Your Monday Briefing
Good morning. We’re covering the reinstatement of Sudan’s prime minister and the global race for cobalt.
Abdalla Hamdok, Sudan’s prime minister, at a news conference in May.Credit…Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters
Sudan’s prime minister freed from detention
Abdalla Hamdok, Sudan’s prime minister, returned to power on Sunday, four weeks after he was ousted in a military coup.
Appearing at a ceremony next to the army general who detained him, Hamdok signed a deal that placed him back as prime minister with a power-sharing arrangement intended to lead Sudan through a transitional period of three to four years, until democratic elections could be held. However, the exact terms of the deal were unclear and some key points of contention, such as who would appoint an attorney general, were not finalized, officials said.
Protesters who had called for Hamdok’s reinstatement were unsatisfied with the deal, and some who gathered at the ceremony appeared infuriated that he had compromised with the military that they despised.
In recent weeks, 41 protesters have been killed and hundreds more wounded, as Sudanese security forces have cracked down on anti-coup demonstrations that have swept Sudan’s major cities.
Context: The power-sharing agreement was initially signed in 2019 after the ouster of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who led Sudan as a dictator for three decades and who was charged with war crimes over his role in atrocities in the western Darfur region in the 2000s.
China is winning the race for minerals
As the world’s largest economies shift to cleaner energy, minerals and metals needed in batteries are replacing oil as the target in the global race for energy dominance.
Cobalt is one of the most important of those materials, and more than two-thirds of the world’s supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. After the U.S. failed to safeguard decades of diplomatic and financial investments in Congo, state-backed Chinese businesses now control the world’s largest supply.
A Times investigation found that 15 of the 19 cobalt-producing mines in Congo were owned or financed by Chinese companies, some of which were accused of withholding payments and ignoring promises to their Congolese partners.
What’s next: The U.S. is now trying to play catch-up, pressing for access to cobalt supplies from allies including Australia and Canada, according to a national security official with knowledge of the matter.
Background: The American president’s son, Hunter Biden, was part owner of a firm that helped facilitate a Chinese company’s purchase of one of the world’s richest cobalt mines from a U.S. company.
How India’s farmers prevailed
For a year, a large group of Indian farmers left their crops and camped out in the outskirts of New Delhi in a sustained protest with an unlikely goal: convincing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reverse new agricultural laws that farmers feared would destroy their way of life.
The protesters’ ultimate success — announced on Friday in a rare retreat by Modi in which he asked for “forgiveness” — came because of financial support, tight organization and disciplined nonviolence.
The movement started in Punjab, home to a large community of Sikhs and some of the country’s richest agricultural land, and relied on the Punjabi Sikh diaspora for financial assistance.
In October, a convoy from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party rammed into a group of protesting farmers in Uttar Pradesh, resulting in eight deaths and plummeting poll numbers, which may have been a turning point.
What’s next: The farmers aren’t done protesting. They have vowed to continue until Modi’s government agrees to guarantee a minimum price for nearly two dozen crops.
India’s farming system still needs repair, which many farmers acknowledge. Some comfortably live middle-class lives, but many others end up in debt. Staple grains are prioritized while more nutritious crops, like leafy vegetables, are neglected.
THE LATEST NEWS
In Afghanistan, struggles with the Taliban’s return to power and an intense drought have led many farmers to turn to the region’s most reliable economic engine: growing opium poppy.
A steady trickle of soldiers are abandoning Myanmar’s army — which seized power in a February coup — boosting the nationwide resistance movement.
Almost three weeks after she disappeared from public life, Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis star, told the International Olympic Committee that she was safe at home in Beijing, ESPN reports.
People in Barcelona are protesting foreign investment firms that have forced out residents who couldn’t pay rent during the coronavirus pandemic.
Asian countries are increasingly welcoming travelers and learning to live with the coronavirus — with the notable exception of China.
Covid vaccines have been a tough sell in South Sudan, where flooding, hunger and malaria are considered far more significant problems.
Thousands of Austrians marched through the heart of Vienna, protesting a strict lockdown targeting the unvaccinated.
What Else Is Happening
The threat of a new military conflict is growing in the stretch of Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, where tensions between Russia and the West have escalated.
Maria Butina, convicted in the U.S. of serving as an unregistered foreign agent before and after the 2016 election, insists she “wasn’t a spy” and that her Parliament seat is “not a reward.” Her critics don’t buy it.
The top editor was ousted from The Daily Mail, Britain’s biggest tabloid, a move that might soften the paper’s coverage of Boris Johnson’s government.
Western Canada was hit by record rainfalls that forced the evacuation of towns and destroyed highways and rail lines.
The American defense secretary traveled to Bahrain in an effort to convince Arab allies that the U.S. would remain engaged in the Middle East.
A Morning Read
Three decades ago, the brutal killing of a wealthy socialite became one of France’s most enduring murder mysteries. The socialite, Ghislaine Marchal, was found dead in the basement of her villa; the only door was locked from the outside but also barricaded from within; and a message, scrawled in the victim’s own blood, accused her Moroccan gardener, Omar Raddad. He was subsequently convicted, but new DNA technology may lead to a second trial and perhaps an exoneration.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Curling in Public
On the subway cars and in the streets of South Korea, it has become common to see young women wearing an accessory that was once reserved for much less public settings: old-fashioned hair curlers locked tightly into their bangs.
The plastic cylinders, usually covered in Velcro, are more than just a functional tool from a previous era — they also reflect shifting ideas about gender and beauty in a new one.
Many young people in South Korea no longer feel beholden to the conventions that were once strictly observed in a country that is also one of the world’s biggest beauty industries. “You only have to look good in front of the people you care about,” one college student told The Times.
Lee Jeong-jin, 51, is disappointed that her 21-year-old daughter often wears curlers outside. But, recalling the tall, voluminous hairstyles of her youth, she can also relate.
“I’m pretty sure the older generation thought we were the weird ones back then,” she said.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
These chicken thighs are part stew, part braise.
What to Listen to
Here are three audiobooks to download this winter.
What to Read
Our tech columnist had an A.I. program help write his review of a new book about artificial intelligence.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “___ la vie!” (four letters).
And here is today’s Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Matthew
P.S. John F. Kennedy was assassinated 58 years ago today.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is about Belarus.
You can reach Matthew and the team at [email protected].