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Your Friday Briefing

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The Senate passed legislation last night to temporarily raise the debt ceiling through early December, after 11 Republicans joined every Democrat in voting to take up the bill, clearing the 60-vote threshold needed to break the G.O.P. filibuster and staving off the threat of a first-ever federal default. The final vote was 50 to 48, with senators split down party lines.

It came the day after Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, partly backed down from his blockade on raising the debt limit, offering a temporary reprieve as political pressure mounted to avoid being blamed for a fiscal calamity.

The bill would raise the statutory debt limit by $480 billion, an amount the Treasury Department estimates should sustain borrowing through at least Dec. 3. The actual “X-date” will be determined by calculating tax revenues and expenditures. Such projections are especially difficult this year because of complicated coronavirus pandemic relief programs.

Quotable: “Republicans played a dangerous and risky partisan game, and I am glad that their brinkmanship did not work,” said Chuck Schumer, the majority leader. “What is needed now is a long-term solution so we don’t go through this risky drama every few months.”

In Europe, the surge in the price of natural gas has halted factories, startled politicians and alarmed consumers fearful of a cold winter. For Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, Europe’s energy needs provide a vital opportunity.

A confluence of events has catapulted energy prices to record heights, putting the Russian president in a position to ride to the rescue — and, in the process, exert influence on the bloc’s energy policies, including the approval process for Nord Stream 2, the undersea pipeline that will transport huge amounts of gas to Western Europe.

Critics in Europe have said that Russia, which supplies more than 40 percent of the E.U.’s natural gas imports, has deliberately withheld extra natural gas from the market, further driving up prices. The European Commission is investigating the claim but has reached no conclusion. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said Russia had met its contractual obligations.

Cause and effect: On Wednesday, Putin told his energy minister to consider increasing supply on the market. Gas prices fell sharply in a matter of minutes — although they remain about seven times higher than they were a year ago.

Energy news: To keep global temperatures from hitting dangerous levels, China must pivot away from coal immediately. Its soaring energy demand and rolling blackouts mean it probably won’t.


Nearly 140 countries, including Ireland and Estonia, are now expected to settle on a 15 percent global minimum tax rate, in the most sweeping overhaul of the international tax system in a century.

Negotiators will meet today at the O.E.C.D., which has been coordinating the talks, after months of negotiations. If enacted, the tax reform could help end a decades-long race to the bottom on corporate taxation that has allowed tax havens to flourish and has drained countries of revenue.

After weeks of heated negotiations and pressure from the U.S. and France, Ireland, a main holdout to the deal, said it was ready to accept a 15 percent minimum tax rate after Michael Martin, the Irish prime minister, told his cabinet yesterday that the rate would only apply to multinational giants like Facebook and Apple, but not to Irish companies operating in Ireland.

Details: The framework under consideration includes a global minimum tax of 15 percent that each country would adopt, and new rules that would force big global businesses to pay taxes in countries where their goods or services are sold, even if they have no physical presence there.

The U.S. war in Afghanistan began 20 years ago this week. The Times photographer Tyler Hicks chronicled the two-decade war, capturing American troops in battle, the deaths of civilians, schoolgirls in class and the struggles of ordinary Afghans to survive.

The Nobel committee awarded its literature prize yesterday to Abdulrazak Gurnah, who left Zanzibar as a refugee in 1964 and settled in England. He is the first Black writer to win since Toni Morrison won in 1993.

Many of Gurnah’s books focus on the effects of colonialism in East Africa, and on themes of exile and displacement. In 1996, The Times called his novel “Paradise” — about a boy who travels across Africa as an indentured servant — “a shimmering, oblique coming-of-age fable.”

Gurnah’s first language is Swahili, but he adopted English as his literary language, with his prose often inflected with traces of Swahili, Arabic and German. He drew on the imagery and stories from the Quran, as well as from Arabic and Persian poetry, particularly “The Arabian Nights.”

If you’re new to Gurnah’s work, The Times Book Review has put together a guide to his best novels.

Upcoming: The Nobel Peace Prize, which draws the most attention and is often considered the most prestigious of the prizes, will be announced on Friday. Last year’s winner was the World Food Program, the U.N. agency that addresses hunger.

This weekend may be the perfect opportunity to put together a classic lasagna.

“Lamb,” an atmospheric debut feature from Valdimar Johannsson, plays like a folk tale and thrums like a horror movie.

Bethany Ball’s “The Pessimists” is a delectably numbed-out tale of three wealthy Connecticut couples who face the possible destruction of their world as they know it.


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