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Brexit, Russian Hacking, Coronavirus: Your Friday Briefing


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Good morning.

We’re covering the ongoing dispute between the U.K. and the E.U., reports of Russian and Chinese interference in the U.S. election and the rising death toll from the coronavirus.

Brussels has demanded the speedy withdrawal of proposed Brexit legislation that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has admitted would breach international law. Mr. Johnson and his government have swiftly rejected this ultimatum.

It is the most serious crisis yet to hit negotiations on a trade agreement for when Britain leaves the European Union’s trade zone. The talks have failed to make any significant progress yet have somehow remained alive. The proposed legislation would override aspects of a landmark withdrawal agreement about the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of Britain, and Ireland, a member of the European Union.

In a toughly worded statement that underscored the growing tension, the European Commission — the bloc’s executive arm — suggested it was ready to take legal action against the British government, accusing it of threatening Northern Ireland’s fragile peace agreement.

Russian spies have been hacking U.S. campaign officials working for both Republicans and the Democrats, while China has focused on penetrating the campaign of Joe Biden, according to an assessment by Microsoft.

The new hacks are more stealthy and aggressive than those of four years ago and are aimed at campaign staff members, consultants and think tanks associated with the two parties — at least 200 organizations.

A U.S. assessment last month said China was supporting Mr. Biden in the race, but Microsoft found that Chinese hackers had been attacking the private email accounts of Mr. Biden’s campaign staff members.

Context: The assessment is far more detailed than any yet made public by American intelligence agencies, and comes a day after a government whistle-blower claimed that administration officials suppressed intelligence concerning Russian interference.

The global death toll from the coronavirus has surpassed 900,000, according to a New York Times database, with at least 27.9 million known cases around the world. Seven months into the pandemic, the virus has been detected in almost every country.

The true death toll may be higher; The Times has found underestimates in the official death tallies in the United States and in more than a dozen other countries. The United States has the highest number of cases, followed by India, which reported more than 95,000 new cases on Thursday, and Brazil. In deaths, the United States is also first, with Brazil second and India third.

The pandemic is ebbing in some countries that were hit hard early on, but the number of new cases is growing faster than ever worldwide, with more than 200,000 reported each day on average. Cases are worryingly high in India, the United States and Israel. In Brazil, cases are high but appear to be decreasing.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

  • Wuhan, China, will resume international flights this month. Carriers are applying for permission to restart direct flights to cities including Bangkok; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Hanoi, Vietnam; Singapore; and Tokyo, according to state media.

  • A pared-down U.S. stimulus package worth hundreds of billions of dollars failed to win support in the Senate, dimming chances that Congress will enact another economic recovery measure before the November elections.

  • The U.S. extradition hearing of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, which began in London this week, was abruptly halted because a member of the prosecution team may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

  • Spain’s return to school has so far been “very positive,” the country’s education minister said on Thursday, praising the management and staffs of schools for their efforts.

A new generation of activists has led a charge against Christophe Girard, the former deputy mayor of Paris accused of sexual abuse and criticized for his support of the pedophile writer Gabriel Matzneff. In a country where the #MeToo movement was slow to take off, the case has become emblematic of a divide between older, establishment feminists and their younger, more radical peers. Above, a protest at Paris City Hall.

One critic said younger feminists were too quick to confront powerful men. Younger feminists say focusing on violence against women is central. “We’re always asked to reaffirm that we’re not angry,” said Alice Coffin, a city councilor and activist in the newest wave of feminism. “But, me, I’m very angry.”

Beirut port fire: A large fire erupted in the port on Thursday, terrifying residents still recovering from a horrific explosion that devastated entire neighborhoods last month. The fire appeared to have started in a warehouse owned by a company that imported cooking oil.

Charlie Hebdo trial: Witnesses and survivors of the January 2015 massacre at the newspaper’s office took center stage at a courthouse in Paris this week, days into the trial that is expected to last until November. A maintenance worker recalled how his hands were covered with so much blood that he couldn’t unlock his phone to call for help.

Snapshot: Britain’s sparsely populated offices, above, have put the economy in a quandary: Without commuters, the dry cleaners, coffee shops, restaurants and clothing retailers specializing in suits that serve areas packed with offices are starved of their customers.

Lives lived: Gary Peacock, an upright bassist whose fastidious but open-minded style carried him through a diverse career in jazz, culminating in a three-decade run with the pianist Keith Jarrett’s Standards Trio, died last Friday at his home in Olivebridge, N.Y. He was 85.

What we’re watching: This TikTok video of a large tortoise living in Los Angeles. “I envy the life of Tiptoe, the 175-pound tortoise, whose big outing was this stroll across the street — motivated by his ‘walking snackies,’” writes Shira Ovide, the author of the On Tech newsletter.

Cook: A vegetarian spin on kofta curry, a saucy dish of gently spiced meatballs. It’s based on a recipe from the food writer Tejal Rao’s grandfather, though her take swaps out the meat for mashed black beans bound with bread crumbs and seasoned with ginger and herbs.

Read: “The Discomfort of Evening,” winner of this year’s International Booker Prize and written by the Dutch novelist Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, is about dairy farmers who are members of a strict Protestant sect and are mourning a son’s death.

Deal: Exercising is not only good for your body — it also helps build resilience when life hands you disruptions.

There are many more ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying at home in our At Home section.

Our survey of 1,500 U.S. colleges has revealed at least 51,000 coronavirus cases and 60 deaths since the pandemic began. Natasha Singer, our reporter covering health and education technologies, wrote about a breakdown in college quarantines of students who have the coronavirus. She spoke to our On Tech newsletter about how students used social media to expose their universities’ poor handling of the crisis.

Tell me how students are using social media to shame their schools.

Natasha: Many people have seen the online videos of students stuck in quarantine or isolation documenting crummy or nonexistent university-provided meals. But what I found went deeper: Sick students are making videos about how they felt universities abandoned them once they tested positive and moved into special Covid dorms.

And there are a bunch of students who shared online their shock that virus-infected students or people who were waiting for tests were assigned to share a room, bathroom or dorm — conditions that they worried could foster infections. In some cases, their colleges then improved services for quarantined students.

College students are also being shamed on social media for their behavior.

Yes, some kids are partying or going to bars in large numbers without masks. But epidemiologists said some schools also made the risks worse by failing to make systematic changes to help curtail the virus. Some schools reduced capacity in dorms, and that helps.

Sending infected students home is dangerous because it risks spreading the coronavirus to their families and communities. What should colleges do?

The best practice would be caring for the mental health and physical safety of students who are quarantined, and not leaving them to fend for themselves. Schools have to plan in advance for what should happen in isolation dorms, and what it’s going to be like for an 18-year-old who gets sick and feels cut off.

Thanks for joining me for today’s briefing. See you next week.

— Natasha

Thank you
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is the second of a two-part series on Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Black woman in Kentucky killed by police officers who entered her home while she was sleeping.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: “See ya” (three letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The word “raspas” — a Mexican shaved ice treat — first appeared in The Times yesterday, according to the Twitter account @NYT_first_said.
• Kara Swisher’s forthcoming Opinion podcast, “Sway,” was featured in Vulture’s fall podcast preview.

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