U.S. Visas, China’s Economy, Street Musicians: Your Friday Briefing
U.S. Visas, China’s Economy, Street Musicians: Your Friday Briefing
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We’re covering a sweeping U.S. visa ban proposal that could affect millions of Chinese people, the business of fake virus certificates in Bangladesh and what it’s like to be a street musician right now.
The proposed executive order, if signed by President Trump, could also allow for the U.S. government to strip visas from any party members and their family members already in the U.S., forcing their departures.
The idea comes as relations between the two countries are at a low point, and China would most likely retaliate against Americans living in or trying to visit China.
Prospects: Details of the plan have not been finalized, and Mr. Trump could ultimately reject it. Its legal justification would reside in the same statute of immigration law used in the administration’s barring of arrivals from a number of predominantly Muslim countries.
Who is affected? Many party members are not aligned with official ideology. There are academics, scientists and business leaders whose careers benefit from its network. Even some dissidents are members. Dr. Li Wenliang, who sounded the alarm in the early days of the pandemic in Wuhan before dying of Covid-19, was a party member.
China’s growth may be hard to sustain
The world’s second-largest economy expanded 3.2 percent from April through June compared with the same period last year, Chinese officials said on Thursday.
That’s an abrupt turnaround from the January through March quarter, when Beijing acknowledged a contraction for the first time in a half-century.
So why did stock markets in Shanghai and Shenzhen drop 4.8 percent on the news? China’s government still relies on infrastructure projects to juice the economy, rather than more sustainable domestic consumption, and investors concluded that economic growth had become too dependent on government stimulus.
Global impact: China’s expansion served as a glimmer of hope for the global economy, but the reliance on government spending raises doubts about whether China alone can be the engine to push the global economy out of a slump.
Selling fake coronavirus certificates in Bangladesh
The authorities have arrested the owner of a hospital in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, and accused him of selling migrant workers thousands of certificates showing a negative result on coronavirus tests, when in fact many tests were never performed.
Officials say there are more doctors like him doing the same thing. There is a huge market for these certificates among the millions of Bangladeshi migrant workers, many of whom are trying to get back to Europe amid reopenings there while fulfilling requirements for the certificates.
Details: The Regent Hospital had issued more than 10,000 certificates, the authorities said, and most of them were fake, backed by no actual coronavirus test. The owner, identified as Mohammad Shahed, was caught trying to cross the border dressed as a woman, the authorities said.
In other developments:
Hong Kong reported its highest daily number of new cases since the outbreak began: 67 on Thursday, of which 63 were local infections. The city is under its most sweeping restrictions yet.
The U.S. reported its second-highest single-day total of new cases on Wednesday, with 67,300 new infections. Governors and mayors are scrambling to issue new mask orders and limit the size of gatherings.
If you have 6 minutes, this is worth it
How Britain’s outbreak burdens women of color
Black and other ethnic minority groups have long faced inequality in Britain, and they have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. In addition to higher rates of death, members of these groups — especially women — suffer greater financial burdens and anxiety, according to a new study.
Our correspondent looked at the impact of the virus on their lives. “My manager says this is temporary, and she will give me more money when we make money,” said Minji Paik, a Korean beautician in East London whose hourly income has dropped by a third. “But actually, I should be paid more because I’m working inside and risking my health.”
Here’s what else is happening
Russian hacking: The U.S., British and Canadian governments said that hackers associated with the Russian government were trying to steal coronavirus vaccine research using spear-phishing and malware.
Shamima Begum: The woman who traveled to Syria from London as a schoolgirl to join ISIS should be allowed to return to appeal the government’s decision to strip her of her British citizenship, a court ruled on Thursday.
Snapshot: Above, patrons basking in the music of Colin Huggins, known as the piano man of New York City’s Washington Square Park. For 15 years, he has dragged a 900-pound Steinway grand piano to the park to perform for tips, but he and other street musicians are barely getting by in a time of thin crowds and new behaviors.
What we’re reading: This adaptation of Robert Draper’s book, “To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq,” which is coming out this month. “If you want to understand how we got here,” tweeted Amy Chozick, a features writer for The Times, who called the excerpt “riveting.”
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Leftovers of all kinds can make baked tomatoes sing. Melissa Clark’s latest version uses ricotta cheese as the base for a creamy, savory herb and Parmesan-flecked filling.
Read: “Putin’s People” documents the ruthless and relentless reach of Kremlin corruption and includes a telling chapter on President Trump. And yet our critic wondered “whether a cynicism has embedded itself so deeply into the Anglo-American political classes” that the incriminating information “won’t make an actionable difference.”
Listen: We collected 15 songs you might not know by name, but whose sounds and samples were the building blocks for pop, dance music and hip-hop hits.
Looking for more ideas on what to read, cook, watch, and do while staying safe at home? Look to our At Home collection.
And now for the Back Story on …
We’ve recently come across a few stories about doctors who’ve said their patients were reinfected with coronavirus after testing negative — a worrying prospect that could impact the effectiveness of vaccines and our ability to reach herd immunity.
To understand more about the possibility, we turned to Apoorva Mandavilli, a science reporter for The Times.
How long does immunity last?
We don’t know. One of my sources put it to me this way yesterday: The only way to know how long immunity lasts is to wait that amount of time. And we’re not there yet.
Is reinfection real?
It’s possible to get Covid twice, but that’s possible for any virus, ever. Some people will not, just as a matter of statistics, make strong immune responses to a virus, so they remain vulnerable. And that may also be true for coronavirus.
Still, the virus began circulating in China almost eight months ago now, and in New York not long after that. So if reinfection were possible this early on, and in a lot of people, we would have seen it already. We’re going to hear more about possible reinfections because it’s affecting so many people and we are looking at it so closely.
What’s going on with the reported cases of reinfection?
We don’t know for sure. They may be these rare cases. Or somebody who thought they had recovered may not have fully recovered. It may be that the tests were faulty and gave a false negative. It may be that their immune system was keeping the virus down to levels at which the test wasn’t picking it up for a while. It may be that there wasn’t a lot of virus in their nose, or wherever they put in the swab. There are a lot of possible explanations.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news, and to Jonathan Wolfe, on the Briefings team, for the Back Story. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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