Your Friday Briefing – The New York Times

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Flooding caused by severe thunderstorms yesterday in Western Europe left at least 69 people dead, including two firefighters who died in rescue attempts, in Germany and Belgium. At least 1,300 people were still missing last night, German authorities said.

Rapid water from swollen rivers swept through three states in western Germany. In central Liège, Belgium, the Meuse overflowed its banks, forcing residents to evacuate. Storms also hit Switzerland and the Netherlands.

“We don’t have an exact death toll, but we can say that we have many people who have fallen victim to this flood,” said Armin Laschet, governor of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. “A lot of people lost everything they owned after the mud got into their homes.”

Reader Comments: “I live in the upper valley of the Meuse in Belgium,” explains Yves C. After the rains of yesterday and last night, torrents of water were rushing down the hills in many places in the valley this morning. The roads were impassable. I had never seen this before; and we’re not one of the hardest hit places.

The coronavirus is spreading across Africa, with one million Covid infections reported on the continent in the last month alone, bringing the total number of cases to six million, according to the WHO

The Delta variant has been detected in 21 of 54 African countries. Algeria, Malawi and Senegal are among the countries with outbreaks of infections, hospitalizations and deaths. Only about 1% of people on the continent have been fully immunized.

The resurgence has prompted several governments to impose new lockdown measures, including restrictions on movement between cities, extended curfew hours and school closures.

Quote: “Africa’s third wave continues on its destructive path, surpassing another dark stage,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO director for the continent.

Here are the latest pandemic updates and maps.

In other developments:

  • Myanmar’s military junta has ordered life-saving oxygen to be denied to private clinics and even prevented charities from donating it, according to medical workers.

  • Australian politicians and medical experts point to slow vaccine distribution in the country.

  • London theaters have canceled performances because positive tests send entire cast and crews to quarantine.


South Africa was deeply rocked last week by looting and vandalism that left at least 117 people dead and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, officials said. It is one of the worst episodes of violence the country has seen in almost 30 years since the end of apartheid.

The government has deployed 10,000 troops to quell the violence, and the defense minister has called for 15,000 more. As tensions eased a bit yesterday, many braced for a difficult road ahead.

Triggered by the arrest of Jacob Zuma, the former South African president, the unrest quickly turned into broader grievances against the government and its failure to deliver on promises of a democratic South Africa.

Scenes in Soweto: The manager of a supermarket emptied by looters worried about what his loss would mean for him and his community. “Our livelihoods are gone,” said director Tau Chikonye. “I really have to get down to the drawing board and see how to survive. “

Job losses: Unemployment, which topped 32%, in part due to the pandemic, will almost certainly rise as many businesses have been destroyed during the unrest.

  • Saad Hariri, the prime minister designate of Lebanon, resigned after nine months trying to form a new government amid overlapping crises.

  • The British Open will run until Sunday. First played in 1860, the golf tournament has enjoyed decades of greatness. In recent years this has turned out to be an opportunity for veteran players to show that they still have what it takes.

  • Bukayo Saka, an England footballer who was recently the victim of racist anger after missing a penalty, urged Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to crack down on online abuse.

It seems strange that we are just letting the world burn, says Ezra Klein. In this essay for our Opinion on the Inadequacy of Climate Change Policy section, he writes: “We are designing a world that is much worse than it should be and that will be fatal for countless millions of people. .

Since 2003, when he was paralyzed by a severe stroke after a car accident at age 20, a man surnamed Pancho has been unable to speak. Today, in a scientific breakthrough, his simple attempts to speak allow electrodes implanted in his brain to transmit his words to a screen.

Rembrandt never traveled outside the Netherlands. But in 1638, he produced “Adam and Eve in paradise”, in which a round and surprisingly realistic elephant frolic in the background of the engraving.

A new exhibit at the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam explains this likelihood: In the 17th century, a female Asian elephant named Hansken was brought to the Netherlands from what is now Sri Lanka. She spent the rest of her life in Europe and became a popular and famous spectacle.

During his short life of around 25 years, Hansken had an inordinate importance in art, popular entertainment and science, according to Dutch naturalist and art historian Michiel Roscam Abbing.

She has been portrayed at least three times by Rembrandt; she traveled in the Baltic countries by boat and on foot to Denmark and Italy; and she became the first Asian elephant to be described by Western science.

“It’s a very tragic story, actually, but it’s also fascinating,” said Leonore van Sloten, curator at Maison Rembrandt. “She was brought into a world she didn’t belong to, but she became a kind of window to life around that time.”

Learn more about Hansken and the exhibition here.

This spicy coffee cake, sprinkled with blueberries, makes a perfect weekend brunch or afternoon pick-me-up.

Five years after her last album, the latest release by British composer Laura Mvula turns up the pace and swaps orchestras for synthesizers.

After months of zoom-core dressing, men of fashion have once again flocked to the streets of Europe.

Here are today’s mini crosswords, and a hint: Take turns in Pictionary (four letters).

And here’s today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all of our puzzles here.


That’s it for today’s briefing. Have a good week-end. – Natasha

PS Apollo 11 took off for the moon 52 years ago today. The next day, the three astronauts on board “crisscrossed the Black Sea from space,” the Times reported at the time, “in man’s first attempt to step on another world.”

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the Cuban protests.

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


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