8 BERLIN (AP) — Austria's lockdown has officially been extended until Dec. 11 as planned amid signs that the measures are helping to bring down a sky-high coronavirus infection rate. A parliamentary committee signed off Tuesday on the extension of the country's fourth national lockdown of the pandemic, which started on Nov. 22, the Austria Press Agency reported. That was necessary because some lockdown measures can only be ordered for 10 days at a time. There is one significant change: essential shops that so far were allowed to open until 9 p.m. will have to close by 7 p.m. starting Thursday. And the rules now allow explicitly for the sale of Christmas trees. The government imposed lockdown as COVID-19 deaths rose and hospitals in hard-hit regions warned that intensive care units were reaching capacity. Austria also pledged to be the first European country to mandate vaccines beginning Feb. 1. Under the lockdown, … [Read more...] about Austrian lockdown extended through Dec 11 as planned
As hundreds more migrants gather in sub-zero conditions at the Belarus border, ready to enter Poland and the European Union, Russia has sought to politically distance itself from what is quickly escalating into a geopolitical disaster—even as it sends paratroopers to the Belarus border as a small contingent of British “military engineers” have been deployed to help the Poles. Speaking to reporters Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov walked back a threat made by Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko, who warned a day before that he could cut off the supply of Russian natural gas into Europe. “This is a statement by the president of Belarus,” Peskov said of the statement. “I want to remind you of President Putin’s statement that Russia has always fulfilled its contract obligations… Belarus is our ally, but it is a sovereign state.” Russia is a major supplier of natural gas to Europe through a series of lucrative deals Moscow surely does not want to give up. “Russia’s … [Read more...] about Not So Fast, Putin Jr.: Russia Undermines Belarus Dictator’s Threat to Cut Off Europe’s Gas Supply
ERBIL, Iraq — In the hostile world of the video game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG, to survive you have to parachute onto a remote island and fight to be the last one standing. Bria Ali was a top player, so good that she was able to sell her account with its accumulated virtual weapons for $8,000. Then she used the money to try to pull off another survival act: helping her family get out of Iraq. Ms. Ali and her family are some of the thousands of Iraqi migrants making desperate and at times dangerous attempts to flee Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region. As in the rest of Iraq, despair over the lack of jobs and widespread corruption, combined with efforts by Belarus to drive migrants across its borders, has encouraged a surge of Iraqis to flee for Eastern Europe in recent months. The idea was to travel to Belarus in Eastern Europe and from there make their way to Germany. But the family’s hopes came crashing down at the Warsaw airport three weeks ago when Ms. Ali, … [Read more...] about They Twice Gave Up Everything to Flee Iraq. They Keep Getting Sent Back.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Magdalena Andersson, who last week was Sweden’s first female prime minister for a few hours before resigning because a budget defeat made a coalition partner quit, was on elected again on Monday as the Nordic nation's head of government. In a 101 -173 vote with 75 abstentions, the 349-seat Riksdag elected Andersson, leader of the Social Democrats, as prime minister. She will form a one-party, minority government. Her Cabinet is expected to be named Tuesday. Formally, she will be installed following an audience with King Carl XVI Gustav, Sweden's figurehead monarch. Andersson served as prime minister for seven hours before stepping down last week after the Greens left her two-party coalition. Their move followed the rejection of her government’s budget proposal in favor of one presented by opposition parties including the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats, who are rooted in a neo-Nazi movement. Under the Swedish Constitution, prime ministers can be … [Read more...] about On 2nd try, Swedes elect 1st female prime minister Andersson
Each week in Bookends, two writers take on questions about the world of books. This week, Pankaj Mishra and Daniel Mendelsohn discuss how a book like Harold Bloom’s “Western Canon,” published 20 years ago, would be received today. By Pankaj Mishra Bloom’s complaints about the “Balkanization of literary studies” by the “academic rabble” make a book like his seem very quaint. In a 1915 sketch, the critic Randolph Bourne satirized the Ivy League professor who lives in his wood-paneled study the “literary life, grave, respected and serene,” and regards “modern ideas a futile Babel.” Bourne’s target was John Erskine, later the founder of the “Great Books” curriculum at Columbia, whom he described as a “mournful relic of irrevocable days.” Recoiling from oppressively Anglophile pedagogues, Bourne envisaged a “transnational America” that acknowledged its distinctive ethnic and cultural pluralism. Three years later, Bourne was dead, and the United States emerged from the … [Read more...] about How Would a Book Like Harold Bloom’s ‘Western Canon’ Be Received Today?