Coronavirus, Russian Bounties, Poland’s Election: Your Monday Briefing
Coronavirus, Russian Bounties, Poland’s Election: Your Monday Briefing
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We’re covering the world reaching 10 million coronavirus cases, a suspected Russian plot to pay bounties on U.S. troops and Europe’s first pandemic-era presidential election.
Coronavirus cases pass 10 million as U.S. infections surge
The number of coronavirus cases worldwide has reached 10 million, and the death toll passed 500,000 on Sunday, with daily infections escalating in the U.S., India and Brazil.
The grim milestone came as countries struggled to keep new infections at bay while also emerging from painful lockdowns.
The European Union will allow outsiders to enter again on July 1, but will bar most travelers from the U.S., Russia and other countries that are considered too risky because they have not controlled their outbreaks.
Cases in the U.S. have risen 65 percent over the past two weeks — they now total more than 2.5 million. Some administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, have said that increased testing explains the surge in cases, but health officials say otherwise.
Testing sites in the U.S. were overwhelmed over the weekend in the hard-hit states of Arizona, Florida and Texas.
A suspected Russian plot to pay bounties on U.S. troops
United States intelligence officers in Afghanistan warned superiors as early as January of a suspected Russian plot to pay bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan.
The recovery of large amounts of American cash at a Taliban outpost and interrogations of captured militants and criminals helped determine that Russians had offered and paid bounties in 2019, one official told our reporters.
Military and intelligence officials are reviewing whether American and other coalition casualties were victims of the plot. They believe bounties led to at least one death of a U.S. service member, two officials said.
New: Some 291 Afghan soldiers were killed in Taliban attacks from June 19-25, according to the country’s National Security Council, making it the war’s deadliest week for Afghan forces. The violence is sapping optimism over a peace deal the U.S. signed with the Taliban that would negotiate an end to nearly two decades of war.
Poland votes in Europe’s first big pandemic-era election
Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, fell short of securing a majority of the vote on Sunday in Europe’s first socially distanced election, according to exit polls. There will be a runoff on July 12 against Warsaw’s mayor, Rafal Trzaskowski.
Turnout was high and voters at polling stations wore masks, brought their own pens and waited in lines with three feet of personal space in all directions.
The country’s nationalist party has made judicial changes that E.U. leaders say threaten independence and turned public television into the government’s propaganda arm.
Details: Polls said Mr. Duda received about 41 percent of the vote and Mr. Trzaskowski about 30 percent, with official results set to be released today. Mr. Trzaskowski has promised to draw the country closer to the European Union and to protect the rights of the L.G.B.T. community, while Mr. Duda has attacked homosexuality as an ideology comparable to communism.
New Irish prime minister: After four months of negotiations, Ireland’s Parliament has appointed Micheal Martin, a center-right politician, to lead as the country deals with the coronavirus, Brexit and fallout from a housing crisis. France also held municipal elections on Sunday.
If you have 15 minutes, this is worth it
A crucial warning ignored as the virus silently spread
Dr. Camilla Rothe, above, and her colleagues at Munich University Hospital were among the first to warn the world that people without symptoms could spread the coronavirus.
But even as evidence mounted from other scientists about symptomless transmission, health officials dismissed the finding. Our reporters pieced together why a crucial warning was ignored early in the pandemic as the virus was fanning unnoticed in French churches, Italian soccer stadiums and Austrian ski bars.
Here’s what else is happening
Wirecard: Investigators are still trying to piece together how one of Germany’s most feted companies fell from grace. Its auditors said last week that the company had engaged in fraud, but skeptics had long questioned the company’s worldwide revenue.
U.S. presidential campaign: Polls show that President Trump is losing support among a once-loyal group — older white voters — who have soured on the Republican Party and are largely backing Joe Biden in the six most important battleground states.
Russia: Kirill Serebrennikov, one of Russia’s most prominent directors, was convicted on Friday on an embezzlement charge that was widely seen as manufactured to justify a crackdown on independent theater.
Pride: Celebrations this year were cut back over coronavirus concerns, but Taiwan, which has controlled its outbreak, was able to hold an in-person event on Sunday, with a rainbow flag-led procession in central Taipei.
What we’re reading: This Rolling Stone profile of the largely forgotten singer-songwriter David Blue “reads like a classic detective story, with stops in the Greenwich Village of Bob Dylan, the Laurel Canyon of Joni Mitchell, the Montreal of Leonard Cohen — and a final scene you won’t be able to shake,” says Steve Reddicliffe, the deputy editor of the international edition of The Times.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: These crunchy-topped corn muffins use up whatever fruit you have around. They’re perfect for breakfast, warm, with softened butter on the side.
Read: Seven years after “Crazy Rich Asians,” Kevin Kwan is back — but Asia is not. His new novel, “Sex and Vanity,” begins with a very touristy idyll in Capri, then goes back home to Manhattan and the Hamptons, with one eye on Hollywood at all times.
Do: If you’re interested in strong, healthy muscles but wearied by burpees in the living room, you may want to consider heading to the nearest park for weight training. Here’s how to work out without a gym.
Staying safe at home is easier when you have plenty of things to read, cook, watch and do. At Home has our full collection of ideas.
And now for the Back Story on …
‘Hamilton’: A musical game changer
Michael Paulson has been covering theater at The Times since 2015. During those years, he’s written more than 100 articles that prominently mention “Hamilton,” a musical that explores America’s revolutionary origins through the life of Alexander Hamilton.
Now, “Hamilton” is streaming on Disney Plus, starting on July 3. Here’s an excerpt from what Michael wrote about his time on the Hamilbeat.
I sensed right from the start that this musical, with its cast made up mostly of actors of color and its score influenced by hip-hop and pop music, was going to be a huge story. I remember being determined, that summer, to land an article about the production on the front page, convinced that the paper needed to make a big early statement about the show as a game-changing reflection on our culture, our politics and our history. Ultimately, the Page 1 gods agreed. I was traveling in Spain when it happened; I felt so affirmed that I didn’t mind the time-zone-busting copy desk questions.
A feature that followed about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical upbringing was particularly fun to report — as we explored the Venn diagram in which show tunes and hip-hop overlap, he started playing random songs from his iTunes library and riffing about what each one meant to him.
The story I waited longest for was about Miranda’s relationship to Puerto Rico, where his parents grew up and where he spent his childhood summers. The island’s influence on his art had always struck me as significant and underexplored. I knew the best way to tell that story would be to see Puerto Rico through his eyes, at least as much as a journalist can, and when he announced that he was bringing “Hamilton” to San Juan, I had my peg. I asked to meet him there, and in fall 2018 he agreed; a devastating hurricane and campus unrest made the story more complex than either he or I could have anticipated, and I’m glad we did it.
That’s it for this briefing. Here’s Christian Löffler playing from a French castle to start your Monday.
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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