We cover the Biden mandate ruling to vaccinate and the landmark conviction in Syria for war crimes.
Supreme Court blocks Biden’s employer’s mandate to vaccinate
The US Supreme Court has barred the Biden administration from imposing a vaccination or testing mandate on large employers, hitting a key element of the White House’s plan to contain the pandemic.
The court allowed a narrower mandate to vaccinate health workers in institutions receiving federal money.
It comes as the president ramped up efforts to contain the virus: Biden said Thursday he has instructed his staff to purchase an additional 500 million coronavirus tests to distribute to Americans, doubling the government’s previous purchase and bringing the total number of promised tests to one. billion.
The president also announced Thursday that the administration is sending military medical personnel to six states to help hospitals cope with the Covid-19 surge.
Data: For Biden, the virus’s tumultuous resurgence has helped lower approval ratings as he enters his second year in office. According to the Times database, the US daily average recorded Wednesday was more than 780,000 new cases.
Trends: Hospitalizations are on the rise. Experts warn that it will be weeks before damage from the Omicron surge in the country is known, but it could peak in parts of the northeast.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
Syrian officer convicted in historic trial
On Thursday, a court in Germany found Anwar Raslan, a former Syrian security officer, guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to life in prison. Here are the latest updates.
A senior Syrian official prosecuted for violations during the country’s civil war, Raslan has been charged with overseeing a detention center where prosecutors say at least 4,000 people were tortured and about 60 people were killed.
An international network of lawyers, activists and war survivors has fought for years to bring officials involved in the violence to justice. President Bashar al-Assad remains in power, and he and his senior advisers and military leaders avoid travel to places where they could be arrested. It is unlikely that they will face trial anytime soon.
Raslan entered Germany on a visa in 2014 and lived there legally until the German authorities arrested him in 2019.
Context: Prosecutors charged Raslan using “universal jurisdiction”, a legal principle that in the case of crimes against humanity and genocide, normal territorial restrictions on prosecution do not apply.
Russia and the West are at an impasse
The third round of talks on military security in Eastern Europe was unsuccessful.
Russian officials did not close the door to diplomacy, but sounded increasingly pessimistic. In Moscow, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said it was premature to hold new talks until the West abandoned what he called a “dead-end” approach.
US envoy to a meeting in Vienna on Thursday, Michael Carpenter, also described the two sides as being at odds with no clear cut decision. Ukraine, which participated in discussions for the first time this week, said it needs to reverse the massing of Russian troops.
The exchange of views led to high tensions and the implicit threat of further Russian military intervention in Ukraine. It was far from clear whether Russia would be willing to continue diplomacy.
Connected: The Russian-led military alliance began withdrawing troops from Kazakhstan on Thursday, Moscow said. President Vladimir Putin’s recent actions there, in Belarus and Ukraine show that he is seeking to maintain a sphere of influence.
After a year in which anti-Asian racism in the United States has attracted attention, students are pushing for Asian American studies programs. “What goes on at the academy often follows what goes on on the streets,” said Diane Fujino, professor of Asian American studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Lives lived: Ronnie Spector, lead singer of the Ronettes, a 1960s pop group with hits such as “Be My Baby”, died at the age of 78.
ART AND IDEAS
Meet the “Nose Ranger”
Chuck McGinley, a chemical engineer, has returned to the smelly corners of society over and over again over the past half century. Its purpose: to measure, describe and demystify smell.
The Nasal Ranger is one of his inventions, a 14-inch odor meter that looks like a cross between a radar gun and a horn and measures the strength of the odor. To use it, you take a deep breath and turn the dial until you no longer smell a particular scent. One psychologist called the device a “quantum leap” better than previous technology.
McGinley often applies his experience in the gray area of odor recognition as a pollutant. Despite its disgusting potential, there are few laws regulating odor in the United States. The system is heterogeneous, and it leaves disputes to the courts. Part of McGinley’s job was to give communities living near smelly places a way to find a vocabulary for their complaints and a way to measure what their nose is telling them.
But his work doesn’t quite stink. McGinley’s laboratory, run by his son, tests food companies and comes up with recipes for immersive theater companies and museums. One recent work: developing 22 scents for theatrical production, including “perfume and old cedar scent” to simulate an old woman’s apartment.