Here’s what you need to know.
July 20, 2020
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We’re covering the Trump administration’s coronavirus failures, political protests in Bulgaria and a rocket launch to Mars.
ImageA nine-month wait for knee surgery has left Ruth Fawcett unable to walk without assistance.Credit…Mary Turner for The New York Times
After nine months of waiting for surgery, Ruth Fawcett’s knee muscles wasted away, leaving her unable to walk without assistance.
“My knee just wobbles about and if I don’t use my two walking sticks, I will fall. It’s very scary,” she said.
She, along with nearly four million people in England on the National Health Service, are on waiting lists for routine hospital treatments.
Many patients like Ms. Fawcett are experiencing a deterioration in their health as hospitals operate at reduced capacity to accommodate coronavirus patients.
Details: The waiting list may soar to 10 million people by the end of the year, according to the N.H.S. Confederation, which represents hospitals and other health care providers. The service rejects that estimate.
Bigger picture: The coronavirus has sickened more people in Britain than in any other European country, with more than 45,000 dead and nearly 300,000 infected, although deaths have been on the decline recently.
In other news:
The leader of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, said on Sunday that the city recorded more than 100 new cases in the past 24 hours, the most since the pandemic took hold in January. Hong Kong suspended nonessential government services.
Though tourism is returning to southern Europe — stretching from Portugal to Greece — its restart has been sluggish amid new outbreaks in some countries. The drag is felt acutely in destinations accustomed to summer business.
As countries told people to stay home to slow the spread of the virus, doctors in neonatal intensive care units noticed that premature births were falling. Further research might help understand a way to prevent them.
Chinese officials are battling a growing outbreak in the far western Xinjiang region, the center of the country’s crackdown on predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities. The British foreign secretary accused Beijing on Sunday of “gross and egregious” human rights abuses against its Uighur population. A New York Times visual investigation reveals how Chinese companies are using Uighur labor to produce protective gear that ends up around the world.
President Emmanuel Macron of France made a statement as he arrived at the E.U. summit meeting on Sunday.Credit…Pool photo by Francisco Seco
European leaders held a third day of acrimonious negotiations on Sunday, but there was no sign that a deal was imminent on a stimulus package involving more than 750 billion euros, or $840 billion.
Most E.U. countries are keen to see the plan move ahead, but the sticking point has been how much latitude to give those receiving the aid to spend as they please. Some wealthier northern states are demanding that strings be attached to push economic, political, environmental and social reforms.
Details: Most members from Europe’s west want Hungary, Poland and other eastern members to adhere to environmental targets, to stop eroding the rule of law and to end attacks on immigrants and minority groups if they are to tap E.U. funds.
It was the first time E.U. leaders met in person since the pandemic began, and officials hoped that being together would help them advance compromise faster.
A rally denouncing the right-wing government of Bulgaria in Sofia, the capital, last week.Credit…Nikolay Doychinov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A police raid on the president’s office. A looming no-confidence vote in the government. And the largest street protests in seven years.
Bulgaria is gripped by its biggest political crisis since 2013, when anticorruption protests brought down a center-left government. Now, tens of thousands of demonstrators are trying to oust a right-wing government, which is facing accusations of corruption, judicial interference and servility to wealthy businessmen.
The current protests began after revelations that a stretch of publicly owned coast had been reserved for the private use of a prominent businessman. It crystallized fears that Bulgaria was bending to outside influence.
Context: The poorest member of the European Union, Bulgaria is both a focus in the tussle for influence between the West and Russia, and an example of a decline in democratic standards in some of the continent.
Russian protest: In the biggest display of defiance against the Kremlin yet, throngs gathered peacefully in the Far East of Russia on Saturday to protest the arrest of a popular regional governor.
If you have 20 minutes, this is worth it
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times
As the coronavirus raged in April, the White House put in motion a plan to shift responsibility for fighting the outbreak to the states — a decision at the heart of what would be “a catastrophic policy blunder and an attempt to escape blame for a crisis that had engulfed the country — perhaps one of the greatest failures of presidential leadership in generations,” a Times investigation has found.
Interviews with more than two dozen officials inside the administration and in states, as well as a review of emails and documents, reveal previously unreported details about how the White House put the nation on its current course during a fateful period this spring.
(Pressed for time? Here are five takeaways.)
Here’s what else is happening
Mars mission launch: The first of three missions headed to the red planet in the coming weeks was launched from Tanegashima Space Center early in Japan’s Monday morning. The mission is an orbiter, known as Hope, built by the United Arab Emirates.
U.S. Representative John Lewis: The death of the civil rights hero has fueled a movement to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., for him. In 1965, state troopers beat him and other demonstrators as they marched for Black voting rights there.
Nantes fire: The authorities have opened an arson investigation into a fire that broke out inside the cathedral of the western French city on Saturday. The blaze has evoked memories of the Notre-Dame blaze last year, though the authorities have said the damage was not as serious.
London police: The Metropolitan Police have suspended a white officer who knelt on the neck of a Black man on Saturday while he was handcuffed on the ground.
Snapshot: Above, Assa Traoré, an activist in France whose half brother, Adama Traoré, died in police custody in 2016 on his 24th birthday. With the spread of Black Lives Matter protests, Ms. Traoré has gained wider prominence as the champion of men who have been victims of discriminatory police violence in the country and has helped organize some of the biggest anti-racism protests in Europe.
What we’re watching: The BBC’s “Swan Lake Bath Ballet.” Dan Saltzstein, our deputy editor for Special Sections, writes: “Twenty-seven elite dancers perform the ballet from their home baths.”
Now, a break from the news
Credit…Julia Gartland for The New York Times (Photography and Styling)
Cook: This pasta with caramelized pepper, anchovies and ricotta uses sweet peppers cooked down with whole garlic cloves. A dollop of fresh ricotta brings the elements together.
Watch: Studio Ghibli has spent 35 years telling winding, complex stories that stretch the bounds of what animation can do. You can now stream 21 of the Japanese studio’s classics and lesser-known favorites on HBO Max.
Do: Some men growing beards for the first time are coming to the realization that their facial hair is a tangle of waves and curls. Here are some tips on getting that beard under control.
We’re still safest inside. At Home has our full collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do to make staying at home fun.
And now for the Back Story on …
The coronavirus crisis has upended Sarah Firshein’s job as a travel columnist for The Times, but she has discovered that travel writing can be even more interesting now. Here’s an excerpt from what she wrote about the change.
Practically overnight, it seemed, borders were closed and commercial planes were grounded. In addition to worrying about the same things everyone worried about at that time — getting sick, the well-being of parents, the abrupt end to child care, long-term financial security — I had another fear specific to my profession: How does one write about travel when travel isn’t a thing?
As it turns out, travel writing becomes even more interesting when the world stops.
Masks and social distancing at the international airport in Casablanca, Morocco.Credit…Abdeljalil Bounhar/Associated Press
Look no further than the tip line (firstname.lastname@example.org) where my editors and I field readers’ questions for Tripped Up, my consumer advocacy column for The Times’s Travel desk.
The questions are diverse: Are hotels safe? Can our family travel from Italy to the United States in October? Should we road-trip, rather than fly, to our son’s wedding?
An overwhelming majority, though, are about canceled trips: pleas for help getting refunds, tales of customer service battles and hourslong hold queues, scrutiny on policies that don’t make sense, complaints about policies that do make sense but are still unfair.
Friends have asked me whether I’ve flown since the pandemic started. The answer is no; I’m content keeping a low profile for now, and I’m grateful for the chance to rediscover the places and people I know the best. But when that happens, travel — for me, for everybody — will be a totally new skill. Picking a destination, navigating an airport, deciding whom to vacation with: We’re all in training pants again.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
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 email@example.com.
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