US and Russia face off at UN
The United States and Russia engaged in a public diplomatic tussle Monday at the UN Security Council over the Ukraine crisis.
The Americans, backed by their Western allies, have accused Russia of endangering peace and destabilizing global security by massing more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders. Kremlin diplomats rejected what they said was unfounded and hysterical American alarmism aimed at weakening Russia and provoking armed conflict.
The meeting of the 15-nation Council, called for by the United States last week, represented the most publicized arena for the two powers to influence world opinion on Ukraine. As expected, it was adjourned without any action being taken.
Remarks: Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador, said “Russia’s actions strike at the very heart of the UN charter.” Russia opposed holding the meeting, calling it an “attempt to mislead the international community” and an example of “megaphone diplomacy”.
Where are things going: More than a month of bluster and posturing, threatening military maneuvers and high-level diplomatic meetings have not made it any easier to assess the security crisis gripping Europe. A full-scale invasion would likely result in fierce fighting and potentially the worst bloodshed on the continent since the end of World War II.
On the ground: A wave of bomb threats across Ukraine intensified an already anxious mood.
“Failures of Leadership and Judgment”
A much-anticipated report released yesterday outlines leadership failures in the office of Boris Johnson, Britain’s Prime Minister, as well as excessive drinking in the workplace.
The report found Downing Street held parties that breached pandemic lockdowns when the government urged the public to avoid socialising. It did not directly implicate Johnson in any wrongdoing, leaving that judgment to a separate police investigation. This may give him some political breathing space.
Sue Gray, the report’s author, has been forced to cleanse the document of its potentially most damaging details because London’s Metropolitan Police are investigating eight parties. Worryingly, police said last night they had so far collected more than 500 pages of evidence and more than 300 photos.
Quoteable: “There were failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times,” the report said. “Some of the events should not have taken place. Other events should not have developed as they did.
The New Covid Divide: Risk Aversion vs. Risk Takers
As the Omicron variant of the coronavirus sweeps the world, vaccinated and largely protected families are strained by varying levels of comfort around the risk – of people dining indoors; send their children back to school; attend exercise classes; and receive home visitors.
In Italy, which now has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, the schism in society is no longer between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, or the socially responsible and the talkative, but between the risk takers. and hazard showers. For many vaccinated families, the recent holiday season has highlighted these variations.
A growing number of people who have received a third dose of vaccine have, emboldened by the seemingly mild symptoms of Omicron for vaccinees, entered a training phase of the pandemic. Others are still coping with a virus that is seemingly everywhere, and are forcing themselves to adjust their comfort levels and do more.
First person: “Young people feel much freer,” said a 70-year-old woman. At a recent wedding she attended with her husband, one of their friends stayed outside in the cold the whole time, she said.
By the numbers: In Italy, more than 80% of the population, including children, received two doses of a vaccine. This number is expected to increase as more children are vaccinated.
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The sound of romance
Dating shows have been a staple of television for decades, from the 1965 premiere of “The Dating Game” to the 20-year ongoing series of “The Bachelor” and its spinoffs. Now two podcasts – “This Is Dating” and “It’s Nice to Hear You” – are reinventing the matchmaking format for audio, writes Reggie Ugwu in The Times.
“This Is Dating” follows four people in search of love. A dating coach guides them, and producers select candidates based on the dater’s preferences. Listeners follow the first four to several dates, conducted over Zoom. (Competitors use real voices and fake names.) The effect is like eavesdropping.
“It’s Nice to Hear You” is inspired by shows such as “The Dating Game” in which contestants get to know their potential partners without seeing them. It follows three couples who correspond once a day for 30 days via voice memo, without exchanging photos or other identifying details.
“You’re not distracted by someone’s appearance or what’s in their past,” said show creator Heather Li. “I think it’s harder to prejudge someone if you don’t have that many data points.”
For more: Read Caity Weaver in The Times to find out why viewers love dating shows where contestants can’t see each other.