2019年12月22日 星期日

Your Monday Briefing

Monday, Dec 23, 2019 | View in browser
Good morning.
We’re covering growing anger toward a new citizenship law in India, a poisoning that held clues about a secretive Russian team of assassins and the refuge some Afghan women find in Kabul’s pools.
By Melina Delkic
A rally against a new citizenship law in Kolkata on Sunday. 

Modi defends law as India’s protests intensify

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India signaled he would not scrap a contentious new citizenship law that favors every major South Asian faith other than Islam, despite the mass protests the law has caused across the country.
In a fiery speech on Sunday, he dismissed concerns of critics who called the law discriminatory against India’s 200 million Muslims. “If there is a smell of discrimination in anything I have done, then put me in front of the country,” he said.
The movement: Hundreds of thousands of Indians have protested the law since Parliament approved it two weeks ago. People of all faiths have joined, concerned that India’s foundation as a secular nation is being undermined. Around two dozen people have been killed, and hundreds have been arrested.
Muslim fears: Protesters are worried the law would be used in tandem with citizenship checks to strip the country’s Muslims of rights. A check in the northeastern state of Assam required 33 million residents to show that they or their families lived in India before 1971 — and left two million who could not at risk of becoming stateless.
Emilian Gebrev, a Bulgarian arms dealer who was poisoned, in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2017.  Nikolay Doychinov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The poisoning that exposed Russian assassins

For years, members of a secret team of assassins, Unit 29155, operated in Europe without Western security officials having any idea about their activities.
But the poisoning of Emilian Gebrev, an arms manufacturer in Bulgaria, in 2015 helped expose the unit to Western intelligence agencies, shedding light on a campaign by the Kremlin and its sprawling web of operatives to eliminate Russia’s enemies abroad and to destabilize the West.
The same unit was responsible for the 2018 assassination attempt against Sergei Skripal, a Russian former spy in Britain, officials say, among other operations.
Details: “With Bulgaria, there was an ‘aha’ moment,” said one European security official. “We looked at it and thought, damn, everything aligned.”
The old city of Hyderabad, India, this month.   Rebecca Conway for The New York Times

Vigilante justice in a global tech hub

Indians were outraged when a young veterinarian was raped and killed a few weeks ago in Hyderabad, the growing, tech-friendly city where Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Uber have big offices.
Before the case could go to trial, police officers took four suspects in the case to a field near the crime scene and gunned them down, claiming self-defense. But locals seem to think the officers shot the men in cold blood and then placed guns in their hands.
Big picture: The approving response to the Hyderabad shootings is a sign of Indians’ exasperation with the courts, where trials drag on for years and infamous criminals evade justice. “It was the need of the hour,” said Akkineni Nagarjuna, a Hyderabad movie star. “Somebody had to put the fear of God in them.”

If you have 5 minutes, this is worth it

‘Just me and the water’

Kiana Hayeri for The New York Times
For women in Kabul, two pools have become a refuge from suicide bombings and the possibility of the Taliban’s return to power. “I don’t have to cover up and pretend anything,” as one swimmer, Fatema Saeedi, put it.
Many more pools allow men, and the women pay more for smaller, darker spaces without luxuries like snack bars and late hours. Still, Ms. Saeedi said, “When I come here, I forget about everything else.”
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Here’s what else is happening

The Privacy Project: For a special series, our Opinion section obtained a data set of the smartphone locations of more than 12 million people in the U.S., and found that it took just minutes to track the whereabouts of President Trump. The project exposes the vulnerabilities of even the most protected citizens in a system that allows private companies to collect and sell data from software slipped into apps.
ToTok: An Emirati messaging app that has been downloaded to millions of phones in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Africa and North America is actually a government spying tool. With it, the United Arab Emirates tracks every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound and image of those who install it.
North Korea: U.S. military and intelligence officials say they are bracing for a major North Korean weapons test, resigned to the fact that President Trump has no good options to stop it. Pyongyang promised a “Christmas gift” in the absence of concessions on a nuclear deal.
Afghanistan: President Ashraf Ghani was on course to win a second five-year term, the country’s election commission announced based on long-delayed preliminary results of a disputed September vote, moving the country’s political crisis toward a potentially dangerous showdown.
Hong Kong protests: Around 1,000 people took to the streets on Sunday in support of the Uighur population in Xinjiang. The police pepper-sprayed protesters after a largely peaceful rally.
Iraq: More than 12 weeks of protests against corruption and Iran’s influence have left an estimated 500 people dead and 19,000 injured, while the government’s response founders. Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned weeks ago, is acting as a caretaker because Parliament has yet to come up with a replacement.
Europe storms: At least nine people were killed after days of severe flooding and powerful winds swept across Spain, Portugal and southern France. Several areas remain on alert.
Andrei Pungovschi for The New York Times
Snapshot: Above, a Christmas market in Romania. While German markets are traveler favorites, this one has helped shine a light on the Transylvanian city of Sibiu, where a small German-speaking community has been around since the Middle Ages.
What we’re listening to: The Fairfield Four’s 1992 a cappella rendition of “Last Month of the Year,” which was mentioned in an episode of CBC radio’s “The Sunday Edition” on the Christmas music of black America. “I could listen to this song all day,” tweeted our climate reporter Christopher Flavelle.

Now, a break from the news

Johnny Miller for The New York Times. Prop Stylist: Cindy DiPrima.
Cook: Upgrade your holiday dessert game with a delightfully fluffy golden ginger cake.
Read: “The Story of a Goat,” a parable about village life in India, is among 10 new books we recommend this week.
Smarter Living: Choosing children’s gifts that they won’t toss in a few weeks can take some brainstorming. We have ideas, like giving real tools, not simplified kids’ versions, that get them to tinker.

And now for the Back Story on …

Telling us a secret

Journalists at The Times have long used digital security measures — encrypted communications and storage — when handling sensitive information.
But for several years, we’ve had a set of tools for readers to anonymously submit information that might be of journalistic interest to The Times.
Rachel Stern
The tools — WhatsApp, Signal, SecureDrop and encrypted email — are listed on our centralized tips page, which outlines each method’s strengths and vulnerabilities. From there, users can download the appropriate software and use it to transmit their tips to The Times. Each is rigorously vetted.
What makes a good tip? This is our guidance:
“Documentation or evidence is essential. Speculating or having a hunch does not rise to the level of a tip. A good news tip should articulate a clear and understandable issue or problem with real-world consequences. Be specific. Finally, a news tip should be newsworthy. While we agree it is unfair that your neighbor is stealing cable, we would not write a story about it.”
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
— Melina
Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Today’s Back Story is drawn from an article by Stephen Hiltner in our “Understanding The Times” series. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode about the legislative career of the former U.S. vice president Joe Biden.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Out of whack (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Noah Weiland, the writer of our Impeachment Briefing newsletter, shared how he approaches one of the biggest stories in recent memory: “Think of each day’s news narrowly, like an episode of television in a monthslong series.”
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