Your Monday Briefing

It’s President-elect Joe Biden.

By Carole Landry

Good morning.

We’re covering the congratulations pouring in for President-elect Joe Biden, a new peak of 10 million coronavirus cases in the U.S. and China’s widening reach in the Caribbean.

Biden’s victory brings a sigh of relief worldwide

Foreign leaders showered the U.S. president-elect with congratulations. For many, the importance of this election was as much about removing President Trump as ushering in Joe Biden.

Diplomats and commentators expressed gratitude, satisfaction and even jubilation, anticipating that Mr. Biden would bring a much-needed return to normalcy — something that alarmingly vanished the day Mr. Trump took office.

Still, Mr. Trump will be handing Mr. Biden a difficult cleanup act internationally. The most pressing foreign policy areas the Biden administration will face starts with China and includes North Korea’s nuclear program, NATO alliances and power shifts in the Middle East.

At home, the president-elect prepared a transition of power and was to announce today a Covid-19 task force as the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. reached harrowing new levels. Mr. Trump has not conceded defeat. Here are our latest updates.

Congratulations: Leaders across Asia and the Pacific saluted Mr. Biden, though China’s leader had not weighed in on Sunday.

Kamala Harris: India, particularly the village where the vice president-elect’s grandfather was born, is relishing the Biden-Harris triumph. But foreign policy experts expect that the Biden administration will be tougher on India.

10 million coronavirus cases in the U.S.

The United States reported its 10 millionth coronavirus case on Sunday, with the latest million added in just 10 days.

The country is struggling with its most widespread wave of infection since the pandemic began. Its seven-day average of new cases now exceeds 100,000 per day, far more than any other country’s, and the U.S. now accounts for a fifth of global cases, which are nearing 50 million. Hospitalizations and deaths are up.

States in the Great Lakes, the Great Plains and the Mountain West have seen the fastest recent upticks in infections. North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin have led the country for weeks in the number of new cases relative to their populations, and Iowa recently shot up, too.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

Queen Elizabeth II of England was seen wearing a face mask in public for the first time on Wednesday at a private ceremony during the prelude to Remembrance Sunday.

A Cambodian province is closing schools that had just reopened, seeking to prevent any possible spread of the virus after Hungary’s prime minister tested positive immediately after a visit last week. Prime Minister Hun Sen and other officials who met with the Hungarian leader are in quarantine.

The mutation of the coronavirus in mink, which has caused Denmark to order the killing of all farmed mink, has sharpened the worry among scientists that the pathogen could spread to other wild and domestic animals.

Hong Kong universities are in the cross hairs

As China tries to quell the political upheaval in Hong Kong, the city’s universities — ranked among the best in Asia — have become symbols of the shrinking space for dissent or even discussion.

Politically active professors have been fired or denied contracts in what they call retribution for their criticism of the government. Students are requesting more secure platforms for submitting assignments. Scholars are reconsidering whether Hong Kong is a viable home for their careers.

Bigger picture: The scrutiny is part of a wider campaign to control education. The Education Bureau has offered to review textbooks, and last month it stripped a primary schoolteacher of his teaching credentials after he discussed Hong Kong independence. Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong has called on the government to bolster “patriotic education.”

If you have 5 minutes, this is worth it

China’s friends in the Caribbean

China has offered Jamaica loans and expertise to build new highways, donated security equipment to military and police forces throughout the Caribbean and dispatched large shipments of test kits, masks and ventilators to help governments in the region respond to the pandemic. Above, a Chinese cargo plane delivering medical equipment at the Port-au-Prince airport in Haiti in May.

Our reporter looks at what has become a new front in the U.S.-China rivalry.

Here’s what else is happening

Nagorno-Karabakh war: The president of Azerbaijan claimed on Sunday that his forces had captured the strategically important hilltop town of Shusha, known as Shushi to Armenians. The town, overlooking several mountain valleys and Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital, Stepanakert, is considered a linchpin to military control of the region.

Ethiopia reshuffle: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed undertook a major reshuffle of the security services on Sunday, days after he ordered a military offensive in the Tigray region, which edged the country toward a potential all-out civil war. He replaced the head of intelligence and the army chief, appointed a new federal police commissioner and chose a new cabinet minister for foreign affairs, naming the former one as his national security adviser.

Afghanistan violence: A series of attacks in Kabul within the span of a week — on university students, a famous journalist and the father of a mayor — has exposed growing, and very public, discontent with a national government unable to fulfill its promises to protect the people.

Snapshot: Above, a fig tree, almost a century old, in the commercial neighborhood of Westlands in Nairobi. Government authorities plan to take it down to make way for a four-lane highway but are facing growing public opposition. “This particular tree is a symbol of Nairobi,” an environmental consultant said.

In memoriam: Alex Trebek, 80, who hosted “Jeopardy!” for a record-setting 36 years. Mr. Trebek had announced in a video in March 2019 that he had received a diagnosis of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

What we’re looking at: The “Accidentally Wes Anderson” Instagram feed, which our food editor, Sam Sifton, calls “very soothing.”

Now, a break from the news

Cook: Yotam Ottolenghi’s butternut squash and fondue pie with pickled red chiles is for cheese lovers. It tastes great at room temperature, so it’s a good bake-ahead option.

Read: Escape to another century. These three historical novels are your ticket.

Do: The paints we use to decorate our homes may help us cope with challenging times. Here are some tips on finding the right shade for the moment.

There’s more to explore in our At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

And now for the Back Story on …

Americans’ views of the future

The results of the U.S. elections seemed to crystallize the deep divisions in the country — on the virus, the economy, issues of race and even how to properly count the vote. In the days leading up to the final day of voting, Americans waited in line in record numbers to cast ballots. What did they want for America? Here are some of their answers.

Kristin Haynes, 44, of Atlanta

“My hope is that we find our humanity again, that we find a way to be kind to one another, and have empathy in general. I’m in a hopeless place right now in terms of what’s happened to this country, and that’s a lot coming from a Black person. I’ve never seen this total lack of respect for differences.”

Jairee Tannan, 19, of San Francisco

“I want America to not see us as animals, you feel me? I want everybody, when they look at me — I don’t want them looking at me just as a Black man. I want them to look at me as an individual.”

James Couch, 35, of Wilmington, Delaware

“I’m tired of Covid-19, so I hope the country can move past. This has been the worst time for us in our lives, and I want to see that get better and the economy get better.”

Phyllis Minsuk, 82, and Les Minsuk, 85, of Maryvale, Arizona

Phyllis: “I want peace within and peace outside. I want the country to come back together as caring, loving and concerned citizens, where we really live in a way where we can support each other.”

Les: “I would like for us to be sane again.”

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

— Carole

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

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is on the election victory of Joe Biden.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Manage to avoid (Five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Jane Arraf, who has spent the past few years as NPR’s Cairo and Iraq correspondent, will be our new Baghdad bureau chief, and Thomas Erdbrink, our Iran correspondent for eight years, will become our first-ever Northern Europe bureau chief.

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