Your Friday Briefing – The New York Times
We cover the swearing-in of the new Iranian president, Covid recall plans in Europe, and a US push for electric cars.
The new Iranian president is sworn in
Ebrahim Raisi, an extremely conservative cleric, was sworn in on Thursday, bringing to power a close ally of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
He takes up his duties at a turbulent time. Iran’s economic weakness, made worse by the coronavirus pandemic, a water shortage and the severely damaging effects of US sanctions, is seen as its most immediate problem.
Tensions are also high with Israel. Israeli officials accused Iran of carrying out a deadly drone attack last week on an oil tanker in the Indian Ocean run by an Israeli company. Israel may soon respond to this attack.
Who is Raïssi? Prior to his election, Raisi, 60, was the head of the Iranian justice system. He has spent much of his career as a prosecutor and is on a US sanctions list because of his human rights record.
France, Germany stick to their vaccine recall plan
France and Germany will administer booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines to elderly and vulnerable people in the coming months, despite a call from the World Health Organization for a freeze of these injections in order to send doses to the poorest countries.
President Emmanuel Macron said France would start offering a third chance to people from September, especially the “most vulnerable and the oldest”. German officials have made similar statements, saying they need to take care of their own residents while donating millions of doses.
The announcements came just a day after the WHO called for a moratorium on booster injections so that supplies can be focused on countries that have yet to immunize at least 10 percent of their populations. More than 80% of vaccines administered worldwide have been used in richer countries, according to WHO
United States to phase out gasoline-powered cars
President Biden announced a plan that would quickly shift Americans from gasoline-powered cars to electric vehicles over the next decade.
The plan, which calls for tighter auto pollution rules and increases mileage standards, sets a goal that half of all vehicles sold in the United States will be electric by 2030. The three largest automakers have joined. to plan on condition that Congress passes an infrastructure bill. which includes the financing of a national network of charging stations for electric vehicles.
Fight against climate change: Biden has pledged to reduce global warming emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by the end of this decade. But this promise will be impossible to keep without a radical abandonment of gasoline cars and trucks.
China Angle: Biden has raised concerns that the United States is lagging behind China in the manufacture of electric vehicles. He believes that a retooled auto and battery industry can create jobs and boost US market power.
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At the Olympic games
Since coming to power in 2012, President Xi Jinping has cracked down on freedoms on the Chinese mainland and brutally shut down pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Now, many Taiwanese are worried: are they next?
ARTS AND IDEAS
The empty Olympics
One of the first things you’ll notice at the Tokyo Games: empty stadiums.
Organizers have banned spectators from all Tokyo venues to avoid Covid-19 outbreaks. “For athletes who once imagined themselves playing for hordes of spirited fans, the hushed vibe was a disappointment,” Andrew Keh wrote in The Times.
Grunts echo in the empty arenas; the hum of the cicadas serves as a soundtrack for the outdoor competitions. During a boxing match, Keh notes, the sounds of punches were accompanied by a noisy hallway door. “The atmosphere is not really there,” Briton Caroline Dubois, one of the boxers, later said.
But not everyone misses the roar of the crowd. For some lesser-known Olympic sports, like taekwondo and shooting, empty seats are the norm, as Joshua Robinson and Andrew Beaton write in the Wall Street Journal. “If there was a full stadium,” said Japanese archer Takaharu Furukawa, “I would be more nervous and make a mistake.”
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