2021-02-17 21:16:23 | Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

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Story by: Melina Delkic The New York Times World News

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in central Yangon on Wednesday, the biggest rally since the start of protests against a coup, holding up posters and signs designed for the Instagram generation.

As with protests in Thailand and Hong Kong, art, memes and creative dissent have become a tool for demonstrators in Myanmar. Artists are providing the uprising with graffiti, hip-hop, poems, anthems, cartoons and paintings that share their messages. Art collectives are producing free designs so that protesters can print them for signs.

Along with the demonstrations, more than 750,000 people have stopped going to work. That the movement is undeterred, and even gaining steam, is notable: The military has arrested more than 450 people since the coup on Feb. 1, even firing shots into the crowds. It also has long seen menace in the arts.

Artists as targets: Among the dozens of people captured alongside Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s civilian leader, in the coup were a filmmaker, two writers and a Reggae singer. A graffiti artist whose protest tags have enlivened Yangon said he was on the run from the police.

Why are the protesters so determined? “Many people in Myanmar know intimately the cost of their defiance,” Hannah Beech, our Southeast Asia bureau chief, told me. Having experienced military rule for most of the past six decades, “they have seen monks killed on the streets, students shot, grannies jailed,” she said. “So they know what they are fighting for, which is basic civil liberties and dignity.”

The civilian-military leadership that was ousted was flawed, and minorities faced persecution. But still, Hannah said, it was a better life for many: “They could go on the internet. They could read a newspaper with real news. They could maybe work for a foreign company.” And now that these gains are under threat, “people are marching by the millions to reclaim freedoms whose value they know better than most of us on earth.”


The slow rollout was in part because the authorities requested that Pfizer run separate vaccine trials in Japan. There was also less urgency as Japan has managed to keep infection levels relatively low and, so far, has recorded around 7,200 deaths, despite worries about the spread of more contagious variants.

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Ready for the Olympics? Organizers of the Games have been under scrutiny, as no tournament this large has been possible during the pandemic. Even the much smaller Australian Open had to call off spectators after a small outbreak. In Shimane Prefecture, which has recorded 280 cases, the governor threatened to cancel activities around the torch relay to avoid spread of the virus.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • The first doses of vaccines arrived in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after Israel approved their delivery. There had been a heated debate over whether Israel bears responsibility for the health of Palestinians living in occupied territory.

  • President Biden said on Tuesday night that the way things are going, vaccines should be available to anyone in the country who wants one “by the end of July.” Officials also announced plans to ramp up tracking of virus variants.


This time last year, Rio de Janeiro’s prime Carnival venue was a caldron of glitter-smeared bodies packed together, swaying to the beat of drums. But with a pandemic raging, the party is canceled.

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Now, the main venue for samba, the Sambódromo parade grounds, above, hosts a vaccination site. Hildemar Diniz, a Carnival aficionado, said all the grief Brazilians are feeling will fuel a Carnival for the ages when it’s safe to party again. “People are thirsty for joy,” he said.

North Korea hackers: The Justice Department unsealed charges against three intelligence officials accused of hacking scores of companies to thwart U.S. sanctions and fund the North Korean regime. It also accused the hackers of trying to steal more than $1.3 billion.

India #MeToo: A court in New Delhi on Wednesday acquitted an Indian journalist of defamation after she accused M.J. Akbar, a prominent former government minister and newspaper editor, of sexual harassment. The dispute was seen as a barometer of the country’s fledgling #MeToo movement.

Google in Australia: Just a few weeks after Google threatened to leave Australia if the government forced tech platforms to pay for news, the search giant is suddenly showering money on its most demanding critics. It may set a precedent for other countries.

Dubai princess: Sheikha Latifa, one of the daughters of the ruler of Dubai, drew headlines in 2018 when she sought to flee her country. In a new video, she said that she has been held in a virtual prison since her forced return. Her case has stirred outrage outside the United Arab Emirates.

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About three decades ago, the Clinton White House established the first council for women and girls. It has been disbanded, and is now back. Our gender newsletter talked to the former secretary of state and presidential candidate.

Twenty-five years after your “women’s rights are human rights” speech in Beijing, should the discussion around women’s rights be reframed?

We needed to shift our attention and certainly our rhetoric from a rights-based framework to a power-based one. You cannot continue to argue about whether women deserve certain rights or not. The power imbalance that still exists is what I think has to be the basis for the debate going forward.

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Source References: The New York Times World News

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