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Vaccine, TikTok, SpaceX: Your Monday Briefing

2020-08-03 00:54:45
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Good morning.

We’re covering a bid by Indian billionaires to mass-produce a coronavirus vaccine, a threat by President Trump to ban TikTok and the return of SpaceX astronauts to Earth.

The world’s largest vaccine maker, the Serum Institute, which is controlled by a small and very rich Indian family, has teamed up with scientists from the University of Oxford, who are developing a promising coronavirus vaccine.

Snapshot: Above, the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday. The capsule carrying the astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley was the first crewed water landing by NASA since 1975.

Speaking out: Prince Manvendra of India is one of the few gay-rights activists in the world with high-level royal ties. His journey from a lonely childhood to global advocacy included death threats and a disinheritance.

What we’re reading: This BBC exploration of England’s fascination with pineapples, which involves novelty, scarcity and money. “Human nature doesn’t change very much,” says Steven Erlanger, our chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe.

Cook: This highly textured salad gets its bite from farro, its crunch from spiced chickpeas and its sweetness from roasted corn and slivered fennel.

Listen and watch: Beyoncé’s “Black Is King,” released on Friday, is a visual album connected to Disney’s remake last year of “The Lion King.” A handful of our critics reviewed it from different angles, including Vanessa Friedman, who described the amount of fashion on display as “overwhelming.”

Taste: Our wine critic has a selection of verdicchios on offer. These white wines from the Marche region, on Italy’s Adriatic coast, offer simple refreshment while also carrying hints of complex aromas and flavors.

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

Like father, like daughter: Alexandra Stevenson, a Times correspondent who covers China’s economy from Hong Kong, took a look back at the reporting her father, William Stevenson, did for The Toronto Star and The Star Weekly in the 1950s as one of the first foreign journalists to work in China after the Communist takeover.

Here’s an excerpt from an article she wrote about how much of what he described is still recognizable.

My father left behind written notes and newspaper clippings, stacks of passports with visas, photos and transcripts from his first and subsequent trips to China. They have allowed me to imagine conversations that we might have had in the six years since he died. Conversations about how the country he saw back then — brimming with hope and enthusiasm yet also tightly controlled — is in some ways the same today.

His first trip to China spanned two months and thousands of miles. He met Mao Zedong (whom he tapped on the shoulder from behind his camera, mistaking the chairman for a “humble courtier” blocking his shot) and Zhou Enlai, the premier and foreign minister at the time. But he also talked with factory workers, actors, newspaper editors and shop owners.

He described being filled with hope for the human spirit he witnessed. But he also felt despair because a government-provided handler was never too far away, ready to silence anyone who veered too far from the Communist Party line.

China defied any broad-brush statement. “And yet,” he wrote in one notebook, “under the current leadership, the way in which the government silences alternative points of view makes it hard not to.”

A version of this exists today. I have a long list of names of people who wouldn’t talk to me because I work for The New York Times, portrayed in Chinese state media as the source of “smears and lies.” Sources I’ve interviewed privately are later threatened by the local police, while stridently nationalist rhetoric dominates the state media.

Several months after I returned to Hong Kong, the Chinese government in March expelled my American colleagues as part of a diplomatic dispute with the United States. In the past month, Beijing has tightened its grip over Hong Kong with a new national security law, threatening free speech and other civil liberties in the city.


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

— Carole


Thank you
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of 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 killing of a female soldier that has prompted a #MeToo moment in the military.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Fancy tie (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
Caitlin Roper, a senior editor at The Times Magazine, will become executive producer for scripted projects, working alongside Hollywood producers using our stories for fictional projects inspired by our reporting.

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