Virus rules, Navalny poisoning, Afghan peace: Here’s what you need to know.
By Melina Delkic
We’re covering fatigue over a strict lockdown in Australia, the new kind of farming gaining traction in Malaysia and growing food insecurity in the United States.
Viral video highlights Australia’s lockdown fatigue
Zoe Buhler was fed up with the lockdown in her Australian city. So she created a Facebook event encouraging people to come out and protest this weekend. Then the police arrived at her door.
Ms. Buhler, 28, livestreamed her arrest in Ballarat on Wednesday, and the video has since been viewed millions of times. In the video, she is heard telling officers that she is pregnant, that she has an ultrasound appointment in an hour and that her children are in the house. When the officers tell her that her Facebook post violated laws, she offers to delete it but to no avail. They then seize her devices.
Her arrest has been widely criticized as an overreach of the emergency powers enacted to help control virus spread in the state of Victoria, where Ms. Buhler lives. Those powers have been extended by another six months. Frustration is on the rise throughout the state, where everyone is expected to stay at home except for exercise, shopping for essential goods, medical care and work or education.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
India reported 83,883 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, breaking its own global record. It has the world’s third-highest number of cases and deaths after the United States and Brazil.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has notified public health officials in all U.S. states and five large cities to prepare to distribute a coronavirus vaccine to health care workers and other high-risk groups as soon as late October or early November.
The Venice Film Festival, the first large movie extravaganza to take place since the pandemic began, opened on Wednesday with numerous safety measures in place.
Russia on the defensive over Navalny poisoning
Officials and state media commentators are responding to Germany’s revelation of the poisoning of the opposition leader Aleksei Navalny with an array of improbable explanations.
On prime-time TV, they have come up with many scenarios: that Mr. Navalny poisoned himself, that he and his supporters were “putting on a big theater play,” that an enemy of Russia poisoned him or that the poisoning never actually happened.
Such flurries of evidence-free theories have become standard responses to accusations of wrongdoing by Moscow — whether it’s election meddling, military interventions or assassinations. The formal foreign ministry response has been to accuse Germany of making claims without producing “any facts at all.”
Rationale: Analysts say the goal is to fill the news media with so many possibilities that people do not know what to believe.
India bans more than 100 Chinese apps
The government banned 118 Chinese phone apps on Wednesday as tensions continued to escalate along the country’s disputed border with China, with one Indian soldier reportedly killed this week by a Chinese land mine.
The new measures, meant to cut off India’s huge domestic market from Beijing as a way to strike back, will block Indians from popular games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which has over 50 million users in India.
Some of the banned apps, like Baidu, Alipay and some versions of the messaging app WeChat, are operated by China’s largest internet companies, including Tencent and Ant Financial. Many of them see India as important to growth.
Details: The government did not link the ban to the recent killing of an Indian soldier along the border, and said it had received complaints that Indian users’ data had been stolen. While the death has been widely reported in Indian news media, the government has not confirmed it or provided details.
If you have 4 minutes, this is worth it
A new take on farming
The Vegetable Co. is a vertical farm — flourishing in a shipping container on the edge of a parking lot, next to a gas station in Kuala Lumpur. Tightly packed shelves with hydroponic lettuce, sprouts and other vegetables grow under LED lights.
As in-person shopping wanes during the pandemic, the operation, based in Malaysia, is one of many small farms around the world selling produce directly to consumers online, bypassing brick-and-mortar grocery stores. “Having fresh vegetables delivered to your doorstep was such a relief,” one customer said.
Here’s what else is happening
Afghanistan peace process: Officials said that the last of thousands of Taliban prisoners are set to be freed, and that talks with the insurgents in Qatar will start soon. The Taliban had refused to start negotiating an end to the war until the release of the prisoners.
Slovakia murder: After an eight-month trial, Marian Kocner, one of the country’s most prominent businessmen, was acquitted of ordering the 2018 killing of an investigative journalist that set off anticorruption protests.
Facebook and the U.S. election: The social network said Thursday it planned to bar any new political ads on its site in the week before the Nov. 3 election to reduce voter disinformation.
Cattle ship: Rescue efforts were continuing to try to find dozens of crew members of a livestock vessel that sank off the coast of Japan, with nearly 6,000 cows. Only one person survived.
Snapshot: Above, the Boughton sisters on Memphis, where a neighbor had just distributed free school lunches. In the U.S., nearly one in eight households doesn’t have enough to eat. This interactive report on food insecurity captures the routines of Americans struggling to feed their families as the pandemic takes away their jobs and threatens their health.
What we’re reading: This Economist article about how Hollywood is tweaking its releases in China, from plot to promotional strategy.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Creamy pasta without any of the cream. The secret? Puréed corn and sautéed scallions, mixed with a lot of Parmesan and red chile flakes. Lemon juice adds brightness to the summery dish.
Listen: We asked artists to choose the five minutes or so they would play to make their friends fall in love with the sweet, songful violin. Listen to their choices.
Do: Here’s a guide on what houseplants to buy and how to care for them, from the most dependable to the trickier types.
Have fun staying at home, with lots of ideas from our At Home collection on what to read, cook, watch and do.
And now for the Back Story on …
U.S. virus outlook: A very different holiday season
Donald McNeil, our infectious diseases reporter, has been tracking developments in the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., the world’s worst with over six million cases and 185,000 deaths. He spoke to our colleagues from the Coronavirus Briefing about what lies ahead.
We’ve been warned about a “fall wave” for a long time, but then we had a bad summer wave. What most worries you about the fall?
Yes, autumn really worries me. Outbreaks are exploding at colleges all across the nation. There may be fewer deaths because students are young — but professors aren’t.
And soon, chilly weather will drive people indoors, where studies suggest you are 20 times more likely to get infected. By midwinter, if we aren’t careful, the death toll could head back up toward its April apex.
How will celebrating the holidays be different this year?
No American wants to hear this, but experts say it probably won’t be prudent to have big indoor family gatherings for Rosh Hashana, Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s sad, but I don’t see a safe option — especially for families with a child away at school. When college towns become epicenters, you really don’t want students to come home and unwittingly infect their families. And students need to consider this: Yes, it’s miserable to miss a family holiday — but could you forgive yourself if your grandmother died because of you?
What scientific developments are you following most closely?
Scientists I talk to are optimistic about monoclonal antibodies. One called them “convalescent plasma on steroids.” The best antibodies are cloned and grown in cell broths. Small doses might act like vaccines that protect for a few weeks. If they do, getting them to high-risk Americans — medical workers, nursing home patients and the families of the infected — could blunt the epidemic. But they can’t be grown in bulk quickly or cheaply, and F.D.A. approval for prophylactic use is uncertain.
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 protected]
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