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Big Tech Hearings, Vietnam Outbreak, Sheep Shortage: Your Thursday Briefing

2020-07-29 23:27:57
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Good morning.

We’re covering Big Tech executives on the defensive, Vietnam’s mysterious surge in cases and a troubling trend in Latin American democracies.

What we’re listening to: This episode of “This American Life,” on figuring out how to be apart. “We’re all learning how to be alone during the pandemic, and the one thing we can take comfort in is that everyone is in that same boat,” writes Remy Tumin, a journalist on the Briefings team. She listened to this episode while on a solo walk around her neighborhood.

Cook: These beef short rib rice bowls, inspired by galbi, the Korean barbecued short ribs, take a sharp turn away from the traditional sweet, fruity treatment and instead skew savory, with warm spices like cumin, coriander and turmeric.

Read: Tana French has written seven novels, with an eighth due in October. All set in Ireland, the novels pull you way down rabbit holes and are haunting diversions, writes our literary critic, who has put together a guide for how to read her.

Watch: Even though they were made before the pandemic, three new bold and chilling horror movies, all directed by women, have a kind of topical resonance now, with plots that deal with contagion and isolation.

At Home has our full collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch, and do.

Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean were part of a Times reporting team that broke the story of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a secret unit of the Pentagon investigating unidentified flying objects, and they’ve been following the program ever since. Here’s an excerpt from what they wrote about covering U.F.O.s.

We’re often asked by well-meaning associates and readers, “Do you believe in U.F.O.s?” The question sets us aback as being inappropriately personal. But in this case we have no problem responding, “No, we don’t believe in U.F.O.s.”

And to be clear: U.F.O.s don’t mean aliens. Unidentified means we don’t know what they are, only that they demonstrate capabilities that do not appear to be possible through currently available technology.

Our previous stories were relatively easy to document with Department of Defense videos of U.F.O.s and pilot eyewitness accounts backed up by Navy hazard reports of close encounters with small speeding objects.

But our latest article provided a more daunting set of challenges, since we dealt with the possible existence of retrieved materials from U.F.O.s. We were provided a series of unclassified slides showing that the program took this seriously enough to include it in numerous briefings. One slide says one of the program’s tasks was to “arrange for access to data/reports/materials from crash retrievals of A.A.V.’s,” or advanced aerospace vehicles.

Our sources told us that “A.A.V.” does not refer to vehicles made in any country — not Russian or Chinese — but is used to mean technology in the realm of the truly unexplained.


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

— Melina


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].

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the Trump administration’s confrontation with China.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: ___ x gravity x height = potential energy (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Farah Stockman moves from the newsroom to the Opinion side as a writer covering foreign policy and national affairs.

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