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Friday Morning: A breath of fresh air

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Good morning. Children may transmit the virus after all. The economy contracts sharply. But first a breath of fresh air: innovative ways that people have moved activities outdoors.

Outdoors innovation

A family performing in a neighborhood of Grand Rapids, Mich., in early July.Dave Kagan

If you’re looking for a pick-me-up — to be inspired by human ingenuity in the midst of a whole lot of bad news — today’s newsletter is for you.

I recently asked readers to tell us about innovative ways that people were moving activities outdoors, where the coronavirus spreads less easily than it does indoors. Hundreds of you responded.

My colleagues and I were energized by the ideas. They made us want to move more of our own activities outdoors — and made us hope that more companies, government agencies and other organizations take similar steps.

One of our favorites will resonate with many parents, children and teachers: It’s an attempt to hold school in a way that’s both safe and in person.

Aspire Scholar Academy is a once-a-week school in Provo, Utah, for students ages 12 to 18 who are otherwise home-schooled. It usually operates out of a church, but the school’s leaders were not persuaded that indoor classes would be safe this fall, even if everybody were wearing masks.

So a school vice president traveled to local Costcos and bought 33 canopies. Students will attend classes under them, on the church grounds. Teachers will use a public-address system.

“The kids don’t want Zoom,” Vanessa Stanfill, a member of the school’s board, says. “They want to be together.” The school has told parents that students will need sunblock and (eventually) snow pants, and it plans to incorporate the surrounding nature into lessons.

A small, once-a-week school obviously has an easier task moving classes outside than a large public school. But before you dismiss Aspire as irrelevant, remember that many New York City schools moved classes outdoors during the tuberculosis outbreak of the early 1900s. (A recent column, by The Times’s Ginia Bellafante, has some wonderful old photos.)

Among the other innovative ideas we heard from readers:

  • A ceremony for new American citizens held outside a federal courthouse in Boise, Idaho.
  • A cabaret troupe in Grand Rapids, Mich., that drives to people’s homes and puts on performances in driveways and yards.
  • A California psychotherapist seeing clients in a forest, with chairs eight feet apart.
  • A Pennsylvania company that sells gazebos and that now holds staff meetings outdoors in — where else? — a gazebo.


1. Kids and the coronavirus

A new study suggests that children can carry at least as much of the coronavirus in their noses and throats as adults — suggesting they are likely to spread the virus, as well.

“Kids don’t get visibly sick very often, and even when they do, only rarely go on to have complications or to die,” my colleague Apoorva Mandavilli explains. “But many people have — wrongly — extrapolated this to mean that kids don’t get infected.” They do, she added, and they may also pass the virus to others, which is only logical: “Kids are adept at spreading other kinds of viruses, including the flu, so why not this one?”

As usual, it will be important to see if more research confirms these findings. But the study offers one more reason that reopening schools will be complicated. (This Times map of the U.S. shows where reopenings would create the greatest risks.)

In other virus developments:

Herman Cain attended President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Okla., last month without a mask.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

2. Trump’s empty threat

Trailing in the polls and facing bad news on the economy and the virus, President Trump on Thursday suggested delaying the Nov. 3 election. Nothing in the Constitution gives presidents that power, and other Republicans shot down the idea.

I asked Jonathan Martin, a Times political reporter, how to make sense of the threat. His answer:

“We should not dismiss, or even minimize, a sitting president who suggests delaying the election. But it’s important to view Mr. Trump’s remark in the context of his longstanding refusal to acknowledge failure, a pattern that predates his entering politics. Should he lose, he will likely seek a rationale. Any uncertainty about the balloting affords him an opening to raise questions about the election’s legitimacy, regardless of whether he challenges the results.”

In a Times Op-Ed, Steven Calabresi, a conservative law professor who opposed Trump’s impeachment last year, called the tweet “fascistic.”

3. Climate change victims

A flooded road in Jamalpur, Bangladesh, this month.Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters

In the latest disaster to hit Bangladesh, torrential rains have flooded at least a quarter of the country, inundating nearly a million homes. Two months ago, a cyclone slammed Bangladesh’s southwest, while a rising sea has submerged villages along the coast.

Scientists project that severe flooding will intensify as climate change increases rainfall in Bangladesh. It’s a story that reflects the unequal burden of climate change’s effects: The average American is responsible for 33 times more planet-warming carbon dioxide than the average Bangladeshi. “Those who are least responsible for polluting Earth’s atmosphere are among those most hurt by its consequences,” Somini Sengupta and Julfikar Ali Manik write.

Here’s what else is happening

The Lakers and Clippers, the two N.B.A. heavyweights from Los Angeles, during the national anthem on Thursday.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
  • The N.B.A. resumed last night with two thrilling games after suspending its season more than four months ago.
  • “You want to honor John?” Barack Obama said in a eulogy for the civil rights icon John Lewis. “Let’s honor him by revitalizing the law that he was willing to die for.”
  • Six years after a white police officer killed Michael Brown, a Black teenager, in Ferguson, Mo., another investigation has come to the same conclusion as the first: The officer should not be charged.
  • Lives Lived: Martha Nierenberg was a multilingual biochemist, an entrepreneur (co-founder of Dansk housewares) and a lead plaintiff in an art-restitution case that reaches back to a wealthy family of Budapest Jews. She died at 96. The case goes on.


Members of Congress grilled the chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google on Wednesday. Will the hearing lead to new laws that limit the companies’ power?

Yes: The tough, specific questions were a break from the deference that Congress showed Big Tech even a few years ago, Margaret O’Mara argues in The Times. “The mood recalled the traffic safety debates of the mid-1960s that helped catalyze significantly more regulation for the auto industry.”

Members of both parties aired damning evidence of anticompetitive behavior that hurts consumers, Gilad Edelman of Wired says. And the executives’ responses were unconvincing, The Times’s Kevin Roose writes.

No: By focusing on unproven claims that tech platforms censor conservatives, Republicans undermined the antitrust case, Recode’s Shirin Ghaffary argues. They turned what could have been “an area of relative bipartisan agreement” into “a display of partisan divides.”

And even if Big Tech’s problems are clear, the solutions are less so. Small fines would be fruitless. Dramatic fixes — like breaking up the companies — are unlikely. And Amazon and Google are well-liked by the public, even if Facebook is not, New York magazine’s Josh Barro points out.

And the latest: Despite the economic downturn, the four companies all reported healthy financial results yesterday.

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A pizza (and salad) treat

Via Carota’s insalata verde, adapted by Samin Nosrat.Bobby Doherty for The New York Times

Lunches during the pandemic have a repetitive quality. By now, you may have eaten your go-to sandwich or salad a few dozen times. As a change of pace, my family looks forward to occasional orders of flash-frozen pizzas shipped all the way from Naples, Italy.

Made by Talia di Napoli, they have a delicious, chewy crust and are available in several flavors. A typical pizza costs about $14, shipping included.

To accompany it, try what some people consider the world’s greatest salad: the insalata verde from Via Carota, in New York’s West Village, as modified by the food writer Samin Nosrat.

Watch something … moody

Our weekly suggestion from Gilbert Cruz, The Times’s Culture editor:

In a small New Mexico town in the 1950s, two young people hear a mysterious noise one night. It might be coming from the sky.

There are some movies that succeed on pure mood, and it’s that somewhat ineffable thing that overshadows everything else. “The Vast of Night,” an Amazon original film, is a low-budget debut feature that is ostensibly a sci-fi story. But it would be very easy, if you went in expecting fireworks or action or special effects — all staples of sci-fi today — to end this movie feeling dissatisfied. It’s very dialogue-heavy. Not much happens.

But I’ve seen “The Vast of Night” twice and very well might watch it again. Because of that mood. It’s intimate and hushed and hypnotizing. It has a feel, as Manohla Dargis wrote, “for the spookiness of long nights.”

A new Beyoncé visual album

Beyoncé, center, in a scene from her visual album “Black Is King.”Travis Matthews/Disney+, via Associated Press

Today brings the release of “Black Is King,” a new visual album by Beyoncé. Streaming on Disney+, the album has a cast that includes the actress Lupita Nyong’o, the musician Pharrell Williams and the supermodel Naomi Campbell.

The goal was to shift “the global perception of the word ‘Black,’” Beyoncé said on “Good Morning America.” “‘Black Is King’ means Black is regal and rich in history, in purpose and in lineage.”



Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Descriptor for potato chips and autumn air (five letters).

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. A programming note: I will be taking a break from writing this newsletter until Monday, Aug. 24. In the meantime, you’ll be hearing every weekday morning from my Times colleagues. I’ll see you in a few weeks.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about the killing of a female soldier that has prompted a #MeToo moment in the military.

We’d like your feedback! Please fill out this short form.

Ian Prasad Philbrick and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at

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