(Would you like to receive this briefing by email? Here is the registration.)
We report how the tragedy unfolded in the Italian region of Bergamo, the latest from the Conflict in Tigray and mass protests over France’s new security bill.
How an Italian province turned into a virus tragedy
In the spring, the northern Italian province of Bergamo became one of the deadliest battlefields for the coronavirus in the western world. Amid unimaginable suffering and a soundtrack of ambulance sirens, rescue workers peeled off parents of children, husbands of wives, and grandparents of their families.
How such a tragedy could unfold in a wealthy, well-educated province of just over a million people and top-notch hospitals has remained an uncomfortable mystery, a blood stain that the Italian government prefers to avoid when it points to Pride Italy’s success in flattening out the first wave of infections.
A Times investigation found that flawed guidelines and bureaucratic delays in closing the area made the toll far worse than it needed to be.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
The top U.S. federal health officials on Sunday predicted an increase in coronavirus infections, deaths and stresses for hospitals and medical workers after Thanksgiving.
Lockdowns in the UK have exposed the gender divide in British sport. In English youth football in particular, only a handful of clubs have kept training open to future female professionals, while boys continue to play at the same level.
Turkey has seen a sharp increase in infections. The intensive care units in Istanbul and in the capital Ankara are occupied to 75 percent.
UK regulators can approve AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines weeks before the US. Hospital executives were told they were “ready to start vaccinating from early December”.
Ethiopia declares victory in the Tigray conflict
The Ethiopian government achieved victory in its conflict with the Tigray region on Saturday after a series of artillery strikes that lasted for days against the regional capital Mekelle. With communication turned off, there was no way to independently confirm the claim.
The city was bombarded two days after Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered the start of what he called the final stages of the operation, which aimed to overturn the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which until recently had been the dominant power in the city the national government.
Effects: Testimony from aid workers who have returned in the past few days has indicated that the humanitarian situation “is still dire,” said Catherine Sozi, the UN coordinator in Ethiopia. “No cash, no fuel, no telecommunications,” she added, noting that access to health care, food and clean water remained a problem for the people of Tigray too.
Connected: In countries like Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda, entrenched leaders are using coronavirus restrictions and a world diverted from the pandemic to jail, exile, or silence prominent political opponents.
Tens of thousands protest against security laws in France
The streets of French cities like Paris and Lyon were crowded with protesters on Saturday as media organizations and human rights groups held rallies to protest a security law that would restrict the sharing of pictures by police officers and strengthen the government’s surveillance tools.
Many of the protesters see the bill as a tendency to suppress government policies that could restrict press freedom and reduce police accountability. For some, it’s further evidence that the government is sliding to the right.
Tensions in France have increased over President Emmanuel Macron’s broader security policies, which opponents say are increasingly restricting civil liberties. The friction has increased in part as a result of a series of Islamist terrorist attacks in recent months.
Official remarks: Mr Macron said Friday that video footage showing the recent beating of a black man by police officers “puts us to shame.” He called on the government to quickly come up with proposals “to reaffirm the relationship of trust that should naturally exist between the French and those who protect them”.
If you have 10 minutes, it’s worth it
The closed circles of literary France
A national scandal surrounding the French author Gabriel Matzneff (see above), who is facing a police investigation after a woman published a bombshell report about her sexual relationship as a minor, has shown how the Parisian elites have long protected, celebrated and made possible their pedophilia to have.
While the repercussions have had an impact on France, the island world that dominates its literary life remains largely intact, showing how ingrained and tenacious it really is.
The following also happens
Corporate social responsibility: A proposal in Switzerland to hold multinational companies headquartered in the country liable for human rights violations and environmental damage to their subsidiaries abroad failed in a referendum on Sunday.
Maradona: The The Argentine authorities searched the home and offices of Diego Maradona’s personal doctor as part of an investigation into the death of the soccer star last week.
Incoming US Cabinet: President-elect Joe Biden will be appointing the rest of his administration’s top officials in the coming days and weeks. Here is a look at some of the competitors.
Iran’s next step: A string of covert attacks in Iran, culminating in the assassination of the country’s best nuclear scientist, has left the country debating how to react at a delicate moment if the US moves to a new government.
Snapshot: Despite the dark end of a grim year, New York City shop windows add a touch of glamor to passers-by. Macy’s windows above are dedicated to thanking important employees, while Bergdorf Goodman’s are bold, simple, and designed to be “read” across the street.
Bumper crop: Ukraine has seldom seen so many mushrooms. The mushrooms are a staple food in the country and some families have started selling them to help them stay afloat during the pandemic. “Mushrooms have saved so many people this year,” one mushroom hunter told The Times.
Lived life: Tony Hsieh, the tech entrepreneur who turned Zappos into a $ 1 billion internet apparel powerhouse and developed a business philosophy based on happy employees making happy repeat customers, died Friday at the age of 46.
What we hear: Seeing White, a series on the Scene On Radio podcast. “I’m late for this one that started in 2017,” writes briefing editor Andrea Kannapell. “But it changes the way I understand race as profoundly as Isabel Wilkerson’s book ‘Caste’ or Walter Johnson’s story of St. Louis, ‘The Broken Heart of America’.”
Now a break from the news
Cook: This autumn galette is filled with caramelized onions, Gruyère cheese, and lots of cracked black pepper. Serve next to a salad or steak.
Read: “Tokyo Ueno Station”, a novel by Yu Miri whose main character is the ghost of a homeless construction worker, won the National Book Award for Translated Literature.
Do: Channel WWI soldiers by pushing wildflowers or other fresh plants to send a piece of your landscape to a loved one.
We love to share more ideas from our At Home collection with you on what to read, cook, see and do while being safe at home.
And now for the background story about …
Reporting on ‘The Crown’
Since the release of the fourth season of Netflix’s Reconstruction of the Life and Times of Queen Elizabeth II. November 15, more than three million readers of The Times have devoured articles about “The Crown,” including one about whether members of the Royal Family Watch.
Eleanor Stanford, a senior editor at the London-based Culture Desk, wondered why the royals are captivating the audience. Here is an excerpt.
Millions of people have read the dozen stories you posted about the show in the past few weeks. Did you expect so much interest?
Eleanor: “The Crown” has become a TV juggernaut in the style of “Game of Thrones”, albeit on a smaller scale. And we all absolutely want counter-programs for anything that has nothing to do with the election or the pandemic. This is a very juicy time of year too, and since it covers the 1980s, most of the people involved are still alive. It’s this escapist show that is true too – you can google things later to see what actually happened.
The show is not a documentary of course, but in general a good guide to British history?
It provides viewers with a good foundation for elements of 20th century British history such as the IRA and the Falklands War. I’ve talked to a lot of people in England who saw it and then said, “Oh, shoot, I should have known”.
Would people still be crazy about streaming series like “The Crown” if we weren’t all stuck at home?
“The crown”? Yes. It’s a well produced, beautiful, engaging show. “Tiger King” and “Emily in Paris?” I do not believe that.
Thank you for starting your week with The Times.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach Natasha and the team at email@example.com.
• In the latest Book Review podcast, Book Review editors discuss the 10 best books of 2020.
• Here is our mini crossword puzzle and a hint: Simplest pieces of a puzzle (five letters). You can find all of our puzzles here.
• The word “Cheerlebrities” – cheerleaders with large social media fans – first appeared in The Times on Sunday, the Twitter bot @NYT_first_said discovered.
• Jeanna Smialek, who covers the Federal Reserve and the economy for The Times, discussed her reporting role and part-time MBA with NYU Stern School of Business student newspaper.