Israel reopens after coronavirus 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. Some 55 percent of the population has received one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and more than 41 percent has gotten two doses.
Under Israel’s “Back to Life” program, restaurants have reopened with social distancing and restrictions on occupancy. Indoor seating is available only to Green Pass holders — people over 16 who are fully vaccinated.
After weeks of tight restrictions on entry to the country, all citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to return to Israel, with a cap on numbers that will increase over the week from 1,000 to 3,000 people per day.
Explosive revelations in Oprah’s interview with Meghan and Harry
In one of the most anticipated interviews in recent times, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry presented their side of a sensational royal rupture to Oprah Winfrey. The interview, which aired on Sunday night on CBS in the U.S., will be screen on ITV in Britain on Monday.
A year after their fairy-tale wedding, Meghan said, her life as a member of the British royal family had become so emotionally unbearable that she contemplated suicide. “I was ashamed to have to admit it to Harry,” Meghan said of her suicidal thoughts. “I knew that if I didn’t say it, I would do it. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”
Among the disclosures:
At least 20 dead in Equatorial Guinea blast
A series of explosions attributed to mishandled explosives at a military base rocked the city of Bata in the central African nation of Equatorial Guinea on Sunday, killing at least 20 people and injuring more than 500, the authorities said.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo said that fires on farms next to military barracks had detonated dynamite and other munitions stored there. He blamed the “negligence and carelessness” of the unit in charge of the explosives for the disaster. The country’s ministry of health and social welfare declared a health emergency and said many were still missing under the rubble.
Footage: Video from the city captured scenes of people digging for victims, as thick smoke wafted over the debris-strewn landscape. Others fled through the streets, some with suitcases and children in hand underneath a darkened sky.
If you have some time, this is worth it
A year without travel
Across the globe, the pandemic closed borders, halted air travel and emptied destinations of tourists. Parisian restaurants pivoted from crème fraîche to healthy takeout, while Singapore’s iconic Changi airport, above, decided to focus on its only market: Singapore residents. Hong Kongers, too, have become tourists in their own backyards. We look at how six places dependent on tourism have adapted.
Though the absence of tourists saw animals such as sea turtles and elephants returning to places from which they had long since disappeared, the loss of tourism revenue led to cuts to conservation budgets, resulting in increased poaching and illegal fishing in some areas.
Here’s what else is happening
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.
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.
“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.
Kosovo: Women are winning greater political representation in Kosovo, raising hopes of more equality in a country still living with the scars of the war against Serbian rule in the 1990s. Final results of a Feb. 14 election showed that women had won more seats in Parliament than ever before — nearly 40 percent of the total.
Snapshot: Above, a demonstration in Bern, Switzerland, on Sunday, shortly after the country approved an initiative to ban full facial coverings in public places, prohibiting the veils worn by some Muslim women. Switzerland’s Central Council of Muslims called the result “a dark day” for Muslims.
Floating boat: A viral image of an apparently flying vessel, suspended above the horizon off England’s southwestern coast, is an example of a highly unusual optical illusion that tricks both cameras and the human eye.
What we’re listening to: The clinks and crackles of music produced by instruments made of ice, showcased in this National Geographic article.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: This fragrant Thai risotto with squash and green beans gets its punch from red or green curry paste.
Move: Struggling to muster the motivation to work out? These five routines can be completed in under 10 minutes.
Play: Role-playing games, like Dungeons & Dragons, encourage players to create a story collaboratively. Here’s how to play the games online.
Start your week with your best foot forward. At Home has our full collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do indoors.
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. 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.
Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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