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New Zealand Election, Japan’s Economy, Belarus: Your Tuesday Briefing

2020-08-18 02:58:30
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Good morning.

We’re covering New Zealand’s election delay due to a growing cluster of cases, changing thoughts about herd immunity and how the world’s largest bike producer is dealing with booming demand.

It was the third straight quarter of contraction for Japan, where a tax increase, slowing demand from China and a series of natural disasters left the country vulnerable even before the pandemic hit.

“The pandemic’s total impact on the economy up to this point is almost the same as the 2008 financial crisis,” said Michinori Naruse, an economist at the Japan Research Institute. But this time, things “got bad all at once.”


Protesters’ demands: Thais want a new political order and a new constitution, and have called for the dissolution of the military-dominated Parliament. Millions are unemployed after the pandemic has pummeled the economy, with its largest contraction since 1998 in the second quarter of this year.

Snapshot: Above, Taiwan’s Giant bicycle factory, the world’s largest producer. Demand for bikes has boomed in the pandemic, and the company’s owners are figuring out how long it could last while dealing with a U.S.-China trade war.

What we’re reading: This Washington Post feature about the karaoke superfans desperate for their favorite pastime to return. The Post’s series on the things we lose really chips away at big questions I’ve been asking myself about what life will look like next year — or the year after that.

What led tens of thousands of people to come out? Was this a major shift from the norm?

The situation here has been such that people were really afraid to do anything that could invite the attention of the police. Ever since Mr. Lukashenko came to power in 1994, people were living in fear of expressing their views.

For me as a journalist, you could never get last names from people because they were afraid to give them. This was the situation for 26 years. The last week was something different.

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