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Thailand, Coronavirus, Trump: Your Monday Briefing

The death toll in China has risen to more than 800, surpassing the 774 deaths in the SARS epidemic of 2002-3. Here are live updates.

The number of new cases appears to have stabilized, but a senior official of the World Health Organization said, “It’s very, very early to make any predictions.”

A study of early cases in Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak, suggests a single patient spread the virus far and wide in a hospital.

Blowback in China: The authoritarian system President Xi Jinping built around himself is being tested. Though he has retreated from view, it may be difficult for him to escape blame. “What kind of government is this?” asks a family of three generations sickened by the virus and desperate for care in Wuhan. The city’s natives are being ostracized across China.

In Japan: More than 2,000 passengers are confined to their cabins on the docked Diamond Princess, fearful quarantine is putting them at greater risk.

A Thai soldier killed at least 29 people and injured dozens in a 18-hour shooting rampage at a military base and a shopping mall in the city of Korat, north of Bangkok, officials said. It was the country’s deadliest mass shooting.

How it unfolded: Thailand’s prime minister said a real estate dispute sparked the rampage. On Saturday, the soldier, Sgt. Jakkrapanth Thomma, 32, shot and killed a woman known for selling real estate to military officers, along with her son-in-law, who was a superior officer from the sergeant’s command.

The gunman posted an angry message on Facebook: “Nobody can escape death. Rich from cheating and taking advantage of people … Do they think they can take money to spend in hell?”

Then he went to a military base, killed another victim and stole an arsenal of weapons, which he took to the crowded Terminal 21 shopping center on Saturday afternoon, trapping many people inside for hours. A first police raid failed, and he was killed Sunday morning.

Watch: We compiled a brief video with images from the mall.

Sunday night vigil: Hundreds of people gathered near the mall, many writing tributes to the dead. “The society nowadays has turned into this?” said a 53-year-old university lecturer. “It’s devastating. My heart can’t handle it.”

What’s next: The country faces deeper questions about what happened, the government’s response and the underlying forces that led a young man to kill so many people randomly.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who served on the National Security Council, was marched out of the White House by security officers, along with his twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, on Friday. Within hours, against the advice of a handful of Republican senators, Mr. Trump also dismissed Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union.

The firings may presage a broader effort to even accounts with the president’s perceived enemies.

Political focus: Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign is focusing on improving his image among suburban voters and others who are uneasy about his politics and behavior. Some areas are already rallying around him.

Another political force: A community of right-wing conspiracy theorists called QAnon has reached from internet obscurity into political campaigns and beyond.

Ethiopia is staking its hopes on its $4.5 billion hydroelectric dam. Egypt fears the dam will cut into its water supplies. President Trump is mediating.

Egypt has controlled the Nile for thousands of years, but that could be coming to an end. Our reporting team explores the conflict in videos, maps, photos and interviews — including one with an Egyptian farmer facing catastrophe: “Our livelihood is being destroyed, God help us.”

Antarctica: The continent reached a record high on Thursday when a research station reported a temperature of 64.9 degrees Fahrenheit, or 18.2 degrees Celsius. Climate experts see the rare heat as an effect of global warming.

Venezuela: Faced with a severe economic crisis, the country’s leader, Nicolás Maduro, is ceding daily control of many oil fields to foreign firms, as the once proud state oil company shrivels.

Soccer: A group of former executives from the governing body for soccer in Africa have accused the Cairo-based organization of financial wrongdoing, and now an audit paints an ugly picture of millions of dollars in expenditures.

Snapshot: Above, a Nenets woman with a tray of stroganina in December. Fishermen and reindeer herders in northern Siberia have long snacked on raw, frozen fish and meat.

Australia Fare: The d’Arenberg Cube in McLaren Vale, South Australia, is a zany, adult fun house whose designer wants its restaurant to be the best in the world. Sometimes, maybe it is.

What we’re reading: This essay in Essence, addressing the attacks on the broadcast journalist Gayle King after she raised the question of an old, dropped rape accusation against Kobe Bryant in the wake of his death. “The term misogynoir — the special type of hatred directed against women of color — says it all,” says the briefings editor, Andrea Kannapell.

Cook: Italian pasta and chickpea stew cooks in just one pan, and can be vegan by leaving off, or subbing, the final dusting of pecorino.

Read: “Saltwater,” a novel about a young Englishwoman questioning her place in the world, is among 10 new books we recommend.

Watch: The final season of Showtime’s “Homeland” has begun. Two of its stars, Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin, spoke to The Times about how the espionage drama has evolved.

Smarter Living: Want to improve your sleep? Our Wirecutter colleagues present hacks, tips and products that actually help in their “Five Days to Better Sleep” Challenge. (Sign up here).

Seventeen African countries shed their colonial status in 1960. Sixty years later, our archival storytelling team, Past Tense, paired photography from collections at The Times and elsewhere with writers and thinkers of African descent for a special section, “A Continent Remade.” Veronica Chambers, the editor of Past Tense, spoke with Adriana Balsamo about the project. Here are a few lightly edited excerpts from their conversation.

Can you speak to the decision to have more youthful writers be a part of the project?

We really wanted a certain dynamism to the conversation. And we thought that it would be interesting to ask youngish people who are really connected to the continent … and who have a sense of pride about it. David Adjaye, for example, spent years cataloging the architecture of Africa in a way that had never been done before. But he grew up half his life off the continent.

There’s always a period of discovery for someone who has a foot in a country, but didn’t necessarily grow up there. And especially because the countries are so young, it felt like it’d be interesting to ask these young people who in some ways really benefited from all of the good of independence — their lives were shaped by everything that came after — to look at the pictures and respond.

What is your favorite photo?

I think the mother and baby picture [with Imbolo Mbue’s essay] and the Miss Independence picture [with Luvvie Ajayi’s essay] were really important to me because those were the two I found first, in October 2018. I held onto those two pictures as a kind of proof of concept. I also love the picture at the United Nations by Sam Falk [with Mr. Adjaye’s essay]. He’s so special to the history of The Times and just to know what it must have meant for those men to be able to go and represent new nations. To say, “Our country is three months old and here we are. Let’s talk about how we fit into the rest of the world.” I think that’s pretty powerful.

What do you hope readers take away from the section?

We are really hoping that people on the continent will read the digital version, and we’ve worked really hard on the interactive. When you look at the news photographs, it was a time when very few New York Times readers would have been to the continent. And so when we look at where we are at 60 years later, there’s still a lot of people who have never been and may never go.

And I hope what readers will take from it is a sense of possibility on the continent that I believe continues to this day. A sense of beauty, a sense of community. And I hope, interest: I hope they will continue to read some of the writers we featured.

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

— Penn

Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. You can reach the team at

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