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We’re covering a virus warning in Britain, a vague election threat from President Trump and Joe Biden’s Russia dilemma.
Johnson braces Britain for more restrictions
Parts of England may face harsher limitations in the coming weeks, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, as Britain confronts a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations linked to a new, more transmissible virus variant.
But with classes set to restart in many primary schools in England today, Mr. Johnson added that parents should “absolutely” send their children to schools if possible. “Schools are safe,” he said in a BBC interview.
Britain has the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in Europe.
In other virus developments:
Pope Francis criticized people who traveled abroad during the pandemic, saying they were ignoring those who were suffering. “Didn’t they think of those who stayed at home, to the economic problems of many people who have been knocked down by the pandemic, to those who are ill?” Francis said in a message streamed from the Vatican.
American airports had their busiest day of the pandemic on Saturday, with 1,192,881 passengers passing through security checkpoints, the government said. Public health officials say a post-Christmas spike may not emerge clearly until the second week of January.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway announced new rules amid a growing wave of infections, Reuters reported, including a ban on serving alcohol in restaurants and bars and on inviting over visitors.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health said that starting on Jan. 15, travelers arriving from Britain and the U.S. will be required to show that they tested negative for the coronavirus before they departed.
Trump pressured state official to ‘find’ votes
In an hourlong telephone call on Saturday, President Trump pressed Georgia’s top election official to “find” him enough votes to overturn the presidential election and vaguely threatened him with “a criminal offense,” according to an audio recording of the conversation.
He told the state’s Republican secretary of state that he should recalculate the vote count so Mr. Trump, not Joe Biden, would end up winning the state’s 16 electoral votes.
Russia is both friend and foe for Biden
President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said the new administration would move quickly to renew the last remaining major nuclear arms treaty with Russia.
But renewing the New Start will be made more complex because of Mr. Biden’s vow to also assure that Moscow pays for what appears to be the largest-ever hacking of U.S. government networks.
In an interview on CNN, Mr. Sullivan also said that as soon as Iran re-entered compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal — which he helped negotiate under President Barack Obama — there would be a “follow-on negotiation” over its missile capabilities.
China relations: The recent investment agreement between China’s leader, Xi Jinping, and the European Union may also complicate Mr. Biden’s efforts to forge a united front with allies against China’s authoritarian policies and trade practices.
If you have 7 minutes, this is worth it
France’s literary elite: A year under a harsh spotlight
In a nation where literature remains sacred, Olivier Nora, above, the head of a leading French publisher for the past 20 years, sees himself as a guarantor of what he described as a “social good.”
His publication last January of a book by the victim of a pedophile writer set off a national reckoning over sexism, age and consent. It also helped expose what critics of the French publishing industry say is an insulated, out-of-touch literary elite long used to operating above ordinary rules.
Here’s what else is happening
Niger massacre: One hundred civilians were reported dead in two villages in a region under siege by militants. Gunmen were described as having singled out men and boys in what was said to be a revenge attack, just a week after Niger’s presidential election.
Pakistan attack: Armed men abducted and killed at least 11 coal miners in the southwestern part of the country, officials said. All of the victims were ethnic Hazaras, a minority Shiite group that has often been the target of Sunni extremists.
Assange case: A judge in London plans to rule today on whether Britain should extradite Julian Assange to the U.S., where the WikiLeaks founder faces charges of conspiring to hack government computers and violating the Espionage Act in 2010 and 2011.
Italy mourns: The killing of 42-year-old Agitu Ideo Gudeta, an Ethiopian-born immigrant who raised goats and made cheese in a remote part of Italy, has resonated across the country. The Italian news media praised her as a model of integration.
Snapshot: Above, Kai Jones leaping off a cliff in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The 14-year-old ski daredevil is already a pro, soaring off mammoth ledges and doing double back flips. He concedes, “I always say to myself, ‘How far can I push it and not make my mom scared?’”
In memoriam: Brian Urquhart, a British diplomat who joined the United Nations at its birth in 1945 and was a chief aide to five of its secretaries general while directing peacekeeping operations around the world, died on Saturday at his home in Massachusetts. He was 101.
The final frontier: Our Science desk offers a calendar and a guide to 2021’s astronomical events.
What we’re reading: MIT Technology Review’s article on the worst technology flops of 2020. It’s a simple reminder that more doesn’t necessarily mean better.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: This flaming baba au rhum is an afternoon project with delicious, sophisticated results. In the video accompanying the recipe, Melissa Clark takes you through every step of making and baking the rich, airy yeast dough, and then setting it on fire.
Watch: The BBC television movie “Elizabeth Is Missing” features Glenda Jackson’s first screen performance since 1992. The renowned actress stars as a woman fending off dementia while she searches for a lost friend.
Do: For many people, 2020 was not a year for saving money. Here’s how to get a handle on your finances in the new year, with a few tricks to help keep your spending down.
We’ll try to help you make those New Year’s intentions stick with our At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.
And now for the Back Story on …
When the pandemic is over
The rollout of vaccines around the world signals the start of a hopeful chapter after nearly a year of lockdowns, restrictions and social distancing. Now that imagining an “after time” seems possible, we asked readers to share the first things they plan to do when the world returns to normal. Here are some of their answers.
Give a big hug
“Hug my grandmother real tight. I visited her once, but I just waved at her outside her room and then she responded by asking who I was. I lowered my mask to show her my face, and she asked me to come closer. I said I couldn’t.”
Mika Amador, Manila
See family …
“I want to go to my home country, Peru, to see my mom and my dad’s ashes. He died in November, and I couldn’t give him a hug goodbye for fear of traveling there during the pandemic.”
Karina Bekemeier, San Francisco
… and get away from them
“I’m hiring a babysitter and going out dancing.”
Amanda Vaught, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Travel the world
“I am 85 years old. When the pandemic began, I was 84, and when it ends I will probably be 86. Two years at the end of one’s life are rather valuable. What I’d like to do is fly to Boston and walk the Freedom Trail; drive to Maine and find a lobster shack; and visit Egypt to sail down the Nile.”
Jo Procter, Chevy Chase, Md.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]
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