Your Tuesday briefing – The New York Times
Europe faces fourth wave of Covid
Europe is once again the center of the coronavirus pandemic, accounting for more than half of the Covid deaths reported worldwide this month, according to the WHO, and more than two million new cases every week. In response, governments are tightening their restrictions, despite widespread protests against them.
Austria went into lockdown yesterday, and German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned that by the end of this winter “just about everyone in Germany will likely either be vaccinated, cured or dead”. An increase in cases in Belgium has resulted in tighter restrictions, including an increase in homeworking and compulsory wearing of the larger mask.
Protests against vaccine requirements and pandemic measures raged in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland. In some places, police have used tear gas and water cannons in response to dispersed violence. Some protesters were organized by far-right parties, but many were simply fed up with nearly two years of forays into normal life in the name of public health.
Repression : Unvaccinated people in Greece, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are prohibited from entering many indoor spaces, including restaurants. Slovakia yesterday announced a “lockdown for the unvaccinated”. The possibility of a vaccination mandate in Germany is under discussion as the only way to overcome the pandemic.
Russia targets human rights group
The Kremlin is targeting Russia’s largest human rights organization, Memorial International, as Russian leader Vladimir Putin aims to rewrite the memory of one of the most painful periods in Russia’s turbulent history.
Memorial International is dedicated to the memory of those who were persecuted in the gulags of the former Soviet Union. It developed in the period following the collapse of the bloc, when freedom of expression could flourish. Now prosecutors are preparing to liquidate the organization’s archives and human rights center. Two court hearings can decide the fate of the center.
Activists and dissidents see the threat to the organization as a turning point for independent thinkers in Russia – a sobering example of the government’s determination to silence its critics and clean up the narrative surrounding the Soviet Union.
Quote: âPutin’s Russia is built on denialâ of the reform and social upheaval of the 1990s, said Aleksandr Baunov, editor of the Carnegie Moscow Center website.
Details: Today, the Moscow City Court will examine allegations that Memorial International’s human rights center “justifies terrorist activities” because it included members of religious groups jailed as political prisoners. Later this week, the Supreme Court will consider charges that the center violated a draconian “foreign agent” law.
Fake news lures migrants to Belarus border
Fake news on social media, especially Facebook, has helped fuel a crisis on the Belarusian-Poland border, where thousands of migrants lured to Belarus on easy tourist visas are camping in squalid and freezing conditions. False reports of profiteers and charlatans exploited the hopes of vulnerable people desperate to reach the EU
Some of the creators of the bogus reports have promised to smuggle migrants across borders at high fees; some seemed to be happy with the attention they were receiving for information sharing; others seemed motivated by a desire to help those in pain. There is no evidence to suggest a campaign coordinated by Belarusian strongman Aleksandr Lukashenko to target migrants with fake news online.
Since July, Facebook activity in Arabic and Kurdish linked to migration to the EU via Belarus has “skyrocketed,” said Monika Richter, head of research and analysis for Semantic Visions, a intelligence firm that tracked social media activity related to the crisis.
First person: Mohammad Faraj rushed to the camp that migrants dubbed “the jungle” after seeing a video report on Facebook falsely claiming the border with Poland was opening. He described the next 10 days as being “like something out of a horror movie”.
Related: Iraqis who were deported from Belarus wondered about their future after spending all their money – and borrowing more – to try to get to Europe.
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Books of the year
Whether your literary preferences include science fiction, poetry, or non-fiction, there’s something about The Book Review’s annual roundup of 100 Notable Books for Everyone. Here are some choices:
Fiction: âStrange Beasts of China,â by Yan Ge, is an enchanting novel about a cryptozoologist in pursuit of legendary creatures.
Memory: Ashley C. Ford’s “Somebody’s Daughter” begins with a phone call in which the author learns that her father is returning home after nearly 30 years in prison, and ends with his release.
non-fictional works: Hanif Abdurraqib’s âA Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performanceâ makes powerful observations on race in America through music, television, film, minstrel performances and vaudeville.
Poetry: “Playlist for the Apocalypse”, by Rita Dove, is the former poet laureate’s first book in 12 years.
Stories: Anthony Veasna So’s âAfterparties,â a book set in central California, is a deeply personal, downright funny and enlightening debut album – released eight months after the author’s death at age 28.