Monday Briefing

Under Xi Jinping, China has a new tolerance for bold action by its spy agencies.Credit…Marco Longari/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A risky hunt for secrets

China and the U.S. are taking bold steps in their espionage shadow war to try to collect intelligence on leadership thinking and military capabilities.

For the U.S., espionage efforts are a critical part of President Biden’s strategy to constrain China’s military and technological rise. For Beijing, the new tolerance for bold action among Chinese spy agencies is driven by Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, who has pushed his foreign intelligence agency to become more active in farther-flung locales.

U.S. officials have honed their ability to intercept electronic communications, including using spy planes off China’s coast. Chinese agents use social media sites — LinkedIn, in particular — to lure potential recruits, and China even has artificial intelligence software that can detect the gait of an American spy.

Context: The spy game between the U.S. and China is even more expansive than the one that played out between the Americans and the Soviets during the Cold War, Christopher Wray, the F.B.I. director, said. China’s large population and economy enable the country to build intelligence services that are bigger than those of the U.S.

Sauli Niinisto, the president of Finland.Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

‘A wake-up call’ for Europe and NATO

In an interview with The Times, Sauli Niinisto, the president of Finland, warned European leaders and citizens against becoming complacent over the risks of escalation, including the use of nuclear weapons, in Russia’s grinding war against Ukraine.

Niinisto, the person considered most responsible for bringing his country into the NATO alliance, is nearing the end of his 12 years as the president of a nation that shares an 830-mile border with its imperialist neighbor, Russia. The invasion, he said, had been “a wake-up call” for Europe and NATO.

Recalling Finland’s conflicts with Moscow, including the 1939 Winter War, when the Finns fought off the Soviets but had to cede territory, and World War II, Niinisto said European countries that had let down their defenses after the collapse of the Soviet Union made a grave mistake.

The latest: In the most significant recent advance in Ukraine’s hard-fought counteroffensive, the military said it had retaken the small village of Klishchiivka, the second settlement to come back under Kyiv’s control in three days.

Rosh Hashana: Every year, thousands of followers of the spiritual leader Rebbe Nachman of Breslov descend on the Ukrainian town of Uman to worship, dance and pay homage at his tomb.

Volunteers disinfecting themselves after carrying a dead body in Derna, Libya.Credit…Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

Volunteers in Libya turn to disease prevention

Nearly a week after devastating flooding in Libya killed at least 11,300 people and left more than 10,000 people missing, according to the U.N., rescue groups said that hopes for finding survivors were diminishing. Now, the authorities have turned their focus to public health, fearing that conditions in the disaster zone could cause diseases to spread.

The tragedy has displaced more than 40,000 people, according to the International Organization of Migration. Survivors are suffering a shortage of medical supplies and having to deal with contaminated drinking water.


Around the World

Credit…Go Nakamura for The New York Times
  • The death toll of the Maui wildfires dropped to 97 after weeks of DNA review.

  • A year after Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody ignited protests in Iran, her family remembered the young woman they lost.

  • A letter found in the Vatican archives adds to the evidence that some scholars say shows Pope Pius XII knew about the Holocaust as it happened.

  • The extreme right in Germany is using mixed martial arts as a recruiting tool.

Other Big Stories

Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times
  • Tens of thousands of climate protesters marched in New York City, calling on world leaders to quickly pivot away from fossil fuels dangerously heating the Earth.

  • Cosmetics sales in China are soaring, but a group of exporting nations led by France is pushing against restrictions they say are unfair.

  • Astronomers in Japan recorded a fireball hitting Jupiter, flashes that could yield clues about the birth of our solar system.

  • South Korean adoptees have been returning to their birth country to hold the government accountable for what they say was a corrupt adoption system.

From Opinion

  • Dams are less effective in a warming world. Restoring rivers can prevent tragedies like the floods in Libya, Josh Klemm and Isabella Winkler argue.

  • Binyamin Appelbaum explores how Tokyo remained affordable by becoming the world’s largest city.

  • On the “Matter of Opinion” podcast, the hosts discuss the influx of asylum seekers in liberal American cities.

  • In recent surveys, most Americans deemed President Biden too old to be effective through a second term. Donald Trump is only slightly younger, Frank Bruni writes.

A Morning Read

Credit…Christopher Capozziello for The New York Times

A woman accused Saifullah Khan, an acquaintance at Yale University, of raping her after a Halloween party. He was acquitted in a criminal trial, but the university expelled him. Now, Kahn has sued his accuser for defamation, in a suit that is challenging the way universities across the country have adjudicated such sexual assault hearings.


The biggest story in sports: Our columnist Kurt Streeter reflects on watershed moments in the rise of female athletes.

A $25 million windfall: An Ecuadorean club benefited in a big way from the Moises Caicedo transfer.

Stellar guest list: Every week, a group of former pros gathers in Manchester, England, for what may be the best pickup soccer game in the world.


Credit…Lena Mucha for The New York Times

Anna Netrebko returns to Berlin

The top Russian soprano Anna Netrebko made her first appearance in a staged opera in Germany since Russia invaded Ukraine, in the Berlin State Opera’s production of “Macbeth,” by Verdi. She has been under fire in the West for her long history of support for President Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader.

Netrebko received a warm ovation at her curtain call — even as angry protests raged outside the opera house.

More in culture:

  • Four women have accused Russell Brand of sexual assault in an investigation by British media outlets. He has denied the allegations.

  • Jann Wenner, the co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, was removed from the board of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation after making widely criticized comments in a Times interview.

  • Drew Barrymore reversed her decision to bring back her daytime talk show during the Hollywood strikes after an onslaught of criticism.


Credit…Bobbi Lin for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Eugene Jho.

Make soy sauce noodles with cabbage and fried eggs.

Read how rebels and renegades formed New York City’s rich drag culture.

Listen to new tracks from Mitski and Maren Morris.

Prepare for what’s next in culture.

Play the Spelling Bee. And here are today’s Mini Crossword and Wordle. You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Natasha

P.S. Read how The Times is leveling up its video game coverage.

Reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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