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North Korea, U.S.-China, Olivia de Havilland: Your Monday Briefing

2020-07-27 00:06:30
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Good morning.

We’re covering reports from North Korea of its first suspected coronavirus case, the downward spiral in US-China relations and a city in Thailand besieged by hungry monkeys.

Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, placed Kaesong City, near the country’s border with the South, under lockdown and declared a national emergency after acknowledging that his country might have its first case of the coronavirus.

With President Trump trailing badly in the polls as the U.S. presidential election nears, his national security officials have intensified their attacks on China, targeting its officials, diplomats and business executives.

Cook: Fried chicken biscuits with hot honey butter could be a weeknight dinner with a side of greens, but they’re also perfect for a picnic.

Watch: “Muppets Now,” a new series on Disney+, is the latest attempt to take Kermit the Frog and his fuzzy companions back to their anarchic sketch comedy roots.

Listen: Taylor Swift, J. Cole, the Avalanches, Vusi Mahlasela and others are on this week’s playlist of most notable new songs, compiled by our pop critics.

Find more ideas on what to read, cook, watch in our At Home collection.

Stationed all over the world, foreign correspondents can feel isolated. Alissa J. Rubin, our Baghdad bureau chief, wrote about a weekly call with colleagues that helped them deal with the pandemic. Here’s an excerpt.

At The New York Times, foreign correspondents are a disparate group. We work in different countries, in different time zones, in wildly different cultures.

Only rarely do we know our colleagues in other regions, and when we do run into them, we often feel a bit shy talking to them — what would Bangkok and Warsaw have in common?

But the coronavirus changed that. It gave us common ground. In ways we never could have anticipated, Covid-19 turned out to be a leveler — of differences between editors and reporters, Sinophiles and Europeanists, newer reporters and “old hands.”

What brought us closer together was a weekly group video meeting that began as a result of a voluntary group session with a psychiatrist. The idea was to help those far from home feel less anxious as the pandemic spread to more and more of the countries where we lived and worked.

We discuss the mundane, such as ordering food or which Netflix or Amazon Prime series we are watching, but we also discuss the professional: the pros and cons of working with sources through video; long-distance transportation options (for those of us who can travel); where to stay (hotel or Airbnb?).

And, because all of us are living the story that we are reporting, sometimes we talk about the deeply personal, like writing frustrations and strategies for avoiding depression during a lockdown (one suggestion: have a call every day with a colleague).

Ernesto Londoño, the Rio de Janeiro bureau chief, offered advice on meditation. Chris Buckley, a China correspondent who had been through a draconian three-month lockdown in Wuhan, gave recommendations on structuring our days and pacing ourselves when time seemed to fall into a black hole.

Why do we keep showing up for this meeting? Because it has become our town square, our group kitchen table, a place where we see people with whom we share a way of life and can talk about all that we’ve lost without being judged.


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

— Carole


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 the fraught weeks that led to the opening game of the 2020 baseball season.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Without (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The media support network Study Hall published a profile of our Styles editor, Choire Sicha, and his unusual route to The Times.

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