The U.S. hit another major milestone on Wednesday, recording 250,000 coronavirus-related deaths, more than any other country in the world. It is expected that the number will continue to rise steeply. Experts predict a daily number of 2,000 or more deaths.

There were more than 11.5 million cases in the country, up from 6.9 million on September 22, according to a New York Times database.

Public health experts cited the lack of a national strategy as the main reason for the high case numbers and death toll in the country. Instead, a patchwork of government measures to combat the virus crisis is being set up.

There’s a slim silver lining: the rising cases have sped up the testing of vaccines that could ultimately end the pandemic, and enabled drug makers Pfizer and Moderna to speed up the testing of their vaccines, both of which are very effective in preventing Covid-19 seem to be .

The UK on Wednesday took steps to eradicate some of the country’s largest remaining sources of greenhouse gas emissions, announcing plans to end sales of new gas and diesel cars within a decade and to change the way people heat their homes.

These measures could anticipate Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s efforts to put pressure on other countries to cut their emissions in the run-up to the major climate negotiations the UK will host next year. You could also point to a common cause across the UK and US as Mr Johnson prepares for the incoming Biden administration.

Climate activists cited the announcement as the UK’s most ambitious move to protect the planet since it decided to stop using coal five years ago, but questioned whether the level of investment would be sufficient.

The effects of burning fossil fuels: Huge volcanic eruptions ignited oil and coal deposits in Siberia and ultimately led to mass deaths in the Permantriassic event “Great Dying”, as scientists have found out.

An American-trained elite commando force could fall apart if President Trump pulls US troops out of Somalia as expected, leaving the country vulnerable to the Shabab and other terrorist groups.

Following the Pentagon’s announcement on Tuesday that the US will reduce its military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, the incumbent Secretary of Defense is expected to approve plans to include most, if not all of the more than 700 American forces in Somalia, the training and counter-terrorism missions perform, remove.

Context: The US military presence focused heavily on training, equipping and supporting the Somali elite force of 850 soldiers. The plan would be to shift tasks to US forces in Djibouti and Kenya so that these stations can carry out strikes against the Shabab.

Israeli strikes against Syria: Israel said the strikes early Wednesday were aimed at Iranian targets in Syria. They were held just hours before a visit from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Bahraini counterpart to commemorate a new US-brokered normalization treaty.

Before a jury of Swiss referees this month, six Russian athletes made an emotional appeal: please don’t punish us for something we weren’t involved in. Above the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Russia was excluded from the competition, but its flag was still flying.

In the struggle to lift Russia’s four-year ban on international sport for doping, Russia has given its athletes a leading role. If the country manages to lift its ban, efforts to pay the price for outrageous cheating will have failed.

Floods in the Philippines: In the past two weeks, heavy rains and consecutive typhoons have killed up to 70 people and submerged dozens of cities in Cagayan province.

Migrant Crisis: The Greek authorities have charged an Afghan man with the death of his 6-year-old son when the two tried to reach the country by sea. Human rights groups say the move sets worrying precedent and is part of a strategy to discourage migrants from traveling to the country.

Bombings in Birmingham: Police have arrested a man in Northern Ireland in connection with the infamous bombing of two pubs in England almost half a century ago, in which 21 people were killed.

Boeing: The Federal Aviation Administration cleared the way for the 737 Max to fly again on Wednesday, 20 months after it was traced back to faulty software and a host of corporate and government errors after two fatal crashes.

Snapshot: Armenian villagers film a burning house before leaving Kelbajar, Azerbaijan above. In this program from the Nagorno-Karabakh region, our reporter describes the devastating consequences of the flight of the Armenians from their historic country.

The templates of Europe: A project announced this week and funded by the EU will catalog and recreate the smells of Europe from the 16th to the early 20th centuries in all their stinking wonders.

Lived life: British writer Jill Paton Walsh, whose novel Knowledge of Angels is said to be the first self-published book to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize, has passed away at the age of 83.

What we read: This Grub Street is an ode to the Lox Sherpa of New York City. Adam Pasick, our newsletter editor-in-chief, calls it a “tragic and extremely gripping obituary”.

To grow: Harvest your own microgreens. This harvest requires little patience and shows blissfully minimal rebellion.

Do you need to fill your evening? Our At Home collection has ideas on what to read, cook, see and do while being safe at home.

With the release of Barack Obama’s memoir “A Promised Land,” the National Book Awards, and the Booker Prize, capped by the publication of the Times’ annual Notable Books list, our editors and critics on the book counter are adding one or two to the top two stages this week. Pamela Paul, the editor of The Book Review, and Andrew LaVallee, an assistant editor on the desk, talked about this busy time.

How is the publishing world doing this year in general?

Andrew: It was crazy. We cover both the business and cultural dimensions of the publishing world, which has grappled not only with the pandemic but also with the greater interest and intensity in diversity and issues of racial and social justice.

Pamela: This political cycle was also incredibly intense with books based on Michael Wolff’s 2018 book “Fire and Fury”. There was only book by book embargo from Washington. This year alone we had books by John Bolton, Bob Woodward, and Mary Trump.

How long have you been working on compiling the lists?

Pamela: Both the 100 Notable Books and Top 10 Books are year-round processes. The book review editors meet as a team in January, and through August we have hour and a half meetings every couple of weeks to beat back the competition. Then we make the final decision with a vote that often goes to a runoff, as was the case this year.

Is the field less competitive this year?

Pamela: Compared to the rest of the cultural world, the books are actually doing pretty well. In contrast to film, theater and television, the book world was not interrupted in the middle of the stream. Many books had postponed their publication dates, but most came out as planned this year, just a little later.

Are there any clear favorites?

Pamela: So far there has not been much overlap between shortlists and longlists from other institutions. There was only one book that was on both the Booker Prize list and the National Book Award finalist list, namely Douglas Stuart’s “Shuggie Bain”. It doesn’t feel like a particular title is growing together.

Thank you for spending part of your morning with The Times. Until tomorrow.

– Natasha

Many thanks
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach Natasha and the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

PS
• We listen to “The Daily”. Our latest episode is about the rise, fall and resurgence of the Taliban.
• Here is our mini crossword puzzle and a hint: “Damn it!” (Four letters). You can find all of our puzzles here.
• The word “tomboy” first appeared in the Times yesterday, according to the Twitter account @NYT_first_said.
• Jacqueline Welch is our new Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer. She will lead our Talent & Inclusion division and sit on the Times Executive Committee when she joins in January.

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