US and Russia clash at UN
America and Russia engaged in a public diplomatic scuffle Second at the United Nations Security Council on the Ukraine crisis.
The Americans, backed by their Western allies, accuse Russia of endangering peace and destabilizing global security by sending more than 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border. Kremlin diplomats reject what they call an unfounded and hysterical act of the US aimed at weakening Russia and provoking armed conflict.
The meeting of the 15-nation Council, requested by the US last week, represents the most important arena for the two powers to sway world opinion about Ukraine. As expected, it was adjourned with no action taken.
Comment: Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Ambassador, said that “Russia’s actions are at the heart of the UN charter.” Russia categorically opposes holding the meeting, calling it “an attempt to deceive the international community” and an example of “fake diplomacy”.
Where things stand: More than a month and a half, threatening military maneuvers and high-level diplomatic meetings have not caused a security crisis to engulf Europe. Easier to rate. An all-out invasion is likely to result in the worst fighting and potentially the worst bloodshed on the continent since the end of World War Two.
On the ground: ONE wave of bomb threats across Ukraine has added to an already existing mood of anxiety.
‘Failure of leadership and judgment’
A much-anticipated report released yesterday describes leadership failures in the office of Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, as well as excessive drinking in the workplace.
Report shows Downing Street hosting parties that violated the pandemic lockdowns when the government urged the public to avoid socializing. It was not directly related to Johnson’s misconduct, leaving that ruling up to a separate police investigation. That could give him some political breathing room.
Sue Gray, the report’s author, was forced to delete the document about its most potentially damaging details because London’s Metropolitan Police were investigating eight parties. Ominously, police said late yesterday that they had collected more than 500 pages of evidence and more than 300 photos.
Can quote: “There have been failures in the leadership and judgment of different departments of Number 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times,” the report said. “Some events should not have happened. Other events should not have been allowed to develop as they did.”
Covid’s new division: risk aversion versus risk taking
As the Omicron variant of the coronavirus sweeps around the world, immunized and protected families are largely strained by varying degrees of comfort around risk – whether people dine indoors; send their children back to school; take exercise classes; and receive guests at home.
In Italy, which currently has the highest vaccination rate in the world, The division in society is no more between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, or the socially responsible and the scoffers, but between the risk-taker and the risk-averse. For many vaccinated families, the recent holiday season has impacted those variations.
An increasing number of people receiving a third dose of the vaccine, encouraged by the clearly mild symptoms of Omicron when vaccinated, have entered the outbreak phase of the pandemic. Others are still dealing with a seemingly ubiquitous virus and forcing themselves to adjust their comfort levels and do more.
First Person: One woman in her 70s said: “Young people feel much more free. She said at a recent wedding she attended with her husband, a friend of theirs had been outside in the cold the whole time.
By the numbers: In Italy, more than 80 percent of the population, including children, have received two doses of the vaccine. That number is expected to grow as more children are vaccinated.
In other pandemic news:
News from Europe
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ARTS AND IDEAS
The sound of romance
Dating shows have been a television theme for decades, from the 1965 premiere of “The Dating Game” to the 20-year run of “The Bachelor” and its spin-offs. Now, two podcasts – “This Is the Day” and “It’s Good To Listen To You” – are re-imagine the matchmaking format on sound, Reggie Ugwu writes in The Times.
“This Is Dating” is about four people looking for love. A dating coach guides them, and the producers select candidates based on their lover’s interests. Listeners watched four of the first multiple days, done via Zoom. (The contestants use real voices and fake names.) The effect is like eavesdropping.
“Nice to hear you” takes cues from shows like “The Dating Game,” in which contestants get to know their potential partners without even meeting them. It follows three couples who exchange letters once a day for 30 days via voice memos without exchanging photos or other identifying details.
Heather Li, the show’s creator, said: “You won’t be distracted by someone’s appearance or their background. “I think it’s harder to prejudice someone if you don’t have a lot of data points.”
For more: Read Caity Weaver in The Times on why audiences love dating shows where the contestants cannot see each other.