Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

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We cover new restrictions as Asia and Australia battle the Delta variant and how the rebels have recaptured the capital of Tigray.

Countries in the Asia-Pacific region with slow vaccination campaigns are scrambling to slow the spread of the more infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus by resorting to a new set of restrictions.

Bangladesh and Malaysia are ordering residents to stay at home, with Bangladesh sending soldiers to patrol the streets to make sure no one is out. In Australia, authorities have put in place strict lockdowns in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Darwin.

Tired residents are frustrated, having already gone through several blockages, in some cases. “My restaurant is known for its hospitality and shared meals, the antithesis of social distancing,” said a restaurateur near Kuala Lumpur. For his company, this lockdown “could be the last straw,” he said.

The context: Studies have shown that Covid-19 vaccines are still largely effective against the Delta variant, although protection is significantly lower for those who are partially vaccinated. “If we could get a really high vaccination rate, that is a complete game-changer,” said an epidemiology expert in Melbourne.

Eight months after the attack by the Ethiopian army in the Tigray region, the civil war has taken a turn: the Tigrayan fighters regain control of the regional capital, Mekelle. The locals celebrated in the streets. Here is the latest updates.

Rebel forces have indicated that they have little appetite for a truce. High-ranking rebel members said they would continue to fight and were ready to pursue Eritrean forces, who joined Ethiopian troops, in their territory.

The dramatic turnaround was a blow to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who launched an offensive last November which he promised to complete within a matter of weeks. The war now seems likely to drag on, after eight months of violence during which Eritrean troops were accused of atrocities.

Reverse steam: The war began with the Tigrayan forces clearly on the defensive. Yet the rebels managed to regroup. In addition, the invasion and human rights violations pushed large numbers of recruits into the arms of the group.

The toll: Almost two million people were displaced from their homes. The region faces a long list of crises, including lack of water and education, and a famine in which millions of people face hunger.

The commander of the United States-led mission in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin Miller, has warned that the country could be on the way to chaotic and multifaceted civil war as US and international troops prepare to depart in the coming weeks.

“Civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized if it continues on the course it is on,” Miller said at a rare press conference in Kabul. “It should be of concern to the world.”

He did not offer a timeline for completing the withdrawal, but said he was reaching a point where he would soon end his command, which began in September 2018.

New York’s dining scene has been transformed by the creative outdoor table setups made necessary by the pandemic. But as the epidemic abates and the rules loosen, how is the city keeping the romance alive? Our food critic has answers.

In 1897, invading British soldiers stole thousands of artifacts from the Kingdom of Benin, now part of Nigeria. In Britain, the events are known as the Punitive Expedition. In Nigeria, they are known as the Benin Massacre, due to the residents that British forces killed.

Activists, historians and royals in Nigeria have called for the return of art, but museums have resisted, arguing that their global collections served “the people of every nation”.

As Europe grapples with its colonial history, some institutions change position. Germany said she return a substantial number of Benin Bronzes (as items are known) next year, and the National Museum of Ireland plans to return 21 items. The works will probably go in a new museum in Benin City, expected completion in 2026.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. – Melina

PS Christina Goldbaum, a Metro bureau reporter who has reported from East Africa, is join our afghan team.

The last episode of “The Daily”Talks about the collapse of a building in Miami.

Claire Moses wrote Arts and Ideas. You can reach Melina and the team at [email protected].

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