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TikTok, Coronavirus, Spearfishing: Your Tuesday Briefing

2020-08-04 03:16:05
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President Trump gave the go-ahead on Monday for Microsoft to hold negotiations on a potential blockbuster deal to purchase the Chinese-owned video app’s operations in the U.S.

Mr. Trump had threatened to ban TikTok in the U.S. because of the app’s Chinese ownership, which he has called a possible threat to national security.

Tech on notice: ByteDance, the Chinese social media giant behind TikTok, took ample precautions in its drive to become a global company. TikTok was made unavailable in China so that the app’s users wouldn’t be subject to the Communist Party’s censorship requirements. User data was stored in Virginia and Singapore.

But suspicion never dissipated that TikTok might be unable to withstand pressure from Beijing. Similar doubts hang over many other Chinese tech companies. TikTok’s sudden change of fortunes could force them to re-evaluate their own international ambitions.

Snapshot: Above, Tropical Storm Isaias is churning off the Florida coast. Forecasters said the storm will return to hurricane strength before reaching the Carolinas, where it could hit during a spike in coronavirus cases.

What we’re reading: This article in GQ on the power of the Sultans. “This story about the country’s best wedding band is what we need right now,” writes Matt Apuzzo, our reporter based in Brussels.

Cook: This poundcake is nothing fancy, with a result equally befitting a school bake sale or a fancy dinner party.

Read: Stephenie Meyer’s retelling of “Twilight,” Isabel Wilkerson’s examination of American racism, a biography of the drug kingpin El Chapo — here are 13 books to watch for in August.

Do: For many of us, 2020 will not be known for road trips, amusement parks or lakeside retreats. But families are finding small yet meaningful ways to escape, have fun during staycations and experience something new.

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

When travel restrictions began to lock people in place all around the world, our editors on the Travel desk launched a new visual series called The World Through a Lens. The idea was to showcase beautiful and intriguing places, and to introduce readers to aspects of global culture. Here’s an excerpt from what the editors told Times Insider about the project.

Our goal with this series is slightly different from that of our typical Travel fare. Instead of inspiring travel among our readers or describing the travels of our contributors, we’re aiming to approximate elements of travel itself — to provide a kind of virtual travel substitute that soothes, transports and distracts.

But escapism isn’t the only objective. At its best, travel can transform us: It can awaken us to the restorative power of nature; it can broaden our ability to understand and appreciate dissimilar cultures; it can help us become more empathetic to people whose lives fall outside the scope of our day-to-day routines. These, too, are things we hope the series can provide, especially at a time when such transformations aren’t available to many of us via direct experience.

To achieve all that, we’ve tried to create immersive visual experiences; every story in the series is driven by images. (Instead of assigning photographers to shoot new work, we are relying on photojournalists with previously shot, and unpublished, portfolios.)

We’ve also tried to create a more intuitive and symbiotic relationship between images and text. (In most cases, the journalist who took the pictures is also the one who wrote the copy.) And as a general rule, we’ve avoided “service” information: no hotel plugs or restaurant reviews, no recommended itineraries. The focus is on the people and the places themselves, as seen and captured by some of the best photojournalists in the world.


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

— Carole


Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for 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 inequalities in the use of facial-recognition technology as a crime-solving tool.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: U.F.O. pilot (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times Opinion audio team is expanding with colleagues from a vast range of experiences, to produce high-impact audio journalism.

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