Your Monday Briefing

We’re overlaying a go to to Afghanistan by President Biden’s protection secretary and India’s race to comprise a second wave of the coronavirus.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin landed in Kabul on Sunday morning, turning into the first member of President Biden’s cabinet to set foot in the country, which is dwelling to America’s longest conflict.

The journey comes at a pivotal time: The U.S. is tentatively set to withdraw its forces from the nation on May 1. Mr. Biden stated in an interview final week that meeting the deadline would be “tough.” He has not introduced any particular plans concerning the pullout.

Mr. Austin’s arrival in Kabul got here on Nowruz, the Persian new 12 months — a date on which the Islamic State in Afghanistan had pledged to hold out assaults. So the journey was meant to stay confidential till two hours after he left, however native reporters broke information of his go to after he met with the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani.

The stakes: A U.S. withdrawal may enhance the danger of a takeover of the country’s key cities by the Taliban. Asked concerning the issues Afghans may need over a pullout, Mr. Austin stated: “We’ve done a lot to work with the Afghan security forces. And I don’t want to speculate about what could happen or what could not happen going forward.”

The numbers: Roughly 3,500 U.S. troops at the moment are stationed in Afghanistan. American troops have had a steady presence within the nation since 2001.

The coronavirus is again rippling across India. Confirmed infections have risen to about 31,600 every day from a low of about 9,800 in February. In a latest two-week interval, deaths from the virus shot up by 82 percent.

The outbreak is centered on the state of Maharashtra, dwelling to Mumbai. Entire districts have gone again into lockdown. Scientists are investigating whether or not a brand new pressure discovered within the state is extra virulent, like variants present in Britain, South Africa and Brazil.

Officials are beneath stress to aggressively ramp up testing and vaccination, particularly in Mumbai. Stepping up vaccinations in India may have an effect globally. India is an important hyperlink within the vaccine provide chain: It has given away or offered tens of millions of doses to other countries, even because it struggles to vaccinate its personal individuals.

The overseas minister has stated that the supply of vaccines in India will decide what number of doses go abroad. India’s sluggish vaccination marketing campaign has additionally been affected by public skepticism.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In different developments:

The Chinese authorities has upended the political panorama in Hong Kong. Its plan to drastically overhaul the native electoral system, by demanding absolute loyalty from candidates operating for workplace, is leaving factions throughout the political spectrum wondering what participation, if any, is still possible.

Moderates aren’t positive they might move Beijing’s litmus take a look at, and opposition leaders are unsure about whether or not they’ll attempt to subject candidates once more. The adjustments are additionally more likely to slash the variety of straight elected seats within the native legislature, that means the vast majority of lawmakers can be picked by authorities allies.

Quotable: “If we continue to participate in this game, it’s like we’re accepting what they’re doing,” stated a pro-democracy activist. “That would make me feel like an accomplice.”

Context: The adjustments to the voting system sign the gutting of a promise that has been central to Hong Kong since its return to Chinese management in 1997: that its residents would some day get to decide on their very own leaders, moderately than being topic to the whims of London or Beijing.

Chandro Tomar could appear like a typical Indian grandmother, however she’s something however: At 89, she’s believed to be the oldest professional sharpshooter in the world, and he or she has dozens of medals to point out for it. She’s additionally a feminist icon in India.

In memoriam: Nawal el Saadawi, an Egyptian creator, activist and doctor who grew to become an emblem of the wrestle for ladies’s rights within the patriarchal Arab world and campaigned towards feminine genital mutilation. She was 89.

Caity Weaver, a member of The Times’s Styles desk, ventured to Santa Fe, N.M., to attempt Equus, a horse expertise that has an extended record of well-known shoppers like Bette Midler and Jeff Bezos. The program’s web site encourages shoppers to “imagine creating the life you really deserve.” In a latest dialog, she reflected on her experience as she researched a story on whether we can learn something from horses.

What do you know about Equus earlier than you arrived in Santa Fe?

Not a lot. They purposely don’t have quite a lot of pictures on their web site. The founders instructed me that they don’t need individuals coming in with a particular concept of what their expertise will probably be like, as a result of then if it really works out in a different way, shoppers could possibly be upset.

So what elevated it to “I need to try this”?

One factor you at all times surprise with attention-grabbing experiences is, Is anybody really paying to do that? And usually, the reply isn’t any. But the consumer record was so spectacular — Margaret Atwood, Microsoft, quite a lot of different names I acknowledged. So I used to be curious to go and get out of it, presumably, no matter they have been getting out of it. I’d love for my life to be nearly as good as Bette Midler’s — I believe.

What’s one thing enjoyable or surprising you realized?

Candace Croney, a professor of animal habits and well-being at Purdue University, instructed me to think about horses the best way you consider a cat — they’re not like a canine, who needs to be with you and needs consideration. A horse doesn’t actually wish to be the principle factor — perhaps it needs to be petted and stroked, perhaps it doesn’t. I didn’t study that earlier than I went, but when I ever meet one other horse, I’ll simply consider it like a giant cat.

That’s it for right now’s briefing. See you subsequent time. — Carole

P.S. The New York Times Climate Hub, a 10-day occasion that includes dwell journalism, thought management and motion on local weather change, will probably be held alongside the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Scotland this November.

The newest episode of “The Daily” is concerning the profession of New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo.

You can attain Carole and the crew at

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