Spain and Italy baked over the weekend, and wildfires raged in France, prompting the evacuation of more than 14,000 people near Bordeaux since early last week, the local authorities said. France’s national weather forecaster predicted temperatures of at least 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on the country’s Atlantic coast through tomorrow.
Now, the blistering weather is moving to Britain. Today and tomorrow, temperatures could soar to 41 degrees Celsius, which would shatter records. Air-conditioning is rare in the country, where buildings are constructed to retain heat (because cold temperatures have, in the past, been a bigger concern).
The war in Ukraine: Energy prices have shot up in Europe partly because of the war, making air-conditioners more expensive to run. The heat could damage French wheat yields at a time when mountains of Ukrainian grain remain blocked from distribution by Russian warships.
Fires spreading in a wheat field after an attack in the Mykolaiv region of Ukraine.Agence France-Presse, via Ukraine Emergency Service/Afp Via Getty Images
Zelensky fires top officials
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, yesterday fired his prosecutor general and intelligence chief, the country’s top two law enforcement officials. It was the most significant government shake-up there since the start of the Russian invasion.
Zelensky said he was responding to a large number of treason investigations that were opened into employees of law enforcement agencies. American officials said the moves reflected Zelensky’s efforts to put more experienced leaders in key security positions.
Officials emphasized that the firing of Ivan Bakanov, the leader of Ukraine’s domestic intelligence agency and a childhood friend of the president’s, was not because of any mishandling of intelligence or any major penetration of Ukraine’s intelligence services by Russia.
More strikes: Russia’s assaults intensified with a “massive attack” on Mykolaiv, according to a Ukrainian news agency. Ukrainian officials said Russia launched at least 10 missiles toward the city. On Friday, a volley hit two universities, a hotel and a mall.
Toll: After a brief pause, Russia’s defense minister ordered troops to step up attacks, intensifying fighting in the eastern Donbas region. Yesterday, loved ones buried a 4-year-old girl with Down syndrome, one of 23 people killed by Russian missiles in Vinnytsia last week.
Europe: The continent is at a fragile moment as it confronts tests of its democracies, a plunging currency and the war in Ukraine.
Nearly 400 officers responded to the school during the attack on May 24. Yet the decision to finally confront the gunman was made by a small group of officers, the report found, concluding that others at the scene could have taken charge and done so far earlier.
A flawless police response would not have saved most of the victims, who sustained devastating injuries when they were shot with a high-powered AR-15-style rifle. But some did survive, only to die on the way to the hospital, the report noted, adding in a footnote that “it is plausible that some victims could have survived if they had not had to wait” for rescue.
Background: Scores of officers waited outside two connected classrooms where the gunman killed 19 children and two teachers. It took 77 minutes for the police to storm into the classroom after the gunman started firing.
Infrastructure is under strain. Some train services were canceled, while others were running at reduced speeds in case the tracks buckled. Flights at Britain’s largest air base were halted over fears that the tar could melt. And the chains of a Victorian-era bridge were wrapped in foil to keep cracks from expanding and threatening the bridge’s stability.
Yesterday, the U.N. secretary general warned that humanity faced a “collective suicide” over the climate crisis. But the top candidates to be Britain’s next prime minister appear to be more focused on the cost-of-living crisis than on the government’s ambitious targets to reach “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050.
In dismissing two top officials, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine suggested they had turned a blind eye to traitors in sensitive positions.David Guttenfelder for The NewYorkTimes
Ukraine seeks to root out collaborators
Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, said the country had opened 651 treason investigations into employees of the country’s law enforcement agencies and others who were suspected of working with Russia.
Russian sympathizers are reporting the locations of Ukrainian targets like garrisons or ammunition depots, officials say. Priests have sheltered Russian officers and informed on Ukrainian activists in Russian-occupied areas. One official said collaborators had even removed explosives from bridges, allowing Russian troops to cross.
Ukraine’s shadow war against Russian collaborators came into sharp relief on Sunday, when Zelensky dismissed two senior law enforcement officials. He did not accuse them of betrayal, but suggested that they had turned a blind eye to traitors in sensitive positions.
Zelensky specifically cited Ukraine’s security service, an unwieldy force of 27,000 personnel, the largest in Europe. Many intelligence chiefs graduated from K.G.B. schools, and Western allies say that the service has too many areas of operation, leaving it open to corruption and prone to straying from its spy-hunting role.
Context: In Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, and in Ukraine’s east, where fighting has recently intensified, deep cultural and historical ties with Russia have translated to pockets of support for Moscow. The threat has plagued Ukraine for years but has become more acute during the war.
But many public health doctors say the wave is cause for caution, not alarm: Hospitalizations have climbed 20 percent in the past two weeks, but deaths are rising only modestly. One expert said the nation had entered a newer and less lethal stage, in which vaccines and treatments have significantly improved chances of survival.
The public health authorities are also hesitating to impose new restrictions, noting that most Americans are meeting the new wave with a collective shrug. Even residents of what were once among the most cautious places in the country are shunning masks, socializing indoors and moving on from an endless barrage of warnings.
Retirements: Dr. Anthony Fauci, who saw the U.S. through the worst of the pandemic, said he would “almost certainly” retire by January 2025, the end of President Biden’s current term.
The ayatollah met with Putin in Iran during a rare international trip by the Russian leader, a meeting that Tehran viewed as an honor. There, Khamenei repeated Putin’s argument that the U.S. and Europe had left the Kremlin no choice.
“In the case of Ukraine, if you had not taken the helm, the other side would have done so and initiated a war,” Khamenei told Putin, according to his office, though he expressed distaste for war. Here are updates.
Analysis: Khamenei’s public proclamation on war appeared to go beyond the much more cautious support offered by another ally, China. It also signaled that the long-tense relationship between Moscow and Tehran was strengthening into a true partnership, cemented partly by the Western sanctions both countries face.
Region: In Iran, the leaders also met with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of Turkey, who has become a middleman in negotiations. They discussed Syria, where Turkey has been threatening a new military incursion. Khamenei appeared to discourage Turkey’s plans.
Russia may limit the amount of gas it sends to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.Stefan Sauer/DPA, via Associated Press
The E.U. prepares to ration gas
The E.U.’s executive branch put forth a plan to avert an energy crisis from a likely Russian gas cutoff and yesterday called on member states to ration natural gas.
Europe is being asked to cut its use of natural gas by 15 percent from now through next spring, the European Commission said. The 27 member nations would have to approve the proposal and pass legislation to go with it. If ratified, the proposal would put Europe’s economy on a war footing.
“I know this is a big ask for the whole of the European Union, but it’s necessary to protect us,” the commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, said yesterday, adding, “We have to prepare for a potential full disruption of Russian gas, and this is a likely scenario.”
Public opinion in Europe is split over whether supporting Ukraine is worth the sacrifice. And since some countries are more reliant on Russian gas than others, the uniform demand appears unfair to those who’ve done the work to decouple from Russia and the fuel.
Context: Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is seeking to use energy as leverage. Yesterday, he warned that the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany would not operate at full capacity after maintenance work finishes today.
Territory: Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s top diplomat, said yesterday that Moscow’s territorial ambitions in Ukraine could broaden if the West continued to deliver long-range weapons to the Ukrainians. It was a departure from the Kremlin’s earlier claims.
Southern Ukraine: Lavrov pointed to the Kherson and Zaporizka regions, parts of which Russians already occupy. Ukraine has recently intensified attacks on key targets in Kherson, perhaps preparing for a broad counteroffensive.
Mario Draghi called for unity yesterday in a last-ditch attempt to salvage the coalition. Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press
Italy’s government falls apart
The unity government of Mario Draghi, Italy’s prime minister, fell apart yesterday, leaving the country careening toward a new season of political chaos.
Draghi’s departure would be a stinging blow to the E.U. at a critical moment for the war in Ukraine. He was an essential part of Europe’s exceptionally unified stance against Russia’s aggression, and his departure would come as the bloc struggled to hold a united front and to revive its economies.
In Italy, a power vacuum could also open the door to new elections, which could yield a government dominated by parties far more sympathetic to Vladimir Putin, Russia’s leader — and more hostile to the E.U.
Draghi: The former European Central Bank president who helped save the euro used his statesmanlike stature to usher in a brief golden period for Italy after taking over as a caretaker prime minister in 2021. As leader, he steered Italy out of the worst days of the pandemic and pushed for more international ties.
If signed, a deal would help alleviate a global food shortage. Ukraine is one of the world’s breadbaskets, and more than 20 million tons of grain have been trapped in the country’s Black Sea ports since Russia invaded.
Details: Russia’s de facto blockade of the Black Sea has caused Ukraine’s exports to drop to one-sixth of their prewar level, which has exacerbated famine in Africa and undermined food supply chains already battered by the pandemic.
Consumer prices in the eurozone rose on average 8.6 percent last month from a year earlier. The last time inflation was this bad in the region, the euro didn’t exist.
Officials hope the move will be a powerful tool to help control rapid inflation, and the central bank described it as an effort to “front-load” its rate increases. And in a sign of investor confidence, European stocks ended the day roughly where they started.
Financial context: Last week, the euro fell to parity with the dollar for the first time in 20 years. That added to the bloc’s inflationary pressures because the lower currency value increased the cost of imports. Concern is growing that the bloc will enter a recession.
Global context: The increase follows similar measures taken by the U.S. Federal Reserve and dozens of other central banks this year. The world’s outlook has worsened in recent months, as pandemic-induced disruptions and the war in Ukraine have continued to disrupt supply chains.
Resources: Here are answers to questions you may have about what causes inflation and how interest rate increases — which make it more expensive to borrow money — can help fight it.
Tourists crowding the Trevi Fountain in Rome, though coronavirus cases in Italy have risen steadily since mid-June.Fabio Frustaci/EPA, via Shutterstock
In part, that’s because deaths are not rising significantly. Severe cases aren’t, either, and intensive care units are not brimming with Covid patients. Instead, the authorities appear to be relying on high vaccination rates, expanded booster access and past infections to dull the effect of Omicron subvariants, though some experts still worry about vulnerable people.
Europeans also appear to have decided to live with the virus. People are traveling again, entering restaurants without masks and sitting in metro seats once left open for social distancing.
“These are things from the past,” one woman in a Roman bookstore said of floor stickers urging customers to maintain “a distance of at least 1 meter.” She described the red signs, with their crossed-out spiky coronavirus spheres, as artifacts, “like bricks of the Berlin Wall.”
The U.S.: President Biden tested positive for Covid yesterday. The White House said he was “experiencing very mild symptoms.”
Australia: The country’s Covid hospitalizations are nearing a high, but the authorities have refrained from bringing back restrictions.
A joint effort of several authors who do find that nobody can keep standing at the side and that “Everyone" must care about what is going on in today’s world.
We are a bunch of people who do not mind that somebody has a totally different idea but is willing to share the ideas with others and to be Active and willing to let others understand how "today’s decisions will influence the future”. Therefore we would love to see many others to "Act today".
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