The New York Times - Thursday Briefing: U.S. targets TikTok

Also, aid to northern Gaza and whimsical wooden automatons.
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Morning Briefing: Asia Pacific Edition

March 14, 2024

Author Headshot

By Amelia Nierenberg

Writer, Briefings

Good morning. We’re covering a U.S. vote targeting TikTok and an aid convoy delivering food to Gaza.

Plus an Italian sculptor who makes wood dance.

A man wearing a blue suit and red tie speaks to reporters with microphones in front of the U.S. Capitol.
Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Republican and a leader of the bill, said it “forces TikTok to break up with the Chinese Communist Party.” Kent Nishimura for The New York Times

U.S. House advances TikTok ban

The House of Representatives passed a bill meant to force ByteDance, the Chinese internet company, to sell TikTok within six months to a buyer that satisfies the U.S. government — or face a ban in the country. The vote was the latest development in a cold war between the U.S. and China over the control of valuable technology.

U.S. officials have expressed concerns that TikTok’s Chinese ownership poses a national security risk. Many are worried that Beijing could demand Americans’ personal data from ByteDance and that, under Chinese law, ByteDance would have to comply. They also worry that China could use TikTok’s powerful algorithm to feed its users political propaganda.

TikTok — which 170 million Americans use — has said that it has gone to great lengths to protect U.S. user data. China condemned the push and rejected concerns that TikTok was a danger to the U.S.

But few buyers could afford even the U.S. portion of TikTok, which could be worth $50 billion. Those that could may face antitrust issues, or China could block the sale. If ByteDance cannot or refuses to sell TikTok, it would be unlawful for app stores and web hosting companies to distribute or update the app in the U.S.

What’s next: The bill faces a tough road in the Senate. President Biden has said he would sign it should it pass both houses of Congress.

People, including children, lined up along a railing carrying empty bowls and buckets.
Palestinians waiting for food in Rafah this week. Fatima Shbair/Associated Press

A few aid trucks enter Gaza’s north

Israel allowed aid trucks into Gaza through a route that had not been used for aid delivery since the war began.

The convoy, six trucks carrying food for 25,000 people, went directly into northern Gaza, where the humanitarian crisis is particularly dire. But in a sign that the aid will provide only limited relief, the U.N. World Food Program called for “deliveries every day” and “entry points directly into the north.”

The move came as global pressure mounts on Israel to let more aid into Gaza. The head of UNRWA, the U.N. aid agency for Palestinians, said that some aid was turned around this week because it had medical scissors. Israel said he was lying. UNRWA also said that Israel struck an aid warehouse in Rafah, killing at least one worker. The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A man working on a railway track.
The railroad in Azerbaijan will link to Iran.  Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

Russia’s new trade routes

Long dependent on Europe for trade, Russia is forging new routes that will allow it to skirt Western restrictions and expand ties with countries that would still do business with it, despite the war in Ukraine.

A southern route to reach India — where Russia’s trade has surged to more than four times as much as what it was in 2021 — and countries in the Persian Gulf, has become a focus. It would rely on a planned railway through Iran, for which Russia has agreed to loan the country $1.4 billion.

What’s next: The new link is expected to be completed in 2028, and the resulting “North-South Transport Corridor” would be out of reach of Western sanctions.

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MORE TOP NEWS

Portraits of Donald Trump, left, and President Biden. They are both wearing dark suits with white shirts and American flag lapel pins.
The rematch is set between Donald Trump and President Biden. Doug Mills/The New York Times; Tom Brenner for The New York Times

Zoom In

Business

MORNING READ

A wooden case with wood pins holding up sculptures of shrimp, fish and jelly fish.  The shrimp are playing instruments.
Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

Amedeo Capelli, an Italian sculptor, makes tiny, whimsical hand-operated automatons: Shrimp play instruments, or mice pirates carry swords. “The best part of my work,” Capelli, 31, said, “is to see a piece of wood that comes to life.”

Lives lived: Olga Murray rescued thousands of Nepalese girls and young women from bonded slavery and fed hungry children. She died at 98.

Conversation Starters

  • Fashion: Older women have become more common on the runway.
  • Oddity: A shiny monolith was found in Wales. Similar mysterious objects were placed around the world in 2020.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this newsletter, which is made possible through subscriber support. Subscribe to The New York Times.

ARTS AND IDEAS

A line of Black protesters hold signs saying “I Am a Man” with white paint added on top of the photograph.
A civil rights march in 1968. Photo illustration by Mark Harris. Source: Photograph by Dr. Ernest C. Withers Sr./Withers Family Trust

The “colorblindness” trap

In the American civil rights movement, the idea of being “colorblind” was used to challenge discriminatory laws and policies. Leaders believed that achieving colorblindness required race-conscious policies to help Black people overcome disadvantages stemming from slavery.

But the idea and language of “colorblindness” was hijacked, my colleague Nikole Hannah-Jones argues in an essay. Conservatives have co-opted the language of “colorblindness,” she writes, stalling or reversing racial progress — as seen in last year’s ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that affirmative action in college admissions was not constitutional, and the ensuing assault on race-conscious programs.

“The Supreme Court has helped constitutionalize a colorblindness that leaves racial disparities intact while striking down efforts to ameliorate them,” she argues in a guide to the basic points of her essay.

For more: Nikole explains her essay in a three-minute video.

RECOMMENDATIONS

A plate of chicken thighs with green olives and pitted prunes.
David Malosh for The New York Times

Cook: Make a quick, no-marinade-needed chicken Marbella.

Read: These books paint a picture of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Travel: At the Setsubun celebrations in Kyoto, Japan, people banish demons and prepare for the start of a new year.

Play Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku. Find all our games here.

That’s it for today. See you tomorrow. — Amelia

We’re making some changes to the newsletter to make it more enjoyable to read. Let us know what you think at briefing@nytimes.com.

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