Your Tuesday Briefing – The New York Times

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.

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.

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.

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’s latest 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.

“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.

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