Your Tuesday Briefing – The New York Times
EU decides to cut air access to Belarus
The EU yesterday urged airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace and imposed sanctions on the country’s strongman Aleksandr Lukashenko, a day after Belarus brazenly forced a commercial airliner from Ryanair to seize a dissident journalist on board.
The British government has said it will ban Belarus’ national airline from operating in the country, and some Eastern European airlines are hijacking flights over Belarusian airspace. Pete Buttigieg, the US Secretary of Transportation, called for a review of the safety of flights operated by US airlines over Belarus.
Rather than trying to mitigate diplomatic fallout, Lukashenko signed new laws further cracking down on dissent. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said what happened to the plane was strictly in accordance with aviation rules, while Russia, Lukashenko’s main ally, was by his side.
Background: Who is Roman Protasevich, the 26-year-old detained journalist? He became a dissident as a teenager and fled the country in 2019, but continued to shake up Lukashenko’s government on the Telegram social media platform while living in exile in Lithuania.
Growing threat of variant B.1.617.2 in Great Britain
A potentially more contagious variant of the coronavirus known as B.1.617.2 has started to overtake other versions of the virus in Britain, pressuring the government to speed up second doses of the vaccine. Government scientists said the variant was “highly likely” to be more transmissible than the one behind Britain’s devastating winter wave.
The new variant, which has become dominant in India since its first detection in December, could be partly responsible for a severe wave of infections in Southeast Asia and Nepal. It is now present in at least 49 countries.
Reassuring signs: A new study from Public Health England indicates that fully vaccinated people are about as well protected from the variant as from other forms of coronavirus. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine offered 88% protection against the variant, while the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine was 60% effective.
Israel’s New Relationship with the United States
The US Secretary of State will visit Israel today, seeking to strengthen the nation’s ceasefire with Hamas. Antony Blinken will also use his trip to the region to work on humanitarian aid to Gaza, but he does not intend to continue full-fledged peace talks.
For decades, Israeli leaders and voters have treated Washington as essential to the survival of their country. But this addiction can end. While Israel still benefits greatly from US aid, analysts say the country may have achieved effective autonomy from the United States
While the United States still has some influence, as it does with all countries where it provides arms and diplomatic support, the latter may wane beyond the point at which Israel is able and willing. to do what the United States wants. Formerly dependent on American weapons, Israel now produces many weapons domestically.
The context: The change comes just as a faction of Democrats and left-wing activists, outraged by Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and the bombing of Gaza, is difficult Washington’s long-standing consensus on Israel – however significant it is, if contraction, number of Americans express Support for Israel.
On the ground: Israeli police arrested more than 1,550 people suspected of being involved in the recent outbreak of popular violence between Arabs and Jews, of whom 70% were Arab citizens of Israel and 30% were Jews.
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News from Europe
A few years ago, many Silicon Valley residents expected self-driving cars to be mainstream by 2021. But after court fights, injuries and deaths, and tens of billions of dollars spent on extremely fickle technology, companies like Uber and Lyft have given up. the pursuit. Now the industry is settling in for years of extra work.
The companies that remain could spend an additional $ 6 billion to $ 10 billion before the technology becomes mainstream towards the end of the decade or later.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Welcome to the Space Jam
The movie “Space Jam” – a basketball-centric comedy that pits Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes characters against aliens – was released in 1996, when the internet was very early on. Its official website reflects its age: a simple pixelated image of stars, dotted with drawn planets. By remaining unchanged, it has become a beloved cultural artifact for a subset of millennials.
The site “is important as far as old maps are important,” write Gina Cherelus and Caity Weaver 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’re crazy.
In 2010, the website upgraded to meme status after a popular Reddit post noted its continued existence. Rolling stone called that “The website that wouldn’t die.”
Spacejam.com was recently revamped to announce the upcoming sequel, “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” starring LeBron James. But you can still find an important link to the original site. When it was made, “The internet was still whispering its promise,” said Don Buckley, publicity manager for the film. “We were exuberant about its possibilities.”