Johnson faces calls to resign
Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, is under growing pressure to resign after a public backlash over a Downing Street garden party he attended last year while his country was under a strict coronavirus lockdown. Johnson, who had not previously admitted to being at the event, offered a contrite apology to fellow Britons during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday.
“I want to apologize,” he said. “I know the rage they feel with me and with the government I lead, when they think in Downing Street itself the rules are not being properly followed by the people who make the rules.” He insisted that he had thought the gathering was a work event that did not breach government regulations — a claim that provoked incredulity among critics.
Top officials of the opposition Labour Party were scathing as they called for his resignation. “The party is over, prime minister,” Labour’s leader, Keir Starmer, declared. “The only question is: ‘Will the British public kick him out? Will his party kick him out? Or will he do the decent thing and resign?’” Conservative backbenchers now fear a public backlash, and an internal investigation is ongoing.
Backlash: Roger Gale, a Conservative lawmaker and a vocal critic of Johnson’s, told the BBC that the prime minister had misled Parliament and was “politically a dead man walking.” The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, also called on Johnson to stand aside.
The costs of China’s ‘zero Covid’ policy
China’s “zero Covid” policy, which involves efforts to eliminate the virus from the country altogether, is carried out by millions of people who work diligently toward that goal, even at the expense of people’s lives, well-being and dignity.
China’s early authoritarian policies to combat the coronavirus seem to have emboldened officials. Many now believe that they must do everything within their power to ensure zero Covid infections, since it is the will of their top leader, Xi Jinping. In some cases, their actions have had tragic consequences, with people being denied health care or being beaten for seeking food.
These tensions play out online, as zealous nationalists spar with Chinese citizens who question how those enforcing the quarantine rules can behave in such a manner and ask who holds ultimate responsibility. Some have invoked the phrase “the banality of evil” in the discussions, an expression coined by the philosopher Hannah Arendt in her writings on the Holocaust.
McCarthy refuses interview by Jan. 6 committee
Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, has refused to cooperate with a formal request for an interview with the select committee scrutinizing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. On the day itself, McCarthy was in close contact with Donald Trump before, during and after the violence. He has fought to shut down any investigation of the events.
The request sent a clear message that the committee’s investigators are willing to pursue the highest-ranking figures on Capitol Hill for information about the former president’s mind-set as the violence unfolded. McCarthy, a California Republican, is on track to become the speaker of the House if Republicans retake the chamber in November.
In a statement, McCarthy condemned the investigation as “illegitimate.” He has led his party’s opposition to the formation of a bipartisan panel as initially conceived to investigate the riot, has opposed the creation of the current committee and has attacked the panel’s work for weeks.
Grounds: Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the committee, said the panel had obtained “contemporaneous text messages from multiple witnesses” that refer to White House staff members as expressing “significant concerns” about Trump’s “state of mind and his ongoing conduct” in the days after Jan. 6.
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A movie on climate change strikes a nerve
“Don’t Look Up” is one of Netflix’s most popular films ever. After it premiered in December, climate scientists took to social media and penned opinion essays, saying they felt seen at last.
In the movie, a planet-killing comet serves as a metaphor for the climate crisis. A team of scientists, frantically pushing for government action but ignored because of politics, profiteering and apathy, stands in for climate scientists who are pushing for cuts to emissions.
Adam McKay, the director, wants the film to be “a kick in the pants” that prompts urgent climate action. Netflix worked with climate scientists to share ways to take action, and cast members have pointed to climate legislation voters can support.
“I’m under no illusions that one film will be the cure to the climate crisis,” McKay, whose previous films include “The Big Short” and “Vice,” told The Times. “But if it inspires conversation, critical thinking, and makes people less tolerant of inaction from their leaders, then I’d say we accomplished our goal.”