The DailyBrief

Monday February 13, 2017

North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile over the Sea of Japan on February 12 came about a week after the US successfully destroyed the same type of intermediate range ballistic missile in a test off Hawaii. The interceptor that took out the land-launched missile was fired from the USS John Paul Jones destroyer on February 3 in the first test of the device, known as the new Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA. Peter J. Brown writes that with the success of the Hawaii test, the Asian missile defense game has heated up considerably and deployment of the SM-3 Block IIA will add to the irritation.

The self-proclaimed “caliph” of the Islamic State (ISIS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is worried about the future of his organization in Syria and Iraq. The terror group has been ejected from strategic cities such as Ramadi, faces an uphill battle in Mosul, and is on the verge of a major confrontation with Kurdish militias in its own de facto capital, Raqqa. Sami Moubayed writes that Baghdadi is searching for new territory and recruits, with Muslim Mindanao on his radar.

Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) is famed for his colorful woodblock prints, especially the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. That masterwork was created between 1830 and 1832, when Hokusai was in his 70s, but it’s not widely appreciated that, in the earlier part of his career, he was better known for his brush-and-ink drawings. In 1814, he published the first in a 15-volume series called Hokusai Manga, which went on to become one of the best-known Japanese books in the world at the time. Richard James Havis reports on how the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has published Hokusai’s Lost Manga – a one-volume collection made up of three books of previously unpublished drawings.

We marked the final day of the Lunar New Year, which also happened to be Chinese Valentine’s Day on Saturday, with a package of stories centered on the dying traditional craft of lantern making with Chan Yiu-wah in Hong Kong and a piece on love insurance in mainland China. Benny Kung and Liu Hsiu Wen chatted with Chan on how he makes beautiful lanterns from scratch and shares a series of photos on his process, while Lin Wanxia explored the peculiar popularity of love insurance.