Your Friday Briefing
We’re covering the Indian government’s growing pressure on Twitter, and how the provisional China trade deal could have permanent impacts.
Twitter vs. the Modi government
Twitter said on Thursday that it had received a notice of noncompliance with India’s restrictive tech laws, after officials asked the site to remove content critical of the government’s handling of the pandemic.
Under Indian law, Twitter’s India executives could face up to seven years in prison. The company pushed back against India’s efforts to censor speech, criticizing what it called “intimidation tactics” by the police.
It came days after antiterrorism police officers paid an evening visit to the company’s New Delhi offices. They brought a notice criticizing disinformation labels that had been placed on a series of posts by senior officials with the B.J.P., Modi’s political party.
Quotable: “Right now, we are concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve,” the statement read.
A temporary U.S.-China trade deal could last for years
Days before the coronavirus shuttered Wuhan and changed the world, the Trump administration and China signed what both sides said would be only a temporary truce in their 18-month trade war.
Since then, the pandemic has scrambled global priorities, international commerce has stalled and surged, and President Biden has taken office. But the truce endures — and now appears to be setting new, lasting ground rules for global trade. A new agreement is not likely to be made this year.
The current one leaves many hot button issues untouched: It does nothing to prevent huge Chinese subsidies. It also left in place most of Trump’s new tariffs on Chinese goods.
Negotiations: Beijing won’t budge on the issue of subsidies, said people familiar with its positions.
Impacts: The model appears to be growing more popular. The E.U. is drafting legislation allowing it to broadly penalize imports and investments from subsidized industries overseas.
Afghan surrenders to the Taliban pick up speed
There is a wave of rural Afghan surrenders to the Taliban as the U.S. completes its withdrawal, with each government facility or town’s surrender feeding the next.
At least 26 outposts and bases in just four provinces have given up to the insurgents this month. Among the negotiated surrenders were four district centers, which house local governors, police, and intelligence chiefs.
People have been pushed by threats — with insurgents essentially sending the message to give up or die — as well as bribes.
Quotable: “The government is not able to save the security forces,” said Mohammed Jalal, a village elder in Baghlan Province. “If they fight, they will be killed, so they have to surrender.”
Context: The Taliban have negotiated Afghan troop surrenders in the past, but never at the scale and pace of the base collapses this month, in the four provinces extending east, north and west of Kabul. They’ve secured key territory, weapons, ammunition and vehicles, often without firing a shot.
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Following Germany’s far right
“Day X,” a new five-part audio documentary from The Times, examines the rise of a new brand of extremism in Germany, and one shadowy figure in the middle of it. Katrin Bennhold, our Berlin bureau chief, explains in this interview, which has been lightly edited and condensed.
How did you arrive at this series?
The rise of a far-right party, the Alternative for Germany, which was able to make it into the German Parliament and is the biggest opposition party there, is a big deal. Toward the end of 2018, German news media reported that there was this whole network of soldiers and police officers and like-minded civilians who were planning for the day democracy dies: Day X.
Franco A. is the special focus of one episode. He is somebody with racist, absolutist ideas. Why was it important to tell his story?
To me, one of the most frightening and most important features of the new right, as they call themselves — the old right being neo-Nazis and even Nazis — is that the new right believes in the same ideology, but they look different and they talk differently. We have this image of neo-Nazi skinheads in bomber jackets and tattoos. But a lot of these guys blend in much more. I feel we do need to show them out for what they are.
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