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

2020-07-13 06:23:34
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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.

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 street 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.

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.”

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
[email protected].

P.S.
• 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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