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Your Thursday Briefing: A Stronger NATO Emerges

Also. Shanghai wrestles with the scars of Covid lockdowns and religious unrest spreads in India.

June 29, 2022, 4:51 p.m. ET

We’re covering NATO’s new strategic plan and the psychological scars of Shanghai’s lockdown.

ImageFrom left, the NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, President Biden and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain at the NATO summit in Madrid on Wednesday.
Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

At a summit in Madrid yesterday, NATO outlined its new strategic vision, positioning Moscow as the alliance’s primary adversary and, for the first time, labeling China a strategic “challenge.”

The plan signifies a fundamental shift from the post-Cold War era, when the alliance saw Russia as a potential ally and did not focus on China at all. It followed formal membership invitations to Finland and Sweden — paving the way for NATO’s most significant enlargement in more than a decade.

NATO’s efforts to build power come as Moscow’s forces continue to hold the upper hand in the fifth month of their war in Ukraine, methodically gaining ground in the east as they reduce civilian areas to rubble. The secretary general of NATO announced plans to deploy thousands of new troops assigned to bases in eight countries on NATO’s eastern flank.

Related: A day after Turkey dropped its opposition to efforts by Finland and Sweden to join NATO, the U.S. moved closer to selling F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

News from the war in Ukraine:

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Credit…The New York Times

Shanghai, China’s most populous city, has emerged from the depths of its devastating spring Covid outbreak. Businesses and restaurants have reopened, and state media has trumpeted a return to normalcy.

But many residents are still grappling with the psychological scars of two months of strict lockdowns. Some are worrying about rights they once took for granted, like buying food and expecting privacy in their own homes. Some are grieving for fractured relationships. Many remain anxious about the weeks they went without pay or whether their businesses will survive.

During the lockdown, calls to mental health hotlines in Shanghai surged. On the search engine Baidu, queries from the city for psychological counseling more than tripled from a year ago. One survey of residents found that 40 percent were at risk of depression. When restrictions in some neighborhoods loosened slightly in late April, more than 1,000 people lined up outside the Shanghai Mental Health Center one morning.

What’s next: Hanging over it all is a broader inability for the city to put the ordeal fully behind it, as China maintains its goal of completely eliminating the virus. Every district in Shanghai will be briefly locked down each weekend until the end of July for mass testing.

Other virus news:


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Credit…Associated Press

A gruesome video — of two Muslim men killing a Hindu tailor because they believed he had insulted the Prophet Muhammad — spread quickly across India, sparking protests and concerns of continued violence.

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The authorities arrested the men on terrorism charges and shut down the internet in the state of Rajasthan, where the attack took place, in an effort to slow the spread of the video.

The killing was the latest incident in India’s deepening schism between the two religions. In a television appearance this month, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party made insulting remarks about the Prophet Muhammad. Two Muslim men were killed at a protest calling for the spokeswoman’s arrest.

The tailor, Kanhaiya Lal Teli, had posted on WhatsApp in support of her. Then, this week, the two Muslim men pretended to be customers at the tailor’s shop and attacked him, filming the killing on a mobile phone and threatening the prime minister.

Official response: The Indian government deployed its counterterrorism force to investigate. “The central government is immensely concerned,” said a spokesman, “not least of all because the assailants threatened to come after Narendra Modi next.”

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Credit…Hamed Malekpour/Agence France-Presse, via Tasnim News/AFP Via Getty Images
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Credit…Heba Khamis for The New York Times

Earlier in June, Egypt’s government ordered houseboats on the Nile to be demolished. With them will fade the remnants of a glittering history. Divas hosted debauched salons on them. The Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz wrote a novel on one, and famous films were set on others. “They’re a kind of romantic dream,” said Ahdaf Soueif, a novelist. “They’re so much a part of the heritage of Cairo.”

Taika Waititi might be the busiest man in Hollywood.

He was behind the camera as director and co-writer of the new Marvel movie “Thor: Love and Thunder.” He was in front of it for the HBO pirate comedy series “Our Flag Means Death,” in which he played Blackbeard. He voices a character in the new Pixar film “Lightyear.” He is creating two projects for Netflix based on “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Waititi’s secret to managing the workload: not thinking about it. “If I was to step back and look at all of the things I’m doing, I’d probably have a panic attack,” he told The Times’s Dave Itzkoff. “I know there’s too many things. I know I’m doing a lot. I just have to keep pivoting every couple of hours.”

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Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

This crowd-pleasing potato cake takes on the flavor of whatever seasoning or toppings you choose.

“The Tennis Podcast” started around a dining room table. Ten years later, it’s a major presence in the sport.

Davey Davis’s new novel, “X,” is a queer noir set in a troubling near-future world.

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and here’s a clue: DNA sequences (5 letters).

Here are today’s Wordle and Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.


That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Matthew

P.S. Has the war in Ukraine changed your view of the world? Tell us about it. The Times is looking for examples, both big and small, from readers.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about Tuesday’s dramatic Jan 6. hearing.

You can reach Matthew and the team at [email protected].

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