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Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

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Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

President Jair Bolsonaro — who has repeatedly downplayed the threat of the coronavirus in Brazil, which is experiencing the worst outbreak outside the United States — said on Tuesday that he had been infected with the virus.

Mr. Bolsonaro, 65, said he had been tested after experiencing fatigue, muscle pain and a fever. He did not express contrition for his handling of the pandemic, saying that the demands of his job had put him at risk.

“I am the president; I have to be on the front lines of the fight,” he said. He compared the virus to “rain, which is going to get to you.”

The president once described the coronavirus as “a measly cold.” When asked in late April about Brazil’s rising death toll, he replied: “So what? Sorry, but what do you want me to do?”

Details: Critics have called his handling of the pandemic — which has included shunning masks, encouraging mass rallies of his supporters and championing unproven remedies — reckless. Brazil now has more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and more than 65,000 deaths.

Related: The World Health Organization has acknowledged that airborne transmission of the coronavirus may be a threat in indoor spaces. Here’s how to protect yourself.

In other developments:

  • The U.S. gave formal notice that it was withdrawing from the World Health Organization, officials said Tuesday. Effective in 2021, the move would cut off one of the organization’s top funding sources.

  • Melbourne will be locked down for six weeks after experiencing a record number of daily coronavirus cases, officials said.

  • The virus death toll in India surpassed 20,000 on Tuesday. With more than 719,500 confirmed cases, the country has overtaken Russia to become the third hardest-hit, after the U.S. and Brazil.

  • The U.S. government will pay the vaccine maker Novavax $1.6 billion to expedite the development of 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine by the beginning of next year.

  • The British government has promised $2 billion to save its cultural institutions, sending a powerful message about the centrality of arts in democracy, our theater critic writes.

  • As countries across the world reopen travel but block American visitors, a long-held sense that the U.S. passport was a golden ticket is fading.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the outbreaks.


Since the coronavirus emerged in Europe, Sweden has captured international attention by conducting an unorthodox experiment: What happens when a government allows life to carry on largely unhindered?

Our European economics correspondent explains what happened: Not only have thousands more people died than in neighboring countries that locked down, but Sweden’s economy has fared little better. Its central bank expects its economy to contract by 4.5 percent this year, and the unemployment rate jumped to 9 percent in May from 7.1 percent in March — comparable to the economic damage in Denmark.

Details: More than three months after its neighbors imposed lockdowns, the coronavirus is blamed for 5,420 deaths in Sweden, a country of 10 million. Per capita, that is 40 percent more deaths than in the United States, 12 times more than in Norway, seven times more than in Finland and six times more than in Denmark.

What it means: Many countries have lifted restrictions on the assumption that doing so would revive their economies. But Sweden’s result suggests that a failure to impose social distancing can cost lives and jobs at the same time. The pandemic has disrupted businesses regardless of government policy, in part because people simply avoid shopping and dining out.


Wildfires in the Arctic released more polluting gases into the Earth’s atmosphere in June than in any other month in 18 years of data collection.

Last month, such fires released 59 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide, scientists said on Tuesday. That’s more carbon than oil-producing Norway emits in a year. The Arctic is warming at least two and a half times faster than the global average rate. Smoke from the Siberian fires seems to be reaching as far as the Pacific Northwest in the U.S., scientists said.

What it means: Studies show that persistent Arctic warming may influence extreme weather events and thaw permafrost, which releases still more greenhouse gases.

In this pandemic year, some Britons who trained as chefs, personal trainers or salespeople are working in fields instead, picking berries. And while the labor is not glamorous, many are enjoying it.

They are filling in on farms where fruit is traditionally picked by seasonal workers from Eastern Europe. “It’s not something I would always do,” one out-of-work chef said, but “it kept me busy, and it’s educating me.”

Deutsche Bank: The German lender agreed to a $150 million settlement with New York financial regulators after it repeatedly overlooked suspicious transactions by Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy sex offender who killed himself last year.

President Trump: In a tell-all memoir, Mary Trump, the president’s niece, claims that Mr. Trump embraces “cheating as a way of life” and sees people in “monetary terms.”

Russia espionage: Russia’s secret police have arrested Ivan Safronov, a respected former reporter who recently worked as an adviser to the head of the country’s space agency. He has been accused of committing treason by passing secrets to an unidentified NATO country.

Arms sales: A day after imposing sanctions on 20 Saudis for human rights abuses, Britain on Tuesday resumed arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The sales had been suspended out of concern that the weapons would be used to violate international humanitarian law in Yemen.

London: An European gold medalist and her partner, a fellow sprinter, have accused police officers of racial profiling after the athletes were handcuffed and their car searched in an elegant London neighborhood. The police said there was “no concern around the officer’s conduct.”

Snapshot: A fleet of high-altitude balloons the size of tennis courts, like the one shown above in Nevada, began delivering internet service to Kenya on Tuesday, giving online access to tens of thousands of people. It’s the first-ever commercial deployment of the technology.

Travel: Hostels around Europe, built on the idea of community, have sat empty the past few months. Can they keep their sociability in a time of social distancing?

What we’re reading: This Star Tribune profile of the Minnesota radio host Garrett McQueen. Melissa Eddy, our Berlin correspondent, calls it a “great profile of his mission to expand our idea of how we define classical music.”

Cook: This asparagus, goat cheese and tarragon tart is effortlessly chic. Make it with a store-bought puff pastry.

Read: “Lake Life,” David James Poissant’s first novel, is a tale of a family getaway gone very wrong. It’s less concerned with the origins of dysfunction than with how it plays out, our reviewer writes.

Do: Strength training is more physiologically intricate than you might have imagined. A new study shows that before our muscles become stronger, our nervous system changes.

Staying safe at home is easier when you have plenty of things to read, cook, watch and do. At Home has our full collection of ideas.

After China imposed a new security law on Hong Kong, Facebook, Google, Facebook-owned WhatsApp, Twitter and some other digital companies said they would temporarily stop complying with the Hong Kong authorities’ requests for user data. Here’s what Shira Ovide, from our On Tech newsletter, has to say about their decision.

Going up against the new law could force those companies to shut down service in Hong Kong. It would also be a public defiance of China’s government that we rarely see from global companies. No one knows what happens next.

U.S. internet companies face hard calls as they decide how and whether to comply with the divergent laws and norms of each country they operate in without violating their own missions.

When it comes to China, those complications are multiplied by a thousand. The government and some of its supportive citizens are willing to punish global companies and organizations like the National Basketball Association that don’t go along with the government’s views of itself or the world.

Companies with business in China have twisted themselves in knots, for example, trying not to offend the government by appearing to side with Hong Kong’s demonstrators pressing for autonomy.

This Hong Kong law, however, presents the U.S. internet powers with one of those hard choices multiplied by a thousand. If they go along with China’s new law, they are likely to face backlash from American politicians and their own employees.

If they don’t comply, China might make it impossible for the American internet companies to continue to operate in Hong Kong. It might seize the tech companies’ offices in the city or even arrest their employees. You can imagine how the U.S. government would respond to that.

Even while they’re banned in China, the internet companies might not be able to avoid trouble with China.


That’s it for this briefing. By the way, we’re streaming this year’s Paris Fashion Week live. See you next time.

— Isabella


Thank you
Melissa Clark provided the recipe, and Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about what Trump’s divisive speech at Mount Rushmore reveals about his re-election campaign.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: 16 tablespoons (three letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Our tech reporter Taylor Lorenz spoke to ABC’s Good Morning America about her reporting on high school students who use Instagram to expose racism they face at school.

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