We’re covering record new daily infections in India, and China’s cringe-worthy Xinjiang propaganda musical.
India crosses the 100,000-case threshold for daily infections
India recorded its highest tally of new coronavirus infections on Monday as officials in the hardest-hit state reimposed lockdowns and warned that hospitals even in smaller cities were running out of beds.
More than half of the new infections were traced to the western state of Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai, India’s financial capital. It came even as India continues to vaccinate more than three million people every day, one of the largest efforts in the world.
State officials ordered all shops, movie theaters, markets and restaurants to close starting Monday evening and imposed a nighttime curfew. Critics say Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has sent mixed signals, encouraging people to attend celebrations for Holi, a major religious festival where hundreds of new cases were traced to, and campaign rallies.
Background: India’s vaccination drive has been a bright spot at home, but curtailing exports of vaccines has set back poorer countries that were counting on India for their doses.
Netanyahu divides Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared in a Jerusalem court on Monday for the opening of the key, evidentiary phase of his corruption trial. Just two miles across town, representatives of his party were entreating the country’s president to task him with forming Israel’s next government.
For many, the episode illustrated the worsening political and constitutional malaise afflicting the nation, which is drawing closer to political crisis.
Political gridlock: Neither the pro-Netanyahu bloc of parties nor the grouping opposing Mr. Netanyahu look as if they can muster a coalition with a viable parliamentary majority. The sheer number of parties is a sign that “Israeli cohesion is unraveling,” Yedidia Stern, president of the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem, told The Times.
Netanyahu’s path: Analysts say his best bet for overcoming his legal troubles is to remain in power and gain some kind of immunity. With more than 330 witnesses expected to appear, his trial could go on for years. Critics of the process said it was an attempt to unseat him, but many Israelis see it as a triumph for the rule of law.
China’s latest Xinjiang propaganda? A musical.
“The Wings of Songs,” a state-sponsored musical film, presents an alternate, feel-good reality in which Uyghur Muslims and other minorities are singing and dancing happily in colorful dress, a flashy take on a tired Chinese stereotype about the region’s minorities.
The project is the latest addition to China’s propaganda campaign to defend its policies in the region, where the authorities maintain tight control using a network of surveillance cameras and police posts, and have detained many Uyghurs and other Muslims in mass internment camps and prisons.
Quotable: Anne-Marie Brady, a professor of Chinese politics at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, called the international campaign the biggest she had seen on a single topic. “It’s shrill and dogmatic, it’s increasingly aggressive,” she said in an email to The Times. “And it will keep going, whether it is effective or not.”
Details: The musical takes its narrative of peaceful interethnic harmony to a cringe-inducing level. It tells the story of three young men — a Uyghur, a Kazakh and a Han Chinese — who come together to pursue their musical dreams. There are no markers of their religions, like headscarves.
THE LATEST NEWS
In Israel’s new post-pandemic era, a Green Pass allows the vaccinated to go to concerts, restaurants and sporting events. But the experiment leaves many questions unanswered, writes our correspondent, who is living through it.
ARTS AND IDEAS
The vital vaccine selfie
The vaccine selfie has gone viral, writes Vanessa Friedman, The Times’s chief fashion critic. This is an edited excerpt.
Log in to any social platform, and the picture — a smiling individual, one sleeve rolled up practically to the collarbone, with a medical worker poised to jab a needle into their upper arm — is almost impossible to miss.
“I started seeing vaccine selfies almost as soon as the vaccines were available,” said David Broniatowski, an associate professor at George Washington University. “It was an almost immediate meme.”
It seems only to be picking up steam. For as long as there have been inoculations, there have been conscious efforts by public health authorities to promote them.
One of the most famous is a 1956 shot of Elvis Presley, then only 21, looking dreamy with his sweater pulled up to get his polio jab. The year before that, a lineup of French models were caught poised to receive their smallpox vaccine, grinning and flashing a bit of shoulder.
At a time when social networks have become one of our primary means of communication, the images are important, not just to get the news out but also to normalize the experience and expand it — to effectively pay it forward.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
The secret ingredient in this creamy pasta is miso.
What to Listen to
C. Tangana was a provocative star of trap music. Now, after reinventing himself as a scion of Spanish pop, his songs are played in supermarkets and praised by 50- and 60-somethings on YouTube.
What to Watch
The Korean star Yuh-Jung Youn has had a thriving career for five decades. Now, at 73, she’s up for an Oscar for her role in “Minari.” She spoke with The Times about her career.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Pan-fry (five letters).
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Melina
P.S. The Times named Jim Dao, an editor who has worked in a wide range of roles at the paper since 1992, as its new metropolitan editor.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the Myanmar military’s brutal practices.
Sanam Yar contributed. You can reach Melina and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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