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Your Monday Briefing

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Dozens of latest instances of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus had been reported in Britain and Denmark yesterday, including to will increase throughout Europe and fueling fears that the variant had already spread widely. Although some European international locations have imposed journey restrictions, it’s unclear how a lot they’ll be capable of curb transmission.

The extremely mutated variant of the virus has reached almost 50 countries and has been detected in 17 American states. Scientists in South Africa mentioned Omicron appeared to unfold more than twice as quickly as Delta, because of a mix of contagiousness and a capability to dodge the physique’s immune defenses. Right here’s what we know so far.

The exact origins of the variant stay unknown. Among the first instances to be detected in Botswana — among the many first identified on the planet — had been in international diplomats who had traveled to the country from Europe, the nation’s president mentioned. Infections at a New York anime convention recommend that it could have been spreading within the U.S. earlier than it had a reputation.

Analysis: The Occasions went inside a cutting-edge lab in South Africa, which is on the entrance traces on the planet’s battle towards the evolving coronavirus.

Highly effective associates of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, are making and promoting captagon, an unlawful, addictive amphetamine common in Saudi Arabia and different Arab states. Syria has develop into the world’s newest narcostate, and captagon is the nation’s most dear export, far surpassing authorized merchandise.

The drug commerce, which emerged within the ruins of a decade of conflict, has grown right into a multibillion-dollar operation. An investigation by The Occasions discovered that a lot of the manufacturing and distribution was overseen by an elite unit of the Syrian military commanded by the president’s youthful brother. The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah can be a serious participant.

Scale: Greater than 250 million captagon capsules have been seized throughout the globe to this point this yr, greater than 18 occasions the quantity captured simply 4 years in the past.

Pope Francis, returning to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, yesterday spoke out towards the limited progress made in helping migrants. “5 years have handed since I visited this place,” he mentioned. “In any case this time, we see that little has modified with regard to the difficulty of migration.”

His remarks got here on the finish of a five-day journey to Cyprus and Greece meant to resume deal with migration, a problem he has by no means wavered on, even because the world’s consideration has faltered. When the world has paid consideration, it has often been in a approach reverse to how he had hoped, with migrant flows fueling nationalist and populist surges throughout Europe.

Francis argued yesterday that the intractable actuality of the difficulty uncovered each the failure of stopgap measures and the necessity for a coordinated international response. He denounced an “indifference that kills” in Europe, which he mentioned had proven a “cynical disregard that nonchalantly condemns to loss of life these on the fringes.”

Pandemic results: Stringent restrictions were in place for Francis’ visit. A most of 160 migrants had been admitted into the tent through which he spoke. All had been required to be vaccinated and have examined damaging as an additional precaution.

For roughly 50 days after a volcanic eruption within the Canary Islands in September, 1000’s of honeybees sealed themselves away from lethal gasoline of their hives and feasted on honey. “It’s a very empowering story,” one entomologist mentioned.

Bob Dole, the previous Senate majority chief from Kansas — who grew up in Mud Bowl deprivation and suffered grievous wounds throughout World Battle II — died yesterday at 98. Read his full Times obituary.

We had simply come to grips with Delta when Omicron got here alongside, bringing with it a sweeping wave of hysteria.

The scientific understanding of the coronavirus is constantly changing and so, too, is the virus itself. As we proceed to journey the pandemic curler coaster, studying to deal with our unpredictable world is just not solely doable however essential.

Meditation may help calm an agitated thoughts that swings from thought to thought, a psychological state Buddhists discuss with as “monkey thoughts,” mentioned Tim Olmsted, a practitioner of meditation for practically 50 years. It teaches us that whereas there’ll all the time be exterior stressors, we don’t must be dominated by these issues, he mentioned.

“We are able to nonetheless discover resilience and peace,” he continued. “Attending to our thoughts — letting it relaxation and refresh — is definitely probably the most consequential factor we will do.” When you have by no means meditated earlier than, there are numerous sources that can assist you begin, together with apps and retreats. Our guide to meditation has recommendations on how you can obtain “larger equanimity, acceptance and pleasure.”

Learn extra suggestions for managing uncertainty in the pandemic.