U.S. Election, Boris Johnson, Coronavirus: Your Friday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering France’s bid to avoid a lockdown, competing town halls ahead of the U.S. election and Boris Johnson’s play for time.

France thought it had beaten the coronavirus. But a roaring second wave has left French leaders scrambling for solutions to avoid another painful lockdown.

In an easy metaphor for a divided country, President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden held individual, concurrent town hall meetings on separate networks instead of their scheduled virtual debate.

While Mr. Biden adopted a conciliatory tone, continuing to answer voters’ questions after the forum had ended, Mr. Trump was often on the offensive, sometimes sparring with his moderator or taking a more combative approach.

Keep up with Election 2020

Here’s our guide to what happened and our fact check of both events.

Key moments:

  • Mr. Trump seemed to confirm a recent Times report that he has $400 million in outstanding debts. He called the sum “a tiny percentage of my net worth” and insisted none of it was owed to Russia.

  • Mr. Biden committed to giving an answer before the election about whether he would expand the number of Supreme Court justices, though he declined to indicate what that number might be.

  • The candidates differed on the topic of masks, with Mr. Biden brandishing his own while Mr. Trump suggested — largely inaccurately — that scientists were divided about their worth.

  • Trump refused to denounce the QAnon conspiracy theory, instead saying: “I do know they are very much against pedophilia. They fight it very hard.”

Will the events matter? Probably not. Presidential debates rarely cause major shifts in the polls, and these events were less memorable than a debate. But it’s often hard to know what matters in presidential politics.

I challenge pre-retirees and retirees to ask: How do I try and see and feel the world from the perspective of those far younger than me? That is an important activity in our new longevity. That we spend time and energy not to just try to hoard our life and our memories, but that we also actively try to be empathetic to different people, younger people.

What has emerged from your research that retirees should think about?

The importance of interdependence alongside independence — we all would do better in our later years if we’re connected and not isolated. And how do I maximize my health span, not just my life span?

And there’s the serious issue of funding our longer lives. A third of the boomers have close to nothing saved for retirement and no pensions; that is a massive poverty phenomenon about to happen, unless millions of people work a bit longer, spend less, downsize or even share their homes with housemates or family.

What is the biggest mistake retirees make?

Far too many think far too small. I have asked thousands of people from all walks of life over the years who are nearing retirement what they hope to do in retirement. They tell me: “I want to get some rest, exercise some more, visit with my family, go on a great vacation, read some great books.” Then most stall. Few have taken the time or effort to study the countless possibilities that await them or imagine or explore all of the incredible ways they can spend the next period of their lives.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next week.

— Natasha

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

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is the first of a two-part series on the presidential candidates’ policies.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Crystal-lined rock” (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Roger Cohen, who has been at The Times for more than three decades as a reporter, bureau chief, foreign editor and columnist, has been named our next Paris bureau chief.

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