Your Tuesday Briefing – The New York Times


Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president of France, was convicted and sentenced to at least one year in jail on charges of corruption. Mr. Sarkozy, who has vowed to appeal the verdict, was accused of trying to obtain confidential information from a judge by offering to help him land a job.

This is only the second time in modern French history that a former president has been convicted of a crime. The conviction does not bar Mr. Sarkozy, who still holds considerable sway among conservatives, from running for office, although he has not publicly expressed any such desire.

Further charges: Mr. Sarkozy is scheduled to stand trial later this month in a separate case involving his 2012 campaign over charges that he exceeded strict limits on campaign spending. In another case, he faces accusations that his 2007 campaign received illegal financing from the government of the Libyan strongman Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, who died in 2011.

Myanmar’s generals, who staged a coup a month ago, have a sophisticated tech arsenal at their disposal, including Israeli-made surveillance drones, iPhone cracking devices from Europe and American hacking software.

Critics say that the armed forces used the facade of democracy to justify the sensitive cybersecurity and defense purchases from Western countries during Myanmar’s five years of civilian-military rule that ended with the coup on Feb. 1. Some of these technologies are now being deployed by the military to target opponents.

Government budget documents reviewed by The New York Times catalog millions of dollars earmarked for technology that can mine phones and computers, track people’s locations and listen in on their conversations.

New developments: New charges were brought on Monday against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian leader who was deposed in the coup. She now faces up to nine years in prison. A hearing was held behind closed doors, and a lawyer for Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi said he was blocked from attending.

A first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine substantially reduces the risk of older people becoming ill with Covid-19, scientists reported in Britain, where 20 million people have received a first dose of a vaccine.

The vaccine was roughly 60 percent effective in preventing Covid-19 among people at least 70 years old in England, the scientists wrote in a paper that was posted online on Monday. It has not yet been published in a journal or vetted by other researchers.

The same study showed strong protection from the Pfizer vaccine, for which a first dose given to people at least 70 years old was 61 percent effective in preventing Covid-19 for up to four weeks, the scientists found. For people at least 80 years old, a first dose was 70 percent effective, a figure that rose to 89 percent two weeks after the second shot.

Repercussions: Countries across Europe have been hesitant to authorize the AstraZeneca vaccine for use in older people. The new data could resolve some of those doubts. In France, which had restricted the AstraZeneca vaccine to younger people, the country’s health minister said people over 65 with pre-existing conditions would be able to receive the vaccine.

In the second such find in a matter of weeks, a New York City nurse rediscovered a long-lost painting by Jacob Lawrence, a leading modernist painter of the 20th century, that had disappeared from public view in 1960. Each painting had hung undisturbed on the walls of two Upper West Side apartments a few blocks apart.

“It didn’t look like anything special, honestly,” said the owner, about Panel 28 from the series “Struggle: From the History of the American People.” “The colors were pretty. It was a little bit worn. I passed by it on my way to the kitchen a thousand times a day.”

Aleksei Navalny: The Russian opposition politician will serve his prison sentence in a notoriously harsh penal colony in the Vladimir region, east of Moscow, Russian news outlets reported. One former inmate described conditions in the prison as psychologically harrowing.

Prince Philip: Nearly two weeks after he was first hospitalized, the 99-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II was transferred to a second London hospital, increasing concerns over his health.

Hong Kong protests: Hundreds of people assembled outside a court where 47 prominent pro-democracy politicians and activists were arraigned on Monday. Such demonstrations have become rare in Hong Kong after the city enacted coronavirus restrictions and Beijing imposed a harsh national security law.

Digital currency: China has charged ahead with an effort to remake the way that government-backed money works, rolling out its digital currency, eCNY, with different qualities from its cash or digital deposits.

Cook: This simple recipe for a spicy beef stir-fry was adapted from Soei, a family-run restaurant in Bangkok.

Read: Sinkholes, disappearing bodies and a bottomless desire for revenge: Peruse our picks of new crime fiction.

Listen: The pianist Mahani Teave, who is likely the only classical performer from Easter Island, has released her first album.

Take time for yourself with our At Home collection on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

China’s government commands an elaborate system that blocks foreign websites, contorts online conversations and punishes people for straying. Paul Mozur, who has written about technology and politics in China, spoke to our On Tech newsletter about “the Great Firewall” and how it compares with other countries’ efforts at internet control. Here is an excerpt.

Explain China’s system of internet control.

It’s a combination of blocking just about any foreign website you can think of and providing an information environment that reinforces what China’s government and the Chinese Communist Party say about the world.

The controls are comprehensive. A huge government bureaucracy monitors online activity, and an army of volunteers report content to be censored and help spread positive messages about government initiatives. Companies are tasked with pulling material off the internet and engineering teams are dispatched to build artificial intelligence tools to help. Contractors provide the manpower for industrial-scale censorship.

Does the firewall work?

Yes. It comes at the cost of the government’s energy and money and the permanent anger of a segment of the population, but it’s extremely effective in shaping what many think.

Most people don’t have time to escape the information environment they live in, so it informs their outlook on the world — especially during crises.

What’s next?

The fear is that China will make the technology and techniques of its internet manipulation system readily adaptable by other autocratic countries. Myanmar is important to watch because if the generals control the internet without decimating the economy, it may become a model for other authoritarian regimes.


Thanks for starting your day with The Times.

— Natasha


Thank you
Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

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