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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Monday.
1. A U.S. drone strike is said to have killed the top Al Qaeda leader.
Ayman al-Zawahri, who took over the leadership of the group after the death of Osama bin Laden, was killed in a weekend strike conducted on a residential house in Kabul’s Sherpur area, a wealthy downtown neighborhood.
U.S. officials said that the strike, the first attack in Afghanistan since American forces left last year, was not conducted by the military, suggesting that the operation was carried out by the C.I.A. Agency officials declined to comment.
Zawahri had avoided Afghanistan for years. His return to Kabul with the Taliban takeover raises questions about the group’s commitment to keeping Al Qaeda out of the country.
2. The U.S. warned China not to turn Nancy Pelosi’s expected trip to Taiwan into a crisis.
John F. Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said the administration was concerned that China would potentially take aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait, as tensions rise alongside the House speaker’s travels across Asia, which began today.
“There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with longstanding U.S. policy into some sort of crisis,” Kirby said. Pelosi has not confirmed that she plans to visit Taiwan, but indications suggest that she will make a stop on the self-governing island without prior announcement.
If she follows through, Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, is likely to use displays of military might to convey Beijing’s anger and its claim to Taiwan while seeking to avoid a volatile standoff that would spook markets and drag down China’s economy, experts said.
3. A ship loaded with grain left Ukraine for the first time since Russia’s invasion.
The departure broke through the monthslong Russian blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, which has sent global grain prices soaring and brought the threat of famine to tens of millions of people, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.
If the voyage goes smoothly, it will mark an important first step for the export of roughly 20 million tons of grain that have been stuck in Ukrainian silos — but experts warn that the dire global hunger crisis will persist.
In New York, the secretary general of the United Nations warned today that humanity was “one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” citing the war in Ukraine among the conflicts driving the risk to a level not seen since the height of the Cold War.
4. The Kentucky floods killed at least 37 people, with more rain expected this week.
Beginning last week, an onslaught of rainfall caused flooding that collapsed bridges and tore houses from their foundations. Forecasters said the already-saturated eastern part of Kentucky is expecting more showers that could last into Tuesday.
The death toll is expected to rise as search-and-rescue operations resumed today. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said on Sunday morning that 37 people were missing.
In California, a wildfire in Northern California has grown to 55,000 acres, becoming the state’s largest wildfire so far this year, killing two and forcing nearly 3,000 people to evacuate.
5. Deshaun Watson has been suspended for six N.F.L. games.
The ruling comes after a 15-month investigation into allegations that Watson, then quarterback of the Houston Texans, had engaged in sexual misconduct during massage treatments over the course of several years.
The decision was highly anticipated because of the five-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract the Cleveland Browns gave him before the ruling. It comes as the N.F.L. is under scrutiny for its treatment of women and what has been perceived as inconsistency in how it issues discipline.
Grand juries in two Texas counties declined to charge Watson criminally, and he has reached settlements with all but one of the 24 women who filed civil lawsuits against him.
6. The U.S. let 20 million doses of the monkeypox vaccine expire.
Less than a decade ago, the country had some 20 million doses of a new smallpox vaccine, which is also effective against monkeypox, in a national stockpile — a quantity that could have slowed the spread of monkeypox after it first emerged in the U.S. more than two months ago.
But the supply had only some 2,400 usable doses left in mid-May. The rest of the doses had expired. How?
One reason: Federal officials overseeing the stockpile had not viewed monkeypox, which has a relatively low fatality rate, as much of a problem, instead focusing on deadly scenarios such as a bioterror attack involving smallpox or anthrax.
7. After Uvalde, school employees sought training to be armed and ready.
A kindergarten teacher in Ohio, feeling helpless, decided she needed a 9-millimeter pistol to protect her classroom.
So she signed up for training that would allow her to carry a gun in school, a strategy that has become a leading solution to mass shootings promoted by Republicans and gun rights advocates. Democrats, police groups, teachers’ unions and gun control supporters say that concealed carry programs in schools will only create more risk.
To keep up her training, she goes to the gun range each week. When students come for hugs, she plans to turn her hip to direct them to the other side of her body.
8. Where the office has won.
Workers in America’s midsize and small cities — like Miami and Birmingham, Ala. — have returned to their commutes in far greater numbers than those in the biggest U.S. cities.
San Francisco’s office occupancy is at 39 percent of its prepandemic level. New York’s is at 41 percent. Austin, Texas, meanwhile, is at nearly 60 percent. Some executives in big cities are hoping they’ll catch up, though they’ve been impeded by safety and health concerns about mass transit and employee leverage in competitive job markets.
Describing her feelings about going into an office regularly while many people were not, Bret Hairston, an office worker in Columbus, Ohio, said: “‘Strange’ is one word. ‘Jealousy’ is also one.”
9. Overheating? These photographs of ‘ice mermaids’ who submerge themselves in near-freezing water may send a shiver down your spine.
For Ida Lennestål, who grew up in Northern Sweden, combining saunas and cold plunges is a cultural tradition. Now living in Maine, she continues the practice.
“It has taught me to sit with the uncomfortable, both the hot and the cold, to breathe through it. To pay attention,” Lennestål said. “It has taught me to listen to my body and hear what it needs.”
Lennestål inspired Greta Rybus, a photographer, to seek others who ritually submerge in cold water. The process, she found, is a distinct experience with its own power — and one that some people said gave them a way to live with a certain fullness.
10. And finally, trash turned to tote bag treasure.
Anybag is a proudly local operation. “It’s all handmade, handcrafted by New Yorkers, in New York, using New York City’s finest trash,” said Alex Dabagh, who started the company.
Recycling companies don’t want plastic bags because they can clog and damage machines. So Anybag is turning them into woven tote bags that have attracted attention from the likes of Adidas and Ralph Lauren.
Dabagh estimated that the company collected the equivalent of about 588,000 single-use plastic bags last year. The totes come with a lifetime guarantee — the plastic will outlive us, after all.
Have a restorative night.
Brent Lewis compiled photos for this briefing.
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