Your Tuesday Briefing

Tens of thousands of farmers blocked New Delhi roads.

By Melina Delkic and Dani Blum

Good morning.

We’re covering a growing farmers’ rebellion in India, North Korea’s dwindling trade with China and a gender gap in British youth sports.

India’s farmers rise up

Tens of thousands of farmers have blocked roads into New Delhi in recent days to protest new pro-market agricultural policies. A standoff is taking hold in the capital.

The farmers arrived in tractors and trailers, some traveling from hundreds of miles away. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s top lieutenants said they were willing to negotiate — but not until the farmers moved to New Delhi’s outskirts and stopped blocking highways. The farmers insist they will not move their tractors or trailers until negotiations start, and have vowed to stay put for weeks.

New rules: The farm policies pushed through Parliament in September are the beginning of the end of a decades-old system that had guaranteed minimum prices for certain crops. The Modi administration hopes they will encourage investment, but farmers say they were never consulted.

Context: In India, more than 60 percent of the population depends on agriculture to make a living. Farmers are a huge political constituency. The first protests started in July, in Haryana and in Punjab.

Virus squeezes North Korea’s economy

The coronavirus pandemic has slashed the country’s trade with China, its only major trading partner. Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, “harshly criticized” his government agencies for their handling of the economy, state media reported on Monday.

According to customs data released by Beijing, North Korea’s imports from China from January to October plummeted by 76 percent. In October, North Korea’s imports from China dropped by nearly 99 percent from the previous month.

Mr. Kim all but sealed North Korea’s borders with China​ earlier this year. North Korea insists that it has not registered a single case of the virus, but outsiders remain skeptical.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

The drugmaker Moderna said it would apply this week to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorize its coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. The first injections may be given as early as Dec. 21 if the process goes smoothly and approval is granted, the company’s chief executive said.

By the end of the third week of England’s second national lockdown, which began early this month, the number of new coronavirus cases had fallen 30 percent, according to new data.

Hong Kong courts at risk of losing authority

As the Chinese Communist Party extends its grip over Hong Kong, pro-Beijing forces are increasingly targeting the city’s independent judiciary.

State newspapers have claimed the judges are lenient toward protesters. Party officials have called for an overhaul of the courts. The city’s leadership has exerted more influence over the selection of judges.

The national security law that Beijing passed this summer gives the state even more authority over Hong Kong’s courts. China’s legislature also forced the ouster of four lawmakers in November, exercising new powers that some lawyers and legal scholars worry could be turned against judges.

If you have 7 minutes, this is worth it

‘An extreme level of teacher burnout’

In the U.S., teachers have been at the center of a debate about reopening schools — often vilified for challenging it, sometimes praised for trying to make it work. But the debate has often missed just how thoroughly the coronavirus pandemic has upended learning in the country’s 130,000 schools.

Our reporter spoke with educators about the immense challenges. “The days where it’s 13-plus hours at school, you’re just exhausted, hoping to make it to the car at night,” said an English teacher toggling between online and in-person learning. “We’re seeing an extreme level of teacher burnout.”

Here’s what else is happening

Tokyo Stock Exchange: The president and chief executive of the exchange, Koichiro Miyahara, resigned on Monday. His decision comes two months after a technical glitch at the exchange shut down equities trading across Japan.

Australian anger at China: Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday denounced what he called a fabricated image posted to Twitter by a Chinese official that showed an Australian soldier with a knife to the throat of an Afghan child. The provocation raised hostilities between the two nations to a new boil.

Pro-Trump dissidents: Human rights defenders in Asia are worried that President-elect Joe Biden will be more accommodating with China than President Trump. Mr. Trump’s popularity is particularly strong among Christians and ethnic minority activists in Southeast Asia.

New Zealand volcano: The country’s workplace safety regulator charged 13 parties, including government agencies, organizations and individuals, in connection with last year’s volcanic eruption on White Island that killed 22 people.

Snapshot: Above, Philip Gill with his daughters playing football in Padiham, England. Mr. Gill started a petition calling for equal treatment of boys and girls teams during lockdown. Lockdowns have exacerbated gender inequalities in English youth clubs, where boys play on while girls at their level have to stay home.

What we’re reading: This article in Stuff in which the New Zealand media giant looks at the racist portrayal of the Maori people in its newspapers. It’s a gripping and thought-provoking accounting.

Now, a break from the news

Cook: Use cast-iron cookie stamps to leave imprints on these beautifully textured citrus shortbreads, flavored with tangy orange and lemon zests.

Read: “The Story of Babar” and a complete guide to the periodic table of elements are on the gift-giving list of our children’s books editor. Adults will love them too.

Do: Give someone the gift of healthy living this year with one of these gift ideas from the writers and editors of Well.

December is already here. At Home has ideas on what to read, cook, watch, and do while staying safe at home.

And now for the Back Story on …

Paul McCartney’s lockdown album

The singer-songwriter used his time spent indoors during the pandemic to record a new album, “McCartney III,” with him playing nearly all the instruments and handling all the production. It’s out Dec. 18. He spoke to our columnist David Marchese.

“At no point,” McCartney said, “did I think: ‘I’m making an album. I’d better be serious.’ This was more like: ‘You’re locked down. You can do whatever the hell you want.’” Which was a gas, as always. “What I’m amazed with,” McCartney explained, “is that I’m not fed up with music. Because, strictly speaking, I should have gotten bored years ago.”

Is there anything different about the nature of your musical gift today at 78 than in 1980 or 1970 or when you first started writing songs?

It’s the story that you’re telling. That changes. When I first said to John, “I’ve written a few songs,” they were simple. My first song was called “I Lost My Little Girl” — four chords. Then we went into the next phase of songwriting, which was talking to our fans. Those were songs like “Thank You Girl,” “Love Me Do,” “Please Please Me.” Then came a rich vein as we got more mature, with things like “Let It Be,” “The Long and Winding Road.”

But basically I think it’s all the same, and you get lucky sometimes. Like, “Let It Be” came from a dream where my mother had said that phrase. “Yesterday” came from a dream of a melody. I’m a great believer in dreams. I’m a great rememberer of dreams.

The Beatles broke up 50 years ago. You were in it for roughly 10 years. How central to your own story of your life are those 10 years?

Very. It’s like your high school memories — those are my Beatles memories. This is the danger: At a dinner party, I am liable to tell stories about my life, and people already know them. I can see everyone stifling a yawn. But the Beatles are inescapable.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Melina and Dani

Thank you
Carole Landry helped write this briefing. Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected].

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about when and how people will get vaccinated.
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