Your Friday Briefing

Good morning. We’re covering a big test for President Biden’s agenda, the E.U.’s newest pandemic challenge and Lithuania’s spitting contest with China.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi negotiated until the very last minute.Credit…Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

Biden’s agenda on the line

President Biden signed a short-term spending bill to fund the U.S. government until early December and avoid an imminent shutdown.

The extension gave lawmakers additional time to reach consensus over the dozen annual bills that dictate federal spending, but the future of Biden’s domestic agenda still hung in the balance.

Late Thursday night, Democrats in the House of Representatives delayed a vote on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, a setback to a crucial piece of Biden’s economic agenda. Liberal Democrats had threatened to block it without substantial progress toward passing a $3.5 trillion social policy and climate bill.

That larger legislation faces tough resistance from moderates in the party. On Thursday, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a key holdout, announced for the first time that he would support only $1.5 trillion in funding for the social safety net.

The debt ceiling: On Thursday night, the Senate took its first procedural step to raise the debt limit, setting up another partisan clash. Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, told Congress that the deadline was Oct. 18 and inaction would risk a first-ever default on the federal debt.

A health care worker vaccinating a patient in Bulgaria.Credit…Nikolay Doychinov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

E.U. nations risk a virus surge

European countries with insufficient vaccination coverage could be in serious trouble if they relax Covid-19 restrictions in the next few weeks, according to a new report by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

So far, only three of the bloc’s 27 member countries have fully inoculated more than 75 percent of their residents, according to the agency’s data. Just over 62 percent of the bloc’s total population is fully vaccinated, and eastern nations like Romania and Bulgaria are far behind wealthier countries to the west.

That level of vaccine coverage will not be enough to forestall outbreaks when pandemic restrictions are relaxed, the agency warned, especially now that the Delta variant is the bloc’s dominant strain.

Schools: Most children in the bloc have resumed attending school in person, with no coronavirus vaccine authorized yet for children under 12. For this reason, it is especially important for the education system to put preventive measures in place, the report said.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Several countries in Asia are now on track to surpass the U.S. in fully vaccinating their populations.

  • Only nine African countries have met a goal of vaccinating 10 percent of their populations by the end of September, the W.H.O. said.

The Chinese embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania.Credit…Valda Kalnina/EPA, via Shutterstock

Lithuania vs. China

The Baltic country has enraged Beijing by cozying up to Taiwan, quitting a Chinese-led diplomatic forum and telling its officials to scrap certain Chinese phones that it says carry censorship software.

In response, Beijing has recalled its ambassador, halted trips by a Chinese cargo train into the country and has made it nearly impossible for many Lithuanian exporters to sell their goods in China. Chinese state media accused Lithuania of being the “anti-China vanguard” in Europe.

The nations are hardly comparable: China has 1.4 billion people. Lithuania has fewer than 3 million, no tanks or fighter jets, and its economy is 270 times smaller than China’s.

But Lithuania has proved that even tiny countries can create headaches for a superpower. Its role as a transit corridor for goods heading to Europe makes it important to Beijing. And now, its fellow members in the European Union are expected to discuss the situation at a meeting next week. Nothing could be worse for Beijing than if other countries followed Lithuania’s example.


Europe News

Credit…Francois Lo Presti/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • A French court sentenced Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president, to a year of house arrest for illegally financing his failed 2012 re-election campaign.

  • A Dutch newspaper reported that the police in the Netherlands had beefed up security around Prime Minister Mark Rutte amid fears over the country’s notorious drug gangs.

  • German police arrested a 96-year-old woman, who worked as a secretary in a concentration camp, after she failed to show up in court.

  • Britain’s top criminal court sentenced the police officer who abducted, raped and murdered Sarah Everard to life in prison.

Africa and the Middle East

  • Ethiopia ordered the expulsion of seven senior U.N. officials, some of whom are leading the aid response in Tigray.

  • In East Africa, people who usually work in tourism are struggling to make a living without regular safaris.

  • Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel claims he wants to “shrink” the conflict with Palestinians, though a solution may remain elusive.

What Else Is Happening

Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
  • Aid groups say a humanitarian crisis looms in Afghanistan.

  • Police stormed an Ecuadorean prison where more than 100 inmates died this week as gangs fought for control.

  • U.S. senators grilled a Facebook executive about accusations that Instagram harms teenagers.

  • A strange comet astonished astronomers when it erupted four times in quick succession.

A Morning Read

Credit…Devin Oktar Yalkin for The New York Times

Daniel Craig spoke to The Times about his final James Bond appearance in “No Time to Die,” out on Oct. 8. “I’ve got other projects I do, and they’ll reward me, but there’s nothing quite like a Bond movie,” he said.


Credit…Marc Domage/Fondation Louis Vuitton

A historic exhibition

“The Morozov Collection: Icons of Modern Art,” which opened last week in Paris, is a trip into the world of “War and Peace,” our critic Jason Farago writes. It reunites French and Russian paintings, many for the first time since 1918, from what Jason describes as “one of the two most substantial art collections of pre-revolutionary Russia.”

In the late 1800s, when the French bourgeoisie still disdained the Paris avant-garde, two Russian textile magnates bought the city’s most innovative paintings and brought them back east. By about 1900, Ivan and Mikhail Morozov had turned Moscow into the foreign capital of French modern art.

Then came the October Revolution, when the new government took all of the 200 paintings for the national collection. Under Stalin, the paintings were suppressed and scattered as far as Siberia. Still, the fractured Morozov collection inspired two generations of Russian successors.

Now, the reassembly of the Morozov collection — across four floors of the Louis Vuitton Foundation, above — is truly historic. It required a colossal diplomatic effort, with assurances that French law would protect the Russian museums against any claims by the Morozovs’ descendants. President Vladimir Putin personally signed off on the loans.


What to Cook

Credit…Julia Gartland for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne.

Kefta is a versatile Moroccan dish: grill skewers of it over charcoal or use it to stuff dumplings.

What to Watch

“Coming Home in the Dark,” a grinding, ruthless thriller from New Zealand, is available on several streaming services.

What to Read

Here are 14 new books to peruse in October.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: A kid can make money losing it (five letters).

And here is the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Amelia

P.S. Our chief China correspondent, Chris Buckley, joined ABC Radio National in Australia to talk about geopolitical tensions in the region.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the U.S. infrastructure vote.

You can reach Amelia and the team at [email protected].

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