Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

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In a White House speech, President Biden said his administration would distribute 500 million free rapid tests to the public starting in January to curb the threat of the Omicron variant. He asked his defense secretary to deploy 1,000 military medical professionals and announced new vaccination and testing sites, he said.

“I know you’re really tired, and I know you’re frustrated,” Biden said, adding, “We all want this to end, but we’re still there.” An unvaccinated Texas man is the first known U.S. death from Omicron.

Public health experts have warned that the Biden administration’s measures would not be enough to prevent a worrying increase in infections and hospitalizations over the next few weeks. Some expressed frustration and concern at what they described as a half-hearted public health response and lamented the apparent lack of will by politicians and society at large for more aggressive action.

Europe: Omicron’s surge has led to tighter restrictions on gatherings in Germany, Sweden, Portugal and Scotland. Swedish authorities have warned that a wave of infections caused by the variant will continue to rise until mid-January. The British and French governments have announced their support for business as the continent’s busy season has died down.

For the past eight years, the Russian government has promoted the idea that the country is surrounded by enemies, applying this message in schools, the military, the media and the Orthodox Church. Now, as Russia is massing troops on the Ukrainian border, the constant militarization of society under Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, looms large and seems to have gotten many used to the idea that a fight could happen.

Speaking to Russian military leaders on Tuesday, Putin insisted that Russia did not want bloodshed, but was ready to respond with “military-technical measures” to the West. State television portrays all of Russia’s efforts in Ukraine as defensive maneuvers.

Some of the latest propaganda tactics include a four-year, $ 185 million program launched by the Kremlin this year that aims to dramatically increase “patriotic education” for Russians. It includes a plan to attract at least 600,000 children from the age of 8 to join the ranks of an army of uniformed youth.

Quote: “The authorities are actively selling the idea of ​​war,” said Dmitry A. Muratov, editor of a Russian newspaper that shared this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, in his acceptance speech. “People are getting used to the idea of ​​its legality.”

The last: Vice President Kamala Harris said the United States would impose sanctions on Russia “like you’ve never seen before” if they invade Ukraine. She told CBS that the White House made this clear in direct talks with Putin.


Dollar Slice stores, a staple of New York’s food scene, face an existential crisis as the prices of just about everything – including boxes of pizza, pepperoni, flour and oil – rise. skyrockets. Many dollar-slice business owners, including those who have now raised their prices, have said their incomes are half of what they were in 2019, before the pandemic.

The United States has the highest inflation in almost 40 years, as prices rise all over the world. The surge is coming from a confluence of factors, many of which are linked to the coronavirus pandemic. Factories have closed and ports are clogged, disrupting the supply of goods that people trapped at home wanted to buy, like electronics and home furnishings.

In Turkey, an economic crisis was precipitated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s direct interference in monetary policy, including lowering interest rates in the face of skyrocketing inflation – precisely the opposite of what economists advocate. Working families are now struggling to make ends meet and have had to reduce their basic needs.

When Vinod Menon, professor of physics at City College of New York in Harlem, opened a regular box that had been sitting in the mail room for months, he was surprised by its contents: $ 180,000 in cash.

In Britain, the tradition of door-to-door Christmas carols dates back at least to Victorian times and is mentioned in the novels of Charles Dickens. Last year, most Christmas carols were canceled due to the pandemic. This year, a group of traveling singers were determined to keep going, despite the threat of the Omicron variant, Alex Marshall reports for The Times.

Last Thursday, three Christmas carolers went from pub to pub to raise money for a charity for the homeless. (By night’s end their number had grown to eight.) Quickly, an intricately harmonized rendition of “Deck the Halls” summoned the drinkers to their chairs – and, ultimately, solicited donations from nightclubs. red collection.

The pub crawl was not without risk, said Meg McClure, one of the organizers, who described it as “Christmas carols to the limit.” But each singer had done a quick antigen test before attending, she said, and the group had planned to perform outside if any of the pubs visited were too busy.

This turned out not to be the case: at Brunel, one of the pubs on the tour, there were only five customers, two of whom were visibly drunk. But as soon as the band started singing, they grabbed the attention of their audience.

A client, moved by the harmonies, mimics a heart attack. Another said she originally planned to go to a rapper Little Simz concert that night, but decided not to go because she was concerned about catching the virus. “So that’s amazing,” she said. “It’s the next best thing.”

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