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Here are the top stories of the week and an outlook.
1. The Delta variant proves to be a stubborn hurdle in the fight against the coronavirus.
As the US heads into its second summer of pandemic, President Biden warned that those who fail to get the Covid-19 vaccine run the risk of “a variant that is more easily transmissible, potentially more deadly and particularly dangerous for young people” to infect. Vice President Kamala Harris visited a vaccination center in Atlanta on Friday.
In Russia, the Delta variant is now the most widely used version in Moscow, where case numbers have tripled in the past two weeks and city officials have added 5,000 beds to coronavirus wards. The outbreak has resulted in some vaccine mandates.
And in England, when the last remaining coronavirus restrictions were slated to end, “Freedom Day” has been postponed to July 19 after a surge in Delta cases. Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed confidence that the curbs would be lifted next month, but added that “at some stage we need to learn to live with the virus and deal with it as best we can”.
2. Republicans claim more control over the voting process. The Democratic local election officials were the first to leave.
Across Georgia, members of at least 10 district electoral boards are being replaced, including several Black Democrats like Lonnie Hollis. In Arkansas, the county authorities have been stripped of election control. And in Kansas, Republicans overbid the Democratic governor to enact laws that would deprive the governor of changing the electoral law.
Democrats fear that supporters of Donald Trump’s 2020 election conspiracy theories will soon have much greater control over the electoral system.
Also from Georgia: College football legend Herschel Walker may consider challenging Senator Raphael Warnock next year. Should he stand for election, it could test Trump’s power as kingmaker.
3. Iran’s hardened justice chief Ebrahim Raisi, was elected president. That could actually give President Biden the opportunity to restore the 2015 nuclear deal.
Many Iranians suspended the election because they saw it as manipulated in Raisi’s favor. Raisi, 60, was favored by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He has suffered serious human rights violations and is currently under US sanctions.
However, US negotiators say the next six weeks before Raisi’s inauguration could be a unique window to reaching an agreement with Iran on reviving the nuclear deal that Donald Trump tore three years ago. The theory in Washington and Tehran is that Ayatollah Khamenei staged not only the elections but the nuclear negotiations as well – and does not want to give up his best hopes of lifting the devastating sanctions that have largely kept Iranian oil off the market.
4. The divergence of the Conservative American Catholic Church from Pope Francis has come into focus.
On Friday, Catholic bishops in the US decided to develop a new communion policy that would withhold the sacrament of President Biden for his support for the right to abortion. The vote ignored a warning from the Vatican and on Saturday was aimed directly at Biden, perhaps the most religiously attentive president since Jimmy Carter. The bishops are expected to vote on a text in November.
But on Saturday, Pope Francis said nothing, church officials and experts said, because he is confident that American Conservatives would never have enough votes to pass a doctrinal statement banning communion. Still, the Pope’s allies fear that the rite of communion will become a political weapon.
5. The scorching labor market is fueled in part by two words: I will stop.
According to the Department of Labor, nearly four million people quit their jobs in April, most of them so far. The dynamic has put more power in the hands of workers: As employers offer higher wages and incentives to combat labor shortages, such as those offered by waste management above, many workers – especially in low-wage positions in restaurants and hotels – are quitting their jobs Jump jobs that pay a little more.
The pandemic has prompted workers to quit for other reasons as well. People were able to save money and pay off their debts, which gave them a cushion to leave jobs that left them unhappy. Other workers who do not want to give up remote work give up jobs that are less flexible.
6. Secrecy has long been part of the art market. So money laundering and other abuses.
Billions of dollars worth of art changes hands every year with little or no public scrutiny. Buyers usually have no idea where the work they are buying came from, and sellers likewise feel in the dark. Some drug dealers have used this opacity to move money. The federal government is now considering further regulating the art market with a law to combat money laundering at financial institutions.
In other art world news, a reproduction of the original model for the Statue of Liberty, below, left France this month and will arrive at New York Harbor in time for Independence Day, as some ask whose freedom Lady Liberty is celebrating.
In case you missed it, our reporter Nicholas Casey reported in Times Magazine about years of searching for his father, who disappeared when Nicholas was 7 years old. “I’ve spent much of my life imagining who I was – and then becoming that person – through vague references to who my father was,” he writes.
8. “If you just sit quietly and mind your own business, Mother Nature will come to you. “
Gerald Stratford, a retired butcher and former Thames barge driver, came to Twitter because other big vegetable enthusiasts told him it was a place to discuss what they are growing. And then he and his not-so-ordinary garden went viral in a tiny English village (his nephew had to tell him what that meant). Over the past year, his honest and no-frills approach has been a welcome antidote.
If you’re going to the garden this weekend, our columnist shares some tips on how to avoid ticks. And our Well team has full instructions on how to do a proper tick check.
9. The summer barbecue season is here.
Fire almost always makes vegetables taste better. Grill master Steven Raichlen recommends two methods: direct grilling, which is best for soft, moist vegetables, leafy vegetables and sliced; and indirect grilling with the grill lid closed to capture the heat. This is the preferred method for large, firm vegetables.
For dessert, Give biscuit a chance. Its name doesn’t stir the heart, and it’s often dry and tasteless, but done right, sponge cake is tender and bouncy and perfect for soaking up flavors from anything it’s paired with. Food worker Claire Saffitz shared her tips on getting a sponge just right.
Happy summer solstice and enjoy the long days of summer.
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