Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times
We cover measures taken by China to contain rising prices and a three-year global undercover operation using encrypted phones.
How the price hike in China is being felt around the world
As inflation worries circle the world, Beijing is moving swiftly to protect its factories and workplaces from rising costs. Some of its anti-inflation tools include small business subsidies to pay for commodities and limits on commodity trade to curb speculation.
The government is discouraging steelmakers and coal producers from raising prices and allowing its currency to reach a value not seen in years. For now, wholesale prices are rising and the measures may simply slow the rise rather than stop it. These price increases are already being felt around the world.
Prices are on the rise in the United States and elsewhere for soybeans, napkins and other products, prompting warnings that a wave of inflation could threaten the global economy. For now, Chinese manufacturers, rather than consumers, are feeling the price increases.
What to expect: Many economists believe the price increases will moderate once companies remove supply bottlenecks caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Huge global prick operation using an app
Global law enforcement officials have revealed a three-year operation in which they said they intercepted more than 20 million messages revealing criminal activity, such as a plan to ship cocaine from Ecuador to the United States. Belgium in tuna cans. At least 800 people have been arrested in more than a dozen countries.
The FBI, working with Australian police, recruited an informant to sell cell phones to crime syndicates. The phones had a hidden feature that sent encrypted messages and photos.
In three years, more than 12,000 devices have been sold to criminal networks operating in more than 100 countries. Users trusted device security so much that they often laid out their plans not in code, but in plain language.
A big fish: A breakthrough occurred when one of the devices fell into the hands of Joseph Hakan Ayik, an Australian who police say imported drugs from Turkey. Other people trapped included members of Italian organized crime and Australian motorcycle gangs. In Sweden, police made 155 arrests and prevented the deaths of 10 people thanks to the operation, authorities said.
In other tech news: A global internet blackout briefly destroyed sites such as The Times and the UK government on Tuesday. The outage was linked to Fastly, a cloud computing service provider, who said that a fix was being made.
Pilots in India demand payments for Covid deaths
The country’s pilots, especially those working for Air India, the government-controlled airline of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are asking for better compensation for the families of airline crew members who died from Covid.
On Monday, the Federation of Indian Pilots filed a lawsuit with the Bombay High Court, demanding better compensation, insurance benefits and vaccination for all airline crew members.
Air India pilots have seen their wages cut during the pandemic. Their union points out that many of them came to the aid of India when people and vaccines needed to be transported. Many were not themselves vaccinated.
The toll: The federation said in its petition that in February nearly 2,000 Air India staff tested positive for Covid-19. More than 500 of them had to be hospitalized. At least 17 have died, according to the Indian Pilots Guild.
Compensation: Union officials said Air India was paying around 500,000 to 1 million rupees ($ 6,800 to 13,700) in compensation to the family of a pilot who died of Covid-19. That number, they say, is a fraction of what other airlines pay, and often barely enough to pay hospital bills.
Here are the latest pandemic updates and maps.
In other developments:
THE LAST NEWS
Our reporter covering the French Open in Paris wrote how strange the 9pm curfew is, when the City of Lights closes as fast as a window. “We should have the late games and then a party,” lamented one spectator.
ARTS AND IDEAS
China’s PR problem
Last week, President Xi Jinping called on Communist Party officials to improve their communications with the rest of the world. Analysts said he recognized that increasingly aggressive diplomacy had not worked.
“We must focus on the right tone, be open and confident but also modest and humble, and strive to create a credible, kind and respectable image of China,” Xi said.
But it’s not as friendly as it sounds: Xi hasn’t reported any changes in policies that have sparked the tension.
“There is a long tradition of Chinese leaders providing advice to cadres and people. Think of Mao Zedong’s words collected in the ‘Little Red Book’, ”our Beijing bureau chief, Steven Lee Myers, told me.
“Xi Jinping is the first leader since then whose words have been elevated to such a high standard in the Communist Party pantheon,” Steven said.
Xi’s speeches have already been collected in several volumes, and there is even an app for party officials to study his views. This meeting of the Politburo, the highest governing body of the Communist Party, was a “study session”, intended to review the communication of the country’s politics after increasingly negative views on China.
Xi’s plan? A push “to convince the world of the wisdom of the country’s policies which have contributed to these negative perceptions,” Steven told me – “not a sign that he intends to moderate them.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to cook
Make roasted fish with sumac for a tangy dinner.
What to listen to
Music and mindfulness became linked during the coronavirus pandemic. Artists like Erykah Badu, Grimes, and Arcade Fire are contributing new wellness apps.
What to read
Lawrence Wright’s “The Plague Year” chronicles the pandemic in the United States. Our review called it a “virtuoso feat”.
Now is the time to play
Here are today’s mini crosswords and a hint: like many participants in the Zoom (five letter) call.
And here’s today’s Spelling Bee.
You can find all of our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. – Melina
PS Our Tokyo office manager Motoko Rich spoke to the BBC World Service and NewstalkZB in New Zealand on the constraints faced by athletes leading up to the Tokyo Olympics.
The latest episode of “The Daily” deals with who is hacking the US economy.
You can reach Melina and the team at [email protected].