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Your Friday Briefing – The New York Times


A day after Britain became the first Western country to authorize a coronavirus vaccine, British and American officials bickered over which government’s drug-approval process was better, leading scientists to warn that the debate could undermine public faith.

In Britain, official euphoria was giving way to the difficult choices involved in how to administer it. Roughly 800,000 doses of the approved Pfizer vaccine were being packaged in Belgium for shipment to Britain, which plans to begin vaccinations on Monday.

“Vaccine nationalism has no place in Covid or other public health matters of global significance,” said Jeremy Farrar, a scientific adviser to the British government. “Science has always been the exit strategy from this horrendous pandemic — that science has been global.”

Access to vaccines: Advanced and developing countries alike could suffer significant damage if lower-income nations do not get a fair share of coronavirus vaccines, according to a new report from the Eurasia Group, a political research and consulting firm. If vaccine access is equitable, the analysis found, it would generate at least $466 billion in economic benefits by 2025 for 10 of the world’s largest donor countries.

The founder of Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s biggest pro-democracy newspaper, was denied bail on fraud charges on Thursday and ordered jailed until April by a court.

The detention of Mr. Lai, 72, came a day after three leading Hong Kong activists were sentenced to prison for participating in a protest last year, the latest blow to the territory’s pro-democracy movement.

Lawyers for Mr. Lai will appeal the bail ruling, a process that will take at least eight days.

Lawmaker in exile: Ted Hui, a pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmaker who resigned last month in protest, said from Denmark that he planned to go into exile. He quit after China forced the ouster of four pro-democracy lawmakers.

New rules put into effect by the Trump administration drastically curtail travel by members of the Chinese Communist Party and their immediate families to the U.S., cutting the duration of visas from 10 years to one month.

The restrictions, which went into effect on Wednesday, and the likely Chinese response will be another challenge to President-elect Joe Biden, who is inheriting a U.S.-China relationship that is in its worst state since the normalization of diplomatic ties in 1979.

Details: In principle, the new visa policy could affect the travel of roughly 270 million people, according to U.S. estimates. In practice, it might be difficult to determine who, apart from high-level officials, belongs to the Chinese Communist Party.

U.S. citizenship: The Trump administration is also rolling out sweeping changes to the test immigrants must take to become citizens, injecting hints of conservative philosophy and making the test harder for many learners of the English language. Here is how it might look.

For more than six decades, Kazuo Odachi had a secret: At the age of 17, he became a kamikaze pilot, one of thousands of young Japanese men tasked to give their lives in suicide missions in World War II.

Over the years, as Japan’s complex relationship with the war changed, Mr. Odachi, now 93, gradually began to share his story. “I don’t want anyone to forget that the wonderful country that Japan has become today was built on the foundation of their deaths,” he said in an interview. His memoir has just been released in English translation.

India marriage arrest: The police in northern India have made their first arrest under a new anti-conversion law intended to curb interfaith marriage. The law is the latest in a series of measures that have steadily marginalized the country’s Muslim minority.

Four-day workweek: Unilever New Zealand said it would begin a one-year experiment to allow its employees to earn their full salaries while working one day fewer per week, a move it said might actually boost productivity and improve employees’ work-life balance.

South Korea’s exam: Nearly a half-million high school seniors hunkered down on Thursday to take the annual university-entrance exam — a nine-hour marathon of tests that could decide their futures. The coronavirus pandemic complicated the process.

China’s moon mission: Two days after it landed on the moon, the country’s Chang’e-5 mission is on its way again, blasting into space for the journey back to Earth, ferrying a bounty of soil and rocks for scientists to study.

Valéry Giscard d’Estaing: The former president of France has died of Covid-19 at age 94. As a conservative president and a descendant of nobility, he sought to make government more responsive but was thwarted by an economic slowdown and demographic shifts.

Snapshot: Above, aboard the World Dream, one of Singapore’s cruises to nowhere. The city-state, along with Japan and several countries in Europe, has encouraged voyages on a limited and highly controlled basis to help the struggling cruise industry. That means socially distanced buffet lines, electronic monitoring and hand sanitizer at the slot machines.

What we’re reading: This Bloomberg article on QAnon’s rise in Japan. “It’s a look at how conspiracy theories are tailored to the Japanese experience, and there’s an odd veneration of Michael Flynn,” writes Carole Landry, from the Briefings team.

Cook: This main-dish marinated celery salad with chickpeas and Parmesan is especially satisfying with a poached egg or some charcuterie on the side.

Watch: Our critics share their picks for the best movies of 2020, including “Martin Eden” and “First Cow.”

Read: It’s not every day that a 21-year-old debut author lands near the top of the young adult hardcover list. But Chloe Gong, a Shanghai native who grew up in Auckland, New Zealand, did it with “These Violent Delights,” a reimagining of “Romeo and Juliet” set in 1920s Shanghai.

Do: Bye-bye, eggnog; hello, nasal swab. Here are some ideas on hosting a holiday party.

The weekend is within sight, and we’re here to help you enjoy it. At Home has ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

Known for its sample-heavy music, the Australian group the Avalanches paused for 16 years between its first two albums. Next week, after a four-year break, the band will release a third LP, “We Will Always Love You.” Our reporter Lindsay Zoladz looked into how it came to be.

  • Sobriety helped. A founder, Robbie Chater, thought the band was finished when he went into rehab. His bandmate Tony Di Blasi suspected that, too. But when Chater emerged, he found the Avalanches had even toured. Chater has been sober for almost four years now.

  • The new LP began with the so-called Golden Records, the two albums that were launched into space aboard Voyager in 1977. They contained Bach and Beethoven, Aborigine songs and a Navajo chant, the sounds of trains and horses, and greetings in different languages.

  • The core of the new songs is the sampled music, but now it intermingles with live voices: Johnny Marr, Rivers Cuomo, MGMT, Karen O, Kurt Vile, the trip-hop legend Tricky, Mick Jones of the Clash and the pop-sampling pioneers Big Audio Dynamite.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Victoria

Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected].

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about abuse victims at the Boy Scouts of America.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Singer nicknamed the “Goddess of Pop” (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Suzanne Spector, a veteran editor on the International desk, is the new day assignment editor and Lauren Katzenberg, the editor of the At War online forum, has joined the International backfield.


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