Your Monday Briefing

Good morning. We’re covering French anger over a U.S.-Australian submarine deal, a home quarantine pilot program in Australia and the fallout from a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan.

Submarine tensions escalate

Relations between France and the U.S. have sunk to their lowest level in decades, after the U.S. and Australia secretly negotiated a plan to build nuclear submarines.

The two countries went to extraordinary lengths to keep Paris in the dark on the plan, which scuttled a French defense contract worth at least $60 billion for diesel-electric submarines.

In response, President Emmanuel Macron recalled France’s ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia. It was the first time in the history of the long alliance between France and the U.S., dating back to 1778, that Paris recalled an ambassador in this way.

Engineering: Australia feared that the French-built, diesel-electric submarines would be obsolete by the time they were delivered. The country expressed interest in seeking a fleet of quieter nuclear-powered submarines based on American and British designs that could patrol areas of the South China Sea with less risk of detection.

Diplomacy: Until this week, the so-called pivot to Asia by the United States had been more of a threat than a reality for Europe, our chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe writes in an analysis. With this deal, European leaders may have to pick a side in the fraught U.S.-China relations.

Britain: The country, which played an early role in brokering the alliance, is the unlikely winner in the global affair.

Australia rethinks its quarantine

The state of New South Wales will allow some returning international travelers to quarantine at home starting at the end of the month, possibly signaling the beginning of the end for the country’s strict hotel quarantine system.

Right now, it can be incredibly difficult to enter Australia. Travelers spend two weeks in a government-appointed facility, but quarantine spots are hard to find and the country has a tight limit on the number of arrivals.

In the new pilot program, 175 people fully vaccinated against the coronavirus will instead isolate in their homes for seven days. The police will employ location-based tracking and facial-recognition technology to monitor their movements.

Details: Australia has surpassed its goal of providing one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to 70 percent of people over age 16, said Greg Hunt, the federal health minister.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

Hours before an advisory committee to the F.D.A. recommended authorizing Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for some Americans, the C.D.C. released a study indicating waning protection from the vaccine.

In Senegal, demand for scarce vaccines is growing as misinformation wanes.

Madrid will lift most of its coronavirus restrictions on Monday.

A mistaken U.S. drone strike

The Pentagon admitted that an August drone strike that killed 10 civilians in Kabul, Afghanistan, was a “tragic mistake.”

But this rare U.S. apology did nothing to ease the sense of vulnerability among surviving family members and co-workers. If anything, their fears and feelings of exposure have only increased.

The brother of Zemari Ahmadi, the Afghan aid worker targeted in the strike, described his family as having been tarnished twice over. First, for being suspected by the U.S. of being linked to the Islamic State in Khorasan, an enemy of the Taliban. And second, because the strike revealed that his brother worked for an American aid organization, which the Taliban view with suspicion.

“There’s a big threat against us, now that everyone knows that he was working for the Americans,” Emal Ahmadi said. But to prove that the family was not connected to ISIS, he said, “we had no choice but to tell the media.” The family is seeking assistance from the U.S. in leaving Afghanistan, The Washington Post reported.

Impact: The Pentagon’s deeper review of the strike followed a Times investigation casting doubt on Zemari Ahmadi’s connection to ISIS-K and on any explosives being in his vehicle.

Shifting power: The Panjshir Valley, with its history of resistance and reputation for impenetrability, would be an ideal place to base an insurgency against the Taliban. But on a recent visit, Times reporters found few signs of an active fight.



Hong Kong police have forced one of the city’s best-known activist groups, which commemorates the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, to scrub its online presence.

Evergrande, a Chinese property giant, is milking employees for cash to help it crawl out of its astronomic debts.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Marvel’s first Asian superhero movie, has yet to be released in China amid fierce debate over its back story and star.

The Middle East

In Karbala, a Iraqi holy city, Iran-backed militias have driven antigovernment protesters underground.

Israel used a remote-controlled machine gun to kill Iran’s top nuclear scientist.

Hezbollah trucked more than one million gallons of Iranian diesel into Lebanon, flouting U.S. sanctions and billing itself as a savior to a suffering population.

Space and Technology

Inspiration4, a billionaire-led space mission with no professional astronauts on the crew, successfully returned to Earth.

Russia, racing to beat NASA, plans to film the first full-length movie in space.

Under pressure from Moscow, Apple and Google removed an app meant to coordinate protest voting in elections this past weekend in Russia. And opposition activists said Google had taken down videos and documents they were using to organize a protest vote.

What Else Is Happening

President Biden has threatened new sanctions against all sides in the escalating war in northern Ethiopia.

New podcasts are rising in Cuba, despite censorship and spotty internet coverage.

Britain is taking steps to move from the metric system back to the imperial system, part of an effort to “capitalize on new Brexit freedoms.”

French officials say the fire-damaged Cathedral of Notre-Dame is on track to reopen in 2024, just in time for the Paris Olympics.

A Morning Read

The Empire State Building relies on a steady stream of tourists and companies willing to lease its expensive office space. In an age of remote work, the skyscraper — and the city it represents — face an uncertain future.


Fight fire with goats

In the rush to prevent worsening wildfires in the American West, state and local agencies that want to remove excess weeds rely on herbicides and machinery as well as prescribed burns: intentional fires that periodically clear underbrush, dead trees and other fuels.

Lani Malmberg, a goat herder, takes a different approach. She deploys her 200 goats to graze strategically, a technique she developed in graduate school. It’s a two-part strategy, one aimed at preventing fires rather than simply quelling them.

First, the goats, which can stand up to nine feet tall on their back legs, eat the grass, leaves and tall brush that cows and other grazers can’t reach. This type of vegetation is known as the fire fuel ladder and leads to wider spread when wildfires spark.

Then, their waste returns organic matter to the soil, increasing its potential to hold water. A 1 percent increase in organic matter can hold an additional 16,500 gallons of water per acre, Malmberg said.


What to Cook

If you love wine, here are 10 ways to appreciate it more. For a bright cocktail, try this richly colored Lambrusco spritz with olives.

What to Read

Check out our list of 20 new works of fiction to read this fall.

What to Watch

The Emmy Awards start at 8 a.m. Monday in Hong Kong. Here’s how to watch, and here’s what to watch for.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

And here is today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia

P.S. The Times published its first issue (as the “New-York Daily Times”) 170 years ago on Saturday. Each copy cost one cent.

The latest episode of The Daily is on the return of Broadway.

You can reach Amelia and the team at

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