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We’re covering India’s tightening grip on the internet, the global impact of a disease ravaging China’s pigs and lessons from Bill Clinton’s impeachment.
India targets the internet, again
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is increasingly employing a tactic used by authoritarians, not democracies, to stifle dissent.
India severed connectivity 93 times this year alone and 134 times last year, more than any other country, according to a monitoring group. The closest competitor, Pakistan, had 12 shutdowns last year.
Last week, the authorities in the northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura shut down the web after protests against a new citizenship law that will ease the path of non-Muslim migrants. And Kashmiris have not had internet access since August.
Source: SFLC.in, a legal advocacy group in New Delhi, tracked India’s shutdowns since 2012 using reports from journalists, advocacy groups and citizens.
Government explanation: The authorities say they are trying to stop the spread of misinformation, which can outpace their efforts to control it.
Big picture: The shutdowns are part of the tightening grip of the Modi administration, which has jailed hundreds of Kashmiris without charges, intimidated journalists, arrested intellectuals and suppressed negative economic reports. Critics say Mr. Modi is chipping away at India’s traditions of democracy and secularism.
Why China didn’t stop swine fever
The disease ravaging China’s pigs, known as African swine fever, has now spread to nine other Asian countries, wiping out roughly one-quarter of the world’s supply and hitting consumer pocketbooks not only in China but around the globe.
What stops the spread is persuading farmers to immediately cull any infected pigs and dispose of them properly, far from living pigs.
But Chinese officials, facing a domestic industry of millions of small traditional pig farms, required farmers to jump through hoops to get compensation from cash-poor local governments. That frugal approach undercut compliance and may have allowed the disease to spread.
Impact: In China, rising pork prices are lifting overall food prices, as well as changing diets and cooking practices. The country’s purchases of foreign pork are driving up the price for live hogs in the U.S., Europe and around the globe.
Prices for alternatives have also risen, pushing up overall meat prices in international commodity markets nearly 20 percent in the last year. Brazil is ramping up beef and chicken production, partly by burning forests in the Amazon to clear land for agriculture.
What is African swine fever? It’s a viral infection that causes pigs to hemorrhage internally. There is no known vaccine or cure. It can spread through contact between animals or through infected pig products. It doesn’t affect humans, but they can carry it.
Lessons from an impeachment past
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote to make President Trump the third president in the nation’s history to be impeached. The fight in Congress has reached bitter heights.
Four Times journalist recalled covering the second of those three impeachments — that of Bill Clinton for lying under oath. They recounted much that is relevant today, including endless reporting and Washington’s intense partisanship.
“It was brutal and so far from governing,” said Alison Mitchell, now a Times assistant managing editor, recalling when the investigation of Mr. Clinton’s affair with a White House intern inspired questions and inquiries into other politicians’ sex lives. “It felt like the two parties were practicing mutually assured destruction,” she said.
But the Clinton administration still had news briefings every day, unlike the current administration. “There is much more hostility now toward the media on the part of some lawmakers,” observed Carl Hulse, now our chief Washington correspondent.
Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent, said: “We thought it was the most partisan, most divisive era we could ever imagine. Today, that seems almost quaint.” (Mr. Baker also disclosed that he met his wife, Susan Glasser, during the investigation. She was his editor.)
If you have 4 minutes, this is worth it
One of the world’s most dire places
Our San Francisco bureau chief is a veteran foreign correspondent, whose reporting took him to refugee camps and other desperate makeshift housing around the world. And yet he was unprepared for the drastic filth and chaos in California’s homeless camps, which the U.N. has compared to the slums in India, Pakistan, Brazil and Mexico.
He and a photographer spent three months, at all hours and in all weather, talking to dozens of residents of a homeless encampment in Oakland. Many fled natural disasters, and all are afraid of being pushed out, with nowhere to go.
Here’s what else is happening
China: The country commissioned its second aircraft carrier, part of President Xi Jinping’s ambitious drive to turn China into a naval power.
India-U.S. relations: Officials from both countries will meet in Washington, where they hope to build agreements on defense training and security technology. But one topic is unlikely to gain as much traction: India’s citizenship bill, which the U.S. has been notably muted about.
The Vatican: Pope Francis issued a document abolishing the high levels of secrecy the Roman Catholic Church had applied to sexual abuse accusations against clerics, ending a policy critics said had shielded them from criminal punishment. But, crucially, the document does not require church officials to turn over information about abuse claims to the authorities.
Uber: Moving to stem losses after its disappointing initial public offering in May, the company is in talks to sell its food-delivery business in India to a rival there, Zomato.
Goldman Sachs: Regulators in the U.S. have barred a former partner from working in the industry for more than a year. The banker, Tim Leissner, pleaded guilty to helping orchestrate the looting of billions of dollars from a sovereign wealth fund in Malaysia known as 1MDB.
Pakistan: Pervez Musharraf, the country’s former military dictator, was sentenced to death in a treason case. He is in self-imposed exile in Dubai and unlikely to return to Pakistan.
Snapshot: Above, a school in Nagoro, Japan, which was closed after the last two students, depicted as dolls, grew up. A resident of the village helped produce 350 such dolls, which outnumber human residents by more than 10 to 1. The effects of Japan’s shrinking, aging population are felt most intensely in rural regions.
52 Places traveler: In his latest dispatch, our columnist visits the Paparoa Track, a new hiking trail in New Zealand where alpine forests and craggy peaks give way to dense rainforest.
What we’re watching: This profile of the veteran Times photographer Doug Mills on “CBS This Morning,” which has been repeatedly shared by Times reporters who have worked with him. “A journalist deeply deserving of accolades,” tweeted our White House correspondent Maggie Haberman.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Weeknight fish shouldn’t be boring, so roast salmon with chile and honey.
Watch: What if the future of TV were delightful, irresistible, meme-able versions of intellectual property you already loved … forever? Call it the Baby Yoda effect.
Listen: Esperanza Spalding upset Justin Bieber at the Grammys, #MeToo shook the scene and Jason Moran made giant leaps. Here are 10 definitive moments in jazz in the past decade.
Smarter Living: The Golden Rule applies digitally. Email unto others as you would have them email you.
And now for the Back Story on …
Avoiding a government shutdown
The U.S. government is scrambling to avert a government shutdown, nearly a year to the day after the longest one in U.S. history. We asked our Washington reporter Emily Cochrane to explain how Republicans and Democrats, in a week of stark, bipartisan division over impeachment proceedings, could come together to agree on measures that had separated them.
The president is expected to sign two funding packages this week that would prevent the government from shutting down after 11:59 p.m. on Friday, an embarrassing and costly prospect. Congress unveiled the legislation — more than 2,000 pages of text — on Monday, and the House advanced both packages less than 24 hours after receiving the documents.
The legislation tackles a wide range of issues. The lawmakers are working to accomplish as much as possible before they head to holiday recess on Friday — spending bills on Tuesday, impeachment on Wednesday, sweeping revisions to the North American trade pact on Thursday.
It’s the threat of a costly government shutdown, coupled with the desire to leave on time with some notable legislative accomplishments, that is pushing the two sides closer together.
Members of Congress have jokingly compared the flurry of seemingly random legislative demands, like raising the tobacco purchase age to 21, to adding a couple of extra ornaments on the Christmas tree.
Some called it the last train leaving the station.
That’s it for this briefing. Hope you make your train.
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected].
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