Your Tuesday Briefing – The New York Instances
How the WHO bowed to China
On a weekend in February when the world was still hoping 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?
What the team members didn’t know, however, was that they couldn’t investigate the source at all. Against the advice of its emergency committee, the WHO leadership had tacitly negotiated conditions that upset their own experts. They wouldn’t 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 hampered efforts, while WHO leaders, when frustrated privately, have largely ceded control.
Details: Internal documents from The Times and interviews with more than 50 public health officials, scientists and diplomats provide insight into WHO’s dealings with Beijing. China has made concessions that have helped delay important research and avoid a potentially embarrassing review of the government’s early response to the outbreak.
Quote: “Unfortunately, this has become a political investigation,” said Wang Linfa, an Australian virologist in Singapore. “Whatever you do is symbolic.”
Fear and uncertainty in the US elections
Tuesday is election day in the US More than 96 million Americans have already voted – making it likely that voter turnout will hit a record high. The early vote made the presidential campaign unsafe.
Supporters for both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden see the divide between early voters and voters on election day as partisan: Democrats in most states have a clear majority of early voters, while many Republicans wait to vote polls appear on Tuesday.
In the final phase, Mr Trump has added to the chaos at his rallies, claiming that ballots should not be counted after election night, even though no state is reporting final results by midnight. Both candidates are focused on Pennsylvania, which will be vital.
Tension: The campaign ends in a troubling way. The last few days have been marked by threats of violent fighting and street demonstrations. Shopkeepers in some U.S. cities are putting plywood on their windows and anticipating riots.
The payment: The polls have shown Mr Biden at the top. Our poll rapporteur sketched out what Mr Trump would need to win – essentially, he writes, a poll error much bigger than the 2016 one.
Check out our live broadcast of The Daily from 4pm to 8pm Eastern on Election Day at nytimes.com/thedaily and on the New York Times iPhone app. Read more about the international impact of the elections in our backstory.
Thailand has a history of coups d’état. Is it different this time?
For weeks, student-led protesters have taken to the streets across Thailand demanding a new constitution with authority over the monarchy and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led a military coup in 2014.
The security forces did not forcibly suppress the rallies, but it is unclear how long the reluctance will last. It is also not clear how long the army is willing to stay in the barracks.
Back to the order: In nine decades, the Thai military has tried about 30 times to overthrow elected governments. At least a dozen of these coups were successful. Whenever the generals start a takeover, the refrain is the same: Thailand needs a return to order, with no messy rallies or dissenting voices.
Military power: The Thai military is the largest landowner in the country along with the National Park holdings of the Forestry Department. It has its own internal security apparatus that has brought thousands of dissenters to forced attitudes adjustments at its military bases. It appoints all 250 members of the Senate.
Quote: “I don’t see a coup as a bad thing,” said a prominent royalist who has publicly called for military intervention.
If you have some time, it’s worth it
Our high-tech home in space
Snapshot: Above people wearing protective clothing during the Pachali Bhairav Festival in Kathmandu, Nepal in October. Last year, Nepal attracted so many climbers that hundreds of hikers growled a trail to the top of Mount Everest. The pandemic stopped all of that.
What we see: The polar bear camera at the San Diego Zoo.
Now a break from the news
Cook: This homemade hamburger helper definitely has a kick, so adjust the hot sauce to your taste.
Read: “The Best of Me” by David Sedaris is a must, writes our reviewer. “It will be a new experience knowing that enough time has passed to find humor in the most difficult parts of life.”
Do: During stressful times, knitting can bring calmness and a sense of connectedness with the past and with family members far away.
Our home brainstorming collection of ideas provides inspiration for reading, cooking, watching, and doing while you stay at home.
And now for the background story about …
The world is watching the US elections
American presidential elections always attract international attention, but this year is extraordinary: President Trump, like few leaders in history, has frayed nerves. Our reporters examined reactions and expectations around the world.
No country has watched the American elections with greater anger and complaint than China – and few have more at stake. US-China relations are at their worst in decades, but few officials seem to have hoped that defeat would lead to improvement for Mr Trump. Given Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign rhetoric about seeing China hard, they see it as an intricate challenge.
South KoreaMoon President Jae-in has been vocal in promoting Mr Trump’s dealings with North Korea. But many South Koreans are fed up with Mr. Trump flirting with a dictator, and the public favors Mr. Biden by almost four to one, according to polls.
Australian work out their worries by playing on the outcome with the odds falling heavily in Mr Biden’s favor.
Israel The right-wing government has been showered with political favors by Trump’s White House, and if it could choose it would be one of the most republican places on earth.
in the UkraineSome fear that in a close election, he might ask President Volodymyr Zelensky for another favor when Mr. Trump’s demand for political filth against Mr. Biden indicted him. Some feel vulnerable because Ukraine relies on US political support.
Pro-Kremlin Russian Commentators portray American democracy as rotten to the core and play the possibility of violence and chaos with headlines such as “Is America One Step Away From Civil War?”
Venezuelans The opponents of President Nicolás Maduro believe that they need Mr Trump’s help to keep their country’s problems visible.
That’s it for this briefing. Until next time.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]
• We listen to “The Daily”. Our latest installment is an election night guide.
• Here’s our mini crossword puzzle and a clue: flannel shirt pattern (five letters). You can find all of our puzzles here.
• Patrick Kingsley, our Berlin-based correspondent, is our next head of the Jerusalem office.