Your Tuesday Briefing
We’re covering a gradual reopening of Delhi despite vaccine shortages, and international reaction to Belarus forcing down a commercial flight.
Delhi considers lifting Covid limits
Six weeks after it was rocked by a devastating coronavirus surge, the region is considering relaxing its Covid-19 restrictions. Officials are pledging to ramp up vaccinations to protect New Delhi’s more than 20 million people.
Some residents are skeptical: This weekend, city officials had to close vaccination centers for lack of supply, a problem plaguing the entire country. India lacks manufacturing capacity to ramp up shots now, and lagged behind other countries in signing advance purchase agreements. Infighting between the central and local governments further complicates the prospect of importing supplies.
And many are remembering the crowded gatherings encouraged by officials that most likely led India to its state of crisis. “The only answer is vaccination,” said Dr. Anand Krishnan of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.
Details: Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, announced on Sunday that the city would start “unlocking” gradually next week if cases continued to fall, while acknowledging a “severe shortage” of vaccines. Currently, all businesses, except essential services like food deliveries and pharmacies, are closed, and public transit is shut down.
Leaders condemn Belarus flight diversion
The U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, demanded the “immediate release” of Roman Protasevich, the dissident journalist arrested in Belarus after the authorities forced a passenger jet heading to Lithuania to land there instead.
Britain instructed airlines not to fly over Belarus, and the European Union was considering sanctions against the country, as outrage mounted over the Belarus government’s brazen operation. The chief of Ryanair, the airline that was running the flight, called it a “state-sponsored hijacking.”
Undeterred: Aleksandr Lukashenko, the leader of Belarus, signed new laws on Monday cracking down further on dissent. Russia, Lukashenko’s main ally, stood by him.
The scene on the plane: Protasevich “panicked because we were about to land in Minsk,” one passenger told the Lithuanian broadcaster LRT. “He said: ‘I know the death penalty awaits me in Belarus.’” Passengers said they were made to stand for three hours in a dark hallway in Minsk’s airport without access to water or bathrooms.
Israel’s new relationship with the U.S.
For decades, Israeli leaders and voters alike treated Washington as essential to their country’s survival.
But that dependence may be ending. While Israel still benefits greatly from American assistance, analysts say that the country may have achieved effective autonomy from the United States.
That changes U.S. leverage over Israel, our Interpreter columnist writes. American involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has already declined, its call for a cease-fire coming only after an Egyptian-brokered agreement was nearing completion.
Changes: Israel no longer needs American security guarantees to protect it from neighboring states, with which it has mostly made peace. Nor does it see itself as needing American mediation in the Palestinian conflict, which Israelis largely find bearable as it is. Once reliant on American arms, Israel now produces many weapons domestically.
Numbers: In 1981, U.S. aid was equivalent to almost 10 percent of Israel’s economy. In 2020, at nearly $4 billion, it was closer to 1 percent.
THE LATEST NEWS
Among the 172 people trapped in a storm during a 62-mile mountain race in Gansu Province, China, was Zhang Xiaotao, who fell down nearly a dozen times in the icy, windy conditions and eventually passed out. He woke up in a cave, wrapped in a quilt next to a fire built by a shepherd who had carried him to safety. Our reporters traced what happened in the perilous and quickly shifting weather conditions.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Welcome to the Space Jam
The movie “Space Jam” — a comedy centered on a basketball game that pits Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes characters against aliens — came out in 1996, during the internet’s early days. Its official website reflects its age: a simple pixelated image of stars, dotted with cartoon planets. By remaining unchanged, it has become a beloved cultural artifact for a subset of millennials.
The site “is important in the way antique maps are important,” Gina Cherelus and Caity Weaver write in The Times. It documents the internet as it once was, with downloadable screen savers, printable coloring pages and a one-second audio clip of Jordan saying, “You guys are nuts.”
In 2010, the website ascended to meme status after a popular Reddit post remarked on its continued existence. Rolling Stone called it “the website that wouldn’t die.”
Spacejam.com was recently repurposed to advertise the coming sequel, “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” starring LeBron James. But you can still find a prominent link to the original site. When it was made, “the internet was still whispering its promise,” said Don Buckley, an advertising executive for the film. “We were exuberant about its possibilities.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook