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Your Wednesday Briefing

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Your Wednesday Briefing
Wednesday, July 1, 2020 | View in browser

Good morning.

We’re covering the latest on the Hong Kong security law, new findings in possible Russian bounties and a reversal in U.S. reopenings as coronavirus cases rise.

By Melina Delkic
Beijing on Tuesday.  Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press

What we know about the Hong Kong security law

The new national security law for Hong Kong that was adopted in China on Tuesday gives the government in Beijing sweeping powers to crack down on dissent.
The new legislation, released to the public for the first time after its adoption, provides a blueprint for the authorities and courts to suppress the city’s protest movement and for China’s national security apparatus to pervade layers of Hong Kong society.
In ambiguous wording, it lays out new crimes and authorizes life imprisonment in the most serious cases. Here are some key points:

■ The law takes aim at antigovernment protesters. Activities like damaging government buildings and interrupting public transit are described as acts of subversion and terrorism.

■ It allows Beijing to seize broad control in security cases, especially during crises. A new Committee for Safeguarding National Security will operate in total secrecy and will be shielded from legal challenges.

■ The law focuses heavily on the perceived role of foreigners in Hong Kong’s unrest. It will impose harsh penalties on anyone who urges foreign countries to criticize or to impose sanctions on the government.

Big picture: Critics have called it a death knell to the “One Country, Two Systems” political framework that preserved Hong Kong’s distinctive status.
Response: The business world has largely fallen in line behind China’s campaign to tighten its grip on Hong Kong. Many leaders around the world condemned the law, The Financial Times reports.
John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens last month.  Johannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Europe bars travelers from the U.S., Russia and Brazil

The European Union will open its borders to visitors from 15 countries as of Wednesday, but not to travelers from the U.S., Brazil or Russia, where coronavirus cases continue to balloon.
The list of nations that the bloc has approved includes Australia, Canada and New Zealand; travelers from China will be permitted if China reciprocates. E.U. countries are hoping to restart travel and tourism while preventing new outbreaks.
The decision came as Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., said the number of new infections in the nation could more than double to 100,000 a day if the country fails to contain the surge that is now underway in many states.

Data bolters suspicions about Russian bounties

U.S. officials intercepted electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account.
This was part of the evidence pointing to an effort by Russia to covertly offer bounties to the Taliban for killing U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan.
What it means: Intelligence analysts and agencies had disagreed over how reliable the information from interrogations was, but the intercepts bolstered the findings.
Recap: The Times reported that U.S. officials briefed President Trump in February about Russia’s payments to Taliban-linked militants to have American troops killed in Afghanistan. Mr. Trump has claimed that the information was not provided to him.

If you have 6 minutes, this is worth it

A history of setbacks in working from home

George Etheredge for The New York Times
Employers like Facebook are becoming excited about the long-term prospect of remote working, but decades of setbacks suggest a bumpy road ahead.
In the past, IBM, Best Buy and other companies scrapped work-from-home experiments after finding that telecommuting diminished accountability and creativity. Technology has made big strides since then.
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Here’s what else is happening

Swine flu: A study warns that a new strain of the H1N1, common on pig farms in China since 2016, has “the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus” and should be “urgently” controlled.
Huawei and ZTE: The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday designated the Chinese telecommunications firms as national security threats, cutting them off from billions of dollars in federal broadband subsidies.
Australia-China relations: Australia will be spending nearly $1 billion on cyberdefense, including recruiting cyberspies, over the next decade as tensions with China increase.
Belgium: King Philippe has expressed his “deepest regrets” for his country’s brutal past in a letter to the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the first public acknowledgment from a member of the Belgian royal family of the devastating toll during eight decades of colonization.
In memoriam: Carl Reiner, the multifaceted master of comedy, has died at age 98.
Eve Edelheit for The New York Times
Snapshot: Above, Sunset Beach in Treasure Island, Fla. Beaches in the southern part of the state will be closed for the Fourth of July, the biggest summer travel holiday in the U.S., as Florida reverses course on its reopening because of a rise in coronavirus cases.
What we’re listening to: This retro radio station, where it is always the summer of 1997. “The desktop themes and tunes alone will make your day,” says Remy Tumin on the Briefings team.

Now, a break from the news

Andrew Purcell for The New York Times
Cook: This
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