We’re covering a diplomatic showdown at the U.N. over Ukraine and an investigation into British government parties held during lockdown.
U.S. confronts Russia over Ukraine
“The situation we are facing in Europe is urgent and dangerous,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador. “Russia’s actions strike at the very heart of the U.N. charter.” Russia objected to having the meeting at all, calling it “an attempt to mislead the international community” and an example of “megaphone diplomacy.”
The meeting of 15 nations, requested by the U.S. last week, represented the highest-profile arena for the two powers to sway world opinion over Ukraine. As expected, it adjourned with no action taken.
Where things stand: More than a month of bluster and posturing, menacing military maneuvers and high-level diplomatic meetings have not made the security crisis gripping Europe any easier to assess. A full-scale invasion would be likely to result in fierce fighting and potentially the worst bloodshed on the continent since the end of World War II.
On the ground: A wave of bomb threats across Ukraine has intensified an already anxious mood.
A video of a chained woman stirs anger in China
A video posted by a blogger on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, showed a mentally ill woman in rural China who appeared to have been chained up by her family.
Officials in Jiangsu Province, where the video was filmed last week, initially issued a terse statement in response to the fury on social media. The woman, according to the statement, had been diagnosed with mental illness, but “at present, she has already been treated, and her family has been given further assistance, to ensure they have a warm Lunar New Year.”
That response only caused more outrage. A delegate to China’s legislature said she had reported the case to the “relevant leaders.” Hu Xijin, the former editor of the Global Times, said anyone with common sense could see that the woman had been treated inhumanely.
The account of the blogger who originally posted the video was shut down. (The video was soon reposted by social media users on other platforms.) Officials later said they were investigating the woman’s husband.
Context: The episode drew attention to the shaming of people with mental health disorders in China, and the limited legal protections against sexual and domestic abuse.
Related: A migrant worker whose movements were tracked after he tested positive for Covid captivated the nation, and represented the unseen army of workers who keep China running — before mentions of his story were censored.
Crackdown at the Olympics: Athletes arriving at the Beijing Games are encountering some of the most intense security measures ever imposed at an international sporting event. The authorities are rounding up activists and shutting down social media accounts.
Boris Johnson faces another outcry
A highly anticipated British government investigation into the prime minister’s office described heavy workplace drinking at parties that breached pandemic lockdown rules. Lawmakers, including fellow Conservatives, demanded answers from Johnson in Parliament.
The report found that Downing Street suffers from a culture of “excessive” workplace drinking and that it held social gatherings during a period when the government was urging the public to avoid socializing, even with close friends and relatives.
The document described leadership failures in Johnson’s office, without directly implicating him. The London police are conducting a separate investigation, and at their request many of the findings of Monday’s inquiry were abridged and redacted.
Quotable: “Most people followed the Covid rules so religiously, only to find out the person who is leading the country is having parties with cheese and wine while many couldn’t be with their loved ones in hospital,” said Amber Keye, 19, from Stevenage, England.
In other pandemic news:
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Sundance, at home
The Sundance Film Festival — virtual for a second year — wrapped this past weekend. “At a time when many of us are worried about the health of movies,” the film critic A.O. Scott writes, “it offers proof of life.”
Among the festival’s notable films: Jesse Eisenberg’s directorial debut, “When You Finish Saving the World,” about an Indiana teenager struggling with romance; “Navalny,” a suspenseful documentary about the Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny; “Nanny,” which subjects its protagonist, a Senegalese immigrant living in New York, to supernatural and psychological scares; and Mariama Diallo’s “Master,” about a Black student and a Black professor on a hostile campus.
One of Scott’s favorite films was Sara Dosa’s “Fire of Love,” which tells the story of a French couple who studied volcanoes. The film’s scenes of violent eruptions and serene lava flows were captured by the couple’s cameras before their deaths in 1991. Here are the festival’s award winners.
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