Uighur Labor, Indian Arrests, Mars Mission: Your Monday Briefing
Uighur Labor, Indian Arrests, Mars Mission: Your Monday Briefing
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We’re covering how China uses Uighurs to produce face masks, a flurry of arrests of Indian rights activists and the Emirates’ Mars mission.
According to China’s National Medical Products Administration, only four companies in the Xinjiang region, which has a large Uighur population, were producing medical-grade protective equipment before the coronavirus pandemic. As of June 30, that number was 51. After reviewing state media reports and public records, The Times found that at least 17 of those companies participate in the labor program.
Our reporting team traced a shipment of masks received by a medical supply company in the U.S. to a factory in Hubei Province where more than 100 Uighur workers had been sent. Such workers are required to learn Mandarin and pledge their loyalty to China at weekly flag-raising ceremonies. China maintains the labor program is to combat poverty.
In other developments:
Hong Kong suspended nonessential government services after the city reported 108 new infections, its highest number in a single day.
Turkey has suspended flights to Iran and Afghanistan in response to infections in those countries, its Transport Ministry said. President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said on Saturday that some 25 million Iranians might have been infected with the coronavirus as Iran reimposed restrictions in the capital and elsewhere.
President Trump called Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, “a little bit of an alarmist” who provided faulty information in the early days of the outbreak in the U.S.
The mayor of Los Angeles said that the coronavirus was spreading in the city to the point where a new stay-at-home order would have to be issued.
As virus surges in India, so do activist arrests
Lawyers in India are accusing the authorities of using a surge of coronavirus infections to round up critics protesting what they call the anti-minority policies under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In recent weeks, nearly a dozen prominent activists have been detained under stringent sedition and antiterrorism laws that have been used to criminalize actions like leading rallies and posting political messages on social media. Among those in custody are a youth activist who raised awareness about police brutality against Muslims, an academic who gave a speech opposing a citizenship law, and Natasha Narwal, a graduate student who co-founded a women’s collective that organized some of the largest rallies.
Context: Before the pandemic hit, Mr. Modi was facing his most significant challenge since becoming prime minister over the citizenship law that some say discriminated against Muslims migrants.
India-China border fighting: This interactive article on the recent clashes between Indian and Chinese troops shows the inhospitable terrain at the center of the dispute along the border in the Himalayas.
It’s a year until the Tokyo Olympics. Or not.
Japan has already spent roughly $12 billion to prepare for the next Summer Olympics and is adamant that the Tokyo Games will open on July 23, 2021.
But the planning challenges have only grown as hot spots for infections continue to shift, and the unpredictability is making it impossible for officials to say definitively that the Games will happen, or, if they do, what they may look like.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, said that planning for the Games now involved multiple options, all of which prioritize the health of the athletes.
So many unknowns: Maybe there won’t be spectators. Maybe only people living in Japan will be able to attend. Or maybe only those from countries where the virus is under control. Will there be an Olympic village, the traditional home for the roughly 10,000 competitors? Will athletes from the U.S., where the pandemic shows no signs of abating, be allowed to attend?
If you have 20 minutes, this is worth it
Inside Trump’s virus failure
As the coronavirus raged in April, the White House put in motion a plan to shift responsibility for fighting the outbreak to the states — a decision that was “at the heart of what would become at once a catastrophic policy blunder and an attempt to escape blame for a crisis that had engulfed the country — perhaps one of the greatest failures of presidential leadership in generations,” a Times investigation has found.
Interviews with more than two dozen officials inside the administration and in states, as well as a review of emails and documents, show how the administration set the stage for the current surge of more than 65,000 new cases each day.
(Pressed for time? Here are five takeaways.)
Here’s what else is happening
Mars mission launch: The first of three missions headed to the red planet in the coming weeks is scheduled for liftoff from Tanegashima Space Center in Japan at 6:58 a.m. local time today. The mission is an orbiter, known as Hope, built by the United Arab Emirates.
Representative John Lewis: The death of the civil rights hero has fueled a movement in the U.S. to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. for him. In 1965, state troopers beat him and other demonstrators marching for Black voting rights there.
Russian protest: In a bold challenge to the Kremlin, tens of thousands of people gathered peacefully in the country’s Far East on Saturday to protest the arrest of a popular regional governor. “Moscow go away,” read one banner.
Chinese tycoon: Three years after Xiao Jianhua was snatched from a luxury hotel in Hong Kong and disappeared into Chinese custody, Beijing authorities are dismantling his Tomorrow Group empire.
Snapshot: Above, Christina Gnozzo running errands in New York City. Some New Yorkers, still nervous about public transit during the pandemic, are getting around on mopeds, skateboards and scooters — and some are discovering that, while slow, it’s fun.
What we’re watching: The BBC’s “Swan Lake Bath Ballet.” Dan Saltzstein, our deputy editor for Special Sections, writes: “Twenty-seven elite dancers perform the ballet from their home baths. Cool, weird and, oh yeah, they are hot.”
Now, a break from the news
Watch: Studio Ghibli has spent 35 years telling winding, complex stories that stretch the bounds of what animation can do. You can now stream 21 of the Japanese studio’s classics and lesser-known favorites on HBO Max.
Do: Some men growing beards for the first time are coming to the realization that their facial hair is a tangle of waves and curls. Here are some tips on getting that beard under control.
We’re still safest inside. At Home has our full collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do to make staying at home fun.
And now for the Back Story on …
Travel writing when the world stops
The coronavirus upended Sarah Firshein’s job as a travel columnist for The Times, but she discovered that travel writing could be even more interesting now. Here’s an excerpt from what she wrote about the change.
Practically overnight, it seemed, borders were closed and commercial planes were grounded. In addition to worrying about the same things everyone worried about at that time — getting sick, the well-being of parents, the abrupt end to child care, long-term financial security — I had another fear specific to my profession: How does one write about travel when travel isn’t a thing?
As it turns out, travel writing becomes even more interesting when the world stops.
The questions are diverse: Are hotels safe? Can our family travel from Italy to the United States in October? Should we road-trip, rather than fly, to our son’s wedding?
An overwhelming majority, though, are about canceled trips: pleas for help getting refunds, tales of customer service battles and hourslong hold queues, scrutiny on policies that don’t make sense, complaints about policies that do make sense but are still unfair.
Friends have asked me whether I’ve flown since the pandemic started. The answer is no; I’m content keeping a low profile for now, and I’m grateful for the chance to rediscover the places and people I know the best. But when that happens, travel — for me, for everybody — will be a totally new skill. Picking a destination, navigating an airport, deciding whom to vacation with: We’re all in training pants again.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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