Friday, 27 Nov 2020

Your Thursday Briefing

France imposes a national lockdown.

By Natasha Frost

Good morning.

We’re covering new virus restrictions in Germany and France, protests in Poland over new abortion laws and a radical proposal to combat climate change.

France and Germany impose severe restrictions

With coronavirus case numbers rising rapidly and hospitals already under strain in France and Germany, the countries’ leaders announced significant restrictions on Wednesday in an attempt to curb infection rates.

Starting on Friday, France will begin a second national lockdown lasting one month. Most schools will remain open and visits in retirement homes will remain possible, President Emmanuel Macron said. Otherwise, people may not leave their homes other than for essential reasons. “The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated,” he said in a televised address. “Like all our neighbors, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus.”

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the closure of restaurants and bars, as well as gyms, theaters, museums and nail salons, for a month. Schools will remain open.

Economic impact: European shares sank to their lowest levels in months as investors braced for fresh economic pain.

Details: France reported 288 new virus-related deaths in hospitals in 24 hours on Tuesday and 235 deaths in nursing homes over the previous four days, the biggest rise since May. In Germany, the number of patients in hospitals has doubled in the past 10 days.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, emerged from one of the world’s longest and most severe lockdowns on Wednesday.

The drug makers Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline have vowed to provide 200 million doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine to an international coalition designed to give countries equal access to coronavirus vaccines.

Eli Lilly has reached a $375 million deal with the U.S. federal government for its experimental antibody treatment, if the therapy is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.

A nationwide strike over Poland’s abortion laws

Tens of thousands of people took to Poland’s streets in a nationwide strike on Wednesday to protest a court decision banning nearly all abortions. Now in their sixth day, the protests drew thousands of women, joined by numerous men, who abandoned their offices in dozens of cities, including Warsaw, above.

The ruling, made by a top court last week, stopped pregnancy terminations for fetal abnormalities, virtually the only type of abortion currently performed in the country. The protests have turned into a broader expression of anger at a right-wing government that opponents accuse of hijacking the judiciary and chipping away at the rights of women and minorities.

Official response: The leader of the governing party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, accused demonstrators of seeking the destruction of the nation and appealed to supporters to “defend churches,” a handful of which have been vandalized by protesters.

Could British fisheries sink a Brexit trade deal?

In the greater scheme of Britain’s larger economy, fishing is a tiny industry. Just 12,000 people in Britain fish from 6,000 vessels, contributing less than one-half of 1 percent of gross domestic product — less than the upmarket London department store Harrods, according to one analysis. The same holds true for most continental European nations.

But as negotiations between Britain and the European Union on a long-term trade deal grind along toward the Dec. 31 deadline, fisheries are proving to be one of the most politically treacherous sticking points.

What’s next: Without an agreement, continental fishing fleets could be locked out of British waters, giving the European Union an incentive to settle. And the British seafood industry (including producers of farmed salmon) badly wants access to continental European markets. One potential solution might be a transition — or “glide path” — under which British fishing quotas would gradually expand at the expense of those of continental nations.

If you have 10 minutes, this is worth it

A star footballer’s downfall, after speaking out

A year ago, Mesut Özil, the Arsenal midfielder, was one of the Premier League’s highest-paid players. But then he criticized China on Twitter over its treatment of Uighur Muslims and in an Instagram post.

A lot changed after that moment — though it’s unclear how much of it can be traced back to his criticism of China. Our reporters looked at the fallout for Özil, who quickly disappeared from video games, merchandise and the Chinese internet, got his pay cut and has not played since June.

Here’s what else is happening

Climate change: A radical proposal to combat climate change is gaining traction: artificially cooling the planet in hopes of buying humanity more time to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The Australian government is funding research into one technique that scientists hope can save the Great Barrier Reef.

Anonymous Op-Ed: Miles Taylor, a former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, revealed himself to be the author of an anonymous 2018 Op-Ed in The Times. In the article, he described President Trump as “petty and ineffective” and claimed to be part of a cadre of officials working against the administration’s agenda.

Putting a ring on it: Tiffany & Company is close to an agreement to cut the price of its sale to the French conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, three people with knowledge of the talks said on Wednesday, potentially settling a dispute over one of the luxury world’s largest deals.

Snapshot: Above, voting in Tanzania. The election on Wednesday is seen as a referendum on President John Magufuli, who is seeking a second five-year term, and on the governing Party of the Revolution, which has dominated Tanzanian politics under one name or another since independence in 1961.

Lives Lived: The chef Cecilia Chiang, whose San Francisco restaurant introduced American diners in the 1960s to the richness and variety of authentic Chinese cuisine, died at 100 on Wednesday.

What we’re reading: This Tampa Bay Times investigation, recommended by Matt Apuzzo, an international investigative correspondent. “There’s nothing safer than a bank vault or an armored truck, right?” he writes. “Think again. This remarkable piece shows how one company lost millions of dollars from some of the country’s biggest banks by moving money around to stay ahead of audits.”

Now, a break from the news

Cook: These sausages with apples and onions are a tasty pairing. The onions are caramelized and the apples fried in butter.

Watch: “Barbarians” depicts the Battle of Teutoburg Forest, which has long been a rallying cry for German nationalists, including the Nazis. The series has been positively received in Germany.

Do: A plant’s Latin name is the only way to know for certain what you’ll be getting when you buy plants. Here are some tips on learning the language of plants.

Grappling with new stay-at-home restrictions? Our At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do can help.

And now for the Back Story on …

How the pandemic is changing the U.S. election

Drive-through polling places. Candidates meeting voters on video chats. Canvassers in masks and gloves knocking on doors and then scurrying six feet back. Just days before the Nov. 3 election, our reporters looked at how the coronavirus has upended the election season at nearly every turn.

The pandemic has emerged as the dominant issue among candidates up and down the ballot, scrambled American campaign traditions and complicated the way votes are cast. The collision of an election and a pandemic has thrown campaigns and early voting efforts into a last-minute frenzy.

“All we’re missing is the asteroid landing with flesh-eating zombies, and our year will be complete,” said Paul Lux, the supervisor of elections in Okaloosa County, Fla., and one of the nearly nine million Americans who have contracted the virus.

Voters who had never considered mailing their ballots are doing so for the first time rather than braving their usual indoor polling places. And some in the nation’s army of Election Day workers are weighing what levels of protective equipment to wear — if they go to the polls again this year at all.

The share of cases reported in Republican counties has grown every month, from 20 percent in March to 56 percent now, a Times analysis of virus data shows. Much of it is occurring in counties that represent President Trump’s base within battleground states that could decide the election.

That’s it for this briefing. See you on Friday.

— Natasha

Thank you
Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the secretive pay-to-play network of partisan local news cropping up across the U.S.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Seventh heaven” (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• An accidental haiku from a recent Times article (courtesy of the Twitter bot @nythaikus): “When the sun beats down, / students take shelter under / shades made from boat sails.”
• The Times Magazine writer Emily Bazelon spoke to NPR’s Fresh Air about her story on how false content moves through the internet unchecked — undermining the political process along the way.

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