Your Monday Briefing – The New York Occasions
The incalculable scars of the Bergamo pandemic survivors
Plagued by guilt, anger and regret from survivors, those left behind in the province – the hardest hit place in Italy and perhaps the world – are struggling to understand how the coronavirus has changed them.
The northern Italian province, which gave the West a preview of the horrors to come – oxygen-deprived grandparents, teeming hospitals, and convoys of coffins rolling down cordoned streets – now serves as a disturbing postcard of the post-traumatic aftermath.
Coping mechanisms: Doctors at a hospital that became the incubator of the virus said they had seen an increase in patients with drug problems, and psychologists in the province reported an increase in anxiety and depression.
From the front: “People are afraid to see each other,” said a woman whose father died of Covid-19 in March. “There is a lack of affection, of touching and holding.”
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
A theatrical offer for a Brexit deal
While time is running out, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen prepare their home audience for the final act of the long-running Brexit drama.
However, whether this outcome will be a landmark deal that requires compromise or a split that will disrupt cross-channel trade remains unclear. And no one denies that there are real differences between the two sides, ranging from state aid to fishing rights, with a few simple solutions.
Analysis: “There is still a distance, and the distance still has to be covered, as these are painful concessions,” said an analyst with political risk advisory group Eurasia Group. “That is one of the reasons why both sides have a vested interest in being seen as fighters.”
Next Steps: The two heads of state and government will speak again today to see if a deal can be closed by December 31st. If not, the European Union will begin to impose tariffs on British goods.
“Havana Syndrome” probably caused by microwaves
In a new report commissioned by the US State Department, radio frequency energy, a type of radiation that contains microwaves, is cited as the likely cause of a series of mysterious ailments affecting numerous American spies and diplomats in Cuba, China, Russia and other countries made countries sick, from 2016.
Results: Although the report is written in meticulous scientific language, it suggests that victims’ complaints were the result of malicious, targeted attacks. The report also includes a strong warning about the possibility of future episodes and the ability of the US government to identify or respond to them.
The disease: The victims experienced dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and loss of hearing, memory and balance. Some US government employees who became sick were forced to retire.
What’s next: Several victims have accused Trump administration officials of downplaying the issue in order to avoid disrupting international relations. You are now asking how President-elect Joe Biden will react, especially given the new evidence.
If you have some time, it’s worth it
The smell of history
Fear sweat. Horsehair. Sulfur compounds from gunpowder. A touch of leather. These scents may have been included in the olfactory palette of Napoleon’s retreat from the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, among others.
In the growing field of odor research, researchers are working on what is perhaps the most difficult sense to preserve. Some try to preserve the smells of our time – especially those that may no longer exist in a few decades. Others are working to revive and reconstruct some of the lost fragrances.
The following also happens
Roald Dahl: The author’s family have tacitly apologized for “the persistent and sympathetic pain” caused by derogatory comments. Mr. Dahl, an avowed anti-Semite who died in 1990, did during his lifetime.
Migrant Crisis: As the Canary Islands grapple with the sudden influx of migrants from Africa, the Spanish government has placed these newcomers in hotels, creating tension with local residents who fear a negative impact on tourism.
Climate change: A 17-year-old activist, Ou Hongyi, has waged a lonely campaign in her hometown in southern China to raise awareness of the dangers of a warming planet.
Snapshot: Above are hand-carved souvenirs for sale in Huay Pu Keng village in Thailand. In some areas, the whole economy depends on the sale of jewelry related to the neck rings traditionally worn by women of the Kayan ethnic group. But the coronavirus pandemic has complicated the situation with few tourists visiting the country.
Lived life: Suhaila Siddiq, Afghanistan’s first lieutenant general, died on Friday in Kabul as a result of the coronavirus. She was also a renowned surgeon who unwittingly became a feminist role model in a largely patriarchal society.
What we read: This profile of Eric Feigl-Ding, the Shanghai-born epidemiologist who Undark magazine calls “Covids Cassandra”. The piece gives an exciting insight into the severity and complexity of expressing scientific theories on Twitter.
Now a break from the news
Have there been any punches?
AO SCOTT: One of my first lists was Will Ferrell and I got a one-word answer from Manohla: “No.”
MANOHLA DARGIS: It wasn’t quite “Above my dead body,” but I stressed that it wasn’t going to happen.
SCOTT: The hardest thing for me to give up was Romanian actor Vlad Ivanov – he stayed there until the end, but there was just no place.
DARGIS: I’ve had a couple of square jawed men like Viggo Mortensen, but I just felt like I had to let them go. Maybe we should have done 50, but I don’t know anyone wanted to read 25,000 words from us.
Someone you haven’t discussed?
DARGIS: Denzel Washington was always number 1 on both lists.
SCOTT: Keanu Reeves was a controversial choice, but he was on the list from the start. Then we decided to make a statement by putting him at the top of the list. The John Wick films are not masterpieces of cinema, but the way Reeves embodies that somewhat ridiculous action hero in these films is just beautiful to watch.
DARGIS: And Rob Morgan. He makes us happy every time he appears in a movie.
What do you hope people will cross off the list?
SCOTT: Just because you haven’t seen a movie doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be recorded. We didn’t just want these to be famous movie stars. There are many wonderful character actors who consistently excel in smaller roles.
DARGIS: Some people have said, “I don’t recognize any of these people” or “They’re all foreigners.” Well, you are no stranger to your country! Broaden your horizons and go beyond Joaquin Phoenix in Joker.
Thank you for your participation and have a nice Monday.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected]
• We listen to “The Daily”. Our final episode looks at the possible preventive pardons for President Trump.
• Here is our mini crossword puzzle and a hint: Which memory foam “remembers” (five letters). You can find all of our puzzles here.
• What does comfort food mean for you? People who have turned their love for food into careers tell us about flavors that nourish their souls.
• Seasoned health and lifestyle journalist Lori Leibovich is our new editor for Well.