Your Tuesday Briefing – The New York Times

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Romania’s vaccine vacillation, fueled by powerful forces online and in the real world, has left the country with the second lowest vaccination rate in Europe and the world. the highest per capita death rate from Covid-19 in recent weeks. About 44 percent of adults have received at least one dose, ahead only of Bulgaria, which has 29 percent. The EU overall stands at 81 percent.

“This wave is much worse than the others, it is like a war,” said a doctor who works at an infectious disease hospital in the Romanian capital, Bucharest. The increase in cases could have been prevented if more people had been vaccinated, he said.

The history of communism in Eastern European countries, and the disorder and corruption that followed, has made many people suspicious of what officials and doctors tell them to do. To complicate matters, Romania has been without a government since last month, when a centrist coalition fell apart.

Mixed signals: The Romanian Orthodox Church has not supported vaccines. Although its leader, Patriarch Daniel in Bucharest, told people to make their own decisions and listen to doctors, many local clergymen and some influential bishops have denounced vaccines as the work of the devil.

The Israeli government has asked the Biden administration to remove it from a blacklist piracy software sold by an Israeli surveillance company. The United States imposed sanctions on the company last week on the grounds that he had acted against the “national security or foreign policy interests” of the United States.

The software, created by the NSO Group, has been used to spy on journalists, opposition groups, and rights activists. NSO says the software, which allows governments to penetrate a phone, monitor its location and extract its contents, is intended to help countries fight organized crime and terrorism. Israel said that software was a crucial element of its foreign policy.

There have been many abuse disclosures, including that the company’s Pegasus software was used to hack into the phones of political opponents in dozens of countries. On Monday, privacy experts said that Pegasus had been deployed against Palestinian rights activists, raising questions about whether the Israeli government itself was behind the hacking.

Answer: The Israeli prime minister’s office and the Defense Ministry denied that Pegasus was used to hack into Palestinian phones. An NSO spokeswoman said the company did not say who used the software and that it did not have access to information about who the program was used against.


In the Biden administration’s latest crackdown on cybercrime, the Justice Department has accused a Russian man of conducting cyberattacks and seized over $ 6 million in ransomware.

The man, Yevgeniy Polyanin, was charged in court documents with deploying a ransomware known as REvil against companies and government offices in Texas in 2019. He has not been detained by US authorities and the prospects that he will face trial in the United States. remain unclear. . The department also arrested a Ukrainian for another attack.

The arrests are part of a sustained and coordinated global effort to combat ransomware. That effort has intensified in recent weeks as authorities in Ukraine, Romania, Kuwait, and South Korea began arresting cybercriminals using what is known as “ransomware as a service,” in which hackers break into a network, they encrypt the data and then demand a ransom to decrypt it.

Quotable: “The United States, together with our allies, will do everything in our power to identify the perpetrators of ransomware attacks, bring them to justice, and recover the funds they have stolen from their victims.” Merrick Garland, USA attorney general said in a statement.

The United States yesterday reopened fully vaccinated travelers from dozens of countries, allowing some to see loved ones for the first time in a year or more. Many Europeans struggled to understand why the ban stood for so long. For some travelers, the new rules brought confusion; for others, exclusion.

“My Lady Luck is back,” said a man while waiting for his girlfriend. “You can make daily calls, stay connected by FaceTime, but you want to experience his fingers, his touch, his kiss.” They saw each other from the end of a corridor and embraced as they met. She kept her mask on as they kissed. Read more long-awaited meeting stories.

Israeli historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari is the author of “Sapiens”, “Homo Deus” and “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”. He believes that human society has been largely driven by the ability of our species to believe in what he calls fictions, the power of which is derived from their existence in our collective imagination.

When it comes to communicating the risk of climate change, scientists face a narrative problem, Harari told David Marchese in this interview in The Times.

“Our minds didn’t evolve for these kinds of stories,” he said. “When we evolved as hunter-gatherers, it was never the case that we could somehow change the climate in ways that were bad for us, so it’s not the kind of story we were interested in. They were interested in the story that some people from the tribe are plotting to kill me. “

The good news, he argued, is that the problem appears to be soluble. “Based on the best reports I’ve read, if we now start investing 2 percent of global annual GDP in developing green technologies and infrastructure, that should be enough to prevent catastrophic climate change,” Harari said.

Changing 2 percent of the budget is within the power of most politicians and makes for an easy story to tell. “We need to stay away from the apocalyptic thinking that it is too late and the world is ending and move towards something more practical: 2 percent of the budget,” he said. “It’s not very impressive, but that’s the point. It’s hopeful. “

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