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Hong Kong, India, China: Your Monday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering a defiant show of strength in Hong Kong, bride trafficking in China and a four-legged, low-cost solution to wildfires in Portugal.

ImageCreditLam Yik Fei for The New York TimesFor Hong Kong’s protesters, a display of strength

Organizers estimated that some 1.7 million — perhaps one-fourth of the city’s total population — took to the streets on Sunday, defying a police ban and increasingly stern warnings from Beijing.

The Hong Kong police, however, said about 128,000 protesters had showed up.

The demonstration, possibly the second largest since the movement began in June, remained peaceful — a stark contrast from the violence that had broken out at previous protests.

Around the world: In dozens of other cities, including London, Toronto, Sydney, Melbourne and New York, hundreds of people also turned out over the weekend to show support for the movement in Hong Kong.

Investigation: The Times reviewed dozens of episodes in previous demonstrations involving tear gas and found that the police had at times used methods that experts describe as indiscriminate and excessive.

Beijing’s tactics: China is increasingly pressuring businesses in Hong Kong to take its side, even as their employees join the protests. The most dramatic example came on Friday, when the chief executive of Cathay Pacific Airways resigned.

ImageCreditSaumya Khandelwal for The New York TimesMillions risk losing Indian citizenship

A campaign that has forced residents of the state of Assam to prove their citizenship is putting more than four million people, most of them Muslim, at risk of being declared foreign migrants, even if they were born in India.

State authorities have already arrested hundreds of people they suspect of being foreign migrants, and are planning to build big detention camps.

The drive — scheduled to wrap at the end of the month — is yet another setback for the country’s Muslim minority and is seen as the latest manifestation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hard-line Hindu nationalist agenda. Less than two weeks ago, his government unilaterally revoked the special status of majority-Muslim Kashmir.

Background: Officials say the Assam campaign is intended to weed out undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh, forcing residents to provide hard evidence that they or their ancestors were Indian citizens before Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan in 1971.

Criticism: Some Indian intellectuals, Muslim leaders and opposition politicians say that the actions in Assam and Kashmir have undermined the country’s pluralistic, secular traditions and are redefining what it means to be Indian.

Kashmir: After two weeks of lockdown in the region, the Indian government said that schools and government offices would reopen today, with phone service to be restored gradually.

An Afghan wedding turns into a funeral

A wedding in Kabul, with thousands of guests celebrating under one roof, took a dark turn after a suicide bomber walked in. At least 63 people were killed in the blast and nearly 200 were wounded.

The Islamic State, which has established a foothold in the country, claimed responsibility for the attack and identified the bomber, suggesting that he was from neighboring Pakistan.

Even by the standards of a country hardened by years of war, this was a particularly shocking attack. Until now, weddings had remained one of the few occasions that people could enjoy.

Takeaway: The attack highlights the complexity of ongoing peace negotiations with the U.S. Afghan officials worry American officials are rushing to withdraw its troops without testing the Taliban’s ability to maintain peace and counter the threat from the Islamic State.

Terrorists turn to cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin has been used on the dark web for everything from drug purchases to money laundering, but terrorist organizations have been slow to pick up on the digital currency. Until now.

Government authorities and organizations that track terrorist financing have raised the alarm about an uptick in the number of Islamist terrorist groups that, faced with increased restrictions and economic sanctions, are experimenting with cryptocurrencies.

Case study: The military wing of Hamas, a Palestinian group that has been designated a terrorist organization, now has a sophisticated website that provides a new Bitcoin address for each potential donor and a wallet that is harder to track.

If you have 9 minutes, this is worth itTeenage brides trafficked to ChinaImageCreditMinzayar Oo for The New York Times

Because families privileged male offspring during three decades of China’s “one child” policy, the country faces a steep gender imbalance.

To cope, Chinese men have begun importing wives from Myanmar and other nearby countries, sometimes by force. A recent study estimated that about 21,000 women and girls from northern Myanmar were forced into marriage in just one province in China from 2013 to 2017, a phenomenon that experts say has been largely overlooked by law enforcement.

Here’s what else is happening

Brexit: Government documents leaked to The Times of London detail how Britain would face fuel, food and medicine shortages if it crashes out of the E.U. without a deal on Oct. 31, an outcome that Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists he will pursue if a new deal cannot be reached.

Italy: A Spanish search-and-rescue ship stranded off the coast of Italy for weeks with scores of migrants aboard is in a “full humanitarian crisis,” according to a spokeswoman. “They have been sleeping, living and doing everything on the deck, with only two bathrooms for over 100 people,” she said. “This is not human.”

Central America: Women facing an epidemic of femicide and domestic violence are fleeing Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, but the Trump administration has made it harder than ever for them to claim asylum.

Kazakhstan: A Chinese-born activist who drew attention to the indoctrination camps in Xinjiang was released after months of detention, on the condition that he stop his activism. Kazakhstan borders China and is anxious not to antagonize its far larger neighbor.

Russia: Antigovernment protesters took to the streets of Moscow for a sixth weekend, demanding that opposition candidates be allowed to run in municipal elections next month and that protesters arrested at previous demonstrations be released.

Sudan: The capital city of Khartoum erupted into celebrations after the country’s military and civilian leaders signed a landmark power-sharing deal after eight months of protests, a coup and a bloody military crackdown. A transitional government led by an economist is set to take power on Sept. 1, with the military retaining the upper hand.

ImageCreditJosé Sarmento Matos for The New York Times

Snapshot: Above, a herd of goats in Vermelhos, Portugal, nibbling at overgrown forest lands that fuel wildfires. After testing high-tech tools to combat blazes, like drones, satellites and aircraft, the government has now turned to these humble, four-legged firefighters.

Indian artifacts: New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is reviewing a number of its prized Indian antiques that track back to Subhash Kapoor, an art dealer accused of being one of the world’s most prolific smugglers of stolen artifacts.

ClassPass: Payal Kadakia, a classical Indian dancer who grew up in the U.S., came up with the idea for what has now become a global $600 million fitness app when she was frustrated by trying to find a ballet class.

What we’re reading: This article in The New Yorker. Our national food correspondent Kim Severson writes: “From the belly of Big Berry comes a pale pink strawberry. Dana Goodyear explains why the rosé berry is as much about a cultural moment as it is about deliciousness.”

Now, a break from the newsImageCreditRomulo Yanes for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Vivian Lui.

Cook: Set up a week of snacking with this recipe for lemony whipped feta.

Read: “Because Internet,” by the linguist Gretchen McCulloch, takes a look at how the online environment is changing how we communicate.

Watch: “Mission Mangal,” a movie about the female scientists at the Indian Space Research Organization, has spurred a discussion about the future of female-led Bollywood movies.

Go: At a new ryokan in Kyoto, Nazuna Kyoto Gosho, elements of the rooms’ decor are modeled after traditional Japanese desserts. It’s in T Magazine’s roundup of people, places and things to know now.

Smarter Living: You can develop your appeal to others — your charisma — by not giving in to self-doubt. Focus instead on being a warm, active participant in conversations with others. Practice by joining a public speaking class (or a local group like Toastmasters) and look for ways to show off your strengths while leveling up your weaknesses.

And we talked to to five cooking pros to get tips on how to get dinner on the table while parenting.

And now for the Back Story on …Golf and the 1 Percent

With President Trump and many other affluent players hitting the links this summer, it might seem hard to think of a time when golf wasn’t associated with the uber-rich.

However, golf’s origins are humble. Some histories look back to the Romans, others to China and others to medieval Europe, but it’s clear that commoners were playing golf in 15th-century Scotland.

ImageCreditAssociated Press

In fact, golf was so popular that it was banned to try to keep Scots focused on archery, a needed skill in wars with England.

Scotland’s King James IV, who lifted the ban in 1503, is sometimes called the first royal golfer. And the game gained popularity among the English elite when King James VI of Scotland ascended the thrones of England and Ireland in 1603. After the British Open was inaugurated in 1860, golf began spreading around the world.

Early American courses were similar to their present-day successors: Heavy membership fees and expensive accouterments — clubs, bags, attire — ensured exclusivity.

But more affordable municipal courses, run by local governments, began proliferating in the early 20th century.

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

— Alisha

Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Adenike Olanrewaju wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

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