The Big StoryThe coronavirus pandemic is winding down in the United States—maybe, hopefully—but the plague is still the single most important ongoing event in the wider world, which offers numerous reminders of just how complicated the crisis still is. Mongolia reports a worrying spike, joining a number of other countries where the virus has surged despite widespread use of Chinese-made vaccines, which have proven dangerously ineffective. In China, 180,000 people are back under strict lockdown amid a suspected outbreak in Guangzhou, where all 18.7 million residents were tested for the virus between Sunday and Tuesday. There are still onerous restrictions on foreign travel to China, which require travelers to be in a strictly supervised quarantine of two weeks or more upon arrival, sometimes in government medical facilities, and which require many business travelers to effectively quarantine for two weeks before even leaving their countries of origin. Melbourne, Australia’s ongoing lockdown will reportedly end soon, although residents of the city will still be prohibited from traveling more than 25 kilometers from their homes. Rapid antigen tests are a condition for such normal activities as eating in a restaurant in Germany, where much of the population is still unvaccinated. Meanwhile, a major survey from the European Council on Foreign Relations published today hints that some of the political upheavals precipitated by COVID-19 actually lie in the future: Majorities of respondents in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Austria said the European Union was “broken”—this after a year of disillusionment over the organization’s response to the novel coronavirus.Read about it here: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/09/world/asia/china-covid-lockdown.html and https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/09/europeans-confidence-in-eu-hit-by-coronavirus-responseThe RestHelp is on the way, though, thanks to the financial, diplomatic, and scientific power of the United States: President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. government is purchasing 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which will then be donated to countries around the world. Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-vaccine-donate/2021/06/09/c2744674-c934-11eb-93fa-9053a95eb9f2_story.html Negotiations between the White House and Senate Republicans over a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure package have failed, meaning the legislation can likely only be passed through budget reconciliation, a politically risky procedural work-around. Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/08/us/politics/infrastructure-biden-republicans.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage Fourteen employees of an international demining NGO were massacred in Afghanistan, where government forces have been taking heavy losses and the Taliban is eagerly preparing for the impending pullout of U.S. troops. Read more: https://www.foxnews.com/world/afghanistan-anti-land-mine-attack Members of China’s persecuted Uighur minority aren’t safe anywhere in the nondemocratic world, even among their coreligionists: CNN reports that Uighurs are routinely deported to China from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other majority-Muslim nations. Read more: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/06/08/middleeast/uyghur-arab-muslim-china-disappearances-cmd-intl/index.html The seven candidates who have been permitted to run for president in Iran met for a three-hour televised debate last night. Ebrahim Raisi, the Islamic Republic’s hard-line Chief Justice, is believed to be the front-runner for the June 18 contest, which is taking place amid renewed U.S.-led negotiations over the future of the 2015 nuclear deal. A study today from the right-of-center American Enterprise Institute has uncovered a frightening crisis. In a survey on the state of American friendship, Americans reported a declining number of close friends, and the survey showed a similar drop in those saying they have a “best friend.” Some 15% of respondents—and 20% of Democrats surveyed, compared to 10% of Republicans—said they had ended a friendship over a political disagreement. This report is the scariest thing you’re likely to see this week. Read it here, if you dare: https://www.americansurveycenter.org/research/the-state-of-american-friendship-change-challenges-and-loss/#Losing_a_Friend_over_Politics\n\nA Jewish middle-school teacher has publicly quit United Teachers Los Angeles after the union passed a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) resolution—although perhaps the real story is that few others are following her lead. Same goes for San Francisco, where controversy over the teachers’ union’s recent endorsement of BDS doesn’t seem to have spread too far beyond the Jewish community. Read more: https://nypost.com/2021/06/09/middle-school-teacher-quits-union-over-its-pro-bds-stance/\nToday in “when Shalom Bayit goes wrong”: Emma Coronel Aispuro—the 31-year-old former beauty queen who helped her husband, the notorious drug lord and criminal folk hero Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, escape from prison in Mexico and aided in the administration of his multi-billion-dollar transnational narcotics empire—will plead guilty to conspiracy charges in U.S. federal court this week. Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/08/us/politics/el-chapos-wife-guilty-plea.html?action=click&module=In%20Other%20News&pgtype=Homepage\n\nThe city council of San Francisco, a socio-economic basket case that is nevertheless still one of the most important cities in the United States, held a multi-hour debate over where a single coffee shop should have the right to open. Read more: https://twitter.com/kimmaicutler/status/1402422735830077447\n\nTablet fave Diego Schwartzman heroically captured the second set against Spanish titan Rafael Nadal in today’s French Open quarterfinal. Alas, he lost the other three sets, with the match hinging on an agonizingly close third frame, which Schwartzman dropped 6-4. Not the result we wanted, but there’s never any shame in keeping it close against the four-time defending champ and greatest men’s clay-court player in history.The Back PagesIs mainstream news coverage biased against Israel? I suppose you could argue either side of that one. An open letter published earlier this afternoon and signed by scores of journalists—some of them prominent (such as the Daily Beast’s Spencer Ackerman and 1619 Project Pulitzer winner Nikole Hannah-Jones), many of them anonymous (such as the three identified as “Journalist-The Washington Post” or the one reading “Journalist-The Atlantic”)—asserts that the argument should be had in public, among journalists themselves.\n\nThe argumentative merits of the Open Letter on U.S. Media Coverage of Palestine are, as with everything else between the river and the sea, very much in the eye of the beholder. A bit of nitpicking: The letter says that Human Rights Watch’s declaration of Israeli “apartheid” and B’Tselem’s accusation of Israel maintaining a “regime of ethnic supremacy” should be the starting point for all future coverage of the place, as if HRW and B’Tselem are not themselves journalistic sources whose claims warrant careful scrutiny. The letter says the belief that Hamas rockets “caused significantly less damage than Israeli airstrikes” should determine the amount of coverage those attacks receive, a standard that no self-respecting editor should ever accept, as it would use one particular activist-selected criterion to guide all future coverage of a major international conflict. \n\nBut the nitpicking is pointless, just as it’s pointless to whine about the selectiveness of these journalists’ revolt against the allegedly corrupted values of their own industry—although to the best of my knowledge, we’ve seen no open letters about how the media handles voting rights or infrastructure spending or school reopenings, to name just three issues with a greater impact on Americans’ daily lives than the far-away Israeli-Palestinian conflict. No, the important thing here is the glimpse the letter gives into the psychology of a certain kind of media worker.\n\nThere is a type of journalist who, in their heart of hearts, is someone else entirely—for whom a life in media was a tragic and seemingly permanent derailment of conscious or subconscious dreams of a life as a politician, a labor leader, an international human-rights lawyer, or some other variety of change agent. Journalism is a job with uncertain public impact and almost no actual prestige, as the media is one of the country’s most distrusted institutions. All these journalists are left with is a thwarted impulse for world improvement, left unsatisfied by the spiritual drudgery of corporatized, nonactivist modes of truth seeking.\n\nThere will always be polemical and ideologically driven reporters—many of the best practitioners of the craft view themselves as change agents and would see no tension in adopting a party line they believe to be morally and factually correct. But only recently have journalists gone public with a belief that the absence of a morally uniform professional outlook amounts to a broader crisis, not just for themselves but also for their professional colleagues and the reading public.\n\nFor thousands of years, people have used the Holy Land as a canvas for their own fantasies and agendas, which often have very little to do with the place. This letter is a tiny part of that long tradition: The signers have used opposition to Israel to salve their frustrated sense of purpose and amplify their own opposition to the ethical and practical constraints of their field. The Jewish state isn’t their only target, or even their primary one, which lies much closer to home.