Thursday, 17 Jun 2021

Your Tuesday Briefing

We’re covering a major shift in China’s family planning rules, and the latest on an Israeli power-sharing deal.

China says people can have three kids

China said on Monday that it would allow all married couples to have three children, ending a two-child policy and moving to avert a demographic crisis.

The labor pool is shrinking and the population is graying, threatening the industrial strategy that China has used for decades to become an economic powerhouse.

But it’s far from clear whether the new rule will actually result in a population increase. Even since the two-child policy, in 2016, followed years of the repressive one-child policy, people have chosen not to have children. High costs of living and a tough work culture have made people wary.

In an attempt to respond to those concerns, the Communist Party also pledged to improve maternity leave and workplace protections.

Quotable: “No matter how many babies they open it up to, I’m not going to have any because children are too troublesome and expensive,” said Li Shan, 26, a product manager at an internet company in Beijing.

Single moms: Declining birth rates are bringing new attention to the plight of unmarried mothers in China, who are often denied government benefits.

New Delhi reopens, slowly

The Indian capital, which just weeks ago suffered tens of thousands of new Covid infections daily and funeral pyres that burned day and night, is taking its first steps back toward normalcy.

Officials on Monday reopened manufacturing and construction activity, allowing workers in those industries to return to their jobs after six weeks of staying home. Schools, most businesses and public transit are still closed.

Cases have been plummeting for weeks. India averaged 190,392 reported cases per day in the last week, a drop of more than 50 percent from the peak, on May 9. But even a small opening is a gamble by city officials when just 3 percent of India’s 1.4 billion people are fully vaccinated.

Economic toll: Economists forecast that the country’s gross domestic product would shrink by at least 7.4 percent over the financial year that began in April.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

Dogs are being trained to sniff out the coronavirus and showing impressive results. Our correspondent met some of the good boys doing this work in Thailand.

Vietnam plans to test all 9 million people in Ho Chi Minh City for the coronavirus and imposed more restrictions Monday to deal with a growing Covid outbreak.

Can a new ‘change government’ change Israel?

Naftali Bennett, who leads a small right-wing party, and Yair Lapid, the centrist leader of the Israeli opposition, have joined forces to try to form a diverse coalition that would unseat Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

After four inconclusive elections in two years and a longer period of polarizing politics and government paralysis, its architects have pledged to get Israel back on track.

Our reporter put together some basics about the upheaval that could break Israel’s impasse.

Dynamics: The biggest potential loser so far is Netanyahu and his conservative Likud party, by far the largest in Israel’s Parliament. Two ultra-Orthodox parties that are his staunchest allies would also be out of government.

Timing: Lapid has until Wednesday at midnight to inform the president, Reuven Rivlin, that he has cobbled together a coalition.

Will they get along? Leaders of the coalition have indicated they would avoid the issues that polarize Israeli society, at least for the first year. Analysts caution that its main glue was the desire to remove Netanyahu and that it may not last long once that is achieved.

THE LATEST NEWS

Around the World

Naomi Osaka dropped out of the French Open after officials threatened to expel her if she kept refusing news conferences after matches.

French investigating judges questioned the former Nissan executive Carlos Ghosn in Beirut on Monday, in hearings that one of his lawyers described as the fugitive’s “first time of justice” since his arrest in Japan.

North Korea’s state media on Monday criticized the U.S. for lifting restrictions on South Korea’s ability to build more powerful ballistic missiles.

Turkey’s intelligence service claims it has “captured” the relative of a cleric accused of orchestrating a failed 2016 coup and taken him from his home in Kenya, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues his crackdown on people accused of being connected to the putsch.

More than a third of heat-related deaths in many parts of the world can be attributed to the extra warming associated with climate change, according to a new study.

U.S. News

President Biden is aiming to rebuild and expand immigration: Documents obtained by The New York Times show far-reaching efforts to undo much of his predecessor’s legacy.

Texas Democrats halted a sweeping G.O.P. overhaul of voting laws that would make it harder for many to go to the polls, but the Texas governor is moving to hold a special session to get it passed.

In 1921, hundreds of Black people were killed and their businesses burned down by a white mob in Tulsa, Okla. We created a 3-D model of what was lost on “Black Wall Street” and explored what justice looks like now.

A Morning Read

Our Afghanistan correspondent Thomas Gibbons-Neff revisited Marja, a town in Helmand Province that he first encountered as a 22-year-old in the Marines, and where his friends and many Afghan soldiers and civilians died. Today it’s a microcosm of failed counterinsurgency strategies, abandoned development projects and costly drug eradication campaigns.

ARTS AND IDEAS

Tackling misinformation

Big internet companies are finally taking misinformation “superspreaders” seriously. Our On Tech newsletter writer dug into why habitual misinformation peddlers matter.

How big of a problem are people who repeatedly post untrue things?

Last fall, a coalition of misinformation researchers found that about half of all retweets related to multiple and widely spread false claims of election interference could be traced back to just 35 Twitter accounts.

How policies are starting to focus on these habitual offenders

The riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 showed the danger of falsehoods repeatedly uttered. Internet companies began to address the outsize influence of people with large followings who habitually spread false information.

Facebook on Wednesday said that it would apply stricter punishments on individual accounts that repeatedly post things that the company’s fact checkers have deemed misleading or untrue.

Here’s where it gets tricky

Determining fact from fiction can be challenging. Facebook had barred people from posting about the theory that Covid-19 might have originated in a Chinese laboratory. That idea, once considered a conspiracy theory, is now being taken more seriously. Facebook reversed course this week.

PLAY, WATCH, EAT

What to Cook

Try this salad pizza with white beans and Parmesan, with a snappy crust similar to pizza tonda, a thin-crust pie that’s popular in Rome.

What to Read

Tom Lin’s debut novel, “The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu”, about a Chinese-American gunslinger, challenges the whiteness of Westerns.

What to Watch

Looking for a play to stream? Our roundup includes “Bulrusher,” from Paula Vogel’s Bard at the Gate series.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: American Express competitor (four letters).

And here is today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

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

P.S. The Times’s Opinion editor, Kathleen Kingsbury, joined “Amanpour and Company” on PBS to discuss the importance of being exposed to an array of ideas and opinions.

There is no new episode of “The Daily.” Instead, try the latest episode of the Book Review podcast, which features Jean Hanff Korelitz discussing her new book, “The Plot.”

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

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