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Your Wednesday Briefing



Former Vice President Joe Biden named Senator Kamala Harris of California on Tuesday as his running mate in the U.S. presidential election in November. She is the first Black woman and first person of Indian descent to be nominated for national office on a major party ticket.

Ms. Harris, 55, had sharply criticized Mr. Biden in the Democratic primaries, but after ending her own campaign, she emerged as his vocal supporter. A career prosecutor, Ms. Harris is known as a pragmatic moderate.

Her supporters argued that she could reinforce Mr. Biden’s appeal with Black voters and women. She is only the fourth woman in U.S. history to be chosen for a major political party’s presidential ticket.

Go deeper: Our reporter compiled some facts to know about Ms. Harris.

2020 race: With Election Day drawing closer, Russian efforts to influence the vote appear to be well underway. American officials say Moscow is pushing dubious articles through English-language news sites, as opposed to the fake social media accounts it deployed in 2016.

Russia has become the first country to approve a vaccine for use against the coronavirus, even though clinical trials have yet to be completed.

The announcement raised concerns internationally that Moscow was cutting corners for political reasons. Last week, the World Health Organization cautioned Russia to stick to the usual methods of testing a vaccine for safety and efficacy.

“It works effectively enough, forms a stable immunity and, I repeat, it has gone through all necessary tests,” President Vladimir Putin said in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. He added that one of his daughters had taken the vaccine. The health minister said a mass vaccination campaign would soon begin.

Details: The scientific body that developed the vaccine, the Gamaleya Institute, has yet to conduct Phase 3 trials, which are generally the last phase of human testing before a vaccine is approved for widespread use. That final phase is the only way to determine with statistical certainty that a vaccine is safe and effective.

Experts are skeptical. Several told our reporter that it was a dangerous move. “I think it’s really scary — it’s really risky,” said Daniel Salmon, the director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University.

Here are the latest updates and maps tracking the coronavirus outbreak.

In other developments:

  • The coronavirus has now sickened more than 20 million people worldwide, a number that has doubled in about six weeks, according to a New York Times database. Cases are spiking in Latin American countries that previously had the virus under control.

  • New Zealand reported its first locally transmitted cases of the virus in months, breaking a 102-day streak.

The main opponent of Aleksandr Lukashenko, the authoritarian president of Belarus, left the country on Tuesday as violent skirmishes between the police and protesters continued.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who ran for president in Sunday’s election, left for Lithuania under pressure from the Belarusian authorities, her associates said. Lithuania’s foreign minister said she was “safe” in his country.

In one video released on Tuesday, in which Ms. Tikhanovskaya appeared to be under duress, she read from a prepared text calling on Belarusians not to protest in public squares or to resist the police.

Tuesday saw a third evening of clashes, though there were signs that the protests were losing momentum in the face of a fierce police response.

Details: With established opposition figures, including her husband, in jail or in exile, Ms. Tikhanovskaya became the face of the campaign against Mr. Lukashenko. Official results, widely considered fraudulent, gave her 10 percent of the vote. In one of her video messages, she hinted that she had left the country for the sake of her children.

Quotable: “I made this decision absolutely independently,” she said in a video. “I know that many will understand me, many will judge me and many will hate me for it. But know that God forbid you will face the kind of choice that I faced.”

The words “Black Lives Matter” are now everywhere in the United States, and polling indicates a significant shift in racial attitudes among a wide array of Americans. But activists on the South Side of Chicago are skeptical that there will be tangible improvements for communities that most need it.

“We want to be a community that’s paid attention to,” said Diane Latiker, above, who has lived in the city’s Roseland neighborhood for 32 years and runs a neighborhood nonprofit called Kids Off the Block. “But no one wants to run a campaign on us.”

Spain’s ex-king: There has been frenzied speculation about the whereabouts of Juan Carlos, the former king of Spain, since he announced he would leave the country amid investigations related to his wealth. The situation has raised tensions within Spain’s fragile coalition government.

Snapshot: Above, students at a Bangkok protest last month flashing a salute from the “Hunger Games” movies. Thousands of students, many dressed in school uniforms or as pop culture icons, have staged rallies across Thailand, urging democratic reform.

Cycling: Coventry can be forbidding for cyclists. But before it became Britain’s motor city, it was famous for making bicycles.

What we’re reading: This article in The New Yorker on rethinking the science of skin. “It taught me a lot of fascinating stuff about the soap industry and made me reconsider my relationship with the skin care products that we are constantly being peddled and told will improve our lives,” wrote Sanam Yar, from the Briefings team.

Cook: This broccoli salad with peanuts and tahini-lime dressing is inspired by Thai cuisine and uses a dash of hot sauce for heat.

Watch: The documentary “A Thousand Cuts” profiles Maria Ressa, a journalist who has fearlessly chronicled abuses in the Philippines under the Duterte government. It’s a critic’s pick.

Do: So you’ve put on some weight during lockdown. You, too, can shrug it off and be kinder to yourself. Here’s how.

At Home has our full collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do to make staying at home fun.

The coronavirus pandemic could change our lives in unexpected ways, for years to come. Our reporter looked at some mundane things we might be seeing a lot less of.

Blowing out the candles on your cake. This tradition could fade. And the singing of “Happy Birthday” poses an even greater risk when it comes to spreading droplets, said Melissa Nolan, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. It’s best to take the singing outside, she said, and to spread out, too.

Letting your kid jump into a ball pit. Swimming around in a pool of plastic — a material experts say is especially good at harboring germs — could become a thing of the past, at least at McDonald’s. “I don’t know if we’ve got ball pits in our future,” the company’s chief executive recently said.

Getting a quick makeover. Once upon a time, if you wanted to try new makeup — or give yourself a free makeover between the office and after-work drinks — you could head for the testers or samples at Sephora, Ulta or department stores. Just don’t think too hard about who used the brush or lipstick sample before you. Some stores, though, are replacing the reusable samples with single-use, disposable items.

Close encounters in a crowded bar. After months of distancing, mask wearing and nixing small talk in public, will we be shouting in one another’s faces at bars or clubs again? Experts hope not. Your behavior in social situations will be shaped by how people around you act, said Jeanine Skorinko, a social psychology professor at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.


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