Your Tuesday Briefing

Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested after U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges.Credit…Erika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times

FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried arrested in the Bahamas

Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder of the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was arrested in the Bahamas yesterday after U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges. The U.S. “is likely to request his extradition,” the government of the Bahamas said in a statement. An indictment will be unsealed today, U.S. prosecutors said.

The arrest was the latest stunning development in one of the most dramatic falls from grace in recent corporate history. Bankman-Fried was scheduled to testify in Congress today about the collapse of FTX, a powerful cryptocurrency firm that imploded virtually overnight last month after a run on deposits exposed an $8 billion hole in its accounts.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement that it had authorized charges “relating to Mr. Bankman-Fried’s violations of our securities laws.” The charges included wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy and money laundering, said a person with knowledge of the matter.

Details: Bankman-Fried, who was the only person charged in the indictment, was arrested shortly after 6 p.m. at his apartment complex in the Albany resort in the Bahamas, according to a statement from the Bahamian police. Lawyers involved in the case expressed surprise at the suddenness of the arrest.

For more: Bankman-Fried appeared at The Times’s DealBook summit last month. Here’s what he said.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia after his year-end news conference last year.Credit…Natalia Kolesnikova/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Putin skips an annual news conference

After a series of military setbacks in his war in Ukraine, with Russia’s casualties mounting and its economy faltering under sanctions, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, skipped an annual news conference in which he typically makes a somewhat choreographed show of openness to questioning on an array of topics. His spokesman did not give a reason.

Putin first held the year-end news conference, which has often stretched to four hours or more, in 2001, two years into his presidency. The last time he opted out of the event as president was in 2005. It is among the few occasions in the year when reporters outside the Kremlin pool, including foreign correspondents, may question Putin — if they are called on.

Few journalists in Russia are not subservient to the Kremlin, and this year the government criminalized criticism of the war or the military. But it would still have been possible, and deeply undesirable for Putin, for a reporter to ask the Russian leader, live on national television, embarrassing questions about some of the setbacks in Ukraine.

Analysis: Mikhail Vinogradov, a political scientist who heads the St. Petersburg Politics Foundation, said the move would contribute to a general sense of stagnation in the country. Even though a lot is happening, he said, calling off the event captures the feeling that “the situation” is “on pause.”

Related: Months into the war in Ukraine, European nations like Norway have grown wary that a desperate Kremlin is deepening its attempts at spying, sabotage and infiltration. But not all of the incidents can be traced with certainty to Russia, and real concern has at times become hard to separate from widening paranoia.

The preamplifier support structure of the National Ignition Facility.Credit…Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

A major breakthrough in fusion energy

Scientists at a federal nuclear weapons facility in California have made a potentially significant advance in fusion research that could lead to a source of bountiful energy in the future, according to a government official. The advance is expected to be announced today by the Department of Energy.

The government official, who spoke anonymously, said that the fusion experiment at the National Ignition Facility had achieved what is known as ignition, where the fusion energy generated equals the laser energy that started the reaction. Ignition is also called energy gain of one.

Such a development would improve the ability of the U.S. to maintain its nuclear weapons without nuclear testing and could set the stage for future progress that could one day lead to the use of laser fusion as a source of carbon-free energy.

What is fusion? Fusion is the thermonuclear reaction that powers the sun and other stars — the fusing of hydrogen atoms into helium. The mass of helium is slightly less than the original hydrogen atoms; thus, that difference in mass is converted into a burst of energy. Fusion that could be produced in a controlled fashion could mean an energy source that does not produce greenhouse gases or radioactive waste.


Around the World

Credit…Sean Gallup/Getty Images
  • Iran publicly hanged a 23-year-old protester, the second such execution since the country began cracking down on antigovernment demonstrations.

  • Hundreds of migrants, mainly from Nicaragua, crossed en masse into the U.S. at El Paso, among the largest single crossings along the West Texas border in recent years.

  • A shooting at a condominium meeting in Rome, in which three women died, has shocked Italy.

  • Snow and ice in Britain upended travel and put increased pressure on the country’s energy supplies, already under strain from a prolonged cold snap.

Other Big Stories

Credit…CNS, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • As the government in China drops its stringent Covid restrictions, it needs to convince people that the virus is nothing to fear — and that inoculations are essential.

  • Bipartisan legislation to create an independent panel to investigate the pandemic response in the U.S. appears stalled.

  • The nominees for the 2023 Golden Globes were announced yesterday. “The Fabelmans,” “Elvis” and “The Banshees of Inisherin” are among those in contention for the top film prizes.

What Else Is Happening

  • Economists are projecting, as they did last year, that the threat of inflation will swiftly fade in 2023 as higher interest rates take hold and supply chain issues wane. Should we believe them now?

  • The Wall Street Journal named Emma Tucker, a former editor of The Sunday Times in London, its new top editor. She is the first woman to hold the position.

  • A fast-growing network of conservative groups is fueling a surge in book bans in the U.S., aided by local Republican candidates and politically aligned school boards.

A Morning Read

Credit…Carlos Jaramillo for The New York Times.

A mostly poor farming community in California is divided over one of its public buildings: the library. It is a vital resource for some families, providing a safe place for children while their parents work harvesting grapes and almonds. For the police, who point to rising crime, their own tiny office and a tight tax base, it is a poor use of space.

The starkness of the choice facing McFarland — library or police station — reflects a growing debate over how much to spend on law enforcement in a post-George Floyd America, versus what to devote to other public needs, especially those serving disadvantaged groups.


England’s players deserve patience, not vilification: Dreams crushed, but back to the day job. England’s players won’t get over this World Cup for a long time. Would you?

Where does Brazil go from here? It’s been 20 years since Brazil won the World Cup.The nation’slatest exit was not as embarrassing as the one in 2014 — but it does mean introspection is inevitable.

From The Times: Hundreds of thousands of migrant laborers helped to prepare Qatar for the World Cup, often under exploitative and dangerous conditions. Nepalis stuck in poverty and debt see few other options.


Credit…Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times

A fracas over Rembrandt

“Rembrandt in a Red Beret,” a centuries-old image of the 17th-century master, has a tortuous back story, involving a Dutch prince, a plumber from Dayton, Ohio, and a possible scam involving some German sailors.

The painting is now on public view for the first time in 50 years, at Escher in Het Paleis, a former royal palace in the Netherlands. But scholars disagree about whether the painting is a self-portrait, a portrait by one of Rembrandt’s star pupils or a 19th-century imitation.

At least one art historian is convinced that it is an original by Rembrandt himself. So, too, is the painting’s current owner. (Its market value would increase substantially if the work were regarded as having been made solely by the artist’s hand.) But other experts are not so sure, dismissing it on grounds of style or refusing to comment altogether.


What to Cook

Credit…Sang An for The New York Times. Food Stylist; Simon Andrews.

This sticky coconut chicken and rice is among our most popular recipes of the year.

What to Read

These are the best true crime books of the year.

What to Watch

Finish the second season of “The White Lotus” and then read this discussion of the finale by Jennifer Coolidge and Mike White, the director.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Tabletop seasoning (four letters).

And here are today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

P.S. The Times wants to hear about the creative or surprising ways your household uses digital assistants. Find Alexa creepy? Tell us about that, too.

“The Daily” is on the U.S. job market and layoffs.

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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