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Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

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Hello. They covered catastrophic flooding in China, governments’ shift to a new pandemic normal and protests over water shortages in Iran.

At least 25 people have died in and around Zhengzhou, a city of five million people and the capital of Henan province, when the heaviest rains on record caused severe flooding. Twelve of the victims were stuck in a subway train when the waters rose.

The terror began Tuesday night when floodwaters pierced a retaining wall near an entrance to metro line 5, which loops around the city center. Water poured into the system between two stations, flooding the train.

Trapped passengers published videos as the disaster unfolded. Other photographs and videos, some of which were later deleted by censors, showed several lifeless bodies on a metro platform.

Passengers called relatives or emergency services while waiting to be rescued from the flood waters up to their chests. After two hours, survivors said, it became difficult to breathe the remaining congested air.

The answer: Chinese leader Xi Jinping ordered authorities to prioritize people’s safety and called the flooding very serious. Although flooding is common in China, researchers attributed the extreme weather conditions sweeping the planet to the consequences of climate change.

In other climate news: Smoke from forest fires from the western United States and Canada has spread to the east coast and triggered health alerts from Toronto to Philadelphia. A state of emergency has been declared in the Canadian province of British Columbia after evacuation orders in the event of a forest fire.


Governments in Asia, Europe and the Americas are encouraging people to resume their daily rhythm and accept that continued coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions are a necessary part of the recovery. More and more, the message is this: we must learn to live with the virus.

England has lifted almost all virus restrictions. Germany allows vaccinated people to travel without quarantine. Mask warrants have disappeared in Italy. And shopping malls remain open in Singapore.

These governments, and others, are encouraging citizens to change their perspective on the pandemic and focus on preventing serious illness and death rather than infections, which are more difficult to avoid. But some scientists warn the movements may be premature, not least because they don’t fully understand the effect of the variants or the long Covid.

Quote: You have to tell people: were going to have a lot of cases, said Dale Fisher, who heads the infection prevention and control committee at Singapore’s health ministry. And that’s part of the plan that we have to drop.

Here are the latest pandemic updates and maps.

In other developments:

  • Half of Australia is on lockdown because the Delta variant is causing epidemics in three states.

  • A South African factory will take care of the final stages of manufacturing Pfizer shot which will go exclusively to countries on the continent.

  • Leading political prisoners in Myanmar are dying from Covid, unable to access oxygen or other life-saving care.

  • Life expectancy fell 2.9 years for black Americans and three years for Hispanics in 2020, a more staggering drop than for whites.


For the past week, demonstrators have taken to the streets of Khuzestan province, in southwestern Iran, shouting I’m thirsty! A prolonged drought exacerbated by climate change and government mismanagement has turned the water crisis into an incubator of unrest.

Several people have died in clashes with security forces, just weeks before a new ultra-conservative president took office. The government has known for months that Iran faces the driest summer in 50 years, but has not prepared.

The context: The unrest in Khuzestan, home to an often marginalized Arab population, has only added to the whirlwind of challenges. A fifth wave of coronavirus is sweeping the country and US sanctions are straining the economy. Nuclear deal bailout talks have also stalled.

A morning reading

Mormon women speak out against the sacred itchy, constricting, church-designed undergarments they are supposed to wear. We really want butter soft fabric, wrote a church member in an Instagram post that drew thousands of comments from women expressing their frustration.

In prominent institutions like the New York Philharmonic, Asians now make up a third of this orchestra, although they make up about 6% of the American population. Asian artists often win first prizes in competitions.

But their success can mask the routine racism and discrimination they face. And many stereotypes target the music itself.

Asian artists often receive comments that their performances are soulless and mechanical. They are treated like strangers in a world whose main lineage comes from Europe. You are considered an automaton, said Akiko Tarumoto, assistant principal violin of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, who is of Japanese descent.

Some musicians claim that cultural institutions often exclude Asians from discussions about bringing greater diversity to classical music, as they are assumed to be adequately represented.

There were, however, some signs of progress. The San Francisco Opera next month will welcome Eun Sun Kim, a South Korean conductor, as musical director, the first woman to hold such a position in a major American opera company.

On the surface, Asians are accepted in these areas of orchestras, ensembles and as soloists, said David Kim, violist at the San Francisco Symphony. But are we really accepted?

What to cook

This ice cream is just four ripe, mixed and frozen bananas.

What to watch

The Daily Show turns 25 this Thursday. The creators of the short story parody Comedy Central discuss the show’s early years.

What to listen to

Pauline Viardot, born 200 years ago, was a famous opera singer and songwriter whose music has only now emerged from obscurity. Check out his music here.

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