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Your Tuesday Briefing

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Japan is “bracing for a tremendous blow” to its economy from the coronavirus outbreak, with leaders preparing the largest stimulus package in their country’s history in an effort to contain the damage.

The country has not yet put in place strict lockdowns like the ones that paralyzed economic life in parts of China, Europe and the United States, but that might now be necessary. And it comes after tourism has already dried up, trade has slowed to a crawl and major events have been canceled.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said over the weekend that Japan was now at risk of an explosion of cases and that although he did not yet need to declare a state of emergency, the country was “barely holding on.” In Tokyo, which on Sunday reported a single-day high of 68 new infections, the governor asked people to stay inside.

Context: The Japanese economy, the world’s third-largest after the United States and China, was in trouble even before the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Moscow’s 13 million residents went under lockdown on Monday following a sudden surge in infections. President Vladimir Putin remained holed up in his country estate outside the Russian capital.

  • The first of 22 scheduled flights carrying medical supplies from China arrived in New York on Sunday. White House officials said the flights would funnel much-needed goods across the U.S.

  • Spanish officials said on Monday that they would impose even more rigorous restrictions on residents’ movements, calling for a national period of “hibernation.”

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel went into quarantine after an aide tested positive, officials said on Monday. Prince Charles of Britain, the heir to the throne who was quarantined in Scotland for the past seven days, took himself out of isolation.

  • U.S. stocks saw gains, as did European markets. Asian markets dropped. Here’s the latest.

The Times is providing free access to much of our coronavirus coverage, and our Coronavirus Briefing newsletter — like all of our newsletters — is free. Please consider supporting our journalism with a subscription.


As China dealt with its coronavirus outbreak, the world turned its attention away from the Xinjiang region, where Muslim minorities have been sent to indoctrination camps and work programs that experts say amount to forced labor.

But now that the region is being jolted back to work, fears are high that the weeks of lockdown may have left many Uighurs hungry and suffering in harsh conditions. Uncensored information from Xinjiang has been even scarcer than usual, and there is skepticism of the government’s official coronavirus count for the region: only 76 cases and three deaths in a population of 24.5 million.

Former detainees have previously described poor sanitation and food and little to no help for those who get sick. Officials were worried even before the outbreak of the spread of infectious diseases within the camps.

On the ground: One video reviewed by a Uighur rights group shows a Uighur man confronted for being outside. “What’s a person supposed to eat when they get hungry?” he replied. “What should I do, bite into a building?”

When France sent its forces to confront armed Islamists in Mali, a former colony, the mission was supposed to last a few weeks. That was seven years ago.

The counterterrorism fight has left more than 10,000 West Africans dead, displaced a million others and left France’s military stuck in the region — just as American forces have been in Afghanistan and Iraq. Above, French Foreign Legion troops in February.

North Korea: The country said it had lost all interest in negotiating with the U.S. because of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s continuous pressure on the government to give up its nuclear weapons program.

Stolen Van Gogh painting: Dutch police are investigating the theft of “Lentetuin,” or “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring,” from the Singer Laren Museum, just east of Amsterdam. The gallery has been closed because of the coronavirus.

Snapshot: Above, a coconut water vendor, José Luis Miguel Monroy, who is the only earner in his family in Mexico City. Latin America’s informal workers are among the most vulnerable in the continent’s coronavirus outbreak. They often live hand-to-mouth, without labor protections or a strong social safety net.

What we’re reading: This Samantha Kirby essay about adult friendship in The Cut. “It’s deeply improbable that an essay about making new friends is so delightful right now, but that’s just a testament to how wildly brilliant Sam is,” says Jenna Wortham, a culture writer for The Times Magazine. She recommends it if you’re “ready to LOL.”

Cook: Melissa Clark’s easy mujadara, a streamlined version of the Middle Eastern classic, featuring lentils and rice topped with golden fried onions. This recipe is from our pantry cooking series.

Listen: Our critics discuss nine new songs, including a 17-minute track from Bob Dylan.

Read: Paul Theroux on how living through curfew and political upheaval in Uganda in 1966 shaped him as a traveler and a writer.

See: Donald Judd’s puzzle of plywood boxes is “an exercise in vision-sharpening comparative looking,” our critic Roberta Smith writes. It’s at Gagosian Gallery in New York — and you can view it online.

As a U.S.-Taliban peace deal unfolds, bringing an uncertain future for Afghan girls and women, Fatima Faizi, a correspondent based in Kabul, wrote for Times Insider about her recent visit to a progressive girls’ school. It triggered a flashback to her own childhood when the Taliban fell from power in 2002.

When Ms. Faizi was 6, she set off with her grandmother for the one-hour walk to her new school.

“There were 70 students in a narrow room,” she wrote. “It was shocking. Some students were 15, or even older. I seemed to be the youngest one there.

“At first everyone thought I was slow, because I was so shy that I wasn’t taking part in the class activities. But I was actually ahead of others my age: I started in second grade, not first, because I could already read the alphabet.

“When the Taliban were in power, girls were not allowed to go to school. I was lucky enough to study at home with my mother.”

Ms. Faizi’s middle school was in a tent. High school meant a better building, but also new hardships.

She missed a semester after she fell sick, and later stayed home to help her father recover from severe burns from an accident at a gas station. Still, she graduated from high school and went on to pursue her dream of becoming a journalist. She joined The Times’s Kabul bureau in 2017.

“Since 2017 I have covered the Afghanistan war — a war started by Americans that has changed my life. When there were Taliban in the country, my life was upside down. I wasn’t Fatima Faizi; I was fated to only be someone’s wife, to clean, cook, raise the children and never have a chance to dream.”

“Now the peace process is unfolding,” she said. “An uncertain future waits for me.”


A correction: Monday’s briefing misspelled the surname of a Times features writer. She is Taffy Brodesser-Akner, not Brodessor-Akner.

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

— Melina


Thank you
Theodore Kim, Jahaan Singh and Hamilton Boardman provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected].

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the challenge that the coronavirus poses to hospitals in the U.S.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Coral formations (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The team producing our print edition is working from home for the first time in New York Times history — here’s how they do it.


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