500 foreign companies have pulled up stakes in Russia, scaled back operations and investment, or pledged to do so.

“Russia does not have the capabilities to replicate domestically the technology that it would otherwise have gained from overseas,” according to an analysis by Capital Economics, a research group based in London. That is not a good sign for increasing productivity, which even before the war, was only 35 to 40 percent of the United States’.

The result is that however the war in Ukraine ends, Russia will be more economically isolated than it has been in decades, diminishing whatever leverage it now has over the global economy as well as its own economic prospects.

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Ukraine Live Updates: Russia Strikes Kyiv Mall; Mariupol Refuses to Yield

In destructive power, the behemoths of the Cold War dwarfed the American atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Washington’s biggest test blast was 1,000 times as large. Moscow’s was 3,000 times. On both sides, the idea was to deter strikes with threats of vast retaliation — with mutual assured destruction, or MAD. The psychological bar was so high that nuclear strikes came to be seen as unthinkable.

Today, both Russia and the United States have nuclear arms that are much less destructive — their power just fractions of the Hiroshima bomb’s force, their use perhaps less frightening and more thinkable.

Concern about these smaller arms has soared as Vladimir V. Putin, in the Ukraine war, has warned of his nuclear might, has put his atomic forces on alert and has had his military carry out risky attacks on nuclear power plants. The fear is that if Mr. Putin feels cornered in the conflict, he might choose to detonate one of his lesser nuclear arms — breaking the taboo set 76 years ago after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Analysts note that Russian troops have long practiced the transition from conventional to nuclear war, especially as a way to gain the upper hand after battlefield losses. And the military, they add, wielding the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, has explored a variety of escalatory options that Mr. Putin might choose from.

“The chances are low but rising,” said Ulrich Kühn, a nuclear expert at the University of Hamburg and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The war is not going well for the Russians,” he observed, “and the pressure from the West is increasing.”

Mr. Putin might fire a weapon at an uninhabited area instead of at troops, Dr. Kühn said. In a 2018 study, he laid out a crisis scenario in which Moscow detonated a bomb over a remote part of the North Sea as a way to signal deadlier strikes to come.

“It feels horrible to talk about these things,” Dr. Kühn said in an interview. “But we have to consider that this is becoming a possibility.”

Washington expects more atomic moves from Mr. Putin in the days ahead. Moscow is likely to “increasingly rely on its nuclear deterrent to signal the West and project strength” as the war and its consequences weaken Russia, Lt. Gen. Scott D. Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

President Biden is traveling to a NATO summit in Brussels this week to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The agenda is expected to include how the alliance will respond if Russia employs chemical, biological, cyber or nuclear weapons.

James R. Clapper Jr., a retired Air Force general who served as President Barack Obama’s director of national intelligence, said Moscow had lowered its bar for atomic use after the Cold War when the Russian army fell into disarray. Today, he added, Russia regards nuclear arms as utilitarian rather than unthinkable.

“They didn’t care,” Mr. Clapper said of Russian troops’ risking a radiation release earlier this month when they attacked the Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor site — the largest not only in Ukraine but in Europe. “They went ahead and fired on it. That’s indicative of the Russian laissez-faire attitude. They don’t make the distinctions that we do on nuclear weapons.”

Mr. Putin announced last month that he was putting Russian nuclear forces into “special combat readiness.” Pavel Podvig, a longtime researcher of Russia’s nuclear forces, said the alert had most likely primed the Russian command and control system for the possibility of receiving a nuclear order.

It’s unclear how Russia exerts control over its arsenal of less destructive arms. But some U.S. politicians and experts have denounced the smaller weapons on both sides as threatening to upend the global balance of nuclear terror.

Credit…Yuri Kochetkov/EPA, via Shutterstock

For Russia, military analysts note, edgy displays of the less destructive arms have let Mr. Putin polish his reputation for deadly brinkmanship and expand the zone of intimidation he needs to fight a bloody conventional war.

“Putin is using nuclear deterrence to have his way in Ukraine,” said Nina Tannenwald, a political scientist at Brown University who recently profiled the less powerful armaments. “His nuclear weapons keep the West from intervening.”

A global race for the smaller arms is intensifying. Though such weapons are less destructive by Cold War standards, modern estimates show that the equivalent of half a Hiroshima bomb, if detonated in Midtown Manhattan, would kill or injure half a million people.

The case against these arms is that they undermine the nuclear taboo and make crisis situations even more dangerous. Their less destructive nature, critics say, can feed the illusion of atomic control when in fact their use can suddenly flare into a full-blown nuclear war. A simulation devised by experts at Princeton University starts with Moscow firing a nuclear warning shot; NATO responds with a small strike, and the ensuing war yields more than 90 million casualties in its first few hours.

No arms control treaties regulate the lesser warheads, known sometimes as tactical or nonstrategic nuclear weapons, so the nuclear superpowers make and deploy as many as they want. Russia has perhaps 2,000, according to Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, a private group in Washington. And the United States has roughly 100 in Europe, a number limited by domestic policy disputes and the political complexities of basing them among NATO allies, whose populations often resist and protest the weapons’ presence.

Russia’s atomic war doctrine came to be known as “escalate to de-escalate” — meaning routed troops would fire a nuclear weapon to stun an aggressor into retreat or submission. Moscow repeatedly practiced the tactic in field exercises. In 1999, for instance, a large drill simulated a NATO attack on Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea. The exercise had Russian forces in disarray until Moscow fired nuclear arms at Poland and the United States.

Dr. Kühn of the University of Hamburg said the defensive training drills of the 1990s had turned toward offense in the 2000s as the Russian army regained some of its former strength.

Concurrent with its new offensive strategy, Russia embarked on a modernization of its nuclear forces, including its less destructive arms. As in the West, some of the warheads were given variable explosive yields that could be dialed up or down depending on the military situation.

A centerpiece of the new arsenal was the Iskander-M, first deployed in 2005. The mobile launcher can fire two missiles that travel roughly 300 miles. The missiles can carry conventional as well as nuclear warheads. Russian figures put the smallest nuclear blast from those missiles at roughly a third that of the Hiroshima bomb.

Before the Russian army invaded Ukraine, satellite images showed that Moscow had deployed Iskander missile batteries in Belarus and to its east in Russian territory. There’s no public data on whether Russia has armed any of the Iskanders with nuclear warheads.

Nikolai Sokov, a former Russian diplomat who negotiated arms control treaties in Soviet times, said that nuclear warheads could also be placed on cruise missiles. The low-flying weapons, launched from planes, ships or the ground, hug the local terrain to avoid detection by enemy radar.

From inside Russian territory, he said, “they can reach all of Europe,” including Britain.

Over the years, the United States and its NATO allies have sought to rival Russia’s arsenal of lesser nuclear arms. It started decades ago as the United States began sending bombs for fighter jets to military bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the Netherlands. Dr. Kühn noted that the alliance, in contrast to Russia, does not conduct field drills practicing a transition from conventional to nuclear war.

In 2010, Mr. Obama, who had long advocated for a “nuclear-free world,” decided to refurbish and improve the NATO weapons, turning them into smart bombs with maneuverable fins that made their targeting highly precise. That, in turn, gave war planners the freedom to lower the weapons’ variable explosive force to as little as 2 percent of that of the Hiroshima bomb.

The reduced blast capability made breaking the nuclear taboo “more thinkable,” Gen. James E. Cartwright, a vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Mr. Obama, warned at the time. He nonetheless backed the program because the high degree of precision lowered the risk of collateral damage and civilian casualties. But after years of funding and manufacturing delays, the refurbished bomb, known as the B61 Model 12, is not expected to be deployed in Europe until next year, Mr. Kristensen said.

Credit…Randy Montoya/Sandia Labs

The steady Russian buildups and the slow American responses prompted the Trump administration to propose a new missile warhead in 2018. Its destructive force was seen as roughly half that of the Hiroshima bomb, according to Mr. Kristensen. It was to be deployed on the nation’s fleet of 14 ballistic missile submarines.

While some experts warned that the bomb, known as the W76 Model 2, could make it more tempting for a president to order a nuclear strike, the Trump administration argued that the weapon would lower the risk of war by ensuring that Russia would face the threat of proportional counterstrikes. It was deployed in late 2019.

“It’s all about psychology — deadly psychology,” said Franklin C. Miller, a nuclear expert who backed the new warhead and, before leaving public office in 2005, held Pentagon and White House posts for three decades. “If your opponent thinks he has a battlefield edge, you try to convince him that he’s wrong.”

When he was a candidate for the presidency, Joseph R. Biden Jr. called the less powerful warhead a “bad idea” that would make presidents “more inclined” to use it. But Mr. Kristensen said the Biden administration seemed unlikely to remove the new warhead from the nation’s submarines.

It’s unclear how Mr. Biden would respond to the use of a nuclear weapon by Mr. Putin. Nuclear war plans are one of Washington’s most deeply held secrets. Experts say that the war-fighting plans in general go from warning shots to single strikes to multiple retaliations and that the hardest question is whether there are reliable ways to prevent a conflict from escalating.

Even Mr. Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, said he was unsure how he would advise Mr. Biden if Mr. Putin unleashed his nuclear arms.

“When do you stop?” he asked of nuclear retaliation. “You can’t just keep turning the other cheek. At some point we’d have to do something.”

A U.S. response to a small Russian blast, experts say, might be to fire one of the new submarine-launched warheads into the wilds of Siberia or at a military base inside Russia. Mr. Miller, the former government nuclear official and a former chairman of NATO’s nuclear policy committee, said such a blast would be a way of signaling to Moscow that “this is serious, that things are getting out of hand.”

Military strategists say a tit-for-tat rejoinder would throw the responsibility for further escalation back at Russia, making Moscow feel its ominous weight and ideally keeping the situation from spinning out of control despite the dangers in war of miscalculation and accident.

In a darker scenario, Mr. Putin might resort to using atomic arms if the war in Ukraine spilled into neighboring NATO states. All NATO members, including the United States, are obliged to defend one another — potentially with salvos of nuclear warheads.

Dr. Tannenwald, the political scientist at Brown University, wondered if the old protections of nuclear deterrence, now rooted in opposing lines of less destructive arms, would succeed in keeping the peace.

“It sure doesn’t feel that way in a crisis,” she said.

David E. Sanger contributed reporting from Washington.

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Russia Raises Heat on Twitter, Google and Facebook in Online Crackdown

LONDON — Russia is increasingly pressuring Google, Twitter and Facebook to fall in line with Kremlin internet crackdown orders or risk restrictions inside the country, as more governments around the world challenge the companies’ principles on online freedom.

Russia’s internet regulator, Roskomnadzor, recently ramped up its demands for the Silicon Valley companies to remove online content that it deems illegal or restore pro-Kremlin material that had been blocked. The warnings have come at least weekly since services from Facebook, Twitter and Google were used as tools for anti-Kremlin protests in January. If the companies do not comply, the regulator has said, they face fines or access to their products may be throttled.

The latest clashes flared up this week, when Roskomnadzor told Google on Monday to block thousands of unspecified pieces of illegal content or it would slow access to the company’s services. On Tuesday, a Russian court fined Google 6 million rubles, or about $81,000, for not taking down another piece of content.

store all data on Russian users within the country by July 1 or face fines. In March, the authorities had made it harder for people to see and send posts on Twitter after the company did not take down content that the government considered illegal. Twitter has since removed roughly 6,000 posts to comply with the orders, according to Roskomnadzor. The regulator has threatened similar penalties against Facebook.

the police visited Twitter’s offices in New Delhi in a show of force. No employees were present, but India’s governing party has become increasingly upset with the perception that Twitter has sided with its critics during the coronavirus pandemic.

In Myanmar, Poland, Turkey and elsewhere, leaders are also tightening internet controls. In Belarus, President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko this week signed a law banning livestreams from unauthorized protests.

“All of these policies will have the effect of creating a fractured internet, where people have different access to different content,” said Jillian York, an internet censorship expert with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in Berlin.

The struggle over online speech in Russia has important ramifications because the internet companies have been seen as shields from government censors. The latest actions are a major shift in the country, where the internet, unlike television, had largely remained open despite President Vladimir V. Putin’s tight grip on society.

“sovereign internet,” a legal and technical system to block access to certain websites and fence off parts of the Russian internet from the rest of the world.

an interview this week with Kommersant, a leading Russian newspaper, Andrey Lipov, the head of Roskomnadzor, said slowing down access to internet services was a way to force the companies to comply with Russian laws and takedown orders. Mr. Lipov said blocking their services altogether was not the goal.

Google declined to discuss the situation in Russia and said it received government requests from the around the world, which it discloses in its transparency reports.

Facebook also would not discuss Russia, but said it restricted content that violated local laws or its terms of service. “We always strive to preserve voice for the greatest number of people,” a spokeswoman said.

Twitter said in a statement that it took down content flagged by the Russian authorities that violated its policies or local laws.

protests in support of the opposition leader Alexei A. Navalny after his arrest in January. The demonstrations were the biggest shows of dissent against Mr. Putin in years.

“This mobilization was happening online,” Ms. Zlobina said.

The Russian government has portrayed the tech industry as part of a foreign campaign to meddle in domestic affairs. The authorities have accused the companies of blocking pro-Kremlin online accounts while boosting the opposition, and said the platforms were also havens for child pornography and drug sales.

Twitter became the first major test of Russia’s censorship technology in March when access to its service was slowed down, according to researchers at the University of Michigan.

To resolve the conflict, a Twitter executive met at least twice with Russian officials, according to the company and Roskomnadzor. The government, which had threatened to ban Twitter entirely, said the company had eventually complied with 91 percent of its takedown requests.

Other internet companies have also been affected. Last month, TikTok, the popular social media platform owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, was fined 2.6 million rubles, or about $35,000, for not removing posts seen as encouraging minors to participate in illegal demonstrations. TikTok did not respond to a request for comment.

The fines are small, but larger penalties loom. The Russian government can increase fines to as much as 10 percent of a company’s revenue for repeat offenses, and, perhaps more important, authorities can disrupt their services.

Perhaps the biggest target has been Google. YouTube has been a key outlet for government critics such as Mr. Navalny to share information and organize. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Google has employees in Russia. (The company would not say how many.)

In addition to this week’s warning, Russia has demanded that Google lift restrictions that limit the availability of some content from state media outlets like Sputnik and Russia Today outside Russia.

Russia’s antitrust regulator is also investigating Google over YouTube’s policies for blocking videos.

Google is trying to use the courts to fight some actions by the Russian government. Last month, it sued Roskomnadzor to fight an order to remove 12 YouTube videos related to opposition protests. In another case, the company appealed a ruling ordering YouTube to reinstate videos from Tsargrad, a nationalist online TV channel, which Google had taken down over what it said were violations of American sanctions.

Joanna Szymanska, a senior program officer for Article 19, an internet freedom group, said Google’s recent lawsuit to fight the YouTube takedown orders would influence what other countries did in the future, even if the company was likely to lose in court. Ms. Szymanska, who is based in Poland, called on the tech companies to be more transparent about what content they were being asked to delete, and what orders they were complying with.

“The Russian example will be used elsewhere if it works well,” she said.

Adam Satariano reported from London and Oleg Matsnev from Moscow. Anton Troianovski contributed reporting from Moscow.

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From Colombia to U.S., Police Violence Pushes Protests Into Mass Movements

When the history of this global moment is written, there will need to be an entire chapter on police forces’ spectacular own goals as force for change.

Around the world, the police have cracked down violently on protests — only to discover that their attacks, captured on camera and shared across social and conventional media, have been the catalyst that helped turn issue-based campaigns into mass movements.

Movements like Black Lives Matter in the United States, the 2019 uprising in Chile that led to a new constitution, and, now, Colombia’s protests grew out of political wounds unique to each society. But each was transformed into a broad, potentially generation-defining cause once protesters were confronted with police violence.

shaped the culture and training of Colombian police, who amid the protests have often appeared to draw little distinction between peaceful protesters who object to the government’s policies and violent guerrillas who wanted to overthrow the state.

In Chile in 2019, protests initially began as opposition to an increase in transit fares. It was the government’s fateful decision to restore order by calling out the army — for the first time since Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship ended in 1990 — that transformed the protests into a national movement with widespread political support.

Army tanks rolling through the streets sent a message that the country’s transition to democracy was incomplete, and at risk of collapse. Protesters carried placards printed with the face of Victor Jara, a folk singer murdered in the early days of the Pinochet regime, drawing a direct connection between the modern protests and the tanks that brought General Pinochet to power.

Just a year after the protests exploded, Chileans voted to scrap the constitution drafted during the Pinochet years and replace it with a new one.

In Colombia, the violence against protesters, and the heavy militarization of the streets in cities like Bogotá, has likewise sent a message that the country’s democratic project is not just unfinished, but is perhaps in jeopardy.

The 2016 peace agreement was supposed to end the armed conflict between the government and the FARC. But the actions of the state security forces over the past two weeks have many questioning whether peacetime democracy ever began at all.

“I think that the story of this country is about the armed conflict,” said Erika Rodríguez Gómez, 30, a lawyer and feminist activist from Bogotá. “We signed a peace agreement in 2016. And maybe at that moment we felt like, OK, we are going to move on.”

“But actually we have all of the military forces on the streets. And we have these attacks against us, the civil society,” she said. “So we think now that actually, they were never gone.”

It is too soon to say whether the protests will lead to lasting change. The attacks on protesters have made state violence visible to more people, said Dr. González, the Harvard researcher, but she believes that they are still considering it through the lens of “their usual scripts about understanding society, and understanding the police, and understanding everything. So it hasn’t quite come to the point of people converging.”

But Leydy Diossa-Jimenez, a Colombian researcher and Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that she sees this moment as a turning point for change across generations. “Gen Z, they are now rethinking their country, and thinking about what has been left by prior generations,” she said in an interview. “They are saying ‘No, this is not what we want.’ ”

“And I think for the first time now, the older generations in Colombia are allying with that idea, that this is not the country we want,” she said.

“I don’t know if the politicians are up to the challenge, and up to the historical moment,” she added. “I just hope they are.”

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Biden’s Modest Tax Plan

Business lobbyists and conservative think tanks are not big fans of President Biden’s proposed tax increases on the wealthy.

The Tax Foundation has said that Biden wants to raise the capital gains tax to “highs not seen since the 1920s.” Suzanne Clark of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called the same plan “outrageous.” Jay Timmons of the National Association of Manufacturers called the proposed increase in the corporate tax rate “archaic.” And Brendan Bechtel, the chief executive of the construction company that bears his family name, said that “it doesn’t feel fair.”

All of this rhetoric has obscured a basic fact about Biden’s tax plan: It would not actually raise tax rates on the rich to high levels, historically speaking.

If all of Biden’s proposed tax increases passed — on the corporate tax, as well as on investment taxes and income taxes for top earners — the total federal tax rate on the wealthy would remain significantly lower than it was in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. It would also remain somewhat lower than during the mid-1990s, based on an analysis that Gabriel Zucman of the University of California, Berkeley, did for The Morning.

just how far taxes on the wealthy have fallen over the past 70 years. In the decades just after World War II, many corporations paid about half of their profits in federal taxes. (Shareholders, who are disproportionately affluent, effectively pay those taxes). Today, corporate taxes are only about one-fourth as large, as a share of G.D.P., as they were in the 1950s and ’60s.

The declines are not all ancient history, either. For most of the past quarter-century, taxes on the affluent have continued falling, including the rates on corporate profits, personal income, stock dividends, stock holdings and inheritances. Barack Obama reversed some of the declines, but only some. “The net effect over the past 25 years of federal income tax policy has been to reduce the overall revenue collected from top earners,” Owen Zidar, a Princeton University economist, told me.

Whether you like Biden’s plan or dislike it, it is not radical. For that reason, it is highly unlikely to have the harmful effects on economic growth that its critics are claiming. Remember: In the 1990s, the last time tax rates were as high as the ones Biden has proposed, the economy boomed. It also grew rapidly after World War II, when tax rates were higher yet.

History suggests that tax rates on the wealthy are not the main determinant of economic growth (and, if anything, higher taxes on the rich can sometimes lift growth). The main effect of Biden’s tax plan probably won’t be on the level of G.D.P. It will instead be on the relative tax burden that wealthy people pay. When they criticize the plan as unfair, archaic and outrageous, they are really saying that they enjoy paying low tax rates.

admit up to 62,500 refugees in the next six months, reversing his decision to keep a lower limit set by Donald Trump.

  • The E.P.A. plans to limit a class of climate-warming chemicals used in air-conditioning and refrigeration.

  • Richard Cordray, an ally of Senator Elizabeth Warren, will oversee federal student aid, putting him at the center of Democratic disagreements over forgiving debt.

  • Representative Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, accused Trump of “poisoning our democratic system” by making false claims of voter fraud.

  • The country’s increasing diversity isn’t doing as much to help Democrats as liberals hope, Nate Cohn explains.

  • When the World Trade Organization meets this week, should it waive Covid vaccine patents to increase access for poorer countries?

    from Stromboli.

    A Times classic: Can you guess whether these neighborhoods voted for Biden or for Trump?

    Lives Lived: He was born Joseph Jacques Ahearn, but his mother thought Jacques d’Amboise would be better suited to the ballet world. After he became a dancer, d’Amboise found stardom in New York and Hollywood. He died at 86.

    the critic Jesse Green writes in The Times.

    The album, “All the Girls,” also featuring the soprano Sally Wilfert, came out two days after Luker’s death in December. Green calls it beautiful and funny. (It includes this song, which is worth watching.)

    Tonight, Luker’s colleagues and friends will tell stories and sing songs from her career at a fund-raising concert you can stream. — Claire Moses, Morning writer

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    Hungary Transfers 11 Universities to Foundations Led by Orban Allies

    Hungary’s Parliament voted Tuesday to transfer control of 11 state universities, along with billions of euros in related state assets, to quasi-public foundations led by close allies of the country’s prime minister, Viktor Orban.

    Critics immediately denounced the move as a government handover of both public education and a vast network of public assets — including real estate and shares in Hungarian companies — to Mr. Orban and his supporters.

    According to the measure that passed Tuesday, the foundations will “ensure the realization of vital public goals” by managing the universities more efficiently, regardless of who is in power.

    But going forward, any changes to the rules governing the foundations will require a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Practically speaking, this means any effort to tinker with the new system of oversight will require the same level of political support as overhauling the Constitution.

    advance nativist policies in Hungarian economics, education, and culture. Accusations that Mr. Orban has eroded the rule of law and democratic values have put him on a collision course with the European Union, one of the few meaningful checks on his power.

    challenged the bloc’s effort to tie billions in E.U. aid to the countries’ adherence to the rule of law. Following months of tense negotiations, which required unanimity from the E.U.’s national leaders, a compromise was reached to limit E.U. oversight to matters directly tied to the bloc’s financial interests.

    Within days, Mr. Orban’s governing coalition adopted a raft of sweeping measures to curtail the rights of gay people and to make it harder to monitor how the government spends public funds.

    Higher education features prominently in the government’s proposal for how it plans to use a windfall of subsidies expected through the E.U.’s coronavirus recovery fund. According to Bloomberg, Hungary has asked the E.U. to channel one-fifth of the grants it is eligible to receive under the bloc’s €800 billion recovery fund to the “modernization of universities.”

    The framework created Tuesday, Prof. Scheppele said, “removes all transparency from how E.U. funds are spent, and any assets that go into these foundations go off the public books — out of the purview of the state audit office, out of the reach of freedom of information requests, and out of all public accountability.”

    An opposition lawmaker, Akos Hadhazy, likened Tuesday’s move to the contentious period during Hungary’s democratic transition in the late 1980s and early 1990s when members of Hungary’s communist elite secured access to key state assets.

    “He may not be preparing to lose” next year’s elections, Mr. Hadhazy said of Mr. Orban, “but this will suffice in terms of a Plan B.”

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    India’s New Covid Mystery

    There is a new Covid-19 mystery in India, and it is far grimmer than the first one.

    For most of the past year, Covid deaths across much of Asia and Africa have been strikingly low, as I described last month. And they remain low in nearly all of Africa and East Asia — but not India, which is suffering a terrible outbreak. Hospitals are running out of oxygen to treat patients, and confirmed Covid deaths have climbed to 2,000 per day, up from fewer than 100 in February. The true death toll is even higher.

    The sharp increase has surprised many people, both inside and outside India. “India’s massive Covid surge puzzles scientists,” as Smriti Mallapaty wrote in Nature. “I was expecting fresh waves of infection,” Shahid Jameel, a virologist at Ashoka University, said, “but I would not have dreamt that it would be this strong.”

    never quite arrived. Instead, millions of people contracted only mild cases.

    the low levels of obesity, the population’s relative youth and the possibility that previous viruses had created some natural immunity — all seemed to suggest that India was not simply on a delayed Covid timetable. The country, like many of its neighbors, seemed to be escaping the worst of the pandemic.

    Scientific research suggesting that about half of adults in major cities had already been infected was consistent with this notion. “It led to the assumption that India had been cheaply, naturally vaccinated,” Dr. Prabhat Jha, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, told me.

    Government officials acted particularly confident. As Ramanan Laxminarayan, a Princeton University epidemiologist based in New Delhi, told Nature, “There was a public narrative that India had conquered Covid-19.” Some scientists who thought that a new Covid wave remained possible were afraid to contradict the message coming from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. Modi has a record of stifling dissent, and Freedom House, the democracy watchdog group, recently said India had become only a “partly free” country that was moving “toward authoritarianism.”

    Confident they had beaten Covid, government officials relaxed restrictions on virtually all activities, including weddings, political rallies and religious gatherings. The northern town of Haridwar held one of the world’s biggest gatherings this month, with millions of people celebrating the Hindu festival Kumbh Mela.

    By mid-March, though, the virus was beginning to reassert itself. A major factor appears to be that many people who previously had mild or asymptomatic cases of Covid remained vulnerable to it. (A recent academic study, done in China, suggests that mild cases confer only limited immunity.) The emergence of contagious new variants is playing a role, too. This combination — less immunity than many people thought, new variants and a resumption of activities — seems to have led to multiple superspreader events, Dr. Jennifer Lighter of New York University told me.

    told The Times that he had never seen such a never-ending assembly line of death.

    have announced restrictions on travel, weddings, shopping and other activities. Speeding up vaccinations will be more complicated. About 10 percent of India’s population has received at least one shot, leaving more than a billion people to vaccinate fully.

    To do so, India — a major vaccine manufacturer — has recently cut back on exporting doses. Indian officials have also criticized the Biden administration for not exporting more vaccine supplies to India, given the large U.S. supply. (The U.S. said yesterday that it would do so.)

    Amid all the suffering, there is one glimmer of potential good news, Jha said. Caseloads in India’s second-most populous state — Maharashtra, home to Mumbai — have often been a leading indicator of national trends, and cases there have leveled off over the past week. It’s too early to know whether that’s just a blip, but it would be a big deal if the situation in Maharashtra stabilized.

    The latest: In another anti-democratic move, India’s government ordered Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to take down posts critical of its handling of the pandemic.

    watched it spread.

    Tech Fix: Apple’s new privacy tool gives users more control over their data. Here’s how it works. (It could have lasting effects for apps like Facebook.)

    Lives Lived: Bob Fass hosted an anarchic and influential radio show in New York for more than 50 years, with guests including Bob Dylan and Abbie Hoffman. Fass died at 87.

    It’s hard to imagine the teen drama “Dawson’s Creek” without its theme song, “I Don’t Want to Wait,” by Paula Cole. Yet — to the dismay of many fans — that’s the only way to watch it on streaming platforms. Nearly all of the original music for the series, which began airing in the late ’90s, is missing on Netflix, Hulu and other platforms.

    as Calum Marsh writes in The Times.

    TV shows pay for the right to use songs. Before streaming, producers often opted for short-term licenses on popular songs, to save money. But streaming has increased the number of shows that endure for years, leaving some without their music.

    Newer shows aren’t making the same mistake. “We have to get rights forever,” Robin Urdang, an Emmy-winning music supervisor, said. And some old shows are responding to the fan outcry: Cole said a new deal means that her song will soon be back as the “Dawson’s Creek” opener. — Sanam Yar, Morning writer

    play online.

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    Turing Award Goes to Creators of Computer Programming Building Blocks

    When Alfred Aho and Jeffrey Ullman met while waiting in the registration line on their first day of graduate school at Princeton University in 1963, computer science was still a strange new world.

    Using a computer required a set of esoteric skills typically reserved for trained engineers and mathematicians. But today, thanks in part to the work of Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman, practically anyone can use a computer and program it to perform new tasks.

    On Wednesday, the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest society of computing professionals, said Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman would receive this year’s Turing Award for their work on the fundamental concepts that underpin computer programming languages. Given since 1966 and often called the Nobel Prize of computing, the Turing Award comes with a $1 million prize, which the two academics and longtime friends will split.

    Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman helped refine one of the key components of a computer: the “compiler” that takes in software programs written by humans and turns them into something computers can understand.

    rely on the strange behavior exhibited by things like electrons or exotic metals cooled to several hundred degrees below zero.

    Quantum computers rely on a completely different kind of physical behavior from traditional computers. But as they create programming languages for these machines, Dr. Svore and her colleagues are still drawing on the work of the latest Turing winners.

    “We are building on the same techniques,” she said.

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    Another Class of Covid Faces Curtailed Commencements

    Yale plans to hold a version of in-person graduation for the class of 2021 in May — with no guests allowed. Harvard is not even calling its commencement a “commencement.” It plans to hold virtual degree-granting ceremonies and, for the second year in a row, will postpone traditional festivities.

    The universities of South Florida, Southern California, Pennsylvania, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt, Rochester and Kentucky, among others, are holding in-person commencements, but with differing rules about guests.

    So it goes in this second graduation season of the pandemic. Day by day, another university announces commencement plans, and given the uncertainty created by the coronavirus, the decisions are breaking in opposite ways.

    Prairie View A&M in Texas plans to hold live commencements, even as, somewhat surreally, the president of the college, Ruth Simmons, will be delivering the principal address at Harvard’s virtual commencement.

    New York Times database. Vaccinations have also picked up, averaging about 2.5 million shots a day, as eligibility expands in several states.

    Experts warn, however, that dangerous variants could lead to a spike in cases and states that lift restrictions could be acting prematurely.

    Many universities are stipulating that in order to participate in graduation, students must have tested negative for the coronavirus before the ceremony and have a good record of adhering to campus policies created to guard against infection.

    Peter Salovey, the president of Yale, said in a statement last week that the university would be recognizing graduation by holding in-person gatherings “on or around May 24, if public health conditions permit.” Students studying both on campus and remotely are invited, but not their guests. Mr. Salovey said Yale was excluding families because it seemed unlikely that everybody would be vaccinated by graduation day.

    Harvard was one of the first universities to evacuate its campus in mid-March last year, and it is still in caution mode. In an email to students on Feb. 26, its president, Lawrence Bacow, said that postponing live commencement for two years running was “deeply disappointing, but public health and safety must continue to take precedence.”

    80,000 people. The university will hold two ceremonies on May 8, but graduates cannot bring guests.

    Princeton plans to hold an outdoor commencement at its stadium for students who have taken part in the testing program and who live on or near campus. It is also considering extending the invitation to students learning virtually.

    New York University and Stanford University have also announced plans to hold virtual celebrations.

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