General strike expected in Hong Kong
Pro-democracy protesters were set to start a strike blocking traffic this morning in hopes of disrupting the territory after the death of a student in the clashes.
Organizers have kept specific plans under wraps, and were conducting an online poll on Sunday to determine pressure points. The planned demonstrations were also timed to coincide with the lucrative “singles day,” an anti-Valentine’s Day celebration originating in mainland China that normally generates billions.
The latest: Six pro-democracy lawmakers were charged in relation to scuffles on May 11, as the Hong Kong legislature met to discuss the extradition bill. Tens of thousands of people attended a vigil to remember to remember Chow Tsz-lok, the student who died.
Recap: Mr. Chow, a student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, suffered head and pelvic injuries when he fell one story as the police fired tear gas nearby. The circumstances of his death remain unclear.
Tech’s failure to rein in child abuse imagery
Child sexual abuse photos and videos that were circulated across the internet now haunt victims into adulthood as criminals exploit search engines, social networks and cloud storage. (A warning: The linked article includes graphic descriptions of abuse.)
A Times investigation found that tech companies consistently failed to take coordinated steps to shut down the illegal content. We spoke to those in the first generations of child sexual abuse victims whose anguish has been preserved on the internet, seemingly forever.
Apple does not scan its cloud storage, and encrypts its messaging app, making detection virtually impossible.
Amazon does not even look for the imagery in its cloud service.
Dropbox, Google and Microsoft’s consumer products scan for illegal images only when someone shares them, not when they are uploaded.
Facebook thoroughly scans its platforms, but announced plans to encrypt its messenger service, which will make that harder.
Live streams represent a major challenge. No major tech company is able to detect, much less stop, illegal live streaming.
By the numbers: A record 45 million photos and videos were flagged last year, but the main software for detecting the images has limits. No single authoritative list of known illegal material exists, allowing countless images to slip through the cracks.
Deadly Australia fires keep growing
Dozens of blazes are burning across the drought-ravaged East Coast and are expected to threaten Sydney this week, with authorities forecasting catastrophic fire danger in the surrounding area.
At least 40 schools in New South Wales are closed today after the flames left three people dead, injured dozens and destroyed at least 150 homes. “High temperatures, strong winds and low humidity are forecast, making conditions dangerous,” the state’s fire service said.
With the summer heat waves still weeks away, the country’s fire season is expected to be one of the worst on record.
Climate change: The dire assessments confirm what scientists have been predicting: Australia’s bush fires will become more frequent and more intense.
Few, if any, other developed countries are as vulnerable to climate change’s impacts, according to independent scientific reports. Australia’s arid interior combined with rapidly heating ocean currents makes it a global hot spot.
If you have some time, this is worth it
South Korea’s Conservative revival leader
This 63-year-old Presbyterian pastor has become a force to be reckoned with in South Korea, spearheading a conservative pushback against President Moon Jae-in.
The Rev. Jun Kwang-hoon rouses the large crowds that come to see him, mostly older Christians, by constantly repeating incendiary but easy-to-remember tag lines about the president, populism and Christianity — like accusing Mr. Moon of being “the main North Korean spy.”
Here’s what else is happening
India: Some of the country’s Muslims fear being relegated to second-class citizenship after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hindus in a decades-old dispute over a holy site, a major victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his followers.
Saudi Aramco: The world’s largest oil company said it would announce a price for its shares on Dec. 5, offering new details into its plans to sell shares on the Saudi stock exchange. It may be the largest I.P.O. ever but still fall short of the expectations raised by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Bolivia: The military chief called on President Evo Morales to resign, dealing what was likely a fatal blow to his efforts to cling to power in the face of widespread unrest over last month’s fraud-marred presidential elections.
Iran: President Hassan Rouhani said an oil field with more than 50 billion barrels of crude had been discovered in the country’s south. If verified, the field would bolster Iran’s proven reserves by a third, but U.S. sanctions have made Iranian oil hard to sell.
Yoga investigation: As accounts emerge of unwanted touch during classes, our reporters looked into the hands-on teaching practices of some of yoga’s most celebrated gurus, including the late Pattabhi Jois of Ashtanga fame.
Snapshot: Above, one of the busiest thoroughfares in Copenhagen, where nearly half of all journeys to work and school take place on bicycle. The city’s advanced bike lane network, which happens to be the fastest way to get around, is inspiring other cities looking for ways to combat climate change and traffic congestion.
Perspective: A graphic novelist tells the story of his brother’s wedding in Kashmir, just after Indian troops began locking down the territory in early August.
Fed Cup: Kristina Mladenovic led France to a nail-biting 3-2 win over Australia in the final on Sunday, beating Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur in Perth.
What we’re reading: This essay in The Atlantic by Leslie Jamison on the legendary photographer Garry Winogrand, “a devoted chronicler of public spaces.” Dan Saltzstein, our senior editor for special projects, calls it “beautiful — and surprisingly personal.”
Now, a break from the news
Go: We found five rural retreats worthy of a detour, from the Indian Ocean to the English countryside.
Smarter living: A time management coach has some simple strategies to prevent burnout before it happens.
And now for the Back Story on …
A rule change means that male U.S. Marines, who are famous for having to stand in the rain, can now carry umbrellas while wearing their service or dress uniforms. (Women have long been afforded a black one — but only in their left hand, to keep their right free for salutes.)
Governments have complicated relationships with umbrellas. Safety concerns have prompted umbrella bans, sometimes for reasons straight out of spy films — and reality. An umbrella gun was apparently used in 1978 to assassinate a Bulgarian dissident in London with a fatal dose of ricin, a poison.
In 2014, umbrellas were banned in Macau during a rainy visit by President Xi Jinping of China. Airport authorities cited wind, but the Umbrella Movement then unfolding in Hong Kong was probably a bigger consideration.
During World War II, Major Allison Digby Tatham-Warter of Britain famously carried an umbrella into battle. Once, he used it to attack an armored vehicle and incapacitate the driver.
When a lieutenant later questioned the umbrella’s usefulness in war, the major asked, “Oh my goodness Pat, what if it rains?”
That’s it for this briefing. You may have noticed the new byline: I will be taking over as my colleague Alisha Haridasani Gupta moves over to her new job writing the In Her Words newsletter. I have big shoes to fill, but I’m excited to get started and hear from you.
See you next time.
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Will Dudding, an assistant in the standards department, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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