Thursday, June 17

Your Tuesday Briefing – The New York Times


On a weekend in February, when the world still hoped the virus could be contained, a World Health Organization team arrived in Beijing to investigate a critical question: How did the coronavirus jump from animals to humans?

But what the team members did not know was that they would not be allowed to investigate the source at all. Against the advice of their emergency committee, W.H.O. leadership had quietly negotiated terms that sidelined their own experts. They would not question China’s initial response or even visit the live-animal market where the outbreak began.

Nine months and more than 1.1 million deaths later, there is still no transparent, independent investigation. China has impeded the effort, while W.H.O. leaders, if privately frustrated, have largely ceded control.

Details: Internal documents obtained by The Times and interviews with more than 50 public health officials, scientists and diplomats provide an inside look at the W.H.O.’s dealings with Beijing. China extracted concessions that helped it delay important research and avoid a potentially embarrassing review of the government’s early response to the outbreak.

Quotable: “Unfortunately, this has become a political investigation,” said Wang Linfa, an Australian virologist in Singapore. “Whatever they do is symbolic.”

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:


For weeks now, student-led protesters across Thailand have taken to the streets, calling for a new Constitution with authority over the monarchy, and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led a military coup in 2014.

Read:The Best of Me,” by David Sedaris, is a must-read, our reviewer writes. “It will be a new experience, knowing that enough time has passed to find humor in the hardest parts of life.”

Do: During stressful times, knitting can bring calm and a sense of connection to the past and to family members far away.

For inspiration on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying at home, take a look at our At Home collection of ideas.

American presidential elections always seize international attention, but this year is exceptional: President Trump has frayed nerves like few leaders in history. Our reporters looked at reactions and expectations around the world.

No country has watched the American election unfold with greater anger and grievance than China — and few have more at stake. U.S.-China relations are at their worst level in decades, but few officials appear to harbor hope that a defeat for Mr. Trump would usher in any improvement. Given Vice President Joe Biden’s “get tough on China” campaign rhetoric, they see him as a complicated challenge.

South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, has vocally encouraged Mr. Trump’s dealings with North Korea. But many South Koreans are weary of Mr. Trump’s flirtation with a dictator, and the public favors Mr. Biden by nearly four to one, polls show.

Australians are working out their worries by gambling on the outcome, with the odds tilting heavily in Mr. Biden’s favor.



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