Your Wednesday Briefing


We’re covering China’s lagging vaccination campaign, and a step forward in talks to restore the Iran nuclear deal.

In Beijing, a Covid-19 vaccine will qualify you for a buy-one-get-one-free deal on ice cream cones. But in the town of Wancheng, officials warned parents that if they refused to get vaccinated, their children’s schooling, and future employment and housing were all at risk.

China is deploying a medley of tactics, some tantalizing and some threatening, to achieve mass vaccination. Its campaign got off to a slow start, but health officials are now picking up the pace, with a goal of vaccinating 560 million people — 40 percent of its population — by the end of June.

Though China has approved five homegrown vaccines, public anxiety about them remains. It doesn’t help that Chinese vaccine companies have been slow to release full data. The country’s near-total control of the coronavirus also makes many residents feel the shot is not so urgent.

Quotable: “They say it’s voluntary, but if you don’t get the vaccine, they’ll just keep calling you,” said one student in Beijing.

Six weeks after a former legislative staff member accused a senior colleague of raping her in the defense minister’s office, thousands of women are standing up to share their stories, march for justice and demand change.

The realm of politics has become a focal point, as women of every party describe being groped, insulted, ignored and interrupted while trying to do their jobs. Whenever they have questioned such behavior, they have faced a barrage of attacks.

In interviews with our reporter, many described Parliament as a testosterone-fueled bunker.

Toxic environment: Sarah Hanson-Young, a Greens party senator, said male rivals would often shout across the chamber the names of men she was falsely accused of sleeping with. “Mansplaining, talking over women, inappropriate jokes, inappropriate touching — it was all that,” said Julia Banks, who left Parliament in 2019.

Context: In the past 20 years, Australia has fallen from 15th to 50th in the world for parliamentary gender diversity.


During talks in Vienna, the U.S. and Iran agreed through intermediaries to establish two working groups to try to get both countries back into compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

One working group will focus on getting the U.S. to lift harsh sanctions imposed after former President Donald Trump pulled out of the accord and the other group will focus on getting Iran back into compliance with nuclear enrichment limits.

The two groups have already begun their efforts, according to Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s envoy to the talks. He described the meeting as successful, but cautioned that restoring the deal would take time.

Challenges: U.S. officials estimate that Iran’s “breakout time” — the time necessary to assemble enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon — is now down to a few months. Even if there is agreement, verification will take some time given the technical complications and the absence of trust on both sides.

Millions of people driven from their homes during Syria’s 10-year civil war are crowded into an area of the country’s northwest controlled by a rebel group. Our reporter took a rare visit to Idlib Province, where shocked and impoverished Syrians are trapped in a murky and often violent limbo.

In the ’80s, a bad date inspired the musician Nile Rodgers to write a song. The track, “Your Love Is Canceled,” played on the idea of “canceling” a person for objectionable behavior, as Clyde McGrady writes in The Washington Post.

The phrase stuck around: Rappers and reality TV stars used it, and its popularity soared once Black users on Twitter began saying it. On social media at the time, canceling someone or something “was more like changing the channel — and telling your friends and followers about it — than demanding that the TV execs take the program off the air,” McGrady writes. That has changed in recent years.

Like a lot of Black slang, the term was appropriated by white people and has since deviated from its more innocuous origins. It became heavily politicized, applied to everything from public figures accused of sexual assault to the gender of Potato Head toys. It has followed a similar trajectory to the term “woke,” which Black activists popularized. That term has now evolved into a “single-word summation of leftist political ideology,” as Vox reports.

Though these are some of the latest terms lifted from Black culture, they won’t be the last. “One of the biggest exports of American culture,” a linguistics professor told The Post, “is African-American language.”





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