Your Thursday briefing: A stronger NATO emerges

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

Yesterday at a summit in Madrid, NATO outlined its new strategic vision, positioning Moscow as the alliance’s main opponent and for the first time labeling China as a strategic ‘challenge’.

The plan marks a fundamental shift from the post-Cold War era, when the alliance saw Russia as a potential ally and did not target China at all. It followed formal invitations to join from Finland and Sweden and paved the way for NATO’s most significant expansion in more than a decade.

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

News from the war in Ukraine:


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

But many residents still struggle with the psychological scars of two months of strict lockdowns. Some worry about rights they once took for granted, such as buying food and expecting privacy in their own home. Some mourn broken relationships. Many remain concerned about the weeks when they are not paid or their business will survive.

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

What’s next: Hanging above all else is a wider inability for the city to put the ordeal completely behind it as China maintains its goal of completely eradicating the virus. Every district in Shanghai is briefly closed for mass testing every weekend until the end of July.

Other virus news:


A horrifying video — of two Muslim men murdering a Hindu tailor because they believed he had insulted the prophet Mohammed — quickly spread across India, sparking protests and concerns about ongoing violence.

Authorities arrested the men on terrorism charges and shut down the internet in the state of Rajasthan, where the attack took place, in an attempt to slow the video’s distribution.

The murder was the latest incident in India’s growing schism between the two religions. In a televised appearance this month, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party made insulting remarks about the prophet Mohammed. Two Muslim men were killed in a protest calling for the spokeswoman to be arrested.

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

Official response: The Indian government deployed its counter-terrorist forces to investigate the matter. “The central government is very concerned,” said a spokesman, “not least because the attackers threatened to come after Narendra Modi.”

Earlier in June, the Egyptian government ordered the demolition of houseboats on the Nile. With them, the remnants of a wonderful history will fade. Divas organized debauched salons on them. Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz wrote a novel about one, and famous movies were set on others. “They’re kind of a romantic dream,” said Ahdaf Soueif, a novelist. “They are so much a part of Cairo’s heritage.”

Taika Waititi is arguably the busiest man in Hollywood.

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

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

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