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Your Monday Briefing

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Your Monday Briefing
Monday, Nov 23, 2020 | View in browser

Good morning.

We’re covering a jump in new coronavirus cases in Japan and South Korea, the rise of a media star from Hong Kong who peddles virus misinformation and a kimchi renaissance.

By Carole Landry
On the streets of Tokyo last week.    Issei Kato/Reuters

Worrisome spikes in Asia

The coronavirus pandemic is taking a bad turn in parts of Asia. Cases are climbing quickly in Japan and South Korea, which had long managed to avoid the worst. And because Hong Kong is grappling with a spike, a plan for a travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore has been put on hold.
Japan has had its worst-ever jump in new cases, breaking records on four consecutive days, with at least 2,508 new cases on Sunday. Its previous worst spike dropped off after peaking at nearly 2,000 cases in early August.
South Korea has had a smaller increase, with five straight days of more than 300 cases. Last week new restrictions were announced for Seoul and surrounding areas, including limiting the number of people at events like concerts, conferences and festivals to 100.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:

■ Despite surging cases in almost every state and warnings from officials, tens of millions of Americans are expected to travel by road and airplane during the Thanksgiving holiday.

■ The French agriculture ministry said on Sunday that 1,000 minks had been slaughtered at a farm south of Paris after some of the animals tested positive for the virus, and that minks were being tested at two other farms.

Dr. Li-Meng Yan’s interview on Tucker Carlson’s show in September racked up at least 8.8 million views online. Facebook and Instagram flagged it as false information.  Fox News

Coronavirus and the rise of a right-wing media star

Dr. Li-Meng Yan, a researcher in Hong Kong, became a right-wing media sensation after appearing in the U.S. on Fox News to make the unsubstantiated claim that the coronavirus was a bioweapon manufactured by China.
How it happened: Two increasingly allied groups that peddle misinformation collaborated on Dr. Yan’s rise. One is a small but active corner of the Chinese diaspora, the other the highly influential far right in the U.S.
The players: Guo Wengui, a fugitive Chinese billionaire, and Stephen Bannon, a former adviser to Mr. Trump, have been on a mission for years to, as they put it, bring down the Chinese Communist Party. They put Dr. Yan on a plane to the U.S., gave her a place to stay, coached her on media appearances and helped her secure interviews with popular conservative television hosts.
President Trump with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the White House in September.  Doug Mills/The New York Times

Trump’s gifts to Israel

The U.S. decision to lift the parole restrictions on Jonathan Pollard, the American convicted of spying for Israel in the 1980s, will free him to move to Israel, where he is viewed as a hero. It is also one of the many gifts from the Trump administration to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.
President Trump’s treatment of Mr. Netanyahu has been nothing short of lavish, our Jerusalem bureau chief writes.
Mr. Trump broke sharply with his predecessors’ approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, taking Israel’s side. His Middle East team piled pressure on the Palestinians to get them to consider a lopsided peace proposal, then brokered accords for Israel with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan — deals that shattered Arab solidarity behind the Palestinian cause.
Pollard history: A former Navy intelligence analyst, Jonathan Pollard served 30 years in a U.S. prison for stealing American secrets during the Cold War. His case, which the Justice Department addressed on Friday, had long been a sore point in the relations between the two countries. The U.S. continues to view Mr. Pollard, 66, as a traitor who did huge amounts of damage.

If you have 8 minutes, this is worth it

Stalin’s ‘Road of Bones’

Emile Ducke for The New York Times
The Kolyma Highway in the Russian Far East once delivered tens of thousands of prisoners to the work camps of Stalin’s gulag. But for many Russians, including former prisoners, the horrors of the gulag are fading.
Our reporter and photographer drove along the highway to the remote settlements that are now shrinking and in ruins. “Everything here is built on bones,” said Andrey Kolyadin, a regional official.
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Here’s what else is happening

U.S. elections: President Trump’s legal efforts to challenge election results in Pennsylvania were met with defeat and a sharp judicial rebuke on Saturday, and some fellow Republicans began to acknowledge that he had lost both the state and his bid for re-election.
Afghanistan talks: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in Qatar with Afghan and Taliban negotiators who are trying to break a deadlock in their stalled peace negotiations. On Saturday, a rocket attack in Kabul killed at least eight people and the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.
G20: A closing statement released on Sunday by the Group of 20 summit served as perhaps the Trump presidency’s final reminder of the wide gulf between the U.S. and its allies on handling global threats like the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
Pompeii discovery: Excavations at a suburban villa outside the ancient city frozen in time by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius nearly 2,000 years ago have recovered the remains of two dwellers, tentatively identified as a wealthy landowner and a younger enslaved person.
Jun Michael Park for The New York Times
Snapshot: Above, kimchi lessons for the Shin Tae-sook family in Goesan. November is kimchi-making season, but in the age of meal kits and on-demand grocery delivery, the tradition is in decline. Some families have started making pilgrimages to the countryside where they can learn how to prepare it on their own.
What we’re watching: The Guardian’s video report on North Korean women working in Chinese factories producing P.P.E. for export worldwide. It’s a chilling look at what may amount to modern slavery.

Now, a break from the news

Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times
Cook: The key to mastering a basic French omelet is controlling the heat so the eggs do not brown, and whisking the eggs in the skillet so they set on the exterior but remain fluffy inside.
Read: Our editors from the Book Review have released this year’s list of 100 notable books, spanning every genre, to help you select your bedside reading for the coming months.
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