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Your Thursday Briefing

At a gathering in Moscow yesterday, Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi, the leaders of Russia and Iran, sought to showcase tightening bonds between two international locations with a typical adversary: the U.S. Now could be the time to tackle “the facility of the People with an elevated synergy between our two international locations,” Raisi advised Putin.

The assembly comes because the U.S. prepares for a possible invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Talking on the White Home, President Biden mentioned that he expected Putin to act imminently, even when it didn’t quantity to a full-scale invasion of the nation. “My guess is he’ll transfer in,” he mentioned. “He has to do one thing.” This map exhibits how Russian troops are threatening Ukraine.

Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, will meet with Russia’s overseas minister on Friday. He warned that Russia could attack Ukraine “on very short notice” and warned of “confrontation and penalties for Russia” if it have been to take action. Sergey Lavrov, the overseas minister, disputed the assertion. “We is not going to assault, strike, invade, quote unquote, no matter, Ukraine,” he mentioned.

Support for Ukraine: It was not clear if Blinken had supplied concrete measures to assist Ukraine, however the Biden administration has accredited a further $200 million in defensive safety support. That cash comes along with $450 million in such support that the U.S. offered Ukraine within the final fiscal yr.

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has despatched infections and hospitalizations hovering in Spain. But tourists remain undeterred, partly as a result of in contrast to a few of its neighbors, Spain doesn’t require a unfavorable take a look at to enter the nation. And its message to vacationers has remained largely the identical as earlier than the surge in instances: Please come.

Like different international locations, Spain is making an attempt to steadiness how a lot financial ache it may well tolerate because it tries to maintain its individuals protected. Earlier than the pandemic, tourism accounted for roughly 12.4 % of the nation’s financial output. Reminiscences of current monetary wreck are particularly uncooked. The Spanish economic system contracted greater than 11 % in 2020 — the worst decline for the reason that Civil Warfare of the Thirties.

Although Spain has launched some restrictions, the federal government has indicated that it’s not prone to impose extra. Pedro Sánchez, the prime minister, mentioned that the nation ought to settle for that the virus had turn into a reality of life. “We’re going to need to study to reside with it as we do with many different viruses,” he mentioned.

By the numbers: Western European international locations now have a number of the highest an infection charges on the planet. In Spain, new instances rocketed from a median of fewer than 2,000 a day in early November to greater than 130,000 day by day previously week.

Listed here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In different developments:

Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s billionaire former prime minister, is working onerous to persuade lawmakers to vote for him for the nation’s presidency subsequent week, regardless of an uncommon résumé for a job resting on ethical authority. This career-culminating place because the nation’s head of state might permit him to scrub away many years of stains — his allies say unjustly thrown mud — and rewrite his legacy.

The Italian presidency is a seven-year place often crammed by a determine of unimpeachable integrity and sobriety. The present holder, Sergio Mattarella, is a quiet statesman whose brother was murdered by the mob. Mario Draghi, the prime minister and a titan of European politics, is yet one more contender.

However Berlusconi’s conflicts of curiosity, judicial issues and previous conduct, together with a conviction for tax fraud and investigations over mob links, made him lower than a superb candidate, mentioned Emma Bonino, a veteran Italian politician who as soon as ran for the office herself. “I don’t assume he would give a very good picture of our nation on the planet,” she mentioned.

Official remarks: Behind the scenes, Berlusconi is working the telephones and laying on the allure, upping his Christmas-gift recreation from ties to framed oil work. Amid hypothesis that he would possibly drop out of the race, he issued a press release: “I haven’t determined. I’m an optimist.”

It was heralded as the true property deal of the century: a 30,000-square-foot Sixteenth-century villa in downtown Rome full with a masterpiece painted on its ceiling — by Caravaggio — at a cool asking worth of 471 million euros, or $533 million.

But when the Villa Aurora went up for public sale on Tuesday, there have been no offers at the minimum bidding price. Now, an internet petition is asking on Italy’s tradition ministry to purchase the villa, which returns to the block on April 7, with its worth slashed by 20 % to a mere €377 million.

André Leon Talley, a larger-than-life vogue editor who went from the racially segregated U.S. South to the entrance rows of Paris couture, died at 73.

Philippe Gaulier has taught clowns for about half a century. Alumni of his college who’ve weathered his course of — which is characterised by blunt, flamboyantly unfavorable suggestions — embrace Sacha Baron Cohen, Emma Thompson and Kathryn Hunter.

The criticisms would possibly embrace “You sound like overcooked spaghetti in a strain cooker” or “You’re a excellent clown for my grandmother.” He continuously focuses on the eyes. “In case you are humorous,” he advised me, “you’ve gotten humorous eyes.”

In comparison with different clowning academics, Gaulier, who’s French, doesn’t emphasize method or bodily virtuosity. He goals for one thing extra intangible, a way of play onstage. Crucial high quality in a clown is holding issues mild and current and, as he says with the utmost respect, silly.

Discovering “your fool,” as he calls it, is the essence of clowning. “A clown is a particular type of fool, completely totally different and harmless,” he mentioned. “A fabulous fool.”

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