Your Tuesday Briefing

The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, met President Biden at the White House on Monday.Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

A ‘united’ approach to Ukraine

President Biden said that Germany and the U.S. would take a “united” approach to rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Despite earlier concerns that Germany has not been a forceful enough partner in confronting Russia, Biden said that the Germans supported a “strong package” of potential sanctions. He did not detail what those would be.

Biden also said that Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline being built between Germany and Russia, would not go forward should Russia invade Ukraine. Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, has been vague about whether he would agree to terminate the pipeline project, but he repeated what he has said frequently: “We are absolutely united.”

Biden advised American civilians in Ukraine to leave the country, adding that he would “hate to see them get caught in a crossfire.” He added, “I have been very, very straightforward and blunt with President Putin, both on the phone and in person: We will impose the most severe sanctions that have ever been imposed.”

Putin’s plan: After a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron, the leaders of Russia and France, Putin said that proposals made by Macron were “too early to speak about” but could create “a foundation for our further steps.” Asked whether Russia would invade Ukraine, Putin did not rule out the possibility.

The entrance to an NSO Group branch in Sapir, Israel.Credit…Amir Levy/Getty Images

Did Israeli police spy on citizens?

Reporters and watchdogs have exposed how spyware from NSO Group, an Israel-based surveillance firm, has been sold to authoritarian governments, who used it to hack phones. Now the Israeli government has said it will investigate claims that the Israeli police used spyware against its citizens without a court order.

The Israeli news outlet Calcalist began last month to report claims that the Israeli police used NSO’s flagship product, Pegasus, to extract information from the phones of local activists, politicians, businesspeople, civil servants and both critics and associates of Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister. Calcalist has also released a list of dozens of citizens whose phones it said were hacked.

The allegations have caused a brief delay in Netanyahu’s corruption trial amid claims that the police illegally hacked the phone of a key trial witness.

Quotable: Naftali Bennett, the Israeli prime minister, said spyware products like Pegasus “are important tools in the fight against terrorism and severe crime, but they were not intended to be used in phishing campaigns targeting the Israeli public or officials — which is why we need to understand exactly what happened.”

The mayor of Ottawa declared a state of emergency after more than a week of unrest that began with protests by truckers over vaccine mandates.Credit…Patrick Doyle/Reuters

State of emergency in Canada

After 11 days of trucker protests in the Canadian capital against vaccine mandates and other restrictions, Ottawa has declared a state of emergency. Some protesters have desecrated national memorials and threatened local residents, and the protests have shaken a country known globally as a model of peace. Truck convoys congregated in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia.

The demonstrations were set off by a decision from Justin Trudeau, the prime minister, to require Covid vaccinations for truckers returning from the U.S. They have evolved into a more general protest against pandemic rules, even as polls show that most Canadians support Covid measures, such as mask and vaccination regulations and occasional lockdowns.

Quotable: “Someone is going to get killed or seriously injured because of the irresponsible behavior of some of these people,” Jim Watson, Ottawa’s mayor, warned on Sunday.

In other developments:

  • Australia will reopen on Feb. 21 to international tourists who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

  • The virus has spread rapidly through America’s deer population. Scientists worry they could become a vessel for mutations.

  • An Omicron subvariant is spreading rapidly in parts of Asia and Europe, but experts said it was not expected to cause significantly more damage.


Winter Olympics

Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
  • The 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva wrapped up a history-making free skate in the team competition, including the first two quadruple jumps landed by a woman at an Olympic event.

  • The Dutch speedskater Ireen Wüst became the first person to win individual gold medals at five Olympics.

  • Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis player who largely disappeared from public life after accusing a political official of sexual abuse, held a private meeting with Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee.

  • Who’s leading the medal count? It depends on how you measure it.

Around the World

Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times
  • As inflation spirals in Turkey, doctors, worn down by grueling hours and violence, are emigrating in rising numbers.

  • A grass-roots movement in Sudan is taking on the country’s generals and demanding a government led by civilians.

  • The Kurds of northeastern Syria dreamed of establishing an autonomous, multiethnic and gender-equal utopia. Instead, their breakaway region has been engulfed in conflict.

What Else Is Happening

  • Climate and demographic threats are chipping away at the centuries-old culture surrounding the cultivation of wasabi in Japan.

  • Towns in the Pacific Northwest are planning tsunami evacuation towers in the event of an offshore earthquake, expected sooner or later, that could otherwise kill thousands.

  • A new study found that the world’s glaciers may contain less water than previously believed.

A Morning Read

Credit…Keizo Kitajima and Yukiko Koide Presents, Tokyo

When Henry Darger, a janitor turned artist, died in Chicago at 81 in 1973, he left a single room crammed with his colorful illustrations, a 15,000-page book and no immediate surviving relatives. His landlords — a photographer and a classical pianist — assumed the rights to the work and began showing, sharing and selling it.

Recently, a collector of vintage photography tracked down relatives of Darger. Most are first cousins twice or three times removed. They are challenging the landlords’ claim to the immense legacy left by Darger, now considered one of America’s greatest outsider artists.


Rescuing Jewish women’s stories

Novels written in Yiddish by women have remained largely unknown — mostly because they were never translated into English or never published as books, unlike works by male writers including Sholem Aleichem, Isaac Bashevis Singer and Chaim Grade. Publishers had long dismissed Jewish women’s writing of the same period as insignificant or unmarketable to a wider audience.

But in recent years, there has been a surge of Yiddish-to-English translations of works by female writers. “This literature has been hiding in plain sight, but we all assumed it wasn’t there,” said Anita Norich, a professor emeritus at the University of Michigan.

The novel “Diary of a Lonely Girl, or the Battle Against Free Love,” by Miriam Karpilove, is one such title. First published serially in the Yiddish daily newspaper Di Varhayt between 1916 and 1918, it was translated by Jessica Kirzane, who teaches Yiddish at the University of Chicago, and published in 2020.

The book is a sendup of the socialists, anarchists and intellectuals who populated New York’s Lower East Side in the early 20th century, written from the perspective of a sardonic young woman frustrated by the men’s advocacy of unrestrained sexuality and their lack of concern about the consequences for her.

Kirzane said that her students were drawn to its contemporary echoes of men using their power for sexual advantage. “The students are often surprised that this is someone whose experiences are so relatable even though the writing was so long ago,” she said.

Read more about women’s writing in Yiddish.


What to Cook

Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

Nutty farro and earthy mushrooms form the base of this elegant gratin.

What to Read

Having trouble paying attention? Two books — Johann Hari’s “Stolen Focus” and Jacob Ward’s “The Loop” — explore how technology is affecting our brains.

Gaming Interlude

The Sims, the long-running video game that allows players to create virtual characters, might just be the internet’s most exciting place to eat.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Eel, on a sushi menu (five letters).

And here is the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

P.S. The Times is expanding our Live team in Seoul and London.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the murder of George Floyd.

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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