The Russians have to wear masks
The Russian government took its boldest step yet to contain a second wave of coronavirus infections on Tuesday, mandating masks in public places across the country.
The federal health surveillance agency also asked governors to close restaurants and entertainment venues until 11 p.m. It was an unusual step; President Vladimir V. Putin had refused to take nationwide action.
The payment: Russia recorded 16,550 new cases with more than 16,000 new cases on Tuesday, the fifth day in a row. The government also reported 320 coronavirus deaths, a daily record. And the lower house of parliament released an amazing metric for its assembly representatives: 20 percent have or had the virus, and 38 members are currently being hospitalized with it.
A joint Covid-19 playbook for Trump and Bolsonaro
The coronavirus gained deadly pace when President Trump met his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro for dinner on March 7 at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
After returning to Brazil, 22 members of Mr Bolsonaro’s delegation tested positive for the virus, but he was not concerned. Mr Trump had shared a cure, Mr Bolsonaro told advisors: a box of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, the unproven treatment Mr Trump was promoting as a cure for Covid-19.
The dinner cemented a partnership based on a shared disregard for the virus.
Details: Both leaders pushed to disappoint the region’s leading health agency – the Pan American Health Organization – and evicted 10,000 Cuban doctors and nurses from impoverished areas of Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia and El Salvador. They also blocked support and pushed for false cures, which made a dire situation worse by breaking down defenses.
The Thai Prime Minister refuses to step down
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Tuesday rejected calls from opposition parties to step down at a parliamentary session he had called to discuss months of protests calling for his departure and reforms of the monarchy.
“I’m not going to run away from problems. I will not abandon my duty by resigning at a time when the country is in trouble, ”Prayuth, a former ruler of the army, told the congregation, the entire House of Lords chosen by his old junta.
The demonstrators had given Mr Prayuth a deadline to resign and had sent him a letter of resignation last week to sign. Although he has revoked an emergency decree, he doesn’t seem to move on larger issues.
Context: Tens of thousands of people have been protesting for months, demanding changes to the constitution and controls over the power of the monarchy. It began as a student-led revolt against the influence of the military on the classroom and grew into a movement with a wide variety of issues and supporters.
If you have 7 minutes, it’s worth it
Americans are buying more guns
In the United States, spikes in gun purchases are often driven by fear. Many gun buyers now say they are motivated by a new destabilizing feeling that is pushing people who viewed themselves as anti-gun opponents to buy guns – and people who already have them to buy more.
Snapshot: Above, a protest in Bangladesh on Tuesday, sparked by the comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron on Islam. Muslims have held demonstrations calling for a boycott of French goods following police raids in France after a high school teacher who was showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class was killed.
What we read: This excerpt in The New Yorker on US Health Care Reform from President Barack Obama’s upcoming memoir. “There are many fascinating details about American politics, but also some touching passages about fatherhood, the family dog and sailing,” writes Carole Landry of the Briefings Team.
Now a break from the news
Cook: This Japanese-style tuna noodle salad is served with a sweet and salty vinaigrette made from soy, sesame oil, mirin and rice vinegar.
Listen: These children’s news podcasts are perfect for young people looking for a better understanding of what adults are upset about and for parents who want to help their children learn about the world.
To do: Herbal teas can soothe and restore. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to grow brew-friendly plants at home.
We have lots of ideas and are happy to share them in our At Home collection about what to read, cook, see and do while being safe at home.
And now for the background story about …
China’s digital wallets
Most businesses in China, whether it’s the fanciest hotel or a roadside fruit stand, accept digital payments through apps, especially Alipay and WeChat. Our On Tech newsletter writer spoke to Ray Zhong about the payment apps and whether China offers a glimpse of a cashless future for the rest of us.
How did Alipay and WeChat get so popular in China?
Beam: Credit cards were never widespread in China. The country skipped a generation of funding and went straight to smartphone-based digital payments. And the apps are easy for businesses. If a company can print a QR code, it can be paid for via the app. You don’t need special machines like companies to accept credit cards or many mobile payments like Apple Pay.
What is useful about these payment apps?
China has a cumbersome state-dominated banking system. With these apps, small businesses could easily connect to a modern financial infrastructure.
I know that paying with a credit card isn’t particularly difficult, but making it a bit easier to buy has enabled different types of commerce. You probably wouldn’t buy anything for 50 cents on Instagram with your credit card, but people in China buy digital books chapter by chapter.
How has the Chinese government reacted to these two apps and created a financial system that is beyond their explicit control?
The government was observant. The fees that Alipay and WeChat merchants can charge are limited. And where the apps make their real money – lending out and selling investments – the government wants to make sure borrowers don’t get undermined and mutual funds don’t take undue risk.
Alipay and WeChat are now consciously saying that they are partners of banks and not competitors.
That’s it for this briefing. Until next time.
Thank you very much
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]
• We listen to “The Daily”. Our final episode is about what we learned from the last competitive US election.
• Here is our mini crossword and clue: word in four US state names (three letters). You can find all of our puzzles here.
• Carolyn Ryan, director of the Times’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative, has been promoted to assistant editor-in-chief.