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Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

Hong Kong’s coronavirus caseload appears to be tapering off, but the port city’s enhanced testing has revealed a new cluster among its dock workers.

As Hong Kong deals with a third virus wave, it is ramping up the testing of workers whose jobs expose them to a higher risk of infection. As of Monday, 57 dockside laborers were among 65 cases linked to the city’s Kwai Tsing Container Terminals.

Cramped conditions in the dorms, which hold up to 20 people, could worsen the spread. Two of the dock workers who tested positive had been living temporarily in the port dormitories fashioned from shipping containers. The number of cases in Hong Kong started spiking last month, in part because officials exempted seafarers and airline crews from mandatory quarantine.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Migrant workers are returning to India’s major cities in hopes of regaining work. Arriving in buses, they are made to take rapid Covid tests and sent to quarantine centers if they test positive.

  • A rave party with mask-less crowds at a water park in Wuhan, China, captured global attention. The scene seemed like a flashback to pre-pandemic times, and was an example of how life was slowly returning to normal in China.

  • After a surge in infections in the past week, South Korea banned all gatherings of more than 50 people indoors and shut down nightclubs, karaoke rooms and buffet restaurants. Churches also must switch to online prayer services.

  • The S&P 500 hit a record, surpassing its February high despite economic devastation and record unemployment. It was fueled by trillions pumped into the financial market by the Federal Reserve.


As the Chinese-owned video app negotiates a deal to avoid being banned in the U.S., The Financial Times reports that a surprising new suitor has emerged: Oracle, the Silicon Valley giant better known for business software than for social networking.

Oracle has held preliminary talks with ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, according to the FT report. Its aim is to buy TikTok’s operations in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the same assets that Microsoft has publicly said it was negotiating to acquire.

The company, despite having little experience with consumer-facing businesses, has an advantage: close ties to the White House. Its co-founder and chief executive are some of the few prominent Trump supporters in Silicon Valley. Other potential suitors include Twitter.

Go deeper: The net effect of the Trump administration’s battle with Chinese tech is a potential splintering of the internet.

During her career teaching at the Communist Party’s top academy, Cai Xia cheered on signs that China’s leaders might ease their political grip. She was one of the few prominent voices for democratic change near the heart of the party.

But now she has turned her hope to criticism, and the party has turned against her. The Central Party School in Beijing, where Ms. Cai taught for 15 years until 2012, said on Monday that she had been expelled from the Communist Party after she denounced both the party and the leader, Xi Jinping, in recent speeches and essays.

“This party has become a political zombie,” she had said in a talk last month. In an interview from the U.S., where she has lived since last year, Ms. Cai argued that in the longer term, Mr. Xi’s policies would push China toward a political crisis by isolating the country and extinguishing hopes for economic and political relaxation.

View in China: Many Chinese people say they are pleased with how the country is emerging from the pandemic, and Mr. Xi’s standing appears to be strong.

Kim McCoy, above, used to run three to 10 miles after her 12-hour nursing shifts and as many as 30 miles on her days off. She trained her way up to an ultramarathon. But it came to a stop in a horrific accident in which she lost her leg running across a highway in the Deep South.

As ultrarunning — any race longer than a 26.2-mile marathon — has become more popular, the sport’s hard-core practitioners have pushed the limits. Our reporter recounts Ms. McCoy’s harrowing experience and asks whether the race was a test of rigor or recklessness.

Mali attack: The military staged a coup and arrested the country’s president on Tuesday, after weeks of unrest that convulsed the West African nation, diplomats said.

Mauritius oil spill: Mauritius arrested the captain of a Japanese bulk carrier that ran aground off its coast and caused a devastating oil spill, police said on Tuesday. Some scientists have called it the country’s worst ecological disaster.

Typhoon Higos: The storm was expected to make landfall Wednesday on China’s southern coast. In the West, people were stranded on rooftops waiting for rescues after heavy rains made the Yangtze flood.

Hariri assassination verdict: A U.N.-backed tribunal found a member of Hezbollah guilty and acquitted three men charged as accomplices in the 2005 bombing that killed Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister of Lebanon. The court said there was no evidence that Hezbollah’s senior leadership was involved in the attack.

U.S. presidential campaign: Bill Clinton and Jill Biden are set to speak soon, on the second night of the Democratic Party convention to nominate Joe Biden as the challenger to President Trump. Here’s a recap of the first night that kicked off with Michelle Obama.

Snapshot: Above, students at the Sigma Nu fraternity at the University of Idaho on Monday. Fraternities and sororities, the hub of social life at many American universities, have emerged as hot spots for the virus. The Times has identified at least 251 cases tied to fraternities as the school year just gets off the ground.

What we’re reading: This Atlantic article about how the pandemic brought America to a breaking point. “This piece has the historical, global and sociological context I’ve been craving for months,” says Caitlin Dickerson, an immigration reporter, “which is why it was so devastating to read. ICYMI, it’s essential.”

Cook: The beauty of this chaat — the tangy, sweet, fiery and crunchy Indian snacks — is that it’s built for customization.

Watch: Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are back onscreen together in “Bill & Ted Face the Music,” the long-awaited third film in the series about the dopey Southern California dudes.

Do: Whether it’s antique ceramic plates or framed insect specimens, there’s an art to arranging your collection to keep it from looking like clutter. Here are some tips.

For more ideas on what to read, cook, watch or do to make staying at home fun, have a look at our At Home section.

Hannah Beech, our Southeast Asia bureau chief, has been writing about a wave of protests in Thailand, where people are demanding an end to the military’s role in government and reform of the monarchy. She shared some of her insights with us.

Protests are not rare in Thailand, but they’ve been rare since the latest coup in 2014. Thailand’s political cycle is depressing: Governments are elected by the people, and eventually there’s a crackdown or a coup. Street protests have been met by fatal interventions by security forces, with students killed on the streets of Bangkok on numerous occasions.

That explains why, while the rallies in recent days, which culminated in Sunday’s outpouring, were festive, they were also tinged with anxiety. The country has a bad record of massacring those who dare to speak up.

Often, the protests have been anti-government, but this latest movement is unusual because it’s the first time that demonstrators have publicly called for reforms to the monarchy. Thailand is bound by some of the world’s strictest lèse-majesté laws, which can land critics of the palace in jail for up to 15 years.

For people to go out on the street and whisper that something needs to be done about a largely absent king who has consolidated financial and military power is pretty extraordinary. For someone to use a microphone to say that at a public rally is unprecedented.


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

— Melina


Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for 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 was behind the U.A.E.-Israel deal.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: World Cup organizer (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Damien Cave, our Sydney bureau chief, discussed the latest lockdown in Melbourne with CBC.



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