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Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times


Alarmed by signs that the Russian invasion force is about to step up assaults in eastern Ukraine, many civilians in that region are fleeing, officials said. The exodus accelerated as Western nations moved to supply more weapons to the Ukrainian military and further ostracize Russia economically with new sanctions over the atrocities committed in Bucha. Follow the latest updates.

The EU was also considering a ban on coal from Russia, Europe’s main fossil fuel supplier, and Russia appeared to be getting closer to defaulting on its foreign debt due to US currency restrictions. In his overnight address, Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, challenged allies to find the resolve to ban Russian oil.

Hampered by poor planning and low morale, the Russian army withdrew from the kyiv region and seemingly abandoned the effort to seize the capital. But that doesn’t mean his forces can’t undertake a powerful new assault in the east. About 30,000 people have left the area since the Russian invasion, a local official said.

Refugees: More than 11 million Ukrainians – about one in four – have fled their homes, according to the UN, including more than four million who have fled the country.

In other wartime news:


A few days before the first round of the French presidential election, Emmanuel Macron, the president, is still the favorite to win a second term. But even if he did succeed, the French right dominated the election, with almost the entire campaign being waged on issues of national identity, immigration and Islam. The extreme right has even become the champion of pocket problems, traditionally the domain of the left.

Macron himself has swung to the right so consistently that there are even now discussions about whether he should be considered a centre-right president, despite coming out of a government led by the now moribund Socialists in 2017. He is most likely to face far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen in a runoff.

In recent months, the French right has not only wielded the idea of ​​”wokism” to effectively stifle the left and blunt what it sees as the threat of a “woke culture” on American campuses, but it has also actively established a cultural presence after years with little or no mainstream media.

On the left: For months, leftist candidates barely made a dent in voters. Then Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a skilled orator and the leader of the left-wing La France insoumise movement, began to burst into voter polls. He is now comfortably seated in third place.

Breaking point: The February death of Jérémy Cohen, 31, a Jew living in Paris, sparked outrage this week after video emerged showing he was fleeing a group of young men when he was hit by a tram – raising suspicions that an anti-Semitic assault had hastened his death and injected new volatility into an already tight race.


Researchers trying to design an updated coronavirus vaccine to use this fall, when the virus could re-emerge in force, must agree on a formula as early as June to meet that deadline, US officials said yesterday. health in a one-day meeting, even if some clinical trials are just beginning.

Manufacturers and researchers are scrambling to figure out what a revised vaccine should look like. An ongoing study, for example, is analyzing how Moderna’s vaccine works if it is revised to target three variants, alone or in combination. But it has only just started recruiting volunteers, with results expected this summer.

Other ongoing trials are too small to provide efficacy data of the type that led to licensing of existing vaccines. But they could yield enough data for federal health officials to determine whether a reconfigured vaccine would create a stronger or longer-lasting immune response, a metric used to infer efficacy.

Guesses: No one knows which variant of the virus will dominate later this year. Chances are that before that, another variant like Omicron will emerge and reshape the picture of the coronavirus in completely unexpected ways.

Here are the latest pandemic updates and maps.

In other news:

Yakei, a 9-year-old macaque, is the first known female troop leader in the seven-decade history of the Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden in southern Japan, home to more than 1,000 macaques.

Although a messy love triangle threatened to weaken his grip on power, his continued reign surprised scientists and gave them the opportunity to observe how macaque society works under a matriarchy.

In 2015, songwriters Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were ordered to pay more than $5 million for copying Marvin Gaye’s disco-era hit “Got to Give It Up” in their single “Blurred Lines.” .

The case has fueled a rise in pop song copyright claims – including against Ed Sheeran, who this week won a plagiarism case in London brought by British songwriter Sami Chokri, who records under Sami Switch’s name, against Sheeran’s 2017 megahit “Shape of You.”

Antony Zacaroli, the judge handling the case, said Sheeran had “neither deliberately nor unknowingly copied” Chokri’s track “Oh Why” and disputed that he even heard it. (Sheeran is facing another lawsuit in New York over the song “Thinking Out Loud”; the owners of the rights to Gaye’s song “Let’s Get It On” accuse Sheeran of copying it.) Industry executives of the record had been following the case closely because of its potential to bolster other claims.

The aftermath of the “Blurred Lines” decision has been felt most harshly by grassroots songwriters, who work in obscurity even as their creations propel others to stardom. The ramifications for them have been unavoidable, affecting the distribution of royalties, legal and insurance costs, and even how songs are composed.

“There are only a limited number of notes and very few chords used in pop music,” Sheeran said. Given that, he added, “coincidences will inevitably occur if 60,000 songs are released on Spotify every day”.

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