We’re covering what’s next for Hong Kong’s press, a debate around reopening schools and flooding in Japan.
China’s leash tightens on Hong Kong journalists
Radio Television Hong Kong, the territory’s public broadcaster, has fearlessly reported on police misconduct and China’s crackdown on the Uighurs, asking tough questions to top officials. But under the new national security law, its journalists have been feeling the pressure.
The police, some lawmakers and pro-Beijing activists have criticized the broadcaster, and thousands of complaints have been filed against it. Next week, the government will start a formal review of RTHK’s operations.
Context: The new law is directed at quelling Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protest movement, but it also calls for tougher regulation of the media. The worst-case fear is that RTHK could be turned into an organ of state propaganda.
Details: RTHK, which was modeled after the BBC, is particularly vulnerable because it receives government funding. So far, a satirical show that mocked the police has been canceled, and a top executive announced her resignation, though she denied being ousted.
Schools become a flashpoint in reopenings
The U.S. is engulfed in intense debate between elected officials and public health experts over how to bring children back safely to schools, despite a surge in coronavirus cases.
President Trump has openly rebuffed guidelines issued by the U.S. disease control agency that outline safety measures for the return to classes in September. Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday announced that the agency would issue new recommendations.
Mr. Trump pointed out that elsewhere in the world, schools had reopened without issue. But in other countries, like Germany, children returned to classes after the virus was brought under control.
In higher education, a Trump administration move to strip international students of their visas was seen as a way to pressure universities to drop their careful approaches to managing coronavirus transmission and reopen.
Details: The U.S. now has more than 3 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 131,000 deaths, by far the world’s largest outbreak.
In other developments:
Hong Kong has entered what one health official described as “a third wave” of coronavirus infections, after authorities reported 38 new cases on Tuesday and Wednesday.
A New Zealand man who tested positive for the virus will face criminal charges after he sneaked out of a hotel quarantine site, the public broadcaster RNZ reported.
Japan’s theme parks banned screaming on roller coasters over fears that it could spread the coronavirus. “Please scream inside your heart,” one commercial said.
Egypt’s #MeToo reckoning
After dozens of women shared on social media accusations of sexual assault and harassment by a 21-year-old Egyptian university student, he was arrested within days.
The swift and public action marked a significant turnaround for a country where women who spoke out on sexual assault were often blamed. The social media activism has planted the seeds of a national reckoning in the latest Egyptian #MeToo moment.
Details: The state-run National Council for Women said it had received over 400 complaints of violence against women since the furor erupted. Al Azhar, a top Islamic clerical body, has encouraged the women to speak out and has rejected claims that they were to blame in any way.
If you have 6 minutes, this is worth it
An uproar over Hagia Sophia
Since it was built in the sixth century, Hagia Sophia has been a Byzantine cathedral, a mosque under the Ottomans and finally a museum, making it a potent symbol of Christian-Muslim rivalry.
Now, a push by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to declare it a working mosque threatens to set off an international furor, escalating tensions with Greece and upsetting Christians around the world.
Here’s what else is happening
U.S. Colleges: Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration to block a new rule stripping foreign college students of their visas if their classes move entirely online.
Pakistan: Clerics blocked the construction of the first Hindu temple in Islamabad. It was supposed to have been a symbol of growing religious tolerance in the country.
Snapshot: Above, floods in Kuma, Japan. At least 58 people have died. Tens of thousands of troops, police officers and other rescue workers have worked their way through mud and debris in the hardest-hit riverside towns to evacuate residents.
What we’re reading: This Sahan Journal feature about Minnesota’s first Somali public school principals. Abdi Latif Dahir, our East Africa correspondent, calls it “an inspiring story.”
Now, a break from the news
Cook: This peach poundcake proves that the perfect summer poundcake takes no special equipment or skill to pull off.
Watch: “The Beach House,” a horror movie and the debut feature from Jeffrey A. Brown, the writer and director, turns a planned fun vacation at the beach into a nightmare.
Do: How do you maintain good habits after coronavirus-related lockdowns? Certain strategies can help you continue those home-cooked meals and regular exercise. You can start preparing now.
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.
And now for the Back Story on …
A virus risk indoors
Growing scientific evidence suggests that the coronavirus can stay aloft for several hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale. The risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain superspreading events in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. Here’s a look at what we know.
What does it mean for a virus to be airborne?
For a virus to be airborne means that it can be carried through the air in a viable form. H.I.V., too delicate to survive outside the body, is not airborne. Measles is airborne, and dangerously so: It can survive in the air for up to two hours.
For the coronavirus, the definition has been more complicated. Experts agree that the virus does not travel long distances or remain viable outdoors. But evidence suggests it can traverse the length of a room and, in one set of experimental conditions, remain viable for up to three hours.
How are aerosols different from droplets?
Aerosols are droplets, droplets are aerosols — they do not differ except in size.
From the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organization and other public health agencies have focused on the virus’s ability to spread through large droplets that are expelled when a symptomatic person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets are heavy, relatively speaking, and fall quickly to the floor or onto a surface that others may touch. This is why public health officials have recommended maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others, and frequent hand washing.
Should I begin wearing a hospital-grade mask indoors? And how long is too long to stay indoors?
Health care workers may all need to wear N95 masks, which filter out most aerosols. For the rest of us, cloth face masks will still greatly reduce risk, as long as most people wear them.
As for how long is safe, a lot depends on whether the room is too crowded to allow for a safe distance from others and whether there is fresh air circulating through the room.
That’s it for this briefing. By the way, we’re streaming the Paris Couture Fashion Week shows. See you next time.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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