Your Monday Briefing: Global Covid cases reach record highs


We’re overlaying the fast world unfold of the Omicron variant and the E.U.’s makes an attempt to grapple with an intolerant chief.

Global coronavirus cases at the moment are surging to ranges far larger than at any earlier level of the pandemic — with a mean of almost 1.5 million new cases day-after-day — however current information present some encouraging information.

People contaminated with the Omicron variant, which seems to have fueled the current improve, are far much less prone to be hospitalized than these contaminated with the Delta variant, a British examine decided. And for individuals who have been vaccinated, hospitalization with Omicron is even much less doubtless. Boosters are particularly efficient.

With that information in thoughts — and in an effort to minimize the load on hospitals with out reinstating lockdowns — governments at the moment are redoubling their concentrate on vaccinations and boosters, that are more and more seen because the world’s ticket to “living with Covid.”

What’s subsequent: In the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s high infectious illness skilled, stated that hospitalizations have been a extra vital indicator than reported cases of the severity of the Omicron wave.

With the closure of two information shops in Hong Kong in only a few days, the Chinese authorities has successfully ushered within the demise of unbiased media in a metropolis that after boasted a few of the freest and most aggressive information media in Asia.

The two shops, Stand News and Citizen News, have been as soon as a part of a flourishing media that arose overlaying pro-democracy protest actions in Hong Kong. When the motion was stamped out by the brand new safety regulation, the shops turned their focus to the courtroom cases towards protesters and opposition politicians.

But such protection has turn out to be dangerous. Jimmy Lai, who led the aggressively unbiased tabloid Apple Daily, was arrested in 2020 underneath a nationwide safety regulation aimed toward quashing dissent. Last week, seven individuals linked to Stand News have been arrested after a whole bunch of police raided its workplaces.

Traditional information media has grown more and more cautious. Radio Television Hong Kong, a public broadcaster that has lengthy been thought-about considered one of Hong Kong’s most dependable information suppliers, has been remolded into one thing that critics say extra carefully resembles state media. When Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis star, accused a former senior Communist Party official of sexual assault final 12 months, mainstream shops hardly lined it.

What’s subsequent: The silencing of unbiased shops has expanded the affect of Beijing’s publications, that are monitored for clues as to what the safety providers would possibly do. When their assaults intensify, official actions typically comply with.

Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, proudly refers to his nation as an “illiberal state.” Yet he has lengthy been handled as simply one other chief by the European Union, which holds itself up as a mannequin of human rights and the rule of regulation.

But as Orban has continued to consolidate energy and weaken his nation’s democratic establishments, the bloc is making an attempt to rein him in. Early this 12 months, the European Court of Justice will situation a call on whether or not the union has the authority to make its funds to member states conditional on assembly the bloc’s core values. Doing so could block Hungary from billions of euros.

Interviews with present and former officers present how sentiments towards Orban have developed from indulgence to recognition that he has turn out to be a severe inside menace.

Among those that had protected Orban was Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany on the time. German firms had main investments in Hungary, and Merkel noticed Orban as a political ally in Brussels.

Quotable: A former aide on the European Council, which consists of the leaders of the E.U. states, stated that the council was “like a club, where Viktor is just one of them.” He added that the leaders “prefer not to deal with hot potatoes or each other’s business when they can avoid it.”

American ally: Donald Trump endorsed Orban for re-election. Orban was an early supporter of Trump, endorsing him in the summertime of 2016 and once more in 2020.

Every 12 months, 1000’s of individuals collect at a temple complicated in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, in honor of Shiva, considered one of Hinduism’s most revered gods. Here’s a visible exploration.

Lives Lived: Richard Leakey, a Kenyan paleoanthropologist and fossil hunter whose discoveries of historic human skulls and skeletons helped cement Africa’s place because the cradle of humanity, died at 77.

Hades is the primary online game in historical past to win a Hugo Award, the prize for science fiction and fantasy that has traditionally honored books, graphic novels and different written works.

The sport, from the developer Supergiant Games, follows the story of Zagreus — son of the sport’s eponymous god — as he tries to flee the underworld. Along the way in which, he fights all types of hellish creatures and meets a wide selection of characters, together with the gods up on Olympus. He additionally uncovers household secrets and techniques and beneficial properties perspective on why his dad has made seemingly unsavory selections.

The Hugo Awards’ inclusion of video video games, which organizers are contemplating making everlasting, speaks to how far the medium has come. In the early days of Pong within the Nineteen Seventies or the unique Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda within the Nineteen Eighties, expertise restricted how a lot textual content a sport might embrace. Today, a sport’s storytelling could be its major promoting level, whether or not it’s a high-budget science-fiction epic, just like the Mass Effect trilogy, or an indie sport made by a small workforce, like Celeste.

For extra to play, listed here are the video video games that received our colleagues by means of 2021.