Your Wednesday briefing: Sievierodonetsk, isolated

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Good morning. We are talking about the growing isolation of Sievierodonetsk, the massive Covid testing in China and the climate change crisis in South Asia.

The eastern city of Sievierodonetsk is now cut off from Ukraine-controlled territory after the last bridge to the west was destroyed. The development could exacerbate a humanitarian crisis at a critical point in the relentless battle for the Donbas region: hundreds of civilians are trapped in the city.

As the prospects for Ukraine’s eastern front grow grim, some European officials are expressing concern about whether President Volodymyr Zelensky has a viable strategy to win the war.

The West’s growing reluctance to provide more weapons is frustrating some Ukrainian leaders. “If you think we should lose, tell us right away, ‘We want you to lose,'” said a senior advisor to Zelensky. Here are recent updates.

What’s next: Western officials will meet in Europe this week to discuss the form of continued aid to Ukraine. A top Pentagon official said the US would not pressure Ukraine to make peace against its will.

China, the latest country to try to eradicate Covid, has made mass testing a regular part of everyday life. In many major cities, even in places where no cases have been reported, residents are required to show negative PCR tests to shop, use public transportation and participate in other activities.

Officials hope the regular mass testing will help isolate cases before they lead to bigger outbreaks. But the policy could hinder efforts to revive China’s economy.

Workers say the time it takes to get tested is cutting their pay. Local governments take money from poverty reduction projects to pay for testing. Businesses worry that the requirement will hurt productivity, and economists worry that people will stay at home to avoid the hassle.

Answer: Just two weeks after Shanghai lifted the two-month lockdown, authorities placed millions of people under new lockdowns, sparking scattered protests. The city has said it will begin charging residents for tests in August.


South Asia is home to millions of the world’s most vulnerable people. Climate change makes their hard lives even more difficult as extreme weather events are increasingly becoming the norm and making it more difficult to tackle poverty, food insecurity and health problems.

Pakistan has fought massive forest fires. Millions of people in Bangladesh have been stranded by floods that preceded the monsoon. Nepalese officials are trying to drain glacial lakes on the brink of bursting before washing out Himalayan villages, which are struggling with drinking water shortages.

And in India, the region’s largest grain supplier, farmers have faced unusually heavy rainfall and equally unusual heat. The weather has devastated farmers, many of whom are saddled with huge debts and increasing numbers are dying by suicide. It has also threatened national and global food security.

Details: India’s wheat crop fell by at least 3.5 percent this year, based on initial information. Some districts in Punjab, traditionally India’s wheat basket, experienced a 30 percent decline. March was the hottest month in India and Pakistan in 122 years of record, while rainfall was 60 to 70 percent below the norm, scientists say.

Health: A new study found that air pollution in New Delhi reduced life expectancy there by nearly 10 years, Al Jazeera reported. And researchers are delving into the ways extreme heat makes people sick and kills.

The case has been accompanied by deep ethical questions about whether the legal principle of habeas corpus — which people claim to challenge illegal confinement — should be extended to highly intelligent animals.

Eric Kim spent a lifetime watching his mother cook.

When he was little, Eric writes, he was “a little shadow who followed her into our suburban Atlanta kitchen, tasting her kimchi for sugar and salt; help her pick and wash perilla leaves from the garden for a ssam family dinner; or, later in life, sitting on the kitchen island and watching her crush gim, that glorious roasted seaweed, over a homecoming plate of fried kimchi rice.

Now Eric lives in New York City. He is a cookbook author and columnist for The Times Magazine. But his mother, Jean, is always present in his cooking. “The way I cook now, the way I move and breathe in my New York City kitchen, has echoes of her movements, her breathing.”

Eric has developed recipes that define Korean cuisine for him. “If I could only have ten Korean dishes for the rest of my life, these would be the ones,” he writes. Enjoying.

This zucchini dish with chickpeas and peanuts only takes 15 minutes.

‘Grand Hotel Europa’, a novel originally published in Dutch, is a comedy of manners about what tourism has done to Europe.



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