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The New York Times briefings for the 3rd week of August 2022

August 15

Author Headshot By Natasha Frost

Writer, Briefings

Good morning. We’re covering Salman Rushdie’s recovery and the fallout from the F.B.I.’s search of Donald Trump’s home in Florida.

A news conference held by Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee to discuss the F.B.I. raid.Anna Rose Layden for The New York Times

Division in the Republican Party

As Republicans continued to defend Donald Trump after an unprecedented F.B.I. search of the former president’s residence in Florida, deep fissures were visible in the party’s support for law enforcement. While some congressional Republicans attacked the F.B.I. and other top law enforcement agencies, others chastised their colleagues and were more restrained in their criticism.
On Friday, a federal judge unsealed the warrant authorizing the search and an inventory of items removed from Trump’s property by federal agents. The list showed that the F.B.I. had retrieved 11 sets of classified documents as part of an inquiry into potential violations of the Espionage Act and two other laws.
Many Republicans have called for the release of the affidavit supporting the search warrant, which would reveal what had persuaded a judge that there was probable cause to believe a search would find evidence of crimes. Such documents are typically not made public before charges are filed.
Threats: A gunman on Thursday attacked an F.B.I. office in Cincinnati, and on Friday the Homeland Security Department warned of “an increase in threats and acts of violence” against law enforcement, “including a threat to place a so-called dirty bomb in front of F.B.I. headquarters and issuing general calls for ‘civil war’ and ‘armed rebellion.’”
For more: Trump claims he had declassified the top-secret files that the F.B.I. seized at his Florida residence. Here’s what makes that legally irrelevant.
Salman Rushdie, pictured in 2015.Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Salman Rushdie starts to recover

The author Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed roughly 10 times on Friday, has been removed from a ventilator and is on the mend, his agent, Andrew Wylie, said yesterday. “The road to recovery has begun,” he said. “It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction.”
Rushdie was attacked onstage minutes before he was to give a talk in western New York. Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from New Jersey, was arrested at the scene and charged with second-degree attempted murder and assault with a weapon. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Rushdie was put on a ventilator on Friday evening after undergoing hours of surgery at a hospital in Erie, Pa. In a statement, his son Zafar Rushdie said the author was receiving extensive treatment. “Though his life-changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty and defiant sense of humor remains intact,” he said.
Background: Rushdie’s 1989 novel, “The Satanic Verses,” fictionalizes parts of the life of the Prophet Muhammad with depictions that offended some Muslims. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who led Iran after its 1979 revolution, issued an edict known as a fatwa on Feb. 14, 1989, ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie, who went into hiding for years.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, on the Dnipro River.David Guttenfelder for The New York Times

Threat to Ukraine nuclear plant increases

The main front in Russia’s military onslaught on Ukraine appears to have shifted dangerously to the south, risking a catastrophe at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear station, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
Over the weekend, Russia used territory around the nuclear power station, which it seized from Ukraine in March, as a staging ground for attacks on Ukrainian positions. It unleashed a barrage of howitzer fire on the nearby Ukrainian-held town of Nikopol, local officials said. The intensifying battles near the plant, which is about 60 miles from the Russian-occupied city of Kherson, have sent residents fleeing and raised alarm about potential dangers from radiation far beyond Ukraine.
Russian troops in Kherson have been largely cut off from their main source of supplies since Ukraine wrecked the last of four bridges across the Dnipro River. Some reports said Russian commanders had already left the city, but sources in the Ukrainian military said they had seen no evidence of a retreat.
Risks: Engineers at the nuclear power plant say that yard-thick reinforced concrete containment structures protect the reactors, even from direct hits. International concern, however, has grown that shelling could cause a fire or other damage that could lead to a nuclear accident.
In other news from the war:
Continue reading the main story
Around the World
Ben Curtis/Associated Press
  • As of this morning, Kenyans were still waiting for results from a presidential election last week.
  • The Norwegian authorities killed a walrus named Freya who had spent the past weeks lounging on piers off the TikTok. They said she had become a threat to human safety.
Other Big Stories
Atul Loke for The New York Times
What Else Is Happening

August 16

A destroyed school bus in the rural Ukrainian village of Vilkhivka, which Russian forces occupied in the spring.Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

Inside Russia’s brutal Ukraine detentions

Hundreds of Ukrainian civilians, mainly men with military experience or of fighting age, have disappeared since the war in Ukraine began in February. In some cases, they have been detained by Russian troops or their proxies, held in basements, police stations and filtration camps in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine and ended up incarcerated in Russia.
In interviews with The Times, detainees detailed how they were shunted from one place to another, beaten and repeatedly subjected to electrical shocks under interrogation. Others were shot, they said. No one knows exactly how many people have been sent to Russian jails, though the U.N. has documented 287 cases of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions and says the total is almost certainly more.
One former detainee said that interrogations digging for information on Ukrainian positions and military groups were often pointless, as physical force would be used before he could answer a question. “They don’t believe anything you say, even if you’re telling the truth,” he said. “You cannot prove your innocence.”
In other news from the war:
  • Brittney Griner, the U.S. basketball star, appealed her conviction on drug smuggling charges. A senior Russian diplomat spoke of a possible prisoner swap.
  • Ukrainian factories are moving west, away from Russian bombs, causing a land rush.
Supporters of William Ruto celebrating his victory yesterday in the Kenyan town of Eldoret, one of his strongholds.Brian Inganga/Associated Press

Kenya declares a new president

William Ruto, Kenya’s former vice president, was declared the winner yesterday in the country’s presidential election, apparently ending an unpredictable, neck-and-neck battle that had millions of Kenyans eagerly watching as the results rolled in. Read our profile of Ruto.
Kenya’s last three elections were marred by disputed results that led to court cases and street violence. Those crises had prompted the electoral commission to go to extraordinary lengths to ensure a clean vote this time — it posted images on its website showing the results from more than 46,000 polling stations. But the losing candidate, Raila Odinga, rejected the result even before it was announced. His top aides said the election had been “mismanaged” and called on those in charge to be arrested.
After a winner was named, pandemonium erupted in the hall where the votes had been counted, sending chairs and fists flying. Four of the seven electoral commissioners refused to verify the vote and stormed out, casting doubt on a result that is almost certain to end up in court. Odinga plans to address the nation today, a spokesman said.
By the numbers: Ruto received 50.49 percent of the vote, against 48.85 percent for Odinga, a difference of just 233,211 votes but enough to avoid a runoff.
A clinician preparing doses of Moderna’s Covid vaccine at a vaccination center in London in December.Daniel Leal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Britain approves Covid booster that targets variants

Britain became the first country yesterday to authorize a coronavirus vaccine that targets two variants, the original virus and Omicron, the variant that became dominant over the winter. Half of each dose of the Moderna-made vaccine will target the original variant, and the other half will target Omicron.
In a statement, Moderna said that it was working with British health officials to distribute the new vaccine. It was unclear when the shots would be available to the public. The drugmaker said it had completed regulatory submissions for the vaccine in Australia, Canada and the E.U. It expected further authorization decisions in the coming weeks.
More than 75 percent of people in Britain are fully vaccinated, and 60 percent have received an additional dose. By comparison, in the U.S., 67 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, and only 32 percent have received an additional dose. Globally, 64 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.
Results: In clinical trials of adults, researchers found that the vaccine, an updated version of Moderna’s original Covid shot, generated a good immune response to the two variants, as well as to the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

Sarah Silbiger for The New York Times

Michal Cizek/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

August 17

Smoke rising from explosions at a Russian ammunition depot in Crimea yesterday.Reuters

Ukraine strikes again in Crimea

Huge explosions rocked a temporary Russian ammunition depot in Crimea yesterday, the latest in a series of clandestine Ukrainian assaults against the Black Sea peninsula that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, illegally annexed in 2014 and that is now being used as a vital staging ground for Russia’s invasion.
An elite Ukrainian military unit operating behind enemy lines was responsible for the blasts, a Ukrainian official said. Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that the episode was an “act of sabotage,” a significant acknowledgment that the war is spreading to what the Kremlin considers Russian territory.
As the Ukrainian government leans on long-range Western weapons and special forces to strike deep behind the front, the country’s military tactics are growing increasingly aggressive, allowing it to disrupt Russian supply lines. Crimea’s security is key to Russia’s military effort, as well as Putin’s political standing among Russians.
Response: The attacks come in defiance of dire warnings of retaliation from Moscow. Last month, a senior Russian official vowed that if Ukraine attacked Crimea, it would immediately face “Judgment Day.” But Putin has made no mention of the attacks, instead repeating his frequent argument that a Western-allied Ukraine would be an existential threat to Russia.
In other news from the war:
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain.Pool photo by Oli Scarff

Britain’s power vacuum

Britain faces a slew of problems — surging energy costs, soaring inflation, a looming recession and the prospect of more rail strikes and further drought. Compounding these issues is a growing sense that the country’s politicians have left the public in limbo at a moment of gathering crisis.
Boris Johnson, the prime minister, will leave office on Sept. 5, to be replaced by the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, or the former chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak. Johnson has rejected appeals to recall Parliament or to sit down with his potential successors to work out how to help Britons facing huge increases in energy bills and is currently on his honeymoon.
Analysts argue that, behind the scenes, work is being done and that there is time for the new prime minister to prepare for rising prices in the fall. Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, has said that were he in power, he would freeze energy bills. More than 100,000 people have pledged to refuse to pay those bills in October.
Analysis: “It’s basically like waiting for a typhoon to hit,” said Steven Fielding, a professor of political history at the University of Nottingham. “We’re all confident that bad things are going to happen, but at the moment, there’s nobody in charge — no sense that anybody has got a grip of those things.”

A shot given to participants in a Bacillus-Calmette-Guerin trial in Cape Town in May 2020.Rodger Bosch/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A century-old vaccine offers new hope

The Bacillus-Calmette-Guerin vaccine against tuberculosis, developed in the early 1900s, seems to train the immune system to respond to infectious diseases, including viruses, bacteria and parasites. As new threats like monkeypox and polio re-emerge and the coronavirus continues to evolve, it has gained renewed interest among scientists.
The results of clinical trials on the vaccine conducted during the pandemic are coming in, and the findings, while mixed, are encouraging. One such trial of 144 participants found that people with Type 1 diabetes who had received several B.C.G. injections were far less likely to develop Covid-19 compared with those who had received dummy shots.
Although the trial was relatively small, “the results are as dramatic as for the Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines,” said Dr. Denise Faustman, the study’s lead author. Participants generally experienced fewer bouts of illness, she added. The vaccine “seems to be resetting the immune response of the host to be more alert, to be more primed, not as sluggish.”
Caution: Other trials have had more disappointing results. A Dutch study of 1,500 health care workers who were vaccinated with B.C.G. found no reduction in Covid infections, and a South African study of 1,000 health care workers found no effect from B.C.G. on Covid incidence or severity.
Related: A new study from the C.D.C. provides more details about a polio case detected in New York last month and suggests that the virus has been spreading elsewhere for a year.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Pool photo by Mick Tsikas

Adam Britton/Media Drum World, via Alamy
The saltwater crocodile has lived for millions of years in Australia. The feral pig, an invasive species, arrived with the first European settlers in the late 18th century.
Scientists blame feral pigs and other invasive species for widespread habitat loss and for Australia’s high rate of mammal extinctions. Yet these unsuspecting pigs seem to be helping restore the country’s crocodile population — by making for hearty meals for hungry reptiles.

ARTS AND IDEAS

Derek Hudson/Getty Images

A fight over free speech

Salman Rushdie had wondered in recent years whether the public was losing its appetite for free speech, a principle on which he staked his life when Iran sought to have him killed for his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses.” As Rushdie told The Guardian last year, “The kinds of people who stood up for me in the bad years might not do so now.”
After Rushdie was stabbed onstage on Friday, the initial denunciation gave way to a renewal of the debate over free speech, Jennifer Schuessler writes in The Times. Some of Rushdie’s supporters lamented growing acceptance, on parts of the political right and left, of the notion that speech that offends is grounds for censorship.
Jennifer’s article also notes some surprising history — including a Times opinion essay by Jimmy Carter denouncing Rushdie’s novel.

August 18

Shopping in central London on Wednesday. Andy Rain/EPA, via Shutterstock

‘We are literally sinking’

Inflation in Britain rose to 10.1 percent in July compared with a year earlier, as consumer prices grew at their fastest pace since 1982. Many Britons, especially the most vulnerable, who have borne the brunt of the effects of inflation, are bracing for more sacrifices. Food banks in the country have had to cut back on hot meals amid rising demand and falling donations.
Food prices rose 2.3 percent from June to July, the steepest monthly increase in 21 years, with notable increases among staples like bread, cereal, milk, cheese and eggs. The surge in checkout prices comes as a contest to be Britain’s next prime minister has left the country in a leadership vacuum, and policy responses remain unsettled.
Rising prices are troubling households and central bankers globally, multiplying the challenges facing lawmakers. Many countries are experiencing multi-decade highs in their inflation rates as pandemic-related supply chain disruptions push up prices. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also set off an energy crisis, particularly in Europe.
Worldwide highs: Prices in Britain are rising faster than in the U.S. (8.5 percent) and the eurozone’s largest economies: Germany (8.5 percent), France (6.8 percent) and Italy (8.4 percent).
First person: “Before, we were keeping our head just above the water,” one woman in London said of the price increases. “Now, we are literally sinking.”
Receiving a monkeypox vaccination last month in Spain, the center of the European outbreak.Francisco Seco/Associated Press

Europe’s unequal access to monkeypox vaccines

The outbreak of monkeypox in Europe has disturbing echoes of the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, when protective gear, tests and vaccines were inadequately and inconsistently produced and distributed across the continent. Some nations are better equipped than others, leading to competition for limited vaccine supplies.
“Vaccine tourism” — crossing borders in search of shots — is also back. Though Spain has been the center of Europe’s outbreak, the country until last week had access to only about 5,000 shots. France, with fewer than half as many confirmed cases, had already vaccinated 27,000 people. Only one vaccine, produced by the drugmaker Bavarian Nordic, has been approved by European regulators.
The E.U. created a new health emergency agency last year that was supposed to act decisively and put all 27 member countries on an equal footing. But experts say the new agency does not have the full powers envisioned for it, in part because individual countries have been unwilling to cede sufficient authority to it.
By the numbers: More than 30,000 people have been infected with monkeypox worldwide, and millions are considered at risk. About 58,000 vaccine doses of the E.U.’s initial order of 110,000 two months ago have been delivered, with the rest expected by the end of August.
A Ukrainian recruit in a mock battle at a training village in southeast England.Frank Augstein/Associated Press

In England, Ukrainian recruits train for battle

An ambitious British-led program aims to provide military training to 10,000 Ukrainian Army recruits and staff members to bolster resistance to the Russian invasion. The initiative, which began in June, started with more than a thousand British soldiers from a unit that specializes in foreign training. British trainers have already sent 2,000 Ukrainians back to the fight.
The training of troops by foreign powers has long been part of Ukraine’s plan to combat Moscow’s invasion. Before the war, Britain and other Western allies, including the U.S., gave extensive training to the Ukrainian military. Now, nations including Canada, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and New Zealand have pledged to join in after Britain requested help.
Experts say Western combat training has been instrumental in helping the Ukrainian Army during the war. “The Ukrainian Army is massively smaller than the Russians’, so the quality of training in leadership skills and tactics had to compensate for quantity,” said Jamie Shea, a former NATO spokesman. The training aims to equip conscripts with essential military skills.
Background: The Yavoriv training center, a Ukrainian military base outside Lviv that was attacked by Russian forces in March, was a hub for troops from Britain, Canada, Latvia, Poland, the U.S. and other Western nations to train Ukrainian forces since the 1990s.
Operation: Several hundred Ukrainians, including former teachers, civil engineers and businessmen, were flown to an army base in Kent, one of four sites where British trainers are leading three-week courses that cover combat tactics, medical and weapons training and the laws of war.
In other news:

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

August 19

We’re covering the impact of a heat wave in Europe and the latest from the war in Ukraine.

A wildfire near Belin-Béliet, in southwestern France, last weekend. Thibaud Moritz/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The strain of Europe’s sizzling summer

A scorching European summer has affected nearly every part of the economy and even its normally cool regions, a phenomenon aggravated by human-caused climate change. Across the continent, people have experienced wildfires, harvest-threatening drought and extreme heat.
The heat has also exposed the vulnerabilities of Europe’s energy system, already laid bare by the loss of Russian gas to E.U. sanctions. Wildfires in Britain have left thousands of northern homes without electricity; drought in Germany has dried up the waterways crucial for transporting coal; and in France, warming rivers have complicated the flushing of nuclear reactors.
Hydropower makes up 90 percent of Norway’s electricity and allows it to export power to several of its neighbors. But reservoir supplies have sunk to the lowest point in 25 years, driving up prices and political tensions. While Norway is eager to integrate into the European market, the country, which is rich in gas and oil, is under pressure to keep more of its energy for itself.
Analysis: “The best way to solve this crisis and get energy security is to as fast as possible be independent from Russian gas,” said Steffen Syvertsen, the chief executive of Agder Energi. “But that is a big task.”
Related: For months, China has faced its most severe heat wave in six decades. The economy is suffering, and the heat wave is forecast to persist for at least another week.
Ukrainian emergency rescue teams practicing a nuclear disaster drill this week in the city of Zaporizhzhia.David Guttenfelder for The New York Times

Tensions at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

The Russian and Ukrainian militaries have accused one another of preparing to stage an imminent attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, risking a catastrophic release of radiation. Russian forces seized control of the sprawling plant, Europe’s largest nuclear power station, in early March but have kept Ukrainian staff there to operate it.
The Ukrainian intelligence agency yesterday said that engineers employed by Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear company, had “urgently” left the plant and that only “operative personnel” would be allowed at the plant on Friday. A Ukrainian plant employee said that workers were terrified. “Everyone is scared of tomorrow’s provocations announced by Russia,” she said.
For the first time in history, nuclear power plants are squarely in a war zone. For many Ukrainians, the risk is all too familiar: The Chernobyl plant, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986, lies in Ukraine, north of Kyiv, the capital. Russian forces seized that plant, too, early in the war, before withdrawing.
Shelling: The complex has been hit several times already, with each side blaming the other. Russian military units have taken up positions on and around the grounds, prompting charges that they are using Zaporizhzhia as a shield, knowing that the Ukrainians are reluctant to fire back.
In other news from the war:
Liz Truss, the British foreign secretary and a Conservative candidate for prime minister.Neil Hall/EPA, via Shutterstock

The fight to replace Boris Johnson

Britain’s Conservative Party is in the throes of a rancorous campaign to choose a new leader. If, as expected, Liz Truss is elected next month, she will take power during a period of immense economic stress, with soaring energy prices because of the war in Ukraine, supply-chain disruptions and the hollowing out of the British labor market by Brexit.
And yet the multiple shocks Britain faces seem strangely disconnected from the contest to succeed Boris Johnson, the prime minister. The blinkered nature of the debate, analysts say, reflects the peculiarities of the British political system: Only rank-and-file members of the Conservative Party can vote for the next leader.
That constituency, estimated at around 160,000 people, is on average older, whiter and wealthier than most Britons. For this rarefied group, Truss’s promise of tax cuts is more alluring than stark warnings that Britain needs to batten down the hatches. Her opponent, Rishi Sunak, who argues that the government must first tame inflation, is trailing in the polls.
Johnson: The caretaker prime minister is on vacation in Greece, having skipped the chance to hold a crisis meeting with his would-be successors.
Labor unrest: Train travel in Britain largely ground to a halt this week after railway workers walked out over wage disputes, the latest work stoppage in a summer of strikes.
Continue reading the main story

Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Thoko Chikondi for The New York Times
  • Earlier this year, polio seemed almost eradicated. But cases have popped up around the world: first in Malawi, then in Pakistan, Israel and Britain. The virus was located last week in New York City’s wastewater.
  • In northern Afghanistan, hundreds of Shiite Muslims joined an uprising led by a former Taliban commander. Times journalists spent time with the rebels.
  • Soldiers raided Palestinian human rights organizations that Israel has accused of having links to terrorism. The U.N. and rights groups criticized the move.

Sanna Marin, the leader of Finland, has faced scrutiny after leaked videos showed her dancing energetically, striking poses and singing with friends at private parties.

Hanae Mori, a Japanese couturier, was the first Asian woman to join the ranks of French high fashion. She has died at 96.

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The New York Times for the 2nd week of August 2022

Published by Guestspeaker

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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