance squares during a spring training baseball game between the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, in Fort Myers, Fla.

Look Ahead

Monday, March 1

Myanmar coup update. On Monday, Aung San Suu Kyi is expected at a court hearing about two charges: possession of walkie-talkie radios that were imported without being registered, and for violating Article 25 of the Natural Disaster Management Law, which has been used to prosecute people who have broken coronavirus restrictions.

French justice watch. A verdict is expected in trial of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. He’s accused of bribing a judge in return for inside information about an investigation into his campaign financing.

Wednesday, March 3

Federal police reform. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on a bill – the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 – which includes provisions to overhaul qualified immunity for police, curb racial profiling, a ban on chokeholds, and a ban on no-knock warrants in federal drug cases. It would also establish a national registry of police misconduct maintained by the Department of Justice.

Friday, March 5

Window on China’s priorities. The National People’s Congress opens its annual session in Beijing. Mostly a rubber-stamp gathering, the two most-watched parts of the agenda are the presentation of an annual report for 2021, and the release of China’s five-year plan, spelling out priorities for the world’s second-largest economy up to 2025.

Historic papal visit. Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq for the first time and is expected to meet Shiite Muslim leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

Priority Reset Day. Actually, it’s called National Day of Unplugging and it starts at sundown. Step away from that laptop, put down the Switch controller, and go for a walk, play board games, bake a pie, and enjoy this annual 24-hour respite from technology.

Generosity Watch

Mitchell’s Plumbing & Heating, LLC.

Rescue mission. Plumber Andrew Mitchell (right) and his brother-in-law Isaiah Pinnock filled a truck with supplies and drove with Mitchell’s wife and young son to Houston, Texas.

How far would a plumber drive to fix a burst pipe?

If you’re Andrew Mitchell, the answer is about 1,600 miles. After a winter freeze raised havoc all over Texas, the call went out for plumbers. So, the Morristown, N.J. plumber bought $2,000 in supplies, loaded his truck, and drove 22 hours to Houston (where his sister-in-law lives).

Mr. Mitchell’s been working non-stop ever since. Amid reports of price gouging, he says he’s there to help, not to hurt.  “I always ask a customer what do they think is fair, what do they have to spare,” Mr. Mitchell told NJ Advance Media. “I never try to take advantage of somebody.”

Barbara Benson had been without water for a week, and had called 14 different plumbers, who told her it would be weeks before they could fix her burst pipe. Some were charging as much $2,000 just to diagnose the problem. Then, Mr. Mitchell arrived. “For a woman living by herself, you can get scammed easily and I was just pleasantly surprised,” she told NJ Advance Media. “It was like somebody’s watching out for me.”

Mr. Mitchell’s wife, Kisha Pinnock, tells CBS News that her husband had the skills, so he responded. “A lot of times when you see devastation, it could be across the world … and you really feel like your heart is breaking with them and you can’t do anything. But in this instance, we really could.”

Hidden Gem

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor readers:

Third acts: Some older adults are rejecting lives of leisure – on purpose

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about a new Braille magazine intended just for fun reading. 

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Finally, check out the Monitor’s selected stories from Friday’s subscription-only Daily Edition:

  • As Beijing’s power grows, can it shift meaning of ‘human rights’?
  • Biden’s big COVID-19 aid package: What’s in the bill?
  • Ten years after tsunami, a Japanese town rebuilds its homes and heart
  • ‘Masterpiece’ at 50: How has the PBS staple influenced US culture?
  • Think you’ve got winter woes? I’ve got a slumpy frog.
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    Mark Sappenfield

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