Europe’s painful viral restrictions seem to be working
Rates of new coronavirus cases are dropping for the first time in months across Europe after new restrictions were put in place, according to the World Health Organization. This is a significant change from two weeks ago, when the agency reported around two million new infections per week across the continent. Last week, that number fell 10% to 1.8 million.
The restrictions, many of which were announced in late October, are less severe than those in the spring, many businesses are closed, and gatherings are small. The movement limits are much less strict than they used to be. Schools generally remain open, unlike much of the United States.
Less than a month after its second lockdown, France saw its seven-day average for new daily cases cut by almost half, to 28,500. Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and the Czech Republic have also recorded drops. But the number of deaths continues to rise, with 4,500 deaths each day from the virus in Europe.
Here are the latest pandemic updates and maps.
In other developments:
All over the world, workers soap, wipe and fumigate surfaces to fight the coronavirus. But scientists are increasingly saying that there is little or no evidence that contaminated surfaces can spread the virus, and those efforts may be in vain.
Researchers reported that the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford produced a similar immune response when tested in older and younger adults.
The slaughter of mink in Denmark to prevent the spread of a potentially dangerous new strain of the coronavirus has sparked a political crisis in the country, with the agriculture minister forced to resign and the government in danger of collapse.
Boris Johnsons seeks to make Joe Biden an ally
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched back-to-back ambitious initiatives on military spending and climate change this week. Both are likely to appeal to President-elect Joe Biden and can serve as a signal that Mr Johnson believes he can work with the new president as well as his predecessor.
The departure of the British from the European Union no longer makes it useful to the United States as an English-speaking bridge to the rulers of continental Europe. But these initiatives, which include building more warships and phasing out new gasoline and diesel cars within a decade, can demonstrate to Mr Biden that Britain can nonetheless be a relevant partner.
Quote: Britain will not play that role of connecting the United States to Europe, a London-based analyst has said. But the good news is that they want to play a role on the world stage. That said to the Biden people, were all in it; we want to work with you.
American election: President Trump has summoned Republican members of the Michigan Legislature to the White House as part of his efforts to overturn the Electoral College process. Mr Biden, who rules Michigan with about 158,000 votes, said his attempts sent incredibly damaging messages about how democracy works.
Pompeo leaving gifts to the Israeli right
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday became the top U.S. official to visit an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank and the disputed Golan Heights, territory Israel captured from Syria and then illegally annexed.
Mr Pompeo said the Trump administration now views an international campaign to boycott Israel as anti-Semitic and that the United States will deny government support to groups that adhere to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. His visit was hailed by the Israeli right but denounced by the Palestinians.
The context: A series of photo opportunities for Mr. Pompeos could come in very handy if he was looking to be named Republican President in 2024. Mr. Pompeo courted white evangelical Christians, who are much more likely than other Americans to believe that Israel is fulfilling Bible prophecy and that the gathering of Jews in Israel is foretold in the prophecy of the Rapture of the ascension of Christians into the kingdom of God.
BDS: Is the movement anti-Semitic? It depends who you ask, but it’s loudly and proudly anti-Zionist.
Related: Palestinian officials are eager to make a fresh start with the new administration of President-elect Joe Bidens. Ending the salary to cut down on the compensation the PA gives to those serving time in Israeli jails could be a first step.
If you have 7 minutes, it’s worth it
Venezuela’s latest victims
Over the past two decades, leftist parties have helped Hugo Chvez and then President Nicols Maduro to stay in power. But these allies have become disillusioned with Mr. Maduros’ authoritarianism and corruption. Widespread discontent erupted in more than 1,000 flash demonstrations in September.
Now, critics of Mr. Maduro say he has turned state security forces against leftists who criticize him.
Here is what else is happening
Pedo-hunting: Police in the Netherlands are urging the public to avoid acts of vigilance following the death of a 73-year-old former teacher who was lured and assaulted by a group of teenagers.
BuzzFeed to acquire the HuffPost: In an agreement led by BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti, two web giants plan to join forces to better compete in an increasingly crowded field. The two websites will remain separate, each with its own editorial staff.
Dublin Zoo: After the popular tourist site in the Irish capital warned it may have to shut down permanently, it received more than a million euros (around $ 1.2 million) in donations within hours, on top of pledges of the government.
Hangry tracks: The plot of The Very Hungry Caterpillar missed a crucial element: the sheer rage of an undernourished insect. Monarch butterfly caterpillars turn violent when food becomes scarce, a lab study found, banging their heads for better access to milkweeds.
Instantaneous: A supporter of presidential candidate Bobi Wine was among those detained on Wednesday in the Luuka district of Uganda above. At least 16 people have been killed and hundreds more arrested in violent protests after the arrest of two presidential candidates.
Lives lived: Frederick Weston, a New York outdoor artist who has spent decades hermetically creating meticulous collages exploring the male body and Black Queerness, died last month at 73, a few years after his long-awaited big break.
A time for laughter: First in theaters before the second shutdown, and now online, actors and comedians have tried to boost the morale of France with an experimental comedy, a little clown and the escape of a very good joke.
What were reading: This profile of Trevor Noah in GQ. It’s a compelling piece of how growing up in apartheid-era South Africa shaped comedians’ approach to Stormy Americas in 2020, writes Dani Blum, of the team. Briefings.
Now a break from the news
Cook: This Lemon Garlic Kale Salad is rich with spiciness and crunch. Serve as a lively and fresh side dish or as a light supper.
Lily: Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuarts’ autobiographical novel about the lonely gay son of an alcoholic mother in Glasgow in the 1980s, was named the winner of the prestigious Booker Prize on Thursday.
Make: Consider marriage without a proposal. Some couples who already live together and share bank accounts are skipping traditional celebrations.
The weekend is fast approaching. Our Home collection has lots of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.
And now for the Back Story on
Girl’s stuff and boy’s stuff
Lisa Selin Davis is the author of Tomboy, a book about how children’s exploration is thwarted by gender norms. She spoke to our In Her Words newsletter on sexism in children’s lives. Here is an exerpt.
What is the long term impact of having different things for boys and girls?
The more you separate the toys, the more you develop different skill sets and orient them towards different ways of being in the world. Girls’ clothes, for example, are not made for rock climbing and sports.
How does the pink / blue division work?
At the age of 3, children try to perfect the stereotypes they have learned. When you show kids counter-stereotypes, when you tell them cars are for girls, girls love cars. Most children like what they think they are supposed to like.
How is the tomboy embrace related to misogyny?
The message that girls should have access to childhood came with a contempt for anything branded as feminine. When kids say i hate pink what they are saying is i hate anything associated with girls. Girls learn about the gender hierarchy and start pushing these things off to make them look cooler. At 6, they internalize sexism.
Does the tomboy exist in other languages?
Yes, over 40 non-English languages have their own version. Wildfang in German, missing boy in French, erkek fatma in Turkish.
That’s it for this briefing. Have a peaceful weekend.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the news break. You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected]
Listened to The Daily. Our last episode is about the pandemic economy.
Here are our mini crosswords, and a hint: Liquid gunk (three letters). You can find all of our puzzles here.
Need an escape? Scrolling through real estate listings in faraway destinations is one way to visualize an alternative life.
The trailer has been released for Some Kind of Heaven, a new documentary about The Villages, a retirement community in Florida, produced by The Times with Magnolia Pictures.
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