Your Tuesday Briefing: Political Turmoil in Pakistan
Good morning. We’re covering political turmoil in Pakistan and schools reopening in the Philippines.
An expert on Pakistani politics said Imran Khan was “clearly an order of magnitude stronger” than when he was ousted as prime minister. Credit…Sohail Shahzad/EPA, via Shutterstock
Political tensions swell in Pakistan
Imran Khan, Pakistan’s former prime minister, was charged under the country’s antiterrorism act on Sunday. He is trying to stage a political comeback after he was ousted from power in April following a no-confidence vote.
The charges followed a rally in Islamabad, the capital, where Khan condemned the recent arrest of one of his top aides and vowed to file legal cases against police officers and a judge involved in the case. Police said the comments amounted to an illegal attempt at intimidation.
The charges represent a drastic escalation of the power struggle between Pakistan’s current government and its former leader and could set off a fresh round of public unrest and violent street protests.
Analysis: Khan’s rallies have drawn tens of thousands, and his party has scored recent victories in the most populous province, Punjab, and the economic hub, Karachi. But experts say he and his supporters face a mounting crackdown aimed at curtailing their electoral successes.
Details: Pakistan’s media regulatory authority imposed a ban on the live broadcast of Khan’s speeches on news television channels. Several journalists and talk show hosts, who are sympathetic to Khan, say they have been threatened by the state authorities.
The Philippines reopens schools
Millions of children in the Philippines returned to in-person classes yesterday, ending one of the world’s longest pandemic-related shutdowns.
“We could no longer afford to delay the education of young Filipinos,” said Vice President Sara Duterte, who is also the education secretary.
The lost time will be hard to make up: Even before the pandemic, the Philippines had among the world’s largest education gaps, with more than 90 percent of students unable to read and comprehend simple texts by age 10, according to the World Bank.
Read More on the Coronavirus Pandemic
- New Guidelines: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosened its Covid-19 guidance, saying those exposed to the virus no longer need to quarantine.
- A Sweeping Rebuke: Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that her agency had failed to respond quickly enough to the coronavirus pandemic and needed to be overhauled.
- Back to School: New York City’s Education Department has rolled back most Covid restrictions ahead of the start of school on Sept. 8, reflecting a wider shift toward learning how to live with the virus.
- A Century-Old Vaccine: The results of clinical trials, launched in the early days of the pandemic, involving an old tuberculosis vaccine offered hope that it could provide a measure of universal protection against infectious diseases.
Covid-19 may have only worsened divides. Even though the country offered online instruction during the pandemic, many students lacked access to computers or the internet.
Pandemic: As other countries sent students back to classrooms, government officials and parents hesitated. They feared that schoolchildren could bring the virus to homes crowded with multiple generations of family members, potentially overtaxing a creaky health care system.
Details: Schools in the Philippines have long suffered from teacher shortages, and only some schools are currently in-person five days a week. The country plans to fully reopen all of its roughly 47,000 schools by November.
Drought roils China’s economy
China’s central bank announced that it would cut its five-year interest rate yesterday, an effort to bring a little relief to the country’s huge construction and real estate sector.
The rate cut comes as record-high temperatures and a severe drought have crippled hydropower and prompted the shutdown of many factories in west-central China, an industrial base.
Sichuan Province, for instance, normally generates more than three-quarters of its electricity from huge dams. The summer rainy season usually brings so much water that Sichuan sends much of its hydropower to cities and provinces as far away as Shanghai.
But an almost complete failure of summer rains this year has meant that many dams now cannot generate enough electricity even for Sichuan’s own needs, forcing factories there to close for up to a week at a time and triggering rolling blackouts in some commercial and residential districts.
Fallout: Sichuan’s three main rivers feed the Yangtze River, so hydropower cutbacks have also started to affect downstream areas, like the city of Chongqing and adjacent Hubei Province.
Details: The central bank cut the rate by 0.15 percentage points yesterday, to 4.3 percent, and said that it was reducing a one-year interest rate by 0.05 percentage points, to 3.65 percent.
THE LATEST NEWS
The U.S. and South Korea began their largest joint military drills in years yesterday, The Associated Press reports.
More than 5,000 farmers protested in New Delhi, Reuters reports. They are pushing for minimum price guarantees and government accountability.
Today, Anthony Albanese, Australia’s prime minister, plans to release a report on Scott Morrison’s secret ministerial roles, Reuters reports.
A woman in South Korea may be the relative of two children whose remains were found in suitcases in New Zealand, The Independent reports.
Bangladesh is closing schools for another day during the week and taking other measures to save energy, Reuters reports. The country shut down its diesel-run power plants after the war in Ukraine drove up fuel prices.
Chinese censors changed the end of the new “Minions” film before releasing it, Reuters reports. In this version, police catch a rebel, and Gru, a main character, promotes family values.
The War in Ukraine
Here are live updates.
Russia blamed Ukraine for the killing of Daria Dugina, 29, an ultranationalist commentator. The allegation could not be verified. Kyiv denied involvement.
Dugina’s father, who is a prominent supporter of the invasion, called for revenge.
Moscow said that Dugina, not her father, was the target of the car bomb and said a suspect had fled to Estonia. The brazen attack recalled historical assassinations.
What’s next: Tomorrow is Ukraine’s Independence Day — and the six-month mark of the war.
What Else is Happening
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s top medical adviser, plans to step down in December.
Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president, has suggested that he would dispute election results if he lost in October. But the political establishment believes he lacks support to stage a coup.
Eric Adams vowed to bolster nightlife around New York City. But the mayor mostly visits one pricey restaurant, run by friends with troubled pasts.
A Morning Read
As more looted art returns to Africa, countries have wrestled with the right way to display it.
Benin may have found an answer: More than 200,000 people have come to a free exhibition of pieces that were plundered by French colonial forces in the 19th century and returned last year.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Will New Zealand change its name?
In the 1600s, the Dutch named the land now known as New Zealand for Zeeland, a western province of the Netherlands. It was intended as a companion name for “Hollandia Nova” or “New Holland,” as Australia was then known.
Nearly four centuries later, a petition before Parliament asks that the country be called “Aotearoa,” which loosely translates from Maori as the “land of the long white cloud.” The Maori have used Aotearoa to refer to the country for decades, if not centuries. It is widely believed to be the name bestowed by Kupe, a Polynesian navigator — and is, increasingly, what New Zealanders and their lawmakers call their home.
For now, a wholesale change seems unlikely: Polls suggest voters prefer “New Zealand” or a hybrid “Aotearoa New Zealand.” But the debate speaks to a changing climate: Amid culture war debates, Maori names are gaining traction. In 2009, New Zealand’s politicians voted against creating a holiday for Matariki, the Maori New Year. In June, it was observed nationally for the first time.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
Kimjang, the act of making kimchi, connects Koreans across the diaspora. Eric Kim offers a recipe.
What to Read
Four new books re-examine World War II.
Michael Heizer’s “City,” a mysterious land art megasculpture, was revealed after 50 years.
Now Time to Play
Play today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Guacamole ingredient” (five letters).
Here are today’s Wordle and today’s Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia
P.S. Chang Che is joining The Times from SupChina to cover technology in Asia.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is about a U.S. coal miner on strike.
You can reach Amelia and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.