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Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times


We cover the Modi government’s pressure on Indian scientists and armed resistance against the Burmese junta.

Eight months before a deadly wave of Covid hit India, government-appointed scientists downplayed the risks, writing in a study that early lockdowns and previous infections had brought the spread under control.

But the country’s leading science agency has tailored its findings to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political goals, according to current and former government researchers and documents reviewed by the New York Times.

Senior officials at the Indian Council of Medical Research suppressed data showing the risks, pressured scientists to withdraw another study that questioned government efforts, and moved the agency away from a third study that predicted a second wave, the researchers said.

Agency scientists have described a culture of silence. Mid-level researchers feared that they would miss out on opportunities if they questioned their superiors. Anup Agarwal, a doctor working for the agency at the time, said he and another scientist were punished for questioning the findings.

Reply: The science agency declined to answer detailed questions. India’s health ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

Details: A study published in the journal Nature in January 2021 predicted a second wave if the restrictions were “lifted without any further mitigation in place.” One of its authors worked for the agency and the management pressured him to withdraw his affiliation from the newspaper. The second wave hit in April.

Here are the latest pandemic updates and maps.

In other developments:


Escalating attacks on militias have pushed thousands of people into the forests, some of whom are plagued by poisonous snakes, malaria and dengue fever. These people are at high risk of contracting the coronavirus and have few resources, often bringing only a few goods.

Many prefer these dangers to the junta. Thousands of civilians, including some young city dwellers more accustomed to video games than war, have received secret military training. Along with the ethnic rebels who fought the Tatmadaw for decades, they helped fill the ranks of the People’s Defense Forces.

Last week, days after a raid on Yay Shin, a village in the heart of the Himalayan foothills, the national unity government – a shadow government put in place by opposition politicians – redoubled its appeal to a “national uprising”. A video they posted on social media was greeted with enthusiastic support and renewed war cries from local militias.

The context: The Tatmadaw continues the decades-long slaughter of various ethnic minorities. But this time, a much larger part of the population is affected. And some 1,000 protesters and passers-by have been gunned down since the coup.


Alyona Popova is campaigning for a seat in the Duma, Russia’s lower parliament, and pleads with women to turn against Vladimir Putin’s ruling party. Domestic violence is at the center of its platform.

One of its proposals would subject all acts of domestic violence to criminal penalties. Lawmakers in 2017 voted to reduce the penalties for such offenses. There is no legal instrument for issuing restraining orders.

“This is our reality; the only term we can use is ‘epidemic’, ”said Popova, 38, a lawyer and activist who runs with the liberal Yabloko party, although she is not a member.

Almost 80% of those polled in a 2020 poll conducted by independent center Levada said legislation to tackle domestic violence is needed.

Details: Damage that results in bruising or bleeding, but not fractures, is punishable by a fine as low as 5,000 rubles, or $ 68, or a little more than the illegal parking fee.

Data: According to Popova’s analysis of data collected by the State Statistics Agency of Russia, there are more than 16.5 million victims of domestic violence every year. More than 12,200 women, or two-thirds of those murdered in Russia from 2011 to 2019, were killed by their partners or relatives, according to a study.

Asian News

In four years, CNews has grown into France’s No.1 news network by giving a voice to conspiracy theories and harsh views on crime, immigration, climate and Covid. The network, designed by billionaire Vincent Bolloré, has been compared to American broadcaster Fox News.

New York Fashion Week ended last weekend. At Rodarte’s show on Saturday, tingling music was played as models floated through a courtyard adorned with sculptures clad in shimmering dresses. It was like an homage to the natural world: There were mushroom-print silk dresses that swelled like parachutes, as well as embroidered flowers, seashells, and a cape wearing a sequined alien. For the finale, the models walked around barefoot in simple, neutral looks, the last one holding a succulent.

In a review of the last runway shows of the week, Vanessa Friedman, the Times’ chief fashion critic, wrote about the “growing fault line” between the city’s well-established brands and new labels with more raw sensibilities and socially conscious.

Most of the week’s highlights came from younger brands, like Peter Do’s debut show, full of finely tailored suits and sleek coats. On a rooftop garden, Collina Strada stacked layers of colorful, recycled material on mannequins that ran, jumped and held hands. LaQuan Smith put on a glitzy show at the Empire State Building where poodles pranced alongside the models.

“The clothes that seemed most relevant did not speak in a generic form of upside down glamor but in a primal affirmation of difference,” Vanessa wrote.

Tortizzas are a quick lunch built on a solid foundation of crispy, cheesy tortillas.

What to read

Liane Moriarty – the author of “Big Little Lies” – writes the story of a missing mother and a tennis pro in “Apples Never Fall”.

Art

In “The Red Studio”, Henri Matisse included tiny versions of his past paintings and sculptures. For the first time, MoMA will present the painting alongside the works it represents.

Now is the time to play

Here are today’s mini crosswords and a hint: ____ Vuong, author of “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” (five letters).

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 The New York Times for Kids is testing an app in beta.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about a Times investigation of nursing homes.

Sanam Yar wrote the Arts and Ideas section. You can reach Melina and the team at briefing@nytimes.com.