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Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times


The highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus, first discovered last month, has sweep the world, infecting millions and getting sick so quickly, even in countries with high vaccination rates.

That difficult notion is overcome by early evidence that the variant causes milder symptoms, with vaccinations and boosters helping to prevent serious illness and death. More than 300,000 new Covid cases were recorded in the UK between Saturday and Monday, but hospital admissions are still far below last winter’s peak.

That rapid spread and Omicron dominance mirror what has been witnessed around the world. In Israel, this variant is expected to overtake Delta to become the dominant variant in the country within the next few days. Positive test results are disrupting businesses and wreaking havoc on global travel, entertainment and sporting events.

Analysis: John Bell, a professor of medicine at Oxford and an adviser to the British government, said Omicron was “not like the disease we had a year ago”.

Supreme Court of Russia ordered the closure of the Memorial, a human rights group founded more than three decades ago that has documented political repression in the country, including that in Stalin-era labor camps. The hearing drew dozens of protesters outside the courthouse.

The decision comes after a year of widespread repression against the opposition in Russia as the Kremlin actively worked to crack down on dissent – in the news media, in religious groups. Churches, on social media and especially among activists and political opponents, hundreds of them have been harassed and imprisoned. or be exiled.

The liquidation of the Monument is another step in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to reimagine Russia’s legacy as a series of glorious achievements and soften the image of the often brutal Soviet regime. The increasingly emboldened Kremlin has drastically rejected alternative interpretations of Russian history by organizations it does not control.

More to come: In a separate hearing scheduled for today, the Moscow City Court will rule on whether to close the Memorial Center for Human Rights, which compiles lists of political prisoners. currently in Russia or not. The center is accused of “justifying terrorist activities” by listing members of banned religious organizations.

Other news: Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany can provide abundant natural gas. However, tensions with Vladimir Putin are putting it out of reach.


At least 20 people have been killed and more than 50,000 people have been displaced from their homes due to Terrible floods swept through northeastern Brazil and engulfed the entire vicinity, the authorities said yesterday.

Rescue teams used boats and helicopters to reach the areas of Ilhéus, Itabuna, Irecê and more than 100 other cities in the state of Bahia. Neighboring states sent planes and firefighters to help police and members of the armed forces, while volunteers distributed food, mattresses and blankets to the poorest communities.

For five years, northeastern Brazil has suffered from a persistent drought. But earlier this month the skies opened up, hitting Bahia with its heaviest December rainfall in the state in three decades, According to Brazil’s disaster monitoring center. The heavy rain caused two dams to collapse, further exacerbating the situation.

Can quote: “We’ve had other floods, other disasters with the death toll, but nothing, absolutely nothing, with this territorial expansion, with the number of cities affected,” said Rui Costa. affected at the same time and with the number of people affected by this storm. Governor of the state of Bahia.

Residents of Porretta Terme, a hillside town in central Italy, have a claim to the Vatican: to recognize the Madonna of the Bridge, the town’s local icon, as patron saint of Italian basketball.

Of the thousands of articles published by The Times this year, the 10 articles below are among those that people have spent a long time reading. Pour yourself a glass of hot water, feel good, and revisit these great readings.

Martina Navratilova there’s a lot to say. (June 6)

Katie Couric’s Memoirs family skeletons included. (October 14)

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. – Natasha

PS Jack Nicas, Silicon Valley tech defender, is Our new office manager in Brazil.

The latest episode of “The Daily“There was a statement from a Capitol policeman on January 6.

You can contact Natasha and the team at riefing@nytimes.com.



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