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Your Friday Briefing


Southern countries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic want a recovery fund of more than a trillion euros, given in grants rather than loans. That idea does not appeal to wealthier, healthier nations, which have also resisted calls for the bloc to issue joint debt.

A package worth 540 billion euros, or about $580 billion, will be available by June 1, the European Council president said.

Context: An even economic recovery across 27 nations — population 440 million — is crucial for the bloc to continue functioning as a single market and to stabilize the euro.

Also: An offer of $12.1 million in economic aid from the United States to Greenland was met with wariness, reviving memories of President Trump’s interest last year in buying the country.

As epidemics slow in Europe, governments are moving gingerly to reopen countries. On Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany warned state governors that loosening restrictions too quickly would ”squander what we have achieved.

Italy, which has Europe’s highest death toll in the crisis, is fielding mounting calls from the public to hold someone accountable.

Prosecutors are investigating whether errors by the authorities contributed to the country’s deadliest clusters. and directors of one nursing home where residents died may potentially face charges of manslaughter.

Details: About 45,000 relatives of coronavirus victims who believe not enough was done have joined a Facebook group called “NOI denunceremo” (“We will denounce you.”)

Quote of note: “Phase 3 is going to be the criminalization of the contagion,” said one journalist. “The pandemic is going to turn into a big collective trial.”

The crisis has exposed two weaknesses of the United States: the erratic leadership of President Trump, who has devalued scientific expertise, and deep structural problems like a dysfunctional health care system and a lack of a social safety net.

Europeans are looking at the world’s richest and most powerful nation with disbelief. “America has not done badly, it has done exceptionally badly,” a Paris-based political scientist said.

The nation’s initial downplaying of the crisis, along with China’s authoritarian measures, have become lessons in how not to fight the pandemic. “These are two extremes, neither of which can be a model for Europe,” said Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister.

High prevalence: A survey of 3,000 grocery shoppers in New York State showed a staggeringly high rate of positive tests for antibodies to the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday. The results suggest a far wider outbreak than previously thought.

It’s not clear which restaurants will survive the pandemic. But the industry’s fragility has been troubling for years, as rent has increased and the demographic has changed (don’t ask her about brunch.)

“For the past 10 years I’ve been staring wide-eyed and with alarm as the sweet, gentle citizen restaurant transformed into a kind of unruly colossal beast,” she writes. “It has always been hard, but when did it get this hard?”

South Korea: The mayor of the country’s second-largest city, Busan, resigned after admitting to sexual misconduct, the latest prominent South Korean to fall as the #MeToo movement has rippled though the male-dominated society.

Snapshot: Above, the marquee at the historic Alex Theater in Los Angeles. Hardy reputation aside, all of Hollywood’s vintage movie palaces have been closed for more than a month, with only guesses as to when they might flicker back to life.

What we’re reading: Slate’s collection of the voices of people who survived Ebola, SARS and even the 1918 flu. “These remarkable reflections on past pandemics help us begin to see what it will be like to come out the other side of this one,” writes Elizabeth Dias, our national religion correspondent.

Cook: Namoura, a cake made from semolina flour, is soaked in syrup while it’s still warm. Perfect for iftar dinners during Ramadan.

The National Football League’s games start in August, so it has mostly dodged the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic so far. But its most spectacular off-season event is getting underway now: the N.F.L. draft, when players learn if they’ll get million-dollar contracts.

Last month, the N.F.L. canceled plans to hold its draft in Las Vegas with tens of thousands of fans in attendance. Instead, the three-day event will be captured for a television audience only, with league officials on camera from their homes.

Ken Belson, who has covered the N.F.L. for The Times since 2013, offered insights about the draft in a chat with our Times Insider colleague Terence McGinley. Here are excerpts from their exchange, edited for brevity.

Does it surprise you that the N.F.L. has proceeded with its off-season?

There were a handful of people who were calling on the N.F.L. to shut down in sympathy with the other leagues. There were teams that were nervous about the perception of newly minted millionaires at a time when people were hurting and unemployment was rising. Now, two teams told me how surprised they were at the positive reaction to N.F.L. free agency and the fact that they believe the fans have come to grips with that.

In this economy, with no new sports happening, the draft is going to be a ratings spectacle because there is little else to watch. And I think they believe it will be good for the country to have fresh content on TV. There are 32 new millionaires, it’s like a sports lottery. It’s a happy sports story when there’s a short supply of them.

The development in recent years of off-season programming seems fortuitously positioned for this moment, right?

It’s been deliberate and they have been strategic. The draft has been perhaps the most obvious. They started moving it around the country. It would have been in Las Vegas this year. With each place they’ve moved, it’s gotten more sponsors.

In a normal year, the draft speculation starts the minute the Super Bowl is over. It fills hours and hours of TV time when there are no games. How good does that get, if you are in the business of providing content, you don’t have to put on a game and it will still fill hours of talk radio and TV?

That’s it for this briefing. Have a good, and safe, weekend.

— Isabella

Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. Sanam Yar helped compile this briefing. You can reach the team at [email protected].

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the release of thousands of prison inmates in the U.S. during the coronavirus outbreak.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: “Zzzzz” sound (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Three reporters for The New York Times were honored with awards from the Association of Health Care Journalists for their work in 2019: Matt Richtel, Andrew Jacobs and Donald G. McNeil Jr.


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