Your Thursday Briefing

We’re covering the fragile coalition deal in Israel to replace Netanyahu, and the vast differences in Covid outbreaks around the world.

Israeli opposition parties announced that they had reached a coalition agreement to form a government and oust Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history and a dominant figure who has pushed his nation’s politics to the right. Here are the latest updates.

The alliance will be led until 2023 by Naftali Bennett, a former settler leader and standard-bearer for the religious right, who opposes a Palestinian state and wants Israel to annex the majority of the occupied West Bank.

Context: Eight very different political parties — with affiliations from the left to the far right — are working together. Some analysts praised the coalition for its diversity, but others said its members were too incompatible. Raam became the first Arab party to join a right-leaning coalition in Israeli history.

Palestinian reaction: Palestinians are consumed by their own political moment, united by a new sense of shared identity and purpose.

The authorities in Malaysia have barred people from venturing too far from their homes. In Nepal, 40 percent of coronavirus tests are positive. Even Vietnam, which for months kept the virus at manageable levels, is dealing with an outbreak at a church in Ho Chi Minh City and the emergence of a deadly new variant.

In India, the government has canceled national exams for 12th graders as it struggles to control a devastating second wave.

As the U.S. and parts of Europe start to return to normal, some countries in Asia and also in South America are having their worst outbreaks yet, underscoring the disparities in vaccine access. The number of Covid deaths in some places are higher than they’ve ever been.

Quotable: “The ongoing devastation being wreaked by Covid-19 in the Global South should be reason enough for the rich countries to want to enable a quick and cheap global vaccine rollout,” said one sociologist at the London School of Economics.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • To meet a jump in demand for bicycles in Europe, companies in Portugal are building new factories, hiring workers and dealing with parts shortages.

  • Animal births at Sri Lanka’s zoos are up by 25 percent, a rare bright spot as Covid-19 ravages an economy closely tied to tourism.

  • A man in China’s eastern Jiangsu Province is the first known human to be infected with a strain of bird flu known as H10N3. The World Health Organization called it a “reminder that the threat of an influenza pandemic is persistent.”


U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is meeting on Friday and Saturday with Group of 7 finance ministers in Britain to secure a broad agreement that would put an end to global tax havens and establish a global minimum tax.

Such a pact has been elusive for years, but the Biden administration has made it a priority as it moves to increase corporate taxes domestically. So far, Canada, Italy and Japan have joined the U.S. in backing a 15 percent minimum corporate tax plan, but Britain has not yet endorsed it.

Yellen has said the effort is aimed at ending a “race to the bottom” in which countries cut their tax rates in order to entice companies to move headquarters and profits across borders.

Separately, the U.S. moved closer to imposing tariffs on certain goods from six countries in retaliation for taxes those nations have imposed on digital services offered by tech companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google.

China’s biggest internet company, Tencent, has at times also been its least popular. It wouldn’t hesitate to copy another company’s idea, driving the upstart out of business: Entrepreneurs called Tencent the industry’s boldest copycat. Nowadays, Beijing is reining in its big tech companies — but not Tencent. No one is sure why.

Naomi Osaka dropped out of the French Open this week after tennis officials fined her, and threatened further punishment, because she refused to participate in post-match news conferences. She did so, she explained, because hostile questions from journalists exacerbated her struggles with depression.

The conflict has highlighted two broader issues: the increased attention on athletes’ mental health and the shrinking power of traditional news media. It has prompted nuanced reflections from sportswriters. Among them:

“In order to properly do our jobs, and to properly serve the public good, we need access to athletes; we need the filter of reporters to ensure that every word you read isn’t just glorified P.R.,” Kavitha A. Davidson of The Athletic wrote. But, she added, “there’s a reckoning that still needs to be had about the way we’ve covered women players and players of color,” who are often “subjected to vacuous questioning.”

“The days of the Grand Slam tournaments and the huge media machine behind them holding all of the clout are done,” Kurt Streeter wrote in The Times.

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