Your Tuesday Briefing: Elon Musk Buys Twitter

Good morning. Elon Musk buys Twitter, Beijing vibrates with fears of a lockdown, the U.S. reasserts itself in Ukraine.

Elon Musk, owner of Twitter?Credit…Pool photo by Patrick Pleul

Elon Musk buys Twitter

Elon Musk, the renegade billionaire, struck a deal to buy the social media company for roughly $44 billion after submitting an unsolicited bid earlier this month. The company agreed to $54.20 a share, a 38 percent premium over the stock price when it was revealed that Musk had become the company’s biggest shareholder.

It would be the largest deal to take a company private — something Musk has said he will do with Twitter — in at least two decades. Follow live updates here.

What happens next is anyone’s guess: Musk is an erratic poster who often uses his account to take potshots at perceived enemies. One big question: Would Musk reinstate Donald Trump’s account?

Musk has not commented publicly on the Trump ban, but he has frequently expressed his concern that the platform limits free speech and over-moderates comments. In a statement, Musk said “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square.”

Reaction: Twitter’s employees say they have been largely in the dark about the takeover. Twitter’s share price rose throughout the day on Monday as a deal appeared increasingly likely: After the acquisition was announced, it closed up 5.7 percent at $51.70 per share.

Families in Beijing rushed to stock up on food on yesterday.Credit…Stella Qiu/Reuters

Will Beijing lock down next?

Chinese authorities ordered mass testing amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak. The city government announced that 70 cases had been found since Friday, nearly two-thirds of those in the district of Chaoyang, which ordered all 3.5 million residents to take three P.C.R. tests over the next five days.

Fears of a lockdown prompted a rush of panic buying, and supermarkets stayed open late to meet demand. In other Chinese megacities, mass testing in response to initial coronavirus cases has sometimes preceded more stringent lockdowns.

The hardships endured by Shanghai residents loom large over the capital city, and China’s economy is already hurting as prolonged lockdowns interrupt global supply chains. In response to these fears, global stocks fell on Monday.

Background: The central government has leaned heavily on lockdowns despite their high social and economic costs, in pursuit of the Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s “zero Covid” strategy.

Analysis: With pandemic lockdowns, China’s government has begun meddling with free enterprise in a way it hasn’t in years, our columnist writes.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine’s pressure on Western governments is paying off.Credit…David Guttenfelder for The New York Times

The U.S. looks to weaken Russia

President Biden nominated Bridget Brink, the current U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, as ambassador to Ukraine on Monday. The U.S. also announced it would reopen its embassy in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, after Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, and Lloyd Austin, the defense secretary, made a risky, secret visit by train to the city.

“We want to see Russia weakened to the degree it cannot do the kind of things that it has done in invading Ukraine,” Austin said.

The assertion by the top U.S. defense officials that America wants to degrade the Russian war machine reflected an increasingly emboldened approach from the Biden administration.

In Ukraine, the war continues to rage, and tens of thousands are without power in the country’s east. Russia renewed its attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure, striking at least five railroad stations in the west with missiles. The country’s railroad director said there were casualties, without elaborating.

Loss: A mother found a “new level of happiness” when her daughter was born three months ago. A missile strike in Odesa killed them both.

Profile: President Volodymyr Zelensky has managed to unite Ukraine’s fractious politics against Russia.

State of the war:

  • Explosions hit Transnistria, a Russian-allied region of Moldova, amid fears of a new front in the war.

  • Russian officials are investigating the cause of fires that tore through oil depots in a strategic city near the Ukrainian border.

  • U.S. defense contractors have been scouring Eastern European weapons factories to find munitions compatible with Ukraine’s arsenal of Soviet-era military equipment.


The French Election

President Emmanuel Macron celebrates his victory.Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
  • President Emmanuel Macron won re-election with a 17-point margin over Marine Le Pen, who conceded her defeat. Turnout was the lowest in two decades.

  • Macron is expected to put in effect several policies to address an issue that spurred over 40 percent of voters to vote for Le Pen: an erosion in purchasing power and living standards.

  • Macron’s victory is a blow to right-wing populism in Europe, like the kind championed by President Viktor Orban of Hungary. Slovenia’s Trump-admiring prime minister, Janez Jansa, appears to have lost his bid for re-election.

World News

Displaced people in Darfur often live in shelters, like these in El Geneina.Credit…Faiz Abubakar Muhamed for The New York Times
  • Hundreds of Arab militia fighters attacked a village in the Darfur region, killing at least 150 people, as Sudan’s security and political crisis deepened.

  • Four people were fatally stabbed in London early Monday morning. The police have arrested a suspect.

  • Osman Kavala, a prominent Turkish critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was sentenced to life in prison without parole.Rights groups have denounced the trial, related to the country’s 2013 protests.

U.S. News

  • A New York judge held Donald Trump in contempt of court for failing to turn over documents related to an inquiry by the state attorney general. He will be fined $10,000 per day until he does so.

  • A Texas court halted the execution of Melissa Lucio, a Hispanic mother who was convicted of killing her 2-year-old, after new evidence emerged.

  • A climate activist in the U.S. died after lighting himself on fire in front of the country’s Supreme Court on Friday.

A Morning Read

“I wanted to be fashionable. I just decided to go for it,” said Ayaka Kizu, who got her first tattoo at 19.Credit…Haruka Sakaguchi for The New York Times

Tattoos have long been taboo in Japan. Since 2014, though, the number of Japanese adults with tattoos has nearly doubled, as social media and celebrity culture prompt more young people to seek out elaborate ink. One catch: They’re choosing discreet places, so they can hide their body art at work.


An African art collection under threat

The Johannesburg Art Gallery, which houses one of the largest art collections in Africa, has fallen into disrepair. The pandemic only worsened the neglect.

Now, the Picasso, Rembrandt and Monets are all packed away in a basement, hidden from the damp. After a particularly wet summer, the gallery’s leaking roof became a hazard to the art. Its bustling but neglected neighborhood creates other vulnerabilities: Thieves long ago stole its copper finishings.

“In the same way it’s a failure of the City of Jo’burg to look after the gallery, it’s also a failure of the city of Jo’burg to look after the area around the gallery,” Brian McKechnie, an architect who specializes in heritage buildings, said.

Its fate is uncertain: In a recent statement, the city said that it was clear “stopping the leaks alone would not be sufficient to address the future prospects of the institution.” The collection could move, but officials are not sure what to do about the historic building.

In the rooms that are still open, curators have assembled exhibitions of Wycliffe Mundopa, who paints large canvasses celebrating the women of Zimbabwe, and the African masters — vibrant reminders of what the Johannesburg Art Gallery could still be. —Lynsey Chutel


What to Cook

Credit…Bobbi Lin for The New York Times

Feta and olive add brine to this satisfying Greek salad with chicken and cucumbers.

What to Watch

The documentary “Navalny” is a glowing profile of the imprisoned Russian opposition leader.

World Through a Lens

Take a long walk in a rural corner of Japan.

Now Time to Play

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Group of sea otters (four letters).

Here are today’s Wordle and today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

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

P.S. The Economist spoke with Sam Ezersky about editing The Times’s digital puzzles and facing down Spelling Bee fanatics.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the dangers of traffic stops in the U.S.

Lynsey Chutel wrote today’s Arts & Ideas. You can reach Amelia and the team at [email protected].

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