Saturday, October 16, 2021
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Your Monday Briefing

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As of Thursday, the U.S. ranks last among the Group of 7 nations for the percentage of its population that has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, just behind Japan. Some 62.16 percent of Japanese people were at least partly vaccinated, compared to 61.94 percent of Americans. Canada leads the rankings.

President Biden last week ordered sweeping vaccine mandates covering around 100 million people, including federal employees, health care workers and many other private-sector workers. Republican governors reacted angrily to the mandates, declaring them “terrifying” — even though many G.O.P. states have some of the strictest vaccination requirements for children.

Agencies that required vaccines before Biden’s push are seeing early successes. Since the Pentagon announced last month that active-duty military personnel would be required to be vaccinated, for example, the percentage of service members who have gotten at least one shot has risen to 83 percent from 76 percent.

Twenty years on from Sept. 11, the U.S. is still grappling with the consequences of brutal interrogations carried out in the name of national security. These torturous techniques, which studies have concluded were fruitless or even counterproductive, have long since been abandoned in the country — but their legacy is complex and multifaceted.

The choice to turn to government-sanctioned torture remains a stain on the country’s reputation, undercutting its authority to confront repression elsewhere. Even today, some former Bush administration officials traveling to Europe risk being questioned by investigators invoking the U.N. Convention Against Torture.

The use of torture is complicating efforts to bring the men who are accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks to justice. Over nearly a decade of court proceedings, the attacks have been rarely mentioned. Instead, defense lawyers have effectively managed to put the C.I.A. on trial as they have systematically sought to exclude evidence against the men as a product of torture.

Present day: After his first meeting with President Biden in June, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, reminded journalists that the prison at Guantánamo Bay remained open and that the C.I.A. had carried out torture in secret foreign prisons. “Is that human rights?” he asked.

First person: Mohamedou Ould Slahi was detained at Guantánamo in 2003, where he was subjected to physical and psychological torture. Most distressing of all, he said, were the attempts to threaten him into making a false confession. “I remember telling them: ‘This is unfair. This is not fair,’” he recalled. The interrogator, he said, responded: “I’m not looking for justice. I’m looking to stop planes from hitting buildings in my country.”


While visiting Hungary on Sunday, Pope Francis urged Catholic bishops to embrace diversity and send a message to Viktor Orban, the country’s hard-right, anti-migrant leader, that God is not a strongman who silences enemies and that religious roots, while vital for a country, also allow it to open up and extend “its arms toward everyone.”

The Hungarian leader posted photographs from his 40-minute meeting with Francis on Facebook, writing that he had asked the pope “not to allow Christian Hungary to perish.” Orban has portrayed himself as a defender of Christian Europe, and he has ramped up connections to church traditionalists ahead of expected elections in April.

In Francis’ public remarks, he seemed to warn against the conflation of religion and politics. “The difference is not between who is religious or not, but ultimately between the true God and the god of ‘self,’” he said. “How distant is the God who quietly reigns on the cross from the false god that we want to reign with power in order to silence our enemies.”

Details: The seven-hour visit was Francis’ first international trip since he underwent major surgery this summer. It opened a four-day visit to neighboring Slovakia.

Emma Raducanu, an 18-year-old Briton with a radiant smile, stormed from obscurity to win a straight-set victory at the U.S. Open final on Saturday, captivating the British public.

The actor Stephen Fry was among many celebrating her win, saying on Twitter: “Yes, it may be ‘only’ sport, but in that ‘only’ there can be found so much of human joy, despair, glory, disappointment, wonder and hope. A brief flicker of light in a dark world.”

Nino Castelnuovo, the Italian actor who found wider fame with the French New Wave musical “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” has died at 84.

In a 1999 interview, Castelnuovo spoke wistfully of the golden age of Italian cinema, in which he had made his debut: “We’ve lost sight of just how much talent we Italians have,” he said. “We’re a country of marvelous people. Marvelous in the sense that, without our imaginations, we cannot live. We’re not very good realists, which makes us very imaginative people.”

The Met Gala is back. The exclusive black-tie extravaganza — and fashion’s event of the year — is tonight, kicking off the opening of the Costume Institute’s annual blockbuster show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This year’s theme: “American Independence.”

Why does it matter? “It’s reality TV at its most glamorous, the All-Star Game of Entrances,” writes Vanessa Friedman, The Times’s chief fashion critic, in this explainer. “And let’s be honest with ourselves: We could all use a little live entertainment after the last year.”

For more on American style, read this essay by the novelist Torrey Peters, accompanied by works from 10 photographers who traveled across the U.S. looking for the country’s common language of fashion.

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