Your Monday Briefing

High-profile arrests rock Jordan.
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By Amelia Nierenberg

Writer, Briefings

Good morning. We’re covering political tumult in Jordan, dangerous variants and U.S.-Taliban negotiations.

Jordanians follow the latest political developments in the capital, Amman, on Sunday.Khalil Mazraawi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Turmoil in Jordan

The Jordanian government has arrested high-profile figures, including Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, and Bassem Awadallah, a former chief of the royal court, an unusual development in the normally stable Arab kingdom. Officials cited “the security and stability of Jordan” as reasons for the moves.

According to an Israeli official, Jordanian officials said there had not been a coup attempt, that the situation was under control, and that its gravity had been exaggerated by the news media, though they did confirm that arrests had been made.

But it remains unclear if Hamzah bin Hussein, the former crown prince, is detained. In a dramatic video, he said he had no security or phone access, that the satellite internet service he was using was about to be cut and that he was under house arrest. The Jordanian Army and security services denied reports that he had been arrested.

The deputy prime minister said Prince Hamzah had worked with “foreign entities” to destabilize the state, the BBC reported. He accused Prince Hamzah of attempting to recruit “clan leaders” against the government after the prince had recent meetings with tribal leaders. Prince Hamzah also said the military leader had chastised him for being present at meetings where there had been criticism of the king or the government.

“Even to criticize a small aspect of a policy leads to arrest and abuse by the security services,” he said in the video. “It’s reached the point where no one is able to speak or express an opinion on anything without being bullied, arrested, harassed and threatened.”

Seniors wait in line to receive vaccinations in Belford Roxo, Brazil.Dado Galdieri for The New York Times

Variants may undo progress

The United States appears to be bending the pandemic curve. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus have fallen steeply from their highs.

But concerning variants are spreading, carrying mutations that make the virus both more contagious and in some cases more deadly. Variants first discovered in Britain, South Africa and Brazil are gaining a foothold, and new U.S. variants have continued to pop up, threatening to postpone the pandemic’s end.

“We don’t have evolution on our side,” said Devi Sridhar, a professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Context: At the moment, most vaccines appear to be effective against the variants. But public health officials are deeply worried that future iterations of the virus may be more resistant, requiring Americans to line up for regular rounds of booster shots or even new vaccines.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Thanks to Israel’s world-leading vaccine rollout, more than 1,000 people were able to pack the streets of Jerusalem for a Good Friday procession.
  • The U.S. is averaging more than three million vaccinations a day for the first time.
  • Britain reported 30 more cases of extremely rare blood clots in people who had received the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, but it is not clear whether any are linked to the vaccine. Even if they are, British and European regulators have said clots were so rare that the vaccine should continue to be used.
  • Mount Everest is open for pandemic-safe climbing. Nepal, desperate for tourist money, says it has taken steps to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.
Afghan security forces at an outpost in Kandahar in January. The Taliban have overtaken much of the area.Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Tense Taliban negotiations

U.S. officials are negotiating with the Taliban in the final weeks before the country is set to withdraw from Afghanistan. Diplomats are trying to build on classified parts of the 2020 peace deal with the group that outlined what military actions were supposed to be prohibited.

If these discussions — and the separate talks between the Afghan government and Taliban — falter, thousands of U.S. troops may stay in Afghanistan beyond May 1, the deadline by which all American military forces are meant to withdraw from the country under last year’s agreement.

The deadline comes right as the insurgent group is likely to be engaged in its spring offensive against the beleaguered Afghan security forces. It may have already started, given the series of large attacks and assassinations by the Taliban in recent days. That, too, could set back any progress and send Afghanistan back into chaos.

Analysis: Experts say a deal is unlikely by May 1 unless the U.S. makes serious concessions.


From Asia
Joy Christian/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
From Around the World
  • A Capitol Police officer was killed and another was injured in an attack at the U.S. Capitol on Friday. The attacker, whom police fatally shot, had been distressed but had no known history of violence.
  • Thirteen Turkish trainee pilots face life in prison for participating in the 2016 coup attempt, the same punishments as the generals who led the charge. Their families are pushing back, saying they played no part in the events.
  • Thousands protested a sweeping crime and policing bill in the United Kingdom on Saturday, amid a raging debate over law enforcement tactics.
  • In a nationalist spectacle, Egypt transported 22 mummies through downtown Cairo in a glitzy procession that obscured the impoverished neighborhoods along its route.
A Morning Read
Su Min, a 56-year-old from central China has struck out on a much-beloved road trip. 

Tired of housework and an unhappy marriage, a 56-year-old woman began a six-month jaunt across China that has challenged deep-rooted gender norms. Su Min, who has amassed more than 1.35 million followers across several social media platforms, has never been happier. “It took me so many years to realize that I had to live for myself,” she said.



Pandemic burnout

“What time is it?” my colleague Sarah Lyall wrote, reflecting on more than 700 comments from readers about their work burnout. “What day is it? What did we do in October? Why are we standing in front of the refrigerator staring at an old clove of garlic?”

Experts told her that monotony and chronic yet unpredictable stress wrecks our ability to experience pleasure and form working memories, casting us into a fog.

Stephanie Soderlund, a chemist in Portland, Ore. put it plainly: “At this point I don’t know who is going to crack first, me or the pandemic.”


What to cook
Romulo Yanes for The New York Times. Food Stylist:Vivian Lui

This one-pot turmeric coconut rice with greens is comforting, colorful and adaptable.

What to read

In “Beautiful Things,” Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son, opens up about crack addiction, his romantic relationship with his sister-in-law and the new love that halted his cycle of despair.

What to listen to

Olivia Rodrigo’s emotional road trip “Deja Vu,” and eight more songs from Westside Gunn, Rosanne Cash, Dry Cleaning and others are on our pop critic’s weekly playlist.

Now time to play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Cowboy’s contest (five letters).

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia

P.S. The word “pajamaville” — how one woman described her late-stage pandemic burnout — appeared for the first time in The Times over the weekend.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about President Biden’s infrastructure plan.

You can reach the team at


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