Critics have long detected a whiff of racism in how some people react to Meghan, a biracial professional woman who had been divorced before she met Harry. While initially rapturous in their coverage of the couple, Britain’s tabloids turned against them, publishing unflattering articles about how they flew on carbon-spewing private jets and restricted access to their newborn son, Archie.

Some also point out the hypocrisy of Buckingham Palace investigating claims of bullying against Meghan when Prince Andrew, the queen’s second son and Harry’s uncle, has declined to speak to American authorities about allegations of sex trafficking by his late friend, the convicted sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein.

Though British papers have covered every conceivable angle of the interview, some made clear there were limits to the interest it was generating. The Sunday Times of London reported that the queen herself had no plans to watch the program, which is quite predictable, since it will air after midnight London time. It will be shown on Monday evening on Britain’s ITV network.

Others in Britain tried to play down its significance, pointing out that there are other more important things going on in the country: Schools are to reopen on Monday, and the coronavirus vaccine rollout continues at full speed. At least one prominent British leader said he had no plans to stay up for it.

“Of course, I’m interested in all sorts of stuff around the news around the world,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday, when asked about Harry and Meghan. “I think it’s quite late our time, so I’ll probably miss it.”

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What Is the Meaning of Meghan’s Fashion Choice?

So you think the clothes are beside the point in the Oprah-Harry-Meghan tell-all? You think it’s the vocal bombshells and revelations that matter, and no one is going to give two figs what the former royal couple who is uttering them is wearing? You, my friend, should think again. Costumes are always part of the program.

Ever since she first stepped into the spotlight not just as an actress on a pretty successful TV show but as a potential British princess, Meghan Markle has proved herself a master of the visual message.

So whatever she chose for the single-biggest speaking moment of both her career and her marriage thus far — the one that, given the pre-promotion and the public relations warfare being waged by the palace, the Sussexes and the proxies for each, is going to be seen by more people than any other appearance since her wedding — it was not going to be a random, just-because-it’s-comfy schmatta.

It was going to be a dress with purpose. A dress that would set a tone. A dress that would, after all, be seen and re-seen as the photos from the interview went around the world and down in royal history, much as the photos of Princess Diana in her black jacket looking up from under her bangs at Martin Bashir in her 1995 BBC interview still appear whenever the topic of that royal divorce comes up.

$4,700 black silk wrap dress by Giorgio Armani with a white lotus flower print spilling down one shoulder.

According to Town & Country’s royal whisperer, Ms. Markle chose the dress specifically because of the lotus flower symbolism, and the fact the bloom represents rebirth, which was part of what the interview was also supposed represent: The rebirth of Harry and Meghan as an independent entity, authentically themselves apart from the royal family; the rebirth of their voices. Plus, of course, the coming birth of the couple’s next child. Oh — and also the fact that, wrote T & C, the lotus can “flourish despite seemingly challenging conditions.”

Hint, hint.

Though there is some irony in a very expensive dress being chosen to partly represent the wearer’s victimhood and resilience in the face of pain.

Still, worn belted over her pregnant stomach, with spiky black Aquazzura heels and a diamond Cartier tennis bracelet that was once owned by Princess Diana (chosen so that, the couple told Ms. Winfrey, she could be there with them), it was not exactly your run-of-the-mill maternity look.

Not exactly a “Royals! They’re just like us!” kind of thing. Not even a: “Hey, we’re now in America and we’re going to use all this attention to help an American designer,” kind of thing. Not even an eco-sensitive, or support-the-outsiders kind of thing. (All kinds of things that had been part of Ms. Markle’s public image-making before.)

first Baby Archie photo-op back in May of 2019, and it ticked all sorts of boxes. Accessible! American! Possibly shopping his closet, which is better for the planet. He may not have realized his clothes contained all that, but his wife probably did.

All in all, a good thing, really.

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She’s the first female tour guide in Afghanistan, but she’s determined not to be the last

(CNN) — For many people who work as tour guides, showing people around a new city involves a little bit of getting off the beaten track. But when there is no track at all, you just have to blaze one yourself.

That has been the story of Fatima, the only woman working as a tour guide in Afghanistan. The 22-year-old (who asked that CNN not use her surname for safety reasons) grew up leading sheep through the countryside, and now she leads tourists through the streets of Herat, the third-largest city in Afghanistan.

The making of a trailblazer

The youngest of eight children, Fatima is the only one of her siblings to be unmarried and to have gotten an education.

She grew up in rural Gohr Province, where she says there was no schooling available to girls, but she convinced her family to let her take lessons if she brought in enough of an income from sheep herding.

When Fatima was nine, her family settled in Herat. Though she was able to get some informal education, she mostly stayed at home helping her mother. Getting an education wasn’t as simple as just enrolling in the local comprehensive.

When Fatima couldn’t afford notebooks, she says she wrote with a stick in the sand. She practiced her English by listening to BBC radio, which she could pick up when high enough in the hills.

Unlike some kids, Fatima didn’t grow up dreaming of working in tourism — not only was it not traditional for women to work, she says she didn’t even know that giving tours was a job.

“I thought a lot during these years, how sitting at home would not solve any problem,” she says. “My brothers and sisters were forced to get married. It was so sad for me. I decided that I would not continue in their tradition. That was how I decided to work.”

First step: work on her English. Fatima signed up for Facebook and began joining groups for people interested in history. Tired of people who only knew Afghanistan as a place of war and conflict, she says she started writing regular posts about places in her country that foreigners might not know about.

Herat is in northwestern Afghanistan, not far from the borders with Iran and Turkmenistan and has been inhabited since the fifth century BCE, making it an interesting place for a history buff to grow up.

After she began writing her posts, everything changed.

Fatima says started getting comments and responses from her new online friends. In 2020, one of them — a man known as “Big Tom” — reached out to her saying he was going to be traveling in Afghanistan and would she be interested in showing him around in Herat?

She said yes. They went to the Herat Citadel, to the National Museum and to a traditional tea house.

Tom recommended her to someone else, and Fatima continued to get work by word of mouth. Eventually she came to the attention of Untamed Borders, a boutique travel agency that specializes in trips to more inaccessible areas.

After meeting Fatima and traveling through the city with her, Tom recommended that the company hire her. And they did hire her in late 2020, which is how the young self-taught woman became her country’s first female professional tour guide.

“Having a female guide gives our guests a whole new perspective,” says James Willcox, Untamed Borders’ founder. “As well as being well informed as a guide, Fatima gives our guests a personal insight into her life as an Afghan woman. We try to give our guests a framework of information to give context to the experiences they have in Afghanistan, and Fatima adds to that in a big way.”

"In the future I want to write about girls like my sisters," says Fatima.

“In the future I want to write about girls like my sisters,” says Fatima.

Courtesy Untamed Borders

Fatima’s new career caused some friction in her traditional family at a time when her siblings were already challenging their father’s more conservative views.

She asserted her independence, telling her father: “Right now, my brothers and sisters [say] that if we are not satisfied in life it is because of you. If I have a bad life now, it’s because of me.”

Though he has come around to Fatima’s work, she says her mother has always given her blessing. “My mother is happy. She is supporting me. Right now, she is my everything.”

The rocky road smoothens out

Of course, being a pioneer is never easy.

Fatima says many people in her life, including some of her own family members, have told her that it’s too dangerous for a woman to work, especially if it means interacting with men one-on-one.

She says children have thrown stones at her while she’s guiding tourists through the local market. People have shouted profanities at her.

Sadly, these are not isolated experiences. According to data from the United Nations, only about 19% of women in Afghanistan are employed outside of the home.

Fatima has used money from her work to enroll in university.

Fatima has used money from her work to enroll in university.

Courtesy Untamed Borders

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, more commonly known as UN Women, elucidates: “About 64%t of Afghans agree that women should be allowed to work outside the home, however, they still face a multitude of barriers, including restrictions, harassment, discrimination and violence, as well as practical hurdles such as a lack of job experience, employment skills and education.”

Fatima says that the support of her employers and the people she has met through giving tours are what keep her motivated. There’s also the implication of what could happen if she does quit: “Challenges are always a part of my life. If I give up, then other women will never start.”

To keep herself safe, she dresses modestly while on the job and never goes out with a group late at night.

Afghanistan’s tourism industry peaked in the relatively safe 1970s, with an average of 90,000 foreign tourists coming per year. Data is spotty and inconsistent, but in 2013 the country’s deputy minister of tourism told the New York Times that the number was closer to 15-20,000 per year.

Many countries, including the United States, have travel advisories in place and encourage their citizens not to visit Afghanistan.

However, choosing which countries to visit and how can make a significant difference on the ground. Tourism is an industry where not everyone is required to have a college degree, which can make the bar of entry lower and easier.

Fatima’s tour guide income helps to support her family, and it also means she can afford to go to college. After passing the entrance exams, Fatima says she’s been able to enroll at Herat University and is now studying journalism. On the side, she says she teaches English to 41 girls in a refugee school.

The education, she says, isn’t just for her. Fatima tutors her nieces and nephews in English and helps pay for some of their school fees and supplies. This is generational change in action — the sons and daughters of siblings who could not get an education are now going to government schools.

If travel, in its purest form, is about expanding our view of the world around us, this is certainly true for Fatima, even when she is the one showing people her homeland instead of visiting theirs.

She says she dreams of changing roles for a while and letting someone else guide her — her top choice for a travel destination, fitting for a lover of history and culture, is Tibet.

Most of Fatima’s dreams, though, are closer to home. She says she hopes to open a school to train tour guides. It would be open to both boys and girls, she says, but “ladies first,” as there are fewer job opportunities available to women.

“I am the first lady in Afghanistan to guide people,” she says, “but I do not want to be the last.”

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Scores Are Dead or Injured in Fire at Migrant Center in Yemen

CAIRO — A fire broke out Sunday in a detention center for migrants in Yemen’s capital, Sana, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 170 others, scores seriously, the United Nations migration agency said.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear, according to the International Organization for Migration. More than 90 migrants were in serious condition, and the death toll could climb much higher, according to the Houthi rebels who run the center.

The Houthi, who have controlled the capital since Yemen’s conflict broke out more than six years ago, said that civil defense teams had extinguished the fire and that investigations were underway to determine its cause.

A U.N. official said the fire erupted in a hangar near the main building of the center, which was housing more than 700 migrants. Most had been arrested in the northern province of Sada while trying to cross into Saudi Arabia, she said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to brief the news media.

“This is just one of the many dangers that migrants have faced during the past six years of the crisis in Yemen,” said Carmela Godeau, the regional director of the International Organization for Migration.

The narrow waters between the Horn of Africa and Yemen have been a popular migration route despite Yemen’s continuing fighting. Tens of thousands of migrants, desperate to find jobs as housekeepers, servants and construction workers, try to make their way across Yemen every year to the oil-rich Persian Gulf states.

Some 138,000 migrants embarked on the arduous journey from the Horn of Africa to Yemen in 2019, but last year that number decreased drastically, to 37,000, because of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 2,500 migrants reached Yemen from Djibouti in January, according to the migration organization.

Those migrants are vulnerable to abuse by armed trafficking rings, many of them believed to be connected to the armed groups involved in the war. This month at least 20 migrants died after smugglers threw 80 overboard during a voyage from Djibouti in East Africa to Yemen, according to the migration agency.

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How to Watch the Harry, Meghan and Oprah Interview

When Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, present their side of a sensational royal rupture to Oprah Winfrey from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern on Sunday night, it is sure to be one of the most anticipated, and most heavily spun, television interviews in recent memory.

CBS and Oprah Winfrey’s company, Harpo Productions, have stoked expectations for the two-hour prime-time program airing on CBS and CBS.com, which will be broadcast in Britain on Monday night by the ITV network, with peekaboo excerpts that show her seated with Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, in a relaxed outdoor setting, but offer only glimpses of what they are talking about.

“Were you silent or were you silenced?” Ms. Winfrey asks at one point, as Meghan looks at her but says nothing. “You’ve said some pretty shocking things here,” she says at another, as dramatic music wells up.

Harry, who will join Meghan for the second half of the interview, appears briefly in an excerpt to say, “My biggest concern was history repeating itself.” That is an apparent reference to the fate of his mother, Princess Diana, who was killed in a car accident in Paris in 1997 after a high-speed pursuit involving photographers.

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Swiss Voters Narrowly Approve a Ban on Face Coverings

GENEVA — Switzerland on Sunday became the latest European country to ban the wearing of face coverings in public places, prohibiting the veils worn by Muslim women.

Official results of the nationwide referendum showed 51.2 percent of voters supported the ban on full facial coverings, which was proposed by the populist, anti-immigrant Swiss People’s Party (S.V.P.), compared with 48.8 percent opposing it, a much narrower margin of victory than pollsters had initially predicted.

The initiative, started long before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, makes exceptions for facial coverings worn at religious sites and for security or health purposes, but also bans coverings like the ski masks worn by protesters. Officials have two years to write legislation to put the ban into effect.

The federal government had urged voters to reject the ban as tackling a problem that didn’t exist and arguing that it would damage tourism.

Critics of the ban cited a study showing only some 30 women in Switzerland wear the veils and most of them were born in Switzerland and had converted to Islam. The only people seen wearing the burqa, a full head-to-toe covering, are visitors from the Middle East, mostly wealthy tourists from the Persian Gulf bringing welcome revenue to the country’s hospitality industry.

France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria ban face coverings, and opinion polls at the start of the year showed the Swiss initiative garnering the backing of around 65 percent of voters, but the gap narrowed quickly as liberals and women’s groups pushed back against a ban they condemned as racist, Islamophobic and sexist.

The Swiss People’s Party has “always profited from campaigning against minorities, and feel they have to keep doing it,” said Elena Michel, a manager of a campaign against the ban for Operation Libero, an activist group supporting liberal causes. “In the end all our freedoms are at stake. If we open that door, it shows a tendency that it’s OK to take away the fundamental rights of minorities.”

Switzerland’s Central Council of Muslims called the result of the vote “a dark day” for Muslims and issued a statement saying, “Today’s decision opens old wounds, further expands the principle of legal inequality, and sends a clear signal of exclusion to the Muslim minority.”

The proposal put forward by the Swiss People’s Party, the country’s largest, did not mention Islam or niqabs and burqas — veils traditionally worn by Muslim women — calling instead for a ban on “full facial covering.” But the party left no doubt as to whom it was targeting.

Menacing campaign posters depicting a black-garbed woman scowling from behind her veil carried the slogan “Stop Extremism!”

The initiative evoked memories of a successful 2009 campaign by the S.V.P. to ban the construction of minarets, the towers from which mosques traditionally broadcast the call to prayers. Switzerland had three minarets at the time but the party challenged such architecture as alien to the Alpine nation’s culture and landscape, and hammered home the message with posters depicting minarets as missiles.

The S.V.P. framed its campaign leading up to Sunday’s vote as part of a “war of civilizations” in which it was defending Switzerland against “the Islamization of Europe and our country.”

To win support from other parts of the political spectrum, the party also framed the initiative as liberating women from religious oppression and said it would help the police deal with hooligans in street protests and at sporting events.

Some liberal-leaning Muslims supported the ban.

“What the full veil represents is unacceptable; it is the cancellation of women from public space,” Saïda Keller-Messahli, president of the Forum for a Progressive Islam, told Swiss media.

Social commentators say Switzerland’s 400,000 Muslims, who make up around 5.5 percent of the population, are better integrated than those in France or Germany.

Some who campaigned against the ban called the outcome better than expected.

“We lost the battle but not the war,” said Ines el-Shikh, a Muslim and co-founder of the Violet Scarves, a feminist group, who celebrated the sharp drop in support for the ban. “This is huge. It shows the power that feminism as an organized movement can bring to public debate.”

Others said they feared the outcome would merely stoke the politics of division and fuel anti-Muslim sentiment.

“Things are going in a bad direction and this is going to make them worse,” Sanija Ameti, a political activist and member of the Green Liberals Party, said. “That frightens me.”

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Pope Francis’ Iraq Trip Ends, but Coronavirus Fears Remain

Pope Francis’s three-day visit to Iraq was a boon to the diminishing Christian community, a boost for the beleaguered Iraqi government — and a possible health hazard, as many participants found social distancing impossible and disregarded masks.

The trip, the first papal visit to the country, came at a vulnerable time. Iraq reported record daily highs of more than 5,000 infections this week, and its leaders have implemented curfews. The country’s vaccination campaign began only last week, and many Iraqis are wary of government health programs, so few in the population of nearly 40 million have received even a single shot.

The pope and his entourage were vaccinated, and the Vatican had dismissed fears that large events during the trip might spread the virus, saying that precautions would be taken to minimize risk.

But Iraqis are generally unaccustomed to wearing masks and many live and work in crowded conditions, so they are also unused to social distancing. When they gathered in large numbers to see the pope, mask-wearing was far from universal.

The virus is far more easily transmitted indoors than outdoors, but most Iraqis wrongly believe that there is no outdoor transmission at all. In some cities where the pope appeared, thousands of people jammed together in the streets to await his arrival. At services, choirs were generally unmasked.

At a Mass in the town of Qaraqosh, about half the congregation was unmasked. Another service, on Sunday, was held in a stadium in Erbil, the Iraqi Kurdistan regional capital. Church officials had said that about 5,000 tickets would be distributed, but Kurdish television reported that about 10,000 people attended.

In the streets of Ankawa, the Christian enclave of Erbil, thousands of people holding flowers and olive branches stood behind plastic tape strung between barriers, hoping to catch a glimpse of the pope as he drove to the stadium. Musicians played drums and flutes as children danced on the sidewalk.

The pope himself was sometimes masked, sometimes not. He did not wear one when first arriving in Baghdad. Photos and a brief video of a meeting with one of Iraq’s most revered and vulnerable residents, 90-year-old Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, showed neither the pope nor the Shiite cleric masked.

Ayatollah Sistani has not been vaccinated, with his office saying he wants to make sure others have access first. He has declared the vaccine religiously permissible.

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U.S. Pushes U.N.-Led Peace Conference in Letter to Afghan Leader

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has proposed a United Nations-led peace conference in Turkey aimed at forming an inclusive Afghan government with the Taliban and establishing a three-month reduction in violence leading to a cease-fire.

In a letter to President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan requesting his “urgent leadership,” Mr. Blinken signaled that the Biden administration had lost faith in faltering negotiations between Mr. Ghani’s government and the Taliban. The unusually blunt letter, in which Mr. Blinken asked Mr. Ghani to “understand the urgency of my tone,” reflected American frustration with the Afghan president’s often intransigent stance in stalled peace talks.

The existence of the letter was confirmed by a U.S. official in Washington and the Afghan government.

Negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban began in September as part of a February 2020 agreement between the militants and the United States. But the talks have faltered over issues like a prisoner exchange and reductions in violence.

Mr. Blinken wrote that the United States had not decided whether to withdraw the remaining 2,500 American troops from Afghanistan by May 1, as outlined in its agreement with the Taliban. He expressed concern that “the security situation will worsen and that the Taliban could make rapid territorial gains” following a U.S. withdrawal.

The State Department declined to comment on the letter but said in a statement that “all options remain on the table” regarding the withdrawal of American troops.

“We have not made any decisions about our force posture in Afghanistan after May 1,” the statement said.

A pullout would create enormous security challenges for Mr. Ghani’s government and its overburdened security forces.

The United Nations-led conference in Turkey would include envoys from the United States, China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran and India “to discuss a unified approach to supporting peace in Afghanistan,” Mr. Blinken wrote.

The existence of the letter was reported after Zalmay Khalilzad, the American peace envoy, delivered an outline of U.S. policy options to Mr. Ghani’s government and Taliban negotiators last week. The proposals, intended to reinvigorate the stalled peace negotiations, included a road map for a future Afghan government with Taliban representation, a revised Afghan constitution using the current one as an “initial template” and terms for a permanent and comprehensive cease-fire.

The New York Times obtained a copy of the proposals, dated Feb. 28, which Afghan officials confirmed were delivered by Mr. Khalilzad last week.

Significantly, the proposals called for national elections after the establishment of a “transitional peace government of Afghanistan.” The Taliban have opposed elections, dismissing them as Western interference.

The proposals also include guaranteed rights for women and for religious and ethnic minorities, and protections for a free press. The Taliban violently suppressed women and minorities and did not permit independent news media when the group led Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

Taliban negotiators have said they support women’s rights within the strictures of Islamic law — the same strictures the militants cited to ban women from schools and workplaces.

The outline presented by Mr. Khalilzad proposed a High Council for Islamic Jurisprudence to advise an independent judiciary to resolve conflicts over the interpretation of Islamic law. The proposals recognized Islam as the country’s official religion and acknowledged the importance of “Islamic values” in a future Afghan state.

The outline proposed that the government and the Taliban each name seven members to the High Council, with a 15th member appointed by the Afghan president. Similar arrangements were proposed for a commission to prepare a revised constitution and for a Joint Cease-fire Monitoring and Implementation Commission.

The proposals also called for the Taliban to remove “their military structures and officers from neighboring countries.” Pakistan has provided a sanctuary for Taliban commanders and fighters crossing back and forth into Afghanistan and has permitted the militants to maintain a political council in the country.

Both Pakistan and the Taliban are unlikely to agree to such a proposal.

An introduction to the document said it “sets forth principles for governance, security, and rule of law and presents options for power sharing that could help the two sides reach a political settlement that ends the war.”

The Biden administration has said the Taliban have not lived up to their commitments to reduce violence and to cut ties with extremist groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. But Washington has also grown impatient with Mr. Ghani, who has refused to consider an interim government that would almost certainly end his second five-year term as president.

Violence has escalated in Afghanistan over the past year, with persistent Taliban territorial gains and attacks on beleaguered government forces. Mr. Ghani’s government has blamed the Taliban for a series of targeted assassinations of government officials and supporters, security force members and their families, civil society advocates and journalists.

The Taliban have used the violence as leverage in the peace talks in Doha, Qatar, dragging out negotiations while awaiting a decision by President Biden on the May 1 troop withdrawal.

Mr. Blinken’s letter expressed impatience with the pace of negotiations, saying the United States intended “to move matters more fundamentally and quickly toward a settlement and a permanent and comprehensive cease-fire.”

Asfandyar Mir, an analyst at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, said the Biden policy outlined in Mr. Blinken’s letter was “focused, aggressive, ambitious in scope, but also comes with enormous risks.”

He added: “It has far too many moving parts, and time is not on the side of the administration, so it can fail. There might be pushback from some U.S. allies,” particularly since “the Taliban has shown limited interest in meaningful engagement.”

Mr. Mir said the letter indicated that the Biden administration sees Mr. Ghani as an impediment to peace. “It is in no mood to indulge his parochialism,” he said.

Mr. Blinken’s letter, first reported by the independent channel TOLO News in Kabul, said the proposed three-month reduction in violence was intended to forestall a widely anticipated spring offensive by the Taliban while giving negotiations a chance at a fresh start.

“I urge you to strongly consider the proposal,” the secretary told Mr. Ghani.

Mr. Blinken has previously indicated that American troops would not remain in Afghanistan indefinitely. Many analysts say Afghan security forces, already hollowed out by high casualty and desertion rates, would be hard pressed to hold off the Taliban without the presence of American troops — even if Washington and coalition allies continued to provide financial aid and military hardware.

“I must also make clear to you, Mr. President, that as our policy process continues in Washington, the United States has not ruled out any option,” Mr. Blinken wrote.

Adam Weinstein, research fellow for the Middle East at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, said the Biden administration considered Mr. Ghani both a necessary partner and a roadblock to a peace agreement.

“This letter sends a strong message to Ghani to play ball or get out of the way,” he said.

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Your Monday Briefing

In an extraordinary moment on the last full day of the first papal trip to Iraq, Francis went to Mosul, which was seized by the Islamic State seven years ago and declared the capital of its caliphate. The pope directly addressed the suffering, persecution and sectarian conflict that have torn the nation apart.

“The real identity of this city is that of harmonious coexistence between people of different backgrounds and cultures,” Francis said in a public square surrounded by the ruins of four Christian churches. Posters that read “Mosul Welcomes You” covered walls pockmarked with bullet holes.

The pope spoke of “our conviction that fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than death, that peace more powerful than war.” “This conviction speaks with greater eloquence than the passing voices of hatred and violence,” he continued, “and it can never be silenced by the blood spilled by those who pervert the name of God to pursue paths of destruction.”

The visit, which began on Friday, is Francis’s first trip since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The pope has sought to protect an ancient but battered Christian community and build relations with the Muslim world. On Saturday, he met with the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the revered Shiite cleric. We captured key moments of the trip in these images.

a stadium in the northern city of Erbil. The 84-year-old pope and his entourage have been vaccinated against Covid-19, but Iraq’s vaccination campaign began only last week.


the broadest reopening of Israel’s economy since the first coronavirus lockdown began a year ago.

Under Israel’s “Back to Life” program, restaurants still have restrictions on occupancy and social distancing, and indoor seating is available only to Green Pass holders — people over 16 who are fully vaccinated.

latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:


one of the most anticipated, and most heavily spun, television interviews in recent memory.

Was Meghan the victim of a cold, unwelcoming family that isolated her after she married Harry and is now defaming her? Or was she a Hollywood diva who mistreated her staff?

The two-hour interview will be broadcast by CBS in the U.S. on Sunday evening and on ITV in Britain on Monday. Here’s what you need to know about Meghan, Harry and Oprah. We will have live coverage of the interview, so check back on our home page.

six places dependent on tourism, like Apollo Bay, have adapted.

Microsoft hack: The company said businesses and government agencies in the U.S. that use a Microsoft email service had been compromised in an aggressive hacking campaign probably sponsored by the Chinese government. The number of victims is estimated to be in the tens of thousands and could rise.

Philippines rights: Karapatan, a left-leaning human rights organization, accused the country’s security forces of killing nine activists in coordinated raids on their homes and offices in four provinces.

“Nomadland” director: Days after Chloé Zhao won a Golden Globe for the acclaimed film, she faced a backlash in China over her past remarks about the country, where she was born. References to the film’s scheduled April 23 release in China were removed from prominent movie websites.

Tehran detention: House arrest orders have been lifted forNazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman detained in Tehran since 2016, but she faces new charges and her return to London remains uncertain.

receiving his first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine on Saturday in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala. The 85-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader used the moment to encourage people to take the vaccine, saying it would prevent “some serious problem.”

What we’re reading: This National Geographic article about people who play music with instruments made of ice. Scroll down for the video, so you can hear ice music’s crisp sound.

breakfast bars with oats and coconut are perfect for a breakfast on the run or an afternoon nibble.

Listen: These podcasts are for people who know that they should be thinking more about their personal finances but aren’t even sure what the right questions are.

Do: Role-playing games, like Dungeons & Dragons, encourage players to create a story collaboratively as they play. Here’s how to play the games online.

Start off your week on the right foot with our At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

the renewed love affair of New Yorkers with Central Park. Here’s an excerpt.

Central Park has long provided a refuge from the anxieties and stresses of daily life, perhaps never more so than during the coronavirus siege and four long years of increasingly toxic politics. New Yorkers who visited the park every day, as well as those who had long taken it for granted, felt a renewed love for this amazing rectangle of green in the heart of the big city.

briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is the first of a two-part series on President Biden’s approach to Saudi Arabia.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Z as in ___(five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times has a new team that is going to expand our live coverage, including Andrea Kannapell, who has been the editor of the Global Briefings, including this one, since their inception.

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U.S. Risks a ‘Fourth Wave’ Fueled by Variants and Eased Restrictions, Fauci Warns

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been warning about it since January: A more contagious and possibly deadlier variant of the coronavirus, first found in Britain, is likely to become predominant in the United States, perhaps leading to a wrenching surge in cases and deaths.

The first part of that warning seems to be coming true: The variant, known as B.1.1.7, is doubling its share of all new U.S. cases about every 10 days.

But the second part is harder to make out, at least so far. The steep fall in new cases from the January peak halted in mid-February, but the trend since then has been roughly steady or only slightly downward, rather than a feared “fourth wave.”

Experts are not sure why. The accelerating pace of vaccinations and the remaining virus-control measures in much of the country might be balancing out the spread of the more contagious variant, so that total cases neither rise nor fall very much. But it is difficult to know how long that equilibrium might last, or whether the next clear turn in the trend will be upward or downward.

New York Times database. That is the lowest seven-day average since October and about 10 percent below the average on Feb. 21, when the steep decline slowed. Still, the figure is close to the peak level of the surge last summer. Death reports are also falling but remain high, regularly topping 2,000 a day.

In an interview Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” Dr. Fauci said that over the past week and a half, the decline in cases had stalled. “We’re plateauing at quite a high level — 60 to 70,000 new infections per day is quite high,” he said.

This trend is particularly worrisome, he said, because in the United States over the past year, when the daily level of new infections plateaued at a high level, surges in cases followed. And recently in Europe, infection levels were declining, then plateaued and “over the last week or so, they’ve had about a 9 percent increase in cases,” Dr. Fauci said.

Experts say they need more data to understand why the United States has not yet seen a surge in cases as the fearsome B.1.1.7 variant has spread so rapidly, already accounting for more than one-fifth of new cases.

William Hanage, a Harvard epidemiologist, said there could be several reasons B.1.1.7 has not started ravaging the United States the way it consumed Britain, including more widespread vaccination, improving weather and the patchwork of pandemic restrictions across the states.

Florida, Mr. Hanage and other experts say, is an interesting example, because infections have not surged even though restrictions are looser than in other states and the variant makes up at least an estimated 30 percent of cases, the highest proportion in the nation.

Dr. Fauci said on Sunday that a variant first identified in New York is “not widespread yet, but it seems to be spreading pretty efficiently through the New York City metropolitan area and beyond.”

He said there is evidence that the variant may partly elude protection conferred by vaccines and monoclonal antibody treatments, although the variant does not evade vaccines and treatments as much as one first identified in South Africa.

The best way to prevent further spread is to “get people vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible and, above all, maintain the public health measures that we talk about so often: the masking, the physical distancing, and the avoiding of congregate settings, particularly indoors.” Dr. Fauci said. “That’s what you can do to prevent the spread of a worrisome variant.”

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