New Zealand gunman to face victims at sentencing
The sentencing hearing for Brenton Tarrant, the Australian former fitness instructor who killed 51 people and wounded 40 last year at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, will begin on Monday.
The Christchurch courtroom where the proceedings will take place over four days will be filled with people whose lives he sought to destroy in an act of hate and terrorism unlike anything the country had ever seen.
At least 66 survivors plan to deliver victim’s statements, either read aloud or submitted in writing. Mr. Tarrant, who has pleaded guilty to murder, attempted murder and terrorism, may have the opportunity to address the families of the victims.
He is expected to be sentenced to life in prison, possibly without the eligibility for parole.
A message: Wasseim Alsati, 36, a barber who was shot along with his daughter Alen, 6, at the Al Noor mosque, said he wanted to give Mr. Tarrant a message: “You didn’t break us.”
“I want to feel the law, to feel my rights,” he added. “It will be so much rehab for myself, mentally and emotionally, to be able to see what the sentencing decision will be.”
China gets back to normal. Is it too soon?
While the U.S. and much of the world are still struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic, life in many parts of China has in recent weeks become strikingly normal.
Cities have relaxed rules on social distancing and mask wearing. Crowds are again filling tourist sites, movie theaters and gyms. “It no longer feels like there is something too frightful or too life-threatening out there,” said Xiong Xiaoyan, who works at a paint manufacturer in the southern province of Guangdong.
But experts warn that China could still face a Covid-19 resurgence, especially as the weather cools and people spend more time indoors. Some people in China are worried that the public is becoming too dismissive of the virus.
Details: On Sunday, China reported no new locally transmitted cases for the seventh consecutive day. The 12 new infections it reported were all imported, bringing China’s total number of reported cases to 84,951, with at least 4,634 deaths from the virus in a population of 1.4 billion people. The Central American nation of Panama, with just over four million people, has reported similar numbers of cases and deaths.
Watch: In Wuhan, China, where the outbreak first emerged, the city celebrated with a huge pool party this month.
In other developments:
Stalled Afghan peace talks and a capital under siege
With peace talks to end Afghanistan’s long war stalled, the Taliban are sparing Kabul, the capital, from major attacks. Instead, they appear to be carrying out frequent, smaller assaults there that the country’s security forces seem unable to control.
“The city has taken on an air of slow-creeping siege,” our correspondents write.
Shifting strength: The Taliban have long had a quiet presence in the districts to the south and southeast of Kabul, but in recent months they have become more open. They have also raised their profile in districts north of the capital, forcing many government employees to move their families.
Sticking point:President Ashraf Ghani said in early August that the government would free its last 400 Taliban prisoners, but only 80 have so far been released. Afghan officials said France and Australia had opposed the release of prisoners accused of involvement in attacks that killed their citizens.
If you have 8 minutes, this is worth it
Facebook smears drive an activist out of Cambodia
Luon Sovath, above, a Buddhist monk who spent decades fighting for human rights in Cambodia was forced to leave the country after videos appeared on a fake Facebook page claiming that he had slept with three sisters and their mother. A New York Times investigation found evidence that government employees were involved in creating and posting the videos.
The smear campaign shows how repressive governments can use social media and technology to sabotage opponents with stunning speed.
Here’s what else is happening
U.S. presidential campaign: After the Democrats’ convention, it’s the Republicans’ turn in the spotlight. Preparations are underway for their national convention to renominate President Trump as their candidate in the November election. The convention begins on Monday night Eastern time.
Trump tapes: President Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, describes him as a liar who has “no principles” in a series of audio recordings made by her niece Mary Trump.
TikTok: The app’s owner, the Chinese internet company ByteDance, said it would sue the U.S. government, arguing that President Trump’s moves to block the app had deprived it of due process and claiming it had been incorrectly treated as a security threat.
Snapshot: Above, a completely burned mobile home park in Spanish Flat, Calif., on Sunday. California wildfires have forced the evacuation of at least 119,000 people from their homes. Fire officials are worried they will get worse if lightning storms roll through the area in the coming days. The state governor has asked for help from Australia.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 17, 2020
Why does standing six feet away from others help?
- The coronavirus spreads primarily through droplets from your mouth and nose, especially when you cough or sneeze. The C.D.C., one of the organizations using that measure, bases its recommendation of six feet on the idea that most large droplets that people expel when they cough or sneeze will fall to the ground within six feet. But six feet has never been a magic number that guarantees complete protection. Sneezes, for instance, can launch droplets a lot farther than six feet, according to a recent study. It’s a rule of thumb: You should be safest standing six feet apart outside, especially when it’s windy. But keep a mask on at all times, even when you think you’re far enough apart.
I have antibodies. Am I now immune?
- As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.
I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?
- The stimulus bills enacted in March offer help for the millions of American small businesses. Those eligible for aid are businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 workers, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The help being offered, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. But lots of folks have not yet seen payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting on money they don’t know how to use. Many small-business owners are getting less than they expected or not hearing anything at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
What we’re reading: This piece on coronavirus “long-haulers” in The Atlantic. Hilary Stout, a science editor, explains: “Long-haulers are patients who have suffered continuing debilitative effects from the virus for months. Many of them are previously healthy, younger women. It’s sobering.”
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Our food columnist Melissa Clark decided that this pandemic was the ideal time to come up with a poundcake recipe of her own. This crème fraîche poundcake is the result.
Taste: There’s more to German wine than riesling. A whole other Germany exists, of myriad reds, rosés and whites.
Do: Lockdowns and other coronavirus-related restrictions are wearing people down. Creating healthy boundaries is the antidote.
We’re here to help you cope. At Home has many more ideas for keeping yourself and your loved ones entertained, fed and sane during the pandemic.
And now for the Back Story on …
A music critic’s vacation: Too quiet
At the end of August, Anthony Tommasini, our chief classical music critic, usually takes a two-week vacation to refresh his ears before the fall season of concerts. But this year, everything stopped in mid-March. Here’s a taste of what he wrote about his time off.
Rather than enjoying the quiet, I’m yearning for music.
The shutdowns have been devastating for American classical music, given its dependence on patronage, which has been eroding of late, and the lack of meaningful government support, which still props up institutions in Europe.
This year’s cancellations have prodded institutions and artists to release a flood of online programming, intensifying our dependence on these audio and video resources.
Yet I worry that people will grow digitally distant from what is, for me and for many, a defining element of classical music: the sheer, sensual pleasure of being immersed in natural (that is, not electronically enhanced) sound, when a piece is performed by gifted artists in an acoustically vibrant space.
My feelings about the difference between live and online music were captured in a blunt tweet this month from the young, adventurous pianist and composer Conrad Tao. “I’m referring,” he wrote, “to two upcoming prerecorded video performances as ‘shows,’ slightly facetiously, but also they definitely aren’t ‘concerts’ as I see it (‘concert’ as in agreement to be ‘in concert with’), ‘shows’ in the television sense. We’re production companies now.”
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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• Coverage in The Times won seven awards from the New York Press Club, including work from Metro and Science, and our Culture Desk’s articles on the final season of “Game of Thrones.”