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Here are the best stories of the week and a glimpse into the future.
1. Americans resume their July 4th rituals while Covid-19 cases remain stable.
New cases are at 12,000 a day, the lowest since testing became widely available. The average of less than 300 daily deaths is a 23% drop over the past two weeks. Americans are riding a wave of optimism: travel is expected to increase 40% from last year. The number of air passengers is expected to increase by 164%.
For parents whose children are too young to get vaccinated, the holidays are trickier. Here are some insights and some basic tips.
President Biden has invited 1,000 military and essential workers to an Independence Day party on the South Lawn of the White House. But public health experts fear the rally sends the wrong message, as large swathes of the population remain vulnerable.
Overall, some Americans are considering or reconsidering what the flag means to them.
2. Florida authorities rush to demolish what remains of the South Champlain Towers.
Concerned that Tropical Storm Elsa could overturn the partially collapsed structure, Mayor Charles Burkett of Surfside said demolition could begin as early as Sunday. The demolition would cause “the most minimal disruption” to search and rescue work, officials said.
In the aftermath of the collapse, engineers were struck by a possible flaw in the building’s construction: Critical locations near its base appeared to have less steel reinforcement than expected in the project’s original design drawings.
The bodies of six other victims were found on Friday, bringing the total to 24. As many as 124 people are still missing. A tumultuous dispute over how the building was run was an open secret in the years leading up to its collapse.
3. US combat troops are out of Afghanistan. But the White House is trying to convince Afghans that the United States is not abandoning the country.
The army will assist the Afghan forces by teleconference. Air Force drones will chase terrorists from bases eight hours away. The Biden administration still plans to provide the Afghan government with more than $ 3 billion in security assistance.
In fact, a lot has changed. The US departure from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan last week was marked with fanfare, and the new tenants are the Afghan security forces. The physical objects left behind are reminders of decades of loss.
Intelligence analysts estimate Kabul could fall into Taliban hands in as little as six months.
4. Hundreds of companies around the world have been affected by a cyberattack.
One of Sweden’s largest grocery chains, Coop, had to close at least 800 stores on Saturday. A Swedish railway and a large drugstore chain were also affected, according to a cybersecurity researcher. Some of the companies involved have been asked for a ransom of $ 5 million.
Security researchers said the attack could have been carried out by REvil, a group of Russian cybercriminals who the FBI said was behind the hack into JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, in May. The attack targeted a software vendor, Kaseya, which provides services to more than 40,000 organizations.
At a congressional hearing in May, the CEOs of the six biggest banks on Wall Street said cybersecurity was the greatest threat to their businesses and the financial system at large. The Times DealBook newsletter examines the risks of such an attack.
5. Brazilians protest against President Jair Bolsonaro on a vaccine scandal.
The attorney general’s office has opened an investigation into Bolsonaro’s role in a corruption scheme in which health ministry officials solicited bribes from vaccine dealers. Outrage drew tens of thousands of Brazilians to the streets of several cities on Saturday, the third major wave of protests in recent weeks.
The investigation is likely to pose a major threat to Bolsonaro’s candidacy for re-election next year, and possibly even his ability to serve the remainder of his term.
In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson seems convinced that a high vaccination rate has broken the link between cases and hospitalizations and is banking on reopening.
6. In the case against Donald Trump’s company, there are echoes of his father.
Details of the charges brought by a grand jury against the Trump Organization and its CFO, Allen Weisselberg, give the impression of rather low rent that one might associate with a rambling real estate transaction.
Weisselberg is accused of receiving $ 1.76 million in tax-free benefits over 15 years, distributed in a surprisingly modest and incremental fashion. The alleged scheme looks like an updated version of Fred Trump’s $ 16,135 boilers, which he bought for his apartment buildings in the 1990s, pumping up the bill and saving extra money for his children in order to avoid taxes on gifts and inheritance.
7. Chinese millennials are shivering. Beijing is not happy.
Five years ago, Luo Huazhong quit his job in a factory, cycled 1,300 miles to Tibet, and began working odd jobs. He called his new lifestyle âlying flatâ or pricking in Mandarin. His blog post on the subject, “Lying Flat Is Justice,” went viral and became a larger statement on Chinese society for millennials who defy the country’s prosperity narrative by refusing to participate: give up the marriage, children, work, homes and cars.
The ruling Communist Party has targeted the idea as a threat to stability. Authorities banned posting to a tangping forum with more than 200,000 members and demanded that e-commerce platforms stop selling clothing, phone cases and other merchandise bearing the âtangpingâ mark.
8. Tampa Bay Lightning are one game away from a sweep – and a second straight NHL championship.
The most scrutinized position in sports could be that of the starting goalie in Montreal: Jacques Plante, Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy and now Carey Price. He waited 14 years for his first appearance in the final, but in a possible passing of the torch he was outnumbered by his Lightning counterpart Andrei Vasilevskiy. Game 4 is Monday night.
One week away from Wimbledon, all eyes are on seed Ashleigh Barty. She’s the one wearing the scalloped hem – a tribute to Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who won Wimbledon 50 years ago and, like Barty, is of native Australian ancestry. In the last week of the tournament, enjoy the squash shots: Roger Federer’s gift to tennis, spectacular to watch and fun to hit.
Shaminder Dulai compiled photos for this briefing.
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