Good morning. We’re covering booster shots in France, Peng Shuai’s piercing accusations in China and the Pakistani madrasa that has educated many Taliban leaders.
A French rush for boosters
Thousands rushed to book appointments for coronavirus booster shots on Thursday after the French government said that health passes would soon no longer be valid without them.
Amid a surge in new cases and rising hospitalizations, the government made all adults eligible for booster shots starting this weekend. The health minister, Olivier Véran, said that over 400,000 vaccination appointments had been booked on Wednesday.
Véran said the current wave would be “stronger and longer” than the one over the summer but that “no lockdown, no curfew, no store closures, no travel restrictions” would be enforced.
Instead, Véran said, by focusing on vaccinations and social distancing measures, “we are making the choice to reconcile freedom and responsibility.”
Numbers: About 70 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. But the number of new daily cases has spiked to about 30,000 over the past few days.
Kids: The European Union’s drug regulator approved the Pfizer vaccine for young children. For many, protection can’t come soon enough: In France, the surge has led to the closure of 8,500 school classes, up from 4,100 last week.
In other developments:
Before Peng Shuai’s accusation, Zhang Gaoli was best known as a low-key technocrat. As he quietly ascended to top leadership, he skirted scandals and controversy. One of the few profiles of him in the Chinese media described Zhang, 75, as “stern, low-key, taciturn.”
Now, Peng’s allegation has made Zhang a symbol of a political system that prizes secrecy and control. Her accusation raises questions about how far the party’s elite carry their declared ideals of clean-living integrity into their heavily guarded homes.
Background: Early in Xi Jinping’s term as the Chinese leader, lurid reports about officials’ sexual misdeeds at times surfaced in state media, disclosures intended to signal that he was serious about purifying the party. Now, Xi’s priority appears to be fending off scandal. References to Peng’s account were nearly wiped off the internet inside China.
The Taliban’s alma mater
Many alumni of Darul Uloom Haqqania madrasa, one of Pakistan’s largest and oldest seminaries, are now ruling Afghanistan.
Administrators of the madrasa — located close to the Afghan border — argue that the school has changed and that the Taliban should be given the chance to show they have moved beyond their bloody ways.
But its critics call it a university of jihad and blame it for helping to sow violence across the region for decades. They also worry that extremist madrasas, potentially emboldened by the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan, may fuel radicalism in Pakistan.
A wide reach: The Haqqani Network — the Taliban’s military wing, responsible for hostage takings, suicide attacks and targeted assassinations — is named after the madrasa and retains connections there.
Notable alumni: The foreign minister, the higher education minister, the justice minister, and the acting interior minister, who led much of the Taliban’s military efforts and carries a $5 million bounty from the U.S. government on his head.
THE LATEST NEWS
The boat that capsized in the English Channel, leaving at least 27 migrants dead, was like “a pool you blow up in your garden,” France’s interior minister said.
As Russia moves troops along its border with Ukraine, raising fears of an invasion, the Biden administration has been vague about when, and how, it might come to Ukraine’s defense.
Poland’s far-right ruling party has benefited from its hard-line stance on migrants at the Belarusian border.
Sweden chose Magdalena Andersson, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, to be its first female prime minister. Her term lasted less than a day.
An explosion outside a school in Mogadishu killed at least eight people, the latest in a series of attacks during Somalia’s tense election period.
As you get this newsletter, people across the U.S. will be preparing to celebrate. Here’s some holiday news.
What Else Is Happening
An off-duty police officer in Newark, N.J., has been charged with reckless vehicular homicide after prosecutors say he fatally struck a pedestrian and then took the body home in the trunk of his car.
Because of climate change, the Smithsonian’s buildings are extremely vulnerable to flooding. Nearly two million irreplaceable artifacts are housed in the basement of the National Museum of American History.
Texas has rejected efforts to protect Native American remains buried under the Alamo, a controversial tourist destination.
In a last-minute change to the nomination process, Kanye West and Taylor Swift became Grammy contenders for album of the year.
A Morning Read
If your accordion breaks in Mexico City, you take it to Francisco Luis Ramírez. He has kept untold numbers of the country’s beloved instruments playing during more than 50 years in business.
Collectives for the Turner Prize?
The annual British visual arts award, founded in 1984, used to celebrate a buzzy individual artist. But for the past three years, there has been no single winner.
In 2019, artists surprised judges and shared the prize. During the coronavirus pandemic, prize organizers distributed funds. This year, judges will draw a winner from a shortlist of five collectives, each of whose work has as much to do with social activism as it does art.
The nomination of these collectives underlines the quandary for the Turner Prize today: Is its role to capture the zeitgeist, or to reward excellence?
Some celebrated the move as an anticapitalist decision. Others mocked it as a kowtow to performative social justice creators. “It’s all well and good having these views, which are probably genuine — but where is the bloody art?” one longtime critic of the prize said.
These crispy shrimp cakes are served with an herby, chile-flecked mayonnaise that’s sort of like a tartar sauce, but spicier.
What to Watch
Our critic calls “Drive My Car,” a Japanese film about grief, love and art based on a short story by Haruki Murakami, a “quiet masterpiece.”
What to Wear
If you’re trying to “look rich,” check out the Round Jacket, a puffer that Kanye West designed for Gap.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Unlocked (four letters).
And here is today’s Spelling Bee.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia
P.S. Genevieve Ko, a Times Food editor, spoke to The Splendid Table about Thanksgiving feasts. Listen to the full episode here.
You can reach Amelia and the team at [email protected]. Send us your feedback.