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January 29, 2023 9:16 pm

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Your Thursday Briefing: A Deadly Helicopter Crash in Ukraine


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Also, why economists are alarmed about China’s demographic crisis.

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Amelia Nierenberg
Jan. 18, 2023, 4:11 p.m. ET
Image“I started to yell the name of my daughter, too, because I didn’t know where she was,” said one mother, whose daughter survived the crash.

“I started to yell the name of my daughter, too, because I didn’t know where she was,” said one mother, whose daughter survived the crash.Credit…Ed Ram/Getty Images

Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, Denys Monastyrsky, was one of at least 14 people who died yesterday in a helicopter crash. He is the highest-ranking Ukrainian official to die since Russia invaded last year. An investigation is underway, but there were no initial signs that the aircraft had been shot down.

The helicopter crash also damaged a kindergarten in a suburb of Kyiv. It happened at 8:20 a.m., a time when parents typically drop their children off at the school. There were conflicting death tolls, but officials said that a child had been killed.

Monastyrsky’s death deals a blow to a ministry that has played a critical role in the war effort: He oversaw police and emergency services and handled rescue efforts after missile strikes. His top deputy was also killed, as well as other pivotal figures in Ukraine’s wartime leadership.

Davos: In a video address to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, called for a moment of silence to remember the victims, then made a passionate speech.

“Tragedies are outpacing life. The tyranny is outpacing democracy,” Zelensky said. “The time the free world uses to think is used by the terrorist state to kill.”

Crimea: The U.S. has long refused to give Ukraine the weapons it needs to target Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. But that stance is starting to soften, despite the risk of escalation. Kyiv is looking to strike Russia’s land bridge, a critical supply route that connects Crimea to Russia through the occupied cities of Melitopol and Mariupol.

The median age in China has already surpassed that of the U.S. and could rise above 50 by 2050. Credit…Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

China’s declining population threatens its position as the most populous country. Its shrinking work force could also hobble the global economy and erode its strength in coming decades. And the government’s efforts to reverse or slow the trend may be too little, and too late.

A shortage of factory employees in China — driven by a more educated workforce and a shrinking number of young people — could raise costs for consumers outside China, potentially exacerbating inflation in countries that rely heavily on imported Chinese products. The shrinking population could also mean a decline in spending by Chinese consumers, which could hurt global businesses that rely on China.

Within China, a plunging birthrate poses a major threat to its embattled real estate sector, which accounts for roughly a quarter of its economic output. And a shrinking work force may struggle to support China’s aging population. A 2019 report predicted that the country’s main pension fund, which many older Chinese residents rely on for income, would run out of money by 2035.

Self-inflicted crisis: China sped up its demographic struggles with its one-child policy, which was in effect from 1980 until 2016. Now, the government’s recent attempts to induce a baby boom have failed, as the high cost of housing and education deter potential parents.

“Hope,” Maria Ressa said yesterday, after the verdict. “That is what it provides.”Credit…Eloisa Lopez/Reuters

Ressa is an outspoken critic of both Rodrigo Duterte, the former president, and current President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Her uphill battle to keep publishing her news site, Rappler, has become emblematic of the Philippines’ declining press freedoms.

This recent case was the first high-profile test of whether her legal troubles would continue under Marcos; other cases are pending. The new president has benefited from online disinformation and tried to play down the brutality of his father’s dictatorship decades ago, but has declined to attack the country’s mainstream media, as Duterte did.

Background: Philippine authorities began hounding Ressa under Duterte. Rappler aggressively covered his bloody campaign against drugs and drug traffickers, which helped Ressa win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021.

Rafael Nadal, who has won 22 Grand Slams, lost in the second round.Credit…Martin Keep/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Aryeh Deri, left, is a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The court ruled that Deri should be removed from his posts.Credit…Pool photo by Ronen Zvulun
Meera Shankar, center, rents rooms to women, with no curfew or visiting rules.Credit…Saumya Khandelwal for The New York Times

If women were represented in India’s formal work force at the same rate as men, some estimates suggest, the country’s economy could expand by an additional 60 percent by 2025.

But housing is a major obstacle. Many single women pay more, for a narrower selection of apartments, and brokers often make them promise to never bring men over, drink or live alone.

Lives lived: Sister André, the world’s oldest known person, died at 118. The French nun lived through two world wars, survived Covid and was said to enjoy a daily dose of wine and chocolate.

Urban Hawker is unlike any other food court in Midtown Manhattan.Credit…Rachel Vanni for The New York Times

A vivid bazaar of Singaporean dishes has opened in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, adapted from a grand concept by Anthony Bourdain. Urban Hawker, the food hall, puts cooks front and center: Most of the 17 vendors relocated from Asia to New York to work there.

One standout is Hainanese chicken rice, perhaps the country’s most recognized dish. Pete Wells, our New York restaurant critic, says it’s “fleshier, softer, more voluptuous than you’d think boiled poultry could be.” Other stalls prepare dishes that started out somewhere else but have adapted to or been adopted by Singaporeans, like biryanis and Malaysian coconut stew.

“You get an overview of Singaporean food unlike any you’ll find in a restaurant,” Pete writes, adding, “The stalls preserve and spotlight the separate origins of the dishes.”

Check out Pete’s review, which has more mouthwatering photos than we can fit in the newsletter. And here is a recipe for Hainanese chicken with rice.

Credit…Linda Xiao for The New York Times