Michigan, Thanksgiving Guidance, Booker Prize: Your Thursday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

1. President Trump took another extraordinary step in his bid to subvert the election.

After failing repeatedly in court to overturn election results, the president reached out directly to invite Michigan’s top Republican lawmakers to the White House on Friday. Mr. Trump has also personally called at least one of the Republican election officials in Wayne County who tried to decertify Detroit’s results.

Some Trump allies promote the legally dubious theory that friendly legislatures might be able to send their own, pro-Trump delegations to the Electoral College. The leader of Michigan’s Senate, Mike Shirkey, said earlier this week that his state’s Legislature would not do so.

Our Daily Distortions team, which tracks election misinformation, found lots of material in a news conference given today by Rudy Giuliani, a personal lawyer to the president, at the Republican National Committee’s headquarters in Washington.

The certification of each state’s vote totals is the next major step in formalizing President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Here’s the timeline, starting with Georgia on Friday.

Credit…Annie Flanagan for The New York Times

2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving because of startling increases in cases, hospitalizations and deaths in just the past week.

Credit…Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

3. A decrease in new virus cases in Europe appears to be a sign that restrictions there are working. Above, Milan.

The World Health Organization said that new case rates were falling for the first time in months across the region. Two weeks ago, the agency reported that around two million new infections were being detected per week across Europe. Last week, that number fell to 1.8 million.

Europe, in sharp contrast to the U.S., kept schools open while closing businesses and limiting the size of gatherings.

U.S. outbreaks are now worst in the states that imposed the fewest restrictions, a Times analysis found. Here’s what we found, state by state.

California will impose a curfew starting Saturday aimed at curbing the coronavirus surge, barring nearly all residents from leaving their homes from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Credit…Pool photo by Patrick Semansky

4. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became the most senior U.S. official to visit an Israeli settlement in the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

Mr. Pompeo declared that the Trump administration views an international campaign to boycott Israel as anti-Semitic and said that the U.S. would deny government support to groups that embrace the movement, known as B.D.S. — which stands for boycott, divest and sanctions.

The string of photo opportunities could be highly useful for Mr. Pompeo, particularly with evangelical Christian voters he has long courted, if he were to seek the Republican nomination for president in 2024.

Palestinian officials, for their part, are eager to make a fresh start with the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden. A first step could be ending the “pay to slay” compensation that the Palestinian Authority gives to those serving time in Israeli jails.

Credit…Andrew Spear for The New York Times

5. Retailers are preparing for another rush from shoppers worried about new lockdowns and pandemic shortages.

That surge will fall largely on the backs of retail workers, who were heralded as heroes during the pandemic’s first wave. But big employers — including Amazon, Walmart and Kroger — are not providing the same level of bonuses and raises this time, even as the health risks for workers increase.

Those considerations come against the backdrop of another bleak jobs report. New jobless claims jumped by 18,000 to 743,000 last week, the Labor Department reported, the first increase since the beginning of October.

Credit…Phil Noble/Reuters
Credit…Daniel Dorsa for The New York Times

7. It’s a very big week in the book world.

Douglas Stuart, above, won the Booker Prize for “Shuggie Bain,” an autobiographical novel about the lonely gay son of an alcoholic mother in 1980s Scotland. It was one of four debut novels among this year’s six finalists. “It’s challenging, it’s intimate, it’s gripping, it’s daring,” one of the judges said. “To some extent, I think anybody who reads it will never feel the same.”

Credit…Ryan Pfluger for The New York Times

8. From “Overboard” to the North Pole.

Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell have been together for 37 years. They rarely appear onscreen together, but they’re central in the new Netflix holiday movie “The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two” — an indication of how they, and Hollywood, have changed.

We talked to the couple about the film, what Christmas looks like at their house and why they think celebrities shouldn’t always air their opinions. “They lose their status as a court jester; and I’m a court jester,” Mr. Russell said. “That’s what I was born to do.”

And in New York City, the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center went up last weekend to underwhelming cheers, with some suggesting that the scraggly Norway spruce was a metaphor for 2020’s troubles. But the tree just needs time to open.

And it held a surprise: a small owl, which was handed over to a wildlife center.

Credit…Photo Illustration by The New York Times

9. There’s doom scrolling, and then there’s Zillow scrolling.

Fantasizing about what life might be like elsewhere? You’re not alone. Usage on the real-estate-listings website has climbed since March, with visitors to for-sale listings up more than 50 percent year-over-year in the early months of the pandemic.

Houses that catch the eye may be out of reach, but Zillow surfers simply enjoy the hunt. They’ve even formed their own online community, bonding (and obsessing) over obscure listings that then go viral.

For a reality break, consider growing microgreens on your kitchen counter. The rewards of cultivating the tastes of summer all through winter are worth it.

Credit…Florida Atlantic University

10. And finally, hangry, hangry caterpillars.

It seems the plot of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” was missing a crucial element: the pure, unadulterated rage of an insect unfed. Monarch butterfly caterpillars turn on one another when food gets scarce, a new lab study found, head-butting for prime milkweed that they bulk up on before sprouting their wings.

Scientists at Florida Atlantic University found that sometimes the hits came near the recipient’s head, other times they were more of a gut punch. Older and larger caterpillars had correspondingly greater animosity. And it’s not clear whether the carnage might differ in the wild, where the insects have more room to roam.

Enjoy your personal space tonight.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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