NATO, Crime, Jupiter: Your Monday Evening Briefing

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NATO, Crime, Jupiter: Your Monday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. NATO leaders locked arms against China and Russia at the Monday summit, as President Biden reaffirmed his commitment to the alliance.

China’s growing influence and military might “present challenges,” the 30-nation alliance said, a rhetorical escalation from summits past. Unsurprisingly, Russia remains a “threat,” although Biden, above, said he isn’t seeking conflict.

The one-day meeting comes at an evolving moment in diplomatic relations. Israel’s new government sought to repair its relationship with the U.S. Democratic Party, which frayed when Benjamin Netanyahu got cozy with Donald Trump.

“We find ourselves with a Democratic White House, Senate and House, and they are angry,” Yair Lapid, the new foreign minister, said. “We need to change the way we work with them.”

2. The U.S. neared 600,000 recorded deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, the highest known count of any country.

There is good news: Deaths have slowed. The U.S. recorded 500,000 deaths by February, about four months ago. For comparison, the country reached 400,000 in January and 300,000 in December. New results from a potential fourth vaccine, Novavax, suggest it will make a good booster.

But vaccinations have slowed, too. Although more than half of American adults are fully vaccinated, the number of new daily positive tests nationwide seems to be leveling off after falling steadily for months. The problem isn’t supply, but demand.

And many communities will long be struggling with the scale of the loss. New research shows the devastation for Hispanic Americans, who were disproportionately younger when they died. Above, a memorial in Brooklyn.

In virus news abroad, England delayed plans to reopen, as the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads there. And a top Chinese virologist flatly denied claims that the virus had escaped from her Wuhan lab.


3. Amid an outcry over leaks and seized records, the Justice Department will tighten its rules on seizing information about members of Congress and their aides.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, above, announced the changes on Monday, amid a political uproar over a Trump-era subpoena in which investigators collected data on several Democratic lawmakers and staff members.

Garland’s announcement also came as he was preparing to meet with leaders of major news organizations, following the disclosure that the Trump-era Justice Department had secretly seized phone records for their reporters.

In a timely but unrelated move, the official who oversaw leak investigations will step down next week, in a planned departure.


That includes President Biden, the first Roman Catholic to occupy the Oval Office in 60 years.

Despite the Vatican’s remarkably public stop sign, the bishops will most likely force a debate this week. The effort could shatter their facade of unity with Rome and set what church historians consider a dangerous precedent for bishops’ conferences across the globe.

5. Top executives at an electric vehicle company resigned as it fights for its survival.

Lordstown Motors lost its founder, Steve Burns, above, and chief financial officer on Monday after the board and investors questioned the start-up’s viability.

The company does not have enough money to start making its truck, a prototype of which burned down during testing in February and is undergoing more testing. And securities regulators are investigating the company and its claims about customer interest in its trucks.

6. Crime is up across U.S. cities, just as business owners hoped the economic downturn would finally end.

Some city officials are focusing on progressive strategies, like repairing trust between communities and the police. Others are cracking down, increasing surveillance and enforcing curfews. Above, a crime scene in Chicago.

But tourists and workers remain wary of returning to downtowns, where homicides, assaults and carjackings remain stubbornly high. Last year, homicide rates in large cities were up more than 30 percent on average, and up another 24 percent for the beginning of this year. Some parents and grandparents, hoping to keep their families safe, are looking to leave.

7. Voting restrictions could harm people with disabilities who are trying to cast a ballot.

State-level, Republican-led legislative efforts are threatening the rights of the 38 million disabled Americans who are eligible to vote. But Republicans dismiss concerns that the bills undermine democracy itself.

In Texas, for example, efforts to ban drive-through voting could impede people with mobility issues. Partisan poll watchers may misinterpret legal accommodations — like a blind voter using a screen reader — as fraud.

“They’re really making it so we don’t have a voice anymore,” said Susie Angel, above, who has cerebral palsy and lives in Austin. “And without that, we can’t get the things that we need to survive.”


8. One West Virginia county bets big on education, as coal mining declines.

In McDowell County, the board of education is the largest employer and is trying to attract more teachers to its understaffed schools. An unusual initiative proposes schools as the foundation for renewal, recruiting educators and expanding the county’s social infrastructure.

But despite McDowell’s best efforts, towns like Welch, above, have not yet found a way to build a lasting and self-sustaining community.

The county lost a larger share of its people in recent years than any other county in the state. As one teacher sees it: “The options are you get a job as a teacher or you leave.” Now, as the student population declines, officials plan to consolidate three elementary schools.


9. A plucky probe is orbiting Jupiter, above, relaying discoveries from the Gas Giant.

NASA’s Juno probe is a tough machine — the mission’s principal investigator described it as “an armored tank” — and it’ll spend the next four years making trips around Jupiter and its biggest moons.

Juno has already found lightning higher up than thought possible, perhaps thanks to ammonia crystals. It photographed rings of stable storms each about 2,500 miles in diameter at the poles and found a companion to the Great Red Spot, a centuries-old giant storm: the Great Blue Spot.


10. And finally, the dogs’ day is over.

Wasabi, the low-slung Pekingese prancing above, won Best in Show at Westminster on Sunday. He swept the competition, who jumped, preened and peed on a rolling green lawn north of New York City, instead of their usual indoor spot at Madison Square Garden.

Wasabi is certainly a looker — my colleague Lisa Lerer described him as a “the spawn of a mop and a Roomba” — and he’s got company. Here are glamour shots from Saturday and Sunday, and the other top contenders.

In other canine news, don’t fret if your good boy eats a few cicadas. (That goes for cats, too.)

Have a victorious evening.


Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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