A demonstration outside the United Nations headquarters in Bangkok on Wednesday to protest the military coup in Myanmar.Credit…Adam Dean for The New York Times
Myanmar military charges Aung San Suu Kyi
The country’s civilian leader, who was deposed by the military in a coup, was charged on Wednesday with having illegally imported at least 10 walkie-talkies, according to an official from her party. A conviction could be punishable by up to three years in prison.
The military has a history of sidelining critics with bizarre and arcane charges like this one. Along with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint, one of her allies, was issued a detention order for violating emergency coronavirus regulations. He was accused of greeting a car full of supporters during the electoral campaign season last year.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s most popular leader, was under house arrest in Naypyidaw, the capital.
Response: On Tuesday, the United Nations Security Council, which had convened a meeting on Myanmar, declined to issue a statement condemning the coup. China and Russia opposed such a move.
Tokyo Olympics plan for testing, but no quarantines
Organizers of the Summer Games unveiled measures aimed at protecting athletes and others traveling to Japan as concerns rise that the Olympics could become a hub for new coronavirus infections.
Athletes and other attendees will not be required to be vaccinated or to quarantine on arrival, but their movements will be restricted and they will be required to test negative for the coronavirus before their departure and again upon arrival in Japan.
Organizers said no decision had been taken on allowing spectators for the Games, which have already been postponed by a year and are now scheduled to begin on July 23.
Rules are rules: The Japanese authorities will have the right to send anyone who tests positive to an isolation facility and will determine when they are released. Violations of the protocols may result in dismissal from the Games.
Context: By beginning to outline the rules for attending the Games, the organizers showed their determination to proceed even as Tokyo remains under a state of emergency and the Japanese public shows strong opposition to hosting the event.
Related: The head of Tokyo’s Olympic organizing committee caused a backlash when he said women’s speaking time at meetings should be regulated “or else we’ll never be able to finish.”
Vaccines to poorer countries
Covax, an international program to supply Covid-19 vaccines at low or no cost to countries around the world, plans to deliver more than 300 million doses by June 30.
Even with that help, many of the world’s poorest countries are likely to lag far behind in vaccinations, and may not be able to mount any large-scale effort this year. Scientists say that could leave the entire world, even people in widely vaccinated countries, more vulnerable, at a time when worrisome new variants of the virus are spreading worldwide.
Details: Covax said on Wednesday that it hoped to ship 336 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to 145 countries in the first half of the year, with shipments to begin late this month or early in March. The vaccine deliveries would be among the first to reach low- and middle-income countries.
Background: Covax was set up by international organizations to try to ensure that the scramble for vaccines among rich countries did not leave poorer nations out in the cold. It has procured pledges of $6 billion, including $4 billion from the U.S., with a goal of supplying up to two billion doses to low- and middle-income nations by the end of 2021.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
New Zealand’s drug regulator said on Wednesday that it had provisionally approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine but added 58 conditions, most of which require the manufacturer to supply extra data. Pfizer said last week that the first of the 1.5 million vaccines on order were expected to arrive before the end of February.
New research about the AstraZeneca vaccine found that it has the potential to reduce transmission of the coronavirus.
Iran announced that its first batch of Covid-19 vaccine, Russia’s Sputnik V, would arrive on Thursday.
If you have 4 minutes, this is worth it
The last line of defense in Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s district councilors typically tended to mundane matters like pest control and new bus stops. Now, they’re considered the last line of defense in keeping the city’s pro-democracy opposition alive. Above, Cathy Yau, a councilor, investigating a rat complaint.
As the political climate has rapidly changed, the councilors’ advocacy for democratic institutions has made them the latest target of Beijing. In recent months, about 50 of the city’s 392 opposition councilors have been arrested.
Here’s what else is happening
India dissent: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces protests by farmers against new agriculture laws, critics and analysts say he is increasingly turning to a tactic of silencing dissenting voices and blocking the internet.
Jeff Bezos: The Amazon founder is stepping down as chief executive, he announced on Tuesday, and Andy Jassy, the head of web services, will take his place. Mr. Bezos will still exert a lot of influence at the e-commerce giant.
Italian government: Mario Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank who is credited with helping to save the euro, has agreed to try to form a new unity government that will guide Italy through economic recovery. Italy’s stock market rallied on Wednesday in response to the news.
Golden Globes: Netflix, Amazon and Hulu swept the beginning of the Hollywood awards season. Netflix drew a jaw-dropping 42 nominations for titles like “The Crown,” “The Queen’s Gambit” and “Mank.” Here’s the latest.
Featured video: Above, the coastal town of Haulover in Nicaragua, which was hit by two major hurricanes in November. Faced with a future of intensifying storms because of climate change, the residents must now consider whether to abandon their way of life by the ocean and move inland.
What we’re reading: This Fast Company article on why remote work may render the five-day workweek obsolete. It raises questions about focus and performance in the work-from-home setting.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: Tang yuan — the rice flour mounds filled with black sesame and simmered in sweet ginger soup — are a favorite Chinese dessert for Lunar New Year, or really, any time.
Listen: Our writers and some of our favorite artists want to persuade you to love string quartets — their intimacy, intensity and joy.
Do: If you often exercise, there’s a good chance you also tend to be more creative, according to an interesting new study.
We can help you be creative with our At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch, and do while staying safe at home.
And now for the Back Story on …
Our Tripped Up column, which answers questions about travel, gave one of our readers this advice about her plans to hop on a flight to see her grandchildren after her second vaccine shot, and what health and safety precautions she still needs to take.
Is it safe to travel by subway, train, bus or plane after I have been vaccinated? What are the proper protocols for protecting others?
Even before the vaccines arrived, mass transit was rarely labeled by health officials with blanket terms like “safe” or “unsafe.” Studies conducted over the summer suggested that when certain criteria are met, subways are safer, from a viral-transmission standpoint, than one might assume. A trove of new research indicates that the chance of contracting the coronavirus while flying is low. For trains and planes alike, the focus is — and will continue to be — concrete, actionable measures that mitigate risk, like high-efficiency air filtration, enhanced disinfection, mask requirements, social distancing and capacity limits.
The basic protocols for protecting others (masks, distancing, hand-washing) haven’t changed.
“I know it’s frustrating, especially for grandparents, because it almost feels like the goal posts have been moved again,” Dr. Keri N. Althoff, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said. “But we’ve always said that you cannot just rip your mask off and run around like it’s 2019 once you’re vaccinated. We’ve all learned not only how important our individual health is, but also how interconnected we are.”
Carole Landry helped write this briefing. Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about Mexico’s drug cartels.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Light green (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Johanna Barr, an editor on our Politics desk, is joining the Metro desk as senior editor for news and planning.