Your Monday Briefing

Your Monday Briefing

Extensive negotiations last week did not defuse the security crisis that Moscow has ignited in Eastern Europe. Ukraine remains surrounded on three sides by 100,000 Russian troops, and Russia has issued subtle but wide-ranging threats, including hinting that it could place nuclear missiles close to the U.S. if the West did not meet its security demands.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, wants to extend Russia’s sphere of influence to Eastern Europe and secure written commitments that NATO will never again enlarge. If he is frustrated in reaching that goal, his aides have suggested that he will pursue Russia’s interests with results that will be felt acutely in Europe and the U.S.

U.S. officials are threatening to throw their weight behind a Ukrainian insurgency should Russia invade. On Friday, the White House accused Moscow of sending saboteurs to stage an incident in Ukraine to create a pretext for invasion.

Cyber conflict: Microsoft said on Saturday that it had detected highly destructive malware in Ukraine that appeared to be waiting to be set off by an unknown actor. The day before, hackers brought down several Ukrainian government websites.

The tennis superstar Novak Djokovic left Australia last night, one day before the start of the Australian Open. After a 10-day legal process over his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19, a court unanimously ruled that Australia’s immigration minister was within his rights to cancel Djokovic’s visa for a second time, on the basis that he could pose a risk to public health and order. (Here’s an explainer on the case.)

Aleksander Vucic, the Serbian president, criticized the Australian government, denouncing the process as “harassment” and “Orwellian,” and saying that Djokovic would be welcomed home. The court’s decision has cost him a chance at a 10th Australian Open title and a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title.

Djokovic could be barred from entering Australia for the next three years under its laws regarding visa cancellations. He may face further international travel challenges if he does not get vaccinated.

Analysis: Djokovic lost to a government with powerful laws that was determined to make an example of him, writes Damien Cave, our Australia bureau chief.

Tennis: The Australian Open begins today with a vacuum at the top — Djokovic has won its last three men’s singles championships.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:


Companies and manufacturers are bracing for further supply chain disruptions as China imposes sweeping coronavirus restrictions, including confining millions of people to their homes, in an attempt to keep the Omicron variant at bay. Though the effects on factory production and deliveries have so far been limited, analysts warn that many industries may face disruptions.

Even within the U.S., the supply chain remains fragile. American trucking companies and warehouses are losing employees to sickness and quarantines, and weather disruptions are leading to empty shelves in U.S. supermarkets. Delivery times for products shipped from China to the U.S. now stretch to as many as 113 days, up from fewer than 50 in 2019.

The combination of intermittent shutdowns at factories, ports and warehouses around the world and American consumers’ surging demand for foreign goods has thrown the global delivery system out of whack. Transportation costs have skyrocketed, and ports and warehouses have experienced pileups of products waiting to go out, while other parts of the supply chain are stymied by shortages.

What’s next: “Right now, we are at the tail end of one flavor of those challenges, the port snarls,” said Chris Netram of the National Association of Manufacturers. Chinese lockdowns could be “the next flavor of this,” he added.

In his latest Close Read, our critic Jason Farago steps inside “In Memory of My Feelings — Frank O’Hara,” a 1961 painting by the American artist Jasper Johns.

“I want to show you my favorite Johns painting,” Jason writes, “one that first appears as impersonal as any other — and which, slowly, delivers a roundhouse of passion and pain.”

Every year or so, the library in the photograph above — with stacks of books piled high and buttery lamplight aglow — resurfaces on the internet. It is often (erroneously) attributed to the author Umberto Eco, or said to be in Italy or Prague.

In fact, Kate Dwyer reports for The Times, the library is not in Europe. It doesn’t even exist anymore. But when it did, it was the home library of the Johns Hopkins professor Dr. Richard Macksey — a book collector, polyglot and scholar of comparative literature. His book collection clocked in at 51,000 titles, some 35,000 of which eventually made their way into the university’s libraries.

Why do people love this image so much? Don Winslow, the author and political activist, who recently posted a photograph of the library on Twitter, said it was “as stunning as a sunset.” Ingrid Fetell Lee, the author of the blog the Aesthetics of Joy, pointed at the photo’s sense of plenitude: “There’s something about the sensorial abundance of seeing lots of something that gives us a little thrill,” she said.

And what would Dr. Macksey think, if he knew his library had taken on a life of its own? “My dad liked nothing better than sharing his love of books and literature with others,” his son, Alan Macksey, said. “He’d be delighted that his library lives on through this photo.”

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