Europe’s vaccination campaign begins
From nursing homes in France to hospitals in Poland, older Europeans and those who care for them rolled up their sleeves on Sunday to receive coronavirus vaccination shots.
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 continued to raise concerns.
The payment: More than 350,000 people across 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.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
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, mainly associated with travelers from the UK, where it was first discovered.
A flood of new coronavirus cases in Africa raises the alarm in countries that seem to have been far better overall than in Europe or America.
In the US, total infections have exceeded 19 million and more than 330,000 people have died.
The Brexit deal has been concluded. What now?
Britain is leaving the European Union for good, but its formal exit with a trade deal on Christmas Eve is only the beginning of a high-level experiment to break trade on an integrated continent.
The trade agreement does not give financial firms the biggest advantage of EU membership: the ability to easily provide services across the region from a single base. That loss is particularly painful for the UK, which had a 2019 surplus of £ 18 billion, or $ 24 billion, from trading financial and other services with the European Union.
Quote: “We have to learn how to do that,” said Shane Brennan, the executive director of a UK group that represents logistics companies. “Let’s hope it gets for the better in the end, but it’s going to be slow, complex and expensive.”
Political Impact: While Conservatives have agreed on the trade deal for now, Prime Minister Boris Johnson could face challenges from hardliners and corporate groups as more details emerge.
First person: A longtime correspondent for the New York Times remembers a different Europe, currency controls, cumbersome paperwork and annoying cross-border regulations.
A Chinese citizen journalist will be tried over Wuhan videos
During the lockdown in Wuhan, China, Zhang Zhan posted videos of hospital corridors with patients plugged into oxygen tanks and a community health center doing coronavirus tests.
In May she abruptly stopped posting. The police later announced that she had been arrested and charged with telling lies. Her court hearing on Monday is 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 recast China’s treatment of the outbreak as a result of wise, triumphant government moves.
Clock: in the In one of her last videos before her arrest, she filmed the shops in Wuhan before being confronted by a man who asked her where she lived and if she was a journalist.
If you have 5 minutes, it’s worth it
A village of widows
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 transporting drugs across the border.
Our correspondents report on a place so destitute that the district governor says men looking for work have only two options: “They can smuggle drugs or they can join the Taliban.”
The following also happens
Turkey: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan feels angry at home as many Turks struggle to buy groceries in a fluctuating economy, even when pursuing aggressive and expensive foreign policy abroad.
US economic agreement: After calling a US $ 900 billion pandemic relief bill “disgraceful”, President Trump abruptly signed it, extending expanded unemployment benefits and an eviction moratorium, and preventing the government from closing.
Spain: Ex-military officers in the country have criticized the government, praising General Francisco Franco, Spain’s ex-military dictator, who has taken official legal action and hit a nerve.
Snapshot: Above is a beloved WWII photo of Martin Adler, an American soldier, in 1944 with the Naldi children Bruno, Mafalda and Giuliana in the northern Italian village of Monterenzio. An internet appeal brought the four back together earlier that month.
David Attenborough: At 94, the beloved British naturalist remains curious and optimistic. He spoke to The Times about his new documentary series “A Perfect Planet” and why the coronavirus could have some positive consequences.
Lived life: Reginald Foster, who died on Christmas Day aged 81, was a former Wisconsin apprentice plumber who dressed like a janitor, swore like a sailor, and served as the Vatican’s foremost Latin expert.
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.
Now a break from the news
Cook: These cinnamon crumble cake muffins, scented with lemon peel and vanilla, are about as tender and moist as cake.
Clock: Pixar’s “Soul” breaks new ground with the animation studio’s first black protagonist. “The combination of ability, feeling and inspiration is summed up in the title,” writes our reviewer.
To do: This stressful, uncertain year wasn’t exactly a banner year for intimacy. But with a plan, a novelty and a change of perspective, that can change.
For the last week of 2020, At Home has ideas on what to read, cook, see and do while staying safe at home.
And now for the background story about …
The top stories of 2020
What were the most read stories in the New York Times this year? You won’t be surprised to learn that two topics – the election and the coronavirus pandemic – dominate the list, making up 90 of the top 100 entries. Here you will find a selection as well as a few other topics that have aroused great interest among the readers.
The US election: More than half of the 30 most-read articles in The Times in 2020 were about the election, with the President’s Results page ranking number one. A couple of points after that: the universally popular, if somewhat feared election night pin (No. 5).
The pandemic: The second and third most popular stories were our coronavirus trackers, one for the US and one for the world. People also wanted to know how the virus came out (# 48) and where they were waiting in line to get a vaccine (# 53). Also of note: this story about a man who had hand sanitizer in store hoping to sell it for a profit came in at number 13.
Black lives count: Another theme in this year’s Top 100 was the racial justice protest movement sparked by the police killings of Breonna Taylor (# 26) and George Floyd (# 51).
Kobe Bryant: Before the pandemic penetrated our everyday consciousness, fans said goodbye to the NBA star, who died in a helicopter crash in January along with his daughter Gianna and seven other people. The Times story of the crash ranks 36th on the list.
Killer insects: The sightings of the Asian giant hornet raised fears that the vicious insect could settle in the United States and destroy bee populations. “Murder Hornets” were number 24 on the list.
Other topics that made the list: The US Government UFO Unit (No. 96); The Times Inquiry into President Trump’s Taxes (No. 14); the Ukrainian passenger jet that was hit by a missile in Iran (No. 50). And a story from the past turned out to be timeless: the 36 questions that led to love, originally published in 2015, ended at number 62.
That’s it for this briefing. Have a great week
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. Claire Moses wrote today’s backstory. You can reach Natasha and the team at email@example.com.
• We listen to “The Daily”. Our final episode is at a Brooklyn hospital that we revisited to see how staff are handling the pandemic.
• Here is our mini crossword puzzle and a clue: Big Apple paper, short (three letters). You can find all of our puzzles here.
• The word “vaxxies” – selfies people take to get a coronavirus vaccine – first appeared in The Times yesterday, the Twitter bot @NYT_first_said discovered.
• Photos by two Times photographers featured in Time Magazine’s Top 10 Photos of 2020.