2021-01-31 20:08:28 | Your Monday Briefing – The New York Times
Thousands detained during a second weekend of Navalny protests
The police were out in large numbers in dozens of cities and towns across Russia on Sunday as tens of thousands took to the streets to show support for the jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. It was one of the most imposing shows of police force seen in the country’s recent history.
More than 4,000 people, including Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, were detained, but many have been released. Here’s the latest.
In Vladivostok, demonstrators descended onto the ice of a frozen bay, with riot officers in pursuit. In Chelyabinsk, there was footage of riot police officers clubbing protesters with batons. There were reports of stun guns and tear gas being used in St. Petersburg.
The turnout in so many parts of the nation showed that the accumulated anger with President Vladimir Putin remains a potent force. Disappointment over slumping wages is also taking a toll on support for the Putin government.
Quotable: “The bolts are tightening,” said Nikolai Babikov, 31, a computer systems analyst surveying the police operation in Moscow. “Freedom is being eliminated and bit by bit we are becoming the Soviet Union again.”
One Covid case, and Perth locks down
Two million people in the city and surrounding areas have been placed under a full lockdown for five days, after a security guard at a quarantine hotel tested positive for the coronavirus. The state of Western Australia, which includes Perth, had gone nearly 10 months without any sign of community transmission.
The guard developed symptoms on Thursday after working that week at the quarantine hotel, which houses international arrivals for a mandatory 14 days. One traveler there had tested positive for the more contagious variant that was first spotted in Britain.
Quotable: In announcing the measures on Sunday, Mark McGowan, the state’s premier, said, “We cannot forget how quickly this virus can spread, nor the devastation it can cause.”
Restrictions: People can leave home only for essential reasons like exercise, medical needs and shopping for groceries. Restaurants, bars and gyms will shut and mask-wearing will be compulsory. Schools, which were scheduled to reopen this week, will remain closed.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
Poor countries locked out of the market for expensive Covid-19 vaccines are at risk of becoming breeding grounds for variants, like one found in South Africa, that might make vaccines less effective.
As frustration mounts in Canada over lockdowns and the glacial pace of vaccinations, a consortium of some of the country’s largest companies has begun a rapid testing program with the aim of protecting their 350,000 employees.
The European Union has abruptly reversed an attempt to restrict vaccine exports from the bloc into Britain, the latest misstep in the continent’s faltering vaccine rollout.
U.S. health authorities have issued an order requiring masks in all transportation hubs, defined as including any “airport, bus terminal, marina, seaport or other port, subway station, terminal, train station, U.S. port of entry or any other location that provides transportation.”
China’s big lead in the race to electric cars
General Motors’ surprise announcement that it plans to eliminate gasoline and diesel cars from its fleet by 2035 and embrace electric cars follows a road map drawn by Beijing.
Chinese companies dominate the world’s production of electric motors and have control of much of the world’s production of key raw materials needed for electric cars, including lithium, cobalt and rare earth metals. How G.M. will shift its industrial capacity isn’t entirely clear, and the company didn’t mention China in its announcement last week.
Other players: Daimler and Toyota have jumped into joint electric-car ventures with Chinese manufacturers. Ford Motor’s new all-electric Mustang Mach-E will be made in China as well as Mexico. So far, no Chinese company has produced an electric car that can rival Tesla in capturing the world’s imagination, although one, NIO, is trying.
If you have 5 minutes, this is worth it
The video game superstars flocking to the U.S.
In League of Legends, the highest-profile video game played by professionals, U.S. teams lag far behind their counterparts in Asia, where e-sports are a way of life. In countries like China and South Korea, gamers start competing as children, and professionals train up to 18 hours a day.
To keep up, U.S. teams have dangled increasingly large salaries to recruit dozens of the world’s best players, including Hu Shuo-Chieh, above, a Taiwanese superstar.
Here’s what else is happening
Trump lawyers: Former President Donald Trump has abruptly parted ways with five lawyers handling his impeachment defense, including his lead lawyer, just over a week before the Senate trial is set to begin.
Tibet rights: Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan businessman, has been released from prison in China after completing a five-year sentence for “inciting separatism” by campaigning for Tibetan language education, including in interviews with The New York Times.
Nissan trial: The high-powered executive Hari Nada is the star witness against his onetime mentor, Greg Kelly. Mr. Kelly was No. 2 to Carlos Ghosn, the fugitive former C.E.O. Our reporter details how Mr. Nada’s ruthless corporate knife-fighting skills helped him survive.
Snapshot: Above, the Tuileries last week. Paris is gone for now, its lifeblood cut off by the closure of all restaurants, writes our Paris bureau chief. But there are many reasons to soldier through the pandemic fog.
What we’re reading: This CBS News article on how singing in some languages can spread the coronavirus more easily than in others. Sopranos, take note: Trilling in German and Italian is unlike crooning in Japanese.
Now, a break from the news
Stay active and engaged with our At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch, and do while staying safe at home.
And now for the Back Story on …
The farmers vs. Modi
Mujib Mashal, our South Asia correspondent in Delhi, has been covering the farmers’ protests that have shaken India since November. The farmers are demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeal recent laws that would minimize the government’s role in agriculture and open more space for private investors. We touched base with Mujib on what lies ahead.
How much of a challenge do these protests pose to Mr. Modi and his government?
This is the largest sustained protest movement that Mr. Modi has faced since he became prime minister in 2014. There have been other waves of unrest, notably last year when people took to the streets over amendments to citizenship laws that many saw as discriminatory against Muslims, but nothing of this magnitude.
The reason this movement is challenging Mr. Modi in ways that others have not is because this is about an issue that affects such a large cross-section of Indian society — more than 60 percent of the country still depends on agriculture for their livelihoods. Mr. Modi has now publicly distanced himself from the issue, rarely commenting on the protests as he tries to plot his government’s next steps.
Are there any prospects for a breakthrough?
Both sides have dug in deep, and it’s difficult to see how this will resolve anytime soon. Even if one side makes a concession, it will most likely be a dragged-out process beforehand to create face-saving.
Campsites where tens of thousands of farmers have stayed through cold and rain over the past two months have a deep sense of community. A large number of the protesters are of the Sikh faith, and feeding people through large food tents, called langars, is not just a matter of tradition but also pride. That practice and the culture of volunteerism rooted in the faith give the movement a durability that is difficult to derail.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]
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• Matina Stevis-Gridneff, a Times correspondent in Brussels, discussed the European vaccines row on the Sky News podcast All Out Politics.
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