Your Tuesday Briefing – The New York Times

In a first, a man with life-threatening heart disease received a heart from a genetically modified pig, in a groundbreaking procedure that offers hope to hundreds of thousands of patients with failing organs. The eight-hour operation took place in Baltimore on Friday, and the patient was doing well yesterday, according to his surgeons.

“It creates the pulse, it creates the pressure, it is his heart,” said Dr. Bartley Griffith, who performed the operation at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “It’s working and it looks normal.” The patient decided to gamble on the treatment because he would have died without a new heart, had exhausted other treatments and was too sick to qualify for a human donor heart.

Scientists have worked feverishly to develop pigs whose organs would not be rejected by the human body, research that has been accelerated by advances in gene editing and cloning technologies. The heart transplant comes months after surgeons in New York successfully attached the kidney of a genetically engineered pig to a brain-dead person.

By the numbers: Last year, some 41,354 Americans received a transplanted organ, of which 3,817 received human donor hearts. But there is an acute shortage of organs, and about a dozen people on the lists die each day.

Seven hours of negotiations between the U.S. and Russia yesterday did not produce any immediate agreement, with both countries staking out seemingly irreconcilable positions on NATO and the deployment of troops and weapons in Eastern Europe, keeping tensions high amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sergei Ryabkov, the lead Russian negotiator, said after the meeting that it was “absolutely mandatory” that Ukraine “never, never, ever” become a NATO member. His American counterpart, Wendy Sherman, reiterated that the U.S. could never make such a pledge because of NATO’s “open door policy.” The U.S. and its allies would not stand by if Russia sought to change international borders “by force,” she added.

The impasse left the fate of Ukraine — which was not invited to the bilateral talks — in a state of uncertainty, with Russia’s military intentions far from resolved. While Russia has massed roughly 100,000 troops on its borders with Ukraine, Ryabkov told reporters “we have no intention to invade Ukraine.”

Next steps: The talks will continue tomorrow in Brussels, when Russian officials meet with NATO allies, and on Thursday in Vienna. The outcome of those discussions would determine whether Russia was willing to proceed with diplomacy, Ryabkov said.

Context: Tension is growing, and Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is increasingly willing to take geopolitical risks to restore Russian influence in Eastern Europe. He has cast Western support for Ukraine as an existential threat, claiming that the former Soviet republic was being turned into an “anti-Russia” that could be used to weaken his country.

A judge in Australia ordered the release of the tennis player Novak Djokovic from immigration detention in Melbourne yesterday, the latest turn in a five-day saga over his refusal to be vaccinated for Covid-19, a requirement to enter Australia. The ruling does not guarantee that he will be able to play in the Australian Open.

The judge, Anthony Kelly, found that Djokovic had been treated unfairly after his arrival in the country for the tournament. He had been cleared to play in the Australian Open with a vaccination exemption, which stemmed from what his lawyers said was a positive coronavirus test result he received in mid-December.

After detaining Djokovic, the border authorities promised to let him speak with tournament organizers and his lawyers early Thursday, only to cancel his visa before he was given a chance.

What’s next: In court, the government’s lawyers warned that the immigration minister could still cancel his visa, which would lead to an automatic three-year ban on his entering the country.

On tennis: Djokovic’s battle to enter Australia to defend his title presages headwinds he may face if he attempts to travel the world without being vaccinated for Covid-19, our columnist writes.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

Life on the remote Isle of Rum in the Scottish Hebrides is not for everyone — there are no doctors, restaurants, churches or pubs, and only one shop, above. But with four new families recently arriving, bringing its population to 40, the island is experiencing its version of a demographic surge.

Bike trails to inspire carbon-conscious travelers. A Black neighborhood that is once again distinguishing itself as a cultural center. And a lush archipelago that resists overtourism.

These three destinations are among our 52 Places for 2022, an annual Times feature on great travel destinations. This year’s list highlights places where positive change is happening, whether environmental or cultural, and where travelers can help it along.

But worthy doesn’t mean tedious. The vistas of Iberá Park in Argentina, above, are stunning, even if you don’t know that the park’s grasslands are crucial to saving the strange-tailed tyrant birds. And the braised artichokes and Burgundy snails served at Edwins in Cleveland are as much about gastronomy as they are about teaching former prisoners a new trade.

For now, not every place on the list is currently open to travelers, and some have been hit hard by the virus. Take it as a starting point, writes Amy Virshup, the editor of our Travel section: “Our message is not to hop on the next plane, but to use this list as inspiration for your own more purposeful, more fulfilling travel in the coming year and beyond.”

See all 52 Places here.

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

P.S. The word “newsletterer” appeared for the first time in The Times in — where else? — a newsletter.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the Golden Globes.

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

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