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Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Occasions

Almost a decade into its civil warfare, Syria is in excessive misery. This month, the Syrian pound reached an all-time low in opposition to the greenback on the black market, decimating the worth of salaries and jacking up the price of imports.

Meals costs have greater than doubled prior to now yr, and 60 p.c of the Syrian inhabitants are susceptible to going hungry. Energy shortages are fixed, with some areas getting just a few hours of electrical energy a day. Most Syrians now commit their days to discovering gas to cook dinner and to heat their houses, and a few girls are promoting their hair to feed their households.

Chilly consolation: At a non-public assembly, President Bashar al-Assad was requested in regards to the nation’s financial disaster, which now poses a big risk to his regime. He had no concrete options, however he did float the concept tv channels ought to cancel their cooking reveals in order to not taunt Syrians with photographs of unattainable meals.

A variant first found in California in December is extra contagious than earlier types of the coronavirus, two new research confirmed.

The findings gas issues that rising mutants might blunt the sharp decline in new circumstances within the state and maybe elsewhere.

Some consultants mentioned the brand new variant was regarding however unlikely to create as a lot a burden because the variant that originated in Britain, the place it swiftly grew to become the dominant type of the virus and overloaded hospitals there.

Researchers have been wanting extra carefully on the new variant, referred to as B.1.427/B.1.429, to pinpoint its origin and observe its unfold. It has proven up in 45 states thus far in addition to in a number of different international locations, together with Australia, Denmark, Mexico and Taiwan, nevertheless it has taken off solely in California.

Listed here are the newest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In different developments:

  • Coronavirus restrictions have led to Champions League matches and World Cup qualifiers being performed at impartial websites away from every workforce’s house soil. This summer time’s European Championship could possibly be the subsequent to maneuver.

  • The pandemic’s psychological toll has been accompanied by a worrisome improve in suicides amongst girls in Japan. Final yr, 6,976 girls died by suicide within the nation, almost 15 p.c greater than the speed in 2019.

  • Scotland will emerge from its lockdown in three-week phases over the subsequent few months, starting with reopening faculties. Most companies and actions might be allowed to renew after April 26.

  • Drug corporations want monkeys to develop Covid-19 vaccines. However a worldwide scarcity, ensuing from the surprising demand brought on by the pandemic, has been exacerbated by a current ban on the sale of wildlife from China, the main provider of the lab animals.


A new opposition occasion is flourishing in Russia, regardless of President Vladimir Putin making it clear that he doesn’t tolerate dissent.

Known as New Folks, the occasion appears designed to enchantment to the followers of the opposition chief Aleksei Navalny, who’s awaiting transportation to a penal colony. However the causes behind the occasion’s success, Russian analysts say, are to undermine Mr. Navalny, whose personal occasion has been banned, to distract from his motion and to divide the liberal opposition — all whereas offering a veneer of multiparty politics in a rustic the place there may be little significant electoral alternative.

Official line: “For twenty years we lived in a state of affairs of a false alternative: both freedom or order,” its platform proclaims. The federal government, it says, “ought to cease seeing enemies and traitors in those that produce other factors of view.”

Response: “They’re making an attempt to feed us the road these New Folks will now be the actual competitors for United Russia,” Lyubov Sobol, a Navalny ally, mentioned on YouTube in an evaluation of the governing pro-Putin occasion after the brand new occasion’s look final yr.

A brand new working paper discovered that ladies presenting their analysis at economics seminars acquired 12 p.c extra questions, usually aggressive ones, than their male colleagues did. The paper, which is anticipated to be printed subsequent week by the Nationwide Bureau of Financial Analysis, is the newest addition to a mounting physique of proof of gender discrimination in economics. Above, a convention in San Diego final yr.

Our reporter checked out how gender and racial gaps in economics are wider, and have narrowed much less over time, than in lots of different fields. “Half of girls are saying they don’t even wish to current in a seminar,” one economist mentioned. “We’re dropping a variety of concepts that manner.”

Tiger Woods: The star golfer was injured in a critical automotive crash and needed to be extracted from his automobile, the authorities mentioned. Mr. Woods’s agent mentioned he sustained “a number of leg accidents” and was present process surgical procedure.

Beijing: China is planning to impose restrictions on Hong Kong’s electoral system to root out candidates whom the Communist Social gathering deems disloyal, a transfer that would block democracy advocates within the metropolis from operating for any elected workplace.

Oil spill: A big oil spill from an unknown supply has devastated sea life within the Mediterranean and spewed tons of tar throughout greater than 100 miles of shoreline from Israel to southern Lebanon.

U.S. Capitol riot: Throughout a Senate listening to, prime safety officers who have been on the Capitol in the course of the assault by a pro-Trump mob pointed to intelligence failures that led to the disaster on Jan. 6. Police officers are additionally testifying. Right here’s the newest.

Snapshot: Above, the Nationwide AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Our journey desk checked out how epidemics have given rise to landmarks of all kinds: monuments, locations of worship, hospitals, fortifications, cemeteries and feats of civil engineering. How will Covid-19 be memorialized?

Lives lived: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poet and writer who nurtured the Beat motion from his famed San Francisco bookstore, Metropolis Lights, has died at 101.

What we’re studying: This New Yorker article exploring one of many nice mysteries of the pandemic: why some international locations are worse off than others.

Cook dinner: This comforting hen curry has a gingery, garlic-flecked tomato sauce. Serve with yogurt and basmati rice or naan.

Learn: “Klara and the Solar,” Kazuo Ishiguro’s eighth novel, is likely one of the most anticipated titles of the yr. Learn our evaluation.

Snooze: Many individuals have struggled to sleep in the course of the pandemic. Right here’s what to know about bettering your shut-eye.

There’s lots extra in our At House assortment of concepts on what to learn, cook dinner, watch and do whereas staying protected at house.

Don’t disregard VHS tapes as out of date: Immediately, a strong market exists, each just about and in actual life, for this ephemera, regardless of post-2006 developments in know-how.

On Instagram, customers promote movies just like the 2003 Jerry Bruckheimer movie “Kangaroo Jack,” a comedy involving a magnificence salon proprietor — performed by Jerry O’Connell — and a kangaroo. Asking worth? $190. (Although steep, it’s a far cry from the $1,400 price ticket of the primary VCR, the JVC HR-3300, from the late 1970s.)

Driving the passionate assortment of this type of media is the idea that VHS presents one thing that different varieties of media can’t.

Streaming could also be near-instantaneous, nevertheless it has its limitations, mentioned Matthew Sales space, 47, the proprietor of Videodrome in Atlanta, which sells VHS tapes along with its Blu-ray and DVD rental enterprise.

New releases are prohibitively costly, content material is “fractured” between subscription companies and flicks function in cycles, usually disappearing earlier than folks have the prospect to look at them, he mentioned. In that sense, VHS tapes supply one thing the present market can’t: an enormous library of transferring photographs which are unavailable wherever else.

Expertise usually works like this, the tech reporter Nick Bilton writes: “Whereas the brand new factor will get folks excited, the previous factor usually doesn’t go away. And if it does, it takes a really very long time to fulfill its demise.” Vinyl data and movie cameras are two different examples — although the once-futuristic automotive cellphone is but to expertise any sort of renaissance.

However even VHS, with its comforting physicality, gained’t be round ceaselessly. “The medium degrades rapidly, and plenty of tapes might not reside to see the 2040s,” Whet Moser writes in Quartz. “Which means a variety of content material misplaced, particularly the selfmade and native stuff.” Organizations just like the XFR Collective are attempting to digitize what they’ll — earlier than it’s too late.


That’s it for this briefing. See you subsequent time.

— Natasha


Thanks
Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh supplied the break from the information. You’ll be able to attain the workforce at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Every day.” Our newest episode is a take a look at what went improper in New York’s nursing houses.
• Right here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Like diamonds and double-black diamond ski runs (4 letters). You will discover all our puzzles right here.
• Our Washington bureau has introduced its new White Home workforce.



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