Your Monday Briefing – The New York Occasions

From nursing homes in France to hospitals in Poland, older Europeans and the workers who care for them rolled up their sleeves on Sunday to receive vaccination shots of coronavirus.

The campaign to vaccinate more than 450 million people is taking place as many European countries grapple with their worst outbreaks since the pandemic began. The spread of a contagious variant of the virus in the UK has raised the alarm.

The payment: More than 350,000 people in the 27 countries of the European Union have died of Covid-19 since the first death was recorded in France on February 15. In Poland, November was the deadliest month since the end of World War II. The total number of infections worldwide has exceeded 80 million and more than 1.7 million people have died.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Millions of Americans lost vital unemployment insurance as President Trump continued to criticize a huge relief bill that would keep pandemic aid from lapsing.

  • Canada, France, Japan, Spain, Sweden and Norway have all noted a small number of infections involving a new, potentially more transmissible, variant of the coronavirus, mostly associated with travelers from the UK, where it was first discovered.

  • A spate of new coronavirus cases in Africa is raising alarms in countries that seem to have fared far better overall than Europe or America.

  • The US case numbers are higher than ever. The total number of infections has exceeded 19 million and the number of deaths is over 330,000, meaning that at least 1 in 17 people in the country have contracted the virus and 1 in 1,000 have died from it.

During the lockdown in Wuhan, China, Zhang Zhan posted videos like one of the hospital corridors with patients plugged into oxygen tanks or a community health center for testing.

She abruptly stopped posting in May, and the police later announced that she had been arrested on charges of telling lies. Today she will go to court in the first known trial against a chronicler of the Chinese coronavirus crisis.

Ms. Zhang, a 37-year-old former lawyer, personified the Chinese people’s hunger for unfiltered information about the epidemic. Three other citizen journalists have disappeared from Wuhan.

Larger image: The prosecution of Ms. Zhang is part of the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign to rewrite China’s treatment of the outbreak as a result of wise, triumphant government moves.

The Trump administration invested in its relationship with India to offset the rise of China. Some experts believe that under Joe Biden’s presidency, the US cannot afford to drastically change this policy.

Mr Biden’s government will inherit a growing military relationship with India. Most experts agree that China will be the driving force behind how India’s relationship with Washington changes in a Biden government.

Quote: “We need India for several reasons,” said Ashley J. Tellis, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “The most important of these is the balance of Chinese power in Asia.”

Most of the men from Qala-e-Biwaha, a village in western Afghanistan, have disappeared – killed while trying to smuggle opium into neighboring Iran. Their widows have to look after themselves and their children, some of whom also died while transporting drugs across the border.

Our correspondents report on a place so destitute that the governor says men looking for work have only two options: “They can smuggle drugs or join the Taliban.”

Ant group: Chinese regulators ordered the financial tech giant to fix what they called the litany of business failures and escalated a pressure campaign that had been built since the government halted Ant Group’s plans for a record-breaking listing last month.

Brexit deal: UK lawmakers will vote on the trade deal to leave the European Union this week and launch an unpredictable experiment to end trade ties across Europe.

Explosion in Nashville: Hundreds of US investigators are working to find out who – and why – was involved in a vehicle explosion downtown on Christmas Day that injured three people and damaged numerous businesses.

Minoru Makihara: The former president of Mitsubishi, who led the company through the doldrums of Japan’s post-bubble era in the 1990s and helped meet the demands of a globalizing economy, died in Tokyo on December 13th. He was 90 years old.

Snapshot: Above Ma’am Sir, a popular Filipino restaurant in Los Angeles, ahead of its closure this year. It is one of the many popular hangout spots in the United States to get lost in the economic devastation of the pandemic.

What we read: This Bloomberg article on how the Brexit deal was done. It is a look behind the scenes of “Brexit noir”, a deal that finally came about at a very unusual time.

Cook: These cinnamon crumb cake muffins have one Layer crumbs on the bottom and top, and are about as tender and moist as cake gets.

Clock: Pixar’s “Soul” breaks new ground with the animation studio’s first black protagonist, a jazz pianist.

To do: With all the stress and uncertainty, this year wasn’t exactly a banner year for intimacy. But that can change.

For the final week of 2020, At Home has ideas on what to read, cook, see and do while staying safe at home.

It is unusual for The Times to collect data for such a project. We usually create charts and other graphs using the data given to us by outside experts. But the data we wanted didn’t exist. We started talking to researchers who patiently helped us think about the best way to gather information and understand how we could go wrong.

We teamed up with Adithi Upadhya and Meenakshi Kushwaha, pollution researchers at ILK Labs in Bangalore, who have experience measuring pollution in India with cheaper sensors like the ones we wanted to use.

We decided to use a portable pollution monitor, the Airbeam 2 from HabitatMap, along with custom software running on a tiny Raspberry Pi computer to take exposure measurements from Monu and Aamya every five seconds. Meenakshi and Adithi have also volunteered to provide more specialized equipment from their laboratory.

After our reporting, Adithi and Meenakshi helped us analyze the data. The results were impressive: During the day, Monu was exposed to around four times as much pollution as Aamya. Though accurate estimates are impossible, a long-term, consistent disparity like this could steal about five years more life from someone in Monu’s position compared to an upper-middle-class kid like Aamya.

That’s it for this briefing. Until next time.

– Carole

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

PS
• We hear “The Daily”. Our final episode is at a Brooklyn hospital that we revisited to see how staff are handling the pandemic.
• Here’s our mini crossword puzzle and a clue: Tofu Base (three letters). You can find all of our puzzles here.
• Photos by two Times photographers featured in Time Magazine’s Top 10 Photos of 2020.

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