Your Friday Briefing – The New York Times

After a sharp summer surge, driven by the Delta variant, the coronavirus is once again on the decline in the United States, but given the number of unvaccinated Americans, it is too early to abandon basic precautions, scientists warn. The potential emergence of a new variant remains a wild card, while the protection offered by vaccination may start to decline more substantially.

The rest is difficult to predict. Most experts said they wouldn’t be surprised to see an increase in cases later this year as people are spending more time indoors and traveling for vacations. Britain and Israel continue to fight epidemics, despite high vaccination rates. “We all have to keep in mind that it’s not completely over yet,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan.

Speaking at the White House yesterday, President Biden warned that the coronavirus pandemic was not yet over, but that the United States was “going in the right direction.” He called on states and private companies to support vaccination mandates in a bid to prevent a further increase in cases.

Numbers: The United States now registers around 90,000 new infections a day, down more than 40% since August. Hospitalizations and deaths are also on the decline. Almost 70% of adults are fully vaccinated and children under 12 will likely be eligible for their Covid vaccines within weeks. Federal regulators may soon approve the first antiviral pill for Covid-19.

Sectarian armed militias clashed yesterday in Beirut, turning parts of the city into a deadly war zone. Gunmen hid behind cars and dumpsters to fire automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades at their rivals. At least six people have been killed and 30 injured, in one of the worst violence in years to rock the Lebanese capital.

After the near collapse of the Lebanese state, the country faces political and economic crises, inviting people to remember its civil war that ended more than three decades ago. Since the fall of 2019, its currency has fallen by more than 90% in value, reducing to poverty those who once belonged to the comfortable middle class.

Severe fuel shortages in recent months have left all of the wealthiest Lebanese struggling with prolonged power outages and long lines at gas stations. The country’s once-vaunted banking, medical and education sectors have all suffered heavy losses as professionals fled to seek livelihoods abroad.

The context: The violence erupted during a demonstration led by two Shiite Muslim parties – Hezbollah and the Amal Movement. Protesters demanded the dismissal of the judge responsible for investigating the huge explosion that took place last year in the port of Beirut.

A federal grand jury has indicted former prominent Boeing pilot Mark Forkner in connection with statements he and the company made about the ailing Boeing 737 Max. He is said to be the first individual to face criminal charges related to the 737 Max issues. The six counts of fraud in his indictment carry maximum sentences totaling several decades in prison.

Forkner is accused of deceiving the Federal Aviation Administration about flight control software involved in two crashes in 2018 and 2019 in which 346 people were killed, and of “conspiring to defraud US airline customers from Boeing to get tens of millions of dollars for Boeing, ”the Justice Department said.

Lawyers for the pilot, who has been under investigation for more than a year and a half, said last year that he “had not lied to anyone” and added that “he would never put endanger the safety of other pilots or their passengers “. He is expected to appear in court for the first time today.

Background: Boeing and the Justice Department in the dying days of the Trump administration announced they had agreed to a $ 2.5 billion legal settlement to resolve a criminal charge that the company conspired to defraud the FAA The scandal has already led to the CEO’s sacking and cost the company billions of dollars.

The statue of Christopher Columbus that once looked out over Mexico City’s main boulevard will be replaced by an indigenous pre-colonial figure, including a woman. But not everyone is satisfied with the announcement, on both sides of the cultural divide.

The primatologist spoke to our book office about what she learned from reading.

What books are on your nightstand?

“The Perfect Gentleman: A Muslim Boy Meets the West,” to remind me to reread. It’s great and I know the author, Imran Ahmad. And “Cult: follow my escape and return to the children of God”, by Bexy Cameron. I have read it, and it is an extraordinary autobiography and a frightening truth.

What topics would you like more authors to write about?

People and projects around the world that show the resilience of nature, the indomitable human spirit, the power of informed youth, the incredible innovation of scientists fighting climate change.

If you could ask President Biden to read a book, what would it be?

I asked someone related to the Biden administration, and he said that Biden is inundated with horrible news daily and that I should recommend my book “The Book of Hope”. In which, prompted by interviewer Doug Abrams, I set out my belief that if we act now, we can make a difference.

You are organizing a literary dinner. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

Shakespeare, Tolkien, Jane Austen Where Charlotte Brontë. Or, oh – I want Keats, Byron, Rachel Carson, Dickens, Darwin – and, oh, I want Churchill so badly and, and, and – my dinner will need a banquet hall to accommodate them all!

What do you plan to read next?

No plans, no time. There are so many books that I want to read. Maybe there will be more time after the pandemic, when I can travel and read on flights again.

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