Your Thursday Briefing
Protesters Guangzhou, China, confronted police officers in white protective clothing.Credit…Via Reuters
Protests in China stretch censorship to its limits
China’s censorship apparatus — the most sophisticated of its kind in the world — has hunted down and deleted countless posts on social media showing the recent eruption of protests and anger at the government. Yet new videos of marches, rallies and other signs of dissent have continued to emerge on the chat app WeChat and the short video sharing app Douyin.
In one video, a man sarcastically sings a patriotic song. In another, protesters hold up blank pieces of paper and chant in unison. In a third clip, mourners light candles around a vigil to those who died in a fire while in lockdown in western China. Footage from the southern city of Guangzhou shows workers and residents resisting a Covid lockdown and throwing bottles at riot police officers.
Experts say the sheer volume of video clips speaks to the deep well of anger inside China and has most likely overwhelmed the automated software and armies of censors tasked with policing the internet. “This is a decisive breach of the big silence,” said Xiao Qiang, a researcher on internet freedom at the University of California, Berkeley.
Details: Chinese social media users are flipping videos on their side, using filters on them or recording videos of videos — creative tactics that have tripped up algorithms designed to flag the content. They are also using software to get to blocked foreign sites like Twitter and Instagram, which are beyond the reach of China’s officials.
Related: The death of Jiang Zemin, the former leader of China, poses yet another dilemma for Xi Jinping, the country’s current one. He must walk a fine line of paying tribute to Jiang while preventing him from becoming a symbolic cudgel against his own sternly authoritarian politics.
In Kyiv, life without power
The 3.3 million residents of war-torn Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, face shortages of electricity, water, cellphone and internet service and central heating. Elevators are stocked with emergency supplies in case the power fails, the national orchestra played on Tuesday on a stage lit by battery-powered lanterns, and doctors have performed surgeries by flashlight.
The city had been relatively unscathed since last spring, but in recent months it has been hit by waves of Russian missiles targeting Ukraine’s energy grid. Now, generators of all sizes rattle and roar across the city, where municipal officials estimate that 1.5 million people are still without power for more than 12 hours a day.
After nine months of war, nothing is so new as to be shocking, but the attacks on power have left residents of Kyiv exasperated and exhausted. With temperatures in the city often below freezing, extended power outages are also potentially deadly, threatening health care services, raising the risk of hypothermia and leading to a rise in accidents.
First person: “You go to bed knowing today was bad and tomorrow could be worse,” one resident said. He has moved his bed away from the windows in case a Russian missile explodes nearby, and he tries to keep his phone fully charged before he falls asleep so he can hear an air raid alarm.
In other news from the war:
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, proposed a special court to investigate possible Russian war crimes.
Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, rebuffed Elon Musk’s peace proposal, saying the billionaire should fully understand the situation before making pronouncements about it.
Threat of impeachment for South Africa’s president
Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, may face an impeachment hearing after a report found evidence that he might have broken the law in relation to money stolen at one of his properties. The finding amounts to a recommendation that Ramaphosa face a hearing in Parliament that could lead to his removal if two-thirds of the lawmakers vote against him.
The panel cast doubt on the president’s explanation of how the large sum of U.S. currency came to be hidden in — and stolen from — a couch in his living quarters. “The information presented by the president on the storage of the money is vague and leaves unsettling gaps,” the report said. Ramaphosa’s future as South Africa’s leader is now in grave doubt.
Ramaphosa is expected to face a fierce battle for a second term as the leader of his party, the African National Congress. In a statement last week, he said he had done nothing to violate his constitutional oath and spoke of “an unprecedented and extraordinary moment for South Africa’s constitutional democracy.”
Next steps: The National Assembly is scheduled to meet next week to debate the report and decide whether to convene the removal hearing. Analysts say it seems likely that lawmakers will choose to proceed.
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the World
A village in Italy was granted 20 million euros to reverse its decline. Figuring out how to spend it has become a tough job. Above, Graziella Scuri owns one of the village’s five restaurants.
House Democrats picked Hakeem Jeffries of New York as their leader for the next term, making him the first Black person to lead a party in Congress.
Haiti has descended into chaos since the assassination of its president last year, and armed gangs run much of the country. Some U.S. officials are now pushing for a multinational intervention.
A staff member at Buckingham Palace has resigned after a Black guest at an event said the employee pressed her on where she was from, dismissing Britain as an answer.
Other Big Stories
Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, said the central bank could slow its interest rate increases. Stocks surged after his comments.
A House committee gained access to six years of Donald Trump’s tax returns after the Supreme Court let it obtain the documents.
The estate of the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein agreed to pay about $105 million to the U.S. Virgin Islands to settle claims he used the territory for sex trafficking.
Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, said the company’s downfall was “a massive failure of oversight on my part.”
Janet Yellen, the U.S. Treasury secretary, described the collapse of FTX as a “Lehman moment” and called for greater regulation of the cryptocurrency industry.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, said he believed that Apple’s power as a gatekeeper for the apps marketplace was problematic.
What Else Is Happening
With boulangeries in rural areas of France vanishing, UNESCO added the baguette to its exalted “intangible cultural heritage” list.
Researchers simulated a pair of black holes in a quantum computer and sent a message between them through a shortcut in space-time called a wormhole.
A study of medieval skeletons found that Ashkenazi Jews have become more genetically similar over time.
A Morning Read
Exporting live cattle from northern Australia to Indonesia has created a unique culture, at once a throwback and a modern marvel of globalization. Damien Cave, The Times’s Sydney bureau chief, followed this long and unusual food journey.
As a singer, songwriter and keyboardist, Christine McVie helped drive the phenomenal success of Fleetwood Mac, one of the most popular rock bands of the last 50 years. She died yesterday at 79.
SPORTS NEWS FROM THE ATHLETIC
Tensions lie ahead for Kylian Mbappé and his club: Mbappé has found harmony with France at the World Cup, but he needs to find it at P.S.G., too.
The U.S. win over Iran is big for 2026: Reaching the knockout stage of the World Cup in Qatar could have far-reaching implications for a young U.S. team.
From The Times: At the World Cup, there’s the section for V.I.P.s — and then the one for the V.V.I.P.s.
On to the knockout round: After defeating Poland, Argentina advances to the next round. Mexico beat Saudi Arabia, but gave up a goal in stoppage time and was eliminated on a tiebreaker. Here’s the latest.
ARTS AND IDEAS
The best albums of the year
The most effective artists of the year weren’t afraid to root around deep inside and share the messiness, the complexities and the beauty of their discoveries. Here’s one best album pick from each Times critic:
For more: See our critic’s list of the best jazz albums of 2022.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
This fruitcake is delicious. (Really.)
Save on your next vacation with these 10 tips for affordable cold-weather travel.
Many men are stuck in a “friendship recession.” Here’s how to climb out.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Roll call response (four letters).
And here are today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Natasha
P.S. Amanda Taub explained how her training as a human rights lawyer informs The Times’s Interpreter column about world affairs.
“The Daily” is on the protests in China.
Send thoughts, feedback and anything else to Natasha and the team at [email protected].