Plus an expansion of Russia’s armed forces and France’s proposal to ban private jets
- 1 A U.N. report on abuses in Xinjiang faces further delay
- 2 Putin expands his army
- 3 How China could choke Taiwan
- 4 Asia
- 5 World News
- 6 What Else Is Happening
- 7 A Morning Read
- 8 Fear and L.G.B.T.Q. rights in Ghana
- 9 What to Cook
- 10 What to Drink
- 11 Fitness
- 12 Now Time to Play
A U.N. report on abuses in Xinjiang faces further delay
Michelle Bachelet, the U.N.’s top human rights official, promised in June that she would release a long-awaited report about allegations of abuses in China’s far western region of Xinjiang before she left office. Her tenure ends next week, and yet she signaled on Thursday that she might not meet that deadline.
At a news conference, Bachelet said she was “trying very hard” to meet the end-of-August time limit. But, she said, a draft version of the report had been submitted to the Chinese government — a standard procedure for her office — and they had received “substantial input” from China that had to be reviewed.
Context: Four years ago, academics, activists and independent U.N. experts sounded the alarm over reports that China had arbitrarily detained more than a million Uyghurs and members of other predominately Muslim groups in Xinjiang. Human rights groups have looked to the U.N. to provide an independent assessment.
Background: Ten months have passed since Bachelet’s office first signaled plans to publish the results of its investigation. Bachelet has repeatedly postponed the report’s release with little explanation — baffling diplomats, rights advocates and even some of her own staff members.
Putin expands his army
President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered a sharp increase in the size of his armed forces, a reversal of years of efforts by the Kremlin to slim down a bloated military and the latest sign that the Russian president is bracing for a long war in Ukraine.
The decree, signed by Putin and posted on the Kremlin website, raised the target number of active-duty service members by about 137,000, to 1.15 million, as of January of next year. The decree also ordered the Russian government to allocate the money to pay for the increase.
Why now? Experts have been attributing the slowing pace of the Russian offensive in Ukraine to a lack of manpower. Western estimates of Russia’s casualties, including both deaths and injuries, have run as high as 80,000. Russia has been scrambling to recruit volunteers in what some analysts have called a “stealth mobilization.”
Challenges: It will be difficult for Russia to increase its armed forces without major changes, said one Russian military analyst. But a national draft would destroy the veneer of normalcy that the Kremlin has been able to maintain despite economic sanctions and the continuing fighting.
Repercussions: As a long, bloody slog looms, energy traders in Europe are witnessing price increases that are hard to fathom.
How China could choke Taiwan
China is honing its ability to blockade Taiwan, the self-governing island that China claims as its own, giving Beijing the option of cutting Taiwan off in its campaign to take control of it. Using a series of maps and images, The Times explained why the island is at risk.
Taiwan’s geography leaves it vulnerable to a blockade. Its population, industry and ports are concentrated on its western flank, closest to China. China can send ships to prevent vessels from entering or leaving Taiwan’s ports, warplanes to dominate the skies, and try to disable undersea cables that carry about 90 percent of the data that connects Taiwan to the world.
While China likely still lacks the ability to quickly invade and seize Taiwan, it could try to impose a blockade to force the island into concessions. Even a limited blockade would threaten one of the world’s busiest trade routes.
Background: For decades, Beijing has had its sights set on Taiwan. It has built up its principal military force, the People’s Liberation Army with the goal of ultimately taking the island, if efforts to unify peacefully fail. It has developed the world’s largest navy, which now challenges American supremacy in the region.
Rising tensions: China’s military exercises this month were not a blockade. They were meant to intimidate Taiwan and the U.S. and normalize a military presence near Taiwan, raising the risk of conflict.
THE LATEST NEWS
South Korea’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission confirmed that the government had illegally helped send “vagrants” into forced detention at a welfare center called Brothers Home, exposing them to beatings, rapes and other abuses that sometimes led to death.
In Pakistan, a court ordered the police not to arrest former Prime Minister Imran Khan ahead of a hearing set for next Wednesday.
Myanmar’s military regime arrested a former British ambassador and her Burmese husband, charging them both with violating immigration law.
The Pentagon announced sweeping changes aimed at reducing risks to civilians in U.S. military operations.
Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Twitter removed an influence operation from their networks that promoted U.S. foreign policy interests abroad.
Liz Truss has modeled herself after Margaret Thatcher in her campaign to be Britain’s next prime minister.
What Else Is Happening
A federal judge in Florida ordered that a redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida residence be unsealed by noon on Friday.
The C.I.A. began compensating officers who sustained traumatic brain injuries from a series of mysterious health incidents known as Havana syndrome.
As France reeled from extreme heat, politicians proposed regulating or banning private jets.
A Morning Read
Researchers looked at thousands of news stories about spiders to study how misinformation spreads. They discovered that errors, which tended to cluster in sensationalized stories, would shoot around the world in just days.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Fear and L.G.B.T.Q. rights in Ghana
When the members of the gay rights organization called the Drama Queens want to meet, they first have to identify a secure location and consider hiring security. But they’re not alone. Members of dozens of advocacy groups in Ghana live in fear.
Ghana, in West Africa, is generally considered one of Africa’s most progressive countries. But for the past year it has been considering a harsh anti-L. G.B. T. Q. bill.
When the measure was first presented, it was dismissed by many as an effort by opposition politicians to raise their profile. But the legislation, formally known as the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, is still alive and activists say it’s fueled a sharp increase in homophobia. There have been reports of police raids and harassment. In June, vandals destroyed L.G.B.T.Q. pride posters in Accra, the capital.
The bill says that any activities promoting gay rights offend traditional values and threaten the concept of family. The country still has a colonial-era law on the books that punishes same-sex relationships, but this proposed legislation would go much further. It would criminalize virtually every aspect of queer culture, from the way people dress to their social gatherings. Allies of L.G.B.T.Q. people could also face criminal charges.
The Drama Queens, formed five years ago, holds workshops on consent and sexual and reproductive rights and has expanded to become a safe, creative space for women and queer Ghanaians. The organizers put together art exhibitions, film festivals and get-togethers where young people can share their experiences. If Parliament passes the measure, everything they do could become a crime.
Dennis K. F. Agyemang, a co-director of the Drama Queens, denounced the bill, calling it “an imminent threat to organizations and queer safety.”
— Lynsey Chutel, Briefings writer based in Johannesburg.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
What to Drink
Improve your drinking experience with these four ways to think about wine.
One benefit of strength training is a longer and better life.
Now Time to Play
Play today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Slowpoke with a shell (5 letters).
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Jonathan
P.S. Wordle is now available to play in The New York Times Crossword App.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the killing of Daria Dugina in Russia.
You can reach Jonathan and the team at [email protected].