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Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times


Having abandoned hopes of eradicating the virus or developing a vaccine quickly, Europeans have largely gone back to work and school, leading lives as normally as possible even as the possibility of a second wave haunts the Continent.

Europeans are putting to use the lessons from the pandemic’s initial phase: the need to wear masks and practice social distancing, the importance of testing and tracing, the critical advantages of reacting nimbly and locally. All of those measures are intended to prevent the kind of national lockdowns that crippled economies this year.

“We are in a living-with-the-virus phase,” said Roberto Speranza, the health minister of Italy, the first country in Europe to impose a national lockdown.

The European path differs from that of many Asian countries, including China and South Korea, where even one case can set off an aggressive campaign of testing, tracing and isolation. In those countries, infection rates have been persistently low, although cases have been ticking up recently in South Korea.

Here are our latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • High schools and universities in Pakistan opened Tuesday after being closed for almost six months. Online classes were offered in most schools.

  • Australia’s state of Victoria, the center of the country’s outbreak, on Tuesday reported no new virus deaths for the first time in more than two months. The city of Melbourne remains in lockdown.

  • A senior Chinese health official — Dr. Wu Guizhen, an expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention — said a vaccine could be available to the public in China as early as November.

President Trump hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the White House on Tuesday along with the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for the signing of new diplomatic accords between the countries.

While many analysts give Mr. Trump some credit for helping to broker the agreements, they called the talk of peace overblown. Israel, they said, has long been moving into a de facto alliance with the Sunni Arab states of the Persian Gulf, in common cause against Shiite Iran.

Details: The agreements, known as the Abraham Accords, will normalize diplomatic relations between Israel and the U.A.E. and Bahrain, including the establishment of embassies.

Campaign gift: The leaders of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates have a stake in Mr. Trump’s re-election in November. “One has to assume this is being driven by Donald Trump’s political agenda, and interest in putting points on the board in advance of the election,” said Halie Soifer, the executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America.

A planned museum in India on the Mughals — Muslim rulers of the country from the 16th to the 18th centuries — is getting a new focus. Officials in Agra, where the museum is to be located, decided this week that it would instead celebrate India’s Hindu majority, leaders and history.

It’s the latest example of a Hindu nationalist revival sweeping the country under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Muslims, who make up 14 percent of India’s population, say they are increasingly under attack, both physically — there has been a sharp increase in violence against Muslims — and politically.

After last year’s blazes burned through 46 million acres — a chunk of Australia that’s larger than Syria — brick chimneys are all that remains of many homes. Animals appear in smaller numbers. Hillsides are covered with trees as dead as matchsticks, and even the rivers are choking with ash.

As this year’s fire season nears, the country’s mood is one of adaptation and fear — and a desperate urge to do something that might ward off another round of ruin. Homeowners are turning to Aboriginal fire experts for preventive burning. Land clearing has become more common than barbecues. “Climate change, it’s real, mate,” said a marine scientist. “There is no returning to normal; there is no normal. We just have to change.”

Biodiversity: A United Nations report warns that the world is failing to address a catastrophic collapse in biodiversity that not only threatens to wipe out beloved species, but endangers humanity’s food supply, health and security.

U.S. disasters: The wildfires raging on the West Coast have left at least 27 people dead, and the authorities said they faced a disaster with no clear end in sight. In the Gulf Coast region, residents from Mississippi to Florida were bracing for Hurricane Sally, which was expected to make landfall Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, local time.

Breonna Taylor: City officials in Louisville, Ky. have agreed to pay $12 million to the family of the young Black woman who was killed by white police officers in a botched raid last March. The city will also institute reforms aimed at preventing future deaths by officers.

U.S.-China trade: The Trump administration has announced new restrictions on imports of apparel, hair products and technology goods from certain Chinese companies that it says used forced labor in the Xinjiang region.

Snapshot: Aleksei Navalny from his hospital bed in Berlin, surrounded by his family. The Russian opposition leader, who is recovering after being poisoned, shared this photograph on Instagram. “Hello, it’s Navalny,” he wrote in the post. “I can still do almost nothing, but yesterday I could breathe the entire day by myself.” Mr. Navalny plans to return to Russia.

Cook: These Indian-ish nachos with Cheddar, black beans and chutney start off with standard nacho elements, but the spicy and verdant cilantro chutney provide another level of brightness and complexity. Sam Sifton, our food editor, has more nacho ideas.

Read: Douglas Stuart’s “Shuggie Bain,” a violent tale of a child growing up in 1980s Scotland and Avni Doshi’s “Burnt Sugar,” about an artist’s struggles to cope with her aging mother are among the six books on the shortlist for this year’s Booker Prize. Four of the shortlisted books are by women, and four are also by first-time authors.

Listen: These four podcasts about mental health might help you reflect on your feelings or simply provide insights about the human psyche you didn’t know before.

Cut the boredom while staying at home with our full At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch, and do.

Much of the recent debate over immigration to the United States has been about how to reduce it. Matthew Yglesias offers a different idea: Increase immigration — by a lot.

His new book, “One Billion Americans,” argues for radically increasing the country’s population through immigration and a higher birthrate. Mr. Yglesias points out that even if all of the new Americans lived in the continental U.S., it would still have less than half the population density of Germany. And only if the U.S. vastly increases its population can it hope to keep pace with the growing power of authoritarian China, he argues.

There are plenty of reasons to question how the U.S. might absorb so many new citizens, but Mr. Yglesias makes a provocative case for a new kind of American greatness. “Rather than being paralyzed by racial panic, ecopessimism, or paranoia about the loss of parking spaces,” he writes, “America should aspire to be the greatest nation on earth.”

Listen: Mr. Yglesias discusses his book in this podcast interview.

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

— Carole

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

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the wildfires in the West.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Autocorrect fixes them (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Our national editor, Marc Lacey, wrote about a new feature that has been added to his team’s morning meeting: a poetry reading.

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