China eases ‘zero Covid’ restrictions
The Chinese government announced a rollback of the country’s strict coronavirus restrictions, a major pivot from a policy on which President Xi Jinping had staked his legitimacy.
The move is an implicit concession to public discontent after mass street protests against the Covid restrictions gripped China. Protesters were livid over lockdowns that confined hundreds of millions of people in their homes for weeks and dragged down the economy. They also disliked the seemingly arbitrary way in which the restrictions were enforced.
The Chinese Communist Party appears to be trying a face-saving retreat without acknowledging that widespread opposition forced Xi’s hand. The rollback could assuage protesters, but China is expected to confront a surge of infections as people resume normal life. Experts have warned that China needs to step up its pace of vaccinations, especially for older adults.
Data: Just two-thirds of people ages 80 and older are vaccinated, compared with 90 percent of the population overall, and only 40 percent have received a booster dose.
Changes: P.C.R. tests and health codes will no longer be checked for travel between regions. People who have mild Covid will be allowed to isolate at home. The government can still impose lockdowns, but to buildings, floors or apartments instead of neighborhoods, districts or cities. Those lockdowns would also be lifted more quickly.
Quotable: “Our voices are finally heard. We workers no longer have to be locked up, starved and suppressed,” said one migrant worker, who had protested against a lockdown last month at an iPhone manufacturing complex.
Political leaders from across the spectrum said Castillo’s move was a coup attempt, and Congress quickly voted to impeach and remove him from office.
Peru’s armed forces and the police released a joint statement suggesting that they would not support him, and many members of his administration resigned after his announcement. But he has still plunged Peru’s fragile democracy into its biggest political crisis in years.
Context: Castillo’s tenure has been plagued by high-level scandals, criminal investigations and cabinet turnover. He has churned through more than 80 ministers and survived two previous impeachment attempts.
History: Corruption is so rife in Peruvian politics that the country has had five presidents since 2016. Castillo — a former farmer, schoolteacher and union activist with no governing experience — won the presidential election over Keiko Fujimori, a right-wing politician, by campaigning to support poor Peruvians.
Dozens arrested in German insurrection plot
In early morning raids across Germany, 3,000 police and special forces members arrested 25 suspected supporters of a domestic terrorist organization that prosecutors said planned to topple the German government and install a prince as the new head of state.
The heavily armed group’s plans included an attack on the Reichstag, the German parliament building. Members of the group had organized arms training and formed a shadow government to install if their plans were to succeed, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said that they were investigating a total of 52 suspects and had detained the prince, a former member of Parliament and former German soldiers.
Motive: The group, which was formed in the past year, believed that members of a “deep state” controlled Germany and needed to be overthrown, according to prosecutors.
Context: Germany’s intelligence services have said for years that the greatest threat to the country comes from far-right, domestic extremist groups. In 2020, far-right supporters, QAnon backers and anti-vaccine activists tried to storm the Reichstag, and the police say they have investigated several smaller possible plots against state leaders.
Related: The Times podcast “Day X,” from 2021, examined the German far right.
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An egg with ennui finds an audience
Gudetama is a genderless, cartoon egg with a sad face and a shiny yellow butt; a burnout, a slacker, a malingerer, crushed under the weight of their own melancholy.
Despite, or because of, Gudetama’s utter lack of initiative, the character rocketed to international fame after Sanrio introduced them in 2013, not long after Hello Kitty, the company’s biggest star, began to underperform. Sanrio held a contest to develop new food characters strategically, and although Gudetama didn’t win, they became a fan favorite.
While Gudetama’s cute antiproductivity and anticapitalist vibes have helped the marketing of products like plush toys, Happy Meals, ramen and bedsheets, adventure is a harder sell. How can you go on an adventure when you never take action?
Netflix solved that problem for a new animated and live-action series by pairing the indolent egg with a relentless chick on a journey to find its mother. The show “offers delightful moments,” our critic writes, especially “in the darker, more absurd Gudetama-focused vignettes.”
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