Your Monday Briefing – The New York Instances
Europe’s fight against the virus on many fronts
The latest wave of coronavirus in Europe appears to have peaked in the past few days, but not before records were broken that resulted in yet another string of shutdowns.
The number of new cases reported across the continent quintupled between September and November to around 300,000 a day before declining somewhat. The death toll has risen from around 700 a day to nearly 5,000, and a clear pattern of the decline is not yet apparent. The number of hospital stays has started to level off, but at a level almost as high as the spring peak.
As more countries shut down, governments struggle to find ways to support workers on leave and unemployed, and to save restaurants and other businesses from bankruptcy. This week, the European Central Bank promised in an extraordinary step to introduce new relief measures by December at the latest.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
Despite rising cases in almost every state and warnings from officials, tens of millions of Americans are expected to travel by road and air during the Thanksgiving holiday.
The French Ministry of Agriculture said Sunday that 1,000 minks were slaughtered on a farm south of Paris after some of the animals tested positive for the virus and that minks were tested on two other farms.
Japan had its worst jump ever in new cases, breaking records for four consecutive days with at least 2,508 new cases on Sunday.
Montenegro leads the world with the highest daily average of cases per person. This comes from Times data, which shows a global top 10 fully European countries.
Trump’s many gifts to Israel
The US decision to lift the parole restrictions on Jonathan Pollard, the American convicted of espionage for Israel in the 1980s, will set him free to move to Israel, where he is considered a hero. It is also one of the many gifts from the Trump administration to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
President Trump’s treatment of Mr. Netanyahu was downright lavish, writes our chief of the Jerusalem office.
Mr Trump broke sharply with his predecessors’ approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and represented the Israeli side. His Middle East team put pressure on the Palestinians to consider a unilateral peace proposal and then brokered deals for Israel with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan – deals that shattered Arab solidarity behind the Palestinian cause.
Pollard story: Pollard, a former Navy intelligence analyst, spent 30 years in a US prison for stealing American secrets during the Cold War. His case, which the Justice Department raised on Friday, had long been a sore point in relations between the two countries. The US continues to regard Mr. Pollard, 66, as a traitor who has done great harm.
Israel submarine scandal: A decision by Netanyahu’s rival, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, to conduct an investigation into the multi-billion dollar purchase of submarines and missile boats, often cited as the worst corruption scandal in Israeli history, could further destabilize their unity government.
In the UK, fitness centers are rebelling against virus restrictions
Despite coronavirus lockdown rules – and despite visits from law enforcement agencies – some English fitness centers have remained open as support for strict coronavirus restrictions wears off.
The resistance is not limited to just gyms, which are said to be closed to adults until the planned end of the current lockdown on December 2nd. In recent weeks. Hundreds of Britons have been fined, including people partying on a moored boat in Liverpool and seven women traveling in the West Midlands in a stretch limo.
Rebel gym owners say they basically stay open and help people stay healthy, not for financial reasons. Many fear the restrictions will persist beyond early December. Mr Johnson is expected to reveal more details on his plans this week, despite the scrutiny of dozens of troubled Conservative lawmakers. If they refuse to support Mr Johnson, he may have to rely on opposition Labor lawmakers, an awkward arrangement.
Quote: “I have no problem getting arrested,” said a defiant sports director. “I don’t commit a crime, I just exercise my rights.”
Connected: British airline Virgin Atlantic’s well-documented battles have affected hundreds of companies around the world, many of which have been forced to accept reduced payments and lay off employees.
If you have 8 minutes, it’s worth it
Stalin’s “Street of Bones”
The Kolyma Highway in the Russian Far East once brought tens of thousands of prisoners to the labor camps of Stalin’s gulag. But for many Russians, including ex-prisoners, the horrors of the gulag are subsiding.
Our reporter and photographer drove down the freeway to the remote settlements that are now shrinking and in ruins. “Everything here is built on bones,” said Andrey Kolyadin, a regional official.
The following also happens
US elections: President Trump’s legal efforts to question Pennsylvania’s election results faced defeat and sharp judicial reprimand on Saturday, and some Republicans began to acknowledge that he had lost both the state and his bid for re-election. President-elect Joe Biden will announce his first cabinet candidates on Tuesday.
Afghanistan speaks: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in Qatar with Afghan and Taliban negotiators trying to break a deadlock in their stalled peace negotiations. At least eight people were killed in a rocket attack in Kabul on Saturday, and the Islamic state group assumed responsibility.
G20: A final statement released on Sunday by the Group of 20 Summit was perhaps the Trump presidency’s final reminder of the great divide between the US and its allies in dealing with global threats like the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
Snapshot: Above, Gulalay Amiri, a pomegranate farmer in Arghandab, a district in southern Afghanistan, was dismayed at how little fruit was left after a Taliban invasion. “I face a loss,” he said. A Taliban offensive has cut the heart out of the pomegranate harvest season in the region and left farming families in despair.
Lived life: Argentine-born director Nelly Kaplan, whose funny, satirical French films about the empowerment and revenge of women made her a distinctive voice in a male-dominated era, died earlier this month at the age of 89.
What we see: The Guardian’s video report of North Korean women working in Chinese factories making PPE for export worldwide. “It’s a terrifying look at what modern slavery can mean,” writes Carole Landry on the briefing team.
Now a break from the news
Cook: The key to mastering a simple French omelette is managing the heat so the eggs don’t brown and whisking the eggs in the pan so they set on the outside but stay fluffy on the inside.
Read: Our book review editors have published this year’s list of 100 Notable Books, covering all genres, to help you choose your bedside reading for the months to come.
Do: A 9th century Viking adventure, a game about robots, and an escape from hell: here’s what’s new in video games.
Keep yourself busy – sure. At home all of our ideas of what to read, cook, see and do.
And now for the background story about …
Conjure false faces
We developed our own AI system to understand how easy it is to generate various fake faces. Kashmir Hill, a tech reporter, and Jeremy White, a graphics editor, were working on a gallery of portraits of people who might look real but are not. Have a look.
There are now companies selling the wrong people. If all you need is a few fake people – for characters in a video game or to add variety to your business website – you can download their photos from a website for free. These simulated people are also used by spies to infiltrate the intelligence community, right-wing propagandists hiding behind fake profiles, and online harassers who troll their targets with a friendly face.
But they’re not quite perfect. Our AI system made the same little mistakes repeatedly creating new faces. For example, earrings look similar, but often don’t match exactly. Abstract or blurry backgrounds are often freebies.
“It was pretty interesting to set up our own AI system and generate hundreds of faces to see how it’s done,” wrote Jeremy. “This story examines how good the technology is getting and how to spot the fakes.”
That’s it for this briefing. I wish you a good start to the week.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected].
• We listen to “The Daily”. Our latest episode is about the pandemic in a rural area of the United States
• Here is our mini crossword puzzle and a hint: space for books (five letters). You can find all of our puzzles here.
• Some candidates for Oxford’s Word of the Year 2020: “Blursday” (which records the way the week fits together), “Covidiot” (you know who you are) and “Doomscrolling” (who, me?).
• As words with harmful connotations have been burned into technical communication, The Times reviews the language in which we describe our technology.