Friday, 30 Jul 2021

Your Friday Briefing

Goldman Sachs will pay billions in 1MDB scandal.

By Melina Delkic

Good morning.

We’re covering new data about the second coronavirus wave in Europe, billions in fines paid by Goldman Sachs to settle the 1MDB scandal and tips for taking pet portraits.

Europe’s hospitals are filling up

Poland has turned its largest stadium into an emergency field hospital. The numbers of Covid-19 patients in Belgium and Britain have doubled in two weeks. And doctors and nurses in the Czech Republic are falling ill at an alarming rate.

While hospitals in Europe were initially spared the mass influx of patients they faced during the outbreak in the spring, a second wave of serious illness is here and hospitals could become overrun, new data released on Thursday shows.

The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals across the continent is still less than half of the peak in March and April, but it is rising each week. People across much of Europe are now more likely to be hospitalized after contracting the virus than those in the United States.

What to watch: Some experts worry that countries that let their guards down did not increase hospital capacity during a temporary reprieve and are not prepared. Deaths in most of Europe have ticked slowly upward, and experts say increases in deaths are likely over the next couple of weeks.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

Germany on Thursday reported 11,287 new cases of the virus, the first time the country has broken the 10,000 mark.

Russia’s health minister, Mikhail Murashko, will self-quarantine after a member of his family tested positive, an aide said.

Four students at a university in Britain were fined a total of 40,000 pounds for holding a house party of more than 30 people.

1MDB: Goldman Sachs to pay billions in penalties

The bank’s Malaysia subsidiary pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge after employees paid bribes to officials in connection with the looting of the sovereign wealth fund. Goldman Sachs will pay billions in penalties in Malaysia, the U.S. and Hong Kong.

The scandal over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund toppled Malaysia’s leader and led to criminal cases spanning the globe. It is one of the biggest scandals in the Wall Street giant’s history.

Aside from the penalties, the board of Goldman Sachs said it was taking steps to recoup or withhold $174 million in compensation from current and former executives of the company.

Quotable: “While it is abundantly clear that certain former employees broke the law, lied to our colleagues and circumvented firm controls, this fact does not relieve me or anyone else at the firm of our responsibility,” the bank's chief executive, David Solomon, said in a statement.

Iran and Russia aim to meddle in U.S. election, officials say

Iran and Russia have both obtained American voter registration data, top national security officials announced — the first concrete evidence that they are trying to influence the presidential election as it enters its final two weeks.

Some of the data was used by Iran to send threatening, spoofed emails to Democratic voters, purporting to be from far-right groups like the Proud Boys, who support President Trump. U.S. officials have insisted that Russia remains the primary threat to the elections and have pushed back against hackers.

There was no indication that voting result tallies or voter information were changed — either of which could affect the outcome of the election.

Details: The data was mostly public, one official said, and Iran was exploiting it as a campaign might. That information may have been merged with other identifying material.

If you have 5 minutes, this is worth it

Europe and the ‘America problem’

President Trump has treated many European leaders with contempt, and many look forward to the possibility of Joe Biden winning the presidency. But four years of America-first policies have changed the dynamic in ways that will not easily be reversed.

A fundamental trust has been broken, and many Europeans believe that U.S. foreign policy is no longer reliable. “Biden doesn’t solve their America problem,” said Jeremy Shapiro of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “People have learned that the U.S. can’t be trusted on foreign policy, because the next administration will come in and wipe it away.”

Here’s what else is happening

Huawei: The tech giant unveiled the Mate 40 series, the first top-of-the-line smartphones to be released since the Trump administration imposed sharp limits on Huawei’s ability to buy computer chips anywhere in the world. The restrictions may mean that supplies of the phones will be limited.

Lebanon: Despite calls for change, the country’s president has tapped Saad Hariri, the former prime minister who stepped down last year amid antigovernment protests, to again try to form a government. For many, he symbolizes the corruption so many have fought to change.

Poland: A court ruled that abortions for fetal abnormalities violate the country’s Constitution, effectively imposing a near-total ban in a nation that already had some of Europe’s strictest abortion laws.

TikTok: The video platform announced that it was cracking down on QAnon supporters and hate speech, with policy changes restricting content.

Copenhagen mayor: Frank Jensen resigned and admitted to harassing numerous women over decades. The complaints and his sudden fall have shaken Denmark, a liberal nation that routinely tops international measures of women’s rights and gender equality.

Snapshot: Above, preparations for the U.S. presidential debate. With just 12 days to go before Election Day, President Trump and Joe Biden will hold their second and final debate in Nashville in a few hours. It is a particularly important event for Mr. Trump, who is trailing in most national and battleground state polls.

What we’re reading: This Ringer article about one man’s quest to eat a new Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut at Dunkin’ Donuts. “Is it delicious? Unclear. But it’s definitely an experience,” says Claire Moses of The Morning newsletter.

Now, a break from the news

Cook: This cauliflower, cashew, pea and coconut curry is rooted in tradition and complexly flavored. It’s also approachable enough for a weeknight.

Watch: “Radium Girls” tells the true story of factory girls in New Jersey in the 1920s who suffered from misleading information about radium. Our reviewer writes that the film has “a loudly beating feminist heart and a narrative grounded in reality.”

Do: The Times Magazine wrote a tip sheet on how to scatter cremated remains. Say a prayer, a poem, a remembrance. Scatter with intention.

Let us help you let go of some of the stress and relax. At Home has ideas on what to read, cook, watch, and do while staying safe at home.

And now for the Back Story on …

Pet portraits

Much of the internet seems to be made of animal photos, especially pictures of cats. If it all makes you want a portrait of your own fur child for posterity, just grab your smartphone. Let the pet rule the photo session, and never agitate or distress the animal — just wait for its personality to shine through the camera lens. Here’s a guide.

Step 1: Make a Plan

Depending on the animal, you may get better results if you take the photo in a familiar place where your pet is likely to be calm.

Try taking the photos during a time of day when your animal is more relaxed, like right after a meal or on the edge of nap time. Once you pick a spot, remove as much clutter from the background as you can. A sheet or bit of fabric hung up as a backdrop can also keep the focus on your subject.

If you’d rather capture the animal’s natural bounce and liveliness, take your camera along during a regular park stroll or backyard romp so you can snap away.

Step 2: See the Light

When setting up your smartphone shot, avoid firing the flash. The unexpected pop may startle your pet, and the glare reflected in the back of the animal’s retinas usually creates eerie red or green eyes. Natural light — outdoors or from a window — often works best.

Step 3: Set Your Camera

Many of Apple’s iPhone models and Google’s Pixel phones support a portrait mode; phones by Samsung and other manufacturers have similar settings. Some camera apps have a “burst mode,” which captures a rapid series of shots. Before you start your session, make sure your camera app is set to take photos at the highest possible image resolution.

Step 4: Posing the Pet

Now it’s time to actually take some pictures. Don’t be afraid to try creative angles. But positioning yourself on the pet’s level and focusing the camera on the animal’s eyes often makes for a soulful portrait.

Step 5: Editing Your Shots

Now that you have your photos, it’s time to make them even better. Most camera apps include tools to straighten crooked framing and enhance color and exposure.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Melina

Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the Electoral College.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: There are more than 10,000 known species of these insects (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Raha Naddaf, executive editor of The California Sunday Magazine, is joining The New York Times Magazine as a story editor.

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