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Moscow Lockdown, George Floyd, North Korea: Your Wednesday Briefing

2020-06-09 23:12:53

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Good morning.

We’re covering the end of Moscow’s lockdown, a final goodbye for George Floyd and a chill in relations between North Korea and South Korea.

Barbershops, beauty parlors, veterinary clinics and photography studios were allowed to reopen, and the city’s intricate system of digital permits for leaving one’s house stopped operating. Other businesses will reopen in phases, including gyms by the end of June.

The easing of restrictions came as a nationwide vote on extending President Vladimir Putin’s rule loomed. And a grand military parade celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War II is scheduled for the week prior. Analysts said ending the lockdown could help drum up much-needed enthusiasm.

Here are the latest updates and maps of where the virus has spread.

In other virus news:

  • The president of the United Nations General Assembly said Monday that world leaders would not come to New York for their annual gathering in September, a first in the U.N.’s 75-year history.

  • The Hong Kong government is bailing out Cathay Pacific Airways by injecting about $5 billion and taking a direct stake in its operations.

  • The Salzburg Festival, classical music and opera’s most important annual event, will go forward in August in modified form. Audiences of up to 1,000 — about half the capacity of the main theater — will be allowed, and there will be 90 performances over 30 days, down from the original plan of more than 200 performances over 44 days.

The Times is providing free access to much of our coronavirus coverage, and our Coronavirus Briefing newsletter — like all of our newsletters — is free. Please consider supporting our journalism with a subscription.

A swarm of sympathetic accounts has emerged to repost and cheer on government messaging. But in addition to genuine supporters, many of them appear to be part of a coordinated Twitter campaign, our reporters found.

It is far from clear that the Chinese government is behind the mass tweets supporting President Xi Jinping’s agenda, but The Times’s findings add to other recent evidence of Twitter being used to amplify it.

Findings: Of the roughly 4,600 accounts that reposted China’s leading official voices during a recent week, one in six tweeted with extremely high frequency despite having few followers. Nearly one in seven tweeted almost nothing of their own, instead reposting official Chinese accounts and others.

Cook: This crispy sour cream and onion chicken can we showered with fresh chives and lemon juice, or, if you crave something creamy for dunking, pair it with a dip of sour cream, lemon juice and chives.

Watch: The new documentary “Born in Evin” follows the director, Maryam Zaree, as she interviews family, friends, sociologists and psychologists to try to demystify the circumstances of her birth in Iran’s notorious Evin prison for political dissidents.

Read: Joyce Carol Oates’s new novel “Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars.” takes on racism and grief, and is squarely in conversation with this moment of pandemic and protest, writes our book reviewer. Also, here are five new and noteworthy poetry books.

Do: The designer Todd Snyder shows you how to add patches to your jeans, using an old bandanna or shirt you are ready to rag.

We may be venturing outside, but with the virus still spreading, we’re still safest inside. At Home can help make that tolerable, even fun, with ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do.

There has been intense debate about the use of facial recognition technology in the public and private sectors.

Law enforcement agencies and some companies use it to identify suspects and victims by matching photos or video with databases like driver’s license records. But civil liberties groups warn that facial recognition erodes privacy, reinforces bias against black people and can be misused.

Timnit Gebru, a leader of Google’s ethical artificial intelligence team, explained why she thinks the police shouldn’t use facial recognition. Below is an excerpt from her conversation with Shira Ovide for the latest On Tech newsletter.

Shira: What are your concerns about facial recognition?

Timnit: I collaborated with Joy Buolamwini at the M.I.T. Media Lab on an analysis that found very high disparities in error rates (in facial identification systems) especially between lighter-skinned men and darker-skinned women. In melanoma screenings, imagine there’s a detection technology that doesn’t work for people with darker skin.


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