vast network of volunteers to mobilize voters and secure victories.

When he was chief minister of Gujarat, Mr. Modi saw firsthand how unchecked communal tensions could turn into bloodletting.

In 2002, a train fire killed 59 Hindu pilgrims. Although the cause was disputed, violent mobs, in response, targeted the Muslim community, leaving more than 1,000 people dead, many burned alive.

Rights organizations and opposition leaders accused Mr. Modi of looking the other way. He rejected the allegations as political attacks.

took an oath to turn India into a Hindu state, even if it meant killing for it.

role model.”

he said.

telling them.

The police arrested Mr. Narsinghanand on Jan. 15, and he was charged in court with hate speech.

“He said nothing wrong,” said Swami Amritanand, an organizer of the Haridwar event. “We are doing what America is doing, we are doing what Britain is doing.”

Mr. Amritanand said the call for arms was justified because “within the next 10 to 12 years there will be a horrible war that will play out in India.”

Late last month, the monks again sounded a violent call to create a Hindu state, this time at an event hundreds of miles away from Haridwar in Uttar Pradesh. They threatened violence — referencing a bombing of India’s assembly — if Mr. Narsinghanand was not released.

Ms. Pandey described their actions as defensive. “We must prepare to protect ourselves,” she said.

To the Haridwar police, the event in Uttar Pradesh did not count as a repeat offense. Rakendra Singh Kathait, the senior police officer in Haridwar, said Mr. Narsinghanand was in jail because he had acted again in the city; others like Ms. Pandey got a warning.

“If she goes and says it from Kolkata, it doesn’t count as repeat here,” Mr. Kathait said.

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Digital Currency Group and Jamestown Partner to Bring One Times Square to the Decentraland Metaverse

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Digital Currency Group (DCG), the most active investor in the blockchain and digital assets industry, and global real estate firm Jamestown today announced a joint partnership to recreate One Time Square in Decentraland, the leading decentralized virtual world.

DCG is one of the largest owners of digital real estate (“LAND”) in Decentraland. Jamestown is the owner of One Times Square, which is the site of the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop Celebration.

Simon Koster, DCG’s Head of Real Estate, stated, “The metaverse is quickly evolving to bring together the most interesting and alluring parts of our favorite physical places around the world. From destinations, to gaming, education, retail and more, we can expect the metaverse to revolutionize our current online experience. This event highlights how virtual events can cohesively integrate with real ones in an effort to bring once-in-a-lifetime experiences to so many that would have never been able to participate otherwise.”

The future of real estate is the thoughtful integration of the virtual and physical worlds, optimized for user experience,” said Michael Phillips, President of Jamestown. “The metaverse is an important part of the evolution of real estate and the built environment. Whereas physical real estate is largely limited to people with geographic proximity, the metaverse can give people around the world meaningful access to places through immersive virtual experiences. Recreating One Times Square in the Decentraland metaverse is part of a larger digital asset strategy to evolve and enhance our physical real estate for Web 3.0 and open new pathways for our assets to exist in multiple metaverses in the future.”

The Decentraland community is ready for this perfect capstone to an incredible year,” said Fede Molina on behalf of the Decentraland Foundation. “We can’t wait to ring in 2022 with friends all over the world and show off how far our ecosystem has come. The partnership between Jamestown and DCG to develop One Times Square embodies the beauty of Decentraland: brands and builders bring their diverse assets and ideas to our virtual world, and, in so doing, enrich the experience for all.”

The Party

The virtual One Times Square (-106, -119) will launch in Decentraland on New Year’s Eve with the MetaFest 2022 global party featuring music and entertainment acts, rooftop VIP lounges, CryptoArt galleries, and immersive games. Live feeds of the real-world Times Square and virtual Zoom parties will stream on digital billboards, bringing global partygoers together in the metaverse to celebrate the New Year.

Official programming will begin at 11:00 p.m. EST and continue into the early hours of 2022.

CoinDesk, the leading crypto media and events company, will debut year-in-review video content in its auditorium (-103, -120) and broadcast interviews with people on its “Most Influential” list. Partygoers who visit the space can claim QR codes for discounted tickets to Consensus, the annual crypto festival, taking place in Austin in June 2022.

The Build

Leading metaverse development firms GrowYourBase and MetaVenture Studios were engaged to construct and operate the virtual One Times Square in Decentraland. It is the first high-rise build in Decentraland and includes the recreation of the physical asset’s digital signage and New Year’s Eve Ball.

In addition to the One Times Square building, the build area, which spans approximately 170 LAND parcels, includes five buildings, each with distinct exteriors and activated interiors.

The Metaverse

Decentraland is a decentralized metaverse; anyone can enter as an avatar and purchase LAND and other in-world goods with Decentraland’s native MANA currency. It launched publicly at the start of 2020 with events starting in 2021. Since its launch, Decentraland has attracted celebrities like DeadMau5, 3LAU, and Paris Hilton to headline its virtual festivals. In 2021, Decentraland saw a 15x increase in daily active users.

The History

MetaFest 2022 is the latest chapter in a long history of New Year’s Eve celebrations focused on Times Square. Revelers began celebrating New Year’s Eve in Times Square in 1904, and the New Year’s Eve Ball made its debut atop One Times Square in 1907. Over a century later, it is still the focal point of New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world.

Today, hundreds of thousands of people typically attend the real-life Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebration each year, while more than 1 billion people worldwide view one of the many live broadcasts of the festivities. People also can experience New Year’s Eve in Times Square through VNYE, an immersive virtual experience launched by Jamestown in 2020. Through the VNYE app and vnye.com, which reached more than 3.7 million people in its inaugural year, people can explore Times Square, play games, and livestream New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square and around the world.

About Digital Currency Group

Founded in 2015 by CEO Barry Silbert, DCG is the most active investor in the blockchain sector, with a mission to accelerate the development of a better financial system through the proliferation of digital assets and blockchain technology. Today, DCG sits at the epicenter of the industry, backing more than 200 blockchain-related companies in over 35 countries. DCG also invests directly in digital currencies and other digital assets. In addition to its investment portfolio, DCG is the parent company of Genesis (a global digital asset prime brokerage), Grayscale Investments (the world’s largest digital currency asset manager), CoinDesk (a leading financial media, data, and information company), Foundry (a leader in bitcoin mining and staking), Luno (a leading cryptocurrency platform with a large international footprint), and TradeBlock (an institutional trading platform).

About Jamestown

Jamestown is a global, design-focused real estate investment and management firm with a 38-year track record and mission to create places that inspire. Since its founding in 1983, Jamestown has executed transactions in excess of $35 billion. As of September 30, 2021, Jamestown has assets under management of $13.1 billion and a portfolio spanning key markets throughout the U.S., Latin America, and Europe. Jamestown employs more than 400 people worldwide with headquarters in Atlanta and Cologne, and offices in Amsterdam, Bogotá, Boston, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Milan, New York, San Francisco, and Washington. Current and previous projects include One Times Square and Chelsea Market in New York, Industry City in Brooklyn, Ponce City Market in Atlanta, Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, the Innovation and Design Building in Boston, and Groot Handelsgebouw in Rotterdam. For more information, visit www.jamestownlp.com.

One Times Square Decentraland Press Experience

We will be hosting a private, guided walk-through of the development for members of the press prior to the launch event. On New Year’s Eve, members of the press are invited to join our teams in the private gallery for a special viewing of the Ball Drop Celebration.

Please contact Media@jamestownlp.com or press@dcg.co to register your interest.

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As Other Arab States Falter, Saudi Arabia Seeks to Become a Cultural Hub

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — A pregnant Saudi woman, far from home, finds herself stalked by inner and outer demons. A wannabe Saudi vlogger and his friends, menaced by the internet’s insatiable appetite for content and more mysterious dangers, try to escape a dark forest. At a wedding, the mother of the bride panics when her daughter disappears with all of their guests waiting downstairs.

These were just a few of the 27 Saudi-made films premiering this month at a film festival in Jeddah, part of the conservative kingdom’s huge effort to transform itself from a cultural backwater into a cinematic powerhouse in the Middle East.

The Saudi push reflects profound shifts in the creative industries across the Arab world. Over the past century, while the name Saudi Arabia conjured little more than oil, desert and Islam, Cairo, Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad stood out as the Arab cultural beacons where blockbuster movies were made, chart-topping songs were recorded and books that got intellectuals talking hit the shelves.

to promote pro-government themes.

In many ways, the region’s cultural mantle is up for grabs, and Saudi Arabia is spending lavishly to seize it.

At the Red Sea International Film Festival, held on a former execution ground, Jeddah residents rubbernecked as stars like Hilary Swank and Naomi Campbell strutted down a red carpet in revealing gowns, and Saudi influencers D.J.-ed at dance parties.

All this in a country where, until a few years ago, women were not allowed to drive, cinemas were banned and aspiring filmmakers often had to dodge the religious police to shoot in public.

CineWaves.

Although Saudi Arabia’s population is about a fifth of Egypt’s, the Saudis are more affluent and wired, making them more likely to pay for streaming services and movie tickets. At about $18, a ticket in Saudi theaters is among the most expensive in the world.

But the kingdom only allowed cinemas to reopen only in 2018 after a 35-year ban. Before that, Saudis escaped to nearby Bahrain or Dubai to go to theaters.

Now, the country has 430 screens and counting, making it the fastest-growing market in the world, with a target of 2,600 screens by 2030, Mr. Abdulmajeed said.

Film Clinic, a Cairo-based production company.

Several Saudi-Egyptian collaborations are in the works, and an Egyptian “Hangover”-style comedy, “Wa’afet Reggala” (“A Stand Worthy of Men”), was the highest-grossing release in Saudi Arabia this year, beating the Hollywood blockbusters.

Saudi productions may also continue to draw acting, writing and directing talent from Lebanon, Syria and Egypt — and will most likely need to do so to reach non-Saudi audiences, said Rebecca Joubin, an Arab studies professor at Davidson College in North Carolina.

“With Saudi opening up, they say in Egypt that it’s saving Egypt’s movie industry,” said Marwan Mokbel, an Egyptian who co-wrote “Junoon,” the Saudi horror film about the vlogger that premiered at the Jeddah festival.

Shahid, its Dubai-based Arabic counterpart.

That has created a big market for Arabic-language content.

Netflix has produced Jordanian, Egyptian and Syrian-Lebanese shows, with varying degrees of success, and just announced the release of its first Arabic-language feature film, “Perfect Strangers.”

Syrian and Lebanese studios that used to depend on gulf financiers — who, they complained, often forced them to water down their artistic ambitions by nixing political themes — are also turning to web series and Netflix for new funding and wider audiences.

a hip alternative to the somnolent broadcast television. Mohammad Makki recalled dodging the police, guerrilla style, to film the first season of his show “Takki,” about a group of Saudi friends navigating Saudi social constraints, a decade ago. Then, it was a low-budget YouTube series. Now, it is a Netflix hit.

“We grew up dying to go to the cinema,” he said, “and now it’s two blocks from my house.”

Saudi women in the industry faced even greater challenges.

When “Wadjda” (2012), the first Saudi feature directed by a woman, was filmed, Haifaa al-Mansour, the director, was barred from mixing in public with male crew members. She worked instead from the back of a van, communicating with the actors via walkie-talkie.

“I’m still in shock,” said Ahd Kamel, who played a conservative teacher in “Wadjda,” which portrays a rebellious young Saudi girl who desperately wants a bicycle, as she walked through the festival. “It’s surreal.”

As a young actress in New York, Ms. Kamel hid her career from her family, knowing they, and Saudi society, would not approve of a woman acting. Now, she said, her family pesters her for festival tickets, and she is preparing to direct a new film to be shot in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi political, religious and cultural sensitivities are still factors, of course.

Marvel’s big-budget “Eternals” was not released in Saudi Arabia — or in Qatar, Kuwait or Egypt — because of gay romantic scenes. Several of the non-Saudi films screened at the Jeddah festival, however, included gay scenes, nudity and an out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

Hisham Fageeh, a Saudi comedian and actor, said officials had told him future films should avoid touching directly on God or politics.

Sumaya Rida, an actress in the festival movies “Junoon” and “Rupture,” said the films aimed to portray Saudi couples realistically while avoiding onscreen physical affection.

But the filmmakers said they were just happy to have support, accepting that it would come at the price of creative constraints.

“I don’t intend to provoke to provoke. The purpose of cinema is to tease. Cinema doesn’t have to be didactic,” said Fatima al-Banawi, a Saudi actress and director whose first feature film the festival is funding. “It comes naturally. We’ve been so good at working around things for so long.”

Vivian Yee reported from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Ben Hubbard from Beirut, Lebanon. Hwaida Saad contributed reporting from Beirut, and Nada Rashwan from Cairo.

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Singapore Struggles to Reopen After Vaccinations

The country’s experience has become a sobering case study for other nations pursuing reopening strategies without first having had to deal with large outbreaks in the pandemic. For the Singapore residents who believed the city-state would reopen once the vaccination rate reached a certain level, there was a feeling of whiplash and nagging questions about what it would take to reopen if vaccines were not enough.

“In a way, we are a victim of our own success, because we’ve achieved as close to zero Covid as we can get and a very, very low death rate,” said Dr. Paul Tambyah, an infectious diseases specialist at National University Hospital. “So we want to keep the position at the top of the class, and it’s very hard to do.”

vaccinated people are already gathering at concerts, festivals and other large events. But unlike Singapore, both of those places had to manage substantial outbreaks early in the pandemic.

Lawrence Wong, Singapore’s finance minister and a chair of the country’s Covid-19 task force, said the lesson for “Covid-naive societies” like Singapore, New Zealand and Australia is to be ready for large waves of infections, “regardless of the vaccine coverage.”

up against the Delta variant, Mr. Wong said.

“In Singapore, we think that you cannot just rely on vaccines alone during this intermediate phase,” he said. “And that’s why we do not plan an approach where we reopen in a big bang manner, and just declare freedom.”

highest since 2012, a trend that some mental health experts have attributed to the pandemic. People have called on the government to consider the mental health concerns caused by the restrictions.

“It’s just economically, sociologically, emotionally and mentally unsustainable,” said Devadas Krishnadas, chief executive at Future-Moves Group, a consultancy in Singapore. Mr. Krishnadas said the decision to reintroduce restrictions after reaching such a high vaccination rate made the country a global outlier.

granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and up, paving the way for mandates in both the public and private sectors. Such mandates are legally allowed and have been upheld in court challenges.

  • College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Almost all are in states that voted for President Biden.
  • Schools. California became the first state to issue a vaccine mandate for all educators and to announce plans to add the Covid-19 vaccine as a requirement to attend school, which could start as early as next fall. Los Angeles already has a vaccine mandate for public school students 12 and older that begins Nov. 21. New York City’s mandate for teachers and staff, which went into effect Oct. 4 after delays due to legal challenges, appears to have prompted thousands of last-minute shots.
  • Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and major health systems are requiring employees to get vaccinated. Mandates for health care workers in California and New York State appear to have compelled thousands of holdouts to receive shots.
  • Indoor activities. New York City requires workers and customers to show proof of at least one dose of the Covid-19 for indoor dining, gyms, entertainment and performances. Starting Nov. 4, Los Angeles will require most people to provide proof of full vaccination to enter a range of indoor businesses, including restaurants, gyms, museums, movie theaters and salons, in one of the nation’s strictest vaccine rules.
  • At the federal level. On Sept. 9, President Biden announced a vaccine mandate for the vast majority of federal workers. This mandate will apply to employees of the executive branch, including the White House and all federal agencies and members of the armed services.
  • In the private sector. Mr. Biden has mandated that all companies with more than 100 workers require vaccination or weekly testing, helping propel new corporate vaccination policies. Some companies, like United Airlines and Tyson Foods, had mandates in place before Mr. Biden’s announcement.
  • “I think a lot of times we are so focused on wanting to get good results that we just have tunnel vision,” she said.

    Ms. Ng lives across from a testing center. Almost daily, she watched a constant stream of people go in for tests, a strategy that many public health experts say is a waste of resources in such a highly vaccinated country.

    “Freedom Day — as our ministers have said — is not the Singapore style,” said Jeremy Lim, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore and an expert on health policy, referring to England’s reopening in the summer. But moving too cautiously over the potential disadvantages of restrictions is a “bad public health” strategy, he said.

    The government should not wait for perfect conditions to reopen, “because the world will never be perfect. It’s so frustrating that the politicians are almost like waiting for better circumstances,” Dr. Lim said.

    Sarah Chan, a deputy director at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research, said she had a fleeting taste of what normal life was like when she arrived in Italy last month to visit her husband’s family.

    No masks were required outdoors, vaccinated people could gather in groups, and Dr. Chan and her son could bop their heads to music in restaurants. In Singapore, music inside restaurants has been banned based on the notion that it could encourage the spread of the virus.

    Dr. Chan said she was so moved by her time in Italy that she cried.

    “It’s almost normal. You forget what that’s like,” she said. “I really miss that.”

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    How Food Trucks Endured and Succeeded During the Pandemic

    This article is part of Owning the Future, a series on how small businesses across the country have been effected by the pandemic.

    The Covid pandemic hit California hard. It has seen well over 3.5 million cases and over 60,000 deaths. Scores of businesses have closed. But for Ana Jimenez the owner of Tacos El Jerry, a small fleet of food trucks in Santa Cruz County, it provided an opportunity to bring her business into the 21st century.

    Ms. Jimenez’s four trucks began taking orders through an app and a website, delivering directly to customers, and cultivating a customer base through a new social media presence. All of that added up to a significant increase in sales.

    Facebook and Instagram pages for the food trucks, a social media advertising campaign and began accepting credit card purchases. “Each truck is now serving around 300 people per day, which translates to roughly $5,000 in sales daily,” Ms. Jimenez said.

    Food trucks — kitchens on wheels, essentially — are flexible by design and quickly became a substitute during the pandemic for customers who couldn’t dine indoors and coveted something different than their mainstream carryout options. That, in turn, has delivered a new client base to add on to an existing cadre of loyal followers. In a very real sense, food trucks are vehicles for equality in the post-pandemic world.

    “While the pandemic has certainly hurt the majority of small businesses, it has also pushed many to be more innovative by looking for new revenue streams and ways to reach customers,” said Kimberly A. Eddleston, a professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at Northeastern University.

    Like Ms. Jimenez, some businesses have “focused on ways to maintain their customer base by, for example, delivering products directly to customers,” Prof. Eddleston said. “While others have created products and services that attract new customers.”

    Blue Sparrow food trucks in Pittsburgh, adding pizza, four-packs of local beer, gift cards and five-ounce bottles of housemade hot sauce.

    Mr. Cypher’s main fare since he hit the streets in 2016 has been global street food. His menu carries a heavy Asian inspiration. There’s made-from-scratch kimchi on the menu daily. Dishes can include rice bowls, Vietnamese banh mi, falafel burritos, and a burger made with a ramen bun.

    During the pandemic, Mr. Cypher’s business took a hit when 24 festivals and over a dozen weddings where he was booked were canceled. “I switched gears to keep things as lean as possible,” Mr. Cypher said.

    He temporarily shut down a second food truck — a retrofitted 35-foot, 1956 Greyhound bus that he used for the big parties — and introduced a website to interact with his customers and an online ordering system for his smaller truck, which he usually parked at a neighborhood brewery.

    “I switched the menu to focus on soups, noodles, burritos and pressed sandwiches, so that the things that we were handing our customers would make it home and still be a good experience after they opened up the bag and took it out,” he said.

    And he began to make and sell pizza one day a week at the kitchen where he used to do his prep work for the trucks before the pandemic. (The pizza, too, has an international flair: a banh mi pie, for example, made with pork or tofu, miso garlic sauce, mozzarella, pickled carrots, cucumbers, and cilantro.)

    Accion Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit organization providing small-business owners with access to capital, networks and coaching. “Many food truck owners stepped forward to seize opportunity during a time of great uncertainty,” she said.

    As Pittsburgh emerges from the pandemic, Mr. Cypher is adding a twist at his kitchen location. “We have licensing to offer beer on draft from our local breweries, so we’re going to have a small beer garden,” he said. “And that’s a revenue stream that we’re going to kind of lean into that we probably never would have done if not for Covid.”

    In 2020, Mr. Cypher’s food trucks had $200,000 in gross sales, down about 40 percent from the previous year, he said. “But with the new offerings, more efficiency and only running one rig, we were actually able to net enough to keep the business moving forward,” he said. “This year we’re already up about 30 percent from where we were at last year at this time.”

    Shiso Crispy, timing was much tricker: she opened her first truck in November 2019, just a few months before the pandemic. And yet Ms. Whaley, 35, who offers handmade gyozas, bao buns and their signature dish, dirty rice, now has two trucks because of a strategy of regularly parking in certain neighborhoods and offering discounted and free meals outside a nearby Ronald McDonald House. (She added the second truck in January.)

    One challenge: “The internet here is shoddy. And cellphone service in different areas out here just doesn’t work,” she said. “During the height of the pandemic, I was consistently losing two or more transactions at my point of sale every shift.”

    Clover Flex point of sale program for touchless transactions. “It has digitally transformed my business,” Ms. Whaley said.

    She also signed on to an app, called Best Food Trucks, that allows customers near her to pre-order once they know her location for the day.

    “The inextricably connected stories of food trucks and Covid are a perfect microcosm of the undeniable reality that women, immigrants and people of color, historically relegated to the edges of the economy, are actually the foundation upon which the next economy must be built,” said Nathalie Molina Niño, author of “Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs.”

    But the silver lining from the pandemic for some operators is more personal — including bringing families together. “I have a ton of wisdom about how to operate food trucks and cooking,” Ms. Jimenez said. “It’s the coming together of the generations that made the business stronger now and for the future.”

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    New Zealanders Are Flooding Home. Will the Old Problems Push Them Back Out?

    WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Like many New Zealanders before her, Cat Moody chased the broader horizons of life abroad, unsure if she would ever return to a homeland she saw as remote and limiting.

    But when the pandemic arrived, it “changed the calculus” of what she valued, she said. Suddenly, fresh air, natural splendor and a sparse population sounded more appealing, as did the sense of security in a country whose strict measures have all but vanquished Covid-19.

    In February, Ms. Moody, 42, left her house and the life she had built in Princeton, N.J., and moved back to New Zealand with her husband, a U.S. citizen. She is among more than 50,000 New Zealanders who have flocked home during the pandemic, offering the country a rare opportunity to win back some of its best and brightest.

    The unexpected influx of international experience and connections has led to local news reports heralding a societal and industrial renaissance. Policymakers are exhorting businesses to capitalize on the “fundamental competitive advantage” offered by the country’s success against the coronavirus.

    have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, and Australians and residents of the Cook Islands are the only non-New Zealanders who can visit.

    “Shifting into how we take advantage of the way things have changed, I think having a government that is risk-averse is actually going to be damaging to New Zealand,” Ms. Moody said.

    Ms. Imam, who worked in communications for the computer company Dell in the United States, said that New Zealand’s reputation abroad was better than it deserved.

    Still, she said that new government policies, such as paid leave for women who have miscarriages, had convinced her that the “project that is New Zealand” was worth returning for.

    “At least we’re doing something right,” she said. “I want to be part of that.”

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    Taking Art to the Streets, Just Look Down

    This article is part of our latest special report on Museums, which focuses on reopening, reinvention and resilience.

    When Brad Carney sketched the plan for a 15,000-square-foot ground mural in downtown Reno, Nev., he wove in design elements from the area’s railroading heritage, and pulled hues and motifs from nearby buildings and landscapes, including the state flower and the famed Reno Arch.

    “I wanted to make it specific and unique to its place, so that this mural couldn’t exist anywhere else,” said Mr. Carney, an artist based in Philadelphia known for his playful, large scale and brightly colored public works.

    “When I design murals,’’ he added, “I like to become a vessel for a community and a neighborhood, and not bring too much of myself until I find out what they’re looking for. The point of public art, to me, is the process of involving the community.”

    16 small and midsize cities across the country where artists and local residents are taking to the streets — from crosswalks to underpasses — to add new color to old blacktop and pavement with eye-catching urban art as part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative. Grants of up to $25,000 are helping cities create and implement relatively low-cost public art projects to revitalize their streets and public spaces by making them more beautiful, more inviting and safer.

    ReTRAC Plaza, a little used concrete and dirt space once covered in train tracks being developed as a hub for local events, Mr. Carney said, from music festivals and farmers’ markets to movie nights.

    Kate D. Levin, who oversees arts programs for Bloomberg Philanthropies and was commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. And especially now, as cities reopen, “there’s a social cohesion goal that I think has only gotten more urgent,” she said. “Why not use projects like this to actually let people be involved, create a sense that public space belongs to everyone?”

    The goals are to support local working artists, community groups, businesses and government on collaborative infrastructure projects to make streets safer; to activate public space in ways that are “as robust and reflective of local identity and aspirations as possible,” Ms. Levin said; and to promote community engagement, “because a streetscape isn’t theoretical, it runs through people’s lives.”

    Janette Sadik-Khan, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation and now transportation principal at Bloomberg Associates, the pro bono consulting arm of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which advises mayors around the world. “Streets make up more than 80 percent of a city’s public space, so they’re really the front yards for millions of Americans.”

    Three cities began or completed installations in late 2020: Kansas City, Mo; Saginaw, Mich.; and Norfolk, Va. The remaining 13 are expected to finish their projects this year. Through mid-May, the cities have transformed a combined 26,000 square feet of streetscape with artwork and engaged more than 1,500 residents and 72 artists in the design and installation process.

    minority artists who will design vinyl wraps for 25 utility boxes throughout downtown. Troy, N.Y. intends to beautify an underpass.

    “So many U.S. cities have underpasses that, whatever the original intent, turned into real barriers, and divided neighborhoods in ways that often aren’t very positive,” Ms. Levin said, expressing hope that the art projects “can create a gateway instead of an impediment.”

    Teal Thibaud, director of the Glass House Collective, a nonprofit that works in an underserved neighborhood in East Chattanooga, Tenn., said even small improvements could help spawn others, especially in an area that had received limited infrastructure investment in recent years.

    The Bloomberg-funded mural, completed in April, helped beautify the area, and several grants from local foundations, which increased the overall project budget to $60,000, enhanced the area in other ways.

    A new street park next to the asphalt mural that created a safe gathering space, fence art to slow traffic near the elementary school, and painted stencils on sidewalks to encourage school children and other residents to follow the safest local routes were among the projects, said Ms. Thibaud. “We’re starting to see it all work together.”

    Kansas City, Mo., redesigned a busy, dangerous four-way intersection where cars rarely stopped for pedestrians, said DuRon Netsell, founder and principal of Street Smarts Design + Build, an urban design firm that focuses on walkable communities. “People were just flying through the intersection, significantly over the speed limit.”

    Midtown KC Now, a nonprofit local community improvement organization.

    Soon after installation, foot traffic increased, overall vehicle speeds declined by 45 percent, street crossing times for pedestrians were cut in half, noise level dropped by about 10 decibels and the share of pedestrians who said they felt safe crossing the intersection increased to 63 percent from 23, Mr. Netsell said.

    Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg Associates issued the Asphalt Art Guide, a free manual with tips, checklists, and case studies of successful projects around the world to encourage more cities to develop visual art projects. In March, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a second round of up to 20 grants, open to all U.S. cities.

    “Safety doesn’t have to be mundane and boring,” Mr. Netsell said. “We’ve proven that we can make our intersections and streets much safer, but we can also make them really fun and vibrant. It’s something that all local communities can do.”

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    Everything Was Canceled in 2020. What About 2021?

    Early last year, as international lockdowns upended daily life, they took with them, one by one, many of the major cultural and sporting events that dot the calendar each year. The N.B.A. suspended its season, the French Open was postponed for several months and the Tokyo Olympics were delayed a year. The future of the Glastonbury Festival and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival were in doubt. It was a bleak time.

    Recently, as conditions in many places around the world have slowly begun to improve, and as countries have begun mass vaccination campaigns, some events and cultural staples have made plans to return, albeit with modifications. While few events, if any, have plans to go ahead free of restrictions this year, some are taking a hybrid approach. Others remain postponed or canceled.

    Here’s the status of some of the major events around the world.

    scheduled to begin on July 23 with an opening ceremony. The bulk of the athletic events will begin the next day. The first round of Wimbledon begins on June 28 and will run through mid-July. Officials said they were working toward a spectator capacity of at least 25 percent.

    scheduled for Oct. 11, and the 50th New York City Marathon is set for Nov. 7.

    The 105th Indianapolis 500 will go on as planned on May 30. Officials will allow about 135,000 spectators in — 40 percent of the venue’s capacity. The event was organized with state and local health officials and was approved by the Marion County Public Health Department, race officials said.

    The French Open, one of the premier tennis competitions, has been postponed one week to a new start date of May 24. The decision was made in agreement with the authorities in France and the governing bodies of international tennis, said officials, who want the tournament played in front of the largest possible number of fans.

    is canceled again this year.

    it would not take place this summer.

    The Essence Festival of Culture, which usually draws more than a half million people to New Orleans over the Fourth of July weekend every year, will host a hybrid experience this year over two weekends: June 25-27 and July 2-4.

    Headliners like Billie Eilish, Post Malone and ASAP Rocky will take the stage at the Governors Ball Music Festival, which is scheduled for Sept. 24-26 at Citi Field in Queens. Organizers say the event will return to its typical June dates in 2022.

    Burning Man, the annual countercultural arts event that typically draws tens of thousands of people to Black Rock Desert in Nevada, has been canceled again this year because of the pandemic. It will return in 2022, organizers said.

    After being canceled last year, the Austin City Limits Music Festival, the event in the capital of Texas, is scheduled to return to Zilker Park on Oct. 1-3 and Oct. 8-10.

    on Sept. 13. A second event is scheduled for May 2022.

    NYC Pride 2021 will move forward in June with virtual and in-person events. The Pride March, which was canceled last year, will be virtual this time. (San Francisco Pride, also in June, is planning similar adjustments, while Atlanta Pride is planning to hold an in-person event in October.)

    from Aug. 10. In order to keep concertgoers safe, organizers said events will not have intermissions and its venue will have a limited number of available seats. Similarly, the Salzburg Festival in Austria kicks off in mid July with modifications.

    The Edinburgh International Festival, a showcase for world theater, dance and music in the Scottish city since 1947, will run Aug. 7-29. Performances will take place in temporary outdoor pavilions with covered stages and socially distanced seating.

    E3, one of the video game industry’s most popular conventions where developers showcase the latest news and games, will be virtual this year from June 12-15.

    The New York International Auto Show, which showcases the newest and latest automobiles from dozens of brands, will run Aug. 20-29. The event last year was postponed and eventually canceled because of the pandemic.

    The Cannes Film Festival in the South of France, one of the movie industry’s most revered and celebrated events, has been postponed to July 6-17 from mid-May. The 2021 edition of the event, which was canceled last year, is currently scheduled to be in person.

    After more than a year of no theater performances, Broadway shows will start selling tickets for full-capacity shows with some performances starting on Sept. 14. (Some West End shows will resume as early as May 17.)

    After being virtual last year, New York Comic-Con will return with a physical event Oct. 7-10 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. The convention will run at reduced capacity to ensure social distancing, organizers said. This year’s Comic-Con International event, which is normally held in July in San Diego, has been postponed until summer 2022. There are plans for a smaller event called Comic-Con Special Edition however, that will be held in person in November.

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    A Coronavirus Variant First Found in India is Now Officially a ‘Variant of Concern’

    Amid a deepening crisis in India, the World Health Organization announced Monday that it had designated the B.1.617 variant, which has been growing more common in the country, as a variant of concern. Scientists still don’t know much about the variant yet, but they are worried that it may be helping to fuel the rise in the nation’s coronavirus infections, which experts say are likely undercounted.

    “There is increased transmissibility demonstrated by some preliminary studies” of the variant, said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead of the W.H.O.’s coronavirus response.

    Dr. Van Kerkhove also said that a study of a limited number of patients, which had not yet been peer reviewed, suggested that antibodies from vaccines or infections with other variants might not be quite as effective against B.1.617. However, the agency said that vaccines will likely remain potent enough to provide protection against B.1.617.

    More details will be released in a report on Tuesday, Dr. Van Kerkhove said.

    The variant was first detected in India at the end of 2020 but became more common in the country starting in March. It has since been found in 32 countries including the United States and the United Kingdom. The W.H.O.’s announcement comes as growing numbers of medical experts are adding their voices to a chorus of condemnation of the Indian government’s response and calling for nationwide restrictions to try to limit the horrifying death toll.

    the official figures are already staggering — more than 350,000 new infections daily this month and nearly 250,000 total deaths — some experts say that the numbers are a vast undercount and estimate that India is on pace to suffer more than one million deaths by August.

    Initially, the W.H.O. classified B.1.617 as a “variant of interest,” because it had certain mutations that have been linked to higher transmission and the potential to evade vaccines. At a news conference on Monday, agency officials announced they were elevated it to a higher level.

    Other variants of concern include B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, and P.1., which was originally detected in Brazil.

    But experts caution that it’s not yet clear just how much of a factor B.1.617 has played in the catastrophic rise in cases in India. They point to a perfect storm of public health blunders, such as permitting massive political rallies and religious festivals in recent months.

    “I am concerned about 617 — I think we have to keep a very close eye on it,” said Kristian Andersen, a virologist at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. But he cautioned that relatively few variant samples are being analyzed in India, making it hard to know just how dangerous B.1.617 is. “We really, really need better data out of India,” he said.

    editorial published on Saturday in The Lancet, a medical journal, said that Mr. Modi “seemed more intent on removing criticism” on social media than “trying to control the pandemic.”

    “India squandered its early successes in controlling Covid-19,” the editorial said.

    The medical journal also cited an estimate by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that projected that India would witness a total of more than a million coronavirus deaths by August — far higher than government figures would suggest.

    On May 2, for example, the institute said that total deaths were actually about 642,000, about three times higher than the government’s own number for that date, just over 217,000.

    Referring to the possibility that there may actually be a million victims by August, the Lancet editorial said, “If that outcome were to happen, Modi’s government would be responsible for presiding over a self-inflicted national catastrophe.”

    wrote in a tweet on Sunday that it was likely that between two to five million people were being infected every day and that India’s “true” coronavirus death toll was “closer to 25,000 deaths” each day.

    He based his own calculations, he wrote, on the number of cremations taking place in the country.

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    Milva, Redheaded Italian Diva of Many Artistic Hues, Dies at 81

    ROME — Milva, whose charisma, warm voice and flaming red hair made her one of Italy’s most recognizable divas from the 1960s through the ’80s, died on April 23 at a hospital in Milan. She was 81.

    Her daughter, Martina Corgnati, said the cause was a neurovascular disease.

    In an eclectic career that spanned more than 50 years, Milva sang at pop festivals and performed in high-culture houses like the Paris Opera and Milan’s prestigious Piccolo Theater. She became popular across Europe, especially in Germany. She crooned traditional songs and had contemporary hits. She wore glamorous dresses while singing leftist anthems.

    President Sergio Mattarella, in a statement, called her “a protagonist of Italian music, a cultivated, sensitive and versatile interpreter.” Her body lay in state last month at the Piccolo, where fans lined up to pay their last respects.

    “She used to say, ‘First I’ll finish the show, then I can die,’” Ms. Corgnati said. “The show came before everything.”

    1954 Billy Wilder movie of the same name. But her family called her Milva, a fusion of her two first names, and it stuck professionally.

    leftist views and her votes for Communist politicians. She sang about the killing of factory workers by the Italian police, performed traditional antifascist songs of the Italian Resistance, and sang musical versions of the work of anarchist poets. She became — also thanks in part to her blazing red hair — identified with the political left.

    In 1968, when she sang the Resistance song “Bella Ciao” at the RAI Auditorium in Naples, she told the presenter, “I have a weakness for freedom songs.”

    Giorgio Strehler, who oversaw the Piccolo, cast her in Brecht roles, most notably Jenny in “The Threepenny Opera.” She carried his theatrical influence into her concerts, which included 15 appearances at the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy.

    She demonstrated “tireless perfectionism” in preparing her performances, said the director Filippo Crivelli, who worked with her for several years.

    She characteristically sang with her hand on her hip, often dressed in Gianfranco Ferrè’s luxurious dresses and wearing a Guerlain perfume detectable from the first few rows.

    Magazines put her on the cover, paparazzi chased her, and she was the subject of tabloid headlines, especially after one of her former boyfriends was found fatally shot in his car in mysterious circumstances and another killed himself.

    She had no shortage of admirers. The Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone dedicated an album to her. Astor Piazzolla asked her to sing his tangos. Italians knew her best for “Alexander Platz,” a hit song adapted for her by the singer-songwriter Franco Battiato, a giant of Italian pop music, and “La Rossa,” a song written for her by another major artist, Enzo Jannacci.

    She toured Asia and Europe, singing in at least seven different languages.

    All that work took its toll. When her vocal cords grew inflamed, she gave herself cortisone shots to keep singing. Doctors said the treatments contributed to her neurovascular disease, according to Ms. Corgnati. She retired in 2012.

    In addition to her daughter, she is survived by a sister, Luciana, and a brother, Antonio.

    Vicky Schatzinger, a pianist who worked with Milva for 15 years, said she had repeatedly promised to cut her red hair once she left the stage, but she never did.

    “She felt that her hair made her a character,” Ms. Schatzinger said. “But in reality, she was her character herself.”

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