France’s half measures against coronavirus
France thought it had beaten the coronavirus. But a roaring second wave has left French leaders scrambling for solutions to avoid another painful lockdown.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, on Wednesday announced a curfew for Paris and eight other major cities. The pressure on intensive care beds was intolerable, he said, adding, “Our caregivers are exhausted.”
If the virus was ever under control in France, that was before the summer. But experts say that after that period, the French, like so many others elsewhere in Europe, let their guard down.
The weekly number of new cases in Europe is now at its highest point since the start of the pandemic, rising to seven million from six million in 10 days, according to the regional director of the World Health Organization’s Europe office, Hans Kluge. The number of daily deaths has passed 1,000 for the first time in months, he said.
Twin town hall meetings with contrasting approaches
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.
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.
On Brexit and the coronavirus, Boris Johnson stalls for time
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain has reached a moment of truth on two critical issues: the pandemic and Brexit negotiations with the European Union. But he is still playing for time — a strategy that could put lives and livelihoods at risk if he waits too long.
In the past weeks, Mr. Johnson has imposed localized restrictions in an attempt to avoid the two-week nationwide lockdown pushed by the opposition Labour Party and his own scientific advisers. He is also seemingly prepared to string out trade talks with Brussels, letting a self-imposed deadline pass on Thursday without a deal.
Keep up with Election 2020
For Mr. Johnson, Brexit and the virus are linked: Economic fallout has raised the pressure to avoid the damaging prospect of beginning the new year without a trade agreement in place. Yet, his reluctance to move decisively on either of them, analysts say, risks making both worse.
Rishi Sunak: A virtual unknown 10 months ago, the wealthy and polished British finance chief is now topping cabinet satisfaction ratings among Conservative Party members — while remaining in his boss’s good graces.
If you have some time, this is worth it
How Burkina Faso slid into mayhem
Burkina Faso once looked like a success story for American military aid in Africa — an oasis of peace and stability in the turbulent Sahel.
But despite a plethora of U.S. counterterrorism and security assistance programs, the country is now contending with a growing insurgency and an unfolding humanitarian crisis.
“Security forces have proven more capable of killing civilians than protecting them,” says our reporter Nick Turse.
Here’s what else is happening
BTS: Shares in Big Hit, the management company behind the K-pop sensation, skyrocketed on their first day of trading in South Korea. The stock opened on Thursday at double the offering price and then jumped 30 percent before finishing down on the day, with the company’s value settling at around 8.7 trillion won, about $7.6 billion.
Kilimanjaro fire: Hundreds of volunteers from villages in Kenya joined firefighters racing to stop a blaze that has swept up the slopes of Africa’s tallest mountain, threatening to ravage one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems.
QAnon: Following in the footsteps of Facebook, Pinterest and other platforms, YouTube on Thursday became the latest social media giant to take steps against the sprawling pro-Trump conspiracy theory community whose online presence has spilled over into offline violence.
Snapshot: American voters waited in long lines to cast their ballots this week in Georgia, above, which like many other states opened more early-voting sites to make polling places less crowded on Nov. 3. Some voters waited for hours, illustrating the intensity of this watershed U.S. election.
Lives Lived: Lulu Peyraud, the matriarch of a French wine-producing family in the Bandol wine region, died at 102 this month. Known for her skills as a cook and a hostess, she exemplified a joyous, exuberant and generous Provençal way of life.
What we’re reading: This Twitter thread, which begins, “Describe your favorite movie as boring as possible,” and is getting longer by the minute. A favorite? “Height-challenged, quiet village folk need to dispose of a piece of jewelry.”
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Bright with lemon, this red lentil soup defies expectations of what lentil soup can be — and it’s totally painless to make.
Read: “Skyhunter,” the latest young adult work from Marie Lu, follows a refugee 5,000 years in the future who defends her country against an evil federation that has taken over the rest of the world.
Do: If you’re having trouble sleeping, research shows that weighted blankets might help.
The weekend is almost upon us. At Home has ideas on what to read, cook, watch, and do while staying safe at home.
And now for the Back Story on …
Ken Dychtwald, a psychologist, gerontologist and author, surveyed more than 100,000 Boomers (ages 56 to 74) for his new book, “What Retirees Want: A Holistic View of Life’s Third Age.” Here’s an excerpt from his chat with our reporter.
How have your views about retirement changed as a result of the coronavirus and turning 70 this year?
The pandemic this year has given many of us an enormous appreciation for the preciousness of life. I’ve come to realize that I’d like to be useful more than youthful.
However, I have been very troubled by the lack of usefulness among so many of my cohort. I was really troubled when I read that last year the average American retiree watched more than 48 hours of television per week. I don’t believe that’s the best we can do, or that’s the best we can be as elder men and women.
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.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected].
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