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Your Wednesday briefing: Calls to free Ukraine’s grain exports

We cover the food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine and the uneven toll of the coronavirus pandemic.

World leaders have called for international involvement to release 20 million tonnes of grain currently trapped in Ukraine, as fears of a global food crisis grow.

Some Western officials, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, have accused Russia of weaponizing the crisis by confiscating Ukraine’s grain stocks and farm machinery, bombing grain warehouses and booby-trapping cargo ships Ukrainians transporting wheat and sunflower seeds in the Black Sea. .

The EU is now considering alternative routes and methods, such as one in which a flotilla escorted by ships from non-NATO countries would try to break through the Russian blockade off Odessa. But that would risk a wider confrontation with Russia.

On the ground: The Russian army shelled civilian areas in the city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, killing four civilians. A riverside city, Sievierodonetsk is essential for controlling the wider Donbass region.

Viewed: The objectives of the Russian invasion keep shrinking. But his exhausted army still fails to make any major progress, and time is on Ukraine’s side. Take a look at our maps showing the progress of the war.

Refugees: The British government has launched a program to offer Ukrainian refugees a fast path to safety. But despite tens of thousands of Britons expressing an interest in playing host, the rollout has been painfully slow.

Literature: Here’s how Ukraine’s greatest novelist is fighting for his country.

On the eve of a summit between the United States, Australia, India and Japan – the so-called Quad – President Biden’s vow to defend Taiwan from Chinese attack has left Allied leaders in a delicate position as they sought to avoid further antagonizing Beijing.

Biden’s comments presented a particular challenge for Australia’s new prime minister, Anthony Albanese, who was elevated to the post over the weekend. Albanese was expected to pursue a closer relationship with China than his country had under his predecessor, and his foreign secretary harshly criticized suggestions that Australia would follow the United States in any war over Taiwan.

At Tuesday’s summit, Biden sought to temper his comments, saying his administration had not abandoned the “strategic ambiguity” over Taiwan long embraced by the United States. When asked if he would send troops if China attacked Taiwan, Biden said, “The policy hasn’t changed at all.

Answer: Quad leaders sought to play consensus where they could. The bloc released a statement calling for ‘peace and stability’ in Ukraine and announced initiatives on cybersecurity, space, vaccine distribution and a data-sharing partnership to monitor shipping routes in the South China Sea. southern..

Globally, many poor and developing countries have seen far more deaths above normal levels than rich countries in 2020 and 2021, according to data released by the WHO which aims to measure the true toll of the pandemic.

While most rich countries have relatively older populations, they have also had access to the lion’s share of vital supplies such as vaccines, antiviral treatments, masks and test kits. Some of the countries with the largest increases in death rates during the first two years of the pandemic were those in the upper-middle income groups: Ecuador (50% above normal), Mexico (about 40 % above normal) and Peru (97%). percentage higher than normal).

Some wealthy countries have also seen significant spikes in deaths. In the United States, deaths were 15% higher than normal, a number exceeded by only four other large high-income countries: Chile, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania.

To learn more, read the full report.

Global scale: According to the report, about 13% more people worldwide, or about 15 million more people, died than expected in the first two years of the pandemic.

As the United States experiences the largest wave of migration to its southwest border in decades – 8,200 crossings a day – it is increasingly relying on an informal shelter pipeline to provide meals, places to cool off or sleep, legal advice and medical care for migrants, many of whom seek asylum.

Live theater has an energy unmatched by digital performances, and this Broadway season is no exception. The Times selected five current productions with designs “that would lose something essential if you tried to put them on camera” and spoke to their designers.

The sets have an extraordinary level of detail that deserves a closer look. In “Plaza Suite”, designer John Lee Beatty tried to be true to the Plaza Hotel, but removed some real objects that didn’t match his image. “Like plastic trash cans,” he said. “I actually invented an official ‘Plaza Suite’ trash can with its own logo.”

For Adam Rigg, who designed the set for “The Skin of Our Teeth”, it’s about making people want to be part of the set themselves. “That desire to get up and step into that space is, I think, fascinating in a time when all we do is sit and stare at screens,” he said.

nytimes Gt

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