The pope visits Mosul, Iraq’s wounded heart
In an extraordinary moment on the last full day of the first papal trip to Iraq, Francis went to Mosul, which was seized by the Islamic State seven years ago and declared the capital of its caliphate. The pope directly addressed the suffering, persecution and sectarian conflict that have torn the nation apart.
“The real identity of this city is that of harmonious coexistence between people of different backgrounds and cultures,” Francis said in a public square surrounded by the ruins of four Christian churches. Posters that read “Mosul Welcomes You” covered walls pockmarked with bullet holes.
The pope spoke of “our conviction that fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than death, that peace more powerful than war.” “This conviction speaks with greater eloquence than the passing voices of hatred and violence,” he continued, “and it can never be silenced by the blood spilled by those who pervert the name of God to pursue paths of destruction.”
The visit, which began on Friday, is Francis’s first trip since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The pope has sought to protect an ancient but battered Christian community and build relations with the Muslim world. On Saturday, he met with the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the revered Shiite cleric. We captured key moments of the trip in these images.
Coronavirus fears: Infection rates have been rising in Iraq, where the government has imposed a curfew and other measures. However, few Iraqis are taking precautions, and masks were often missing among the large crowds that Francis drew, as at a stadium in the northern city of Erbil. The 84-year-old pope and his entourage have been vaccinated against Covid-19, but Iraq’s vaccination campaign began only last week.
Israel reopens after Covid-19 vaccinations
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enjoyed a cappuccino and cake on the terrace of a Jerusalem cafe on Sunday to signal the broadest reopening of Israel’s economy since the first coronavirus lockdown began a year ago.
Under Israel’s “Back to Life” program, restaurants still have restrictions on occupancy and social distancing, and indoor seating is available only to Green Pass holders — people over 16 who are fully vaccinated.
Israel has outpaced the rest of the world in vaccinations, with 55 percent of the population having received one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and more than 41 percent having gotten two doses.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
As countries jostle to secure enough vaccine doses to end the Covid-19 pandemic, a second scramble is unfolding for syringes. A manufacturer in India sees a big opportunity.
The U.S. Senate passed its version of the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill on Saturday. The measure now goes back to the House of Representatives, which must approve the Senate’s changes before it can go to President Biden’s desk.
Meghan, Harry and Oprah
When Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, present their side of a sensational royal rupture to Oprah Winfrey, it is sure to be one of the most anticipated, and most heavily spun, television interviews in recent memory.
Was Meghan the victim of a cold, unwelcoming family that isolated her after she married Harry and is now defaming her? Or was she a Hollywood diva who mistreated her staff?
The two-hour interview will be broadcast by CBS in the U.S. on Sunday evening and on ITV in Britain on Monday. Here’s what you need to know about Meghan, Harry and Oprah. We will have live coverage of the interview, so check back on our home page.
If you have 20 minutes, this is worth it
A year without tourists
China overtook New Zealand as Australia’s largest source of foreign tourists in 2017. But when Australia banned flights from China last year on Feb. 1, then barred foreign travel in March, it was as if someone had shut off the tap in Apollo Bay, above, a small beach town along the Great Ocean Road in Australia’s southeast.
Across the globe, the pandemic closed borders, halted air travel and emptied destinations of tourists. We look at how six places dependent on tourism, like Apollo Bay, have adapted.
Here’s what else is happening
Microsoft hack: The company said businesses and government agencies in the U.S. that use a Microsoft email service had been compromised in an aggressive hacking campaign probably sponsored by the Chinese government. The number of victims is estimated to be in the tens of thousands and could rise.
Philippines rights: Karapatan, a left-leaning human rights organization, accused the country’s security forces of killing nine activists in coordinated raids on their homes and offices in four provinces.
“Nomadland” director: Days after Chloé Zhao won a Golden Globe for the acclaimed film, she faced a backlash in China over her past remarks about the country, where she was born. References to the film’s scheduled April 23 release in China were removed from prominent movie websites.
Tehran detention: House arrest orders have been lifted for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman detained in Tehran since 2016, but she faces new charges and her return to London remains uncertain.
Snapshot: Above, the Dalai Lama receiving his first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine on Saturday in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala. The 85-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader used the moment to encourage people to take the vaccine, saying it would prevent “some serious problem.”
What we’re reading: This National Geographic article about people who play music with instruments made of ice. Scroll down for the video, so you can hear ice music’s crisp sound.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Lightly sweet and decidedly filling, these breakfast bars with oats and coconut are perfect for a breakfast on the run or an afternoon nibble.
Listen: These podcasts are for people who know that they should be thinking more about their personal finances but aren’t even sure what the right questions are.
Do: Role-playing games, like Dungeons & Dragons, encourage players to create a story collaboratively as they play. Here’s how to play the games online.
Start off your week on the right foot with our At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.
And now for the Back Story on …
Finding refuge in Central Park
When the coronavirus pandemic engulfed New York, the park offered a vision of normal life to the book critic Michiko Kakutani, who wandered it daily. She wrote about the renewed love affair of New Yorkers with Central Park. Here’s an excerpt.
Central Park has long provided a refuge from the anxieties and stresses of daily life, perhaps never more so than during the coronavirus siege and four long years of increasingly toxic politics. New Yorkers who visited the park every day, as well as those who had long taken it for granted, felt a renewed love for this amazing rectangle of green in the heart of the big city.
In the 21st century, with some 40 million visitors a year, Central Park had become the third-most-popular tourist attraction in the world, and at the start of the pandemic, when out-of-towners departed the city, New Yorkers fortunate enough to live within walking distance from it suddenly felt like they had this Edenic retreat to themselves.
Even when people started using the subway again to travel between the boroughs, Central Park continued to feel like a neighborhood park. Unable to go to their offices or the gym, people started using the Sheep Meadow and the Great Lawn as their all-purpose backyards.
Musicians in the park — like the guitar player at Bethesda Terrace who took requests — played a lot of classics like “What a Wonderful World” and “Yesterday” that seemed to take on a new poignancy during Covid.
During the pandemic, just being in vague proximity with other people in Central Park gave us a sense of community — the sense that we were all in this together, and that together, we would somehow persevere.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Melissa Clark for the recipe. To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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