Good morning. We cover Russia’s departure from the UN Human Rights Council, a political blow to Pakistani Imran Khan and Shanghai’s growing frustration over Covid restrictions.
Diplomacy: The prospects for successful peace talks have faded: Russia’s foreign minister said Ukraine had proposed a new draft agreement that diverged from previous drafts, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko demanded that his country be involved in the negotiations.
State of the war:
Khan in danger after court ruling
Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday overturned Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to dissolve parliament, paving the way for a no-confidence vote on Saturday.
The vote, which Khan had tried to block, is expected to remove him from office. Should that happen, a caretaker government will be formed and the country will prepare for elections in the coming months.
The Supreme Court ruling is a major victory for opposition leaders, who said Khan had attempted an “open coup”. New elections would be a test for the coalition of opposition parties, which are usually at odds but have united around the vote of no confidence.
Learn more about the French presidential elections
The run-up to the first round of the elections was dominated by issues of security, immigration and national identity.
Analysis: The military controls key levers of power, and Khan’s relationship with key leaders soured after he refused to support a new chief of the country’s intelligence service last year.
Economy: The Pakistani rupee fell to a record low on Thursday. Analysts say the current crisis has further polarized the country and could lead to unrest.
Shanghai’s devastating outbreak
The city of 26 million faces its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic, and Chinese authorities have put in place their usual harsh restrictions to curb the transfer.
But Shanghai is different. Residents of the city – the richest and most populous in China – voice their grievances. They have signed petitions to protest a policy of separating infected children from their parents, criticized conditions in isolation facilities and defiantly confronted officials.
Their grumbles could tarnish the power of the central government, as the crisis quickly becomes the most significant political test yet of the country’s zero-tolerance approach — a policy on which the Chinese Communist Party has entrenched its legitimacy.
Analysis: The city is home to a vibrant middle class as well as many elites, who are used to a relatively high degree of political autonomy.
Background: Officials had insisted that Shanghai was too important to quarantine. “The fact that Shanghai is being shut down suggests we are pretty close to the red line, to the tolerable limit of how defensible zero-Covid is,” said a political scientist.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other news:
THE LAST NEWS
Rihanna’s bare-belly maternity outfits are both haute couture and perhaps cross-border political statements. As right-wing lawmakers fight to take control of women’s bodies, “Rihanna is tying the right to dress the way you want with all sorts of other, more constitutional rights,” writes our chief fashion critic. “It’s a pretty radical move.”
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The campaign begins. French citizens will go to the polls in April to elect a president. Here is an overview of the candidates:
ART AND IDEAS
Venezuela’s Hidden Art Museum
For years, the storied collection of Caracas’ Museum of Modern Art lay in storage in the middle of a dilapidated residential complex as unpaid laborers and cultural officials struggled to preserve the collection.
Oil wealth once supported the museum, a jewel in Venezuela’s modernization project. But in 2001, the socialist government launched a “cultural revolution” and turned every institution into an ideological battlefield. The art, including works by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Marc Chagall, and Lucian Freud, was caught in the crossfire.
In February, the museum began a partial reopening after a two-year closure; workers painted galleries and restored lighting in some rooms. The new exhibit is modest, displaying only 86 of the museum’s 4,500 works, and reflecting the country’s uneven economic recovery.
Experts worry that the collection is at risk of decay and theft without higher wages and a major shift in the state’s view of culture. Officials made the equivalent of $12 a month last year, and the museum received a $1.50 daily budget to maintain its facilities.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to cook?
Yogurt adds moisture to these bright, light kofte-style meatballs.
what to watch
“Aline” is a passionate and sometimes clumsy ode to singer Celine Dion.