Your Thursday Briefing

Migrants from the Middle East and elsewhere at the Belarus-Poland border.Credit…Pool photo by Ramil Nasibulin

Crisis deepens at Belarus-Poland border

With thousands of people camped in the cold at the Poland-Belarus border, Western officials have accused Aleksandr Lukashenko, Belarus’s repressive ruler, of using asylum seekers as human weapons and trying to manufacture a migrant crisis in Europe in retaliation for sanctions against his country, creating a new flash point in East-West relations.

Western officials said Lukashenko had increased the number of people allowed to fly into his country and then funneled them westward toward the E.U. It appears that the number of flights to Minsk from the Middle East have at least doubled over the past 10 days.

European officials said that E.U. member states were united when it comes to defending Europe’s borders and that uncontrolled immigration was over. In response, Brussels is contemplating further sanctions aimed at Belarus. But few believe that new sanctions will move Lukashenko any more than previous ones have.

The migrants: Innocent children, women and men are in freezing conditions, stuck between Polish border guards and barbed wire on one side and Belarusian troops on the other. At least 10 people have died; other estimates are higher. On either side of the border, migrants have faced brutal beatings.

A banner protesting plans for a methane-producing recycling plant near Montargis, France.Credit…Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times

In France, a disconnect over clean energy

Montargis, a town 75 miles from Paris, was the center of the Yellow Vest social uprising, an angry protest movement over an increase in gasoline taxes that was sustained for more than year by a much broader sense of alienation felt by those outside France’s major cities.

Three years on, the economic and political disconnect that nearly tore France apart remains just below the surface. Talk of a renewable-energy revolution in Paris has provoked concern in Montargis and towns like it about the potential costs to working-class people whose livelihoods are threatened by that clean-energy transition.

Household gas prices are up 12.6 percent in the past month alone, partly the result of shortages linked to the coronavirus. Electric cars seem fancifully expensive to people who were encouraged not so long ago to buy fuel-efficient diesel automobiles. And a wind turbine that will slash property values is not what people want to see down the road.

Quotable: “If Parisians love wind turbines so much, why not rip up the Bois de Vincennes and make an attraction of them?” one resident asked, alluding to the vast park to the east of Paris.

Background: For Emmanuel Macron, facing an election in April, the transition to clean energy has become a delicate subject. He has portrayed himself as a green warrior, albeit a pragmatic one, but knows that any return of the Yellow Vests would be disastrous for his election prospects.

China’s special climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua, at COP26.Credit…Jeff J Mitchell

Agreements and setbacks at COP26

In the final days of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the U.S. and China agreed to “enhance ambition” on climate change by cutting emissions this decade, and China committed for the first time to address emissions from methane.

Separately, six big automakers and 30 national governments agreed to phase out gas-powered car sales worldwide by 2040. Some of the world’s biggest car manufacturers, including Toyota, Volkswagen and the Nissan-Renault alliance, did not join the pledge, which is not legally binding. The governments of the U.S., China and Japan abstained.

A primary goal of the conference is to agree on stronger action to keep the average global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), compared with preindustrial levels. But negotiators hoping to put together a stronger climate accord still face a long list of hurdles.

Political memo: As the host leader of the U.N. conference on global warming, Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, was hoping to project statesmanship. But a mushrooming ethics scandal in British politics has dominated the week, overshadowing his climate ambitions.


Virus News

Credit…Tingshu Wang/Reuters
  • The Chinese city of Shenyang now requires travelers coming from overseas to spend 28 days in hotel quarantine and another 28 days inside their homes. The restrictions reflect how seriously Chinese officials are taking the country’s “zero Covid” approach.

  • Nearly a million young children in the U.S. have gotten Covid-19 shots since the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was cleared for 5- to 11-year-olds last week, according to White House estimates.

  • German officials are scrambling to put new Covid rules in place as the country experiences a record jump in case numbers.

  • The U.S. has negotiated a deal to ship additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine overseas, to help people living in conflict zones.

  • Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

Other Big Stories

Credit…Petr David Josek/Associated Press
  • Talks between European lawmakers and Taiwan officials, despite threats from Beijing, point to Europe’s increasing willingness to strengthen relations with the island, which China claims as its territory. Above, Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s foreign minister, in Prague.

  • At a court in Paris, a man was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing a French Holocaust survivor in what judges said was a hate crime motivated by the fact that she was Jewish.

  • Google lost an appeal on Wednesday to overturn a landmark E.U. antitrust ruling — and a $2.8 billion fine against the company.

What Else Is Happening

  • The police in France arrested a member of the Paris St.-Germain women’s soccer team after masked men attacked her teammate.

  • The Consumer Price Index, a measure of inflation in the U.S., rose 6.2 percent in October from a year ago, the fastest pace in more than three decades.

A Morning Read

Credit…Elliott Verdier for The New York Times

Over four months and 5,000 miles, a 12-foot-tall puppet of a 9-year-old Syrian girl named Amal trekked from Turkey to Britain to find her mother. In a politically divided continent, were any minds changed?


Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

The legacy of ‘Chicago’

When “Chicago” premiered in 1975, it wasn’t a hit. Inspired by sensationalist murder trials, the vaudeville-style musical follows the character Roxie Hart’s ascent to fame after she kills her lover. The production “seemed too chilly, in those days, to be truly loved,” Ben Brantley wrote in The Times, pointing to the show’s themes of “greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery.”

But then came a streamlined reworking of the production in 1996 that bubbled “like vintage Champagne,” Brantley wrote. “Chicago” went on to become the longest-running American musical in Broadway history and nabbed six Tony Awards, a film adaptation and over 30 international reproductions.

The show has stayed fresh with the help of dazzling cast members: singers like Patti LaBelle and Usher, movie stars like Brooke Shields and Patrick Swayze, and even reality TV personalities like NeNe Leakes. “It’s not a stunt: We don’t take anyone that can’t fulfill the stage work,” the producer Barry Weissler said. “There have been people — even important people in the music world — who couldn’t cut it onstage, so didn’t make it into the show.”

For the 25th anniversary of the revival, Juan A. Ramírez spoke with the musical’s composer, producers and actors about its history.


What to Cook

Credit…Christopher Testani for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

This vegetarian take on a beef Wellington is just as impressive as the real thing.

Denim Blues

Low-slung, high-waisted, skinny, cropped, baggy, flared — there’s no consensus on jeans these days.

What to Read

Three young adult novels capture the challenges and charms of growing up.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Many August babies (four letters).

And here is the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. And a programming note: I’m away until next week, but my colleagues will be filling in to get you the latest news.

Thanks for starting your day with The Times — Natasha

P.S. The word “gloopiness” — describing magma from the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii — appeared for the first time in The Times this week.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about a man who identifies the bodies of migrants who died trying to reach Spain.

Sanam Yar wrote today’s Arts and Ideas. You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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