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The New York Times
Morning Briefing By David Leonhardt
Good morning. Hong Kong has been transformed. Violence in Chicago is surging. And the U.S. looks ever more like an outlier on the coronavirus.
How badly is America doing?
A library at an elementary school in Japan last month.Philip Fong/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
When can schools safely reopen? When will the economy really start recovering? And when will you next eat in a restaurant, go to a movie, watch pro sports or hang out at a friend’s house?
All of these are, in fact, versions of the same question: When will the United States finally start to get the coronavirus under control?
And the answer appears to be: not any time soon.
The U.S. looks ever more like an outlier. Over the weekend, President Trump again played down the coronavirus as a serious threat, falsely claiming 99 percent of cases are harmless. In many places, Americans continued to socialize in proximity, without masks.
Much of the rest of the world is taking a very different approach. It is slowly moving back toward more normal functioning, without setting off major new outbreaks.
Schools in Japan and much of Europe have reopened. Restaurants in Icelandare bustling. The South Korean baseball season is in full swing. Thomas Chatterton Williams, an American writer living in France, asked in a recent Atlantic piece: “Do Americans understand how badly they’re doing?”
By The New York Times | Source: Johns Hopkins University
The U.S. now ranks with Brazil, Sweden and Peru as having one of the world’s most rapid virus growth rates. (Online, you can find a detailed version of this chart, with lines for more countries.)
There have been two main ways that countries have managed the pandemic successfully. The first approach prevented major outbreaks through an aggressive initial response that included travel restrictions, tests, contact tracing, quarantining and mask wearing. Several Asian countries, like South Korea and Vietnam, followed this model.
The second set of countries, including several in Western Europe, did suffer major outbreaks. But they responded with lockdowns and then began reopening carefully. All of these countries continue to cope with new cases, and will for a long time, but the numbers are small.
The U.S. reacted too slowly to prevent an initial outbreak, and only some regions — like New York — have responded forcefully since then. Much of the country instead declared victory prematurely, leading to the current surge of cases.
My colleague Ben Casselman, an economics reporter, has a thoughtful way of explaining the dynamic. “Recent developments raise some real questions about what ‘good news’ even means right now,” he says.
The economy is a central example. Its surprisingly rapid growth in May and early June initially seemed encouraging, Ben points out. But it now seems to have been a sign that Americans were resuming normal activity in ways that spread the virus. Now the virus’s resurgence is causing new shutdowns that will delay a true recovery.
In other virus developments:
- New data — made available after The New York Times sued the federal government — shows the extent of racial disparities: The contraction rate is almost three times as high for Black Americans as white Americans and more than three times higher among Latinos than whites.
- Nick Cordero, a 41-year-old Broadway star known for his tough-guy roles in “Bullets Over Broadway,” “Waitress” and “A Bronx Tale,” died after a three-month battle with the virus.
- Evidence increasingly suggests that the virus lingers in indoor air for extended periods of time. That, in turn, suggests that masks, air ventilation and ultraviolet light are key to slowing its spread.
- Australia has locked down nine public housing towers in Melbourne to control the virus, telling about 3,000 residents that they must not leave for at least five days.
A public housing resident looks out at police in Melbourne, Australia on Sunday.Daniel Pockett/EPA, via Shutterstock
THREE MORE BIG STORIES
1. Gun violence in Chicago
Scene where a 3-year-old boy was fatally shot in Chicago last month.John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune, via Associated Press
A wave of gun violence in Chicago has killed nine children since June 20. That includes a 7-year-old girl who was struck in the forehead by a bullet when three gunmen opened fire on a Fourth of July street party.
Defenders of the police say that the violence shows they need more support, not less. Critics say it shows how deeply residents distrust officers and why cities should transfer funds to address underlying problems, including unemployment and mental illness.
2. Hong Kong’s frightened silence
A new national security law imposed by China, which criminalizes “subversion” of the government, has transformed Hong Kong seemingly overnight. The defiant protesters who once filled the city’s streets have largely gone quiet. Notes that had plastered the walls of pro-democracy businesses have vanished.
Further crackdown: The police in Beijing today detained Xu Zhangrun, a law professor and one of China’s most prominent critics of the Communist Party’s expanding control, his friends said.
3. Summer camp cheer, on mute
The New York Times
Camp — like school — is taking place on Zoom during the coronavirus pandemic. Some regions are technically allowing camps to open for in-person attendance, but the requirements are so stringent that few are choosing to do so.
At Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan, campers are taking dance and acting classes, weaving friendship bracelets and singing songs from computers in their bedrooms and living rooms, as our colleague Nellie Bowles reports.
Here’s what else is happening
- A herdsman in Inner Mongolia was infected with bubonic plague, Chinese health officials said, a sign that some old health threats remain.
- Lobbyists with ties to top Trump administration officials are thriving as they help the president’s re-election effort while aiding corporate clients.
- Uber has agreed to acquire Postmates for $2.65 billion, in an effort to increase its food delivery business while its core transportation business struggles.
- Netflix didn’t set out to build a big library of Black programming, but it has created enough of one to become the envy of rivals, the Times’s media columnist, Ben Smith, writes.
- Lives Lived: Ennio Morricone composed the music for spaghetti westerns including “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” as well as hundreds of other films. He died today in Rome at 91.
IDEA OF THE DAY: RACIST MASCOT PSYCHOLOGY
A team of leading psychologists once conducted an experiment to see how popular images of Native Americans — like sports logos — affected Native American high school and college students. The psychologists first showed the students the images and then asked a series of questions.
The students mostly used positive words, like peaceful and kind, to describe the images, which included the Cleveland Indians mascot and Pocahontas. But when the researchers then asked a series of follow-up questions, the study took a more negative turn. Students who had seen the images reported lower self-esteem and more negative views of their community compared with a control group of similar students who had not seen the images.
The problem was not that the images were purely negative, the psychologists suggested. It was that they reminded students of the very narrow public portrayal of Native Americans — stereotypes of warriors of an exotic race (who were ultimately defeated and killed in large numbers). The mascots “function as inordinately powerful communicators, to natives and nonnatives alike, of how American Indians should look and behave,” the psychologists wrote.
For years, pro sports leagues have used caricatures of Native Americans — and have mimicked old rituals — in ways that would be unthinkable for other cultures. But the issue has taken a turn in the past few days, as part of the country’s current racial reckoning.
Major N.F.L. sponsors told Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, that they would no longer support the team if he didn’t change the name, and he announced a “thorough review” of the name. “It’s not the same thing as the N-word,” Philip Deloria, a Harvard historian of Dakota descent, told me, “but it’s clearly offensive.” There are no other team names with skin colors, and this name recalls a violent ritual of taking human bodies as trophies.
Deloria added that he hoped the team would not choose a new name — like Warriors, as some have suggested — with some of the same problems.
For more: Many tribal leaders have condemned the name; NPR has explained its history as a slur; Stephanie Fryberg of the University of Michigan has explained the dueling opinion polls about the name; and the Cleveland Indians are also reviewing their name.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT, KIMCHI
Make some quick kimchi
Beatriz Da Costa for The New York Times
Think of kimchi as a verb, suggests the food writer Eric Kim. Yes, the word also refers to the delicious fermented cabbage side dish, but it’s “an umbrella term for a much larger world of dishes you can find on any given Korean table,” he writes. “You can kimchi just about anything.”
Here’s his recipe for smacked cucumber quick kimchi, which echoes the flavors of traditional kimchi minus the lengthy fermentation period. The base sauce is versatile and can also be used with other vegetables, such as thinly sliced fennel or juicy grape tomatoes.
Lessons from women’s roller derby
Other pro sports leagues struggling with the pandemic could learn a thing or two from women’s roller derby. The sport’s extensive plan for returning to play, as reported in Wired, includes a seven-tier system with strict benchmarks for each level, and recommendations that extend beyond athletes to officials, volunteers and photographers.
The section describing the sport’s policy on spectators is so good, it “almost made me cry,” one epidemiologist told Wired.
A TV show everybody should be watching
My colleague Sanam Yar recommends tuning into the dramedy “Ramy.” She writes:
It feels reductive to describe “Ramy” as a show about a millennial Muslim-American searching for purpose. Starring the comedian Ramy Youssef, the semi-autobiographical series does grapple with the main character’s faith and self-destructive tendencies, as well as his traditional family, morally dubious circle of friends and romantic failures. It’s also occasionally surreal: One episode involves a dream sequence with Osama bin Laden.
But more than that, the show is a master class in empathy. Its best episodes are often not centered on Ramy, but the characters around him: his socially isolated mother, his boorish uncle. Through its specificity, the show highlights a messiness in its characters that feels deeply human. The result is a series that’s funny, complex and often tender.
You can find both seasons of the show on Hulu.
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Green lightsaber user (four letters).
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David
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Ian Prasad Philbrick and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
Thelonious Monk’s unlikely Palo Alto High show becomes thrilling live album
Andrew Gilbert June 19, 2020Updated: June 19, 2020, 5:44 pm
The most astounding jazz album of 2020 is the handiwork of an ambitious 16-year-old high school senior from Palo Alto.
The quartet of legendary pianist-composer Thelonious Monk has never sounded better than on “Palo Alto,” which features music recorded live during Monk’s stop in the Bay Area city in the fall of 1968. The album is scheduled for release July 31 on Impulse Records, Universal Music announced Friday, June 19.
The unlikely concert came about due to the precocious machinations of Danny Scher, who was taking his first steps toward his future role as rock impresario Bill Graham’s right-hand man.
“Jazz was my thing, but I wasn’t old enough to get into the Jazz Workshop,” says Scher, referring to the storied North Beach jazz club where Monk’s quartet performed regularly through the ’60s. “I was in the International Club at Palo Alto High, and we wanted to do a fundraiser for it.”
So Scher contacted Monk’s manager and arranged for the pianist’s quartet to headline a triple bill at the Paly High Auditorium on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 27, 1968, while the band was in the midst of a run at the Jazz Workshop. Tickets were $2.
Featuring tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, bassist Larry Gales and drummer Ben Riley, all of whom are now deceased, Monk’s band was a formidable unit that was well documented over four years of steady work. But no previous live album rendered the quartet swinging with such joyous power.
Born in North Carolina and raised in the Upper West Side neighborhood of San Juan Hill, Monk (1917-82) was a principal architect of modern jazz. Adapting the two-handed Harlem stride piano style to his own sly and gnomic image, he honed a body of some 70 compositions that has proved endlessly resilient and enduringly revelatory, cementing his status as one of the 20th century’s most important composers.
“Palo Alto” doesn’t shed new light on his genius so much as provide a thrilling, unusually immediate experience of his musical world. The concert was preserved by an audiophile janitor who asked to record the event in exchange for tuning the piano. Scher can’t remember the man’s name, but he did exemplary work on both fronts, capturing the concise 47-minute set with enviable clarity.
Monk plays four of his better-known compositions, opening with his voluptuous ballad “Ruby, My Dear.” In between a 13-minute romp through “Well, You Needn’t” and an epic 14-minute version of “Blue Monk,” he delivers a striding solo rendition of the Jimmy McHugh/Dorothy Fields standard “Don’t Blame Me,” the piano bench creaking audibly in the background. Monk closes the performance with a brief solo of the obscurity “I Love You (Sweetheart of All My Dreams),” a tune he’d recorded four years earlier on “Monk,” the Columbia album that introduced this quartet.
The reel-to-reel tape sat in a box with the Palo Alto concert program in Scher’s BGP office for decades before he got in touch with Monk’s son, drummer T.S. Monk. The Monk estate authorized several concert albums before the release of “Palo Alto,” but T.S. Monk believes the recording captures his father at his only high school performance, which might explain the music’s exuberance.
“The energy is very high,” Scher says. “Apparently, Monk had a great time.”
[While I have your attention: For the near future, I will continue to post Daily News Briefings on a regular basis as well as other items of 'interest'. The number of classmate 'hit's on on Paly64 goes up substantially whenever there are updates to the site. While the average hits is somewhere around 30-40 classmates per day, we have gone as high as 60+. That having been said, it would be greatly appreciated if there were more responses, 'pushbacks' etc to these posts. My intent or my goal has been to spur interest in the site. While I'm sure that not everyone has appreciated some (or all!) of my posts, it does appear that many of you were at least interested in what had been posted...all this leading up to the fact that I'm going to need some help to keep things going here on Paly64. We first went live in the Fall of 2013 and we are now coming up on (7) years online. So...please post, respond, debate, object, comment, dissent, contribute, ponder, reminisce, whatever...this is indeed your site, not just mine...thanks and stay well & stay safe! Green & White Forever! -Ro Davis]