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We’re covering the frosty reception for Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, the sentencing for the Christchurch mosques massacre and a Nigerian ballet school suddenly in the spotlight.
A cool reception for Russia’s vaccine
Named to evoke 20th-century Soviet space triumph, Sputnik V was supposed to end the pandemic. The Russian vaccine for the novel coronavirus, officially approved this month, was hailed by President Vladimir Putin as “this first, very important step for our country, and generally for the whole world.”
But weeks later, Russian health officials have found themselves on the defensive. The West has criticized their efforts, and just 24 percent of Russian doctors say they will give the vaccine to patients, according to one survey.
Though Russia’s minister of health, Mikhail Murashko, has dismissed these concerns as foreign jealousy, experts point to a lack of late-stage, large, randomized control trials, ordinarily critical in establishing a vaccine’s safety and effectiveness. Eight vaccines are further along than Russia’s in late-stage trials, including ones produced in the United States, Britain and China.
International race: The U.S. has poured billions of dollars into a vaccine effort called Operation Warp Speed. But China’s and Russia’s fast-tracked vaccine approvals have led President Trump to, without evidence, accuse the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of slow-walking its trials for political reasons.
In other developments:
Protests persist against Belarus’s leader
After a week of rallies and publicity stunts in support President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Minsk on Sunday to show their determination to force him out of office. Some estimates put the number of demonstrators at well over 100,000.
Although Mr. Lukashenko declared a landslide victory and 80 percent of the vote in the Aug. 9 election, protesters and international bodies, including the European Union, have alleged electoral fraud. The main opposition candidate, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, also declared victory and fled to neighboring Lithuania out of fear for her safety.
Though Mr. Lukashenko has promised to crush these protests with an iron fist, no arrests or clashes were reported on Sunday, despite the presence of riot police vans parked near the demonstrations.
Closer look: Many at the protest were wrapped in Belarus’s traditional white and red flag, which became an opposition symbol after Mr. Lukashenko replaced it with a more Soviet-looking emblem soon after coming to power.
New Zealand gunman to face victims at sentencing
The sentencing hearing for Brenton Tarrant, the Australian former fitness instructor who killed 51 people and wounded 40 last year at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, will begin on Monday.
The Christchurch courtroom where the proceedings will take place over four days will be filled with people whose lives he sought to destroy in an act of hate unlike anything the country had ever seen.
At least 66 survivors plan to deliver victim’s statements, either read aloud or submitted in writing. Mr. Tarrant, who has pleaded guilty to murder, attempted murder and terrorism, may have the opportunity to address the families of the victims.
He is expected to be sentenced to life in prison, possibly without the eligibility for parole.
A message: Wasseim Alsati, 36, a barber who was shot along with his daughter Alen, 6, at the Al Noor mosque, wanted to give Mr. Tarrant a message: “You didn’t break us,” he said.
If you have 8 minutes, this is worth it
A Nigerian ballet school enters the spotlight
In June, a minute-long video of an 11-year-old boy pirouetting expertly in the rain was shared widely online, eventually gathering more than 20 million views on social media. His arabesque has trained a spotlight on the unlikely story of Leap of Dance Academy in Lagos, Nigeria. Donations and offers of support have followed.
The school has transformed the lives of its 12 students, affording them a place to dance and to dream. “I wanted, more than anything, to give that opportunity to those younger than myself so they wouldn’t miss their chance like I did,” said the school’s founder, Daniel Owoseni Ajala, above left. “It was too bad that I was as old as I was when I realized I wanted to dance.”
Here’s what else is happening
Russian politics: President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critic, Aleksei Navalny, is being treated in one of Germany’s leading medical research centers in Berlin after falling into a coma in Siberia in what his family and supporters suspect was a deliberate poisoning.
Cook: Our food columnist Melissa Clark decided that now was the ideal time to come up with a poundcake recipe of her own. This crème fraîche poundcake is the result.
Taste: There’s more to German wine than Riesling. A whole other Germany exists, of myriad reds, rosés and whites.
Do: Lockdowns and other coronavirus-related restrictions are wearing people down. Creating healthy boundaries is the antidote.
We’re here to help you cope. At Home has many more ideas for keeping yourself and your loved ones entertained, fed and sane during the pandemic.
And now for the Back Story on …
A music critic’s vacation: Too quiet
At the end of August, Anthony Tommasini, our chief classical music critic, usually takes a two-week vacation to refresh his ears before the fall concert season. But this year, everything stopped in mid-March. Here’s a taste of what he wrote about his time off.
Rather than enjoying the quiet, I’m yearning for music.
The shutdowns have been devastating for American classical music, given its dependence on patronage, which has been eroding of late, and the lack of meaningful government support, which still props up institutions in Europe.
This year’s cancellations have prodded institutions and artists to release a flood of online programming, intensifying our dependence on these audio and video resources.
Yet I worry that people will grow digitally distant from what is, for me and for many, a defining element of classical music: the sheer, sensual pleasure of being immersed in natural (that is, not electronically enhanced) sound, when a piece is performed by gifted artists in an acoustically vibrant space.
My feelings about the difference were captured in a blunt tweet from the pianist and composer Conrad Tao. Video performances, he wrote, “definitely aren’t ‘concerts’ as I see it (‘concert’ as in agreement to be ‘in concert with’),” so much as they are “‘shows’ in the television sense. We’re production companies now.”
Thanks for joining me for this briefing. See you next time.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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