Opinion

Your Tuesday Briefing: California Mourns, as Death Toll Rises

In Monterey Park, a grieving community is beginning to learn more about the victims.Credit…Ryan Young for The New York Times

The death toll rises in a mass shooting

Another victim of the recent mass shooting in a thriving Chinese American suburb of Los Angeles died at a hospital yesterday, bringing the death toll to 11. Investigators continued to seek the gunman’s motive in the attack, which took place during a Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park. Here are updates.

The victims of the massacre were in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Officials have identified two victims, My Nhan and Lilan Li, and details about the others are still emerging. They were killed at a popular dance hall where people were practicing guangchang wu, which is popular among middle-aged and older Chinese.

The 72-year-old suspect, Huu Can Tran, shot and killed himself on Sunday after police closed in on him in a nearby city, authorities said. Investigators believe he specifically targeted some people and shot others randomly. An official said that the suspect had recently visited a local police station near where he was living in a mobile park to say that his family was poisoning him.

Families: “We are mentally preparing for the worst,” said one woman, whose father was grazed by bullets and whose mother was missing.

A thwarted assault: The gunman tried to carry out a second attack nearby, officials said. But a 26-year-old said that he had wrested a semiautomatic assault pistol from the gunman’s hands. “From his body language, his facial expression, his eyes, he was looking for people,” he said.

Monterey Park: There are few places in the U.S. that hold greater significance to Chinese Americans than the now-grieving city.


Messages scrawled on a burned building criticized the Chinese presence in the Solomon Islands.Credit…Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

China’s faltering Pacific overture

For years, China has taken a confident, money-driven approach to expanding its power around the globe. Case in point: the Solomon Islands. In the past three years, China has rushed into seemingly every corner of the economy and politics of the South Pacific nation.

But now, residents of the Solomon Islands are pushing back against China’s efforts to expand its influence, a resistance that calls into question Beijing’s aggressive approach. They acknowledge that China is productive and attentive, but they see it less as a benign partner than as an imperious and corrupting force.

Reports of bribes abound, as do complaints about unpaid wages at a new stadium complex that China is building. And residents fear that secret deals with China on security could undermine their democracy as the government becomes more autocratic — and closer to Beijing.

“There’s no proper consultation with the people,” a tribal chief said. “No one is happy about it.”

Counterefforts: The U.S. and its allies worry that Beijing is creating a client state, securing deepwater ports and satellite communication sites in anticipation of potential future conflicts. To counter China, Australia will give the Solomon Islands more than $100 million in aid this fiscal year.


Guo Meiyan and her husband lived in hotels near a hospital for a month during their final stage of I.V.F.Credit…Andrea Verdelli for The New York Times

China turns to I.V.F. to boost births

China is trying urgently to address its declining population. One strategy: subsidizing assisted fertility procedures.

The government has promised to cover about half the cost for treatments like in vitro fertilization, or I.V.F., under national medical insurance. The money could be life-changing for couples who cannot afford to spend $5,000 to $12,000 for each round. The plan is just one of more than a dozen measures that Chinese officials are enacting to tackle the country’s low birthrate.

But even as there is a clear demand for I.V.F., one hospital executive in Beijing says that the number of patients visiting his hospital for the procedure is lower each year. That’s in line with China’s biggest challenge as it tries to reverse its falling birthrate: “People are less willing to have children,” the executive said.

Analysis: It would be nearly impossible for China’s population to start growing again, experts say. But making assisted reproductive technologies accessible to more people could help the country keep its birthrate steady.

THE LATEST NEWS

Asia Pacific

  • Cities across Pakistan went dark yesterday as a major blackout swept the country.

  • Taiwan’s top representative to the U.S. is among the most influential ambassadors in Washington, despite not actually being one.

The War in Ukraine

“We’ll ask for permission, but it’s a secondary issue,” Poland’s leader said, of Germany.Credit…Darek Delmanowicz/EPA, via Shutterstock
  • Poland plans to send its own German-made tanks to Ukraine.Germany signaled that it would not stand in the way.

  • A Ukrainian minister was fired for embezzlement. In response, President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to take action against endemic corruption as weapons and aid flood into the country.

  • U.S. and E.U. officials believe that Russia is behind the recent letter bombs sent to Spain’s prime minister and other top officials.

  • Russia continues to crack down on antiwar protests. But after the devastating strike in Dnipro, Ukraine, some have dared to lay bouquets at a statue of a famous Ukrainian poet in Moscow.

Around the World

  • In the latest round of tech cuts, Spotify, which is based in Stockholm, will lay off  6 percent of its work force.

  • Eggs are becoming a luxury item in Egypt as the country faces an economic spiral.

  • Canada will pay about $2 billion to Indigenous nations to settle a lawsuit that accused government-sanctioned residential schools of eroding Indigenous cultures and languages.

  • Thanks to pandemic puppies, some U.S. dog walkers make over $100,000 a year.

A Morning Read

New developments are often boxy, mid-rise buildings with a ground-floor retail space, sans-serif fonts and vivid slabs of bright paneling.Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

New developments in the U.S. are starting to look the same. “It’s anytown architecture,” my colleague Anna Kodé writes, “and it’s hard to know where you are from one city to the next.”

But even though cities may be losing their unique charm to what some call “fast-casual architecture,” the country is facing a housing crisis. The bland developments may be necessary to meet spiraling demand.

Lives Lived: Betty Lee Sung was a pioneering scholar of the Asian American diaspora. She died at 98.

ARTS AND IDEAS

A face covered by a wireframe, which is used to create a deepfake image.Credit…Reuters TV, via Reuters

Regulating deepfakes

Deepfake technology, which allows people to swap faces and make digital forgeries, is flourishing. But few laws exist across the world to manage its spread.

China is trying to be the exception. This month, it adopted expansive mandates on the technology. The rules require that manipulated material have the subject’s consent and bear digital watermarks.

It’s a bold effort, but China faces major hurdles. Notably, the worst abusers tend to be the hardest to catch. The move has also highlighted another reason that few countries have adopted such rules: Many fear that governments could use them to curtail free speech online.

Still, Beijing could influence how other governments deal with the machine learning and artificial intelligence behind deepfake technology. With limited precedent in the field, lawmakers are looking for test cases to mimic — or reject.

PLAY, WATCH, EAT

What to Cook

Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

Punch up a traditional Caesar salad with caramelized brussels sprouts.

What to Read

“The Great Escape” follows mistreated Indian workers who were lured to the U.S. on false promises of green cards.

What to Watch

The film “The Last Autumn,” a Times Critic’s Pick, is a portrait of an aging farming couple in rural Iceland.

Where to Go

A road trip on South Island in New Zealand offers wine tasting, seal watching, shopping and glacier hikes.

The News Quiz

How well did you follow last week’s headlines?

Now Time to Play

Play the Mini Crossword, and here’s a clue: Distinct thing (six letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all of our puzzles here.


That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia

P.S. Shoichi Yokoi, a Japanese soldier who hid in the jungles of Guam for 27 years rather than surrender at the end of World War II, was found 51 years ago today.

“The Daily” is on the U.S. debt ceiling.

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