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European Countries Reinstate Curfews To Try To Slow COVID-19 Surge : NPR

After letting its guard down this summer, Europe is dealing with a massive second wave of the coronavirus that doctors say will most likely be more deadly than the first.



DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So we thought Europe had done so much better than us at containing the spread of the coronavirus, but now governments there are imposing curfews as they are hit by a massive second wave that doctors warn could be more deadly than the first. NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley reports from Paris.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Over the weekend, France extended a curfew to two-thirds of the country. Around 46 million people now have to be inside every night by 9 p.m. President Emmanuel Macron said the country had no choice, as cases topped a million. Spain, with about three-fourths the population, has also hit a million cases.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRIME MINISTER PEDRO SANCHEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

BEARDSLEY: Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told Spaniards, “We know what we have to do. The more we stay at home and the fewer contacts we have, the more we’ll protect ourselves and our loved ones.” From today, cinemas, swimming pools and gyms will close in Italy, and restaurants will have to shut their doors at 6 p.m. The Czech Republic and Belgium have been particularly hard hit. A 500-bed military hospital is being set up outside Prague to deal with the influx of patients.

In France, hospital capacity is quickly filling. Dr. Guillaume Thierry, intensive care doctor in the northern town of Saint Etienne, told French television there’s been a sudden wave of extremely sick patients.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GUILLAUME THIERRY: (Through interpreter) Our worry is to arrive at the point where we have far more patients and beds, and we already see this happening around the end of October or beginning of November.

BEARDSLEY: The French Sunday night news asked how the country had gone from relief at having things under control last spring to out of control in just a few short months.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: It juxtaposed Macron telling the French last summer to go on vacation and enjoy being together again to the prime minister exclaiming just last week that the second wave is here and it is grave. One government official likened it to walking along a precipice – if you confine too long, the economy will collapse, he said, but if you reopen too quickly, the virus comes roaring back.

Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris.

(SOUNDBITE OF MILES DAVIS’ “CONCIERTO DE ARANJUEZ (ADAGIO)”)

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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As U.S.-China Relations Worsen, Germany Looks Out For Its Own Interests : NPR

European Union member states used to rely on the U.S. and China for security and trade. Now that the relationship with both has soured, some EU countries are looking for alternatives.



RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The relationship between the U.S. and China is worse than it’s been in recent memory. Stuck in the middle is Europe. The European Union relies on the world’s two biggest economies for trade and security. But in recent years, its relationship with both has soured. And that’s forced some EU countries like Germany to pursue their own paths. As NPR’s Rob Schmitz reports it has not been easy.

ROB SCHMITZ, BYLINE: A month ago, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas welcomed his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, for an official visit. Maas, dressed in a designer suit, looked tense. The man standing next to him had only a day before threatened a politician from Germany’s neighbor, the Czech Republic. Wang said the head of the Czech parliament would, quote, “pay a heavy price” for visiting Taiwan. Maas turned to Wang with a stern face.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HEIKO MAAS: (Through interpreter) You will be aware that we Europeans stand shoulder to shoulder when it comes to foreign and security policies. And we treat our international partners with respect. We expect the same in return. And threats have no place here.

SCHMITZ: Standing up to China does not come naturally to Germany. Its largest companies depend on China’s market for big portions of their revenue streams. In the first half of 2020, 42% of Volkswagen’s revenue came from China, as did 34% of BMW’s and 24% of Adidas’. But recently, Beijing’s used this market as leverage, with its diplomats taking an increasingly aggressive stance towards Germany and the rest of the EU – like last December, when China’s ambassador to Germany threatened retaliation on German companies if Berlin excluded the Chinese telecoms company Huawei from its market. But now, Maas was fighting back.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAAS: (Through interpreter) In the future, Europe will look after its own interests in a more sovereign and self-assured manner. We will by no means allow ourselves to become the ball in a superpower game between the U.S., Russia and China. We are open to dialogue with everybody.

SCHMITZ: The EU considers China a partner when it comes to trade, climate change and issues like the Iran nuclear agreement. But it’s hit a wall in its attempt to try and even the playing field for European companies inside of China. Dagmar Schmidt, who chairs the German-Chinese Parliamentary Group, says the EU also sees China as a societal and systemic rival.

DAGMAR SCHMIDT: (Through interpreter) It’s an authoritarian, undemocratic, unconstitutional system that’s trying to push its development model globally as an alternative to our open and democratic societies.

SCHMITZ: And as the relationship between the EU and China becomes more fraught, so does its relationship with the United States.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So we’re protecting Germany. We’re protecting France. We’re protecting all of these countries. And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia.

SCHMITZ: President Trump complains that EU countries are shirking their responsibilities to NATO while making deals with Russia. Another Trump complaint – EU countries like Germany making deals with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. Noah Barkin, senior visiting fellow at the German Marshall Fund, says Trump’s impact on EU-China relations is a double-edged sword.

NOAH BARKIN: I think the Trump administration has forced Germany to think about its relationship. On the other hand, it’s also polluted the debate about China in Germany in the sense that it is very easy for German politicians to resist steps that may be in their national interest based on the fact that Trump is the one pressing them to act.

SCHMITZ: That’s because Trump is deeply unpopular with German voters. Barkin says a Biden administration could help stiffen Germany’s approach to China.

BARKIN: If Joe Biden comes in and is sitting in the White House next year, it will be much more difficult for Europeans to use Trump as an excuse for not pushing back against China.

SCHMITZ: And to an extent, that may already be happening. A security bill Angela Merkel’s cabinet will soon pass may effectively exclude Huawei from the construction of the country’s 5G network, a move many thought was not likely just months ago.

Rob Schmitz, NPR News, Berlin.

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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How Social Distancing Can Destroy The Global Economy : NPR

Paris is under nightly curfew, starting at 9, to curb the spread of rising coronavirus cases.

Kiran Ridley/Getty Images


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Paris is under nightly curfew, starting at 9, to curb the spread of rising coronavirus cases.

Kiran Ridley/Getty Images

Stay out.

It’s what people are being asked to tell each other. Less than 10 days ago, London banned people who live in different households from meeting each other indoors, to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“Nobody wants to see more restrictions, but this is deemed to be necessary in order to protect Londoners’ lives,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan told the London Assembly.

Taking away the welcome mat is key to cutting off the path of the coronavirus. From the beginning of the pandemic, cities, states and countries have banned each other. And now, eight months into lockdowns that have led to immense stress and fatigue among people, some places around the world are introducing even more draconian measures.

The path toward recovery continues to be inherently antisocial and runs counter to how humans interact, live lives and conduct their business. This unwelcome policy — which has already harmed families, societies and economies — has the potential to lead to a tectonic shift in how the world functions in the foreseeable future.

End of globalization?

Some people worry that this moment is strengthening the hand of nationalism that was rising before the pandemic and that it is accelerating the changing relationships between countries.

President Trump’s “America First” strategy of the last four years had increased tensions between the United States and the rest of the world, specifically China. It was already leading to friction in the smooth supply-and-demand economic chain that has been the hallmark of an interdependent global world. But the self-isolation during the pandemic could mean the end of globalization as we know it.

“The coronavirus pandemic could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back of economic globalization,” according to Robin Niblett, director of the think tank Chatham House, in a Foreign Policy article.

Specifically, the global supply chain is very much at risk. Tax deductions in the U.S. designed to bring back jobs in pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, electronics and auto manufacturing have led companies to invest heavily in production in this country in the last few years.

“The needs that surfaced during the pandemic to bolster supply chain resilience may further accelerate such moves,” according to Moody’s Investors Service Senior Vice President Robard Williams.

Social distancing brought mighty economies to their knees

The entire world’s economy has shrunk dramatically. The pandemic delivered the most severe blow to the U.S. economy since the Great Depression as gross domestic product collapsed and millions of jobs were lost.

“This recession was by far the deepest one in postwar history,” Richard Clarida, vice chair of the Federal Reserve, noted in a speech.

A robust economy is dependent upon the movement of goods and people. For instance, restaurants need people to meet, socialize and break bread together. Airlines and hotels need people to travel to conduct business or to see family and friends or new places.

But all that has been vastly reduced. And the effect of that social distancing has been deadly on many businesses. Restaurants have been among the hardest hit. According to Yelp data, more than 60% of restaurants that have closed are permanent, followed by retail stores that sell clothing and home decor (58%) and beauty stores and spas (42%). Airline travel is down around 70%, and hotel occupancy is at record lows.

“Social distancing has stilled our strong economy,” said Eric Rosengren, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Social distancing is exhausting but works in some places

What’s worse is that despite long and extensive social distancing, there are signs that it has not worked everywhere — especially in freer societies. In fact, more than lockdown orders, it is people’s fears that have a larger impact on their economic behavior, some researchers have found.

The latest signs of increased cases in the U.S. and Europe are even more disheartening for people who feel they have endured a lot.

So, why are governments continuing to rely on lockdowns? That’s because it’s proven that aggressive social distancing does work in countries where the state can enforce strict shutdowns.

In China, where severe lockdowns were enforced in many parts of the country, the coronavirus has been wrestled to the ground. In Wuhan, ground zero of the virus, recent reports cite crowded water parks and night markets. Domino’s Pizza recorded such a huge improvement in sales in the country in recent months that it prompted CEO Richard Allison to call China “a terrific success story in 2020.”

But the Chinese form of enforcement is hard to achieve in democratic societies, most of which are pinning their hopes on a vaccine.

Some of the largest cities in the West are putting in place even more draconian social distancing measures to combat the virus. Paris is under curfew starting at 9 each night. And in London, you can’t even visit or invite a neighbor over for dinner.

But it’s unclear if people in these societies will strictly follow these guidelines or how enforcement will work. It’s already taken a huge toll on the psyche of the populace of many countries. No wonder most people worry that the longer social distancing goes on, a higher price will be paid by households, society and the economy.

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Trial Of A Priest Charged With Sexually Abusing An Altar Boy To Resume In Vatican : NPR

Proceedings in a criminal trial of a priest charged with sexually abusing a minor and a second priest accused of covering it up are scheduled to resume Tuesday in the Vatican.



ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

An unprecedented trial resumes tomorrow at the Vatican. A young priest is charged with sexually abusing an altar boy inside Vatican City walls. An older priest is charged with covering it up. NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports the case grew out of a whistleblower complaint. And a warning – this story contains descriptions of the charges.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: The first hearing lasted eight minutes, enough for the court to hear graphic descriptions of the charges. The victim, identified by his initials, LG, was forced to undergo carnal acts, acts of sodomy and masturbation at different times and in different places inside Vatican City. The abuse took place from 2007, when the victim was 13, to 2012.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHURCH BELL RINGING)

POGGIOLI: The crime scene was the closed world of the St. Pius X Youth Seminary. Its residents, some as young as 11, are known as the pope’s altar boys. They serve mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and are thinking of becoming priests. One person closely following the trial from the U.S. is Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, which tracks clerical abuse cases around the world.

ANNE BARRETT DOYLE: The elephant in the courtroom is why this took so long. The trial should have happened years ago, when the whistleblower first went to church authorities.

POGGIOLI: The whistleblower was the victim’s roommate, Kamil Jarzembowski. In 2012, he reported the abuse to church authorities. He never got a reply and was kicked out of the seminary, so he went public. This is what he told an Italian TV program in 2017.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KAMIL JARZEMBOWSKI: (Through interpreter) I saw my roommate being abused by another seminarian.

POGGIOLI: Jarzembowski was 15 at the time.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JARZEMBOWSKI: (Through interpreter) I was scared. I didn’t understand. It was the first time I saw two people having sex.

POGGIOLI: Over the academic year, the whistleblower said he witnessed his roommate being raped at least a hundred times. The alleged abuser is 28-year-old Gabriele Martinelli, who has since become a priest. The other defendant is 72-year-old Father Enrico Radice, the seminary’s former rector, accused of aiding and abetting the abuse. Neither defendant has yet entered a plea. As Barrett Doyle points out, the Vatican trial is being run by the Catholic Church not a secular court.

BARRETT DOYLE: So the first question will be, can the judge be impartial?

POGGIOLI: The presiding judge is a prominent Italian magistrate, formerly one of Italy’s leading anti-mafia prosecutors. The pope appointed him last year as part of his reforms of Vatican bureaucracy. The trial will follow Vatican City legislation. Francesco Zanardi, head of a support group for victims of sex abuse, worries the outcome will be influenced by traditional church doctrine.

FRANCESCO ZANARDI: (Speaking Italian).

POGGIOLI: “As long as the Vatican views pedophilia as a crime against God, not against the individual,” says Zanardi, “no verdict can provide justice for the victim.” If the court finds the two defendants guilty, Barrett Doyle says the Vatican must also hold their superiors to account.

BARRETT DOYLE: It is really crucial that the church itself investigate the whole network of people who failed this victim and who intimidated the whistleblower.

POGGIOLI: The defendants will take the stand when the trial resumes tomorrow.

Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Rome.

(SOUNDBITE OF NIKLAS PASCHBURG’S “SPARK”)

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Chile Celebrates Voters’ Decision To Scrap Constitution, Start Over : NPR

A family celebrates the approval of a new constitution in Santiago, Chile. After decades, the constitution from the country’s years of dictatorship will finally be thrown out.

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A family celebrates the approval of a new constitution in Santiago, Chile. After decades, the constitution from the country’s years of dictatorship will finally be thrown out.

Matias Basualdo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It started as a ripple: anger over higher subway prices. But a growing wave of protests followed, and now people in Chile have voted overwhelmingly to throw out their country’s Pinochet-era constitution and create a new document under which to live. Nearly 80% of the voters chose to form a new constitution.

The result threw Chile into a huge celebration. One year after Santiago’s streets were jammed by protesters, they were filled Sunday with revelers, ecstatic over the results of a national plebiscite. There were music and fireworks. Signs declared “Renace Chile” — Chile Reborn.

“Many Chileans see this as a turning point, an opportunity to end social inequalities that led to last year’s mass protests,” NPR’s Philip Reeves reports for our Newscast unit. “They also voted to elect an assembly of 155 citizens, to write a new constitution. Chileans have many demands, including the right to better pensions, health care, and education, and greater recognition for Indigenous people.”

More than 7.5 million people voted, setting a record for voter participation in Chile since at least 1988, according to Servel, the country’s election service. Chile’s population was recently estimated at more than 18 million people, up from an estimated 12.8 million in 1988.

The vote was the most prized concession protesters won from President Sebastián Piñera and other leaders last fall. Weeks of protests over economic inequality forced Piñera to agree to the move after his efforts at reform — including raising the minimum wage and pensions — failed to appease demonstrators.

The first protests last October were small, as students jumped turnstiles to avoid the higher subway fare. After incidents of arson and violence, the president deployed the military to the streets, saying he would not bow down to an enemy. But the sight of troops in the streets sparked new anger, particularly among older Chileans for whom it recalled the country’s troubled past under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

The protests and response also jarred the conceptions of Chile as one of South America’s most stable countries. At least 30 people died in the unrest, and thousands more were injured. Damages to train systems, businesses and other targets were estimated in the billions of dollars.

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Vatican Court Hears Unprecedented Sexual Abuse Criminal Trial : NPR

Two priests are going on trial in the Vatican court — one accused of sexually abusing an altar boy and the other charged with aiding and abetting the abuse, which allegedly took place at the St. Pius X youth seminary. The seminary’s residents are known as the “pope’s altar boys” and serve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Two priests are going on trial in the Vatican court — one accused of sexually abusing an altar boy and the other charged with aiding and abetting the abuse, which allegedly took place at the St. Pius X youth seminary. The seminary’s residents are known as the “pope’s altar boys” and serve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Editor’s note: This story includes details some readers may find disturbing.

An unprecedented trial is underway this month at the Vatican, the result of a whistleblower going public.

A young priest is charged with sexually abusing an altar boy over a five-year period inside Vatican City walls. An older priest is charged with covering up the abuse.

It’s the first criminal trial for sexual abuse to take place in the Vatican court.

The first hearing of the trial, held earlier this month, lasted just eight minutes — enough for the Vatican court to hear graphic descriptions of the charges. The alleged victim, identified by his initials LG, was forced “to undergo carnal acts, acts of sodomy and masturbation at different times and in different places inside Vatican City,” according to charges read out by the court clerk.

The alleged abuse took place from 2007, when the victim was 13, until 2012.

Whistleblower Kamil Jarzembowski meets journalists outside St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, on Oct. 14. He reported the abuse to Roman Catholic Church authorities in 2012. In 2017, he went public. “I saw my roommate being abused by another seminarian,” he told an Italian TV investigative program. “I was scared, I didn’t understand, it was the first time I saw two people having sex.”

Gregorio Borgia/AP


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Gregorio Borgia/AP

Whistleblower Kamil Jarzembowski meets journalists outside St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, on Oct. 14. He reported the abuse to Roman Catholic Church authorities in 2012. In 2017, he went public. “I saw my roommate being abused by another seminarian,” he told an Italian TV investigative program. “I was scared, I didn’t understand, it was the first time I saw two people having sex.”

Gregorio Borgia/AP

The crime scene is the closed world of the St. Pius X youth seminary, whose residents — some as young as 11 — are known as the “pope’s altar boys.” They serve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and are considering becoming priests.

One person closely following the trial from the U.S. is Anne Barrett Doyle, the codirector of BishopAccountability.org, which tracks clerical abuse cases around the world.

The Vatican trial is being is run by the Roman Catholic Church, she notes, not a secular court. “So the first question will be, can the judge be impartial?” she says.

“The elephant in the courtroom is why this took so long,” she says. “The trial should have happened years ago, when the whistleblower first went to church authorities.”

The whistleblower — the alleged victim’s roommate — is Kamil Jarzembowski, who was 15 at the time. In 2012, he reported the abuse to Church authorities. He received no response and at the end of the academic year, was kicked out of the seminary.

In 2017, he went public.

“I saw my roommate being abused by another seminarian,” he told an Italian TV investigative program. “I was scared, I didn’t understand, it was the first time I saw two people having sex.”

Over the course of the first academic year, the whistleblower said, he witnessed his roommate being raped at least 100 times — more or less every other day.

Public exposure in the Italian media of crimes allegedly committed a stone’s throw from St. Peter’s Basilica seriously undermined Pope Francis’ pledge of zero tolerance for clerical sex abuse.

Following Jarzembowski’s allegations, Francis waived the statute of limitations for sexual abuse and instituted a new child protection policy inside the Vatican City State. After an investigation, Vatican prosecutors issued indictments last year.

The alleged abuser is the Rev. Gabriele Martinelli, 28, who was a seminarian and has since become a priest. The other defendant is 72-year-old Rev. Enrico Radice, the seminary’s former rector — who is charged with aiding and abetting the abuse. The defendants will take the stand when the trial resumes on Tuesday. Neither has yet entered a plea.

The presiding judge, Giuseppe Pignatone, is a prominent Italian magistrate, formerly one of Italy’s leading anti-mafia prosecutors. The pope appointed him president of the Vatican criminal court last year as part of his reforms of Vatican bureaucracy.

The trial will follow Vatican City legislation, something that worries Francesco Zanardi, president of Rete l’Abuso, Italy’s first support group for victims of sexual abuse.

“As long as the Vatican views pedophilia as a crime against God and not against the individual,” says Zanardi, “no verdict can provide justice for the victim.”

If the court finds the two defendants guilty, Barrett Doyle says the Vatican must also hold their superiors to account.

“It is really crucial,” she says, “that the church itself investigate the whole network of people who failed this victim and who intimidated the whistleblower.”

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U.S.-Brokered Cease-Fire Falters Soon After It Starts : NPR

Smoke rises after shelling by Azerbaijan’s artillery in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh, on Saturday.

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Smoke rises after shelling by Azerbaijan’s artillery in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh, on Saturday.

AP

On Sunday afternoon, President Trump tweeted his congratulations to the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan for agreeing to a cease-fire in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. “Many lives will be saved,” Trump wrote.

The U.S.-brokered truce — the third attempt by outside powers to end hostilities that erupted a month ago — went into effect at 8 a.m. local time on Monday. But it wasn’t long before the two sides were accusing each other of violating it.

The conflict dates back to the end of the Soviet Union three decades ago, when ethnic groups across the country were demanding independence. The Armenians living in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region prevailed in a bloody war of secession and have been living in legal limbo for the past quarter century: not recognized as an independent state but running their own affairs as if it were one.

Together with Russia and France, the United States co-chairs a diplomatic initiative called the Minsk Group that has been charged with finding a lasting peace, including for the Azerbaijani territory surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh that is held by Armenian forces.

The Kremlin, which maintains close relations with both Azerbaijan and Armenia, has led diplomatic efforts to end the current flareup. Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that the new fighting has cost almost 5,000 lives, and that he speaks to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev “several times a day.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Washington, D.C., last Friday, after Democrats criticized the Trump administration for not taking a more active role. Pompeo’s deputy, Stephen Biegun, then held additional talks with the two foreign ministers and hammered out the third cease-fire agreement.

The Trump administration has been pushing for diplomatic successes as the presidential election campaign enters its final week. U.S. negotiators have been trying to extend the New START arms control treaty with Russia before it expires in February. And last Friday, the White House announced it had brokered an “historic agreement” opening economic ties between Sudan and Israel.

Trump’s Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, has slammed the president for his slow response to the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and “delegating the diplomacy to Moscow.”

“The Trump administration must tell Azerbaijan that it will not tolerate its efforts to impose a military solution to this conflict,” Biden said in an Oct. 13 statement. “It must make clear to Armenia that regions surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh cannot be occupied indefinitely and that credible negotiations on a lasting resolution of the conflict must commence immediately once a cease-fire is concluded.”

Biden also said the Trump administration must stop “coddling” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose support for Azerbaijan has changed the balance of power in the region.

The Armenian diaspora has helped focus U.S. politicians’ attention on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which Armenians depict as a struggle for national survival against its hostile neighbors, Azerbaijan and Turkey.

On Sunday, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff assailed “Azerbaijan and Turkey’s continued deadly aggression” and said in a tweet that “the United States must keep up the pressure on Aliyev and Erdogan to end this war.” Schiff represents California’s 28th Congressional district, which has a large Armenian-American population.

On the campaign trail in Londonderry, N.H., Trump addressed Armenian-Americans, calling Armenians “incredible people” who are “fighting like hell.” He said ending the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh would be “an easy one.”

In fact, a lasting peace has eluded diplomats from the Minsk Group since the 1990s — and the lack of any prospect for a diplomatic solution is now propelling Azerbaijani military operations.

“For almost 30 years, the Minsk Group co-chairs have tried to reconcile Azerbaijan with the process of freezing the conflict, but we have created a new reality,” Aliyev said in a televised address Monday. “We are fed up with these negotiations. How long can you negotiate?”

He warned that half a dozen Turkish F-16 fighters left in Azerbaijan following joint military exercises would be used against any “outside aggression.” In September, Armenia said a Turkish F-16 had shot down one of its warplanes, a claim that Turkey denied.

In an address to Armenians on Monday, Pashinyan blamed Azerbaijan for violating the cease-fire, but said he hasn’t given up hope for diplomacy.

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Japan Pledges To Be Carbon Neutral By 2050 : NPR

Japan plans to ramp up its use of solar panels, such as these shown in Yufu, Oita prefecture in 2019.

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Japan plans to ramp up its use of solar panels, such as these shown in Yufu, Oita prefecture in 2019.

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Japan has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050, joining a growing list of countries aiming to stave off the worst effects of climate change.

The country’s approach will include new solar cells and carbon recycling, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Monday, according to Reuters. Further plans are expected to be announced in the future. Suga took office last month.

Carbon neutral means balancing carbon emissions by also removing carbon from the atmosphere.

Japan joins the European Union, which previously said it aims to be carbon neutral in that same timeline. Japan set its goal a decade sooner than China, which pledged last month to be carbon neutral by 2060.

“Responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth,” Suga said Monday, according to Reuters. “I declare we will aim to realize a decarbonized society.”

In fact, economic growth has been disconnected from greenhouse gas emissions since at least 2015, according to the International Energy Agency.

Japan has continued to invest in new coal infrastructure since the Paris Agreement was signed.

More than 60 other countries have said they’re trying to be carbon neutral by 2050, according to The New York Times.

Most of these countries are small compared to China, which produces 26% of the world’s emissions.

Scientists say global net greenhouse emissions need to be eliminated by 2050 to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.

China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

The United States, the world’s second largest carbon emitter, has not made any pledges to become carbon neutral. It will leave the Paris climate agreement on Nov. 4 and is the only country to withdraw from it.

Under the Paris Agreement, the U.S. said it would cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26% by 2025, NPR’s Rebecca Hersher and Jackie Northam reported. But the country has fallen behind to projected a 17% cut by 2025.

The U.S.’s withdrawal put pressure on the E.U., Mauro Petriccione, the director general of the European Commission’s Climate Change group, said in an NPR interview last month.

“This kind of operation of this magnitude and the resources required? Well, without the U.S. it has seriously damaged the international process,” Petriccione said. “There’s no question about it.”

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Europe Imposes New Restrictions As COVID-19 Cases Soar : Coronavirus Updates : NPR

A waiter cleans a table after closing in Saint Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris on Oct. 16, to comply with new COVID-19 restrictions forcing restaurants, cinemas and theaters in the French capital to close. France imposed a nighttime curfew in Paris and other major cities to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

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A waiter cleans a table after closing in Saint Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris on Oct. 16, to comply with new COVID-19 restrictions forcing restaurants, cinemas and theaters in the French capital to close. France imposed a nighttime curfew in Paris and other major cities to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Michel Euler/AP

New regulations and social-distancing rules are being introduced across multiple European countries in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus as a second wave of the pandemic accelerates across the continent. Europe reported more than 1.3 million new cases this past week, its highest single week count yet, according to the World Health Organization.

Spain and France each surpassed 1 million cumulative confirmed cases last week, becoming the sixth and seventh countries to do so globally. Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom are also experiencing record numbers — threatening to overwhelm countries’ abilities to test, trace and contain the virus. Polish President Andrzej Duda tested positive for the virus over the weekend, as cases have doubled there in recent weeks.

Europe’s infection rate has been rising for over 90 days, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. As authorities and experts worry that the situation in Europe may soon spin out of control, governments are imposing curfews and social restrictions in an attempt to avoid full-scale lockdowns that could hurt the economy and dim the upcoming holiday season.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez declared a national state of emergency on Sunday, which included a nighttime curfew and possible travel restrictions between regions. Italy also announced new measures to curb the virus, the harshest since its lockdown in the spring, when the country was the global epicenter of the pandemic.

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced a move to a “high” alert level for London and other cities as of Oct. 17, banning residents from mixing with people from other households indoors and restricting outdoor gatherings to six people or fewer.

Last week, Ireland became the first country in Europe to reimpose a lockdown in the face of soaring cases.

Wales began a 17-day lockdown this weekend, shuttering all nonessential businesses and requiring people to remain home, with few exceptions. “If we do this now and if we then have a consistent set of national rules, to keep the transmission and the intensity of the virus at a lower level, then we can have a much more normal Christmas season for businesses,” Vaughan Gething, the Welsh health minister, told BBC Radio Wales.

France has become the worst-hit country in Europe’s second wave, with over 40,000 new cases every day the past few days. Nightly curfews have been in place in several cities since mid-October, and this weekend, multiple new curfews were enacted, bringing the total number of people affected to around 46 million, or about two-thirds of France’s population.

“The second wave is here,” said Prime Minister Jean Castex at a press conference when the new restrictions were announced. “The situation is grave.”

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At Least 24 Dead In Suicide Attack In Afghan Capital : NPR

A suicide bombing outside an education center in Kabul, Afghanistan, has killed at least 24 people and wounded scores more.



LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Now to Kabul, where a suicide bomber blew himself up outside an education center as students were preparing for college entry exams. At least 24 people are dead, including several teenagers. The big picture – Afghans fear attacks like yesterday’s will get worse as foreign forces leave Afghanistan. NPR’s Diaa Hadid reports from neighboring Pakistan.

DIAA HADID, BYLINE: Muslims believe it’s a kindness to bury the dead quickly. So as the day began in Kabul, shopkeeper Haji Muhammad Ali Ayubi farewelled his nephew, who he says was killed by the enemies of knowledge.

HAJI MUHAMMAD ALI AYUBI: (Non-English language spoken).

HADID: He was studying at the Kawsar educational center when the bomber struck on Saturday. He says his nephew was preparing for university exams. He was 18 and wanted to be a doctor. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, which was a copy of one they conducted two years ago when they dispatched a suicide bomber into a classroom, killing more than 40 students.

FRESHTA KARIMI: I think it’s heartbreaking.

HADID: Freshta Karimi is an education specialist. She runs a charity that creates mobile libraries for kids across Kabul.

KARIMI: I’m encouraging children to go to schools, go to education centers to learn. But is it the right thing to do? – because they’re not safe.

HADID: While the Taliban weren’t behind the educational center bombing, in recent weeks, they’ve intensified their attacks on government forces, and civilians are paying the price. In recent weeks, thousands of families fled as the Taliban overran their villages. Tens were killed by the Taliban’s roadside bombs. And last Wednesday, as the Taliban clashed with Afghan forces, a government airstrike that was meant to repel the insurgents instead hit a mosque. And residents said that’s where children were studying, and 12 were killed.

SHAHARZAD AKBAR: Our city is exhausted. Our country is exhausted. Our people are exhausted.

HADID: Shaharzad Akbar is the chairperson for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. She says the Taliban’s fighting has not only killed civilians; it’s also left them more vulnerable to ISIS attacks.

AKBAR: Regardless of Taliban denial of the attack, the current environment of war enables this ongoing and senseless murder of civilians.

HADID: The violence comes at a critical time. American and NATO forces are leaving Afghanistan as part of a deal that the U.S. struck with the Taliban. Most should be out by April. As a part of that deal, the Taliban began peace talks with the Afghan government a few weeks ago. But negotiators are stuck on procedural issues even as the fighting continues. Karimi, who runs the mobile libraries, says this moment Afghanistan is in feels like a precipice.

KARIMI: I’m 28 years old, and I have never seen an uncertain situation like this one. The deadline for withdrawal is coming closer, and we are not having enough progress on the negotiations table.

HADID: And if there isn’t peace…

KARIMI: The alternative to not having peace is civil war if the U.S. withdraws and if the situation continues like this.

HADID: Something she says worse than what exists now. And now, parents aren’t even sure when they send their kids to school, they’ll come back alive.

Diaa Hadid, NPR News, Islamabad.

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