Almost a decade after the start of the civil war, Syria is in extreme need. That month, the Syrian pound hit an all-time low against the dollar on the black market, decimating the value of salaries and increasing import costs.

Food prices have more than doubled in the past year, and 60 percent of the Syrian population is threatened with hunger. The blackout is constant and some areas receive only a few hours of electricity per day. Most Syrians devote their days to finding fuel to cook and warm their homes, and some women sell their hair to support their families.

Little consolation: At a private meeting, President Bashar al-Assad was asked about the country’s economic crisis, which is now a major threat to his regime. He had no concrete solutions, but he had the idea that TV stations should cancel their cooking shows so as not to mock the Syrians with images of unreachable food.

A variant that was first discovered in California in December is more contagious than previous forms of the coronavirus, two new studies showed.

The results raise concerns that emerging mutants could mitigate the sharp decline in new cases in the state and possibly elsewhere.

Some experts said the new variant was worrying but likely not as stressful as the variant native to the UK, where it quickly became the dominant form of the virus and overloaded hospitals there.

Researchers took a closer look at the new variant, known as B.1.427 / B.1.429, to determine its origin and track its spread. It has performed in 45 states so far as well as several other countries including Australia, Denmark, Mexico, and Taiwan, but it has only launched in California.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Coronavirus restrictions have resulted in Champions League games and World Cup qualifiers being played in neutral locations outside of the home of each team. The European Championship this summer could be the next.

  • The psychological number of pandemics has been accompanied by a worrying increase in suicides among women in Japan. Last year, 6,976 women died from suicide in the country, almost 15 percent more than in 2019.

  • Scotland will emerge from its lockdown in a three week period over the next few months, starting with the schools reopening. Most businesses and activities are allowed to resume after April 26th.

  • Pharmaceutical companies need monkeys to develop Covid-19 vaccines. However, a global shortage stemming from unexpected demand due to the pandemic has been exacerbated by a recent ban on the sale of wild animals from China, the leading supplier of laboratory animals.

A new opposition party is flourishing in Russia, despite the fact that President Vladimir Putin has made it clear that he will not tolerate dissent.

The party is called New People and is supposed to address the supporters of the opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, who is waiting to be transported to a penal colony. However, the reasons for the party’s success, according to Russian analysts, are to undermine Mr Navalny, whose own party has been banned, divert his attention from his movement and split the liberal opposition – while creating a veneer of multi-party politics in a country where There are few choices that make sense.

Official line: “For two decades we lived in a situation of wrong choice: either freedom or order,” proclaims the platform. The government, it is said, “should stop seeing enemies and traitors in those who disagree.”

Answer: “They are trying to give us the line that these new people are now portraying as real competition for United Russia,” said Lyubov Sobol, an ally of Navalny, on YouTube in an analysis by the ruling pro-Putin party after the release of the new party last year.

A new working paper found that women who presented their research at business seminars received 12 percent more questions, often aggressive, than their male counterparts. The paper, expected to be released next week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, is the latest addition to a growing body of evidence of gender discrimination in business. Above a conference in San Diego last year.

Updated

Apr. 23, 2021, 8:18 p.m. ET

Our reporter examined how large the gender and racial differences are in the economy and have decreased less over time than in many other areas. “Half of the women say they don’t even want to present in a seminar,” said one economist. “That way we lose a lot of ideas.”

Tiger Woods: The star golfer was injured in a serious car accident and had to be pulled out of his vehicle, the authorities said. Mr. Woods’ agent said he had “multiple leg injuries” and was undergoing an operation.

Beijing: China plans to restrict Hong Kong’s electoral system in an attempt to root out candidates the Communist Party believes are disloyal. This could prevent advocates of democracy in the city from running for elected positions.

Oil pollution: A major oil spill from an unknown source has devastated marine life in the Mediterranean, spewing tons of tar across more than 100 miles of coastline from Israel to southern Lebanon.

Uprising in the U.S. Capitol: During a Senate hearing, senior security officials who were in the Capitol during the attack by a pro-Trump mob pointed out intelligence errors that led to the Jan. 6 disaster. Police officers also testify. Here’s the latest.

Snapshot: The top of the National AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Our travel desk investigated how epidemics created landmarks of all kinds: monuments, places of worship, hospitals, fortifications, cemeteries and civil engineering services. How is Covid-19 remembered?

Lived life: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poet and publisher who promoted the beat movement at his famous San Francisco bookstore, City Lights, has died at the age of 101.

What we read: This New York article explores one of the great mysteries of the pandemic: Why some countries are doing worse than others.

Cook: This soothing chicken curry has a tomato sauce with ginger and garlic flecks. Serve with yogurt and basmati rice or naan.

Read: “Clare and the Sun”, Kazuo Ishiguro’s eighth novel, is one of the most anticipated titles of the year. Read our review.

Snooze: Many people have difficulty sleeping during the pandemic. Here’s how to close your eye.

You can find a lot more about what to read, cook, see, and do while staying safe at home in our collection of home ideas.

Don’t ignore VHS tapes as obsolete: Despite the technological advances made after 2006, there is a robust market for these ephemera today, both virtually and in real life.

Instagram users sell videos such as the 2003 Jerry Bruckheimer film “Kangaroo Jack,” a comedy starring a beauty salon owner – played by Jerry O’Connell – and a kangaroo. Asking price? $ 190. (Though steep, it’s a far cry from the $ 1,400 price tag for the first VCR, the JVC HR-3300, made in the late 1970s.)

Driving the passionate collection of this form of media is the conviction that VHS offers something that other types of media cannot.

Streaming may be almost instantaneous, but it has its limits, said Matthew Booth, 47, the owner of the Atlanta Videodrome, which sells VHS tapes in addition to its Blu-ray and DVD rentals.

New releases are prohibitively expensive, and content between subscription services and movies is “broken” in cycles and often disappears before people have a chance to watch it, he said. In this sense, VHS tapes offer something that the current market cannot: an extensive library of moving images that is not available anywhere else.

Technology often works like this, writes tech reporter Nick Bilton: “While the new inspires people, the old often doesn’t go away. And if it does, it takes a long time to reach death. “Records and film cameras are two other examples – although the once futuristic car phone is not yet experiencing a renaissance.

But even VHS with its calming physicality won’t be there forever. “The medium is rapidly dwindling and many tapes may not see the 2040s,” writes Whet Moser of Quartz. “That means a lot of content is lost, especially the homemade and local stuff.” Organizations like the XFR Collective are trying to digitize what they can – before it’s too late.

That’s it for this briefing. Until next time.

– Natasha

Thank you
Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh took the break from the news. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

PS
• We listen to “The Daily”. Our latest installment is a look at what went wrong in New York’s nursing homes.
• Here is our mini crossword puzzle and a clue: Like diamonds and double black diamond slopes (four letters). You can find all of our puzzles here.
• Our Washington office announced its new team in the White House.

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