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South Korea’s Outbreak, Belarus Protests, Kamala Harris: Your Monday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering a coronavirus outbreak linked to a church in South Korea, Kamala Harris’s family ties in India and the growing protests in Belarus.

President Moon Jae-in on Sunday called the crisis at the church the biggest challenge faced by health officials since an outbreak five months ago at another church in the central city of Daegu. He vowed to “take decisive actions, including coercive measures.”

A controversial church: The Sarang Jeil Church’s chief pastor has called for a public uprising to oust Mr. Moon and has been a driving force behind largely Christian conservative rallies against him in central Seoul, including one held on Saturday.

New restrictions: Over the weekend, the government tightened rules in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, barring spectators from baseball and soccer games. The authorities have the power to ban large gatherings and shut down facilities like karaoke rooms, nightclubs and buffet restaurants if they fail to enforce measures such as mask requirements.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the coronavirus outbreak.

In other developments:

  • The Australian state of Victoria has extended its state of emergency, imposed in March, until Sept. 13. Victoria, which is the center of the country’s outbreak, reported 279 new cases and 16 deaths from the virus on Sunday.

  • Britain recorded 1,040 new cases and five deaths within 24 hours, the government said Sunday. The country has now seen more than 1,000 new daily infections for six days in a row.

  • A new study found that obesity in men raises the risk of death from Covid-19, but this does not appear to be the case for women.

He instilled great confidence in Ms. Harris’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan, who went to the U.S. in the late 1950s, young and alone, and made a career as a breast cancer researcher. When Ms. Gopalan won admission to a Ph.D. program at the University of California, Berkeley (without anyone in the family knowing she had applied), P.V. Gopalan did not hesitate to pay.

Quotable: “One thing that he strongly believed in was that, whether it is a son or a daughter, they must be equally educated,” said Ms. Harris’s aunt, Sarala Gopalan, who became a well-known gynecologist. “I do not know whose influence it was, but this is how he was.”

Last visit: Ms. Harris took her mother’s ashes back to Chennai 11 years ago, after she died of cancer, and with her uncle scattered them in the waves from the very beach she used to stroll on with her grandfather. She hasn’t been back since.

Japan sees increasing risks to its security from North Korea’s expanding nuclear arsenal and China’s muscle-flexing. Other U.S. allies in the region are taking steps to bolster their defenses: Australia has announced new military spending plans for long-range missiles and South Korea negotiated a loosening of missile guidelines imposed by the U.S.

Public opinion: Half of respondents in a poll last week said that Japan should acquire weapons that could stop missile attacks before they are launched from enemy territory.

Nearly 500 abductions of children by a parent were reported last year in the U.S. In Australia, the returns of as many as 140 such children every year are sought through an international convention. But when a parent has turned to the authorities and hit a wall, a shadowy industry of “recovery agents” can step in — for a fee.

It’s risky. Our reporter followed Stuart Dempster, who turned to a private outfit in Australia after his wife took their daughter to Thailand, and also conducted nearly 50 interviews with parents, psychologists, family lawyers, law enforcement officials and child abduction agents to reveal an industry fraught with scams, botched border crossings and international arrests.

U.S. presidential campaign: With Joe Biden leading in many polls, and Democrats kicking off their convention on Monday, President Trump has heightened his attacks on mail-in voting. Mr. Trump charges, without evidence, that efforts by states to help people vote by mail during the coronavirus crisis would lead to widespread voter fraud — a claim that even some Republicans dispute.

Edward Snowden: President Trump said that he would consider pardoning the former National Security Agency contractor who faced criminal charges after leaking classified documents about vast government surveillance.

In memoriam: Aritana Yawalapiti, an Indigenous leader in Brazil who dedicated himself to protecting the environment and promoting the health of his people, died from the coronavirus. He was 71.

Snapshot: Above, anti-government demonstrators gathered in Minsk on Sunday for their biggest protest yet against President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus. The huge turnout showed that the longtime autocratic leader had failed in his efforts to intimidate opponents.

What we’re reading: This Bloomberg article, headlined “Oil Companies Wonder if It’s Worth Looking for Oil Anymore.” Andrea Kannapell, the Briefings editor, said, “I noticed it because the environmentalist and writer Bill McKibben tweeted his gratitude for ‘the work so many have done to get us to this point!’”

Do: Sneak in some exercise. Here’s your guide to kitchen counter push-ups, toothbrush squats and vacuum lunges.

At Home has our full collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

Astead W. Herndon and Alexander Burns, both national political reporters for The Times, followed Kamala Harris as a presidential candidate and are now covering her as Joe Biden’s pick for vice president. Here are some of their insights on the choice of the first Black woman and Asian-American to be the No. 2 nominee, which they discussed at a Times Event.

What was Senator Harris pitching when she entered the Democratic primary race, and how does that compare with what we saw in her and Vice President Biden’s first appearance as running mates?

Astead: She was someone who, during the course of that campaign, would go back and forth from kind of one foot in the progressive lane to a more pragmatic and moderate approach.

But when we look at this role that she’s inhabiting now, the No. 2 does not have to really make those big ideological choices that were forced upon her at the top. She’s freed of the big-picture questions that hounded her throughout the campaign. She’s able to lean into the more representational qualities. And I think that that’s part of the reason that Vice President Biden selected her.

Alex, you wrote a story last summer where you examined Harris, how she thinks about governing and what her philosophy is. What does she think the government is capable of doing?

Going back to the story, it’s pretty clear why she and Joe Biden are a political match. Her resistance to what she sees as abstractions. Her desire to square away this impulse toward inspiration and big ideas with a real skepticism about putting stuff in front of voters that is just not going to pass Congress.

But talking to people who worked with her over the years, there is this sense that she’s somebody who is comfortable in the role of an executive who is making judgment calls on a case-by-case basis as policy challenges come before her. But not somebody who is going to have some expansive integrated tapestry of all her policies and how they are supposed to feed into the moment.

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

— Carole

Thank you
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the racial reckoning in U.S. workplaces.
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