Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

black midi, “Hellfire”: In songs that flaunt the complexity and dissonance of prog-rock and the bitter angularity of post-punk — while stirring in ideas from jazz, classical music, funk, salsa and flamenco — loathsome characters do odious things. But the music turns grotesquerie into exhilaration. — Jon Pareles

Beyoncé, “Renaissance”: “Renaissance” is a few things that Beyoncé’s music hasn’t always been: chaotic, breathy, unrelentingly sweaty, appealingly frayed. A titanic collection of club music, it has an almost gravitational urgency, emphasizing the primal pull of the dance floor, where putting on airs is not an option. — Jon Caramanica

Aldous Harding, “Warm Chris”: The New Zealand eccentric Aldous Harding is a folk-rock harlequin, clowning and mugging her way through beguilingly catchy tunes. In the weird world of her fourth album, “Warm Chris,” there’s not a lot of because, just a lot of deadpan, and glorious, is. — Lindsay Zoladz

For more: See our critic’s list of the best jazz albums of 2022.


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