Your Friday Briefing
President Biden leaving for Rome on Thursday. While the president found plenty of support for his plan, he left the country with no tangible …
President Biden leaving for Rome on Thursday. While the president found plenty of support for his plan, he left the country with no tangible progress.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
Biden’s ‘framework’ fails to secure a victory
President Biden pleaded with House Democrats to embrace his “framework” for a $1.85 trillion economic and environmental bill, saying that its fate would help determine that of his presidency and his party’s hold on Congress, and that its success would restore the nation’s standing on the world stage.
But the president has not been able to break the logjam among Democrats. Crucial details of the legislation are still in flux, and progressives declared that they would not bow to pressure to throw their support behind a separate $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package that has already passed the Senate.
“Members of our caucus will not vote for the infrastructure bill without the Build Back Better Act,” House progressives said in a joint statement. Two crucial Senate holdouts, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, had yet to publicly commit to voting for the social policy legislation.
Details: The package includes nearly $2 trillion in tax increases on corporations and the rich, but proposals to slow dynastic wealth were tossed. The largest key provision commits $555 billion to climate programs. Some $400 billion is devoted to universal prekindergarten and reducing child care costs. Here’s what else is in the bill.
Facebook changes its name to Meta
Facebook took an unmistakable step toward an overhaul yesterday, de-emphasizing its familiar name and rebranding itself as Meta. The change came with a new corporate logo, resembling an infinity symbol that was slightly askew. Facebook and its other apps, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, will remain, but under the Meta umbrella.
Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, plans to refocus the company on what he sees as the next digital frontier: the unification of disparate digital worlds into something called the metaverse. Renaming Facebook may also help distance the company from its controversies, including how it is used to spread hate speech and misinformation.
It is no longer tenable to have Facebook as the corporate name when the company owns many apps and is fundamentally about connecting people, Zuckerberg said. Facebook will begin trading under the stock ticker MVRS from Dec. 1. It will also rebrand some of its virtual-reality products.
Background: Corporate rebrands are rare but have precedent. They have generally been used to signal a structural reorganization or to distance a company from a toxic reputation.
The world’s last ‘zero Covid’ holdout
A recent outbreak of 240 coronavirus cases in China has led to the lockdown of Lanzhou, a city of four million, as well as several smaller cities and parts of Beijing. Roughly 10,000 tourists are trapped in Ejin Banner, a region of Inner Mongolia, after the emergence of cases led to a lockdown.
The no-holds-barred response is emblematic of China’s “zero Covid” policy, under which the country has seen fewer than 5,000 reported deaths since the pandemic began. It is now the only nation still chasing full eradication of the virus, as the rest of the world reopens — including New Zealand and Australia, which also once embraced zero tolerance.
But experts have warned that the approach is unsustainable. China may find itself increasingly isolated, diplomatically and economically, at a time when global public opinion is hardening against it.
What’s next: For now, China’s strategy appears to enjoy public support, though some officials have cautiously broached the idea of loosening restrictions. The director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently proposed opening up once the vaccination rate reaches 85 percent.
Related: Athletes at the Winter Olympics in Beijing will be able to skip quarantine if they are fully vaccinated, the Games’ organizing committee said, a signal that China is willing to ease some restrictions to ensure that teams participate in February.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. has added mental health illnesses, including depression and schizophrenia, to its list of health conditions that make people more vulnerable to Covid-19.
Federal data shows notable differences in breakthrough death rates by age.
THE LATEST NEWS
News From Europe
The French authorities said they had detained a British fishing trawler, prompting the British government to summon France’s ambassador for talks, the latest escalation in months of tension between the two nations.
After a rift between the U.S. and France over a sabotaged submarine deal, the Biden administration is poised to make some defense-related peace offerings.
Pope Francis will meet with President Biden at the Vatican on Friday. Both are targets of conservative American bishops who seek to undercut them.
Other Big Stories
Yasir al-Rumayyan, the Saudi official who oversees the kingdom’s $450 billion sovereign wealth fund, was missing from the investment conference he hosts.
China’s new emissions pledge changes little, in what may be a bad omen for the global climate summit next week. The country is also rushing to burn more coal to address an energy shortage.
As voters in Japan prepare to head to the polls on Sunday, a rural-urban divide, in which voters in less-populated areas get more attention from politicians, is all too apparent.
What Else Is Happening
New York City is now “the greenest big city on Earth,” after a decades-long effort to expand and clean parks, rivers, forests and wetlands.
How did elephants and walruses get their tusks? It’s a long story.
A Morning Read
The Italian city of Brescia was one of the first Western cities devastated by the pandemic. It has adopted a famed ancient statue, “Winged Victory,” as the emblem of its recovery — and a prod for visits.
ARTS AND IDEAS
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
The new workplace
A new crop of employees is determining the norms and styles of the workplace. People in their 20s rolling their eyes at the habits of their elders is a longstanding trend, but many employers say there’s a new boldness in the way Gen Z dictates taste, Emma Goldberg reports for The Times.
The generational frictions are now particularly apparent in companies run by and catering to a largely millennial demographic.
“These younger generations are cracking the code and they’re like, ‘Hey guys turns out we don’t have to do it like these old people tell us we have to do it,’” said one millennial founder. “‘We can actually do whatever we want and be just as successful.’ And us old people are like, ‘What is going on?’”
And the pandemic has spawned a new kind of worker, who wants an office out of — but close to — the home. Co-working spaces are now betting on the suburbs. Start-ups think employees don’t want to commute into a central business district five days a week, but still desire occasional, nearby office space for a distraction-free environment.
What to Cook
You can order mapo tofu from many Chinese restaurants, but it’s also quite doable at home.
What to Read
Gary Shteyngart’s pandemic novel, “Our Country Friends,” is his finest yet, our reviewer writes.
What to Listen To
Find a jazz-choral amalgam, Chopin and a rising mezzo-soprano among the five classical works we recommend right now.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Criminal suspect’s excuse (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. — Natasha
P.S. Talmon Smith joined the Business desk as an economics reporter.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the trial over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.
You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].