Your Friday Briefing: China’s Stimulus Plan

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Good morning. We’re covering China’s economic stimulus plan, President Biden’s push for war funds and extreme heat in India and Pakistan.

As China’s lockdowns continue and new infections continue to spread in Beijing, the central government has laid out a wide-ranging economic stimulus plan to staunch expected losses.

The government will subsidize businesses, pausing unemployment insurance payments if companies avoid mass layoffs, as well as electricity and internet charges. Young people graduating from college will be subsidized if they start their own businesses, since few jobs are available.

Two large, affluent ports, Shenzhen and Ningbo, have started giving residents gift certificates for shopping and dining, with a total value of $122 million. Nationwide, truck drivers will also receive more permits to bypass Covid roadblocks, and unemployed migrant workers will get government allowances.

What’s next: Xi Jinping, China’s leader, also began planning for accelerated infrastructure investments, a tactic China has historically used to fight economic slowdowns.

Beijing: On Thursday, the capital announced that it had found 56 cases in the preceding 24 hours, up from 46 reported a day earlier.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

The House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed legislation that would allow President Biden to use a World War II-era law to quickly supply weapons to Ukraine on loan.

The move came just hours after Biden addressed the nation from the White House, outlining his request to Congress to provide Ukraine with an additional $33 billion for defense and economic and humanitarian assistance.

“The cost of this fight is not cheap, but caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen,” Biden said. Here are live updates.

The U.S. is also seeking new ways to punish the wealthy Russian tycoons who surround President Vladimir Putin: Biden said he was sending Congress legislation that would make it easier to seize their yachts, airplanes and other assets. The proceeds would be used to help Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

Diplomacy: Britain said that Ukraine would be justified in using Western arms to attack military targets inside Russia. China suspended import tariffs on coal, helping Russian exports.

Analysis: Global political leaders are shifting their rhetoric to prepare their citizens for a protracted and possibly expensive struggle in Ukraine.

Accusation: A senior American diplomat said Russia had systematically detained and tortured Ukrainian officials, journalists and activists in “filtration camps” where some of them have reportedly disappeared.

State of the war:

Other updates:

  • Russia is trying to introduce the ruble in Kherson, a southern Ukrainian city it is trying to subdue.

For weeks, the Indian subcontinent has recorded above-average temperatures. Heat-related weather watches or alerts are now in effect for hundreds of millions of people.

Now, experts say, the extreme heat is about to get even worse over the weekend. In some hard-hit areas, it may be weeks before the region’s annual monsoon sweeps in to provide relief.

The heat wave poses health and logistical challenges for manual laborers, farmers, power engineers, government officials and firefighters, particularly in areas where air-conditioning is scarce. “Everything is ready to burn,” the director of fire services in New Delhi said.

Agriculture: Scorching temperatures have damaged harvests. One farmer in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan told The Times that 15 to 20 percent of the local wheat crop and half the cumin crop had been lost.

Analysis: Climate scientists say that heat waves around the world are growing more frequent, more dangerous and longer in duration. And they are certain that global warming is responsible, because baseline temperatures are higher than they were decades ago.

My colleague, Declan Walsh, spent much of the holy month of Ramadan in Sudan. At iftar meal after iftar meal, he spoke with people about the country’s economic and political instability. “We come to forget it all,” one young musician told Declan. “The heat, the electricity cuts, the protests. Here, at least, we can sing.”

Lives lived: Kenneth Tsang was a veteran Hong Kong actor known for his tough-guy supporting roles and ubiquitous hair dye advertisements. He was found dead while in hotel quarantine at 87.

Parenting was hard before the pandemic. During these past two years of lockdowns, remote school and constant fear of infection, it was even harder. Now some families are putting the kibosh on more kids.

Many parents are just exhausted: The pandemic revealed a glaring lack of structural support for families. Some got divorced. And for many, the changes wrought by the pandemic just helped clarify their limitations.

“I still mourn the feeling of possibility and hope that I once felt when I contemplated my secret dream of having a third child,” Emily Gould writes, “but I’ve come to terms with the reality of the situation: It’s a loss to acknowledge and mourn, rather than a thwarted ambition that still might find its way to fruition.”


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