Your Monday briefing: Ukraine agrees to talks
Good morning. We are covering diplomacy and currency in Ukraine, research into the origins of the pandemic and another North Korean missile test.
Ukraine agrees to Russian talks
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to “unconditionally” talks on the Belarusian border with Russia. Just before the announcement, President Vladimir Putin issued a new threat to the West, asking the Russian military to put its nuclear forces on alert.
Western powers are uniting around Ukraine. The European Union said it would close its airspace to Russian planes and provide funding for arms donations. Turkish officials, in a reversal, dubbed the invasion a “war”. Thousands of people across Europe as well as Russia demanded an end to the invasion.
Fighting continues in Ukraine. Citizens have taken up arms: baristas, snowboarders, lawyers. On the Eastern Front, houses have been destroyed. WHO says Ukrainian hospitals are running out of oxygen.
The Ukrainian military said it was targeting Russian supply lines fighting to take control of Kyiv and Kharkiv, although satellite images show a large unit of the Russian military closing in on the capital. The Russian army has begun adopting a siege strategy around Chernihiv, northeast of Kyiv, in an ominous forecast of a strategy that would increase civilian casualties.
Resources: Here are live updates, attack maps and crisis photos.
Banking: As Russia’s economy struggles, the US and major allies announced plans to remove some Russian banks from the global financial transaction system SWIFT. British oil company BP is planning to “exit” from its nearly 20 percent stake in Russian state-controlled oil company Rosneft.
Putin: The Russian president faces personal sanctions, but most of his wealth appears to be hidden. They seem to have bypassed advisers, a risky move: authoritarian leaders rely on elite support.
Zelensky: Here’s how he pitted Ukrainians and the world against Putin.
China: Online opinion is mostly pro-war. But China, which sees itself as a defender of sovereign liberties, is in an awkward position, potentially worsening relations between Xi Jinping and Putin.
A market origin, not a lab leak
Two extensive new studies point to a market in Wuhan, China, as the birthplace of the coronavirus pandemic.
Scientists concluded that at the end of 2019, live mammals sold at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market were highly likely to contain the coronavirus. He suggested that the virus spread twice to people who worked or shopped there, and found no support for this. The so-called laboratory leakage principle.
The pair of studies, released Saturday, have not yet been published in a scientific journal that would require peer review.
Some outside scientists who have been hesitant to support the market origin hypothesis have said they remain unconvinced. There is no direct evidence that animals in the market were infected with the coronavirus, and there was no wildlife left until Chinese researchers collected genetic samples in early 2020.
description: Case data from social media app Weibo from December 2019 to February 2020 pointed to the origin of a market for the coronavirus, after which the virus spread to surrounding areas. The researchers ran tests that showed it was highly unlikely that the pattern could have been produced by chance.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
North Korea launched missile
South Korea’s military said that at 7:52 a.m. on Sunday, North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward the sea from its east coast. Flight data suggested that the missile was less powerful than the previous test conducted four weeks earlier.
After conducting seven missile tests in January, more than in 2021, the North paused this month, while China, its neighbors and allies, hosted the Winter Olympics.
Now, with the Games over and the Ukraine crisis escalating, North Korea may resume testing to gain greater diplomatic advantage with Washington. On Saturday, it made its first official comment on the Ukrainian war, blaming the US for “hypersensitivity and arbitrariness”.
South Korea: Many in the country will see the US response to the Russian invasion as a test of its dependence on a military ally. The failure of the US leadership could increase public support for South Korea to possess its nuclear weapons. The missile test took place on March 9, a few weeks before the country’s presidential election.
Brazil, known for its beach bodies, is facing rising obesity rates. The country has enacted new laws that ensure safety for overweight people, including having large seats and a preference in certain public places such as banks.
Saturday Profile: Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who has won two Oscars, is positioned to convey the mundane in depth.
Live: India’s “Disco King” Bappi Lahiri set the pop craze with some of the country’s biggest hits of all time such as “I’m a Disco Dancer”. He died in 69.
art and ideas
how much does that cost?
The Internet was to bring transparency in prices, empowering online shoppers to find the best deals.
Instead, buyers are not looking at what things are really worth. Retailers are taking the lens off the price, hanging on to convenience and ease of use like other carrots. And buyers, overwhelmed with options, are finding it difficult to keep track.
Now the price of household goods fluctuates, almost like cryptocurrencies or ride-hailing services. Pandemic supply chain shocks add to the ambiguity. Subscription services can complicate the math. And as corporations raise prices — partly because of inflation — consumers are spending even more.
Amazon’s algorithms also keep things in swing. Using dynamic pricing, the tech giant changes prices millions of times a day to keep up with market conditions and compete with other sellers. This forces consumers to track price fluctuations and not the actual cost.
play, watch, eat
what to cook
That’s all for today’s briefing. see you next time. — Amelia
PS Amanda Morris, The Times’ inaugural Disability Reporting Fellow, wrote of how she is trying to “change the way the news media reports and writes about people with disabilities.”
The latest episode of “The Daily” is on Ukraine.
You can reach out to Amelia and the team [email protected],
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