China’s Workers, Boris Johnson, SpaceX Launch: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering China’s young workers struggling in a post-virus economy, public opinion turning against Boris Johnson and a guacamole recipe with peas (try it first.)

Despite a trade war with the U.S. and tensions with Hong Kong, Beijing’s main focus is revitalizing the economy after a weekslong freeze. Millions of workers were laid off or furloughed during the coronavirus outbreak.

Young people especially are feeling the pressure as they enter perhaps China’s toughest job market in the modern era. They are reducing expectations, taking pay cuts or waiting on the sidelines until things improve. With 8.7 million students poised to graduate this year, competition will get fiercer.

Finding jobs for young workers is a major priority for Chinese leaders, who have long promised a better life in exchange for limits on political freedom.

Details: The jobless rate for people ages 16 to 24 totaled nearly 14 percent, more than twice the official figure for the nation as a whole.

Quotable: “I can’t just keep waiting,” said one recent graduate of a prestigious drama school whose job prospects were gutted in the shutdown.

Explainer: After fears of a resurgence, Chinese health authorities in Wuhan managed to administer 6.5 million tests for the coronavirus in less than two weeks. Only about 200 cases were found. Our correspondents explore the campaign to test all 11 million residents.

Public opinion is turning against Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain as outcry continued on Tuesday over a 260-mile trip his closest aide took during the pandemic lockdown.

For two months, Mr. Johnson has been criticized for his response to the coronavirus crisis — abandoning widespread testing, imposing a lockdown too slowly and leaving nursing homes unprotected.

But the image of a powerful government official flouting lockdown rules has struck a nerve. Mr. Johnson has supported the aide, Dominic Cummings, despite protests from his own Conservative Party. (Mr. Cummings said he wanted to line up care for his child in Northern England in case he and his wife contracted the virus.)

Details: Two polls showed an erosion of support for Mr. Johnson and strong opposition to Mr. Cummings. Some analysts suggest the saga could politically damage Conservatives for months.

Voices: Peter Piot, a Belgian virus-hunter known for his research in Ebola and AIDS, found himself battling the coronavirus physically instead. He is still feeling the infection’s symptoms, which hit him “like a bus” in March.

The Taliban are on the verge of realizing their biggest desire: U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan. And the group has managed to do so without changing much of its extremist ideology.

At a pivotal moment in the war, our reporters delved into the insurgents’ strategy, through dozens of interviews, including a rare one with Amir Khan Mutaqi, the chief of staff to the Taliban’s supreme leader.

Oil from Iran: An oil tanker has sailed into Venezuela from Iran, the first of five ships expected to arrive in a nation so starved of gasoline that the docking of a single tanker was hailed by government officials as a victory.

Snapshot: Above, traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday for the first day of floor trading in two months. Most traders are still working from home; those on the floor must undergo temperature checks and wear masks.

What we’re reading: This GQ profile of Steve Buscemi, who opens up about anxiety and loss. The writer’s interview with Mr. Buscemi was also her last restaurant meal before the pandemic shut down New York City, and it’s everything you need right now.

Cook: Adding English peas to this green pea guacamole “is one of those radical moves that is also completely obvious after you taste it,” says Melissa Clark.

On Wednesday, two NASA astronauts are set to blast off from American soil on an American rocket to space for the first time in nearly a decade. In a first, the launch is being run by a private company, SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk. Sanam Yar, on the newsletters team, spoke with Kenneth Chang, a science reporter at The Times who covers NASA, about the launch. Here’s what he said:

Back in 1968, Pan Am started issuing memberships for its “First Moon Flights” club to space enthusiasts hoping to someday book a commercial flight there. It was a fanciful promotion — the membership card was free — but more than 93,000 people signed up.

Pan Am is long out of business, and we’re still a long way away from someone being able to buy a ticket to the moon, but the SpaceX launch is the first real step toward that dream. Although NASA has been involved in working with SpaceX, this is SpaceX’s operation. In the future, NASA will simply pay the going rate for a ticket to the International Space Station and not be involved with running its own space transportation system to low-Earth orbit.

SpaceX has been somewhat insulated, because although Elon is the visionary (Mars! Internet satellites!) and cheerleader for the company, people look to Gwynne Shotwell, the president and chief operating officer, to keep an even keel for the company’s day-to-day work. Tesla probably needs someone like that.


That’s it for this briefing. I’m wearing my robe all day. See you next time.

— Isabella


Thank you
To Melissa Clark 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 briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about two Mexican migrant brothers who died of the coronavirus shortly after they got to their new home in the U.S. To fulfill their dying wish, to be buried in Mexico, their family must navigate a patchwork of pandemic laws and bureaucracies.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Subject of the 2020 documentary “Becoming” (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Join our Parenting editor for a conversation with Pooja Lakshmin, a perinatal psychiatrist, about balancing parenthood and me time right now.

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