Your Monday Briefing – The New York Times

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Good morning. We’re covering Russia’s outreach to African allies and the W.H.O.’s declaration that monkeypox is a global emergency.

Russia’s top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, began a tour of four African countries yesterday. He is visiting Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Republic of Congo this week, where he seeks to blame the West for war-related grain shortages, which have sparked fears of famine.

Lavrov’s visit follows a major development in the growing crisis. On Friday, Russia agreed to a deal brokered by the U.N. and Turkey, which would allow Ukraine to export its grain.

But Russian missiles struck the Ukrainian port city of Odesa, a critical juncture for exports, less than a day after the pact was signed. The strikes raised questions about Moscow’s intention to stick to the agreement.

Context: Many governments in Africa and in the Middle East have tried to stay out of the conflict, seeking to maintain access to Russian exports, despite pressure from the West. No African countries have joined Western sanctions against Moscow.

Azovstal: The Times took a close look at the 80-day siege at the steel plant in Mariupol, where a relentless Russian assault met fierce Ukrainian resistance.

Analysis: The downfall of Mario Draghi, Italy’s prime minister, has raised concerns across Europe about whether populist movements will erode unity against Russian aggression.

Atrocities: Russian forces have tortured and beaten civilians in the areas of southern Ukraine that they control, part of a series of abuses that may amount to war crimes, Human Rights Watch said in a report this weekend.

The World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a global health emergency. In a few weeks, the disease — long a concern in some African countries — has spread to 75 countries.

In declaring the disease a “public health emergency of international concern,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.’s director general, overruled a panel of advisers, who could not reach a decision.

The declaration signals a public health risk requiring a coordinated international response. That could lead member countries to invest more in their response to outbreaks and encourage nations to share vaccines, treatments and other key resources.

Details: The U.S., Britain and Spain have each recorded about 3,000 cases, and monkeypox has infected more than 16,000 people worldwide, overwhelmingly men who have sex with men. Many infected people report no known source of infection, indicating undetected community spread.

Context: This is the seventh public health emergency since 2007. Currently, the W.H.O. designation is used to describe two other diseases: Covid-19 and polio.

What’s next: One expert estimated that it might take a year or more to control the outbreak. By then, the virus is likely to have infected hundreds of thousands of people and may have permanently entrenched itself in some countries.

Response: The outbreak has galvanized many in the L.G.B.T.Q. community, who argue that monkeypox has not received enough attention, reminiscent of the early days of H.I.V.

A recent report detailed medical crimes committed at the University of Strasbourg during World War II, shedding light on history that had been scrubbed from official memory.

The 500-page report, released in May, detailed closer ties with the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp, the only one on French soil, than previously thought.

The report, which deeply recasts the way the university views itself, illuminated crimes committed by three professors who used the camp to procure experiment subjects. The report also identified more victims of their extensive medical experiments.

Details: From 1941 to 1944, professors on the medical faculty forced at least 250 people from concentration or death camps to undergo experiments. Some involved chemical weapons, like mustard gas, or deadly diseases, like typhus. And 86 Jews brought from Auschwitz were murdered for a planned skeleton collection.

History: Germany annexed the Alsace region of France in 1940 and poured in money and resources to transform the university into a model Nazi institution: the Reichsuniversität Strassburg.

Context: In 2015, when a book claimed that there were still anatomical remains of Jewish victims on campus, furious school officials strenuously denied it. But that same year, a Jewish doctor in Strasbourg found such remains in a locked storage room. After the discovery, the university commissioned the report in 2016.

Mexico City’s colorful food stall signs are part of a long tradition of hand-painted advertisements. Often, they lean into the absurd: Protagonists have included a shrimp eating a shrimp cocktail; smiling pigs roasting over a fire; traitorous roosters slaughtering their own.

But the signs are disappearing. A local official ordered them removed: “It’s simply about cleanliness; it’s about order,” she said, explaining her decision.

The backlash came quickly. Sellers protested covering the costs of a repaint and said that without the signs to distinguish themselves, they feared losing customers. Artists, curators and activists organized to protest, calling the move classist and lamenting the loss.

“In trying to modernize everything, you’re going to erase years, even decades, of tradition that have defined us,” a longtime sign maker said.

And the sidewalks in the borough just seem blander. “It’s a way of removing the city’s features to make everything flat,” another artist said. “This is a city that is alive because of its people, because of its signs.”

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