Agency: In August, Lorde put out her third record, “Solar Power.” Three weeks later, she released “Te Ao Marama,” an EP with five of the album’s songs translated into Maori, the Indigenous language of New Zealand. It’s part of an effort in her native country to boost a language that, not long ago, experts feared could die out, Brian Ng reports.
Beginning in the 1850s, the country’s European-settler government punished children who spoke the language at school and isolated Maori families by embedding them in white neighborhoods. New Zealand declared Maori an official language in 1987, but by then most of its speakers were older.
One of the artists behind the musical Maori resurgence is Dame Hinewehi Mohi, who in 2019 compiled “Waiata/Anthems,” an album of contemporary English tracks performed in Maori that debuted at No. 1 on the New Zealand charts. (Waiata means “song.”)
Language revitalization is “a never-ending battle,” Sir Timoti Karetu, an expert on Maori language, said. “All of us who have been colonized by somebody else are struggling for our languages to survive.”
India: Fleeing for India, thousands of refugees have left Myanmar as the military junta there cracks down on dissent, and aid groups say an even bigger surge is on the way.
The Tatmadaw, as the Myanmar military is known, has targeted areas that are home to thousands of armed civilians who call themselves the People’s Defense Force. Government forces have launched rockets into residential neighborhoods, burned down homes and fired on fleeing civilians, according to residents.
Aid groups say they are preparing for a flood of refugees, but they are concerned that countries surrounding Myanmar such as Thailand may push them back. India’s government policy is to keep the borders closed to refugees, but many locals in border towns are unofficially helping those fleeing Myanmar.
Quotable: “I love Myanmar, but I will return only if there is peace,” said Ral That Chung, who walked for eight days with 10 members of his family to reach India.
Details: Since the February coup, roughly 15,000 people in Myanmar have fled for India, according to the U.N.
Agency: Australia has overcome a sluggish start to its Covid vaccination campaign, and 72 percent of its population have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared with 66 percent in the U.S., according to government data collated by the Our World in Data project.
The successful shift from a zero-Covid strategy to one prioritizing vaccines has allowed children to return to school in Sydney and state governments to relax the country’s borders.
And in the Pacific, some of the world’s most isolated and smallest nations have also achieved some of the highest rates of vaccination against Covid.
Palau, an archipelago of hundreds of islands east of the Philippines, has now vaccinated 92 percent of its population of around 17,600 people, according to government data. New Zealand has provided doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and the AstraZeneca vaccines to the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau and Tuvalu.
Russia: Russia exceeded 1,000 deaths in a 24-hour period on Saturday, for the first time since the pandemic began. Russia broke another record yesterday with more than 34,000 new infections registered in the previous 24 hours.
For comparison, Britain, with a little less than half the population, had 57 deaths in a recent 24-hour period.
Apathy and mistrust for the Kremlin has left only 42 million of Russia’s 146 million inhabitants fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said last week, a rate well below other advanced countries. Still, the government has imposed few restrictions.
“Approximately 40 percent of Russians do not trust the government, and those people are among the most active who refuse the vaccines,” said the director of an independent polling operation. In August, one of its polls showed that 52 percent of Russians said they were uninterested in getting the vaccine.
The government’s initial nonchalance engendered a casual view of the virus in many Russians. Some say they trust other vaccines more than Russia’s own Sputnik V. The Kremlin has started to worry: President Vladimir Putin — who announced only in June that he had been vaccinated — asked parliamentarians to promote vaccination last week.
Agency: When “Insecure” begins its final season later this month on HBO, it will return to the thing that made it both subtly groundbreaking and appealing for Black viewers especially: consistent focus on the ups and downs of Black women’s friendships.
As only the second television comedy created by and starring a Black woman, “Insecure” countered the racial homogeneity of its predecessors. It wowed viewers with the sleek and inviting looks and sounds of the show’s world, including the fashion of its characters.
But the most revolutionary aspect of “Insecure” was the abundance of decidedly unsexy moments — when the characters messed up, hurt themselves and others, indulged in the kinds of mistakes and bad decisions most of us make as young adults.
“True representation is the ability to show your vulnerability and be able to say, ‘I don’t have it all together, just like the next white person doesn’t have it all together,’” said Issa Rae, the show’s star and co-creator.
For more, our contributing critic at large, Salamishah Tillet, interviewed the stars and showrunners of “Insecure” about the show’s conclusion.
Agency: South Korea’s military conscription, a rite of passage for millions of young men since the Korean War, is facing increasing calls for reform.
While South Korea is still technically at war with North Korea, its draft has become less popular across the country. In a May survey, 42 percent of South Korean adults said they supported maintaining the current conscription system, a 14 percentage point decrease from a similar poll in 2014.
Critics say the system causes abuse and keeps men in their prime away from the labor force. Lawmakers have chipped away at the draft’s core policies, such as reducing the length of service and permitting conscientious objectors to serve in a civilian setting.
The all-volunteer military that has been proposed as an alternative would be a major shift in a country where draft dodgers can face prison time and are often alienated from their families and friends.
Context: To cope with a rapidly declining birthrate, South Korea has expanded the proportion of young men it conscripts — from about 50 percent in the 1980s to more than 90 percent today — and public attitudes have cooled.
Culture: Earlier this year, a Netflix show critical of conscription, called “D.P.” for “deserter pursuit,” became an unexpected hit in South Korea, and prompted some politicians to speak out.
Agency: Merck, which recently announced that its antiviral medication had proved effective against the coronavirus, said it would allow its pills to be sold by generic manufacturers in India at a significantly reduced price in more than 100 poorer countries.
The move by the drug maker was largely celebrated by advocates who see it as a step closer to equity while the vast majority of vaccinations have gone to wealthy nations. If all goes according to plan, the generic version of the treatment could help significantly reduce hospitalizations and deaths in regions like sub-Saharan Africa, where vaccination rates are as low as 3 percent.
But obstacles still remain. It is unclear how much of the generic product will be available next year, and distribution agreements are not set for many undervaccinated nations, such as Ukraine, that have been hit hard by Covid-19. Additionally, testing, which is limited in some poorer regions, is necessary for reliable and efficient treatment.
Data: The poorest nations may be able to buy molnupiravir, Merck’s antiviral medication, for well under $20 per five-day course, compared to $712 for the U.S., which has agreed to purchase 20 percent of what the drug maker says it can produce this year.
Agency: A gang in Haiti’s capital kidnapped a group of 17 people associated with an American aid group, including five children, according to local authorities.
The group, Christian Aid Ministries, said its members were taken on their way home from visiting an orphanage in a suburb east of Port-au-Prince. Those taken include 16 Americans and a Canadian. The police have identified the gang they believe to be responsible: 400 Mawozo, considered to be among the country’s most dangerous. The gang has introduced a new type of kidnapping in Haiti — kidnapping en masse.
Haiti has been in political upheaval for years, and kidnappings are common. In the wake of a presidential assassination in July, things have only grown worse. But the abduction of such a large group of Americans shocked officials for its brazenness.
Big picture: Violence is surging across Port-au-Prince. By some estimates, gangs now control roughly half of the city. Last Monday, gangs shot at a school bus, injuring at least five people, including students. A public bus was hijacked as well.
Many Haitians have been calling for the U.S. to send troops to stabilize the situation, but the Biden administration has been reluctant to commit boots on the ground.
Agency: President Biden warned that the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t yet over, but said that the U.S. “was headed in the right direction.” He called on states and private businesses to support vaccine mandates in an effort to avoid another surge in cases.
“We have critical work to do and we can’t let up now,” Biden said in a speech at the White House on Thursday. “I’m calling on more business to step up. I’m calling on more parents to get their children vaccinated when they are eligible.”
He projected optimism amid a drop in new cases compared to a devastating summer wave.
The numbers: The U.S. is now recording roughly 90,000 new infections a day, down more than 40 percent since August. Hospitalizations and deaths are also falling. Nearly 70 percent of adults are fully vaccinated, and many children under 12 are likely to be eligible for their shots in a matter of weeks.
Related: An F.D.A. advisory committee recommended Moderna booster shots for high-risk groups. The F.D.A. had authorized booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Agency: Chinese authorities are rolling out third shots of coronavirus vaccines for high-risk groups in at least 10 regions, according to state media, as the country races to meet its goal of fully vaccinating 80 percent of its population by the end of the year.
After outbreaks of the Delta variant, Wang Huaqing, China’s top immunization official, recommended last month that additional shots be administered to people in frontline professions, including medical workers; people with weaker immune systems; those age 60 or older; and travelers to high-risk countries.
A W.H.O. panel of experts on Monday recommended that an additional dose be administered to people over 60 who were inoculated with vaccines made by the Chinese companies Sinopharm and Sinovac.
Despite its high vaccination rate, China has shown no signs of abandoning its “zero Covid” strategy, and has continued to use a mix of strict border controls, mass testing and snap lockdowns.
Details: Last month, China announced that it had fully inoculated 1 billion people, or about 71 percent of its population of 1.4 billion. The country has administered 2.21 billion doses.
What’s next: Chinese health officials have said that further studies are still needed to determine whether the rest of the population would benefit from boosters.