Thursday Briefing


The House passed a bill that would force ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, to sell the popular video app or have it banned in the U.S. The legislation escalated a showdown between Beijing and Washington over control of a wide range of technologies that could affect national security, free speech and the social media industry.

The measure came despite TikTok’s efforts to mobilize its 170 million U.S. users against the bill.

Republican leaders fast-tracked the bill through the House, and it passed on a lopsided vote of 352 to 65, reflecting widespread backing for legislation that would take direct aim at China in an election year. The bill received broad bipartisan support, despite Donald Trump’s recent criticism of the ban.

The bill faces a difficult road to passage in the Senate, though President Biden has said he would sign it. But it is likely to face legal challenges, and finding a buyer for just the U.S. portion of TikTok, which could cost more than $50 billion, would be difficult without violating antitrust laws. It would also require Chinese approval.

Analysis: In the four years since President Trump tried to ban TikTok, it has become clear that the security threat posed by the app has far less to do with who owns it than it does with who writes TikTok’s code and algorithms.

Israel allowed a small convoy carrying food to enter northern Gaza through an Israeli border crossing for the first time since the war began last October.

The six trucks came as global pressure intensified on Israel to let more aid into the enclave, where hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of starvation.

Little aid has reached northern Gaza after major relief groups suspended operations there, citing lawlessness, poor road conditions and Israeli restrictions on convoys.

The food was only a sliver of what would be needed to feed hungry Gazans. The U.S. and other nations are also sending aid by ship to the Gazan coast and airdropping it.

Elsewhere in Gaza: The Israeli military confirmed that it had bombed an aid warehouse in Rafah, saying it had killed a Hamas commander in an attack that the U.N. said killed at least one aid worker.

A roughly $1 billion bid for The Telegraph by Jeff Zucker, the former CNN chief executive, appeared to be on life support after the British government advanced legislation that would bar foreign states from owning newspapers and newsmagazines.

Mr. Zucker’s bid relies heavily on financing from investment partners in the United Arab Emirates. The use of Emirati funds caused an uproar in Westminster over foreign influence in the British media, with critics citing the U.A.E.’s autocratic government and its checkered human rights record.

The Telegraph is particularly important to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party, so influential in conservative politics that it’s often called “The Torygraph.”

The notion of “colorblindness,” the idea that the Constitution prohibits the use of race to distinguish citizens, was originally championed by civil rights activists as a path to a more equitable society in the U.S.

Now, colorblindness has been co-opted by conservative groups who are using it to undermine programs designed to explicitly address racial inequality, Nikole Hannah-Jones argues in an essay in The New York Times Magazine. (Here are five takeaways from the piece and a video explaining it.)

Lives lived: Malachy McCourt was a thespian, barkeep and best-selling memoirist who became something of a professional Irishman in America. He died at 92.

Arsenal advances against Porto: Analysis from a fiercely contested Champions League series.

Tennis’s comeback moms: Returning to the sport after giving birth.

Fixing golf: Can Jay Monahan bring the PGA Tour back together?

“Unloading the Hay Wagon,” a 17th-century painting by the Dutch old master Isaac van Ostade (shown above), is packed away in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. Once the property of a British-Jewish couple living in France, it was seized by Nazi collaborators during World War II before winding up in a Dutch museum.

The collectors’ heirs sought the painting’s return in 2006, and the Netherlands investigated the case and recommended restitution the following year. But the family still doesn’t have the painting, because of a diligent Dutch civil notary who won’t release it until he receives missing documents.


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