Amitabh Bachchan, Russia Protests, Poland Election: Your Monday Briefing

Amitabh Bachchan, Russia Protests, Poland Election: Your Monday Briefing

Amitabh Bachchan, Russia Protests, Poland Election: Your Monday Briefing

Amitabh Bachchan, Russia Protests, Poland Election: Your Monday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering a revered Bollywood actor testing positive for the coronavirus, a Polish election too close to call and unusual protests in Russia’s Far East.

On a day when India reported more than 28,000 new coronavirus infections, the case of one man in particular caught the country’s attention — Amitabh Bachchan, a Bollywood star and one of India’s most revered figures.

Mr. Bachchan announced on Saturday to his 43 million followers on Twitter that he had tested positive for the virus, and urged his recent contacts to be tested themselves. His son, Abhishek, and daughter-in-law, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, both actors, and their daughter have also tested positive.

India, which closed down early and then reopened to save its battered economy, is now racking up about 30,000 new reported infections each day — more than any other country except the United States and Brazil. And with 850,000 cases nationwide, it is rapidly catching up to Brazil.

Elsewhere: Under Scotland’s measured leader, Nicola Sturgeon, the country is moving more carefully out of a lockdown than neighboring England — and it seems to be working. Scotland could stamp out the coronavirus by the fall, public health experts say, but the pandemic has reanimated old grievances against Britain.

In other news:

Here are the latest updates and maps of where the virus has spread.

Poland’s presidential election did not produce a clear winner on Sunday, though final exit polls showed President Andrzej Duda narrowly leading the challenger, Rafal Trzaskowski.

The election, which pit Mr. Duda, a conservative nationalist, against Mr. Trzaskowski, the liberal mayor of Warsaw, is widely considered the most important since the end of Communist rule in 1989. Turnout appears to have been the highest since Poland’s first, partially free elections were held that year.

What it means: Mr. Duda’s re-election would mean that the governing Law and Justice party could continue to reshape Poland, where critics say the rule of law is being eroded. The government has corralled independent courts, and Mr. Duda has stoked fears over gay people and a free press.

What happens next: Though Mr. Duda is leading 51 percent to Mr. Trzaskowski’s 49 percent, the polls are not official results and the government has until Tuesday night to declare a winner. Neither candidate has conceded, setting the stage for an extended fight over the first presidential election since the coronavirus swept Europe.

Tens of thousands of people protested in the Far East of Russia on Saturday, calling for the release of a popular regional governor who was arrested last week on suspicion of multiple murders.

Demonstrators in Khabarovsk, a city that borders China, and several other towns chanted “Putin resign,” a rare display of opposition against President Vladimir Putin in the country’s vast hinterland. The protests rivaled in size ones held last summer in Moscow, the main center of opposition to the Kremlin.

Details: Sergei Furgal, one of Russia’s few provincial leaders not affiliated with Kremlin-controlled political forces, had long been accused of criminality. But critics said that his alleged crimes, once ignored, were now being used to depose an elected governor.

What this means: Unlike streets protests in Moscow, which the authorities can easily discredit as the work of a privileged metropolitan elite led astray by the West, this outburst, in a region 4,000 miles east of the capital, presents a potentially more troublesome challenge. It suggests, along with other grumblings over growing economic hardship, that Mr. Putin has lost his aura as an invincible leader.

Often hailed as heroes, health care workers around the world have faced intensifying pressure during the pandemic. Dr. Lorna Breen, above, was known for being an unflappable presence in her Manhattan emergency room — until the coronavirus. She had a breakdown as her hospital was overwhelmed by the crisis and killed herself in April.

Dozens of Dr. Breen’s loved ones shared memories of her with our reporters and said she had been devastated that she could not help many of her patients. Her family said her death exposed a stigma about mental health that persists in the medical community.

“She had something that was a little bit different,” recalled her colleague Dr. Barbara Lock, “and that was this optimism that her persistent efforts will save lives.”

Snapshot: Above, the Hagia Sophia on Friday. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree on Friday ordering the UNESCO world heritage site, cherished by Christians and Muslims alike, to be opened for Muslim prayers.

In memoriam: Jack Charlton, a soccer star who helped England win the World Cup in 1966 and managed Ireland’s national team, died on Friday at age 85.

What we’re reading: This South China Morning Post article about students derailed by U.S. visa restrictions. “U.S.-China tensions are playing out not just on the world stage but at schools like the University of Rochester, where 19 percent of students are Chinese,” writes Jennifer Jett, an editor in Hong Kong. “But it’s not as simple as one side against the other.”

Cook: David Tanis’s vegetarian burger doesn’t mimic the texture or the look of ground meat, but it isn’t meant to. It’s more like deluxe refried beans, with an egg on top.

Make: You can turn your copy of The Times (or any other newspaper) into ornamental beads, with a little glue and our templates.

Reopenings and reclosings seem to be everywhere. For those minimizing their exposure, At Home has our full collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do.

Paul B. Brown, a freelance writer, entered the pandemic believing he was in good shape financially, but he lost most of his income virtually overnight. Now, he says, he has a lot more to do. He shared some of the lessons he has learned.

Keep even more cash on hand.

The standard personal finance advice is to have at least three months of living expenses stashed away in something liquid and ultrasafe. I am going to try to get that number up to a year’s worth of reserves. The goal is more to create peace of mind than to increase my net worth. I never want to worry about meeting day-to-day expenses again.

Manage debt more aggressively.

I’ve always paid off my full credit card balances each month, so I have never had credit card debt. But I do have three mortgages. I always paid more than I had to each month on each mortgage, because I considered prepaying a kind of forced savings. The mortgages have different interest rates. From now on, I am going to put all extra payments toward the one with the highest interest rate.

Keep the big picture in mind.

You never buy insurance because you hope to submit a claim someday. You do it to protect against a time when something awful may happen. I have always thought of saving money the same way.

But the pandemic has made me realize that I’m not sure how much I’ll really need to have salted away to protect my family and to keep our solidly middle-class standard of living intact, both now and into the future.

That’s it for this briefing. Have a great start to the week.

— Isabella

Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is on new short stories inspired by the moment — and by Giovanni Boccaccio’s “The Decameron.”
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Spanish appetizers (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• “The Jungle Prince of Delhi,” a Times investigation and podcast about the mysterious royal family of Oudh written by Ellen Barry, is being adapted for an Amazon series by the director Mira Nair.

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