Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Your Friday Briefing

Biden’s approaches to Europe

President Biden will convene with European leaders today in Cornwall, England, where he is expected to make a show of partnership and solidarity. But it is not clear how much more open the U.S. will be to a give-and-take with Europe than it was under Donald Trump.

Biden met yesterday with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, where the pair unveiled a new “Atlantic Charter” as they sought to focus the world’s attention, before today’s Group of 7 summit, on emerging threats from cyberattacks, the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change. Here are the latest updates.

Few Europeans question the sincerity of Biden’s outreach, with his decades of involvement in European concerns. Yet the president’s more aggressive approach to China will find limited enthusiasm in Europe, given the commercial interests of Germany and other countries.

Quotable: “America’s foreign policy hasn’t fundamentally changed,” said Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the British Parliament. “It’s more cooperative and inclusive, but substantially it’s the same.”

The E.U. backs calls for a Covid inquiry

E.U. leaders joined calls for a full investigation into the origins of Covid-19, with Ursula von der Leyen, the European Council president, declaring “support for all the efforts in order to get transparency and to know the truth.”

The comments came ahead of the Group of 7 summit, which starts today, during which world leaders will be under pressure to do more to stop the coronavirus.

Though a W.H.O. inquiry this year found that it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus had leaked from a laboratory in China, the study was widely seen as incomplete because of China’s limited cooperation. Governments and scientists have called for a more complete examination of the origins of the virus.

Late last month, President Biden ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to investigate the origins of the virus, an indication that his administration was taking the possibility of a lab leak seriously.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

Moderna requested an emergency authorization from U.S. drug regulators for use of its coronavirus vaccine in 12- to 17-year-olds.

Eight of the 10 least-vaccinated U.S. states are in the South, a reflection of vaccine hesitancy and poor access to health care.

Only seven African nations are likely to have vaccinated 10 percent of their people against the coronavirus by September.

Widespread vaccination of adults helps protect unvaccinated children, according to a new Israeli study.

The F.D.A. extended the shelf life of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine by six weeks, giving states more time to use expiring supplies.

Famine hits 350,000 in Ethiopia

Famine has afflicted at least 350,000 people in northern Ethiopia’s conflict-ravaged Tigray region, according to the U.N. and international aid groups. The organizations had warned for weeks of an impending disaster related to the conflict.

Of 5.5 million people facing food insecurity in Tigray and neighboring zones during May and June, 350,000 were in the most severe phase of food security as laid out by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, a system used to determine the scale of a hunger crisis.

Mark Lowcock, a top U.N. official, said that the number of people affected by the famine was “higher than anywhere in the world” and the worst in any country since Somalia’s famine in 2011.

Details: “This severe crisis results from the cascading effects of conflict, including population displacements, movement restrictions, limited humanitarian access, loss of harvest and livelihood assets, and dysfunctional or nonexistent markets,” a summary of the data said.

THE LATEST NEWS

News From Europe

Pope Francis rejected the resignation of Cardinal Reinhold Marx, above, a German archbishop who had sought to leave his position to take responsibility on behalf of the church hierarchy for decades of sexual abuse by priests.

Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, faces a battle over efforts to cut foreign aid by a third to help make up for the costs of fighting the coronavirus.

The German authorities disbanded an elite state police unit after members were found to have been involved in a chat group that exchanged racist messages and glorified the Nazis.

An investigation found that sexual harassment — including sexist name-calling and requests for explicit photos — was endemic at British schools.

Other Big Stories

The police in Nicaragua are detaining opposition leaders, leaving President Daniel Ortega running practically unopposed in November’s elections.

Lawmakers in Beijing approved legislation yesterday that would bar multinational companies from complying with foreign sanctions against China, leaving businesses between a rock and a hard place.

More than 100 academics at the University of Oxford said they would refuse to teach at Oriel College, where a contentious statue of the British imperialist Cecil Rhodes has drawn criticism for decades.

Saudi Arabia is pursuing an ambitious plan to secure the hosting rights to the 2030 World Cup, but the effort faces political and technical obstacles.

Unless the world stops treating climate change and biodiversity collapse as separate issues, neither problem can be addressed effectively, a new report has found.

What Else Is Happening

At Starbucks locations across the U.S., there have been complaints about shortages of key ingredients for popular drinks, breakfast foods and even cups, lids and straws.

Researchers in Tulsa, Okla., found evidence that at least 27 coffins may contain victims of the racist 1921 massacre there.

The Yugo may be the most maligned car in history, ridiculed for its looks and its (many) flaws. But its defenders praise its mechanical simplicity and idiosyncratic charms.

A Morning Read

Among the people in Afghanistan worried about the U.S. troop withdrawal are interpreters like Mohammad Shoaib Walizoda, above, who are making urgent requests for U.S. visas under a special program meant to protect them. Employment by the U.S. military often makes them a target.

Many say they are seized by dread, fearing they will be denied a visa or approved only after they have been hunted down and killed.

ARTS AND IDEAS

The return of tourists to Las Vegas

The stakes could not be higher as the Las Vegas Strip tries to emerge from the shadow of the pandemic. But it’s hard to open shows without tourists, and it’s hard to draw tourists without shows, our reporter Adam Nagourney writes. This is a lightly edited excerpt.

Fifteen months ago, the bustling tourist destination in the desert shut down almost overnight, as theaters, restaurants and casinos emptied out and Las Vegas confronted one of the biggest economic threats in its history.

But a walk along its bustling sidewalks last week suggests an explosion of activity, befitting — in its extravagance, and this city’s appetite for risk — what has always made Las Vegas what it is.

The change since last spring, as measured by the return of surging morning-to-midnight crowds, is head-snapping. While just 106,900 tourists visited Las Vegas in April 2020, 2.6 million people visited this April — a big rebound, but still almost a million shy of what the city was attracting before the pandemic.

“As soon as the governor and the county said we could open, the resorts wanted us to open,” said Ross Mollison, the producer of “Absinthe,” a cabaret and adult humor show, whose website reassures guests by saying, “When you arrive at Absinthe, the Green Fairy promises you filthy fun in a spotless venue.”

About half of the 42 million people who come to Las Vegas in a typical year attend a show, said Steve Hill, the president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “It’s a huge draw — it’s a huge part of the city,” he said. “It’s part of what creates the energy of this place.”

PLAY, WATCH, EAT

What to Cook

Make the most of strawberry season with these 14 recipes. This fresh strawberry pie is a particular standout.

Sneak Peek

Philip Roth left behind more than 7,000 marked-up paperbacks and hardcovers. Look inside his personal library.

Get Sun Smart

To lower your risk of skin cancer (and prevent wrinkles), Wirecutter tested more than 50 sunscreens to find the best options for the summer ahead.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Remote worker’s “office” (four letters).

And here is today’s 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 won a number of awards in the Silurians Press Club’s Excellence in Journalism competition for its work about New York City and the region.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about Dr. Katalin Kariko, a pioneer behind mRNA vaccines.

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

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