The countries trying to ‘live with Covid’
Eighteen months after the pandemic, governments in Asia, Europe and America are encouraging people to return to life as it once was and learn to live with the coronavirus. But scientists warn that these strategies may be premature amid the spread of more transmissible variants.
Ongoing lockdowns and restrictions have become necessary parts of recovery as governments focus primarily on preventing serious illness and death rather than infections, which are harder to avoid. Even countries with zero-covid ambitions, such as Australia and Singapore, are rethinking their policies.
In places where vaccines have been widely available for months, such as Europe, countries have bet big on their vaccination programs as both a way out of the pandemic and a key to keeping hospitalizations and deaths low. England has gone even further, giving up almost all restrictions this week.
Other health news: Life expectancy in the US has fallen by 18 months from 78.8 years to 77.3 years, the sharpest drop since World War II. Black and Hispanic Americans were disproportionately affected.
Grim floods in China
At least 25 people died in and around Zhengzhou, a city of five million, when the heaviest rainfall ever caused severe flooding. Twelve of the victims were trapped in a subway when the water rose.
On Tuesday evening, floods broke through a retaining wall at an entrance to Line 5 of the metro, which makes a loop around the city center. The water flowed into the system between two stations, flooding the train. Trapped passengers posted videos as the disaster unfolded.
official response: China’s leader, Xi Jinping, ordered authorities to give top priority to people’s safety, calling the flooding “extremely serious”. Although floods in China are common, researchers have attributed the extreme weather sweeping the planet to the effects of climate change.
France’s clash of ideals
A youth conference held in October in Poitiers, France, has exposed the gap between the country’s republican values and the emerging sensibilities of a new generation.
Sarah El Haïry, the youth minister and a child of immigrants, met more than 100 teenagers who spent two days tackling the delicate topics of religion and discrimination. They said their lives had little to do with her vision of France as a seemingly secular, color-blind, and equal opportunity nation.
The younger generation of France, according to polls, has a more liberal attitude towards race, religion and gender in a diversified society. The age difference between El Haïry, 32, and her audience – only about 15 years – was itself a measure of how quickly things change.
citable: France, said El Haïry, “doesn’t look at you by your religion, it doesn’t look at you by the color of your skin, it doesn’t look at you by the status of your parents. It gives you the chance to be a full citizen and build yourself in this pact.” But the teenagers didn’t see it that way.
THE LAST NEWS
Around the world
These 115 essential people were among the 2.5 million service workers who kept New York alive through its darkest months.
Althea Finamore, above, works with developmentally delayed adults on Staten Island, helping them dress, bathe, and eat properly. When the lockdown started, she was working back-to-back shifts. “If they needed us, we were there day and night,” she said.
ART AND IDEAS
Israel’s Broken Reality Uncovered
A viral video of a rap song, “Let’s Talk Straight,” has been viewed more than four million times on social media since May for its candid portrayal of the divisions between Arab and Jewish Israelis.
Uriya Rosenman, who grew up on Israeli military bases and served in the military, sits in a garage over a small plastic table and faces Sameh Zakout, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who grew up in the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Ramla.
The two hurl insults and clichés at each other, tearing away the layer of politeness that covers the seething resentment between the Jewish state and its Palestinian minority in “a work that challenges listeners to break through stereotypes and discover their shared humanity,” Roger Cohen, our reporter , writes.
The video pays tribute to Joyner Lucas’ “I’m Not Racist,” a similar exploration of the stereotypes and blindness that trap racial rifts in the US
In Israel, the reaction to the video was overwhelming, as if something was hidden. The two men, now friends, are working on a second project exploring how self-criticism can bring about change in a Jewish and Arab society. It will ask: how can you do better, instead of blaming the government?
Read more about the video here.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to cook?
Lunch outside? Be inspired by this Breton summer feast and end your meal with a berry charlotte.
what to watch
In the Netflix trilogy ‘Fear Street’, inspired by the horror series by author RL Stine, a lesbian romance propels the story.
Use sunscreen on your face every day, even if you work indoors.
Now time to play
Here’s today’s mini crossword and a clue: the opposite of WSW (three letters).