Your Friday Briefing



President Biden’s announcement that the U.S. and Britain would help Australia deploy nuclear-powered submarines in the South China Sea has infuriated France, foreshadowing how conflicting American and European responses to confrontations with China may redraw the global strategic map.

The deal was meant to reinforce and update alliances as strategic priorities shift. But in drawing a Pacific ally closer to meet the China challenge, Biden appears to have alienated an important European ally and aggravated already tense relations with Beijing.

France reacted with outrage to the deal, about which the U.S. gave the country only a few hours’ notice. It is also a business matter, rendering defunct a $66 billion deal for Australia to buy French-built submarines. French officials described the exclusion of France from the partnership as a moment that would deepen an already widening rift between longstanding allies.

In response, France canceled a Washington gala celebrating U.S.-French cooperation in the Revolutionary War.

Quotable: Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s foreign minister, said that the submarine deal was a “unilateral, brutal, unpredictable decision” by the U.S. He compared the American move to the rash and sudden policy shifts common during the Trump administration.

Analysis: The deal reveals Australia’s strategic bet that America will prevail in its great-power competition with China and continue to be a dominant and stabilizing force in the Pacific.

Weeks after escaping Kabul, tens of thousands of Afghans hoping to be resettled in the U.S. remain on military bases across the country and overseas as medical and security screenings slow the process. A small but worrisome measles outbreak has contributed to the delays.

While Afghan evacuees have escaped the Taliban, their lives remain in limbo, with restless children and little to do on the military bases. About 100 Americans who want to leave, and an unknown number of vulnerable Afghans, are still in Afghanistan.

The screenings follow a condensed and harried evacuation effort. Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, defended the operation in congressional testimony this week. Republican critics have called for his resignation amid accusations that the Biden administration had failed to adequately plan for the Afghan government’s collapse to the Taliban.

By the numbers: As of Tuesday, about 64,000 evacuees from Afghanistan had arrived in the U.S., nearly 49,000 of whom are living on eight domestic military bases. Roughly 18,000 are on bases overseas, largely in Germany. Some will leave within weeks, but most will stay longer.

Dispatch: Our reporter visited rural Afghanistan, where the remnants of war are everywhere. But for the first time in years, the shooting has stopped.

Only 3.6 percent of people in Africa have been fully inoculated against Covid so far after wealthy countries supplied a small fraction of the doses they had promised to Covax, the global vaccine-sharing initiative. Covax last week slashed its forecast for the number of doses it would have available this year.

African countries have now been left with just half the doses they need to meet the global target of fully vaccinating 40 percent of their populations by the end of 2021. Worldwide, 80 percent of shots that have been administered have been in high- and upper-middle-income countries, while only 0.4 percent of doses have been administered in low-income countries.

Details: Inequities in the distribution of vaccines remain stark: Africa is home to about 17 percent of the world’s people, but only 2 percent of the nearly six billion shots administered so far have been given in the continent, according to the W.H.O.

Quotable: “Ask the rich countries: Where are Africa’s vaccines? Where are the vaccines for the low- and middle-income countries of the world?” Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, of the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, said in an online news conference.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Italy will require residents to show a Covid health pass to go to work, becoming the first European country to mandate vaccine certificates so widely.

  • China said yesterday that it had fully inoculated one billion people, bringing it closer to its goal of vaccinating 80 percent of its population by year’s end.

  • A nationwide worker shortage in the U.S. is affecting schools, leaving them in urgent need of cafeteria workers, bus drivers and substitute teachers.

Ahead of Russia’s national parliamentary elections this weekend, Anton Troianovski, the Moscow bureau chief for The Times, spent two weeks crossing the country. This 3,000-mile journey, he writes, provided a view of a “uniquely Russian campaign trail.”

“A guiding emotion we encountered was people’s fear,” he writes. “We met many people fed up with official corruption, stagnant pay, low pensions and rising prices, but far fewer who were prepared to face a post-Putin unknown.”

As Apple and Google enact privacy changes, businesses are grappling with the fallout, Madison Avenue is fighting back, and Facebook has cried foul, writes Brian X. Chen, a tech writer for The Times.

The battle over the future of the internet is intensifying. At the center of the tussle is what has long been its lifeblood: advertising. “It heralds a profound shift in how people’s personal information may be used online, with sweeping implications for the ways that businesses make money digitally,” Brian explains.

The technology behind “cookies,” which track people from site to site, is being dismantled. The fallout may hurt brands that rely on targeted ads to get people to buy their goods and, instead, drive money to Big Tech.

Here’s what the privacy battle means for you.

Throw together this pan-seared tofu for an easy dinner that just happens to be vegan.

Fall is book publishing’s biggest season. Our Books team has put together a full list of recommendations of new novels, nonfiction must-reads and more.


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