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Your Monday Briefing


India’s lockdown is nearly a month old, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently extended it to May 3.

Many Indians are respecting the order because they fear falling ill in a country with a weak health care system. But Mr. Modi’s power is also a factor. His government is India’s strongest in decades, and many Indians are afraid to break his rules.

At the same time, volunteer virus patrol squads are popping up. Lower castes are being shunned more than usual and Muslims, a large minority, are also facing a rise in bigotry and attacks.

“This is one of the problems of overzealousness,” said Adarsh Shastri, a politician in the Indian National Congress, the main opposition party. “People get a chance to enforce the laws per their own personal prejudice.”

Overview: India has reported about 16,000 confirmed infections and 500 deaths, far less per capita than many richer countries. But its testing rates are also lower, and some health experts believe the virus may be lurking, undetected.

At least 40 staff members in Afghanistan’s presidential palace in Kabul have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Afghan officials.

As a result, President Ashraf Ghani, 70, is in isolation and taking part in events via video. There is no evidence that he is infected, and no clarity on whether he has been tested.

Afghanistan has reported just under 1,000 cases, but those numbers certainly underestimate the spread, officials said, because testing has been extremely limited.

Timelines: In early March, thousands of guests packed into the palace as Mr. Ghani took the oath of office for his second term — even though his administration was already discouraging gatherings to slow the spread of the virus. More than 115,000 Afghans returned from Iran, a virus hot spot, in March.

We also have the latest updates on the pandemic, as well as maps of its spread.

Both the United States and Britain have condemned the arrests in Hong Kong of more than a dozen leading democracy activists and former lawmakers.

Among those arrested on Saturday were the veteran lawyers Martin Lee and Margaret Ng, the media tycoon Jimmy Lai and the former opposition legislators Albert Ho, Lee Cheuk-yan and Leung Kwok-hung.

Context: The crackdown is widely seen as opportunistic given the city’s preoccupation with handling the coronavirus outbreak, which has helped to quiet huge pro-democracy street protests but also fueled distrust of the authorities.

There’s a craze for songbird contests in Indonesia. Even the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, has entered his own songbird for the contests. But demand for the birds is driving a disastrous decline in its populations across the country’s vast archipelago, conservationists say.

Up to 20 million songbirds are taken from the wild every year in Indonesia. Our reporter maps the trade, starting with a man who has captured more than 200,000 over the past 15 years. “I do this work to survive,” the poacher said. “Of course, I feel guilty. If they die, I feel even sadder.”

North Korea-U.S. relations: North Korea has denied President Trump’s assertion that its leader, Kim Jong-un, had sent Mr. Trump a letter, and suggested that the president was using his relationship with Mr. Kim for “selfish purposes.” Relations between Pyongyang and Washington have cooled since a summit in February 2019 collapsed over how quickly North Korea should dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

Nobuhiko Obayashi: The Japanese filmmaker has died from lung cancer at the age of 82. His wide-ranging résumé included a horror movie about a house full of furniture that eats schoolgirls and a fantasy about a boy who befriends a six-inch-tall samurai.

Samsung protest: Kim Yong-hee, 60, has spent more than 300 days at the top of a traffic camera tower in Seoul to protest his firing in 1995 by the company, which is South Korea’s most powerful conglomerate, for trying to organize an independent labor union.

U.S. presidential campaign: Bernie Sanders’s supporters are unenthusiastic about backing Joe Biden. Their doubts raise questions about how many will show up at the polls in November to vote for the former vice president as he mounts a challenge to President Trump.

Snapshot: Above, children from the Uru Eu Wau Wau tribe in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. Villages in the region have long served as havens for Indigenous culture and bulwarks against deforestation, but as President Jair Bolsonaro moves aggressively to bring in commercial interests, some are barely surviving.

What we’re watching: This video from Duluth Harbor Cam in Minnesota. “Watching huge cargo ships arrive and depart in Duluth is a thrill,” says Gina Lamb of Special Sections, who grew up in the Lake Superior port city. “It’s a good reminder of how connected we all are.”

Cook: This one-bowl chocolate cake. Don’t let a lack of eggs or butter stop you from making this delicious dessert.

Listen: In case you missed it last week, this collection of New York accents is da best, juheard! (It’s #bestNYaccent on Instagram if you want more.) “Still Processing,” the podcast from Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, comes close.

Dream: It’s nice to drift through the idea of living in this restored rowhouse in Malaysia, if you could get there and had $1.8 million to spend. It’s nice to go to galleries as well, if only virtually, to look at good art from Feliciano Centurión and Jennifer Bolande. (You could make yourself into art afterward, maybe?)

Everybody who’s in a lockdown needs a little help coping. At Home has a lot of really fun ideas about things to read, recipes to cook, shows to watch and other ways to stay engaged.

Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, an investigative reporter for The Times, has spent nearly a decade reporting on how websites and apps collect information on users. When the coronavirus hit the U.S., she and her colleagues discovered that the data showed that poor Americans were less likely to be able to stay home. Here are highlights from Jennifer’s chat with Times Insider.

What did you learn?

Orders telling people to stay at home are working in limiting movement, but people who are not under those orders are continuing to move around, and some people, particularly those who live in poorer areas, are more likely to keep moving because of their work.

It is good to feel that we’re all in this together, but the data shows that’s not the case. Some people are facing more risk than others.

How do you see the potential of location data helping to combat the coronavirus?

Epidemiologists and journalists are looking for ways this data might help model the trajectory of the pandemic and whether social distancing measures are working — or whether, if they’re relaxed, that leads to a resurgence of the disease.

What was your previous reporting on location data about?

I was demonstrating the profound capabilities of location data and how intrusive it can be; many people are unaware of the fact that it is gathered at all. A lot of companies’ statements about location data are misleading. Saying the data is “anonymous” is not adequately conveying how much it can tell you about somebody, even if you don’t know their name. Companies should be willing to tell you exactly what they’re doing.

Why did those concerns not apply to the use of location data for this story?

There are a lot of privacy advocates I know who disagree with the idea that location data should be collected or stored at all.

I would say it’s possible for users to agree to provide this data. Some of the things that Google does — telling you how long your route home is likely to take — can be useful.

I think an important factor for my personal interest in participating was that this is a public health crisis, and this data could help illuminate some of the inequalities involved.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Carole

Thank you
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. Alex Traub conducted the interview for the Back Story. You can reach the team at [email protected].

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode includes an interview with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, whose district has been hit hard by the coronavirus.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Desert watering hole (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times has introduced “Rabbit Hole,” a new narrative audio series about what the internet is doing to us, anchored by our tech columnist Kevin Roose.


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