George Floyd, Donald Trump, Hong Kong: Your Tuesday Briefing

(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)

Good morning.

We’re covering global protests against police brutality and racism, the banning of Hong Kong’s Tiananmen vigil and a Belgian distillery that’s switched to hand sanitizer.

ImageA demonstration in Amsterdam on Monday against racism and police brutality. 
Credit…Piet Van Der Meer/EPA, via Shutterstock
Credit…Isaac Lawrence/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

For the first time, the Hong Kong authorities have banned the city’s annual candlelight vigil to remember those killed in China’s crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement.

Every year on June 4, tens of thousands have gathered in Victoria Park to commemorate the demonstrators gunned down by the Chinese military in Beijing. The vigil has been a focal point for Hong Kong people concerned about China’s encroachment on the semiautonomous city’s liberties. In banning this year’s gathering, the police cited social distancing requirements in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, though some accused them of enforcing those rules selectively.

Context: The ban came days after China moved to impose security laws on Hong Kong that many fear will lead to the criminalization of dissent. Some people still plan to go to Victoria Park, and organizers have asked supporters to light candles and post images of them online.

Related: Beijing had a relatively measured response to President Trump’s announcement that the United States would curtail its relations with Hong Kong.

Credit…Pool photo by Alexei Nikolsky

Moscow reopened parks, shopping malls, car dealerships and many other businesses on Monday after a nine-week lockdown. The capital has accounted for almost half of Russia’s reported coronavirus infections, which officially numbered 414,878 as of Monday.

With his approval rating at its lowest level since he took power 20 years ago, President Vladimir V. Putin is now pushing to get regular political programming up and running, despite a daily increase of around 9,000 infections.

On Monday, he set a July 1 date for a referendum on constitutional changes that would let him stay in office until 2036. Parades this month commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany have not been canceled, despite the virus.

In other news:

Here are the latest updates and maps of the outbreak.

Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Minneapolis, where George Floyd’s death in police custody set off protests across the United States and beyond, sees itself as a progressive hub in the American Midwest. But segregation and racial gaps in education, health care and housing remain.

Residents spoke to our reporters about the city’s complicated identity. “Racism with a smile” is how one Somali immigrant described it.

Landmark abuse case: A British woman who was convicted of killing her husband after decades of emotional abuse is entitled to the family’s estate, a judge has ruled.

Tara Reade: Our reporters interviewed about 100 people close to the former Senate aide to better understand what led to her sexual assault allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden.

Israel annexation: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suddenly facing resistance from settlers to his plan to annex much of the occupied West Bank. The opposition, coupled with mixed signals from the Trump administration, is raising questions about whether the annexation will happen.

Credit…Louise Palmberg/Gallery Stock
Credit…Bobby Doherty for The New York Times

Cook: This curried rice recipe will leave you with plenty of extra curry paste. Save it to use with sautéed fish, scallops or grilled chicken.

Read: Take your pick of 13 books to watch for in June, including an important contribution to gay civil rights history, a sweeping look at human migration and new fiction from Kevin Kwan, J. Courtney Sullivan, Max Brooks and Ottessa Moshfegh.

Watch: Here are our film and TV recommendations for June, including “Queer Eye,” “Da 5 Bloods,” “Scarface” and “LOL: Last One Laughing Australia.” A new crop of animators has been working on fresh “Looney Tunes” shorts, which have the look, feel and mayhem of the classic cartoons.

Listen: Our pop critics compiled this playlist, featuring Dolly Parton singing about dire times and promising better ones, as well as Rosalía and Travis Scott, Nicole Atkins, Bright Eyes and others.

Our At Home section has more ideas for what to read, cook, watch, and do while staying safe at home.

Airlines and airports around the world are doing everything they can to make travelers confident that it’s safe to get on a plane again. But those measures might not be enough. Melina Delkic asked Donald McNeil, our infectious diseases reporter, what he thought.

It’s impossible to make a plane perfectly safe. It is an enclosed space full of strangers. It might as well be a flying subway car, a flying cocktail party or a flying choir practice. The biggest factor is luck: Did you get on one of the dozens of planes on any given day that are just fine? Or did you get on the plane that has a virus-spewing superspreader — who may not even be feeling sick — aboard? And is that superspreader sitting quietly in a mask in a back row? Or a flight attendant patrolling the aisles and lowering her mask to answer questions?

The airlines are doing what they can — aggressively sanitizing surfaces, cutting back on meals and sometimes taking temperatures. But you can’t control for bad luck. Yes, cabin air is filtered and the filters are impressive. But they are not as effective as an outdoor breeze.

Credit…Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

If everyone — no exceptions — stays masked at all times and there are many empty seats, flying should be fairly safe. The only surefire protection is a PAPR hood like those used in labs that work with lethal viruses. But those are expensive, hard to find and make you look like a cast member from “Contagion,” which might make your seatmates nervous.

Right now, airlines are not using many of their fleets. As they bring more planes into service, the seats will get more crowded, the cleaning crews will have to work faster and will get more careless. You can imagine the result.

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

— Isabella

Thank you
To Sam Sifton for the recipe and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about a weekend of intensifying protests across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd in police custody.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Ancient alphabet symbols (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Times correspondents covering race issues discuss the U.S. protests during our “America, Inflamed” event at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday (4 p.m. in London). You can email questions ahead of the event:

Leave a Reply